Top 30 Accountability: Off the list

Part of learning to be a better evaluator and writer is examining your past work for mistakes and successes.  Now that the minor league season is essentially over, I am going to be working back through the Top 30 published at the beginning of the season.  The goal is to relook at guys in the system and how they have developed as well as look for evaluation trends and keys to things that caused misses along the way, as well as another opportunity to bring up 30+ individual players for discussion.  The original post is here http://phuturephillies.com/top-30-prospects/mattwinks-top-30/2013-top-30/

The first group is to focus on the players that didn’t make the list but had enough intrigue to warrant a write up.  Not all of the players were big time prospects and few are now, I have also only selected players who provide room for commentary.

Cameron Rupp – He just didn’t have enough upside for me, he just missed the list because of the safety, but he isn’t more than a backup.

I still completely agree with my evaluation here, don’t see anything more than a backup.  However when you are talking about backups in the major leagues, there is a whole lot more certainty to a player who just made the majors and a guy who just finished Hi-A.  Rupp will be ranked this year, not great but ranked.  Given his 2013 season he deserved to have been ranked this past year, even if he doesn’t provide value in statistics, a solid backup catcher has a lot of value and I should have ranked Rupp last year.

Deivi Grullon – Grullon’s plus defensive projection gives me good hope.  Huge questions about the hit tools’ future projection dropped him just off the list, in addition to the lack of an elite carrying tool.

Some people pointed out to me at the time that Grullon’s defense was a carrying tool and I ignored them.  Here we are 7 months later and I am raving about Grullon’s defensive plus plus defensive projection.  The moral of the story here is elite catcher defense is an elite carrying tool, especially if it is shown by a 17 year old in his first professional season.

Brody Colvin – I don’t think Colvin is a starter anymore.  He is really going to have to get the mechanics in order to even have a spot in a bullpen.

This wasn’t an unpopular opinion that Colvin was falling apart, but I hopped off the Colvin train in the offseason, and even I didn’t think it would be this bad.  He has actually looked decent out of the bullpen in his stints there, so maybe he finds a home there, it is a pity because it looked so good in Lakewood.

Yoel Mecias – Mecias has less stuff than Vargas and a year older, but he has better control profile, he could make the jump to Lakewood to start 2013.

If I had known for sure Mecias was going to Lakewood I would have ranked him, and looked like a genius for two months before the arm blew out.  Mecias should start throwing around the time spring training starts and the Phillies will ease him in from there.  On his best days Mecias will show a plus fastball and plus to plus plus changeup from the left handed side.  The breaking ball is non-existent and the frame needs bulk.  It is a profile that could jump back up rankings when he is healthy or end up in the back of the bullpen.  Pitchers get hurt and it sucks, you just have to watch and see how they come back.

Anthony Hewitt – Still has insane raw tools and no pitch recognition.  No one thought he would reach AA, still could make the bigs somehow.

Hewitt keeps on trudging along and may actually make it to AAA next year.  He destroys LHPs, but has no chance against same side pitching.  There is massive raw power, plus speed, and a great arm.  He might make the majors for a cup of coffee which would be somewhat incredible given his profile.

Tyler Cloyd – The stuff just isn’t good enough to do anything other than pitch innings.

Cloyd somehow has a 3.57 ERA in the majors despite a 4.17 BB/9 and 5.56 K/9.  He is getting more swings and misses in the minors with better control, but he is not a guy you like to see in your rotation.

David Buchanan – At best he is a #4 starter, but likely he is a #5 or lower, but he could be ready mid-season and be a long man for the major league club.  He has better raw stuff than Cloyd or Hyatt with better groundball tendencies, albeit with much lower strikeout rates

I forgot about this sleeper call and suddenly it came true towards the end of the year.  I think Buchanan is more long man than starter, sometimes when you make a good call you have to stick with it.  I didn’t so it is difficult to say it was a great call.

Cameron Perkins – He can play all four corners, the bat is good, but he can be a little overaggressive.  It isn’t star tools but he could be a regular if everything breaks right.

Perkins has hit much more than I expected, the lack of power is a large concern if he is going to be anything other than a bench bat.

My big take away from looking at this list was evaluating Catchers.  I was dead wrong in a couple of cases (which are still to come), but more so I don’t have a good grasp on how to rank them.  The position is so much different than any other one on the field and the development is non-linear.  A backup catcher can stick around for a long time even without a bat and that is hard to rank.

32 thoughts on “Top 30 Accountability: Off the list

  1. Grullon is easily top 20 next year and might be top 10 by the end of it. Great K rate, ok BB rate, almost .100 iso at 17 and ++ defense. He’s our top catching prospect ahead of Knapp and Sweaney. I’ve kind of given up hope that Joseph can stay healthy enough to stay at that position.

  2. Mecias was like a shooting star here. Went from nobody to “how can you sleep on Mecias” to busted elbow in two seconds flat.

    As we learned with Adam Morgan this season, there’s a reason track record matters in evaluating prospects. I think that’s something many of us discount when constantly on the hunt for the Next Big Thing. Top prospects get that way by being consistently good over a long sample size, and the longer that sample is, the better.

    1. Mecias had a TJ, doesn’t really impact his prospect status much in my mind. Morgan’s shoulder and decreased velocity is a much different story.

      1. I’ll take TJ surgery over anything involving the shoulder any day of the week. I don’t have an issue drafting/signing players with elbow issues. I wouldn’t sign/draft anyone with shoulder issues.

    2. While I agree with your point, the example of Morgan doesn’t support it. He got hurt, which can happen to anyone.

      1. Agree. And I still think that recent history (over a large enough sample) is a better indicator of what to expect going forward than overall past performance when we’re talking about prospects. I believe Morgan deserved his hype/ranking coming into this season.

  3. Good article. Regarding Hewitt, what is really interesting to me is I can’t recall a RH batter having such a dramatic split with the negative side against RHP. Maybe it happens a lot and I don’t notice it. But the guy had a .660 point OPS split. Insane. I wonder if that is fixable with a stance change or something like that?

    1. He can’t pick up breaking balls from same side pitching. It is an eye/mental processing thing, it does give the impression that he may be able to pick up spin if he gets a good look.

      But of course all SSS caveats apply here

      1. yeah, that is what i find so confusing. because it can’t simply be that he is getting all fastballs from LHP. and he doesn’t seem to have that issue from LHP. so it is confusing why he has such a big issue with RHP, his side. it is only 100 PAs against LHP, but he dominates them.

        1. I don’t know if the success against lefties can be 100% trusted. Last year he had a .773 OPS against LHP and the previous years his OPS were in the .500s and .600s, which is pretty awful. 13 of his 16 HRs were in Reading this year. It’s probably just a matter of him being in a favorable park for righties and having some nice FB/HR luck.

          1. but its not that simple with his stats. his walk rate is very good against LHP. His K rate is also dramatically better. same as his BA. I mean across the board every stat is amazing against LHP. not just his HR rate which is insane against LHP. it is just odd to me. Not saying he is an elite prospect by any stretch. just thinking outloud

    2. Just trying to think outside of the box but maybe he should try switch hitting? Forget power, maybe some BBs, cut down on Ks, and just try to make contact when batting LH.

  4. I don’t think any of these misses, except Grullon, is at all significant. Your biggest misses were greatly over-valuing Larry Greene and Gueller. Both of these guys are close to joining Hudson as primo draft busts.

    1. Greene is by far my biggest mistake and we will get there, I don’t mind Gueller as much because the stuff disappeared after I ranked him. Greene I ignored all the warning signs

  5. If Hewitt wasn’t a first round pick, IMO the Phils would never have retained him this long. It is tough to find a spot on the roster for a guy who is so “one-sided.” Is this patience likely to produce a MLB player?
    With all his alleged good work ethic, he has not made any headway vs. right handed pitching.
    Though he might be sent to AAA LV in ’14, it would be a miracle akin to the north pole and south pole switching positions with each other.
    Expect a miracle? Check your compass.

    1. It is difficult to let a first round pick go and admit failure in expectations from the scouting department up through the general management area. Trading the pick, ie Golson for Mayberry, may be the likely alternative.
      Eventually that may be also the way to go with Larry Greene and maybe Mitch Gueller.

    2. According to geophysicists the north and south poles do naturally switch every many miilions of years. I forget the estimated time frame but it is thought to be a natural occurring part of earth’s cycles. Saying that, i must assume you feel Hewitt will definitely be at AAA and become a major leaguer as the poles shifting would not be a miracle, but a natural occurance.

      1. You are correct. Good science.

        However, expecting them to change within Hewitt’s baseball life is what I was talking about.

        Don’t make any bets on either one happening soon.

    3. The Phillies have kept Hewitt this long, because it really cost them nothing to do so. It’s not like we had a lot of great OF talent that was being pushed off the roster in order to keep Hewitt.

  6. Elite defense is a possible carrying tool for Shortsops and Catchers.

    For me, the most important aspect of a Major League Catcher is how they call a game and handle the pitching staff. Pitching is super expensive and highly volatile so anything that can be done to make improvements there is tremendously valuable.
    Having wrote that I have no idea who much ‘real’/statistical influence having a ‘good’ game calling catcher vs an ‘average’ game caller has on a teams winning games.

    So for all the catching prospects I have no idea who they rank in that regard. Certainly, blocking pitches and throwing out baserunners is necessary so without those adequate skills Catching is not an option. But like pitchers in the NL, catchers have to bat, and leaving a good hitter to the development delays and physical pounding of catcher does not make sense for many teams (e.g. Wil Myers and Bryce Harper). Guys like Tommy Joseph who’s bat cannot carry in the OF or at 1B they are stuck trying to become average defensive catchers so their bat looks great for the position.

    From all I have read, it sounds like Logan Moore is an elite defensive catcher. He cannot hit. Probably worse than a pitcher. Can he get to the majors (like Tuffy) on defense alone? And if so, does that get him a ranking in the Phillies Top30?

    1. Moore has struggled so much as hitter that I really doubt it. There was no other catcher in Clearwater that the organization saw as a prospect, so Moore got all the at-bats, but he’ll probably lose some playing time next year as other catchers develop. Unless they send him to Reading. I could see him sticking around in the minors for awhile though, because of his defense.

        1. I think the lede is pretty much buried in that article: Joseph is staying behind the plate. For now at least

          ‘Joseph, who began 2013 at Triple A and suffered a concussion a month into the season, will report to instructional league and resume catching. Club officials are hopeful that he has recovered from his most recent concussion and can stay at the position instead of moving to first base.

          “Tommy was at the top of our list when the season started, so it’s a setback not only for us but for him,” Jordan said. “He’s coming to instructional league and he’s going to go behind the plate. We’ve got to take a look and see what we want to do. We’re hoping for the best.”’

        2. Grullon and Knapp appear to be the future and the ones most lauded by other team’s scouts. Knapp I assume ETA of 2016/17 and Grullon somewhere around 2018/19.

    2. Elite D certainly is a carrying skill at SS and C, but it can carry the guy only so far. With a slightly inadequate bat you can still be a major league starter. Less bat than that and you are a utility IF or backup catcher. This might be where Galvis and Joseph find themselves. Even less bat at you are Tuffy, a guy good enough to be the AAAA injury reserve who will see time in the majors over multiple seasons, but not win a permanent roster spot as the backup catcher. I think you are correct that unless Logan develops significantly more as a hitter, he can only aspire to be Tuffy.

  7. Does Jake Diekman count as a miss, or would you still not rank him Top 30? Was he not eligible to be included on my list because of too much ML service time before the season? Because I had him on there at #21, with the understanding that he was eligible. If not, my bad.

    1. I wasn’t sure, he still would have missed my list. He is a middle reliever who is already 26 years old. Ultimately his marginal value is not that huge, especially since he will always have trouble against right handed batters.

  8. Thanks for the response. I’m going to respectfully disagree. Lefties sometimes mature late, especially taller lefties, which I think still leaves upside with his control despite his advanced age. And the fact that he chucks it at close to 100 mph left handed – if he stays a little wild it could be effectively wild. I think he has potential eighth inning / back-up closer value if he puts it all together, which I acknowledge is an “if”. Dubee once said he’d love to be his agent.

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