RotoWire Partners

Collette Calls: Skills to Seek in Hitting Prospects

Jason Collette

Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. He covers the Tampa Bay Rays at You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Towers of Power Baseball Hour Podcast on iTunes. He was selected as the Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year by FSWA in 2013.

When last we talked, we looked at the skills for pitchers in a handy cheat sheet. In hindsight, that list was not the best one to present because it represented a combined list of skills rather than breaking it down to each level a player played in last season. Most prospects will stick at a single level throughout a season, but some do get pushed up within the season to see how that prospect handles the challenge.

Hak-Ju Lee started 2011 in the Florida State League and hit .318/.389/.433 in 454 plate appearances. The Rays moved him up to Double-A Montgomery where his numbers fell to a .190/.272/.310 line in his final 114 plate appearances of the season. Even uber-stud Bryce Harper saw his numbers slip after his promotion last season, but he was also moved from Low-A right to Double-A thanks to the concerns the Nationals had about the playing surface in their High-A club.

When looking at hitting prospects, I look at certain skills to help me frame my decisions on who I want to aggressively target and who I do not mind avoiding. I prefer:

* K% - how many of their plate appearances end without production?
* BB% - how can they get on base on their own power?
* ISO Power potential?
* GB/FB can they loft the ball for extra base hits, namely home runs?
* P/PA can they work counts?
* Swing% - How passive or aggressive are they at the plate?
* Con% - How often are they able to put the bat on the ball when they do swing?

Not only is it important to see how these prospects do with these skills, but it is also important to see how those numbers line up against the league average to properly put the numbers in context.

Below are each of the hitters from the Top 100 prospect list from earlier this month and their respective skills from each level they played at in 2011. Any skill that is italicized represents a figure that was below the league average for that skill while all bolded skills represent performance above the league average.

Compare what was said about Hak-Ju Lee earlier as well as Will Middlebrooks to what Ryan Lavarnway and Vinny Catricala did after they were promoted within the season. That captures how helpful a chart like this can be as you make your decisions in deeper AL and NL-only formats as well as keeper leagues.

Good luck!