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The Saber's Edge: Good Bet To Succeed?

Jeff Zimmerman

Jeff Zimmerman

Jeff Zimmerman writes about all things Baseball for RotoWire. He also handles scouting and reporting for PrepBaseballReport.com. Jeff also contributes to RoyalsReview.com, FanGraphs.com and BaseballHeatMaps.com.

Fantasy owners are always looking for the next big prospect. Most of the time, I would just recommend taking the top rated prospect determined by a composite of several rankings. This week, we are going to look further and use some 2014 stats to assess our options. It is now near the mid-season point when some prospect experts will be putting out some updated lists of players who have climbed, fallen, or graduated. I will try to get a jump on those lists. Today, I will look at all of the position players in Baseball America's 2014 Top 100 list and determine their chances of becoming productive MLB hitters.

To determine if a player can be successful, I am going to use the work of Chris St. John at Beyondtheboxscore.com. Last year, he looked at the success rates of prospects using their minor league walk and strikeout rates at certain league levels, and according to their age. He divided the data into three categories, Productive, Average and Bust. Here is his description of the categories.

0.01 Batting runs should be Batting runs per plate appearance, I've fixed that up above. Productive players have at least 1500 MLB PAs with more than 0.01 batting runs per PA, average players are 1,500 MLB PAs with 0 to 0.01 batting runs per PA, and busts are fewer than 0 batting runs per PA or fewer than 1500 MLB PAs.


The .01 Batting Runs per PA would put the player in the top-75 MLB hitters which is around the 2013 production levels of Pedro Alvarez, Jedd Gyorko, and Brett Gardner. Now, Batting Runs look at the total hitting production including under-appreciated (and usually unused) walks and doubles. Home run and stolen-base talents should be given more fantasy consideration.

For the study, I am just going to look at the overall success rates for the level, not the age-specific success rate. For reference, Chris used 7.7% for the low BB% and 10.5% for the high mark. For strikeouts, it was 15.4% for the low mark and 20.8% for the high mark. Some players are right on the line, but I went ahead and used the closest success rate. If a player is near a cut off, it may be wise to go ahead and look at the other K% BB% combo's success rate. Additionally, I only looked at hitters with a minimum 50 PAs at a level. With the background out of the way, here are the current hitting prospects ranked by their chance of becoming a productive major leaguer.



Name Age BA Rank Team BB% K% PA Prod% Avg% Bust%
Mookie Betts 21 75 Red Sox (AA) 14% 9% 253 34% 21% 45%
Carlos Correa 19 7 Astros (A+) 12% 18% 293 32% 11% 57%
Reese Mcguire 19 81 Pirates (A) 8% 11% 213 30% 14% 57%
J.P. Crawford 19 78 Phillies (A) 14% 16% 267 28% 9% 64%
Marcus Semien 23 91 White Sox (AAA) 14% 17% 87 27% 11% 63%
Mookie Betts 21 75 Red Sox (AAA) 12% 16% 92 27% 11% 63%
Taylor Lindsey 22 93 Angels (AAA) 11% 13% 262 27% 12% 62%
Francisco Lindor 20 13 Indians (AA) 11% 18% 318 24% 8% 67%
George Springer 24 18 Astros (AAA) 15% 29% 61 23% 6% 70%
Joc Pederson 22 34 Dodgers (AAA) 17% 35% 331 23% 6% 70%
Jon Singleton 22 82 Astros (AAA) 18% 27% 239 23% 6% 70%
Joey Gallo 20 60 Rangers (AA) 16% 49% 56 21% 10% 69%
Kris Bryant 22 8 Cubs (AA) 14% 31% 297 21% 10% 69%
Corey Seager 20 37 Dodgers (A+) 7% 22% 296 20% 6% 74%
D.J. Peterson 22 85 Mariners (A+) 8% 24% 299 20% 6% 74%
Jorge Alfaro 21 54 Rangers (A+) 6% 26% 288 20% 6% 74%
Nick Williams 20 97 Rangers (A+) 4% 30% 219 20% 6% 74%
Raul Mondesi 18 47 Royals (A+) 6% 28% 223 20% 6% 74%
Gary Sanchez 21 35 Yankees (AA) 9% 20% 258 20% 6% 73%
David Dahl 20 94 Rockies (A) 6% 18% 305 19% 17% 64%
Gregory Polanco 22 10 Pirates (AAA) 9% 18% 274 17% 17% 67%
Devon Travis 23 84 Tigers (AA) 5% 13% 160 17% 9% 74%
Blake Swihart 22 73 Red Sox (AA) 6% 15% 253 17% 9% 74%
Dominic Smith 19 92 Mets (A) 9% 18% 280 17% 6% 78%
Hunter Renfroe 22 80 Padres (A+) 9% 29% 316 17% 4% 78%
Alen Hanson 21 76 Pirates (AA) 5% 19% 301 16% 11% 73%
Austin Hedges 21 27 Padres (AA) 5% 17% 257 16% 11% 73%
Rougned Odor 20 42 Rangers (AA) 5% 17% 138 16% 11% 73%
Joey Gallo 20 60 Rangers (A+) 21% 34% 246 15% 7% 78%
Albert Almora 20 36 Cubs (A+) 3% 13% 275 14% 13% 73%
Clint Frazier 19 48 Indians (A) 10% 32% 269 11% 5% 84%
Christian Bethancourt 22 69 Braves (AAA) 4% 17% 232 10% 10% 81%
Jake Marisnick 23 79 Marlins (AAA) 4% 18% 274 10% 10% 81%
Maikel Franco 21 17 Phillies (AAA) 7% 17% 310 10% 10% 81%
Garin Cecchini 23 74 Red Sox (AAA) 10% 24% 251 10% 7% 83%
Matt Davidson 23 72 White Sox (AAA) 9% 37% 275 10% 7% 83%
Rosell Herrera 21 86 Rockies (A+) 6% 18% 143 9% 9% 81%
Colin Moran 21 61 Marlins (A+) 6% 16% 247 9% 9% 81%
Arismendy Alcantara 22 100 Cubs (AAA) 6% 25% 297 9% 3% 88%
Javier Baez 21 5 Cubs (AAA) 6% 37% 266 9% 3% 88%
Kolten Wong 23 58 Cardinals (AAA) 6% 9% 68 7% 4% 90%
Oscar Taveras 22 3 Cardinals (AAA) 7% 13% 251 7% 4% 90%
Stephen Piscotty 23 70 Cardinals (AAA) 7% 14% 305 7% 4% 90%
Travis d'Arnaud 25 38 Mets (AAA) 5% 9% 59 7% 4% 90%
Jorge Bonifacio 21 90 Royals (AA) 9% 24% 316 4% 4% 92%


I will first go over how I would use the information and then go over a few players.

Redraft Leagues

The key here is to concentrate on Triple-A players. These players are the ones who will most likely be called up to fill a void on the MLB roster later this season. At this point, it will be difficult for a hitter to make the jump from Double-A to the majors, but players like Kris Bryant who have already made the move to Triple-A may be worth examining. Owners need to focus on 2014 production. Even though Travis d'Arnaud is at the bottom of the list, he is a prospect and if he's starting, a must play in NL-only leagues where warm bodies are a must.

Limited Keeper Options

I would only concentrate players at Double-A or Triple-A with a 20% of being productive and a high BA (or RotoWire) prospect ranking. Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant and Francisco Lindor would be at the top of the list. With limited keepers, it is probably smart to keep established above average major leaguers rather than players who may become above average major leaguers.

Deep Keeper/Dynasty Leagues

In these formats, I would just begin trying to acquire whichever players I can. Many will probably already be taken, so the pickings may be slim. You may want to begin looking for players on other top 100 lists and see their Productivity chances. Additionally, you may read about or consider a prospect to now be in the top 100. Find out where they rank. For example, my Royals homeritis may think Hunter Dozier is a top-100 prospect with his 13% BB% and 21% K% in High-A. His 21% K% puts him right between the average and high strikeout averages, to go along with a high walk rate. Going with the average K%, he has a 32% chance of being Productive, but with a high strikeout rate the number drops to 15%. So far in Double-A, he has struck out seven times in 16 PA. Right now his K% may be limit his chances for success.

Comments on some players

Mookie Betts – Besides having the prospect with the first (when using his Double-A numbers) and sixth-best (using his Triple-A numbers) chance to become Productive, the Red Sox are making every indication that they plan on bringing him up this season as an outfielder. He has some pop, but should get on base and be a great source of stolen bases and runs (if batting high in the lineup). Shallow redraft league leagues are the only place I would not make a point to own him right now.

Oscar Taveras – Every report loves Taveras, but his inability to take a walk may be his down fall. The man has good solid contact rates in the minors. His issue will be making solid enough contact at the major league level to turn the those swings into hits as MLB pitchers expand the strike zone on him. ZiPS right now has him projected at a 5.6% BB% and 12.7% K%. Those levels work out for numbers similar to Salvador Perez, Alex Rios, Brandon Phillips and Daniel Murphy.

Joey Gallo, Joc Pederson, Clint Frazier, Javier Baez and Matt Davidson – No matter the success rate for players above a certain K%, I do set a limit to the level I will consider acceptable. I am just not a fan of players with a 30% or greater K% in the minors because it will probably only increase in the majors. It is extremely tough to be productive striking out over 30% of the time.