Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Prospects' Birthday: Lancaster.

This series of articles compares at the age of the Astros Prospects at each level, relative to the average age of the league in which the team is playing.  Today, it is the turn of the Lancaster JetHawks, which is where the last two number 1-1 draft picks are currently stashed, as well as a number of other potentially impressive prospects.

The ages are as listed in baseball-reference.com, and are calculated by determining the players age at 1 July, and subtracting the average age of the league.  The average age of the California League is 22.7 years, which is comparable to the other two Hi-A leagues.  The Carolina League has an average age of 23, and the Florida State League also clocks in at 22.7.

The articles for the affiliates that have already been looked at are here (Corpus) and here (Oklahoma City).

Lancaster, Age of Prospects, as at 29 June 2014

                                          X            XXX    XXX      
                                   X     XXX     X     XXX    XXX     X        

Older Age Range:   -5.5 | -4.5 | -3.5 | -2.5 | -1.5 | -0.5 | +0.5 | +1.5 | +2.5 

  (in years)
Younger Age Range: -6.5 | -5.5 | -4.5 | -3.5 | -2.5 | -1.5 | -0.5 | +0.5 | +1.5 

What we have already noticed with Oklahoma City and Corpus Christi is that both teams are certainly amongst the youngest in their division.  With Oklahoma City, for example, all players except one were more than 6 months younger than the league average.  That one player was backup infielder Gregorio Petit.

Corpus was also young, but exhibited an overall different pattern.  They didn't show the long left-tail that Oklahoma had (to be expected, because of the number of ML vets pushing the average AAA age upward), but were clustered very much around the -0.4 to -2.4 year range, with smaller tails both sides.

And from that perspective, Lancaster seems to combine the central clustering of Corpus (but now around the average age of the league) with the long-left tail of Oklahoma City.  Much of the long tail is the 2012 draft class.  Hanging out on the far left is, or course, Carlos Correa, who is 3.7 years younger than average.  In the group of four to the right of him are the intriguing quartet of Vincent Velasquez, Rio Ruiz, Lance McCullers Jr, and Josh Hader.

(And as an aside, with the recent Ground Control leaks, the haul from the Bud Norris deal has been described as "underwhelming" in various snarky analyses.  Remember that Hader is young, L.J. Hoes could be considered to be a streaky, possibly adequate major league player with positional flexibility, and the Astros picked up Derek Fisher in the 2014 draft as well.  I guess that deal is underwhelming if the Front Office was successful in prying Kevin Gausman and/or Dylan Bundy loose from from O's)

But again, it should be considered impressive that the Lancaster team is doing as well as it is, given the fact that the overall age of the team is less than average, and many of their good players are way younger than average.  But note is made as as we progress down toward the lower levels of the organisation, these players are definitely riskier as prospects.

Stay tuned for Quad Cities tomorrow.