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Prospect Ranking Prep - The Draft

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I go through a few steps to get to my prospect rankings and in the spirit of "showing my work" I'm sharing a few steps this year. My first step every year is looking back at how I did analyzing prospects in previous years and that includes the Draft.

"Yukon" Cornelius Randolph
"Yukon" Cornelius Randolph
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

I write two big sets of articles around here every year: Prospect Rankings and Draft Previews. This time of year is when I look back at where I was wrong on each. The draft is the tougher one to do this with, as there is so little data available, so unless the guy I liked immediately turns into Mike Trout in full season Low-A, there isn't much to go on. So I look back at all my previous years there too. Each year I do a shadow draft for the Phillies inspired by John Sickels' shadow Twins draft (I also do one for the Eagles and have since the mid-90's but that's a different article for a site about how to draft awfully with an odd focus on the Tight End position). My draft runs through four rounds because after that my knowledge of potential guys gets way too thin (some years I give up in the third, depends on whether names I like are still available). So let's look at my fake farm system to see where I've been good and where I've been bad.

2015

First Round -
I took Garrett Whitley, OF from New York state. Probably the most athletic, high ceiling bat in the draft. Also the most raw kid in this part of the draft, he was basically the Anthony Hewitt of the 2015 draft. He was taken by the Rays at 13 overall and proceeded to set the GCL and NYPL on meh. Didn't reach the Mendoza line in either league. Small sample, but I'll enjoy the 12.8% BB rate while hoping the 22.5% K rate and poor contact doesn't just doom him to be a more athletic version of Larry Greene, Jr.
Phillies took Cornelius Randolph, OF from Georgia who tore up the GCL and looks to have a legit Plus bat, maybe better. I had Yukon 3rd on my list behind Whitley and Aiken (I'm a sucker for potential upside, damn the risk, clearly) amongst the available players. My big concern was position and that he could end up being Willians Astudillo-esque with a great bat and no other tools. I look to be wrong on that front.

Second Round-
I took Scott Kingery, 2B from Arizona. Kingery was getting a lot of helium leading up to the draft and I thought he'd be gone in the bottom half of the First Round. Second on my list was Chris Betts, who went 4 picks later to the Rays (apparently I am shadow drafting for the wrong team here), followed by solid, but unspectacular Miami Lefty Andrew Suarez.
Phillies took Scott Kingery as well. Kingery was then placed aggressively in full season Low-A where he initially showed up on fire, then cooled off. Still, he finished with a solid triple slash and showed good enough tools to make it seem he was a very good pick.

Third Round-
I took David Thompson the U of Miami Third Baseman. I was targeting Travis Blankenhorn from Pottsville and I'll admit when he got snatched I reached a bit for another pet prospect I was originally targeting for 4th or 5th round. Thompson played Third in the NYPL and looked like he's probably not going to play there again (I knew he was a butcher with the glove pre-draft, I like the power potential). The NYPL isn't the most Offensively friendly of leagues, but even in that context Thompson didn't do well. This is why you don't reach when you fear a run on players.
Phillies took some Shortstop kid from California no one had heard of named Lucas Williams. The Phillies immediately put him at Third Base and he immediately looked pretty damned good. He posted near 15% BB and K rates, while hitting near .290 and drawing solid reviews for his glove and arm.

Fourth Round - 
I took Skye Bolt, OF from North Carolina. I'll admit to some level of favoritism for ACC players and specifically kids from UNC, NC State and Duke. I live down here and see a TON of these guys for 3 years. I know them better than most other draft eligible guys, so I tend to lean towards taking them or avoiding them (as I did with Matuella who I never really bought into). Bolt has always been a favorite of mine for his easy athleticism. He was picked late in the 4th by the A's and sent to the NYPL where he struggled way more than I expected Defensively, as I though plus Defense would be his carrying tool.
Phillies took Kyle Martin a First Baseman from South Carolina. He was placed as aggressively as Kingery and performed just about as well (maybe better, frankly). What I worry about with Martin is that, while he's a strong kid and can muscle balls over the fence in Low-A, his bat speed reminds me some of Zach Greene and he could struggle as he faces more advanced pitching up the ladder and can't sit on as many mistake Fastballs and hanging curves.

For 2015 it's looking safe to say early on that it's good I don't run the Phillies drafts. How about previous years? Well, just a few high/low lights here:

2014

First Round - 
I took Trea Turner, SS. Again, as noted above he's in my wheelhouse and I've been a HUGE fan of his game for 2 years leading up to this draft. He's since made it up the Majors and inspired a rule change (through no actual effort on his part). He mostly destroyed MiLB pitching, though he is not very patient, so if he hits a streak where he doesn't have hits fall he's going to suffer a low OBP. He's essentially the Royals' prototype - lots of contact, not a ton of power, fast, good defender (though that part of his game is still a bit of a work in progress)
Phillies took Aaron Nola. I had Kyle Freeland above Nola on my list, but didn't have any issue with the Nola pick, it was perfectly safe.

Second Round-
I took Michael Gettys, OF from Georgia who did well in Rookie ball, but struggled this year with a stint in full season Low-A. Another high-ceiling/low floor guy. Oddly both Turner and Gettys were taken by the Padres, a weird trend in my picks both getting selected by the same teams.
Phillies took Matt Imhof, LHP, who has been a solid mix of forgettable and putrid at various points. It's still early in his development, but at this point his best feature may be the ability to go and finish a degree at Cal Poly.

In the Third round I took Jake Cosart (Jared's kid brother), while the Phils took Aaron Brown. Both look raw and too early to judge much yet. I still had my propensity for high risk players, which I know I tend to do in prospect rankings too. 2013 isn't worth looking at too in depth, as I took Crawford and Knapp (same as the Phillies, continuing my odd 1st/2nd round trend). I will admit that Crawford wasn't the guy I wanted to drop to the Phillies though, as I wasn't keen on drafting a HS Shortstop in the first round due to their rather bad track records. I wanted Reece McGuire (which is weird because the only players with worst track records than HS Shortstops are HS Catchers). Both currently look like they have bright futures though, so not a huge deal to analyze there.

Looking over these 3 drafts I recognize a bias I often blame the Phillies for (drafting for ceiling) and a personal bias for guys I've seen a bunch. This is applicable to my rankings too. I tend to rank Lakewood guys perhaps a little too high because I see them in person a few times and I tend to rank guys with really loud tools higher than their performance might substantiate. That said, I've been aware of those tendencies of mine for a few years. When I take a look at my previous rankings this week I'll have to make note of how well I tempered my own bias last winter.