Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Top 30 Prospect List: Burgi

This time I tried something different. I wanted to calculate my top prospect list in a way which diminishes (at least a bit) the influence of my own gut feelings and which is more objective. Therefore I chose and weighted 4 criterias which should evaluate a players' prospect status. I'd like to make them transparent here in order to get some input from you guys. Before posting them I wanted to say that especially the weights of the criterias is a preliminary one and that I'll keep monitoring and adjusting them. A player can achieve a grade between 0 and 10 in each criterion. I've analysed 94 current Rays prospects with this method:
  1. Stats (weight: 0.25) ... This criterion represents the players' stats of the last years (weighing '11 more than '10, ...). I tried to relativate the stats a bit towards league averages and ballpark factors. Small sample sizes are considered as well (score is then nearer to a 5) [Best score: Matt Moore and Oscar Hernandez with 9.5; worst score: Cesar Perez with 0.5]
  2. Level of play in '12 (weight: 0.125) ... This criterion ranges from "MLB ready/on verge of playing in the majors" in '12 (10 points) to "will play in foreign rookie ball in '12" (0 points). It accounts for a players' development stage, for a players' readiness for and way to the majors as well as also a bit for the probability a certain player has of reaching the majors. [Best score: Moore, Guyer, Canzler, Torres, Lobaton, Chirinos with 10; worst score: Hernandez, De la Cruz a d Araujo with 1]
  3. Relative age in '11 (weight: 0.075) ... In order to relativize the stats-criterion I've also included a criterion which looks at the relative age of a player compared to his level of play in '11 and before. Young players for their level of play get a higher score than older ones. It's important to note that I haven't compared a players' age to the league average age but to the average age of the prospects in this league. By that I tried to eliminate taking life-long minor leaguers into account here. [Best score: Beckham, Lee, Hager, Faria, Martin, Harris Jr. with 9; worst score: Josh Satow with 0]
  4. Talent (weight: 0.55) ... Now it becomes very, very subjective. Within this criterion a players' ceiling is very important. His floor or the probability of reaching his ceiling (as both are included in criterias 1 and 2) have less weight. Nevertheless, the "talent" criterion can't be interpreted as "ceiling" alone as the probabilities of reaching it (based on shown stuff/stats, injury history, level of play, development stage, ...) play a role in it as well. [Best score: Matt Moore with 10; worst score: Josh Satow with 1]
Okay then ... that's the "method" and here are the results (if anybody wants the .xlsx-Sheet, just mail me):
(Click at the image for a larger view)
Some tidbits to the ranking:
  • For those of you who are curious, the next 15 (in that order) are: Lobaton, Chirinos, Guevara, Thompson, Hahn, Bortnick, Riefenhauser, Shuman, Cruz, Glaesmann, Vogt, W. Rodriguez, Kang, Bush and Fleming.
  • I'm very surprised of the following rankings (but after checking the "method", I'm okay with it for now and thus these players stay where they are for now): Russ Canzler at 17 and Oscar Hernandez (14) are higher ranked than anticipated while Tyler Bortnick at 36, Wilking Rodriguez (42), Justin O'Conner (50 ... despite a 7.5 score for talent), Taylor Motter (56) are way lower than I thought ... but, I've checked all the scores and I'm okay with them. And you have to know that I really like Bortnick, O'Conner and Motter as prospects, so no (negative) bias I can think of here.
  • While 4 of the top 5 prospects are pitchers, there only are 12 pitchers in the top 30 (18 in top 40; 22 in top 50). This means that pitching is top heavy while the hitting has very, very much depth but no "elite" prospects (yet).
  • Nine 2011 draftees are in the top 30.
  • The rankings are extremely volatile. A change of the talent level for just a tiny little bit means a ranking-change of up to 5-8 places (especially in the lower parts of the rankings). That's a good indicator for the description of the Rays system: Lots and lots of depth with less "elite" prospects than usual but incredible depth.


  1. Sorry for posting the top 45 in the picture. My bad. Hope you don't mind.

    Wanted to say that I'm quite pleased with the result as I think that it doesn't overvalue any of the criterias. If any - comparing it to other top prospect lists - it undervalues "talent/tools" a bit. But, I'm okay with the weights right now. What do you think?

  2. Lol once again Dietrich is left off of a list... This is insane he's one of your top prospects which you guys fail to see... The kid is 5x better then Bortnick!!!!!!!!!!!!! Burgi your rankings are the worst Ive seen so far too

  3. Question: Have you considered docking any points for players whose anticipated role in the majors is as a reliever or bench player? Is that already included within talent (as ceiling/floor)?

    For example, might Linsky fall behind Barnese if you think he is definitely slated to become a reliever while you think Barnese might become a mid rotation starter? Or might Guyer fall behind Mahtook if your (admittedly somewhat subjective) view is that Guyer's likely ceiling is as a platoon corner outfielder while Mahtook has a better chance of becoming a regular, even a center fielder?

    Does the talent category cover that?

  4. Would love to hear why Dietrich is quote "5x better then Bortnick" ... (nice grammer guy)

  5. Totally ridiculous. Only thing that matters is what the scouts and organization thinks. I'm sure they think highly of guys you don't have on these lists.

  6. Didn't see Dietrich at 11th in the morning my bad and Dietrich has the bat/power that Bortnick never has or will ever have... For a guy to hit 21 homers in a pitchers league shows he is not stiff at the plate. Also, he is an energy booster in any situation... Bortnick may be better on the defensive side and basrunning but overall Dietrich has the edge big time. I see Dietrich in the MLB by 2014

  7. What does the P/F mean in the column before stats?

  8. I'm very surprised by the divergence between stats and talent. I realize that the talent is very subjective, and that stats are relative to the environment and competition, yet so should the talent. I think you should normalize your data based on the level the players were playing to determine their talent ratings. The ratings for talent are to subjective especially when you consider that many of the sub AA players haven't be subjected to "true" major capable pitching. I'm may be biased towards the AA and above players, but I see way to many players that have played solid baseball, below draftees, and players that haven't even played a full year in professional baseball. All said, I really like the way you have categorized and broken down the ratings.

  9. Defense is just as important, and looks like Bortnick has that edge, and his hitting can improve. Both defense and hitting are both important if a player has both going for him.

  10. @Robert: Yes, I've done that in talent. I've included the defensive side (with position players) and the relief/starting role for pitchers. I take the Linsky/Barnese example: Linsky got a 6.5 (above avg. setup-man talent level which would be the same as a good #3 starter) while Barnese got a 5 (#4- starter talent or average ML-reliever).

    @Anonymous 3: I sure hope so. And I think very highly of lower ranked prospects as well. By just looking (for example) at the talents in my 50s (O'Conner, Harris, G. De la Cruz, Alexander, Ames, Bellatti, Motter, Kelly, Lara and Yates) I like all of them and they all have a chance of becoming major leaguers. And even in the 60s (e.g. Kyle Lobstein, Cameron Seitzer, Ian Kendall) I see players I like very much ... and the Rays definitely do as well!

    @JoeBoo: P/F means P for Pitcher and F for Position Player/Fielder.

    @Eric: Thanks for the input. I took the level of play into consideration when I did the talent evaluations. For example: Bad results and no progress for years do lead to a lower talent rating even if the scouting reports stay positive. Good results on the other hand make it more likely of reaching the "ceiling" and therefore have a positive influence on the talent rating.
    And I think that talents from the upper levels are higher ranked on my board than on some others and I like that. I try to rank them according to future WAR at the major league level, meaning that players with perhaps lower ceilings can rank ahead of others because they have a higher chance of reaching the majors.

  11. As someone who spends way too much time putting statistics and information in spreadsheets trying to find the most objective way to view things, I enjoyed your approach. I think it turned out well.

  12. Thx Scott! I liked yours as well! And as you can see ... I also do love spreadsheets! ;-)

  13. Thank you for the response, and I should have added that I too like your approach very much.

    Just to pursue my question a bit. If Linsky's ceiling is that of a top set-up man or even a solid closer, it seems to me that is still a lower ceiling than that of a decent #4 starter. So even if his best or even 2 best pitches are better than anything Barnese offers, if Nick's ceiling is that of a #4 starter, it seems to me Barnese is the better prospect-or at least has a higher ceiling even if his floor is lower.

    My reasoning is that a useful starter is always (well, let's avoid absolutes and say generally) more valuable than a reliever. I know this sounds heretical, but I think if Hellickson plays out his career as a #3 starter with 2011 representing a kind of average season for him, he is a more valuable pitcher than Mariano Rivera has been.*

    *Please note this is no way meant to diminish Rivera's greatness. In my view, he is a HOFer. But the role in which he excels seems to me less significant than that of a starter no matter how brilliant he is at it.

  14. That's a very interesting discussion and it also involves the individual preferences of WAR or Wins Above Average (which I like very much at least for the Rays ... as they play in the AL East). In my mind a #3 starter is less valueable than Mariano Rivera.

    But, in order to give a straight answer and not become philosophical:

    Talent levels (as a guideline for this criterion):
    10 #1 starting pitcher (true ace)
    9 #2 starting pitcher
    8 #2/#3 SP; Top 10 RP in all of baseball (e.g. Mariano Rivera)
    7 #3 SP; Top 30 RP
    6 #3/#4 SP; Above avg. Set-Up man
    5 #4 SP; Avg. Set-Up man
    4 #5 SP; Excellent one handed specialist
    3 #5 SP/mid-reliever/avg. one handed specialist
    2 AAAA SP/RP
    1 AAA SP/RP
    0 AA SP/RP

  15. what players have hit 15+ HR and 80+ RBI the last 2 seasons??? and played in 100+ games?

  16. why isn't robby price on anyones top 30 prospect list?

  17. Wrigley has been off the charts in recent seasons with: hits, HR, RBI, Fielding % and so on. and its been at the upper levels. 6'4" 230 LBS beast of a 1 baseman! the west coast gets no love!

  18. Delmon Young, if you like averages....

  19. After Kevin posts his list we'll put up a composite showing all of the lists side-by-side as we have in the past. Easier to point out missing guys that way than in each individual list.

    Really like the way BurGi has done his list. Takes into account the various factors we all do in our heads and puts a number to them. You can argue the individual numbers or the weighting for the factors, but in general it's a great way of thinking through the process. Great way of approaching it BurGi!

    It would really be useful to compare a subset of players, say all starting pitchers or all corner OFs. Unless I missed it (sorry if I did), that's one thing that's missing, a score for position played. Something like the way WAR rewards players at tougher positions due to the scarcity of guys, such as SS and C. For ex, just about anyone can be moved down to 1B or LF (or DH), but can't move guys up to SS or C. Since that is also true at MLB level, prospects should get a bump if they can handle the more difficult positions. Maybe that's included in "Talent" but I think it should be it's own separate factor. Think of how much of Tim Beckham's value is dependent upon him being able to stick at SS. If he can he's a pretty decent prospect, if not, he's not very valuable at all. Another, think if Stephen Vogt could be a fulltime catcher, with his bat he'd be a top 10 prospect. As it is he's competing w/ several LF/1B type guys, w/ a slight advantage from being able to catch in a pinch. Not sure how you'd add it or what weight to give, but I think it's important.

    On Wrigley, not sure I see him even making Durham next year. Already have penciled in the 2 Cubans at 1B and Vogt in LF, plus tons of guys left to sign milb deals between now and spring training. He and Hellickson are all that's left from the 2005 draft. If he's as good as his fans think he is I'm sure he'll be picked in the Rule 5 draft tomorrow morning.

  20. I would be thrilled if Henry Wrigley proves to be a good major league ball player, or even makes the majors. But I don't see the optimism.

    There are positives. He has hit for power his last 2 years and for a big man he does not strike out very much.

    1. He was 24 years old in AA this year. That is old for that level.

    2. His power has been good recently, but is not outstanding for a corner player, especially when he is repeating AA at age 24.

    3. Most problematic, he does not walk. A .309 OBP is simply awful. That does not bode well for success in the majors.

    The Rays lack power prospects at the upper levels and don't even have a real major league first baseman, so there is certainly room for Wrigley. If he is as dedicated a player as some have said, I would not write him off. But based on his performance to date, it seems to me he is a very long shot.

  21. I'm just going to re-print what I wrote back in November on the whole Wrigley thing:

    Wrigley's career-high OBP is .312 (which he did in 2010) and his career mark is .293. Like it or not the Rays value that stat (I like it, for the record) and I really don't see them giving a guy who gets on base at that clip a shot. You mention his counting stats, and those are nice, but OBP matters.

    Take Russ Canzler, for example. He led his team in hits, RBIs, and home runs. But look at the difference in their 2011 lines:
    Wrigley: .274/.309/.464
    Canzler: .314/.401/.530

    Canzler got some big league time at the end of 2011 and may be in the mix for 2012. If Wrigley can get his numbers up near Canzler's, then yeah, he deserves a shot. But look at the difference in OBP, it's almost .100 points.

  22. @iHaveStoneCrabs and MattL: We all here at the site don't have anything against Henry Wrigley. We all hope that he makes it to the majors and hopefully he'll contribute to the Rays success. But, we don't value counting stats that much. Of course, they are correlated to talent level, but also to playing time and position in the batting order. I can't say more but to agree with Kevin's post right above.

    @the last anon: I have Robbie Price at 69 right above Cole Figueroa (who might not be in the system for much longer). I especially like his approach at the plate.

    @Doug: Thanks for your input. I included the position into the players' talent level scores. Therefore I didn't make a 5th category. Maybe I'm changing that in the future, but I have the position always in my head when I think about a players' talent.

  23. Do any of you "stat" guys have the "avg. age" information for AA and
    AAA ? Specifically for the Southern League & International ? Thank you !

  24. If you click on "Rays Depth Chart" at the top of any page it has rosters for each team and team and league average ages (for pitchers and hitters). For Southern Lg look under Montgomery, AAA is under Durham. Ages are as of the end of last season of course, will be updated once 2012 gets underway.

  25. Burgi I am curious if craige lyerly was in the 94 rays you analyzed and if he was where was he? Not saying he should have been in your top by any mean I am just curious :) I really enjoyed how you did your top prospects. I like the chart.

  26. List your top 94 and their scores if you would not mind!

  27. @2nd to last Anon: I wasn't one of the 94 prospects, but I added him now. He is 95th, slightly behind Josh Satow.

    @last Anon: Please just send me an email ( and I'll send it to you.

  28. Where do you have Partridge, Floethe and Belatti on you list!

  29. Bellatti: 55
    Floethe: 90
    Partridge: Not on the list. It was a tough call whether I should do him or not. He should be at the end of the list, though. Maybe 94th.

  30. Have done Jacob Partridge now. He is 89th on my list (out of now 96).

  31. I am a little surprised you have Floethe at 90 and Bellatti 35 slots higher and Partridge not even ranked. Especially when the Rays have them in the rotation in Hudson Valley?

  32. Bellatti had better stats than both and he is younger. They all have the same grade in the "level" category as I think that they all will play in Bowling Green next year. And I have Bellatti with a higher talent level then the others, especially because he is striking more batters out.

  33. ... and because his scouting report is a bit better than those of Floethe and Partridge (if I remember correctly)