Q: I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but what the hell should we think of Trevor Story? Specifically, how does he fit in with the current crop of excellent SS prospects (J.P. Crawford, Corey Seager, Oswaldo Arcia, Dansby Swanson, etc.)? – Ryan C.
A: It’s hard not to talk about Story at this early point in the season given what he’s done at the plate, so I won’t blame anyone for asking about him. Let’s start by going back to what BP’s own Jeff Paternostro had to say about Story in the Rockies Top 10 Prospects:
“…Story should be a serviceable big-leaguer for a number of years. Story still has an aggressive mindset at the dish, and there is still plenty of swing-and-miss that might limit the power utility in the majors, but he has the pop to punish mistakes.”
That certainly sounds like the player I saw last summer, and in going back to look at most of his individual at-bats this season, it actually still sounds like the player I’m seeing right now; status be damned. Story is still swing early and often in counts, and still swinging and missing a considerable amount. The bulk of Story’s hard-hit balls so far this season have come on fastballs toward the middle of the plate, something he shouldn’t count on seeing much of over the next few weeks. If that happens, Story’s numbers are going to quickly come back in line with original expectations.
As Story relates to some of the other top-notch shortstop prospects in the game today – not even addressing the likes of Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and Addison Russell, that have already graduated from the prospect ranks – I have a hard time putting him the same class as the prospects mentioned. Story’s potential for average in-game power if his offensive game actualizes is tantalizing, but the aggressive approach and marginal barrel control are far more likely to hinder the offensive production long-term. While that result may still yield above-average production for the position, his glove work remains on the light side for shortstops, meaning he still profiles as a fringe regular.
Meanwhile, players like Crawford and Seager maintain superstar potential, and the likes of Arcia and Swanson reasonably project to be above-average regulars and potential all-stars. That type of talent represents stiff competition for a player like Story that only has one tool that compares favorably with the robust and highly rated skill sets of these other players.
Q: Which group of prospects do you see being stronger this year; batters or starting pitchers? – Kyle G.
A: Excluding players like Corey Seager, Byron Buxton, Steven Matz, and Nomar Mazara that could all surpass rookie eligibility criteria in the near future, the dynamic of this current crop of players changes quite a bit. At the top of the scale you have exceptional pitching prospects like Lucas Giolito, Julio Urias, and Alex Reyes, among others. That type of pitching talent is impossible to ignore and even as you flip sides and consider top of the scale hitters like J.P. Crawford, Yoan Moncada, and Orlando Arcia, the comparison simply doesn’t seem fair. For me personally, the depth of position players currently in the minor leagues includes a far more intriguing collection of talent. I have more faith and higher expectations for the offensive talent, both in terms of current production and potential for breakouts/emergence.
When I break down the types of arms considered in this discussion, I won’t go so far as to say I am underwhelmed, but I would say there is more concern. Highly rated pitchers like Robert Stephenson, Jon Gray, Jameson Taillon, Hunter Harvey, and Archie Bradley all own considerable red flags, while another crop of pitchers like Aaron Blair and Jake Thompson lack the ceiling to seriously move the needle.
All told, despite the potential dominance from the top starting pitching prospects on the farm, the depth comes up far short of the offensive talent floating around. I’ll take my chances backing the current crop of position player prospects.
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