Mechanics Of Evaluation: Projecting

Kiley brings us more thoughts on how he evaluates. This time he drills down on the difference between evaluating and projecting with the specific example of White Sox 2nd rounder Tyler Danish.

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Mechanics Of Evaluation Series: Age Part One, Age Part Two & Projecting

Be sure to check out the first two parts of this series, linked above.

Projecting Versus Evaluating

There are a lot of terms and concepts that are key to understand around draft time that I see fans misunderstanding, so I wanted to run through some of them in this series, with concrete examples.

This is one that may seem obvious and most people understand the concept but often will focus too much on one at the expense of the other. The classic example here for me is Tyler Danish, the White Sox second round pick and Tampa-area prep righty that I've seen a lot of over the last year.

The reason Danish went in the second round is all about evaluating. He'll show two above average to plus pitches (heavy sinker up to 94 and wicked slurve) every time out, aggressively attacks hitters with shockingly good command along with great makeup, solid athleticism and good feel for pitching. He also has started working an average changeup in at times and goes so deep in to games and throws so often that scouts often joke he'll show up at games his team isn't playing in to get some side work.

So that's the good part. The two-pitch combo and command give him #3 starter upside but you can obviously see the reasons why some scouts didn't have him in the top five rounds. He's short (about 6'0, 190 pounds), lacks any physical projection, slings the ball from a very low slot, has an ugly arm action, an arm heavy delivery and has thrown a ton of pitches for a high school kid. He's also old for his prep class, turning 19 in September (I'll addressed this in more depth here and here).

So how do I evaluate Danish? I wouldn't draft him in the top few rounds and given his understandable bonus demands from his scholarship to Florida and interest from clubs in the top three rounds, he wouldn't be a factor on my draft board. Obviously all the evaluation lines up with where he went in the draft but a scout's job, especially with a high school prospect, is to project what that player will become. With a mysterious issue like pitcher health, when we're dealing with non-elite talents (outside the top half of the first round), I choose to go with what's been proven to work in terms of bodies, arm actions, deliveries and the like. I'll expound on why I feel this way in a forthcoming article outlining the principles of my Black Swan theory, covered in depth on my podcast (here and here).

You'd be hard-pressed to describe a big leaguer of consequence (excepting max effort middle relievers) that looks like Danish. I know of at least one club that takes players under 6'1 and/or with what they deem to be below average arm actions off their board entirely. You can either throw your hands up regarding pitcher health and just draft current ability or try to learn from hundreds of thousands of data points and increase your odds of drafting good big leaguers by playing the odds. Obviously either approach isn't perfect and will yield hits and misses, but I think a systematic approach is the best way to glean value when drafting pitchers outside of the top half of the first round.

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