Don’t Scout the Statline, 4/28/17

It’s time again for “Don’t Scout the Statline,” a weekly look at how Mets prospects are performing. Think of it as an XL version of the Minor League Update from the mothership. Each week I—or one of our other BP Mets prospect writers—will take a look at notable performances from each affiliate over the past seven days. And remember, the least important information in this piece is the actual numbers, because—for all you kids out there—we don’t scout the statline.

(weekly statistics from games played from 4/20/17-4/26/17, season statistics through 4/26/17)

Las Vegas 51s (AAA)

Amed Rosario, SS

Last week: 11-22, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 R, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K

Season to date:  .397/.444/.466, 4 XBH, 5 SB 10 K / 6 BB

Yes, we are revisiting Amed Rosario just three weeks into this column. This could be viewed as an indictment of the Vegas roster—and I won’t stop you from drawing that conclusion—but I want to revisit how ready Rosario is for the majors. I don’t actually know the answer to this of course, but a few things to consider.

  1. He doesn’t have to be that good to be an upgrade to the current infield situation. I recognize that my Alcides Escobar comparison might not have gone over well with Mets fans for a few different reasons, so let’s try one I made on this week’s pod, Xander Bogaerts (who I have also heard as a Rosario comp). Bogaerts played 144 games as a 21-year old and hit .240/.297/.362. That’s not great. FRAA also had him as a well-below-average defender, which is likely not an issue with Rosario. The only thing worse than scouting the statline is adding up the WARs, but here we go: If Rosario put up the same line with average defense at the 6 (a conservative estimate), he’d essentially be an average regular. He’d also wildly improve the infield defense, allowing Cabrera to slide over to third base where his glove is a better fit. Even if Jose Reyes isn’t quite as  bad going forward, it looks unlikely he’s an everyday option anymore.
  2. Sometimes elite prospects are elite for a reason. It’s entirely possible Rosario will just come up and hit the ground running like Francisco Lindor or Carlos Correa or Corey Seager. He’s in that general class as a shortstop prospect and has mashed in the upper minors.
  3. And if he struggles badly in his first pass at the majors, it is not a player development nightmare. Rosario is not a shrinking violet who has never experienced failure on the baseball diamond. If he hits .200 for a month, you send him back down with stuff to work on and you can claw back the Super 2 service time if you are so inclined—and the Mets usually are. It is unlikely to “ruin” him as a prospect.

Binghamton…sigh…Rumble Ponies (AA)

Luis Guillorme, SS/2B

Last week: 5-24, 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB, 6 K

Season to date: .313/.380/.391, 2 SB, 12 K / 6 BB

My third piece of advice for people who are serious about writing about prospects is to understand that you can’t be friends with the prospects. You can root for guys—although that had its own dangers as well—but understand that the time is going to come when you have to write someone up as “not-a-major-leaguer.” That’s the gig. They may read it—they all name search Twitter and ironic like those kind of things—but they are not your audience. Guillorme is a guy that I root for. This is not news at Baseball Prospectus. I didn’t jump on him a year early, or put my eye on the line with an aggressive 101 ranking. I didn’t even really write him up as a major leaguer, though plenty of 3s play in the majors. I talked to him once in Kingsport a few years back when he was translating for the Latin players. His father tends to unironically like my tweets about him. But yeah, I root for him.

I think it might be time to write him up as a 4. I didn’t really expect to be updating my priors much on Guillorme during my last look at him opening weekend. And a two-game look isn’t enough to do a full report, but he did look pretty much like Luis Guillorme. Good approach, opposite field hits, savvy base running, smooth actions in the field. Since then, all he has done is  continue to hit, and oh, also stuff like this:

Why didn’t I write him up as a 4 in Kingsport or Savannah? Well, there wasn’t much physical projection there and his extreme opposite field approach didn’t seem tenable long term. He was a below-average runner, so he wouldn’t be adding that many bunt hits or infield singles to the left of the shortstop against better defenses. He struggled enough with spin that it was tough to see an average hit tool. And there was no game power to speak of to keep major league pitchers from challenging him.

But Guillorme has gotten stronger. He’s kept hitting. He’s added what sure looks like above-average second and third base gloves to his C.V. He’s doing it in Double-A.  The question the scout asked me a couple years ago was “could he hit .220?” The question I am asking myself now is “could he hit .260?” It’s getting harder to bet against him. He’s easy to root for, and that almost makes it harder to bump him a grade. You don’t entirely trust your instincts. But you have to write what you see, and he is starting to look more like a major league piece.

St. Lucie Mets (A+)

Jhoan Ureña 3B/1B

Last Week: 5-14, 3 R, 0 RBI, 6 BB, 0 K

Season to date: .343/.470/.507, 2 HR, 4 SB, 16 BB, 13 K

[normal brain]

Jhoan Ureña is putting up good numbers while playing mostly third base in a difficult hitting environment. He’s a sleeper prospect.

[smart brain]

Jhoan Ureña is double-repeating the level and is not particularly young for it anymore. Guys figure out how to hit a league with enough attempts; call it The Carlos Tocci Effect. A month of this doesn’t make a sleeper prospect. The body is high maintenance. And he’s not likely to be a third baseman long term either.

[really smart brain]

It’s an oversimplification to say that Jhoan Ureña is a double repeater. The initial assignment to St. Lucie was insanely aggressive given his age and experience. He lost most of that season to a hamate issue as well, which can linger and sap power. When you saw him in Brooklyn, he looked like he had the raw ability to do this in Advanced-A. If he had the same injury issues with a more normal assignment path, he might have still ended up starting his age-22 season in St. Lucie, and we’d be less skeptical of this performance.

[electric brain]

If you go to St. Lucie to see Jhoan Ureña, you can get the fried fish at Lola’s every day.

Columbia Fireflies (A)

Merandy Gonzalez, RHP

Last Week: 14.2 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 K

Season to date: 28.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 15 H, 3 BB, 23 K, 0 HR

Jordan Humphreys, RHP

Last Week: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 12 K

Season to date: 25.1 IP, 1.42 ERA, 15 H, 3 BB, 34 K, 0 HR

Here’s a few more stat lines:

Tyler Pill, 2012: 51.2 IP, 2.61 ERA, 56 H, 8 BB, 54 K, 3 HR

Logan Verrett, 2012: 64.2 IP, 3.06 ERA, 57 H, 9 BB. 67 K, 7 HR

Rainy Lara, 2013: 50.2 IP, 1.42 ERA, 39 H, 6 BB, 51 K, 1 HR

Luis Cessa, 2013: 130 IP, 3.12 ERA, 136 H 19 BB, 124 K, 11 HR

Gabriel Ynoa, 2013: 135.2 IP, 2.72 ERA, 123 H, 16 BB, 106 K, 9 HR

Rob Whalen, 2014: 62.2 IP, 2.01 ERA, 44 H, 19 BB, 53 K, 2 HR

Casey Meisner, 2015: 76 IP, 2.13 ERA, 59 H, 19 BB, 66 K, 6 HR

Granted, all of those lines were posted pitching home games in Historic Grayson Stadium, which was one of the most extreme pitcher’s park in organized baseball. Early returns suggest Spirit Communications Park only slightly favors the moundsmen. But the larger point here is all kinds of pitching prospects can dominate A-ball hitters. Now, there’s quite a few major leaguers on that list, but no one you would call an impact arm. The impact arms did well here too, mind you. Jacob deGrom also dominated Savannah. Michael Fulmer was quite good as well—though much younger than this cohort. If you can throw your fastball and breaker for a strike, you will get outs.

I like both Humphreys and Gonzalez as prospects. And I normally group them together in my mind because the profile is very similar: Stocky righties who are physically mature, fastballs in the low 90s that can touch higher, a curve that will flash average or even better, and existent changeups that they don’t really need at the moment. Both are too good for this level, and I don’t anticipate either being here past the 1st half break. But just keep in mind that even this level of dominance in the South Atlantic League doesn’t override the reports. And the early reports from this season haven’t indicated major changes from what I saw last summer.

Photo credit: Reinhold Matay – USA Today Sports

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