Grade C Prospects
I'm going to try and explain what the grades mean here with some examples. First, the definition of a Grade C prospect:
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
OK, now some examples.
Cesar Ramos, LHP, San Diego Padres
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 6-2 WT: 190 DOB: June 22, 1984
A finesse lefty, Ramos passed the Double-A test last year, winning 13 games in the Texas League and ranking third in the league ERA hunt. His fastball is average in the 87-89 range, but he mixes with a slider and changeup. All his pitches are average, but his location is sharp, and he is fearless on the mound. Although I am pleased with his overall performance in the Texas League, I still don't like his K/IP ratio, and he doesn't get enough ground balls to compensate for that. Homers will be a problem as he continues to move up, unless he improves his command from very good to perfect. Grade C.
Ramos is a Grade C because he's shown major league potential and had a good year in Double-A, but there are red flags in his statistics that keep him out of the elite category in my mind. Other analysts seem to like him better than I do.
Danny Rams, C, Minnesota Twins
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 205 DOB: December 19, 1988
Minnesota drafted Danny Rams in the second round last June, out of high school in Florida. He is supposed to have excellent power, but he sure didn't show it in rookie ball. His strike zone judgment is quite poor, and even his supporters admit that he has to refine his swing and his approach at the plate. He has a good arm, but his defense is mediocre at best, due to lack of mobility and athleticism, and many scouts believe he'll end up at first base eventually. I don't want to overreact to a 27 game sample size in rookie ball, but Rams clearly has a lot of work ahead. I doubt he will advance quickly. Grade C.
Rams is a Grade C because scouts like him enough that he was drafted in the second round, and he looks like he should hit for power, but he hasn't done it yet. His statistical set is small, and he is a LONG way from the majors.
Clay Rapada, LHP, Detroit Tigers
Bats: R Throws: L HT: 6-5 WT: 180 DOB: March 9, 1981
The Tigers picked up Clay Rapada late last summer, from the Cubs, in exchange for Craig Monroe. He has little left to prove in the minors, and will have a shot at a LOOGY job in the Detroit pen in '08. Rapada has an average fastball, but an effective breaking ball. His command can waiver at times, but he has a deceptive delivery that's tough on lefties. Although he's closed in the minors, I doubt he'll pick up many saves in the majors. Grade C.
Rapada is close to the majors, but is a Grade C because he projects as a useful role pitcher but will likely not take a large role.
These three guys have different profiles, but you can see they fit the definition of a Grade C prospect: a guy who has something going for him and has a chance to reach the majors, but without any big indications (yet anyway) that they are going to be a star or even a regular. The Grade C is short-hand for "has a chance, but there is enough doubt that we can't project big success at this time." It also emphasizes that you have to read the comment to get the full picture on the player.