Monday, January 11, 2010

2010 System-wide Rankings now posted

I've just posted my system-wide rankings for 2010 in the sidebar. The profiles have been updated to include all of the radio coverage that I listened to during last season that spans hundreds of games (all or in part). The playXplay info will be interesting for some, useful for others, though there is a small subset of folks who regard with some suspicion any info that comes from a minor league staff and radio team. Really you say? Yes indeed. Baseball people never get the credit they deserve. The good thing about this collection of facts and “demonstrated tools” is that you can download all the worksheets yourself and decide if you want to call bullshit or not when someone is saying your favorite prospect mancrush has a shitty changeup or whose cannon is really more like a squirt gun. I've also added a "google search" widget so that you can, for example, search the site for all the instances when Luis Sardinas has been mentioned as a badass (search Sardinas, not badass...).

Altogether the "game notes" include pregame interviews, newspaper quotes (about a game), commentator notes on players, and game details, most frequently for pitchers. The format is not very friendly - it is what it is, just the raw data, dumped as it were: pitch sequencing, velo, stuff, etc. However if you want to know how hard someone was throwing or what pitches were working over the course of the season it is worth a look.

The player rankings themselves were guided primarily by an attempt to value prospects based on the _likelihood_ that they will reach their highest realistic ceiling, as much as this can be determined or anticipated. So what does this mean? Well, in part, It simply inverts the tools/proximity relation with respect to ceiling. So on this list you won’t find the Engel Beltres or Kasey Kikers hanging around for 3 years as elite prospects unless they are progressing apace. For guys like Moscoso or Poveda, they will be ranked more highly, as they both have mid-rotation ceilings and are ready to compete for a spot on the 25 (Moscoso) or near ready (Poveda). So in these scenarios, tools don’t necessarily rule the roost and ranking Jurickson "JPro" Profar or Luis "Who?" Sardinas ahead of them simply makes zero sense.

In terms of who I include or don't include, I make an argument that LOOGIES, MIDDIES, utility players, long relievers, and 5th outfielders should not be ranked at all as they are the most fungible and widely available commodities in baseball. In addition, as these roles usually devolve to fringy/fallen starters and replacement level types anyways, if your ceiling as a minor leaguer begins there, well then, you get your own list: SansTools. By contrast some role players are important enough to be included. Any players who project to contribute at least fringe average play over 1/2 a season in some other capacity are included on the list - Platoon players, backup catchers, 4th outfielders.

In the end, what we are interested in are those players most likely to start in the field/on the mound, close, setup or play 1/2 a season of fringe-average ball in some other role. Finally, I do not include players who have yet to make their state-side debuts unless by consensus or bonus they are clearly top ~30 players in a strong system. This year Profar and Sardinas make the list by virtue of bonus alone if not hype as well. By contrast, David Perez and Victor Payano do not.

The rankings workbook is broken down into worksheets that breakdown player value in relation to position only rather than by arbitrary sequential rankings: Top 70, Starters, Hitters, Relievers, DSL. The "top 70" is not a meaningful attempt to assign a # to player value with respect to one another, rather, it is an overview of everyone in the system who has a realistic chance to fulfill a primary role on a 25 man roster - for 2010 there are 69. The value in the top 70 list can be seen in a commonsense way from the progression from more valuable roles to less valuable roles: Front, Mid, Back Rotation starters; All-star to Fringe-Average & Gold Glove position players; closers to setup men; Role players. For the DSL, I attempted to project what kind of stuff/tools that a few of the players might have based on their #s. I'll be interested to see how that plays out when we learn more about a few of those guys this year. There is also a summary worksheet which lists all the categories sideXside.

Those players who might easily project into another role, I have indicated this in the "2ndy tier" column. For pitchers who project as something in between, those roles are underscored, eg, bp2_3. For players who are ranked lower than their indicated ceiling, it suggests a higher risk factor (makeup, injuries, weaknesses). For position players, I have indicated what their realistic ceiling is graded from All-Star to Fringe Average for major leaguers, and Replacement level/4a to 2A for Organizational soldiers. Utility players, Middle Relievers, and Loogies are indicated as such and not ranked but still carry value as possible contributors for some team down the line. If a player has yet to make their debut then I go strictly by secondhand reports and draft profile information from various sources. For those players, I assume a generous though reasonable ceiling. For example Justin Jamison is at the very bottom of the list as a very raw starter who might one day sit in the mid-90's due to his tremendous frame but right now he is more likely to hit the backstop than the mitt. Here are the first 15:

1 Feliz, N.... SP1
2 Smoak, J.... AS/ GG
3 Scheppers... SP1_2
4 Perez, M.... SP1_2
5 Moscoso ... SP3
6 Strop, Pedro... BP1_2
7 Poveda, Omar... SP3
8 Ross, Robbie... SP2_3
9 Font, Wilmer... SP2_3
10 Mendonca ... AA/ GG
11 Kirkman ... SP3_4
12 Gomez, K... SP3_4
13 Brigham... SP3_4
14 Doyle, Tony... SP3_4
15 Main, Mike... SP2_3


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