OT: Raise the Jolly Roger: Tanking underway

Discussion in 'Pittsburgh Penguins' started by Scandale du Jour, Aug 9, 2020.

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  1. ImporterExporter "You're a boring old man"

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    He thought Kevin Newman was an elite prospect.

    I don't care what Law thinks to be honest.
     
  2. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    It definitely does make more sense of his list, though I think his take on those three in particular is more just telegraphing biases. He has Head #3, but Head has just as little of a track record.

    The FG "top-100" also came out today, with 8 Pirates on the list. I put top-100 in quotes because Eric ranks all the 50 FV guys in the league, so the total is more than 100. He has a lot of the Pirates on the lower end of that list, which makes sense given where the players are at developmentally in terms of risk. He seems to be willing to really move Priester up, as he has him as a 55 FV. Really looking forward to his system list.
     
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  3. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    Reading through the FG list (2021 Top 100 Prospects) and it's about what I expected based on the comments we've been seeing. Eric seems basically in lockstep with Kiley, which is no surprise, and we may see one or two more Pirates in tomorrow's "picks to click" list that comes out tomorrow.

    It's maybe been done to death at this point, but there are a ton of interesting storylines to watch with this system next year, moreso than I remember from any of the NH years. Hard to isolate any over the others, but two that stand out in terms of the the developmental tasks that NH's front office never got down consistently are Thomas and Swaggerty. With Thomas, some of it is just because he didn't pitch at all in a competitive environment last year, but can they get him to flash the traits of someone on track to start? A comparison with Glasnow is probably forcing matters too much, and regardless, I don't think you make any quick decisions with a guy who has his tools, but things start to look _really_ interesting on the pitching front if you get him moving in an upward direction this summer.

    I'm tempted to say Swaggerty is my "favorite" storyline to watch for 2021, and I'm definitely glad to see that Eric still has the 50 FV tag on him. Again this kind of an analogy is a bit of a stretch, but he seems like the first real case study in terms of whether we can get him to unlock his highest or nearly highest outcome in the upper minors and heading to Pittsburgh. It's still possible that he spends a chunk of time in high A, but he should be in Altoona pretty quickly. Certain of his tools give him a very good floor, and my inclination is almost to say that he could soon form the stronger side of a kind of time share with Oliva. Keeping him on track for a solid OBP+speed+defense, 2ish WAR guy seems like the kind of thing NH's front office would do, so I'm really anxious to see if we can get his swing to where it needs to be in order to tap into some of his raw power better, because then you have a really exciting prospect who is very close to breaking in.
     
  4. Gallatin A Banksy of Goonism

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    I'm looking forward to talking baseball with you guys once the MIB season starts. I tend to follow the Bucs Minors pretty heavy, sometimes even more than the big club, which will probably be the case these next couple years.

    Having spent parts of the last 5 days reading the previous 20 pages, to catch up, I'm sure this is the best place to talk Bucs in 21. We could use a few more regulars, but you guys rock. I'll try to hit this thread at least every other day once reports start flowing.
     
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  5. Ryder71 Registered User

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    You're the one who had that shark as your avatar, aren't you?
     
  6. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    No prospects ended up on the FanGraphs picks to click in 2021 list, but that seems to at least be partly due to the fact that they gave themselves a rule that no one they picked in a previous year could be picked again. I know Eric had Escotto picked last year, and maybe Head was a pick at some point. Regardless, as nice as that minor positive reinforcement is, the state of things with the minors is that a large portion of the top 10 are already ahead of that category, starting to click and having arrows pointing upwards, sometimes dramatically so as in Priester's case.

    NH did assemble good talent early in his tenure, and had a great system just as the MLB team was becoming competitive, but I don't know that he had pulled from the number of different sources that the current system pulls from. Of course, part of that is due to NH, when you look at guys like Cruz and Thomas, for instance. And to bounce back to BC, there hasn't really been time yet for any of his drafts to bear fruit. If he can hit on some guys in that regard, along with the international signings, then the system will ideally be just as deep and talented as it was for NH in 2014/15 in 2023/24. I've already said a few times that I think an underrated fault of NH's tenure was not being able to produce solid, 1.5+ WAR types to fill out the roster and depth, allowing for even more targeted FA spending (IMO, a new leaf will only decisively be turned when we actually invest in a free agent that's firmly at the top end of the middle tier available).

    Finally, one other bit of info from today's FG update is that Hayes projects as the third best prospect in baseball according to ZiPS, and just behind Bregman, Chapman, and Ramirez for 3B WAR in the rest of his career. That's probably not a shocker, but it's nice to have the confirmation. It would be even nicer if spring training really kicked off in the next week or so with the news that Hayes was signed to a long extension.
     
  7. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    It will just be so much more interesting to watch this team once the MILB season kicks off.

    Ultimately all these prospect prognosticators are just guessing.

    Since we're still in the Honeymoon phase with Cherington I'll simply say that I trust in his drafting and development since that is his core area of expertise and where he's had more success. There's like 20 guys at H-A or below that are interesting and I'm counting on Cherington to convert on more of those than, say, Huntington would've. Whether he does better at the MLB level? I dunno. Huntington for all his faults had some huge hits there in the Cutch extension, Burnett, Liriano, Martin, Cervelli, Volquez, Kang, Melancon, Grilli, the list goes on.
     
  8. Gallatin A Banksy of Goonism

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    I already wrote 2022 off. I believe our prospects in the upper levels are high risk, and not nearly as interesting as what is brewing in the A and rookie ball levels. Those guys are high risk too, just by the nature being in the lower minors, but there's a hell of a lot more of them.

    I'm pretty excited for 23 and 24 honestly. I've been bought into Cherrington since the moment I heard his name mentioned for the job. And I'm quite impressed so far.
     
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  9. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    Some of them are pretty interesting. Gonzales, Cruz, Swaggerty, Vandy SP-to-be-named-later are a very solid class of '21-'22. But yes the complimentary guys especially the pitching is lacking in the upper minors. Yajure, Bolton and Omar Cruz may be good prospects but unlikely to be difference-makers. More in the tier of Brault/Kuhl/T. Williams.
     
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  10. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    My optimistic take, which is probably more of a hope, is that both this and next year are largely about "let the kids play". With the right luck and some modest investment, I do think the 2022 team could be much more interesting, but it'd be an uphill climb and require a bit of a real surprise from a player or players like Tucker, Alford, Brubaker, Swaggerty, etc.

    It seems pretty clear that the target window is definitely more like 2023 and beyond, and I think that's rational given the sort of in-between situation that Cherington inherited. What gives me continued pause, though, is that a big key to winning is building around affordable stars. If Hayes is a star, and I think he is, then effectively wasting the next two years is an unforced error. This is less the case if we make a big, long-term investment in him, or if you think he's just a very good player who can be adequately replaced in due time. I've got my fingers crossed for the former.

    What I'd say is that I think there's no choice but to punt 2021, but ideally you are continually evaluating and plotting for the upward swing. What can that look like concretely? Well, I'd like to think that if you have a firm assessment of where players fit into the plan, then next year, you make some actual investments in the 2022 team and beyond. These could be to put together an underdog team capable of some surprises (since the NL Central figures to be pretty wide open), as well as to get some depth already in place for 2023 and/or to have some chips to move at the deadline in the more likely event that the ceiling outcome is ~.500.

    I don't think we can adequately say too much about 2022 until we see how 2021 plays out, even though on paper, 2022 looks like a real long shot. But sometimes things can change surprisingly quickly in baseball, and so I guess what I'm trying to suggest is that a little bit of the real test for Cherington will be in the ways that these "play the kids and reclamations" exceed their on paper ceilings. More basically, I don't think anyone here is advocating this, but I don't want this year or especially 2022 to be throw away years, but instead part of a coherent bridge to the bigger wave of talent that's further away. The longer term development guys probably constitute the biggest test of Cherington, but I think that getting upper minors and MLB players/reclamations to find better outcomes is also significant, since that was one of the major issues with Huntington's front office.
     
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  11. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    We have no idea what Hayes' contract demands are.

    Look at what Tatis just got. I realize that he was more highly regarded than Hayes, but....

    A contract for Hayes might be in the $150-$200M range. This isn't Andrew McCutchen who grew up poor. This is a guy whose Dad played pro ball for over a decade.

    Should we still do it? Yeah probably. But Nutting is Nutting and all that.
     
  12. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    There's no way to know for sure, but I think it probably comes down to whether or not Hayes is even interested in the first case. The latest I've seen is Alex Stumpf reporting that there have been discussions, largely about the Pirates long-term plans and where Hayes fits in, but no numbers have been exchanged yet. The Pirates are expected to make some kind of offer at some point, but I haven't seen anyone put a time frame on that.

    If I had to guess, real talks wouldn't pick up for at least another season, maybe two, at which time the price presumably would go up. Cutch signed heading into his final pre-arb year. The best chance for something might actually be sooner rather than later, since from Hayes' perspective, it could provide him full security as well as a raise over the pre-arb years. Obviously, though, a really long extension would be unprecedented from the Pirates perspective.

    I think Hayes is probably the best candidate in terms of risk, because it looks like the "worst case" with him is going to be elite fielding and lighter power than you'd want from a corner bat. Paying that guy somewhere between 15 and 20/25 million a year is very unlikely to be a disastrous or bad contract for the team. The Pirates have obviously never paid anyone that much money for too many years in a row (or for one year, on the upper end), but if Cherington truly does have the ability to plan out his future team, then with no money really committed at all in future years, you'd be hard pressed to find a better gamble to nail down as your franchise cornerstone.
     
  13. KesselMania Registered User

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    Unless the Pirates become an international brand that makes $1b off merchandise alone, they will never give a player at $100m+ contract
     
  14. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    Any deal that goes down would partially be reflective of just how much leverage teams have over players in this system. There's only so much of a raise a player is going to get from pre-arb and arbitration years. Ballparking it, if you take the idea of an 8 year deal (giving up two FA years), and him making around 18-20M in those years, then the deal is still probably going to top out at around 70 or 75M or so.

    Even if Hayes did not grow up poor, there's still plenty of reasons to nail down that kind of extension. The primary reason not to do so would be betting on himself as a true, elite-in-the-league star who would be primed for a huge contract in 2027 when he hits free agency. Otherwise, even if he's a very good player, the actual dollar trade-off is fairly marginal.

    The stumbling block for me is still the timing. The team can drag its feet and pay him a minimum salary for three years, and presumably Hayes would be able to get more for himself if he has a fuller resume of MLB work behind him than just the shortened pandemic year. If something was going to happen, I think the two most likely options are:

    1) The 8 year deal that effectively gives him security and the Pirates cost control through his arbitration years. It'd be more than what Cutch got, but not by an astronomical amount – I'd figure 8/80 as a kind of ceiling, given how much the pre-arb and arb years would suppress his earnings without such a deal.

    2) A longer deal with effectively the same kind of structure as #1 in the form of an opt-out or opt-outs. This would be unprecedented for the Pirates, so again I am ultimately kind of skeptical, but it could be the best case scenario for trying to get some cost certainty for several years, while building in options for Hayes to be approaching his early 30s and able to make a decision about whether the remaining years/salary on his deal are enough, or if he wants to test the market.

    He's automatically controlled for several years no matter what, so for me, the entire logic of any kind of extension would be unprecedented. I suspect that any talks would be about setting some parameters for talks to resume next winter or the one beyond, but according to Alex Stumpf at least, there are talks happening right now.
     
  15. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    No idea the validity of this source. Would be a bit surprising, but does kind of make sense as a platoon for Moran/bench bat.
     
  16. KesselMania Registered User

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    Hopefully he plays well enough to get traded at the deadline and isn't one of those aging vets who retire mid-season because they can't take the losing
     
  17. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    He was not that good last year but you would think in a kind of platoon with Moran, he'd be serviceable. I haven't seen anyone I trust pick it up just yet but the twitter chatter is that it's a minor league deal.
     
  18. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    I like it as a Moran platoon. Though like with Goodwin, this is to try and win like 55 games this year hah.
     
  19. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    This is from several pages ago and we/I kind of talked around it as prospect lists were rolling out, but it might be a fun exercise now that we're officially at the start of spring training. I'll at least take a stab for kicks, doing prospects now and circling back to do a roster/rotation posted later today.

    My prospect list will be curbed from what I anticipate Eric Longenhagen's is:

    0) Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B MLB - Hayes still technically has prospect status, but he'll graduate very early in the season and so for the purposes of typing this up, I'll count him above the list. If you have been completely out of the loop and do not know who he is, he's the top position player prospect since McCutchen. Elite defense at 3B, and the main thing holding back whether people think he's a 5-tool player or not is similar to Cutch as well, with questions throughout the minors about his in-game power. Hayes has answered some of those questions through swing tweaks and consistently hitting the ball hard.

    I think the biggest split is probably between people who think he'll hit for more like 10-15 HRs vs. people who think 20-25. I'm firmly in the latter camp; I think he's the cornerstone talent.

    1) Quinn Priester, SP A-/A+ - Priester has probably generated the most hype of any MLB prospect who didn't play competitively last year, which is all of them unless they played in MLB. He displayed added velocity but also made use of the quarantine time to put on a ton of muscle. This is paired with a plus plus curveball. He's still a little ways away, but the new plan seems to be to move pitchers along quicker, so it wouldn't be out of the question for him to reach AA by the end of the season. His big test is showing his gains in actual competition. If he does, the hype train will really kick into gear.

    2) Oneil Cruz, SS AA - Cruz currently has a higher ceiling than anyone in the system, and probably almost anyone in other MLB systems, but also has a ton of variance. He's 6'7" but extremely fast and athletic; people are split over whether he can remain at SS, but the Pirates have lots of reasons to keep trying, since if he sticks there and even comes close to his offensive ceiling, you will have an elite player on your hands. His arm is so good that many seem to default to thinking he'll end up in RF, but I would guess we try one of the other OF spots before that, given PNC's dimensions. Cruz was involved in a car accident during which three people were killed this offseason. The biggest baseball question hanging over his head is whether his hit tool is going to look like a liability in the upper minors. A normal 2020 season would have been crucial for him, so 2021 will go a long way towards the kind of hype he may have. Unless he bowls people over in camp, I'd expect us to start him in AA Altoona and hope he can make his way to Indianapolis after a few months.

    3) Nick Gonzales, SS/2B A-/A+ - Gonzales was the sixth overall pick in last year's draft but didn't play due to the pandemic. He played SS in college but most expect him to move over to 2B fairly soon in the pros. He put up video game stats in college, which people in part doubt due to the competition and park factors at New Mexico State, but he also had a very good line in the Cape Cod League with wooden bats against top pitching talent, which is one of the things that made him a standout prospect. I think he's somewhat overlooked because the profile isn't terribly exciting, but right now he looks like a quick-moving, advanced approach middle infielder who will be a solid everyday player. There are worse things to have as a 2B of the future, and if the power shows up even more than people expect, he'll have some hype.

    4) Tahnaj Thomas, SP A+ - Thomas is a high ceiling, high variance pitcher who we got by trading Jordan Luplow and Max Moroff to the Indians a few years ago, a trade that I have the mention really undermines the idea that Huntington always sought low floor, safe returns. Thomas is almost all projection still, but I think the 2021 season will be big in terms of where his hype will start to lie. He hits triple digits with the fastball, and so developing a half decent offspeed pitch will mean that he dominates the low minors. If he has some good showings, he could very well look like a 1B to Priester's 1A, but we have to wait and see. Similar to Priester, it looks like he added a lot of muscle in the off year.

    5) Liover Pegeuro, SS A+ - Peguero came over in the Marte trade and projects as a quality defender with speed and a strong hit tool. He doesn't look like he'll hit for huge power, but he has a very nice, compact swing, and generally what seems to stand out about him is that he's a very poised player. He's had hype brimming for several years, so as is becoming a pattern here, 2021 could see him take another step forward. He could develop more pop as he gets stronger while rising through the ranks.

    6) Miguel Yajure, SP AAA/MLB - Yajure headlined the Taillon deal and projects as a very competent, consistent starter. More of a floor than ceiling guy, he still has a good pitch mix and velocity to go with the typical traits of command and feel for pitching. He was briefly called into duty by the Yankees out of the bullpen last year and as a result didn't have a handle on his changeup, which may be his best weapon. My sense is he will spend most of the year in Indianapolis unless he really forces the issue and/or we swing a few deadline deals.

    7) Travis Swaggerty, CF A/AA - Swaggerty was the 10th overall pick in 2018. At this point he almost profiles as a sort of old school leadoff hitter with a little bit of a modern twist, if that's an acceptable description. He's got plus defense in CF, speed he can use in games, and can get on base at a good clip. The questions on him were once about the hit tool, as he was more of a power guy in college, but the pop has yet to truly show up in pro ball. A lot of the question here is whether he can put everything together as he looks to reach AA and AAA this year.

    8) Hudson Head, OF A- - Head was the best player in the Musgrove return and at this point is one of the major developmental players in the system, someone who is far away but could catapult high onto top-100 lists in 18 months or so. He was a huge rising prospect in his senior year of HS before the draft, which led to the Padres spending a record bonus of 3M in the third round for him. The Padres have a good track record with this kind of thing, and obviously the Pirates coveted him. The traits I've seen praised most are his bat speed and athleticism.

    9) Brennan Malone, SP A- - Malone was the other player in the Marte trade along with Pegeuro, and may only be this low on the list due to the fact that he still hasn't pitched too much. He's got the makeup of a power pitcher and already has two breaking balls in his arsenal to go along with a fastball presumably in the upper 90s. Like almost everybody else so far, 2021 could see him rise further.

    10) Cody Bolton, SP AA/AAA - Bolton is someone who rose through the minors pretty quickly for a projectable high school arm, drafted in 2017 but reaching AA by 2019. One big question going forward with him is health, as he's had a couple of injuries, but in 2021, he may be a big of a post-hype prospect who could even get a taste of MLB action depending on what goes down (injury and/or firesale could see some brief looks for him and Yajure, who you might figure along with Keller and perhaps 1 guy like Brubaker to be decent bets for a young 2022 rotation). Bolton has a very strong fastball and an even better slider, so coupled with potential health concerns, that could push him to being a very good multi-inning relief option. He and Brubaker are not too dissimilar in that regard, so if just one of them hits their potential, then you should have a good mid-rotation guy to pair with Yajure as a stabler anchor option. I'm beyond Bolton's profile here, but SP-wise, you want to see that happen along with Keller taking a clear step forward.

    ---
    Ok, that's my own ranking, basically cribbed from how the FanGraphs list will be ranked. That list will be much more informative, and another source that's extremely good with lots of video is this one: Scouting: Pittsburgh Pirates Top 20 Prospects – TDK Baseball

    Up to a point, I think there's enough similarities between guys' ceilings and the lack of meaningful 2020 data that the order isn't a huge deal. If you trust the FanGraphs list over everything else, then there's a bit of a tier between #3 and #4 and a more solid tier between #7 and #8, with the caveat that #8 and #9 could well be candidates to move up next year, and onto the FG list. I think there's a number of pretty plausible guys to slide in at #10, so I went Bolton partly out of playing favorites and partly because he's closer to MLB than the majority of the list.

    Outside of Oliva and I guess Crowe if we want to include him, the other talent in the system is similarly young and has a high degree of variance. What you hope is that a number of the guys already gaining recognition continue to hit, and then you have a handful of these other guys taking steps forward, putting themselves in the position where somebody like Malone is today. The overall outlook of the system is strong – Cherington has done a good job of adding on top of what Huntington had, both in terms of highly ranked guys and in terms of depth. It's likely that the next two drafts will provide opportunities to really do the same, and we'll need to see the international prospects start bearing fruit as well. The name of the game is that most prospects will flame out, but we're taking the right approach.

    The 2021 overall storylines I am interested to watch are 1) how much we can get out of the closer-to-MLB guys (Yajure, Bolton, Swaggerty, Brubaker, Oliva) and 2) what's the prognosis on the highest ceiling guys (Priester, Thomas, Cruz, Gonzales).
     
  20. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    Good list, DJ.

    Mine would be:

    First off, I don't see the point in ranking Hayes - in my mind he's graduated so...

    1) Gonzales - 5WAR ceiling and 2WAR floor is great in my books
    2) Priester
    3) Cruz - though I still harbor doubts that he won't bust
    4) Peguero
    5) Thomas
    6) Head
    7) Mlodzinski
    8) Malone
    9) Swaggerty
    10) Yajure

    Next 5 in no order are: Salt Bae, Bolton, Yean, Escotto, Mojica
     
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  21. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    Yeah, I think there's a fair bit of wiggle room to do some reordering of certain guys. I tended to favor upside over floor/readiness, up to a point. Besides the other recent additions, Cal Mitchell and Sammy Siani are probably notables to keep in mind somewhere, as well as Mason Martin.

    The FanGraphs list should be out at some point next week. I think in general, the only really egregious thing on MLB Pipeline's list is how low they have Thomas, which is especially weird given that they hand out solid overall FV tags like they are candy.
     
  22. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    Siani for sure is.

    Mitchell seemed good but looks like there's a lot of swing and miss in his game. 3 outcomes guys...it's a delicate balance between the K and the BB/HR and Mitchell is trending on the wrong side of that. However, I still like Martin because he's on the correct side of the K/BB/HR ratios as he moves up.
     
  23. OnMyOwn War and Peace

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    He was such a thorn in our side during our good years.
     
  24. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    Yeah it's probably not best to lump those three together, as Siani is a lot different of a prospect. Definitely fair to prefer Martin over Mitchell – I think so too, as there seem to be more standout tools with Martin. I like the video of Mitchell's swing that I've seen, but he needs to show something in 2021 with either cutting the Ks or getting on base a bit more. He might be more of a 4th OF or depth type of guy – I don't really know that his skillset works for a 4th OF spot over somebody like Oliva, for example.

    Still, the power potential is nice, so maybe we'll see him added to the 40-man. We have to make a decision on that after this season, but right now he seemingly needs to do something to stand out a bit.

    A final guy neither of us have mentioned who is probably somewhere in a similar category to these types is Max Kranick. He's already been added to the 40-man roster and has seemingly rebuilt himself a little bit after having some injuries and so-so results. The word is he's got a high spin, upper 90s fastball now to go with a solid slider. He's a lower hype guy to watch for 2021 as well, but IMO the 15 guys you listed are a fairly clear consensus. A handful more for the 15-20 or beyond range are guys from the recent deals like Cruz, Rodriguez, Smith-Njigba, Castro, and Nolasco.

    But I think the top 10, 15 are fairly consensus. The only place our lists diverge a bit is Mlodzinski vs. Bolton, where I lean towards the closer guy with a solid track record. Barring a surprise, I don't think we're likely to add much more talent via trade, so it will be crucial to draft well and more crucial to develop well, as we all have probably heard or told ourselves a million times. In 2021, besides Cruz probably, my eye is most on Swaggerty, just as a kind of random, but still post-hype prospect who could surprise as an impact player if he can coax some pop from his swing in the upper minors.
     
  25. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    I had a similar thought about Kranick. One of those guys that's post-hype or no-hype but no reason he can't be effective. Sometimes a guy just never gets on a 'prospect hype cycle' for some reason. Kuhl was a no-hype prospect who has become an effective player for us. So was Frazier. Even J-Hay was an odd duck where he never had any hype but hit .300 at every level with good defense.

    The ultimate post-hype prospect at the MLB level though is Tucker. I still hold out a shred of hope that there's a 3-4 WAR player there.
     
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