Head to Head – Young Infielders

And so, we’ve come to the last of these head to head comparisons.  I wanted to look at a couple interesting names in the infield.  Obviously we’ve all been through discussions of Roman Quinn, Maikel Franco and Cody Ashce, and we know a lot about some of the older guys like Cesar Hernandez and Darin Ruf, (if you want to call him a 1B still, which I guess you could).  The rest of the top 30-ish infielders are young guys, drafted in 2011 or 2012.  So let’s talk about Zach Green, Mitch Walding and Andrew Pullin.

A little history, for comparison – Green was a third round pick in 2012, (#125) who signed for $45k over slot, or $420k.  Pullin was the 188th pick, (5th Round), who signed for slot, just north of $200k.  Walding was a fifth round pick in 2011 who signed for supplemental first or early second round money, ($800k). 

Now, when we’re looking at their limited stats, we’ve got basically half a season of each.  Green and Pullin took about 100 fewer PAs than Walding, but all have fairly reasonable samples to consider to account for streaks, even from the short season leagues where they played.

Pullin got 162 PA in the GCL.  His walk rate of 7.4% could be better, but it’s not horrid.  His K rate is the same, at 19.8% – pretty unimpressive. He triple slashed .321/.403/.436, for an OPS of .838.  He did benefit from a .398 BABIP, though on a LD Rate of 21%, which is pretty good, and tempers the negative connotation of the extreme BABIP a little. 

He moved from the OF to 2b during the season, and wound up putting in a handful of games there in August.  If he’s going to hit line drives and show a little pop and play a decent 2b, he could have a chance to prop up his value greatly.  The fact that we heard he was going to play 2B in instructs and wound up there before the end of the year leads me to conclude he’s handling himself pretty well. Otherwise, why bother?  Solid logic, I know.

Walding took 292 PAs in 2012, playing 3B exclusively.  There were some positive scouting reports on him early in the year, and he had a fine half a month to start his pro career, OPSing .952 in June.  But as the year wore on he struck out considerably more, ending up with 22.6% K Rate to go with a pretty good 10.6% bb rate.  His triple slash would up at .233/.326/.308 on a .312 BABIP with a 15% LD rate.  You have to like that he was able to keep his patience at the plate, though a little bit more solid contact would be nice as well.

Green triple slashed .284/.333/.426 for an OPS of .759 in 183 PAs.  He played some SS but mostly 3B, which is where the CW seems to project him in the long run.  That .142 ISO is a little lower than one might hope for a 3B prospect, but really, in this day and age of weaker hitting 3B, it’s not a disqualifier if he holds in that range as he progresses. 

What could quickly become a concern is his BB and K Rates.  He walked just 8 times for a 4.3% rate, and struck out at a 23.4% clip.  I can handle 23.4%, if it comes with double digit walks and a good amount of power.  We’ll have to see how he handles himself the next couple years with bigger samples of data, but if he can’t take a free pass, well – I’ll just say this – Sebastian Valle’s defense and position holds his prospect value a bit.  Not sure Green’s would do the same.  Uncertainty there is dragging him down in my eyes.

And so, to rank them, it’s a tough call.  I think they all throw up some flags.  Scouting and some of the results from Green look nice until you see that brutal walk rate.  Walding has some very positive scouting on his side, but little in the way of results.  And Pullin has that very high BABIP fueling his stats a bit, though he did hit a lot of line drives.  I found these three guys floating close to one another as I tinkered with my rankings, from as high as #17 at one point, (Green), all the way to where they landed, with Pullin at #26, Walding at #30 and Green the “best of the rest” at #31.

How about you?  Am I reading too much into the Green BB Rate or is it a big flag for you all as well?  Am I overvaluing Pullin’s LD rate?  What should we think about Walding showing inferior numbers to the others while playing against better competition?

Hope this series has helped you all out.  I’ve certainly figured out some issues I was worrying about all the way through my first couple passes of the rankings.  I’m sure we’ll rehash some of the same stuff when we get into the poll over the next several weeks, but it’s nice to get a little headstart on the conversation.  Happy voting to you all!

58 thoughts on “Head to Head – Young Infielders

  1. A high BABIP/high LD% isn’t necessarily an outlier in the minors. A .400 BABIP is reasonable if the player over matches the league’s pitching. For Pullin, the sort of high K-rate is a warning sign that things could fall apart at more challenging levels, but he’s the only one of the trio who probably should have been playing a level higher last season.

    1. I am very high on Pullin and at 2nd am more excited. Not quite sure what you mean when you say ‘of the trio who probably should have been playing a level higher last season.’…after all he was a 2012 June draftee out of HS. Not sure I know of any that start in full-season low-A who sign in July of the same year they are drafted.

      1. so, are you guessing Pullin starts at Lakewood, and the other 2 are battling for one spot at Lakewood?

        1. I would guess Walding would have the edge just because he needs to keep progressing through the system. As for Pullin – it wouldn’t be unheard of for them to challenge him, but we don’t know what they plan to do with Tyler Greene.

  2. Where do you get LD rates and other detailed “splits” for minor leaguers? I can’t seem to find them anymore.

      1. That’s where I go. I don’t know exactly how reliable they are, but they’re the most accessible thing I have found for those stats as well as pitcher k and bb rates.

        1. Is there a place to get month-by-month splits and L/R splits? First inning doesn’t seem to have those, and MILB hides them when a player changes teams during the season (for example Asche’s splits from CLW and REA are missing since he played in the AFL).

  3. I think the sample size is just too small one way or another for these guys. I’m more interested in scouting for guys with so few plate appearances.

  4. I have Z Green at 37, Walding at 32 and Pullin at 18. While sample sizes are small I have to evaluate them on something….

    We will all have our share of hits and misses. One need only go back and look at all of their own comments from last years voting.

  5. Sebastian Valle posted an OPS of .866 at Williamsport at age 18. He hasn’t touched that since. The same year he had failed at Lakewood with a .644 OPS resulting in his demotion to Williamsport which is clearly a lower level of competition than Lakewood.

    How anyone can find something positive in Mitch Walding’s .635 OPS at Williamsport at age 19 (he turned 20 on September 8th) without being psychotically delusional or closely related to him by blood is beyond my comprehension. Walding hit one HR in 292 PA.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what Zach Green can do at Lakewood in April.

        1. The article actually doesn’t do much for me. Perhaps I have grown very cynical over the years about tales of prodigeous batting practice power. That’s the cheapest skill in baseball — batting practice power. The guy can really cream the ball when hitting against a pitcher whose goal is to allow him to hit the ball, rather than to get him out. If it doesn’t translate to game play against real pitchers, it’s about as impressive as slamming HR hitting off of a tee.

          The review talks about the need for major changes in Walding’s throwing motion to first base, improved backhand fielding, letting the ball come to the plate rather than wildly chasing it in front of the plate and losing power, and recognition of off-speed stuff. Translation: Walding is a high-bonus physical stud, but there isn’t much there yet in terms of actually developed baseball skills. Doesn’t mean he can’t develop into a solid prospect, but the article doesn’t describe somebody to be excited about today.

          1. To be fair, Newman did seem to think Walding would make those changes defensively, at least enough to stay at third. And the prodigious batting practice power he described was more focused on his unique ability to generate backspin and loft and his ability to stay inside the ball that is “better than just about every left-handed hitting prospect [he has] seen previously.” I agree with you that the ability to crush the ball in batting practice is overrated, but Walding, according to this article, is capable of something more impressive that bodes well for his future.

    1. I found Walding’s 2012 season to be disappointing. However, we really shouldn’t put too much positive or negative spin on the players’ first results from short-season ball. Walding may well be back at Williamsport. I would not say that Valle failed Lakewood with a .644 OPS. That is a very good OPS for an 18 year old catcher at Lakewood. Valle likely was sent ot Lakewood so he could get a full season of action in real games. Talk of an 18-year old at a primo defensive position ‘failing’ because his OPS was only .644 at Lakewood is bizarro world. Valle does need to pick up his walk rate if he is going to succeed in the bigs. He is far from a sure thing today, but that has nothing to do with failing Lakewood at age 18, or not replicating an .866 OPS. He doesn’t need that high an OPS to succeed, but he does need to pull it up closer to .800. The power is fine, its the OBP that needs work.

    2. What’s your point, Walding wasn’t drafted to hit HR’S. Larry Green only had a couple HR’S and he was drafted to hit the bomb and nobody has gave up on him. Also hitting a couple home runs in the GCL compared to Williamsport which has a huge park is not the same. Green better worry about Williamsport before we get to far ahead of ourselves.

      1. What was Mitch Walding drafted for, to win HR derbys? To be a cheap glove at MLB minimum for a few years? What exactly are the goals of the Phillies organization?

        Dave $$$ Montgomery has publicly stated that the goal is to win the World Series every year, but he also stated on the Phillies web site in July 2012 that the Phillies would pay taxes on the payroll every year to win. We now know that Dave Montgomery LIED.

        So given that the Team President and General Partner of the Phillies is a LIAR what should we believe to be the goals of the Phillies organization?

      2. “Green better worry?” Sounds a little personal to me. When people make comments like that and then only post it anonymously, makes you wonder if you have some personal stake? You are a troll.

  6. I have it Pullin (20-25 range), Walding, then Green (25-30 range).
    Pullin above the other guys for a few small reasons: Pullin was the higher rated player of the three, as an amateur (according to BA and ESPN). He is being moved to a slightly more important defensive position. I like his quick swing. He had better production than everybody else on the GCL team.
    I like Walding better than Green, for now, because he is more patient. I also like Walding’s swing. I have Green 29-30, (based solely on the benefit of doubt), due to being an “over-slot”, high draftee, and having the ability to play SS at that size.

  7. I’ve got them at 15, 17, and 25 with Walding leading the group and Green trailing for now. The good thing is that all three have obvious talent. Walding was one of my biuggest disappointments last year after seeing him early and expecting greatness. Sometimes, it takes awhile though. I expect Walding to play much better this year at LWood, his swing is too good not to show better results. If Pullen takes to 2nd and he hits over 300 again, he could be pushed quickly. Green has Franco and Asche ahead of him so he won’t be pushed quickly.
    Its funny, last year, this article would have been all about Tyler Greene and now, not a word. The kid does have a ton of talent, let’s hope the Phils find a way to get it out of him this year. Two other young infielder names are Mora and Villalobos. Villalobos can play and Mora can really pick it so these kids have a chance to advance this year.

    1. I’m intrigued by Edgar Duran, also. His hitting stats vastly improved over prior year (including a handful of HR in unfriendly CLR), and he’s young for every level he’s been at. I have both he and Mora well down the list, Duran at 57, Mora at 70.

      Villalobos made the double jump into a league where he a little younger than the average, and handled himself ok, I suppose. He seems to really lack power, however, so as a 2B he might be out of luck. He didn’t crack my top 75.

      1. Did you rank every player in the system? Lol.

        I just wrote my first list up in like 20 minutes, so guys will be moving all around it, but I have Duran at 39 and Mora at 51. I have 54 guys listed and I feel like I’m close to running out of names that ought to be ranked. Then again I didn’t bother with a bunch of the GCL guys or any of the complex league guys.

      2. I like Duran too, but his error rate is pretty bad. His bat is improving, but not so much to rank him top 30.

  8. So what about Tyler Greene. Is completely off the radar at this point? Shouldn’t he be grouped in with these guys?

    1. He is at a level of age/experience where his status is going to be highly fluid, but his 2012 took him off my top 30 radar. He has plenty of time to bounce back. He should repeat Williamsport. His 2012 was a disaster.

      1. Tyler Greene and Mitch Walding are really the same guy.

        Except one got a much larger bonus than the other so the $800,000 bonus gets to block Zach Green at Lakewood.

        1. “Tyler Greene and Mitch Walding are really the same guy…”

          You’re not looking at the numbers properly.

          Walding NYP: age 19, RC+ 94, wOba .307, K 22%, BB 10.6%
          T Greene NYP:age 19, RC+ 65, wOba .262, K 36%, BB 4.3%
          A Hewitt NYP:age 20, RC+ 86, wOba .297, K 31%, BB 3.6%
          Co Asche NYP:age 21, RC+ 59, wOba .264, K 19%, BB 9.0%

          Mitchell Walding had a better year than Cody Asche at NYP. Anthony Hewitt had a better season than Tyler Greene. If you just make comparisons of BB% and K%, you really see how different Walding and Greene’s seasons’ were.

    2. So disappointing, considering that so many people were putting him (unfairly) in their top 10 before last season.

  9. Ah Mr. Tyler Greene how you made many of us including myself look silly. I currently have you at 38 but I haven’t given up on you.

    Take a lesson from Mr. Asche who didn’t make the 30 list last year and will most likely make the top 10 here in 2013.

    1. When he started off in Lakewood he had a little pep in his game, he was getting some hits and making some plays and looked like he could stick. But I guess the other guys just made the adjustment on him and his confidence really collapsed. So much so that I think it overshadowed his true ability- which wasn’t that of a top 10 prospect, but nothing as terrible as his numbers suggest.

  10. Zach Green is a guy with plenty of right-handed power under construction. Asche and Franco are moving toward 3rd base and Asche is seemingly headed to become the first to arrive in MLB…with Franco 2-3 years behind. Third base is well accounted for.

    Green is said to have a good glove and developing arm but not enough range for shortstop. To me Green is a prime candidate to be moved to the outfield…LF/RF to develop that righty outfielder with power that is now missing from our system.

    A better use of our resources.

    1. I seriously doubt he’s got the bat to play corner OF. Far better to keep him at 3B or 2B, where his bat has value, and then trade him if he truly is blocked. Always a bad idea to move a prospect off of a primo defensive position, before he shows he can’t handle it. Also always foolish to say “X minor leaguers’ block the guys in the lower minors, before they have proven themselves at the major league level. This is just creating a problem that doesn’t exist. And it most certainly is not a better use of resources. It’s not like we don’t have youngsters who have a shot at making it as major league OF.

    2. “Third base is well accounted for.”

      In the Twins system with Miguel Sano.

      The Phillies have nothing so far.

      1. Do you have anything useful to add to any conversation? You’re obviously not a fan of the Phils or their system so why don’t you go troll somewhere else. I’m sure philly.com has some openings…

      2. Just because the Phils want to sign someone, doesn’t mean that person wants to sign with them. I think, just maybe, the player has something to do with it as well

  11. I must be missing something here, are we comparing hitting success with two different levels of pitching. It is my understanding that the pitching in Short Season is better than the pitching in GCL. If that is the case then our comparison may be a little off. If two players have the same numbers but at two different levels should they be compared the same? With that being said, there has been a lot of good players that didn’t have strong first seasons. especially right out of high school.

  12. I agree that comparing two different levels is not exactly fair, but I was so impressed with the hitting of Pullin at the end of last season in GCL that I made him #22 and Walding, who had not impressed at the higher level #28. I did not list Green as top 30, but he is close. I like the idea of moving Green to the outfield as his bat produces more power.

      1. Unnecessarily harsh. I think you may have misunderstood that sentence. It is not a causality; Puddnhead is not saying moving Green to the outfield will give him more power. His statement is more along the lines of moving Green to the outfield if he develops more power to perhaps clear a logjam or something. Maybe you did interpret his opinion correctly and merely disagree with it. I disagree with it, as well, because I think players should stay at the most valuable position they can until they prove they are unable, but his opinion is still very much a valid one, and certainly does not earn that inappropriate and unintelligent response.

        1. No, I understood exactly what he meant. He is implying that 3B is spoken for and Green needs to find another position.

          Anyone with an understanding of baseball knows the Phillies are not waiting for the arrival of a third baseman from their farm system. The Phillies have not been counting down the days for such an arrival since Scott Rolen was rocketing his way toward the big club about 18 years ago.

  13. Just ignore the trolls, this site is awesome. Very hard to cater to such a diverse audience.

    I wanted to thank BradinDC for this series. Excellent idea to generate discussion on a specific topic. Good way to review Top30 thinking with interesting groupings of prospects. In this review I learned more about Green (who I was higher on until reading this article with the poor K/BB ratio) to go with his scouting reports that his swing is long, sends up red flags.

    Due to the positional competition, I figure he gets bumped to 3B at WPT but it’d be nice if he could still ‘get time’ at SS to keep his prospect status as high as possible.

  14. relax, some have a habit of overreacting. It will be fine. Just words.
    Walding is one hell of an athlete, I agree with Siskel, heneeds to play, he spent a lot of time playing football in hs. He could translate to baseball and be an terrefic player with his tools..

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