Prospects With Great 90th Percentile EV and Zone Contact
Chris Clegg looks at the prospects who had the best combo of high end exit velocity and zone-contact last season.
Very little public data is out there regarding prospects it can be hard to look at skills beyond the stat line. That is not always a helpful exercise as some fail to incorporate park factors, team age-to-level, and other factors that are largely important to understand if you are looking at prospect stats.
Did a hitter play in the Pacific Coast League, where the average runs per game was 5.92 last year? What about if they play with Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas which has a home run factor of 153 on a 100 scale, according to the great work of Matt Eddy of Baseball America ($).
It is not just the PCL that boosts power. In my local league, the South Atlantic League, both Asheville, and Greensboro play very favorably for hitters. Knowing that you should take a step back when looking at hitters from Houston and Pittsburgh who were in High-A last season.
Let’s take Endy Rodriguez, who I love, by the way. He hit 16 home runs last season while with High-A Greensboro. 12 of those 16 home runs came either playing in Greensboro or Asheville. That is not a knock on Rodriguez, who added eight more home runs in Double-A in 138 plate appearances and one in 23 Triple-A plate appearances. But context is always important.
All of this to say, data can be helpful. It is not a one-stop shop by any means, but the best hitters usually hit the ball hard and make consistent contact. I have always said there can be a healthy blend of traditional scouting and analytics. I try to do all my player evaluations this way. I attended over 30 Minor League games last season, plus spend a ton of time on film study.
If you want to know more about why 90th percentile and even 80th percentile exit velocity is useful, check out the article I wrote last offseason.
You came for data and not for my ranting. Let’s talk about some players!
*For reference, last season's MLB average 90th percentile exit velocity was: 103.7 MPH.
Prospects with High-End 90th Percentile Exit Velocity and Zone Contact
Oneil Cruz, SS, PIT
This one should not come as much of a surprise to anyone. Cruz debuted last season and showed tremendous power and the ability to make contact in the zone. His overall contact was a bit more concerning in the majors. But last year, we saw Cruz post the hardest-hit ball in the Statcast era at 122.4 mph. His 90th percentile exit velocity in the Minors was 112.4 mph, and he posted a zone-contact rate of 82.2 percent. Both of those numbers were very much in line with what Oneil Cruz did in the Majors. You know about Cruz; let’s talk about someone that might surprise you.
Yunior Garcia, OF/1B, LAD
You may not be familiar with this name, but Yunior Garcia hits the ball hard and does it often. Garcia spent half of the season as a 20-year-old in Low-A. He posted a .305/.383/.512 slash with 13 home runs in 377 plate appearances. A few tweaks in his swing could help the Dodgers prospect unlock more game power. He posted a 107.3 mph 90th percentile exit velocity and an 83.1 percent zone contact rate. Garcia is aggressive at the plate but still makes plenty of contact. As he moves up levels in 2023, we will better understand the player he could become.
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