Sunday, January 23, 2011

Top 15 Hitters: #2 Josh Sale

Josh Sale
6'1" 215 lbs DOB: 7/5/1991
Bats: Left Throws: Right
2010: Did Not Play
Acquired: 2010 Draft, 1st Round

The Rays top pick in 2010, Sale's calling card is his bat. He's average-at-best in the outfield and on the bases, which means that his hitting really needs to come through, but it's got a chance to be elite. The son of a professional weight lifter, Sale is pure strength with plus bat speed. He's got the chance to produce plus-plus power down the line. His pure hitting tool isn't as good, and he needs to iron out some glitches with his swing, but it's able to play up because he's a selective hitter and waits for a good pitch to hit.

Sale's hitting far outranks the rest of his game. He's a below-average runner whose range in a corner outfield spot would only be average. His arm and fielding actions are both also only okay, and he's not much of a threat on the bases. He's a workout warrior with plus make-up, though, so he'll remain passable in the field and won't relegate himself to DH duty.

Generally guys with only two plus tools don't rate as high as Sale, but his hit and power tools have the potential to be that good. He's often compared to Travis Snider, who is also a hit-first player from the Washington high school ranks. Snider tore through the minors to debut in the majors with Toronto as a 20-year old. Sale won't move that quickly, but he's a good bet to force the Rays hand to move him along.

He's a good enough hitter to at least hold his own in the Midwest League, but with no pro experience, he may start out in a short-season league. The Rays have had just one high school hitter regarded as highly as Sale, Drew Vettleson, and Justin O'Conner, and that was Tim Beckham, who signed quickly and got a lot of ABs in Princeton his draft year, so it's tough to guess where they'll send the 2010 crop.


  1. You guys kill me. Two guys that have yet to face a real pitcher in a real game and they are the #4 and #2 position player prospects. Let's all get into an argument about how these two guys stack up against all of the other position player prospects, and then we argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin - it's just as germane. How 'bout we do this - until a position player prospect has 500 plate appearances and 100 games in the field, his status as a prospect is listed as TBD. At least, when we debate the future prospects for guys like Stephen Vogt, Henry Wrigley and Tim Beckham, there are real stats and real results to analyze. Stop being enamored by how someone looks stepping off the bus, and focus on what they have actually done.

    This is just me two cents, and nothing personal directed at either individual. Let them find themselves before you annoint them with a tag that may become an albatross around their necks.

  2. We're just trying to tell who the Rays top position player prospects are. The fact that two guys who are just "stepping off the bus" are this high is not because we are enamoured with them, it's because that part of the Rays system has been weak.

    Unfortunately, when we've had "real stats" and "real results" lately, they haven't been that good (Beckham). I wish the system was so strong in position players that recent draftees didn't make the Top 10, and especially 2 of the Top 5. But that's how we view the current crop of position players. We feel they have a better chance to have an impact at the big league level than the others. It will take a while, and some will fail, but that's how we view the chances as of now.

  3. Here is my response to both anonmous's.......

    These players would not be so high if they were not projected to do so well. If we waited until a guy had 500 PA, we would skip over players like Heyward (at the time), Trout (at the time), and Harper. These guys are legit prospects who have a good chance of doing well. That is why they are rated high. I can guarantee you next year that you will not be questioning about whether we should have put Sale that high.

    So lets say Sale goes out and hits .300/.400/.550. Then we rate him second again behing Jennings after we excluded him from the previous list. That would make these lists look very ignorant, since little had probably changed for Sale over the course of the year. He could be very similar talent wise now as after the 2011 season, so it would be a mistake to leave such a player off the list.

  4. Doug and Michael - you're missing my point. It's not about Sale and Vettleson - who knows, maybe they'll be playing in the Majors a couple of years from now. It's about the ridiculousness of rating anyone IN HIS CURRENT JOB (i.e., a Professional, not High School, baseball player) based on nothing but "potential." All I'm saying is we should not be too quick to judge anyone, positively or negatively, without something objective to base the judgement on. Why can't there be two lists - one for individuals that have at least played a Rookie short season, and those who have potential but have not yet (because of injury or late signing, for example) started building their professional CV. Just my thoughts, and don't take this the wrong way. I wouldn't be commenting if I wasn't visiting the site - you guys are passionate about the subject, and have built(from nothing) a highly informative, one-stop shop for everything one needs to know about the Rays Minor League operation.

  5. Doug and Mike - a follow on to the above. The thoughtful analysis Doug did comparing Hak-Ju Lee to Tim Beckham would not have been nearly as credible without real results to analyze. What value would there have been in a similar exercise had it been done prior to the 2009 season? While it may have been a fun parlor game, it would have had no meaning. I hope you agree, and therefore see the value of time in this arena.

  6. at least wait until they have a short season of at bats...then rank have no facts on which to support your rankings....this is professional baseball ain't high school anymore

  7. Ranking prospects is never fact. It's going off of as much information as there is available. Would I love to have more data on Sale/Vettleson/etc? Sure, but it doesn't preclude me from ranking them based off what's in front of me.

  8. Hey Anonymous- If you have such a problem ranking players based off of projections then don't visit the site. I like the list and compare it to the pre-season BCS rankings. Nobody knows how Alabama's draft class will do next year but I'm sure the players they sign out of HS will factor in their ranking. It's all hype and that's what makes lists like this fun. Mike and Doug are putting this out here for us serious fans to get excited about. If you need down and dirty sabermetrics then go to

  9. Bob - I'm sorry if I offended you by not following along with the herd. I have no problem with the list conceptually, only with what I specifically discussed. I have nothing negative to say about either of the individuals mentioned, and, as I have already said, would not be suprised if either one made it all the way to the Majors. I'm only advocating a "take it slow" approach. Case in point: Jeff Malm was a highly touted draft pick in 2009 (I believe he was selected in the 5th round). He signed late, had an espresso-sized cup of coffee in the GCL (only 26 PAs), and was listed as the #9 prospect prior to last season, with good reason as he was a monster in HS with numbers that were off the charts. He didn't have a particularly good year in 2010 (.220 BA, .310 SLG in 220 PAs), and does not appear in this year's Top 15. My only conclusion is that, in the mind's of those who made up the list, his production did not match the initial projections, and he has some work to do. What changed? Does he suddenly not "project" any more? The only point I'm trying to make (and I did not want to bring up any names - if Jeff's parents, relatives or friends are reading this, I wish nothing but the best for Jeff going forward) is that, at this point in his development, perhaps Jeff wasn't ready to be annointed with a Top Prospect tag. If he were to appear in next year's list, and I might be going to go out on a limb here, it's probably because his production and the developmental trend lines warrant it. And isn't that the way it should be, to earn the tag, rather than having it simply bestowed upon you? As it is, I'll just holds my tongue from now on, and not rock the boat with anything like a different perspective from the conventional wisdom.

  10. Anon, I see where you are coming from, but does it really matter if they had past pro data? Lets say Malm hit .300/.400/.500 this past year. We would then rate him near the top. But lets say next year he hits something similar to what he hit this past year. Did the prior pro-data really mean anything? At this level, it is much more about scouting reports than about statistics.

  11. Is Sale a 5 tool player? To be ranked so highly, I would think he would be. I think the stats of a player are just as important since this is what is discussed on this web site for the most part anyway...stats. I understand the scouting reports, but they aren't nearly as important as performance/stats in pro ball. If it's not about stats, then why bring them up with all other players you are discussing? Just saying.

  12. The stats vs. scouting thing isn't easy to balance. At the very low levels, I don't think stats mean a whole lot. Pitchers can succeed with one pitch or good command, but will get knocked around against more advanced hitters. Hitters could feast at the lower levels but then struggle when they have to face better pitching.

    Also keep in mind that we're trying to project these guys for major-league value. So let's take Justin O'Conner. His GCL stats weren't very good, but we can look at his body, his swing, and his tools and say that he projects well.

  13. Isn't it true to say that most all drafted players project well? Isn't that why they get drafted to begin with?

  14. Every prospect list I view combines stats and scouting to make their decisions, with the balance between the two varying according to the situation.

    For example, on the Baseball-Intellect Rays prospect list, Sale and Vettleson are ranked #6 and 9 respectively. The only two hitters ahead of them are Jennings and Lee, and I am guessing that Lee's ranking has to do with his defense at shortstop.

    Using stats exclusively or primarily does not alter the volatile nature of rankings from year to year. Many players with excellent stats for a year or two drop off the radar while others rise quickly despite early failures. Combining the two with intelligent balancing depending on circumstances makes more sense than ignoring players with great scouting reports because they have not yet proven anything.

    As for the Rays specifically, given the thinness of the hitting prospects, it makes sense that high ceiling hitters might be ranked high despite their lack of stats. It will be interesting to see where Hahn is ranked as a pitcher since the Rays are flush with pitching prospects and so prospect mavins may value the stats more fully for them.

  15. To further illustrate my point, here is the latest prospect ranking from Baseball America;

    Note the ranking of Sale as the first hitter after Jennings.

  16. PLAY BALL!...and let the umpires sort it out!

  17. I don't necessarily disagree with the idea Anon posted about having 2 lists, one for guys who have had x number of AB's and one for recent draftees. Maybe a "Production List" and a "Potential List". But the first thing everyone would ask is, where would Sale be if you listed them together? So we would end up having to do the same thing we are already doing. To me it's easier to just do it this way (same as BA, Sickels, and others do it) and then you can subtract out the guys on the "Potential List". Seems pretty common sense to me, we include who is on here for their production and who is on here based on their potential, if you want to adjust it based on your own feelings about performance on the field, easy enough to do.

    Bottom line is this: It's our choice how we do this. We appreciate the ideas on how to improve what we do, but I've yet to hear a convincing argument to change the way we have done it the past few years. People really want to be able to compare our rankings to BA and Sickels, and I just don't see how splitting up the rankings based on pro playing time would help them do that. Feel free to continue to make the argument for it, we really do take your comments into consideration and appreciate your contributions to the discussion, but I don't see the need to change things at this time.

    I also think you will like the pitchers list better than the position players. Other than Hahn, who KG likes more than I do, I don't see anyone who won't have at least a short-season track record.

    Anyone want an open thread post to talk about anything about the Rays system? If so, I'll post one tomorrow. Right now I'm overwhelmed with work, but I could answer specific questions asked and I'm sure Kevin would too. We haven't done one in over a year so it might be fun. I'm also planning to do a series on each of the affiliates, sort of a guide, starting with the Princeton Rays. Given my schedule, may be a week or so to start, but I've always wanted to look at each affiliate individually. Look for the Open Thread-type post Thursday.

  18. Doug - I am the original Anon. Thank you for your thoughtful posting above. The most important thing you said, and I couldn't agree more, is that this is YOUR forum, and it IS your choice as to how you rate/analyze/critique the prospects. While I may have been a little over-the-top initially, I was only trying to generate a discussion/debate and bring a new perspective that could differeniate this forum from all the others. Professionally, I'm in the Business Development arena, and I'm always looking for ways to separate my company from the pack and bring added value to our customers that can't be found anywhere else. I guess I just couldn't resist (please, protect me from myself ;-). No worries - I will continue to use this forum as my gateway to all things Rays.

  19. No problem Anon, appreciate outside the box thinking. And sorry about the "bottom line:" comment, the snow is making me grouchy!

  20. Different anon here. Been watching Josh workout all winter. I think you'll be surprised by his run-speed tool. He's a big cat and he won't steal a bunch of bases but he's no donkey either. I doubt he'll cost you any runs on the bases or in the field.

  21. Honestly prospects are rated on how much the organization payed them. There are tons of talented guys throughout every organization but until they're in double A they're no-bodies. This is why guys like Sale are listed number 2 because the Rays don't want to look bad and come out and say they made a bad pick. They'll just keep telling everyone hes the cream of the crop so hes worth more to them in the long run. Just read the write up about Sale, he has one good tool. But his dads was a professional body builder, hell lets give the kid 6 million. Even Beckham has had below average numbers at best but year but somehow finds his way to be a top prospect, weird. Bryce Harper could go 0 for his next 500 at bats but will still make it to the Bigs guaranteed.

  22. What? lol

    Come on, lets be serious here buddy. Almost every prospect goes through the lower minors. And many of the very good ones make it through it. And saying he has one tool is an absolute lie. His hit tool is also above average, and he commands the zone well.

    Tim Beckham is rated high because he still has tools and has flashed the ability to be very good.

    Heck, I guess you didn't see the Matt Moore ranking, did you? He wasn't a top pick. Smae goes for Jennings, Cobb, etc...

  23. Michael lol,

    i didnt know commands the zone well was a tool... tim beckham flashes the ability to be very good? what does that even mean? Where i come from your good only if your consistent. a lot of people have been players of the week that doesnt make them top prospects does it? Matt more has proven himself in bowling green and port charlotte... top 10 rounds and out of highschool im guessing he got payed 300k plus. your not winning this argument.

  24. What?

    Commanding the zone is a skill. If you can't command the zone, you are not going anywhere, whether you like it or not. Commanding the zone means forcing the pitchers to throw strikes by not swinging at balls.

    And how has Sale not been consistent? He hasn't played, but that doesn't mean he wasn't consistent. Go tell Pujols he wasn't consistent when he was drafted.

    You talk about consistency, then you mention Matt Moore. Moore is by definition inconsistent.

    And I doubt Moore got 300k. I can't find the info on that, but I am 99% sure he got less than that. Can you prove your point?

    Nice to know that, thank you. Please don't come here making flase claims and tell someone they are not winning an arguement just because they don't agree with you.

  25. Look's like Matt got $115,000. That is money well spent.

    Matt Moore lhp

    drafted 2007 (8-245) (Moriarity HS, N.M.)
    $0.115M signing bonus
    ML service: