Cincinnati Reds Past and Current Prospect CAL Breakdown

Updated: August 13, 2014

Over the past several weeks, I unveiled a spiffy new statistic – CAL, or Comparison And Likeness. At its core root, CAL, which I based off of Bill James’ Similarity Scores, is a player classification system for prospects – grouping, comparing and analyzing a variety of differently weighted statistics to determine minor league players of similar ilk.

The goal: to provide evidence to help analysts make better educated guesses for prospects’ futures. You can read more about it at Beyond The Box Score in the link above.

Anyway, I thought I’d look at some of the past, current and future (hopefully) members of the Cincinnati Reds big league club. Without further ado…

CAL brings a new level of comparison before a player gets to the bigs.

CAL brings a new level of comparison before a player gets to the bigs.

Devin Mesoraco

Now, where does Mesoraco’s true talent level fall – the backstop swinging a wet noodle for 172 games or the player that’s arguably been the best catcher in baseball this year? Well, it’s likely somewhere in between. Mesoraco’s .330 BABIP is nearly sixty points higher than his career mark and the second highest of his entire professional career – a point CAL had been alluding to all along.

Among his top five CALs include (see image below): a middle-of-the-order impact bat in Travis D’Arnaud, one (maybe two) league average starters in Nick Hundley and JR Murphy, one solid backup in Ryan Lavarnway and a Quad-A guy.

His No. 7 comp, by the way, is Jonathan Lucroy, another 2014 All-Star. Mesoraco’s offensive explosion – he’s topped the league average production by more than 60 percent – seemed like a long-shot considering his mighty early career struggles, but CAL thought otherwise. After years of languishing near the bottom of most statistical measures, Mesoraco, a former top prospect who batted a lowly .225/.282/.359 through his first 175 games, has had a huge coming out party this year, hitting .293/.366/.580 while earning his first nod to the All-Star game.1

Jay Bruce

CAL likened Bruce to a quartet of promising names: Adam Jones, Oswaldo Arcia, Wil Myers and Chris Davis, a group of players with plus-power potential. And just for further evidence of CAL’s power, look at the following wRC+ totals, which is a park-and-league adjusted encompassing offensive stat: 111 for Bruce, 109 for Jones and 121 for Davis.

Zack Cozart

Simply put, Cozart has been the second worst offensive shortstop since the beginning of 2012, hitting a meager .243/.282/.367. And while the former second rounder owns a respectable .270/.332/.421 minor league line, CAL lumped the defensive wizard in with a quintet of light hitting middle infielders (see below).

Career wRC+ totals: 76 (Cozart), 52 (Quintanilla), 80 (Chris Nelson), 99 (Mercer), 74 (Patterson) and Field received just a couple cups o’ coffee.

Billy Hamilton2

Admittedly, I’ve never been as high on Hamilton as most. I questioned his overall ability to hit at the big league level and often likened him to a newer version of Vince Coleman, the original light-hitting speed demon. And the fact that CAL linked Hamilton with a bunch of fourth outfielder-types isn’t that surprising.

Remember: CAL only looks at a player’s offensive contributions, so Hamilton’s production could still hover below the league average and be a valuable player thanks to his defense.

Jesse Winker (see above)

The club’s top offensive prospect – and only impact bat remaining in the system – Winker has breezed through both levels of A-ball and could be slated for the middle of Cincinnati’s lineup by early 2016. As for his comps, well, Myers is a burgeoning star, Buxton is the game’s most exciting prospect, Westmoreland was something before brain surgery forced him to retire and Nick Weglarz was a sabermetric dream before injuries shortened his career.

Yonder Alonso (see above)

Part of the package that brought Mat Latos to the Land of Skyline Chili; Alonso was the seventh overall pick in the 2008 draft and quickly ascended through Cincinnati’s system. San Diego was hoping to acquire a middle-of-the-order thumper, but received a league average performer.

As for CAL, well, the system wasn’t impressed.

Yes, it linked him to Votto, but as I wrote for Beyond The Box Score, it’s important to look at the group as a whole, which isn’t impressive. Alonso, by the way, was annually ranked among the game’s top 100 prospects.3

Yasmani Grandal

The other key piece for the Padres was Grandal, another highly drafted collegiate player that popped up on a variety of prospect lists. Drug suspensions aside, Grandal has posted a 104 wRC+, a nice total for a backstop. His comps’ career wRC+ totals: 113 (Lucroy), 101 (Kottaras), 88 (Hundley).

Didi Gregorius

The club moved Gregorius as part of the three-team deal with Arizona and Cleveland that netted Shin-Soo Choo. Arizona was, once again, hoping to acquire a potential above-average big league shortstop. Except he’s hit .253/.332/.381 in his first 154 games – something CAL strong predicted. With the exception of Plouffe, who’s the best of the bunch, owns a career wRC+ of 96. Gregorius, by the way, owns a 94.

Check out Joe’s MLB Prospect Site, Prospect Digest
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