SCOUTing Low A Leagues


As I was trawling through twitter this morning, today sponsored by Yunel Escobar, I came across an interesting piece by Fangraphs.  It uses SCOUT to rank some of the best performances across different levels of minor league baseball.   It is a metric designed to rank the relative performances of players across the different leagues and with different sample sizes.  Attempting to eliminate one of the large problems of ranking minor leaguers who move through different levels in one season.   It uses defense-independent variables to produce numbers similar to FIP.  For hitters, a higher number is good and vice versa for pitchers.

On the hitting side, SCOUT reads like a version of wRC+ yet using only home run, walk, and k rates.  I did expect to see Kevin Pillar on the list, considering he was not only the Midwest League MVP, but for those sabermetricians out there, was also second in the league in wRC+.  I’m trying to compare the numbers between those on the list and Kevin and have to admit, am not sure exactly why he didn’t get in.  He has a lowish walk percentage and didn’t hit a ton of home runs.  But still, I don’t have the exact calculations, will hopefully add as a postscript.

Fangraphs then remakes their list with players who are twenty-one and under, explaining that relative to A-ball would still be considered as prospects.   With Pillar an old twenty three, he would have been considered a non-prospect in relation to the league.

Things are more positive for the Lugnut pitchers as both Noah Syndergaard (sixth) and Justin Nicolino(ninth) rank in the top 10

Justin Nicolino photo courtesy of

of those that started over half  of their appearances. This was too be expected after the excellent seasons posted by two of the three members of the ‘Lansing Big Three’.  Aaron Sanchez struggled with his command, especially after coming back from his injury, posting a 5.08 BB/9 which would have kept him off the list.

There was also a true top ten which included both relievers and starters.  Only two players made both, and both are ranked very highly by those that do prospect rankings.  Depressingly one of them, Dylan Bundy, is in the Orioles organization.  So, while Blue Jays fans, myself included, look wistfully to the future, Orioles fans are:

1) dreaming, realistically, of a wild card spot

2) watching Baseball America’s pre-2012 11th rated prospect Manny Machado put up reasonable numbers in thirty-six games as a twenty year old in the major leagues (this while the Jays top rated shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria puts up a negative WAR in a fairly similar sample size, and our starting shortstop uses his face as a sandwich board for hate messages)

3) following Baseball America’s pre-2012 10th rated prospect Dylan Bundy, as he blows through 3 minor league levels at age 19.  There is a very real chance he is given a late season call-up next year.

Will Blue Jays fans see any of the Lansing Big 3?  No.  When does 2014 start?

(as the first post-script, in relation to the sandwich board comment above.  Yunel Escobar’s press conference went off as expected.  It was a ‘joke’ that wasn’t intended to cause any harm.  That’s pretty much the explanation that was expected.  Still doesn’t make it right.  Both from Yunel, who is obviously very naive if he honestly thought putting something like that on his face wouldn’t be construed, at least by some quarters, as being offensive.  I’m guessing he isn’t so naive, and he made a very stupid mistake, and is now looking to get out of it as best he can.  And from the Blue Jays players and staff who didn’t stop Yunel from taking the field with the offensive messages.  I don’t believe it is within John Farrel’s remit to baby-sit all his players and do uniform checks before they all take the field, but someone, anyone should have spotted the messages and stopped him.)