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When we set out to rank the top 100 pitching prospects, we knew there would a lot of differences. We did not know there would be this many differences: There were more than 70 players that one of us ranked in the top 100 and the other did not. That is a lot of discrepancies. What can account for that?
You mean, other than the fact that I know what I’m doing and Travis doesn’t?
Well, we both explained earlier in this week in our methodology primer, we value different things. Also, once you get past roughly 35-40 in the ranks, it becomes more about minute differences and slight personal preferences than about the more important things like repertoire, velocity, and whatnot. That said, we figured we’d highlight some of the differences between our rankings in a pair of articles. The pitchers I want to highlight are below and Travis’s article explaining his side came out yesterday. You can also catch us debate our methodologies and ranking differences this Friday in our On the Farm podcast.
So let’s get into it:
My Highest Pick that Travis Didn’t Rank
#18 Albert Abreu, NYY, RHP, Age: 23
Look, I understand Travis not wanting to rank Abreu very high, but not at all?
Yes, Abreu’s had multiple setbacks over the course of the last two years that would give anyone pause. As a result of the injuries, the 23-year-old finds himself in a Double-A loop of good/bad starts this year when he really should be pushing to be a part of a playoff roster. Meanwhile, his brother-in-arms Deivi Garcia (#29) continues to be hotter than the face of the sun.
Considering my methodology, Abreu has a few things in spades. First and foremost, there are few organizations who rival the Yankees when it comes to pitching prospect development. Maybe the Rays and then…? Second, his K% has consistently hovered around 20% over the last several years. On the surface, the numbers make it seem like he’s been hit around, in 11 of his 14 starts he’s surrendered one run or less.
Abreu may very well wind up a reliever. Most pitching prospects do. If he winds up a reliever, then he’ll be a multi-inning monster. But with the depth of his repertoire, the build of the player, and the track record of the organizations player development, I’m very much on board with the Abreu experience.
Pick Below Top 50 to Pop This Year
#90 Anthony Kay, NYM, LHP, Age: 24
Looking back on it, Anthony Kay is a player I underrated. We’re all imperfect beings. He absolutely crushed Double-A over 66 innings, boasting a fastball, cambio, curve mix which—while hittable—definitely has some effectiveness. In fact, he was so dominant that the New York media and Mets fans were clamoring for him to come up as bullpen support and a replacement for Noah Syndergaard.
The Mets, however, being an outstandingly well-run organization declined such an aggressive promotion and, on June 20th, Kay made his debut with the Triple-A squad. In his first three starts he has been smoked by advanced hitting. However, the White Sox and Braves Triple-A teams boasts a pretty impressive wRC+, so maybe we give him a pass and expect improvement soon. If he does, and the numbers are belied by these initial abysmal starts, buy.
#12 Deivi Garcia, NYY, RHP, Age: 20
Is there a hotter name in the minors at the moment? The diminutive fireballer is too damn good for AA. Sporting a 14.55 K/9 which is buoyed by a fastball which reaches 95 mph late into the game and a plus-plus curveball is on another level of production at the moment. To put it another way, he’s struck out 109 batters over 64-2/3 innings while only allowing 43 hits.
I don’t know. Is that good?
#29 Kyle Muller, ATL, LHP, Age: 21
Is it wrong to say that the Atlanta fARM system may be a bit overrated? Even though Mike Soroka has been very good for the MLB team, Touki Touissant, Luiz Gohara, and Kolby Allard have all been pretty meh upon promotion.
While most reports coming out of big publications will focus on names like Drew Waters and Cristian Pache, Muller has been showing out in AA. Now, the command this year has been… bad. After seemingly figuring it out over the course of six starts, he’s fallen back into his old ways. 50 walks (no IBB) over 78 innings is no bueno.
Still, you can see the ace in Muller. He is a big boy with a live arm, repeatable action, and three plus pitches. If he can find a way to gain some semblance of control, he will be an everyday starter with room for more.
Guys Travis is High on, I’m Not So Much
UR Jonathan Loaisiga, NYY, RHP, Age: 24
For a guy who doesn’t like oft-injured tiny men, I’m not sure what Travis is doing here. 165 pounds on a 5’11” frame? What is that? How does that even look? It sounds like an old school Barbie doll. Let’s not body shame though.
Here’s what’s important: He has not pitched more than 34 innings since 2013 when he pitched 68 innings in rookie ball. This year there was some buzz when he opened the season as a starter, but guess what? Injury!
Travis has the audacity to rank him 38th? 38th! Loiaisiga would be lucky to pitch 38 innings this year.
Have fun with your bullpen arm.
#53 Brent Honeywell, TBR, RHP, Age: 24
Same as Loaisiga but sadder. Honeywell’s season was cut short with a fractured elbow. Well, what happened? Dune buggy accident? A fight with a bear? Nope. A bullpen session. He was throwing a baseball and fractured his elbow. This was after he had been shut down with forearm soreness.
Obviously, I’m more rosy on Honeywell because I want to believe that the screwball is a real thing, but by the time he arrives in the majors we’ll be well into 2020 and there is no telling how a forward-thinking organization like the Rays will handle him. Especially when he’s proven to be this frail and they have so many arms.
The truth of the matter is that, until the player comes stateside, scouting surrounding international prospects is suspect at best. Big media outlets do not have much of a footprint in the Dominican or South America and so they’re completely reliant on scouts and agents who clearly have their own motives when discussing arms. Unless they’re something really special or in the KBO/NPBL, I’m not ranking them before a season in rookie ball. If I miss out on the ground floor, I miss out.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)
Adam, thanks for clarifying on Spencer Jones (although he was drafted in the 31st and I assume is going to Vandy). I do have a few further questions:
– Would you explain a little further your love for Cody Carroll to rank him 16th? Do you see him as more than a relief-only prospect at this point?
– I was also extremely surprised to see Cody Sedlock at 45, he’s struggled mightily the last few seasons, and is now 24 and pitching in A ball. Do you believe in a large bounceback?
– Finally, Cole Stapler is a name I’d never heard, even though I’m in deep dynasty leagues. He’s also 24 pitching in A ball. What factors led you to place him on your list?
– Sedlock: He was a high pedigree name during the 2016 draft and very good during his initial rookie ball. In 2017 he suffered from what seems to be an undiagnosed case of TOS during and took a year off to recover. He’s come out guns blazing. In this instance age doesn’t matter as much to me. The talent is clearly there and the healing process seems to have worked. I’m happy to let others overlook him if it means I’m getting a big bounceback candidate.
– Carroll. I’ll admit it’s aggressive and he’s likely a future closer. Still, I’m a sucker for big fastballs and nasty sliders. He dominated at every stop before having lost last season and this one to injury. I think of him as a pre-Sedlock and, if he’s lost to injury this year, will make a steep decline.
-Stapler: Consider him a dart throw at my #99 rank. His K/9 + WHIP, even in a league where he’s advanced for his age, is impressive. Pitcher growth is not linear. Some guys can unlock at an advanced age. It happens all the time. I’m watching Stapler with a keen eye and seeing if (1) when he gets promoted and (2) how he does at the next level.
Could you elaborate on your low ranking of GrayRod compared to Travis?
He’s 19, he’s big, and he walks a lot. I think 59 is a pretty respectable slot for him at this point, especially when the velocity has reportedly ebbed and flowed. Don’t get me wrong, I like his stuff a lot. I’m just proceeding cautiously with him. If Travis hadn’t written him up already, I would have picked him as my biggest riser. But ya know, gotta spread around the analysis for the reader.