Break down of Marlin's top 7 hitting specs

1) Mike Stanton

You hate to say a guy is a sure-fire allstar, but, it doesn't get much better than him.

Some will probably make something off his drop in HRs, how he didn't even eclipse 30 this year after hitting nearly 40 last year. He also had quite the power drop in Jax, putting up "only" a .224 ISO.

However, here's he's break down of park adjusted HR/FB (% of flyballs hit into the OF that go for HRs):

08 Greensboro: 27.22%
09 Jupiter: 26.76%
09 Jacksonville: 26.5%

I could only find one player in all of pro ball that beat Mike Stanton in Park Adjusted HR/FB%: Adrian Gonzalez, who blasted 40 HRs while playing half his games in PetCO (And who's park adjusted HR total falls at 55). That's just how legit Mike Stanton's power is as a 19 year old.

The only thing holding him back is his K's. So, what, his worst case scenario is putting up Russell Branyan's career line while playing above average defense in RF?

Meanwhile he tantalized us with a great Jupiter performance, where he only struck out 21.5% of the time. His May was especially amazing, finishing with a 0.79 BB/K, dropped his K% to 17%, and also launched 8 bombs (Park adjusted line for may: .309/.400/.734/1.134...with a .290 BABIP).

I think it's a bit much to completely hold onto one amazing month, and I think K's will still be a problem for him. Right now I have him at a:

.259/.346/.531/.877 line

That's while still striking out 1 in every 3 ABs, launching 40 HRs with 30 doubles, a .310 BABIP, and walking 11%. There might be room to grow in BB%, however outside of his Jupiter mastering of the strike zone, here's his uBB% for Greensboro and Jax: 9.5%, 8.9%. So I'm already putting him at improvement there based off his power.

Going then to defense, he has a very impressive career TZ/150 in RF of +15. He's even shown that he's right now an above average CFer, having a +5 rating in 200 chances. However, as he grows, his defense will go down and he will likely not be able to handle CF. Right now I have him at +7 runs defensively, but it will be interesting to see just how good he will be. I also have him at +1 on the basepaths due to his athleticism, and based off the fact he has not been stealing bases in the minors, so it'll likely be a wash for him.

All in all that would put him in the 4-4.5 WAR range over 150 games. If he becomes a Russell Branyan career-line like player, we're still talking about a 2.5-3.0 WAR player. His downside is basically that he becomes a slightly above average RFer. Meanwhile, if he starts getting in the mid 40 to 50 plus HR range, or he gets a better command of the strike zone like he did in Jupiter, he will be a top line power hitter in all of baseball.

2) Matt Dominguez

I'm going to focus more on why he's above Logan in Logan's section. For now, I'm just going to focus on why he's here.

I've constantly read that people are down on him for his Jupiter performance after what he did in Greensboro. This, to me, makes no sense.

Here is his park adjusted greensboro line: .296/.354/.472/.827
Park adjusted line for jupiter: .273/.343/.449/.791

36 point OPS difference, that's still pretty decent bit. However, there's also the fact that the FSL is a lot more of a pitchers park. He had a 132 OPS+ in Greensboro. Jupiter? 130.

His peripherals also weren't much difference. One of the main things was that he increased his walking (7.3% to 8.9%) while cutting his K's (17.9% to 15.9%). His park adjusted ISO barely showed a difference either, going from .177 down to .176. THere certainly was a difference in HRs, as even park adjusted them gave him a HR/150 of 26 in Greensboro, just 20 in jupiter. However, he also hit 2b's at a much higher rate. Really, the big difference between the minimal difference in OPS between the two years is that he had a .328 adjusted BABIP in Greensboro, but .298 in Jupiter. Meanwhile he went from walking at a below average rate to an above average rate, while cutting his K's, and keeping his power.

So, why are people disappointed in his Jupiter again?

Now his Jax performance was certainly quite bad. Even park adjusted it only rises it to a .196/.298/.340/.638 performance, good for a 79 OPS+. His power dropped (just 11 HR/150 and a .144 ISO), his BABIP was terrible at .236, and his K rate rose to 21% (the first time he's finished above the league average rate).

But that's looking skin deep. When he swung the bat, he was still making contact. Here's his % of times striking out swinging by league:

Greensboro: 13.7%
Jupiter: 13.2%
Jax: 12.3%

It has actually improved as he has gone higher.

The issue? He has struck out looking 8.8% of the time in Jax, compared to 3.4% between Greens and Jup. Combine the fact that he raised his BB% all the way up to 12.3%, and it shows he just wasn't swinging the bat much at all.

It's been said the jump to AA is the hardest jump a player will make, even harder then the jump to the majors. For now, Dominguez has a lot of adjusting to do to AA pitching. However, one thing to remember is that he was just 19 years old. Only 6 other hitters were of 19 years of age in the Southern league. Two of those only played in a dozen or less games (Brett Lawrie and Carlos Truinfel). The other 4? Mike Stanton, Starlin Castro, Jason Heyward, and Freedie Freeman. Yeah, I would say he's in good company.

Defensively, the book has been written a thousand times with the fact that scouts think he's already MLB ready with the glove. He saved 12 runs in just 215 chances for Jupiter this past season, for a TZ/150 of +20 runs. Adjusted for league, that puts him on par with a +14.5 ML defensive player. Even regressing 50% still puts him at +7 runs.

All together, assuming a bit drop in BB (8%), a bit up in K (19%), nothing special BABIP (.300), as well as putting him down for 22 HRs and 30 2b/3b (.168 ISO), that gives him a .262/.326/.431/.757 line. If we assume he's dead even on the base paths, and a +10 defender, that puts him at a 3 WAR player. If he can become a 25-30 HR player instead of a 20-25 HR player, that basically makes him an Adrian Beltre clone. It's hard atm to project him anymore than that though. However, he's downside is basically a Pedro Feliz-like player, meaning he's going to be starting somewhere.

3) Logan Morrison

So why so down on Morrison?

Mostly, there's the power shortage. Yeah, he had a HR/150 of 25 in Greensboro. But he also then became a line drive hitter, and has then put up a 17 HR/150 in Jupiter and 15 HR in Jax. 15-20 HR power just isn't very good at all. Yeah, there's the walks (Although he's not going to walk nearly as much as he did this year in Jax in the majors), yeah there's the good K rate. Yeah there's the above average ability for BABIP. He's going to be an above average hitter compared to the league.

But he's a first base man. The average 1b OPS this past season was .845. For this millennium, it's .836. First basemen are SUPPOSE to be above average hitters.

If we put him down for 20 HRs, 35 Doubles/Triples (.175 ISO, so asking him for an uppage based off age), 12% BB rate, 16% K rate, and a .320 BABIP, that gives him a .284/.375/.458/.833 line. Out of 19 qualified 1b's this past season, only two finished with a worse OPS.

Ontop of which, he hasn't really shown himself to be a good defender, at least going by Total Zone. For his career, he has a league adjusted TZ/150 of -10. Now the good news is it has been improving to the point of being positive this past season (-11 in Greensboro, -4 in Jupiter, +5 in Jacksonville), and the scouting report is that he's about average with poor range but good hands. But it's hard to really say anything but him being below average atm. And, being a big lumbering first baseman, it's unlikely he's a plus on the base paths.

So if we assume that .833 OPS, with -5 runs defensively, and -1 runs on the base paths, that puts him at just a 2 WAR. Not exactly impressive, is it?

Yes, you hope that that OPS starts sitting in the .850-.900 OPS range, you hope that he's around average defensively. This puts him to the 3-3.5 WAR range. But as of now, the power has not showed up. That's not to say it won't. I mean, a former Florida Marlins top first base prospect was only suppose to have 20 HR power, and he went on to hit 40 HRs in PetCO this past season. But until it happens, it hasn't happened.

This then gets us more to the point of Dominguez v.s. Morrison. The difference between Dominguez being a great defender at third and Morrison being a bad defender at first is somewhere between 25 to 30 runs. Going with the base line that 10 runs = 40 OPS points, that means that Morrison has to be out OPS Dominguez about 100 points to be as valuable as Dominguez is. So if Dominguez puts up a .750-.800 OPS, that means that Morrison has to put up his own .750-800 OPS. This kind of goes into the whole "1b's are traditionally overrated, 3b's are traditionally underrated" mindset.

Another major cause of concern: although it's a small sample size, Logan has not shown an ability to hit LHP. Throughout his career, his power is significantly worse (.183 ISO vs .136), he strikes out significantly more (21% v.s. 14%), and his walks are down aswell (9% v.s. 13%). His BB/K against RHP is more than double that against LHP (0.44 v.s. 0.97). It got even worse as he went to AA this past season and saw lefties that could actually throw breaking balls. He had nearly as many strike outs against LHP than he did RHP (21 v.s. 26) even though he only had 102 PA against LHP, 267 against RHP.

Now if he can still be a mid 700 OPS or so bat against LHP, than hey, he won't need a platoon. But he might end up being a platoon bat, which greatly lowers what his value is.

4) Jake Smolinski

Smolinski's line in his first season with the Marlins wasn't too impressive. He finished with a park adjusted line of .283/.379/.437/.816. The OBP certainly sticks out, but you'd love to see more power. Still, a .84 BB/K is very impressive.

Most have compared him to ROTY Chris Coghlan: Good approach, good BB/K, not much raw HR power but good gap power. Their Greensboro lines were certainly interesting in comparison.

BB%: 12%/14%
K%: 13%/12%
HR/150: 12/14
ISO: .154/.177
BABIP: .320/.354

The main thing that sticks out is the BABIP difference, as well as the gap power difference. The first though has a high luck variance, and for the second Chris Coghlan was two years older than Smolinski was this past season. Coghlan, 22 at the time, was a bit older than league average (21.7). Smolinski, 20, was below.

So the difference in power should lower in time. Still, overall he's a little weaker than CC, since ontop of the power he also strikes out a tick more and walks a tick less.

If we give him a 10% BB rate, 15% K rate, .130 ISO (11 HRs and 40 doubles), and a .310 BABIP, that gives him a .270/.348/.400/.748 line. Very solid for a 2b/3b, very less so if he's forced to move to the OF. For now, I'm assume he's staying in the IF though. Considering the scouting report on him isn't all too promising though, and his milb defensive numbers aren't too impressive, I currently have him at -3 runs. Overall, that would put him as a 2 WAR player. Real decent.

5) Gaby Sanchez

First thing I want to say is the final 3 really are interchangeable. They're all really bench bats/not very good starters.

Gaby Sanchez gets the nod here for his possible ability to play third base. If he can actually play the position fine (up to, say, -5 runs defensively), he'd actually likely make an average starter. This is in question though, as the Marlins have bounced him back and forth between 1b and 3b in the minors (62 games at 3b, 69 at 1b in '08. 41 at 3b, 45 at 1b this past season).

One of the more questionable things about Gaby has been his power. He burst on the scene by putting up a monster year in Greensboro, finish with a park adjusted line of .317/.447/.571/1.019 and a HR/150 of 33. His power almost completely disappeared the next year in Jupiter though, as his park adjusted ISO dropped nearly 100 points, and HR/150 was just 13. His park adjusted line wasn't all that bad though at .290/.378/.459/.837, good for a 134 OPS+.

Carolina saw a jump in power again. While Carolina helped him finish the double total he did, he still finished with a park adjusted ISO of .199, and improved his HR/150 to 21.

This past season in NO though yet again brings up questions. He finished with a park-adjusted HR total of 18 in only 370 PA, good for a HR/150 of 32. Even adjusting for the league, by comparing the PCL to the IL, puts him at a 16 HR total, or 28 HR/150.

So where do we go from here? Well, you choose the biggest sample size: his career. He now has a 22 HR/150 for his career. One thing to remember though is that he's constantly been old for the level, making the power he's put up a bit questionable. I'd probably say he's around a 15 HR power, or about ML average.

The rest is pretty cut forward: Awesome BB/K, not particularly good BABIP skills. Assuming a 11% BB rate, 15% K rate, 20 HRs/40 doubles (.155 ISO), and a .300 BABIP gives him a .266/.353/.421/.774 line.

CHONE almost completely agrees with me, with a .267/.354/.419/.773 line. All the peripherals are basically the same. Bill James? not so much. He calls for Gaby to have a massive .185 ISO, launching 15 HRs in just 406 PA (24 HR/150). However, he also had Gaby down for an upper .800 OPS before 09, and his system is known for being extremely optimistic on young players.

Definitely, he was originally thought to be a terrible defender at first base but has made a lot of progress, and the scouts view him as an above average defender although he might be closer to average at first. For now I'd assume something like +3 runs. On the base paths, he's actually pretty decent but again, like almost all players, it's more or less a wash.

All in all this would put him at a 1.76 WAR as a 1B. Not exactly impressive, but you could do a whole lot worse (like, say, Mike Jacobs). If he could manage to be a -5 defender at third, this would jump in his WAR up to 2.3. Total Zone thinks he could do that, but there's certainly a reason the Marlins haven't made him a full time 3b.

6) Bryan Petersen

What a mixed bundle of progressing and stepping backwards this past season.

First, the good. He lowered his strike rate by a ton. After striking out 19% of the time in 2008, he struck out just 13% of the time in '09.

The bad though? After being labeled a potential 20/20 guy after hitting a combined park adjusted HR total of 22 aswell as steal 23 bases, he'd hit just 7 HRs this past season, and finish with nearly as many CS as SB (13 for 25). He'd finish with just a .118 park adjusted ISO for the season. Still, there's some to like about his season line of .306/.377/.425/.801.

One thing to point out about his power outage: almost the entire outage happened at the beginning of the year, where he went over 70 days without a home run.

Since the game where he broke that drought, he put up a .317/.383/.484/.867 line in 206 PA, with a 19/16 BB/K and .323 BABIP. That's a .167 ISO, basically identical to what he did last season. He'd hit 6 HRs in that stretch, which would rate to 19 over 650 PA.

He'd then go to the AFL, where he again showed that same power: He'd hit 3 HRs, 6 doubles, and 3 triples in just 101 PA (Which would again rate to 19 HRs over 650 PA), for a .221 ISO.

So is the power back? Well, plain and simple, the bigger sample size > the smaller sample size. But if he comes back to being a 20 HR threat, he's now a starting OFer at the ML level and jumps up this list.

I'm personally putting him between. I do not think at all he's the slap hitting .100 ISO guy he was this past season, but I think presumption to pencil him back in for a .150 ISO. So instead, I'm giving him a .130 ISO (35 2b/3b, 12 HRs). Combine with his good walk rate (9%), improved K rate (16%), and decent rate of hitting for BABIP (.310), this gives him a .267/.339/.397/.736 line. Not exactly threatening for a starting corner OFer.

However, he's also the only left hander that will appear on this list that does not have a platoon question about him. His BB/K, power, and BABIP are basically identical between the two hands.

He's defense also isn't particularly good. Scouts have labeled him an average defender, and his total zone basically backs that up. And while his baserunning took a step back this past season, he should still be a bit above average. If we put him at +2 at both of those, that puts him at a 1.36 WAR. So, bench bat needless to say. 20 HRs though starts pushing him around the 2.5ish WAR range though, making him a decent starting corner OFer.

7) Scott Cousins

And to wrap it up, Scott Cousins. Offensively, things aren't looking to promising. He walks at a below average rate (7.9% this past season, 8.3% in his career), strikes out at an above average rate (20.1% this past season, 20.8% in his career).

You would hope power could make up for it, but it doesn't look like that will be the case. While he does sit on a career park adjusted ISO of .185, and a HR/150 of 19, he's also regularly been old for the leagues. Ontop of which, he saw a power shortage this past season in Jacksonville, with a HR/150 of 15. While he still finished with a very good .189 ISO, that's also because he hit 11 triples. Since triples aren't exactly a representation of power but rather speed, if we change those to doubles, his ISO drops down to .166, a lot less impressive for a 24 year old in AA.

For now, it looks like he'll only develop into average power. There's certainly potential for more though, especially after what he did last season between Jupiter and Carolina. He'd finish with a park-adjusted ISO of .206, and HR/150 of 25 in 300+ PA.

If he can reach that kind of power production again, things would look a lot better for him.

Unfortunately though, things are what they currently are. Putting him down for 7% BB rate, 23% K rate, .310 BABIP, and 15 HRs/.151 ISO puts him at a .247/.306/.399/.704 line.

The good news, of coarse, is defense. The past three years, he has a TZ/150 of +14 runs in the OF, and that's not adjusting for time in CF (380 chances in CF, 528 in RF, 29 in LF). That's also not including his arm, which is a cannon. He should be about a +10 defender in a corner OF spot, and about average in CF.

He's also a good base runner, stealing 27 bases this past season and should be good for 10-20 SB a year. So about +2 runs on the base paths.

However, that's not enough to make up for his bat. With a .704 OPS, this would just make him a 1.14 WAR player. Certainly some room to hope for improvement, but he's looking more like he'll take the brett carroll defensive replacement OFer spot once Carroll hits arbitration.

Some (somewhat) good news though is he does look like he could become a .730-.750 OPS bat against RHP. While he has shown that he can hit the ball with the same authority v.s. LHP that he does against RHP, the problem is actually hitting the ball. Combined with his defense, this makes him a borderline average starter against RHP. Combine him with a, say, Brett Carroll, who is a borderline average starter against LHP, and you're looking at average production combined. This would not be an ideal situation but he still has some use as a starter even if his power doesn't pick up.

And adding a guy who shouldn't touch a top 50 list but is still someone to keep an eye on

Brandon Tripp.

After hitting .288/.377/.531/.908 Bal's A team (Who's stadium is the equivalent of Jupiter), he'd hit just .236/.402/.698 for their A+ team in '08 (Who's stadium is the equivalent of Greensboro) and was released before the '09 season. The Marlins picked him up and stuck him in Jupiter. As a 24 year old in A+ ball, he should certainly be expected to hit well. And he did. He put up a park adjusted line of .288/.356/.470/.826 with a 24 HR/150.

Most impressively though is what he did to his K rate. After striking out 30.5% of the time in '08, he struck out just 23% of the time this past season. Still high, but much improved.

Another major thing is that Tripp, a left handed batter, has a major split in his career against RHP and it showed last year aswell. His park adjusted line against RHP? .307/.371/.518/.888, with a HR/150 of 31.

He certainly still has a long way to go, but the Marlins have always liked him and re-signed him quickly this offseason, so he'll likely get his due in the minors here. And he's someone to keep an eye on of possibly becoming a bench bat or possibly even a platoon starter down the road.

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