OT: Raise the Jolly Roger: Spring [training] is here!

Discussion in 'Pittsburgh Penguins' started by Scandale du Jour, Feb 21, 2021.

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  1. Gallatin A Banksy of Goonism

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    Jaden Hill, RHP, LSU: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K
    When you’re seen as a sure-fire single-digit pick entering the spring, there’s not much room to move up. While it will take more than four innings against a team better than Air Force to cement that view, Hill certainly impressed in his season debut. He’s a physical beast at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, with monstrous stuff highlighted by a fastball that frequently got into the upper 90s, a low 80s power breaking ball and a more refined changeup than had been seen in the past. Between a shoulder issue in 2019 and the pandemic last spring, Hill entered the season with fewer than 25 innings under his belt. Scouts want get past the questions about his command, but if he continues to throw strikes the way he did on Saturday, he will move up on boards despite there being little room to.

    Draft Notes From NCAA Opening Weekend
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021 at 2:31 PM
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  2. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    The FanGraphs full list is finally out: Top 51 Prospects: Pittsburgh Pirates

    In my opinion, this is the best openly available one-stop shop for a deep dive into the system. It is important/useful to check different ratings against one another, but what always stands out to me about the FG content is just how thorough it is. We ragged on Keith Law's list/rankings when they came out, I think rightly so, even if they can't be completely written off, precisely for this reason.

    I'll circle back at some point with more obscure / random takes on the lower ranked guys, of whom there are a number of interesting ones. For now, this seems like the money line worth quoting:

     
  3. Empoleon8771 I apparently hit on people through PMs

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    Jesus the Pirates have 15 40+ rated prospects. That seems absolutely insane to me to have that many prospects with potential boom upside.

    Also Mackey said that ATTP will have most, if not all, of the Pirates spring training games. I'm looking forward to it.
     
  4. Fogel Analytics please

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    My pessimistic read is even after all those trades, teams like the Dodgers and Rays still have as many notable/named prospects according to FG as the Pirates do. If the Pirates are trying to do the homegrown prospects, wheel and deal with a low to medium payroll like the Rays, they need to develop a lot better, find their niche in terms of targeting undervalued players and make smart decisive choices and less of the wish washy, half measures.
     
  5. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would argue that there's a better system in baseball than the Rays. They have the best prospect in baseball, 3 or 4 excellent prospects, a whole bevy of good/solid ones, and then an entire tier of young, rookie league level types who could keep popping up.

    By FV, the Pirates are second to the Rays right now on the FanGraphs list (). This could still change, since Eric isn't finished with the new rankings, but it's a good sign.

    I think one of the biggest noticeable changes is the quantity of young players who could end up as risers. The work under Junior Vizcaino on the international market is looking like it's going to pay dividends. Obviously, the system is likely going to benefit substantially from the 2021 and 2022 drafts as well.

    Development is definitely the biggest piece of the puzzle, IMO. I don't really think there's any level of controversy here that the Pirates handicapped themselves in this regard, especially with the one-size fits all approach that they took to pitching, not simply due to Searage himself but also at an organizational level. That seems to have changed significantly, so now it's wait and see as to whether it pays off or not. Probably the biggest first test is whether we can coax front of rotation potential out of Keller or not, but in some respects I think the plan is really more to build around Priester and others.

    For me, the biggest question mark about the system right now is the amount of high variance guys are at the top of it. Hayes is at least a very good cornerstone to have in place, with someone like Oneil Cruz having a huge range of outcomes, and the same can be said about Thomas, though he's further away. If Cruz has a strong season between AA and AAA, flashing that the hit tool can play against upper level pitching, then the outlook is suddenly drastically different, since you are talking about a SS on the horizon for 2022 who can steal 20 bases while hitting 30 bombs. This is double true if Keller takes a big step forward and you can count three or four others who look to be above average or solid regulars.

    Of course, I'm just repeating what we all already know pretty well. The biggest thing that developmentally strong teams have done well is get the best "right tail" outcomes out of their players, both from within and then via targeted acquisitions and tweaks to approach (I'm thinking of the Astros and Ryan Pressley a few years ago, for example). Here I think there is still some difference between AL and NL teams, though there's maybe a case to be made that we'd be/we are building for a world where there's a universal DH. I don't quite think we can go in the direction of an eminently platooned team, constantly playing the matchups and becoming more than just the sum of the parts. In my mind, especially with pitching, that strategy has been rebuffed somewhat, though I think in a measured way, we could certainly be better off if we had a deep team.

    Eric made a good point at the end of his writeup about how we'll be cycling through post-hype guys at the MLB level for a little while as we continue to develop prospects. Ideally, that's where the timeline might be accelerated a little bit, with at least a plausible possibility that the team could take a big step forward between 2021 and 2022. More realistically, I think, the next two years at least are largely going to be feel it out years, where we only get a small taste of the extent to which some things have changed. In fairness, we did see some good results of this kind last year in very small sample sizes out of Evans and Alford.
     
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  6. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    Fowler is exactly the kind of post-hype prospect guy to potentially get a look at this year and next. This is a little more interesting than just a flier, I think, because he's out of options and will need to go on the 40-man. It sounds like Alford may not be fully healthy to start the season, so maybe we'll try and DFA him to have in Indy depth. Not sure, but I am tempted to interpret this move a little bit in tandem with the news about Alford not being ready to do much more than hit.
     
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  7. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    Re: the prospects.

    I'm excited. I wish that ATTSN tried to carry some of their games. Or even like...condensed games - only the pitches with nothing else. I just saw on a Pens broadcast that they'd be carrying some WB/S Pens games so it'd be awesome if they followed suit with the Bucs minor leagues.

    At the least each Preister start is looking like it'll be an event in this comment section. Perhaps ditto with Thomas and if he's showing any secondary stuff or not.
     
  8. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    The website for MiLB.tv is a bit confusing. It implies that the package is free next year, but all the wording makes it sound like it's from early 2020, so who knows. I forget how much the package goes for: MiLB.TV - Baseball's Future Now

    Priester will definitely be fun to watch. I'm also curious to see what Gonzales does in pro ball. I can see why people aren't inordinately high on him based on the profile, but with how good his hit tool and approach are, it seems like he could easily sneak up on people if the power shows that it will play. The main event will defitely be Priester and other pitchers.
     
  9. Gallatin A Banksy of Goonism

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    Ahh - didn't you just describe the Pittsburgh Pirates of the last 3 months?
     
  10. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    A few scattered observations on the FG list outside of the top-100ish ranked guys (50 FV).

    Malone seems like he could be one of the biggest names to keep an eye on this season, as the information on him has basically stayed consistent since he was drafted and he doesn't have much tape on him. That draft was not too long ago, and on talent alone, he was ranked right where Priester was. Priester has obviously taken a big step forward, whereas the line on Malone now reads like the similar, projectable mid-rotation SP line that Priester had. The biggest questions here are low-hanging fruit: what will the command look like? Will he maintain his velocity in games? If he answers those questions well, he should easily move into the 50 FV tier and be a top-100 prospect next year.

    I find Bae to be someone hard to root for given the domestic assault conviction. This is pretty cynical but to me, he's the kind of guy who I hope becomes trade bait after Gonzales figures to arrive in MLB sooner.

    Moving on to Head, perhaps it's somewhat alarming to see the main player acquired for Musgrove come in at 11 on the list, but I think it actually speaks to the impressive depth in the system and the most important sort of "overall" thing at this point, which is that there's so much talent in the age 19-21 range, some of which will pop off and some of which will regress. The bet on Head is tools+athleticism+Padres acquisition. If he shows something in games early this season, his name will quickly be included among top-100 types. But profile-wise, he might not be too distinct from someone like Siani, who doesn't currently have as much of a pedigree. This could be a positive or negative thing - if both pop off, you are looking at two well-rounded OF types in the 45/50 FV range next year, whereas if they remain simply projection types, you might be looking more at potential 4th OFs. It's too early to tell.

    Bolton's writeup worries me a little bit, though I will also use it to say that I hope we decide to pivot some of the pitchers to bullpen arms, since strategically, it will be helpful to a contention window is we also have a wave of young arms in 22/23. Bolton could figure here, as well as someone like Brubaker (though I'd let the latter be one of the SPs for the entirety of the year first). Prospect-wise, the rule 5 acquisitions in Soriano and Oviedo seem to figure there, as to some of NH's guys like Ogle and Burrows. If even 2-3 of those guys become very good bullpen pitchers, that helps a lot. But back to Bolton, I suspect what to watch with him is pretty straightforward: he goes to Indy to be a 1-2 punch with Yajure in that rotation, and we see what the command and health look like. I still like Bolton a lot and there's no huge reason to be anxious yet, as he's not even 23. Injuries are the biggest thing here, IMO.

    Moving to the big 40+ and 40 tiers, the first thing to notice is again how young the group is. That's a good sign at a depth level just for the sake of some guys likely jumping up into the 45/50 tiers in another full season or so. The older guys in these groups should still have possible role player status on them at a minimum: Oliva, Mears, Crowe, Bednar, Cederlind. I don't get the sense that the new front office likes Oliva – there's some argument to be made about the 40-man roster from last year, but we passed on an easy opportunity to get some looks at him, and post-hype players who are being brought in, along with vets like Goodwin, all seem to have a leg up on the depth chart. What's strange to me is that it does seem like the front office generally likes his kind of profile- speed, solid defense, a bit of pop. Maybe they want to see something decisive about him, but right now he looks like emergency depth to me.

    Escotto is clearly well-liked, and he along with Head and Malone seem to be the likeliest candidates to be in the 50 FV/top-100 tier next year. Smith-Njigba and Mitchell appear to have pretty similar profiles, with the edge going to the former. Better chances of one hitting and giving you a solid everyday corner OF with some pop. By contrast, Martin and Rodriguez both look like pretty important players from a depth perspective, since we don't really see any other C or 1B, outside of Mojica who is 18. Eric seems to like both of them, with Rodriguez still being pretty far away and Martin IMO having 2021 as a really crucial year. His 2019 was terrific, and 2020 being a lost season looks to be a potential big blow, since it likely would have marked him facing some better pitching at the AA level. He's still fairly young, but I wonder if we'll be aggressive a little bit with him and start him in AA, which I think would give us a really good handle on how likely of a bet he is to click as a three outcomes everyday starter. To some extent I think you need to throw caution to the wind with prospect promotions this year – their age appropriate competition is in the same boat, anyways, so who the hell knows what happens with "age appropriate" evaluation in 2021.

    In the 40 tier, I'm a bit disappointed to see a down arrow on Rodolfo Castro, who is someone I wouldn't mind getting a surprise cup of coffee in MLB as early as this September since he's already on the 40-man. I've noticed that he's taking infield practice at 3B (with Gonzales and Kramer being at 2B on the prospect field), so maybe there's an idea to see if he can become a utility bat, though obviously you don't figure on seeing anyone except Hayes at 3B in the foreseeable future.

    Austin Roberts is someone who I'll shout out as having no idea who he was before this list, and looks to potentially be the last real under the radar NH guy. Smaller school, has added some velo since college, and now "has an arrow pointing way up" if it holds. Looking at his other tools – a 60 changeup and solid 50 curve, this is a guy who could very well go from unknown to sniffing the top-10 of the system as a mid-rotation prospect.

    Finally, another older NH guy who interests me from further down the list is Max Kranick, who I get the sense that some seem to really like, and I was a little bit surprised not to see him higher. 2021 should be a big year for him and I figure he will start in Altoona and either put himself on the radar pretty quickly, or not quite work out. We added him to the 40-man, he seems to have had his stuff tick up, and he has a four pitch mix. Probably look for him to establish some potential ceiling in his AA performance and maybe make his way to Indy for a handful of starts if things really go well and there's an opening due to Yajure promoted to Pittsburgh or something (which I think is actually unlikely- I bet we won't see Yajure in Pittsburgh until 2022). He's in a somewhat unique position within the system as he's a few steps from Pittsburgh but still closer than the big wave of talent (though somebody like Priester may lap him if we are aggressive). He's maybe in a similar boat as Roansy Contreras as guys to watch in AA.

    Don't have anything to say about the 35+ group except that I suppose you'd hope Mojica ticks up a bit more. Wilkin Ramos sounds like an interesting guy to file away, and perhaps yet one more notch in NH's belt in terms of projection/breakout guys, in the same manner as Cruz and Thomas but not the same ceiling.

    All told, there's a lot of interesting storylines to keep track of at virtually every level of the system. While the most important guys to keep an eye on are undoubtedly at the top of the list, I think converting the solid depth of the system into solid MLB players will be a crucial part of the rebuild, too. You want to see both young players continue to pop up and establish higher ceilings – here I am thinking of guys like Escotto – while also seeing enough guys with fine ceilings hit them. If enough of the big prospects hit, and you can also get a mid/back-end rotation arm or two in Bolton, Mlodzinski, Contreras, Kranick, an everyday corner OF between Smith-Njigba and Mitchell, a few solid bullpen arms, and another everyday position player with somebody (I'd single out Swaggerty here), then you really are cooking with gas in that 2023 season.

    It's always difficult to resist the temptation to map out future lineups and positions from prospect lists, and in baseball especially that's a bit of a fool's errand, since there definitely will be attrition, injury, and error, including with the top prospects. But I think between Hayes, Keller, and a handful of others, and then Priester and company, plus the depth that figures to remain strong with the next two drafts, the question of contention will ultimately come down to whether we can develop enough and have it supplemented by actually spending on a player or two in free agency either next offseason or more likely before 2023. The talent and opportunity to succeed in that window is certainly present.
     
  11. cookthebooks Registered User

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    *whispers* the rays also benefit from being good historically at development so they get perhaps a benefit of the doubt?
     
  12. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    100% that's what happens in these lists.

    Whether it should or not is up for debate but you're right that certain teams get automatic boosts.
     
  13. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    That's definitely true with the Rays, but it's also true at the moment that they have the perfect storm of a perennially strong and deep system, the best prospect in the world, and the acquisition of a top-15 or so prospect in baseball on top of everything else.

    I think the best thing to start keeping an eye on in this regard concerns eventual roster crunch and the rule 5 draft. Eric briefly touches on this in his overview at the end, but the Pirates are starting to look like that will emerge as the case in 2022 or especially 2023. The system depth is not quite that overwhelming, and there's obviously a bunch of possible available spots given the number of "let's get a look at them, and they'll stick or not" RP depth at the MLB level right now, but the depth is in pretty strong shape. There's really not going to be that much left to impact this, but we do figure to probably direct our trade acquisitions to very young guys who don't have to be added for quite a while.

    Eric mentioned Ponce as someone who might have sneaky trade value soon, so it would be great to snatch someone from a low minors backfield for him. And speaking of this, evidently Frazier is not on the field today taking infield drills, so maybe he will be traded (but it's probably nothing).
     
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  14. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    I gotta say, maybe it's heightened by quarantine, but watching Pitching Ninja GIFs day in and day out has me feeling like I have the object permanence of a two year old.



    But I gotta say, seeing Hill with the ability to throw such an outstanding changeup along with his heavy fastball and two breaking pitches is awfully tempting. If he can put together a pretty consistent set of games, I'm really going to be hard pressed about rooting for one of the college pitchers to be the guy (and fairly livid if we take a prep player – Kiley has Lawler 1.1 but specifically says he has no standout tool).

    One thing that's interesting to keep an eye on with Hill is the control. Eric has a late inning power arm tag on him, I think partly because of injuries and partly control. Tonight he has 0BBs over 6IP but just 4Ks.
     
  15. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    Leiter was very, very impressive in that game a couple days ago. Though he lost his velocity a bit later in the game. Not just on the radar gun (that might have been some gun calibration errors) but in terms of the quality of his pitches.
     
  16. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    I think we'll obviously get a better picture when we have a little set of games, but the more I've procrastinated other stuff by mulling it over, the more I think I'm going to prefer Leiter ultimately because of the floor. If Rocker shows he can truly command his fastball, including deep into games, or if Hill can change the conversation, then it's a different story, but I think with Leiter, you will have someone who you add as a 1-2 punch with Priester in 2023, 2024, and things really look good.

    However, it just seems like Hill might have more of the raw material to keep rising and rising. That changup is an elite pitch, I think probably every bit as good of a pitch grade as Rocker's slider. The fact that he has such great feel for it alongside a good plus fastball as a foundation, and then can throw some good breakers as well (I think people really like his curve)... it's all just awfully tempting. He's not exactly the typical kind of projectable frame, as he's already built but just not as huge as Rocker. His issue seems to probably be more the injury history.

    Luckily, it seems like a decent probability that we'll actually have a set of data to go on after a few more months have gone by, so I imagine things will either clear up or end up being a good situation where we can all take halfway literate opinions on what amounts to a choice between good options.
     

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