The Top Three SP Prospects

Out of the five starters the Marlins will be opening the 2011 season with, three will be under control until after the 2013 season (Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Chris Volstad) and one until after the 2012 season (Anibal Sanchez). This is good news, because the state of pitching prospects in the minors is pretty depressing, with nobody looking to be more than a mid-rotation starter. Still, the top three prospects have their own promise – and, interestingly enough, they are all three incredibly similar.

Chad James, Brad Hand, and Edgar Olmos were all tall, left handed, high-round draft picks. They get strikeouts, they get decent amount of ground balls, and they give up a lot of walks. After the jump, I’ll compare their three Greensboro campaigns to one another and try and figure out just what we can get out of them.

Pedigree

Name Age Hand Height Weight Drafted
Chad James 19 LHP 6’3″ 185 1st RD, #18 (2009)
Brad Hand 20 LHP 6’2″ 185 2nd RD, #52 (2008)
Edgar Olmos 20 LHP 6’5″ 180 3rd RD, #83 (2008)

Chad James certainly has the best pedigree of the bunch, considered one of the best prep-arms going into the 2009 draft. His throws a low-90’s fastball that can hit the mid-90’s, and has both a curve and a change up that have potential to be above average pitches but are still inconsistent. The others are no slouches though; Brad Hand was Minnesota’s Gatoraide Player of the Year and considered the best prospect to come out of the state since Joe Mauer. His fastball sits around 90, and he compliments it with the best curveball in the system as well as a change. Edgar Olmos‘s pick had a lot more to do with projectability in hopes that he’ll get increased velocity as he fills out; His fastball currently sits at 89 MPH in addition to a sweeping curve and a screw-ball like change up.

Production (Greensboro)

(Note: While Olmos and James lines below were from this season, Hand is from 2009 – he spent 2010 in Jupiter.  Also means that, while he is 20 years old, he was 19 years of age when he put up these statistics)

Name IP K% kS% uBB% HBP% WP% BABIP FB% IFFB% HR/FB% XBH/H%
James 114.1 20.5% 17.2% 12.7% 1.0% 3.5% .336 33.7% 4.8% 2.7% 25.2%
Hand 127.2 21.4% 16.1% 11.2% 1.2% 3.9% .324 31.1% 2.9% 6.7% 26.9%
Olmos 117.1 20.3% 15.4% 11.1% 3.0% 1.3% .334 38.0% 6.6% 6.8% 27.6%

James showed the best strikeout stuff of the three with the highest swinging strikeout percent, but also had the worst control. Olmos had the best control, but also the worst strikeout material. Hand showed the best K/BB, at 1.91. Both James and Hand showed similar OFFB numbers, while James was better at getting pop ups. Olmos lagged quite a bit behind them in that area, and will need to improve in the future. James was easily the best at keeping the ball in the park, but the other two weren’t far behind him in total XBH. I also just find it humorous that Olmos did not have the wild pitch problem the other two did – instead, his wild pitches ended up hitting the batters.

Jumping to the results:

Name ERA FIP SIERA
James 5.12 3.41 4.33
Hand 4.86 4.06 4.00
Olmos 4.37 3.86 4.26

(Note: SIERA above neutralizes LD% to 18%, taken away from GB%)

While Hand had the worst FIP of the three, he also had the best SIERA thanks to the best K/BB and lowest FB%. And while James posted the best FIP thanks to a very low HR rate, he posted the worst SIERA because of his horrible K/BB.

Now, how do they rank against one another:

Edgar Olmos is obviously at #3, and by quite a margin. He posted the lowest strike out rate and swinging strike out rate, the worst FB%, was a year older than the other two (Due to injuries hampering his career), and has the lowest fastball of the three. Olmos is lot more projection than production right now; With his size, his fastball will hopefully increase as he fills out. On top of which, he’s the only one that has to be worried about being turned into a reliever. While his pitch repetoire itself works well against the opposite hand, the issue is that he pitches from a 3/4th arm slot. While this makes it harder for left handers to pick up the ball, it makes it easier for right handers. However, he will be tried as a starting pitcher until he no longer can handle being one. So all in all, I would rank Edgar Olmos a C+; Right now he’s looking to be about a 4.80 ERA/1.33 WAR pitcher, and while he definitely has the upside to best that and get into the B- range, it’s too questionable if his strike out rates will play out against tougher competition unless his fastball speed actually does increase, he needs to improve his control, and the possibility of being a future reliever lowers his value.

I’m going against the norm on this though and say that Chad James is #2. Plain and simple, until his control improves, it’ll great hinder him. Does he have the potential to improve it? Most certainly. But that is easier said than done. I’d give him a B-; With his control as bad as it is right now, it’s hard to project better than a 4.50 ERA/1.96 WAR even with his ability to get strike outs and keep the ball on the ground.  Depending on just how much weight you put on his potential, he could be worthy of a B, but I personally prefer to be more caution – especially with pitchers.  Should he improve his control next year, he’ll definitely rise to that (if not higher) in my mind.

That would then leave Brad Hand at #1. Why Hand over James? Their pedigree isn’t much different, Hand’s breaking ball is further along, he had more success at the same level at the same age (albeit different years), he’s closer to the majors, and (most importantly) his control already improved. Hand had a huge season in Jupiter this season, and I’ll be looking into his break out year later. I’d give him a B-; While his stuff might not play out as well in the upper minors and majors due to his lack of velocity, his curve will still help him get punchouts, he should have above average HR rates due to his ability to keep the ball on the ground, and with his improved control he should be around average in issuing walks. I believe he should sit around a 4.20 ERA/2.6 WAR, but he probably doesn’t have the potential to be much better than that to hit solid B land.

The two are pretty interchangeable though. Olmos, on the other hand, is quite far behind them.

Tags: Brad Hand Chad James Edgar Olmos Miami Marlins

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