Mining for Hitters: Welker, Wade, & Martin

A few years back, I created a system to help me find under the radar prospects using just position, age at the level, and minor league production (wRC+). I wanted a system besides industry lists to use in dynasty leagues and it worked fine. At the same time though, FanGraphs hired this guy named Chris Mitchel and he created KATOH. His system quickly outperformed mine, so instead of trying to keep up, I asked him to join my fantasy teams. With Chris now gone, my old system is back and running to help find some diamonds in the rough.

As I previously stated, the rankings are just based on age at the level, position, and production. The final value created by the program approximates the players value based on lining up the player to actual prospect grades (80 = MVP, <20 = minor league filler). Obviously, the ranking isn’t close to the final say but I find some hitters before other do.

Note: If any player type seems misplaced, let me know. From eye-balling some values, catchers may be getting too much of a position adjustment.

I found one such hitter this season. He was a 23-year-old middle infielder who was hitting .287/.330/.436 in Triple-A this season and hit .289/.316/.414 last season also in Triple-A. I decided to jump the gun on the information and roster Yario Munoz. While he won’t put up All-Star numbers, he’s rosterable in my 20-team, 43-man dynasty league where his ownership rate is up to 13%.

This week, I’m going to release my top-50 hitter list and go over a few players who are near the bottom or off traditional top-100 lists. The goal of the system is to find the top hitters and it does a good job and 90% of the hitter match up. It’s the other 10% I focus on. All hitters are included as long as they didn’t lose their rookie eligibility or before this season.

Note: I focused on players who aren’t prominent on top-100 lists, at least for now. Which players would owners like to see featured? Players near the majors? Prospects just getting on the radar in the lower minors? Just let me know in the comments.

Top-50 Hitting Prospects
Rank Name Position Age Grade
1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B 19 78.6
2 Fernando Tatis Jr. SS 19 68.7
3 Bo Bichette SS 20 67.1
4 Ronald Acuna Jr. LF 20 65.8
5 Brendan Rodgers SS 21 59.1
6 Franchy Cordero CF 23 58.5
7 Juan Soto RF 19 58.4
8 Willy Adames SS 22 57.4
9 Alex Verdugo CF 22 57.2
10 Luis Urias 2B 21 54.3
11 Kyle Tucker RF 21 52.5
12 Eloy Jimenez LF 21 52.0
13 Franklin Barreto 2B 22 50.8
14 Keibert Ruiz C 19 50.2
15 Ryan Mcmahon 1B 23 49.9
16 Danny Jansen C 23 49.2
17 Gleyber Torres 3B 21 48.9
18 Austin Riley 3B 21 48.3
19 Carter Kieboom SS 20 48.0
20 Victor Caratini C 24 46.8
21 Lewis Brinson CF 23 46.6
22 Franmil Reyes RF 22 46.6
23 Tyler O’Neill LF 23 46.4
24 Nick Gordon SS 22 45.4
25 Jake Bauers 1B 22 45.0
26 Carson Kelly C 23 44.6
27 Michael Chavis 3B 21 44.1
28 Colton Welker 3B 20 43.4
29 Dustin Fowler CF 23 43.0
30 Tyler Wade SS 23 42.9
31 Taylor Trammell CF 20 42.8
32 Jason Martin CF 22 42.5
33 J.P. Crawford SS 23 41.9
34 Josh Naylor LF 21 41.6
35 Miguel Andujar 3B 22 41.6
36 Yu Chang SS 22 41.3
37 Brett Phillips RF 24 41.1
38 Nick Senzel 2B 23 40.2
39 Khalil Lee CF 20 40.0
40 Hudson Sanchez 3B 19 39.7
41 Estevan Florial CF 20 39.6
42 Scott Kingery 2B 23 39.5
43 Isaac Paredes SS 19 39.5
44 Yairo Munoz SS 23 39.3
45 DJ Peters CF 22 39.2
46 Ronald Guzman 1B 23 39.0
47 Jahmai Jones 2B 20 38.9
48 Renato Nunez 3B 24 38.4
49 Justin Williams RF 22 38.0
50 Ryan Mountcastle 3B 21 37.8

Tyler Wade

The 23-year-old has been called up to the majors twice (2017 and 2018). He was extremely productive in Triple-A last season with a .310/.382/.460 triple slash line with just seven home runs but 26 stolen bases. He’s struggled when called up to the majors. Pitchers didn’t respect him and attacked him because of his lack of power (current 20 game and 40 raw power) with fastballs. His strikeout rate jumped to 30% (29% this season). He has shown any more power this season.

Wade would be a nice stolen base option if he could find the needed power to be a major leaguer. One flaw with my system is flagging players like Wade, no minimal power to carry his other traits. Ronald Torreyes was another such Yankee. He had all the skills to be a major league except the power to drive the ball.

I’d not consider rostering Wade until he develops more raw power.

Jason Martin

The 22-year-old outfielder quietly moved through the Astros system until he was a part of the Gerrit Cole trade last offseason. He’s now hitting .330/.388/.548 in Double-A with eight homers and six steals. His profile is so average, he losing some appeal.

For example, here are his future prospect grades from here at FanGraphs.

Trait: Grade
Hit: 50
Game Power: 45
Raw Power: 50
Speed: 50
Field 50
Throws 50
Overall: 40

All of his traits are projected to be average but then his overall value is below average. Without one major carrying trait, he’s just an average, but average is useful.

Colton Welker

The Rockies 20-year-old third baseman is pushing his way through the minors by hitting .302/.373/.459 in High-A this season. He’s got above-average power and he’s making enough contact to be productive

The one major hole in his game is his Hit Tool (30 current grade). His strikeout rate has increased as he has advanced up the minors (12% to 15% to 22%).

He profiles as a wait-and-see prospect where he has noticeable skills but it not know if he develop them into usable major league traits.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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4 years ago

Really cool work here Jeff. This is a great compliment to Carson’s Fringe Five and the boatload of stuff from McDongenhagen. One thing that stands out to me is seeing The Franchyze up at 6 (ahead of Juan Soto!) Any thoughts on why he scores so well here?

Also, Gleyber being below Franklin Barreto and Keibert Ruiz seems odd. Might be something to look into.