Reader Top 30 #5 – Maikel Franco

Tommy Joseph takes the #4 spot, Sebastion Valle added to new poll.

About Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has previously appeared on Phuture Phillies and The Good Phight. You can read his work at Phillies Minor Thoughts

124 thoughts on “Reader Top 30 #5 – Maikel Franco

  1. BPro posted their list today:

    The Top Ten

    LHP Jesse Biddle
    3B Maikel Franco
    LHP Adam Morgan
    IF Roman Quinn
    C/1B Tommy Joseph
    RHP Ethan Martin
    3B Cody Asche
    RHP Jonathan Pettibone
    OF Carlos Tocci
    RHP Shane Watson

    Prospects on the Rise:
    1. OF/IF Andrew Pullin:
    2. C Gabriel Lino:
    3. RHP Mitch Gueller:

    Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2013
    1. OF/1B Darin Ruf:
    2. RHP Phillippe Aumont:
    3. LHP Jake Diekman:

  2. This was a tough one for me. Any of Franco, Asche, Pettibone or Tocci could reasonably fit here in my opinion. I’m having some difficulty ranking Franco ahead of Asche. Asche is two years older and two levels ahead of Franco and while I’m still somewhat suspect of Asche, a 2013 in the vicinity of his 2012 season should volt him into Top 100 prospect lists and our Top 3.

    Going Pettibone here with Asche, Tocci and Franco coming up

    1. How does Tocci fit here? He has no power projection yet and no one here even opines that we can expect to see him in Lakewood this year.

      Do you think you can scout 12 year old players at the little league World Series and pick someone who will get votes for Cooperstown some day?

  3. Franco for me. A tale of two seasons for this guy – he was doing nothing the first half, though we hear on this site from someone that he was asked to go the other way the first half of the year, and he didn’t hit a lot of LD and maybe had some bad luck with balls in play. Then he crushed it the second half, which could be helped by some of the better pitching prospects being promoted out of the league and maybe some batted ball luck, (though his line drive % spiked). If you put the two together, he still had a really nice year.

    Reports of his defense are good. He’s never going to steal 15 bases a year, (he might not steal 5), but if you can pick it at third, that speed isn’t so important.

    Either way he’s edging out Pettibone, Watson and Martin for me.

  4. Went with Franco here based on what appears to be him putting it together at his age. He has the highest ceiling of the remaining prospects. Like Joseph good numbers from a guy young for his league. I have Martin next and then it is tough with the Asche/Pettibone/Ruf group.

    1. “based on what appears to be him putting it together at his age”

      What age would that be?

      Did the bone scans and DNA come back with positive results? How did the investigation at the hospital and school go?

      You need to see a big break out from Franco. He needs to force a promotion to Reading with his bat.

      1. If we’re lucky, something a little south of Adrian Beltre, with not as much speed, not quite as good of a glove, but similar power and hit tools.

  5. I’ll go with Franco here, although I understand those who like Pettibone here. I’ve gone back and forth on my order 3-8, since the end of the season, so any of Franco, Tocci, Asche or Pettibone can be argued for #5.

    1. I went with Pettibone but generally feel the same as you about these guys.

      Basically I think Pettibone can perform equal to what Kendrick did in 2012. Since I think Pettibone can do that in 2013, the present value of that performance to me is greater than the value of the other guys you mention. In a trade, I think other teams would value a cost-controlled #4 or #5 starter who is in AAA more than those other guys.

    2. I agree with you although I love Asche’s game and took him here. The others on your list are all reasonable choices.

  6. I had a hard time with this one as well. I was between Franco, Pettibone, and Martin. Went with Franco because his combination of ceiling and results seems to be just above the other two.

  7. I think everyone would agree that Ruf would be much much higher in people’s estimation except for on thing: his age. This year he’s 26, he had a breakthrough year at 25. You could compare him to Ryan Howard, who broke out at age 24.

    Part of our job, estimating the value of a minor leaguer is to think about how valuable it is to control the player. The first three years in the majors are the peak contribution years, because after 3 years the player is eligible for arbitration, and you have to subtract from his value what you have to pay him. After 6 years, the player is a free agent, and most players get paid so much that having developed the player adds nothing to the team.

    So with Ruf, we’ll have him for ~free at ages 26, 27, and 28, and at half price at ages 29, 30 and 31. Howard was a huge value for the Phils at age 25, 26 and 27. At age 28 and 29, he was a good value. Last year, at age 32, he was a big negative due to injuries and a huge salary. Let’s suppose that Ruf turns into a 1-year older Ryan Howard.

    Franco is age 20 this year, probably in A+, perhaps moving to AA. Suppose he makes it to the show at age 22 because the Phils need a 3rd baseman. By age 25 he gets arbitration, and at age 28 he’s a free agent. Suppose he turns out to be a 1-year older David Wright.

    So which would you rather have, the first 6 years of Ryan Howard, or the first 6 years of David Wright? I think David Wright will almost certainly have a longer and more productive career than Ryan Howard, but If I get just the first 3 years plus half the second three years, Ryan Howard is the clear winner.

    1. I’ll start out with a minor piece of agreement – conceptually, you have a point, in that a team’s goal should be to capture a player’s peak years during their years of team control, and sometimes that means a player who is somewhat older in their rookie year will end up producing a bit more value for the team than a player brought up “prematurely.”

      From that grain of truth you go quite far astray. First, a side issue. In your specific Howard versus Wright comparison. I think most of the numbers guys on this site would disagree with you specifically on their relative values. The Met’s absolutely caught Wright’s peak years during the years of team control, and, looking at the first three years specifically, most of the numbers guys would say he was signficantly more valuable than Howard. He did drop off a bit after that, before a rebound year, but that most likely was at least somewhat related to an injury. Wright is a potential HOFer. Howard is going to have to buy a ticket to get in, just like you and I.

      That comparison aside, I think you’re missing a couple of things about Ruf. The first is that most of us really, really don’t think he has star potential. I’m probably the most optimistic of the “stat” crowd, and I don’t see him coming close to the value of a Ryan Howard in his prime years, let alone Wright who was much, much better.

      The second is related, in that it is one of the reasons we don’t see him as a potential star. You’re mising the real age agrument. Yes, it’s true some people are saying that, because of his age, he will have only a few “prime” years. But that isn’t the main argument regarding his age. Not even close. If it was, you might have a point. The main argument is that, in projecting major league performance from minor league performance, the age of a minor league player is vital. The studies proving this are legion.

      It’s one thing to perform against AA pitchers (and fielders), quite another to performa against major leaguers. Performance in AA does not translate directly to the majors. Now, it is true that you see players dominate AApitching as a 22 year old, then essentially duplicate that performance in the majors as a, say, 24 year old. But that’s not because performance translates directly, it’s because a 22 year old’s skills will continue to develop as he gets older. A 26 year old, OTOH, is pretty much maxed out in terms of development.

      Some people seem to expect Ruf to duplicate his AA performance in the majors. If he was 22, that might be a reasonable hope, because a 22 year old has a lot of room for further growth. But at his age, he is is what he is. And, translated to the majors, that’s a fine hitter, but not a star, especially given questions about his defense.

      Of course part of this is people seduced by HR to the exclusion of all else. HR are valuable, no doubt. But one dimensional HR hitters (and, yes, Ruf may have some ancillary skills, but HR are very much his calling card at this point) tend to be of limited value. Limited does not mean no value, but the verbiage spilled on Ruf on this site is massively disproportionate to his potential value.

    2. But re-reading your long post and my longer one, maybe the more central point is that some of us on this site are just never going to see eye to eye. Your first sentence simply misses the point regarding most people’s objection to Ruf, and your comparison of Howard and Wright shows a method of evaluating players so different than the method used by many of us to make dialogue difficult.

      To illustrate this, while none of us are slaves to WAR, the WAR comparison of Wright and Howard at least illustrates how some of us value the two players:

      First 3 years: Howard 12.1, Wright 13.9
      Next 3 years: Howard 9.0, Wright 19.4

      WAR isn’t prefect, and I actually thinks that this might slightly – slightly – undervalue Howard in years 4 to 6. But not by much. Wright wins this comp easily.

      1. I think his defense questions are more worrisome than whether his minor league performance translates to major league.

        1. It’s both … what I think some of his biggest fans are saying (well, aside from unjustified optimism about his defense) is along the lines of “we can live with his defense if he hits .313/.387/.536.” I mean, no one has thrown out those specific numbers, so maybe I’m being unfair here, but that is Matt Holliday’s career numbers, and people keep trotting out the Matt Holliday comp, so it seems to me that that is their expectation.

          And if Ruf was 22 years old instead of 26, that might even be … well, no, it still wouldn’t be reasonable, but closer to reasonable. A more likely but still quite optimistic upside is more like .260/.320/.490. Still quite nice, but, combined with likely sub par defense and base running, not a star.

      2. I guess I agree with you here about Wright vs. Howard. I forgot how good Wright was at his peak. So the next question is what’s the probability that Ruf turn out to be comp to the peak of Howard. (I’d say 0.25 to 0.5) versus the probability that Franco turns into a comp for the peak of Wright (I’d say 0.1 to 0.2). (see note by Anon)

        1. I think that’s high for Ruf versus Howard. Now, I can say with something close to certainty that Ruf won’t meet Howard’s raw numbers. But will he at his peak (adjusting for the current low run context) be as valuable as Howard was? I still say no, though I would say he has SOME (low, less than 5%) chance of that. I don’t think he has anything like Howard’s MVP year in him (even adjusting for context). Of course in retrospect I wouldn’t think that HOWARD could have had that sort of season. Was it all just an illusion? 🙂

          Another way to look at it: at his peak (2005-2009, excluding 2008) Howard ranged from being 32% to 62% (MVP year) better than the average major league hitter. I see Ruf’s upside – his upside – as being closer to 20% better than the average major league hitter, and my fellow stat heads will likely chime in here and tell me I am being unduly optimistic.

          But that just illustrates that this is not just a case of people being concerned about Ruf’s age (in the sense you meant in your original comment). There’s a real divide in terms of what people see as his potential. I’m the most optimistic of the numbers guys – and I don’t see him as a potential star, even for a short period.

          1. I pulled the “20% better” out of my you know what, but yeah, pretty much right on the money. Last year a pretty darn good player, 3 years younger than Ruf, in his third major league season, posted a 20% better than major league average hitting performance, .269/.335/.479 with 27 HR. I think we would all be THRILLED to see that from Ruf; I’m optimistic but not holding my breath.

            And lest anyone think I am comparing Ruf overall to one of the game’s best young outfielders, Heyward is also a gold glove right fielder and a great base runner. As well as likely not yet having reached his peak.

      3. So the “stats guys” all think that when a player has a couple of down years he can never reverse the trend. Right? I think not. I think it is just you that has that silly thought.

        1. Lefty – as you know i am not what one would call a stat guy, and personally the few times i have watched Valle I really like what i have seen. But the issue here is that the early scouting reports were that he had poor plate discipline and what we have here is the stats backing up what the scouting report told us. All of the rest of the tools are still there and they will give him ample opportunity to work on it as he is still young and his value has been diminished. To me he seems like a good candidate to be a late bloomer, or a backup that all of a sudden puts it together for a year or two.

  8. Ethan Martin former 1st rd pick with probably #2 starter ceiling who was excellent since trade…Pettibone most project as a #4 …it doesn’t matter that he is knocking on the door

    1. Pettibone doesn’t fit into that groove you just constructed.

      No one sees Pettibone going to the bullpen.

      No one.

      The #4 projection is actually a “floor” rather than a ceiling. Everyone is getting that wrong.

      He could end up a #3. He is a massive 22 year old. A “horse”.

      1. Pettibone doesn’t strike out enough guys to be anything more than a #4 or #5. He could develop an out pitch, but right now that’s his ceiling.

          1. 6.21 in AA is not “solid.”

            He is a groundball pitcher, yes. That’s why he is a prospect. But that’s the profile of a 4 or a 5 in the majors. Most likely 4 IMO, but not a 3 unless he develops another pitch or his velocity ticks up. He’s young enough that either is possible – but, as previously discussed, “ceiling” is where we expect a player to be if he fully develops his current tools. The kind of leap forward that would turn him into a 3 happens, but isn’t something that can or should be part of his projection.

            1. No, Pettibone has aptitude for pitching. He is the opposite of Ethan Martin or Trevor May.

              Pettibone’s “stuff” is also underrated. He is a lot closer to Roy Halladay then he is to Tyler Cloyd.

              No one sees Pettibone as a #5 or going to the bullpen. #4 is his floor.

              Jonathan Pettibone is the stealthiest pitching prospect I’ve seen in the Phillies system.

            2. Pettibone’s likely outcome is the Oakland version of Joe Blanton, low K rate, low BB rate, good changeup with fringy other pitches. His stuff is nowhere close to Halladay (Cloyd’s stuff is so bad that he might be closer to Roy but that is on Cloyd).

            3. I though of Blanton as a reasonable comp too. 200 innings every year with 10 – 12 wins. I’ll take it from a #4.

            4. I wish I could project Pettibone to be Joe Blanton but look at Blanton in the minors. His K/BB rates are ridiculous. He’s got better control and better strikeout stuff than Pettibone. Obviously Pettibone is still pretty young but his K/9 has been holding fairly constant and his BB/9 has gotten pretty dicey here and there especially when he moved up to AAA. I wouldn’t throw a Blanton tag on him until he puts up a good AAA season on par with what he did in Clearwater and Reading.

            5. Exactly. People compare minor league numbers to current major leaguer numbers. Thats faulty logic. The comparison should be to the major leaguers’ minor league numbers.
              Joe Blanton, as a minor leaguer, would be the Phillies’ #2 prospect today.

            6. I don’t think “no one” means what you think it does. 99.9 % of people who care about this stuff project a 4 as his ceiling, not his floor. You disagree, fine. But let’s not pretend that “no one” disagrees with you. Most people do.

              I do think there are many reasons – including proximity – to think that he can reach his ceiling. And he likely will be better than Cloyd, a player with an upside of a 5, and less likely to reach that ceiling than Pettibone is to reach his ceiling as a 4.

            7. Tyler Cloyd is the definition of a AAAA pitcher.

              His grandma has done her last dance. You will never see Cloyd start another game for the Phillies. He is the future ace for the Camden Riversharks.

  9. I went with Asche here, though I admit that you can’t go wrong with 3-4 other names.

    Though I worry about his defense and power potential, there is no escaping the fact that he compares favorably to Utley at the same age/level.

    1. I know what you are saying in comparing him to Utley, but you also have to remember that Utley improved dramatically between the ages of 23 and 26. When Utley was 23 he hit .263/.352/.461 in AAA. When he was 26 he hit .291/.376/.540 in the majors and played gold glove second base. That year he had a WAR of 7.5 which was 4th in the majors. It is unfair to expect anyone to replicate that kind of improvement.

      And now to troll for just a moment – Asche had a BABIP of .348 in AA. I think it will be hard for him to sustain that.

      1. Line drives will result in a high BABIP though. I’m expecting another 320 – 330 at AAA this year so we’ll see what everyone thinks then. He’s a hitter whose average will only be below 300 if he starts trying to hit more homers.

        1. Murray, we’ve been around this issue a bunch of times, but I’ve never gotten a response from you. Your expectations regarding his batting average seem to be based upon … I don’t know what. Nothing that I can see. Extreme line drive hitters, who lack outstanding speed (to get infield hits) BABIP around .330. High does not mean .348 (and it was much higher in A+). Assume for the sake of argument that Asche is that kind of player – I’d say that’t certainly possible, but by no means certain. With his contact rate and HR rate, a .330 BABIP gives him an expected BA of around .288.

          .288 for a guy with a mediocre contact rate is pretty good. It’s not a knock on him, at all. I’m just wondering what the basis is for thinking he is a .320 to .330 hitter. The fact that he has a nice line drive swing and hit that well in 2012 is not a sufficient basis for drawing that conclusion. Over a sufficient sample size, he will hit over .290 only if he manages to improve his contact rate.

          1. Just my eyes watching him hit and watching him adjust to new situations. He’s had all of one full season so I’m confident that he’s going to continue to improve, especially knowing how hard he works. I’m not basing it on empirical data, just basing it on a feel for the game and a feel for this players ability. The Phils are very high on him also obviously. I love line drive hitters who hit the ball hard all over, that’s Asche and he’s improving. I could be wrong, I thought Michael Taylor could hit….

            1. I guess what I’m saying is this: I respect all of that, I really do. But … what it adds up to, in my eyes, if you’re right in your subjective observations (and I think you essentially are, after all, I picked him #5 myself) is: a .290 hitter. Which, considering his ancillary abilities and the fact that he is a third baseman, is enough to make him an exciting prospect.

              But that said, you answered my question, I appreciate that, and I won’t punish you for it by (figuratively) beating you over the head with my opinion. So enough on this topic.

      1. I didn’t mean to criticize the board’s ranking ability. I just meant to illustrate that Donald was once highly touted/ranked

  10. I’d go Asche here just on proximity to the ML. I think Franco has a much higher ceiling, but still has a away to go. Not sure if this has been discussed, but do others view proximity and level the same way I do?

    1. I think about proximity similarly to you but in this case I have Franco ahead of Asche because of ceiling.

      To those of you comparing Asche to Donald, I had the exact same thought yesterday. I have Asche in my top ten and don’t want to put a limit on someone who apparently is a very hard worker, but I think a Donald-like performance is likely.

        1. Above average regular and borderline all-star, somewhere close to Adrian Beltre offensively (minus the 48 HR season, I have actually seen the comp before), with above average defense at third (somewhere in the 55-60 range). A very valuable commodity, he is not going to put you over the top but if you have him at a majority of your positions you are a very good team.

          1. Adrian Beltre is the only known Dominican to have lied in the opposite direction. He was good enough to get a very fat bonus at 15 years old, but you can’t be signed until you’re 16, so Beltre made himself 16.

            At age 19 – what Franco alleged himself to be in 2012 – Adrian Beltre posted a .648 OPS for the Dodgers.

            At the ripe old age of 17 Adrian Beltre played for two teams, one in the Sally league and the other in the California League posting a combined .884 OPS

            The following year Adrian Beltre played a full season at age 18 in the Florida State League and posted a .967 OPS.

            Then at age 19 Adrian Beltre earned a promotion to the Dodgers by posting a .992 OPS in AA in 292 plate appearances.

            1. Fair points – few can match Beltre’s early advancement. Beltre has had one of the oddest careers I can ever remember – from wunderkind, to decent young player, to perpetual disappointment, to big breakout guy, to slight underperformer, to near superstar – it’s like 4 careers in one and it’s not close to ending yet.

            2. I am not saying he is going to have Beltre’s career (which is borderline Hall of Fame, but much of that is because he has been the best defensive third baseman of the past decade along with Evan Longoria). Going off the tools you can say that Franco’s ceiling is a right handed hitting third baseman who could hit about .270-.280 with 24-28HR with good walk rates and overall contact ability, what you end up with is a typical middle of the career Beltre season. Beltre is a much better defender, much better baserunner, and has sustained it for a longer period of time (these are huge things, if Franco was equal to these he would be a top 20 prospect in baseball), but Franco has a chance to repeat those offensive numbers during his peak.

              I am less concerned about Franco’s age than I would be of a high profile DR signee because there was no pressure to prove a younger age, could it be +/- a year based on bad record keeping (children in the DR are often unregistered until later childhood and so they can be off some, but not as much as you are implying) , not impossible (but I am not going to assume anything until stated otherwise as he is not some physical specimen who is raising a ton of red flags), but there is no reason for nefariousness here (people knew about Franco for a while and were frightened with the lack of athleticism that his 20 speed suggested). But even as a 20 year old it is a good season and path to the majors.

            3. “I am less concerned about Franco’s age than I would be of a high profile DR signee because there was no pressure to prove a younger age”

              Baseball America demonstrated many years ago that this argument has no basis in reality. Many Dominicans who were not well paid at all as prospects were guilty of some of the most egregious age/identity fraud and were released when their fraud was discovered because they were clearly not prospects at all. It was in fact their fraud that made them seem like a fringe prospect and got them a bonus and entry into the USA.

              In the documentary “Pelotero” (which everyone on this site should have seen by now) Dominican players perched on bunks at the “academy” laugh and admit to the “tricks they have” like altering their ages to appear younger then they are. This is a part of the culture of Dominican baseball.

        2. Check out the post MattWinks put up this morning on Baseball Prospectus’s top ten for the Phillies.

      1. Boston Phan-

        Oh I agree. I’m only saying that we have three former college IFs and can compare their 1st full season with the understanding that the first two ended up quite differently. I give Asche a few more points based on the fact that his work ethic has been compared to Utley (off the charts).

        Just to save others the time of looking it up:

        Chase Utley (22) CLW- 523 AB, 16/59, .257/.324/.422, .746 OPS, 37BB/88K

        Jason Donald (22) LWD/CLW- 574 AB, 12/71, .304/.395/.473, .869 OPS, 64BB/109K

        Cody Asche (22) CLW/REA- 559AB, 12/71, .324/.369/.481, .849 OPS, 34BB/93K

        I admittedly haven’t taken the time to look at more advanced statistics which, or course, could make this comparison far less (or perhaps more) favorable….

    2. I view it similarly as well which is why I put Asche head of Franco. To me, Asche’s season at CLW and REA is suffiently more impressive than Franco’s at LWD to eclipse frano’s age and potential. Very very close for me though

  11. Matt, I think Sebastian Valle’s name has a typo in it. I would also add Aumont the next time you have an open spot.

    1. He’s 22 years old.

      He’s a catcher in AAA with proven HR power with potential to add to that.

      If Valle is in the 20’s then this system would be #1 in MLB.

      Jim Callis has the Phillies at #26.

      1. The disconnect with Valle is his BB rate. There are still stubborn hold outs who put little or even no weight on BB rate. And if you put little or no weight on BB rate, yes he should be top 20, even top 10.

        But for those of us who put an appropriate weight on BB rate, 2 years of declining, sub 4% BB rate is a huge, absolutely huge red flag.

        If he had even been able to maintain his mediocre BB rate from the lower minors, we would be having a very different conversation.

        1. Larry, I think you’re putting too much emphasis on a just a 2-year trend. I believe that Valle will reverse that trend. He has been young for his league the last 2 seasons, which needs to be accounted for. I think that is a large part of the reason for his lack of plate discipline. How many 21-year-old power-hitting sound defensive catchers are there in AAA? In 2011 as a 20-year old in Clearwater, his walk-rate improved in the second half of the year. In 2012 he played about 3/4 of a season old in Reading before getting promoted to AAA. I expect that his walk rate will improve in each of the next 2 seasons at AAA back to the 6-7% range he was at in 2008-2010.

          1. Larry M always assumes people believe him. But in reality theydon’t read his long winded responces , like me.

      2. Valle’s lack of approach will limit his power at the major league level because no pitcher will ever throw him a strike to hit. I think Callis is really low on the Phillies compared to what else I am seeing from the industry (they are probably closer to 20-22 range), but it is not from a lack of talent, the talent is far away with a ton of risk and the system lacks a superstar with any safety. Valle is just not a good prospect, he will be lucky to be a major league backup because while his defense is good it is not elite enough to carry the bat which will be horrendous unless he makes significant improvement (power and good contact mean nothing if you have no clue what you are swinging at)

        1. Actually, contact rate does matter even with poor plate discipline, but Valle does not have a good contact rate.

          1. Sebastian Valle is TWENTY-TWO YEARS OLD.

            He’s made it AAA.

            Wait two full years before you give him away to the Astros for a bag of balls.

            1. No one is sugegsting giving him away for a bag of balls.

              Players develop, yes. Is it possible that his plate discipline will improve signficantly? Yes. Is it likely? I don’t think so. The trend line doesn’t help – he’s getting worse, not better.

              Some players just don’t seem to have the ability to “see” the ball. Ultimately that’s much more an inate skill than a learned one. My fear is that Valle is one of those players who lacks that inate ability.

    2. That seems kinda low for a guy who can catch as well as he can and probably hit for a little power, but yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him slip that low.

      Does anyone give Valle points for LD% vs. BABIP last year? Not alot of points – but hitting line drives at a 21% rate and only having a BABIP of around .315 for the year, he does seem like he was a little unlucky. I know he gets severely dinged, (and rightfully so) for his extraordinarily weak BB rate and quite bad K rate, but his OBP probably should have been a little higher with more fair luck on batted balls.

      I don’t know how to make that evaluation – was he 20 OBP points light because his BABIP was lower than it should have been for a guy squaring up as many balls as he did, or am I severely overestimating how much that would help a guy striking out at a rate as high as he did?

      1. His BABIP is low because of making contact with pitches he shouldn’t be making contact with. If he had the approach to pick his pitches to drive I would be more inclined to believe in you (think selective hackers like Vlad or Sandoval who have an approach even if it does not resemble the strike zone), Valle just swings at anything and the bat is good enough to put a lot of it in play, but it is not good contact.

          1. I think you guys are way off base. In one breath you say Valle goes from top 5 prospect to being out of the top 20 and Joseph is top 5 when statiscially they mirror each other as offensive players?

            They both strike out at the same rate, they both walk at the same rate, they both OPS at the same rate, they both OBP at the same rate and the BA’s are nearly identical.

            I think its been so long since you guys have seen a good prospect you forget what a good prospect looks like. If we want to start ranking guys on walk rate we better start talking about that stud Brian Pointer a little more….

            1. That’s just plain false. They do not walk at the same rate. Maybe the numbers are close over their entire minor league careers, but for Valle that’s propped up by his rates in Lakewood and Williamsport. Joseph is a year younger and his walk rate was more than twice Valle’s last year. Valle has been trending in the wrong direction as he’s moved up the ladder. Valle has also struck out at a higher rate the last two seasons.

            2. C’mon Handzus you are spinning the stats. So Joseph had an improved BB rate last year don’t give me 1 year trends on 21/22 year old players. We act as if Valle is never going to mature and figure out how to be more selective.

              But whatever you guys might be right and it won’t be the first time I was wrong!

            3. They are developing look at their trend lines, we only have 3-4 years of data on them, the most relevant by far being their most recent year against their highest level of competition because it reflects their most current skill set. Approach issues are one of the hardest things to correct, there is nothing he has done in his minor league career to say that he is going to be more selective, it was a knock against him years ago and it has become more apparent as pitchers throw more strikes.

            4. Oh! maybe you have struck on the heart of the matter. We Americans tend to rate our own [especially light color] higher then forieners. I see it all of the time and it is pathetic.

            5. I am not sure what set of stats you are looking at. Here are their AA numbers for this year (same league, throwing out Valle’s AAA numbers actually helps him). All stats from Fangraphs.
              Valle: 25.2 K%, 3.3 BB%,.715 OPS, .280 OBP, .261 BA, wRC+ 93
              Joseph: 21.3 K%, 7.6 BB%, .714 OPS, .316 OBP, .256 BA, wRC+ 96.5

              So Joseph strikes out less, walks twice as much giving him 35 points of on base, he slugs less but Valle also had more games in hitter friendly Reading (Richmond where Joseph started favors pitchers). If you just measure their time playing with Reading, Joseph’s K% spikes but then he destroys Valle across the board. Joseph is also a year younger and his numbers have a general upward trend (if you look at the weighted numbers to eliminate league and park factors he was as good or better in 2012 as he was in 2012 and much better if just look at his Reading time), Valle’s numbers have declined at each year and level.

            6. Really Matt you are going to isolate 1 season to make the point? Sorry but I’ll trust the full body of work numbers more than I will any single season….

              Like I said maybe you guys are right. We’ll see. Feel free to remind me in June when Joseph is tearing up the EL!

            7. DMAR, it’s not just one season, it’s two, and even if it was, with BB rates especially, and young prospects especially, one season can mean a lot.

              Really this is more about Valle than Joseph. The simple fact is that, once he started facing somewhat advanced pitching, he demonstrated a horrible approach and almost complete inability to draw a BB. The same cannot be said about Joseph.

              Can Valle overcome that? As I said elsewhere, possibly though I doubt it. But comparing the two prospects, you have players somewhat similar except that one has shown a horrible approach at the plate inconsistent with future success, and the other hasn’t. On that basis, OF COURSE Joseph has to rank much higher.

            8. DMAR, for an otherwise smart commenter not to acknowledge that there is a HUGE difference between the following two patterns is baffling to say the least:

              Player A
              age 17, R, 6.5%
              age 18, A-/A, 6.8%
              age 19, A, 5.6%
              age 20, A+, 3.6
              Age 21, AA/AAA, 3.1

              Player B
              age 18, A , 5.5
              age 19, A+, 5.2
              age 20, R/AA, 7.97

              Or we can simply look at the past two years, A+ and above:
              Player A: 3.3%
              Player B: 6.3%

              It’s night and day, it’s not even close. Recency/level means a HUGE amount when evaluating prospects. In this particular case,the career comparision is useless.

              The comparison aside, I defy you to find any player of any age with Valle’s BB/K ratio at A+/AA/AAA over a 2 year period who went on to signficant major league success.

              It’s not that BB rate is everything, it’s that certain BB rates are not consistent with major league success.

            9. I mean, even if you don’t want to give Joseph credit for his 2012 increase in BB rate (and you should – BB rates reach statistical relevance more quickly than most stats), you can’t just throw out a two year trend of horrific BB rates for Valle. Joseph has never been below 5.2%; Valle has been well below 4% two years running.

              It’s not just the numbers, either, this is entirely consistent with everything we have heard from scouts, experts and other observers about Valle’s approach.

            10. Larry I am not trying to prop Valle. He has work to do he has problems with his approach. I’m just saying you guys are gaga over Joseph and he has the same problems Valle had last year coming into his #4 Rank or whatever it was that we ranked him.

              And to your point go back and look at Chooch’s MiLB career. He had 2 consecutive years where the obp fell below .300 then he bounced back. In one of those seasons he had a BB% of 3.8%. Sheesh it happens and he was 22 in Lakewood for christ’s sake.

              Valle is going to be 22 in AAA. WTF is walk rate. When did they start giving out the Walk Rate Crown? Cheese and crackers you guys act like he can’t hit.

              I’m going home….

            11. Okay, two seperate isssues here. First, it simply isn’t true to say Jospeh has suffered from the same problems. He hasn’t. His worst BB% was 5.2; that’s not great, but it’s manageable.

              Second issue. Ruiz is certainly a guy who you want to invoke on your side of the argument. He’s fairly sui generis, but heck, if I were a Valle supporter I’d probably bring him up well. But there are a few problems with that. The biggest by far is that Ruiz was always a good contact guy. That’s a HUGE difference. His year in Lakewood, his BB/K ratio was 1/2.7. Over the past 2 years, Valle is 1/7.6. That’s a huge difference.

              A couple other points, but compared to the contact rate issue they are mere quibbles. Ruiz had one year below 4.0%, not two, and not as low as Valle has been. Sample size was also much lower (263 PA). And you mention that it was at Lakewood, as if that makes it worse – but IMO I’m more interested in BB rates at a higher level. Look at A+ and above, Ruiz was much better than Valle. Look at the trend line – his rate got better, not worse, as he advanced. But quibbles as I said – if Valle had Ruiz’ contact rate, even with his low BB rate, he would likely be in my top ten. But then he would be an entirely different player.

              Set all that aside. It’s one thing to say that Valle COULD improve his approach. As I said I am a skeptic but I’ve admitted it is possible. But we’re evaluating players based not on what “could” happen in the abstract, but on what we can best project on current information. And on that basis, Valle is OBVIOUSLY a guy whose stock has quite justifiably fallen.

            12. And DMAR, with his combination of low BB rates and poor contact rates, the issue isn’t just or even primarily that he will have a low BB rate in the majors. The problem is that, because he will never get a decent pitch to hit, he WON’T hit in the majors. A player with good contact skills can avoid that fate; a player with poor contact skills who swings at everything can’t.

              Seriously, find my one successful major league player who, in his first 800 PA at A+ and above had a BB/K ratio as bad as Valle’s and went on to major league success. Maybe there are one or two, but none that I am aware of..

            13. Why argue with a guy like this? If you can’t understand negative trend=bad and positive trend=good, or that 7% is better than 3%, you just don’t want to discuss something logically.
              This is at least the 3rd time he has tried push this illogical silliness. All so he can feel correct in his original idea. ‘I know what I know, just because. I’m entitled to my opinion.’
              He doesn’t want to have discussion. He wants to be right in his original, uneducated, assumption. That Valle is the better prospect, or that Gary Brown was a better trade target than Joseph.

  12. I went with Asche here. Maybe I should have gone with Franco – ceiling is somewhat higher, verus proximity. Ultimately:

    (1) Proximity means more than just being closer to the majors; it means demonstrated performance at a higher level of competition. Another way to put it is that Asche has a higher floor and probably a better chance of getting to his (admittedly somewhat lower) ceiling.

    (2) The lack of athleticism on Franco gives my pause. Not a LOT of pause, but enough to push him below Asche.

      1. Contrary to my reputation, I have been quite bullish on him – just not over the top bullish like some of his fans. My disagreement has been with regard to ceiling (and the main area of disagreement here seems to be BA) and whether he could/should compete for a job in 2013 (obviously the latter now a moot point). But as a guy who could be an average major league regular third baseman, and is IMO fairly likely to reach that ceiling – I’ll take that over some players with higher ceilings but lower chance of reaching said ceilings.

        It’s not like the system is awash in potential stars. Lots of solid prospects, and a few guys who could be more but are years away, but in the Phillies’ system 5 seems about right for Asche.

        1. It’s not like the system is awash in potential stars. Lots of solid prospects, and a few guys who could be more but are years away, but in the Phillies’ system 5 seems about right for Asche.
          This. If we had a top 10 system, Asche is an 10-12 guy. Unfortunately we don’t. Asche is the top of the “solid prospect” positon guys for me. I have Joseph and Quinn higher due to their positions and ceilings….

          1. I don’t understand what the strength of the system has to do with ranking player versus player. Or is it just pointing out that Asche would be way lower in someone else’s system? Seems odd to juxtapose the comments, but maybe it’s just that: a juxtaposition that I read too much into.

            I have Asche at 10 ahead of the two relievers and behind the next group of 3 starting pitchers – Watson, Pettibone Martin, and Tocci. I do consider Martin a starter prospect, still, though I get that a lot of people might not be too keen on that.

            I also get that a lot of people won’t rank Watson that high because he has no pro track record – contrary to how I used to think about this, I no longer accept that he loses points because all we have is pre-draft reports. He has rankable tools and a ceiling just like everyone else. He just lacks pro data to add to the mix. I’ll rank Deivi Grullon later in this list without a pro track record as well, based on what talent evaluators have written about him. For the same reason, I could buy people ranking Jose Pujols in the top 30 as well, (though he doesn’t make mine).

    1. I was just comparing Franco and Asche on Fangraphs just for kicks. I love Franco’s potential based on his second half, but Asche’s numbers — particularly his Reading numbers, which is surprising based on his first month there — are impressive. .873 OPS, .213 ISO. The one that blew me away, however, was this: 3 GDP, and only 11 in more than 900 professional plate appearances. That would be a welcome addition in the big club lineup …

  13. I went Asche, though I expect I’ll be voting for him for the next few rounds too. Higher floor than Franco, and as I’ve said before, I think it’s too early to nail down a ceiling for him.

    I’m not sure I see the Asche/Donald comp. Asche was 21 for about half of last year, which he split between Clearwater and Reading. Donald was 22 the entire 2007 season, which he split between Lakewood and Clearwater. So Asche is more advanced at this stage than Donald.

    1. I voted Franco, but I’ve got Asche 6th on my list, and I doubt I’m alone. Pettibone and Martin are too uncertain to put ahead of him for me.

  14. I’ve been voting for Franco for a while, so I feel a bit vindicated by that Baseball Prospectus list. I love the power potential and (contra Larry) I am not all that worried about the lack of athleticism. By all account the problem is not that he is unathletic, but that he is slow, and 3B is not a position that actually demands enormous foot speed. Look at some of the best defensive performers there of the past generation: Beltre had some speed when he came up but averages less than 10 SB a year for his career. Rolen, ditto. Schmidt ran a lot early in his career–in a more steal-friendly time–but still finished with 174 over his 18 year career. And if you want to go way, way back, Brooks Robinson, the consensus best defensive 3B of all time, had all of 28 steals over the entirety of his career, a little more of one per season.

    Obviously, steals are an imperfect way to measure the speed of players from different eras, since their strategic usage has ebbed and flowed so much over time, but I’m guessing Brooks Robinson was probably pretty slow. That suggests to me that Franco’s slowness is not a reason to downgrade him (except as a threat on the basepaths, of course). Most accounts I’ve heard suggest he has a good arm and the potential to be an excellent defender.

      1. Well, he’s actually a bad example, as he’s a total defensive liability. Of course, if Franco put up Cabrera’s offensive numbers I could live with that, though.

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