If you’re into prospects—and I think it’s safe to assume that you are, given that you (a) clicked on this story on the BP website and (b) were on the BP website in the first place—then 2015 has been a fun season for you. Seemingly every week, a player featured on BP's Preseason Top 101 list has been called into his manager’s office and had his life changed forever. In Des Moines, Toledo, Pawtucket, and a score of other mid-sized American cities, they’ve called their families and friends, made frantic plans to meet up wherever they’re going, and boarded a plane to a better life.
As of the All-Star break, 25 of the young men featured on February’s list—14 hitters, and 11 pitchers—have exhausted their rookie eligibility in 2015. The purpose of this article (insofar as it has a purpose and is not, like its author, wandering aimlessly through life) is to present to you, the informed and educated reader, the rest-of-season (ROS) PECOTA projections for the 14 hitters on that list, and provide some brief and enlivening commentary about the same.* For details about what PECOTA is and how it works, I recommend reading this glossary entry, which is also enlivening but far from brief.
As a group, this year’s young hitters are projected to produce 9.0 WARP over the rest of the season, nearly a third of which are expected to come by way of a young man whose arrival on the big-league stage was accompanied by more rigmarole and general ruckus than anyone this side of Stephen Strasburg.
[Ed. note: â€‹After this piece was published, commenter clete6 pointed out that several of the listed players had not, in fact, exhausted their rookie eligibility yet this season. He is entirely correct, and indeed Joey Gallo, Francisco Lindor, Dilson Herrera, and Dalton Pompey are still under the required marks (130 ABs, or 45 days big-league service time). Andrew Susac is under the 130 AB mark but remains on the list by virtue of his accrued service time. We apologize for the error and hope you enjoy the list.]
.268/.363/.527, 16 HR, 46 R, 284 PAs
23.5 VORP, 2.9 WARP
If I had asked you, thirty seconds ago, which major-league player had the second-highest ROS WARP projection in the game, you would likely have said something in the manner of “Bryce Harper, right? Him or Trout.” What you probably would not have said is: “It’s Kris Bryant.” And yet, if you had said that, you would have been, quite indisputably, correct. (Trout is first.) Such is the life of Chicago’s golden boy these days, as he attempts to lead the North Siders to their first playoff berth since 2008’s NLDS three-and-out.
.238/.336/.438, 12 HR, 43 R, 277 PAs
15.4 VORP, 1.5 WARP
Pederson, 23, is Bryant’s main competition for the NL Rookie of the Year award, and if PECOTA is to be believed, will likely end up finishing second in that race. But his fluid left-handed stroke, brilliant play in center field, and possible long-term home under the bright lights of Los Angeles will combine to ensure that he’ll be remembered for far more than that. His ROS projections, if accurate, see him gaining a little on-base ability and losing a little power as the season wears on, and finishing at a cool 3.6 WARP for the season. I’m sure the Dodgers will take it.
.259/.336/438, 7 HR, 31 R, 253 PAs
12.0 VORP, 1.3 WARP
It’s hard to remember now, but there were those who questioned Houston’s choice of Correa at 1-1 in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft (ahead of, among others, fellow rookie Byron Buxton). All he’s done since then is hit at every level he’s played at, including the majors, and PECOTA likes him to continue his success, albeit at a more muted level. With Correa entrenched at shortstop for the foreseeable future and the Astros sitting pretty at 49-42 at the break, things are looking bright in Houston, indeed.
(4) Addison Russell, 2B, Chicago Cubs (2)
.238/.298/.389, 5 HR, 23 R, 205 PAs
5.9 VORP, 0.6 WARP
I wonder if Billy Beane finds it hard to watch Cubs games these days. He’s a professional, so I’m sure he’ll get over it in time, but there has to be something in that volcanic personality that bubbles over when he sees Russell, the broad-shouldered 21-year-old, run out to the keystone in Chicago each day. Russell hasn’t lit the world on fire since coming up in late April, and PECOTA doesn’t think his offense will improve much this year, but his defense at second-base has been sterling, vaulting him to fourth place in these standings.
(5) Jorge Soler, RF, Chicago Cubs (19)
.258/.316/.446, 8 HR, 25 R, 218 PAs
7.2 VORP, 0.6 WARP
Soler’s average exit velocity—93.5 miles per hour—is good for third among NL players, a fact which will be a surprise to exactly nobody who’s seen this kid in person. He’s massive already, and there’s still some room for his frame to fill out. Injuries have taken away some playing time over the last few seasons, including this one, but PECOTA still likes Soler for a further 200-odd trips to the plate and some pretty decent rate stats in the process. “Vladimir Guerrero with plate discipline” is how Chicago manager Joe Maddon described Soler at the conclusion of this year’s spring training, and if that’s what the Cubs have in hand, they—and the rest of the baseball world—are in for something really special.
.259/.291/.429, 9 HR, 26 R, 255 PAs
7.0 VORP, 0.5 WARP
Franco is just about the only good thing in Philadelphia these days besides Cole Hamels and a cheesesteak. The Dominican third baseman is making his case to survive the rebuild that will (soon? maybe? possibly?) be taking place in the City of Brotherly love, and be the cornerstone that new team president Andy MacPhail builds the next Phillies contender around. PECOTA sees a little bit more on-base ability and power than he’s shown over his first 236 plate appearances this season, and projects numbers that would put him solidly in the middle of this second tier of rookies (running from Russell at 4 to Gallo at 9) and well on the way to a promising career.
(7) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians (4)
.240/.293/.338, 3 HR, 26 R, 224 PAs
3.6 VORP, 0.5 WARP
Lindor was always going to have to hit just enough to stick in the Show, and let his sparkling defensive ability do the loud talking. That’s pretty much what’s happened since he came up on June 14th, although you have to imagine that Cleveland was looking for a little bit more than the .223/.257/.311 line he’s put up (.196 tAV) over his first 100-ish trips to the plate. Luckily for them, Lindor is projected to improve on all three counts the rest of the way — though perhaps not quite to an ideal degree — and end his rookie campaign with a respectable 0.4 WARP. Even if he doesn’t approach that level with the stick, you’re still going to want to watch this kid play the field. It’s a thing of beauty.
.235/.295/.363, 3 HR, 18 R, 145 PAs
2.4 VORP, 0.5 WARP
Michael Taylor sounds like the name of a guy who George Clooney will eventually—or has, perhaps, already—played in some gritty black-and-white movie aimed at winning over the same Oscar voters that so loved Syriana. It also sounds like the name of a guy who’s putting up a darn solid rookie campaign for an excellent Nationals squad, and who is projected to be essentially the exact same player (with perhaps a tiny bit less pop) the rest of the way.
(9) Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers (15)
.226/.309/.504, 5 HR, 11 R, 77 PAs
3.8 VORP, 0.4 WARP
Do you like power? Joey Gallo has power. The last of the trio of Las Vegas natives with light-tower power to debut in the Show (following Harper and Bryant), Gallo wasted no time demonstrating why he deserved to play with the big boys. In his first big-league at bat, Gallo deposited a Jeff Samardzija fastball into the upper deck of Globe Life Park, reaching a true distance (as estimated by ESPN’s Home Run Tracker) of 430 feet. 11 days later, off of Minnesota’s J.R. Graham, Gallo hit a bomb in the same park that traveled an estimated 471 (!) feet—that’s the fourth-longest blast in the history of the ballpark. Anyway, enough salivating. There’s bad news here as well: despite the prodigious blasts, Gallo’s .218/.306/.448 performance wasn’t enough to cut it in Texas, and he was sent back to Triple-A Round Rock in late June. PECOTA thinks he’ll be a bit better than he was before, provided he comes back up, but is far from certain that that’ll be the case, pinning him at 77 plate appearances the rest of the way.
.244/.286/.354, 2 HR, 13 R, 138 PAs
1.6 VORP, 0.2 WARP
Seems like every second guy I went to high school with was named Blake. None of them could hit like Boston’s Swihart though, and none of them could catch a big-league ballgame either. For a Red Sox team that’s been maddeningly inconsistent, Swihart has been a middle-of-the road performer, putting up a .241/.279/.323 line that, combined with decent performance behind the plate, put him at exactly … 0.0 WARP for the season. The New Mexico product is expected to take a step forward the rest of the way, as PECOTA is heartened by his consistently above-average minor-league numbers.
(11) Andrew Susac, C, San Francisco Giants (97)
.231/.314/.380, 2 HR, 6 R, 60 PAs
2.0 VORP, 0.2 WARP
Gotta be a tough place to be, backing up a player (Buster Posey) who’s won three rings, a Rookie of the Year, and an MVP, all in his first five seasons in the majors. But the Giants, understandably concerned about wear and tear on their superstar’s body, are gradually transitioning Posey to first base, which has opened the door for Susac. He hasn’t exactly walked through just yet, with a .239/.308/.394 line so far this year, and PECOTA isn’t confident that he’ll be much better moving forward. Still, his minor-league numbers have always been solid, particularly in the on-base department, and one imagines that with more playing time he’ll have an opportunity to sort out his approach against big-league pitchers. They throw ungodly breaking stuff in the Show, you know.
(12) Dilson Herrera, 2B, New York Mets (82)
.240/.292/.374, 1 HR, 3 R, 27 PAs
0.7 VORP, 0.1 WARP
Like Gallo, Herrera is currently plying his trade for his parent club’s Triple-A squad (in his case, the Las Vegas 51s), having been demoted to the Sin City on June 30th. After rocketing all the way from High-A to the majors in 2014, at the ripe old age of 20, the Colombian put up a tepid .195/.290/.317 line in 2015 before his demotion. PECOTA doesn’t like his chances to get much playing time in New York the rest of the way, but Herrera’s projected line doesn’t look too bad coming from an above-average defensive second-baseman, which is what he seems to be. The Mets will rightly continue dreaming on his future as they focus on their much more glaring hole at shortstop.
(13) Kevin Plawecki, C, New York Mets (80)
.239/.294/.354, 1 HR, 5 R, 57 PAs
1.2 VORP, 0.1 WARP
Oh, look, another Met. Plawecki, a 24-year-old Purdue product, put up solid enough lines at Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014 that he earned a promotion to the big club in late April following Travis D’Arnaud’s fractured pinkie. Since then, he’s played in 50 games for New York and put up a .231/.280/.319 line which won’t win him any All-Star nods but might keep him in the majors for a little while longer. PECOTA likes him to improve somewhat as the season wears on, and D’Arnaud’s recent return to the disabled list (sprained left elbow) suggests Plawecki may get a few more chances to prove his worth.
(14) Dalton Pompey, CF, Toronto Blue Jays (42)
.235/.302/.363, 2 HR, 10 R, 84 PAs
1.6 VORP, 0.1 WARP
There are some players whose names, alone, make you want them to succeed. Dalton Pompey is one of those guys for me (also, Kirk Nieuwenhuis). Unfortunately for me (and, one imagines, for Pompey and the greater Toronto metropolitan area) the Blue Jays’ Doolin’ Dalton hasn’t been particularly good thus far in 2015, and PECOTA doesn’t hold out much hope for the rest of the season either. His excellent outfield defense will keep his prospect stock up for a little while longer, but for now he remains stuck at Double-A after successive demotions.
* * *
Not a bad crop on the whole, with lots of future potential and quite a bit of present value. The Cubs come out of the exercise looking extremely strong, with three of the top five projected values, but don’t sleep on any of the others. This is a strong rookie class, with very few players who won’t be regular big-league contributors going forward. Sure, some of them need a bit of tinkering with this or that, but that’s true to one degree or another of everyone in the majors. The moment a big-league player decides they have nothing to work on is the moment they start the path towards not being a big-leaguer any more.
*Players who have made their debuts this season but have not yet exhausted their rookie eligibility—such as Kyle Schwarber and Byron Buxton among others—are not considered here. Pitchers are likewise not discussed here, as PECOTA does not yet (but will soon) include a DRA component, which we at BP believe makes a great deal of difference.
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