If you ask a fan who the Marlins top prospects are, they would likely know. They would know that Michael Stanton has a lot of power and a lot of strikeouts, that Cameron Maybin has 5 tools, and so forth.
But what exactly does this mean in terms of production?
Generally speaking for hitters, you are who you are. Unlike pitchers, whos stats can be deceiving, a hitter periphally will be around the same in the majors as he is in the minors. These being walk percent, strikeout percent, batting average of balls in play, and isolated power. With these four pieces of information, you can say what a hitters BA/OBP/SLG line will be.
Now they won’t perfectly transfer over. Walks will normally go down and strikeouts up as batters face pitchers with better control and stuff. Power doesn’t normally cap until a player is in the 25-27 range and age relative to league is important to consider. A 25 year old with a .200 ISO in AA is not the same as a 20 year old with a .200 ISO on the same team. The hope for a young hitter that hits a lot of doubles but not HRs is that those doubles then turn into HRs as his body progress. However, power isn’t automatically going to go up. Better defenses mean less doubles and triples for the ones that do stay in the park, which is big factor for guys with low power/high speed. Improved defense (aswell as pitching) also means that a hitters BABIP almost always goes down from minors to majors.
Something to understand though is that batting stats can be a smoke screen as well. Just because a guy walks a lot in the minors does not mean he will walk a lot in the majors. For example, David Eckstein walked 13% of the time. But in the majors he has walked at only half of that at 6.5%. Why is this? Lack of power, as can be seen by his.076 MLB ISO and .097 MILB ISO. Because of his lack of power, pitchers in the majors attack him more, and you can only walk if you’re thrown balls. Like wise, Dan Uggla’s walk% has improved because of his increase in power.
There is more to being a good player than just hitting and that’s with defense and baserunning. And with those, we can only assume what a player will be based off scouting reports. In the case of BR, it does not have that big of an impact; most players are between - and +1 run with the best being in the double digits and the worst being in the negative double digits. We also can get a rough estimate of how “baseball fast” a guy is thanks to the Speed Score stat. With defense, generally speaking a guy is statistically around what he is in the scouting reports. There’s certainly some variation, but we can only go off what information we have at the time.
Now, with all of that said, let’s begin. I’m going to start with Cameron Maybin, who will probably be up in the majors again soon. He was disapointing in his time up at the start of the year but has been lighting it up in New Orleans as of late. First allow us to look at his minor league line.
As we can see, he walks a good amount but also strikes out a lot. He has above average power with a 0.175 ISO but also only averages 16 HRs over 150 games. His BABIP is very high as to be expected from somebody who hits a lot of GBs and with his speed.
The main thing to understand with Maybin is his groundball rates. One of the things scouts loved about him is that he has the potential to sit in the 25-30 HR range. The problem is he has a career GB% of 56% and it’s 57% this season. Guys with that high of GB rates just don’t hit for that kind of power. If he’s able to get into the low 50’s, he can be a 20-25 HR guy asome hitters have been able to. But most likely he will sit in the 15-20 HR range. There is the chance he reworks his swing and starts living up to his power potential, but most likely this will not happen.
The one positive of his GB rates is that, with his speed, he should always have a high BABIP. No, it won’t be his .400 MILB number, but it should sit in the mid 300’s. But even with his high BABIP his K rates will keep him from hitting for a very good average as he’ll likely continue to strike out more than once every 4 AB. A positive to look at is the fact he’s only striking out 19% of the time in AAA this season, showing that he has the potential to get his K rate down.
Defensively it’s no surprise that he is considered a plus defender with his speed aswell as having a plus arm.. His routes could still use some work but his speed has been able to overcome these mistakes. In his limited time in the majors, the numbers back this up; He has a +2.3 UZR (+15 in 150 games) and a +4 Plus Minus (+18/150). That’s a small sample size and he likely will not continue to be that good, but he is still expected to be a very good defensive centerfielder. Likewise, his base running is expected to be a positive. He hasa 7.2 MLB speed score after posting a 7.3 speed score in the minors. He steals a good amount of bases (34 SB over 150 games) at a high rate (79% success rate). In his limited time, he has a posted a 3.7 EQBRR (or Baserunning Runs), which translates to 13 runs over 150 games. Like defense, it likely won’t continue to be that high, but he should continue to create a lot of runs on the base paths.
Taking all of this into consideration we come to:
What most likely happens: He still strikes out too much to have a good average and hits to many groundballs to have anything better than an average ISO. His mid .700 OPS will likely piss off a lot of Marlin fans because of what was traded to get him, but his defense and baserunning still allows him to be a well above average player. He will likely be a 4-5 win player throughout his career, which is normally a top 5-7 CFer in all of baseball.
Best case scenerio: His GB rates fall down to the low 40’s, allowing for his power to really break out. His pitch recognition really improves and doesn’t strikeout nearly as much. A 8-9 win is where the best players land; if he’s not the #1 CFer, he’s #1A. I need to stress that this likely will not happen. It’s possible, the Marlin’s own Hanley Ramirez is an example of a player that went from being a mid-50% GB hitter in the minors to a low-40% in the majors, hence why he’s hit for so much more power. But you can not bank on a player being Hanley Ramirez.
Worst case scenerio: He’s just not able to improve his strikeout rate and his GB rate is too much to overcome, as his lack of power this year in AAA is for real. He essentailly becomes a (on the high power end) slap hitter with defense and speed, allowing him to still be a good enough CFer but also very replacable.