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Around the Farm: October 28, 2013

Around the Farm: October 28, 2013
October 29, 2013
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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.

Interact with Michael by email at  michael.hattery@gmail.com and on Twitter @MichaelHattery

User Comments

Adam
October 30, 2013 - 12:15 PM EDT
I just do not understand these projections of a .260-.270 batting average at the major league level. What is that based on? What about his skill set suggests those numbers are realistic? Dude hit .277 in A+ ball with a .351 BABIP. Do you think there's something about him that will allow him to hit for a crazy high BABIP? He's not going to beat out a bunch of infield singles. I don't see it.

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?
jwahoo
October 29, 2013 - 11:50 PM EDT
Andy, you make some very good points. It would be fantastic if Naquin could reach those numbers but honestly I don't think Hiram is that far off.

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.
Adam
October 29, 2013 - 9:53 PM EDT
Dennis--

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.
Adam
October 29, 2013 - 9:47 PM EDT
It's always funny to me that people complain when the prospect they want to read about isn't mentioned, but when one of the higher profile prospects in the system is mentioned, people don't want to hear the criticism. It's a winter league game and this was the only team in action. What else would you like the writer to report on?

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.
Andy
October 29, 2013 - 1:56 PM EDT
Hiram,

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.
Dennis
October 29, 2013 - 12:23 PM EDT
What is the difference between Trevor Crowe and Tyler Naquin? Injuries, power, defense, speed? Who will have played the most major league games in the end?
William
October 29, 2013 - 10:26 AM EDT
um, I felt Michael was pretty complimentary mentioning how he hopes his performance so far in the AFL is a good sign going forward....but at the same time bringing some objectivity to the performance so as to not get carried away since with the good comes some bad and are worth noting.

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.
Hawk1228
October 29, 2013 - 10:22 AM EDT
We all agree it was a reach, and the reason they did so was to sign players above slot in later picks. So with that said was the reach worth losing a Micael Wacha in favor of what draft choice? Who did we select later and what impact will they have on our club? Without knowing who we signed with the saved bonus money how can any real comparison be drawn?
Norm
October 29, 2013 - 9:55 AM EDT
Probably should leave it alone but I have less trouble with the Naquin analysis than I do with calling Wendle "a prospect of note". Naquin looks like a ML 4th OF floor to me with some possible upside but he looks like an ML ballplayer to me because of his defensive potential in addition to decent swing mechanics.

Lindor is an aberration, where is the comparison?
Hiram
October 29, 2013 - 9:48 AM EDT
Tony,

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.
Hawk1228
October 29, 2013 - 9:48 AM EDT
Although Cowshit is great to making beautiful blooms on those roses
Tony
October 29, 2013 - 9:41 AM EDT
Hiram, who mentions him being a reach or that they didn't like the pick in this posting other than you? Michael simply made one comment about the first round pick issue for the indians, which has been dreadful over the years and is true and has led to a lot of criticism in the past and even currently.....but Lindor (and possibly Frazier) has indeed been one to quiet some of the criticism. Look, Naquin is off to a good start and we know that, but it does no good to put our hands on our ears and scream loud so as to ignore the bad things and not be objective to acknowledge that there are real issues that need ironed out and proven over time. As an example, if Frazier has a hiccup this coming year or the plate discipline concerns continue, then the industry will start to wonder some of the same things. Such is life as a prospect.
Hiram
October 29, 2013 - 9:35 AM EDT
Tony,

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
Tony
October 29, 2013 - 9:27 AM EDT
Also, unfortunately, when it comes to the minor leagues it most often is about the limitations that hold a guy back. We all know what so and so does well, but what is it that potentially keeps them from achieving their dream or success? That's probably the biggest part of player development to try and fix those issues or find a way to live with them. It doesn't matter how many plus pitches a guy has or how hard he throws or how good his makeup is if he can't throw strikes. So that is what is focused on, that strike throwing ability and showing improvement there.

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.
Tony
October 29, 2013 - 9:19 AM EDT
I don't see the problem here with Naquin. Michael simply had the courage to write and discuss his biggest glaring issues and REAL issues that the Indians privately have as well as the feelings of other teams in the industry. He can defend well though he's not a big time defensive CF in the making (he's good, but not that good). There is a clear distinction between an average defensive CF and an elite CF....and he's somewhere in the middle there which is not a bad place to be. But it is the plate discipline that concerns many. Grady Sizemore got away with it because he was an extra base hit machine. You can't have a singles hitting outfielder with a mediocre on-base percentage striking out a ton. And Mike hits it on the head that while the batting average is impressive in the early going, it's also in line for a regression as his high BABIP is just not sustainable - although may be considering how short the AFL season is. There is value there as a sub or platoon guy or 4th outfielder yes.....but as a starter the warts will show. The plate discipline is an issue I know he is working on and I am hopeful to see some improvement in next season.
Michael
October 29, 2013 - 9:09 AM EDT
Norm, I have missed you man. If you read what I said, which explicitly states that they aren't equivalent prospects, mostly in my view because of defense. I merely used Kipnis production to provide context for what Wendle is doing offensively. Defense is essential and I generally argue the value of its impact but I was simply not saying they were equal prospects. Sometimes you will just have to not interpret what I am saying and just take it textually. And I talk about his offensive solely. I would have discussed his defensive weaknesses or criticism but I wanted to have some brevity since it is ATF.
Hiram
October 29, 2013 - 8:43 AM EDT
Rich,

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
Rich
October 29, 2013 - 8:23 AM EDT
Kind of hard on Naquin, don't you think? It sounds like you're writing him off at age 22. "Oh well, we still have Lindor."

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.

Norm
October 29, 2013 - 7:36 AM EDT
When are you going to learn that players must defend as well as hit? To even compare Kipnis and Wendle as 2B by ignoring their defense is ridiculous. You have about as much in common with sabermetrics as cowshit to roses!

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