Making Plus EV Draft Choices

When betting on sports or playing poker, we are trying to think probabilistically in how much we expect to win for every dollar that we bet. For example, if I have a flush draw, I have roughly 36% equity to win the hand, and so if the pot is $100, betting half the pot ($50), my pot odds would be 33%, and I would be making a +EV bet, since 36%>33%. We can apply this logic in the draft as well.

Most draft models that I have seen focus too much on where in the draft a player was taken, rather than the signing bonus the player received. As more nuanced fans of the draft know, teams like to draft a player a bit higher than they normally would if that player agrees to take a signing bonus lower than the slot value of the pick. This is a very important concept of the draft, and one that is overlooked by common fans (which isn’t their fault, it isn’t even explained by the analysts that are commentating during the draft).

To see if we are making +EV plays in the draft, we have to figure out what percentage of the time we think a player will make it to the majors, and what his WAR (or similar valuation) will be over the course of his career. These would be very difficult to calculate, but if we had some templates already built in, that would make it a lot better. For instance, if we had historical data on players that were rated with 60 power, 50 hit, 60 speed, 60 defense, and 40 arm, we could have a rough idea of how those players are doing in the majors and what their WAR is.

However, lets say that we are in a fantasy land have perfect information about a potential draft pick. This player has been determined to have a 10% chance of making the majors, and that he would generate an average of 6 WAR for his first 6 seasons in the majors, if he makes it. For this, let’s assign $3 million per 1 WAR, which is less than the “going rate”(I think the $8 million WAR is pretty useless) but more accurate given the renewal and arbitration. I might be off, but it doesn’t really affect the formulas. Our pot here is $18 million (18 WAR * 3). To make the signing bonus +EV, you would have to offer around $2 to be a push, since 2/20=10%, and less than $2 million for this to be +EV.

To make an accurate model, it would require a large database of not only signing bonus and WAR data, but also previous scout grade data as well, which obviously changes from team to team and is not publicly available. Also, hopefully I am not rehashing work that someone has done already. I haven’t seen this take before, but obviously I could be missing things. Anyways, thank you for reading and hopefully you got something out of this article.

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Thoughts about Narratives and Not Getting Enough Live Looks

Someone over at the Prospects Live team (Ralph Lifshitz?) made a really good point recently about how draft writers use one viewing to judge an entire player’s body of work. The player in question was Shane McClanahan I think, and about how he tops at 102. Ralph pointed out that he only did that once, and was sitting 93-96 and T98 for most of the summer. While I did a terrible job of telling the story, the sentiment was great. 95% of prospect writers (and myself included), do not get enough looks, and instead rely on second or third hand reports. Something to keep in mind when reading my stuff. I am just not able to get many live looks, save for Indiana University. However, I am pretty cognizant of that and I think I always have been. For my reports, I always try to base things off of athleticism, which isn’t really measured, bat speed, which you can see, and movement for pitchers. I don’t want that to sound as if I don’t believe in measuring things like velocity or exit velo or anything else. In this day and age, velocity is so easy to develop that I don’t think that it is a good indicator of future success. I pretty much assume that once a pitcher gets into pro ball, he’s going to get into the mid 90’s or higher. What is a separator for me is the offspeed stuff. Guys with 60+ curves and 90-92 fastballs are nearly always going to rank higher for me 94-96 guys with 50 offspeed, just because I assume that the first guy is going to get into the mid 90’s. Anyways, this is kind of a long tangent, but I thought that I would get it out there so that I could get a conversation going on this.

My posting history is abysmal as usual, but I want to crank out a few articles over winter break. I have been doing a lot of work scouting senior-signs, which will be featured on the site. Senior-signs are my bread and butter, so I want to write some good content for them.

2019 High School Shortstop Preview

Venturing into the world of high school talent is a scary trip. However, I am feeling particularly brave so let’s look at a few.

Bobby Witt Jr.-Coleyville Heritage HS TX

Witt is that high school player that has been touted as 1-1 since he was 15 years old. With the emergence of Adley Rutschman I do not think he will do it, and I almost feel he might have a Brice Turang sort of drop. As someone who likes Turang a lot, this is not a diss at all. Witt has plus raw power with a plus arm, which is one of my favorite combinations. However, I don’t love his hit tool (40/50) and the plate discipline is not great. Also, the raw power just doesn’t match the game power, which really limits him. I feel like that puts him out of 1-1 contention and I would not be surprised to see him in the 15-20 range of the first round. He is old for the draft(19 years old at draft), and that is more significant than more people think. However, with how analytically minded teams are these days, I am sure they are well aware of that. Overall, he has a nice set of tools, but I just don’t love him as much as others do, and I never quite got the hype for him. I would love to be proven wrong though.

CJ Abrams-Blessed Trinity HS GA

Abrams is the classic high school shortstop. He has a lot of athleticism and runs well, but his bat is lacking. Has 70 speed and an above average arm, and should stick at shortstop. Skinny frame at 6’2 180, and I feel like the 180 is generous. Abrams has average bat speed, with below average raw power. However, I think he has potential to have above average raw power as he fills out. Looks to have an average hit tool, might get to above average. Abrams should stick at shortstop, and I see him as a first round pick. Not sure if he is a top 10 guy as I have seen some say, but a lot can change between now and June.

Matthew Lugo- Beltran Academy PR

Lugo is young for the draft, who will be 18 and 1 month at the draft. Projectable frame, at 6’1 185. Above average tools across the board, except his raw power is just average. I like his swing, if he adds some more bat speed I think he can be really dangerous. Really athletic, but I am not sure how much I love his glove. I think he can handle shortstop, and it will be interesting to follow this spring and summer. I have him as a early second round guy, but I would not be surprised if he gets into the first,

Myles Austin-Westlake HS GA

Another young guy for his draft(18.3), with another projectable frame at 6’3 180. Above average bat speed and raw power. Another swing that impressed me, and leads me to believe there is more power in the future. Plus arm strength, is also a pitcher and has topped at 91. Athletic, especially for his size. There is a trend of taller shortstops, and he fits in. Another second round talent, excited to see how he does.

Nasim Nunez

There is a lot to like about Nasim Nunez. His speed is plus, and his glove is the best out of all the shortstops in the draft. He also has a plus arm. However, there are some things working against him. He is only 5’9 160, which is small, even for a shortstop. Also, he is a bit old(18.8), but that is not too bad. His hit tool is only average, and the raw power is fringy average. I like his bat speed though. The height will make him drop, but if he drops past the second round, there is a lot of value for the team that looks over the preferables.

Others

Brooks Lee(San Luis Obispo HS CA), Anthony Volpe(Delbarton HS NJ), Dilan Rosario(Leadership Christian HS PR), Jaden Brown(St. Marcellinus HS CAN), Kyren Paris(Freedom HS CA), Tyler McKenzie(Benjamin HS FL)

 

Interview with Andy Mocahbee

One thing that never ceases to amaze me about social media is how easy it is to get in touch with someone. That happened recently, as I shot a DM to our featured guest today, asking for an interview, and got a response within an hour. Our special guest today is Andy Mocahbee, former Georgia State standout catcher, who is now a coach for his alma mater and just finished up his first season of independent baseball. An NAIA player mixed with Indy ball is quite honestly my favorite type of ball player, so I am lucky to have this interview. This question and answer session goes over how recruiting works at the NAIA level, how MLB scouts follow NAIA teams, and underlooked aspects of running an NAIA program. A fantastic insight, and hopefully you enjoy!

Do you feel that the NAIA has any advantages recruiting over a D1 team, or even at D2, D3 program?

I don’t feel we have many advantages over division 1 teams.  A lot of kids in high school or coming out of junior college want to go D1 rather than anywhere else.  As far as D2 and D3, it really just depends on which schools. I know D3’s are usually expensive and do not give baseball scholarships so I feel we have an advantage in that aspect.

Are you able to go out to showcases to recruit, or are most of your recruits found at team run camps?  We usually find most of our recruits at showcases we attend.  However we do occasionally find a player in our own camps.

Where does most of your recruiting class come from? Are you stuck in recruiting only from Georgia, or are you able to venture out into the Midwest or Pacific Coast?

Most of our recruiting class is from Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.  However we do have a couple guys from Michigan. We don’t discriminate on where the player is from.  We will take a player from anywhere. Last year we had a guy from California.

How does recruiting from junior college work? Do you have specific pipelines from programs or coaches, or do you actively look through stats to find players that you might want to pursue?

I would say both.  Here at Middle Ga State University, us coaches knows all the junior college coaches around here so we are always in contact with them.  However, we do keep an eye out on stats.

It always interests me to see former D1 players transferring to NAIA. An example that sticks out to me was Joe Gillette who transferred from Arizona State to Menlo, and was a senior sign last year. Is this something that Middle Georgia State pursues?  

Absolutely.  For as long as I have been here, we have always had a couple guys every year that went to a Division 1 school at some point in their college careers.  Some notable schools are Kennesaw State, Southeast Louisiana, Morehead State, University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Louisiana Monroe just to name a few.

Do MLB scouts visit at all, and how to they approach you? Is it something where they have a particular player in mind, and contact you beforehand saying that they are stopping by to see this player, or is there not much contact?

Yes scouts do come.  They usually do contact beforehand.  Or they will ask to follow one of our players and keep up with him throughout the season.

What are your relationships with independent baseball like? I know you played for the New Jersey Jackals last year, are they or other independent teams contacting you about players on the team that deserve a shot in independent baseball?

I know a lot of Independent managers and coaches.  No they don’t contact me personally asking for players.  However, they have contacted our head coach in the past. After I failed to sign with the Miami Marlins last year and had to get shoulder surgery, a couple contacted our head coach asking about players and that is actually how I got hooked up with independent baseball.

It seems that there is a certain mentality of NAIA baseball team, especially online and on Twitter. Almost a sense of the “Wild West” and anything goes. Has your team embraced that at all?  

Very little.  In the past couple years we have engaged a little bit with the NAIA Ball Twitter page but we usually like to keep our noses clean and show out on the field.

How have analytics and developmental programs Driveline affected the way your team is run?

Our pitching coach uses a lot of driveline techniques for arm recovery and arm strengthening things with our pitchers.

What is one thing about college baseball that fans might not realize go on? For instance, holding a pancake breakfast to raise funds for the club.  

We hold an annual golf tournament every fall for a fundraiser to help raise some money for our program.  We do a lot of community service things as a team including Buddy Ball. Buddy Ball is where we go and play some baseball with kids with disabilities which our guys always enjoy. We also go and read to elementary school kids like twice a year.  However, I don’t think fans really understand the brotherhood the players have with each other. I mean they spend literally 24/7 with each other and end up very close.

Similarly, as for most smaller schools admission is free, how can your average person support his or her favorite college team financially?

Simply by donating.  We obviously do not have the budget like a lot of bigger schools so donations to our program are always helpful.

 

Southeastern Baseball Fall Review

I still am not done with my NAIA draft research, but I wanted to do a team review today. What better way to start this off than by taking a look at the defending champs, Southeastern?

The fact that Dan Valerio was not drafted last year surprised me. I don’t really believe in anti-NAIA bias in the draft, most of the guys with great stats just don’t have MLB quality tools. Valerio is in between. Has above average power, but the plate discipline is not great and I’m not sold on the defense either. He did earn a Cape Cod invite this year though, which is always a great sign. Look for a team like the Astros to take him next year. They took Seth Beer, I don’t know why they would not be interested in Valerio if he keeps this up.

I love guys who walk more than they strikeout. It’s old fashion I know, but that level of plate disciple is just as much of a tool as having plus raw power. Dominic Anagnos, who played fall ball at Purdue before transferring to JUCO, had a great year last year in terms of plate discipline, with a 19/33 K/BB ratio. He has average bat speed and below average power, which limits his pro potential significantly. Anagnos is draftable if he his plate discipline stays the same, and hopefully some power comes along.

Southeastern’s pitching staff takes a big hit, with Eddie Jimenez and Jonathan Bermudez, along with Jordan Scott graduating. However, Felix Dieguez looks to fill step up after an impressive season last year. Dieguez had a 4.10 ERA in 68.0 innings with 83 strikeouts and 26 walks. Not sure if he is a draftable talent next year, but he put up a nice stat line this past season.

Overall, I really like this Southeastern team, and I see three potential senior signs out of the group. It is hard to say if there are any non seniors that will get drafted, that should get clearer as we get into spring. It is an exciting time to be a Southeastern fan, and they should be in national championship contention next year.

Feel free to leave a comment about any players on Southeastern or a different program that deserve a look. I am only one person and can’t cover everything, so I would love to hear what you all have to say.

New Series: 2019 NAIA Draft

 

Little bit of housekeeping before we start this post. I have been doing a lot of work on a model to predict elections. I think it would be neat considering how close we are to the midterm elections. Can’t believe it has been two years since Trump got elected. Whether you like him or not, it is still unbelievable that he is president; I feel like it happened yesterday. Anyways, it has been really tough, and there is a lot of work to be done. My home state is Indiana, so that election is naturally what I have been trying to model. In the Senate, I may not like it, but I get the feeling that Braun will pull this one out. Still a lot of time however.

The other part I want to announce, and let’s face it more important, is that I will be doing a three part NAIA series, highlighting players that deserve a draft look for 2019. It will be split into pitchers, infielders, and outfielders. I think this will be a big hit, since who doesn’t like NAIA ball? Honestly, I think the only people that don’t like the NAIA are the people who kick puppies.

Hope everyone has had a nice week so far. If you like my prior work, please follow me on Twitter or leave a comment.

 

Interesting JUCO Freshman: The Finale!

Thought it would be fun to use finale in a title and add an exclamation point. Anyways, once you get to seven parts of a series, it starts to feel redundant and uninspiring, so I am going to cut this short. Here are the rest of the players who I am interested in this spring, and players you should put on your follow list.

 

The other reason is because I have school and also working a lot on my coding skills in R, which has taken a lot of time. Don’t worry, I still am going to do writing, but I just want to dedicate time to working on this useful skill. With that though, I am planning on doing some charts, graphs, plots, etc. on college data so that should be both fun and useful for you the reader, and me the author.

 

Thanks for the patience everyone. Should have known college would be taking up a lot of time, just got to start scheduling my days better.

 

Here is the list:

 

Corey Rosier-OF-Chipola

Jonathan Alonso-1B-State College of Florida

Manny Gonzalez-OF-Wabash Valley

Kameron Wells-OF-Miami-Dade

Will Nigut-RHP-Kirkwood

Levi Usher-OF-Kirkwood

Luke Patzner-RHP-Heartland CC

Thomas Grilli-C-Panola

Dalton Moore-Iowa Western

Kade Vander Molen-SS-Iowa Western

Jake Sweeney-LHP-Pensacola State

Levi Usher-OF-Kirkwood

Hunter Milam-LHP-Memphis Gulf Coast CC

Yordy Cabrera-RHP-Palm Beach State

Tyler Woessner-RHP-Central Arizona CC

Jacob Kush-RHP-Northwest Florida State CC

Tyrin Pacheco-College of Southern Nevada

Nolan Daniel-Tallahassee CC

Silas Butler-OF-Walters State CC

Zach Smith-1b-Harford CC

Chipola/San Jacinto Freshman to Watch

In an effort to speed this up a bit, I am going to make this post a bit longer, and do the rest of the player bios for freshman playing to Chipola and San Jacinto this spring. I knew coming into this series that these schools would have the most players, so why not do the remaining ones in one post. For fans of either Chipola or San Jacinto, I have done player bios on others in previous installments of this series, check them out!

One question I have for readers is that I have seen a lot more pitchers with a slight crossfire motion. Is this a trend? I feel like it is not, but I did not do as much research for the draft this year as I did last year. I went to a lot of college games over at Valparaiso University and Purdue Northwest, and I don’t recall seeing too many. I am interested to hear what people have to say.

San Jacinto

Yanick Rodriguez-SS

Undrafted, old for the draft at 18 years and 11 months. Previously a New Orleans commit. Projectable frame at 6’1 170, should get to around 180-185. Above average speed, solid range and arm strength. Slight open stance, big leck kick. I don’t mind big leg kicks as long as he is consistent. Average bat speed, tends to get above the ball. Shows good raw power. Profiles more at second base in pro ball.

Bryant Salgado-RHP

Previously had a commitment to Rice. Solid frame 6’1 185, could get to 195-200. Fastball sits 88-92, with and has hit 93. Average curveball with solid depth that is a mid 70’s pitch. Above average arm speed and solid balance. Dark horse candidate to be drafted this year, has a projectable frame and San Jacinto has a great track record of developing pitchers(4 in 2018).

Chase Wilkerson-RHP

Previous commitment to Florida State. 6’0 180. 87-91 fastball, gets some arm side movement.  Average 11/5 movement on the curveball, sits in the low 70s. Really balanced and has clean arm action, very little effort. Another average right handed pitcher, probably not good enough to warrant a draft pick in 2019.

Brandon Deskins-LHP

Another Rice commit. Super projectable at 6’0 160. Throws from a ¾ arm slot with a crossfire delivery. Loopy arm action, pulls the ball behind his back, gets good extension. Sweeping curve with 1/7 action and sits in low 70s, is above average. Fastball is upper 80s and has hit 91 with some movement. Has flashed a change, is a work in progress but flashes average with some drop. Not sure if he is a draft talent in 2019, but I would not be surprised if he ends up getting drafted and out producing the rest of the San Jacinto pitchers.

Chipola

David Smith-C

6’2 185, could get bigger. Slightly open stance, left handed stance, shows above average raw power and bat speed. Swings down and has a flat attack angle. Above average arm behind the plate, athletic behind the plate and blocks well. Should stick behind the plate, can play first but would lessen his value.

 

Andrew Moore-RHP

Big frame at 6’5 200. PG 296. Old for HS at 18/9 mo at draft. Fastball sits 87-90 and tops at 92. Deceptive delivery with ¾ arm slot, reminds me of Taylor Jungmann. Gets heavy sink on the fastball. Offspeed is inconsistent, arm angles vary and does not look confident throwing it. In between a curve and slider, has slurve like action. Could be a sinker/slider type reliever in pro ball. Lots of potential, but is pretty raw.

Corey Rosier-OF

PG 351. 5’10 170. Plus runner in the outfield, good instincts and should cover centerfield well. Below average arm that should get better with age. Has a doubles swing, but with average to above average raw power. Profiles as a fourth outfielder right now, could see that change if he adds a bit more power to his swing.

Interesting JUCO Freshman Pt. 6

Sorry for this long break, school has been busy and I have been working hard at that. Unfortunately, I can’t go through school without studying anymore. Those were the days.

Jared Hart-OF-San Jacinto

Undrafted in 2018. PG 249. Originally committed to Vanderbilt. Slender frame at 6’3 180. Average runner with good defensive instincts. Below average arm. Slightly open stance with a lot of movement in his hands. Above average raw power and bat speed, not much lift to the baseball. Not a huge fan, but a Vandy commit always catches my eye.

Daniel Cerda-SS-Chipola

Undrafted, PG 311. Super thin frame at 5’11 150. Projectable, but probably won’t get up to more than 180, most likely 170. Slight open stance, solid attack angle and balance. Above average bat speed with below average power. Should get more power as frame builds out. Good defender, projects to stick at shortstop. Plus arm. I love projectable athletes with great arms and he fits the mold. Excited to see how he does this spring.

Riley Watkins-RHP-Itawamba CC

Undrafted. Big frame at 6’5 210. Shows an average fastball at 85-88 top 90 with little movement. Offspeed is average as well, curve in the low 70s and changeup in the mid 70s. Iffy command and not very athletic. Doubtful to be drafted in the next two years, needs a lot of development.

Tyler Lewis-RHP-Indian Hills CC

Undrafted, PG 382. Physically maxed out at 6’4 235. Fastball sits 88-93, topped at 95 with plus movement and splitter in mid 80s. Solid low 70s curveball with solid depth, 12-6 action, inconsistent. Average command. High effort delivery that comes from a ¾ arm slot. Slight crossfire action with poor balance, and leans towards 3rd base side, average extension.  

Also played the field, has plus power. Could get drafted with a solid spring, 20-30 round talent.

Interesting JUCO Freshman Part 5

This series has been going on for awhile, but now I have a bit more direction for this. I made a list of all of the freshman I want to write about still, and it came out to twenty nine. I like doing four per particle, so we are looking at 7 more articles left, including this one. Once I am done with all of these, I will make a post that will just be master list of all of the articles I have wrote. Along with that, there will be a link to a Google sheet which will have all of the players I have written about in a database that will include tool grades and links to the articles. As the season progresses, there will be updates to the database, which will be updated to the best of my ability.

Michael Fitzpatrick-RHP-San Jacinto

Fitzpatrick isn’t overpowering in any one area, but he does a lot of things well. 6’2 190, could add a bit more to his frame, athletic. His fastball sits 84-88 and has topped out at 90. Offspeed is nothing crazy the slider is average and the curve and change are below aver. Slider is solid and gets nice tilt. Mechanically, it is a bit forced. Long arm action and his legs are kind of stiff. Good balance, except when he drops to the lower arm slot. Has a tendency to lean to 3rd base side. Mostly throws from a ¾ but then will drop down to a low ¾ slot. Doubtful to be drafted next year, more 2020 guy.

Chance Denson-RHP-East Mississippi CC

Undrafted in 2018. PG 168. Former Mississippi St. commit. Physically mature at 6’3 220. Questionable character stemming from alleged sexual assault case, charges dropped. Solid mechanically, slight crossfire, stays pretty balanced, not super explosive. Large back leg drop. Fastball sits low 90s and has topped at 95. Not much movement and is fairly straight because of large back leg drop. Slider is an average pitch with slurve like action,75-80. Change is below average, not much drop,74-78. Should get drafted next year.

Logan Jarosz-RHP-Chipola

Undrafted in 2018. PG 480. Old school wind up with the hands over head and high leg kick. Throws from a high ¾ slot. 5’11 180, could add more to the frame. Good athlete. Long arm circle with fast arm speed. Fastball is 87-90 and topped 91, coming from a downhill plane. Above average curve that sits 75-78 and has 11-5 break. Did well in the Coastal Plains League this summer(37 IP 31/20 K/BB 5.35 ERA). Bias against short righties might make him go undrafted but I see him as a 20-30 round talent, if he is willing to sign.

Silas Butler-OF-Walters State

Undrafted in 2018. PG 472. 6’2 205, physically mature for his body type. Slightly open stance with back foot turned in. Above average raw power, plus bat speed. Swing path is more like a line drive hitter. Above average runner. Good defender with an above average arm and solid instincts in center field. Athletic, should be able to stick in center. Another 20-30 round talent.