It’s June, and everyone is just waiting for the big name prospects to be called up. Definitely an exciting time. My friends in my competitive leagues keep asking me about Stephen Strasburg and what I think he’ll do. They always preface this with, “Honestly,” because they have come to know a critical point-of-view from my end when I attempt to predict rookie stats. I preface my remarks with, “Seriously, I think …” Well, what do I think? Grey thinks this and this. I think Grey sums it up better than any other expert has.
Strasburg may have lost his last outing on May 29, but the hype should remain. One important thing of note, in 2008, while at college, he pitched 97 1/3 innings and in 2009, pitched 103 innings. With 50 1/3 innings this year in the minors, you will be lucky to see those 100 innings of major league pitching that Grey was predicting. I would expect something along the lines of 85 to 90 innings. If the Nationals are in contention for a playoff berth, and that is a big if, his starts will probably be rationed. You’ve been warned. Now, when he pitches well upon his call-up, and he will, trade him. Maybe not right away, but eventually, when his inning limit is nearing, or fatigue from pitching so many innings, trade him. Grey may not tell you this, but I believe you’ll pull in better value if you trade his limited innings at the end of the season.
One last note, remember Pat Venditte, the switching pitching prospect? Well, here is an update via Fan Graphs and his Scouting the Unknown from last year for a refresher. He’s doing pretty well if you don’t want to read those articles.
Simon Castro | RHP – SP | San Diego Padres | DOB: 4-9-88 | 6′ 5” | 211 lbs | B/T: R/R | Dominican Republic – signed 2006 | SD #2 ranked prospect according to Baseball America (2010) | MiLB Player Page
The Cube: Control (53) | K-Rating (76) | Efficiency (64) | vs. Power (47)
About a month ago, I was asked about Castro in the fantasy baseball forums. I wrote about him briefly in the San Diego Padres Minor League Review during the off season. I wrote, “Baseball America’s [predicted] breakout prospect (ranked #14) pulled through … throwing a dominating slider and fastball that peaks at 97-98 mph that averages between 92 to 95 mph. He improved his walk rate and [kept] his strikeouts near his prior performance. Look for him to start in High-A with a quick promotion to Double-A and a possible promotion to Triple-A or the majors by mid-August.” High-A, psh! He skipped it entirely while on his way to the Texas League (Double-A) where he is annihilating his opponents.
The 2010 Baseball America has him throwing his fastball at 92 to 93 mph while working the lower part of the strike zone where he pitches with good “life.” When he rises up the ladder with his fastball, he can clock in anywhere from 96 to 98 mph. His slider is described as “nasty” by Baseball America and Keith Law calls it a “plus” potential pitch – meaning it would be a plus pitch if he consistently threw it over for a strike. Along with a stellar fastball and a potential plus slider, his changeup is just mediocre (FWIW, John Sickels says its usable). Either way, Law claims Castro’s “arsenal is legit,” and Baseball America already calls his fastball a “swing-and miss” pitch. Best, slightly worse, and worse case scenario – assuming he makes the majors since there is always a possibility of injury: Number two starter; could potentially be a great closer, or a power reliever. Much of his potential being reached lies in his ability to control his pitches. Let’s look at his stats to see what else we can decipher.
2010 Stats: 7.2 K/9 | 2.6 BB/9 | 51 1/3 IP | 1.75 ERA | 3.46 FIP | .96 WHIP | .5 Hr/9 | 6 H/9 | .226 BABIP | 63.3 GB% | 11.6 LD% | 21.8 FB% | 9.4% Hr/F
Career Stats: 9.5 K/9 | 3.4 BB/9 | 354 1/3 IP | 3.81 ERA | 3.56 FIP | 1.24 WHIP | .5 Hr/9 | 7.8 H/9 | .296 BABIP | 46.7 GB% | 13 LD% | 35.6 FB% | 5.9 Hr/F
Keep in mind, the Texas League is the better hitting environment in Double-A (out of three leagues). Lucky for Simon Castro, San Antonio, where he calls home, is the best place to pitch historically while playing in the Texas League. This year, it’s playing a bit more neutral, but it’s such a small sample size that I wouldn’t give it much credence. He has a slight platoon difference this year with right-handed hitters posting a .154 batting average against and left-handed batters posting a .237 batting average against. Nothing a small sample size can’t push aside, especially with that ridiculously low BABIP this year (.226 BABIP).
As all the scouting reports have bemoaned, he struggles with his control. However, since his breakout campaign in 2009, he has thrown 91 2/3 innings and posted a 2.5 BB/9. Before, Castro was walking 4 BB/9. Last year, he posted a 10.1 K/9, and this year he isn’t nearly as dominate since he is only striking out 7.2 batters per nine innings. I am tempted to contribute this to the large jump in hitters’ skills as he missed High-A and the fact he’s 22 while his competition is 25. He doesn’t give up many home runs, but his career HR/FB percent is on the low end. One more important thing about his stats this year, his ground ball ratio is 17 percent higher than his career average, and nearly 24 percent higher than last year. Some of this is contributed to his low BABIP and I would assume by the end of the year it will be more line with his career average (46.7 GB%). However, I can’t assume he hasn’t started throwing his “lively” fastball more down in the zone with fewer blazing high fastballs. That is one possibility. If you know more, please comment.
Since this is a fantasy baseball site, what do I expect of Castro? This year, a potential September call-up if the Padres aren’t in contention, and if they are, probably a mid-August call-up. In the future? A pitcher who can provide you with 7.5 to 8 K/9, 3 BB/9, a high 3 to low 4 ERA, and a 1.25 to 1.30 WHIP in his early years. That’s assuming he is a starter. If he is in the bullpen, add a strikeout, keep the same walks, and take the low end of the ratio stats. In Dynasty leagues, I would value you him like Christian Friedrich, Tanner Scheppers, Casey Crosby, Jordan Lyles, and over guys like Cashner, Mike Montgomery, and Travis Wood. Remember, he’s a San Diego Padre. All in unison – Hodgepadres.
Mike Moustakas | 3B | Kansas City Royals | DOB: 9-11-88 | 6′ 0” | 195 lbs | B/T: L/R | Drafted 2007, rd. 1, pick 2 | KC #4 ranked prospect according to Baseball America (2010) | MiLB Player Page
The Cube: Power (82) | Batting (54) | Speed (48) | Contact (70) | Patience (36)
Talk about a fickle bunch of people. After last year’s disappointing season, where Moustakas hit .250/.297/.421 in 492 at-bats, all the experts found ways to write him off. Shoot, I would too if I didn’t look deeper. Hitting like Carlos Gomez isn’t supposed to bring you praise. Drafted with the second overall pick in 2007, the Royals received California High School’s all-time career home run hitter and single season home run champion. He has plus raw power and a stellar arm, good hand-eye coordination, quick wrists, a mechanically sound swing, and excellent bat speed. Defensively, he is average at best, often called “rough,” and, “needs work,” and, “probably will play first or right field.” Although his weight is listed at 195 pounds in all my scouting reports, MiLB has him listed at 230 pounds. If MiLB is correct, then Sickels assessment about a “bad body – thick around the waist and thighs,” would be confirmed. However, he goes on to mention that sabermetrically, his defense actually comes out above-average. Three more negatives, he tends to become pull conscious and he struggles hitting breaking pitches – always has – and he has slightly below average plate discipline.
What went wrong in 2009? How about the worst home ballpark in the High-A Carolina league. During my Minor League Ballpark Review, Wilmington had Homer Factors of .84 and is easily the best pitcher park. Moustakas slashed .205/.266/.373 at home and .292/.331/.473 on the road. If I provided you with only the road slash line, everyone would be touting Moustakas as the next George Brett (not to get confused with Alex Gordon, who used to be the next George Brett). He also became extremely pull-conscious and didn’t adjust to pitchers throwing him tons of breaking balls at all times in the count. How is his 2010 season faring? Glad you asked:
2010 Stats: .374/.459/.764 | 123 AB | 24 XBH | 12 Hr | .290 ISO | 0/1 SB/CS | 20:17 K:BB | .386 BABIP | 31.1 GB% | 21.3 LD% | 46.6 FB%
Career Stats: .274/.336/.478 | 1152 AB | 129 XBH | 50 Hr | .204 ISO | 18/11 SB/CS | 204:96 K:BB | .297 BABIP | 38.9 GB% | 15.1 LD% | 45.7 FB%
Looks like someone is stoked to leave the Carolina league! This year he is making good contact and posting a respectable strikeout-to-walk ratio, raking the ball for extra base hits (.290 ISO), and it’s all bolstered by a high BABIP (.386) compared to his career average (.297 BABIP). In his career, he has hit about 30 points lower and slugged 8o points lower against lefties and this year, he’s hitting better against lefties but continues to show more power against right-handed pitching. His home park is fairly neutral historically, so this isn’t a reason for his high output, besides the higher than normal BABIP. Some of this is definitely his talent, and some of this is luck. He continues to hit the ball in the air at a 46.6 percent clip, and his line-drive percentage is up six points – maybe this is part of the reason he’s doing so well. He’s making solid contact, not striking out a lot, and walking more than normal. His career K:BB is what Mark Reynolds strikes out and Adam Dunn walks in one season while he has done that in two seasons worth of at-bats. All of this is pointing towards a hitter who was suppressed more by his hitting environment in 2009, than a bust that many of the experts were calling him.
Future potential, a right fielder who can steal Nick Markakis’ nickname Sparkakis, hit for .275 to .280 average with 25 to 30 homers, between 7 and 10 steals, and become a fixture in the Royals lineup with Billy Butler. I’d say a pretty nice find if you were able to scoop him up for a few US Treasure Notes this past off season in Dynasty Leagues. His major league ETA, sometime in 2011, leaning towards June, or late summer. There is a possibility he could see a September call-up if he is promoted to Triple-A this summer.