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Prospect Ranking Prep - last year's rankings

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Earlier I looked back over my fake drafts, this time I look back over my rankings. Where was I off, where was I right?

Andrew Knapp
Andrew Knapp
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get right into it. Every year I produce 4 ranking pieces: Guys who just missed the cut, 21-30, 11-20 and 1-10. Last year the following 8 players made my list of guys who just missed the cut (that doesn't automatically make them 31-38, I typically grab a handful of interesting guys in 31-45 range):

  • Tommy Joseph, C/1B
  • Shane Watson, RHP
  • Adam Morgan, RHP
  • Arquimedes Gamboa, SS
  • Daniel Brito, SS
  • Jonathan Arauz, SS
  • Rhys Hoskins, 1B
  • Emmanuel Marrero, SS
I noted for Joseph that if he could stay healthy and behind the plate he could be back on the list. He did neither. I stated Watson may need a year or two to get his stuff back and may also be a dolt (due to his drug suspension). Jury still out on both points. I noted I was a big fan or Morgan pre-injury and that if he could even appear as a reliever I'd be thrilled. Well, I'm thrilled. He looked like a back of the rotation Starter. It's still sad, as he looked like a #2/3 Starter pre-injury, but he's in fairly uncharted waters here as guys usually don't come back from his injury at all.

The three International signee Shortstops were left off due to lack of any in depth scouting on them. Of the last two I noted both could be very high on the 2016 list. Hoskins, I said, would need to destroy each level on his way up. and he was fairly destructive in 2015. The Power is a bit marginal for First, so far, but he seems to be able to hit and plays solid Defense.

My 21-30:
30. Joely Rodriguez, LHP
29. Cam Perkins, OF
28. Chris Oliver, RHP
27. Severino Gonzales, RHP
26. Victor Arano, RHP
25. Aaron Brown, OF
24. Aaron Alther, OF
23. Andrew Knapp, C
22. Cord Sandberg, OF
21. Luis Encarnacion, OF

Of that list Chris Oliver was a train wreck and got traded to the Diamondback for IFA slot money. I may have ranked Oliver too high based on his Fastball and Slider, along with higher draft stock. Joely and Severino both proved to be thoroughly ineffective (Sev was thoroughly hittable, Joely was incapable of finding Home Plate). That's not far off from what I wrote of both. Arano has appeared serviceable, and while mid-20's feels high in retrospect I'm comfortable with it given what was known last year. Altherr took a big step this year, but after a middling 2014 his spot on this list feels appropriate. My review of Knapp did note him to have an above-average bat and below average arm with the raw skills to stick at Catcher, but not much of a safety net if he can't stay behind the dish. I did not see his bat improving as much as it did this year and I would now say he can potentially stick other places than Catcher. Sandberg may be a case of me falling in love with tools. Sandberg had a respectable year in Lakewood, but his BB rate remains low. He won't rank so high this year, but he did actually improve some, just not as much as I'd hoped. Encarnacion is in a similar boat for me, I was a little too high on him last year and he had a nice season, but not a rocket to the top 10 season I suggested as possible. Like Sandberg, he'll slide on this year's list, but not because he didn't get better, we just have more guys who improved more or came in via trade at a higher level already.

11-20:
20. Jose Pujols, OF
19. Jesemuel Valentin, 2B
18. Elneiry Garcia, LHP
17. Odubel Herrera, OF
16. Zach Green, 3B
15. Franklyn Kilome, RHP
14. Tom Windle, LHP
13. Dylan Cozens, OF
12. Matt Imhof, LHP
11. Carlos Tocci, OF
I admitted my bias up front on Pujols. I ranked him too high and his improvements this year were far more minor than those of the guys I ranked 21st and 22nd. Pujols still strikes out too much (28%), his power hasn't blossomed yet (.121 ISO), and while his walk rate is respectable (~9%) it's not enough to rank a guy Top 20. I was too aggressive there and he'll need production to get back up the list again now, despite the power potential. Weirdly all of my even numbered ranks here were various shades of hot mess in 2015. Valentin had a Domestic issue and didn't play much in 2015. Garcia didn't miss many bats, even though his final top line stats looked good. Here I was guilty of getting swayed by other lists. My initial ranking had Garcia down with Severino and he probably should have stayed there, as they're fairly similar Pitchers. Green was limited by injury and when he did play he was pretty awful. Windle pitched his way into a future LOOGY role. And Imhof was an abject tire fire.
On the plus sides, Herrera was the best Rule 5 pick in several years and has earned a role with the team going forward making several highlight reel plays and hitting very well for a guy playing above AA for the first time. Kilome continued improving in the late winter and spring and by mid-summer was significantly higher on lists and shows more and more of the TOR potential I mentioned. Dylan Cozens power dropped off and he won't be this high on the upcoming list, but I actually like him much better as a prospect. The team focused on his approach at the plate, sacrificing his power numbers a bit in the process. The result is he looks like a better all around hitter and it's not unreasonable to expect him to go into beast mode on the Eastern League next year in a park that plays to his strengths. Carlos Tocci on the other hand took a huge performance step forward after struggling in Lakewood for 2 years. His stock is up, despite the influx of new talent probably keeping him in roughly the same spot on most lists this Winter.

10- 1

10. Yoel Mecias, LHP
9. Ben Lively, RHP
8. Kelly Dugan, OF
7. Deivi Grullon, C
6. Jesse Biddle, LHP
5. Zach Eflin, RHP
4. Roman Quinn, OF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
2. Aaron Nola, RHP
1. J.P. Crawford, SS

The top 3 aren't worth discussing, those were pretty obvious. So looking 10 through 3 we'll start with my one word summary of having Yoel Mecias ranked 10: whoops. To expand on that point, injuries are tough to rank. I was pretty sure Morgan wasn't going to come back much from his and fairly certain that another season removed from Tommy John, Mecias would be back in old form. Instead Mecias had nothing in the tank and the team cut him pretty early in the season. Lively was solid and essentially met this ranking. Dugan remained injury prone for whatever reason and got cut from the 40-man post season. He's currently a free-agent and may not be back (given the crowd of OF prospects the team now has, it's probably best for him to go elsewhere with a better shot of making a team out of Spring Training). I over-ranked Dugan perhaps, but I still see him as a potential big leaguer, probably as a reserve.
Grullon really continued being Grullon, he hit poorly and defended well. He didn't make the progress with the bat I hoped for, but he still profiles as a potential backup and at only 20 there's time for the bat to improve enough to be a Starter as his defensive tools would allow him to start even if his bat only ever progresses to fairly hideous.

Jesse Biddle's season was an unmitigated disaster, ending with Tommy John Surgery. The Phillies worked to overhaul his approach and pitch to contact more instead of running up high pitch counts searching for strikeouts. Biddle is turning into the Pitching version of Kelly Dugan, a good prospect who just can't stay healthy and seems to be snake-bitten. On the plus side he's progressed from 1800's disease (whooping cough) to act of god (insanely large hailstone) to sadly common injury (TJS), so one can hope he moves on to common foot blister or equally benign, everyday ailments in 2017. I say 2017 because he's expected to miss all of 2016. Future very uncertain, may be in the bullpen. I over ranked him, but I've always been higher on Biddle than many others. Perhaps it's rooting for the local kid.

Eflin performed as expected, but he'll fall this year due to the influx of talent. He's young, but it would be nice to start seeing his K's trend up a bit. Looks like a pretty safe bet to grow into a #3/4 Starter. Quinn is another guy I've tended to be higher on than others. I think he lived up to this ranking with his play, but I have growing concerns about his ability to stay on the field and, most alarmingly, his injuries keep affecting his best tool: speed. How many muscle tears and ligament injuries before his speed goes from 80 to 70, or worse? It hasn't happened yet, but I am concerned about it.

Of nearly 40 guys I wrote about, I'd only change 3 of the rankings. I should have stuck to my guns on Garcia, not to completely ignore other rankings, they're good sources of data and perspective, but I think I over weighted them a bit. Mecias in retrospect seems obvious. I didn't take TJS seriously enough and ignored Mecias' 2014 struggles as just him adjusting while he recovered. I think he was still a rank-able prospect, but probably 10-15 spots lower. The last one is Pujols. I weighted tools too heavily over production and approach concerns. Rankings are a mix of the numbers and scouting reports and I altered my mix here probably, due to some favoritism. Make no mistake I still think Pujols has a high ceiling and may still put some things together as he seems to do well adapting to instruction, per reports, but I shouldn't have discounted production so much. You all have my permission to smack me around in the comments if I rank Pujols too high this year.