As I've said numerous times, a simple grade rating on a player is simply short-hand. Here is an example: second baseman Christian Colon of the Kansas City Royals. I have him set currently as a Grade C prospect in the 2014 Baseball Prospect Book, but the actual book comment goes deeper. Here it is for your reading pleasure.
Christian Colon, INF, Kansas City Royals
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-0 WT: 180 DOB: May 14, 1989
There is a psychology that goes into player evaluation. I’m not just talking about the psychology of the players in this case, but rather knowledge of the psychology and sociology of the people doing the evaluating, including yourself and your most trusted sources. Study your own filters, and study the filters of the people around you.
For example, I think that if Christian Colon had been a ninth-round pick rather than a first-rounder, he would be seen by the prospect community as a sleeper and potentially useful asset rather than a disappointment.
Ignore his draft position, but watch him and look at his numbers. He is a contact hitter with mediocre tools, but he can run the bases and handle second base. He lacks the range to play shortstop regularly at the big league level, but you can use him there in a pinch without killing yourself, which is a typical utility profile. He makes contact, avoids strikeouts, and is a good bunter. He also had a very good run in July and August, hitting .320/.385/.460 in those two months. That could be just a statistical blip, but I thought I’d point it out. The Royals reacted by signing Omar Infante as a free agent, which tells you what they think about Colon’s immediate chances to have an impact, although they did like him enough to put him on the 40-man and protect him from Rule 5.
Historically, some players with Colon’s profile (so-so tools but with fundamental soundness and contact hitting skills) show unexpected offensive development in their late 20s, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Colon come out of nowhere and help someone in 2016 or 2017. Maybe I’m nuts, but lay aside the expectations generated by his draft position, lay aside what everyone says about him, pretend he was a ninth round pick, and try to look objectively. You’ll see what I mean. Grade C.
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