FanPost

My 2011 Positional Prospect Rankings Review

Before we started the 2011 Community Prospect list, I began my own list of the top fifty pitchers and position players. This allowed me to prepare for the Community List, and compare my results to that list, to see where my tendencies lay, and if they were a successful way to rank prospects. My review of my top fifty pitching prospects can be found here.Please feel free to comment on this list. Who did I miss? Who did I rank too high or low and why? On to the top fifty positional players:

1. Mike Trout (Community Rank #1)
2. Bryce Harper (Community Rank #2)
3. Domonic Brown (Community Ranked #3)
4. Jesus Montero (Community Ranked #4)

No big surprises here. I agreed with the community for each of the first four spots. Trout has done nothing to lower his ranking, and is in the majors right now, although perhaps not for too long. Harper has also solidified his spot at #2, and if Trout does graduate, will become the #1 prospect. Brown has graduated, showing below average defense in a small sample, and an average bat, but with room to improve due to a low .264 BABIP.

Montero, on the other hand, may be the first big disappointment on the list. He has regressed in nearly every category, both offensively and defensively, and has gotten worse as the season has progressed - not good for repeating AAA. His walk rate and ISO are down, K rate is up, and with a higher than normal BABIP. He is off to a fast start in July, perhaps he will turn it around. But if his bat is stalling, and he isn’t improving as a catcher, perhaps it is time to move him to 1B or LF before Young Catcher Stagnation Syndrome sets in.

5. Mike Moustakas (Community Ranked #8)
6. Wil Myers (Community Ranked #7)
7. Brandon Belt (Community Ranked #10)
8. Eric Hosmer (Community Ranked #5)

These four I had more highly ranked than the community list as a whole, although not by much. At this point in the list, however, 3 places can cause acrimony, and I am sure many would disagree with these placements relative to others below. Moustakas was a feel rank, as I thought he would expand on last year and put up even better numbers, especially with plate discipline. However, he did not improve, but did maintain his AAA production, and has made it to KC and will graduate as a prospect shortly. He has struggled so far, and will need to improve his discipline to put up numbers in the majors similar to his in the minors and not become a Tony Bautista clone.

Meyers’ ranking was right in line with the community, but he has struggled mightily this year. Like Montero, Meyers’ walk rate and ISO are down, K rate is up, and with a higher than normal BABIP. Granted, he is only 20 and in AA, but he needs to continue his hot June and turn it around in the second half, or he will fall quite a bit on my list for 2012.

Brandon Belt is needs to be an exercise in patience for the SFG. He has crushed the ball in the minors, with great plate discipline. However, he has had a rough go of it in the majors, putting up a .609 OPS so far. Once again, patience is required San Fran, and you will have a hitter who is much better than Aubrey Huff (Mr. .655 OPS) - hell, he is almost as good as him now.

Hosmer was basically switched with Moustakas from the community rankings. In hindsight, this was a mistake, and the community list got it right. Moustakas did not progress, and Hosmer has outhit him at both the minor- and major-league levels, posting a 110 OPS+. He will probably be second in the ROY voting, behind Michael Pineda.

9. Freddie Freeman (Community Ranked #11)
10. Dustin Ackley (Community Ranked #6)
11. Brett Jackson     (Community Ranked #16)
12. Derek Norris     (Community Ranked #19)

I was higher on Freeman that the Community, but not by much. He has posted a 119 OPS+, great for a rookie. He is a top rookie, but with Beachy and Kimbrel, the top three Braves rookies will probably split the vote, and the ROY will go to Danny Espinosa

I was also lower on Dustin Ackley than the Community, not by much, but by enough to send a message - I was cautiously optimistic he would show more, but wanted to see it. I loved his BB:K rate, but he did not show a high batting average or power, and was still trying to work on his defense.  This year, he raked in AAA before being promoted to Seatle, where, in a small sample size, he has crushed the ball to the tune of a 140 OPS+, and even posting positive defensive stats.

Brett Jackson and Derek Norris at this point are the biggest deviations from the Community list. I probably have an unhealthy prospect crush on Jackson, but he has continue to grow, increasing his walk rate while maintaining his other peripherals. A 20 HR, 30 SB CF with above average defense sounds like a great prospect to me - a Colby Rasmus with a bit less power. At 22, he was recently promoted to AAA, and may see some time in Chicago this September.

Norris has been a bust on the surface. However, there is some hope that his numbers will bounce back when his .210 BABIP turns around.

13. Grant Green (Community Ranked #21)
14. Nick Franklin (Community Ranked #15)
15. Hank Conger (Community Ranked #28)
16. Manny Machado (Community Ranked #12)

I really bought into Grant Green’s bat last year. However, this year the only positive offensively is an increase in his BB Rate. He has started to turn it around in July, and if he can continue to do so, that will help his position on next year’s list. The big question for him is whether he can stay at short or will be moved to second. I say give him every opportunity at short, as his bat is much more valuable there than at second.

The community and I pretty much agreed on Franklin. So far he has had a good year, increasing his BB rate, decreasing his K rate, and getting promoted to AA at age 20. However, his power numbers are down, and he really needs to become more consistent on the defensive side of the ball.

Hank Conger was one of the biggest deviations between the community and my list, and considering where this ranking is, probably the most controversial. I argued then, and still believe today, that he can hold his own defensively at Catcher (as long as Scioisia gives him a chance), and will have an above average bat there. So far, even with his 86 OPS+, he is an above average C offensively, and beats Mathis in fWAR, rWAR, both offensively and defensively. Will the Angels realize this and play Conger more and Mathis less? Probably not.

Manny Machado was a high pick out of high school, and I personally tend to be a bit more wary than most with these types of draftees - I want to see how they do in professional ball first. The tools were too great to fall much farther than 16, and as you can see he was the only 2010 HS Draftee on my list. So far, he has not disappointed, and is already in A+. He has a good chance of making AA in his age 19 season next year. I love the BB:K rate, and his average should improve when his BABIP does. On next year’s list, he has to be a top five positional talent, perhaps as high as #2 behind Harper if Trout graduates.

17. Desmond Jennings (Community Ranked #9)
18. Gary Sanchez (Community Ranked #20)
19. Brett Lawrie (Community Ranked #13)
20. Devin Mesoraco (Community Ranked #18)

Rounding out my top 20, these four were also within the Community’s top 20. Desmond Jennings was 8 spots higher on the Community List than my own. To be honest, I was down on him. His offensive numbers were down across the board, even with a respectable .327 BABIP. Even his number of steals was down. However, he has bounced back this year, showing similar K- and BB-rates, a good number of steals, but with a jump in power. Now what is working against him is his age, as he will be 25 next year, in his first full MLB season. He has to be docked for this, and he will also probably struggle at first, as he has done during his minor league career after promotions.

Sanchez has struggled in his first year in full season ball. However, his BB rate is up, and he is still just 18. His ranking for next year will depend heavily on his second half.

I was lower on Lawrie that the rest of the Community. I was not too impressed with his power, BB-rate, and K-rate in 2010, nor his defensive rep and stolen base success. He did have a positive in ARL and scouting reports. This year, as a 21 year old in AAA, he has crushed the ball, with a lower K-rate and better stolen base success, all while learning a new defensive position (and fairly successfully). Granted, he is in Las Vegas and the PCL, but you have to be excited by his performance this year. If he is eligible for next year’s list, he has to be a top five positional talent like Machado, and in competition for that #2 spot behind Harper if Trout graduates.

The community and I pretty much agreed on Mesoraco. I was a bit hesitant to rank him higher than this because he had a terrible first three years in professional ball, but his breakout 2010 was hard to ignore. 2011 shows that 2010 was no fluke. His ISO is down, and he has a higher than usual BABIP, which could signal a regression in the second half. However, if I am the Reds, I am trading Ramon Hernandez to a contender in need of a catcher for some prospects, and inserting Mesoraco in the starting lineup.

Rest of the list:

21. Lonnie Chisenhall (Community Ranked #17)
22. Aaron Hicks (Community Ranked #14)
23. Jason Kipnis (Community Ranked #24)
24. Danny Espinosa (Community Ranked #23)
25. Wilin Rosario (Community Ranked #26)
26. Carlos Perez (Community Ranked #40)
27. Yasmani Grandal (Community Ranked #39)
28. Trayvon Robinson (Community Ranked #41)
29. Dee Gordon (Community Ranked #31)
30. Wilmer Flores (Community Ranked #22)
31. Jonathan Singleton (Community Ranked #30)
32. Miguel Sano (Community Ranked #25)
33. Chris Carter (Community Ranked #27)
34. Tony Sanchez (Community Ranked #37)
35. J. P. Arencibia (Community Ranked #42)
36. Matt Dominguez (Community Ranked #33)
37. Billy Hamilton (Community Ranked #35)
38. Jean Segura (Community Ranked #32)
39. Nolan Arenado (Community Ranked #51)
40. Nick Weglarz    (Community Ranked #55)
41. Hak-Ju Lee (Community Ranked #50)
42. Jurickson Profar (Community Ranked #29)
43. Jaff Decker (Community Ranked #34)
44. Michael Choice (Community Ranked #44)
45. Jerry Sands (Community Ranked #38)
46. Jose Iglesias (Community Ranked #45)
47. Yonder Alonso (Community Ranked #36)
48. Chris Nelson    (Community Not Ranked)
49. Matthew Davidson (Community Ranked #56)
50. Drew Cumberland (Community Not Ranked)

I will review those with big deviations from the community list. First, Aaron Hicks, who the community had 8 spots higher than I did. I did not like the lack of power and high K-rate. He has regressed across the board this year, but still is doing enough at this point to warrant a top 30 spot on next year’s list.

I was much higher on Carlos Perez, Yasmani Grandal, and Trayvon Robinson than the community. So far, Perez has not done well at all. However, he is still just 20, and has time to turn it back around.
Grandal was great in A+, but as a 22 year old college bat, that should be expected. He is quite advanced defensively. He is currently in AA and hasn’t looked as good offensively as in A+, with small sample size precautions.

Robinson has had a great year in AAA, albeit in the PCL, and is still a favorite prospect of mine. However, there are some definite red flags here - his BB-rate has declined quite a bit, and his K-rate has seen a huge increase. If these trends don’t reverse, he will not be able to easily transition into the majors next year.

I didn’t get the Flores love last year, and I still don’t. He had good scouting reports and a ARL bonus. However, according to all reports, he will not stick at shortstop, and doesn’t have the bat for third at this point. His power and plate discipline are quite disappointing, and he has struggled this year in A+. I think he is in line for a steep drop on next year’s list for me personally.

I was much higher than the community on Arenado, Weglarz, and Lee as well. Arenado BB-rate has bounced back, his K-rate has fell, and he has room for BABIP improvement, although his power has declined this year. The big key for him is if he can be a successful defensive 3B, or if he will have to shift to 1B.

Look for Weglarz to have a bounce-back second half. He is walking at a great rate, while maintaining his K-rate. He has a terrible .242 BABIP right now - expect that to go up in the second half. The question is will his power come back with his BABIP? But so far a disappointment.

I feel pretty good about the Hak-Ju Lee ranking compared to the community. He has had a great season offensively, and combined with his defense, he should be top 10 for me, and perhaps in the back half of the top five.

Now on to my biggest miss - Jurickson Profar. He is the type of player I am always conservative on. He had great scouting reports and tools, but his 2010 numbers just looked terrible to me. I docked him for it more than the rest of the community. I love the BB:K rate this year. He has exploded this year, and like Lee should be top 10 for me, and perhaps in the back half of the top five. The top five could be Harper, Lawrie, Machado, Lee, and Profar in some order (as long as Trout graduates).
 
Overall, I am fairly happy with these rankings. I do see how I am conservative with high school draftees, and weigh floor and MLB readiness higher than most. Sometimes this works, sometimes it bites me in the ass. I also tend to give more positional value to catchers and shortstops than the rest of the community as a whole. What do you think?

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