Joe Benson, still a prospect. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Puckett’s Pond has an excellent group of writers with great knowledge of the prospect world. Paul has highlighted many prospects and prospect related items during his time writing here. Here are a few of my recent faves: 2012 Prospect Review, Arizona Fall League Final Report, and MiLB hats. Michael is in the middle of his own top 10 list, titled Bright Futures. He has been writing great, detailed profiles of each prospect along the way. Check out his profiles on Nate Roberts, Travis Harrison, Max Kepler, Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson.
I am a huge fan of prospects myself. The promise that comes with a young player is exciting. If a player hasn’t reached his full potential, there are limitless possibilities. Most prospects have some form of ceiling and floor, but the reality is that no one really knows where these players will go. For every Mike Stanton and Buster Posey, there is a Brandon Wood and Wladimir Balentien (awesome name). For every sure thing prospect like Posey and Stanton, there is also Dustin Pedroia and Jose Bautista, who barely cracked prominent top 100 lists (or didn’t make them at all) and became extremely valuable players.
My prospect list comes from my own opinions based on what I have read about these players and the little that I have seen of them. Obviously, I am not a scout. In fact, I have only seen a few of these players live and the rest from various web clips. However, I read about prospects a lot. I have devoured our own prospect coverage, along with the coverage from places like Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and Perfect Game, and then from important writers like Seth Stohs of TwinsDaily.com and John Sickels of SBNation.com. Basically, you can think of me as a synthesizer. I take what I can see, what I know of the history of young players and include what important and intelligent people think about these players to create these rankings.
I also look at some very specific factors, and pay little attention to others. Tools are really important. Big tools in young players are huge. Young players have plenty of time to develop those tools into performance. A player with average tools doesn’t excite me, unless they produce big numbers. In fact, statistics are both important and not important to me. I give extra thought to high minors numbers, like those in AA or AAA, but I don’t care much about A ball or Rookie ball stats. I care a lot about age, in relation to the level the player is at. A 22 year old in low A with big stats might not be a great prospect. A 19 year old in AA with rough numbers might still be a future star. The level and age are really important. Finally, if I see any mention of a player having good makeup, I love it. Makeup as a term is vague, but to me it means that a player wants to actualize and that is a huge part of development in all walks of life, not just baseball. Obviously, I have never met these players, so makeup is something I have to take at face value, from what I have read.
On to the list!
Well, not quite. This week, we’ll look at some names that will be missing from my list.
Chris Herrmann, probable MLB player. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Each of these players has a very low ceiling. Each of the three were never big time prospects. The one thing all three have in common is that they will almost certainly play for MLB teams. They aren’t as sexy as some of the younger players with upside, which is why they did not make my list. However, many of those upside players may never reach the level that these three have reached or will reach very soon. That is certainly something to think about.
Guerra had a lot of upside, but is unlikely to meet that promise. He was considered the potential crown jewel in the Johan Santana trade, but he has never developed as hoped. His peripheral stats the past two years aren’t bad, but his results have been pretty poor. He still might pitch for the Twins in 2013, but that outlook is much less bright than it was when he was much farther away from the Majors.
Adrian Salcedo was once considered a decent-to-good prospect. To some, he still is. I’m kind of over him. He’ll be 22 next year and likely needs more time in high A. He doesn’t strike out many batters, which is a stat I care about because he doesn’t have huge tools either. He throws harder than your average Twins pitcher, but hasn’t turned that into anything significant as a pro. He also seems to be having some control problems, which will not help matters. If he can right the ship in 2013, he could return to prospect lists. He is a more standard pitch to contact Twins pitcher, so he may get MLB time down the line. However, there is a lot to be worried about and less to be excited about.
Throughout my top 25, there will be sprinklings of young pitchers with huge low minors numbers. Many will be given the chance to start, even if their ultimate ceiling is in the bullpen. These names will be players that have a lot of promise and hope. Summers was one of those players as recently as 2011. He was a 4th round pick out of college and profiles as a reliever long term. However, there is no danger in trying to use him (or any other reliever) as a starter, at least at first. In his pro debut at Elizabethton in 2011 he struck out 36 batters while only walking 5 in just about 21 innings pitched. Pretty dominant, right? In 148 innings in 2012, he only struck out 97 batters and saw his walk rate tick upwards. After a promotion to Fort Myers, he nearly walked as many as he struck out, in about 39 innings. He may return to prospect lists next year as well, but this is the risk with pitchers as they move up the developmental ladder. This is good to keep in mind, as there are a few pitchers who fit this profile in my top 25.
Two 2011 draftees. Boyd has much more upside, as he is only 20, whereas Williams is 22. Boyd throws hard, Williams is more of a soft-tosser. Boyd is right handed and Williams is left handed. Boyd is a starter (right now) and Williams is a reliever. Both are interesting, but neither makes my top 25. Boyd is someone who could be in a future top 25, if he can develop in the low minors. Williams might be a better bet to make it to the Twins one day. I’d probably rank Boyd if this were a top 26 list.
Wimmers was the Twins’ first-round pick in 2010, drafted 21st overall out of Ohio State. He was seen as a low floor, decent ceiling prospect who would move quickly through the minors. He projected as a 3rd or 4th starter at his peak. His development has not gone as planned. First, he completely lost his control. He never really fully regained his control and then he had Tommy John surgery this summer. He may miss most of 2013, as the team will be very careful with him for a variety of reasons. Wimmers may never really be heard from again, but his pedigree gives us reason to at least keep an eye on him.
That’s all for now; too many words. I’ll start the top 25 next Wednesday. Try not to hold your breath for the whole week.