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February 12, 2013

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Tampa Bay Rays Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks

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State of the Farm: “Hold your head up, you silly girl, look what you've done. When you find yourself in the thick of it, help yourself to a bit of what is all around you, silly girl.”

Prospect rankings primer

The Top Ten

  1. OF Wil Myers
  2. RHP Chris Archer
  3. RHP Taylor Guerrieri
  4. SS Hak-Ju Lee
  5. RHP Jake Odorizzi
  6. IF/OF Richie Shaffer
  7. OF Drew Vettleson
  8. LHP Blake Snell
  9. LHP Felipe Rivero
  10.  RHP Alex Colome

1. Wil Myers
Position: OF
DOB: 12/10/1990
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 205 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2009 draft (Royals), Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, NC)
2012 Stats: .343/.414/.731 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas (35 games); .304/.378/.554 at Triple Omaha (99 games)
The Tools: Plus hit/power; plus arm

What Happened in 2012: As it turns out, a healthy Myers is a monster Myers, as the 21-year-old put all questions from the 2011 season to rest by mashing at two levels and emerging as a top 10 prospect in baseball.

Strengths: Natural hitting ability; quick/strong wrists; balanced swing; excellent raw strength; plus bat speed; hit tool is easy 6; power potential is 6; middle-of-the-order profile; mature approach; quality athlete; plus arm.

Weaknesses: Not many weaknesses with the bat; swing can get a little wild; two-strike approach could use refinement; hasn’t been tested by high-level stuff yet; needs refinement with his outfield routes; baserunning.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Explanation of Risk: Low risk; Myers is major-league ready and a high-level talent.

Fantasy Future: From a corner spot, Myers is likely to hit for average (.285+) with good game power (25-plus HR). Above-average right field profile. 

The Year Ahead: Myers is ready to jump into major-league waters, where his bat is expected to produce immediately. Against high level pitching, holes that didn’t exist in the minors start to open up, and for Myers, quality fastballs on the inner third will be a good test of his hand speed. Anything left out over the plate is batting practice, and he doesn’t miss many opportunities to crush mistakes. But the difference between Triple-A pitching and major-league pitching is extreme, and Myers will need to prove capable of hitting quality offerings to live up to his lofty hype.

Major league ETA: 2013

2. Chris Archer
Position: RHP
DOB: 09/26/1988
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 5th round, 2006 draft (Indians), Clayton High School (Clayton, NC)
2012 Stats: 3.66 ERA (128.0 IP, 99 H, 139 K, 62 BB) at Triple-A Durham; 4.60 ERA (29.1 IP, 23 H, 36 K, 13 BB) at major-league level
The Tools: 7 FB; 7+ SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2012: Archer took a step forward in Triple-A before arriving on the major-league scene, where his potent fastball/slider combo missed more than a bat an inning.

Strengths: Electric arm speed; fastball is lively and loose; routinely works 93-97; can touch higher in bursts; grade 7 pitch; slider is even better than fastball; sharp two-plane offering at 82-84 mph; some sources called it best secondary offering from a prospect; it’s a make-your-name pitch; changeup can show good action; has the arsenal and approach to start; high floor in relief as fallback.

Weaknesses: Below average command profile; arm slot inconsistency; needs grade refinement; changeup can get deliberate; good action, but struggles throwing it for strikes.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2 starter

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; command and changeup need work; high floor in relief; has stuff to close games.

Fantasy Future: Has serious bat-missing stuff in any role; has physicality to hold velocity and log innings; intense arsenal in bursts.

The Year Ahead: Mixed opinions on Archer’s future role, with some falling in love with the promise on the mound, as the 24-year-old has two plus-plus offerings and enough feel for the changeup that it has a chance to play. Others see a dominant reliever in the making, one with the potential to close games at the highest level. Archer will have more value in a rotation, but that assumes he reaches his lofty ceiling, which isn’t guaranteed, especially when you look at some of his command woes and the underdeveloped changeup. But with a patient approach, the payoff of developing  Archer into a rotation arm could be remarkable, and the bullpen will always be there if the outcome isn’t as desirable as intended.

Major league ETA: 2012

3. Taylor Guerrieri
Position: RHP
DOB: 12/01/1992
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, Spring Valley High School (Columbia, SC)
2012 Stats: 1.04 ERA (52 IP, 35 H, 45 K, 5 BB) at short-season Hudson Valley
The Tools: 6+ FB; 7 potential CB

What Happened in 2012: One of the highest ceiling arms available in the 2011 draft, Guerrieri might have arrived at the professional level with slightly depressed stuff, but you wouldn’t be able to make that determination from the results.

Strengths: Excellent size and present strength; athletic; shows advanced pitchability for a power arm; in short-season ball, fastball worked low-90s, touching higher; pitch shows heavy movement down in the zone; some think a velocity spike is possible; true 6 offering at present with the chance for more; curveball is another 6 offering; tight rotation and heavy action; could end up a 7; shows ability to manipulate the ball; can cut the fastball; shows some feel for splitter-like changeup; very sharp control; plus command profile

Weaknesses: Fastball velocity was often pedestrian; more 90-92 than high school 94-97; some question the return of the intense velocity; fell into trap of aiming the ball; was hard to square up, but struggled at times to finish hitters; change/split still new to the arsenal.

Overall Future Potential: High-6; no. 2 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; projectable arm with polish; will need to maintain command profile while adding intensity to the arsenal.

Fantasy Future: Has the body and the command profile to log innings and pound the zone; has the stuff to miss bats; floor is innings chewer; ceiling much higher.

The Year Ahead: The Rays have a history of using a barbeque approach with their young arms (slow and low), and one can assume that will be the case with Guerrieri. He will most likely move up a level to the Midwest League, where his combination of pitchability and stuff will assure him continued success on the field. If the velocity ticks up, he could do serious damage in his full-season debut, and even if he stays in the solid-average to plus velocity range, the movement and command of the pitch will allow it to play up. This could go a number of different ways, from mid-rotation workhorse to top-of-the-rotation behemoth, and if he crushes the competition in the Midwest League, Guerrieri has the potential to be a top tier prospect at this time next season.

Major league ETA: 2016

4. Hak-Ju Lee
Position: SS
DOB: 11/04/1990
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 170 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2008 (Cubs), South Korea
2012 Stats: .261/.336/.360 at Double-A Montgomery (116 games)
The Tools: 7 potential glove; 6+ arm; 7 run; 5 potential hit

What Happened in 2012: With only 24 games of Double-A baseball under his belt, a return trip to the Southern League in 2012 brought about improvements at the plate and continued refinement in the field.

Strengths: Fast-twitch athlete; frame is lengthy and can hold additional strength/mass; high-end defensive profile at shortstop; actions are extremely fluid; soft hands; arm is very strong; first-step quickness and plus range; well above average speed; continues to improve as base runner; hit tool has potential; will work himself into favorable counts; the bat has a chance to play.

Weaknesses: Bat is empty; show some contact ability, but pitchers not afraid to challenge the zone; well below average power; questions about ability to square up velocity, especially stuff on the inner-third.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; solid-average player

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; glove is major league quality now; bat might not have the juice to play.

Fantasy Future: Defense-first player with some contact ability and secondary skills at the plate (speed/approach); legit stolen base threat; could turn weak contact into hits.

The Year Ahead: Lee is ready to move up to the Triple-A level, where a step forward at the plate could put him in line for a shot at the 25-man roster in 2014. The defensive profile is very strong, with the instincts and actions to excel at the position at the highest level. The bat is light, but if he can make contact and bring his legs into the equation, he should be able to produce enough batting average and secondary ability to play as a down-the-lineup bat.

Major league ETA: 2013

5. Jake Odorizzi
Position: RHP
DOB: 03/27/1990
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2008 draft (Brewers), Highland High School (New Douglas, IL)
2012 Stats: 3.32 ERA (38 IP, 27 H, 47 K, 10 H) at Double-A Northwest Arkansas; 2.93 ERA (107.1 IP 105 H, 88 K, 40 BB) at Triple-A Omaha; 4.91 ERA (7.1 IP, 8 H, 4 K, 4 BB) at major-league level.
The Tools: 6 FB; 5+ CB; 5 CH; 5 SL

What Happened in 2012: Odorizzi’s deep arsenal was too much for the Double-A level, and after 18 solid starts in Triple-A, the 22-year-old made two starts at the major-league level, setting himself up for a run at a roster spot in 2013.

Strengths: Plus athlete; clean delivery; repeats well; fastball works in the low-90s and can touch a little higher; shows some sink when spotted lower in the zone; curveball looks plus more than it looks average; good shape and vertical action; changeup is similar; is plus offering when he finishes the pitch; shows some arm-side fading action; slide piece adds another average or better pitch to the arsenal; shows feel for strike throwing; feel for sequence and situation.

Weaknesses: Lacks knockout pitch; arsenal is solid-avg, but lacks upside; fastball can flatten out when elevated; secondary offerings aren’t consistent enough to back hitters off fastball; gets loose in the zone and struggles to put hitters away.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3/4 starter

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; already achieved major-league level; mature arsenal; athletic with good mound IQ

Fantasy Future: Nothing fancy, but athletic enough to make adjustments and strong enough to log innings; won’t be big bat-misser at major-league level, but will compete and take ball every fifth day with intensity.

The Year Ahead: Odorizzi is ready for an extended major-league look, and with some pitchability and a deep solid-average arsenal, he showed be able to stick around for a ling time. He will often walk a tightrope, as the sum of his parts is greater than any one attribute. But as long as expectations are properly managed, Odorizzi should be a player that can contribute to a major-league rotation for a very long time. It’s not going to be flashy, but it’s going to be something positive.

Major league ETA: 2012

6. Richie Shaffer
Position: IF/OF
DOB: 03/15/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 210 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Clemson University (Clemson, SC)
2012 Stats: .308/.406/.487 at short-season Hudson Valley (33 games)
The Tools: 6 arm; 5+ potential hit; 6 power potential

What Happened in 2012: The 25th overall player drafted in 2012, Shaffer wasted little time living up to the hype, showing an advanced bat and approach in the New York-Penn League.

Strengths: Mature approach to the game; fundamental swing; good bat speed and power potential; has a plan at the plate; track pitches very well; hit tool could play as solid-average; power could play as plus; strong arm at third; has enough athleticism to handle right field move (if necessary).

Weaknesses: Mixed opinion on defensive profile at third; glove is below-average (present); bat will be ticket to majors; has some miss in his bat; timing kick can leave him behind quality stuff; can let pitchers set the agenda; power utility is question mark.

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average regular

Explanation of Risk: High risk; defensive limitation put pressure on bat; power will need to play.

Fantasy Future: Could end up as prototypical corner bat, with .~270 batting average and 20-plus home runs.

The Year Ahead: Shaffer is a mature offensive player that could move quickly, although his final landing spot is still very much up in the air. Organizational needs aside, his profile at third is fringe-average at best, and a move to right field or first base might be necessary at full maturity. His bat has the potential to play off third, but the power will need to become a part of his game. He has a good swing and a very good approach, but over-the-fence power will need to be the carrying tool if he wants to have value at the highest level.

Major league ETA: 2015

7. Drew Vettleson
Position: OF
DOB: 07/19/1991
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, Central Kitsap High School (Silverdale, WA)
2012 Stats: .275/.340/.432 at Low-A Bowling Green (132 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential hit/power; 7 arm

What Happened in 2012: Making his full-season debut, Vettleson impressed with his bat in a pitcher-friendly league, showing the ability to make hard contact and game power.

Strengths: Good baseball skills; good athlete; hit tool projects to be above average; clean and short to the ball; shows good bat speed and ability to put barrel on the ball; good overall approach; power projects as above average ; swing conducive for over-the-fence production; 5 run; 5+ glove in right field; arm is very strong.

Weaknesses: Well rounded, but lacks loud offensive tools; hit/power have to play to projection for value; struggled some against quality spin; swing has some miss.

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average regular

Explanation of Risk: High risk; bat needs to max out; has yet to pass Double-A test.

Fantasy Future: Could be .~275 hitter with good secondary skills (power/OBP); has the potential to hit 20 bombs; can swipe a few bases.

The Year Ahead: Vettleson is ready to move up to High-A, but won’t face the real test until he reaches the Double-A, level. Vettleson is a five-tool talent, but the utility of those tools might only play as solid-average. The swing gets good reviews, with a quick trigger and clean path to and through the ball. He is a good defensive outfielder with a very strong arm, and despite not being a burner, can steal a few bases, which adds a dimension to his overall offensive profile. He’s a good all-around prospect, but the end result is most likely solid and not special.

Major league ETA: 2015

8. Blake Snell
Position: LHP
DOB: 12/04/1992
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 180 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, Shorewood High School (Shoreline, WA)
2012 Stats: 2.09 ERA (47.1 IP, 34 H, 53 K, 17 BB) at rookie-level Princeton
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 potential SL; 6 potential CH

What Happened in 2012: In 11 Appalachian starts, the highly projectable southpaw showed pitchability and stuff, missing bats and keeping rookie level hitters around the Mendoza line.

Strengths: Long, projectable body; room to add strength/weight; very good feel for pitching; arm/delivery works well; fastball works low-90s with some late vertical movement; can touch a little higher and projects to work in standard plus range (92-94); turns over a quality changeup that looks to have above-average potential; slider can miss bats; can show sharp tilt and wears a fastball disguise; good command profile.

Weaknesses: More control than command; can get loose up in the zone; has a lot of length to control in the delivery; will show multiple breaking ball looks, but curveball is behind slider; needs more secondary consistency.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; long way to go; yet to play at full-season level.

Fantasy Future: Could develop into legit mid-rotation arm (and maybe more); has clean delivery and good body; deep arsenal to work with; innings/strikeout potential.

The Year Ahead: Snell is ready for a full season in the Midwest League, and based on his pitchability and present arsenal, should have no problem moving up the prospect ranks in 2013. The fastball keeps improving, and the feel for the changeup is more advanced than the average young arm. The Rays will take it slow with Snell, and he will have time to refine his secondary arsenal and his command, and has the potential to develop into the next big arm in the system. At this time next season, we might need to adjust the conservative projection and attach a frontline ceiling. Long way to go, but this kid has a lot of potential.

Major league ETA: 2016

9. Felipe Rivero
Position: LHP
DOB: 07/05/1991
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 150 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2008, Venezuela
2012 Stats: 3.41 ERA (113.1 IP, 115 H, 98 K, 29 BB) at Low-A Bowling Green
The Tools: 6+ FB; 6 potential CB; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2012: Slow and low, Rivero made the jump to full-season ball and made 21 starts and logged over 113 innings, almost twice the workload from the previous season.

Strengths: Loose and easy arm action; really smooth/effortless release; fastball is jumpy in the low-90s; good overall command of the pitch; can work north/south and east/west; curveball shows plus potential; hammer qualities that can miss bats; changeup might end up on same level; good arm speed on pitch and some arm-side fading action; pitchability; competes.

Weaknesses: Limited size/strength; can lose angle when he elevates; finds barrels in the zone; secondary arsenal is more flash than fire; changeup is behind other offerings; questions about workload potential/ultimate role. 

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; body not ideal for heavy workload; secondary arsenal behind fastball.

Fantasy Future: Could develop into legit rotation arm, with pitchability and plus three pitch mix; floor of bullpen arm.

The Year Ahead: Sources are mixed on Rivero’s ultimate role, but everybody agrees that the arm is of major-league quality. It’s not an ideal starter’s profile because of the body, but the feel for pitching is very present, and the arsenal has a chance to feature three above average pitches. That’s a promising package, and if he can add some strength and stamina without sacrificing the stuff, sticking around in the rotation is very possible.

Major league ETA: 2015

10. Alex Colome
Position: RHP
DOB: 12/31/1988
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2007, Dominican Republic
2012 Stats: 3.48 ERA (75.0 IP, 69 H, 75 K, 34 BB) at Double-A Montgomery; 3.24 ERA
(16.2 IP, 12 H, 15 K, 9 BB) at Triple-A Durham
The Tools: 7 FB; 6 potential CB

What Happened in 2012: A return trip to the Southern League lasted 14 starts before the Dominican arm was promoted to the International League where a strong performance put him in the discussion for a major-league role in 2013.

Strengths: Big arm strength; quick arm; fastball is easy plus and can often work in the 94-97 range; lively offering that is hard to square up; curveball looks to be a future plus offering; sharp pitch in the upper-70s; will flash a short cut-slider that can be effective as weak contact pitch.

Weaknesses: Poor command profile; delivery has effort; struggles to stay mechanically consistent; tendency to overthrow secondary stuff; pitchability is a question mark.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; setup potential

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; has late-inning stuff, but command is fringe and secondary arsenal inconsistent.

Fantasy Future: In bursts, fastball could play up and his command woes play down; has late-inning potential; should miss bats.

The Year Ahead: Sources seem to agree that Colome’s future will be in the bullpen, as the short-burst potential could make him an impact arm in a late-innings capacity. He has a deep arsenal, but a command profile that forces that arsenal to play down. In a max-effort role, he could work the fastball in the mid-90s and use multiple breaking ball looks to miss barrels. He should get a chance to make a name for himself at the major-league level in 2013, most likely working out of the bullpen.

Major league ETA: 2013

Prospects on the Rise

1. SS Jake Hager: A candidate for the top 10 this year, Hager just missed the list because of questions about his long-term profile at shortstop. A balanced, skill-oriented player, Hager can do a little of everything and has a very good chance of developing into a major-league player, with a utility future as a floor.

2. RHP Jesse Hahn: Finally healthy, this high ceiling arm looked the part in the New York-Penn League, showing off his heavy plus fastball and deep secondary assortment. Hahn has the type of arm strength that every team in baseball covets, and if he can take a step forward in full-season ball in 2013, his prospect stock is set to soar.

3. C Oscar Hernandez: On the prospect radar since he did unsightly things to a baseball in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2011, Hernandez took his swing to the Appalachian League in 2012, where the results were very mixed. A promising bat, the 19-year-old backstop can absolutely demolish left-handed pitching, but arm-side stuff ate his lunch and spoiled what could have been his stateside breakout. Full-season ball might be too aggressive at this stage of the game, but a return trip to rookie ball might help coax the potential out of the stick and propel Hernandez up prospect lists.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2013)

1. IF Tim Beckham: He will never be able to shake the stigma that comes with being 1:1 in the amateur draft, but Beckham is good baseball player and he’s going to play in the majors in 2013. Although far from the impact player most thought he would develop into, Beckham has legit baseball skills and has a chance to emerge as a utility option in the short-term and a second-division second baseman in a perfect world projection.

2. OF Brandon Guyer: On a roster with promising young outfielders like Jennings and Myers, Guyer will be hard pressed to find playing time at the major-league level. But in the event of injury or inconsistency, the 27-year-old has the potential to step into an outfield spot, with enough stick to keep pitchers honest and versatility on defense.

3. LHP Mike Montgomery: Only 12 short months ago, Montgomery was the top prospect in a very crowded Kansas City organization. Thanks to mechanical setbacks and stuff that seemed to stall in the high minors, Montgomery became a bargain bin arm and was included in the Myers/Shields blockbuster this offseason. If he can return to form, the Rays might just have another quality rotation arm to add to their seemingly never-ending conveyer belt of quality rotation arms.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/87 or later)

  1. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP
  2. Matt Moore, LHP
  3. Wil Myers, OF
  4. Chris Archer, RHP
  5. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP
  6. Alex Cobb, RHP
  7. Hak-Ju Lee, SS
  8. Jake Odorizzi, RHP
  9. Richie Shaffer, 3B
  10. Drew Vettleson, OF

No longer one of baseball’s youngest teams, the Rays don’t have an abundance of under-25 players on their big-league roster. They certainly aren’t old, either; the team’s core––most notably 27-year-olds Evan Longoria and David Price––is in the prime of its career. While Tampa doesn’t have a position player under 25 with major-league experience, the pitching side is stacked with exciting young arms.

Perhaps the most intriguing debate on the Rays’ under-25 list comes between rotation-mates Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore. In a sense, it’s a classic pitchability-versus-stuff question. Hellickson, 25, shows an ability to manipulate and locate his low-90s fastball while mixing in one of the game’s best changeups. On the other hand, the 23-year-old Moore attacks hitters with an overpowering three-pitch mix––including a consistent mid-90s fastball and hard curve––with a much less refined feel for command. Despite their differing approaches, both Hellickson and Moore have the talent to become consistent no. 2 starters; Hellickson is much closer to that reality than Moore at present.

Even though the Rays’ roster isn’t extremely young, six players on this list are likely to play a role in Tampa at some point this season––Hellickson, Moore, OF Wil Myers, RHP Chris Archer, RHP Alex Cobb, and RHP Jake OdorizziThe 25-year-old Cobb may have cemented himself as a regular member of the Rays’ rotation last season, filling in for the injured Jeff Niemann by posting a 4.03 ERA in 23 starts. A likely no. 4 starter with a mid-rotation ceiling, Cobb can induce ground balls with his 90 mph-ish sinker and miss bats with his plus mid-80s split-changeup. His curveball is an average third offering.

While Archer, Myers, and Odorizzi enter the year with little or no major-league experience, all three have the talent and polish to make an impact on the AL East race this summer. Archer is likely the only of the three with a legitimate shot to crack the Opening Day roster; he’ll compete for a rotation spot in spring training. Even if he doesn’t win the job in camp, his wipeout fastball/slider combo should help the Rays in some role this season. Myers and Odorizzi are both coming off dominant Triple-A performances in 2012. Tampa Bay is counting on Myers to become the organization’s long-term answer in right field, and he could begin fulfilling that role by mid-season. —Jason Cole

A Parting Thought: With an impressive top tier of talent and a deep layer of role 5 types, the Rays have one of the better farm systems in baseball.

Last year's Rays rankings

Special thanks to Nick Faleris, Chris Mellen, Mark Anderson, and Jason Cole for their input and influence on this list. 

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

72 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Pat Folz

Chris Archer needs to go to bed earlier.

Last year KG said Matt Moore had #1/ace upside, this year you have his upside as a #2. Is that a case of different people/different opinions, or has something about his stuff/projection been revised downward?

Also, it's interesting to me that Guerreri is repeatedly described as "athletic", but there is some concern that he won't get his previous velocity back. I'd think velocity projection and overall athleticism would go hand-in-hand -- is there something specific that scouts look for that portends higher velocity in young arms?

Feb 12, 2013 03:19 AM
rating: 2
 
Imperialism32

Moore had a 23% K% (17th in the majors) as a rookie. He got better over the summer before a rough September. He's still got ace potential to me.

Feb 12, 2013 06:04 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

I did the under 25 writeup, so I'll comment on that.

Moore undoubtedly has the pure stuff of an ace, but the vast majority of the scouts I've spoken to (and this is an opinion that I agree with) believe the command and overall feel will never develop quite enough for him to be considered an "ace." Sure, there's always a very slight chance that he reaches that potential (as there is with Hellickson, given his youth and pitchability), but I see a #2 ceiling as much more realistic.

To answer your question on Moore, though, I think it's a little of A, and a little of B.

I still think he's going to be a very good major league starting pitcher. I just don't see him quite reaching that elite level of starting pitchers.

Feb 12, 2013 07:34 AM
 
orenjungreis

How is Hellickson better than moore.... there is no question that moore is better.

Feb 12, 2013 12:58 PM
rating: -3
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Clearly there is some question....

Feb 12, 2013 13:24 PM
 
orenjungreis

Yes, i noticed after i posted the question :P

This is where i see them

Hellickson is a strong number 3 pitcher because of his lack of k's and he always outpitches his FIP and stuff like that. Some pitchers are like that anyways. Moore has much better stuff, he is a much better strikeout pitcher, he showed flashes of brilliance which leads me to believe that there is small chance he isnt an Ace/#2 starter. I still completely believe in him, its his first MLB season and he pitched very well. Not amazingly but he pitched good and im expect to see improvements from him.

Feb 12, 2013 18:48 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

You make a very good case. I feel the same way, except I might view Hellickson slightly higher.

Feb 12, 2013 19:04 PM
 
mafrth77

Hellickson' s command isn't great either, and both have flyball tendencies. This is the first time I've seen Hellickson over Moore.

Feb 13, 2013 07:53 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Just because a pitcher is athletic doesn't mean he will return to his high school velocity. As professionals, pitchers are throwing more often and against much better competition. It's quite common to see lower velocity. When projecting velo, I look at the way the arm works and the overall projection of the body. It can take time to find your professional rhythm.

Feb 12, 2013 07:41 AM
 
DeathSpeculum

jason(s),
was it the ridiculously high floor that led to hellickson over matt moore for the under 25? i've always thought hellickson's ceiling to be more of a MOR guy with moore having ace stuff that far exceeds hellickson.

and when you scout a guy like hellickson, is the low k-rate and consistently mid 4 (or worse) FIP cause for concern? or does the stuff playup in a way that is possibly not detected by the numbers alone because of advanced feel and pitchability?

Feb 12, 2013 09:08 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

Good questions.

Moore has no-doubt ace stuff, and he'll flash that type of potential of times. But for me, a true "ace" needs to have a plus command/control profile as well; otherwise there's always going to be some inconsistency. I don't see Moore as a future plus command/control guy.

The low K rate on Hellickson is a slight concern and one that keeps him from being an ace, even though I like the stuff. He's not overpowering, but the changeup, developing command (and I think the command still has room to improve), and ability to manipulate his fastball gives me confidence that he's going to be a solid starting pitcher for a long, long time.

As I wrote in the U25 piece, it's a pitchability versus stuff question, and it's an intriguing debate with legitimate arguments on both sides. Moore might produce one or two seasons better than anything Hellickson does, but for me, Hellickson has the longer lifespan as a 2/3 type, and that staying power leads me to rank him over Moore.

Hope this explains it.

Feb 12, 2013 09:19 AM
 
mrenick

The write up on Blake Snell sure is interesting. Sounds like there is quite a bit of potential in an arm that very few people seem to be talking about.

Feb 12, 2013 05:01 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Extremely glowing reports on Snell, both outside the org and inside of BP.

Feb 12, 2013 07:51 AM
 
BP staff member Adam Sobsey
BP staff

Worth noting that Alex Colome's "strong performance in the International League" lasted just three starts until he was shut down for the year with a shoulder strain. He had missed time earlier in the season (while in Double-A) with an abdomen strain, as well. He's got a lot of miles on him for his age and durability is an issue--adding weight to the idea that he might be better suited to the bullpen.

Keep a prospect eye on power righty Jeff Ames, too.

Feb 12, 2013 06:24 AM
 
gandriole

Enny Romero?

Feb 12, 2013 06:27 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Was in the debate, but didn't make the cut. One really good pitch and a projectable curve, but the most likely outcome is a reliever, and its hard to crack the top ten in a really good system if you profile as a high risk reliever.

Feb 12, 2013 07:37 AM
 
AndrewBokermann

I am a little confused at the 25 and under list with Hellickson ahead of Moore, I thought Hellickson had the floor of a 4 with the chance to be a 3, while Moore has the floor of a 3 with the chance to be a 1-2. Also considering Moore Contract shouldn't he be a no brainer at the 1 spot?

Feb 12, 2013 07:42 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

The problem with those scouting distinctions is that the reality of production will properly classify a player, not assumed projections. We can call a pitcher a future number two starter all day long, but he won't become a number two starter until he actually becomes a number two starter.

Jason Cole wrote the U25, but I agree with his take. Moore might end up a high-end pitcher at the major league level; he;s already flashed the potential. But Hellickson isn't a joke, and I think his current standing puts him in the discussion. I think its debatable either way.

Moore's contract shouldn't be a part of the scouting discussion.

Feb 12, 2013 07:50 AM
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

I'm not really taking contracts into account here; it's a list of talent/scouting. Hellickson ranks first because I believe he will be a better pitcher over the long haul.

In terms of stuff and results, Hellickson is certainly better than a 3/4 type. His overall command is still improving, and he can really manipulate and locate his entire arsenal. Obviously his changeup is fantastic.

As I wrote above, Moore's stuff is better than Hellickson's (not that Hellickson has bad stuff; it's plenty fine), but I believe a lot more in Hellickson's overall feel for pitching. I think he's going to be a very good major league starter for years to come.

One of my questions regarding Moore is this: A lot of times, plus-plus fastball starters see their velocity begin to dip after a few years in the major leagues. If that happens to Moore and he becomes more of a low-90s guy who touches the mid-90s, does he have the command/secondaries to have staying power near the top of a big league rotation?

Feb 12, 2013 07:53 AM
 
78wasGreat

I wonder though if the same thing could have been said about Kershaw when he first broke into the league. He sported a 4.79BB/9 rate in his first full season and has dropped it to under 2.5 that past two years. It would seem Moore still has the potential to be an ace, although I understand the higher probability is that he settles in as a 2/3.

Feb 12, 2013 11:31 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

I'm not 100 percent counting it out, but I see it as unlikely that it develops that much. You make a good point, but don't forget that Kershaw is only a year older than Moore. He came up at a younger age, and I think the delivery profile was more conducive to plus command.

Moore will have to evolve if he's to take that step. Kershaw is also a much different pitcher than he was when he broke in. He was basically a two-pitch guy with the plus fastball and huge curveball. He still has the curve, but he's now much more reliant on the easier-to-command hard slider, and I think that's a part of why the walk rate has dropped.

Feb 12, 2013 11:39 AM
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

Having said all of this, I still love Moore and think he's going to be a very good big league starter.

Feb 12, 2013 11:46 AM
 
78wasGreat

Wow- after looking at Kershaw's pitch percentages over the years these are great points.

Thanks for the feedback and aces on the rankings this year.

Feb 12, 2013 11:56 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

No problem! I enjoy the discussion. Everything that goes into the developing and evolving of a true ace has always fascinated me a bit. Kershaw is a good example of how those guys do develop and evolve on top of the elite raw talent, I think.

Feb 12, 2013 12:06 PM
 
SC

Looks like Beckham will be the third 1:1 position player the Rays draft who becomes a top prospect then fails to meet that status (at least in Florida).

Feb 12, 2013 07:47 AM
rating: 1
 
granne

Mikie Mahtook?

Feb 12, 2013 07:52 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

We had him graded as a fringe role 5/role 4 player; most likely a 4th outfielder.

Feb 12, 2013 07:53 AM
 
johnorpheus

Add me to the list of people who doesn't get the Hellickson love. He's just not that great of a pitcher. Nearly 400 innings of of FIPs in the mid-4's. That's a back end guy. Shiny ERA won't hold up with those peripherals. Moore was more valuable in his rookie year than Hellickson was in the past two years combined, and better pure stuff.

Feb 12, 2013 08:06 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Moore was more valuable in his rookie year than Hellickson was in the past two years combined?

That's ridiculous.

Feb 12, 2013 08:12 AM
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

I don't think you'll find a single person working in the industry who believes Jeremy Hellickson is a "back-end guy."

Feb 12, 2013 08:15 AM
 
RaysProf

Data on BP using BP's metrics suggests claim is justifiable.

Feb 12, 2013 13:38 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Which metrics?

Feb 12, 2013 13:41 PM
 
Ben Solow

Not that I have a particularly informed opinion on this debate, but BP's player cards have Moore as a 2.7 WARP pitcher this season and Hellickson as 0.8 for his career.

Feb 12, 2013 15:07 PM
rating: 4
 
Ben Solow

And by this season, I mean 2012.

Gotta work on that.

Feb 12, 2013 15:08 PM
rating: 1
 
gweedoh565

FWIW, those WARP numbers seem entirely FRA-driven, as most of the traditional, results-based stats peg Hellickson as superior:

Here are their 2012 stats:
Hellickson: 177 IP, 3.10 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 4.54 FRA, .269 oppTAv
Moore: 177.3 IP, 3.81 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 3.65 FRA, .271 oppTAv

FWIW, bWAR's calculation seems more "actual results" driven:
Hellickson: 2.9 WAR 2012, 3.5 WAR 2011
Moore: 1.2 WAR 2012

Feb 13, 2013 11:34 AM
rating: -1
 
Ben Solow

Yeah, I don't think I really buy the argument that Moore was more valuable last year than Hellickson has been for his career, but there's something incongruous about BP writers saying that an argument convincingly supported by BP stats is ridiculous.

Feb 13, 2013 18:28 PM
rating: -1
 
gweedoh565

I realize I'm probably just arguing semantics here, but in defense of Parks, I think it's a bit of a stretch to call the argument "convincingly supported" given the numbers I cited above.

Also, I don't see how the fact that WARP is a BP metric makes any difference... the implication is that all BP writers should blindly adhere to stats produced by BP, ignoring their limitations (in this case very meaningful limitations) for the sake of solidarity, and that's a dangerously cultish attitude, particularly for an organization that espouses a practically academic treatment of baseball analysis.

Feb 13, 2013 20:14 PM
rating: 0
 
Ben Solow

I don't think I'm criticizing Prof. Parks at all -- in fact, I think it's much more likely that WARP isn't a great number. As I said earlier, I don't really buy the argument that Moore was more valuable, and thus I think the WARP numbers are probably incorrect.

The implication of WARP being a BP metric is not that all writers should slavishly adhere to it (something that no one is arguing), but rather that people who work for BP can productively engage in dialogue with each other about how to improve the measure if they think it's wrong. I stand by the statement that it looks weird for BP writers to say that they think WARP is inaccurate, but for BP to continue to produce it.

Feb 14, 2013 10:27 AM
rating: -1
 
gweedoh565

Fair enough- I misinterpreted your comment.

I don't necessarily think this means that WARP is inaccurate, though (and no BP writers have made that claim), but rather that the interpretation of what it measures is inaccurate; the evidence here suggests that it tends to measure "skills" (or something similar) as opposed to "results" (fWAR is very similar for pitchers). To that end, maybe we just need a bit more transparency as to how WARP values pitchers.

Feb 14, 2013 11:26 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I don't care if I created the stat personally, named it after my dead mother, and wore its qualities like a badge of honor on my bare chest---I found the statement to be ridiculous and I stand behind that.

Feb 14, 2013 07:17 AM
 
RaysProf

Mr. Parks - your response implies you have no faith in the WARP measurement for pitchers. You may be correct. However it thus means WARP should be corrected if it is to continue to be a measure of value of a player to a team. And that BP should discontinue to use it as a metric in comparing pitchers.

You might be amused to know that German physicist Max Planck once proposed a model and a fundamental constant, h. But upon being told implications of his model and constant, he expressed the same sentiments, "That's ridiculous!"

Feb 14, 2013 15:53 PM
rating: -1
 
gweedoh565

Jason Parks disagrees with an assessment of these two particular pitchers that is based solely on WARP; therefore, WARP is inherently flawed and should be discontinued?

Feb 14, 2013 18:56 PM
rating: -1
 
RaysProf

Either WARP, which we are told measures relative value of a performance, is correct and Mr. Parks is wrong thus making us question the value of his analysis, or Mr. Parks is correct, that for this comparison, WARP does not accurately measure the value of the performance, thus making us question value of WARP for any type of comparison. Of course both could be wrong.

Ultimately, the value of a player is in his ability to generating wins. This is what WARP is suppose to measure. If we choose to accept the implications of this metric only when it satisfies our "gut feeling", then it has no value. And it was this form of arbitrary usage of such metrics that have been used by many to justify support for his/her favorite player.

If Mr. Parks is correct, then WARP should be re-defined or modified so that it satisfies its intent - a measure of past performance, not a measure of potential performance as your research suggests.

Feb 15, 2013 14:20 PM
rating: 0
 
JoshC77

I know where you're going with this and if we had seen regression to the mean last season, I might buy it. But now he has had two straight seasons where his FIP is nearly 1.5 runs higher than his ERA.

Somehow, he is getting the job done (you can reference 400 innings with a FIP in the mid-4's all you want but I will say that in the same period his ERA has been 3). The more he does it, the less likely it is random luck and the more one has to acknowledge that he may have an underlying skillset that standard metrics do not take into account. There are players that metrics cannot define and it may be that Hellickson is one of them. At the end of the day, he has 400+ major league innings of allowing only 3 earned runs per game; he is doing something right.


Feb 12, 2013 08:32 AM
rating: 3
 
thegeneral13

Shouldn't we be able to evaluate this assertion statistically, i.e. determine the likelihood that the delta between his expected performance and his actual performance isn't due to random variation? I would guess the error in fair ERA estimators is great enough that there will always be a good supply of players who exceed their peripherals long enough to be called exceptions, when in fact they are just errors in the model well within the bounds of what one should expect. I'm not saying this is the case with Hellickson, but rather that we should be able to have a statistically informed view on this, right?

Feb 12, 2013 10:00 AM
rating: 1
 
JoshC77

I would think so....but someone smarter than me will need to do the math :)

Feb 12, 2013 16:41 PM
rating: 0
 
jfribley

Is 400 innings in an extreme pitchers park in front of one of the best defensive squads around really enough for us to be convinced it's not a fluke?
The simple fact though is that Hellickson has stranded 82% of batters. That's the highest of any starting pitcher starting in 1969. If you can come up with a compelling hypothesis as to why and how Hellickson is the Pelé of stranding runners then maybe I could be convinced that his ERA accurately reflects a skill that he possesses.

Feb 12, 2013 19:55 PM
rating: 3
 
jfribley

*highest of any starting pitcher in the era starting in 1969

Feb 12, 2013 20:15 PM
rating: 0
 
MonkeyEpoxy

How many blunts did Chris Archer have before reporting to take that picture?

Feb 12, 2013 09:33 AM
rating: 8
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

All of them

Feb 12, 2013 09:37 AM
 
joseconsuervo

I'm sad that I can't up-vote this one...

Aug 09, 2013 08:04 AM
rating: 0
 
bkirkman

If Alfaro is 'the Legend', Oscar Hernandez should be referred to as 'the Allegory'...

Feb 12, 2013 10:06 AM
rating: 0
 
SC

An addendum to my comment above, it seems like the Rays are uniquely skilled at successfully developing top pitching prospects. Even the misses are guys like Wade Davis, who will have a useful MLB career, and their successes are unparalleled. Their system is the strongest counter-argument to TNSAPP. Yet they seem to struggle with identification and development of position players.

Is there something they are doing that either improves their success at identifying and developing pitching prospects or reduces their success at developing position players?

Feb 12, 2013 10:08 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

I'd like Parks to get in on this as well, but the Rays are typically much slower to promote pitching prospects (especially to the majors) than most organizations. Everyone gradually works their way up, and the interesting thing is that most of the true prospects have immediate success.

Who was the last legit Rays pitching prospect to really struggle initially in the majors? I guess you could point to Andy Sonnanstine, but I'd say he kind of hit his expectations.

Baseball is often such a reactionary game (hell, all sports are), and I think you have to commend the Rays for always being patient.

Feb 12, 2013 10:25 AM
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Yep. They are patient and they have their pitchers throw a lot (and throw their secondary stuff with fastball arm intensity). It's a common refrain to hear pitchers say that throwing is the key to injury prevention. Well, the Rays pitchers throw a lot. I think they do an excellent job of nurturing arms.

Feb 12, 2013 10:30 AM
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

Seems like more and more organizations are beginning to go with heavy long-toss/arm strengthening programs.

Feb 12, 2013 10:35 AM
 
Imperialism32

It's pretty much just volume. Alex Torres flopped pretty badly in 2012 after being #4 in the system last year. Enny Romero fell out of the top 10. Guys like Nick Barnese, Jake Thompson, Wilking Rodriguez, Kyle Lobstein, etc were fringe-top-10 guys and fell short. They haven't had a high-profile flop, though Davis and Jake McGee seem like relievers.

Feb 12, 2013 10:32 AM
rating: -2
 
John Carter

Every team has a volume of failures. I am pretty well still sold on the notion that the Rays do the best at identifying and developing their pitchers - not just prospects - look at the success they create in their bullpen over and over. As a (Simulation/Fantasy League)Scoresheet player and a damn good one, I think this is more valuable to know than having the best projections in the business - because they tend to fail to take the organizations into account.

Oakland does great with their pitchers, too.

Texas used to be the worse. Now, I'd rank them third. They turned around about when Nolan Ryan came in and to my understanding made the pitching prospects work harder - less babying. Perhaps, there is something to that.

Feb 14, 2013 21:26 PM
rating: -1
 
RandyKutcherHair

Where does Archer come in for the top 100?

Feb 12, 2013 10:14 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Top 30

Feb 12, 2013 10:15 AM
 
MonkeyEpoxy

Quick tools question: are they dependent on position? for instance, is 6 power from a shortstop different than 6 power from a first baseman, or is 6 power 6 power?

Feb 12, 2013 10:47 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Power is power

Feb 12, 2013 10:49 AM
 
MonkeyEpoxy

aight. thanks!

Feb 12, 2013 10:51 AM
rating: 0
 
jfribley

Re: Hellickson/Moore--Jason, would you take Porcello or Hellickson going forward?

Feb 12, 2013 11:00 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Cole
BP staff

Not sure which Jason this is directed at! I'd still go Hellickson, but I do like Porcello has a breakout candidate given the youth and the fact that the stuff ticked up a notch last year.

Porcello might be the MLB pitcher I'm most interested to see in 2013.

Feb 12, 2013 11:02 AM
 
John Carter

Brandon Guyer - what's wrong with him?

Feb 12, 2013 12:24 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Adam Sobsey
BP staff

Shoulder labrum surgery last year.

Feb 13, 2013 07:29 AM
 
JamesAngelos

Serious #brow on Archer

Feb 12, 2013 15:09 PM
rating: 0
 
smallflowers

Shocked this hasn't been asked: were he eligible, where would Desmond Jennings sit on the U25?

Feb 12, 2013 18:21 PM
rating: -2
 
cavsonics

Thoughts on Sale? Corner profile, so I know the bar is set high from your perspective. Can the bat carry him?

Feb 12, 2013 20:39 PM
rating: 0
 
presvedder

So if you are the Rays and could only keep one of Moore and Hellickson you would go with JH? I can see the argument with him being the safe pick, but the ultimate upside of Moore far exceeds the steady Eddy of JH.

I also thought Archer looked high as a kite in that picture. Drug test him ASAP!!!

Feb 12, 2013 23:44 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

With huge respect to the Jasons here and I appreciate all the hard work and lifetime of experience and serious consideration, if I'm starting a Scoresheet team, I would draft Matt Moore before Jeremy Hellickson. In fact, I'd bet on Moore having a better year in 2013. In fact, if given the chance and not passed by Archer, I'd even rather have Alex Cobb than Hellickson - and I do like Hellickson. I just love these other Rays pitchers even more. That organization is going to get the best out of them.

Feb 14, 2013 21:34 PM
rating: 0
 
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