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Thread: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats? (A question about ceilings)

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    Member membengal's Avatar
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    What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats? (A question about ceilings)

    Rather than goose this tangent that was starting in the other games thread, I thought it might be worth some discussion on its own.

    The set-up:

    Rosenthal has been a 9K/9 guy in his career.......in the minors. Does anyone really think he will continue at (a higher pace) that pace the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time through the league? Really?
    The response:

    Chapman's K/9 went from 12.0 in the minors to 14.3 in the majors. Rosenthal's K/9 went from 9.2 in the minors to 11.8 in the majors. I fail to see the problem.
    This kind of question also arose in the Xavier Paul thread (improved BB rate in majors vs. minors sustainable or fluke?). Older school, I remember it being said about Votto's power potential (he never hit more than 22 homeruns in a season in the minors, why would anyone think he can hit 30+ in the majors arguments).

    Which leads me to this...in terms of overall minor league track record, what can be reasonably guessed about a player's major league skillset? When it comes to the majors, we have discussed at length on this board over the years with regard to a large enough sample size that a player is who he is (think discussions over whether Gomes had changed approach enough to impact OBP - spoiler - he hadn't). Generally, for the vast majority of players, with a large enough major league sample size, you know what you are going to get.

    But what of a guy with a minors track record? Is it reasonable to look at a stat in the minors and project it to generally be his ceiling in the majors, a la the initial take on Rosenthal I quoted above? Or is it more of a prospect specific inquiry - meaning that blanket referrals to a minors track record as being the baseline for what to expect for that prospect in the majors are ill-taken.

    For the record, I tend to fall into the second camp. I don't generally find references to what a person has done in the minors to necessarily be exactly predictive of their major league ceilings for a category, and give weight to the fact that some players will hone their craft and fully develop their talents in their major league years, improving on minor league baselines. So, in the above exchange, I don't necessarily believe that reference to Rosenthal's minor league K:9 is predictive of his ceiling for same in the majors.

    Thoughts? Worth a thread? Discuss if it is!
    Last edited by membengal; 05-31-2013 at 09:28 AM.

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    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
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    Re: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by membengal View Post
    But what of a guy with a minor's track record? Is it reasonable to look at a stat in the minors and project it to generally be his ceiling in the majors, a la the initial take on Rosenthal I quoted above? Or is it more of a prospect specific inquiry - meaning that blanket referrals to a minors track record as being the baseline for what to expect for that prospect in the majors are ill-taken.
    After reading your post I cannot get BRANDON LARSON out of my mind.
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    OlafTheBlack Dan's Avatar
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    Re: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats?

    For me, I like to see the line stats (OBP,SLG,OPS) remain constant or improve in order to project a guy out. I also look at BB/K ratio, since I think that's the biggest indicator of what type of a hitter a guy is. The closer the BB/K ratio is to 1, the better hitter he is.
    Sabermetrics is this: A batter's goal is to extend the inning. Extend enough innings and you're going to score runs. Extend more innings than your opponent and you're going to score more runs than him.

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    Member membengal's Avatar
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    I am thinking more about ceilings rather than floors. Larson never lived up to his best minor league numbers. The question I am seeking to explore per its genesis on the other thread is whether a minor league track record at a certain level is predictive of the likely best they can be in the majors ( a la rosenthal's higher K rate so far in the majors than in the minors)....

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    Member membengal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan View Post
    For me, I like to see the line stats (OBP,SLG,OPS) remain constant or improve in order to project a guy out. I also look at BB/K ratio, since I think that's the biggest indicator of what type of a hitter a guy is. The closer the BB/K ratio is to 1, the better hitter he is.
    I don't disagree. But returning to the rosenthal example cited above, reasonable to expect his k:9 to settle back at majors to the minors level or is there room to assume the minors level doesn't represent his likely ceiling on that front? That is the stepping off point, anyway.

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    Re: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats?

    Depends on context: what was age of player - what environment did he play in- what position, etc...

    Minor League numbers does tell a story about a player and what he may become.

    As of right now, the position players in the Reds minor leagues is at the lowest I have seen in some time. There's not a lot there. It is very barren and they need a really good draft to get back on track.

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    Re: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats?

    I agree with above. Im skeptical of Hamilton. BUt I heard on WLWL last Sunday that Jesse Winker in AA is the next Jay Bruce which is good.

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    .377 in 1905 CySeymour's Avatar
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    Re: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats?

    I doubt you can look at any one stat for minor league players. The thing with Larson, though he could smash a fastball, he had not plate discipline. He basically flailed at anything and it got seriously exposed in the Majors.
    ...the 2-2 to Woodsen and here it comes...and it is swung on and missed! And Tom Browning has pitched a perfect game! Twenty-seven outs in a row, and he is being mobbed by his teammates, just to the thirdbase side of the mound.

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    Re: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by membengal View Post
    Is it reasonable to look at a stat in the minors and project it to generally be his ceiling in the majors, a la the initial take on Rosenthal I quoted above? Or is it more of a prospect specific inquiry - meaning that blanket referrals to a minors track record as being the baseline for what to expect for that prospect in the majors are ill-taken.
    If I'm reading the question correctly..then no, I don't think so.

    minor league numbers are neither a floor or a ceiling. Guys do develop. There are AAAA hitters who rake in AAA and just can't catch up in the majors.

    What's more.....Just looking at major league lines....funny (non PED) things happen all the time.

    Then you start talking about translating PCL numbers to the AL or the NL....

    That's not to imply that minor league numbers are useless, just take them with great big grains of salt.
    "Even a bad day at the ballpark beats the snot out of most other good days. I'll take my scorecard and pencil and beer and hot dog and rage at the dips and cheer at the highs, but I'm not ever going to stop loving this game and this team and nobody will ever take that away from me." Roy Tucker October 2010

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    Re: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats?

    For hitters, I always look at stuff like strikeout rate, walk rate, extra-base hit percentage, etc. I like to dig back into more skill related stats rather than cumulative stats like OPS just because I think it's easier to project core skills like contact ability and power. Hamilton had an .830 OPS last year, but dig into his stats at all and it becomes pretty obvious that isn't likely his projection moving forward.

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    Re: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats? (A question about ceilings)

    Quote Originally Posted by membengal View Post
    But what of a guy with a minors track record? Is it reasonable to look at a stat in the minors and project it to generally be his ceiling in the majors, a la the initial take on Rosenthal I quoted above? Or is it more of a prospect specific inquiry - meaning that blanket referrals to a minors track record as being the baseline for what to expect for that prospect in the majors are ill-taken.

    For the record, I tend to fall into the second camp.
    Same here, and I've noticed that ceiling assumption before, too. It might be the more probable case but it's certainly far from a universal rule. Obviously, a player of Skill Level X would expect to see his numbers dip or stay flat when he moves up to a tougher level of competition (the whole minor-league equivalencies thing), but we're not talking about finished products and X is not a static measure, so a player can improve fast enough to keep up as he gets promoted. It's more true of the really talented players, as they typically rocket through the minors while being young for their leagues and reach the show with plenty of room yet to improve.

    Quote Originally Posted by membengal View Post
    I don't disagree. But returning to the rosenthal example cited above, reasonable to expect his k:9 to settle back at majors to the minors level or is there room to assume the minors level doesn't represent his likely ceiling on that front? That is the stepping off point, anyway.
    One other factor specific to Rosenthal, he was a starter in the minors and is now relieving. Nothing unusual about a pitcher getting a K/9 bump when switching to the pen.
    Not all who wander are lost

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    Re: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats? (A question about ceilings)

    Good points in the first paragraph, Island, full agreement from me.

    As for the second paragraph, also, I think, well taken. I do not find it unreasonable that Rosenthal may sustain a higher K:9 in the majors as a reliever than he showed in the minors as a starter given his stuff and ability to throw it max over a short outing. Not saying he will sustain it, just that I don't necessarily find it unreasonable that he might.

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    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Re: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats? (A question about ceilings)

    What of Gregorius then?
    In over 2000 PAs in the minors he had an .694 OPS and yet we have those who see him as a plus special bat in the majors. (plus .800 OPS?).
    Are they being too optimistic?
    Yes, I know he is young, but he's 23, not 20 like Harper and Trout.
    "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."

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    Re: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by dfs View Post
    minor league numbers are neither a floor or a ceiling. Guys do develop. There are AAAA hitters who rake in AAA and just can't catch up in the majors.
    Be careful, I was completely ridiculed in the game thread last night for using the "AAAA" term and someone kept asking me where Cinci's AAAA affiliate is located.

    To me, I think the reason good hitters put up better stats once they reach the majors is because they have a better understanding of the strike zone than most.

    Major league pitchers are able to throw strikes more consistently. Hitters like Votto who have an excellent understanding of the strike zone are less likely going to swing at bad pitches and as a result you will not see high home runs and hit totals. Votto is the type of player that is at his best against good, consistent pitching, which is obviously not as common at the minor league level.

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    Re: What can be taken from a prospect's minors stats? (A question about ceilings)

    Quote Originally Posted by oneupper View Post
    What of Gregorius then?
    In over 2000 PAs in the minors he had an .694 OPS and yet we have those who see him as a plus special bat in the majors. (plus .800 OPS?).
    Are they being too optimistic?
    Yes, I know he is young, but he's 23, not 20 like Harper and Trout.
    That's where the stats vs. scouts divide that PDoc so loves to portray doesn't translate to real life. As much crap as he took for it, Doug always said Gregorius had soild power despite the numbers, and this year it's showing up (goes back to his stint in Louisville really). Everything else he's done in Arizona is pretty much in line with expectations outside of a lofty BABIP.


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