Thursday, June 24, 2010

Midseason Top Prospect Lists

Here's a rough draft(read: I probably forgot someone) of the top hitters and pitchers at this point. 2010 draft picks are not included in the rankings, but they're mentioned afterwords:

1. Desmond Jennings
- Early struggles seem to be over, still has the tools, though the home run power is noticeably absent.
2. Tim Beckham - Note that there is a big dropoff from #1 to #2. This is almost by process of elimination.
3. Luke Bailey - Hit his first career HR yesterday, just needs ABs and time behind the plate now.
4. Todd Glaesmann
5. Jeff Malm - The other two 2009 high draft picks check in.
6. Hector Guevara - Venezuelan shortstop skips over GCL to play with Princeton.
7. Matt Sweeney - Bat has been MIA after promotion to Montgomery.
8. Ty Morrison - Has shown great speed, but his other tools have catching up to do. I still like him.

The Rest:
The system is still really weak on hitters, though the infusion of the 2010 class (Sale, O'Conner, Vettleson, Dietrich, Brett) will surely help. In fact, even if Sale signs late and doesn't get an AB in pro ball, I might still rank him #2. That depends on how the Bailey-Glaesmann-Malm troika performs, as all three have the chance to claim that #2 spot.

Tyler Bortnick has picked things up after a slow start, and would probably make the off-season top 15 again. Kyeong Kang, #4 on the list entering the season, has struggled with Charlotte and is still looking for his first home run. Shawn O'Malley was aggressively ranked at #8, but he hit .172 in 9 games for Montgomery before going on the shelf, only recently returning to rehab in the GCL. Cody Rogers(#12) is also rehabbing. #13 Jake Jefferies' OPS is just .606. Reid Brignac and John Jaso have both graduated, and Jaso was obviously the biggest under-rank.

1. Jeremy Hellickson
- Nothing new here.
2. Matt Moore - On pure stuff, an easy choice. He's had some trouble harnessing it, though his control has been much better lately.
3. Alex Torres - More K than IP, walks haven't been as big a problem, but still needs to throw more strikes to keep his pitch count lower.
4. Alex Colome
5. Jake McGee - I still think his future is in the bullpen, but he's been quite good as a starter with Montgomery.
6. Wilking Rodriguez
7. Alex Cobb - Nothing to not like since returning from injury.
8. Nick Barnese - Very similar to Cobb: No one great strength, but not showing much weakness either.
9. Shane Dyer -Ranking 9 instead of 8 here simply because Dyer deserves it.

Wade Davis is the only pitcher to have graduated. #5 Kyle Lobstein couldn't carry over his hot finish from 2009, but he's still likely to place on this off-season's list. #9 Jason McEachern has run into some struggles with Bowling Green. I still like him going forward, but his stuff will have to show improvement. #12 David Newmann has had bouts of control issues, but his groundball tendencies are still a plus. #13 Joseph Cruz's control hasn't been as good as it was with Bowling Green a year ago, but he's still decent across the board. #14 Matt Gorgen is walking too many, and if a reliever makes this year's list, it will likely be Zach Quate. #15 Aneury Rodriguez has also had issues with walks.

So what do you guys think?


  1. Here is my list:

  2. I think Murrill should get some consideration for the hitters and Kirby Yates has been unbelievable with 60k's in 42IP.

  3. WHat about Wilking? And just on stuff alone do you think Ian Kendall would make the top 15 pitchers list if they sign him?

  4. Dont you think you could talk about Michael Jarman, or Marquiss Fleming once in a while. Jarman has been put into some tough situations this year, and pitched very well, and he has command of four pitches. Flemming as well has been great.

  5. I have to add Henry Wrigley to the list of hitters. Great bat as well as the ability to play multiple places on the field.

  6. Jarman and Fleming are both having a great season. I don't think it would be top 8 quality but they have been getting the job done. They have been part of that Charlotte bullpen that has owned hitters of the FSL all season long.

  7. I feel that unfortunately people tend to only look at the high draft pick players as top prospects... there are plenty of great prospects that are performing very well there tools and skills get ignored just because they were low draft picks. Their are players drafted after round 20 you know...

  8. Moore doesn't hold on at #2 for me. The walk rate seems to be something we're going to have to live with, 4.9/9 in 2010, 4.8/9 career. What's really changed this year is the hit rate, 8.4/9 in 2010 vs 6.5/9 career.

    To me the battle for #2 is between Torres (too many walks), Colome (too many HR's), and Barnese. I'd probably go Barnese - Torres - Colome.

    Then for #5 it's between Moore and Cobb.

    Enough whining about the high draft picks, 25% of the 2 Top 8's were NOT even drafted.

    And Jarman's having a nice season/career, but he's a 25 year-old relief pitcher in A ball. That's enough to keep him off any Top 8 or 15 list.

  9. while Jarman and Fleming are boing doing very well, I think Quate is above both. I hope they finnaly promote him after the break, because he derserves it.

  10. Another pitcher that may jump back onto the Top 15 is Albert Suarez. He's back to BG after the rehab start in GCL.

    On the hitters, Beckham has to fall, question is how far. I agree Wrigley and Murrill are moving into the Top 15. Others are Nommensen and Cesar Perez. Really depends how many 2010 picks we include as to whether these guys make it.

  11. What's the story on Stephen Vogt? He was a 2 time NAIA All-American and player of the year his senior year.He hits & hits. I'm not sure what position he is best suited for C?-1B? He is overaged (25) but cannot be discounted.He may be a late bloomer.He's hitting .375 at Charlotte.

  12. I agree with the Vogt comment. his defensive stats are a bit rough at Catcher but he can flat out hit. I not really sure if there are any good defensive catchers in the minors for the rays at this point. Anybody have any catchers in the system that they like for both hitting and catching ability?

  13. Some thoughts from Charlotte.....

    Wrigley is by far a top 10 if not higher. He has out performed many of those already on the list. Looking at the hitters list that Jim did a few days ago shows how well he is performing. If Sweeney can make the list with how sub-par he is playing, then Wrigley should be there. After all, he should have gotten the call to Montgomery.

    Vogt is also having a great year. I think he should be rated, but time needs to pass to see if he has fully recovered.

    Beckham has not performed as well as expected..time will tell.

    Moore is coming to life finally. He should be a force for the remainder of the season.

    Quate also needs to be rated high. Like Gorgen last year, Quate has been lights out in the FSL.

    The entire bullpen is having a great season, bringing the phrase "There's no I in team" to life.

  14. How about Mark Thomas? .288/.360/.438 in 153 AB's for BG. I've never heard a bad word about him defensively. All defensive stats have limitations, esp minor league ones, but he has a .982 fielding % and has thrown out 39% of basestealers in his career. He's 22, came in the 22nd round of the 2006 draft.

    Maybe we should do a Top 5 (or whatever) prospects by position, C, 1B, MIF, 3B, COF, CF, LHSP, RHSP, LHRP, RHRP? Might be interesting, would certainly bring up some names you don't hear about all the time.

  15. He is not a prospect but how is Lobaton's D? Same question for Nevin Ashley(even though I think he is still a prospect).Both have shown good offense recently in AA and AAA.

  16. I mentioned Mark Thomas in a comment here the other day. He is a legitimate prospect. He is a fine athlete who happens to play catcher. Very strong arm, good tools, and I believe good power potential.

    If Chris Murrill cannot make the list then why bother having them? He is an all-star performer with as much speed as Morrison. I liken him to Brett Gardener of the Yankees although he may have more upside than Gardener.

    The list appears mostly a ranking of where guys were drafted and potential. Some of the non-drafted guys were Dominicans so it is unfair to say they were not top prospects - they just got here via a different path than the draft. Once these guys get in the system, it is about production.

  17. Re: high draft picks. We tend to value higher picks more because the Rays do too. No one is saying it's fair, but it is what it is.

    Let's take a look back at the lower round picks (26th-50th) the past few years.

    2001: None still in org.

    2002: None still in org.

    2003: None still in org.

    2004: Matt Fields at Montgomery (44th round) is the only one still in the org.

    2005: None still in org.

    2006: None still in org.

    2007: Joseph Cruz is at Charlotte (30th round). Kevin Chavez is at HV, was at Charlotte (34th round).

    2008: Michael Jarman (26th) is at Charlotte.

    2009 and 2010 drafts are too recent to judge.

    So 4 guys are still around from 2001-2008. 4 out of 200 picks (not all signed of course) is 2%. And only one gets top prospect talk, Joseph Cruz. Like it or not, we just don't get many top prospects from the 2nd half of the draft.

  18. "The list appears mostly a ranking of where guys were drafted and potential.... it is about production."

    I completely agree!

  19. Doug - I completely understand your point. I am not even sure why they have 50 rounds in the draft.

    Outside of that, I know what bristles people in these types of topics. I don't think people are looking for you guys to keep tabs on low round draft choices. Potential is great to talk about but at some point it has to produce. One guy is on the above list for hitting one homerun. Another guy is battling the Mendoza line.

    Chris Murrill was a 31st rounder but is playing like a first rounder. If he were a first rounder, I assure you guys would be raving about him. I don't expect you guys to look much past the top 10 rounds for prospects because I would do the same thing. In my experience, the best attribute some of these guys have is they were deemed a prospect. When a prospect does not perform, people tend to make excuses for them. When a non-prospect performs, people look for reasons to downgrade them or just as likely ignore them.

  20. Smells like FreeZo bait, but I'll bite:

    Nevin Ashley threw out 55% of baserunners in Charlotte last year, was named farm defensive player of the year, and has thrown out 49% in AA this year.

    Bat came alive in AFL, followed by strong Spring, and is having a nice season for Montgomery.

  21. Daniel-

    How does the ball come off Murrill's bat? Minor league batted ball data is not the most reliable, but he seems to hit a ton of grounders (56% vs 12% LD) which his speed can translate into hits at lower levels. With an ISO of .087, he reminds me a little bit of Shawn O'Malley. I have no profile of his glove, but would like to see a few more XBH from Murrill. You've seen him first hand so if you tell me he hits it hard, that's good news.

    Congrats on Tyler's fine season. I'm working on a piece for looking at his monthly progression.

  22. Daniel- I agree with you on Chris. I had the opportunity to see him play while in Florida for spring training. He had a great spring and that has carried over to a great season. I look forward to watching him play here in Charlotte.

    In some regards, too much hype is put on the term prospect. What exactly defines a prospect?????

    Is it someone who is picked high in the draft? Is it someone who has the most potentional to make help the big club? Or is it someone who goes out on the field every game and give 100% and not look back?

    I tend to slide more on the last one. I don't focus too much on the "prospect" list. Yeah I include their stats as part of the week in review, but this organization is filled with great ball players that are not even on the list.

  23. Freezo - thanks for your very kind words!

    That is a fair point about Chris. He uses his speed to leg out hits but that is part of his talent. I believe the power will come into his game. Not power hitter power but enough power to hit line drives at the upper levels. Chris will have to prove the skeptics on that one. He has hit a couple of homers recently and smoked some doubles so I have seen it in his game. He needs to be Chris Murrill in my opinon however and not try to be anybody else.

    I believe Chris can be at least as good as Brett Gardener if not better. That is who he reminds me of most at the big league level. I believe Gardener was a third rounder btw.

  24. Daniel-

    Only rebuttal I have is at the age of 22 Gardner split between Advanced A and AA. In Advanced A he put up a slash of .323/.433/.418. He spent the 2nd half of the season adjusting to AA before tearing it up the first half of 2007. He did the same thing with AAA second half 07 struggle/success 2008. The ISO comparison is valid, just that Gardner was about 1-1.5 levels ahead for age.

    I hope you are right on Chris though. If he can be a Gardner, thats a huge win for the Rays.

  25. Freezo - more valid points.

    Look, the age issue gets brought up against my son as well. In my opinion, the Rays are conservative with their promotions unless you are Evan Longoria or David Price who obviously deserved everything they got. The
    Yankees move guys up quicker in my opinion so I am not sure it is fair to cite age. All I know is the numbers you are citing for Gardener are in line with Murrill's. They can still throw in the 90's in the low minors - just not as consistently for strikes.

  26. "The list appears mostly a ranking of where guys were drafted and potential.... it is about production."

    No It's about projection. Production in A ball does not translate to production in MLB.

  27. Daniel-

    No doubt, all you can do is excel at the level you are at. Its one thing to take 3 years to hit at Class A (Henry Wrigley is an example of a late bloomer), but another to move one level at a time and succeed the whole way. I am just hesitant to draw a comparison to someone who had success at a higher level at the same age. Apples to oranges. Both may be fine, but its not the same.

  28. So many people dropping the term "potential". People who have potential are just not playing up to the hype. Lets start focusing on how people are playing and not on their potential.

  29. I try to focus on everything, but I admit that I tend to go more for tools and projection than pure production at the minor league levels. I don't think my way is any better than anyone else's because there's no "right" way to do it.

    Murrill certainly deserves consideration, and just eyeballing it, I would say he makes the list. His power is suspect(only 15/76 hits for extra bases), and I'm still not sure about his eye. If he could consistently walk at the rate that he did in the month of May(12 walks in 26 games), he might have top-8 potential. But he has only 9 walks in 38 games in April and June, without the power to make up for a non-elite OBP. I don't mean to knock him because he's obviously a good player, hitting .303 with 27 steals.

    To reduce the argument to only liking higher draft picks is wrong. Morrison was drafted higher than Murrill obviously, but that's not why he's ranked higher. He's over 2 years younger(see the age debate later this post), similar speed(a better SB-CS actually), and and despite over 20 fewer hits, more have been for extra bases. Obviously Morrison has things to work on too, as he's hitting .246 with just 11 walks to 64 strikeouts. But he's shown improvement even in just the 3 months he's played so far. I don't think anyone is saying Murrill is done developing, but I think it's fair to say that Morrison has a "head start" so to speak.

    As for the age debate, I realize that it's hard to penalize players because they can only play at the level they're assigned to. Being 22 in low-A doesn't automatically make you a non-prospect just as being 18 in high-A means you'll be good.

    Daniel, I have to disagree with you, though. Once they get in the system, it ISN'T all about production. It's about production, tools, and projection. That's what my rankings try to reflect. To say if Murrill was a 1st rounder we would be paying attention is disingenuous IMO, because it would then depend on his skill-set. If he were a 1st-rounder with what you'd consider a 1st-round skillset, then I would point out his lack of power, just as Tim Beckham was a 1st rounder with what everyone agreed was a 1st-round skillset, and I point out his (severe) lack of contact this season.

    There's is no doubt validity to your point that people(myself included) excuse poor play from so-called prospects and downplay so-called non-prospects. And scouts aren't always right or even close to it(just look at how many 1st round picks fail to even make the majors). I think it's obvious that Murrill is better than the average 35th-rounder, and it's safe to assume that he has better than a typical 35th-round skillset. But even focusing on pure production, his power and eye leave something to be desired. I think we focus mainly here on guys taken in the top rounds of the draft because the bulk of major leaguers come from that area.

    Again, that's not a hard and fast rule(heck, Albert Pujols was a 13th rounder). But because of their lower draft status, they do need to prove themselves through production. One of my favorite pitching prospects is Jason McEachern, who drew my attention because of his numbers and his projection. Tyler did the same at Hudson Valley last year because his numbers across the board didn't show much of a weakness in a game. And Murrill is doing it this year with his batting average and his speed.


  30. I do find it's true that players with a pedigree get a pass at the lower levels in terms of production. But they will need to produce at some point. As I mentioned in the post, all the 1st-round pedigree in the world isn't going to keep Tim Beckham at #2 if he doesn't hit.

    I glossed over it, but I'll bring it up again here: I was flat-out wrong on John Jaso, who was a 12th-rounder. He had very good performance through the minors(though a rough 2009 season) and is now for all intents and purposes the Rays starting catcher, and yet I ranked him below Jake Jefferies, who was a 3rd rounder. There's no doubt that if Jefferies was, say, a 20th-round pick with his production, then he wouldn't have made the list.

    So this turned out a lot longer than I thought it'd be. I'm a firm believer that numbers, especially at the lower minor league levels, don't paint the whole picture, and the way I rank players reflects that. This post was intended to be a conversation-starter(and not me saying "this is how it is), so I want to thank everyone who has commented, because I also think getting many perspectives is important(and we're lucky and grateful to have a player's father give one of those perspectives).

  31. Kevin - thanks for your detailed response and honesty quite frankly. Everyone of you guys who post on this site have earned my respect. It has been one heck of a discussion - 31 posts and counting. All of you including FreeZo have posted some things I had not considered.

    Thanks again...

  32. I have always been impressed more with players who produce results on the field rather than others who have unreached potential. This discussion has been very informative and is why this is my first read everyday. It presents different view points and gets you to look at things with an open mind. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

  33. Early on someone asked about Wilking, here is a recent quote about him from BA, "Rodriguez has excellent control for his age and quality stuff with a fastball that sits in the low-90s, an above-average curve and an improving changeup that has promise."

  34. Another guy that I've been really impressed with stats wise is reliever Guillermo Salinas at DSL. I wish this guy played in the states so we can get some reports on him. I have a feeling he has lights out stuff.

    As for the catcher discussion, I went to a couple games in the spring and was blown away by Nevin Ashley's arm. I'm a former catcher and that guy has to throw sub 1.7's down to second. The knock on him has been his bat and now it looks like that may not be an issue anymore with his Southern League numbers.

  35. can we take Jennings off the hitters list and just rename it "The toolsy underacheivers who don't hit like they are supposed to"? Seriously like none of them are hitting at all!
    Sorry I'm kinda mad at the Rays with the nono right now, so I'm going to take it out on these prospects.

  36. It's ok, esp with EdwinJ doing it to us for the 3rd time lately. We'll try and come up with something else to focus on come Monday.

    Anyone interested in picking a mid-season All-Star team for the full-season league Rays affiliates? Ideas on how you want to do it?

  37. I would like to see the minor league system reviewed by position. Maybe like the 5 best at each position. Not the 5 highest draft picks at each positions but how about the guys we never talk about that are performing?

  38. "2008: Michael Jarman (26th) is at Charlotte.

    2009 and 2010 drafts are too recent to judge.

    So 4 guys are still around from 2001-2008. 4 out of 200 picks (not all signed of course) is 2%. And only one gets top prospect talk, Joseph Cruz. Like it or not, we just don't get many top prospects from the 2nd half of the draft."

    what about Kyle Eric Lobstein 47th round 2008

  39. Lobstein was a 2nd rounder, I think the 47th overall pick.