Daily Archives: January 30, 2007

Prospect Grades: Cline, Golson, Costanzo, Harman

Rolling along, all feedback welcomed and encouraged.

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Cline, Zac, LHP (age 23) Grade = C+

If you look at Cline’s 2006 numbers, he doesn’t deserve this grade, however, if you realize he missed all of 2005 with Tommy John surgery, it makes more sense. The Phillies took Cline in the 15th round of the 2004 draft, and the pick was looking like a steal after his initial performance, 63.2 IP, 2.85 ERA, 59 H, 12 BB, 55 K. However, he had to miss all of 2005 with Tommy John surgery, and 2006 was expected to be a tough year for him trying to regain his command, which was excellent before the surgery. He spent time at both Lakewood and Clearwater, and while his 5.23 ERA looks ugly, he seemed to regain some of his stuff, striking out 15 in 13.2 IP at Clearwater. The second year back is normally where things seem to click, so for Cline, 2007 is important. He’s still 23 and doesn’t turn 24 till July, so he’s got some time, and the promise he showed before the injury means he still has a chance to be a legit prospect, whether it be as a back of the rotation starter or a reliever.

Ceiling: Right now, his ceiling is #4/5 starter, or middle reliever. It’s tough to know how he will bounce back from TJ surgery in his second full season. If he has a full recovery and regains his command, he’s got a legit shot to be considered a quality prospect at this time next year. If he doesn’t regain velocity, he may struggle to ever be more than a AAAA pitcher.

Floor: His floor is a AAA pitcher who maybe gets a shot sometime down the road. Think Brian Mazone, without the steroids.

Conclusion: It’s tough to predict and project post Tommy John results, because it seems different pitchers react differently to the surgery. If he comes all the way back and can replicate his 2004 success at higher levels, I think he has a good chance, maybe a 60% chance, to reach his ceiling. If he falls short, his ceiling becomes a middle reliever, but if he can’t regain control of his stuff, he probably won’t make a major league bullpen. As with all injury cases, there is the chance he just washes out of baseball and can’t make it back.
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Golson, Greg, OF (age 21) Grade = D+ (edited from an F to a D+)

I’m sorry, Greg, but you deserve the first F of these rankings. If Golson were a late round flier pick, I’d consider giving him a D. But, with Phillip Hughes being placed in the Top 10 of most every prospect list, it’s hard for me to not be incredibly bitter or angry with this pick. Golson, though he was only 20 in 2006, has been a massive disappointment at every level, even with his glimmer of hope after being promoted to Clearwater. Why is that a disappointment? Because the reports were that he sulked when he was sent back to Lakewood to start the year. I guess he felt that his stellar .711 OPS in 375 AB’s at Lakewood in 2005 warranted him being sent to Clearwater. Maybe it was the 106 strikeouts to go with his 26 walks and 4 home runs? Whatever the reason, you don’t get points in my book for sulking. He isn’t a star, he doesn’t deserve star treatment. Since being drafted in 2004, he’s pretty much done nothing to show he was a first round pick, and honestly, hasn’t shown anything to suggest he’d even be a 25th round pick. Almost no plate discipline, which was still evident in his .325 OB% at Clearwater, and only flashes of both power and speed, the two attributes we were told would be his best when he was drafted. On paper, he get’s an F. On his attitude, he probably deserves an F. On tools? Well, if you listen to many, he get’s an A+++. Unfortunately, you don’t get free walks and home runs based on tools. Until he proves he can be consistent for an entire season, he gets an F. If he starts back at Clearwater, which he should, will he pout again? If he does, look for a .650 OPS and then a promotion out of nowhere to Reading, where he might play decently for 6 weeks.

Ceiling: With guys like Golson, they always say the sky is the limit. If he ever learns to draw a walk, and he maintains his power, he could be the next Andre Dawson. If he doesn’t, he’ll likely become the next Reggie Taylor. He has the tools, no one is denying that, but at some point, you have to start being a good baseball player, not just a good athlete. A good comp might be Milton Bradley with more speed. Bradley is a good all around hitter, can hit for some power, can run a little, and is generally considered a solid defensive RF. Golson has a similar toolset, with more speed.

Floor: Unfortunately, as lofty as the ceiling is, the floor is just as far down. If his plate discipline doesn’t improve and the makeup issues follow him up the ladder, he’s likely to teeter in the minors for the rest of his career, or until he decides he wants to try something else instead of baseball.

Conclusion: Despite my apparent dislike for him, I’m pulling for him harder than almost anyone. Being a first round pick puts a lot of pressure on a player, and it’s not like it’s his fault the Phillies took him over Hughes. If he can maintain the power he showed at Clearwater, he can shelve the pouting and sulking, and he can learn to take a walk, he could become a special prospect. If he doesn’t, well, he’s never going to amount to a hill of beans. I’ll put the chances of him becoming Milton Bradley with more speed at 25%, the chances of him landing somewhere in between at 50%. “In between” might be a 5th OF or a four A player.

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Costanzo, Mike, 3B (age 23) Grade = B-

Costanzo, like Kendrick, is a guy I seem to change my mind on every day. Some days, I’m really down on him for a variety of reasons ranging from his real power to his mental makeup, other days I’m up on his chances, based on his age and his ability to turn it on as the season progresses. Where does that leave me for a grade? Good question. I was thinking about a straight B, but his defense at 3B has been questioned, and if he has to move to the OF, that reduces his long term value. I thought about a C+, but he was only 22 in 2006 and was above average at high A. So, I settled on a B-. First, the positives. Costanzo was a 2 way player at Coastal Carolina, so he’s had to make the transition to being a full time position player. His arm strength is a plus, but his fielding is not. Second, he has shown good isolated power despite being double jumped in 2006 over Lakewood. His .411 slugging % doesn’t look great, but it was still 10% better than the league average in the FSL, and in July and August, he slugged .421 and .525 in 107 and 101 AB’s respectively, which is quite solid. The negatives….well, his fielding wasn’t good, as he committed 25 errors in 135 games. However, you have to qualify that and remember that minor league fields are normally not up to par with the level of fields he’ll be playing on regularly at the big league level. Clearwater has one of the nicest stadiums in the minors, but he still had to play a lot of games in sub standard fielding conditions, and that really applies to most infielders throughout the minors. His OB% and his consistency are the two biggest things going forward. There have been mentions that he takes AB’s off or only gets up for the big game/spotlight moment, and that simply isn’t going to help him going forward. For him to climb the rankings lists, he’ll need something in the neighborhood of .285/.370/.480 next year at Reading. That’s not unheard of or out of his reach. At this point, he looks more like a utility guy than a starting 3B, but of course, that can all change in one season.

Ceiling: An every day 3B who doesn’t hit for a big average, but draws walks and shows good power. Like Golson, but to a lesser degree, makeup issues are starting to creep up, and word of him coasting at times is troubling. He’ll be 23 for his 2007 season at Reading, and it will be a big chance for him to evelate his status, or at the same time, greatly diminish his status.

Floor: Guys like Costanzo normally will always make it to the big leagues, but whether or not they ever stick, or become useful players is another matter. His floor is a four A corner INF/OF guy who plays occasionally at the big league level, but spends most of the season at AAA waiting for an injury. Disappointments like Sean Burroughs keep getting chances, and so too will Costanzo. The key will be consistency, and if he can maintain a consistent level of performance for an entire year, he’s got a fairly good chance of reaching his ceiling, we’ll say 65%. However, I think he has an even greater chance of falling down a bit closer to his floor.

Conclusion: 2007 is a big year for Mike. If he can sustain a solid campaign for the entire year, against tougher AA competition, then we might have a legit 3B prospect on our hands. If not, maybe it’s time he heads back to the mound and works on his curveball again. That’s being harsh, but he needs to have a 2007 to remember, or we probably won’t be remembering him down the road, at least for his on the field contributions. We’ll always remember him as being the guy we drafted who bragged about going home from the hospital in a mini Phillies jacket.

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Harman, Bradley, SS/2B (age 21) Grade = B

Looking at just numbers, like we talked about with Cline, this grade seems out of place. However, Brad gets a pass from me for 2006, for a number of reasons, but most importantly, for off the field issues. His mom passed away back in Australia, and as someone who lost his mom at a young age this year, I completely understand what he went through. I find it mind-boggling that he was even able to play 119 games this season, but clearly looking at his numbers, his mind was elsewhere. When dealing with any kind of tragedy like this, it’s impossible to focus on your job, whether it’s playing baseball, working in an office, or digging ditches, and when you can’t focus, you are obviously going to have a very tough time succeeding, especially at a young age. Harman played all of 2006 at age 20, and while his 2006 was awful both on and off the field, his 2005, where he put up an .822 OPS at Lakewood at age 19, gives us reason to believe he’s going to be ok after an expected slip-up in 2006. He showed good plate discipline in both 2005 and 2006, but just didn’t hit for average at all this year, and his power drastically dropped. The Phillies have little depth at 2B/SS, with only 2006 draft picks Jason Donald and Adrian Cardenas representing legit prospects in those positions. Donald and Cardenas are probably going to open up at SS/2B in Lakewood, which means Harman could either repeat Clearwater or head to Reading to start 2007. They may have him start in Clearwater, and if he’s focused and ready to go, he could be promoted after a month or two. He still remains a really bright prospect, which is why I’m inclined to give him a B, even though his 2006 would say he doesn’t deserve it.

Ceiling: An above average offensive middle infielder. Harman is still quite young, and appears to have solid makeup. The Phillies dipped heavily into Australia, and Harman may end up being the best of the bunch. He has the ability to be a .280/.360/.480 type player, and at SS or 2B, that’s a big asset. Of course, if he has to move to an OF position, it will diminish his value, as he’ll need his bat to carry him. Buildwise, he reminds me of Michael Young, and if he turns into 75% of the player Young is, he’ll be a huge find for the Phillies. Young, in his first season in the SAL (age 21), had a line of .282/.354/.456, while Harman’s line in the SAL, at age 19, was .303/.380/.442.

Floor: It’s unclear how his 2006 will affect him going forward, but if he comes back with a clear head, he should be fine. He’s still 3 years away, but at worst, I think he turns into a utility infielder.

Conclusion: The odds of anyone “becoming Michael Young” aren’t very good, but Harman’s 2005 was outstanding, all things considered, and his 2006 was a disaster, numbers wise, but again, has to be taken into proper context. He could repeat Clearwater, and because he’ll only be 21, he won’t fall behind at all, in fact, he’ll still really be a year young for the level. If they give him the boost to Reading, where are there really aren’t many people blocking him at either SS or 2B, he could really elevate his prospect status.