I’m going to drop the Toronto Blue Jays minor league report on Wednesday. They’ve got this dude Vladimir Guerrero Jr. that seems pretty hot to trot. Since we’re ahead of schedule on the previews, I decided to pull on the reins and stop and think about what makes Vlad Jr. so good. I think it will be helpful. It will explain how guys like me and you who have day job(s) and families evaluate prospects without actually getting to see them in person. We’ve got videos, stats, and real scouting reports to go by…and that’s about it. So how come Vlad is such a consensus top prospect? According to NFBC, he’s getting drafted 37th overall…as high as 17th. That’s pretty remarkable. It’s right after Anthony Rizzo and a few picks before the likes of Carlos Carrasco, Khris Davis, and dare I say it Adalberto Mondesi. Ya know, guys who have actually played in the majors. So let’s do it. Let’s break down Vlad Jr. and in turn pull back the curtain on how I (try to) break down prospects in general.

The Most Important Tool – Being able to hit a baseball. Baseball is a cool sport because you don’t have to be a genetic freak to hit a baseball. John Kruk was one of my favorite players growing up. He was built like my alcoholic neighbor, looked like my bus driver, and hit .300 in his ten-year career. Point is I don’t put a ton of stock into body types or buzz words like “incredible athlete” when it comes to baseball prospects. Can they hit or not? That’s my first question. Another reason I think this is the most important tool is that it tends to last. Speed doesn’t. Power might take time to develop. But the ability to straight up hit can be impactful immediately and last an entire career. Vlad Jr. can hit a baseball.

Patience – Being able to take a walk. Walking is kind of boring but it’s important. It shows that a player can lay off crap pitches – selecting those that he can do something with instead. Prospects often haven’t learned to do this yet. So when I look at prospects, I get especially excited by walk rates around or above 10% and strikeout rates below 20%. I get especially especially excited when the two rates are close to equal. That tells me the player is selective and it tends to yield good results in the upper levels of the minors and eventually the Bigs. For example, Vlad’s walk rate in 2018 was 9%. His strikeout rate was also 9%. Across four levels. Vlad Jr. can take a walk.

Age Versus Level – Being able to hang with older/more experienced players. If you have kids, you probably see this principle already. We’re going to push our son Tony up a level. He’s only eight, but they want him with the ten-year-olds. If the kid is that good, he’ll succeed against better competition, and even if he doesn’t, he’ll learn more by playing up. The upper minors (AA/AAA) are full of prospects between the ages of 21 and 25. So when you see a teenager kiss those levels, it’s a neon sign that they’re good. Vlad Jr. is about to make the majors at 19. In 2018, Vlad Jr. had 110 plate appearances in AAA. He slashed .336/.414/.564 with six homers. Vlad Jr. can hang with older/more experienced players.

Intangibles – Having the pedigree/makeup to be successful. This is true for everything we do in life – every profession. There are people who play above their actual talent level because they work hard. They learn from their mistakes. They find mentors and actually listen to them. Same for baseball. Good makeup is just those things listed above and applied to baseball. If you’re an uber-talented asshat, you might not make it on talent alone. It also helps to have baseball in the blood. Genes are real, and so is the advice and experience of family members who have done it before you. Nature and nurture and all that. Vlad Jr. has the pedigree and makeup to be successful.

So there you have it. You might think I’m oversimplifying it, but it’s the truth. Those are my go-to factors for “good” versus “not-as-good” versus “bad” prospects. There isn’t anything there that can’t be gleaned from a stat line or a widely-published scouting report, so hopefully it helps you when you’re trying to find good specs for your fantasy squad(s). Go Iggles!

  1. Ante Galic says:
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    Mike!!

    Nice VGJ fantasy report!

    a. Wow, between 17 and 37?? He can’t be as good as Krush, even if it takes him a while to get warm with the BA.

    b. No factoids today, all factoided out. Chad is a pretty insignificant country. Oh and the two jobs I applied for in Chad (Moissala and Gore refer) have had the positions cancelled. I was like, man, just when I’m a shoe-in to get a job in a hell hole where no one in their right mind wants to go and they go and cancel the positions – both, even! Even my HR department thinks that Chad is insignificant.

    c. Now that you’ve twisted my arm…

    Little-known factoid about Chad for January 6

    Mike, I thought I knew something about Chad after my scant 20 months living there! Guess who knows more? Practically the entire world but look at how well the CIA knows Chad!!! I was floored and will never quote any more little-known factoids about Chad ever again!

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/print_cd.html

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Thanks man!
      a.I was shocked!
      b. damn!
      c. good lord!

      • Ante Galic says:
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        @Mike: Mike!!

        True story!

        ‘member the time a couple of weeks ago I called you Grey? Well, believe it or not, I came this close to calling Grey Mike on Friday. My subconscious brain beat up my conscious brain and Frank Voila it didn’t happen. But I’m pretty sure the reason my conscious tried to pull a fast one was…to make up for the hurt you felt when I called you Grey. But then two Wongs don’t make up a right so…

        Cheers,
        Ante

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          Lol…the mind is a far out place man.

    • Tommy Herr says:
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      @Ante Galic: krush will likely bat .247, hit 40 bombs. If vladdy bats .300 and hits 30 bombs? Assuming the runs and rbis are close i could see vladdy finishing with a higher value than davis. The point of what floors you are setting yourself up for in your first 3-4 picks i think is valid for taking davis over vlad but if you think he performs close to what steamer says? Might not even be that close.

      • Mike

        Mike says:
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        yes! this is what’s wild…it’s known versus (somewhat) unknown in those early middle rounds…great point on how you structure a team early.

  2. SwaggerJackers says:
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    I like the upside but there is no way I’m taking a player at 37 overall who’s never played in the majors and isn’t contributing to fantasy teams to start the season.

    Fantrax ADP has him at 56, which is a little more tolerable, but still too rich for my blood.

    ESPN’s early rankings have him at 82 around players like Tim Anderson, Dozier, and Wil Myers. That feels like the right spot to roll the dice.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Yeah I was legit surprised by that ADP. Agreed, I usually don’t start messing with prospects in straight redrafts until at least pick 100 or so. I think there’s this feeling of missing out on the next Trout, etc. that causes people to reach, but I’m no shrink haha.

  3. you usually predict the MLB stats In a 5×5 OBP what’s Vlad’s in ’19 and in how many AB’s ??

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Steamer says 490ish ABs and a.368 OBP.

  4. Grey

    Grey says:
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    This was awesome! So what’s Tony’s patience and hit tool like?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Thanks Grey! Lol…Tony can do it all man. His parents told me so!

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Tony should be like, “I got a 80 on my math test, which is the highest score a prospect can get as you know, father.”

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          ha!

    • Ante Galic says:
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      @Grey: Grey!!

      Fancy meeting you here sailor!!

      Imagine this guy was favored to beat Iron Mike Tyson in their fight on September 6, 1986 because he had size 17 boxing shoes! Man, if I could have bought stock in Mike Tyson and cashed out after the Trevor Berbick fight!! I’d be rich, man.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfonso_Ratliff

      Cheers,
      Ante

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Ah, yes, that small period of time when the most important thing for boxers was their shoe size…

        • Ante Galic says:
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          @Grey: Grey!!!!

          If only clown boots Duke from the Rays could have used that for a better contract.

          Cheers,
          Ante

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            HA!

  5. Walter Sobchak says:
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    As a long-suffering Jays fan, this year will be a struggle but the youth movement in TO is real!

    Unrelated – did you read Waxman’s article talking up Jazz Chisholm? If so, what did you think of it? I liked it for the most part but also thought it cherrypicked numbers a bit to back his case.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Let’s go Jays!

      I haven’t read it but I will check it out now that you’ve told me. Sounds interesting.

  6. Mike L says:
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    In our all keeper dynasty I threw out the idea that I’d give up Trout and Severino to get VG, Robles, and Snell. Now I’ve been told I’m crazy to give up Trout which I might be…especially since I have a team built to win now. But my sense is that Robles can be a top 30 pick next year and Snell and Severino are a push but this guy is a Yanks fan. But its Trout.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      As a Trout owner in a 5-year keeper I’ll say that the answer is almost always to just keep Trout. You’re right, Robles could be T30 next year. What you’re basically looking at is VG and Robles for Trout since I agree the 2 arms are a wash. I’d hold if it was me and I had an open window. You’re not crazy to consider it though.

  7. TroyKlauder

    TroyKlauder says:
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    Go Birds!!

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Let’s do it! Lookin good so far…

  8. Nolorado says:
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    Hoskins or Story in a dynasty league?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Story

      • Nolarado says:
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        @Mike: Thanks MIKE!!!!!!!!!!! You picked the one I wanted you to pick. :)

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          ha! no problem

  9. goodfold2 says:
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    mid 3rd round now in the 30 team 6 round draft with now a 40 slot prospect slot max. i’ve got the 20th in all rounds (we do have some supplementals after rounds 1-3 though so the total picks in draft are 199, we’re on pick 85 and just of today got under 1.5 hours per pick (very fast). i got victor to the 2nd and mallrats guy from NJ (k.smith TOR SS/3B) so far. however this is first year our minor slots stopped just going up 5 per year, so i got drops to make. SOOOO many of these guys pan out into nothing that i have tons to drop, just seeing the best ones. till draft is over i won’t need to drop them, as i can leave them in active slots till then. (open FA is after the draft). we have 1 C, 2 CI, 2 MI, 3 OF, 1 util for hitters starting, 3 SP, 3 RP, 3 P for pitchers starting. 25 total active slots. 4 IR slots. it’s 6×6 with OPS/holds added.

    i already put sherfy RP ARI into active slot, he played very well last year in small sample but with no leverage.

    my guys:
    the great: trammell OF (traded away beltre when barely had value left), jo adell OF (1.22 last year, WAY late), kirilloff OF (my 1st rounder the same year acuna was available at my pick but the info on prospects was much less back then to merge 1st year lists with big time previous season risers (or at least i was much worse at it, clearly), it might go down as my most rued fantasy decision ever eventually)

    the very good: victor victor OF (1.20 this year), k.smith MI/CI (2.20 this year), vientos CI/MI (last year drafted 3rd round), paredes MI DET (2nd round last year)

    the good: will crowe SP WAS (middle last year), staumont RP (i think drafted back when you were still here last time), j.guzman RP/SP MIA (last year’s 2nd rounder, ralph was VERY high on him at time), e.rios CI LAD (ralph loved and got in last round 2 years ago), AA tejeda MI TEX (late 2 years ago pretty sure)

    the hopefully good: will craig CI PIT (finally hitting with wooden bats), demerrite MI ATL, ellis CI ARI (last year end of draft), kilome SP/RP NYM (ralph loved about 2 years ago), sauer SP NYY (last year late), diplan SP MIL (2 years ago middle), p. gonzalez OF TEX (middle some years ago)

    the hopefully servicable at some point: a.smith SP SD (middle maybe 2 years ago), cozens OF PHI (middle some years ago), b.martin SP TEX, g.whitley OF TB (1st rounder in his draft year), padlo CI TB (middle some years ago while at COL), mauricio cabrera RP WSOX, a.rondon MI TB (middle some years ago), mags sierra OF MIA (late some year)

    the had some upside at some point but no results: rj alvarez RP MIA, c.brannen OF BOS (last year late), v.garcia OF STL (2 years ago late), dj davis OF TOR (cheap trade), denton CI/OF STL (fairly early about 2 years ago), g.lavalley CI CIN (fairly early when you were previously here), kubitza CI ATL, okey C CIN (middle some year), o’connor C TB (middle further ago)

    the whatever, maybe only had a floor: salcedo MI ATL, d.alvarez OF FA- ex BAL (cheap trade), v.reyes OF DET, tocci OF TEX, all were late picks.

    so eventually i’ll have to promote or drop 4 more of these after promoting sherfy.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Nice! Tocci!

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Mike: yeah i think the tocci drafted was for sure when you were in charge round here back when he was PHI guy. so i guess don’t drop tocci of the 4 then. he might’ve been part of the nick williams flip between TEX-PHI memory seems to tell me they moved at similar times.

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          He’s interesting. White Sox claimed him and flipped to Texas for cash monies.

  10. Nuke Laloosh says:
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    I jusr traded Manny and Phillip Lindsay for Vlad and a third round mlb prospect pick in a three sport league and don’t even remotely feel bad about it. Lots of good prospects available.

    Great write up.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Nice! Thank you!

  11. Jake Foos says:
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    I’m paying $33 to keep him in an auction league ($260 cap) that I’m in. I picked him up midseason last year so that amount is Rotowire value + $5 and I will have the option to keep him next year for $38.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Nice! I haven’t looked at many auction calcs yet but I think he came in around $20 at Fangraphs when I did a 12-team $260.

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