Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BA Player Rankings

not that I care all too much about it anymore I guess. BA has TX farm system ranked 15th while Keith Law pegs them at 12. I think a 12-15 ranking is about right given the complete lack of upper level depth. However, we could see a rapid progression of higher ceiling kids to the AA and high A level by the end of July, giving the sytem a much different flavor by then. The rotation depth from HighA to the AZL is phenomenal, though you can't really assume more than back roto ceilings (for now) on the kids likely to start there in 2011. The position player depth from LowA to the AZL is very good though there may not be many players with more than an average ML ceiling. There will also be a couple of nice players in the DSL for 2011. For now, the DSL pitching depth is NIL unless there are some signings we don't know about. There will surely be a few more breakout players this year unlike last year and a few more who we already respect who will make some rapid progress through the system. Check out my projected minor league rosters for 2011 to get a handle on the that lower level depth. Anyways, here are the BA player rankings:

1. M. Perez
2. Profar
3. Scheppers
4. Erlin
5. E. Beltre
6. Kirkman
7. Olt
8. Sardinas
9. Skole
10. MDLS
11. D. Perez
12. Villanueva
13. R. Mendez
14. Font
15. L. Garcia
16. K. Deglan
17. J. Alfaro
18. J. Grimm
19. Ross
20. Velazquez
21. Jackson
22. Wieland
23. F. Castillo
24. Loux
25. Hoying
26. Felix
27. NeRa
28. Buckel
29. Richmond
30. Brigham
31. Melo

A few comments: Per my usual gripes, Leury Garcia is an org guy, and not a top 30 prospect; R. Mendez is an exciting, inconsistent, injury prone player, so probably a back 20 kid, who might pan out as anything from a #2 to a #4 to a closer, setup arm or flame out; I've had Melo as a top 30 prospect since his acquisition- and exciting kid; Loux is a top 15 kind a guy, a solid #3 ceiling; NeRa is confounding and exciting, and probably right about where he should be given his lack of history in the upper minors; I still love Jake Brigham though he is likely a setup arm, with a shot at a 3_4 kind of starter (his changeup, and Breaking ball command are the mounts he has to climb); I think Richmond is a potential breakout candidate, if healthy, and if some predraft reports are on the mark (3rd-rd talent); I think Buckel and Jackson are top 15 guys, if you rank prospects by ceiling alone, better than Kirkman, MDLS, Erlin etc; Alfaro is a big risk as a ceiling only kid who has yet to make his US debut; David Perez, not so much - a very exciting, projectable arm, who TX signed for a bargain price as he velo was down post j2 (we'll see how his secs are come ST); if you're going to rank Alfaro as a top 15 type then you should also rank Jordan Akins (5-tool player, best athlete in incredible Georgia class) in the same area code - be consistent at least; Justin Grimm is a very exciting arm, whose ceiling is pretty variable depending on what TX has to do with his mechanics to make him more consistent. Leonel "Macumba" de los Santos (LDLS) turned out to be very overrated and perhaps the biggest crash and burn prospect of 2010 (though his suspect hit tool was there for all to see via his peripherals).

I'm up and down on Felix. Through the hard work of himself and the staff, he made remarkable improvement in his catchability during the offseason between 2009 and 2010. I listened to more than a few games while he was in Bakersfield in which the Felix and Sarmiento platoon was arguable the worst in that league, constantly belittled by opposing pxp guys. However, his accuracy and pop times (with only a solid average arm per Jason Cole) improved dramatically in 2010, allowing him to completely shut down the running game while his catchability behind the plate also showed impressive improvement. As I've written before, one has to evaluate the overall defensive presence of a catching prospect in order to get an accurate handle on their ceiling, what I call catchability. Too often, people dream on a catchers arm and ability to control the running game, but unless your speaking about a plus plus tool on the order of Pudge Rody (plus plus arm, pop times, agility, reflexes), catchbility (overall catching skills: game calling, ball blocking, baseball IQ, running game, WP/PB allowed, working with pitchers) is the most important indicator about a catcher's ceiling.

A prime example of "arm hype" was Manny Pina. In the low minors, there was no surcease in praise about the kids arm. However, his catchability was very underdeveloped by every other measure and his English was horrible to boot (making it tough to communicate with pitchers and coaches). I thought he was much better in HighA than he really was in that regard because people seemed to confuse his "defense" (read, arm) with his catchability (which was not great). However between his High A and AA season (working nonstop with Scott Service on his entire skill set if I remember correctly per multiple sources) he improved to an incredible degree on the other elements of his catchability, and put himself on the map as a legit #2 catcher (mediated only by his limited hit tool). Sounds just like Felix in fact. And along with Pina, Felix's hit tool is the thing that likely makes him a fringy #2 catcher or a 4A kid. I guess the ideal would be a Matt Treanor kind of guy, but who should be able to control the running game. I think his hit tool is pretty bad, so he is more likely to end up a #3 catcher than keep a steady job, but you would think that he will play in the bigs at least for a little bit, shuttling between ML and AAA at the very least.

Kellin Deglan seems to be ranked too high who seems more of a longer-term project than expected based on his draft reports. Skole, Olt and Villanueva might also be ranked too high whether you go by ceiling or likely result (finge-average to average). If Skole sticks in CF then his value is much greater; if he is a LF as I suspect then I don't like him as much. Olt might turn out to be a low average kinda guy with some contact issues if he pans out but the AL league average OPS at 3B is not all that great. Villanueva is that kid you love to root for though if he had not been injured in 2009, I bet his 2010 would've have been no surprise. He could be a different kind of 3b, a kid who hits for a higher average and less power (with nice D) but the ML profile for 3B are highly variable and a kid like him could find a spot if he puts it all together. Miguel Velazquez should not be considered a prospect anymore, and, if the club were less tolerant about players of his ilk (I feel the same about DGut, Danny Gutierrez, and possibly Mason Tobin), someone who should not be brought back in 2011 due to his crippling makeup issues - he ended the season suspended, banished to PR. I love Robbie Ross, who is still underrated, and still breaking bats. I don't think an injured player like Font should be ranked until they show they are healthy.

I think Wieland is a back roto arm (#4 ceiling) no matter where you rank him and though he has been overrated ever since Nolan Ryan touted him as the next power arm in the system (none of those off-season adjustments stuck by the way). Matt Thompson has been and is overrated, though he does not appear on this list. Goldstein and others once thought of him as being a sleeper, and possible #2 ceiling, who has always seemed like a back roto guy to me (now a #5). BA threw out the same kind of hype for Fredo Boscan a few years back, nowhere to be seen on the list these days. However, I still like Boscan and Pimentel as back roto arms, #5 types, and if you rank prospects on likely outcomes (now in the upper minors), rather than on unrealistic dreaminess, those 2 should have a place in a top 30.

I don't believe in ranking low-ceiling relievers in principle, only closer/setup types, and even then not in the top 15, as all starters (position/pitchers) have a great deal more value if you hit on them. So I think that a guy like Fabio Castillo is probably about right, the 20's, as his ceiling is as a setup arm, due to his command issues, makeup, and mechanical inconsistencies. Pedro Strop should be ahead of Castillo in the 16-25 range given his ceiling and proximity though his makeup is now a concern. Hoying is a wildcard. You can rank him or not. He likely will not _earn_ a ranking until he carries over his success and unorthodox hit tool (and staff-implemented adjustments) into the upper minors. Though unranked, I think Victor Payano might be overrated. I think Richard Alvarez has always been overrated (though currently unranked). I never bought into the Tullis hype; high ground ball rates in short-season ball are always misleading, and Tullis' ceiling is completely dependent on the quality of his sinker (which no one really knew anything about until after this year - it isn't good enough to be anything more than a back roto arm, likely a #5).

A lot of low-level kids not on the list, particularly the MIF prospects, though there is only so much room. The MIF depth from LowA to DSL is impressive. I look forward to reading the ST reports about them from Jason Cole and Jason Parks as all these kids compete against each other, giving us a glimpse of their talent levels, and future positions: Profar (missed ST 2010), Sardinas, Hill, Herrera, Odor, Alberto, Triunfel, Marte, Urbanus, Mendez, The Garcia Brothers (even Roof). The most underrated player in the system might be Chad Bell, who is a top 15 player in my opinion, with a solid #3 ceiling. Players that I really like, all of whom merit consideration on any top 30 whatever the ranking methodology: Randol Rojas, Nick McBride, Chris Hanna. I like Santiago Chirino Hill and Drew Robinson (in LF). I like Justin Miller. Anyone who mentions Zach Phillips before they mention Pedro Strop, doesn't know prospects. I still like Andrew Doyle and Trevor Hurley as starters. As I stated during pre-seaon 2010, Tommy Mendonca will have a break out year in 2011. I still dream on Ruben Sierra Jr. Each of Scheppers, Kirkman, OBeltre and Hurley have a lot to prove this year. I think Omar Beltre (unranked) will win the last bullpen spot.

Adios mi amigo Guillermo Moscoso.

UPDATE:
To belabor a theme: Engel Beltre is overrated:
KLAW had this to say in today's chat:

Brady (Texas): I was surprised to not see Engal Beltre in the top 100. I've heard some great things about him of late. Any thoughts?
Klaw: Call me when he takes a walk.




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