What’s Happening in Houston?

It’s November, so I’m digging through 2018 seasonal data. Today, I was looking at some of the top pitching performances according to our Seasonal Pitcher Statistical Rankings, and I kept running into the same thing. Astros. Everywhere I looked there were Astros pitching prospects having great seasons:

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2018 FARMHAND CROP: Jordan Qsar

2018 1st-team All-American out of Pepperdine. Raised eyebrows with a big-time performance in the wood bat WCL in 2017. Good athlete who was a 2-way player in college. Will need to reign in the swing-and-miss in his game, which will continue to get exposed as he moves up the ladder. He’s a watchlist guy for me right now. Let him slide in the draft and follow what he does in Full Season ball in 2019.

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2018 FARMHAND CROP: Niko Decolati

Pioneer League Mid-Season All-Star rebounded from a tough spring with a strong pro debut this summer. College shortstop who played primarily in RF this year, could also handle 3B duties. He’s a quick, strong, well-coordinated athlete. Big questions about his hit tool, but his K-rate was palatable this year. If his hit tool lets him tap into his raw power, he’s a potential sleeper.

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2018 FARMHAND CROP: Drew Avans

Dodgers’ 33-round choice signed for $5k out of Southeast Lousiana. Stats and video scouting show that there is a hit tool lurking here. He’s got the ability to hit for enough power to punish mistakes. He’s probably not going to be a CF in professional ball, but range and arm are good enough for the OF. Was excellent on the basepaths in his pro debut as well. He’s got a 4th OF profile, but there’s a non-zero chance that he makes it to the majors.

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2018 FARMHAND CROP: Cal Stevenson

College bat who posted an eye-popping .511 OBP in his first taste of professional ball. Might lack the power to play a corner OF spot. His best path to fantasy relevance is to continue to be an OBP machine with good SB success rates. Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs has noted that the Blue Jays have had success with this type of profile. Ryan Noda comes to mind. Worth a late draft flier.

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2018 FARMHAND CROP: Coco Montes

Won Pioneer League MVP award, hit 2 HR in the Pioneer League/Northwest League All-Star Game. Questions about defensive position, as he spent more time at 2B (28 games) and 3B (24 games) last year than SS (13 games). Hit tool is glitchy, swing needs work. Strong enough to flash oppo power, but the hit tool is holding him back at this point. Looks like a potential fringe-plus runner. There are some tools lurking in his profile, but he’s at best a late-round flier in FYPD at this point.

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DIGGING DATA: The Predictive Power of ISO

Our data guru Chip Bourne has been running some statistical regressions on different stats this offseason so that we can play around with the data. In our last article, we looked at whether a player’s wRC+ performance at one level is predictive of wRC+ performance at subsequent levels (it’s really not). Today, we are going to like at another statistic: Isolated Power (ISO).

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DIGGING DATA: Scouting and Statlines

A recent Twitter discussion we were in revolved around just how much weight an owner can put on Rookie or Short-Season statistical performances. Any scout will tell you that you cannot rely on stat lines to evaluate a player’s performance. There are many pitfalls in the stats. Small sample size mirages. Wide gaps in run-scoring environments, official scoring decisions, and even playing surfaces within leagues. And even bigger gaps in talent, especially in the Rookie leagues where teams can struggle to find competent pitchers and catchers to put on the field.

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