Chase Utley: One of the Best Ever

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Brayan Rocchio

The Cleveland Guardians have a very promising farm system, and Brayan Rocchio might be their best prospect.

I have watched him play a good amount, and I have a few things to say. There is little reason to doubt his 70 fielding grade from FanGraphs, as his defense is tremendously smooth. His main knock is his power, but I don't think it's much of a concern. Obviously it would be nicer if he had power, but he has the ability to drive the ball, which is what matters. The power will come as he develops. His batting stance is very similar to Francisco Lindor, although he obviously lacks Lindor's exceptional raw power.

Speaking of Francisco Lindor, he might be severely underrated at this point. The dude had the second best start to a career for a shortstop behind ARod. Noisy defensive metrics have masked his defensive excellence, not because they underrate him, but because outlier DRS totals for other defenders overshadow Lindor's consistent dominance. Statcast had him at like +15 runs at shortstop this year, and that isn't a fluke, at least not a big one. +15 runs at shortstop makes him like a +23 runs on defense, meaning that he was around a 4.5 WAR guy in 2021 in just 125 games. This is coming in a major down offensive season in which he was extraordinarily unlucky. Since Statcast started tracking defensive output, Lindor has thrown up +77 runs at shortstop, which comes out to around 14 runs per 150 games. Some regression is due even with the large sample, but I would say with some confidence that Lindor ranges from +7ish to +13 in terms of true talent at short. Throw in the shortstop positional adjustment and his true value at short should range from 15 to 21 runs. Using his conservative Steamer offensive projection, that would make him around a 5.5 WAR player. I also think Steamer is underrating his offensive capabilities.

Anyways, let's talk about Rocchio. He is a switch hitter like Lindor and attacks the ball similarly. He is nicknamed "the professor" because of how smart he is. His "feel for contact" is a great sign and he might be able to convince Guardians fans to forget Lindor. At just age 20, he threw up a 135 wRC+ in 203 plate appearances at the AA level. FanGraphs isn't loading properly but this is something that only a select few shortstops have accomplished, like Javier Baez, Corey Seager, and Carlos Correa. Those guys did much better than a 135, but I didn't put too much thought into this segment. 

Point is, Rocchio is a plus "hitter" (which is what really matters as a prospect) with elite shortstop defense and a great baseball IQ. He has a very high floor and ceiling, and should be one of the top prospects entering 2022. I'm not sure if he will be, since FanGraphs has only done reports on the Athletics, Cubs, and Angels. 

Edit: speaking of Francisco Lindor, I was looking through some old scouting reports and I noticed that, while he was the best prospect in the Indians system, the scouts weren't particularly high on his power. The lines between Rocchio and Lindor are blurred. It's not likely that Rocchio comes close to what Lindor has accomplished/will accomplish, but there are a lot of very direct similarities. 

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