Carlos Rivero: A case study in signing international talent

I’ve been meaning to write up an article on Carlos Rivero, but more specifically, an article about the risk of signing 16 year old free agents out of Latin America, and how their developmental time frame is different from US born prospects subject to the draft. And with Rivero’s solid May, I thought now would be a good time to finally write this piece, because I think it will cover a number of interesting concepts. Well, you can be the judge of that. Anyway, let’s get after it.

As you know, MLB teams supplement their farm system every year via the MLB draft, with teams drafting about 50 guys each, sometimes more and sometimes less. In addition, teams wade in to the international free agent market where the rules of the draft do not apply. Anyone 16 years of age by July 1 is eligible to sign, and like most markets subject to inflation, the cost for acquiring premium talent in Latin America has steadily increased over the last 5+ years. Teams who previously did not venture in to Latin America, like the Pirates, have begun to throw around huge sums of money. Many teams, including the Phillies, have academies in Latin American countries for their new signees to train before coming stateside, and in general, teams have made huge investments in mining foreign talent. Just like the major league draft, however, the attrition rate is extremely high when signing prospects out of Latin America, and most of them never make it to the majors, with an even smaller sub-set turning in to stars. But, the chance is always there, and teams will always take it, hoping to unearth the next Hanley Ramirez.

Which brings me to the most crucial aspect of signing talent out of Latin America…….time. Most prospects sign at age 16. Most prospects also sign deals for the following season. Meaning, if the Phillies sign a 16 year old this year, he could sign a 2012 contract, meaning he can’t play any games in 2011, and his first game action would come in 2012, presumably at age 17. Per the collective bargaining agreement, a player signed before his 18th birthday must be protected on the 40 man roster after 5 minor league seasons. Minor leaguers are eligible for free agency after 6 seasons if they are unprotected. So, assuming you sign at 16, and sign a contract which starts the following year (assuming you sign in July), the chart looks like this

Season 1 – Age 17
Season 2 – Age 18
Season 3 – Age 19
Season 4 – Age 20
Season 5 – Age 21 (must be placed on 40 man roster or subjected to Rule 5 draft)
Season 6 – Age 22 (free agent if not placed on the 40 man roster)

A player subject to the draft taken out of high school is likely either 17 or 18. If they are 18, they have an additional year before having to be protected. See below

Season 1 – Age 18
Season 2 – Age 19
Season 3 – Age 20
Season 4 – Age 21
Season 5 – Age 22 (must be placed on 40 man roster or subjected to Rule 5 draft)
Season 6 – Age 23 (free agent if not placed on the 40 man roster)

For players aged 19 or older, they are subject to Rule 5 protection after their 4th season. So a college player drafted at age 21 would have the following schedule

Season 1 – 21
Season 2 – 22
Season 3 – 23
Season 4 – 24 (must be placed on 40 man roster or subjected to Rule 5 draft)
Season 5 – 25 (must be placed on 40 man roster or subjected to Rule 5 draft)
Season 6 – 26 (free agent if not placed on 40 man roster)

So why is this important? Because at 22, you are still really young, all things considered. In 2010, only 46 players played in the majors at age 22 or less. In 2009, it was 51. And that’s just an appearance in the majors, not playing full time and making positive contributions. Along these lines, there are a number of factors when looking at Latin American prospects in general:

* In many cases, 16 year old prospects are not playing competitive games, whereas US born players are playing on summer traveling squads as well as high school seasons.
* Many of these prospects are evaluated almost entirely on their individual workouts. This includes batting practice, fielding drills, and sometimes simulated games. Again, its not against elite competition.
* In lots of cases, teams elect to keep their big money signings in a foreign rookie league for their first season, so a prospect who signs at 16 and doesn’t debut at 17 might spend his first year in the Venezuelan or Dominican Summer League and not in the US. The level of competition in those leagues is inferior to the Gulf Coast League or Arizona League stateside.
* Latin American prospects, when they do reach the US, are subject to a number of challenges that US born prospects aren’t, namely the language and cultural barriers, as well as adapting to more structured routines and playing every day/pitching every 5th day.

This isn’t supposed to be a case against being active in Latin America. The Phillies have found a number of gems in Venezuela, Panama and the Dominican. The point is, these prospects face really long odds, and you could argue, longer odds than US born prospects. When you find the right guy and everything clicks, you can hit the jackpot. A $1.5M bonus could land you the next Felix Hernandez. But like the draft, its a long shot. And that brings me to Carlos Rivero.

Born on May 20th, 1988, the Indians signed Rivero out of Venezuela for a modest $100K in 2005 at age 17. Unlike the example I listed above, he played in his debut season, but it was his age 17 season and meshes with the chart I laid out. The Indians kept him in the DSL his first year, and he put up the following line (note, click any of the images if they don’t display properly, they should open full size in a new tab/window)

Certainly nothing to brag about, and for a $100K guy, it doesn’t really raise any eyebrows. The Indians brought him stateside in 2006 for his age 18 season. Baseball America didn’t start paying attention to him until after the 2007 season, so lets look at his 2006 and 2007 and then focus on his writeup.

Again, nothing to really get excited about from a performance standpoint. After splitting his age 18 season between two rookie league levels, the Indians jumped him to the SAL at age 19 in 2007. He didn’t hit for any power and didn’t run much, but he did draw walks and his 17% K rate (as a percentage of plate appearances, more meaningful than as a percentage of AB IMO) was fine considering his age and experience level. BA ranked him 18th in Cleveland’s system after the 2007 season and noted the following key points

* For his size (6’3/200) he still shows good hands, range, and a plus arm at short, though he may have to move to 3B
* He has big raw power and hitting ability
* His bat speed is above average and he features an easy, fluid swing.
* His plate discipline is a concern, as he has a hard time recognizing breaking balls
* Scouts question his maturity because he often loses focus and tries to be flashy

Rivero moved to the Carolina League in 2008. The CL plays fairly neutral, just for reference, and he would be 20 for the bulk of the season. He put up the following numbers:

His walk rate decreased and his strikeout rate increased by about the same amount. He did show a tick more raw power, but still not what you would expect from an elite or even very good prospect. BA wasn’t deterred, however, and bumped him up to 11th in the Cleveland system, making the following points:

* He was the 2nd youngest regular in the CAR and had a blistering final month, going .358/.413/.587 (with 5 HR)
* He has plus raw power which is more evident in batting practice than in games
* Good athleticism, fluid swing
* Soft hands and a strong arm
* Struggles to recognize breaking balls
* 16 of his 24 errors came on throws
* Below average runner with below average side to side range
* Comp’ed to Jhonny Peralta

This is kind of where it fell apart for Rivero. He spent 2009 and 2010, his age 21 and 22 seasons, at AA Akron in the Eastern League, the home of the Reading Phillies. Take a look at his numbers:

2009 was an interesting season. He bumped his walk rate back up and brought his K rate down into the 13% range, which is fairly excellent, however the power was still not there, with just a .102 ISO. The most interesting part of this was the immediate position switch, as the Phillies moved him to 3B, a move that was long predicted by scouts.

Update –> Rivero was added to the 40 man roster prior 2010. He was designated for assignment and removed from the 40 man roster prior to 2011 and claimed by the Phillies. Link

So how has Rivero looked so far this season?

The first obvious thing to take note of is the .162 ISO. His previous best was a .129 ISO in the Carolina League at age 20. His BB rate is solid at 9%, though his K rate has gone up to 21.7%, as he’s traded a bit of contact for more power. This, however, is a fairly acceptable tradeoff at this point, and 21.7% is manageable. A .162 ISO certainly isn’t elite for a 3B prospect, but its a fairly substantial jump from his previous career marks.

Rivero turned 23 on May 20th, and I think that is the big takeaway. 2011 is his 7th season in pro baseball, his 6th season in the US, and he is still younger than Harold Garcia, Matt Rizzotti and Cody Overbeck. The raw tools, the athleticism, have always been there, but the performances have never matched up. Some guys develop early and their tools match their ability at age 18, 19, or 20. Some guys don’t really blossom until age 24-25, and in some cases, it happens even later. Because of the nature of the international market and roster requirements, Rivero reached his 6 year free agent mark before he even turned 23. That might turn out to be the Phillies gain and the Indians loss. Rivero has a ways to go, and he’s still not putting up jaw dropping numbers, but things are moving in the right direction. After posting a respectable .265/.375/.382 mark in April, he’s hitting at a .300/.349/.500 clip in May.

To answer the question “is he a guy we should be monitoring” and “could he be for real?”, my answer is yes and hopefully. Stay tuned.

48 thoughts on “Carlos Rivero: A case study in signing international talent

  1. His BABIP is at .352 which he is probably going to come down BUT his LD% is at a career high 21%. It does indicate he is squaring more balls up and could be a sign that he’s figuring things out at Reading. Interesting guy.

  2. That was really interesting. Can anyone say how often we would see something akin to a bidding war over one of these guys? Cubans and Japanese are an entirely different story, obviously. Would be a good topic for a documentary film, a la “Hoop Dreams”.

  3. I understood Rivero picked up as a SS prospect but highly doubt he can hit enough to be 3B prospect. (Of course, I figured Overbeck would be at 3B in AA.) But as a good glove with some projection supposedly left I guess he is better than some other career minor leaguer. Still not sure he deserves a 40-man roster spot.

    Bigger surprises are Bocock on 40man and Martinez on 25man. Figure Naylor will be soon to be dropped once he is back from DL.

    1. Well, I wasn’t insinuating that he was a top prospect. Only that he’s still pretty young, relatively speaking, and definitely still age appropriate for AA, even though this is his third season at the level. I think the improvement, especially in the power department, considering his physical tools, is a really big development, and definitely something worth watching.

  4. I’ve seen Rivero and he’s a big kid who looks like a ball player. He made the plays in the field. With Galvis on his left side, they made a good defensive combo on that left side. On another thread, I mentioned his Home / Away splits (.203 home and .346 away). Is that nice hitting ballpark changing his approach? Is he trying to hit it out every time? With splits like that, there is hope. The Reading park will become his friend as the summer heat comes along.

    I saw Rivero when there was a stiff breeze knocking balls down in left field. He hit a nice shot that the left fielder didn’t have to move for. It looked like an HR off the bat but died in the breeze.

  5. I am not sure whether to be encouraged that the Phillies were able to add a raw talent like this on the cheap with nothing to lose, or the fact that he probably is already one of the better 3B prospects in the system.

    But thanks for the detailed write-up. I learned alot about him I didn’t know before.

  6. The Phillies have been criticized for not increasing their budget to sign elite Latin American prospects. They prefer to go for the quantity approach, sign the projectable athletes and hope a few of them work out.

    Given the scenario you’ve laid out here, it’s not a bad strategy to maximize spending on the draft where players don’t have as many hurdles to overcome and can be protected as they mature.

    1. I respectfully disagree. Because they don’t spend in the Draft either. And there is a ton of difference between going crazy in LA versus being one of the lowest spending teams in LA (like the Phillies are now).

      I haven’t heard anybody that expects the Phillies to outspend the rest of MLB in LA. The complaints are that they are annually one of the lowest spending teams in all of MLB…I repeat…they are one of the lowest spending teams in all of MLB…in both Draft AND in LA. This is the same approach they used under Bill Giles control from 1984 thru 1995 and we all know how that eventually worked out. Now it appears they are reverting back to the same mindset.

      There is no good way to spin this as a positive, as shrewd, or as good business. It is about saving money pure and simple as the top priority over adding quality.

      1. Do FAs come with guarantees now. Many become an anchor to a franchise. The Phils FA record is far from good.

        1. Do draft picks come with guarentees?

          Look, even for a well run minor league system, it’s impossible to build championships on a consistent basis just from the minor leaguer system. Oh, it can happen, but looking at WS champs, almost without exception WS champs have a blend of players from within the system, players acquired in trades, FAs, and players picked up basically for nothing (Rule 5, etc.). To expect a team to build entirely or even mostly from within is not only unreasonable, but a recipe for mediocrity in the long run.

          FAs are often “over priced,” and if I was a small market team I’d probably stay out of the FA market mostly. But a high payroll team like the Phillies CAN AND SHOULD play the FA market. They can afford to occassionally over pay.

          As for the Phillies’ past level of FA success (which of course is not the only factor – there are sample size issues here). Recent years only:

          Polanco – good to great sign
          Lee – it’s early yet, but I haven’t heard too many complaints.
          Werth – not a classic FA pick up, but yes technically was a FA and an immensely good signing that by himself makes the Phillies FA record over the past 10 years superb
          Contreras – excellant value pick up

          There are a few more good ones, and keep in mind the Phillies have been less active than some in the FA market. Even Ibanez gave the team excellant value in year one, okay value in year 2 – he’s horrible this year, but that signing actually has worked out okay. Yeah, there are a couple really bad signings, but with all the criticism of RA, there hasn’t been a real dud signing in the past 3-4 years. When Ibanez is your worst FA signing in the past few years, you’re doing okay. Oh, I know people want to say Baez, but he cost them virtually nothing – and while I don’t think he’ll keep it up, his ERA this season is actually decent to good.

          Of course a team can also build through trades, and the Phillies’ record there has been excellant.

          Finally, not in response to nowheeels, but in response to “nobody” above. As PP says below, politely, and I will say obnoxiously, criticize the Phillies all you want for spending priorities, but anyone who says they are cheap overall is an idiot.

          1. I will say that I expect a transitional period in the next few years – something that even the best organization can’t avoid when your core ages all at once – the deadly combination of increased salary & decreased skill. The irony is that bridging the gap to (hopefully) the next round of stars from the system – and make no mistake, developing players remains a crucial component of winning – is going to REQUIRE spending money intelligently in the FA market.

            Saying that we should develop from within & not spend in the FA market – taken to the extreme – is basically another way of writing off the next 2-3 seasons.

  7. Makes no sense to me, that the phillies don’t invest more in the draft and latin america.Instead spend in free agency, look at it now if we had maybe spend more on latin america or draft we could , have a replacement for ibanez ,someone that can actually play, not a francisco or mayberry type. but a true hitting outfield at smaller salary. and maybe a shortstop who could replace jimmy, jimmy rollins is declineing in the field, but not last night game, he was outstanding but on the whole, and his hitting is slower getting worse. chase is hurt a lot and his average keeps going down every year. point is to invest 4 million in draft or pay 2 million or more for kendrick and mayberry types or francisco, which would you rather do try to hit a homerun with the draft or depend on francisco, or mayberry types to all of a sudden get good, I know you need francisco type as fourth outfielders , but not as starter, just wondering which is the better route.

  8. Whoa, let me clarify because I know this is a touchy subject.

    It makes more sense to have a larger budget for the draft vice Latin America. Especially with all the challenges and uncertainties involved.

    I definitely agree that the Phillies should spend more on amateur players. I don’t have a problem with the strategy signing and developing numerous projectible athletes out of Latin America vice blowing the budget on two or 3 guys who are in high demand.

  9. The Phillies simply dont toss a ton of money at any one prospect either in the draft or internationally. Overall, this strategy has worked out and even given us several good players at a reasonable price. Look at guys like Chooch or Carlos Carrasco. Neither took big money and both panned out quite well when looking back. Valle was another smart signing and there have been several others. Tossing $2-3 million at a 16 year old who is several years from physically maturing is a huge gamble that rarely pays off. The Phillies FO is what we would call “risk adverse” when it comes to such things. They’d rather sign 10 middle range guys that might pan out at $300K a piece than 1 $3 million prospect. Overall, considering the strength of their farm system despite several huge trades in the last few years, their drafting/international prospect signing theory seems to be working out.

    1. I would not argue for them to get in the $2-$3 million bonus category. I agree that is far too risky.

      I would like more signings in the $300K to $500K range however and an overall budget maybe a million dollars higher. You mention Carrasco here. He signed for $300K. Players of his type now go for at least $500K. Ruiz was a different category as he was a guy with some tools and instincts but was not that highly regarded. It is the Carrasco type that we need to compete for. We signed Zavala this year and lost the 2 shortstops. I would hope we should try to land 3-5 of these mid-level signings each year. Not just one. We seem to be pretty good at this, so why don’t we increase our budget a little more and sign a few more better prospects.

    2. But it isn’t that they are paying the same amount of money, just spreading it around (1 3 mil player vs 10 $300K players as your comparison states.) They are underspending compared to other teams. So, to takeoff of your analogy, it’s not 1 $3 mil player. It’s 10 $100K players.

  10. Since 2000, how many impact corner outfielders have come out of the Dominican Republic? The only one is Jose Bautista, and he has taken several years to get there. I get the feeling that we’re seeing some drying up of the talent coming out of the Dominican. It used to be that an organization like the Toronto Blue Jays could saturate scout down there and build a farm system. When all 30 teams are scouting though and you’re getting about 2-3 position players of value from the country, is it really worth a large investment?

  11. I spend a lot of time thinking about the Phillies budget, where they allocate money, and then how all MLB teams choose to allocate their money. This is a subject for another post, so I won’t go in to too much detail, but I have some general comments in brief.

    * The Phillies, as currently constructed, are a major powerhouse at the big league level. They have the one of the 3 highest payrolls in baseball, are right near the luxury tax, and are printing money at their ballpark. The major league product could not be more popular right now, which gives the biz dev department a lot of leverage in future opportunities.

    * In the last 3 years, the Phillies have traded their future assets (prospects) for current assets (big league players) with great regularity. The one time they attempted to “re-stock” the farm, they ended up with 3 prospects that haven’t quite made a big impact yet, but still could. Despite trading away lots of prospects, they still have a very deep farm system.

    * This is, in large part, due to their drafting and work in Latin America, and most of it has come from their lower money signings. Of the top 10 prospects, Cosart, Colvin and May all got big bonuses relative to their draft position, but Colvin’s gets an * because they didn’t have a first round pick, and he was essentially the first round pick. Singleton and Brown got slightly over slot bonuses. Worley signed for slot.

    * The Phillies most expensive first rounders (Hewitt, Savery) haven’t worked out, while the guys they’ve taken in the later rounds are the guys paying off. Which simply highlights the huge risk and attrition associated with prospects. Maybe the Phillies “got lucky” by grabbing Brown in the 20th round, or signing Cosart as a 38th rounder. Or maybe they just did their homework.

    * A big signing bonus does not ensure success, just like taking the most hyped prospect doesn’t always mean he will end up the best pro prospect. The A’s gave Michael Inoa (or Yona or Ynoa or however he’s spelling it now) like $4M a few years ago, shattering the record in Latin America. And he’s pitched like 15 innings in the US and has now had major arm surgery. Sure, its only $4M, but when you miss repeatedly, it adds up, and that $4M impacts your spending budget as a whole.

    There is no easy answer. And as I said, there are enough issues here to discuss for me to write another post. Which I will, hopefully before the draft. But I think its really stupid to criticize the Phillies organizational spending. You can argue how that money could be better allocated, but they aren’t cheap at all.

    1. It is possible to seperate spending at the MLB level and investments in the farm system. The Phillies are most definitely “cheap” when it comes to the amatuer spending the past 2 drafts.

      I find it ironic that on a Phillies farm system website (the best by the way) that many offer the defense of such meager spending on amatuer talent by pointing to the record of the big league club and how much money they spend at the MLB level. The farm system is supposed to be about looking ahead, not at the present or behind.

      This isn’t a case of being overly critical of the Phillies amatuer spend. It is about the fact that they are at the bottom or near the bottom in spending the last 2 seasons. Practially the LOWEST spending team in MLB between 2009 and 2010.

      I don’t believe there is any good rationalization that explains it away as anything other than being penny wise and pound foolish. Again, that criticism being restricted to the spending on amatuer talent via the draft and AFA pools each year.

    2. Thank you for your comments. I am not critical of the Phillies’ spending as a whole. I am just critical if their spending is like what some of the people describe it on here as: they *refuse* to pay big money to any one guy, just preferring always to spread their money out to a bunch of long shots.

      I think that’s a great idea as an overarching strategy but not if it’s totally monolitihic in the sense they’ll never deviate from it. That’s a great way to miss out on a possible superstar.

      That would be the only way in which I would be critical, if they were so stuck on this strategy, they refused to ever deviate from it, even if circumstances dictated they do so.

      1. The problem is, the beta on 16 year old kids is off the charts. Its really difficult evaluating 18 year old high school kids in the US. But at least those kids are playing in games against other kids their age, and they are more physically developed. If a kid turns 16 in June and signs a deal with a club in July, he’s a really young 16, and you’re evaluating his ability at age 14-15, for the most part. Not only are you guessing on his baseball ability, because you’re only seeing him in workouts, but you’re also guessing that he’ll grow from 5’11/175 in to 6’3/210. And you’re guessing that he’ll grow lean muscle and not lose his athleticism.

        I mean, would I love if the Phillies made a splash and signed some super highly touted 16 year old kid from the Dominican? Sure. But it doesn’t make economical sense. Yes, he might turn in to a superstar in 4-5 years and become the next Miguel Cabrera, thus providing huge financial value until he reaches free agency. But 99 out of 100 players who fit that profile never make it, let alone turn in to Miguel Cabrera.

        The Phillies current strategy is to sit back, see which guy develops, the 1 in 500 guy, then wait to sign him when he’s eligible for free agency or his team can’t afford him anymore. That works for me.

    3. PP,
      If we think objectively about it, I think most people would agree the Phils are not cheap. The give the impression sometimes on isolated cases. For example (and please forgive my lack of details) a year or 2 ago they drafted a highly touted catcher from somewhere in the North West (Washington or Oregon maybe?). The Phils drafted him late because he had a strong commitment to college. The rumors were he would have signed for slightly more than was offered but the Phils drew a line in the sand and wouldn’t budge. I’m not sure how much was really offered nor am I sure if he would have signed. The impression, though is that the Phils wouldn’t come up with a few more dollars to get a top prospect at a premium position – and one of need.

  12. The Marlins have a spotty record in the draft but look at the rewards. If Stanton, Morrison and Gaby Sanchez were in an open market what would they be worth?

  13. Thank you PP for such an informative post for those of us that are still learning about the enitire evaluation and development process for baseball. Love it. Perhaps Rivero will be a great find by the Phils and is a late bloomer that can replace Polanco in 2013.

  14. NOT critical of there spending in general pp, they are spending a ton at 175 million,but just think more in the draft gives us better chance to not have to overpaid for a ibanez, or blanton, or next year rollins, if we develop more players, that’s all. example if we had one infielder ready for next year to play short. we could use rollins money on keeping say a Oswalt and resigning a hamels to a longer deal,because we had no starter ready,we had to sign blanton again to a contract that might hurt us in dealing with oswalt or hamels. just would like them to go a little more in the draft, and in the long run,i believe it would benefit the big club. the latin market to me and i have said it is tricky. because of the age factors, wouldnt really care if they increase that anymore.but us draft yes.

  15. I could be wrong but I thought the indians wanted to take him off their 40 man roster and the phillies claimed him off of waivers and that’s why he’s on the 40 man roster.

    1. You are correct. That is what happened. They needed space on their 40 man roster for a small major league signing, so they placed him on irrevocable waivers to remove him from their 40 man roster, but the Phillies snatched him up.

    2. I don’t remember the story on this, so I could be wrong. I thought they signed him as a minor league free agent, but he may have been claimed. If you can find a link, that would be great, and I’ll make the update later.

  16. Also there seems to be a lot of searching for a “diamond in the rough” with this club, which is fine, but at times they seem to take it to bizarre levels. They have a weird fascination with Rule 5 guys with little upside (Herndon, Martinez) and often sign really rough toolsy guys with minimal baseball skills but high upside (with very little probability of reaching that upside.)

    Stuff like that. Now maybe every other big league club is like that and I just don’t know. But it does seem a little strange that the focus seems overwhelming on finding a lottery ticket versus diversifying your investments.

    1. I get this reasoning too, but I think you need to be realistic and look at the big picture. If the Phillies want an “average” MLB player, they can afford plenty of them every winter. They got an average LF in Raul Ibanez, an average 3B in Polanco (average when you consider he has well below average power for the position, but elite contact skills) for an affordable price, and they were able to pick up average starting pitchers like Blanton for fringy prospects.

      The Phillies are obviously trying to draft stars and impact players. When you’re not picking in the top 5-10 of the draft, its tough to find a prospect with star potential and also a high probability of reaching it. Hence, the Phillies draft guys with crazy athleticism and upside who are longshots to make it. But when you polish up that rock and find a diamond (Domonic Brown wasn’t a rock, but he also was far from a finished prospect) then it pays off.

      If the Phillies need to fill a hole on the team next year, they have the financial muscle to go get a short term replacement. But its tougher to go and pay for a superstar, and the way you grow your own superstars is by drafting the wildcards and hoping they develop and take to instruction.

      1. In more detail – I don’t think any informed intelligent person could fault the Phillies’ strategy in the mid and late rounds, or could fault them for efficiently using their resources.

        The issue is of course the early rounds. Clearly the notion that you should take a chance on some high risk/high reward “toolsie” players, rather than going with the “safe” (generally college) kids, is correct for the reasons you state. The criticism that people make is that, rather than taking those kind of toolsie players in the first couple rounds, we should be taking a third kind of player – the kind of player that is medium risk/high reward – more polished HS kids, generally. Now, of course the BEST of those kinds of players are gone by the time the Phillies pick in the first round, when they have a first round pick. The ones that remain are the guys for whom you are going to have to go WAY over slot.

        The arguement boils down to this: the Phillies should draft more of those types of players in the early rounds. And honestly it’s hard to argue with this at one level. I think people go WAY overboard on this – big picture the phillies do a great job on the draft, and even those kinds of picks have risks. But would I like the Phillies to take a flyer on more overslot, less raw, high upside (but requiring overslot contracts) in the early rounds? Yes, I do.

      2. I don’t disagre with any of that. My point was that on the minor league level there are arguments both ways, i.e., there are some costs and risks to their strategy, though I tend to agree with your argument, whereas on the major league level there really isn’t an argument – the Phillies have hit pay dirt twice (Victorino, Werth) with no signficant cost.

    2. Hunter,

      Setting aside the minor leagues, where I think an argument can be made in favor of the strategy but results have clearly been mixed, the results of that strategy at the major league level have been fantastic – Victorino alone justifies it, and I’d put Werth in the same category even though as I said above he was technically a FA pick up. I DON’T think every big league club is like that, but the Phillies have benefited by their strategy in that regard. (All that said, while I think Herndon was absolutely a good risk, even if he never turns develops, which he might, Martinez baffles me).

  17. I think David Herndon has big upside. He can hit 96 with his sinker. His secondary pitches need work, but a little more seasoning a triple A could resolve this. In the future, the Phils could have at least 4 innings locked down by their pen: Madson the ninth, Contreras the eigth, Stutes and/or Bastardo for the seventh, Scwhimmer and/or Herndon for the sixth. Also, Kendrick looks good in a relief role.

  18. Phuture Phillie,

    There are several errors in your analysis of Carlos Rivera’s case study.

    You stated that Carlos Rivera was surprisingly not selected in the Rule 5 draft after the 2009 season. The reason he was not selected because he was not eligible to be selected because he was on the Cleveland Indians 40-man roster at the time. On November 20, 2009 – Cleveland added Carlos Rivera to their 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft in December 2009. Rivera remained on the 40-man roster from November 20, 2009 until October 31, 2010 when Cleveland asked outright waivers on Rivera in order to free up a spot on the 40-man roster in order to protect an additional player from Rule 5 draft. Cleveland had hoped to slide Rivera thru outright waivers at a time when very few teams are interested in claiming players since the other teams also are looking to free up spots on the 40-man to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. Cleveland came very close to having Rivera clear waiver as he passed thru the other 28 teams without being claimed. Philadelphia was in the last claiming position (# 30) because they had the best record in baseball in 2010. The Phillies put in a claim for Rivera and were awarded him. The Phillies had to add him to their 40-man roster on November 3, 2010 in order to retain him which they did.

    You stated that Carlos Rivera was granted his minor league free agent status after the 2010 season which is also incorrect. Phillies claimed Rivero off outright waivers on November 3, 2010 from the Cleveland Indians.

    You stated that Carlos Rivera has two options left which is also incorrect. Two options have already been used on Rivera. The first option year was used on Rivera in 2010 and the second option year was used on him in 2011 leaving one remaining option year. The Phillies have unfettered control of Carlos Rivera only thru 2012 if they keep him on the 40-man roster. At that point Rivera will have to clear waivers in order to be sent to the minors.

    1. A minor correction NEPA…the Phillies did have the last waiver selection, but it was because they had the best record in the NL, not the majors. When a player is placed on waivers, he is available to the teams in his league first (worst record through best record in the AL) and the other league second (worst record through best record NL). So, the Pirates would’ve been the 15th or so team to be able to claim him. Nothing major, just a minor point.

  19. Hmmm looks like the 2012 starting 3B for the Syracuse Chiefs. To go with Tyler Moore at first. There’s Stephen King but he doesn’t hit as well as Rivero does as yet. Expectation is that Anthony Rendon will start at third base, if he shows an advanced approach he’ll likely start off in Potomac. In Harrisburg they’ll have some options, perhaps Hague or King again.

    Looks like a decent 1 year rental for the Chiefs if he can’t be optioned in the future. With Lombardozzi, and of course, Zimmerman ahead of Rivero I don’t see him coming to the majors?

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