Prospect Chat: Jan. 26
Grant (NYC): Are there any players who graded "Safe" that appear in their respective team's #25-30 range?
Hi Grant. I think John will be stopping by
as well, but I'll get us started. No there are no safes in the 25-30
range, but then there are very, very few safe's throughout the book
(four in total). To qualify as a safe, you already have to have
demonstrated your ability in a significant stint in the big leagues and
we feel very comfortable you will reach your projected BA Grade.
John Vairo (Bronx, NY): In 2011's book, you
gave each team's # 1 prospect scouting grades in 5 categories: for
example, hitting, power, speed, arm, and defense for hitters.
In 2012's book, you mention including a BA grade and Risk Factor for
every one of the 900 prospects in the book.
Will all 900 prospects also have the normal scouting grades for hitting,
power, spped, arm, and defense as well?
We continue to give 20-80 grades for each
of the No. 1 prospects, and if you read the scouting reports, while we
don't slap a 20-80 grade on every tool for every player, we do try to
give a rough grade on each tool with very few exceptions—for space
reasons we may not give you info on a first baseman's arm unless it's
significantly above or below average. But as far as slapping an actual
20-80 grade for each tool on all 900 prospects, that would be a very
daunting task. It's already quite labor-intensive to give them BA Grades
and to make sure that the 20-80 grades for No. 1 prospects are
consistent across the board. We can't do it for the other 870 players
unless we're comfortable we can a) still get the book to you by late
January and b) make them accurate grades. We're not there yet, and I
can't promise we will be in the future.
John Vairo (Bronx, NY): If I buy the Prospect
Handbook in stores (Barnes&Noble) or on Amazon, can I still get the
supplement and the free copy of the Top 100 prospects issue?
No. To get the special offers you have to
purchase the book from us. Which also will ensure you get it several
weeks or a month before other places will have it available.
Jim (Pawnee): Will the BA Grades be available to on-line only subscribers?
Sorry Jim. It's a feature of the Handbook only.
Ben (Leland Grove): Why do only four of BA's staffers get to publish their personal top 50 lists in the book?
One reason is not everyone wants to do a
personal Top 50 or even a Top 100. It's not easily done well. Some years
we just have the three of us who edit or contribute to all 30
organization top 30s. In December, when we're doing the top 50s, the
rest of the staff hasn't had the opportunity to read or edit the whole
book, or even all 30 Top 10s. Four's a nice number for the book's layout
and I was glad J.J. Cooper jumped at the chance to add his Top 50.
Everyone on the staff is encouraged to contribute when we crank out the
Top 100, which is coming up in about 3 weeks.
Dirk Hayhurst (Lurking out there in Cyberspace):
Assuming I pitch this year, what song should I come to the mound this
year? "Hit me with your best shot" by Pat Benatar? "Kiss" by Prince. Or
"I am the Walrus" by the Beatles. Any of these could effect my prospect
ranking.... Think deeply before answering.
I have had the walk-up music debate in my
own head for many years. It would take guts to come out to a Smiths song
but I've always enjoyed the opening riff from "What Difference Does It
Make?" Since that jibes with your philosophy, if I can use that word, of
not wrapping up your identity on being a baseball player, then I would
use that. If you're pitching in Italy next spring, it might go over
better than it might even here in Durham if you were to return to the
Luke (No. Va.): Will the Nationals list be updated for subscribers to include a full 30 names?
No Luke. The Handbook is a separate
product. We run Top 10s in the magazine and online and then put the full
30 (31 for people who buy the book from us) in the book.
Kelly (St Cloud, MN): When does your top 100 list come out this year?
We'll be posting the Top 100 Prospects and
sending out that issue just a little less than a month from now. It
will go online on Feb. 21.
Keith (Manchester, CT): Thanks for the chat,
guys. Hearing some amazing stuff about Elier Hernandez. What's his
ceiling and what level does he start at in 2012?
The ceiling is very high, as is the risk
factor right now since he's yet to make it to the U.S. or have a pro
at-bat. There's a chance he makes it to the Arizona League in 2012.
Tom (Medfield, MA): Does the Top 100 issue come with the Handbook, or does that ship later?
It ships later. The Handbook is finished now. We haven't even compiled the Top 100 Prospects list yet.
Jessie's Girl (Not with Jessie's anymore): You
guys talk to scouts, GMs, FO personnel etc. How much input the info you
gather from does sources have in the book? or do you guys balance it
from personal views on the player?
The majority of the info you see in the
book comes from scouts, managers and other personnel in the game. If we
see a player that may help round out an opinion on a player, but we're
not scouts ourselves, and even if we were, one look at a player for one
game is not nearly as useful in an evaluation as talking to multiple
people who have seen him multiple times through the year, and throughout
a player's career. Speaking personally, I tried to talk to at least 7-8
different sources inside and outside an organization when compiling
that team's Top 30. Add in different conversations during the season
that weren't made specifically for the Top 30 but did touch on those
players and add in notes from other BA writers' in-season conversations
and we're conservatively talking about 20 or more sources for a Top 30.
JimBeau (Left Coast): With your new grade/risk
report report, I am going to assume that the Indians have a LOT of risk
in their system, since so much of the talent is far, far, so far away.
But do any of those far, far away prospects have tempting high grades?
They have eight "Extremes" in their
system; I don't have the spreadsheet handy but that seems a bit high.
That said, some of their "Extremes" are guys who have injury issues,
such as Hector Rondon, or guys who have flashed talent but haven't
performed consistently like Levon Washington and Trey Haley. They have a
few guys like you're talking about in Elvis Araujo or Ronny Rodriguez;
none of them earned more than a 50 Grade. Compare them in the same
division with the Twins, not a great farm system itself. The Twins have
six "Extremes," ranking from the German Max Kepler to hyper-raw Niko
Goodrum to Alex Wimmers, who gets an extreme for his bout of Rick Ankiel
@Jaypers413 (IL): Which one of the 900 prospects made the biggest leap forward since last year's Handbook?
Well, last year Josh Collmenter went from
32nd team up to the big leagues; that's as big a leap (or miss) as I can
find. Kelvin Herrera went from 30 to 7 in this year's Royals' list;
Brian Dozier from 30 to 10 for the Twins, but that's only one way to
look at it. I am thinking Rymer Liriano made as big a jump as any
prospect, though he just went from NO. 18 to No. 2 this year for San
Diego. He was on some personal Top 50s (45 on mine) and last year, I
don't think we expected him to get into that kind of discussion.
Speaking for me personally, I knew Herrera and Dozier (and Collmenter)
last year, whereas Liriano was just a name. He's much more than that
Jake (Chicago): If the Cubs sign Soler and Cespedes, would they be the Cubs top two prospects?
That's a good fantasy, I suppose. We still
have Brett Jackson as their No. 1; I know Jim Callis has indicated on
Ask BA that he'd slot Anthony Rizzo in at No. 3. Cespedes would jump to
No. 1 for me, but I think Soler would rank behind Javier Baez. We know
more about Baez, who has tools to stay on the infield and freakish bat
speed. Soler has a high offensive ceiling�we have plenty of good reports
on him�but he's older than Baez, has missed a year of development and
will have a big adjustment to make to U.S. baseball. Baez is ahead on
all fronts and has some of the same strengths.
Karl of Delaware (Delmarva): Getting the
Prospect Handbook from the mailman is always and exciting event! Here
comes the baseball season!
My question: Is there any relationship between the number of top 30
prospects a minor league team has on it, and the won-loss percentage of
The last few years when Lakewood and Hickory were loaded with prospect
handbook guys they seemed to mop up the South Atlantic League.
Coincidence or cause and effect?
Coincidence; I think win-loss in the
minors doesn't necessarily correlate to talent. I do think extremes for
an organization are telling; it's usually a sign of a good farm system
if it's winning at all levels. It's often a sign of a bad system when
it's losing in the epic fashion the Astros' system has in recent years.
No. 30 in win-loss percentage 3 of the last 4 years, 29th the other
year. That said, there are mitigating factors�some clubs have an extra
rookie-level team and that can spread the talent out. I would guess the
Mets might get a small bump in minor league winning percentage this year
at the lower levels by eliminating their GCL team, so go ahead and
print those Kingsport playoff tickets now!
Josh Johnson (Minnesota): If (hypothetically),
Joe Mauer switches positions, does Chris Herrmann have the potential to
be an everyday player in the big leagues? Offensively? Defensively?
That's what the BA Grade tells you at a
glance. He's a 45 Medium. We think he's a second-division regular, and
he'd get a low risk factor if he were a cinch to be a catcher. But he's
not, even though he's made progress defensively. His low ceiling stems
from his lack of power as well; if he has to move to the outfield, he
doesn't have the bat to be a regular. He's in need of experience
defensively but his tools back there are solid.
Dan (Baltimore): I like what you guys have
written about Trevor Bauer. Everyone compares Bauer to Lincecum. How
does he measure up to what Lincecum was at this point in his career?
When do you think we see Bauer in the majors?
Bauer gets comped to Lincecum because he
copied Lincecum in many ways, and because he's slight. I love Bauer
despite his Duke basketball fandom, but he just doesn't have the same
electric arm Lincecum had at the same stage. He has more pitches, better
control and is younger, though. It's hard to expect someone to come out
and win two Cy Youngs, but I'm a huge Bauer believer, and Lincecum's
success is one reason why.
Steve (Huntington Beach, CA): Nobody seems to have much info on Leonys Martin. Do you guys see him as a fourth outfielder type, or solid everyday regular?
Grrr ... I answered this but lost my
answer. Steve, we had the first report on Martin in Sept. 2010; search
the prospect blog for it. Second, he's No. 4 in the Rangers' list in the
book, which came out pre-Yu Darvish. He's a 60 High, which tells you he
has a high ceiling (everyday CF, leadoff man), but we judge him a high
risk (short track record, mixed reports on his power and CF ability).
Chad (Oklahoma City): How soon will the
Handbook ship? I preordered and love to get an early start to my
fantasy baseball league research, but cant do that without the handbook.
The handbook is the bible of fantasy baseball leagues that have
longterm keeper systems.
Pre-orders started shipping Monday, so
there are thousands of Handbook fans who pre-ordered and either already
have received their Handbooks or will receive them very shortly.
John (Philly): This is a more general question.
Over the last 7-10 years, have you noticed more conversations with
baseball people (not just scouts) shift more toward production over
projection? I understand that its a balance and blend, but has there
been any real systematic shift in philosophies you've noticed in your
interactions with front office/scouting types?
I'll make this my last question. I
remember Alan Matthews, when he wrote for us and wasn't a scout yet,
write in a chat that he didn't even check the Pioneer League stats
before he starting writing up a prospect. That was one approach; it was a
minority approach in 2005 and it's a minority approach now. So there
has been a shift but I don't think it's been a sea change. What really
has shifted is the amount of information; it easier to find stats for
amateurs now, not to mention pros. It's easier to find more information
on these players and TONS more video, especially as most every team now
has its scouts shoot video of amateurs themselves. But no one is
scouting just off performance or as you put it production.
Sorry I was in and out of the chat; too
much going on! I'm handing it back off to J.J. but I want to add that
I'm really excited about the addition of the Grades, and I hope our
readers enjoy them.
Mo (Clancey's Tavern): Carlos Martinez. Do you see him as a starter or in the bullpen?
I think he has a solid chance to stay as a starter. No reason to think he's headed to the pen anytime soon.
Richard (Virgin Islands): John-can you name a sleeper in the Mets system that is either flying under the radar or is under publicized? Thanks.
Bradley Marquez, the two-sport star from
Texas who the Mets signed this past year is pretty intriguing. You have
to be worried about a player who is going to play two sports going
forward, but if he decides to play baseball full-time, he could be
Harry (Minnesota): Who is the biggest surprise as far as their change in ranking (up or down) this year?
I think some people would be surprised
that we had the Nationals ranked No. 1 in our org talent rankings in the
Handbook. They've obviously dropped off significantly since making the
Gio Gonzalez trade, but it's a very intriguing system.
John Vairo (Bronx, NY): I'd like to write my
own fantasy baseball book someday, but I'd like to gain experience with
the production of another serious baseball book publication first.
Do you have any openings for help for the 2013 Prospect Handbook?
Thanks for the offer. I'm sorry to tell
you that we do the vast majority of the book in-house. The teams we
don't do are generally done by current Baseball America correspondents
who cover that team.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Gentlemen, thank you
for the chat today, and of course for all the hard work put into the
handbook. Maybe more of a question for a Top 100 chat, but just for fun
today, if we concede Harper as the top position prospect and Moore or
Darvish as the top pitching prospect, who in your crystal ball supplants
them next year?
Interesting question. I think Jurickson
Profar could make a bid for being the top position player. Dylan Bundy,
Jameson Taillon and Taijuan Walker could all make a bid for being the
top pitching prospect.
Paul (Fall River, MA): Is Jose Campos a future No.1?
We're very loathe to throw a No. 1 on a
guy who has yet to pitch full-season ball, but he has the tools to be a
front-end of the rotation guy. Ben Badler keeps repeating that he could
be the key to the Yankees-Mariners deal in the long run.
Trevor (NJ): Any chance that the Yankees get a short season league team in the Appy League?
I guess there is always a chance, but I wouldn't give it much chance at all. They already have a GCL club and a NYP team.
Joejay (Syracuse): Do you think Amir Garrett will ever commit to baseball? Kid's super projectable with a crazy high ceiling.
There are a lot of questions over whether
Garrett has NBA potential, so yeah, I think there is a very decent
chance he ends up focusing on baseball. He's getting plenty of playing
time at St. John's so he's not going to give up hoops anytime soon, but
it's easier for a 6-6 pitcher to earn millions than a 6-6 basketball
Sorry everyone, it's time to run. But thanks for the questions and we hope you all enjoy the Prospect Handbook.