Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Pro-Prospect Rebuttal: Top Prospect Lists

It seems that I'm of two minds about prospects in the last few weeks. I decided that first round draft picks are a 1-in-3 shot at a major league player. Less than that for all-star talent. (Here's the article)

I was going to go further and jump off the prospect bandwagon, but something interesting happened: I started to look at top prospect lists for the last 5 years, and was SHOCKED at how accurate they were. I'm going to use Baseball America rankings, as they are easiest to find, and I want to have a consistent source.


1- Joe Mauer
2- Felix Hernandez
3- Delmon Young
4- Ian Stewart
5-Joel Guzman
6- Casey Kotchman
7-Scott Kazmir
8-Rickie Weeks
9-Andy Marte
10- Hanley Ramirez
11-Lastings Milledge
12-Dallas Mcpherson
13-Matt Cain
14- Jeff Francoeur
15-Prince Fielder
16- Adam Miller
17- Jason Kubel
18- Jeremy Hermida
19-Chad Billingsley
20- Jeff Niemann
21- Brian Dopirak
22-Calos Quentin
23-Jeff Francis
24- Nick Swisher
25- Jose Capellan

That's 8 current/former All-Stars, and almost all of the top-25 have been above-average major league players. Only about 5 of the top-25 could be considered "busts." that's a remarkable 80% success rate. Other notables from the 2005 top-100 include: Ryan Howard (27), JJ Hardy (28), Edwin Jackson (30), Zach Duke (34), Gavin Floyd (35), Brian McCann (44), Shin-Soo Choo (51), Franklin Gutierrez (54), Curtis Granderson (57), John Danks (59), James Loney (62), Aaron Hill (64), Nick Markakis (65), Cole Hamels (71), Billy Butler (75), Kendry Morales (76), Ubaldo Jimenez (82), Russell Martin (89), Jon Papelbon (91), Ian Kinsler (98)

So, based on no scientific conclusions about top-caliber players, I estimate that about 20% become top-caliber/All-star talent, and almost all become Major League Players.


1- Delmon Young
2- Justin Upton
3- Brandon Wood
4- Jeremy Hermida
5- Steven Drew
6- Francisco Liriano
7- Chad Billingsley
8- Justin Verlander
9-Lastings Milledge
10-Matt Cain
11-Prince Fielder
12- Howie Kendrick
13-Alex Gordon
14- Andy Marte
15-Ryan Zimmermann
16- Ian Stewart
17-Conor Jackson
18- Jarrod Saltalamaccia
19-Andy Laroche
20-Carlos Quentin
21-Nick Markakis
22- Jon Lester
23-Chris Young (Centre Fielder)
24- Bobby Jenks
25- Troy Tulowitzki

Wow, this is an even more impressive prospect class. I'd say 10 or 11 of these guys are perrenial all-stars. There is obviously some year-over-year repeats and guys who've moved up, but a 50-55% all star rate is impressive. Interesting to note that Hanley Ramirez dropped to 30th once he was traded to Florida. I guess it's true that Boston prospects are just worth more... This year's class was easier to find, so if you want to see the rest of the group, follow this link. Another conservative estimate, but again, about 20% all-star calibre. (Ricky Romero also makes an appearance at #87)

1- Daisuke Matsuzaka
2- Alex Gordon
3- Delmon Young
4- Phil Hughes
5- Homer Bailey
6- Cameron Maybin
7- Evan Longoria
8-Brandon Wood
9- Justin Upton
10- Andrew Miller
11- Tim Lincecum
12- Chris Young
13- Andrew McCutcheon
14- Jay Bruce
15-Troy Tulowitzki
16- Yovanni Gallardo
17- Reid Brignac
18- Carlos Gonzalez
19- Andy LaRoche
20- Mike Pelfrey
21- Matt Garza
22- Fernando Martinez
23- Adam Miller
24- Clayton Kershaw
25- Billy Butler

Another stellar group that is already contributing all-stars. What is becoming even more interesting to me, is how many of these former-prospects are currently on different teams than they were at the time of ranking. The rest of the 2007 list is here. Adam Lind was 39th, Travis Snider 53rd, and Brandon Morrow 87th (which looks like a lucky number for the Jays).

1- Jay Bruce
2- Evan Longoria
3- Joba Chamberlain
4- Clay Bucholz
5- Colby Rasmus
6-Cameron Maybin
7-Franklin Morales
9-Homer Bailey
10- David Price
11- ***Travis Snider*** Yeah, that's right, BEFORE Matt "Sliced-Bread" Weiters
12-Matt Weiters
13- Jacoby Ellsbury
14- Andrew McCutcheon
15-Jake McGee
16- Brandon Wood
17- Wade Davis
18-Mike Moustakas
19- Elvis Andrus
20- Fernando Martinez
21- Rick Porcello
22-Carlos Gonzalez
23-Matt LaPorta
24- Nick Adenhart, R.I.P
25- Jordan Schaefer

Some, if not most of the players on this list are still works-in-progress, but the talent that has been displayed is pretty impressive. Once again, to see the rest, click here. Joey Votto makes his first appearance at #44, Gio Gonzalez continues his quest to play in every Major League organization, and if you are curious: Beau Mills was ranked #87. He is also un-protected in this year's Rule-5 draft. Coincedence? I think not. Early prediction has him playing 3B for the Jays in 2011.

It's much too early to play this game with the 2009 list, but here's some highights: Travis Snider was ranked 6th in '09, so he's still got some hype. JP Arencibia ranked 43rd before his down year. Brett Cecil was 72.Canadians, Nick Weglarz and Michael Saunders checked in at 58 and 65 respectively. Brett Lawrie was ranked 81st, Phillippe Aumont was 93rd. #87 was Freddie Freeman, but I doubt he's available right now.

2010 was published less than a year ago, and there are already some all-stars (Heyward) and World series champions on the list (Posey, Bumgarner). The Jays were well represented: (Drabek(25), Lawrie(59), D'Arnaud(81)) #87 was Lars Anderson, who may be redundant in Boston with the arrival of Adrian Gonzalez. Buy-low option? nah... but my superstition will have me keep an eye on him now.

In Summary, top prospects work out. Period. Go through and read the lists. You'll notice that I didn't even have to include team names beside the players listed. Almost all baseball fans know who they are already, speaking to the quality talents that they have developed into. Prospects do seem to move around quite a bit, and I may write a separate piece on that in the near future. But, for teams that can get and keep top prospects, the return is incredible. I'm sure that Alex Anthopoulos knows this, and will continue to go out and acquire these types of players.

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