Minor League Player Of The Year Chat
Baseball America editors will answer your questions about our Minor League Player of the Year beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Ben (Leland Grove): How strong a case did Dom Brown bring to the table?
Very strong. He was one of the finalists.
If you are interested in how the voting came down, I'd recommend
listening to the podcast as well, where we went into some detail on how
the voting worked out. Brown was the pick for a couple of BA staffers,
but the consensus was for Hellickson.
JAYPERS (IL): I realize his second half was light years ahead of his first, but did Matt Moore get any votes at all?
You pretty much answered your own
question. As impressive as Moore's second half was, it's the Player of
the Year, not the second half. It's really hard to consider a guy who
went 1-7, 6.08 in the first half of the season, no matter how good the
second half is. We considered him, but when we made the first cut to get
down to a final 10 or so, he didn't make the list.
Ben (Leland Grove): Had Montero's second half been as impressive as his first, would he have usurpsed Helly for the title?
Yeah probably, but if we're playing with
this hypothetical, the "only second-half counts" Matt Moore would have
run away with the award.
Justin (KC): Did Moustakas' lost April factor in at all?
Not really. And I know we got some
questions asking whether the fact that we chose the POY before the
season ended really worked against Moustakas, who finished with a home
run flourish. So let's explain why Moustakas didn't win it. When we
talked about Moustakas, it got really hard to not notice his massive
home-road split in the Texas League. In case you haven't seen it,
Moustakas hit .437/.485/.894 at home and .222/.318/.398 on the road.
Even with his excellent finish to the season in Omaha, it's fair to say
that Moustakas' case for winning the award comes down in large part to
what he did in Northwest Arkansas. A .293/.314/.564 line in Triple-A is
nice, but not enough to win the award itself. When we were doing the
voting, enough of us couldn't get over that massive home-road
discrepancy when he was playing at a park that proved to be the Coors
Field of the Texas League. It doesn't eliminate what Moustakas did in
Double-A, but if you're comparing that to say his Royals' teammates Wil
Myers and Eric Hosmer, it was enough to make us go in a different
direction. We ended up having Myers as one of our final three, with
Moustakas and Hosmer in the group that was among the final 10.
greg (la): Is it just stats, or do take age and
league into account. Trout was 18 in both low and high A. Hellickson
was a major leaguer forced to play in AAA. What if Albert pujols played
in Louisville? Would he win the award?
We absolutely take age into account, which
is one of the main reasons Trout and Myers were among our top 10. But
what about Hellickson's status makes him ineligible for the award? He
was a 23-year-old in his first full season in Triple-A. The fact that
he's polished is an asset for him, not a reason to disqualify him. Age
and league explains why John Lindsey's excellent season didn't get him
close to the top 10, but in Hellickson's case, he was completely age
appropriate for his league and had an outstanding season.
Juice (Philly): How many people were considered?
We put together a list of about 20-30
candidates, then whittled that down to 10 in one meeting for everyone to
think about. In doing so, we ended up adding a couple of more players
we had initially left off the top 10 back into the discussion. We then
had a staff meeting where we talked over the top 10 (13). In doing so,
we came to a consensus on who our final three were (Hellickson, Brown
and Wil Myers) and then voted. There was a pretty clear deliniation
between Hellickson and the other two.
JAYPERS (IL): If Bryce Harper's season at CSN had actually taken place in the minors this year, would he have won?
Let's see Harper hit .443/.526/.987 with
31 home runs in 66 games. So yes, if anyone hit .443/.526/.987 with 62
home runs in a full minor league season, they'd win the award by
consensus acclimation. We wouldn't have had to hold a meeting.
Robert (California): How close was Trout to winning?
He wasn't one of our final three, but I
think it's safe to say that there were multiple staffers who expected
him to win it in mid-July. Trout's high Class A numbers were very solid,
but they didn't equal the spectacular nature of his numbers in the
Midwest League, especially when you look at the different hitting
environments. He was in our Top 10 and if we're picking our Top 100
Prospects, he's going to be right near the top. But when were picking
our Player of the Year he would have needed a stronger second half.
Ben (Leland Grove): I'm assuming it was a very close race this year. Was it the closest in Baseball America's history?
It's hard to say for sure, as none of use
here stretches back to when Mike Marshall or Ron Kittle was winning the
award. But I can say it was clearly one of the best crops of candidates
we've had in a long while. In many years, we are choosing between a
solid prospect with a great season and a great prospect with a very
solid season. Rarely do you see such a massive number of excellent
prospects have outstanding seasons. I don't want to speak for the whole
staff, but the general feeling seemed to be that there were six to eight
candidates who if they had won it, we would have felt good about.
Brandon Belt didn't make our final three, but if we had picked him, it
would have been a completely defensible choice, the same with Hosmer,
Moustakas, Trout and several other players.
Jeremy (Florida): The pace that Mike Stanton
was at, and even looking at how many HRs he has hit in the majors, would
he have had a good chance if he had stayed down in the minors all year?
Definitely. He's hit 38 HRs between the
minors and majors. If there was a first half of the season award, he
would have probably edged out Mike Trout for that award, with Moore and
Montero fighting for the second-half crown.
JAYPERS (IL): Hear that, BA staffers? That's
the sound of the collective groan from Royals fans across the country
who subscribe to BA. Who was closest to winning between Moose, Hosmer
I know I've answered the Moustakas part,
but I did want to point out how many Royals were considered. In addition
to Moustakas, Hosmer and Myers, John Lamb was in the running until he
hit the wall in Double-A.
Andrew (Durham): Surely you guys at BA know of
the uselessness of the wins stat for pitchers. Nonetheless, you
continue to perpetuate the myth and even use it in reference to Matt
Moore. Why does BA continue to mention W-L record in this context when
it most clearly has no value regarding player performance, let alone
future predictive value?
It's not a useless stat, as anyone who
ever read Bill James would know. It just ranks dramatically lower on the
list of usefulness than several other stats. We're not using it for
predictive value here—this isn't our Top 100 Prospects list. We're not
predicting Hellickson's stardom with this award, we're honoring him
because he has had an excellent 2010. After all it's an award for the
2010 Minor League Player of the Year. When it comes to that, a win-loss
record is at least worth mentioning. We didn't settle our award based on
win-loss record, but Moore didn't get unlucky in compiling that record
either. He had six starts in the first half where he allowed four or
more earned runs. During the first half of the season he gave up two
earned runs or less while making it into the sixth once. Also, you also
seem to be misunderstanding my explanation for why Moore didn't win the
award. He had a 6.08 ERA for the first half of the season. Opponents hit
.274 against him during that first half. You can use any fielding
independent stat you want, especially if you're looking at his future
value, but here we're really focusing on what he did. And the reality is
that in the second half of the season Moore was arguably the best
pitcher in the minor leagues. In the first half, he wasn't all that
Jason (Salem, OR): I think it's interesting to
look back on the 28 P.O.Y. selections (since 1981) and evaluate their
performance as big leaguers. What are your thoughts on the overall
track records produced by your selections as minor league P.O.Y.?
We're pretty proud of our list. There are
ones we wish we could have over? Sure. But overall, the list is full of
long-time big leaguers, a number of which have ended up being among the
elite in the game.
Matt (KC): Was the biggest knock on Myers that he was at lower levels? To me, it says a lot that he was even in the running.
Considering his age, that really didn't
hurt him too much, although if everything else is equal, production at
Double-A or Triple-A trumps Class A numbers. In Myers' case I think what
finally left him in the final three but not No. 1 was his solid but
unspectacular power numbers and the fact that he's still learning behind
the plate. If we were talking about Mauer-esque defense to go with
that production, it probably would have been enough to make him our
choice. But then again, finishing among the top finalists as a teenager
isn't bad either.
Stacy (Alabama): Jordan Lyles looked to be in
the running for Minor League Player of the Year until July and his
promotion to AAA. What do you think has been his biggest obstacle to
continuing his success, besides his age?
Lyles is interesting, hard to believe he
did everything he did at age 19. His biggest obstacle will just be
having finer command, because he was pretty hittable at times this year,
thanks to a fairly straight fastball. It's actually a similar complaint
scouts have had for Jeremy Hellickson. From a prospect standpoint,
Lyles did everything you could ask for this season except maybe finish
strong in Triple-A, but he's a teenager, so pushing that aggressively
seemed like too much anyway. As a prospect, I can see measuring him up
next to Hellickson; they have some similarities, and Lyles is taller.
Both have good changeups that can be excellent; Lyles' upside is
probably the same, that of a No. 2 starter. Just in terms of how good
their seasons were, to me it's not that close. I thought Hellickson's
season was a good bit better than other pitchers we considered, a group
that includes Michael Pineda, Julio Teheran, James Lamb and even Chris
Archer. For me, Lyles wasn't a strong candidate.
Greg (Atlanta): Brandon Beacy's numbers across three levels was superb. Was he at least in the final 20?
Yeah. His name definitely was mentioned,
but he was a reliever for the first half of the season. In the end he
made 13 starts. As good as his numbers were, that does play a factor.
Benny (NYC): Did Trout's somewhat slow start in the CAL erase him from the running?
Didn't help his case certainly, but he was
a strong candidate, and Trout had a good finishing kick at Rancho as
well with five multi-hit efforts in his last eight games. But the Cal
League is an offensive league; he was slugging under .400 most of the
time he was there, and while he's young, he's physical, very physical.
For me, I needed to see a little more power in that environment from him
in the Cal League. If he'd put up an .850 or .900 OPS in the Cal League
to go with his MWL numbers, he probably would have had my vote. Very
close race this year, though, and like J.J. said earlier, if this had
been done in July, Trout or Dom Brown would have won it, they were the
top 2 candidates, it seemed, at that time. Then they were both promoted;
that happens a lot with our minor league POY award.
Devin Mesoraco (Louisville, KY): Did I win any of your votes? Your thoughts on my 2010 as a whole?
Mesoraco was in our final 10 and got some
consideration for our final three when we were cutting down the list. I
think Mesoraco's season ranks as the most surprising 2010 by any
prospect. He was a former first-round pick, and the Reds had believed
that a season like this was in there, but to see a player with 2+ minor
league seasons go from never slugging above .400 to being among the
minors' best hitters is extremely rare.
Darren (Indianapolis): Did Freedie Freeman get a look at all? With his numbers at age 20 you had to look!
Absolutely. He got a very good look. It was an extremely good season, we just thought some other seasons were a little better.
Dan (Fairfield, CA): I's never too early to look ahead - right? Who's on your shortlist of 2011 POY front runners?
Mike Trout starts on that short list, and
Bryce Harper is on there as well. I'd also throw Wil Myers and Eric
Hosmer on that list; I don't think the Royals will push either of them
to the majors next season, but I could be wrong. Myers' season was
pretty sick this year in a very good way. From the pitching side, Shelby
Miller might make the most sense as he got 100 or so innings this year
and should be ready to break out with a full season next year. The next
most logical candidate is probably Matt Moore, because of the Rays'
deliberate style of developing pitchers.
JAYPERS (IL): Where would Hellickson rank on your Top 100 list if it came out today?
He'd rank pretty high for me, somewhere in
the Top 10, and he's the top pitcher for me as well, including all the
2010 draft guys. He's got a No. 2 starter's ceiling in the majors and
appears quite close to fulfilling that. He may not be as sexy as other
pitching prospects because they throw harder, but Hellickson sits 91-92
and I've seen plenty of 94s out of him myself. That velo, and the fact
that his four-seamer's a little straight, are the only knocks on him.
Dale (Houston): Did you guys break down the selection into a ranking? What does the top 5 look like?
We did actually vote on the top 12 guys
but that voting frankly was inconclusive; too many good candidates. Two
weeks later we met again and wound up whittling things down to three or
four guys, the three guys J.J. mentioned�Hellickson, Brown and
Myers�with some lingering discussions on one or two others, but
honestly, I don't remember who else was there at that point. If you want
the dozen, the other nine included, in no particular order, Hosmer,
Moustakas, Lamb, Mesoraco, Belt, Arencibia, Pineda, Teheran and Jerry
J.P. (Freedomcardboard.com): With no available
vacancies in the rotation at present, who would you deem the "most
expendable" in TB's starting five to make room for Hellboy? Or, is he
likely to be trade bait?
To me, Wade Davis as a middle or short reliever, maybe even a closer if Soriano leaves as a free agent, is worth exploring.
Todd (Chattanooga): Not saying Julio Teheran
struggled late, but do you think this is typical since he hadn't logged
this many innings in his professional career? Think he debuts in 2011?
Bigger upside - Tommy Hanson or Julio Teheran? Thanks!
Tough one, because wow, I really like
Hanson; I've talked to a couple of scouts who wonder if Terehan might
lack the feel to remain a starter. Teheran has a better arm, but I still
think I'd say Hanson because of his command. Teheran has to do it in
Double-A for me to really gauge his strike-throwing ability. A-ball
hitters swing at a lot of bad pitches. But it's amazing how much
pitching the Braves seem to have in their system now; future rotation of
Hanson, Teheran, Minor, Jurrjens and take your pick of Vizcaino or
Cordier or Beachy or Medlen if he comes back from TJ or Delgado or . . .
wow, that's a lot of pitching.
Bryan (TN): How close was the race between Hellickson and Moustakas? And is it unusual to pick a Pitcher over a Hitter for POY?
I believe J.J. has answered the Moustakas
part well; his home-road splits are insane. It is unusual, as just eight
pitchers have won minor league POY, and one of those is now an
outfielder, Rick Ankiel. Hellickson is the first since 2004 when Jeff
Francis won in a wide-open year. That year would have been David Wright
but he was called up so early by the Mets, and Francis had a really
remarkable season, but I recall that being a very tough call for us. In
retrospect, the correct answer that year should have been Ryan Howard.
Eli (NY): Does Montero win the award next year? It took him awhile, but now he is dominating Triple A.
He could, but I didn't mention him in my
list of candidates because he seems ready to help the Yankees in 2011.
His righthanded power bat would fit in very well as a DH, if the Yankees
have room. If he's hitting like that, I think they'll find a place for
him as a backup or third catcher and DH option.
Victor (San Diego): Brandon Beachy's a guy that
was unbelievable this year, seemingly coming out of nowhere to win the
ERA title across 3 levels. As noted by BA, a recent scout thought his
stuff was almost as good as Tehran, was he given any consideration, and
what do you expect from him moving forward? Thanks.
Back to Beachy . . . He wasn't one of the
final 12 guys we considered, not really enough innings for me to
consider as a Minor League POY. He really fits the No. 3 or No. 4
starter profile, but he was also so good out of the bullpen this year,
and the Braves have so many starting pitchers, that Beachy might fit
better in the pen. But his changeup, as Matt Eddy detailed over the
weekend, has improved so much, and he trusts it now, so he's given
himself more of a chance to stay in the rotation. Again, Atlanta's
pitching depth, for me, is unmatched in the game right now.
John Fresno (Murfreesboro, TN): Did Brandon Belt get any considertation for POY? If so, where did you rank him?
Belt did get a lot of consideration. For
me, he had the best year of anyone in the minors this season. In the
past, we've stayed away from guys who were good or OK prospects who had
monster years, and we've been proven correct. Two instances that stick
out in my mind in a good way were picking Delmon Young over Brandon Wood
in 2005, mostly because Wood did most of his work in A-ball, and then
Jeremy Reed in '03, when he had a monster year but we gave the award to
Joe Mauer. As I mentioned, in 2004 I think we just didn't know what to
do with Ryan Howard, when he hit 46 homers at Double-A and Triple-A. I
wish I remember exactly why we didn't give it to Howard that year; I
just know Francis had a monster year too, with a 196-29 K-BB ratio at
Double-A and Triple-A. Francis has represented well, but obviously
Howard is Howard.
Michael (Raleigh, NC): Now that Hellickson has
been announced as the POY, what does 2011 hold for him? Do you expect
the Rays to make a move to open up a spot for him to start 2011 in the
rotation, or will he back in Durham for a few months awaiting an injury
on the MLB club?
JJ's story talks about how important
Triple-A is to the Rays, as a finishing school. That said, Hellickson
has pitched like a finished product in the majors; I see him earning a
spot in Tampa next year.
Dan (Florida): does the yankees farm system
look better at the end of the season than it did in the beginning with
the improvement of guys like Bentances and Brackman.
Yes, it does. Didn't have a finalist for
this award but lots of good news on the farm for the Pinstripes this
year, with those guys, Manny Banuelos having a strong finish, Brandon
Laird's strong season, Slade Heathcott with a solid debut . . . Lots of
good news in the Yankees system; I thought this was a strong year
overall, mostly for pitchers, but also good stuff from hitters, didn't
even mention Eduardo Nunez.
Jon (Peoria): Even though Hellickson was still
fairly young in Triple-A, did it hurt him any in the voting to be
repeating that level after the success he had in Durham last year?
Not really, just as it didn't hurt Domonic
Brown to repeat Double-A. Triple-A is a much more difficult level of
play than, say, A-ball. His dominance at Triple-A set him apart from the
other pitchers. Dom Brown's Double-A dominance separated him from, for
instance, Mike Trout. All the hitters were quite bunched up, and
Moustakas' year was very tough to assess because of the home-road
splits. We had seven or eight really strong candidates, but Hellickson
is a fine choice. I thought the same would have been true of Brown,
Belt, Myers, Moustakas . . . but we had to pick one.
Darren (Northbrook, IL): Freddie Freeman would
seem a worthy candidate for the P.O.Y. honors. Extremely young for his
league, huge production, improved throughout the year, nice pedigree,
etc. How close was he to nabbing the award?
His finishing kick was significant; when
we first whittled it down to 12, he wasn't in the discussion. When we
had our second meeting, we discussed him and Jesus Montero, actually,
for strong second halves in Triple-A. But Brown and especially
Hellickson are similar high-grade prospects who dominated from start to
finish in the high minors, so once we decided they were better
candidates than Freeman and Montero, that was pretty much the end of
that discussion. Freeman's season was very impressive, though. I think
he's got more impact in the bat than perhaps we've given him credit
for,; he's no Casey Kotchman, let's put it that way.
Mick (Cali): What was the thought process in ranking Myers above Trout?
Both were promoted to high A, Myers went
to a tougher hitting environment and has a tougher defensive position
and got better as the year went on. As prospects, I'd take Trout,
because the scouts I have talked to about Myers don't think he'll catch,
and that means Trout has more defensive value as a CF. Their bats are
similar; they may both be in my Top 10 list for our Top 100.
ben (cincinnati): Where did Mesoraco fall in the POY considerations?
Close to Brandon Belt in the, "wow, what a
year, is he for real?" discussion. Just a great season; not sure he's
even the C on our Minor League All-Star team, though, with Myers in the
Andrew (Dirty D): First- no quesiton as to why
Moore didn't win. He wasn't very good in the first half, no doubt.
This is a methodology question. If wins rank "dramatically lower on the
list of usefulness than several (all) other stats", why not use those
stats first instead of premising everything on W-L. It's quite dubious
to say that W-L record has much value compared to all of the other
information that is out there. Perhaps Bill James says it's not
"uesless;" it just happens to be less useful than just about all of the
other stats out there.
I just re-read that question . . . I don't
think we really discussed their wins at all in our meetings, except for
me bringing it up with regard to John Lamb, just thinking it would be
odd to have a guy with a .500 record. The rest of the staff responded,
"That's OK, we trust our readers to know what stats matter." Then we
went on with the meeting, and that was the last time wins actually were
mentioned. I really think I was the only one who brought up wins at all,
so that should answer the methodology question.
Sean (St. Louis): Any reason NW Arkansas played
as "Coors" this season while in 2008 and 2009 it was pretty much run
neutral (for the Texas League) according to Dan Szymborski's minor
league park factors?
Sean, that's a question we're trying to
answer, but I don't know when we'll have that story. It's come up a lot
this year, but I don't think we have an answer yet.
Darren (Oakland): Who would you pick first, Sands or Belt? Are they similar players?
Now that's a tough one. My gut says Belt,
but the reports we have received are more positive about Sands, who is a
solid athlete as well and has more power. It's pretty much a push right
now but I tend to believe a bit more in Belt and like the lefthanded
part of the equation for him.
Steve (KC): How insane is it that you looked at
4 guys from the Royals' system? Has that ever happened from one team
before, so many legit candidates?
It's insane all right. I think I started
the year with a podcast in which I wasn't too positive on that
organization, and now it's hard to find an organization with better
talent. I am hoping to see many of these studs down the street in Cary
at the USA National Training Complex for the 2010 Pan Am qualifier
squad, should be fun about a week or two from now.
Brad (MO): Did Hellickson being major league
ready at the start of the season have any effect on the voting? The
other candidates needed minor league experience while Hellickson was
only in triple-A because of Tampa's loaded rotation. His season reminds
me of an advanced college pitcher dominating a ball for an entire
No, it did not have any effect on the
voting. It may have some effect on his prospect status; it would be more
impressive, I suppose, if he were 20 or 21, instead of 23. But he
didn't dominate A-ball; he dominated men in Triple-A. People don't do
that very often. Big difference from dominating A-ball.
Scott (Chicago): It sounds like there's a
distinction you're making between the qualities that make a player a
strong candidate for POY and the qualities that make a player a strong
prospect. What is the distinction, and who are some players who are
better prospects than they were POY candidates?
Of course there's a distinction. The POY
goes to the prospect, basically, who had the best season in the minors.
Casey Kelly's still a hell of a prospect, but he had no shot at minor
league POY going 3-5, 5.31. There are many more examples, just pulled
him at random.
Mudcatsfan (Raleigh): What is the ratio of
performance / future potential / what level they did it at / position
scarcity, for this award for you?
I realize all factor in, but where do you draw lines, and do some parts
weigh more heavily?
Ex Montero destroyed AAA while catching, and at age 20, but only a half
year, Trout destroyed A ball for a full year at 18/19, Jerry Sands
destroyed A ball but at an advanced age, etc.
There's no ratio or formula, Mudcatsfan.
Montero destroyed AAA, but not as much as Brown destroyed the upper
minors, or as much as Hellickson did. Sands didn't just destroy low A,
he also did damage at AA, but a lot of his damage nonetheless was done
at low A. I just think context matters for all of this, and we try to
put these players and their stats and their tools in the right context.
This year, as we've said before, we had many worthy candidates. In a
parallel universe right now, I'm doing a chat for Domonic Brown as our
POY, and in another it's for Trout, and in another it's for Mike
Stanton, because in that parallel world, he never got called up and hit
55 minor league jacks . . .
It's time for me to go pick up the kids,
so I'm going to have to go. It was good doing a chat again, and we'll
have another group chat later this week on summer college leagues with
Jim Callis and Aaron Fitt and myself joining in. Also look for a podcast
or two looking toward the 2011 draft with Nathan Rode and Conor Glassey
throwing in their views on the HS players. In other words, the minor
league season is ending but we have just started cranking on prospect
season. Talk to you again soon, and congratulations to Jeremy