’16 40-Man Preview Extravaganza

Jay Yencich · November 14, 2016 at 7:30 am · Filed Under Minor Leagues 

The timetable having moved up a year since our last check-in (I always re-read my old articles, it seems faster that way), we are now looking at 2013 college draftees and early international and high school signings from 2012 due to be added before the end of day on Friday. This would mean protecting Edwin Diaz for the first time if he wasn’t already an amazing and intimidating closer! It would also mean protecting Tyler Olson if he weren’t at this moment in another organization and someone who often reminded us of good ol’ Anthony Vasquez. Never forget. As further disclaimer, which renders this paragraph mostly disclaimer at this point, roster legerdemain sometimes results in my international prospects being guesses. I came into this offseason expecting that we’d be staring down a potential Luiz Gohara addition, but as Ben Badler showed us, that ain’t happening. But this also leaves me not really knowing if Kevin Gadea signed a 2013 or a 2012 contract. I’m guessing we won’t need to worry about him until next year, when we’ll have more tasty data and he’ll have pitched a year in our new awesome Cal League affiliate.

If you want to ask about specific players, I’m happy to answer in the comments, but these were my best guesses in the order of expectation, and still more exhaustive than you’ll find in many places. Over 2300 words? Light reading for me!

RHP Thyago Vieira, R/R, 6’2”, 210 lbs, 1/7/1993
(A+) 1-0, 34 G, 8 SV, 2.84 ERA in 44.1 IP, 37 H (HR), 53/18 K/BB, 2 HB, 9 WP
Pros: Hit 104 mph in the AFL, improving command, 80-grade name (Brazilian), glasses!
Cons: Middling secondary offerings, sometimes knows where ball is going

Much attention has been on Gohara for our Brazilian investments, and yet, in this current era of bullpen flamethrowers, my money would be on Vieira hitting the big leagues first. Vieira was one of the last products of our Venezuelan Summer League system and graduated from there after two years. His stateside debut was in 2013 in Everett, where he hit his career high mark of 68.0 IP as a starter, and from there he was transitioned into relief, spending two years at Clinton and the past summer at Bakersfield. During his Clinton days, he spent some time on the DL with a right elbow strain, but you probably don’t throw a fastball that averages near 100 mph in the AFL without having some arm stress. The velocity is excellent, but his breaking ball, which clocks within the 80s, isn’t that great and he’s your prototypical hard-thrower who just wants to hit the glove. Previous years stateside had seen him hover around one-and-a-half Ks for every walk before he cleaned it up this year, which has carried over to the AFL. On arm strength alone, he would make it, but there’s enough there to make you think he’ll be okay otherwise.

1B D.J. Peterson, R/R, 6’1”, 205 lbs, 12/31/1991
(AA) 73 G, 277 AB, 31 R, 75 H, 21 2B, 11 HR, 43 RBI, SB, CS, 68/27 K/BB, .271/.340/.466
(AAA) 46 G, 178 AB, 26 R, 45 H, 7 2B, 3B, 8 HR, 35 RBI, CS, 51/11 K/BB, .253/.307/.438
Pros: Near-ready, rebounded from a disappointing 2015
Cons: Defensively limited, hasn’t had a BB% above 10 since NWL, middling outside June

Historical evaluation of prospects is always tricky. I remember on draft day, I was reading wacky stories of the youth of the Brothers Peterson in which their dad would pitch them various beans in backyard BP to see if they could put a swing on it. What began with enthusiasm has turned into a bit of a slog as Peterson has done little to distinguish himself. In truth, this year was much the same insofar as he had a .323/.391/.604 line in June and didn’t exceed an .800 OPS in any other month. Up until somewhat recently, the former first-rounder has been trailed by the mysterious claims of being difficult to coach and thinking his own way is best, which is good or bad depending on what kind of system you have. I also don’t really feel like the team would have gone out to acquire Dan Vogelbach if they were especially enthusiastic about him. The potential is there, or was, but at nearly 25, how patient shall we be?

C Tyler Marlette, R/R, 5’11”, 195 lbs, 1/23/1993

(A+) 83 G, 326 AB, 42 R, 89 H, 21 2B, 3B, 14 HR, 53 RBI, 5 SB, 3 CS, 82/30 K/BB, .273/.335/.472
(AA) 15 G, 50 AB, 4 R, 15 H, 2 2B, HR, 6 RBI, SB, 11/3 K/BB, .300/.333/.400
Pros: Roughly a .100+ OPS gain over previous season, improved handling of pitching staff
Cons: K% at a high this season, CS and PB numbers still meh, year three in Cal League

The Bakersfield team on the whole was not as star-studded as it could have been, featuring a lot of repeats including a third-time-around for Tyler Marlette. The beginning of the season was marked with stagnation for the Florida backstop, never hitting above a .255 average or a .300 OBP, but then in July, he hit .365/.405/.627 and in August, .304/.366/.359. Such hitting has continued for him in the AFL. When looking at catchers, you never quite know how to weight offensive or defensive performance given the unique nature of their development curve, but Today’s Knuckleball had multiple features on Marlette throughout the season, which culminated in an article talking about his resurgence in context of player evaluation at large. Marlette will be 24 to start next season, which isn’t a great age to be for many prospects, but not bad for a catcher, and as one of the few that could be expected to hit and increasingly guide a pitching staff, adding him could be an investment that makes some sense, particularly as we continue to try to determine what exactly a Mike Zunino is.

LHP Paul Fry, 6’0”, 190 lbs, 7/26/92
(AAA): 3-1, 48 G (GS), 2.78 ERA in 55.0 IP, 48 H (HR), 23 R (17 ER), 65/31 K/BB, 4 HB, 3 WP
Pros: Near ready, keeps ball on the ground, no platoon splits, Futurama references
Cons: Walked too many last year, average-ish stuff, Delta brainwave data inconclusive

Fry was the breakout pitcher of the system last year and would be easily on the short list for addition, even lacking the stuff of Vieira. However, the past season wasn’t what people expected after an offseason strength training and the previous reputation. Fry walked 11.8% of the batters he faced in 2014, and while he kept it sub-10% across all levels in 2015, in 2016, he was back to 12.7%. Likewise, the Ks dropped off about from the 30%+ range where they were to 26.6%. Among the weirder things in his line, there’s the fact that he struck out 33.6% of batters at home and 17.8% on the road, which was also reflected in a .191/.301/.226 home line versus a .299/.404/.368 road line. Some effort should be put in to get him back on track, but we’re basically stuck at the moment trying to figure out whether 2015 or 2016 was the outlier in his overall profile, whether the home splits are more true or the road. Nevertheless, the team is in need of left-handed relief, like Fry. “Like Fry!”

LHP Jake Zokan, 6’1”, 195 lbs, 4/27/91

(A+): 3-1, 22 G, 6 SV, 1.45 ERA in 37.1 IP, 26 H (HR), 6 R, 43/2 K/BB, HB, 3 WP
Pros: Live stuff, take a gander at that stat line
Cons: Injury history, limited experience at high levels, not young

To be honest, I hadn’t thought I was going to be writing about Zokan. For one thing, my mind was stuck on the “erratic starter” version of Zokan, which has been interesting in some respects, but only rarely inspired confidence thanks to his injury history. Another is the fact that he didn’t show up until nearly two months into the season, by which time he had switched into relief. I mean, the guy didn’t allow a home run until his final pitching outing of the year and had a month of time between each of his walks allowed. Before you get too pumped up, though, you can look through the media guide and find a fair amount of dubious shit. Two left UCL sprains in 2014, two left shoulder strains in 2015, and this past year he didn’t pitch beyond the fifth of August. Zokan can do some stuff, and as a reliever, he might stand greater odds of being healthy while doing so. How healthy is not something we can yet answer, nor how well his current lines could translate to double-A, triple-A, and beyond.

RHP Emilio Pagan, 6’3”, 205 lbs, 5/7/91
(AA): 4-1, 18 G, 9 SV, 1.17 ERA in 30.2 IP, 19 H (HR), 4 R, 45/11 K/BB, HB, 3 WP
(AAA): 1-2, 23 G, SV, 3.67 ERA in 34.1 IP, 28 H (6 HR), 14 R, 39/18 K/BB
Pros: 92 MPH FB, varied arsenal, somewhat tested at upper levels
Cons: Not among flamethrowing contemporaries, command has gotten worse as he’s moved up

Baseball America posted a fun article about hard-throwing minor leaguers, which I post not only because it’s fun to consider just how much the relief game is changing, but also to point out the ways in which we’ve been operating on outdated information. Fifteen years ago, 89 mph was an average FB velocity and we could talk about anyone above that being potentially valuable. The current average is 92.3 mpg. Pagan could have been a guy you absolutely wanted to protect back then, but now? He’s still useful, but one presumes that he’s one among many available. If he had experienced great success in Tacoma or any success in the AFL, this would be an easier selection, but that he didn’t makes you wonder if he could slip through and get another year to test things out. That said, a year from now, we’d be talking about adding a 26-year-old RH reliever with an okay arsenal and command issues to the 40-man.

LHP Tyler Pike, 6’0”, 180 lbs, 1/26/1994

(A+): 6-5, 25 GS, 4.01 ERA in 125.2 IP, 99 H (11 HR), 59 R (56 ER), 134/66 K/BB, 6 HB, 12 WP
Pros: Still a starter, K% exceeded ¼ for the first time
Cons: Command has always sucked

Coming out of their original draft, there was a bit of a scouting scuffle as to whether one liked Pike or Edwin Diaz better. As I remember it, I was on Team Diaz, reasoning that even if he ended up in relief, the velocity was something and Pike meanwhile would have to contend with command issues. We’re now a few years into the experiment and Pike himself, a few years into his Cal League tenure. He got there first, but Diaz has since met and zoomed on past him while Pike has been working on the same stuff he always has been. Like Blackburn, who had a full entry but was traded, this marks the first year of Pike being in double-digits in K%-BB%, but Pike’s a different character, being left-handed, less tried, and more of a boom-or-bust strikeout-or-walk type. Comparing the two side-by-side, you might say Pike has more potential, but Rule 5 picks need to be a bit more reliable than Pike presently looks.

IF Tyler Smith, R/R, 6’0”, 195 lbs, 7/1/1991
(AAA): 114 G, 392 AB, 42 R, 105 H, 20 2B, 5 HR, 37 RBI, 6 SB, 2 CS, 68/20 K/BB, .268/.309/.357
Pros: Near ready utility infield depth, intangibles
Cons: Lost the walks this year (i.e., what made him interesting), tangibles

I’m not here really to talk smack about Tyler Smith, but the 40-man has Mike Freeman on it and while he is older, I’d venture to guess that the front office feels more comfortable with Freeman for the reasons of 1) handedness, 2) position versatility, and 3) recent success. For the types of players that they are, they aren’t that different, as both can handle a bat and are only rarely going to get you extra-base hits. The issue then could be specifically in the fact that, while he had BB% firmly in the double-digits and ranged from about 11.6 to 18.4 in other seasons, this past season with Tacoma, Smith was at 4.9%, which sucks regardless of your average or ability to hit for power. There are those players out there with otherwise good strikezone judgment who get questioned as they move up as to whether they can still draw walks with below-average power. That’s where Smith stands at the moment.

3B Joe DeCarlo, R/R, 6’0”, 205 lbs, 9/13/1993
(A+): 105 G, 377 AB, 58 R, 100 H, 21 2B, 4 3B, 14 HR, 54 RBI, SB, 110/59 K/BB, .265/.379/.454
Pros: Sexy peripherals, good tools
Cons: Middling hit tool, Ks

Years down the line, I’m going to have fun comparing Joe DeCarlo to Joe Rizzo and we’ll figure out which is the superior of our shorter, baseball-rat third basemen from the mid-Atlantic, but for now, we’ve got DeCarlo, who always has a better line than I anticipate. This marks the first year ever where he had a K% below ¼, but he’s also consistently been around 13-15% in his BB%. Likewise, the 39% xbh% doesn’t look bad at all. Even if I jump into home/away splits, which is still justified in Bakersfield, albeit less so, there’s not a whole lot to see there, nor is there anything to complain about in L/R splits. Furthermore, if I pull out the splits by half, what we’ve got is a .248/.370/.438 line in the first half with a 50/25 K/BB in 153 ABs and a .277/.386/.464 line in the second half with a 60/34 K/BB in 224 ABs. His strikeouts I think would probably make him too much of a liability to keep around a MLB team for a full season, but the dude ain’t half bad if you’re okay with Rob Deer at the hot corner.

RHP Matt Anderson, 6’1”, 210 lbs, 11/18/1991
(AA): 3-1, 41 G, 4 SV, 3.65 ERA in 61.2 IP, 63 H (2 HR), 26 R (25 ER), 56/16 K/BB, 2 HB, 4 WP
Pros: Noticeable improvement this year in command, great curve
Cons: You’d expect him to figure out double-A by now, non-elite Ks

I feel obligated to toss a few words Anderson’s way, but if we’re being realistic, I think that he might have worse odds than Pagan despite being younger/more experienced simply for the lack of Ks and inferior stuff. Anderson’s all right. He’s got a good curveball. He did what you wanted him to do repeating double-A, which is reduce dingers and improve command. He gets hit though, and he’s not of the elite fastball relief type, and marking his second year as a full-time reliever, you’d expect if something could’ve happened, it would’ve by now. I can easily see him being a major leaguer at some point. Is he worth spending a 40-man on? Meh.


8 Responses to “’16 40-Man Preview Extravaganza”

  1. Westside guy on November 14th, 2016 10:00 am

    Does Paul Fry have a brother named Yancy (or, even better, Philip)?

    I’m also wondering if Zduriencik thought that cornering the market on Tylers was taking advantage of some market inefficiency.

    More seriously – thank you Jay! Your previews make a dreary winter offseason much more bearable.

  2. ck on November 14th, 2016 10:41 am

    Nevermind the brother, it’s the Cousins that have potential: Small may be French but he often goes Deep, and if he didn’t drink Mai-Tai’s like a Fish he’d be Forty-Fried already!

  3. bookbook on November 14th, 2016 2:18 pm

    Good news: we don’t have to lose sleep over losing anyone in the Rule V draft.

    Bad news: everything else .

  4. Alec on November 16th, 2016 5:45 pm

    My picks:

    * Vieria: Simple. Guys who can hit 104 are hard to find, still young enough to be useful as cheap bullpen depth

    * Peterson: We’re pretty bereft of 1B depth, spent a first rounder on him, and he’s still in his mid-20s, plus is close enough to be ready. He really should only have this year to make a case though, and leaving him off would be defensible just because he’s a bat-first 1B whose bat isn’t a sure thing, meaning he might sneak through Rule 5.

    * Marlette: Based on Jay’s writeup, which is pretty much all I know about him, he actually seems like he could be a best case for a Zunino caddy, and catchers often get overvalued for positional reasons, as backup catcher’s have a pretty low bar (Hi, Jesus Sucre!)

    * Fry: A one season setback isn’t enough for me to give up on a guy who’d have been a shoe in a year ago.

    * DeCarlo: If he looks like he’ll stick at 3B, keep him around. Still in his early 20s, and Seager is on the old side since he played all 4 years in college. Worst case, he’s useful in the kind of deals good teams need to make for bullpen arms or bench depth.

    Guys to leave off:

    * Zokan: We’re at a point in our win curve where we shouldn’t waste 40 man spots on oldish RPs who we aren’t willing to put on the 25 man. Would rather use this slot on upside guys, SP depth, or 1B/OF/SS lotto tickets. If we were in a rebuilding phase, I might stick him on there in the hopes that something clicked and we could flip him, but it’s the wrong kind of lotto ticket

    * Pagan: Honestly, I can’t imagine why a team would pick a mid-20s, average velocity RP without command or high-MiLB success. And if they did, my guess is that he wouldn’t stick anyway, and we could just buy him back

    * Pike: My first thought was to add him, but on reflection, that was almost entirely because I’ve heard of him. We might lose him, and if I were a bad team, he’d be the kind of guy a flier might make sense on (worst case, use him as your long man for the year), but he’s just never shown anything but K potential

    * Smith: Weirdly, I’m more on the fence about him than anyone else, just because it seems like a single down year of walk % is what takes him from high-floor, very, very low ceiling utility guy to useless. That said, without some kind of standout value (defense, speed), this player type doesn’t tend to get picked.

    * Morales: As Jay mentioned, meh stuff, reverse-platoon split RHPs are really just not in too much demand, particularly if they’ve never pitched above high-A.

    * Anderson: He seems like good MiLB depth, and maybe someday could carve out a Brett Tomko like career, but not worth burning the spot.

    Since we have 2 spots available (I don’t know the details, but it looks like Cishek might be 60 Day DL, so maybe 3), we’d need to remove 3 players. Sucre seems obvious, and we could just do what we’ve been doing with him and pay him a bit more than most minor leaguers to hang around Tacoma. The other 2 guys seems like they would have to be an RP, and I don’t know enough about projecting relievers to have a strong opinion.

  5. MosesLakeBrian on November 17th, 2016 11:43 am

    Osmer Morales’ name was on the recent list of minor league free agents, so I don’t know why he was included here.


  6. Jay Yencich on November 17th, 2016 5:10 pm

    Ah, I sometimes miss certain free agency deadlines with summer leaguers as it can be somewhat nebulous. I’ll take him out of the listing.

    According to Bob Dutton, we’re looking at Vieira, Peterson, Marlette, and Fry most heavily, but will need to free up another spot.

  7. Jay Yencich on November 18th, 2016 11:33 am

    Last Rollins on waivers to the Cubs, probably we’re going to protect the four Dutton mentioned?

  8. Jay Yencich on November 18th, 2016 4:44 pm

    Fry, Peterson, Vieira.

    Makes sense if you’re going to choose three, I guess, seeing as how Marlette is an offensive catcher and Rule 5 catchers tend to be defensive in orientation.

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