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What do the advanced numbers tell us about some of the Royals prospects?

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To the spreadsheet!

Seattle Mariners v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Love it or hate it, the modern world of baseball allows us to dive deeper into players than ever before. No longer are teams stuck with poor metrics for ability like batting average or ERA. Now, we have several layers of how to evaluate the performance of a player, and in turn, evaluate their talent. I say this, because talent typically has to follow performance.

Say you have two players and you have both quantitative and qualitative reports on them.

Player A: 60 grade hit tool, 70 grade power, hitting .230/.320/.430

Player B: 40 grade hit tool, 50 grade power, hitting .290/.350/.480

Now if those grades were just for one level and one year, we can mostly still weight their scouted tools over their performance, but if a player(s) continually perform better than their tools, the grades on their tools must be wrong. Player A is probably being graded too optimistically or given too much projection, whereas Player B is being graded underwhelmingly and needs to be boosted.

I think of tools as lagging indicators and performance as a leading indicator. You would never raise/lower performance because of a players tools, but you would raise/lower their tools because of performance.

So while I won’t portend this article to necessarily ask us to reconsider the tools given to Royals prospects, I will allow you to make any conclusion you’d like. In the Age of Big Data, we are given that opportunity.

*Note — I know everyone might not know what each stat means. If you have a question, leave a comment and we can talk about how to interpret a stat and what the inputs are.

*Note 2.0 — I made some subjective calls on which stats to use for a player who has split time between levels. I typically opted for the one with the largest sample size, even if it doesn’t match the “current level” column, but in some cases I felt the sample size in the smaller playing time level was enough

Hitters

  • The average walk rate of the group is 10.6%, which I don’t have any context on how that compares to other organizations, it seems to be good.
  • Three of arguably the top four hitting prospects in the system (excluding Bobby Witt, Jr.) are striking out at high rates (MJ Melendez 39%, Nick Pratto 35%, and Seuly Matias 44%). Khalil Lee, the fourth prospect of the group, isn’t striking out at a wild rate but 25% is elevated for his lack of power.
  • As we all expected, Gabriel Cancel is the best power hitter of the group...
  • I’ve been a big Gigliotti fan, partly because of these very metrics, and he is having arguably the best season so far of any Royals prospect. He has been promoted to A+, so it will be a new challenge in a tough hitting environment.
  • We can see the big difference between wRC+ and DRC+ when it comes to the two extreme parks in A-Ball (Lexington) and A+ (Wilmington). wRC+ only adjusts for the league environment but DRC+ (as far as I can tell) adjusts for the league and park (and the major league version adjusts for opponent and Baseball Prospectus - the owner of DRC+ - has data on quality of opponent for minor leaguers). But it is curious to see DRC+ actually hitting the Wilmington hitters harder than wRC+ when you add the park. Whereas with Lexington, seems to have an upwards adjustment (see Gigliotti).
  • MJ Melendez doesn’t hit the ball on the ground much and also hits its relatively far, but his power is middling. This is likely a Wilmington issue (but I don’t think the 39% strikeout rate is)

Pitchers

  • Richard Lovelady has no business pitching in AAA while Wily Peralta/Jake Diekman/Kevin McCarthy continue to be bad in the majors. Early on it made some sense if they wanted to build their value to trade them, but at this point no one is giving up anything of note for any of them. Lovelady is liked by FIP but he’s loved(lady) by DRA.
  • When looking at the “big four” college guys taken in 2018 (Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, and Kris Bubic), they range from pretty good (3.27 as a group) to fair by FIP, however DRA is a bit more leaning towards the fair side (4.83 as a group). I would posit this is due to park factors.
  • Scott Blewett hasn’t really been much of a prospect for awhile, and he doesn’t appear to be making a case for that ultimate promotion
  • Josh Staumont is loved by DRA but hated by FIP