Reader Top 30 #9

Over 440 votes were cast on where to place Ben Lively among the top prospects. Lively will be placed 6th between Zach Eflin and Jesse Biddle. The bulk of the voting was dispersed as follows –

  • Between #5 Eflin and #6 Jesse Biddle:             164     37%
  • Between #6 Biddle and #7 Kelly Dugan:             94     21%
  • Nah, #8 is where he belongs.                                110     25%
  • Are you kidding? How did he get voted #8?      40       9%

Of the remaining votes, 8 were cast to pace him as the #1 prospect in the organization.

The current prospect ranking is –

  1. J.P. Crawford
  2. Aaron Nola
  3. Maikel Franco
  4. Roman Quinn
  5. Zach Eflin
  6. Ben Lively
  7. Jesse Biddle
  8. Kelly Dugan

Now that we’ve settled that, we can continue with poll #9 and the addition of Elniery Garcia, Mitch Gueller, and Samuel Hiciano.

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64 thoughts on “Reader Top 30 #9

  1. Windle finally getting some respect at #1 so far. Should be a good duel for the #9 spot with the loser getting #10.

  2. I went with Mecias thinking he can get back to where he was before the injury. Windle may very well end up as a reliever and this is too high for a reliever.

  3. This is a toss up to me, Yoel could some day be a #3 but more likely is a 4/5, whereas Windle looks like a 4/5 without much debate. I’ll go upside here on the outside shot that Yoel becomes a #3. Opposite of what I did with Biddle and Lively but mostly because I just don’t believe at this point that there is much of a chance Biddle is ever a 2/3 like he was originally projected to be.

  4. I know this is a minority position, and every year I catch heat for making this argument, but I think its important: In my opinion, people on this site overvalue ceiling and undervalue floor.

    The first thing I do when I start assembling my prospect list is multiple their grade (20-80) by their chance of actually making to the big leagues.

    Windle projects to around a grade 40, a backend starter. But, based on his make-up, college experience, etc., I’d put his odds of making to the Big Leagues around 35%; which is quite high for a prospect. So, in my starting analysis, he’d have a score of 40 x .35, or 14.

    Mecias admitted has a higher ceiling, so let’s generously assign him a grade 60. But, based on his age, level, injuries, etc,, his chances of ever called up are around 20%. So 60 x .20, or 12.

    Now, this is just a starting point in my evaluation; not the end product. (Someone like MAG grades around 30 but has a 75% of being called-up, so a score of over 20. And obviously MAG just isn’t a better prospect than with Windle or Mecias.) But the broader point is to account for likelihood of ever contributing to the big league club.

    Yes, I know its sexier to fantasize over “best case scenarios,” but the reality is, the vast majority of prospects never make it to The Show, and we should add weight in our rankings to those who will make it.

    In the 2011 voting, I remember taking a beating in the comments because I ranked De Fratus higher than “upside” prospects. De Fratus finished #10 that year. Now, I’m not saying he has had a HOF career, but contributes to the Phillies, which is more than what can be said of some of those who were voted ahead of him, based on their “potential.”

    And nothing drives me more crazy when people say, “Well, at the time, Valle was a better prospect.” No, De Fratus was the better prospect at that time–De Fratus’ plays in The Show, Valle doesn’t. Sure, maybe Valle had a higher ceiling, but his odds of ever reaching that ceiling were also greater; hence, in my opinion, in 2011, De Fratus was better the prospect; and the results have come to bear this out.

    I don’t mean to be a downer with my pragmatic approach–the reason we like prospects is they’re exciting, its fun to dream–but a prospect list, in my opinion, isn’t just a ranking of highest ceiling; its the combination of that ceiling with their likelihood of actually achieving it.

    1. Well thought out analysis, although as you pointed out some flaws (MAG). Like most I have usually looked at ceiling and gone on from there. Looking at floor may create a more realistic look at prospects.

    2. The biggest problem with your opinion is that you can’t just compare players like that, a “70” player is worth 10x (or some arbitrary large multiple) more then a “40” because 40’s are easy to find, sign, or trade for. If you build in a sliding value scale to approximate the value of a 50 – 80 player over a 40, you’ll be on to something.

        1. That’s a very compelling argument, and I think many people on this board would agree with you. Most people on this board would choose Prospect A:

          Prospect A: ceiling 60, chance of making it to the Big Leagues, 15%
          Prospect B: ceiling 40, chance of making it to the Big Leagues, 40%

          But I think a “prospect list” should account for Expected Return, not just ceiling.

          If we solely based this list on ceiling, I’d have Quinn higher than Nola; much higher–he has 70+ speed, a real asset. But I have Quinn’s chances of making to the Phillies at 20 per cent, and Nola’s at 45 percent; so it affects my rankings.

          (Incidentally, after Franco and MAG, according to my projections, Nola has the highest chance of reaching The Show, at 45%.)

          1. It seems like the probabilities you assign these guys are basically wild guesses. The same is true for a lot of scouting projections, true, and I freely admit I’m just guessing myself. But I would suggest that the low ceiling/high floor package does not necessarily translate to a higher probability of a substantial major league career. A guy who has a 40 ceiling (or even a 50 or “average” ceiling) is going to have a hard time sticking in the majors simply because guys like that are fungible. If even the tiniest thing goes wrong, they can end up stuck in AAA, or bouncing around from organization to organization or in the independent leagues. Don’t get me wrong–I recognize that guys like that are useful to an organization, it’s nice to have a Kyle Kendrick or a David Buchanan or a JA Happ or a Nelson Figueroa to call upon when the need arises. But for every one of those guys there’s a Drew Carpenter or a Tyler Cloyd, or god knows how many others whose names we don’t remember because they never quite made it. I’m not sure there’s all that much difference between the guys in Column A than the guy in Column B–it seems like a lot has to do with luck and with taking advantage of little tiny windows of opportunity when they happen to open. So I guess what I’m saying is, I think the guys with high ceilings/high risk are actually probably equally safe bets, because a guy with a high ceiling is going to be given every possible chance to reach it. That’s why I’m still fairly high on guys like Altherr, Tocci, Sandberg, etc.

            But I think your philosophy is worth talking about, because it seems like it’s very much the direction the organization moved in with the last draft and the recent trades. I’m not sure if they’ve gone that route out of a concerted strategy or if they’re simply taking what the market gives them, but it’s definitely a change. This list looks so radically different than the one last year. A guy like Grullon, who actually improved a lot over the course of the season, is now going to have a hard time making the Top 10, same for Altherr and Tocci.

    3. Interesting concept.
      Question where do you get your initial grade, the example above being Windle @40 grade?
      Is it the weight average of grades by BA, BP, MLB etc ?

    4. I use projected WAR because as Supra said, a 70 player is worth a lot more than 2x a 35 player.

      I do a similar calculation as you, but I weight high ceilings higher than one year’s worth of that ceiling. This is because better players will see more years in the big leagues. Swing men will see less ML time than back end starters, who see less time than mid rotation starters, and thus WAR over years of control fluctuates that way.

      I give swing men/position player backups .5 WAR, back end starters and 2nd division regulars 2 WAR, mid rotation starters and 1st division regulars 6 WAR, and stars 12 WAR, and weight them according to their odds of achieving those levels.

      You’re right that people underestimate floor and over estimate ceiling, but I think you go too far in the other direction.

      1. I generally think you have the right idea, but I think a solid to well above average regular is about 3-5 WAR. 4.5-6 WAR is in the low to mid all-star range. Stars are in the 6+-9 range. It’s somewhat rare for a player to post more than 10 WAR in a season. This year, for example, the top 10 in bWAR were from 6.6-8.

        1. Swingmen/backups I would have at 0.5 WAR per season, Backend starters/2nd division regs 1 WAR per season, but I expect them to see double the active years, so I give them 2 WAR. 1st div/mid rotation I give 2 WAR per season, but weight it by multiplying by 3. Stars about 4 WAR per season times 3 is 12.

          These are not per season totals.

    5. My problem with this approach is that it considers getting to the majors (floor) to be of great importance while others (including myself) are more concerned with the level of that major league contribution. It’s not just a simple math equation where floor and ceiling have the same value. Getting one all-star player from you system is worth far more than getting a dozen middle relievers and 5th OFers who get to the majors.

      In your example for DeFratus, yes he has made it to the majors but the truth is that his value isn’t much greater at the ML minimum of $500,000 than a team can pay for middle relievers on the FA market ($1M-$2M).

      So yes, DeFratus has “made it” to the show versus Valle who hasn’t yet, but his overall value as a prospect is still minimal based on what he gives the team that they don’t already have or can’t easily find on the open market. We can argue over the evaluation of Valle’s ceiling but his potential ceiling offered much greater value than Defratus’s higher floor.

      1. Exactly. Ten (10) Justin DeFratus’ aren’t worth one JP Crawford. You don’t need a farm system to get middle relief and utility players cheap, and you can’t package 10 low ceiling players together to obtain a star.

        1. I don’t mean to imply proximity is the only thing I value–I have Crawford rated as #1, also, even though I only give him a 40 per cent chance of reaching the show. And I have MAG with a 75 per cent chance, and have him outside my top 15.

          1. Except — you have zilch basis for that. No way in the world does Crawford have only a 40% chance of reaching the majors. Barring severe injury, he has a 98%+ chance of reaching the majors. It really isn’t all that big a deal to reach the majors. Look at the guys who have reached the majors for the Phillies the past few seasons. Most of them will not have any sort of significant career. By your rating system, Altherr is a 100% probability guy — he’s already had a cup of coffee in the show. If that’s all he ever has, then his value as a prospect worked out to exactly zero.

            Now to say that barring severe injury that both Nola and Crawford have a 98% chance to reach the show, is not to say what sort of career they will have. What they achieve once they get there is far more important than just getting there.

      2. I appreciate your well formed reply. And I’m partially playing Devil’s Advocate here, but here goes:

        Getting to the Majors, and contributing, is HUGE. Even if its as a platoon player or a 5th starter, there’s intrinsic value in contributing the big league club. Sure, if might be just above replacement-level production, but the contribution is still above 0.

        There’s zero value in having never reached The Show. A ton of upside potential never realized yields a contribution of 0.

        And between choosing ceiling or a higher expected return, I’d choose higher expected return.

        If you had $100, and had two choices, which would you choose?
        A) 100% guarantee of a 10% return
        B) 10% chance of a 80% return, 90% chance of 0% return

        Plenty of people who choose B, because, well, you can’t even go to the movies with that extra $10. But I would chose A. Its pragmatic; it has the higher expected return.

        1. The difference is if you have 10 A’s, and 10 B’s, you’ll have 1 star and 10 replacement level players (hypothetically). If instead you have 20 B’s and no A’s, you would have 2 stars, and then can sign as many replacement level players you want for roughly the same cost as if you had drafted them.

          Signing stars costs prohibitively more, and are often accompanied by contracts that extend beyond their productive years.

        2. I understand your argument but think you’re exaggerating the guarantee vs. the risk, In your example, most everyone would take the 10% guaranteed return but the reality is that a 10% return isn’t a guarantee either, the chances of getting that return is just higher.

          I don’t think we really have that different an evaluation method in regards to looking at a combination of ceiling and risk. There is always a balancing act between the two. Where I differ is that a team like the Phillies should error towards the risk side of the equation because as a big payroll team, they can always get replacement level talent in the FA market, even if it’s a little more expensive than paying league minimum for a few years. Grady Sizemore at $2M isn’t any worse for the team than bringing up a guy from the system who will give you that same performance for $550,000.

          That is why I value a higher ceiling player over a higher floor player every time. I’d much rather see the Phillies miss on 10 players like Valle vs. taking a Defratus with the hope that he reaches his ceiling as a middle inning relievers.

          Give me an Utley or Rollins out of the Phillies system and I don’t care how many Dave Buchanan’s the team misses out on drafting. They can sign a player like Jerome Williams or Al Harang as a FA every year but rarely does a Mike Trout or Giancarlo Stanton hit the FA market.

        3. I think your argument works a lot better for ranking systems as opposed to individual players. If you were to say: “I rank the Phillies system higher than most, I see few star players but many players who have a chance of becoming average major league players,” I might agree with you. It’s like a stock portfolio–you are more of a value investor than others on this page that have a VC philosophy.

          However, when it comes to individual players, I still find it hard to say Player A has more value than Player B, because Player A does not exist. Just as you know that someone is trying to scam you on a stock when they say they can guarantee it will return 10 percent, you know someone is overstating the case about a prospectwhen they say he is a “low-ceiling, low-risk.” All prospects are high risk, even the very, very best ones. I think it’s possible that you might be able to achieve something like your guaranteed 10 percent return return by betting on a whole bunch of guys who fit a similar profile (which is what Phillies appear to be doing now). But it’s very difficult to say which individual player will end up being the next Aaron Harang. Which is why I still think it’s safer to bet on tools.

    1. Deivi Grullon should already be on the list. He was my #5, before they acquired the new pitchers.

        1. mds13…that could be correct, however they were all in their drafting org’s top ten prospect list just a month ago.

        2. No. The pitchers are slotted where they should be slotted. Its Kelly Dugan who shouldn’t be in the top 10.

  5. It is nice to see that better drafting and recent trades have given us a nice top ten prospect list with a few pitchers who have really good chances of reaching the bigs.

    With time left in the offseason we may have a few more names to argue about before it ends. A big question for the org. is what to do about Hamels. I think moving him and adding some more talent to the farm is the best move. IMO Hamels must be moved by the deadline or he could lose trade value.

    Clay Buchholz, Johnny Cueto, Doug Fister, Zack Greinke (if he opts out of deal), Hisashi Iwakuma, Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy, Mike Leake, Bud Norris, Rick Porcello, David Price, Jeff Samardzija, and Jordan Zimmermann are all free agents after this season.

    There are quite a few aces in this group and many other quality starters, a good number of these pitchers are younger than Hamels as well. That is a lot of competition and gives potential suitors for Hamels a number of other options.

    It is going to take guys like Franco and JPC time to establish themselves as above average players. They may both be in Philly in 2016, but I’m sure 2016 isn’t going to be the best season of their careers. It will most likely be 2017 or 2018 before we start really competing again and by then Hamels will be 33-34 and may only have another good season or two left in the tank. If one of the prospects for Hamels panned out you would be getting a young, cost controlled player moving toward their prime, not away from it.

    I think getting the best deal possible for Hamels (no less than one top prospect, a solid mid-level prospect, and third lower level prospect) and signing one of the free agents listed above is the best way to go.

  6. I’ve been flip-flopping between Mecias and Windle here but finally settled the latter; they’re essentially 8a and 8b on my personal list. Once they’re off the board, I have Grullon, Imhof, and Cozens, which seems to be in line with some of the voting so far.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the chips fall between #13 and #25, it was the area where I had the hardest time settling on upside versus floor, position player versus pitcher, etc.

  7. How is Cozens behind Dugan and Biddle? Dugan has shown to be at best a #4 OF with injury issues every year, Biddle has never been able to maintain the control that would lead you to believe he has the makings of a #2-3 and mental/physical issues the last two years have led me to think he will be nothing more than a swingman in the majors. Cozens still needs a lot of work but he has the chance to be a legit 20/20 guy, he is still just 20 years old, Dugan is 25 and has NEVER stayed healthy……I just do not think people understand how to rank these lists. How many times would this list be filled with Michael Schwimmer & BJ Rosenberg type players in the 10-15 spots?

    1. I think it goes to the fact that people don’t see him making the bigs. He has alot of swing and miss. Let’s be honest, he has about two years to learn how to hit a breaking ball or he isn’t going to be above high A. Add in the fact that he won’t be in the outfield beyond his 25th birthday and then he is a first baseman. I’m taking a decent pitching prospect over him almost everytime.

    2. I remember, a few year back, when Michael Schwimer ( one ‘m’ vs David with two ‘m’s) would come on the site and post. He was a stand-up guy.

      1. He was a stand up guy until he unleashed his rant about refusing to sign autographs. Pompous prick, if you ask me.

    3. Actually Dugan is in his age 24 season doesn’t actually turn 25 until September. I think you also over look a primary tool to making it at the next level which is OBP Dugan in over 1700 PA’s has a career OBP of .368 combine that with level reached and I don’t see much of an argument to place Cozens over him.

    4. The chance that Cozens is a 20/20 guy in the majors is very slim. Every non-fan scouting report I’ve seen of Cozens suggests that he’ll lose athleticism and speed as he gets older. Add to that his swing-and-miss potential and he’s a very risky prospect.

      I think some people are looking at his ceiling and seeing a Jayson Werth type, but I don’t see that. He might be average in the OF, but will probably end up below average at best and without great on-base skills.

  8. Have Imhof as my number 9 but actually voted for Cozens here since he’s my number 6. I get the Mecias love but the kid is coming off a serious elbow injury. I have him slotted outside the top 10 as a bounce back candidate, but I want to see 100+ innings out of him first.

    Probably going Dugan at no. 10 with Mecias, Altherr, Windle, and Grullon all in consideration for the start of the back 10. My eye keeps catching Tocci’s name; but I’m just not ready for him yet. Thinking 14-18’ish

    1. Crawford
    2. Franco
    3. Nola
    4. Quinn
    5. Eflin
    6. Cozens
    7. Lively
    8. Biddle
    9. Imhof
    10.Dugan

  9. I went Mecias here. I’ve invented a new pitching stat that I’ve been playing with over the last few weeks which I call the KWHIP index. Very simply it takes a pitchers K/9 and divides it with their WHIP.

    I’ve always believed without being able to see a pitcher live that if you showed me a decent enough sample size I could tell you the chances of a pitcher being effective at the next level. I’ve pulled a bunch of historical numbers to sit along side some current numbers and I will let you all be the judge as to whether or not this stat holds any water

    Examples

    Hamels minors KWHIP was a 12.71 minors and his MLB is 7.44

    Matt Harvey was a 6.80 Minors and has a sick 10.05 MLB

    Roger Clemons was a 11.80 minors and a 7.33 MLB

    Kershaw was 10.17 minors and 8.87 MLB

    Pedro was 8.90 minors and 9.49 MLB

    King Felix was 8.91 minors and currently sits 7.26 MLB

    Lively is currently a 9.92

    Biddle is currently a 7.01

    Nola is currently a 6.84

    Mecias is currently a 6.66

    Windle is currently a 5.62

    Eflin is currently a 5.12

    For context it is not a perfect stat by any means and probably has a high number of outliers. Greg Maddux for example was 4.81 in the Minors; Schilling was 5.68 in the minors; Kyle Kendrick was 4.31 Minors. Sandy Koufax for you historians MLB index was 8.41

    I’m going to continue to build it out and monitor it over time and see how it lends itself to predicting starters. I have yet to try and build it out to relievers.

      1. He is but get this Leibrandt is 10.17 and has more IP! Lively by far stands out with his KWHIP at 9.93 over 190 IP!

    1. Very ingenious…the DMAR Pitchers Prediction Formula.
      Fangraphs will make you an offer for the rights.
      Just one thing, when pitchers age in the MLB arena, their K/9 for the most part tend to get lower.

      1. Yes I saw that most notably with Clemons and Steve Carlton so I have to refine it maybe to prime years and for the study of minor leaguers we will have to study it with an Innings Pitched qualifier as the highest I have found right now is Chris Sale whose index in the Minors was a lofty 17.96.

      1. Nolan carried a MLB career KWHIP of 7.62 pretty remarkable considering he pitched to age 46. His MiLB stats are incomplete but he pitched in Williamsport at age 19 and posted a 15.02 index at age 19.

    2. I don’t recall some of those other pitchers as minor league players, but the reason for some regression from hamels is IMO due to him being pretty much a 2 pitch pitcher. His change is probably best in the majors and his FB above average to plus, outside of that he sometimes has trouble locating his other pitches. In the minor leagues, 2 pitches, especially of that level, are pretty much all you need to destroy the hitters, at the MLB level, you really need a third plus pitch in the 85-88 mph range, a power slider for example (assuming a FB at 93, and a change at 80). I’m guessing you could probably take all of that into account in your ratings, I gotta run, but I have thoughts on this that i’ll msg you about later.

    3. DMAR… do you have an email address, I’d like to build in some modeling to your sheet to see the effects.

  10. Went Mecias over Windle based on upside. But the analysis above is a very interesting one. And, maybe we are overvaluing the new Pitchers a bit, but at least, there are some prospects that are worth watching and talking about, which I think is a good step forward for the system.

    1. Nah, the end of year scouting reports were pretty sobering regarding the Phillies system. After four, the guys ranked from five to fifteen were all in the same pot.

      This should be an interesting year for the farm system. Lots to be excited about in terms of prospects.

  11. I switched from lost-cause voting for Mecias to lost-cause voting for Grullon.

    Remember last year when everyone got all excited about MAG and voted him #4 in the system based on some sketchy scouting reports that said he was a middle-of-the-rotation starter? Or two years ago when we voted Tommy Joseph #4 in the system based on the fact that he was the centerpiece of the Pence trade? I feel like we’re going to look back at this list come midseason and realize that we’ve highly overvalued some of these new faces. I’m not saying that the trades were bad, but I think there’s a little bit of recency bias going on in our evaluation of the system.

    1. If anything I tend to read the bias into opposite direction. It always seems to me that our Phuture Phillies community over-rates our own drafted players over the “traded for” prospects initially.
      I really don’t think the vote (so far) has overrated the pitchers they’ve acquired. These guys are 1st and 2nd round picks who were top 10 prospects in stronger systems. If anything, the argument should be that they aren’t high enough on our poll.

      1. BP had the Pads (11th), LAD (14th) and Reds (16th) rated higher then the Phillies (25th) in 2014. And Lively was the lowest drafted and he was in the 4th round.
        Agree, they could be rated higher.

      2. I think it makes more sense to look at recent scouting reports than draft position or their rankings in other systems. I can understand the latter, but draft round doesn’t carry much weight when you have two years or more of newer data to look at.

        None of the guys we traded for projects as anything better than a #3, and aside from Eflin, even saying they project as a #3 is a stretch. Lively was ranked 7th in the Reds system by BP, but 13th by Fangraphs. So when you say they were top 10 prospects with their old teams, that’s not necessarily the consensus.

      3. Here’s another example: The 2010 poll (taken after the Lee/Halladay trade) had Phillipe Aumont #3 and Tyson Gillies #4–ahead of Anthony Gose, Domingo Santana, Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton. JC Ramirez was ranked #8, in front of Cosart and Singleton (not to mention a lot of other guys like Bastardo, De Fratus and Worley who ended up being productive major leaguers).

        I don’t disagree that the consensus on this site has a tendency to fall in love with/overrate certain prospects (the infamous “who’s better: Larry Greene or Tyler Green?” debate comes to mind), but I think it’s pretty clear that there’s a strong tendency to rate relatively unknown quantities (recent high-profile signs/draftees/trades) above players with familiar strengths and weaknesses.

  12. I think the Eflin ranking is going to look really silly in a year or two and I think Lively right now is our best SP prospect even above Nola. I think we are going to be surprised by Arano Imhof and Leibrandt.

    And Drew Anderson is probably not getting enough consideration he is definitely above Windle IMO at the moment.

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