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Using Stat Scout Line To Preview 2019 Pirates Farm System

Last year, we unveiled Stat Scout Line, an algorithm that utilizes various rate stats for pitchers and hitters, then computes a number calibrated to the 20-80 scouting scale.

For hitters, it accounts for the league they played in and the defensive position they primarily played. In the past year, I tweaked Stat Scout Line to account for their defensive work, using the Davenport defensive translations. For pitchers, the league is also accounted for, but as an inverse of the factor for hitters. So if a league’s run environment has 5% more runs than the average league, pitchers get a 5% bonus to their stats to account for the inherent difficulty in pitching in that league, while hitters suppress their stats because of the easier environment for offense.

The rough translation of WAR to the 20-80 scouting scale to type of player is shown below in this table:

The best way to think of Stat Scout Line is this — the algorithm returns a number based on that year’s performance; it’s not meant to say that player, in general, is that caliber of player. So with all that said, let’s see how the various players in the Pirates’ farm system graded out for 2018. I’m only concentrating on the players above a 40 scale, as they’re the ones that have the most reasonable chance of future success at this point.

55 Scale Players

Sherten Apostel (3B) — Good news! The Pirates had a 19-year old 3B in the Appalachian League with power and above-average defense metrics! Bad news. They traded him as the player to be named later in the Keone Kela deal. Sad trombone. If Kela does his thing this year, it will be worth it for me.

Stephen Alemais (SS) — Alemais is a prospect that no one talks about in the system. He spent this season in Altoona, playing 2B next to Cole Tucker at SS. His bat is anemic, but his glove has consistently rated at the premier end of the metric scales since his selection by the Pirates in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft. He draws walks and has a lower-than-average strikeout rate, perhaps at the expense of any discernible power. He’s probably not a starter, but he could be an excellent utility infielder.

50 Scale Players

Justin Harrer (SS), Ji-Hwan Bae (SS), Patrick Dorrian (2B), Jack Herman (RF) — I’m grouping these Gulf Coast rookie league players together for a reason, aside from the fact that GCL lines are barely correlated to future success. The reason is that defensive metrics are not available at Davenport’s website for either the Gulf Coast or Arizona rookie leagues. As a result, the defensive component could alter these rankings, especially in the negative sense that could take them out of the 50 Stat Scout Line scale.

Mikell Granberry (C) — At 22, Granberry was old for the Appalachian League. But his power and high walk rate at a premium position overcame that obstacle. A full season debut usually has a way of starting to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Lolo Sanchez (CF) — Sanchez’s surface stats are not too appealing, but he was young for the level compared to the typical prospect. His rating is buoyed by his solid defensive work. His walk (9.3%) and strikeout (16.3%) rates were above-average, as well, which helped offset his lower-than-hoped isolated power.

Oneil Cruz (SS) — Here’s everyone’s favorite man-child, all 6′-7″ of him. His huge power numbers and positional rating give him a boost, but his defensive metrics (-5 from Davenport) do not portend future success. If Cruz were listed as a 3B, his Stat Scout Line would be adjusted down to a 45, so there is obviously more value if he can stay at SS as long as possible.

Arden Pabst (C) — Like Granberry above, Pabst was old at 23 for the Florida State League, as far as prospects are concerned. However, his isolated power (.234) and low strikeout rate (14.7%) at a premium defensive position will give him plenty of chances. It also helps that his defensive rating of +3 was good.

Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B) — I’ve gone on record many, many times saying that I don’t believe that Hayes’ bat will not support being a full-time 3B in the Majors. However, his defensive metrics over the years have been very solid and that has helped keep his ratings afloat, coupled with a nice combo of above-average walks and lower-than-average strikeouts. I need to see more than his .151 ISO that he put up this past year to justify his consistent Top 100 national rankings.

Will Craig (1B) — This is another prospect that I don’t believe in as a Major Leaguer, but his defensive ratings from Davenport are insanely good. His +14 was the highest of any player in the entire system, regardless of position. For a thick-bodied player that doesn’t have a huge amount of range, he makes all the plays he needs to. This year, Craig sold out for power at the expense of his walk/strikeout rates. If he can refine his offensive profile and meld it to his defensive one, there may be something here in 2020.

45 Scale Players

Chase Lambert (SS), Gabriel Brito (C), Dean Lockery (2B), Jonah Davis (CF) — I’m grouping these Appalachian League players together because I really can’t speak intelligently on any of them. Hopefully they get to full-season ball in 2019 and we’ll have a better picture on what they may or may not be.

Grant Koch (C) — Koch’s rating was supported by a sturdy walk rate in the New York-Penn League and that’s about it. Presumably, he’ll be in Low-A to start the year in some type of job share.

Mike Gretler (SS) — Gretler was basically competent all across the board in the New York-Penn League, hence he wound up at the starting point of a 45 on the Stat Scout Line.

Brett Pope (SS) — Pope has a singles-only bat (0.04 ISO) and his defensive metrics weren’t anything of note in High-A. He takes walks and doesn’t strike out much as a shortstop, so that goes a long way to making up for his weaknesses.

Alfredo Reyes (SS) — Reyes was very old (24) for the Florida State League, but his high walk rate kept him respectable. I don’t see much here long-term.

Jason Martin (OF) — Martin scored a 50 during his time in AA, but just a 35 for his body of work in AAA. With relatively equal at bats, I split the difference and felt generous enough to round him up to a 45. That’s pretty much a 4th OF rating, which is what I think his ceiling is anyway.

Bryan Reynolds (OF) — As with Martin, I think Reynolds is a 4th OF long-term. He spent the year in AA and was fine. There’s nothing in his profile (lack of power, not a ton of stolen bases) that tells me he should be a starter.

Cole Tucker (SS) — Look, if I’m doing an article about Stat Scout Line and Tucker’s score based on a poor start to the 2018 season spits out a 45, then he had a 45. However…I’m very high on Tucker moving forward. I think he’s positioning himself to make a big leap in 2019 and grab the reins of a very wide-open long-term vacancy at shortstop in Pittsburgh.

Max Moroff (2B) — I’m not going to belabor Moroff too much, because he was traded at the outset of the offseason along with Jordan Luplow for Erik Gonzalez and two low-level pitchers. His power and walk rate were always above the line and helped his rating.

Nerd engineer by day, nerd writer at night. Kevin is the co-founder of The Point of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Creating Christ, a sci-fi novel available on Amazon.

7 Comments on Using Stat Scout Line To Preview 2019 Pirates Farm System

  1. Really appreciate that you did this article! Still upset that I missed the SSL post last January as that is right up my alley.

    This paints a daunting picture. I am obviously upset to see Apostel up there, but we have his behemoth younger brother still in the system, so.. maybe we have some hope remaining from that family?

    I all but gave up on Lolo, but you bring up a good point about his age, and based on your calcs he seems alright, and someone that I should put back on the radar. I always lump him in w/ Calvin Mitchell, did I miss him on the article? Was he hurt last year and I don’t recall?

    I’m hitching my wagon to Ke’Bryan, so I’m hoping you’re wrong and his gap power develops as hoped. I’m much more bearish on Tucker than the majority, it seems, so in that case I’m hoping that it’s me that is wrong.

    Looks to me that Reynolds/Martin “are who we thought they were” based on the calculations.

    I’m seeing a very vanilla farm w/ the exception of Cruz. He could be super fun to watch develop.

  2. Norm Cubellis // February 4, 2019 at 10:01 AM //

    I agree this is a vanilla farm system however just once I would like to see a prospect outperform his projections and become a star. The Bucs can’t seem to find someone like that. Do they sign the wrong type of players or is the development at fault?

    • THAT is the million dollar question yet both paths lead back to the same man, the General manager

  3. I think before there is general gnashing of teeth and wailing concerning the state of the Pirates’ system, it’s worth noting that BP rates their system better than the Cards, Cubs, or Brewers. It’s also worth remembering that these projections are performance based, so it may downgrade a guy like Cole Tucker, who wasn’t 100% healthy all the time, or Travis Swaggerty, who had a rough introduction to pro ball. I don’t think anyone would cliam that the Bucs have not had their share of mis-steps in the player development area, but this article and these numbers are no reason to panic.

  4. Steven Dimmick // February 4, 2019 at 12:55 PM //

    absolutely need players to start outperforming their current projections. if this doesnt happen, get someone else to find those players. Tucker was drafted way ahead of where he was projected, keep that in mind. I think we are getting what we should have got, not the 1st round draft spot. I think we have alot of mediocre prospects, nobody except Keller to really have hope for. Hayes, Tucker, and Cruz will be decent players, just nothing to put us over the top.

  5. You underestimate Jason Martin. You’ll see.

  6. Pirate fan 4 life // February 12, 2019 at 1:27 AM //

    Personally I disagree with your assessment of Cole Tucker and Bryan Reynolds also Will Craig. Living on AZ I had the luxury of watching Craig and Reynolds on the fall League and both left favorable impressions Craig has a great eye @the plate as well
    Reynolds could be a starter a 6 or 7 hitter bit solid

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