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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Schoenfield: Ten breakout players to watch for 2014

These are 10 players I like heading into the season, five position players and five pitchers. I’m calling them breakout candidates, although if you’re a fantasy player, you already know about them. You always have to be wary about projecting too much growth in a young player—many fantasy owners have been ruined by falling prey to prospect hype—but these are 10 young players I’d love to have in 2014.

Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres: He had an impressive rookie season with 23 home runs in 125 games, although a .249 average and .301 on-base percentage leaves room for improvement. Still, his season went pretty unrecognized for several reasons: (1) He plays for the Padres, and (2) it was such a strong rookie class in the National League that there wasn’t much attention left over after Jose Fernandez, Yasiel Puig, Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran; (3) His splits made for an odd season, as he hit .272 with eight home runs in the first half, .226 with 15 home runs in the second half.

Gyorko needs to consolidate those two approaches. Some of that difference came from a big split in BABIP—.325 in the first half and .245 in the second half, but he did start chasing more pitches out of the strike zone in the second half (34 percent compared to 30 percent). He was a .321 hitter in the minors, so if he can reign in the over-aggressiveness just a bit I think his average and OBP will come up. He hit 13 of his 23 home runs at Petco and hit 30 in the minors in 2012, so the power is definitely legit.

Thanks to Vacc.

Repoz Posted: January 25, 2014 at 07:49 AM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mlb

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   1. TerpNats Posted: January 25, 2014 at 09:50 AM (#4646143)
Glad to see Rendon make the list; I only hope he can pan out at second base (though he could wind up back at third in 2015 if Zimmerman becomes a regular first baseman).
   2. Harry Balsagne, anti-Centaur hate crime division Posted: January 25, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4646180)
Josmil Pinto, C, Minnesota Twins: You never want to count too much on a young catcher -- we’ve seen top hitting prospects like Devin Mesoraco and Jesus Montero struggle mightily at the big league level -- but the Twins are moving Joe Mauer to first base due to their confidence in Pinto. His 21-game stint in the majors was obviously impressive (.342, five doubles and four home runs in 83 plate appearances) but he has hit very well the past two seasons in the minors, including a .309/.400/.482 line between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013. I like his discipline -- 66 walks, 83 strikeouts in the minors -- and his arm is solid (threw out five of 11 basestealers with the Twins). The Twins brought in veteran Kurt Suzuki, but playing him would be a mistake. Pinto needs to get 450 to 500 plate appearances as the regular catcher. I think he’ll hit enough and play well enough behind the plate to give manager Ron Gardenhire little option but to do just that.


I have zero confidence that Gardenhire will be able to resist the nice, big, juicy, red-faced veteran dangling in front of him. My guess is Pinto languishes in AAA until Suzuki is a pile of goo.
   3. DL from MN Posted: January 25, 2014 at 11:44 AM (#4646187)
The upside with catcher is you usually can't get by with fewer than two of them. As a backup Pinto will still probably play 75 games. As a starter he'd play around 95. I'm fine with breaking in a rookie catcher slowly. The travesty would be if he doesn't come north with the team in April and we see Eric Fryer instead.
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: January 25, 2014 at 11:49 AM (#4646193)
The upside with catcher is you usually can't get by with fewer than two of them. As a backup Pinto will still probably play 75 games. As a starter he'd play around 95. I'm fine with breaking in a rookie catcher slowly. The travesty would be if he doesn't come north with the team in April and we see Eric Fryer instead.


Catcher is one of those positions that you can't play super 2 arby roulette with. The more exposure they get to the big league club, the better they will be at handling the pitching staff. Don't know anything about Pinto, but if he's a legitimate prospect, and is ready, they have to bring him up from the start of spring training. Too much lost learning if not.
   5. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 25, 2014 at 12:50 PM (#4646222)
Didi Gregorius, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks: When Kevin Towers acquired Gregorius from the Reds last offseason in a three-team deal, the trade was widely criticized since Arizona surrendered Trevor Bauer, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft. But Towers loved Gregorius’ defense and Bauer had worn out his welcome in Arizona. Gregorius missed some time with injuries as a rookie but showed more potential with the bat than many expected, hitting .252/.332/.372, and showing the ability to turn on some pitches with seven home runs.


He had 3 HR in a Ruthian burst that lasted for his first 8 games of 2013. His remaining 95 games he hit .235/.320/.327/.647 with 4 HR.

He is a career .273/.324/.381/.705 minor league hitter who was never particularly young for his levels. He averaged 7 HR per 150 games against minor league pitching.

He has neither power, batting eye, or patience, and never has.


He’s never going to be an offensive star, but he puts the ball in play, and if he can improve against left-handers (.200/267/.245), his numbers will look pretty good for a shortstop. If his defensive proves to be as strong as Towers sold us on them (the defensive runs saved metric had him at minus-1 run in 2013), he has a chance to be a very good player. His fantasy value may be limited by his lack of offensive skills, but I believe Gregorius can turn into a championship-caliber shortstop.


Championship caliber on what, a AA team?

If wishes were fishes, we'd all win at poker every day. The idea that a career no hit, all glove shortstop whose glove has never graded out as extraordinarily strong is suddenly going to take a huge leap forward is unfounded in anything the author wrote. I think "very unlikely" is the most charitable phrase to use to describe this delusion.
   6. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 25, 2014 at 01:04 PM (#4646228)
I think the author has no concept of reversion to the mean. I was offered a bet on whether Didi would hit 10 hone runs in 2013, and mistakenly passed on betting against him because he already had 3 very quickly, and had hit them at a higher rate in AAA ( albeit some in homeriffic Reno of the PCL) so if he indeed had developed late power I'd be a big dog. I couldn't get a bet down against him hitting .300 for the season, sadly.

Jedd Gyorko hit .321/.386/.530/.916 in the minors, betting on him having a "break out year" is simply betting his obvious skills will translate to the MLB.

Betting that a mediocre performer coming off a surprising season will exceed it the next requires evidence of real improvement, not just positive variance, otherwise 90% of the time reversion to the mean crushes you.
   7. Brian Posted: January 25, 2014 at 01:16 PM (#4646231)
Oddly, the video props different players than the article, substituting Eaton, Wong and Profar for Gregorius and Rendon.

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