Finding comps for prospects: Gary Sanchez

Derek and I ranked catching prospect Gary Sanchez as our #1 prospect this offseason and gave him an anticipated MLB ETA of 2015. Here’s what we had to say about him:

Sanchez may be the only Yankee prospect to land on any top 100 lists this year. With the addition of Brian McCann, Sanchez is blocked and may serve as trade bait in the not so distant future. He should be ready for the majors before the time McCann needs to move to first base.

Using only Sanchez’ 2013 stat line, I compiled a list of comps — players who put up similar numbers (BB%, K%, and ISO) in the Florida State League at a similar age.

This analysis cuts right to the bottom line — it considers what a player did in his most recent year and churns out a list of players who performed similarly. There are some obvious limitations to this approach. For one thing, it only considers a hitter’s offensive performance and completely ignores defensive position and ability, so some of the comps will have very different defensive profiles. Additionally, this analysis only considers 2013 stats and does not take into account a player’s performance from previous seasons. Finally, in no way does it take into account things like scouting reports, which provide insight into a player’s future performance. Still, this gives us some living, breathing examples of players with similar offensive track records and hopefully gives us an idea of some possible career trajectories.

For reference, a catcher with average defense who posts a 100 wRC+ is worth about 3 WAR over a full season — good enough to be a starter, but not a star. The more similar comps are at the top of the list:

Player PA’s Triple Slash wRC+
Tony Derosso 0 N/A N/A
Jon Tucker 0 N/A N/A
Ryan Balfe 0 N/A N/A
Ryan Jones 0 N/A N/A
Alen Hanson* 0 N/A N/A
Austin Romine* 168 .201/.248/.279 41
Guillermo Quiroz 377 .201/.258/.280 43
Nic Jackson 0 N/A N/A
Cody Ross* 3,562 .264/.324/.455 106
Kevin Witt 424 .233/.267/.376 67

*Active with at least a reasonable chance of  playing in the majors some time in the future

This list isn’t nearly as promising as you would hope for a blue-chip prospect like Sanchez, regardless of what position he plays. At least there’s one solid big-leaguer on the list in Cody Ross. A catcher with Ross’ bat would be a pretty solid player, although the Yankees are probably looking for a little more out of their #1 prospect.

It’s interesting to see Austin Romine‘s name. It seems like eons ago now, but Romine actually put up some solid batting lines in A-ball back in ’08 and ’09 before tailing off in the high minors. One thing that jumps out is how eerily similar Romine’s numbers look compared to those of Guillermo Quiroz. Let’s hope Sanchez doesn’t follow that same trajectory. Other than Prince Fielder, the comps spewed out by the projection systems aren’t all that appealing, either.

Davenport:

Justin Huber: (55 wRC+)

Prince Fielder: (140 wRC+)

Ryan Christenson: (66 wRC+)

Tommy Joseph: (still in minors)

PECOTA:

Wilson Ramos: (109 wRC+)

Chris Marrero: (42 wRC+)

Brandon Laird: (70 wRC+)

ZiPS:

Tim Laker (56 wRC+)

About Chris

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights either watching or thinking about baseball. He's also an occasional user of the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell
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