Dan Szymborski released the 2022 Cincinnati Reds ZiPS projections this morning at Fangraphs. Over at Redleg Nation I wrote up some stuff about the big league squad and how the projection suggests if the roster remains, they are sort of a borderline playoff contender. But today I wanted to talk about what the ZiPS projections say about some of the prospects in the organization.

The Position Players

There are five prospects who are projected to have at least 0.5 WAR (2.0 WAR would be that of your league average every day starter, with 4.0 WAR being the rough estimate of an All-Star caliber player). With that said, that’s not entirely accurate, either. ZiPS is not in the projecting playing time game. Some players it’s projecting for that 0.5 or more WAR are incredibly unlikely to rack up the playing time that helped lead to that number. Francisco Urbaez, for example, is projected for 0.6 WAR, but also projected at 423 plate appearances. His projected .270/.329/.365 line is quite intriguing, but the path to that kind of playing time doesn’t seem to be there in 2022 except in a very unlikely scenario. A starting spot isn’t going to be there, and even as a utility player in 2022 he’s quite far down the depth chart and not on the 40-man roster.

At the top of that list is Jose Barrero with a 1.4 projected WAR while hitting .249/.313/.404 in 460 plate appearances. That projection edges out Kyle Farmer by a small amount on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Another infielder is next up as Alejo Lopez comes in at 0.9 WAR with a .274/.332/.357 line.

Two outfielders fill out the five guys we’re looking at today. Lorenzo Cedrola, who hit very well in Double-A in 2021, is projected for a .282/.317/.395 line and 0.8 WAR. Then there’s TJ Friedl, who spent his season in Triple-A before a late season call up to the big leagues in 2021. He’s projected for a .248/.329/.388 line in 2022.

The Pitchers

The top projection for prospect pitchers come from one guy that most people have at the top of their mind and then one guy who probably is a bit down the list. Hunter Greene leads the way at 1.7 WAR in 106.2 innings with a 4.47 projected ERA. Tying him at the top, though, is lefty Reiver Sanmartin with a projected 4.46 ERA in 109.0 innings and the same 1.7 projected WAR. Both players project to be better than league average at run prevention, but the lack of a full-season of innings keeps their WAR projection a little lower than it otherwise would be.

Nick Lodolo’s projected WAR is 1.2, but he has the best projected ERA of any of the prospects in the organization at 3.99. His WAR is lower due to the fact that he’s projected at just 56.1 innings. Some of that may be due to how his 2021 season played out with the blisters and late season shutdown limiting how many innings he threw and the system not believing he’s going to be healthy enough, but may also just be the system seeing he didn’t pitch much in Triple-A and thinking he’ll need time there.

Two relievers project to be above-average at run prevention in 2022 as well. Dauri Moreta, who got a taste of big league action in the final week of the year in 2021 is projected for a 4.35 ERA in 51.2 innings pitched. Alexis Diaz, who spent his entire season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2021 and was added to the 40-man roster in November, is projected for a 4.47 ERA in 48.1 innings.

A Hunter Greene Comparison

One of the ways that nearly all projection systems come up with their data is by looking at what the current player has done in their career and comparing that to past players who performed similarly at the same age(s) and seeing how that player performed moving forward. There’s more that gets baked into many of the projection systems today because we have more data, but the past comparisons are a good place to start. ZiPS projections share the top comparison for each player. More often than not when it comes to minor league players their top comparison is for a player that I’ve never even heard of. Even guys who have had a little bit of time in the big leagues are often comped to players that I didn’t know existed.

That, however, is not the case for Hunter Greene. His #1 comparison is of a pitcher that we have all heard of. It’s a pitcher who when you hear his name may still give you nightmares. Roy Oswalt. For over a decade Oswalt dominated the National League, going 159-93 with a 3.21 ERA from 2001-2011. He didn’t reach the big leagues until his age 23 season, which is still another year from where Greene is at currently (2022 will be his age 22 season). The comparison isn’t perfect – it hardly ever will be – but if that’s what the system is spitting out then it thinks very highly of the Reds top prospect.

17 Responses

  1. Stock

    I think you are reading this wrong Doug. The stats you are pulling all your information from has to include minor league stats. For instance the total GS for pitchers in the data is 441 (by my quick count). Obviously, the Reds will not have a 441 game schedule this year. Looking a little deeper, Graham Ashcraft is not going to start 22 games in the majors this year. Unless he develops a third pitch, I consider him as probably nothing more than a RP if he ever makes the show.

    If you look at the Eephus graph above the stats it shows Hunter Greene having a 1.8 WAR in the majors this year and Reiver Sanmartin having a WAR of 0.8 That tells me that to get to 1.7, Reiver will have a WAR of 0.9 in the minors.

    I am not sure what they are thinking on Antone. He had TJS in September and will not pitch in 2022.

    Hitters are no different. It shows catchers with 2,800+ PA in 2022. This is only true if you include all minor league full season leagues.

    Maybe the data below the Eephus graph is MLB best case scenario. But I don’t think think Graham Ashcraft starts 22 MLB games in his career, let alone in 2022. I know TeJay Antone won’t pitch in the majors in 2022.

    • Craig

      ZIPS does not predict playing time or roster time and is major league projection only. This is very cleary set out by Dan, usually on every page of projections he produces.

      • Stock

        I looked for the the statement on playing time and roster time and could not find it. Also looked on several others and could not find it.

        It is hard for me to look at a projection system like Zips and look at the Stephenson projected for 421 PA and not think Zips is projecting playing time in the majors. Seems to me Zips is projecting Stephenson to get about 100 starts. Afterall isn’t projecting playing time part of a projection? But lets run with this assumption also and assume Zips does not project playing time. Let’s assume Zips is saying that if Antone was healthy he would produce the stats provided by Zips. Let’s assume that if Ashcraft were in the majors next year he would produce the stats provided (Again, why limit Ashcraft to 22 starts if not projecting playing time). If this is true, which is acceptable to me, then Fangraphs takes these stats and makes adjustments based upon what they consider proper playing time in the majors. For instance somehow Reiver Sanmartin went from a stats WAR of 1.7 to the Eephus graph WAR of 0.8. In other words the 1.7 WAR is not Fangraphs projection at all. Therefore why have it at all.

        Why have Ashcraft for 22 starts in 2022 when unless the quality of his pitches improves dramatically, he will never have 22 starts in his career?

        Zips Projections are not realistic for the non-established players. For Votto, India, Farmer, Suarez and many others I am fine with the results. But for players trying to make their mark the projections are just not realistic and therefore not taken at face value. Afterall, do you think there is any chance of Ashcraft starting 22 games for the Reds in 2022?

    • Stock

      What you could do is look at individual players and see where they are at. For example Zips projects Lodolo to have a lower ERA than Mahle. This is informative. It kind of lets me know where Lodolo is as a prospect.

      The data lets me know that Zips considers Graham Ashcraft to be about as good as Sal Romano was when he was with the Reds.

      Zips projects Barrero to be better than Farmer and Senzel. Farmer and Senzel are projected to be about equal on a per game basis. In fact it project Suarez to be better than Votto and for Votto and Barrero to be about the same.

  2. Old Big Ed

    I’ve always thought that Justin Verlander was a good Hunter Greene comp, just because they are RHs of the same height and weight, and they have similar power profiles. Oswalt is 5 inches shorter, and less of a strikeout pitcher; he was always known for great stuff, which likely would now be reflected in unusually high spin rates.

    Verlander had a (weak) cup of coffee MLB debut at age 22 and then exploded in the AL for Detroit at 23, winning the rookie of the year. Verlander in his age 22 season threw 118.2 innings with 136 strikeouts; Greene last season struck out 139 in 106.2 innings, but also was in No Man’s Camp in April, before the MiLB season started.

    The Reds would be thrilled if Greene is even close to Oswalt or Verlander, and Greene would be beyond thrilled if he ends up with the next Kate Upton.

  3. Stock

    Lets see if I get this right.

    In 2021 the Reds finished 7 games behind the Cardinals for the final wild card spot.

    Since then:
    1. They waived one of their best pitchers in Wade Miley.
    2. They traded their starting catcher for less than a bag of balls.
    3. They lost their best hitter to free agency with zero chance of him coming back.
    4. They lost their best bullpen arm (Antone) to TJS.
    5. They lost two other bullpen arms to FA (Lorenzen, Givens)

    To offset this they will have Cessa and Wilson for the full season. Santillan and Moreta will probably be in the bullpen all season too.

    Hopefully Castillo will be better. Hopefully Gray will be healthy and better. Hopefully Suarez will return to the quality player he was in 2018 and 2019. Hopefully Moustakas will return to the quality player he was in 2018 and 2019. Hopefully Winker will stay healthy and play more than 120 games for the first time in his career. Hopefully Greene and Lodolo are ready to start in the majors.

    If all 7 of these prayers are answered and the players not mentioned match their 2021 season, the Reds will compete in 2022. The Reds will be lucky to have 2-4 of these prayers come to fruition. They will also be lucky to have Naquin repeat 2021 and Farmer to repeat 2021. They will be lucky to have Votto, India and Stephenson stay healthy.

    This team as constructed will not win 80 games.

    • Tom

      I agree. I think a top 5 bullpen (and some good fortune) could stitch a roster like this together, but they have no hope of creating one by next season.

    • Doc

      Which is what many on this site were saying last year, having been proved wrong again.

      • Stock

        I am not included in that group Doc. Last year when everyone was complaining about the poor decision to sign Castellanos I was of the opinion it was a good signing. Last year when everyone railing on Votto I felt he had turned the corner. I even put my money on it and had Votto and Castellanos on my championship fantasy baseball team.

        Even now I am not saying the Reds are a bad team. They just are not close to being one of the five best teams in the NL.

        They have 3 good SP. Greene and Lodolo are months away from being ready but it will be over by July. Gutierrez is not a ML SP. Think Sal Romano light.

        They have a LF that crushes RHP and struggles vs. LHP. They have a CF who can’t stay on the field and his back-up can’t catch up to a FB. They have a RF that was released a year ago. They have 2 3B who stunk it up last year.

        That is 6 major holes. Not a contender.

      • MBS

        I don’t know why people are quick to discount Gutierrez. In his short MLB experience he has shown a good pitch mix, a willingness to go after batters, which has lead to long outings. I’m more than optimistic about his future. I’m not expecting him to be a 1 or probably even a 2, but teams need 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s. He was averaging 5.8 innings a game through his first 16 starts with a 3.68 ERA. His next 6 starts were all short, and his ERA skyrocketed. You could say the league figured him out, but a more likely scenario is his arm was worn out. He didn’t play in 20 because of his suspension.

  4. Optimist

    Stock – why the down opinion on Vlad? Doesn’t strike me as anything like Sal. I caught a few of his games on radio, and that crew was impressed considering how he got called up, thrown into the rotation, and adjustments along the way. I don’t remember any such serious analysis about Sal, mostly hopes and what-ifs. If anything, Vlad could develop into a 3-4 starter, with lots of useful innings, and perhaps a big trade value to an overly interested buyer.

  5. Hoyce

    I’m pretty unsure on Vlad also. But I think sanmartin will do well particularly in the beginning of the season. I thought Lodolo was on track to start 2022 in cincy until the shoulder issue. I think Greene will struggle early if promoted. The reds (and shoot me now) should go into rebuild mode. The should trade gray for sure either way. They could get a mint if the traded off Castillo, gray and Winker. In a couple years Votto moose and Suarez are off the books. And @2025 they could actually be really dangerous. Instead of continuous mediocrity or even slightly worse

    • Stock

      I agree with you on everything Hoyce. Greene is not ready. Lodolo may have been had he pitched 100+ innings last year. We should be in rebuild mode.

  6. Stock

    In today’s world you need to do three things.
    1. You need to miss bats (Vlade’s K% of 17.7% was 96 out of 109 pitchers who threw at least 110 innings)
    2. You need to limit walks (9.3% BB% was89 out of 109)
    2.5 (K% – BB% of 8.5% was 104 out of 109)
    3. You need to induce ground balls (43.5% 52 out of 109)

    His swinging strike rate (9.6%)+ was 79 out of 109

    Went to Fangraphs after your comment.

    Things I look at are as follows. I used Vlade’s 2021 vs. Romano Career

    K%: VG 17.7%/SR C 17.2%/SR 1 19.0%
    BB%: VG 9.3%/SR C 8.9%/SR 1 9.6%
    K% – BB%: VG 8.5%/ 8.3%/9.4%
    GB% – VG 43.5%/SR C 45.8%/50.4%
    Swing K% – 9.6%/7.8%/8.7%
    CSW% – 26.4%/25.1%/26.9%

    With the exception of BB, Romano got worse as hitters adjusted. Vlade will also get worse. These stats were even closer than I thought they would be.

    • Optimist

      I’ll impressed at the review – statistically they’re closer than I expected – still, I wonder if the Reds will treat Vlad differently, going back to Cowboy’s comments. Aside from the stats, they seem like very different pitchers, body type, number of pitches, command, and so forth. I see Sal had 275 ip and regressed continually, and was shifted about quite a bit. I expect Vlad to be a rotation regular from opening day – keeping him in a familiar role. He has less than 1/2 Sal’s MLB time to date.

      All that said, the challenge will be making the adjustments and not faltering. As is, he’s a fine 5th starter, which Sal never quite achieved. And, if he’s the 5th starter, the Reds may well be a .500 team.

      Still, seems there’s a bit more to work with than Sal had, and a slightly better career trajectory so far.

      As for the others, agree that they all need at least months in 2022 to develop – Greene just to be slow and steady, Lodolo for the nagging injuries, and SanMartin since his 2 starts were vs. the Pirates. Any callups should be after June 1, and only as starters – don’t mess with them in the pen.

  7. Stock

    I agree with you on everything Hoyce. Greene is not ready. Lodolo may have been had he pitched 100+ innings last year. We should be in rebuild mode.