Prospect Grades: Cline, Golson, Costanzo, Harman

Rolling along, all feedback welcomed and encouraged.

cline.jpg

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.
golson.jpg

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.

costanzo4.jpg

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.

harman.jpg

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.

14 thoughts on “Prospect Grades: Cline, Golson, Costanzo, Harman

  1. It’s well deserved. The past few years, the hitting prospects have been nil… but we have lots of fast, speedy, no-power, poor hitting african american AAAA outfielders (Bourn, Golson, Roberson, Moran)

  2. After a very good start on the player report cards, your emotions got the better of you today. It is killing that a team whose scouts are so good at spotting HS pitching passed on Hughes and picked Golson. If I had one question to ask Arby or Wolever, it would be why they made that particular decision. But, Golson is still better than an F. Given his end of year performance at Clearwater, his age, and the grades you have given to others, along with his speed, I would actually give him a C. Great defender, super plus speed that he hasn’t utilized really, showed something of an ability to start hitting although still awful strike zone management. That’s a C.

    If Harman is a B, then Golson and a lot of guys are Bs. Costanzo is also a better prospect than Harman. I thought Costanzo was picked as the best defensive 3B in the FSL. To grade on an even scale, Harman and Golson are likely both Cs and Costanzo a B to B-.

  3. I figured I’d get some feedback on this one.

    1. Yes, my emotions get the better of me on Golson, but honestly, how can he be a C? He may have speed, but he stole only 30 bags in 2006, and while I guess that’s not bad, you’d think for “one of the fastest players in the draft”, he’d have stolen many more bags, at a higher than 75% clip. At Clearwater, his power improved, but how much of a sample are we going on? His plate discipline didn’t jump up that much; 387 AB, 19 BB (20.4 AB per BB) in Lakewood to 159 AB and 11 BB at Clearwater (15.4 AB per BB). I guess that’s an improvement, but is it for a guy who’s been in pro ball for 2.5 years? The makeup also has to be a concern.

    2. Harman is younger than Costanzo and plays a position higher on the defensive spectrum, which is why he is graded slightly higher. Again, in the first half of 2006 and in his first part of 2005 at Batavia, Costanzo was ice cold, then he turned it up. If he can’t stay at 3B defensively, what is the value of a .750-.810 corner OF? Chris Kline questioned his approach mentally, and that is something to consider. I think Harman is also a better prospect than Golson, far and away, at this point.

  4. To me, an F prospect has zero chance to make it to majors and virtually zero to do anything at as high a level as AA. It is draft filler because your rookie team has a hole at some position that you need a warm body to fill. Clearly Golson is more than that. As I stated, I fully agree he has not made good use of his speed yet. To me, a C prospect is a fringe prospect. Either a high ceiling guy with some but not great chance of coming close to that ceiling or a middle talent guy with a decent not great chance to make the majors as a bench player or fringe reliever.

    Maybe we need an agreed definition of letter grades. Like the discussion of Burrell vs his contract vs the position he was taken in the draft and the expectations that engendered — Golson needs to be graded as a prospect based on what he actually is (performance plus potential) not the collosal disappointment he represents as a first round draft pick.

  5. My view of a C prospect is a guy who is a league average minor leaguer at his level, at an appropriate age. If you are below league average, you really aren’t even a C prospect, in my mind. Golson was below league average at Lakewood, which to me, is inexcusable. He played better at Clearwater, but it was a smaller sample. My grades are really only based on what the player has done, with a few exceptions, like Harman, who had a major off the field problem that probably got in the way of his game. I don’t think Golson fits into that exception category. At some point, he very well flip the switch and become the elite player many of us begged he’d become when drafted. But at this stage, we have one chunk of AB’s, his most recent 160 AB’s, to really have any kind of hope for him, and even his numbers in those AB’s aren’t that great. Based on performance alone, he’s a C prospect based on what I’ve been using to evaluate the guys in this project so far, and then if you factor in the possible makeup issues, he drops down another half a letter grade at least. So, he’s a D+/C- by my take, but it’s only one take, and I appreciate the counterpoints.

  6. I think you are being charitable on both Golson and Costanzo.
    The latter is a C+ at best IMO. He begins to hit at the end of
    the season, when the league’s best prospects have moved up to
    the next level. I agree with your take on Harman too, for the
    reasons you give. A very tough year emotionally for the kid, and
    I would expect his numbers in ’07 to approximate those of ’05
    more closely. I like him. It was nice to see Cline mentioned.
    He needs a strong year in ’07.

  7. I think I’m closer to Allentown on the Golson question, though I wouldn’t give him a B–probably a C or C-. “F” definitely seems harsh for a guy who, after all, performed pretty well–I think above league average–at high-A at age 20. Yes, he stunk it up at the lower level, and that doesn’t speak well for his makeup… but he also justified the “challenge” promotion, which does.

    There’s also the question of his swing mechanics. I won’t pretend to know what I’m talking about here, but it’s come up repeatedly that Golson struggled making the adjustment from high school/metal bat to pro ball/wooden bat. I feel like I read somewhere (maybe that same Chris Kline piece?) that part of his late-’06 progress had to do with the instruction he’d been getting for so long finally sinking in.

    I’ve been reading Marc Normandin’s occasional Player Profiles on Baseball Prospectus, and tonight got to his recent look at Derrek Lee. As with most of the guys he’s looked at, Lee didn’t exactly tear it up in his first few years; he spent 2 1/2 seasons in high A, going .267/.336/.373 in his second year there. He was a bit younger than Golson was last season; neither the walks nor the power really showed up until he hit AA. I guess my point is that it’s still way too soon to write off Golson, as disappointing as he’s been thus far–and as frustrating as it is that we could have taken Phil Hughes with that pick.

    Finally, I agree that a little more clarity on the grades would be of value. You’ve been getting at what I think are the key elements in the writeups–ceiling, and pro performance to date–so just explaining how those are weighted in the grades, with wiggle room for other factors like Harman’s difficulties in 2006, would be enough.

  8. It seems that every 3b prospect since Rolen left has been a bust; Travis Chapman, Juan Richardson, Terry Jones, Welinson Baez and it looks like Mike Costanzo will be the same. That’s why they have to sign stiffs like Bell and Nunez.

  9. I’m really glad to see the feedback on these grades, that’s what I’d hoped for, and I’ve already made a few changes in the 5 batches of grades after thinking about it more. I’m sticking with my grade on Golson, and I’ll explain the reasons in my next writeup.

  10. No, the color of their skin doesn’t matter. It’s just a coincidence that they’re all african american. The bottom line is that they’re not going to contribute in CBP.

  11. Were golson’s struggles due to sulking or was it due to trying to do too much? Because i’ve heard more of the latter.

Comments are closed.