Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reviewing the '08 Draft: Yonder Alonso

Hey everybody, even though I don't have a clue when I'm going to be able to read all of them, I bought 3 baseball related books today. Johnny Damon's Idiot, The Long Ball, and We Are The Ship: The Story of the Negro League now all enjoy their very own spot on my bookshelf. I think I'll work my way through each of them as Spring Training approaches.

Speaking of Spring Training, who else is excited to check in on Yonder Alonso, the Reds' first round pick in '08?

Over the last month I've spent some time digging through old college stats of players that have been both studs and duds in the majors. Project Prospect recently ran a very nice article by Lincoln Hamilton, who has concocted his own evaluation system for college hitters, and I tend to agree with the majority of his assessments. Power, strike out rates, and walk rates seem to play the largest factors in the success of a collegiate slugger once they reach the pro level (if you consider OPS a measure of success).

Without delving too much into the mathematics of it all, I just want to take a moment to point out Yonder Alonso's stats at the University of Miami.

Alonso managed a BB% of 21%, while striking out just 12.6%.  Also, 42% of his hits were for extra bases.  By comparison, Pedro Alvarez who the Pirates selected with the #3 pick finished his college career with 42% of his hits going for extra bases (just like Alonso), but had a 15.5% walk rate and a strike out rate of 19.5% (I realize Alvarez had some injury issues, but the difference is too significant to ignore).  In essence, for every 100 plate appearances, both players had similar power production when putting the ball in play, but Alvarez had 6 fewer walks with 7 more strikeouts than Alonso.  That's a total of 13% of all plate appearances that Alvarez was unable to produce, while Alonso maintained offensive leverage simply by having better plate discipline.  

It might seem like a small difference, but if the future success of most college hitters can be best evaluated based off of power, strike out rates, and walk rates, then I'd have to say that going into the '09 season, I like Alonso's chances of early success more than those of Alvarez.

If we look beyond Alvarez, Alonso's collegiate offensive stats compare very well to those of Alex Gordon, Ryan Braun, and Matt Weiters.  As if those comparables weren't enough to sell me on Alonso, we also have to remember that Great American Ballpark is one of the friendliest parks in the nation for left handed power hitters.  

Of course, the future is not set in stone, and Alonso still has to work his way past Joey Votto, but I think there's a very good chance that 3 or 4 years from now, Alonso will be a well established star, and the Reds will use Votto to trade for some pitching or a couple of solid prospects.

TPC Comparable Player: Carlos Quentin
TPC Preliminary Projection: .280-.300 average, 30-40 homeruns        
...Read more

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