FanPost

Projecting Florida Marlins Prospects: Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez


Logan Morrison

Logan is a very, very interesting case study, in that he's changed a lot in basically every single year he's been in the minors.

For a back story, he was drafted as a draft and follow by the Marlins in 2005. He ended up signing in May '06 and was just another player as an 18 year old in the GCL and NYPL.

'07 was a breakout of sorts. He was by no means a prospect house hold name, but several places like Future Fish (Ranked #23) and John Sickels (Ranked #17) rated him as an interesting power prospect. As a 19 year old, he hit 24 HRs in Greensboro with a HR/FB of 16.8%. However, that was the only thing he did well. His batting AVG was a poor .268 thanks to a BABIP of .293. He's K% was barely acceptable at 22%, and his walks weren't impressive for a power spec at only 9%. Overall, you'd hope for something like

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Basically, Mike Jacobs. And unsurprisingly, Jacobs had a similar MILB career to Logan's 06 numbers.

Then '07 happened. His power numbers decreased, his ISO dropped 50 points, he only hit 13 HRs with a HR/FB of 10.4%. Power is expected to drop from Greensboro to Jupiter but, for being a power prospect, it was really on the high end.

And yet he was vaulted to being one of the best prospects in baseball. He still walked at 10% but dropped his K's down to 16%, but he also had a massive .374 BABIP. This was not unwarranted. His LD% in Greensboro was only 13.5%. But in Jupiter, it was a massive 21.1%. He went from being an power prospect to being a line drive contact hitter. However, a .374 BABIP is huge, especially with someone as slow as he is. Certainly, there are people like Miguel Cabrera who are able to sustain high BABIPs while being slow thanks to just how well they hit the ball, but you cannot expect somebody to be a player of that caliber. At which point you're basically expecting something around

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The biggest thing to understand with his HRs is he has a very high GB% that hovers around 50%. With 20 HRs there, that's still a 14% HR/FB rate assuming a 31% FB rate.

Then the AFL happened. He .404/.444/.667/1.111 with 5 HRs in 107 PAs, showing power again. And the lack of walks was far from concerning: when you're hitting .404 and only strike out 14% of the time, that shows you're not getting a lot of balls/bad pitches.

In '07 he showed power, in '08 he showed average (and then showed the same power in the AFL). But he never showed a great ability to walk. Not bad, but not exactly good either. Then '09 happened and made him the complete hitter. He's currently leading all of pro baseball outside of possibly short season leagues in walk% at 21%, with only 1 less walk then game played in AA.

I don't know how unprecedented it is, but having a guy walking at an average rate to having the best walk percent in all of baseball is quite a huge jump.

His BABIP has taken a large step back, at just .289, but he's still hitting a ton of LDs (22%) and GBs (52%) showing that it's very likely an aberration. He still has his BABIP skills.

He's also showing a lot more raw power, having a HR/FB of 16.7%. Still, over 650 PA he'd only be on pace for 18 HRs, thanks to only hitting a FB a fourth of the time (25.2%).

At this point, he truly is the completely package. He walks, he doesn't strike out, he hits for average, he hits for power. There is basically no hole in his offensive game.

Now the difference between him being a very good hitter and being one of the best in the league comes down to his GB and FB rates. If he can turn ~10% of his GBs into FBs, it basically adds about 5 HRs. And when you consider that he is a slow runner, the decrease in GBs should not put that much of a damper on his BABIP.

Now to his other aspects. Scouts describe his defense as "Good arm, good hands, bad range." To me, this generally speaks below average. Now yes, the fact that fielding stats have yet to gauge how good a 1b is at catching throws to him, it's doubtful it adds a significant amount, and lack of range is not a good thing. Total Zone rated him at -5/150 last season, which would put him at about -10 at the ML level. I definitely don't expect him to be that bad. Running wise, well, he's slow. He shouldn't cost us much on the bath paths but slow is slow.

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What most likely happens: His lack of FBs keeps him from really breaking out in the HR department, but his high HR/FB still allows him to hit a lot. His LD and other abilities allow him to be in the upper 1/4th in the league in BABIP, but his speed keeps him from being in the elite category. He walks, he doesn't strike out, basically he is your prototypical mid-.800 OPS hitter

Best case scenario: Speed be damned, his ability to hit the ball puts him at the upper echelon of BABIP. He's able to drop his GB% and raise his FB%, allowing him to break the 30 hr cusp. This new found power then allows him to walk more, and he's patient enough to take the walks not not strike out. He'll likely always K too much to be the next Albert Pujols, but everything else here is basically Miguel Cabrera reincarnated.

Worst case scenario: He just hits too many GBs to hit for above average power. His ability to hit BABIP is still good, but as he faces better pitching and defenses it only becomes good and not great.

Due to playing first base, and not exactly being impressive there or on the base paths, his WARs aren't that impressive given his OPS. There is the chance he moves to the OF (about +5 runs), but I'd expect him to be about 5 runs worse out there, essentially nulling the positional bonus.

Gaby Sanchez

Well, he’s finally up.  And he gets to ride the bench.

Regardless, I figured he would be best to post up now so fans can know around what to expect from it.

Coming up through the minors, he’s been known as a line drive contact hitter with good patience but questionable pop.  Unsurprsingly, this shows up in the numbers.

sanchezmilb

While at first glance you might look at the numbers and say "Hey, those are very similiar power numbers to Maybin" (.175 ISO, 16 HRs for Maybin), they infact come to those numbers very differently.  The first thing to understand is age relative to league.  Maybin, at 22 years old, is still growing.  Gaby, 25, is basically in his prime years now.  The second thing is their HR/FB rates (Or, % of times a FB goes for a HR).  Gaby’s HR/FB is 9.6%, whereas Maybins is 14.3%.  This shows that Maybin has a lot more raw power.

The other thing with Gaby is the park factors.  Greensboro, the Class A affiliate of the Florida Marlins, is a hitters park in a hitters league.  Jupiter, the Class A Advance affiliate of the Florida Marlins, is a massive pitchers park in a pitchers league.  So, unsurpsingly, power numbers for hitters are normally high in Greensboro but take a massive drop when they go to Jupiter.  This happened to Gaby; after posting a .286 ISO and 17% HR/FB in Greensboro, he went down to .154 ISO and 6% HR/FB.  Carolina is a rather nuetral park, and he posted pretty impressive .200 ISO although just a 9.8% HR/FB.  His ISO mostly came from doubles, as he finished the year with 42 doubles and 1 triple (29% of his hits).  Unfortunately, this number should lower as he reaches the majors due to better offense.  Normally for a prospect, you hope that doubles turn into home runs as their body fills out and they gain more power.  But again, with Gabys age, there is not much room for more power projection.  That means the balls will stay in the ball park, and better defensive players will track down more of those balls.

To make a comparision to another former "old for his league, question his power" Marlin is none other than Josh Willingham, who didn’t get to AA until 25 and AAA until 26.  Willingham has had quite a career, with a MLB ISO of .212 and HR/FB of 14%.  However Willingham showed a lot more in the minors then Gaby did.  Take a look at Hammer v.s. Sanchez(Note: the former Class A affiliate with Kane County, but it’s park factors are similiar to Greensboro, meaning it’s a hitters park.  NYPL, where the Short Season affiliates are, are mostly neutral.  Also, HR/FB data only goes back 2005)

sanchezvshammer

As can be seen here, Willingham had a continual power improvement from ages 23-26, posting a .275 ISO in that time spawn.  Sanchez, meanwhile, actually took a step back, only posting a .172 ISO.  An absolute huge difference.

There’s also a worry about Sanchez’s LHP and RHP splits.  He has crushed LHP (.963 OPS) but hasn’t fared that well agaisnt RHP (.831 OPS).  This is mostly do to a big BABIP difference.  There isn’t much of a power difference (.204 ISO and 10.3% HR/FB against LHP, .169 ISO and 9.2% HR/FB), nor BB/K difference (1.10 BB/K against LHP, 0.93 against RHP).  Basically about what you’d expect for most players.  However, he has a .356 BABIP against LHP and a .318 BABIP against RHP.  This is fueled by a 20% LD rate against LHP while only 17% against RHP.  Will it even out, or is it something we need to expect?  Just won’t be something we know until he’s up here and does his thing.

Defensively, he was once considered a horrible defensive first baseman but made huge improvements and won the gold glove award for the southern league.  However, I have my doubts of just how much he improved, and although I do expect him to be better than average, I don’t expect him to be great.  Base running wise, he’s not a big lumbering firstbaseman but he isn’t fast either, but he’s suppose to be a smart base runner.

So with all that being said, projection time

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As you can see, these just really aren’t impressive WARs.

What most likely happens: He displays basically average power, keeping around the same HR rate but losing some doubles to better defenses.  It also allows him to still keep a solid BB rate, but overall he’s nothing special.  The biggest problem being the position he plays, with the average 1B OPS normally hovering in the .800-.850 range.  He could still have a career ahead of him, Doug Mientkiewicz took a very similiar career line of .271/.360/.405 and had a long career.  However, Mientkiewicz was also worth 10+ runs on defense.  If Gaby can get to that level, he could duplicate Mientkiewicz’s career. The biggest problem with this for Gaby is that he has Logan Morrison breathing down his neck.  And while there are rumblings of moving Morrison to LF, it then becomes a question of "Do you want Gaby Sanchez at first base, or Scott Cousins/Bryan Petersen/John Raynor/ect in the OF?  With how cheap 1B/LFs are on the FA market now, is is worth spending that extra 5 mil to get a mid .850 OPS bat?".  Unfortunately, he’ll probably be a 1B/3B back up, and the fact that he was called up to ride the bench just kind of affirms it.

Best case scenerio: He’s a late bloomer and his HR/FB raises, turning those doubles into HRs.  This is certainly possible, some players took a long time to hit their power peak.  It’s just, unfortunately, rare.  His power though is really the only thing keeping him from being an slightly below average to average player and being a good player, everything else though he already does well.

Worst case scenerio: He doesn’t develop the HR power, and a lot of those doubles start turning into outs, dropping him to the high-end power of a slap hitter.  This is already happening in AAA.  Last year a hit went for a 2B/3B 28.7% of the time, this year just 13.6%.  Pitchers then pound the zone, dropping his ability to take a walk.  If this happens, he’s probably not even a major leaguer.

It should also be noted that a lot of things depend on how well Sanchez can field third base.  If he can field 3b at a neutral level, that’d basically add 1 win to his WAR, turning him into a good player.  Big difference between a .770 OPS 1b and a 3b.  But this is again a question of how good he is defensively, and a lot of scouts don’t think he can handle the position well enough to play everyday.

My assumption is that the Marlins played him so much at 3b in AAA to see if he could handle it.  If he could, he’d ursup Bonifacio.  If he couldn’t, he’d ride the bench.  And we’ve now seen what happened.  Again, just an assumption, but there would be no reason to have him riding the bench if they viewed him as a starting player still.

Addendum: Gaby Sanchez and defense

I just came across the Total Zone defense stat.

You can read about it here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/totalzone-takes-on-the-minors/

While far from perfect and it gets the usual "fielding stat caveat" I think this is huge and I’m sad I didn’t see it when it came out.  And on the major league level, it surprisingly correlates well to other fielding statistics.

Gaby Sanchez follows basically what scouts have said.  in ‘06 he was in fact horrible.  in 49 games he has -5, Meaning he’d be about -15 over a full season.  In ‘07 he played exactly neutral defense for the league at +0.  And then in ‘08 he was +5 runs and +11 over /150.  However, defense in leagues is not relative to one another.  As you go up, defense gets better.  The difference in AA 1b and a MLB 1b is about 4 runs over 150 games (8 runs over 500 chances, 150 games = about 250 chances), meaning his +11 /150 goes down to +7, which is still very good.  I’ll still stand by the +3 I had him at but he very well could be Doug I’m not looking up how to spell his last name right now.

However, the more surprising thing is how it rates his 3rd base defense.  He was at +8 runs at third, +19 /150.  Now this is a small sample size and very unlikely he’s that good.  To get a correlation of .5 for IFers, you need about 350 chances, and he was only at 155 last season.  But this showed he very well could be neutral defense at third, and like I said that would be a huge plus for him and would turn his bat into an everyday player.

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