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June 5, 1998

Prospect Focus

Adam Riggs and Octavio Dotel

by Gary Huckabay and Clay Davenport

Rany takes the easy ones; we want to cover a couple of interesting guys you may not have heard as much about: Adam Riggs, a longtime second baseman in the Dodger chain with a little pop, and Octavio Dotel, one of many pitching prospects around the minors who could be great, or could be injured or awful. Let Rany talk about Troy Glaus, Eric Chavez, and Adrian Beltre. These guys are the ones that pose interesting organizational questions.

If you're not familiar with the format of the translated statistics below, just think of them as performances translated to a neutral park in major league baseball, where the average is a .260 batting average, a .330 on base percentage, and a .420 slugging. Clay's just trying to provide a stable platform for comparison of players across, leagues, parks, and eras. For more details on these statistical tools, check out Baseball Prospectus 1998, or email us at info@baseballprospectus.com.

Adam Riggs, 2B Born 1973 Age 25

Year Team     Lge  AB  H   DB  TP  HR  BB  R  RBI  SB  CS Out   BA   OBA   SA  EQA
1994 GreatFls Pio 241  57   7   1   4  21  26  22   6   4 188  .237 .298 .324 .217
1994 Yakima   Nwn   7   2   0   0   0   0   0   1   0   0   5  .286 .286 .286 .199
1995 San Bern Cal 523 150  19   1  17  42  74  78  13   6 379  .287 .340 .424 .266
1996 SanAnton Tex 505 129  20   2  13  33  59  60  12   5 381  .255 .301 .380 .238
1997 Albuquer PCL 214  51   5   1   9  23  28  29   9   2 165  .238 .312 .397 .250
1997 LosAngls NL   20   4   2   0   0   4   4   1   1   0  16  .200 .333 .300 .234
1998 Albuquer PCL 160  47   7   2   3  16  28  22   9   4 117  .294 .358 .419 .273
Riggs is not a grade-A prospect by any means. He's not the greatest defensive second sacker in the world, but he's adequate. He's not young, and there's not one particular facet of the game that he's great at. But take a look at the whole package: Riggs hits for a decent average, has some pop in his bat, isn't a bad baserunner, and at age 25 this year, there's still some room for him to improve. Riggs is certainly talented enough to help a major league club with a hole at 2B; he may not definitely be better than Eric Young, but I'm pretty sure he's not $4,000,000 worse. If you're going to have a stopgap solution at a position, it makes sense to try someone like Riggs there -- he's not expensive, and he has a chance to improve. With a lot of the guys competing for roster space and playing time like Riggs, you don't have settle for expensive, guaranteed mediocrity, like EY.

An interesting aspect about the PCL since the big merger this year: Runs are down significantly, with teams averaging 5.3 runs per game, as opposed to 6.0 per game last year. That's going to make judging minor leaguers a little interesting. Those parks in the old PCL should have pretty drastic park effects, as the addition of the American Association parks brought the league average down without changing the old parks. So far, beloved Mike Marshall Stadium [Albuquerque] is running about a 123 park factor, albeit in a very small sample size. (28/24 home/road dates.)

Octavio Dotel, 1974 Age 24

 Year Team     Lge     IP   H   ER  HR  BB  K    ERA  W  L   H/9  HR/9 BB/9   K/9  
 1995 St Lucie Fla     7.7  14   7   2   4   7  8.22  0  1 16.43  2.35 4.70  8.22
 1996 Columbia SAL   108.0 138  64  10  58  85  5.33  4  8 11.50  0.83 4.83  7.08
 1997 St Lucie Fla    49.0  53  17   3  27  29  3.12  3  2  9.73  0.55 4.96  5.33
 1997 Binghmtn Eas    56.3  74  46   4  36  31  7.35  1  5 11.82  0.64 5.75  4.95
 1998 Binghmtn Eas    61.7  39  13   4  23  55  1.90  6  1  5.69  0.58 3.36  8.03

That's a nice sharp contrast to his performance last year in the same league. He's always prevented home runs well, but currently he's shutting down hits, has cut his walk rate by a quarter over his career rate, and raised his strikeouts. If you haven't had a chance to see this guy pitch, he's really improved a great deal, and looks well nigh unhittable. In addition to adding a couple miles per hour of velocity, he's hitting corners, and the ball's got nasty movement.

The Eastern League is the best league for pitchers in AA or above, with an EqA of just .238, with teams averaging 4.6 runs per game. Even so, Dotel (like Yarnall before him) is pitching in one of the better hitter's parks in the league.

The Mets would not have let Yarnall go unless they were convinced that Dotel's progress is genuine. Clearly, his performance in 60-some odd innings this year is out of line with his previous performance. Fluke or genuine change in level of ability? Probably a bit of both. But Dotel doesn't need to retain all of his improvement to help a club -- if he can hold on to 50%, he's a valuable property.

Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Gary's other articles. You can contact Gary by clicking here

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