James Wood, Owen Caissie Headline 10 Statcast Standouts (April 15)


Image credit: James Wood (Photo by Tom DiPace)

Every Monday morning we’ll highlight 10 players who stood out to us based on their underlying Statcast metrics. These are not full scouting reports, but can often serve as good early indicators of prospects who might be ready to break out, or are demonstrating MLB-ready skills.

Last week, we highlighted Coby Mayo and Paul Skenes as repeat standouts, ready for the MLB, and their performances this past week would only serve to strengthen their cases. This week, we’re going to cover 10 different names, including a pair of very exciting Low-A Mets prospects who might be poised for breakouts.

You can access the data below via Baseball Savant.

Related prospect rankings

10 Statcast Standouts

James Wood, OF, Nationals

Rochester’s season got off to a slow start because of weather. We’ve finally gotten some games and a good sample size of data. The results are quite eye-popping. Wood is currently averaging 95.8 mph on 35 batted ball events, as well as an 90th percentile exit velocity of 108.7 mph, with a very manageable swinging strike rate of 13.8%, exceptional for a player that stands 6-foot-7. The only flaw in his profile this season is his 2.9 degree average launch angle, which may limit his home run output. Wood is currently batting .370/.500/.630 with more walks than strikeouts (12 to 11), along with five steals. He looks like he’ll force his way onto the Nationals’ MLB roster sooner rather than later.

Owen Caissie, CF, Cubs

In terms of Statcast metrics such as exit velos and launch angles, Caissie’s early-season performance is arguably more impressive than Wood’s. Let’s take a look at a couple of charts:

Red bubbles suggest players are generating launch angles geared for home run power, green bubbles indicate players who may be wasting their exit velos by hammering balls into the ground. Larger bubbles indicate a player who is young for the level.

Caissie is showing a tick more swing and miss and slightly less raw power than Wood, but he’s doing that while producing an almost ideal 17 degree launch angle, which may help him tap into more of his raw power than Wood. While this hasn’t yet translated into home runs this season, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the surface level results swing upwards soon. The strikeouts remain a concern, but he’s also walking at a decent clip, making him a classic “three true outcomes” type of hitter.

Max Muncy, SS, Athletics

We highlighted a selection of names in the two charts above, and the player that really pops is Max Muncy. He ranked as the No. 9 prospect in the A’s system entering the season and his preseason scouting report highlighted changes he made to simplify his approach and cut down on his strikeout rate. In the early going, Muncy is sporting an excellent 9.8% swinging strike rate, along with a very good 20.8% whiff rate, while posting MLB quality exit velos with optimal launch angles. He’s currently hitting .293/.396/.463 as a full-time shortstop in Triple-A and is the same age as Wood and Caissie. He looks like he may catapult himself up Oakland’s list, or hit his way onto the major league roster.

Joey Loperfido, Astros

The good news: Loperfido has a 1.324 OPS, powered by 10 home runs in just 14 games.

The bad news: He’s struck out 24 times already compared to nine walks.

If you refer to the chart above, you’ll see Loperfido near Muncy and Caminero, but he has a very small bubble as he’s much older than those players. Looking at the underlying metrics would suggest that Loperfido’s power output is real, albeit at a more reasonable level, while his strikeout rates look to be somewhat inflated. He could be playing his way into a stacked Astros lineup.

Jack Leiter, SP, Rangers

In our first Statcast Standouts piece, we highlighted Leiter’s first start of the season, which was very promising. His third start of the season on April 13 was perhaps even more impressive:

Leiter has a low release point, which shares a lot of similar traits to Jared Jones and Spencer Strider, and generated a lot of swing and misses with the fastball, as well as four whiffs with the slider. The fastball has elite pitch metrics, given the low release point, and an 87 mph slider with only 2.6 inches of IVB will usually grade out well, especially when paired with an elite fastball.

The challenge for Leiter is rounding out the arsenal beyond the fastball/slider pair, as he probably needs to find a third pitch before he can be relied upon to go five or more innings against a major league lineup. If not, he looks ready to grab a bullpen role down the stretch, and would likely thrive in a high-leverage role.

Dominic Hamel, RHP, Mets

Hamel’s IVB numbers are eye-popping, routinely getting 20 inches or more of IVB, which is elite at any arm angle. His 92-94 mph fastball has average velocity, but the ride will allow him to get a lot of whiffs, while potentially making him susceptible to the long ball. His sweeper gets almost 17 inches of sweep and has been good for a 29% swinging strike rate, along with a 60% whiff rate when batters offer at the pitch. The changeup has gotten whiffs and called strikes and looks like a viable third pitch. The cutter might be a good pitch for him if he can make it a true gyro slider, which would make him a five-pitch pitcher, as he can steal strikes with the curveball.

After a disastrous first start where he walked seven, Hamel struck out 10 batters in five innings, with only one walk. At age 25, he may not need a lot of time in Triple-A to force his way into the Mets rotation.

Jesus Baez, 3B/SS, Mets

We wrote about Josue Briceño last week, and he would indeed continue to be a Statcast Standout with exceptional exit velocities and minuscule swinging strike rates. Today, we’re going to highlight Baez, who’s sporting plus exit velos and pristine swinging strike rates, with a good chance to stay on the dirt. This jives with our preseason scouting report that described him as having exemplary bat speed and raw power. He’s sporting an .807 OPS in the early going with more walks (four) than strikeouts (three). Big arrow up for Baez in the early going.

Jonah Tong, RHP, Mets

Mets fans, if you want to get excited about a pitching prospect, let us introduce you to Jonah Tong, our second Canadian and third Mets prospect on this list. Even at 92-93 mph, his fastball is plus because it averages 20 inches of IVB. The filled bubbles in the chart above paint a good picture of just how much swing and miss the pitch is getting. What’s even more exciting is that he’s hit 97 mph with the pitch, which suggests he might have a lot more in the tank as he matures. This is a potentially double-plus pitch if his development breaks the right way.

He throws a cutter/gyro slider to righties, which has picked up a lot of whiffs but hasn’t been very consistent. There’s potential with the pitch if he can command it, and make it a true gyro slider, a pitch that usually pairs well with the high vert fastball. The curveball show promise as a good contact management and strike-stealing pitch. The changeup with its current shape probably won’t work, but he likely needs it to attack lefties. He’s still very raw, but the potential here is quite high, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him featured prominently on the Mets list (and possibly even the Top 100) by next season.

George Klassen, RHP, Phillies

Klassen, the Phillies’ No. 28 prospect entering the season, looks like a dynamic three-pitch pitcher in the early going. The fastball doesn’t have great ride, but it plays up given his very low arm angle, and 97.2 mph velo that touched 99.8 mph. It’s not a sure-fire top-shelf fastball the way Tong’s projects to be, however, Klassen looks to have an elite bullet slider, coming in at a blistering 91 mph with negative IVB, getting whiffs over 55% of the time. He also has a hard curve at 85-86 mph, which also gets lots of whiffs. When you have two elite breaking balls, the fastball only needs to be about average to be an effective pitcher. He’s dominating with mostly just the fastball, but will likely need to lean on his power breaking balls more as he moves up the ladder.

George Lombard Jr., SS, Yankees

Lombard doesn’t do anything super loud just yet, but he’s very young for Low-A and is already posting plus exit velos (105 mph 90th percentile exit velocity, 90 mph average exit velocity), with a somewhat concerning 38.9% whiff rate, which is higher than we’d like to see. However, he has tremendous patience, with 15 walks to 12 strikeouts. If he develops power as grows, he could be a three-true-outcome shortstop, with lots of home runs and great OBPs.

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