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The Process of Weeding Out: Ranking the Phillies Prospects

Our recent vigorous debate on debates, got me thinking about my own personal debate every fall: Who's worth considering for the Top 30 Prospects?

Crystal Logiudice-US PRESSWIRE

So, I have a bit of a process for ranking my Top 30 players. My first step is listing out somewhere usually in the neighborhood of 60 names of guys I think might be in the running, there's no research and guys may come and go off that list as I refine. Honestly, I rank guys through the 40 spot and then beyond that tends to be one big lump of Org filler that I don't really bother differentiating between much. Some of those lump of guys from 41-60 do end up contributing, but I never felt they were worth the effort of ranking formally (in the last 4 years or so, that group has included BJ Rosenberg, Tyler Cloyd, Mario Hollands and a few others, but I think you can see a fairly clear trend among those names: The contribution is basically repalcement level play).

After creating my list of 60 names, I do a first pass "Gut" ranking. Keep in mind, that over the course of the year I read dozens of scouting reports, see some of these guys in person and follow the stats dilligently, so it isn't a pure list of names I'm most familiar with. I usually try to do this first pass in October before other lists are put out that might affect my take. I'm behind the curve this year after Baseball Prospectus started with the Phillies (I guess they were too excited about writing an overview of Dylan Cozens to wait). Now, my first list isn't really in Order, per se, it's more in groups of 5. I have generally tended to find guys get seperated out into that range (with some fuzziness around the edges). I tend to feel like Aaron Nola is certainly a Top 5 guy, he may be #1, he may be #4, but he's not going to be 6,7, or 8. On the flipside, my gut says Dylan Cozens is Top 10, but clearly not Top 5. Now, I could end up with him at, say, 11 when all is said and done, but I doubt he'd fall much further than 12 or 13. This gets fuzzier the lower you go, as a guy ranked #30 and a guy ranked #22 really don't have big differences.

My next step is to go look at scouting reports and my own notes to see if I want to move anyone around. There tends to be quite a bit of movement in this phase, as I consider tools and projections and age-relative to league, etc. By the time I complete this -often in December- My list is about 70% done and everyone down through 40 is ranked.

Next I go to the Stats. I don't pay much attention to Triple-Slash or Home Runs or Stolen Bases or ERA; I try to look at indicators like Line Drive Rate (are they making hard contact?), HR/OFB (were they lucky or unlucky in this area? Is it a park factor?), home/road splits, platoon splits, League Factors (a .301 AVG means something entirely different in the Appy than it does in High Desert, for example), FIP for Pitchers (were they undermined by crap defense?). Pitchers don't tend to move much here, as I've considered the big issues like pitches, control and command during the Scouting Report phase, but hitters will shuffle a bit here. The shifts aren't huge, but a guy might move a couple spots up or down (a good example is Mitch Walding, as recently as 2 years ago his Scouting Reports were still good enough to rank him decently in the teens, but his stats were so bad and showed such poor results in translating those tools that he would slide several places because of it).

My last step is a final QC. By the time I start this my list is probably about 90% done and could probably get published, but I like to sanity check myself first. Any movement here tends to be between similar guys (last year I flip-flopped Altherr and Dugan and tweaked the bottom of the list). I'm looking to make sure I consider differences in guys, in the example of Altherr and Dugan, I considered Altherr's superior athleticism and positional flexibility against Dugan's tendency for stints on the DL, I also considered Dugan's better Power against Altherr's having only brief success and stronger likelihood of topping out as John Mayberry, Jr., Jr. In the end I went against my gut and put Altherr over Dugan. It wasn't earth shattering or anything and ultimately it doesn't matter much who gets ranked 8th versus 9th, but I needed to be comfortable that I'd considered the positional elements in my rankings. My shifts from 28-30 tend to be more about looking at high ceilings and figuring out who's worth writing about/following since the difference between ranking someone 28 and 31 is pretty miniscule.

So, I know there's a lot of prospect heads reading the page and I'm curious to hear about sleepers, longshots, favorite prospects, etc. My gut check ranking is done, but if anyone sways me on a guy, he could move a bit before the next step. What about the more controversial picks like Quinn, Tocci, Pujols? What do we do with Severino now that he struggled a bit? Fresh International Signees? How likely is it that Amaro will mess this all up by signing Tomas and trading for more top Prospects?