A NOTE ON MY GRADING: My Grades will not correspond exactly with John's nor are they meant to. I am perfectly willing to favor upside and tools sometimes and I dont need as much data as him. Nor do I value floor quite so highly. I try to focus more on "not lying to myself." What do I mean by this? I mean that when I focus too much on data or what a guy has shown so far over his upside and tools I tend to overvalue floor in ranking them. I always try to ask myself: "If I had to choose one of these guys, right now, would I actually choose Player X over Player Z?" It's an easy trap to fall into with prospects. For instance, I did a list in July or August and I lied to myself. I knew I liked Westmoreland more than Kelly, Kalish and Reddick, yet I listed him behind them anyway. If I were to grade the way John does I feel I would constantly be "lying to myself" and would end up with results that don't match how I actually feel about players.
Im sure someone will click on this fanshot, not read my little explanation here and see the grades and think "what an effing homer! Westmoreland an A-?!?" The fact is there really arent that many prospects I would rather have than Ryan Westmoreland and Aaron Hicks. Theyre Top 20 guys for me. Grading them lower than an A- would lead to inconsistencies when I rank them overall, even though I know they dont look like typical A- guys in John's system. Im in a good place with that and I hope you can look past that when you read this. I would have to have to use a non-letter grade ranking system. Enjoy.
1. OF Ryan Westmoreland A-
2. RHP Casey Kelly B+
3. CF Ryan Kalish B+
4. CF/RF Josh Reddick B+
5. 1B Lars Anderson B
6. RHP Junichi Tazawa B
7. RHP Michael Bowden B-
8. CF Reymond Fuentes B-
9. 1B Anthony Rizzo B-
10. RHP Stolmy Pimental B-
11. SS Jose Iglesias B-
12. CF Che-Hsuan Lin C+
13. SS/2B Derrick Gibson C+
14. LHP Felix Doubront C+
15. RHP Alex Wilson C+
1. OF Ryan Westmoreland A-: Tools are just off the charts. Extremely high ceiling player with great polish and poise. He flies around the field. His arm is phenomenal. He squares the ball up extremely well and has plus power in a compact, pretty swing. The kind of player that when you see this guy play you can immediately tell he's the best player on the field. If he had struggled in his debut I would have still loved him. The way he impressed with a (SSS) .300/.400/.500 in an advanced league for a high school player from a Northern, cold weather state just sealed the deal. Beyond that, everyone who saw him was wowed by him. High potential to be a special player.
One scout described Westmoreland as having "the tools of a top-five high school pick, with the advanced skills of a college player." Supremely athletic, Westmoreland has average power with projection for more, as well as a keen understanding of the strike zone and a silky smooth swing - Kevin Goldstein
2. RHP Casey Kelly B+: He is extremely polished but still very projectable. Too much is made of his (lack of) velocity. Many guys with similar velocity and projection avoid the same scrutiny. There is plenty of reason to think he will increase it, too, but the downside isnt worse than many top prospects (Hellickson comes to mind). He has a great pitchers frame and impresses scouts. His stuff is excellent. Fantastic curve, change that projects as plus and his 89-93mph fastball moves like Josh Beckett's. He also has great control and command of his pitches (needs to improve touch on his curve, but came along strong this year). As a 19 year old he pitched 95 IP over two A ball leagues in his pro debut. Only 65 hits in those 95 IP and lots of groundballs.
December 30, 2009:
Ryan (Arlington, VA)
Do you agree with John that Casey Kelly is a better prospect right now than Martin Perez? Given age and level, I just don't see it.
Jim Callis (2:45 PM)
I had Kelly at No. 21 and Perez at No. 24, so they're basically even in my book. I think Kelly has a deeper repertoire, better feel and has proven himself one level higher.
October 14, 2009:
Does Kelly throw hard enough to win in the AL East?
Jim Callis (3:01 PM)
Sure. His fastball is 88-93 mph, which is fine, and plays way up because of life and command.
Is Casey Kelly a soft tosser? I read somewhere that his fastball is mediocre.
Keith Law (1:43 PM)
You read wrong. Solid-average with two future-plus pitches (curve and change). And uncanny command for his age.
3. CF Ryan Kalish B+: Kalish was a top 100 prospect three years ago but suffered a wrist injury that lingered and sapped his power in 2008. The power returned in 2009 and Kalish also looked good enough defensively to project as a CFer. He has great tools. Plenty of both power and speed. He also has a fantastic, advanced approach at the plate and takes a lot of walks. I think he's one of the more underrated prospects in the game.
Kalish can make an in-game impact in a variety of ways. He has enough bat speed and barrel awareness to hit .280-.300 annually, as well as the power and speed to deliver 20/20 seasons. His approach at the plate has improved each year to the point where it's a true asset to his game, and he plays a solid outfield. - Kevin Goldstein
4. CF/RF Josh Reddick B+: As much as I love Kalish's approach, I dont really consider Reddick's a problem. I favor Kalish because of the approach and I also think he profiles better as a CF while Reddick profiles as a decent CF but better in RF. Cannon for an arm. Reddick is a good athlete with a good amount of speed and even more power. He's a bit of a hacker, but has gotten more patient each year and improved by leaps and bounds in 2009. He also makes his aggressive approach work well as his ability to square up pitches anywhere near the plate has been described as similar to Dustin Pedroia's. He makes a lot of contact - and solid contact. Nice, compact swing and lots of raw power. Like Kalish, he doesnt seem to get the recognition he deserves in prospect circles.
Strong kid with a plus arm, great plate coverage and line-drive power. He takes a very short path to the ball and whips the bat through the zone, so when he makes contact, it's hard. - Keith Law
5. 1B Lars Anderson B: I've made my case for Anderson a couple times on here, so I won't go through it all again. He still has fantastic approach at the plate, excellent contact ability(projects as a .300 hitter with little or no platoon split) and plus plus raw power. Also he is still very young and was one of the younger players in AA. Im still betting on the tools. Prospect development is rarely linear and pretty. Heck, the love for Lars pre-09 was more scouting than stat based.
While Anderson has combined plus power, the ability hit for average, and patience in the past, only the latter showed up in 2009, as his understanding of the strike zone is excellent, and he'll rarely chase bad pitches. He plays a good first base and runs well for his size, and he's athletic enough that some wonder if he could handle left field. - Kevin Goldstein
6. RHP Junichi Tazawa B: He's a pitchability righty who works in the zone, but man what pitchability. He throws a very good slider and curve (both flash plus) - and he can throw them for strikes in any count, as well as take stuff off them. His fastball is a little straight, but he mostly pitches off his breaking balls. The fastball isnt bad or anything - he throws low 90's (89-92) and he paints with it. He has impeccable command and control of all his pitches. There's really a lot to like here. His stuff has been underrated. He also made it to the majors in his first pro American season - and that's saying something, considering he's not your typical Japanese import. He's only 23 and hadnt pitched in NPB. I see a #3 starter.
The classic Japanese arm equipped with as many as five pitches, all of which he throws for strikes. - Kevin Goldstein
7. RHP Michael Bowden B-: Bowden is a sort of lesser version of Tazawa. The secondary stuff is not as good and his mechanics arent great. He sort of short arms the ball - though, to be fair Tazawa has a little whipping action and neither is much of a concern and they both repeat it well. Bowden hasnt really "peaked" or gotten worse - guys around him are just leapfrogging him. Bowden's ceiling projection has gone down a bit each year, I suppose, but not a whole lot. This placement is far more about other guys than Bowden. He does lots of things well and is going to be a decent big league pitcher.
Bowden combines plus command with solidly average stuff. His 88-92 mph fastball has good life, and he mixes in both a curve and slider, which flash as average. His changeup is his best secondary pitch, with excellent depth and fade, and despite the overpowering arsenal, he's very aggressive and goes after hitters. Bowden has a big frame, a delivery that is funky, yet it’s repeatable and without stress, and he's stayed healthy throughout his career. - Kevin Goldstein
8. CF Reymond Fuentes B-: I really just love his tools. Great frame and I (among many) see power projection in that swing and body. He's a superb athlete.
Athletic center fielder plays the game at full tilt, the type of player that will make a lot of highlight reels. Wiry frame. Line drive hitter, makes excellent contact, without a ton of present power. Excellent swing mechanics. Plus plus speed. Excellent range and glove in the outfield, projects to stay in center. Fluid, gets good jumps on the ball.
Fuentes is a wiry, 6 foot, 160 pound outfielder with surprising power. He is from Puerto Rico and is said to have blazing speed – clocking a 6.3 in the 60 yard dash.
Fuentes profiles similarly to Jacoby Ellsbury in a lot of ways including being a left-handed hitter, excellent defensively, leadoff hitter, and has the ability to hit to all fields.
9. 1B Anthony Rizzo B-: I havent the slightest idea why this guy doesnt get more credit. He's a very good prospect. Excellent defender and a very good bat with some upside. Power ceiling concerns me, but there's lots of reason to think the power is coming. Why don't I have him higher if he's so good? League average-ish 1B don't particularly thrill me. Rizzo is a great defender over there and a good baserunner, though. He also is patient and will hit for a high AVG. So, fwiw, he's not some big plodder who is going to make it or break it on whether his power comes. I like him over a good number of popular 1B prospects that get a lot more pub.
Scouting the Sally has a good scouting report if you follow the link from the second quote below.
Rizzo is a good offensive player with a chance to be a great one. He has a quick bat, a good sense of the strike zone, and should hit for average with good on-base percentages all the way up. Scouts are nearly universal in the belief that many of the 37 doubles he hit in 445 at-bats this year with turn into home runs down the road. He's a fantastic defensive first baseman who prevented countless errors by saving bad throws. - Kevin Goldstein
In 2010, Rizzo will likely be a borderline top 100 prospect and firmly entrenched in the Boston Red Sox top ten. He profiles as a solid all-around first baseman who does everything well, but lacks a standout tool.
10. RHP Stolmy Pimental B-: Solid all around and a good bit of projection left in him. This is one guy who Im picking to make a huge jump in the next year. He will be shooting up prospect lists very soon. When I talk about "not lying to myself"... well, pretty sure Im doing that with Pimental. I really like him.
Nick (Washington Dc)
Hi Jim, love your work. Can you give a quick 2-3 sentence scouting report of Stolmy Pimentel? Other than having a great name, what's to like?
Jim Callis (2:41 PM)
19-year-old righthander, advanced beyond his years. Fastball, curveball, changeup all show potential to be solid or better.
Right-hander Stolmy Pimentel (A-) has a solid though average fastball, an average to above-average changeup, an improving curveball, good control, and plenty of room on his 6-foot-3, 186-pound frame to fill out and add velocity. - Keith Law
Pimentel has a nice pitcher's frame and a high ceiling. Relies mainly on his 90-93 mph four-seam fastball, but also makes use of an very good curveball and an excellent changeup. Just starting to develop a two-seam cutter as well. His fastball hits the mid-90s when he reaches back, and he may be able to sustain that velocity over full starts when he grows into his frame. Pimentel's changeup is advanced for his age, sitting between 78-82 mph, and has the potential to be a wipeout pitch.
11. SS Jose Iglesias B-: Im very worried he won't hit much, but the defense should be spectacular. In fact, many feel he could be one of the best fielding MLB shortstops today. Still, how high is the ceiling here? He has a nice looking line drive swing but it doesnt look like there's much power there. Its not truly a slappy swing and he likes to pull the ball, but he doesnt get much loft or backspin either.
It would be interesting to compare him to Alcides Escobar. Do I think he could hit as much as Escobar? Probably, yes. Of course, Im really not convinced Escobar is as good a prospect as many believe.
Iglesias’ defensive work can only be described as special, with one scout describing his pre-game workouts in the Arizona Fall League as "the equivalent of a live-action instructional video on everything a shortstop should do." His range is plus to both sides, his actions are notable for their speed and smoothness, while his arm is both strong and accurate. Offensively, he does have some bat speed, and scouts see a good rhythm in his swing, and he's even surprised some with occasional power. -Kevin Goldstein
12. CF Che-Hsuan Lin C+: Im not a huge believer in his bat. I keep reading that scouts think his power will show up (KG said " scouts think he could grow into 15-20 home-run power down the road"). That said, he will hit enough and has enough tools and polished skills all around that the entire package plays up. Love the glove. He's a really superb defender.
Lin is a fantastic athlete, with one of the better arms in the system and the kind of speed to steal 40 bases annually. He has a quick bat and surprising pop for his size thanks to strong wrists that whip the bat through the zone. The Red Sox love his makeup, and he’s dedicated to his game and takes well to instruction. - Kevin Goldstein
13. SS/2B Derrick Gibson C+: I've never been a huge fan because I dont see any power at all in his swing. This year he's shown he's polished and good enough everywhere else to overcome that. His other tools are fairly impressive. I see projection left everywhere but home run hitting. He's got plenty of range for short but his arm is very fringy. Some feel the problem is his throwing mechanics. If he's not a SS, how good is he, really? I could definitely see a nice leadoff type here and if he stays at SS he could be a very good player.
Gibson already has top-of-the-order skills with outstanding plate discipline and a quick, single-plane swing that laces line drives to all fields. He's an above-average runner with great instincts, and he understands his strength and limitations, focusing on getting on base and scoring runs. He has good instincts defensively and plays with a lot of energy.
14. LHP Felix Doubront C+: Solid, if unspectacular. Liked him more last year. He's good enough, but he's a lot closer to just another guy than he is to something special. Could be a decent back end starter if he keeps improving across the board.
After battling through injuries in 2007, Venezuelan lefty Felix Doubront struck out over a batter per inning and more than held his own in a trio of California League starts as a 20-year-old. He doesn't have overwhelming stuff, but his outstanding command and deceptive delivery are enough for most to make big-league projections for him.
Doubront utilizes an 87-91 mph fastball, a very good 79-81 mph changeup with screwball action, and a developing mid-70s curveball. Flawless and fluid downward pitching motion with excellent control. Deceptive delivery, hitters don't pick up the ball until late, causing his fastball to look a little faster. May have the ability to add some velocity.
15. RHP Alex Wilson C+: Yes, his ARL was a concern, but for a guy who was old for his league he did exactly what he should - dominated. I like his repertoire and pitchability. Decent chance he ends up in relief, but Id still like him there. He's a power righty who was formerly highly regarded in college at Texas A&M before undergoing TJ. Excellent fastball and slider. Needs to develop his change more to remain a starter. Either way he's got very good stuff and could move quickly.
He has two average-to-plus Major League pitches in his slider and fastball, and at times, each is a solid plus pitch. Both have the potential to be even better down the road as he further distances himself from Tommy John (ulnar collateral ligament replacement) surgery.
OTHERS (In no particular order. Just guys I wanted to comment on)
HM. C Luis Exposito - I see a backup catcher (albeit a good one). Neither his approach, defense or bat are really all that great. He's ok, but with zero impact potential and no real impressive strengths I just can't rate him that highly.
HM. SS Yamaico Navarro - A poor man's Iglesias. I kept going back and forth over whether he would hit. Still not sure, but growing more pessimistic. Likely utility infielder or maybe 2nd division SS.
HM. 3B/SS David Renfroe - Nice approach and swing. I think he's definitely a 3B. For a guy that everyone calls toosly, Im not sure he really projects as all that great at anything. Need to see more of him.
HM. 3B Will Middlebrooks - I still like the tools and he's still young. Good chance he flies up the prospect lists next season.
HM. C Wagner, C Federowicz - Both are sort of flawed and profile as backup catchers. Don't impress me.
HM. C? Ryan Lavarnway - Very intriguing. He could really be something if he can stick behind the plate. Not confident at all he will do so, but he started catching late and seemingly has the tools, so who knows?
HM. RHP Madison Younginer - Raw and lots of work to do, but impressive stuff.
HM. RHP Roman Mendez- Same comment as Younginer. Love these young, raw live arms.
HM. RHP Drake Britton - Is a step behind Younginer and Mendez, and add injury history, but I like him plenty too.
HM. RHP Kyle Weiland- I like him, but he's similar to Doubront in not being great at anything. Not sure there is much projection left here either. Probably a useful MLB arm, though.
HM. 3B Michael Almanzar - In hindsght, it was a huge mistake to aggressively promote him. Still an impressive specimen. Could go either way but Im not giving up on him. His ceiling is as high as any position player besides Westmoreland.
HM. CF Pete Hissey - Good speed, good glove, good approach. Power? Not sure. Definitely raised his stock in my mind this year. Too early to tell with this guy, and the one thing the Sox have been real bad at is developing home grown power.
HM. LF/1B? Brandon Jacobs - Not sure. I do like the bat and Im very glad we signed him. He's so raw its hard to tell what to make of him. I dont like the glove, but really no idea how the bat will develop yet - and its a high ceiling bat with lots of power. Wouldnt be shocked if he a) ended up good enough on defense to be a pretty good LF; b) ended up a bad LF or 1B/DH with a tweener bat for it; or c) ended up a bad LF or 1B/DH but with a bat that fits there. All very possible.
ALSO: Kendal Volz, Jason Place, Oscar Tejeda, David Mailman, Adam Mills, Stephen Fife, Dustin Richardson, Ryan Dent, Eammon Portice, Caleb Clay, Jeremy Hazelbaker