The Body Issue

So in thinking down my Top 30 list a bit, I come to a bit of a conundrum – I have three guys in close proximity with “body issues”. Severino Gonzalez, Dylan Cozens and Luis Encarnacion.

I spoke in the comments the other day about Severino Gonzalez. He’s listed around 6’1″, 153 pounds, and he’s yet to throw many more than 100 professional innings in any given year. Since he wound up in AA at the end of 2013, I think some folks have taken to assuming he pitched a full season, but we should not forget he was in extended and pitched out fo the bullpen for much of the year. Will a slight frame hold up to starters’ innings?

We believe Luis Encarnacion will hit, based on scouting leading up to his signing, but while he was listed as a 3B, much of the same scouting seemed to think he would never be anything other than a LF or 1B in the future. So not only are we betting on a 16-year-old, which gives plenty of people pause, but a 16-year-old who’s already ticketed for the two least demanding positions on the diamond. 

And on to Dylan Cozens. This is a big dude, at 6’6″, 235lbs. We all know he was a football commit to a major college program, (as a defensive end, mind you), and he’s got 19 pro steals in about the equivalent of 2/3 of a season. That being said, his body and questions about his ability to stick in the OF have many people legitimately worried about his value. As he gets stronger, he will likely slow down. How much is one of the harder things to judge. Some scouting reports seem all but certain he can not stick in the OF.

For the record, I’ve left off Zach Green – he’s a self-professed “fat kid” on Twitter, but at 6’3″, 210lbs., I think he’s doing just fine. And I also left off Cam Rupp, (me, skip a chance to talk about Cam Rupp? Whaaaaat???), even though that monster of a body has to be an injury concern in the future. You can’t be that much person and not expect to hurt yourself doing athletic things, but it’s not forcing him off his position or hurting his prospect value a whole lot.

And so the question is to you to discuss -how much weight (ugh – sorry) do we put on various body concerns? Which is better/worse, a big bodied 3B or OF likely to be moved to 1B or a slight pitcher who may wind up wearing down easily?

30 thoughts on “The Body Issue

  1. Brad, you really need to get out of the office and actually go watch some of these guys play in person. Cozens is actually a pretty good outfielder. He has better routes to the ball then Dom Brown and shows good range left to right and has a good arm. He’s nowhere near Greg Luzinski size.

    1. I agree w/ this about Cozens. I don’t get out to many minor league games but was able to check out WPort a couple times last year. Cozens looked pretty good to me. He’s not a bad OF at all from what I saw. I understand we don’t know how his body is gonna completely fill out but right now I think he’s pretty good out there.

      1. That’s the point, I think. Scouting suggests his body will be a burden as he ages. How much consideration do we give those concerns, compared to a scouting report that says his swing is long or his arm won’t play in RF or stats that suggest his approach isn’t working.

        1. For whatever it’s worth, I saw Cozens in spring training and he does not look like the type of guy who will become big and clunky as he gets older. He is more Jason Werth than Ryan Howard. In fact, not only is he not big and clunky, he seemed to be lean and sleek. I don’t know whether he’ll get fat or lose speed all on his own, but I don’t think, based on what I saw last year, that a fit and growing Cozens will look like Frank Thomas or, as a better comparison, Adam Dunn, anytime soon.

        2. Its not that much of a concern to me. I think he plays atleast 4 years as OF in ML then if body starts to slow down…u either move him to 1st base or send him to AL as DH. He has value any way you look at it. Now if he doesn’t hit for power…then its major concern.

    2. He is actually bigger than Luzinski who was only 6’1, 220 though admittedly bigger later in his career. I think Cozens might be a little more athletic than Luzinski, but I would be shocked if he is stealing 20 bases a year in 5 years. Luzinski had many more baseball “skills”, so it is also not a great comparison.

      I am actually a Cozens fan. He seems to be a good toolsy pick from where he was drafted. But he also has not really proven he is much better than Larry Greene who is universally considered a failure. For all the talk about how good he looks in the OF, his range factor was nothing special last year (worse than Hiciano) so it is unclear if he has any sort of range out there to me.

      On the body issue his physical comp to me is Adam Dunn who also had a HS football background and was close to the same size. Dunn stole 20+ bases at age 19 and 20. 19 in the majors at age 22. Then no more than through age 27 and no more than 2 in the 6 years after that. That is kind of what happens to guys that are 6’6″ and 235 in HS. Dunn is now 285. Cozens may not go that high, but his value will be in his power – so his incentive might very well be to get bigger and stronger. If Cozens turns into a poor man’s Adam Dunn we will all be very happy, even if he eventually has to be a 1B.

      1. I’m actually picking Larry Greene as one of my sleepers this year, it seemed like he was starting to figure a few things out at the plate at the end of last season. I am really hoping that he had learned from his prior offseason conditioning mistakes … so Larry, if you are reading this, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PUT DOWN THAT CINNABON!

        1. That didn’t seem right, so I checked his monthly stats. He started cool, was really cold in May, then had his best month (but still less than .700 OPS) in June, then cooled off in July and was truly awful in August. So his last two months of the season were really quite bad.

          1. Huh, I couldn’t get a month by month breakdown on Baseball Reference, so I went by my memory, but I can see you’re right on MILB. I have a distinct memory of thinking that maybe he had turned a corner in the second half of the season, but I guess that’s why you shouldn’t rely on memory, even when it’s in the service of making a dumb joke.

            That said, I’m still going to argue for him as a potential sleeper and vote for him in the 25-30 range, the way I did with Altherr last year. Totally different players, obviously, but still a player worth watching to me.

      2. so Dylan is only 15 pounds heavier and 5 inches taller on average its 10lb an inch so if he was Greg’s size he would weigh roughly 270 some odd pounds, I would say the Bull’s BMI is much higher than Cozens. Even in the skinny 1980’s before the rampant use of transfats and hydrogenated oils that cause the large BMI we see in an obese society. Sure Cozens will add strength as he ages but he doesnt necessarily have to become a big un athletic, well bull for a lack of a better term.

        1. You probably never saw the Bull at age 19 though. Cozens is going to get bigger and stronger as he ages and with big guys they usually become less athletic because 250 pounds does not change directions at age 30 like 200 pounds. For all the talk about Luzinski being unathletic, I don’t think that is true. He was never fast, but he was a high #1 pick out of high school and certainly had more tools than his bat at that time.

          1. I saw “The Bull” at age 19 or 20 when he first came up to the majors. I was only 7 or 8, but I distinctly remember my father making comments about how big and strong he looked – he actually might have said that he looked like a bull. I can tell you that a young Greg Luzinski looked nothing whatsoever like Dylan Cozens. Luzinski looked like a strong 215 wrestler – a classic fullback build and the type of guy whose build is obviously conducive to putting on weight and getting slow over time. Cozens is built more along the lines of Riley Cooper or a lean tight end. Again, I haven’t spent time watching Cozens in the field and, yes, he could get fat or just put on too much muscle weight, but, having seen him, he does not seem like the kind of guy who is going to get too big and too slow by the time he is, say, 27 or 28. Just a semi-informed guess.

    3. I only saw him 3 times but to me he seemed a hell of a lot slower than that. He’s a big, big kid and he’s only going to get bigger. He might…MIGHT be able to replicate Pat Burrell in LF but I dont see him lasting long term out there. He’s fastish now (for his size) but he’s going to fill out like every other 19 year old out there.

      He has decent instincts out there at least…so there’s that.

        1. I tried to think of the most harmless thing…something that could never, ever possibly destroy us….Mr. Stay Puft!

  2. I think you could add our #5 voted prospect to the list – Carlos Tocci. When we talk about him, one of the big ifs that always comes up is “if he puts on 20 pounds”. If this does not happen, his likelihood of success is minimal. If he does manage to fill out into his 6’2″ frame, the reports are that he becomes a viable MLB prospect (maybe viable is not the right word there – perhaps I should say “much more likely MLB player).

    1. Good point – he’s the Severino Gonzalez of position players.

      I guess only hefty catchers, (if they remain mobile enough to block balls in the dirt), hefty and pitchers, (if their delivery is simple enough and repeatable and their stuff is good enough), get a pass from these considerations. And of course guys who are well put together in general.

    2. I dont think there’s a question of whether or not Tocci will fill out…its more a question of how long it will take given his youth.

  3. I think Seve’s size is less of an issue for me. I always thought throwing a lot of innings had little to do with a pitcher’s weight and much more about the strength of their arm (and elbow and rotater cuff). Maybe he won’t be able to hold velocity as long in starts at 160-170 pounds, but he also might be more athletic and able to repeat his delivery safely compared to the big boys.

    For me the issue with Seve is that he has been carving up the lower minors because of his polish and command and not his stuff. He may need more stuff to succeed in the higher minors and that might be a small way his size works against him if he can only hold 90-92 mph velocity out of the bullpen versus being Tyler Cloyd as a starter.

  4. I think decent comps for Gonzalez and his size are Ramon Ortiz and Juan Guzman. Both came up in their mid twenties, so they had time to put on some weight, but they were really skinny. Ortiz didn’t even pitch in organized ball until his early 20s, and Guzman never threw over 130 innings in the minors. Neither was over 6 foot tall, both were very lean and both pitched a ton of MLB innings. I remember Guzman having a mid 90s fastball and sharp slider, so that’s where I’m ending the comp.

    1. Yeah, Guzman was pretty nasty for a good bit there. He was close to a workhorse in his career, though he did wind up being listed at 5’11” 190lbs on the back of his rookie card, so not sure how slight he actually was – lean for sure. Figure that’s about 200lbs. or so on Severino at 6’1″. If he’s really 153 right now, he’s got a long way to go to build out to around 200. Maybe closer to a Lincecum body in a couple years – he’s listed 5’11” 170lbs. He’s been extremely durable over his 7 year career.

      1. We really should stop comparing Gonzalez to guys that throw in the mid 90s like Lincecum and Ortiz (or Pedro). In my mind his path to success is one like Tim Hudson. Solid but not lights out stuff but a good athlete who can repeat his delivery that has command on 4 pitches and is just a good, solid all around athlete.

        1. Agreed – not intended as a comparison of skill sets. More a contrast of what kind of pitcher can hold up under less than ideal physical conditions. That we can’t name more than a handful of recent examples of small guys who have had successful starting careers should give us all pause, I think.

          1. The pause for thought is also that his best Phillies recent physical comparison is probably Elizardo Ramirez. Ramirez is now listed at 180, but I think was more like 160 when he was carving up the lower minors. Guys with command are sometimes really good in the lower minors and get exposed in the upper minors. Gonzalez may have a little better stuff than Ramirez, but I don’t think the difference is huge.

      2. I would like to point that they call Tim Lincecum the “Freak” for a reason. He is insanely athletic, which is why his delivery and everything work for him, and probably won’t work for anyone else.

        1. And why, given his slight stature, he seems already to have lost most of the velocity his once-freakish natural abilities gave him. Lincecum pitches like a 3 or a 4 these days – he’s nothing special.

  5. As if projecting baseball skills is not hard enough we now need to guess how young athleties bodies are going to develop?
    Like all populations there is going to be a average and those who deviate from the ideal are going to be in question. Though I agree that body development could significantly impact skill development, I’d prefer to keep the discussion in skill projection terms.

    I guess I still do not see the correlation between bigger and wearing down sooner. Most high stamina athletes are smaller.

    1. I’ll let the scouts guess, based on experience with seeing different body types grow up, but I fell like once we have that information, we’d do ourselves a service to understand the varying types of concerns as best we can.

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