Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2012 Draft: Pitcher Commentary

I ran across a prospect website with scouting reports covering the top 596 pitching prospects in the 2012 draft (The Baseball Draft Reports).  Honestly, I do not know how good he is, but that is pretty ambitious to cover so many, and to have something to say about every one, so I thought I would at least point it out, bring up some of the commentary about some of the picks, and if one of the prospect hounds can give me their assessment of the site, then at least we will be better informed overall.

It covered these pitchers the Giants drafted:
  • Chris Stratton (20th overall pick; 1st round):  4th best pitcher
  • Martin Agosta (84th overall pick; 2nd round0:  23rd best pitcher
  • Steven Okert (148th overall pick; 4th round):  82nd best pitcher
  • Ty Blach (178th overall pick; 5th round):  254th best pitcher
  • Steve Johnson (208th overall pick; 6th round):  64th best pitcher
  • E.J. Encinosa (238th overall pick; 7th round):  131st best pitcher
  • Joe Kurrash (268th overall pick;  8th round):  315th best pitcher
  • Ian Gardeck (508th overall pick; 16th round):  256th best pitcher
  • Chris Johnson (538th overall pick; 17th round):  408th best pitcher
  • Drew Leehouts (718th overall pick; 23rd round):  270th best pitcher
  • Mason McVay (808th overall pick; 26th round):  103rd best pitcher
  • Jason Forjet (958th overall pick; 31st round):  418th best pitcher
  • Brandon Farley (1,018th overall pick; 32nd round):  393rd best pitcher
Just remember that this is just the opinion of the author.  I would not make too much of minor differences of pick versus rank.  The more interesting ones to me were Stratton and Agosta.  Plus I'll take a look at McVay, though I would not put a lot yet into these rankings, again, because I have no idea how good or bad this guy is.  I just find it interesting as it has a lot of objective as well as subjective info on each prospect, and I wanted to share.

Chris Stratton
4. Mississippi State JR RHP Chris Stratton: 88-92 FB, 93-96 peak; velocity up in 2012 – more often 90-94, peaking at 95-96 consistently; leaves his FB up on occasion and it leads to trouble; holds velocity really well; really tough to square up on anything he throws, leaving him with reputation as a groundball machine; quality 77-80 CB; emerging 81-83 CU that is a good pitch now, could be plus in time; good 82-87 SL that flashes plus, but is hit or miss depending on start; solid cutter; added an effective two-seam FB; seen as four-pitch starter, but, depending on how you want to classify his fastball variations, he could eventually throw six legit pitches for strikes; above-average control and command; this is a comp that is decidedly not a comp, but a scout who saw Stratton said that, at his best, he reminded him of a righthanded version of Cliff Lee, mostly because his repertoire is so deep that he can use whatever pitch is working best on any given day; the fact that he throws two distinct breaking balls and has the fearlessness/understanding about how to use them is really impressive for an amateur prospect; 6-2, 200 pounds 
2011: 9.47 K/9 | 76 IP 
2012: 11.00 K/9 | 1.97 BB/9 | 3.47 FIP | 109.2 IP
Martin Agosta
23. St. Mary’s JR RHP Martin Agosta: 91-93 FB, 95-96 peak; sometimes sits 89-92 with 94 peak; 80-85 SL with upside, flashes plus – has also been called a cutter; good CB; above-average CU; plus overall command; gets better as game goes on; Agosta’s FB-SL-CU and command make him a good starting pitching prospect, and the chance he’ll continue to find ways to further differentiate his breaking ball – gaining some separation with his cutter and curve from his slider would be a start – make him especially intriguing; 6-1, 180 pounds 
2011: 7.53 K/9 | 89.2 IP 
2012: 8.45 K/9 | 2.35 BB/9 | 2.97 FIP | 103.1 IP
Steve Johnson
64. St. Edward’s (TX) JR RHP Stephen Johnson: consistent 93-96 FB, 98 peak; has reportedly been as high as 101, but typically tops out upper-90s; 77-81 SL that has gotten harder (mid-80s) and better over the past year; hard 84-88 CU that is better when softer; great deception; closer upside; 6-4, 200 pounds
Steve Okert
82. Oklahoma JR LHP Steven Okert: 88-91 FB, 92-94 peak; up to 94-97 out of bullpen; good SL; CU is better than often given credit; command comes and goes; reminds me a little bit of Chris Reed before Reed became last year’s “it” first round pick – could be a dominant reliever if everything breaks right, but also has the chance to continue starting at next level; 6-3, 220 pounds 2012: 8.78 K/9 | 3.67 BB/9 | 3.95 FIP | 81 IP
Mason McVay
103. Florida International rJR LHP Mason McVay: 87-91 FB post-injury as starter; solid potential with CB, plus upside; mechanics need cleaning up; control is an issue; peaked at 95-96 out of bullpen in fall 2011, so, if healthy, he can throw some smoke; Tommy John survivor; good coaching and good health will go a long way in determining his pro future, but his two potential plus pitches and size give him more upside than your typical double-digit round pick; 6-8, 240 pounds 
2011: 11.27 K/9 | 30.1 IP 
2012: 10.07 K/9 | 5.74 BB/9 | 3.28 FIP | 64.1 IP
Giants Thoughts

The Giants appear to have picked up a lot of power arms again, and TJS never scares them away, they picked up Brian Wilson much later in the draft, as he fell due to having TJS in college, which led him to stop using one of his better pitches, the curve ball.  Stratton just sounds better and better the more I learn about him.  No matter how people may feel about the rest of the draft, Stratton sounds like a find where we selected him, he could have been drafted around where we got Lincecum and Bumgarner (10th overall) and not been that out of place there (I recall some mock drafts had him going as high as 11th).   That makes the draft a big win in my opinion, as they found someone to replace Wheeler in the farm system, at roughly the same age.

The two Steves (Johnson and Okert) sound like they could be interesting set-up relievers at minimum, perhaps even a closer for Johnson and the chance to still be a starter for Okert.  And McVay sounds like he fell a lot because of his surgery, but with his size, plus the fact that it typically takes a player two years to regain his velocity, suggests that if Mason can fully recover, the Giants have a pretty good low risk find in McVay that far back in the draft.  I'm surprised that he fell that far looking at what this site wrote about him.


  1. i agree. People who are still complaining about rounds 11-40 really don't understand the draft and what the odds of success in those rounds are even in the best case scenarios.

    McVay has gotten off to a great start pitching out of the bullpen.

    Gardeck has pitched well and is another high velocity arm. He kind of got lost in the shuffle when he transferred from a small school to a D1 program, but he was the 8'th round pick for the ChiSox in 2011.

    Leenhouts has had mixed results but put up dominant numbers in one game making me think he is a legitimate sleeper.

  2. I like that site. Check it out, he did a review of the Giants draft!:


    DrB puts in a nice passive aggressive dig. All criticisms of the all-knowing San Francisco Giants get sent to "don't understand the draft and success rates".

    1. Thanks for the link, will be sure to check that out.

      I don't think that the Giants are all-knowing or above criticism, but I generally agree with DrB, the big stir in the blogosphere about how the Giants did poorly in rounds 11-40 is much ado about nothing. And that has to do with knowing the success rates that far back in the draft.

      And I will admit that I don't know exactly what the odds are, but given what I know about just the first 100 picks overall, I do know that they are pretty minuscule. And as I noted, I studied the roughly 20th round picks (and 21st) and using that as a proxy for the average across rounds 11-40, the value of those 30 picks is roughly equal to that of the first round pick for a playoff contending team (i.e. a team picking in the last third of the first round). So on average one of those picks are roughly one-30th the probability of that first round pick, which my prior research put at roughly 10-11%. 1/30th of that is roughly a third of 1%.

      Being a money person and believing that the human brain does try to spend at a logical rate most of the time, even if not on a conscious level, I basically believe that the odds are related to money spent (which you basically note, wanting the Giants to spend more), so even with just $4M to spend, machinations within the rules that Selig set up would not amount to, say, doubling that amount spent, at least from what I understand of how the draft worked. If you can show me otherwise, then I would think more strongly about the Giants blowing a chance to do more in the back of the draft.

      Even if all that complex juggling of draft bonus budget allowed a team to double their odds of finding a good player with their 11th round pick, the overall odds of finding a good player will barely budge. Let's say that it already double the average. Double that would increase the overall value from 100% to around 103%. That's a lot of machinations just to gain a slight edge.

      And look at the 11st round. Not very many teams drafted a high school player in hopes of player potential bonanza dreams. Probably because there are so few of them, the 12th round was even worse.

      Meanwhile, they bundled a lot of their international free agent budget into two players, one particularly good in Cabrera. In the draft, while everyone uses linear equations to represent value and such, I believe that good talent, being rare, should get valued at a higher, more exponential rate. That's a strategy I can get behind, which the Giants did do.

      That, to me, has a greater chance of paying off than all the machinations people thought the Giants should have done in the back of the first round.

    2. To me, all that complaining is a lot of hand waving unless you can bring me a specific example of a player the Giants could have picked up with their 11th round pick and maybe signed had they did the machinations. That is the start of the path for me taking heed of the suggestion that the Giants blew it there.

      And there I'm talking degrees. Sure, I would have liked the Giants to spend more. As I noted, the more that they spend, the more likely they are to find that next good player. But if all that machinations just mean that you pick up a $200K high schooler with potential, when you could have spent $100K anyway and not do anything, that's not a lot of bang for the buck, in my opinion.

      I would rather the Giants utilize more of their international free agent budget than other teams instead - as not every team will use their full allotment up, I bet. Especially since every team got an equal amount this season, whereas in future years, the playoff contending teams will get a much smaller amount than the losing teams. The big money teams being on equal footing this season, could still steal some good prospects away.

      And in doing so, they got someone who BA rated 5th and MLB rated #1. And it sounds like he took less to be with the Giants as well.

      That is a much bigger bang for the buck than finding a raw high school player willing to sign for $200K, after doing all that complex movement just to clear up space to sign the kid.

      At $1.3M for Cabrera, that is like getting another pick in the early supplemental first round. If he had gotten what the media suggested he might get, he's more like a back of first round pick.

      And Javier is like another late 2nd round, early 3rd round pick.

      That is a lot more bang for the buck than a high schooler back that far in the draft, who is more like a very expensive lottery ticket.

      Which they all are, basically, I know that. But to me, $100-200K bets are pretty much long shots that you only pay attention to once they start doing something in Advanced A ball, whereas $1M bonus babies get you to sit up and pay attention immediately. That player has 5-10 times better chance of making the majors as a good player than that high schooler, if you go by money spent.

    3. I'll amend my comment to say "APPEAR to not understand the draft and success rates."

  3. OGC - I'm on my mobile so have to be brief - the issue in prospect dome isnt necessarily the 11-40, it's more to do with the lopesidedness in drafting college arms, only 1 HS player and then the issue I am trying to highlight: keeping pace with MLB.

    I did a quick analysis on the 11-40 spending across MLB out of curiosity. The giants spent the 5th smallest amount, outpacing the nats, a's, brewers and cards by a nose. The following teams spent over 1MM on the 11-40: royals, tigers, padres, mariners, marlins, yankees and jays. The following teams spent at least 850k: cubs, dodger, Indians, o's, d-backs, reds, rangers.

    You asked for an example of HS draftees, I gave them last post. I don't know the reason the giants decided to punt a mixed draft for the method they did. The best guess is money, but the success rate is also a good argument. What I do know is other teams decided to place bets there.

    Let's beat the bums this weekend!

    1. I have a few points here and will try to avoid any accusatory language:

      1. When the Giants have gone for HS talent, they have usually done it in the first 2 rounds. In this year's draft, it is eminently arguable that the college talent they took, Stratton and Agosta, was better than any HS talent available at those slots.

      2. The Giants have sometimes taken a flyer on 1 HS player in rounds 5-10. They did that this year with Shilo McCall.

      3. MLB's limit of $100 K slot also limited the signability of HS players in rounds 11-40. There just aren't a lot of good HS prospects who are going to be willing to sign for 100 K. HS players in this price range are nothing more than flyers.

      4. Flyers come in all shapes and sizes: Power hitters that strike out a lot, speedsters with weak bats, pitchers who hit the high 90's but also give up a lot of walks, players with the potential to change positions, players coming off injuries. There seems to be a common assumption out there that HS flyers are superior to other flyers or that they uniformly have higher ceilings than other flyers. While this may still be debatable, their is strong evidence that it is not a true assumption.

      5. There also seems to be an assumption out there that the only way to do well in the draft is to spend money than other teams. I don't believe the Giants have ever been one of the top spending teams in the draft. The only player they have ever gone way over slot for is Buster Posey. Yet, the Giants have been as successful as any team in the draft over prior 6 years. I laugh when folks say that the point of Moneyball was to find undervalued players. The whole point of scouting is to find undervalued players! The Giants have been good at scouting over the last 6 years! If you have good scouting, you don't have to outspend other teams!

    2. One more point: Wouldn't what the Giants did on July 2 disprove the notion that they are "cheap, cynical and walking away from upside?"

    3. Yes, thanks for the names. Just been very busy myself, though my obsessiveness gets to me sometimes...

      I know we all run around on this point, so I'll point out more of my stance again, since I probably forgot myself sometimes...

      The one that we discuss a lot is that the values of round 11-40 is not that big, but moreso to me is that one year does not a pattern make. I am pretty sure I said somewhere along this thread trail that I'll be more willing to accept your stance if the Giants did something similar next season and I should have repeated it here.

      Hence I've been more on the fence on this, though noting again that doing all that machinations might not be very efficient or effective in finding prospects. And that is a point, as you pointed out, where we have to agree to disagree because we have different philosophies regarding that. Where it comes to games, even down 10-0, two outs, none on, two strikes, I still want my team putting every last effort into winning the game, but where it comes to the draft, I am willing to pick and chose my battles than fight every last me to the last breath. You are not willing to give up an inch on that, and that is your choice, as it is mine as well.

      Regarding spending on the 11-40, can we at least agree that teams have a wide breadth of opinions on the level of talent available to them, and it is very possible that where one team sees a plethora of opportunity, some view it as a wasteland? Could it be very possible the Giants saw it as a wasteland?

      That's why I don't feel that money is the "best" guess, it is your guess, and perhaps a consensus guess, but would you at least concede that 1) historically the Giants have gone their own way in the draft and 2) they have been pretty successful with that method in recent years?

      And if I recall, the Nats, A's and Cards are considered to be good teams with regards to the draft, so maybe they saw the same thing that the Giants did?

      And given their ability - which most people at least seems to agree upon - to identify and develop pitchers, perhaps it is telling that they spent a lot of picks on reliever types, and not on starters.

      You mention keeping up with the MLB as one of your metrics. I don't know what numbers are available, but if you are going to do that, you should, to be more accurate, compare everyone by their total spending in rounds 11-40 in the draft plus international free agents, because not every team will devote that much to the international market, whereas the Giants have been relatively more active in recent years, after Barr came on, and clearly have spent a lot this year.

      About placing bets, can we at least agree that teams are at best making educated guesses when it comes to players drafted? It is nice to point out Blackburn in last year's 16th round, but Brandon Allen in 2010's 18th round, HS, hasn't done so well, and if you look at past drafts, they have not really drafted that many HS players later in the draft, as a matter of habit, anyway. As nice as it is to see the successes, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for any of the HS players drafted past the first few rounds, let alone rounds 11-40. For me, that is the equivalent of watching grass grow.

    4. I totally agree this could be a one time thing. Your point about seeing a wasteland is interesting, it could be that. It could also be the giants not bothering with HS players for the year. That is the hint Sabean laid down in that Tolbert interview.

      Maybe we can agree on this: the giants took it a bit extreme this year with regards to HS. And going pitching all the time. I think it might be an early warning of de emphasis on the importance of a farm system that has been quite good. I am also not even close to being definite about that. It could just bs a fluke dip toes instead of taking a leap into the deep end of the pool.

      I don't have a laptop so I can't get into drb's points. I guess my cheap comment really stuck. I thought I promised to be more careful when we made peace last time. July 2nd was a big win for the giants. I said as much on both your blogs.

      On the international spending, that gets totaled up later, my source is BA. The gints have been middle of the pack mostly the past few years. The cba should squeeze the extremes and make it more about scouting than spending.

      Bad beat last nigt. Can B

    5. Mobile commenting takes too long!

      Can Barry zito be the stopper? We'll find out if he has some more good mojo...

    6. If the Giants are de-emphasizing the farm system, they why on Earth would they spend close to $2 M on 2 international prospects who are 16 years old? Now THAT would be a complete waste of $$$ in a de-emphasized farm system, would it not? My gosh, can we please stop jumping to conclusions about things that at best don't amount to more than a hill of beans?

    7. This reminds me so much of a debate I had a few years ago on MCC and Minor League Ball with a guy who was convinced that the Giants had gone cheap and walked away from upside when they didn't draft Rick Porcello in the slot where they took Tim Alderson and he just wouldn't let it go. To him, the Giants had blown that draft!

      Do I hear anybody now saying the Giants should have done that and paid Porcello $11.1 M in that draft slot?

    8. As for the "wasteland" theory, I don't think the Giants saw a wasteland anywhere. I think they saw players like Tyler Hollick, Ian Gardeck, Joey Rapp, Mason McVay, Leenhouts, Cain, etc, all players who had tools or skills that gave them upside beyond what you would ordinarily see from where they were drafted. The Giants took advantage of the opportunity to get undervalued players. I'm not sure why it's so difficult to think that they simply stayed true to their draft board and took their highest rated player at each slot.

    9. We have bigger fish to fry as Giants fans right now. The Giants are in the baseball bidness, in my opinion they aren‘t going all out in the acquisition of the raw talent. They roll with a very conservative strategy. That has its advantages and weaknesses. This trade deadline should be interesting, one thing hamstringing Sabean is the cupboard is a bit bare - I think the Gints farm is better than what folks say but there is a consensus (BA, Sickels, etc) that its pretty weak. The farm has underperformed, making sell lows the name of the game.

      Go listen to the Sabean interview with Tolbert DrB. Its only a couple of lines, and I imagine with this much dismissal of what I've been saying already you will call it much ado about nothing, but its there, HS kids are a pain in the ass to scout. Now its always a good idea to take anything Sabean says with a grain of salt, but that bothered me before the draft even happened.

      Rick Porcello eh? Well, everybody knows the Giants should have drafted Mike Stanton with their comp pick for losing... Mike Stanton. Can we bury the hatchet please? While I enjoy debate from time to time, there are a ton of other aspects of our favorite bezball team worth discussion.

    10. Do you think acquiring a player like Hunter Pence at the trade deadline is not "going all out in the acquisition of raw talent?" Also, the Giants minor league talent was obviously good enough to land Pence at the deadline and still not exactly ravage the farm system.

    11. You're blowing what I consider minor issues out of proportion. Clayton Blackburn will be in our top 5 on most lists next year. As few as 2 moves (but hopefully more) like that in draft 2012 and I wouldn't have said a critical word, and this silliness wouldn't have happened.

      You are neglecting every other thing I've written at WTGCTT and OGC and focusing on the draft criticism to the point of comedy. I guess I have to quote Roger Craig here: don't let it get your dauber down!

      I will say there was some interesting behind the scenes to get that salary accepted with Pence, and Rosin was the extra cost to get that salary relief. Raw talent would be farm related, not proven talent, which would be MLB related.

      Could you just accept the olive branch I offered and stop being a debbie downer? That would be nice.



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