Head to Head – Young Pitchers

Today I wanted to very briefly discuss the three young starters in the system I think have the highest upside.  That’s two 2012 draftees, Mitch Gueller and Shane Watson, and recent international signing Franklyn Vargas.

So I was going to write a long “thing” about why I have Shane Watson so high.  But instead, I’ll tell you I have him at 5. I think based on all of the scouting, having him ahead of guys like Pettibone and Martin is not necessarily a stretch.  He was BA’s #30 draft prospect, and he profiles as a mid-rotation starter with top-of-the-rotation potential.  That’s my take.

As for the other two, I have Gueller at 16 and Vargas at 21.  The discussion on Gueller is likely whether I am undervaluing him compared to his draft status. I know some will look at his tiny sample in the GCL and freak out. I’m not really looking at it that way.  He’s got time to develop, and any GCL stats he put up in 27 IP shouldn’t be much of a flag. 

Yes, I will admit, seeing a guy who’s supposed to be a prospect pitch so poorly is disheartening, but we all know there are plenty of reasons a young guy might get roughed up in his debut season. Now, if he shows us nothing in 100IP in 2013, then I think there’s reason to be a little concerned.  But for now, no one is profiling him as an ace, (he would have been drafted a lot higher if they were), so comparing him to, say, Cole Hamels stats, seems a bit unreasonable to me.

I am curious where people are slotting Vargas.  He was a serious signing a couple years ago, netting a reported $330k bonus. He pitched pretty well in 2012, showing a good K rate, with a pretty high walk rate.  He’s listed 6’4″ 205 lbs on MiLB.com, and what I have read about him he profiles as a possible power lefty with a plus fastball and two mentioned off-speed pitches. Sounds like a starter profile, and if he fills into his frame, he would be a beast. I am looking forward to seeing how he does in the NYPL this year, (I doubt he goes to Lakewood, personally).

So, what do you all think.  Is Vargas too high? What about Gueller?  Do his GCL stats scare you or are you walking away from them like they’re nothing and waiting to see what he does in 2013?  Where does everyone have Shane Watson?

Tomorrow, I will wrap up this little series with low-level infielders.  Should be a good conversation there, I hope.  And then next week it’s time to vote.  Can’t wait.

51 thoughts on “Head to Head – Young Pitchers

    1. Yeah, he’s an interesting case after hearing, (from commenters on here, basically), that he did well in instructs. He did show some things in GCL, too, for an 18 yr old. WHIP was low, walks were totally fine, but his K Rate wasn’t great. Plus the club had him relieving for a lot of the time, which is kind of odd for an international guy they consider a prospect, though not necessarily telling of anything. We know he wasn’t a big bonus guy, so it’s a little bit hard to get much info on him as he wasn’t highly touted and hence, not paid as much attention as the bigger name/bonus types. I have him in the 50s on my list. A big 2013 or some scouting suggesting he’s got the tools to be a potential big league starter would help that go up.

  1. Interesting Brad. I have Watson 16 and I have Gueller 28 and that is only because I prefer to leave a lot of room for HS pitchers to move up and not down.

    Vargas doesn’t make my top 30 but that is only because there isn’t much known about him other than his $330K. I’ve added him to my home made radar screen and we’ll see how he progresses. I have to say I like his K/9 and the WHIP is not great but its also not horrible. he might be a gem.

    I am a big believer that real cream rises to the top right away

        1. I thought it was going to be like a dart board with like radar blips on it or something, each representing a prospect. That would be something someone on this site would do – like a big cork board with all the prospects fanned out with stats and info like the crime rings on The Wire.

          Ok, I’m doing that next year.

  2. As much as I like Watson, I can’t put him in the Top 10. Not yet. We’ve seen almost nothing from him yet, and HS pitchers are always risky. I’d put him around 15.

  3. I don’t have Watson that high, but I do have him the highest of the pitchers in Lakewood and below. Having a good fastball and already a plus curve bodes really well to me. Some scouts seem to like Gueller more because he has a better fastball but who knows how his secondary pitches will come along.

  4. I have Watson and Gueller at 13 and 18 but I hadn’t really thought to incldue Vargas in my top 50. I’ll have to reconsider him but he hasn’t really shown much of anything yet which is not to say that he’s been bad. Manuare Martinez is another young pitcher for this list. I have him late in my top 50 after he did well initially last year but who knows. They moved him up a level late in the year and he didn’t do very well. There are always a few young pitchers that break out every year after being held back the prior year from throwing too much but receive lots of instruction.

    1. I think it makes a lot of sense to give a grade of ‘Incomplete’ to these guys and wait until next season to rank them.

  5. I don’t know how you can rate Watson at this time in your top ten. He has a great hs report and the Phil.s rated him high enough to pick him in the early round. BUT, the kid got sick lost 30 pounds and was diagnosed with a serious disease after the draft. Doesn’t that give you reason to step back and give him some time to see if he can live with this disease let alone operate at a good enough level to be a professional athlete He is going to have to regulate his meds for the rest of his life. It is not an easy task and on top of that train and compete all summer while trying to learn to regulate diabetes. I wish him all the luck and hope he learns to control it. But I have to give him at least a year before I rate him at all.

    1. I have little concern for the diabetes diagnosis. He has professional medical staff around him all the time. I realize it’s a serious thing, and it theoretically could give him trouble, but in my mind it’s a completely controllable situation until or unless we hear otherwise.

      1. Unlike Gillies and his chronic health problems, Watson hasn’t shown that diabetes has hindered him in anyway possible yet. It’s not like he developed it over night, so one has to assume that he still managed to play at a high level while letting it left untreated. Plus plenty of athletes have managed to perform at a high level while suffering from diabetes. Bobby Clarke, Jay Cutler, Joe Frazier, Catfish Hunter, Jackie Robinson, Ron Santo

        1. +1.

          The pro athletes that have dealt with it going back decades now gives me confidence that it won’t be much of a hindrance to his career. I have Watson ranked around 15 the diabetes didn’t play into that at all.

        2. WHAT? It hasn’t affected him. Wow , just a warning He is 18 nobody is going to check his numbers for him But you are committed also. Many have played but few were as sick as he was at 18. Mos are diagnosed at a earlier age. .

      2. I know your committed. But some on this sit will be calling him dumb if he has setbacks and doesn’t progress at a normal prospects level.

    2. I live in the Lakewood area (California) and see Watson quite a bit in his workouts and such.. his gained his weight back, looks strong and is putting in his work.. diabetes is not going to derail this kid..

      1. thanks for the info. i was more worried about the kid. not the ball player. but that will be a blessing if he fulfills his dream

  6. I have Watson at 10 or 11. I have Gueller in the 18-20 range on my board. I have Vargas in the 23-25 range. Watson as the #1 pick, is a top prospect by definition. Until he fails, I think he worthy of top 10 consideration just based on ceiling and value I think he gets, if traded.
    Mitch Gueller is harder for me to rank. He was not a consensus 1st round talent other than by Keith Law and ESPN. He was not impressive in his short stint in GCL. So basically im just giving him the benefit of doubt, because he was a 1st round pick.
    I have Franklyn Vargas in the 23-25 range, based solely on how he seems to compare with the other GCL prospects. I don’t feel comfortable having him much lower than Gueller. Vargas performed well in GCL, for 18 year old. He has the status of being a high bonus signee. He is 6’4 and throws in the 90’s, and is LeftHanded. If I get anymore information about him, I could easily see ranking him ahead of Gueller.

    1. Agree about Vargas. We don’t have that much on him but what we do is positive. He is almost a year younger than Gueller and pitched better at the same level last year, so I think they at least need to be close. I have Gueller a couple spots ahead in my list but I might change that.

      1. Though for Gueller it is a SSS and verage to mediocre, one definitive plus was no HRs allowed in 27 IPs.

        1. Yeah, all I really look at for pitchers’ stats when it comes to the GCL are BBs and Ks, but I don’t ding Gueller much for his overall performance there. The age is important though.

  7. As we near the voting stage for 2013 Top 30 I would recommend to everyone who plans on participating to go back and read James’ Top 30 posting from last year. Top to bottom including all the reactions to his rankings.

    That is if you haven’t done so recently….

  8. I usually like to see how they do in professional competition. Watson, because of his condition, didn’t play much. Gueller didn’t impress. Vargas impressed, but in a brief period of time. I’ll rank them after they perform for a while. Sometimes projection takes you farther than you want to go.

  9. shane watson roman quinn jesse biddle maikel franco mitch walding tommy joseph.
    keep em together rube thx.

  10. I have Watson, Gueller, Vargas, boringly enough. Order of signing bonus since Watson/Guellar have hardly played and Vargas hasn’t closed the gap. Where I have each in my Top 30 remains to be seen, though. Probably Vargas will be significantly below the other two.

  11. I should “rank” guys who haven’t played at Lakewood yet? For what purpose?

    Am I supposed to rank Jose “Just call me Albert” Pujols when you do “young outfielders”?

    Are Mets fans ranking Sidd Finch in their system? I guess he’s the consensous number one huh?

    How about the Phillies send the above pitchers and Quinn, Greene, Green, Cozens and Pullin to Lakewood and we can see if they are worth ranking?

    The Phillies have a 1st round pick this year!

    Think there is any chance of Drew Ward lasting to number 16? Probably not.

    1. Let’s say you draft the next hyped up top player like a Strasburg/Harper. Are you saying if those people didn’t play the year they were drafted they wouldn’t make your top 30? Obviously none of the players you’re referring to currently are on that level but it’s a bit foolish to think that you can’t rank guys that haven’t reached a certain level yet.

      1. Dumb examples.

        Strasburg could be considered a college phenom. Bryce Harper is a phenom. Harper is the most talented baseball player any of us have ever seen.

        If you want to have a go at rating the best half season A-ball players go ahead. But putting Roman Quinn near the top of the Phillies prospects list is just wrong. The Phillies system would need to be barren of future MLB talent for that to be legitimate. I don’t know what Baseball America was thinking when they did that.

        Have you ever looked at the Dodgers Zach Lee? BA not only put him on their Top 100 list, they moved him up last year. You tell me what Zach Lee ever did to deserve an appearance on that list. That’s an egregious mistake that detracts from the value of the list.

        1. Harper is great to be sure. But I am not even sure he was the most talented rookie last year. In all seriousness, Mike Trout is the cloest thing to Willie Mays that most of us have ever seen in terms of a true five tool superstar. Earlier this week I saw MLB’s 75 best catches of 2012 and like 5 or 6 of them were by Trout – they were all amazing. I don’t think any other player showed up more than twice. This is on top of Trout’s great hitting and base running. I think Trout’s size and build make him an ideal candidate to age superbly, much as Mays and Aaron did. At some point Harper’s size will limit his speed and the issue will be whether he can make that up with his tremendous power; he certainly could.

          If I had to choose between Harper and Trout I would pick Trout by a nose, but both will be generational hitters with Stanton right behind.

          1. Harper is over rated, last year VS iron Pigs he was 2-12 in a series and did nothing in the field, Over-rated…..

        2. They may be dumb examples because I admit they are extreme but they illustrate the point that you cannot summarily disregard players who haven’t reached certain levels when it comes to ranking prospects. There will always be an upside vs proximity debate and you obviously favor proximity (in some cases I do too). But part of the reason low level guys can get such good rankings is because of the scouting reports. Scouting reports are the best thing we have to go on in the early developmental years as not enough data has been amassed yet.

          In most systems there aren’t many star prospects just laying around so you can either get excited about the projectable talent of lower level prospects who haven’t caused any doubt yet or you could just rank highly guys with obvious flaws who can make the majors but probably not achieve much. Personally I like to put myself somewhere in the middle.
          I’ve got Asche ahead of Quinn in my Top 10(6-7 I think) and Franco (2) ahead of both

    2. Drew Ward is an outstanding big, strong and athletic infield prospect…..but do we need another power lefty bat in the lineup! I prefer the RH power OF bats at this point.

      1. The Phillies need any power bat they can get in their lineup but that aside you never draft based on team needs. This isn’t football…

      2. Yeah, if Ward is there the Phillies will probably draft a right hand hitting toothpick bat. Heck Ward probably won’t take 16th position slot money and you know what that means!

  12. Don’t know what the future will hold, but right now trout is heads above harper. better fielder, runner, hitter, power, all phrase of game.and they are close in age, did you see harper play the outfield, he cant touch trout, trout right now may be the next mays or mantle, but it early, i mean right now trout can beat you with his glove, legs, bat, arm, power, the kid is amazing.what gets me mad is my kid went to the same clinics to hit as trout, and my kid cant hit,

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