New Feature: Prospect Grades

This is something I wanted to do in the beginning, but I needed to put more time into it, and now that I’ve had some time to tinker, I think I’m ready to begin. Basically, the aim of this is to assign a letter grade to each prospect in the system as an easier way to evaluate and compare guys across levels. I’ve devised a spreadsheet with various formulas in it to help me with this, but it will still include some subjective analysis on my part. Don’t take these grades as a be all end all, or anything of the sort. I have my own system, which I’m sure I’ll be tweaking for quite some time. The idea of assigning a letter grade comes from John Sickels’ approach, but I have no idea how he arrives at his grades, so I’m really only using his general idea.

I don’t want to get into explaining tons of formulas, but here are my basic evaluation methods. I’m going to base most of my grades on performance, relative to the league average, and then consider age and position. For example, when looking at a guy like Mike Costanzo, I’m going to look at his performance against those in the FSL, then consider a multiplier for his position, 3B, then consider his age in relation to his league. Defensive analysis is tough, even at the ML level, so I’m not going to alter my grade much in that area, but I will consider it and weigh it slightly. I’m not really going to use a player’s tools or what others think he could be, I’m simply going to grade based on what the player has done. I’m going to place a higher weight on 2006 performance, but also consider past performance and other aspects of the player’s body of work/makeup.

Because of my above theory, grades for guys drafted in 2006 will be extremely unstable, so take that as a warning up front. Kyle Drabek, who I’ve raved about in great detail, is going to get a pretty lousy grade, but in a year from now, he’ll have a shot to completely redeem that grade. I think his potential is unlimited, but I’m not really going to grade on potential, more just on what the player has done. My goal is to do a few of these grades per day, and I’ll start at AAA and work my way back, for the reasons I stated above. I’m going to limit the grades to guys who are still prospects or fringe prospects. In other words, I won’t be grading an 8 year minor leaguer in AAA, or a 26 year old in Low A. If I miss anyone after I’ve moved from one level to another, please just make a note in the comments section and I’ll include that player in the next batch of grades. After I’ve made my way through all the levels, I’ll do a cumulative writeup and list every player under each grade, which should give us a nice overview of the level of talent in the system.

I’ve added a category on the left side under the “Features” section where all the entries will be tagged, so if you miss a day or two, you can just click there to see all of the grades. To determine what level to grade the player at, I’m simply going to use the level where he accumulated at least 75% of his AB’s or IP. If he doesn’t have 75% at one level, I’ll take the lower level, as long as it’s more than 45% of his total. One final note. There were really zero legit prospects that spent a long enough time at Scranton this season to qualify here. Ruiz and Roberson are too old, Sanches, Minix and Condrey aren’t “prospects” in the true sense, so I won’t include them. Bourn and Mathieson got the bulk of their playing time at Reading, so they’ll be graded there. The only guy I am going to include from AAA is Germano, but the bulk of his innings came in the Cinci organization. However, Cinci’s AAA team also plays in the IL, so while his numbers might have been affected by the park he pitched in, I’m just going to use his cumulative 2006 numbers to grade him.

For today, we’ll just do Germano’s grade, which will serve as an example, and I’ll give explanations. If you have questions on the process, ask away. Remember, this is just for fun, and my own subjectiveness needs to be taken into consideration.


Germano, Justin, RHP (age 24): Grade = C+

I made a slight tweak, and because of it, upgraded Germano to a C+ from a C. His peripherals really are a mixed bag. He’s below average in H/9 by about 7%, below average in K’s by about 30%, he’s 1% above average in HR/9, and he’s a whopping 128% above league average in BB/9. Now, obviously that doesn’t make him 92% above league average, and this is where the subjectivity comes into play. Control is a huge issue going forward, but you have to consider he is basically 36% below average when it comes to his hit rate, K rate and HR rate, and he’s much much better than league average in walk rate. Couple that together, and I think he’s right around league average, slightly above. On my scale, 0%-4% above league average is a C+ prospect, and that’s where I’m sticking with Germano.

Ceiling: Germano’s ceiling probably sits at 5th starter, making 30 starts a year. He doesn’t have the pure stuff to be a middle of the rotation kind of guy, but could see time at the back end of the rotation.
Floor: His current role, a AAA starter.
Conclusion: Germano is probably better suited playing in a big park like PETCO or SAFECO and with a good defense behind him. I’d say he’s got a 40% chance of reaching his ceiling, he’s got a 40% chance of becoming a major league reliever/swingman, and there’s a 20% chance he languishes in the minors for the rest of his career. He’s a strike thrower, but lacks the stuff needed to overpower guys. He might not be the best fit in Philly for the reasons above, but with a strong AAA season in 2007, could be included in a trade to a better suited team, where he might be closer to reaching his ceiling.

6 thoughts on “New Feature: Prospect Grades

  1. There are a lot of graded prospect lists out there, probably headed by BA’s top 30. If you are adding a new one, why not do it a little differently and give them two grades. One for ceiling and a second that represents a combination of performance/odds of making majors for more than cup of coffee/odds of approaching ceiling. So Germano might have a relatively low ceiling, but a better than average shot of reaching majors in some capacity. Golson will have a higher ceiling than Germano, but probably less chance to see majors.

  2. Baseball America doesn’t really use letter grades, they rank 1-10 for the most part, and that’s what I don’t want to do, because it doesn’t tell you a whole lot about the #10 guy, when contrasting him to the #2 guy on the list. I don’t know the formula Sickels uses, I kind of created my own. However, going forward, I will give my guess as to the player’s ceiling, his eventual role, and the percentages of him reaching those goals. Thanks for the idea.

  3. I’ve been a little higher on Germano and hope that he could be a solid #3 or 4 guy. Guess Im a sucker for a control pitcher.

  4. It’s hard to say, really. Look at Wang for the Yankees last season. Extreme groundball pitcher, didn’t strike anyone out, had an outstanding year and could have been a #2 on most teams. Germano doesn’t have quite the velo Wang does, but who knows, he could put up a season in the realm of 3.75 ERA, 220 innings, 1.25 WHIP. Or, on the other hand, he could get rocked to the tune of a 5+ ERA and 1.45 WHIP. When you pitch to contact, which is what most sinkerballer’s do, you’re rolling the dice. That’s why they are much harder to project going forward.

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