Monday, November 29, 2010

Personal Top 30 List - Doug

As has been discussed in the comments to Kevin’s list, I try to balance performance and potential with a little more emphasis on performance than some others. However, as always, the Rays system is very pitcher-heavy, with most of the position player talent coming from the past 2 drafts with little in the way of on-the-field performance. I think what you will find with my list is pitchers are judged more by results and position players more by potential. It’s not my preference to use two standards, but if I stick to my preferred standard of weighting performance much more than potential, I might end up with a list with 24 pitchers and 6 batters.

Again, I’m not thrilled about it, but I want to be up front with everyone. I do think several of the recent high picks will pan out, but without a crystal ball it’s really a crapshoot, so they are ranked by mostly draft order and scouting reports from before and after the drafts. Also, I tried to avoid reading Kevin’s reasoning for his rankings in his list so that we wouldn’t fall into a ‘groupthink’ mentality. Any similarities or differences are simply an agreement or difference of opinion.

Here they are with some short comments, feel free to ask for greater detail on a particular player of interest (with date of birth and where I think they will begin 2011):

1. Jeremy Hellickson (4/8/87, Tampa Bay) – Easily #1, up from #2 last year (behind Wade Davis), BA’s MILB PotY, ready to join Tampa rotation at 24, 4 quality pitches (after adding a cutter this year), don’t think much explanation is needed

2. Matt Moore (6/18/89, Montgomery) – Incredible 2nd half, led all of MILB in strikeouts for 2nd consecutive year, only 21 to start AA in 2011, combines unlimited upside with great performance, only nitpick is I would like to see him do better to start a season, ie. put together a consistent season from beginning to end, only player without AA+ experience in the Top 5

3. Desmond Jennings (10/30/86, Tampa Bay) – Close, but I dropped him behind Moore due to Moore’s 2nd half and Jennings’ continued nagging injuries, ready to start 2011 in Tampa OF

4. Alex Cobb (10/7/87, Durham) – Let the fun begin, this is a clear performance over projection pick, he just continues to do well at every level, led the Southern League in K/9 and 4th in ERA despite lack of dominant pitches, with those numbers (and the playoff start for Durham) and his history of performing at every level I think he’s earned this ranking, only injury history is blisters

As an aside, for those who value performance over tools/potential, take a look at the minor league numbers of these two pitchers in 2010:
Pit   ERA  GS     IP  WHIP  H/9 HR/9  BB/9  SO/9  SO/BB
A    2.71  22  119.2 1.295  9.0  0.5   2.6   9.6   3.66
B    2.72  21  119.1 1.207  8.1  0.4   2.8   9.6   3.43
Pitcher A was 6 months younger and pitched at one level lower than Pitcher B. Pitcher A didn't make BA's Top 10, Pitcher B was BA's minor league player of the year. You obviously know who they are, and I'm not comparing Cobb's stuff or upside to Hellickson, but aren't those some amazing similar numbers? Back to the list...

5. Jake McGee (8/6/86, Tampa Bay pen) – Higher than I expected when I started working on this, but great recovery from TJS, history of strong performance, and MLB-ready arm moved him up despite the move to the bullpen (which is of necessity with Rays SP depth), potential future closer even as a leftie

6. Alex Colome (12/31/88, Charlotte) – This is more projection than performance due to 2nd half struggles, great stuff/upside, I feel his tough 2nd half was more of a product of the increased innings in his first year of full-season ball than a lack of talent, still struck out 9.6/9 despite the fade

7. Alex Torres (12/8/87, Durham) – Great addition from the Kazmir trade, strikes out a ton (9.5/9) but continues to issue too many walks (4.4/9), like the live arm and age but he projects as a RP to me due to size (5’10”, 160) and walks, which knocks him below Colome, also worry about his workload so far, despite lack of injury history he’s pitched a lot for his age

8. Jake Thompson (8/8/89, Charlotte) – This is a hunch pick (and an attempt to keep the Alex/Jake streak alive), 2nd round pick out of college in June, after a great start at Hudson Valley (1.35 ERA) he pitched 11 scoreless innings for Charlotte, the Rays don’t fast-track many pitchers not named David Price, their confidence combined with the high pick and his performance lead to this aggressive ranking, fastball, slider, changeup, with fastball touching 97

9. Joseph Cruz (7/20/88, Montgomery) – Back to performance, put up great numbers at Charlotte (2.85 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.4 HR/9), like Cobb he just continues to improve as he moves up to face better hitters, personal favorite of mine for a while, he also shows we don’t always rely on where someone was drafted (30th, 2007), fastball reaches 95

10. Drew Vettleson (7/19/91, Princeton) – Here’s where I head way off the reservation, hard to put a really young (1st-supp out of high school) guy headed to Rookie ball in the Top 10, but I think reports of ‘purest prep bat’ in the 2010 draft will allow him to move up quicker than the power bats (Sale) and the catchers (O’Conner, Bailey), most project him to develop enough power for a corner OF too

11. Josh Sale (7/5/91, Princeton) – Another young guy based on projection, 2010 1st rounder was named the ‘top prep power hitter’ in the draft, which is saying something, another projected corner OF that the system is in need of, I just feel he’ll move a little slower than Vettleson

12. Nick Barnese (1/11/89, Montgomery) – Has lost some luster the past couple seasons due to missed time, still effective (3.02 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 for Charlotte in 2010), needs to show he can handle 25 starts/140+ innings, still will be young for AA, used to be mentioned as equal to Moore, Moore has moved way ahead

13. Tyler Bortnick (7/3/87, Charlotte) – Performance pick, good MI defense, good baserunning, .295/.400/.445 line between Bowling Green and Charlotte, 68 walks to 77 strikeouts with 41 stolen bases, nothing not to like except age-to-level, hope to see mid-season promotion to Montgomery

14. Enny Romero (1/24/91, Hudson Valley) – Sparkling numbers for the leftie between Princeton and Hudson Valley, 1.94 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 6.3 H/9, .955 WHIP, love tall (6’3”) lefties with great numbers and good scouting reports, but this was his first dominant season, need to see a repeat to move up, and then how he handles the load of full-season ball, might be a bit too high, but hard not to like his mid-90’s fastball and his curve

15. Wilking Rodriguez (3/2/90, Charlotte) – Roughed up a bit in Bowling Green, 4.23 ERA, but struck out 7.9/9 and only walked 2.4/9 as a 20 year-old in full-season ball, I could see him lower but put him here due to age/level and stuff

16. Justin O'Conner (3/31/92, Princeton) – 2010 1st rounder signed quickly and saw action in the Gulf Coast League, struggled to a .211/.301/.348 line in 161 AB’s, scouts called him the top prep catcher in the draft excellent raw power and plus-plus arm strength, others rank him higher but to me he’s a long ways away, very young, and catchers tend to develop more slowly

17. Albert Suarez (10/8/89, Charlotte) – Entering the 2009 season he began getting mentions on prospects lists, unfortunately was injured in his 2nd start and missed the rest of the season following Tommy John surgery, in 2010 pitched for GCL and Bowling Green on a strict pitch count, had solid if not spectacular numbers, many have forgotten him but he’s a sleeper/breakout pick to me for next season when he should be fully recovered and allowed to pitch deeper in to games

18. Scott Shuman (3/28/88, Charlotte) – I tend to discount relievers more than most but Shuman deserves a spot, lower round pick (19th 2009) sports dazzling career numbers with 13.4 strikeouts per 9 and a 2.44 ERA, look for midseason promotion to Montgomery, fastball and slider, with fastball reaching 98

19. Luke Bailey (3/11/91, Princeton) – Another young catcher picked high in the draft (4th 2009), like O’Conner struggled at GCL to a .182/.298/.350 line in 137 AB’s, should be fully recovered from TJS in 2011

20. Tim Beckham (1/27/90, Montgomery) – What’s left to say about Beckham, if he wasn’t the 1st overall pick in the 2008 draft I think we would all be pleased with a 20 year-old shortstop putting up decent numbers in high-A ball, while I’m tired of defending a kid who isn’t even old enough to buy a beer against the ‘he’s a bust!!!’ mob, if he’s moved off SS it will be hard to see where his bat will play, had 5 more plate appearances in 2010 vs. 2009, but drew 28 more walks

21. Kyle Lobstein (8/12/89, Charlotte) – The 2nd round pick in the 2008 draft struggled some in his first year of full-season ball, but not terribly considering his age, expect better numbers next season as he’ll be a little older and ready for the workload, question is if he can generate enough velocity (upper 80’s fastball last season)

22. Stephen Vogt (11/1/84, Montgomery) – A 26 year-old who hasn’t reached AA on this list? Yes. First of all he’s a catcher, and I always give them some slack on age, and he missed almost all of 2009 with injury. Did I mention he can hit? Career .308/.375/.433 with 111 walks and only 129 strikeouts. Fair to criticize his age/level and question whether he can stick at catcher defensively, would like to see him in Durham at some point next year

23. Shane Dyer (3/9/88, Montgomery) – Bounced back from a terrible 2009 at Bowling Green where he lost his spot in the rotation to Chris Andujar, dominated at Bowling Green to start 2010, earning a promotion to Charlotte where he remained solid, career is back on track for the 2008 6th rounder as he’ll enter AA at 23

24. Wilmer Almonte (8/19/89, Bowling Green) – After two years in the DSL and one in GCL he jumped over Princeton to Hudson Valley in 2010 and turned in a career year, 73 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 78 IP with a 2.77 ERA, depending on how he handles the adjustment to full-season ball he could be sleeper

25. Ryan Brett (10/9/91, Princeton) – 3rd rounder in 2010 had a nice start to his professional career with GCL, .303/.364/.404 in 89 AB’s, constantly referred to as a ‘sparkplug’ because of his size (5’9”), no concerns about his ability to stick at 2B defensively, takes walks, steals bases, lots to like about Brett

26. Aneury Rodriguez (12/13/87, Durham) – Seems to have dropped off the prospect radar despite putting up solid numbers at AAA as a 22 year-old (he’s 8 months younger than Hellickson), future is probably in the Rays pen, but he’ll be a valuable piece in the Durham rotation in 2011

27. Zach Quate (9/12/87, Montgomery) –After dominating the New York-Penn League in 2009 (0.35 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 1.4 BB/9) he skipped Bowling Green and dominated the Florida State League in 2010 (1.49 ERA, 11.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9), probably has earned a higher rank but I discount relievers more than most (especially relievers who are in the pen early in their careers as opposed to guys like McGee and Rodriguez who make the move as they reach the big leagues) and want to see how he does at Montgomery first

28. Todd Glaesmann (10/24/90, Hudson Valley) – Struggled to a .233/.297/.398 line in 236 AB’s in Princeton, but has the potential to move way up this list because of his athleticism and tools, needs to cut the strikeout rate considerably to accomplish that

29. Ty Morrison (7/22/90, Charlotte) – Another toolsy outfielder with way too many strikeouts, led all Rays minor leaguers in stolen bases (58) and triples (13), but was 2nd in strikeouts (133, Matt Fields had 139), can stick defensively at CF

30. Derek Dietrich (7/18/89, Bowling Green) – Made it over Alex Diaz, Elliot Johnson and Marquis Fleming, Rays 2nd round pick in 2010, unlike other high picks from this year’s draft (except Brett) he had a nice start in Hudson Valley, .279/.340/.419 in 179 AB’s, played SS for the Renegades, unlikely to stick at short though, which hurts his long term value


  1. Nice list, Doug. I'm with you on Jake Thompson, from all reports it seems like something clicked in pro ball. Supposedly Jack Giese at Hudson Valley made an adjustment to his delivery and his stuff improved. I think he could wind up in the Rays bullpen by the end of 2011, but that's obviously a best-case scenario, and the Rays might keep him as a starter. If there are no rotation spots open, he and Jake McGee could form a righty/lefty flamethrowing closer tandem in 2012.

  2. Thanks Kevin. By my count we agreed on 26 of the top 30 (in different orders of course).

    Kevin included:
    22. Hector Guevara
    26. Jesse Hahn
    29. Cesar Perez
    30. Braulio Lara

    I included:
    22. Stephen Vogt
    23. Shane Dyer
    24. Wilmer Almonte
    26. Aneury Rodriguez

    So really only guys at the bottom. Surprised it was that similar.

  3. Great list Doug. I completely agree with Shuman. i have heard that he sits at 95 and has hit the upper 90's. Also has that slider. Although he is a reliever and older, I am a big fan.

    Oh, and BTW, I will send you my list soon.

  4. What about craige lyerly? I know he is an older guy (22) who was drafted 2010, but the kid showed some strong potential especially towards the end of the season in the playoffs by coming up with some big hits and stolen bases. He has a lot of speed and if he can get his bat going like in college he is really going to be a force to be reckon with. This was his first year ever playing outfield and he didn't make an error all year. I think this guy has potential and for that I think he should be in the top 30. Also, what about chris winder? He was also drafted this year, but found it his swing towards the end of the year. I don't know, I am definately not a scout. I am just a guy that likes baseball and these were two boys I just think have some serious potential.

  5. Upon request, here is my comments.

    You placed Vettlson over Sale although Sale has a better bat. I know you said he had a better power bat, but consensus is that Sale is a much better hitter.

    Don't you think Almote is high despite now being 21 and only having reaching HV? Do you have any info on his stuff?
    I also see you left off the two 1b in Malm and Sweeney. Do you lack faith in either?

  6. Lyerly (19th round) and Winder (27th round) both struggled at Hudson Valley. They actually ended up with very similar numbers (Lyerly's OPS was .578, Winder .577) and stole some bases. If I was going to add another 2010 draft pick position player, I'd take Robby Price (13th) or Phil Wunderlich (12th) from HV or Kevin Kiermaier (31st) at Princeton over Lyerly or Winder. 30 players sounds like a lot, but when you figure we have 9 minor league affiliates to pick from, plus extended spring training/rehab guys, you run out of room quickly.

  7. Sale v. Vettleson: I have them nearly equal at 10 and 11, but I agree most put Sale several spots ahead of Vettleson and none that I've seen have Vettleson above Sale. As I said in the rankings, I think a "purest prep hitter" (Vettleson) should move quicker than the "top prep power hitter" since they are both so young and power usually takes more time. Also, Sale projects as a LF due to defense/speed/arm, while Vettleson projects as a RF due to better speed/arm. I guess I worry a bit about a teenager who already projects to be a LF, with so far to go to reach the big leagues and only 1B and DH to fall back on.

    All of this is based on pre- and post-draft reports since neither has played a game yet. Could have gone either way, but I just liked the overall package of Vettleson a little more than Sale, projected power for teenagers is a risky thing, so I took overall athleticism. Doubt anyone will agree with me, but that's why.

    On Almonte: I basically picked him over Braulio Lara, who's been getting some run lately. Almonte was 8 months younger in the NYPL, while Lara was in the Appy. Almonte had a higher K-rate and lower BB-rate than Lara while facing more advanced hitters (lots of college bats). Plus, the Rays skipped Almonte over Princeton but didn't the older Lara. Lara has some projection as a 6'3" leftie vs. the 5'11" righty Almonte.

    Once I reached the 20's, there really aren't right or wrong answers. I just took the younger one with better stats at a higher level. Like the Vettleson over Sale pick, that's why, but I doubt you'll see many others agree.

  8. Oh, and on Malm and Sweeney. I didn't have Malm top 30 last year and didn't see a reason to move him in this year, again considering his lack of positions as a teenager and his performance in Princeton.

    On Sweeney, he had a tough year, especially with power (and a .225 avg), so guys like Morrison and Glaesmann beat him out. Again, not enough spots. Several guys would have made it before him actually (position players I'm talking about).

  9. Any reason these lists overlook the upper level pitchers? A lot of guys in High A and AA have had great seasons, why are they not even mentioned anywhere? Fleming, Schenk, Satow, DeLaRosa, Hall, etc...I know some of these guys are older, but shouldn't their seasons merit some sort of rank?

  10. Anon,

    They are not mentioned becuase of their age and lack of potential. Every player on these list can contribute to the team, while the players you mentioned simply don't have much upside.

  11. so are you guys forgetting about Cody Rogers? do you not consider him a "prospect" anymore? if so i think you are selling him short.

  12. Rogers is still a guy I like tools-wise, but injuries hampered him in 2010 and besides his power didn't really have a chance to showcase the tools. He's a potential break-out guy, but his poor performance in 2010 kept him in the 35-40 range for me.

  13. Michael,

    DeLaRosa was just added to the 40 man roster. You call that a lack of potential? Also, Schenk and Hall were sent to the AFL. I would imagine the organization sees some potential in them as well.

  14. This has to be difficult to list only 30 players. Many many other players deserve to be on this list but understandable that only 30 can be.

  15. Where do you think guys like chris winder, craige lyerly, robbie price, and wunderlich will end up next year? Any guesses?

  16. I mentioned Fleming as being close, and Satow is a favorite but followed up a great start with Charlotte with a disappointing AA in Montgomery. Expect Price and Wunderlich in BG, Winder and Lyerly need to make it out of Spring Training, it's a cruel business they are in.

    If you happen to subscribe to BA, they list Aneury Rodriguez as the most likely pick in the Rule 5 draft next week, which makes sense, close to the majors, young, easy to hide in a non-contender's bullpen. Others mentioned don't make sense, Stephen Vogt and Matt Sweeney, esp Sweeney. Who would take up a full season 25-man roster spot for him? Maybe I should make a post about the Rule 5 draft alone, but I don't see either Vogt or Sweeney getting taken, or if they do, lasting with the new team long at the major league level. Thoughts?

  17. Anon,

    I am sorry about skipping over DelaRosa. I just saw a few names and posted. I actually do think he will be a good reliever for the club. While he isn't the greatest prospect, he could turn out to contribute for the club. My apologies for the lazy response.

  18. Thanks for the good article. I really enjoyed it. I think it is reasonable that you ranked higher Bortnick, Vogt, Cobb, Almonte who had a good season with an emphasis on performance.

    But I have a question. Bortink and Cobb's high rank means that you have a much(not "a little") more emphasis on performance. But, Suarez, Shuman, Vettleson, Lobstein who did not have a good seaons(or didn't have play at pro-ball) is too high from that point of view. It was confusing. And considering your ranking, you can trade Cobb for Torres or Colome, and O'conner for Bortnick. Is it possible?