Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hot Stove Update: Zimmermann to Tigers

The Detroit Tigers reportedly agreed to terms today on a free agent contract with RHP Jordan Zimmermann.  The deal has yet to be confirmed by the Tigers.  The price tag is pegged at 5 years/$110 M for an AAV of $22 M.  Zimmermann has been a model of consistency for the past 5 seasons for the Washington Nationals, although 2014 was his best season and 2015 his least good(although it was still quite good).  His cumulative line over that time frame is plus 7 games in 2010, is 70-50, 3.32, 1094 IP, 7.43 K/9 and 1.82 BB/9 with a cumulative fWAR of 20.3.  His fWAR per season has ranged from 3.0 in 2015 to 5.3 in 2014.  His FB velocity has belt steady at 93.0 MPH last year compared to a career average of 93.5.

The Tigers most likely decided they were not in contention for either to the top tier players, David Price or Zack Greinke so grabbed Zimm while the rest of MLB was focused on the lead group which was probably a smart strategy.  Still, he did not come cheaply.  Detroit is paying for an anticipated production of about 3.5 fWAR per season going forward which is just under his career average, although he has topped it just once so far in his career.

In addition, the Tigers take on at least a perceived risk of a long term commitment to a pitcher with a history of Tommy John surgery.  Zimmermann is entering a window where historically, the incidence of recurrent UCL tears starts to dramatically increase.  On top of that, successful recovery rates for second TJ surgeries is notoriously poor.  Whereas a first time UCL tear would likely result in just one lost year out of the 5 in the contract, a second time tear likely busts the remainder of the contract.

So, how does Zimmermann's signing impact the Giants?  More than one analyst predicted the Giants as the team signing him and he certainly had significant support among Giants fans.  I have always been lukewarm at best on him due to the TJ issue which I think is bigger than it's being given credit for.  The signing also likely creates a rough benchmark for both higher and lower rated players in the free agent market.  I would probably slot Zimmermann between Johnny Cueto above and Mike Leake and Jeff Samardzija below in the FA pitcher hierarchy with the 5/$110 representing an absolute floor for Cueto and an absolute ceiling for Leake and Samardzija.

It also takes away one fallback option should the Giants fail or give up their pursuit of one of the top tier pitchers, Price or Greinke.  Leake is on record as saying he wants to choose a team and sign quickly.  If somebody jumps up and convinces Leake to sign with them, who are the Giants left to choose from if they they strike out on Price/Greinke.  So, Zimmermann's signing puts some pressure on the Giants to put their final, best offers up for the top tier guys and move on quickly if they get rejected.

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Impact Rookies- Mallex Smith

With the Hot Stove so cold it's practically frozen over, we'll just keep plodding along with anther Fantasy Focus here. 

Most fantasy baseball leagues have SB's as one of 5 offensive categories in their scoring which means it counts for 20% of your potential offensive score and 10% of your overall score.  Last season was a bit stronger for SB's than 2014, but it was still a weak category.  There were no players with as many as 60 SB's last year, just 2 with 50 or more(Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton), 3 with 40 or more and 7 with 30 or more.  Out of 30 players with 20 or more SB's, just 4 had as many as 20 HR's.  With the virtual disappearance of the 20/20 player, winning the SB category almost impossible without sacrificing the power categories.  Last season, I overpaid in the draft for both Gordon and Hamilton which cornered the market on 50 SB guys and enabled me to ignore SB's from my other offensive players.

If you don't dig overspending for SB's, or if someone else outbids you or beats you to Gordon or Hamilton, I have a sleeper prospect you might want to tuck away in your back pocket out of the Braves organization.  Here's his profile:

Mallex Smith, OF.  B-L, T-R.  23 yo for 2016 season.  5'9", 160 lbs.  

2015 AA:  .340/.418/.413, 23 SB, 11.3 BB%, 17.1 K%, 240 PA.
2015 AAA:  .281/.339/.367, 34 SB, 7.8 BB%, 14.3 K%, 307 PA.

That's 57 totals SB's in the 5 month minor league season.  He had 88 in 2014 and 64 in 2013 at lower levels.  Despite a lack of power, he's managed to maintain a BB% double digits at all levels prior to AAA while keeping his K% below 20.  Best comp in MLB is probably Ben Revere.  Opportunity is critical when it comes to fantasy baseball.  You may love Andrew Susac as a catching prospect, but he is never going to play much as long as he's in the same organization as Buster Posey.  Mallex Smith may not be a premium prospect, but there is not much standing in the way of playing time in Atlanta.  The Braves may keep him down for a couple of months to delay his arbitration clock, but he is almost certainly going to get his chance to start in the OF and lead off for the Braves in 2016.  Monitor him closely.  When he gets the callup, he'll be a nice, cheap source of SB's.  Oh, and he has a great name!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Down on the Farm: Minor League Free Agent Signings

The Giants signed a handful of minor league free agents last week.  We already discussed Kyle Blanks who was signed earlier.  Here's the breakdown:

Albert Suarez, RHP.  26 yo.  6'3", 235 lbs.  2015 AA:  11-9, 2.98, 163 IP, 6.68 K/9, 2.21 BB/9.  Suarez came up through the Rays organization, but spent last season pitching for the Angels AA affiliate in Midland, TX.  He has been a relatively low K/high BB pitchers over the years.  Last year was an improvement on those ratios, particularly BB's.  Ceiling is probably 5'th starter on a non-contending team.

Hak-Ju Lee, SS.  B-L, T-R. 25 yo.  6'2", 170 lbs.  2015 AAA:  .220/.303/.304, 3 HR, 20 SB, 9.7 BB%, 29.2 K% in 313 PA.  Hak-Ju was once a heralded prospect in the Rays system.  The word on him is he is a plus defender of that premium position, but he has never hit a lick.  So, is he fixable?  Here's my theory, which may or may not be reality:  The Rays are well known to be a strongly SABR oriented team.  Looking at Lee's stat line, you see the high walks and high strikeouts.  He's a 3-true outcomes player without the dingers and the results are predictably ugly.  I'll guess the Rays, in their development process strongly encouraged him to try to take walks.  The cost of taking a lot of walks is hitting in more 2-strike counts which leads to more K's and weaker contact on balls you do manage to put in play.  Lee now comes to an organization that encourages a high contact approach which involves swinging at hittable pitches earlier in the counts.  Players like Joe Panik, Matt Duffy and Kelby Tomlinson have shown this approach can increase hard contact without completely sacrificing walks.  Of course, both approaches still require pitch recognitions skills which Hak-Ju might not have.  It also may be difficult to completely re-tool your approach this late in your career.  This one is going to be interesting to watch.

Ricky Romero, LHP.  31 yo.  6'1", 210 lbs.  Romero hooked on with the Giants last year, but only appeared in 8 innings in Arizona with a 5.63 ERA.  He'll try to get a full season in next season.

Junior Arias, OF, 24 yo, 6'2", 178 lbs, B-R, T-R.  2015 A+(Reds):  .243/.286/.379, 11 HR, 37 SB, 5.1 BB%, 25.9 K%.  A hacker with some power and speed.  Not sure what you do with these guys except give them more PA's and hope they develop better plate discipline.

Carlos Moncrief, OF, 27 yo, 6/0", 220 lbs.  B-L, T-R.  2015 AA(Indians):  .261/.368/.397, 4 HR, 6 SB, 14.4 BB%, 11.9 K%, 236 PA.  AAA(Indians):  .187/.322/.331, 7 HR, 5 SB, 15.8 BB%, 29.1 K%, 203 PA.  Don't get too excited over the low BB% in AA. It's an outlier on the rest of his career.  He's a 3 true outcomes guy with some power.  May also benefit from a more aggressive approach earlier in counts.

The Giants also released RHP EJ Encinosa, LHP Nick Gonzalez, LHP Andrew Leenhouts and RHP Eric Sim.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Q/A

I'm on holiday today and I don't do the shopping thing, so fire away.  I'll try to answer questions about anything related to the Giants or baseball in general.  I'll check in frequently to write up answers.

Dr B

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Down on the Farm: Another Way of Looking at the 2011 Draft

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!  Here is some reading to pass the time while the turkey is in the oven.

When we reviewed the Giants 2011 draft, we got to see how the drafted players were progressing in their careers, but did not have the context of how other team's prospects are doing.  To review all 1500 draft picks is too long and laborious in undertaking for this blogger.  Instead, I reviewed all of the first round draft picks plus added in any names I recognize from later rounds as having played in the majors or else players still in the minors but considered top prospects.  This is a quick and dirty study, so i'll say upfront that I may well be missing an important name here and there.  I do think it helps give a general idea of the relative strength of the Giants draft compared to other MLB teams:

1.  Pirates:  Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA.  2015:  19-8, 2.60, 204 IP, 8.74 K/9, 1.90 BB/9, FB 95.5 MPH, 5.4 fWAR(Total MLB fWAR= 10.2).  Cole is not quite in the top tier of MLB pitchers, but he's dang close and may well achieve that distinction as soon as 2016.  His career fWAR of 10.2 is by far the most of any 2011 draftee, so the Pirates made the right pick.  Josh Bell(Round 2) and Tyler Glasnow(round 5) are the two other draftees most likely to make a future impact with Glasnow, in particular, being one of the likely top 5-10 prospects in baseball.

2.  Mariners:  Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia.  Hultzen started his pro career strong, but soon fell victim to injuries.  He has just 43.2 IP over the past 3 seasons and was DFA'd off the Mariners 40 man roster last week.  DFA'd prospects have worked their way back onto 40 man rosters before, but right now the future does not look bright for this #2 overall pick.  Other Mariners 2011 draftees of note include SS Brad Miller(Round 2), RHP Carter Capps(Round 3S) and RHP Carson Smith(Round 8).  Smith is the team's current closer.  Miller and Capps are in other organizations.

3.  D'Backs:  Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA.  2015:  11-12, 4.55, 176 IP, 8.69 K/9, 4.04 BB/9, FB 92.7 MPH, 1.8 fWAR(Career fWAR= 2.8).  Bauer was billed as a bigger, stronger version of Tim Lincecum.  He has suffered from command/control issues from the start.  He reportedly clashed with D'Backs coaches and was traded to Cleveland where he finally turned in a decent MLB season.  Unlikely to be any Cy Young Awards in his future.  The D'Backs also had the #7 overall pick in the draft with which they drafted RHP Archie Bradley.

4.  Orioles:  Dylan Bundy, RHP, HS.  AA:  0-3, 3.68, 22 IP, 10.23 K/9, 2.05 BB/9.  Dylan Bundy was once considered one of the elite pitching prospects in baseball.  Then TJ came knocking on his door and his recovery took longer than expected.  He was quite good in his return to action, but was shut down early in the AFL this fall due to shoulder pain.  I did not recognize any other names from the O's 2011 draft, so Bundy and his shoulder may be all that stands between them and coming up empty for the draft.

5.  Royals:  Bubba Starling, OF, HS.  2015:  AA:  .254/.318/.426, 10 HR, 366 PA.  AFL:  .274/.350/.440, 4 HR, 5 SB.  Big OF with some tools.   Continues to have a high ceiling but has yet to break out.  Continues to have significant bust potential.  His current numbers suggest a fringy MLB career.  The only other name I recognize from the Royals draft is OF Terrance Gore(Round 20) whose MLB career may consist of pinch-running in the postseason.

6.  Nationals:  Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice.  2015:  MLB:  .264/.344/.363, 5 HR, 355 PA, fWAR 0.9(Career fWAR= 8.9).  Rendon has been very good when healthy which has not been very often.  There are no other names I recognize from the Nationals draft.

7.  D'Backs:  Archie Bradley, RHP, HS.  2015  MLB:  2-3, 5.80, 35.3 IP, 5.80 K/9, 5.55 BB/9.  Comp pick for failing(purposefully, IMO) to sign Barrett Loux in 2014.  Bradley is a big hard throwing kid who has struggled with command/control issues.  Still has a high ceiling, but slower to realize it than expected and has big time bust potential.  2 other names I recognize from the D'Backs draft are LHP Andrew Chafin(Round 1S) and RHP Evan Marshall(Round 4).

8.  Indians:  Francisco Lindor, SS, HS.  2015 MLB:  .313/.353/.482, 12 HR, 12 SB, 4.6 fWAR.  Lindor has always been an elite defensive SS.  His offensive debut was unexpectedly strong.  If he can build on that, he could be THE pick of this draft.  The Indians better hope he is, because I do not recognize any other names from the Indians draft.

9.  Cubs:  Javier Baez, SS, HS.  2015 MLB:  .289/.325/.408, 1 HR, 80 PA, 0.5 fWAR(Career fWAR= -0.3).  Baez has hit dingers in bunches in the minors, but his 30%+ K rates seem to have caught up with him in the majors.  He is probably not a MLB SS either and has no clear position to play.  High ceiling, high bust potential.  I was surprised to not find any other names I recognized in this Cubs draft.

10.  Padres:  Cory Spangenburg, 2B, JC.  2015 MLB:  .271/.333/.399, 4 HR, 9 SB, 345 PA, 2.1 fWAR.  Some things to like here, but Spangenburg's power has never developed which probably does not endear him to Padres GM AJ Preller.  Has played 3B more in the majors.  The Padres also had the 25'th overall pick in the draft taking RHP Joe Ross.

11.  Astros:  George Springer, OF, Connecticut.  2015 MLB:  .276/.367/.459, 16 HR, 16 SB, 3.7 fWAR(Career fWAR= 5.3).  Likely future 30/30 guy if he can keep the K's under control.  Nice pick for the "Stros.  Other 2011 draftees I recognized were RHP Nick Tropeano(Round 5) and 3B Matt Duffy(Round 20).  Tropeano is now in the Angels' organization, traded for Hank Conger.  Matt Duffy is not Matt Duffy!

12.  Brewers:  Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas.  2015 MLB:  9-8, 3.77, 119.1 IP, 8.07 K/9, 3.54 BB/9, FB 91.9 MPH, fWAR 1.6.  Jungmann fits the Brewers mold of low ceiling high floor pitchers.  Could develop into something more, but profiles as a #3-4 SP.  The Brewers also had the #15 overall pick with which they took LHP Jed Bradley.

13.  Mets:  Brandon Nimmo, OF HS.  AAA:  .264/.393/.418, 3 HR, 5 SB, 112 PA.  Big OF with some tools who popped up late in the draft out of Wyoming.  Some things to like here, but still has a ways to go.  High ceiling/High bust but more likely something in-between, much like Bubba Starling, a very similar prospect.  Other 2015 Mets draftees I recognize are RHP Michael Fulmer(Round 1.5) and RHP Logan Verrett(Round 3).  Fulmer was traded to Detroit in the Cespedes trade.

14.  Marlins:  Jose Fernandez, RHP, HS.  2015 MLB:  6-1, 2.92, 64.2 IP, 10.99 K/9, 1.95 BB/9, FB 95.9 MPH, 2.1 fWAR(Career fWAR= 7.8.  Strong return from TJ surgery. One of the best pitchers in baseball when his sophomore season was interrupted by the UCL tear.  Rumors of discord with Owner Jeffrey Loria seem to be getting smoothed over.  The only other 2015 draftee whose name I recognize is C Austin Barnes(Round 9).  He was traded to the Dodgers in the Dee Gordon trade.

15. Brewers:  Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech.  2015 AAA:  2-4, 9.00, 26 IP, 5.19 K/9, 3.46 BB/9.  Well, he's at AAA, but I'm not sure there is anything else positive to say.  His numbers at each stop have been less than impressive.  I do not recognize any other 2015 Brewers draftees.

16.  Dodgers:  Chris Reed, LHP, Stanford.  Frank McCourt reportedly did not want to spend money on the draft, so he wasted the money he did spend.  Reed pitched 4 AAA innings for the Marlins this year.    He had unimpressive numbers in the Dodgers organization.  I did not find any other names I recognized from the Dodgers draft list.

17.  Angels:  CJ Cron, 1B, Utah.   2015 MLB:  .262/.300/.439, 16 HR, 404 PA, 0.5 fWAR(Career fWAR 0.2).  Cron hit reasonably well in his first extended MLB experience.  He has a bat that will hit for both average and power.  He's a big body who is limited to 1B and DH defensively.  Other names from the Angels draft list I recognize are OF Zach Borenstein(Round 23) and C Jett Bandy(Round 31).

18.  Athletics:  Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt.  2015 MLB:  14-7, 2.73, 208 IP, 7.31 K/9, 2.55 BB/9, 3.8 fWAR(Career fWAR= 8.4).  Quintessential Moneyball pick.  While teams higher in the draft order chased 5-tool HS studs and flame throwing pitchers jonesing for TJ surgery, Solid Sonny Gray who had more than adequate velocity and great command to go with it.  If the A's could afford to draft Sonny Gray, the Dodgers certainly could too, and Gray was the better prospect by several orders of magnitude.  The only other name of the A's draft list I recognize is RHP Blake Treinen(Round 7) who is in the Nationals organization now.

19.  Red Sox:  Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut.  2015 MLB:  3-4, 5.44, 43 IP, 8.16 K/9, 3.14 BB/9, FB 94.7 MPH, -0.4 fWAR.  The K/9 and velocity would suggest there is more here than the ERA would lead you to believe.  The Red Sox also had the #26 pick and took Blake Swihart with it.

20.  Rockies:  Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon.  2014 AA:  7-4, 1.98, 118.1 IP, 8.06 K/9, 3.04 BB/9.  Anderson missed the 2015 season, presumably spending the time with TJ.  Has pitched very well when healthy.  Other names I recognize from the Rockies draft list:  SS Trevor Story(Round 1S), SS Taylor Featherston(Round 5).  Featherston was taken by the Angels in last year's Rule 5 draft and spent the season stashed on their bench.

21.  Blue Jays:  Tyler Beede, RHP, HS.  As we all know, Beede did not sign and was drafted #15 overall by the Giants in 2014 after a college career at Vanderbilt.  Other BJ's draftees from 2015 include LHP Daniel Norris(Round 2), RHP Anthony DesSclafini(Round 6) and OF Kevin Pillar(Round 32).  Norris and DeSclafini were traded out of the organization for David Price and Jose Reyes respectively.

22.  Cardinals:  Kolton Wong, 2B, Hawaii.  2015 MLB:  .262/.321/.386, 11 HR, 15 SB, 2.3 fWAR(Career fWAR= 3.9)  Somewhat disappointing numbers after a late season splash in his 2014 MLB debut.  2016 will be a pivotal season in his career.  Interestingly, the only other name I recognize from this Cardinals draft is RHP Seth Maness(Round 11).

23.  Nationals:  Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky.  2015 AAA:  4-5, 4.79, 92 IP, 9.78 K/9, 4.70 BB/9, FB 95.6 MPH.  Big, tall dude.  Meyer has struggled with command his entire minor league career.  He is now in the Twins organization where he may have a future in the bullpen. Meyer was the Nationals second pick in this draft.  I did not see any other names I recognized from their draft list.

24. Rays:  Taylor Guerreri, RHP, HS.  2015 AA:  3-1, 1.50, 36 IP, 7.00 K/9, 2.00 BB/9.  Like many fireballing HS pitchers, he missed some time for TJ, but the numbers suggest he may still be a high ceiling prospect.  The Rays also had picks 31 and 32 in the first round of this draft.

25.  Padres:  Joe Ross, RHP, HS.  2015 MLB(Nationals):  5-5, 3.64, 76.2 IP, 8.10 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, 1.4 fWAR.  Ross was the Padres second pick in this draft.  He was traded to the Nationals with Trea Turner in the 3-way that brought back Wil Myers.  Other names I recognize from the Padres draft include C Austin Hedges(Round 2), RHP Matt Andriese(Round 3), RHP Paul Quackenbush(Round 8) and RHP Burch Smith(Round 14).

26. Red Sox:  Blake Swihart, C, HS.  2015 MLB:  .274/.319/.392, 5 HR, 4 SB, 1.5 fWAR.  Swihart was the second Red Sox pick in this draft.  He is an offense-first catcher whose D has improved enough to start at the position at the MLB level.  He looks like the BoSox catcher of the future.  Other recognizable names on the Red Sox draft list include LHP Henry Owens(Round 1S), OF Jackie Bradley Jr(Round 1S), 2B/OF Mookie Betts(Round 5) and 1B Travis Shaw(Round 9).  Great haul for the Red Sox who stockpiled high draft picks and got several high level prospects who have performed up to expectations.

27.  Reds:  Robert Stephenson, RHP, HS.  2015 AAA:  4-4, 4.04, 55.2 IP, 8.25 K/9, 4.37 BB/9.  Analysts keep raving about what a great prospect Stephenson is, but the numbers have not matched the hype.  Other names from this Reds draft include LHP Tony Cingrani(Round 3) and LHP Amir Garrett(Round 22).  Garrett looked a lot like Aroldis Chapman in the Futures Game.  Cingrani pitched unhappily out of the Red bullpen in 2015.

28.  Braves:  Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Florida State.  2015 MLB(Mets):  3-2, 2.67, 57.1 IP, 8.48 K/9, 2.83 BB/9, 0.9 fWAR.  Gilmartin was traded to the Twins then the Mets.  He pitched well as a swing man/long reliever in 2015.  He could have a nice career as a Jeremy Affeldt-type lefty reliever.  Other Braves 2015 draftees I recognize are SS Nick Ahmed(Round 2) and 2B Tommy LaStella(Round 8) both of whom are now with other organizations.

29.  Giants:  Joe Panik, SS, St Johns.  Career fWAR 5.8.  We've already written up the Giants draft in a previous post.  So, what did the Giants see in Joe Panik that others did not?  The single most important tool out of the classic 5 is the hardest to recognize and is often overlooked or discounted.  The Giants recognized Joe Panik's hit tool and figured that it was good enough that he did not have to stay at SS, but as a college SS he had the athleticism to play some position well.  Great pick!  As for the rest of their draft, using the same methodology, if I was a fan of some other team, I am quite sure I would still recognize Susac, Tomlinson, Osich, Blackburn, Crick and Black.  I would probably overlook Cody Hall, Derek Law and Jake Smith.

30.  Twins:  Levi Michael, SS, North Carolina.  2015 AA:  .267/.369/.434, 5 HR, 18 SB, 264 PA.  I did not recognize any other names on the Twins draft list.

31.  Rays:  Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU.  2015 MLB:  .295/.351/.619, 9 HR, 4 SB, 115 PA's, 1.8 fWAR.  Quite the splash for his MLB debut!  Low BB rate and high K rate suggest this might not be sustainable.  Mahtook was the second of 3 Rays first round selections.

32.  Rays:  Jake Hager, SS, HS.  2015 AA:  .271/.316/.376, 4 HR, 4 SB 490 PA.  I did not recognize any other names from the Rays draft list.

33.  Rangers:  Kevin Matthews, LHP, HS.  Has had shoulder issues and has never gotten traction on his pro career.  Just 8.1 IP in 2015.  The only other recognizable name from the Rangers draft is RHP Jerad Eickoff(Round 15) who was traded to Philly in the Hamels trade and made is MLB debut with the Phils.

There were 4 teams who did not have first round draft picks in the 2011 draft:  Phillies, Yankees, Tigers and White Sox.  I will list the recognizable players from each of those teams draft list:

Phillies:  3B Cody Asche(Round 4), RHP Ken Giles(Round 5).

Yankees:  1B Greg Bird(Round 5).

Tigers:  C James McCann(Round 2).

White Sox:  SS Marcus Semien(Round 6).


Comments:  It probably takes at least 10 years before you can fully evaluate a draft, but 5 years is a pretty decent window where you can get a pretty good idea of where things are headed.

Ranking these drafts in terms of the impact on MLB talent/production, regardless of draft position or numbers of picks I would probably go:

1.  Red Sox
2. Pirates
3. Giants

If you define draft success as getting at least 1 player who makes a meaningful MLB contribution, 19 out of 30 teams would meet that criteria with several more still having a chance to meet it down the road.  If you up the stakes and say you need at least 1 player with 2+ fWAR or 2 players who make a meaningful MLB contribution the number goes down to 14, less than half, with several teams still having a chance to join that group.

The higher a team drafts, the more likely they are to land a star player, but it is by no means a guarantee.  Some of the worst results in this draft were from teams drafting in the top 10 or even top 5 which may partly explain why they were drafting that high.  Multiple first round picks increases your chances of success, but also is no guarantee.

Teams that can consistently get 2 or more contributing players out of their drafts have a significant competitive advantage over the rest of the league.

Pre-draft prospect rankings appear to be poor predictors of future success after being drafted, although in general, odds are way better for first rounders than any other rounds.  Once you get past the second round, it is actually quite uncommon to draft a contributing player, let alone an star player.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Impact Rookies- Corey Seager

OK, this will be a bit of a downer for us Giants fans, so let's get it out of the way early.  Corey Seager will likely go into the season as the #1 prospect in all of baseball and he's a Dodger.   A former first round draft pick, Seager has raked at every level in the minors.  He got a September callup last year and played a big part in the Dodgers stretch run.  He's listed as a SS and that's where he got most of his September PT, but he probably is more of a 3B in the long run.  He is 6'4", 215 lbs, B-L, T-R.  His line  in 113 MLB PA's:  .337/.425/.561, 4 HR, 12.4 BB%, 16.8 K%.  Steamer's projection for him in 2016 is a more modest .265/.315/.423, 16 HR, 5 SB in 579 PA.

He was a negative defender at SS in his MLB debut, which could improve with experience.  The Dodgers may also choose to move him to 3B right away which is probably his long term position.  For Fantasy purposes, he will have SS eligibility in 2016 and should be drafted in all leagues.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Down on the Farm: 2011 Giants Draft Review

The recent 40 man roster adds of mostly players from the 2011 draft got me to thinking about doing a full review of those drafts to see where the players are at this point in their careers.  2011 was the year the Giants drafted Joe Panik in the first round, #29 overall, to much laughter and eye rolling among commentators on the MLB channel.  The pick was savaged by other analysts such as Keith Law of ESPN who famously called Joe a "utility infielder at best".   Here's the Giants complete draft list from 2011 excluding players who ended up not signing.  We'll list them by round with the highest level reached and their 2015 stats if they are still playing:

Round 1(#29):  Joe Panik, SS, St Johns.  MLB:  .312/.378/.455, 8 HR, 100 games.  Panik was in the middle of a tremendous season having earned 4.2 fWAR points by just past the halfway mark when he was stricken with a back injury that never completely healed.  Projected to 160 games, he was on a pace for a 6+ fWAR season which would have made him the top 2B in MLB by a safe margin.  He has earned 5.8 fWAR points in just over a full season's worth of PA's over 2 seasons.  On top of that, the Giants probably do not win the 2014 WS without him as his stellar play at 2B down the stretch was an immense help in securing a Wild Card spot and then there was his possibly game-saving play in Game 7 of the WS.  This draft would already be a success if no one else but Joe Panik reached the major leagues!  The challenge going forward is keeping the back healthy.  2016 will be a pivotal year in that regard.

Round 1(S):  Kyle Crick, RHP, HS.  AA:  3-4, 3.29, 63 IP, 10.43 K/9, 9.43 BB/9.  Cricky still has the fantastic stuff, but has struggled with his control.  Moving to the bullpen helped some, but he was still wild.  Added to the 40 man roster, the Giants have clearly not given up on him.  Ceiling is an elite closer or a #1/2 SP, but the bust potential is definitely there.

Round 2:  Andrew Susac, C, Oregon St.  MLB:  .218/.279/.368, 3 HR in 148 PA.  Susac struggled all season with a bad wrist and finally ended up having surgery early this offseason.  He's a terrific hitter when fully healthy and an adequate defensive catcher with room to improve.  As with all catchers, his future depends largely on being able to stay healthy.

Round 3:  Ricky Oropesa, 1B, USC.  AA:  .254/.311/.424, 17 HR in 499 PA.  Ricky has struggled mightily at AA.  His 17 HR's were tied for 3'rd in the EL, but most of them came in 2 hot streaks.  He's hoping for an assignment to Sacramento in 2016 where the PCL may feel more like home to the California kid.

Round 4:  Bryce Bandilla, LHP, Arizona.  DNP 2015.  Status unclear.  Bandilla was the first of a string of hard throwing college relievers taken in this draft.

Round 5:  Chris Marlowe, RHP, Oklahoma St.  Last played 2013, High A.

Round 6:  Josh Osich, LHP, Oregon St.  MLB:  2-0, 2.20, 28.2 IP, 8.48 K/9, 2.51 BB/9.  Started the season in AA, spent just a couple of game in AAA then made in immediate impact in the Giants bullpen with a mid-high 90's FB and a wicked change up.  Odds on favorite to make the 2016 Opening Day 25 man roster as Jeremy Affledt's replacement.

Round 7:  Ray Black, RHP, Pitt.  High A:  2-1, 2.88, 18.36 K/9, 9.00 BB/9.  Black routinely hit triple digits out of the SJ bullpen then lit up the guns in the Arizona Fall League topping out at 104 MPH.  A strange midseason trial as a SP did not work out.  His future is in the bullpen and could arrive in 2016.  The BB's are worrisome as is his injury history, but he's been mostly healthy for 2 seasons now and he does have stretches with apparently good control of the strike zone.

Round 8:  Jean Delgado, SS HS PR.  Last played 2013 Short Season.

Round 9:  Derek Law, RHP, JC.  AA:  0-1, 4.56, 25.2 IP, 11.22 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, 13 Saves.  Coming off TJ surgery, the ERA was a bit disappointing, but the K and BB ratios look great.  Look for a big breakout in 2016.

Round 10.  Kentrell Hill, OF, Ark. Baptist.  Last played 2013 Short Season.

Round 11.  Christian Diaz, OF, HS PR.  Last played 2012 Rookie.

Round 12.  Kelby Tomlinson, SS, Texas Tech.  MLB:  .303/.358/.404, 2 HR, 5 SB 193 PA.  Tomlinson had to stand in the gap when Joe Panik went down and did so admirably.  He started out shaky on defense but improved immensely with a little experience.  At the plate, he just kept pecking away and was one of the toughest outs in the lineup all the way to the end of the season.  Will likely be the #1 utility IF to start 2016.

Round 14:  Garrett Buechele, 3B, Oklahoma.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 16:  Clayton Blackburn, RHP, HS.  AAA:  10-4, 2.85, 123 IP, 7.24 BB/9, 2.34 BB/9.  Blackburn has worked his way up the organizational ladder.  He got himself into tremendous shape for the 2015 season and is paid off with the top SP performance in the entire PCL by a wide margin.  Not much left to prove in the minors.  Some analysts question whether he has the stuff to be more than a back-end SP in the majors. Hey! You never know until you try!

Round 17:  Paul Davis, RHP, Florida Atlantic.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 18:  Cristian Otero, SS, HS PR.  Last played 2012, Short Season.

Round 19:  Cody Hall, RHP, Southern.  MLB:  0-0, 6.48, 8.1 IP, 7.56 K/9, 4.32 BB/9.  Had a 3.46 ERA in AAA.  The hard throwing RHP showed flashes of brilliance in a brief MLB callup in September.  Will compete for a bullpen spot in the spring, but will likely start the season in AAA.

Round 20:  Mitchell Beacom, LHP, UCLA.  Last played 2012 High A.

Round 21:  Cameron McVey, RHP, Biola.  Last played 2014 Short Season.

Round 23:  Jonathan Jones, 3B, Canada JC.  Last played 2014 Short Season.

Round 24:  Keith Bilodeau, RHP, Maine.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 25:  Demondre Arnold, RHP, JC.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 26:  Joe Biagini, RHP, UC Davis.  AA:  10-7, 2.42, 130.1 IP, 5.80 K/9, 2.35 BB/9.  Big Joe had something of a breakout season in 2015 although some would scoff at the low K rate.  He throws hard and tries to induce weak contact.   Was left unprotected in the 2015 Rule 5 draft and I could see some team taking a flyer on him, although the Giants have not had a player selected in the Rule 5 draft since Joe Paterson a long time ago.

Round 27:  Jack Snodgrass, LHP, Austin Peay St.  AAA:  1-2, 4.84, 27.1 IP, 8.06 K/9, 4.84 BB/9.  Tall lefty.  Could still emerge in a second AAA season.  Most likely ceiling is MLB lefty specialist.

Round 28:  Tyler Mizenko, RHP, Winthrop.  AA:  4-3, 1.98, 50 IP, 5.04 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, 4 Saves.  Was a closer at lower levels, but probably does not K enough to close at higher levels.  He's an extreme GB pitcher who could thrive as a long-middle reliever.

Round 29:  Eldred Barnett, OF, Grambling St.  Last played 2012 Rookie.

Round 31:  Phil McCormick, LHP, Missouri.  AA:  4-3, 2.04, 57.1 IP, 5.97 K/9, 3.30 BB/9, 5 Saves.  Lefty reliever who can go more than 1 inning.  Held his own in the AFL.  Let's see what he can do in the big bad PCL!

Round 32:  Mike Mergenthaler, OF, Richmond.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 34:  Ben Thomas, 1B, Xavier.  Last played 2012, Low A.

Round 35:  Shawn Payne, OF, Georgia Southern.  Last played 2014 High A.

Round 38:  Brian Nicholson, 1B, Concordia.  Last played 2012 Short Season.

Round 41:  Steven Neff, LHP, South Carolina.  Last played 2014 Short Season.

Round 42:  Danny Sandbrink, RHP, Stanford.  Last played 2014 High A.

Round 43:  Drew Stiner, C, HS.  Last played 2013 Rookie.

Round 44:  Travious Relaford, SS, JC.  Low A: .237/.313/.292.  Hit with a 50 game suspension early this offsetseason which he will have to serve at the start of the 2016 season. Future was already on shaky ground.

Round 45:  Brian Maloney, LHP, Franklin Pierce.  Last played 2011 Short Season.

Round 46:  Elliott Blair, OF, Oklahoma.  Last played 2014 AA.

Round 48:  Jake Smith, RHP, Campbell.  High A:  4-4, 2.35, 84.1 IP 12.59 K/9, 2.24 BB/9, 16 Saves. Workhorse reliever for the great SJ bullpen in 2015.  Added to the 40 man roster a few days ago.  Looking to become a late round success story.

So there you have it.  This draft would be a success if no one else made the majors except Joe Panik.  In fact, 4 others have already played in the major leagues with Tomlinson, Osich and Susac making significant contributions.  4 others, Smith, Blackburn, Law and Black are on the 40 man roster and appear to be well on their way to MLB careers.  If Panik can stay healthy and just a couple more make it to the majors, this has a chance to be one of the all-time great Giants drafts.  This draft demonstrates the importance of competing for each round of the draft.  All it takes is finding 1 or 2 extra MLB players out of every draft class and you have established a significant competitive advantage over teams that stop paying attention after the first round.