Thursday, December 2, 2010

Personal Top 30 Lists - Jake

Here is Jake Larsen's top 30.

1. Jeremy Hellickson
2. Desmond Jennings
3. Matt Moore
4. Joe Cruz
5. Josh Sale
6. Alex Cobb
7. Alex Torres
8. Nick Barnese
9. Alex Colome
10. Jake Thompson

11. Wilking Rodriguez
12. Jake McGee
13. Enny Romero
14. Ryan Brett
15. Drew Vettleson
16. Derek Dietrich
17. Yoel Araujo
18. Hector Guevara
19. Tim Beckham
20. Justin O'Conner

21. Luke Bailey
22. Jake DePew
23. Jeff Malm
24. Scott Shuman
25. Todd Glaesmann
26. Tyler Bortnick
27. Cesar Perez
28. Jesse Hahn
29. Zach Quate
30. Ty Morrison

1-3 review: I could've gone in any order with my Top 3. However, in terms of consistency, Hellickson was 2nd to none. I still have doubts in terms of his long-term ability to stay a starter, but he was vastly better as a starter in his cup of coffee in the majors than I ever expected and looked horrible as a reliever. Desmond is a no-brainer as the team's best positional prospect. I honestly think that he's going to hit the ground running when he's given the job full-time. In his brief stint in the majors, I seen him trip up running to 1st on easy triple and he still made it a stand-up triple. That's speed. Matt Moore almost made it as my #1 prospect, just from glowing reports of him and his utter domination by way of strikeout. Had it not been for his horrible start to the year, I'd have no argument if I had placed him at #3.

4-5 review: I'm going to have questions surrounding my selection of Joseph Cruz as my #4 prospect, but Cruz has gotta be the most underrated prospect in the Rays system. He quietly won 13 games for the Crabs and had a 3.35 K/BB ratio, without being "too old" for his league at 21 yrs old. Josh Sale's placement at #5 is a matter of how good his scouting reports made his potential sound. Kid is huuuuuuuge for a HSer and many believe that his power will carry over from metal to wood bats. He's the 1st ever player to hit for the cycle in an "Area Code" baseball game.

6-10 review: Alex Cobb and Alex Torres are very interchangeable. I think Alex's future profiles better as a starter, while Torres will be a better reliever(in my eyes). Torres may be a good starter, but he may be a Johan Santana-type(ironic, due to the fact that Torres wears Santana's # in honor of him) and his ability to induce ground-balls. Nick Barnese is another quiet prospect in the Rays' system, great peripherals all-around and is still "young". Alex Colome had an interesting 2010 season, especially considering the hype that he went into the season with. Colome didn't do much to drop his stock, but I can totally see the Rays slowly considering a switch to relief in the future. Jake Thompson blew everyone away, one month into his career. He was viewed by many as being a "signability"-guy and his drafting was a matter of the Rays having 3 picks in the 1st round/needing someone who will sign quickly/cheaply. Then, to all of our surprise, he looked absolutely dominant. He must've done something right, seeing as the Rays decided to send him to Port Charlotte at the end of the season. In a non-aggressive system, like the Rays, he's gotta be doing something right to be shot through the rankings.

11-15 review: "King" Rodriguez is a hard-luck prospect. While his W-L and ERA weren't great, he still had a respectable season otherwise. Jake McGee's transition to the relief role and acclimation to the majors is just underway. I almost didn't rank him due to the fact that I didn't consider his 2010 as really a "season" in the minors but more of an prep to what was to come later in the season. Enny Romero is this year's standout from the Rays' latin american signings of year's past. It was just a matter of time before he went state-side and didn't disappoint when he did. Let's see how he does in full-season leagues before giving him the hype that we gave Colome/Rodriguez. Ryan Brett is one of my personal favorites from the Rays' 2010. I think the questions about his size will end because he's going to show surprising power and has done pretty well thus far in his debut. Drew Vettleson's scouting reports make him sound like his ceiling will be definitely lower than Sales' but he may become a more complete package than him.

16-20 Review: Derek Dietrich is another favorite of mine, but I'm gonna need to see how he does in a full-season league before I decide if he's a Top 10 guy. The reviews on Araujo make him sound like he's "raw" but may be an absolute beast if the Rays' scouting department are spot-on like they usually have been with their latin prospects. Hector "Che" Guevara is a favorite of Baseball America's Ben Badler and for good reason, he can hit pretty well and may stick long-term in the middle-infield. Tim Beckham gets dismissed a lot because of who the Rays passed on, when they picked Beckham #1. However, his numbers are slightly above league-averages and he's still young relative to his league. Still iffy on "D" but he's made some strides. Justin O'Connor was our re-do pick for not signing LeVon Washington, but I think considering the Rays' depth at Catcher and "OC" 's potential...this pick may have been better than Washington.

20-30 review: Luke Bailey is a favorite of mine, but I'd like to see more of him. For a guy who's bread-and-butter was his power and arm behind the plate, he needs to have a fantastic 2011 to prove believers that he's the best catching prospect in the system. Jake DePew is a draft pick that many thought wouldn't get signed, too much potential and the belief that the Rays wouldn't spend too much to get him. He's part of the trio of young Rays catchers that the Rays have gotten in the last 2 drafts. Question is, how do you get all three the time and gameplay they need to grow. Jeff Malm was an all-bat, no-glove 1B prospect for the Rays in the '09 draft. I'm hoping he takes it up a step in 2011. Scott Shuman, proof rays know how to find relief prospects, he may be one of the best finds that they've had in awhile. Todd Glaesmann was '09's version of Drew Vettleson. Not as high of a ceiling as the picks before him, but may end up being a more of a complete package OFer. Tyler Bortnick is what I see as a "grinder"-type of player, he's never gonna get the respect that he's deserving of but will never cease to amaze people. Cesar Perez was so advanced for a J2 prospect in the '09 Instructional league that the Rays skipped him from playing in the DSL and started him state-side. Jesse Hahn is the closest thing that the Rays have to being a draft-and-follow. They paid for his potential, just have to wait for his arm to full recovery. I've got a feeling Hahn will end up being a reliever long-term, but who knows. Zach Quate, our next top closing prospect. I see him ending 2011 in Durham and a possible late-season call-up if he is outright impressive. Ty Morrison is a stolen base machine, gets on-base at a decent clip and plays fairly good out in the field.

Honorable Mention: Henry Wrigley, I like the guy but I see him being a Quadruple A guy and never will be more than a late-season cup-of-coffee guy. Ian Kendall, A guy I'm going to keep an eye on next season, but I'm tempering my enthusiasm. Juniel Quarecuto, I'm hoping his bat starts catching up to his glove.


  1. Wow. Can't believe it is this late and I am the first one.

    First of all, this looks like a very aggressive list.

    I don't understand why McGee is so low. Niether do I understand why Cruz is so high. Lets face it, Cruz has the ceiling on a three based on his stuff.

    Too High: Yoel Araujo (wwaaayyy to high), Jake DePew, and Cruz
    Too Low: McGee, Colome, and Torres.

    Just my opinion of course though.

  2. The top 30 lists are opinions made off of scouting reports. I much rather base an opinion for the top 30 off of performance by watching players play a full season of pro ball. Not to project what a player might do in years to come. Scouting a player with my own eyes is what counts in my opinion. Before a player is ranked so high, he needs to do the work first, prove it to us. Just my opinion.

  3. Anon,
    I find this response quite funny. The top 3 players have all had great performances the past two or so years. In fact, in the top 10, only one player does not have good to great results. And that player was arguably the fifth best player in the draft this past year.

    If you are complaining about Wrigley not being higher, go see what OBP is. Please point out who you are talking about.

    Scouting reports give us the ability to guess how well a player will perform. If you don't have good scouting reports, you usually don't make it to the majors, no matter how well you perform in the minors. And that is what these lists are about, to predict who will be the best for the Rays.

  4. I think the confusion comes from when you say some players need to be watched more to see if they belong in the top 10, and then you have a HS player such as Sale who is a 1st rounder with no pro experience and he is ranked high because of the scouting report. I feel there are many great players not on the list who have proved themselves more then others who have made this list, but these 30 players are all great, just confusing on how they get ranked so highly while others have proved themselves more. I guess it's just the guessing on who is predicted on playing well verses lets watch a player play first then see. I understand this isn't how this works.

  5. I try to do mine on performance and results. Josh Sale is up there becuase everyone expects him to perform. If he doesn't, he will take a big fall in the list. Alex Cobb is an example of someone being ranked highly without scouting reports.

  6. Nice answers Michael. I should just go find my responses from years past and copy and paste them, since they come up every time we do this. But let me start with this.

    First, I really don't like doing these lists. Sure, they generate comments and activity, which makes for some (sometimes) fun conversation. But I hate to say Guy A is "better than" Guy B who's better than Guy C, etc. I hope all of these young men are successful. This is their careers (for now), their lives. It's really tough when you communicate with them or their families off the record and then have to say some not-so-positive things about them here. Maybe it's just me, but I don't like it sometimes.

    However, when you write for a site called, readers expect to see prospects lists. Personally, I prefer our draft coverage, daily updates, transactions, the business side of the minor leagues, affiliate news and promos, etc. But prospects rankings are sort of a necessity, and they always bring controversy, cricism, and nasty comments, unlike the other types of posts. You don't see that with the other posts.

    Our goal here has always been to be a place to share information about the Rays minor league players. Simple as that, a clearinghouse, one-stop-shop kind of place. The only reason we exist is because that just didn't, and still doesn't, exist elsewhere. As good as DRB, RI, raysBB,, and others are with Rays info and analysis, there was never a place focused on sharing minor league info. So Kevin and I started RP and others joined in and here we are. We aren't wildly successful, but I think we've accomplished the goal of having a place to go to for info.

    And who would have thought we'd still be around? Given the abuse heaped on Rays fans (there aren't any!!!), how many Rays minor league fans could there be? But here we are, despite what the rest of baseball wants to believe. And if anyone wants to join as a writer just drop me an email (some of you of course have open invitations, Chris @WDDBB, diamondTom, etc.). end of rant

  7. Part Deux:

    Back to ranking prospects, there are several factors that figure into my, and everyones, rankings. Everyone (if we had 100 lists, we'd have 100 ways of how to do it) weighs them differently overall, and for a specific player, but here are the ones I look at - not in order btw:

    1. Draft position. I know, no one likes it, but it is what it is. Go back and look at my series on how draft picks have done through the years, if you aren't a top 10 pick or so, you aren't even likely to be in the org after 3 years. Dislike it all you want, say how unfair it is, but if you aren't a member of the org, you can't make a top prospect list. This is partly due to the way the Rays look at things, but I really don't think it's much different in other orgs.

    2. Performance. If you don't perform, you will be released at some point. See #1 for how many chances you'll get, but eventualy even top picks are cut if the don't perform.

    3. Scouting. This can kind of overcome #2 if for ex. BA says you have great tools despite lack of performance, but in the long run it's performance. This is also useful for newer players (recent draftees) who haven't yet had the chance to show their stuff, and guys coming back from injury (McGee, and more recently Suarez).

    4. Injury history. This is mostly related to pitchers, but also hurts guys like Jennings with persistant minor things. Will Kline, Wade Townsend, and others were docked due to this, and rightfully so. This is why I held off on Jesse Hahn this year, let's see if he can even pitch again before we rank him.

    5. Age, and age-to-level. This also ticks people off like the draft pick thing, but it's real. If you are doing well against kids 2 or 3 years younger than you, you're gonna get docked. May not be your fault - college draftee, time missed with injuries, both - but it affects your upside going forward. Dominating the Appy as a 22 year-old against teenagers who are still filling out and maturing isn't such a great thing. Dominating the Southern League as a 21 year-old, now we're talking prospect to help the Rays. This is also in need of context, for ex I give LHP an extra year, and catchers 2, because they tend to develope more slowly due to various things, but in general, the younger you are vs competition, the better prospect-wise.

  8. Part trois:

    6. Projection. This sort of encompasses all of the above. But for example, I took a flier on Wilmer Almonte (a small righthander at HV w/ no hype) based on stats and age-to-level while leaving off Braulio Lara (big leftie with nice stats, but older, lower level, and sparkling BA hype). Some have Lara higher, I picked Almonte, but I can see the argument against me.

    7. Position discount. This applies to both pitchers and hitters. 22 years old and already in the pen, not good. 19 years old and already 1B/DH, not good. It's a competition, there are tons of RPs out there that are above you, freely available as milb-fa's, and above you. Same with 'sluggers' at 1B at a young age, as guys move down the defensive spectrum you face more and more competition to make it. If you can stick at SS, CF, C, LHSP, you have a much better chance of making it due to sheer numbers of guys moving off of those positions as the progress through the minors.

    8. Misc. Can be anything, but things like killing someone, bat flipping, closer to the big leagues, what ever. Sometimes it's things that everyone knows about (in the news), sometimes it's things we are told privately, but there are lots of things that figure into prospect rankings that have nothing to do with performance. (Can someone explain adding Matt Bush to our 40-man, seriously.).

    So those are the things I factor into the whole thing, may have left some out. But depending on the guy, any one factor may be more important than the other. Vogt gets props for performance, but dings for age-to-level, but a boost if he can stick at catcher. Bellatti does well until we get to Misc.

    Should have probably made this a post instead of a comment but I started making a reply to Michael and despite the urgings of my 2 year-old, ended up finishing it. If I didn't make sense or didn't explain myself properly please ask a follow-up question. And thanks for all of the civility in the posts lately, maybe everyone got their anger out at Kevin :).

  9. #7 deserves a post of it's own for sure, and I've been meaning to do it for awhile. Need to get that article done.

  10. I am new to this forum and find it to be both informative and entertaining. Thank you for the information and the write ups. It is very apparent that a lot of time and thought go into many of the posts here. It appears as though there are 4-5 "moderators" who supply most of the information. Most of the veterans of this board probably know the answers already but could you give us newbies the background/credentials of the major writers to this forum? Or could you let us know where to find the info? Thanks in advance and keep up the great work!

  11. 2. Desmond Jennings
    3. Matt Moore

    I agree with you.

  12. Doug,

    That is a great post. I would have it around that order too. I want to go into something that you didn't include that is important to me. It is the level the player starts at. No scout or writer knows the player better than the organization. They will put the player in the place he needs to be. For example, I was really surprised when I saw the Bailey was only in the GCL. After how he struggled though now, I am confident in the Rays opinions over these players. That is why I am big on Thompson. They sent a 19 year old to A+, which means alot especially since they are very conservative with their placements of players.

    I do not work for this site, but I do comment a lot and had my list published so here is a little on me. I have followed the Rays since 2008. In mid to late 2008, I began to notice prospects. I immediately became obsessed and have floowed them closely for a while. I read every scouting report I can find or get my hands on while listening to many wise opinions. Through some articles and opinions, I now am able to distinguish players like a mini-scout. For example, I can tell which player is better from watching them (assuming theya re not two very closely rated player). I can also distinguish good types of pitches from bad ones. However, I do struggle with noticed the difference between a good and a great curve. I also learn alot from just watching many games on TV or by going to them, both in the minors and majors.

    I need to get to bed lol.

  13. Michael
    Jake Depew is not to high. The guy can flat out swing it. He has a cannon behind the plate. He's going to have a good year. I look for hit to progress into a big leaguer within 5 years. He was a steal in the 9th round, he was going to go to the royals in the 2ed but the numbers didnt add up. Have u even seen him play?