Comparing Fernando Martinez and Carlos Triunfel
In response to, erm, questions about Martinez’s absence from the Top 100, I’m going to do a little analysis of these two prospects. I hope this can do two things:
1. Shed a little light on how I evaluate prospects.
2. Give some pub for Carlos Triunfel, who is, in my opinion, the most interesting prospect in baseball.
People speak of statistics-oriented analysis as if it’s just BA/OBP/SLG, when those are not very good indicators at all; way too much luck involved in those. I mean, BA isn’t even meaningful for major leaguers, and the only utility it has for prospects is to put OBP and SLG into context (ie. a .280/.380/.500 hitter is far different from a .320/.380/.500 hitter).
Even OBP and SLG lose a lot of meaning. For one, they’re often very BA driven, so if a player is getting very lucky (think Mat Gamel or Max Ramirez) or unlucky (think Matt Antonelli), they can be quite misleading. Also, minor league baseball has more extremes than the majors. There’s a bigger difference in hitter’s and pitcher’s parks in the minors than in the majors (look at Lancaster, for instance). You even have entire leagues which are hitting and pitcher oriented. Plus, you have to take into account the level of talent you’re playing against far more than in the majors. Let’s look at a practical example in Martinez and Triunfel.
Let’s take Carlos Triunfel, who I rate very highly, and Fernando Martinez, who I don’t. This year, Triunfel is hitting .276/.325/.393 as an 18-year-old in High-A, while Martinez is hitting .292/.332/.420 as a 19-year-old in Double-A. On the surface, they’re quite comparable, but I have Triunfel ranked 38th while Martinez wasn’t all that close to the Top 100. Why? Let’s take a closer look.
Triunfel 2007 (13 Rk PA, 164 A PA, 225 A+ PA): .296/.333/.367, 110 H, 18 2B, 4 3B, 0 HR, 55 K (13.7%), 17 BB (4.2%), 20.0 XBH% (% of hits that go for extra bases)
Triunfel 2008 (363 A+ PA): .276/.325/.393, 92 H, 17 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 35 K (9.6%), 21 BB (5.8%), 27.2 XBH%
What you see there is improvement in every facet of the game. Less Ks, more BBs, hitting for power much more frequently, and spending the whole season at High-A. Even though his slash stats look similar, those are two very different seasons.
Martinez 2007 (259 AA PA): .265/.331/.376, 64 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 51 K (19.7%), 20 BB (7.7%), 25.0 XBH%
Martinez 2008: (277 AA PA): .292/.332/.420, 75 H, 12 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 56 K (20.2%), 14 BB (5.1%), 26.7 XBH%
What you see there is stagnation. Despite solid leaps in both BA and SLG, the only significant change is a sharp drop in his walk rate. (2.6% is quite a bit). The only difference is that this year Martinez has gotten very lucky with BABIP, as 35.7% of balls in play are falling for hits. Minorleaguesplits.com’s park and luck adjustments place his ‘true’ line at .258/.301/.379; whether you’re 19 or 25, that’s not good.
The difference between Triunfel and Martinez goes even further if you look at Triunfel’s second half:
~135 PA, .346/.391/.528, 44 H, 8 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 8 K (6.0%), 7 BB (5.2%), 29.5 XBH%
He won’t hit .346, of course, but he continues to make great leaps towards reaching his ceiling.
That’s a lot of numbers, so let’s go beyond that.
Carlos Triunfel started as a shortstop, but has moved to 2B as expected and all reports indicate he should be a fine defender there. His only significant injury was a broken thumb last year after being hit by a pitch. H’s had some problems with maturity, leading to a suspension handed down by the team this year, but there have been no issues since then. MiLB.com lists Triunfel as 5′11″ 175, but he’s definitely bigger than that right now. I’ve seen him listed as big as 6′2″ 180. The point is that he’s only 18, with plenty of growth likely in terms of both height and muscle.
Triunfel has really tremendous bat speed, so combined with his existing and projected strength, he should hit for a lot of power down the road. As you can tell from his amazing contact rates, he has excellent pitch recognition and is able to hit any pitch in any location to anywhere in the park.
Martinez currently plays CF, but he does not play it well, and he’ll be a major league LF or RF. Obviously you have higher offensive expectations for a COF than you would for a 2B. Unlike Triunfel, Martinez has had several injuries, including missing about half of last year with a contusion and a somewhat serious hamstring injury earlier this year. Heck, Martinez is out right now due to another hamstring injury. Martinez is listed at 6′1″ 190, so while he’s around Triunfel’s size right now, Triunfel is expected to be a little bigger.
Martinez has excellent bat speed and batting practice power, but in three years he’s never shown in-game like Triunfel has been doing this half.
Martinez and Triunfel have essentially the same walk rate (not a great one), and before this half have hit for similar power amounts (not a lot). They’re roughly a similar size. The similarities end there. Triunfel makes far better contact and has better pitch recognition. He plays 2B while Martinez will be a COF. Triunfel has a clean injury history, while Martinez’s is the opposite. Triunfel has shown consistent improvement, while Martinez has, at best, stayed the same.
Here’s the bottom line. Next year, Triunfel will be the same age and at the same level as Martinez this year. If Triunfel put up a similar season to what Martinez is doing this year, I would consider that a serious disappointment. That’s all I need to know.