Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 12/13/11

Jeff Keppinger considers the meaning of freedom from atop a rocky mount.

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Offseason Notes.

1. Non-Tenders: A Top-Five List
2. SCOUT Leaderboards: Venezuelan Winter League
3. Prospecting: John Sickels’ Top-20 List for Seattle

Non-Tenders: A Top-Five List
MLB Trade Rumors has complete lists of both the American and National League non-tenders. These are players with whom teams have decided not to enter aribitration, thus making said players free agents.

Here’s a list of the top-five players to become free agents (with their 2012 ages):

1. Jeff Keppinger, 2B, 32: Excellent contact skills, not-horrid glove. Is a league-average player if BABIP is above, like, .295 or .300.

2. Ronny Paulino, C, 31: Is a catcher who has an idea at the plate (85 wRC+, 6.8 WAR in 1968 PAs). That has value.

3. Joe Saunders, LHP, 31: Not a “real winner,” as he’d been known in some circles, but would probably make good addition to a club with some high-upside but injury-prone starters.

4. Ryan Theriot, MI, 32: Stretched at shortstop. His problem isn’t that he’s Ryan Theriot (he has little control over that), it’s how he’s been utilized.

5. Micah Owings, RHP, 29: Hasn’t owned strike zone enough to compensate for 36.1% ground-ball rate. Has 106 wRC+ as batter (.389) in 217 plate appearances, however.

SCOUT Leaderboards: Venezuelan Winter League
Batting Leaderboard
Here is the SCOUT batting leaderboard for the Venezuelan Winter League (VWL). SCOUT represents an attempt to derive something meaningful from small samples and is the average of a player’s standard deviations from the VWL mean in three important (and regressed) stats: walk rate, strikeout rate, and home-run rate. (Click here for more on SCOUT. SCOUT leaderboards for the Venezuelan and Dominican Winter Leagues appear on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.)

Name Org PA xBB% xK% xHR% BBz Kz HRz SCOUT Luis Rodriguez SEA 137 18.7% 8.8% 1.3% 1.89 1.49 -0.33 1.02 Luis Jimenez SEA 206 16.7% 18.0% 3.6% 1.46 -0.22 1.10 0.78 Gregor Blanco SF 203 20.3% 17.7% 1.9% 2.26 -0.17 0.05 0.71 Oscar Salazar FLA 224 12.3% 14.7% 2.8% 0.49 0.39 0.61 0.49 Alexi Amarista LAA 198 12.1% 13.6% 2.3% 0.45 0.59 0.28 0.44 Mike Wilson SEA 173 18.4% 26.6% 3.8% 1.82 -1.82 1.23 0.41 Alberto Gonzalez SD 151 7.0% 8.6% 2.3% -0.68 1.53 0.26 0.37 Caleb Gindl MIL 123 14.4% 20.4% 3.1% 0.95 -0.66 0.79 0.36 Jesus Guzman SD 134 16.8% 16.5% 1.0% 1.48 0.06 -0.53 0.34 Luis Valbuena TOR 190 14.5% 17.4% 2.0% 0.97 -0.10 0.10 0.32

Question: Is Caleb Gindl, 23, a potential replacement for Ryan Braun, who (i.e. Braun) might very well be serving a 50-day suspension to begin the season. Answer: I don’t know. OLIVER actually considers Logan Schafer (1.9 WAR) the better option. (It projects Gindl for 0.7 WAR.) Schafer, 25, finished eighth on the SCOUT leaderboard for the Arizona Fall League.

Pitching Leaderboard
For pitchers, SCOUT is the average of a player’s standard deviations from the VWL mean in (regressed) strikeout and walk rate.

Name Org G GS IP BF xK% xBB% Kz BBz SCOUT Eric Junge LAA 8 7 37.2 155 25.9% 8.3% 1.76 0.13 0.94 Enrique Gonzalez DET 19 0 20.2 83 25.9% 9.1% 1.76 -0.09 0.84 Dylan Owen NYN 9 7 41.2 168 23.3% 7.9% 1.20 0.24 0.72 Yusmeiro Petit MEX 11 11 70.0 289 20.4% 5.8% 0.60 0.83 0.72 Renyel Pinto FA 10 10 64.0 255 23.1% 8.9% 1.18 -0.03 0.57 Josh Schmidt NYA 6 6 32.1 135 23.1% 9.2% 1.16 -0.11 0.52 Yohan Pino TOR 22 0 35.1 142 20.9% 7.6% 0.70 0.33 0.52 Mike Parisi LAN 9 8 51.2 203 19.2% 6.4% 0.35 0.65 0.50 Les Walrond PHI 10 10 49.1 212 21.2% 7.9% 0.76 0.24 0.50 Deunte Heath CHA 7 7 35.1 151 22.5% 9.1% 1.03 -0.09 0.47

Right-hander Eric Junge, 34, makes his SCOUT debut this week atop the leaderboard. From Wikipedia, we learn that Junge — after playing about 10 years of affiliated baseball — played in the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese baseball leagues from 2008 to ’10. Though there could be questions about the data, there’s reason to suggest that Junge has developed some manner of grounder-inducing approach: his ground-ball rate, per StatCorner, jumped from 42.4% in 2010 to 51.7% in 2011. Furthermore, he’s posted a 2.04 GO/AO in the VWL — equivalent to roughly a 51% ground-ball rate.

Prospecting: John Sickels on Seattle
John Sickels has published his preliminary top-20 list for the Seattle Mariners.

Here are some notes on same:

• Right-hander Taijuan Walker and left-hander Danny Hultzen both receive A- grades from Sickels and occupy the top two spots, respectively, on Sickels’ Mariner list. Hultzen’s name won’t surprise many people: he was the second-overall pick in the most recent draft after having a pretty excellent college career at Univ. of Virginia. Walker, just 19, might be less familiar even to the Baseball Enthusiast: he was a supplemental-pick out of a California high school in 2010.

Vincent Catricala, the sixth-overall prospect in the org per Sickels, was just projected by ZiPS to post one of the best OPS+s in the system in 2012. Dave Cameron and I actually discussed Catricala in more depth than you’d care to imagine during Monday’s edition of the podcast (starting around the 8:00 mark).

• Sickels is excited about 10th-ranked Brad Miller‘s (the one born 10/18/1989) bat — and there’s a chance that Miller doesn’t need to move off shortstop. That’s a prospect. Miller walked more than he struck out in each of his three year’s at Clemson before being drafted by Seattle in the second round of the 2011 draft.

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