Today, our 2020 Prospect Opportunities series moves on to the Orioles. This is a team that lost 108 games last year, so you better believe there are opportunities galore. And wouldn’t you know it, their entire starting roster is actually listed below! Let’s dive in.
Today marks the beginning of a new series, 2020 Prospect Opportunities. One of the most important skills in a mono league is identifying current prospects who could benefit if the incumbent Major League starter falters. If you’ve played in a mono league before, or even in a non-shallow mixed league, you’ve experienced the bidding frenzy (in FAAB leagues) when a top prospect is recalled. Why bid half your budget and cross your fingers you’re the high man to win a prospect when he’s recalled, when you could instead preemptively pick up that same player several weeks earlier, or even draft him, for essentially free? The only way to accomplish this is to be familiar with the organization’s prospects and which current starters are most likely to fail in order to open up an opportunity for that prospect to be promoted.
So let’s go team-by-team and identify the weaker starters, both position players and starting pitchers, and then name potential prospect replacements, beginning with the Blue Jays. Note that I’m going to have a somewhat loose definition of “prospect”, as that label is going to be applied to any young player either in the minors or in the Majors, but expected to open in a reserve role. And of course, let’s assume the season gets underway at some point this year and ignore any potential rule changes and the possibility there’s no minor league season.
Yesterday, I identified and discussed the top eight prospect pitchers in SwStk%, which is the ultimate measure of a pitcher’s stuff. Of course, it’s not totally just about inducing whiffs, as there are other ways a pitcher could record a strikeout. So let’s now peruse the leaders in strikeout rate, sticking with those who posted a mark of at least 40% all all minor league levels in 2019. You’ll naturally see some overlap with yesterday’s SwStk% leaderboard, so while I’ll include them in the list, I won’t discuss them.
We’re winding down our look at pitching prospect scouting and stats, so today, I’ll present to you the leaders in SwStk%. While I haven’t seen any research to support my opinion, I feel like minor league SwStk% is a better indicator of future MLB strikeout rate than minor league strikeout rate. That’s because the ability to generate whiffs seemingly translates to the Majors better than called and foul strikes, the latter two strike types being more difficult to achieve with better competition. Whereas a whiff is a sign of dominant stuff and more pitcher controlled. Perhaps I’m wrong though. Either way, let’s check out the best minor league whiff-inducers.
Yesterday, I discussed the nine pitching prospects who regularly throw their fastball at the highest velocities in the minors. The pitchers’ fastballs on the list ranged from 99 to 101 MPH, and that is consistent velocity at the high end of their game range! But that’s now all THE BOARD gives us. We also have “Tops”, which is where the prospect pitcher’s fastball maxes out at. Perhaps he throws that hard just once a game, or every couple of games. But it’s fun to peruse the list of absolute hardest throwers. Obviously, there’s going to be quite a bit of overlap with yesterday’s list, so while I’ll include all pitchers that max at 100+ with an FV of at least 40+, I’ll only discuss those I haven’t discussed in previous prospect scouting & stats posts.
Today we move onto prospect pitcher fastball velocity. THE BOARD gives us the ability to view the velocity range in which a prospect sits, with a low and high number. We’re going to check out the leaders in the “Sits – High” mark, which is simply the high end of the velocity range the prospect pitcher sits in. This is not the same as max velocity, but where the pitcher more regularly keeps his fastball at. Not surprisingly, I found that the Sits – High mark had a 0.20 correlation with strikeout rate, which isn’t overly significant, but still meaningful. Velocity matters, and we knew that.
Now here are the nine prospects who regularly reach as high as 99 MPH with their fastballs.
Yesterday, I identified and discussed the top seven prospect pitchers in RPM FB, which is fastball spin rate. Today, let’s do the same for RPM Break, or the spin rate of the pitcher’s primary breaking ball. While I found that RPM Break is more weakly correlated with the pitcher’s strikeout rate than RPM FB, it’s still positive, and most importantly, is fun to dive into.
Today, I’ll continue my look at prospect scouting and stats, but our metric of the day is completely objective — RPM FB, which is revolutions per minute of the fastball, otherwise known as spin rate. We know that the spin rate of a prospect’s fastball does correlate positively (0.19 correlation) with strikeout rate, so all else being equal, you want to see a higher RPM FB. With that in mind, let’s dive into the RPM FB prospect leaderboards, discussing the top seven as sorted by the metric and then FV.
We have finished reviewing the leaderboards in prospect pitch grades, but prospects aren’t only graded on their pitch repertoire. They also received grades on their command, so let’s check out the leaders in CMD – Present (CMDP). Here are your top eight prospect pitchers in CMDP, as sorted by grade and then FV.
We continue our look at prospect pitcher pitch grades by moving on to the Changeup – Present (CHP). While a changeup is a great weapon against opposite-handed hitter, Eno Sarris and I have found that they result in fewer strikeouts than you would expect. So a great changeup isn’t really a necessity, as a strong curve could be just as effective and lead to more strikeouts.
That said, let’s check out the top seven CHP grades, as sorted by grade and then FV.