Around the Farm: October 28, 2013
Around the Farm (ATF) takes a quick look at some of the daily performances by Indians prospects. This is a special fall and winter ball version of ATF that recaps all the offseason action by Indians players in the Arizona Fall League and the Caribbean Leagues. The positions listed below are where the player was playing in the game.
Note, the Dominican, Venezuelan and Mexican Winter League all had no games scheduled for Monday night.
Arizona Fall League
Joe Wendle (Surprise Saguaros, 2B): 2-5, RBI. In nine games so far in the AFL, Wendle is hitting .313 with an .878 OPS (small sample size overreaction noted). This guy just rakes at every level. Wendle had a .885 OPS in the pitcher friendly Carolina League. Yes, he is 23, but once you get past his prospect pedigree, which causes pundits to question, you have to be impressed with his transformation into a prospect of note:
Joe Wendle at 23 years old in High-A: 474 PA, .295 AVG, 9.3 BB%, .885 OPS, wRC+ 143
Jason Kipnis a month older at High-A: 237 PA, .300 AVG, 10.1 BB%, .865 OPS, wRC+ 141
Look I am in no manner asserting that they are equivalent prospects because they aren’t. Wendle’s splits against left handed pitching may forever make him a platoon or impact bench bat, ceiling guy. However, I think his overall offensive capability deserves to be taken very seriously. Wendle will probably never sneak inside an Indians top 10 prospects but then again Danny Salazar never crashed a top 100 in Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus. Wendle is a guy that threatens the establishment; he was not hyped coming out of the draft, played small college ball, and was a bit old for his level but he is worth monitoring closely in 2014.
Tyler Naquin (Surprise Saguaros, CF): 0-3, HBP, RBI, K. Just an empty box score for Naquin. A mediocre OPS and painfully poor K/BB rate translating at almost every level; however, he is esteemed in the system because of the bat (or the first round pick thing). Hopefully his AFL season to date is a positive sign surrounding his development and serves as a spring board of success. That said, his .417 BABIP in 13 games will probably regress and the flaw that 19 of his 20 base hits have been singles will suddenly be more poignant. Naquin has done little to date to dispel the criticism surrounding Indians first round struggles. Thankfully, the Tribe has Lindor to quiet some of that criticism.
Tony Wolters (Surprise Saguaros, DH): 1-2, 2B, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB: Just a tremendous line for Wolters as he has struggled so far in the AFL. You simply have to love Wolter’s plate discipline. Tony is one of the ultimate class guys in the Indians system, his versatility has added value, and the AFL is a great opportunity for him to get more quality at bats.
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Yeah, you can say "if he improves he can hit _____" but cant we say that about every prospect? If Bryson Myles improves he can hit .300 at the major league level. But the reality is that guys don't generally put up better numbers as the quality of pitching improves, especially the guys who are already 22-23 years old. Naquin was supposed to be a polished collegiate hitter who already had a good understanding of the strike zone. How much do we really expect that plate discipline to improve?
If Tyler Naquin is able adjust and improve I think he could hit around 260-270 with around 10 homers and 15 stolen bases. Those would be basically if he reached his potential. When you add in his arm and make up thats a pretty solid player. If he can make himself an above average defensive player, learn to be a smart base runner and find just a little bit of pop he should be a solid addition to the ballclub.
I could see a platoon between him and Drew Stubbs working out well someday.
At this point in time, arm strength (advantage Naquin) and speed (advantage Crowe) are the only real differences between Naquin and Crowe. Crowe's numbers in his only appearance in A+ ball blow Naquins completely out of the water, and as many prospects do he ended up stalling in AA for parts of 3 seasons. Would not be surprised to see the same thing happen with Naquin. With this type of player (singles, contact hitter), having above average plate discipline is an absolute must to be successful in the big leagues everyday.
As far as all of these projections for Naquin...throw them all out. The numbers that a 22 year old puts up in A ball is about as meaningful as the numbers he put up in little league. You have to look at his tools in order to have any idea what kind of major leaguer he'll be, at least until he has a year of upper level play under his belt. Looking solely at his tools, he's a 4th OF at the major league level. Pitch recognition is well below average. Bat control is average. Bat speed might be average at best. Zero lift on the ball, zero carry, zero drive.
You can throw out every stat other than maybe walk rate vs. strikeout rate and isolated power, because nothing else comes close to translating to higher levels of the minors. Naquin had the 9th-worst BB/K ratio among qualified batters in A+ ball this year. He kept his head above water due to a .350 BABIP...that's not going to happen in AA, let alone the majors.
Do you realize the kind of projection you just made for Naquin? A guy who has yet to climb above Double-A. And your projection is based solely on opinion alone. So you can't say that it "appears" Naquin is going to put up those numbers.
You are saying that it "appears that Naquin is going to be a .280, 12-15 HR's, 80 RBI, 25-30 SB's guy who can play the OF and has a gun." Well Hiram, only 3 players in the entire MLB even put up numbers equivalent to or greater than that. Out of the entire MLB, only Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, and Jason Kipnis hit AT LEAST .280+, with 12+ HR, 80+ RBI, and 25+ SB (your projection for what it "appears" Naquin will do in the majors).
Those three were All-Stars. Hunter Pence met your projection for Naquin in every category except for stolen bases, where he had 22, and he just got a 5 year/$90 million contract. After saying what you think Naquin will do in the majors, you say, "That to me is a solid player that you can definitely win with." Yeah Hiram, that sure is. That's an All-Star, $90 million player.
To say that Naquin appears to be able to put up those numbers is way off base and has nothing more than wishful thinking in mind. If that's that case, then the Indians did not make a reach, they made possibly the best pick of the draft. Please, if you say you saw scouts say that this is the player Naquin "appears" to be, then direct me to that scout or that scouting article. I would love to see it.
It would be unfair of the IBI to simply bring unfair expectations on players if all they looked at was the good and wrote warm/fuzzy posts. If someone wants those constant warm/fuzzy posts with writers trying to make friends with players and their families, there are tons of blogs out there for that. But if people want honesty, objectivity and lots of insight into the process with these guys, this is the place to be. Nice writeup Michael, I appreciate the honestly though obviously it is unpopular. Keep up the good work.
Lindor is an aberration, where is the comparison?
Again, not asking you or anyone else to not report the issues but, I have had alot of conversations with you and some of the other staff about Naquin and we all agree that it was a reach. Indians made an error in this selection, no doubt. From what I've read and seen it appears he will be a Brantley type hitter with a few more SO's. Those are players you can win with. This isn't to hide from the fact that it was a reach.
In saying that though we don't need to be so negative while at the same time point out the flaws in the player in what they need to work on to get them to be max player.
That's all. Wasn't trying to be critical of anyone or to make anyone feel bad but the tone in discussing the player with other staff members is quite negative when it comes Naquin.
we understand the issues and we understand where he was drafted. Sure it was a reach that the Indians picked him that high but the fact is that we have him now. We don't need to be reminded every article that some didn't like the pick, some felt it was a reach. We need to know what he did at the at the plate, field etc. No one is disagreeing with the reach or the issues but to compare him to Lindor is somewhat not right either
I myself believe that Naquin will be a major leaguer some day, but I am iffy as to what kind of role he serves. I think there is a chance he can be a Brantley/DeJesus type though clearly a step back from both with the plate discipline but the same kind of player offensively and defensively. He won't be a run producing bat, but if the plate discipline comes around he could maybe be someone to hit at the top of a ML lineup. That's the beauty of prospects, you never truly know how they will pan out.
I agree with you. It seems as though some guys didn't like the pick and it was a reach(it was) but the wording is a little harsh and unfair at times. It appears that Naquin is going to be a .280, 12-15 HR's, 80 RBI, 25-30 SB's guy who can play the OF and has a gun. That to me is a solid player that you can definitely win with.
I understand that some wanted more out of a #1 pick considering they passed on Wacha and others but it seems like they're looking for things to dislike about as opposed to finding things to like about him because they disliked the pick
Naquin is someone who will probably be a line stuffer who will give you some of everything. To be fair though the Indians did reach for this pick but we don't need to be reminded of this each and every time you discuss the guy
Naquin hit .277/.769 in high A this year. Which put him 33rd out of 100 qualifiers in his league based on OPS. Ten of the players who finished above him are 24-26 years old. So he was in the top 25-30% of players in his league if you throw out the overaged guys.
The column points out that Kipnis hit .300/.865 in high A at age 23. So if Naquin can show some offensive improvement next year he could be right there with Kipnis in terms of age/performance at the same level.
I'm not saying he's going to improve his average 23 points and his OPS by 100, but keep in mind he's a centerfielder with range and a gun. It's OK if he's a singles hitter if he's a plus defender in center. The Tribe didn't just give Michael Bourn $50 million because he hits home runs.
Naquin looks like he has a chance to be Michael Brantley with a better arm. Or even Bourn, who also strikes out a lot, doesn't walk, and mainly hits singles.