Which young pitchers does PECOTA see as having breakout potential in 2017?
“Breakout” can mean different things to different people. It can mean a prospect or untested young big leaguer establishing himself as a valuable regular. It can mean a relative unknown becoming an impact player. It can mean a well-known star making the leap to full-blown superstar, perhaps even following up a “breakout” one year with an even bigger “breakout” the next. Your own definition may vary, but in PECOTA’s case “breakout” is all about out-performing track records.
PECOTA assigns each player a “breakout rate” for the upcoming season based on their odds of beating their established level of recent performance by at least 20 percent, with historical player comps serving as an important factor. Because the entire system is based on regressed-to-the-mean, 50th percentile projections, breakout rate identifies the players most likely to leave that in the dust for their 70th, 80th, and 90th percentile upsides.
A Jess Hahn blister has opened the door for Oakland's top pitching prospect.
The Situation: Following the demotion of Eric Surkamp, the A’s were reportedly considering promoting either Jesse Hahn or Sean Manaea. A blister issue for Hahn helped force their hand, as they’ve called up the top-50 prospect, Manaea. Manager Bob Melvin has already indicated that Manaea should be with the team for “the long haul,” so this should not be viewed in a similar light to the recent promotion/demotion of Rays’ prospect Blake Snell.
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Jose De Leon, Dodgers, RHP
De Leon is an unusual story for a top pitching prospect: a late-round pick from Southern University who has significantly changed both his body (lost nearly 40 pounds), and subsequently, his stuff. De Leon is a fairly safe prospect: he has good velocity, a competent and balanced mix of pitches, and the ability to stay around the strike zone. I’ve heard opinions from other scouts ranging from number two starter to number four, but the reality is: if everyone agrees that you profile in a big league rotation, you’re doing something right. Numerous things right, more likely.
De Leon works from an easily-repeated full windup, breaking his hands over his head and extending well down the mound through his pitches. He has a clean, compact-in-the-back high three-quarters arm-slot, and that’s where his consistent control and extension originate from. In this look, De Leon was 93-94 with his fastball, though it’s a fairly true four-seamer that can ride up into dangerously-hittable quadrants of the strike zone. He’s flashed some 95s, 96s, and even a few 97s in the past, but over a full season he’s likely to sit in the 92-95 range. While De Leon certainly does not have poor velocity, I would still like to see him throw a two-seam fastball more often, if his ability to angle the ball to the lower-third doesn’t take steps forward.
Quotes on Sean Manaea, Jorge Mateo, Alex Bregman and more.
Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Astros outfielder George Springer and Royals lefty Sean Manaea.
Hitter of the Night: George Springer, OF, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 2-3, R, HR
There’s not much left for me to say about Springer, who is clearly ready for a big-league challenge, but I’m going to continue to include him in the MLU when he does well to point out the absurdity of a system that encourages a team to keep an obviously superior player in the minors while putting an inferior major-league product on the field.
Pitcher of the Night: Sean Manaea, LHP, Royals (Wilmington, A+): 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K.
Manaea sat between 90-92 with his fastball on Monday and hit 95, and he missed bats with his slider. He’s still learning to be consistent with his stuff and how to use all of it, but his power arm is one that can’t be taught. (H/t to @CJWittJr for the velos).
The minor leaguers who made a major impression this spring.
LHP Julio Urias (Dodgers)
A 16-year-old pitching in the Midwest League can turn heads, and when that pitcher can pump a fastball in the 91-96 range in each start, backed up by multiple breaking ball looks and a quality changeup, the heads start spinning. I watched two spring starts from the now 17-year-old southpaw, and I came away knowing that this was the most polished young arm I have ever seen.
A look at the top draft picks and international bonus babies from the past year, and how they rank for fantasy purposes.
Once the holidays have moved on and the calendar has flipped, dynasty leaguers all start to crawl out of the woodwork to submit their rosters for the current season and draft the new group of eligibles to dream on. As Wooderson would say, "that’s what I love about these current-year draftees, man. I get older, they stay the same age.” The promise of the 2013 signees collectively pool together to give dynasty-league rebuilders new hope of contention and dynasty-league contenders new trade chips with which to get the pieces to put them over the top.
And while the 2013 crop isn't the strongest we've seen in recent memory, there are still high-upside options from which to choose. The slight quirk of this year is that the options with the most fantasy upside are, for the most part, not the high school players. In fact, only one of the top six players on this list fit into that category—which is a change of pace from last season, when Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, and Addison Russell all fell into that space (and are all now top-10 prospects in the game). There is no prep arm with more impact potential than Jonathan Gray and no prep bat with more power potential than Kris Bryant. On the international front, just like last year, the crop is headlined by a Cuban hitter and a Japanese pitcher who have impact upside—though for fantasy purposes, they may be less exciting than Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes. Then again, that's not much of a knock on Masahiro Tanaka or Jose Abreu, as you'd be hard pressed to find a one-two punch to match them in most seasons.
A look at the players whom junior-circuit clubs selected in the first round of the draft in June.
Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (Low-A Kannapolis): .266/.337/.343 with 7 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 13 SB, 3 CS, 15 BB, and 49 K in 169 at-bats. Anderson is a toolsy player selected out of junior college. He was finally able to focus all of his time on baseball in 2013 after previously being a multi-sport athlete. Anderson offers plus-plus running ability and good bat speed, and some believe he has a chance to hit for power. It is going to be difficult for Anderson to stay at short, but scouts believe he could transition to center field if necessary. The White Sox paid $2.16 million for Anderson, and he was instantly in the conversation for the top prospect in their system.