Baseball America has an interesting article up, highlighting various minor league players who have strong analytical markers that are indicators of future success.
The background into this exercise that BA provides is also informative — as they explain:
Hitting, while arguably one of the hardest tasks in all of professional sports, is fairly simple on its face. Do you hit the ball? Do you hit the ball hard? Do you walk/swing at strikes? With that information we can get a fairly clear foundational understanding of who a hitter is.
When we talk about the analytic data that teams are using in evaluating players, we are for the most part talking about data that provides information about one or more of those three questions. Every team is going to incorporate this information, though some teams weight it more heavily than others, and as of a few years ago, the Rangers shifted their approach to put a much heavier weight on the analytics side, particularly in regards to the amateur draft and minor leaguers (I don’t think, for example, Trevor Hauver would have been someone the Rangers would have targeted in a trade in 2017, or that Justin Foscue would have been as high on the Rangers’ board a half-decade ago). When you see references made to analytically-oriented teams when talking about the draft, for example, those are teams that weight that sort of underlying data the heaviest.
Josh Jung, unsurprisingly, is one of the players who makes their list of ten players who meet their minimum criteria (top 100 of all minor leaguers in exWOBA and exISO) and has hot and sexy analytical characteristics. Jung, of course, had questions about his power when he came out of Texas Tech, as he had the sort of opposite-field approach that is often taught at the college ranks, but that doesn’t tap into a player’s raw power. BA’s info indicates that the batted ball metrics for Jung in 2021 should put those concerns to rest.
Its worth noting that they also mention Jung having “a tireless work ethic,” and one of the other things that the Rangers reportedly put an increased emphasis on as part of their organizational shift a few years ago, particularly with their premium picks or signings, was makeup. That would seem to fly in the face of the emphasis on objective data, but it is something that seems to be at least attempted to be quantified by teams. And that isn’t just with amateur players — Marcus Semien being considered a 70-80 makeup player was a significant factor in the Rangers’ aggressive pursuit of him.
BA also mentioned a couple of extra, way way way under the radar players in their article, one of which is Rangers minor league first baseman Abimelec Ortiz. Don’t recognize the name? Neither did I. He is a 19 year old out of Puerto Rico who attended high school at the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, went to Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers, Florida, and was signed by the Rangers this summer as an undrafted free agent. He was sent to the Dominican Summer League where he slashed .233/.419/.581, with 33 walks against 31 Ks. He’s not someone who is going to be popping up on the Rangers’ top 30 prospect list, but BA notes that the analytic data for Abimelec suggests that he’s someone to keep an eye on as a deep sleeper.
BA did a similar piece on pitchers last week, which you can check out here. There’s no Rangers on the list, but it has similar information in regards to the analytic data for pitchers that teams are looking at.