I went through my Top 30 in great detail, now I’ll answer your questions about my list. Lets start off with 3 questions from Derek:
Do you have any ‘deep sleepers’ for this upcoming year? Guys that aren’t top 30 or even top 40 who you think have a chance of being top 15 next year?
How about the next M. Taylor or J. Singleton, guys that are on the radar, but have huge seasons that move them to the top of the list?
How would you rank Biddle, Cosart, May, and Colvin based on pure stuff?
Jumping from way off the list into the Top 15 could be tough, but the guy I could see making the biggest jump is Brian Pointer. I really like his swing, he has a good blend of power and speed, and he could make a big impact if all goes well. A number of the international signings from the last year, Anderson Gonzalez (SS), Francisco Silva (SS), Franklyn Zavala (LHP), and Miguel Nunez (RHP) could also emerge.
In terms of the “next Michael Taylor” type, I think Gauntlett Eldemire or Cameron Rupp are good candidates to fit this mold. Both are college guys with big tools, and both had disappointing debuts.
In terms of raw stuff, I think you’d have to rank them Cosart > Colvin > Biddle > May.
1) Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez are 6 months apart in age and both listed as 20 last year on baseball-reference dot com. On your prospectprimer/my-prospect-philosophy page, you say:
A- Level (NYPL, PIO, NWL) – 19 years old is average (subtract value for 20+ ages, add value for 18 and under)
AA Level (EAS, SOU, TEX) – 22 years old is average (subtract value for 23+ ages, add value for 21 and under)
I believe the age and level combination of these two prospects is the major reason why there is so much discrepancy in where each is ranked by different people. Why did you did not mention this to be as one of the “ranking difficulties” for Hernandez? Did you “add value” for Galvis? Do you want to revise the ages you say to add and subtract value for on your prospect philosophy page? I would love to see you compare Hernandez and Galvis head-to-head.
The reason I ranked Hernandez well above Galvis is based on his bat. Galvis has never hit, even though he’s been very young for his league. But more specifically, Galvis has shown no real secondary skills with the bat. He hasn’t hit for any power, and his speed is minimal. Hernandez has well above average speed. They are the same age, a very different levels, but Hernandez has a much more advanced bat. While I like Galvis’ glove, and think he can be a major league shortstop, its tough to project him to hit even an empty .270 now. Which means I find it hard to believe he’ll be a starting shortstop in the majors. Hernandez looks to have a bat that will be an asset at 2B, if he hits for average, makes elite contact, and steals 30-35 bases a season.
Another from Ken
2) How much weight to you give to fall and winter league stats? For example, I gave Julio Rodriguez a big bump based on his 45 IP in Puerto Rico this season, Valle a small bump due to his home run proficiency their the last 2 seasons and downgraded Harold Garcia a tad due to his must 1 stolen base in 5 attempts. I find the Arizona Fall League interesting, but of less value than winter leagues because it seems more like a show-case with a lot of guys splitting playing time in a very short season. Would you agree?
I don’t place much importance on winter ball stats. Most guys have been playing baseball since February, by the time they got to November or December, they are out of gas, especially legit prospects. There is no way for me to really standardize the statistics, especially in the foreign winter leagues. I think they mainly serve as a way for hitters or pitchers to get more experience against advanced competition, the numbers dont mean much to me.
Last one from Ken
3) Will you be publishing SONAR scores for 2010? I know you had planned to include both 2009 and 2010 stats this year, but I’m sure that adds a level of complexity and slows you down. SONAR scores for a single year is fine. I liked them last year and missed them this year as a tool for ranking the Top 30 prospects. Do you have them unpublished for 2010 and if so did you use them in your rankings?
I have the data, and I’m almost done cleaning it up. But I think I’m going to be using the data in a different way going forward. Instead of just putting the raw scores out there, I’m working on incorporating the data into a more detailed system, which also factors in scouting report grades and other things. So, for now, because of time, I don’t have a schedule to publish the data, but when/if I do, I’ll make a post about it.
Just wondering if the Phillies have any hope for Anthony Hewitt? His failure would really signify a colossal mistake in poor judgement as a first round pick.
To make it short and simple, I have very little hope for Hewitt. His contact issues are a major problem, and his lack of pitch recognition is going to make it really difficult for his raw power to actually be usable in games. I suppose he’s still young enough to figure it out, and he may be one of those guys who doesn’t break out until he’s 25-26. But I don’t know if it will come in the Phillies organization.
First, you have only 1 LHP ranked in your top 30 for the Phillies. Besides Biddle, which other LHP do you think might have some value down the line, probably has a lefty reliever? I know Nick Hernandez was injured and Matt Way is alo in the organization. Do you see either of those having enough value making it as a lefty specialist or is the probability for them so far away that it’s highly unlikely?
Nick Hernandez is probably the best best, assuming he can stay healthy. Way might make it as a back end starter, or if he tightens up his breaking ball, a lefty reliever. Franklyn Zavala, the lefty reliever I referenced above as a possible guy who jumps on the radar, is another choice, but he has yet to throw a pitch since signing, so its tough to really get a handle on him.
Another from Nick
Second, how sustainable is Amaro’s tactics of trading away 2-4 good (top 10) prospects every year? If the trend continues this year, the Phills will trade 2 or 3 prospoects for a right handed bat to help balance the lineup. However, with salaries rising, actually soaring in Philly, and the teams age also rising, it will be very important to have young arms wainting in the wings to create turn over. My biggest fear is that the Phillies will use too many of their chips and have an aging, expensive team holding them back.
I wouldn’t worry too much about this. The Phillies have been really good at trading their guys right on the fringe of their top 3-4, and knowing which guys to keep coming up behind. They did trade Drabek, but they chose to keep Brown instead of Michael Taylor, which looks smart. I see the team continuing to trade 2nd tier prospects to acquire controllable talent. As long as revenue continues to increase, payroll will continue to increase. The 2010 to 2011 payroll jump indicates payroll growth above even my most optimistic projections from the summer. The team is getting older, but I think you will see prospects start to fill in the gaps over the next few seasons, and also prospects traded for young, controllable talent that other teams aren’t able to afford.
Last one from Nick
Finally, how would you compare the Phillies’ arms vs the Braves’ arms?
Julio Teheran, the Braves top pitching prospect, is arguably the best pitching prospect in the minors. Their 3 best starting pitching prospects after Teheran are Mike Minor (LHP), Arodys Vizcaino (RHP), and Randall Delgado (RHP). Kevin Goldstein at BP ranked Minor as a 5 star prospect, with Vizcaino and Delgado ranked as 4 star guys. I think he may be a bit high on Minor, but the other guys seem correctly placed. The Braves top relief prospect, Craig Kimbrel, is also a 4 star prospect. Comparing them to the Phillies arms, I would rank Cosart ahead of Minor. Colvin, Vizcaino, Delgado, Biddle and May would also probably be in the same grouping, and you could interchange them and move them around. I think Kimbrel’s stock is higher than De Fratus right now, and Kimbrel’s strikeout rates are hugely impressive. They have similar fastballs, but Kimbrel’s wipeout slider is the difference maker right now. Its a fun exercise, but when you consider Teheran in their group, the Braves definitely have an edge.
I know I’m probably a little late to the party on the mailbag but one of my questions about your Top 30 or even the honorable mention is that I saw no mention of Eric Pettis on there. Is there a reason he didn’t project in your Top 30? Do you see red flags that we didn’t? He came out of the draft on fire in both the NYPL as a starter, and reliever for the SAL winning Blueclaws. Is there no projection for him because he was both a starter and reliever?
Pettis was great at Williamsport, but he did this at age 22. I haven’t gotten glowing scouting reports on him, and to be honest, I’m unsure of his raw stuff. Most importantly, he profiles as a reliever going forward. As a reliever, I would slide him down my rankings, and then when you factor in his age, I want to see him perform for a full season against better competition. He needs to be fast tracked, and he needs to be great against better hitters before I’d feel comfortable putting him in my top 30. If I ranked all the guys in the 31-40 range, he’d probably be in the back of that section.
Thanks for the questions everyone. I think the one thing that is important to remember is that these lists are, in their nature, flawed. Most lists are built on things that have already happened, with guys lined up based on future expectations. But the future is unknown (obviously), meaning these lists will often have guys placed way too high and way too low. My list was based on my evaluation of the player’s context-adjusted statistics, his scouting report, and then my personal instinct or feeling on the prospect. I think you’ll find that most people make the same lists. I’m not overly concerned with having a list that is much different from BP or BA or ESPN. I respect those outlets and what they offer, and I have to get some of my scouting information from them. They see prospects more than me. I just don’t have to agree with all of their evaluations. The whole process is a learning experiment, which is what makes it so much fun. It will be interesting to see how my list plays out over the course of the season.