Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Prospects' Birthday: Quad Cities.

In the final instalment of the Prospects' Birthday series, we look at the last remaining full-season affiliate, the Quad Cities River Bandits.

The average age of a Midwest League prospect clocks in at 21.5.  This compares to the Hi-A California League average age (22.7) which is more than a year older.  (For the sake of completeness, the Texas Leave has an average age of 24.2, and the Pacific Coast League has an average age of 26.7)

Without further ado, to the awesome graph:

Age of Prospects, Quad Cities, as at 29 June 2014

                                                        X            XXX  
                                                       XXX           XXX     X
                                                 X     XXX    XXX    XXX    XXX 

Older Age Range:   -5.4 | -4.4 | -3.4 | -2.4 | -1.4 | -0.4 | +0.4 | +1.4 | +2.4 

  (in years)
Younger Age Range: -6.4 | -5.4 | -4.4 | -3.4 | -2.4 | -1.4 | -0.4 | +0.4 | +1.4 

The most striking thing about this graph is that it is quite unlike the graphs for the other affiliates.  In the graphs for all of the other affiliates, the average - or even median - age was definitely younger than the league average.  There were normally at least a couple of prospects 3-5 years younger than league average.

Not Quad Cities.  Their ages are cluster pretty much around the mean, with all the prospects in the lower half of that cluster.  The oldest players (on the right) are position players (Brett Booth, Tyler White, Jon Kemmer and Ronnie Mitchell), and the next group includes a bunch of pitchers, including Frederick Tiburcio (who is pretty dominant this year, but that may be why), Andrew Walter and Chris Cotton.

The prospect on the far left (ie. the youngest) is Brett Philips, and the four prospects in the -0.4 to -1.4 range (click on the hyperlinks for their baseball-reference pages) are the pitching quartet of Michael Feliz, Jandel Gustave, Adrian Houser and Chris Lee.

This is the least interesting or exciting of the prospect graphs, especially given the middling performance of the River Bandits this year.  I think the age of the Hooks, for example, put their around-.500 performance into perspective (ie. they are younger, and therefore have more room to improve).  But this graph suggests that the River Bandits are struggling more from a lack of overall talent.  Their performance cannot be accounted for simply by age.

Of course, the point also needs to be made that the average age of the prospects in the Midwest League is also very young at 21.5.  For a prospect to be, for example, five years younger than 21.5, then they would have to be (uses fingers.... moves lips...) 16.5 years.  Simply put, not many 16, or even 18, year olds are up to playing full season baseball.  I would expect that the "left tail" in any Lo-A would be far smaller than for, say, Corpus.  But that also makes Lancaster's left tail even more impressive, especially given that they are a bunch of games over .500, and have secured the best record in the league for the first half.

I would, of course, be interested in hearing any additional comments, hypotheses or feedback, as this concludes the Prospects' Birthday series.  Except, that is, for the Mobile phone version, which will be put up shortly.


wwschields said...

This is great stuff. Regarding Quad Cities, I don't see this changing much, especially considering the heavy college drafts of the last two years. Do you think the stockpiling of above average and younger talent at OKC, Corpus, and Lancaster has created a less talented but older pool at QC? I'm sensing that unless some prospects get promoted to the big club and/or traded, and considering that 37 of the 41 picks in this draft were college players, this backlog of older players will only continue to make QC the likely destination for these guys. Just a thought.

Masked Marvel said...

I think this is an excellent point. The Astros clearly have a philosophy of going for numbers over potential in the mid- to late-draft rounds, and hoping someone puts it all together and cruises through the minors. Drafting a lot of college seniors means that they will start in short-season ball, and the following year they are already a year older than the average A- prospect. So QC could play older than average for the foreseeable future.

I would think that the top hitting prospects (ie. Davis and Reed) may well skip to Lancaster next year. But there are a bunch more below the level of those guys that are likely to start in QC.