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Max Kepler

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#1 darin617

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 08:21 PM

With the very slow progress Max Kepler is making and the outfield depth would it be wise to consider a position change back to being a catcher? I thought when the Twins signed him he was a catcher originally but the Twins moved him to the OF. Not really sure how he is the 8th best prospect in the organization.

#2 cmathewson

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 09:11 PM

He has played a lot of first base of late. At this point, he's the heir apparent to Joe Mauer.
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#3 stringer bell

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 09:12 PM

He IS left handed. We haven't had a major league LH catcher since I've been alive and I'm old. I don't think Kepler was ever a catcher.

#4 Seth Stohs

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 09:52 PM

In talking with Jake Mauer, Kepler can still play OF. He said, he may eat himself to 1B, but he's a solid outfielder. He compared him to Chris Parmelee, but he said he'll hit more than Parmelee. He's a very good athlete. Very good power. Good speed. I know he talked about wanting to be like Josh Hamilton, and he has that same build and tools.

He hasnt been been moved too slowly at all. He was signed with Polanco and they ended the season at the same place... kepler was just hurt for a half season. Having seen Kepler, i believe he has a chance!

#5 DocBauer

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 10:49 PM

There are two things you can never hide and never bet against.

One is pure athletic talent.

The other is work ethic.

There are those at TD who devote themselves to first hand witnessing as well as great connections within the Twins system for first and second hand knowledge that the rest of us can only learn from and gravitate toward. Athletically, the young man is terribly gifted from everything we have seen and heard, power, speed, and about anything else you need to be successful. I find the Mauer quote humerous about eating himself out of the outfield. I don't see this as a negative comment at all! Simply a comment how this young man is simply growing and developing. Think how big and athletic he was when the Twins signed him at the time. Physically, he's still growing and maturing.

There has never been a negative word spoken as to his work ethic, quite the contrary! My father watched and met the young man ST 2012 and found him talented to watch and humble to talk to.

While l do believe pure physical development might move him out of CF, (not a crime) I have no doubt he'd make a heck of a corner OF in the next couple of years. (Possibly with the ability to still fill in at CF on occasion) I also believe he might just make one heck of a 1B! Athletic and mobile defensively, and a good and patient hitter with good power with SB potential. I see him as a Darin Erstad with more power. And being a Husker, I've watched Erstad's full career.

A move to 1B, at least primarily, is no crime. Outstanding athletic ability in the field as well as at the plate is nothing to take for granted. This is a young man who has the ability to rake a bit, get on base, steal some bases, show some real power, make things happen, and help in the field.

One of the things that impressed me the most about him this past season was his work in the AFL. Cursory glances will see nothing. Harder looks will see a young player, coming off a shorthand injury plagued season as standing tall and holding his own.

He is one of my picks, healthy, to really take a step forward this year.

#6 oldguy10

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 07:39 AM

Kepler is the type of player that should be getting ink in this forum not never-will-bes such as Parmelee, Pflouffe and others of that ilk. He has promise, the other two amongst others do not.

#7 Halsey Hall

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 08:35 AM

Max is looking in great shape physically. He's working out down here, and I watched him hit off Tommy Watkins last week. Hopefully he'll stay healthy this season and have a good year.

#8 Seth Stohs

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 08:47 AM

I find the Mauer quote humerous about eating himself out of the outfield. I don't see this as a negative comment at all! Simply a comment how this young man is simply growing and developing. Think how big and athletic he was when the Twins signed him at the time. Physically, he's still growing and maturing.


It was definitely not meant at all in a negative way. He's in tremendous shape, but at 6-4, he's got room to grow. Josh Hamilton was a CF, but as he matured and grew, it was clear he was more of a LF. No questioning Kepler's power potential. He hits the ball hard!

#9 Thrylos

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 10:42 AM

In talking with Jake Mauer, Kepler can still play OF. He said, he may eat himself to 1B, but he's a solid outfielder. He compared him to Chris Parmelee, but he said he'll hit more than Parmelee.


Comparing an OF to Parmelee is pretty damning. Especially a young outfielder.

I am not as high on Kepler as most people are. He had one out of 4 above average professional seasons (2012 in Etown.) His 2013 numbers in Cedar Rapids (as a 20 year old) were .237/.312/.424. Compare those to 20 year old Trevor Harrison (another 1B long term candidate) who is in the same age in the same team last season (.253/.366/.416) or 21 year old Adam Walker in the same team last season ( .278/.319/.526) or a then 21 year old (a year older) Kennys Vargas in the same league in 2012 (.318/.419/.610). And I should not mention Brian Buxton (who is younger)

In my opinion it is pretty clear that there is better talent around his age group than Kepler at this point both at OF and at 1B. I think that the Twins should be smart and sell high as long as he is still ranked up there in prospects lists...
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#10 twinsfan34

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 10:43 AM

I'm on the group that hopes/thinks Kepler can contribute to the Twins. He might be 23 before that happens. He went into this season with an injury to his elbow I believe. Maybe his wrist, I can't recall. Either way, hard to get in the flow of things as a hitter when those are hurting - look at Albert Pujols the past 2 years.

That said, all of that, he still was on pace for 20 HR if he had played the full season at class A - Cedar Rapids. Not too shabby for a 20 year old. Adam Brett Walker hit 27 HR (as a 21 yr old) to lead the Midwest Lg. Also, with the injury, he still had a 9.1% BB% and a 16.3% K%.

Reports say he played pretty decent 1B, as others mentioned, showed agility at the bag.

He's on the 40 man...so he's got 2 years, before we've had to use ML options?

Edited by twinsfan34, 26 December 2013 - 10:48 AM.


#11 Physics Guy

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 11:13 AM

Comparing an OF to Parmelee is pretty damning. Especially a young outfielder.

I am not as high on Kepler as most people are. He had one out of 4 above average professional seasons (2012 in Etown.) His 2013 numbers in Cedar Rapids (as a 20 year old) were .237/.312/.424. Compare those to 20 year old Trevor Harrison (another 1B long term candidate) who is in the same age in the same team last season (.253/.366/.416) or 21 year old Adam Walker in the same team last season ( .278/.319/.526) or a then 21 year old (a year older) Kennys Vargas in the same league in 2012 (.318/.419/.610). And I should not mention Brian Buxton (who is younger)

In my opinion it is pretty clear that there is better talent around his age group than Kepler at this point both at OF and at 1B. I think that the Twins should be smart and sell high as long as he is still ranked up there in prospects lists...


Maybe we should keep in mind that he has likely played much less ball in his lifetime than all the aforementioned players. Considering he started out the season hurt, I have no issues with his numbers.

#12 cmathewson

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 11:36 AM

The thing we have to keep in mind with Kepler is he is young for his level. You can't compare him to some of the college kids who played in Cedar Rapids last year. He's at least two years younger than most of those guys, and those are probably the two most crucial years in the physical development of a player. I look for his power numbers to surge as he fills out. That's why I rank him higher than, say, Adam Walker.
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#13 Seth Stohs

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 12:23 PM

Kind of responding to 3-4 of the messages about.

1.) the mauer quote was really about his offense.
2.) I agree that being from Germany has to be a factor in a.) being more patient, and b.) seeing what he's done, it's encouraging.
3.) It was his elbow that was hurt and cost him half of the season.
4.) Watching him play and take BP, he has a TON of natural power in that swing and will continue to gain strength.

#14 Badsmerf

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 12:34 PM

Kepler is the type of player that should be getting ink in this forum not never-will-bes such as Parmelee, Pflouffe and others of that ilk. He has promise, the other two amongst others do not.

That's not very fair to those guys. They were first round picks that are cutting their teeth in the MLB right now. They might not make it, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve to be talked about. Besides, they are on the 25-man and are only talked about in that forum. This is the MiLB forum, so we talk about Kepler. So there's that.

I like Kepler too. Its too bad he missed a good chunk of an important development year. I think he'll still start at Ft. Meyers and start slow but end the year strong. I do think he'll move to 1B too, more to accommodate a crowed OF with the Twins (Arcia, Buxton, Hicks). I don't think the Twins would be as open about his talent if they didn't believe in him. On the positional player development, they have been pretty decent. When a guy has talent, the Twins usually do a pretty good job.
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#15 PseudoSABR

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 12:58 PM

That the Twins threw him into the AFL, shows what they think of him. Yes they wanted to give him more at bats, but they probably knew he had maturity, if not the skill level, to compete with the AFL talent.

#16 Physics Guy

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 01:19 PM

Kepler in E-town, age 19
269 PA, .297/.387/.539

Walker in E-town, age 20
252 PA, .250/.310/.496

Harrison in E-town, age 19
253 PA, .301/.383/.461

Vargas in E-town, age 20
191 PA, .322/.377/.489

Who is clearly the better player? I would argue Kepler. He was hurt last year, so to compare his A stats is not fair.

Edited by Physics Guy, 26 December 2013 - 01:21 PM.


#17 birdwatcher

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 02:33 PM

There are no statistics that measure the effects of injuries on a player's performance. The fact that the Twins thrust him in the AFL, where he was far from overwhelmed, might indicate that the field staff sees great potential for this kid. I'm very leery of any conclusions drawn from the stats about the comparative potential of Harrison, Walker, Vargas, and Kepler, but my bet is on Kepler based on what's been reported.

#18 raindog

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 03:29 PM

I'm still a huge fan of Kepler. I'm far from any kind of scout, but even I can see he has a beautiful swing. I really hope he stays healthy this upcoming season.

#19 TheLeviathan

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 04:13 PM

Judging any player coming off a difficult injury should always take that injury into heavy consideration. It can have a major effect.

Let's hope he's healthy and has a lot of opportunity this year to show all that promise that we so recently held for him.

#20 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 04:58 PM

I don't think anyone is down on him. He has talent. Results really haven't been there yet. Hopefully he stays healthy and gives doubters a reason to believe in him.

#21 kab21

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 04:59 PM

Comparing an OF to Parmelee is pretty damning. Especially a young outfielder.

I am not as high on Kepler as most people are. He had one out of 4 above average professional seasons (2012 in Etown.) His 2013 numbers in Cedar Rapids (as a 20 year old) were .237/.312/.424. Compare those to 20 year old Trevor Harrison (another 1B long term candidate) who is in the same age in the same team last season (.253/.366/.416) or 21 year old Adam Walker in the same team last season ( .278/.319/.526) or a then 21 year old (a year older) Kennys Vargas in the same league in 2012 (.318/.419/.610). And I should not mention Brian Buxton (who is younger)

In my opinion it is pretty clear that there is better talent around his age group than Kepler at this point both at OF and at 1B. I think that the Twins should be smart and sell high as long as he is still ranked up there in prospects lists...


This entire analysis is based on simple slash stats?

He had an extremely low BAPIP last year. Maybe he naturally will have a lower BAPIP or perhaps it will return to a normal .300 next year. If that happens he will be considered an outstanding prospect again. If you actually look deeper at his numbers you would notice excellent K and BB rates with a solid isoP. the other guys you mentioned are similar level prospects. They outproduced him but there are also some flaws in their prospect profile. The good news is that Ft Myers should have an excellent season this year.

#22 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 08:52 AM

This entire analysis is based on simple slash stats?

He had an extremely low BAPIP last year. Maybe he naturally will have a lower BAPIP or perhaps it will return to a normal .300 next year. If that happens he will be considered an outstanding prospect again. If you actually look deeper at his numbers you would notice excellent K and BB rates with a solid isoP. the other guys you mentioned are similar level prospects. They outproduced him but there are also some flaws in their prospect profile. The good news is that Ft Myers should have an excellent season this year.


I guess my only quibble here is that I don't think BABIP is purely a luck thing. I think its something that good major leaguers can adjust and correct to, but it implies he's making weak contact far more often than he should. Given his age and the fact that he had injury problems this season, it's quite possible that it does get corrected and he returns to being a big prospect, but I do think at this stage of the game, people should start being skeptical.

Hopefully he has a great year and ends this discussion.

#23 cmathewson

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 10:22 AM

I guess my only quibble here is that I don't think BABIP is purely a luck thing. I think its something that good major leaguers can adjust and correct to, but it implies he's making weak contact far more often than he should. Given his age and the fact that he had injury problems this season, it's quite possible that it does get corrected and he returns to being a big prospect, but I do think at this stage of the game, people should start being skeptical.

Hopefully he has a great year and ends this discussion.


Actually, it does not imply anything about the quality of the contact. If it implies anything, it implies that he hit a lot of balls right at people. If someone is shown to be unusually unlucky one year, odds are, he'll be lukier the next. Combine his ill luck with his injury, and the odds are pretty good he'll put up better slash numbers in Ft. Myers, even with the league adjustments.
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#24 kab21

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 07:01 PM

I guess my only quibble here is that I don't think BABIP is purely a luck thing. I think its something that good major leaguers can adjust and correct to, but it implies he's making weak contact far more often than he should. Given his age and the fact that he had injury problems this season, it's quite possible that it does get corrected and he returns to being a big prospect, but I do think at this stage of the game, people should start being skeptical.

Hopefully he has a great year and ends this discussion.


that is why I put in the disclaimer that perhaps he will naturally have a lower BAPIP. Statistically 3 seasons of data (according to fangraphs IIRC) is needed for a relevant sample size of BAPIP. Kepler played 61 games which is not even close to being a relevant BAPIP sample. Nobody should be surprised if his BA (consequently his OBP and SLG) bump up quite a bit this season simply due to an increase in BAPIP.

The big thing is that BAPIP can easily rebound and he can be a success. A player with poor K and BB rates is more likely to struggle since he probably has poor plate discipline.

#25 Kwak

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 07:17 PM

Kepler was added to the 40-man roster--he needs to have a big year at CR to justify this opportunity. There are others that are productive hitters and will pass right by him if he doesn't "shine".

#26 cmathewson

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 07:35 PM

Kepler was added to the 40-man roster--he needs to have a big year at CR to justify this opportunity. There are others that are productive hitters and will pass right by him if he doesn't "shine".


I agree with everything, except for the part about CR. He will start the year at FM.
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#27 DocBauer

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 09:38 PM

I agree with everything, except for the part about CR. He will start the year at FM.


I hope you are right.

Again, his numbers in the AFL were pretty pedestrian, however, he was a level or two above his head and coming off a shortened season. I'd like to think natural talent, the challenges he faced and learned from would project him to FtM. I think CR to open the season, get his legs under him, might be the more conservative and perhaps prudent move. Regardless, he is one of my picks for a milb to really show this season.

By all accounts, including my father who watched ST 2012, the young man just exudes athletic ability. Is this the year it all starts to click? I really believe so.

Back to the OF while continuing to play 1B. Can you imagine his overall athletic skills taking over for Mauer in a few years while still backing up the corner OF spots?

This is the year it all starts coming together.

#28 Seth Stohs

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 10:13 PM

Kepler was added to the 40-man roster--he needs to have a big year at CR to justify this opportunity. There are others that are productive hitters and will pass right by him if he doesn't "shine".


He'll likely get a 4th option year. Unless he completely tanks, he'll be on the 40 man for a couple of years at least. He's too young.

And, I agree. He'll likely start in Ft. Myers, probably playing a lot in LF. When DJ Hicks DHs, he'll play some first base too.

#29 TRex

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 11:45 PM

Just a note on those pedestrian AFL numbers...

Someone (MiLB.com?) had a piece on Kepler in which they said he led the league in what I think they called 'average batted ball distance'. Basically, they were saying that he, as a 19 year old, was hitting the ball 'harder' than anyone else in the league.

Now, I would much rather not have to dig so hard to find numbers that support my excitement for Kepler, but this is still pretty good news for a 6'4" prospect with good plate discipline who has yet to develop his man-muscles.

#30 B Richard

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 01:03 AM

Actually, it does not imply anything about the quality of the contact. If it implies anything, it implies that he hit a lot of balls right at people.


This is not entirely true. Luck can be a considerable factor in determining BABIP, but other factors like speed and quality of contact can play a role. Does it surprise you that Joe Mauer owns a career BABIP of .350? Michael Bourn comes in at .342, to name another relevant example.

In any case, it is far too early to identify any sort of a baseline BABIP for Kepler. This is the nature of prospects. For what it's worth, I suspect he will bounce back with a strong year, provided he is healthy of course. Our minor league system is becoming more and more exciting to watch- a good omen for the big league club.