Jayson Stark on Jon Singleton

Jayson Stark was on 97.5 yesterday and at the end of his interview, he started to talk about Jon Singleton. And lets just say he had lots of good things to say about him. You know how Stark can get when talking about the Phillies, so maybe take it with a pinch of salt, but its pretty impressive that Singleton is already on the national radar. Check out the audio here. Hat tip to “Mark” for passing this one along.

53 thoughts on “Jayson Stark on Jon Singleton

  1. So Jayson Stark says that Singleton is regarded by scouts as likely being athletic enough to someday play the OF, so maybe that can quell a few trade him now demands.

  2. i agree about taking it with a grain of salt, but those are some pretty impressive words. i have not heard that strong of a statement about a phillies prospect ever. “The best prospect in the minors”? Wow. “Most impressive prospect since Manny Ramirez”? That seems like an exaggeration. I mean, i am excited about him too, but now we are saying he is better than jayson heyward or some of the other uber prospects that have come up and blown it out. jeez…

  3. The legend begins.

    I listened to the Lakewood game last night, trying to get a feel for Singleton’s ABs and Colvin’s pitching.

    I think Colvin is becoming more consistent by the outing. He seems to be growing quickly toward the potential everyone saw in him.

    Singleton sucked. He was 0 for 1. His out was a line drive. His other ABs sucked too. He walked twice. And we all know Phils don’t need guys who take walks when pitchers are giving them nothing but balls off the plate, mostly breaking pitches. Rollins and Howard already have that covered. His remaining AB was a sac fly, a line drive caught against the wall. Sheesh!

    I’ve had it with guys who can’t guide their line drives toward the gaps or to fall in front of the outfielder. Don’t they know there is such a thing as driving the ball too hard?

  4. Can’t listen to the audio at work, but I take it Singleton is now considered a top 50 prospect. good enough.

  5. I am looking forward to Singleton’s second time around the league. That challenge and the heat and weariness of the dog days should give us a more rounded view of his season-long performance potential.

    BTW, when is the sample size restriction lifted? Yeah, I know, August of 2011.

  6. baxter – starks said that one scout thought he was “the best minor league prospect i have seen or will see all year.” that sounds like potential top 10 territory.

  7. With a good draft next week our system will officially be re-loaded only 11 months after trading for Clifton Phifer and Leroy Halladay, arguably the two best pitchers in baseball. Now, only if we could hit.

  8. remember that scout could be from the orioles…lol…i went to one lakewood game this year and was talkin singleton up to my buddy…all he did was go 4-4 with a dinger

  9. Elmer,

    What I’ve read is that he had a not so hot senior year that caused his stock to drop. The Phils scouts opined that the HS game was too slow for him and liked his advanced hitting approach

  10. Redhat: If I remember right, that’s what was said about Darryl Strawberry too. He used to foul tons of pitches off, because his swing was too fast for the high school game.

  11. I’ll reiterate what redhat said – someone posted Singleton’s HS stats from last year, and he “only” hit .321 in about 120ABs, which seems a bit lukewarm for a top prospects. His strikeout to walk ratio was ridiculous. I think he had 6 strikeouts against 28 walks. I don’t remember his power numbers though. Maybe I’ll browse around a bit and see if I can find the link.

    - Jeff

  12. Generally my feeling is that when I start hearing the scouts gushing over a prospect I’m a little less concerned about sample size.

    As much as I tend to be a stat oriented guy, and sometimes critical of people who dismiss the stats in favor of their own non-expert opinions, the fact remains that for minor leaguers (especially at the lower levels), scouting (not fans but real scouts) tend to capture a lot of information that the numbers don’t.

    In this case, hearing the scouts praising him to the extent that they are makes me think the numbers may be for real.

    One would certainly hope that he can eventually play the OF though, given the road block at 1B.

  13. Singleton 07-08 stats, 26 GP, .385 Avg, 95 PA, 78AB, 23 R, 30 H, 25 RBI, 7 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, OB% .474, Slg % .704

  14. Singleton 06-07 stats, 24 GP, .314 BA, 90 PA, 70 AB, 19 R, 22 H, 21 RBI, 4 2b, 7 3b, 3 HR, .461 OBP%, .700 SLG%

  15. 1 Last interesting comment since his Soph year he was 17 – 17 in SB attempts. 9 for 9 in 08, 4 for 4 in both his 06 and 07 years.

  16. had a chance to watch him during there last long homestand and the kid is very impressive.

    Hope they can keep him but it is a business

  17. Singleton is definitely stronger now than he was when he was drafted. I’m assuming that his power is coming from the new stength. What’s amazing to me is how fast he’s risen on the national level after his late start this year. What that tells me is that he’s really having great at bats and is obviously a good looking player at a very young age. He slid very smoothly and quickly into the #4 hole on a team filled with prospects and all he’s done is hit. Just hope he rubs off on some of the others on that team.

  18. Saw in one scouting report that he does not have a great arm. But positioning and knowing who to throw to can make up for some of that.

  19. I’d say if he’s still doing this at 200 ABs, it’s safe to assume that we’ve got something. I still doubt that he’s going to be promoted anytime soon. Next year, however, may be different. If he lights Clearwater on fire as he has Lakewood, I don’t think they’ll hesitate to promote him to Reading, assuming he’s not in the process of learning to play the outfield, which is more than possible. Still, I hope they just let him hit for a few years before they start tinkering with his position.

    But as for his future in left field – hey, if Pat Burrell can do it, I’m sure this guy can figure it out too. If you’re athletic (and he appears to be), it shouldn’t be a huge deal. And if you hit like this and your centerfielder can field (and ours can), room can be made to accommodate you.

  20. The only thing I know now is Singleton is on my Phillies minor league system All-Star team as the starting first baseman. And, yes he could play left field if that is what it takes to get to the majors.
    I’m just a bit more worried about the current Phillies.

  21. catch 22, i completely agree if pat the glove can stick in left field for around 10 years for the phils, i dont see any problems singleton would have playing out there

  22. Brown seems like a top 10 prospect too, and Cosart might be top 25. If we have 3 in the top 25 shortly after giving up two top 30 prospects, that would say a lot about our drafting philosophy. Brown, Drabek, Cosart and Singleton were all high-upside high school players. Brown, Cosart and Singleton all dropped because they were considered tough signs. Gose, another risky high-school pick who seemed like a tough sign, could move up the charts if he keeps getting on base. Colvin could also break the top 50 if he maintains his current success…

    For all our misses, when we hit, the payoff is huge…

    If Colvin, Brown, Singleton, Knapp, D’Arnaud, Inch, Cosart, May and Gose went to college, they would’ve improved their draft stock, and many would’ve been 1st rounders. (like Workman) Going over slot in the later rounds offers amazing “bang for your buck” and is probably the single best investment of a franchise’s money. You have to think the Phillies already made 10x their money back on all those players, in terms of value. D’Arnaud the earliest pick of that group, and his $832,000 bonus probably sealed the Halladay deal, and convinced Toronto to throw in that extra $6 million.

    On the flip side, Hewitt, Collier, Sampson, Mattair, Durant and D’Arby Myers struggled at levels inferior to Division I, so their stocks would’ve dropped significantly after their college careers.

    I’m not sure Cardenas would’ve improved his draft stock, but the fact that he enabled us to acquire a veritable #3 starter made him a great pick. I’m reserving judgement on Dugan and Hudson, but the early success of Singleton, Inch and Colvin already justified this approach in 2009.

    Now lets revisit our college picks of the past five years(same time frame used for the HS players): Costanzo, Maloney, Outman, Carpenter, Savery, Taylor, Donald, Worley, Way and Buschini. Obviously Taylor stands out, and Outman has become a solid starter for Oakland this year. Several others seem like potential middle relievers/5th starters and utility guys, but the rest are busts.

    For the past 5 years, many have criticized the Phillies’ draft strategy, during that span, their track record seems to vindicate this approach. Several years ago, this criticism could be partly attributed to the success of former college players like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, combined with the oft-referenced statistical evidence provided in “Moneyball”. Many blamed “dry spell” of the past 5 drafts on the Phillies’ preference for “toolsy” high-school players, as opposed to more proven college products. There is no doubt that, statistically, college players reach the major leagues at a higher rate, and that Sabermetrics is the serious baseball fan’s preferred method of analysis. So naturally, the serious fan would conclude, quite rationally, that the statistically supported, Sabermetric approach traditionally associated with the Oakland A’s would be superior to the Phillies’ reliance on scouts and cross-checkers.

    However, there seem to be several flaws in this reasoning.
    1) Phillies high school picks have outperformed their college counterparts. Now, I realize they drafted more high school players, but the conventional belief that college products are safer picks has simply not held true in the Phillies recent drafts.
    2) Sabermetricians claim their approach is “more empirical”, but how can blind faith in a statistical pattern be “more empirical” than trusting the trained eyes of multiple scouts? Trusting one’s own eyes, as well as the perception of those with decades of experience, is the very essence of empiricism. Sabermetrics are closer to “materialism”, for their reliance on material evidence, or “rationalism” for the use of multi-step reasoning.
    3) Although college products reach the major leagues at a higher rate, most highly-recruited high school players sign before playing an inning in the NCAA. Therefore, high-school picks produce more “stars”, a trend discussed in “Moneyball”. Even if 4% of college picks reach the majors, as opposed to 2% of high school picks, two Eric Bruntletts do not equal a Chipper Jones. I’m not going to bother looking up the exact numbers, but with such a low overall success rate, I’m not impressed if college picks are 40% more likely to reach the major leagues. I’d rather draft 2 average major leaguers every year than four replacement-level utility players. Potential can be a dirty word, but its the operative one in terms of value. Even if the picks never reach the major leagues, a single high-ceiling, “boom or bust” prospect is worth three “C” level players who could someday reach the big leagues.
    4) Due to their age, high school players have more time to develop, whereas college picks need to ascend rapidly to not lose prospect status. This fact that “age-appropriate” determines a prospect’s market value makes this even more significant. A year after appearing on multiple top 100 prospect lists, Jason Donald and Lou Marson are too old to be considered prospects. The high averages of Rizzotti and Overbeck are largely dismissed due to their ages. Now lets compare a pair of two-way players: Anthony Gose and Joe Savery. If Gose struggled at the plate as much as Savery has on the mound, he would’ve been converted. Despite being an All-American 1st baseman in college, Savery’s age makes such a move much more difficult.
    5) Within several years of being drafted, college picks need to be protected on the 40 man roster. This matters less for non-contenders, than for teams with post-season aspirations. Playoff teams need to save those roster spots for players who can help them in the post-season.

  23. Baxter, very informative post. But what early success of Steven Inch are you referring to? Last year in the GCL he pitched only 2 innings (and allowed 7 hits and 6 runs). I can’t find any records for him in 2010.

  24. “Sabermetricians claim their approach is “more empirical”, but how can blind faith in a statistical pattern be “more empirical” than trusting the trained eyes of multiple scouts? Trusting one’s own eyes, as well as the perception of those with decades of experience, is the very essence of empiricism.”

    Baxter, I agree with your conclusion on the high school players – if your scouts know what they are doing and if you willing to “bust slot” to get the players you want before their stock goes up makes the most sense.

    But I don’t think sabermeticians mostly claim their method is more emperical (based on the “senses” if you will) – to the contrary, I think they claim it is more scientific – based on directly quantifiable and measurable predictive data, rather than on subjective determinations. Indeed, it has been suggested that Billy Beane often does not even watch players (I think that’s overstated – I am sure he relies on reports too – he’s not stupid) he scouts and goes strictly by the numbers.

    But having good scouts who know what they are doing and “trust their eyes” regardless of what the numbers say is, to some extent, the opposite of scientific rationalism.
    Drafting is part art and part science. If you have strong people with experience who know the “art” of what they are doing, you can, in many case, elevate the subjectivity over data points. Never is this skill more important than it is with high school players who: (a) have data/statistics that cannot easily be translated; and (b) who are growing and devloping in a way that makes their ultimate physicals skills and psychological make-up terribly hard to predict. If you have an edge in this art, it is enormous because others cannot catch up to you simply by analyzing numbers in a more expert way. So, yeah, if you know what you are doing in scouting, you gain an enormous advantage – you can identify assets before others can, meaning the market value of these assets is below the value you perceive to exist, meaning, in sum, that if you know how to scout, you can get some damned good deals. That’s your point, I believe.

  25. One thing I would add to Baxter’s point, and this is something I wonder about…

    The Phillies approach to the super raw, “toolsy,” players can obviously pay off big when they hit on even just 1 or 2 of them. But since the success rate of the MLB draft is so low, it seems that based on ratios and odds…this strategy has to be employed consistently over a number of years to be accurately judged.

    In other words, you can’t just look at 2008 and 2009 or a few years to judge the strategy…especially with 18 year old and 19 year old kids involved. You would need almost a decade. Over a longer time span of multiple years you would be able to point out 12 or whatever draft picks spent on raw, “toolsy,” players and then point out the guys that succeeded and judge how good they were.

    Just thinking out loud as I try to figure out the fair and objective way to judge the Phillies approach to the draft.

  26. I see drafting “toolsy” players as another mechanism through which the team tries to get value in its drafts. That’s why the team willingly drafts players with checked injury histories (Savery, Hamels) and who have had one or more bad seasons prior to a draft (Howard, Donald, Taylor). It’s all part of a somewhat calculated strategy to obtain a better pick than their draft position might otherwise allow. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, the dividends are huge.

  27. Even the Drabek pick was a calculated gamble – the Phillies were betting that he was not the “bad kid” many folks made him out to be. There’s no doubt in my mind that Drabek fell in the draft due to alleged “character” issues.

  28. I don’t think the criticism of the Phillies’ drafting strategy is that they take athletic tough to sign high schoolers in the later rounds, like most of your examples. Red Sox among other successful drafters do the same thing. It’s the taking of those players in the 1st round when better options are available (ie Hewitt when Chisenhall & Friedrich and many others were on the board).

  29. I think the vast majority of those who contribut to this site think that their early round “tool shed” gambles on position players have not been particularly good. Historically, they’ve been bad almost to the point of being embarrassing. Whether it’s just a lot of bad luck or poor judgment is not clear, as far as I’m concerned. I’d just as soon see them reign that in as, whatever the reason, it’s been an unmitigated disaster. Greg Golson, Reggie Taylor, Jeff Jackson, Anthony Hewitt . . . it’s painful.

  30. The Phillies draft strategy has not been a disaster. It does not make a bit of difference that they have taken the unforgiveable total of 4 toolsy outfielders in the 1st round, the last 15 years.
    People see what they want to see. The reality is the Phillies have taken toolsy OFs that have not worked out. They have taken college players who have not worked out. They take the high upside player, believing they might have the next Torii Hunter or Carl Crawford. That strategy is as reasonable as taking a college player that has less upside.
    It is easy to take 4 missses of a certain type over a 15 year period and make a blanket statement, but to keep selling that myth over and over is tiresome.

  31. Here is the Phillies First Round Draft Picks in the Last 15 years:

    2009 None
    2008 Anthony Hewitt, OF, HS
    2007 Joe Savery, LHP, College
    2006 Kyle Drabek, RHP, HS
    2005 None
    2004 Greg Golson, OF, College
    2003 None
    2002 Cole Hamels, LHP, HS
    2001 Gavin Floyd, RHP, HS
    2000 Chase Utley, 2B, College
    1999 Brett Myers, RHP, HS
    1998 Pat Burrell, OF, College
    1997 J.D. Drew, OF, College (unsigned)
    1996 Adam Eaton, RHP, HS
    1995 Reggie Taylor, OF, HS

    So there you have it . In the last 15 years, we’ve signed 11 first round picks. The jury is still out on Savery, Hewitt and Golson. However, it looks to me that of the 4 guys who are going to make the least Major League impact are the 3 raw HS toolsy OFs and Savery. Why keep doing what isn’t working. I have no problem with drafting raw toolsy OFs, I just think we shouldn’t pay first round bonuses to do it when our hit rate isn’t so hot.

  32. I wish the Phillies chose 1st round pedigree, Anthony Gose in the 1st round instead of Hewitt in 2008, so this argument could be retired.

  33. of course i’m not opposed to drafting college players, but I disagree with the notion that its the solution, based on the past five drafts.

  34. To be clear on my position, just because I question some of the draft picks and / or draft strategy at some points, overall I think the Phillies do a better than average job picking and developing players. Most of my criticisms are “picking nits” more than anything else.

    To Baxter’s point, most of the time I would rather have the HS kid with 4 additional years worth of potential than the college player…unless the college guy has a special something he brings to the table or unless the college guy can fill an immediate hole in the system.

  35. It looks like the SAL is starting to pitch around Singleton. 2 walks yesterday and 3 today.

  36. Oh yee takers out of context . . . . I did NOT say that the Phillies entire draft strategy has been a disaster. To the contrary, I’ve been complementary of their draft strategy as a whole, saying they generally have been taking smart, calculated chances on players. They’ve also done well with toolshed players later in the draft and they’ve done just fine with college athletes and HS pitchers in the first couple of rounds. What they’ve been abysmal at and what I and numerous posters on this site agree has been a waste, is taking extremely high risk tool shed POSITION players in the first round. Look at your list, look at the HS position players – those picks have been a disaster – in fact NONE of those picks has turned out to be any good. I’m not entirely sure why – if it’s just a bad draft strategy or if the Phils aren’t good at picking the tool shed players in the first round, but it’s been a TOTAL WASTE.

  37. Mike 77 – I hear you – it’s all very odd. Again, I don’t know if it’s just sheer bad luck or a failed philosophy – it’s probably some bizarre combination of both. I think, sometimes, the team sees such a great pure athlete that they honestly can’t help themselves – they get like a kid in a toy store – they have to have it and they get blinded to the fact that they have no clue if the kid can hit a curve ball.

  38. Problem with the list of 1st round picks over the last 15 years is there is no mention of WHEN the Phillies were picking. Burrell, Drew, Floyd were all top 5 picks and only Cole Hamels was picked outside of the top 15 (he was 17th)

    I would note that the Phillies also drafted a few College fast track pitchers in the 1st round like Wayne Gomes, Pat Combs, Carlton Loewer, Tyler Green that didn’t exactly become stars either.

    Truth is they’ve only taken 3 “Toolsy” OFs in the 1st round since 1990 so I wouldn’t exactly call that a pattern. It just happens that 2 of them were taken within the last 4 picks.

    If there is any pattern that can be seen, its that they are willing to gamble on getting premium talent that come with some risk, whether its Savery/Hamels with injury concerns, Myers/Drabek with attitude questions, or premium athletes like Hewitt/Golson with limited baseball acumen.

  39. To be fair, I think we have to limit our comments to the Arbuckle era moving forward – before Arby arrived, we couldn’t get anything right, which accounts for Gomes, Combs and pretty much everyone else they drafted during that time period. Again, I agree with risk/reward picks, particularly since they’re not picking in the top ten, but, like valuing an investment, you have to discount the upside, whatever that upside might be, by the likelihood of the upside coming to pass. With toolsy, raw outfielders, unless you really have some special ability to evaluate these types of players, the slim possibilty of success makes taking such a play in the first round very iffy, particularly if you can take a chance on several similar players with later round picks as the Phils now regularly seem like they are able to do.

  40. I was in Clearwater earlier this season. Attendeding a few Threshers games. I was able to see 4 Ext. sp tr games, I dont see what we see in Dugan. I honestly say the top 3 OF players were Altier, Dabbs, and Hudson. Dugan looks awkward and slow. Maybe a Corner Inf. All three OFs Ive named have good wheels, Dabbs seemed to be a little more polished overall. I heard hes recovering from an injury from spring training. I seen Collier, but he was in shorts recovering from another injury. The middle inf. was pretty impressive. Just my opinion.

  41. On draft strategy, I think part of the problem is time. I’ve mentioned that previously.

    What I mean is that no matter who you drafted each year (regardless of position, age, level, etc)…and assuming you weren’t drafting in the Top 20…you would only hit on probably less than 10% of the players you took. Maybe slightly higher for 1st or 2nd round picks, but probably not a lot higher.

    That means spending 4 or 5 years in a row…whether you are drafting “toolshed” HS prospects or more polished college players in Rd 1 might not even generate 1 MLB ballplayer based on even the normal success rates.

    I guess what I am saying is that it would be almost impossible to fairly and objectively judge the Phillies approach because the sample size is too small.

    You would almost need the same guys picking players over 20 years at the same draft position and having them break their picks up to 10 for HS players and 10 for College players and then judge the results. Obviously that is not likely so it is not realistic.

    So any judgment…for now at least…seems entirely subjective…and I include myself in that statement.

  42. I think there is indeed a sample size problem in judging the Phillies’ first round startegies.

    That said, while some data would be nice, I can’t imagine that the success rate on high school “toolsheds” who lack a hit tool is high enough to ever justify spending even a late first round pick on one.

  43. Well said, LarryM. Why not get a safer bet in R1 when you can get the athletes later. James has just as much upside as Hewitt.

  44. As a Tigers season ticket holder for 20 yrs, I also remember him going on about our Cameron “K”bin (Maybin) and Andrew Miller and Humberto Sanchez (traded to Yanks and been hurt since) all 3 have been flops! But I respect Starks word more then Olney and Kurjiens. Just look at thier picks, before each year the last 5 yrs! BAD!!!!!!!! ESPN, a station that hires “MEAT HEAD” Millen (worse gm in history of sports!!) so i will pass on anything said from someone that station anymore. Hire, players who sucked (you know the list -NFL JON RITCHIE says it all, worse FB ever and even dumber then he was bad) or gm`s/coaches that were canned! Are they having financial issues? That being said, the kid looks great!

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