McCutchen 2007 v. Marte 2011

The Next Andrew McCutchen?

This past week, Dave Gershman (who runs the great Penn League Report website) posted an insightful article over at Beyond the Box Score called “The Art of Scouting“.  In it, he explains how scouting is more an art rather than a science.  He also details what a typical scouting report, compiled by an area scout, looks like when turned into the team’s scouting director.

Dave explains how each of the 5 tools is graded on the 20-80 Scouting Scale and divided by 5 to get the player’s Overall Future Potential (OFP).  An OFP of 65-80 is a Major League Star, 50-65 is a Solid Everyday Regular, 40-49 is a Bench Guy/Below Average Regular, and 30-39 is an Organizational Player.  It’s a great article and I recommend everyone take a few minutes to read it.

What I wanted to do in this article is attempt to gauge the OFP of two players, Andrew McCutchen from his 2007 scouting reports while at AA and Starling Marte in 2011 from his presumed AA scouting reports.  Here’s what Baseball America’s Scouting Report wrote about McCutchen after his 2007 AA season (from the subscribers’ area during the Top 10 rankings that year):

Strengths: McCutchen has quick hands and recognizes pitches extremely well, giving him the ability to wait for the ball to get deeper in the zone while drawing his share of walks. He has outstanding speed that make him a basestealing threat and a potential Gold Glover. He has outstanding instincts and an average arm in center field.
Weaknesses: McCutchen is susceptible to breaking pitches, in part because he gets pull-happy, and his power hasn’t developed as hoped. He’s slow getting out of the batter’s box, which prevents him from getting as many infield hits as his speed suggests he should.

So using that little snippet, let’s put some grades on McCutchen as if we were a scout at the game filing that report.

Andrew McCutchen CF

Hitting (50 now, 60 future) — (Note: If you read Dave’s article, you’ll see a 50 hit is .265 to .289, while a 60 hit is .290 to .304)

Power (40 now, 45 future) — (Note: 40 power is 10 to 15 HR, while 50 is 16 to 21.  The report seemed down on his power so that’s why it’s not higher)

Speed (60 now, 65 future) — (No metrics were given in the article, so I’m giving him 1 grade above average with the ability to improve an additional 1/2 grade in the future)

Fielding (50 now, 60 future) — (McCutchen was widely viewed as a Gold Glove type of guy in the minors for his range and speed)

Arm (50 now, 50 future) — (McCutchen has always been said to have an average arm)

That all averages out to a 56 Future OFP, which is a very solid grade.  Dave also mentions that scouts can add a couple of points for an Adjusted OFP, based on position of the player and the scout’s own feel, but let’s just keep it as is.

Now let’s try to and do Starling Marte based on this year at AA:

Starling Marte CF

Hitting (55 now, 55 future) — (Yes, Marte has never hit below .300 while in the United States, but I’m downgrading him a touch to account for the K/BB issues.  Theoretically, he could be a 65 or 70)

Power (40 now, 40 future) — (Marte has drastically increased his HR power this year, but I still think he tops out at 15 in the majors)

Speed (60 now, 65 future) — (Having seen him a few times, I can attest that he runs like a gazelle)

Fielding (50 now, 60 future) — (Marte’s range and instincts will only continue to improve.  He is also a Gold Glove-caliber CF)

Arm (60 now, 70 future) — (Here is the one area that Marte is significantly better than McCutchen.  He has a small howitzer attached to his right shoulder socket)

Totalling up those grades and averaging them out, you get a 58 for Marte, higher than McCutchen pretty much on the strength of his Arm grade.  Should we interpret that Marte’s 58 versus McCutchen’s 56 means that Marte will be a better player than McCutchen?  No, not necessarily.  McCutchen’s power spike this year is something that wasn’t foreseen back in 2008 based on that scouting report.  But it does mean that Marte can be a legitimate option in CF for the Pirates, perhaps as soon as summer 2012.

  • Living around the Altoona area, I’ve seen McCutchen and Marte both play. Overall, I think Marte at the AA level, with all being equal, looked better overall.  I agree totally with Cutch having an average arm and at times below average. His accuracy at times is below average. He seemed to go through a period of time in Altoona where he was really up and down at the plate – Marte seems more consistent overall.  Cutch went through the steaky offense just again after the All-Star break – looked really bad at times. Both seem to be solid defensively with the glove, speed, reaction etc. But to predict how Marte will fare in the bigs is crap shoot – until he gets there and stays there for awhile, we really don’t know.

  • You seem to be making the same mistake in power as the McCutchen scout did. First of all, you simply cannot predict accurately what his power output will be from AA ball.

    But any hitter who is above average like Cutch & Marte, and who has real good bat speed and timing, can legitimately reach 30 homers at some point. I would be willing to bet that skinny Henry Aaron’s reports from the same minor league level were not gung-ho on future home run output either, but there was never any doubt that he had excellent bat speed. Aaron was never a muscle-up home run hitter, he did it with his whole body using a perfect swing and timing. That’s how the greatest ones always do it. (especially before the steroids era). He was an all-around great hitter, and also a great clutch hitter, maybe one of the greatest ever. (he did easily get 3000 hits and still holds the career RBI record if I’m not mistaken).

  • Let me put another perspective to this. What are they worth in trade value? My rational is it is about even.
    could they bring us a top of teh rotaiton , ML ready or ML pitcher? That is what we need…now and in the future!

    • They could, but I personally would not waste superior hitting talent to acquire a pitcher because what really brings and keeps a top starter is MONEY. Any team with the money can get a top starter without even sending their best hitting prospects. Look at the top pitchers currently and how the majority of them came to their teams. Every winter there is a bidding war for a couple sweet arms and the ones who put up the best contract offers get their men.
      Besides, pitching is a fickle profession. Your top starter today is usually not the top starter 3-4 years down the road. They get hurt too easily since everything is riding on that one body part, their arm.

  • These evaluations seem increasingly too linear to me.  This player projection tool places an equal value on all tools and ignores fielding position.  Speed is important to a 2B, SS, and CF – and depending on the park dimensions (like PNC Park) speed might be more important for a corner OF.

  • interesting.  i was just looking into this comparison a few days ago to compare their AA stats but cutch being much younger i didn’t draw too much from it. 

  • Great article. What has Cutch improved since his ’07 days? Is it just his power? He certainly *feels* like better than a 56-58 OFP player. (Bumping his power to a 50 makes him a 57)

    But 60/50/65/60/50 is about as high as I’d be willing to go. I still don’t think he’s a 70 fielder. 65, maybe.

    • If I were grading McCutchen today, I would say 55 hit, 55 power, 65 speed, 50 fielding, 50 arm — but I would be tempted to put the arm at a 45.

      That averages to be 55.  That may sound “eh”, but to have a player that is average in all 5 categories and “plus” in 3 is impressive.

      To answer your original question — definitely his power has improved from 2007.  He uses his wiry strength more and his quick wrists.