For These 12 Prospects, Batting Average Might Be Secondary

Austin Meadows (Photo by Brian Westerholt)


Three decades ago, Bill James created the statistic secondary average—batting average being the primary average—to identify players who excel at hitting for power, stealing bases and drawing walks. Batters who provide value in these so-called secondary phases of the game tend to contribute to victory even when the hits aren’t falling.

In this piece, I apply the concept of secondary average (SecA) to minor league players who appear in the 2017 Baseball America Prospect Handbook (now shipping!), though I implement it with a twist.

For every player who qualified for our League Top 20 Prospects lists, I calculated league percentile ranks for power (isolated slugging percentage), speed (a modified speed score) and patience (walk rate per plate appearance). I found the harmonic mean between these measures and used that to guide the selection process. Here are the results.


1. Bradley Zimmer | of | Indians

Aside from a power outage at Triple-A last year, Zimmer has provided a steady source of extra-base hits, stolen bases and walks in pro ball, despite a .250 average last year and a .273 mark in 2015.

Team League
Lvl PA AVG SecA Power Speed Patience
Akron Eastern AA 407 .253 .441 93% 96% 96%
Columbus International AAA 150 .242 .258 7% 71% 97%

2. Yoan Moncada | 2b | White Sox

One doesn’t need to be particularly analytically inclined to see the value Moncada brings beyond his batting average. This season in 106 games he clubbed 62 extra-base hits, swiped 45 bags and worked 72 walks.

Team League
Lvl PA AVG SecA Power Speed Patience
Salem Carolina Hi A 284 .307 .509 88% 99% 93%
Portland Eastern AA 207 .277 .435 98% 89% 93%

3. Nick Senzel | 3b | Reds

Not every scout is convinced the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft will hit with plus power, but Senzel is a complete offensive player who impacts the ball, runs well and exercises a disciplined approach. Those traits carried over from the Southeastern Conference, where he also ranked in the 90th percentile or higher.

Team League
Lvl PA AVG SecA Power Speed Patience
Dayton Midwest Lo A 251 .329 .429 100% 87% 93%

4. Ramon Laureano | of | Astros

A 16th-round pick out of junior college in 2014, Laureano led the minors with a .428 on-base percentage last year with help from his plus speed, excellent batting eye and enough power to keep pitchers honest.

Team League
Lvl PA AVG SecA Power Speed Patience
Lancaster California Hi A 357 .317 .447 85% 97% 94%
Corpus Christi Texas AA 148 .323 .444 97% 84% 94%

5. Austin Meadows | of | Pirates

Meadows hit .300 in his first three pro seasons, so his .214 effort at Triple-A probably is an aberration. He more than compensated with a career high 12 home runs that nearly doubled his previous best.

Team League
Lvl PA AVG SecA Power Speed Patience
Altoona Eastern AA 190 .311 .431 99% 97% 49%
Indianapolis International AAA 145 .214 .413 97% 98% 79%

6. Garrett Hampson | ss | Rockies

A third-round pick last year from Long Beach State, Hampson led the short-season Northwest League with 36 steals and 48 walks in his pro debut. A lack of impact power limits his upside, but a utility infielder future is a nice floor.

Team League
Lvl PA AVG SecA Power Speed Patience
Boise Northwest SS 312 .301 .453 79% 97% 97%

7. Travis Demeritte | 2b | Braves

Demeritte is such a poor contact hitter that he will never hit for a high average, but his power, speed and patience could help him pave a path to the majors, especially if he enhances his versatility by being able to play shortstop, third base and outfield.

Team League
Lvl PA AVG SecA Power Speed Patience
High Desert California Hi A 378 .272 .465 99% 84% 80%
Carolina Carolina Hi A 152 .250 .460 96% 72% 96%

8. Derek Fisher | of | Astros

The only minor league batter to hit at least 20 homers with at least 20 stolen bases in both 2015 and 2016, Fisher emphasizes power over contact but has enough plate discipline to profile as a lefthanded-hitting corner thumper.

Team League
Lvl PA AVG SecA Power Speed Patience
Corpus Christi Texas AA 448 .245 .429 84% 79% 100%

9. Will Benson | of | Indians

The 14th overall pick in the draft last year, Benson hit just .209 in his pro debut, but that obscures the productive secondary performance by the 6-foot-5 lefthanded batter. If he can simplify his swing, the Atlanta prep has star potential.

Team League
Lvl PA AVG SecA Power Speed Patience
AZL Indians Arizona R 184 .209 .405 96% 85% 80%

10. Eli Alvarez | 2b | Cardinals

Alvarez ranked fourth in the Midwest League batting race last year, but the 22-year-old Dominican amplified that performance by swiping a league-leading 36 bases and ripping 36 doubles to rank second.

Team League
Lvl PA AVG SecA Power Speed Patience
Peoria Midwest Lo A 499 .323 .323 84% 92% 84%

11. Khalil Lee | of | Royals

The 2016 third-round pick out of high school already shows strong strike-zone awareness and possesses surprising power for his 5-foot-10 stature. A smart baserunner more than a burner, Lee probably won’t steal as many bases or hit as many triples against tighter defenses.

Team League
Lvl PA AVG SecA Power Speed Patience
AZL Royals Arizona R 222 .269 .418 96% 73% 92%

12. Dylan Cozens | of | Phillies

The reigning minor league home run champion, Cozens hits for tremendous power, steals about 20 bags a year and has developed a fine batting eye. But because of his sheer 6-foot-6 size and uphill bat path, he’s going to strike out excessively, which will drive his average down.

Team League
Lvl PA AVG SecA Power Speed Patience
Reading Eastern AA 586 .276 .470 100% 82% 73%

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