Five Most Overrated Prospects In Baseball
On Saturday I covered Kyle Blanks, who I feel is one of the most underrated prospects in baseball. Today I’ll be going over the other side of the coin, the prospects who I feel receive much more praise than they deserve. Onward!
CF Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (BA: 14th, BP: 24th)
I’m sympathetic to the scouting circles, I really am. I completely agree that in the lower levels, stats have to take a back-seat. However, when a prospect graduates up to AAA and has been consistently mediocre, you need to start asking some questions. First and foremost among these is: what is so damned impressive about this guy?
The plate discipline McCutchen displayed in his first year is long gone. In the last two year, McCutchen has combined for 98 walks compared to 205 strikeouts in 1160 Plate Appearances. While he makes solid contact for his age, his inability to walk does not bode well.
This 5′11″, 175 lb behemoth is supposedly projected to hit for power. Not likely. His career SLG % is .422, and he has never slugged above .450 in any season. He has never hit more than 45 extra-base hits in a year. Doubles may eventually turn into home runs, but singles don’t.
A 20-year-old in AA looks pretty, but a .258/.327/.383 is terrible no matter how old you are.
RHSP Deolis Guerra, Minnesota Twins (BA: 35th, BP:79th)
Guerra is young and he throws pretty hard. That’s about it.
There are very few things that turn me off in baseball more than power pitchers who don’t strike guys out. His fastball touches 95 at times, which could increase as he develops, but he still struck out just 17.8% of batters he faced. If that number is meaningless to you, note that the only residents of my Top 100 Prospects list who struck out a lower percent of batters are Nick Adenhart and Justin Masterson, the latter being a ground-ball specialist.
When a power pitcher struggles to miss bats, the usual suspects are at least one of: a) Little movement on his fastball or b) Weak secondary stuff. In a case as extreme as Guerra’s it is likely both. In fact, before ranking him as the 79th prospect in baseball, Kevin Goldstein stated that he “doesn’t have a usable breaking ball.” Uh, Kevin, I think that qualifies as a slight red flag.
Not only does Guerra get hit, he gets hit hard. He gave up 9 home runs in 89.2 IP, and this was in the Florida State League, where only 4 players slugged above .500 and none above .550.
RHSP Carlos Carrasco, Philadelphia Phillies (BA: 54th, BP: 68th)
Carlos Carrasco, more than anybody else on this list, is a prospect I just don’t understand. I can see justification for other players, but what is the argument for Carrasco?
Carrasco has trouble with all three of the True Outcomes (K, BB, HR). He broke out in 2006 by striking out 24.7% of the batters he faced - not a spectacular amount but solid nonetheless. However, in 2005 and 2007 he struck out 15.0% and 17.1% of batters; even worse than Guerra.
In ‘05-’07 he has walked 8.5%, 10.1% and 11.4% of batters. Perhaps worst of all, in the same timeframe, he has given up 42 home runs. Cliff Notes: Guerra struggles to throw the ball in the strike zone. When he does throw it in the strike zone, hitters make contact. When hitters make contact, they hit it hard.
That’s not very good.
Unlike some other pitching prospects, Carrasco’s stuff shouldn’t be good enough to blind the scouts to his other shortcomings. Carrasco has an excellent change-up, but his fastball is clearly not fooling anybody and his curveball is nothing special, either.
1B Chris Davis, Texas Rangers (BA: 65th, BP: 74th)
Chris Davis hits for a lot of power. If you’re looking for more positives, don’t hold your breath.
Chris Davis slugged .598 last year, an astronomical amount that would usually send me drooling. However, this was put up in the friendly hitter’s confines of the High-A California League and the Double-A Texas League. He will continue to play in hitter’s parks in the PCL and, of course, Arlington. This should ensure he continues to put up gaudy power numbers.
However, this should not improve his prospect status. Prospects should be evaluated in a vacuum. It is no virtue of Chris Davis’ that he has been blessed with a run of hitter’s parks. Chris Davis hitting in PETCO park is not a worse hitter than Chris Davis in Arlington. His power numbers in a neutral situation would still be excellent, but not superhuman.
Besides his power, Davis’ line is ugly. That .598 SLG was combined with 150 Ks and 35 BBs in 542 PA. Both numbers are terrible, and they indicate Davis is getting by on pure power alone. As the pitchers become progressively more talented, his raw talent will be less valuable. A .250/.310/.480 line is NOT what you’d want from a first-baseman, but that seems to be an optimistic view on his major league line.
OF Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies (BA: 74th, BP: 92nd)
You don’t see very many .270/.370/.370 lines in the majors, and that is why I don’t think it’s likely that Fowler will have a productive major league career.
In the hitter’s haven of the California league, Fowler managed a .367 SLG. This is partly caused by a broken hand suffered in June, but even before the injury his IsoP (SLG - BA) was a meagre .135. Sure, it’s possible that a 6′4″ 21-year-old could add 30-40 pounds to his current weight of 175. However, that seems to be a very tall task, and even if it is achieved it does not guarantee a power surge. In times like this, I go back to my previously-mentioned rule of thumb: Doubles may turn into homers, singles probably won’t.
You may be able to dream on a young kid developing into a power hitter, but Fowler is now a 22-year-old hitting in Double-A, and he has a long way to go. He isn’t Daric Barton, who hit 52 XBH in 516 AB in AAA at 21-years-old. He had 14 XBH in 245 AB in High-A, and time is running out.