The John Sickels 2016 annual arrived late Friday night in my inbox, which may not be as much fun as getting a thick envelope in the snail mail, but it’s more efficient. As I always have, I’ll discuss the book in two posts — one for hitters, one for the pitchers.
The pendulum has swung back towards position players — 22 were graded — for the first time in three years, leaving just 14 pitchers ranked, including 29-y.o. IF-to-RHP convert Michael Brady. While there aren’t as many pitchers as in years past, more than half of them are rated above a “C,” which is encouraging. Even better, three of the newbies he’s tagged as “sleeper alert” players.
Sickels has the following guiding principles when it comes to pitchers…
…AA is the ultimate test for finesse pitchers
…K/BB ratio is a strong bellwether
…K/IP ratio can indicate “stuff” but not necessarily velocity
…H/IP ratio is a good complement to K/IP, but should be taken with a grain of salt, given the variances in defense [and scorekeeping]
…However, when a low H/IP ratio is accompanied by a high K/IP, it’s a positive data point [and vice-versa]
…HR rate — all things being equal, young pitchers that don’t give a lot of HRs are better than those that do
Here’s a look at the 14 pitchers that made this year’s book (2015 Grade in parentheses)
|Lucas Giolito – A (A)||Abel De Los Santos – C+ (C)||Nick Lee – C|
|A.J. Cole – B (B+)||Koda Glover – C+||Jefry Rodriguez – C (C)|
|Reynaldo Lopez – B (B-)||Andrew Lee* – C+||Tyler Watson* – C|
|Erick Fedde – B (B-)||Michael Brady – C||Austen Williams – C|
|Austin Voth – B- (C+)||Taylor Hearn* – C|
The names in bold are in Sickels’s book but not in Baseball America’s, and for the third year straight it’s four. The italics are 2015 draft picks. The asterisks are “sleeper” picks, which if you think that’s meaningless, consider that Austin Voth was one in 2014
Some quick tidbits…
• Sickels is all in on Giolito and only worries — like we all do — whether he’ll be able to withstand a 200IP workload. Like many power pitchers, he believes the key for him to be a true #1 will be that changeup, which right now is merely “above average.”
• Cole, as has been mentioned in the comments, could be the next Jake Odorizzi, but Sickels is worried about the lack of whiffs.
• Lopez needs his command to catch up to his control and for his changeup to be more consistent. Sickels notes that some folks think he may be better off as a reliever, but if things click in 2016, he could rise from AA to MLB a la Luis Severino last summer.
• Glover could be Blake Treinen II — a power pitcher that needs a breaking pitch to keep lefties honest (e.g. a .316OBA by LHBs in Hagerstown last summer).
• Lee, Hearn, and Watson — all 2015 picks — were each listed as a sleeper pick for various reasons (convert, 98mph heat, promising numbers/reports in limited action from an 18-y.o.)
• Despite getting lit like a Kennedy at an open bar in the AFL, De Los Santos got the bump up from a C+ because Sickels thinks he may still have enough stuff to be middle reliever.
Next up: the batters.