Ask BA

The 2013 draft order won’t be finalized until the last two compensation free agents, Michael Bourn (Braves) and Kyle Lohse (Cardinals), sign contracts. And teams still haven’t received the assigned pick values for 2013, which will rise at the same rate that MLB’s revenues did last year.

But the draft order is all but complete, and multiple sources have told me that they expect the pick values to rise by 6-8 percent. So here’s a look at where each team’s bonus pool for the first 10 rounds stands as of now, both in terms of the 2012 values and with an increase of 7 percent.

Team 2012 Values 7% Increase
Astros $10,845,700 $11,604,899
Cubs $9,789,000 $10,474,230
Rockies $9,458,100 $10,120,167
Marlins $8,845,700 $9,464,899
Pirates $8,226,500 $8,802,355
Royals $7,716,200 $8,256,334
Twins $7,669,000 $8,205,830
Yankees $7,391,300 $7,908,691
Diamondbacks $6,733,600 $7,204,952
Mets $6,487,300 $6,941,411
Indians $6,466,000 $6,918,620
Red Sox $6,341,900 $6,785,833
Padres $6,330,400 $6,773,528
Rays $6,175,900 $6,608,213
Rangers $6,044,900 $6,468,043
Tigers $6,000,300 $6,420,321
Blue Jays $5,941,300 $6,357,191
Orioles $5,928,000 $6,342,960
Mariners $5,694,600 $6,093,222
Brewers $5,660,200 $6,056,414
Reds $5,610,500 $6,003,235
Phillies $5,601,800 $5,993,926
Athletics $5,566,900 $5,956,583
White Sox $4,864,100 $5,204,587
Dodgers $4,780,900 $5,115,563
Cardinals $4,698,300 $5,027,181
Giants $4,342,500 $4,646,475
Angels $2,784,300 $2,979,201
Braves $2,616,800 $2,799,976
Nationals $2,541,500 $2,719,405
Total $187,153,500 $200,254,245

Yeah, it’s a little over the top, but I keep a spreadsheet of the rankings and BA Grades from the Prospect Handbook. In looking at the 2012 vs. 2013 grades, many grades this year are five points lower. Was there a conscious choice to bring all of the grades down a notch? I’m not sure who had the biggest drop, but I did notice that Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar went from 65/High in the 2012 Handbook to 50/High this year. Who are some other players with big climbs and drops?

Jeff Anderson
Brooklyn Park, Minn.

We introduced the BA Grades, which combine a player’s realistic ceiling (on the 20-80 scouting scale) and the risk involved in him reaching it, in the 2012 Handbook. We wanted to allow readers to compare players within an organization and also from system to system. After going through the process the first time, we thought they were too optimistic and adjusted them downward this year.

Of the 900 players in the 2012 Handbook, we gave out one 80 (Bryce Harper), three 75s, thirteen 70s, twenty-six 65s, sixty-nine 60s, one hundred eighty-two 55s, three hundred fifty-one 50s, two hundred twenty-eight 45s and twenty-seven 40s, which averages out to a 51.5. This year, we handed out two 75s (Dylan Bundy and Jurickson Profar), thirteen 70s, twenty-one 65s, forty-nine 60s, one hundred fifteen 55s, four hundred twenty-nine 50s, two hundred forty-eight 45s and twenty-three 40s, for an average of 50.2.

That’s not a huge difference. I personally put numeric values on the risks as well (Safe counts as plus-5, Low as 0, Medium as minus-5, High as minus-10 and Extreme as minus-15). That helps me line up players, and makes a 45/Medium, 50/High and 55/Extreme all equivalent as overall 40s. Using the combined ceiling/risk scores, the 2012 average was 42.7 and 2013’s was 41.3—again a reduction but not a significant one.

Villar’s BA Grade dropped 15 points from the 2012 Handbook to the 2013 edition, but he didn’t have the biggest change between the two books. Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras went from 60/High to 70/Low, an increase of 20 points in ceiling/risk. Rays lefthander Mike Montgomery lost 20 points, going from 65/Medium to 50/High before the Royals traded him to Tampa Bay.

Three righthanders gained 15 points from 2012 to 2013. The Marlins’ Jose Fernandez improved from 60/High to 70/Medium, the Mariners’ Brandon Maurer rose from 50/Extreme to 55/Medium and the Cardinals’ Trevor Rosenthal moved from 50/High to 55/Low.

In addition to Villar, nine other players went 15 points in the opposite direction: Yankees lefthander Manny Banuelos (65/Medium to 55/High), Yankees righthander Dellin Betances (65/High to 50/High), Brewers lefty Jed Bradley (60/Medium to 50/High), Indians righty Dillon Howard (60/High to 50/Extreme), Athletics righty Brad Peacock (60/Low to 55/High), Padres second baseman Cory Spangenberg (60/Medium to 50/High), Giants southpaw Eric Surkamp (50/Low to 45/High), Cubs outfielder Matt Sczcur (60/Medium to 50/High) and Braves righty Julio Teheran (70/Low to 60/Medium).

I just had the opportunity to go through your Cubs Top 30 list in the Prospect Handbook, and in large part, I find myself in agreement in a lot of areas. I wanted to ask about third baseman Josh Vitters ranking at No. 25. I’m no Vitters fan by any means, but you note that some scouts project him as a possible .275/20-homer type with adequate defense at third base. If that .275 with 20 homers is a median projection, considering that he’s 23 and has the potential for improvement, it seems hard to buy that the Cubs have 24 prospects who are better. If .275 with 20 homers is viewed more as a peak, I guess could understand ranking him lower. I’m not aghast at the ranking—I’d flip him with righthander Paul Blackburn at No. 16—but what was the thought process?

T.J. Wu
Frederick, Md.

I’ve had to write up and rank Vitters as part of my Cubs Top 30 work in the last six Handbooks, and he’s a hard prospect to figure out. He was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 draft on merit and he had a solid 2012 season in Triple-A at age 22, but he also has been inconsistent in between.

When I wrote, “There still are scouts inside and outside the organization who feel comfortable projecting him as a .275 hitter with 20 homers annually,” I also followed up by noting that other scouts think he gets himself out because he lacks selectivity and intensity. That .275 with 20 homers is more a best-case scenario, and it’s hard to reconcile that with the guy who hit .121/.193/.202 with 33 strikeouts in his first 99 big league at-bats. I can see the .275 but it probably would come with a .315 on-base percentage, and I’d bet on 15 homers more than 20.

I also don’t see Vitters as someone capable of playing third base on a regular basis in the majors. His speed and range are deficient, his throws are erratic and the game seemed to fast for him at the hot corner when he was with the Cubs. He fits better at first base or maybe left field, which would put a lot more pressure on his bat.

Could Vitters be a regular at third base and provide solid offense and adequate defense? Yes, that’s possible. That’s also his absolute upside, and he looks like more of a platoon player than a regular and more of a first baseman than a third baseman. He’s more major league-ready than most of the 24 players I ranked ahead of him on our Cubs Top 30, but I opted to put him behind players with better ceilings.

Perhaps I’m a bit optimistic, but I’m struck by the similarity between Mets infielder Wilmer Flores and Manny Machado in terms of size and production. Flores doesn’t have the defensive upside of Machado, but his half-season in Double-A is better than anything Machado has done in the minors and Flores is only 11 months older. What does the future hold for Flores? When might he get a callup to the Mets and what position will he fill?

Ben Aloe

Everything Ben says is true. The players have similar builds (roughly 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds) and Flores’ .855 Double-A OPS in the second half of 2012 is better than any sustained performance that Machado has recorded. But Flores isn’t in the same league as Machado when it comes to projecting their future.

Machado was 19 last year when he hit .266/.352/.438 in Double-A and posted similar numbers with the Orioles in the final two months, filling a major hole at third base on a playoff club. When Flores was 19 in 2011, he batted .269/.309/.380 in high Class A. He did have a strong 2012 as a 20-year-old, but at the same age Machado will be an everyday player in Baltimore this year.

Both players spent time last season in the Double-A Eastern League, where Machado rated as the No. 1 overall prospect and Flores ranked No. 18. They may hit for similar averages in the long run, but Machado has more power and more plate discipline.

What really separates them is there defensive ability. Machado has the tools to be a solid shortstop or Gold Glove third baseman. Though Flores spent his first four years as a pro at shortstop before moving to third and second base in 2012, he lacks athleticism and quickness. He likely will wind up at first base or left field, where he might not have the pop to profile as a regular.

Flores will advance to Triple-A Las Vegas, a hitter’s haven conducive to putting up monster numbers, and could see his first big league action toward the end of the 2013 season. He won’t push David Wright off third base or Ike Davis off first base. The Mets may give Flores a look at second base, but left field is a more realistic defensive home.

" Jan. 28 Ask BA