Friday, February 18, 2005

Delwyn Not-So-Young

Don't have much time today, but I wanted to pose a discussion question for anyone interested. Dayn Perry just ranked Delwyn Young, who spent last season as the second baseman in high-A Vero Beach, as the 36th best prospect in baseball. Young also was mentioned in a thread on the most underrated prospects in baseball at John Sickels' great new blog, with Sickels himself agreeing.

This came as a surprise to me, as I'd actually thought of Young as perhaps overrated. Young's put up great raw numbers, drawing walks at each level he's played at, putting up .200+ ISO's at each level, and putting up batting averages in excess of .280 at each level.

However, I'm not too sure I believe what Delwyn has done is sustainable. He strikes out a lot, and his $H (a.k.a. batting average on balls in play) has been between .414 and .424 at each level, which is close to off the charts. Even if that's largely due to his talent and not his environment and luck, it's pretty inconceivable that he'll be able to field a $H consistently over .350 in the major leagues. Young's excellent power certainly suggests he's smacking the ball pretty hard, but I think his raw numbers are setting expectations too high.

On top of that, Young has been somewhat old for each of his leagues. A 22-year-old in A-ball is certainly behind the curve for premium prospects. Given that reports of his defense aren't particularly good, I have trouble thinking Young projects as an above-average player at second base - or, for that matter, anywhere else.

Contrast Young to Willy Aybar. Aybar's batting averages have been in the .270 range outside of his first trip through the FSL, and his ISO's have consistently been about .150. His walk rate is pretty much the same as Young's. However, Aybar is a year younger than Young and has been playing a league or more ahead of Young in each season. Their translated performances in 2004 were of roughly equal value, and Aybar's still a year younger. Given also that, if I'm not mistaken, Aybar's defensive outlook looks to be substantially better in the long-term, I'm not sure that Young is that much more valuable. Perry ranked Aybar #98.

True, Young clearly has the better power potential of the two. But given Young's strikeout problems and given that they're not coupled with an outstanding walk rate, he might have a lot of trouble getting on-base enough. I have a hard time thinking it's reasonable to expect Young to be a better than average major league position player (not that there's anything wrong with that).

What do y'all think?

Last time I looked at this, there is a decided correlation year-to-year for a given hitter's stats, OBP especially. But I've never looked at BABIP, and especially, I've never looked at BABIP as a meaningful predictor of ability at higher levels.

What do I think? Guys who strike out a lot but hit for power somehow seem to find themselves in the majors anyway. If his plate patience isn't all that in Jacksonville, or if something like a Milton Bradley comes along at third base, I'm sure the patina of being a BA top 10 prospect (as with Reggie Abercrombie, who suffered from many of the same defects as Young) in a Dodger system widely acknowledged to be one of the best in the game will force Young's eventual trade.

Incidentally -- did you get my e-mail yesterday?
Tbe first one you sent about the Dodger Stadium article? With "idol speculation" and such? I replied to it; maybe your spam filter doesn't like
Is Delwyn Young as great a prospect as Dayn Perry thinks? No. Is he a good prospect, whom the Dodgers possibly see taking over 2B when Jeff Kent's contract is up in two years? Yes.

Young's slugging ability is downright rare in the middle infield, and Logan White for one has voiced the opinion that Young's defence showed improvement in 2004. Given two more years to continue to improve defensively (2005 in Double A, and 2006 in Triple A), Young should be MLB-ready just as Kent's contract expires. I see the length of Kent's contract as a pretty good tip-off that the Dodgers see Young, and not the closer-to-MLB-ready Aybar, as the Dodgers' 2B of the future.

And while age 22 is not young for high A, it is not old either. College juniors drafted at age 21 usually spend their age 22 seasons in high A. And Young did not even turn 22 until June 30, 2004, three months into the five-month regular minor league season.

And why does Rob think Young has the patina of a BA Top 10 prospect? Young has never made BA's Dodger Top 10. And comparing Young to Abercrombie? Obviously the lofty whiff rates are similar, but Young actually draws walks at a better than average rate, as opposed to avoiding them like the plague. Really, Young is for the most part the OPPOSITE of Abercrombie: Abercrombie is a defensive whiz and "athlete" masquerading as a baseball player, while Young is a defensively-awkward pure slugger that Baseball America distrusts but draws respect from the likes of sabermetrics guys like Dayn Perry and John Sickels.

Also, I don't think anybody who has written about Young has commented on something about Young that one will not have noticed if one is just looking at season-end stats. In both 2003 and 2004 (Young's only full pro seasons since being drafted in June 2002), Young has hit absolutely terribly in April and May, only to turn into Babe Ruth in June. Now two possibilities suggest themselves. Young adjusts to a new level of competition more slowly than the average prospect, meaning that once he gets used to MLB ball he will not start seasons poorly, OR, it could be that Young is just one of those players who ALWAYS needs a couple months to get back into a groove after an off-season. There are of course many major leaguers who are notorious for being slow starters and strong finishers, season in and season out. If the Dodgers think that the Delwyn Young they have seen from June through August is the real Delwyn Young, maybe Dayn Perry is right and Young does deserve to be viewed as an elite or near elite prospect.
>>why does Rob think Young has the patina of a BA Top 10 prospect?<<

Rob does not; Rob was merely being unclear. Reggie Abercrombie got moved as part of the Finley/Mayne trade, and has subsequently turned into a pumpkin for the D'backs.

Tom -- the spam filter didn't like HTML-onlyness. It's pretty rare a human actually sends HTML-only e-mail, and that was the thing that triggered SpamAssassin. All my e-mail addresses have been public for a long time, so I have my spam detectors' thresholds set very, very low.
I know Delwyn Jr. his like my newpew,me and his Dad Senior are good friends,he will have pee wee ready to play 2nd base in the Majors for somebody Organization,the kid was born on the baseball field.

Darryl Rector Sr.
Basically the guy who wrote this article is full of shit...I personally know Delwyn Young, I played with him and Richie Robnett at Santa Barbara City College, and he is by far one of the top prospects in the minor league system...Richie Robnett got drafted in the first round of the O4 draft and delwyn went in the 4th round, tell me, they have about the same amount of strikeouts...why is delwyn ranked and robnett not? He must be doing something right...Thats why he is playing pro ball and you are running some run down website talking shit on people! get a clue
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