I’m already looking ahead to next season’s draft in many of my leagues — uhh, because I have the titles locked up, yeah, that’s it! — so of course, I’m taking a gander at the best value picks heading into 2016. I’m a big proponent of the power of a platoon split player being beneficial, particularly in deep leagues, and I’m a sucker for prospects. When those worlds collide I’m apt to do proverbial back-flips, and thus enter Michael Conforto. The 22-year-old had never faced Triple-A pitching, but the Mets called him up to the big leagues in late July anyway. Since being promoted from Double-A, he and big trade acquisition Yoenis Cespedes have torched opposing pitchers.
Conforto will be 23 by the time the 2016 season rolls around and in 164 big league plate appearances against righties, he’s posted a .290/.360/.545 line with all eight of his home runs. Sure it’s a small sample size, yet the left-handed hitter owns a modest .315 BABIP. It isn’t as if he’s been on a luck-fuel, seeing-eye-single boom, he’s made strong contact. Of the 340 hitters with at least 140 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, Conforto rates favorably across the board.
On top of the strong contact rates, via MLB’s Statcast, Conforto’s 93.6 mph average exit velocity on his hits ranks 22nd in baseball. Switching over to specifically the dingers, seven of his eight home runs would have been out in at least 20 ballparks, with a 383 foot wall scraper being the sole outlier according to ESPN’s Hit Tracker Online.
Switching gears to Conforto’s full line and not just platoon advantage triple slash, Conforto is still posting a standout rookie campaign I always like to give context for a player’s accomplishments — thus listing their ranking among their peers — so I did a bit of mining. Again, we’re not dealing with particularly large sample sizes here, but for rookies, age 23 or younger, Conforto is having a near historic season. Since 1969, the season the mound was lowered, there have been 1,976 rookie hitters who have accrued at least 170 PA’s and the Mets outfielder ranks tied at 120th with his .370 wOBA. Adjusted for his park, Conforto’s 140 wRC+ is tied at 48th among rookie seasons.
The 10th overall pick from 2014 amateur draft, the youngster has had high expectations heaped on him before he even took a minor league field. Various outlets had Conforto pegged in the top-100 of prospect lists heading into the year, ranging from Baseball America, Keith Law (Insider required), Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs and John Sickels of Minor League Ball to name just a few. This isn’t to highlight or criticize any site listed or not, just a reference point for showing Conforto’s prospect pedigree. Besides the SSS qualifiers, Conforto is showing enough right now against right-handers and is young enough and highly touted enough to be an everyday player in the near future.