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BA Top 10 prospects


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#1 philly sox fan


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 05:33 PM

The list won't be up on their website until Jan, but here it is from the print edition.

1. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
2. Xander Bogaertes, SS
3. Blake Swihart, C
4. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
5. Bryce Brentz, OF
6. Brandon Jacobs, OF
7. Garin Cecchini, 3B
8. Matt Barnes, RHP
9. Ryan Lavarnway, C
10. Jackie Bradley, OF

Very bullish on Swihart and a tad bearish on Barnes as far as the big sexy June guys go. Reltaively upbeat, but no real surprises on the reports for the more established players.

#2 TomRicardo


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 05:45 PM

Looks a lot better than last year's list

#3 Otis Foster


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 06:50 PM

The list won't be up on their website until Jan, but here it is from the print edition.

1. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
2. Xander Bogaertes, SS
3. Blake Swihart, C
4. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
5. Bryce Brentz, OF
6. Brandon Jacobs, OF
7. Garin Cecchini, 3B
8. Matt Barnes, RHP
9. Ryan Lavarnway, C
10. Jackie Bradley, OF

Very bullish on Swihart and a tad bearish on Barnes as far as the big sexy June guys go. Reltaively upbeat, but no real surprises on the reports for the more established players.


Lavarnaway's rather low, isn't he? He's produced more at a higher level than (say) Cecchini - not intended to diss Garin. Maybe he just sees a higher ceiling for him.

#4 IpswichSox

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 07:10 PM

How come Jose Iglesias isn't on the list? He didn't have too much time up last year to qualify as a prospect, right? I really like Bogaertes (finally a prospect who projects with some power), but he's only 19 -- why is Bogaertes ranked No. 2 when he's years away and Iglesias doesn't even crack the top 10? What am I missing?

Yes, this is a better list than last year, and I like a lot of these guys, especially Bogaertes. But except for a couple, no one is knocking on the door anytime soon. So while there's some depth, it's not depth in the high minors (I guess Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo would have made that list had they not be dealt).

#5 rodderick

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 07:22 PM

How come Jose Iglesias isn't on the list? He didn't have too much time up last year to qualify as a prospect, right? I really like Bogaertes (finally a prospect who projects with some power), but he's only 19 -- why is Bogaertes ranked No. 2 when he's years away and Iglesias doesn't even crack the top 10? What am I missing?

Yes, this is a better list than last year, and I like a lot of these guys, especially Bogaertes. But except for a couple, no one is knocking on the door anytime soon. So while there's some depth, it's not depth in the high minors (I guess Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo would have made that list had they not be dealt).


You're missing that Xander is a 19 year old SS who nearly slugged Iglesias' OPS.

#6 phragle


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 07:31 PM

How come Jose Iglesias isn't on the list? He didn't have too much time up last year to qualify as a prospect, right? I really like Bogaertes (finally a prospect who projects with some power), but he's only 19 -- why is Bogaertes ranked No. 2 when he's years away and Iglesias doesn't even crack the top 10? What am I missing?

They aren't really comparable as prospects. Bogaerts is going to be a SS, he'll be a power-hitting 3B or outfielder. Iglesias isn't going to be anything other than a SS, and will never hit for much power. Still, Jose should be on any top 10 list, but they shouldn't be compared just because the both play SS now. You wouldn't compare Elvis Adrus and Mike Stanton would you?

#7 David Laurila


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 07:37 PM

How come Jose Iglesias isn't on the list?


I talked to Jim Callis -- who did the list -- about this, and he had some defendable reasons. I won't repeat them here, as it wouldn't be appropriate prior to the Prospect Handbook coming out [or him discussing it in a chat]. That said, I don't agree with him leaving Iglesias off his Top 10.

The big question with Bogaerts, as some of you already know, is whether he'll remain at shortstop or end up at third base. To state the obvious, if he stays at short, and his power translates to the big leagues, he'll be a beast. Those are two big ifs, but with his ceiling he merits the high ranking.

#8 StuckOnYouk

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 07:45 PM

Considering the fact that 3 of the top 10 have hardly seen any action in the minors yet, do we take that as a) our farm system was pretty damn barren or b) we had a hell of a first round (plus supp)?

#9 phragle


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 07:52 PM

The big question with Bogaerts, as some of you already know, is whether he'll remain at shortstop or end up at third base. To state the obvious, if he stays at short, and his power translates to the big leagues, he'll be a beast. Those are two big ifs, but with his ceiling he merits the high ranking.

Does anyone actually think he will stick at SS? I haven't seen anyone write that.

Considering the fact that 3 of the top 10 have hardly seen any action in the minors yet, do we take that as a) our farm system was pretty damn barren or b) we had a hell of a first round (plus supp)?

B, final answer.

#10 philly sox fan


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 08:28 PM

Just for some flavor from the reports... Callis is really high on the ceilings of Swihart, Bogaerts and Cechini. The knockout hype-apolooza phrase for this year's top 10 is definitely that Swihart has "the Buster Posey starter kit". And I guess given his pre-draft rankings and bonus that makes some sense. At least from BA, he should be getting some strong back quarter of the top 100 consideration.

And I guess he was high on Middlebrooks too putting him #1 obviously, but also suggesting 25 or more HR power as a possibility. He's got good power (BA says 65 grade), but I don't think I see that. At least in this lowered post-PED testing run scoring environment, 25 HR is a pretty big number.

I think overall, he was too quick to dismiss the strikeout/contact issues for MIddlebrooks, Brentz and Jacobs. He barely mentioned it, in fact.

Also only had Ranaudo as a steady #3 starter. With that at #4 and to me a kinda meh Brentz at #5, it makes for a pretty big drop off from the top 3 to the rest. And that top 3 is a guy who strikes a ton, just played his first partial full season and has yet to play at all.

Notes a lack of decption with Barnes which may partially explain the lack of Ks in college considering the quality of his stuff.

Not a lot of meat to the Lavarnway report. Gives his improvement as receiver as going from "dreadful to adequate". Not really willing to go out on limb about his ever being good enough to be a regular behind the plate.

Oh and on the other position change possibility, doesn't thin Bogaerts can stick at SS. Sees him as a 3B or RF. And actually for the very little it's worth has him at RF in the 2015 lineup in deference to Middlebrooks.

Bradley report largely plays up his defensive instincts. Given that, it does seem a bit odd not to have Iglesias in that spot. I bet when the chat rolls around he mentions that Iglesias just missed and what's the difference between 10 and 11 anyway?

#11 OttoC


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 08:49 PM

...
And I guess he was high on Middlebrooks too putting him #1 obviously, but also suggesting 25 or more HR power as a possibility. He's got good power (BA says 65 grade), but I don't think I see that. At least in this lowered post-PED testing run scoring environment, 25 HR is a pretty big number....

He hit 23 in 472 PA (116 gms) in 2011.

#12 gammoseditor


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 10:10 PM

It really seems like people are giving Brentz credit for the numbers he put up in Greenville when the reality is that a 1st round college draft pick should not be in that league the year after being drafted. I mean, it's not a bad sign he killed the ball there, but if he didn't he'd be a guy that you should be down on. He doesn't really deserve credit for his time there. His numbers in high A were adequate but nothing to get too excited about from a corner OF.

#13 LostinNJ

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 10:22 PM

The omission of Iglesias is odd. Even if he doesn't hit, he will certainly have a major league career. That's not the case with some of the guys ahead of him on this list. Maybe Callis is thinking that his career will likely have to be somewhere other than Boston, where the team's annual ambitions preclude lopsided players like him or, at the other end of the spectrum, Lavarnway. Maybe the list reflects the players' chances of establishing themselves with the Red Sox, not their generic chances of making it in the big leagues.

#14 SoxScout


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 10:23 PM

It really seems like people are giving Brentz credit for the numbers he put up in Greenville when the reality is that a 1st round college draft pick should not be in that league the year after being drafted. I mean, it's not a bad sign he killed the ball there, but if he didn't he'd be a guy that you should be down on. He doesn't really deserve credit for his time there. His numbers in high A were adequate but nothing to get too excited about from a corner OF.


He had the 3rd highest IsoP and 8th highest wOBA of anyone in the Carolina league with >250 plate appearances... after missing 3 weeks 2 games after his promotion with a wrist injury.

AA will be a test, as it is for everyone, but I don't know why "should be down on" him.

#15 jmm57

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 10:34 PM

It really seems like people are giving Brentz credit for the numbers he put up in Greenville when the reality is that a 1st round college draft pick should not be in that league the year after being drafted. I mean, it's not a bad sign he killed the ball there, but if he didn't he'd be a guy that you should be down on. He doesn't really deserve credit for his time there. His numbers in high A were adequate but nothing to get too excited about from a corner OF.


I don't think you are giving Brentz nearly enough credit.

As a 22 year old getting his first look at the league, Brentz slugged .531 in a league that had a combined slugging % of .379. Only one qualifier had a higher SLG (a 26 year old DH, .535 to .531).

Sox Scout beat me

Edited by jmm57, 21 December 2011 - 10:37 PM.


#16 gammoseditor


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 10:38 PM

He had the 3rd highest IsoP and 8th highest wOBA of anyone in the Carolina league with >250 plate appearances... after missing 3 weeks 2 games after his promotion with a wrist injury.

AA will be a test, as it is for everyone, but I don't know why "should be down on" him.


Is a 22 year old corner OF having the 8th highest wOBA in a high A league really that impressive? I'd certainly take Sean Coyle over him, whose not even on the list.

#17 SoxScout


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 10:44 PM

Is a 22 year old corner OF having the 8th highest wOBA in a high A league really that impressive? I'd certainly take Sean Coyle over him, whose not even on the list.


Yeah, I'd say it's pretty impressive. He sucked in Lowell, got contacts, so unlike most who would kill Lowell and jump to A+, he killed A- and jumped to A+. You make it sound like he should be knocking on the door. He is like 40-50 games behind schedule, and if he didn't have the wrist injury who knows, he probably would have got the cup of coffee in AA and been perfectly fine.

#18 Eddie Jurak


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Posted 22 December 2011 - 07:07 AM

Also only had Ranaudo as a steady #3 starter. With that at #4 and to me a kinda meh Brentz at #5, it makes for a pretty big drop off from the top 3 to the rest. And that top 3 is a guy who strikes a ton, just played his first partial full season and has yet to play at all.


This is what really stands out to me about the list. Only 3 guys ranked higher than a disappointing Ranaudo?

Lavarnway's low rank in this field is also disappointing - I'd think that if the bat was for real, he should rank higher, even if he has to move off C or at least can't start there.

#19 someoneanywhere

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 07:48 AM

Considering the fact that 3 of the top 10 have hardly seen any action in the minors yet, do we take that as a) our farm system was pretty damn barren or b) we had a hell of a first round (plus supp)?


It's not barren. But the high-ceiling guys who would now be moving into the upper levels -- Hagadone, Kelly, Rizzo, Fuentes, etc. -- now reside elsewhere.

These lists are going to be wildly divergent by the time they all appear, with some evaluators like Callis going on ceiling and tools and others going on progress in pro ball. I don't think there's much argument, though, that the impact talent is young: of those who have some pro seasoning, mainly in A ball; and of those who don't, namely GC and JBJ and Swihart, in short-season ball.

Philly, I thought the most important point about WMB and his power (65 on the 80-scale, which is surprising indeed) was the contention that "most" of his homers were to the opposite field. If that's true, I'm more than willing to buy the 25-homer projection, on the grounds that once he learns more about hitting, he'll learn to turn on some balls and yank them.

#20 Again2004

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 09:40 AM

This is what really stands out to me about the list. Only 3 guys ranked higher than a disappointing Ranaudo?

Lavarnway's low rank in this field is also disappointing - I'd think that if the bat was for real, he should rank higher, even if he has to move off C or at least can't start there.


Callis' love for Anthony Ranaudo wouldn't probably be shared by others.

#21 philly sox fan


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Posted 22 December 2011 - 01:27 PM

Philly, I thought the most important point about WMB and his power (65 on the 80-scale, which is surprising indeed) was the contention that "most" of his homers were to the opposite field. If that's true, I'm more than willing to buy the 25-homer projection, on the grounds that once he learns more about hitting, he'll learn to turn on some balls and yank them.


Yeah, that's a good point that definitely had me raise my eyebrows a bit. It looks like the raw power is better than I had given him credit. But there's still - for me - a pretty big concern that the issues with his approach are going to keep him from translating that raw power to in game power against quality MLB pitching.

#22 SoxScout


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Posted 22 December 2011 - 01:34 PM

WMB address K's in this video: http://mlb.mlb.com/v...ent_id=19967019

"As a 3B, middle of the order guy, you're looking to get your money's worth.. strikeouts are going to happen, just part of being that type of player, but you always look to have good discipline."

#23 amarshal2

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 03:05 PM

I think WMB's strikeout rate is a big concern. I don't think he goes the other way necessarily because he hasn't learned how to turn on a pitch (he used to be a dead pull hitter). I wonder if he goes the other way because when he tries to pull it, he misses. (Going the other way makes one inherently shorter to the ball and thus it's easier to make contact.) I used to be a huge WMB fanboy because of his obvious athleticism, defensive ability, raw power, and tools. That said, I have a hard time seeing him be a highly productive hitter in the majors. He strikes out entirely too much for a guy with his BB rate. A 24% walk rate and 5% K rate just isn't going to cut it.

Honestly, perhaps it's because I've been away from the "prospect scene" a lot lately...and I haven't seen WMB in person since he was a youngin', but I would rank him 3rd or maybe lower. He's like Ian Stewart only more flawed. The guys I trust at SP.com that see him regularly say he puts together good at bats, so that's encouraging, but the proof is also in the pudding.

If I thought Lavarnway could catch, he'd be #1. Just because he's been around a while doesn't make him old. He got his first taste in the majors a week after his 24th birthday and is probably there to stick. Guys who make the majors by 24 have a good shot at being average regulars. (I'm a loose fan of the 22-24-26 rule of thumb for hitters.) I think if that guy is making the majors at 24 is a catcher, you give him a little slack. If he's not a catcher, he's not definitively better than WMB.

If Lavarnway probably can't catch then Bogaerts is my #1.

Edited by amarshal2, 22 December 2011 - 03:05 PM.


#24 SumnerH


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Posted 22 December 2011 - 06:39 PM

The omission of Iglesias is odd. Even if he doesn't hit, he will certainly have a major league career. That's not the case with some of the guys ahead of him on this list.


I think you underestimate how atrocious he is at the plate currently. He's not a certain lock to have a major league career even with his defense, not even as a backup level player. He's got a ton of variance in his projections--if he becomes an average hitting SS he could easily be a perennial all-star--but there's plenty of downside there to go along with the visions of the next Omar Vizquel.

#25 gammoseditor


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Posted 22 December 2011 - 06:43 PM

I think you underestimate how atrocious he is at the plate currently. He's not a certain lock to have a major league career even with his defense, not even as a backup level player. He's got a ton of variance in his projections--if he becomes an average hitting SS he could easily be a perennial all-star--but there's plenty of downside there to go along with the visions of the next Omar Vizquel.


I think you can say the bolded about everyone on the list as well, except for Lavarnway, and I'd take Iglesias floor over most.

#26 Again2004

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 07:06 PM

We usually dream on a prospect's ceiling. Iglesias' offensive potential is too low. He can't draw walks. He can't hit for power. His contact is decent at best. A GG shortstop with mid .600 OPS isn't very popular in the market. A low ceiling prospect won't be ranked high.

#27 Rudy Pemberton


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Posted 22 December 2011 - 07:11 PM

Iglesias could become Ordonez or Everett and amass lots of big league AB's, but how much value will there be in his Sox-controlled years? History suggests...not a lot. What's his trade value? And yes, i know he's young, but he seems less attractive now than he did a year ago. It's really all about upside at this point, and the prospects guys love the shiny new toys, as evidenced by guys appearing on the list with little to no pro experience.

#28 philly sox fan


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Posted 22 December 2011 - 08:54 PM

I think WMB's strikeout rate is a big concern. I don't think he goes the other way necessarily because he hasn't learned how to turn on a pitch (he used to be a dead pull hitter). I wonder if he goes the other way because when he tries to pull it, he misses. (Going the other way makes one inherently shorter to the ball and thus it's easier to make contact.) I used to be a huge WMB fanboy because of his obvious athleticism, defensive ability, raw power, and tools. That said, I have a hard time seeing him be a highly productive hitter in the majors. He strikes out entirely too much for a guy with his BB rate. A 24% walk rate and 5% K rate just isn't going to cut it.


That's an interesting observation. The other day I saw a story on MLB Network on Cespedes. They showed a video highlight (not sure if it was from the WBC or a Cuban game or whatever) of Cespedes hitting an opposite field HR. The ex-player analyst - can't remember who - immediately said that you shouldn't think that was indicative of a good hit to all field approach so much as it looked like a big strong pull hitter who can mis-hit inferior pitching and still muscle it out to RF. Seemed like a reasonable concern about Cespeded and perhaps Middlebrooks as well.

#29 Cornboy14

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 10:02 PM

Is a 22 year old corner OF having the 8th highest wOBA in a high A league really that impressive? I'd certainly take Sean Coyle over him, whose not even on the list.


I was surprised initially that Coyle didn't make it, but doesn't BA historically tend to favor tools a bit more than some of the other minor league watchers?

#30 TheGoldenGreek33

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 11:41 PM

The ex-player analyst - can't remember who - immediately said that you shouldn't think that was indicative of a good hit to all field approach so much as it looked like a big strong pull hitter who can mis-hit inferior pitching and still muscle it out to RF. Seemed like a reasonable concern about Cespeded and perhaps Middlebrooks as well.

I've seen this happen a lot and have actually done it a couple of times in HS, too. IMO, it happens to pull-hitters when they're over matched. When a pull hitter opens up before contact to cheat on a good fastball, the odd combination of a hitters hips/shoulders rotating early but the bat being late has a lot to do with the bat angle generating opposite field power -- if that makes sense. It's complete luck and speaks volumes about the holes in a hitters swing with regards to being exposed on the inside corner, having a long swing and slider bat speed.

#31 Plympton91


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Posted 23 December 2011 - 10:09 AM

The list won't be up on their website until Jan, but here it is from the print edition.

1. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
2. Xander Bogaertes, SS
3. Blake Swihart, C
4. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
5. Bryce Brentz, OF
6. Brandon Jacobs, OF
7. Garin Cecchini, 3B
8. Matt Barnes, RHP
9. Ryan Lavarnway, C
10. Jackie Bradley, OF

Very bullish on Swihart and a tad bearish on Barnes as far as the big sexy June guys go. Reltaively upbeat, but no real surprises on the reports for the more established players.


Wow. I can't remember ever beign so out of synch with Baseball America. To me, Ryan Lavarnway is the #1 prospect in the system and then everyone else except may Xander is not even close. Is Kalish not eligible for the list; he's got to be higher than players who haven't played yet?

There's just no comparison between a 24 year old catcher who hit 32 HR's with a ~380 OBP between AA/AAA/AL East and a 22 year old who barely walks and strikes out a ton in AA, to say nothing of a bunch of players who haven't really excelled beyond low A. You can talk about Lavarnway maybe not having the defensive skills to be a full-time catcher (though he seems to have no trouble throwing out basestealers), but what is it about Brentz 20 or so errors in the outfield that makes him more than a potential DH?

The other thing that jumps out at me again, though we already had an earlier thread on this, is that Ranaudo is a disappointing #4 and no other pitcher in the system except a guy who hasn't pitched professionally yet is even close to the top 10.

#32 The Best Catch in 100 Years

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 11:24 AM

The list seems reasonable to me. I wouldn't have Middlebrooks or Ranaudo so high, but if Middlebrooks actually turns out to be an elite defender some struggles at the plate might be tolerable. I'm also totally on board with the bullish rankings for Bogaerts and Jacobs. The pitching situation isn't as bad as people are saying it is, either. I don't know how high Kukuk and Owens are in the full top 30, and they both come with a fair amount of risk, but I wouldn't be surprised if either or both shot up the rankings next year.

#33 JakeRae

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 03:28 PM

Wow. I can't remember ever beign so out of synch with Baseball America. To me, Ryan Lavarnway is the #1 prospect in the system and then everyone else except may Xander is not even close. Is Kalish not eligible for the list; he's got to be higher than players who haven't played yet?

There's just no comparison between a 24 year old catcher who hit 32 HR's with a ~380 OBP between AA/AAA/AL East and a 22 year old who barely walks and strikes out a ton in AA, to say nothing of a bunch of players who haven't really excelled beyond low A. You can talk about Lavarnway maybe not having the defensive skills to be a full-time catcher (though he seems to have no trouble throwing out basestealers), but what is it about Brentz 20 or so errors in the outfield that makes him more than a potential DH?

The other thing that jumps out at me again, though we already had an earlier thread on this, is that Ranaudo is a disappointing #4 and no other pitcher in the system except a guy who hasn't pitched professionally yet is even close to the top 10.

Most of the major prospect raters, at this point, are invested in the idea that Lavarnway cannot stick at catcher. They aren't going to turn on a dime and start considering him an adequate defensive catcher because signs are starting to point there when those signs are a long ways from being conclusive. Lavarnway is the exact sort of player these guys get badly wrong every once in a while because they are a little over-focused on tools rather than performance.

On a similar note, this is one of the biggest things I miss about Nate Silver being a baseball writer. The PECOTA prospect rankings and subsequent analysis of where and why PECOTA and Goldstein disagreed on prospects was always an offseason highlight and did a great job of addressing the places where the scouting community can tend to put on blinders.

Please don't take this post as a dismissal of scouting. Scouting is by far the most valuable resource we have in evaluating prospects. But, just like the stats get things wrong from time to time, the scouts do too. I firmly believe there are certain player types where scouts are more prone to mis-evaluation and Lavarnway is one of those players.



#34 Kid T

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 06:11 PM

Most of the major prospect raters, at this point, are invested in the idea that Lavarnway cannot stick at catcher. They aren't going to turn on a dime and start considering him an adequate defensive catcher because signs are starting to point there when those signs are a long ways from being conclusive. Lavarnway is the exact sort of player these guys get badly wrong every once in a while because they are a little over-focused on tools rather than performance.

On a similar note, this is one of the biggest things I miss about Nate Silver being a baseball writer. The PECOTA prospect rankings and subsequent analysis of where and why PECOTA and Goldstein disagreed on prospects was always an offseason highlight and did a great job of addressing the places where the scouting community can tend to put on blinders.

Please don't take this post as a dismissal of scouting. Scouting is by far the most valuable resource we have in evaluating prospects. But, just like the stats get things wrong from time to time, the scouts do too. I firmly believe there are certain player types where scouts are more prone to mis-evaluation and Lavarnway is one of those players.


How many games have you watched Lavarnway catch? I'm no scout, but I recall watching a few games (one was a minor league All-Star game) and it wasn't even his throwing that was problematic. It was his receiving and to a smaller extent, his footwork. Both are correctable, but one would have expected a more "finished" product defensively for having progressed through the minors (though largely, it seems based on his offensive potential).

#35 philly sox fan


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Posted 23 December 2011 - 08:23 PM

Wow. I can't remember ever beign so out of synch with Baseball America. To me, Ryan Lavarnway is the #1 prospect in the system and then everyone else except may Xander is not even close. Is Kalish not eligible for the list; he's got to be higher than players who haven't played yet?

There's just no comparison between a 24 year old catcher who hit 32 HR's with a ~380 OBP between AA/AAA/AL East and a 22 year old who barely walks and strikes out a ton in AA, to say nothing of a bunch of players who haven't really excelled beyond low A. You can talk about Lavarnway maybe not having the defensive skills to be a full-time catcher (though he seems to have no trouble throwing out basestealers), but what is it about Brentz 20 or so errors in the outfield that makes him more than a potential DH?


Kalish exceeded his RoY eligibility and isn't considered a prospect by anybody except soxprospects.com. I'm sure they had their reasons, but it's mostly made for pointless confusion and imo made them look like homers trying to pad a thin prospect list pre-June draft.

Lavarnway is interesting for a host of reasons, but perhaps one of the under-rated ones is that his offensive performances have perhaps not been that good. Or at least don't project for as good a foundation for MLB success as a quick look would suggest. That's one way to understand the shockingly low ZiPS projection for 2012. Not sure those projections were discussed around here when they were released at the end of Oct (too much soap opera around the team maybe).

ZiPS has Lavarnway at 243/316/405 for an OPS+ of 89. Obviously that's much less than you would think from his minor league numbers and certainly not nearly good enough for a bat first prospect. Hell, even as a catcher that's nothing special. ZiPS also picks up a perhaps telling comp of Bobby Estellela, another "catcher" with big numbers who excited statheads, but never panned out.

I remember digging up some MLEs when that came out and realized that because of his age most the big stat performances were actually quite pedestrian. It was really just the small sample in AAA that seemed to translate really well. A system that gives a lot of credence to those early MLEs - like ZiPS apparently - spits out a pretty mediocre projection.

It'll be interesting to see what other stats based projctions have to say about Lavarnway as a hitter. I know the system BIS uses and brands with Bill James name is really high, but that system tends to be really optimistic on minor league hitters. I don't tend to put much trust into it at all.

Even if you split the difference between the pessimism of ZiPS and the optimism of BIS (and a quick look at his minor league stats) and you say Lavarnway has a good chance to be an 825 OPS hitter, that's nothing special for a DH. It's really not much to be excited about if you think he can catch 30 games and DH the rest either.

FWIW, ZiPS doesn't think much of Middlebrooks either.

Sox ZiPS:

My link

#36 LostinNJ

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 08:42 PM

Lavarnway is interesting for a host of reasons, but perhaps one of the under-rated ones is that his offensive performances have perhaps not been that good. Or at least don't project for as good a foundation for MLB success as a quick look would suggest. That's one way to understand the shockingly low ZiPS projection for 2012. Not sure those projections were discussed around here when they were released at the end of Oct (too much soap opera around the team maybe).

I think this is right -- BA isn't that high on him as a hitter. The Yankees have a slugging catcher with weak defense at #1 on their list, a guy who will surely be near the top of the BA top 100 in a few weeks. Montero's defensive shortcomings aren't held against him, so it doesn't make sense that they would be the determining factor for Lavarnway. Right now I'd expect him to end up as a DH (maybe in a platoon) and third-string catcher. That's not a bad guy to have; it means you can pinch hit for your catcher and not worry about having Mike Greenwell behind the plate at the end of the game.

#37 Cellar-Door

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 09:01 PM

I think WMB's strikeout rate is a big concern. I don't think he goes the other way necessarily because he hasn't learned how to turn on a pitch (he used to be a dead pull hitter). I wonder if he goes the other way because when he tries to pull it, he misses. (Going the other way makes one inherently shorter to the ball and thus it's easier to make contact.) I used to be a huge WMB fanboy because of his obvious athleticism, defensive ability, raw power, and tools. That said, I have a hard time seeing him be a highly productive hitter in the majors. He strikes out entirely too much for a guy with his BB rate. A 24% walk rate and 5% K rate just isn't going to cut it.

Honestly, perhaps it's because I've been away from the "prospect scene" a lot lately...and I haven't seen WMB in person since he was a youngin', but I would rank him 3rd or maybe lower. He's like Ian Stewart only more flawed. The guys I trust at SP.com that see him regularly say he puts together good at bats, so that's encouraging, but the proof is also in the pudding.

If I thought Lavarnway could catch, he'd be #1. Just because he's been around a while doesn't make him old. He got his first taste in the majors a week after his 24th birthday and is probably there to stick. Guys who make the majors by 24 have a good shot at being average regulars. (I'm a loose fan of the 22-24-26 rule of thumb for hitters.) I think if that guy is making the majors at 24 is a catcher, you give him a little slack. If he's not a catcher, he's not definitively better than WMB.

If Lavarnway probably can't catch then Bogaerts is my #1.

I agree with you about Middlebrooks needing significant improvement on his discipline, but your typo made me laugh a bit. 24% BB% and 5% K% would likely have him headed to the hall of fame.

#38 Plympton91


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Posted 24 December 2011 - 09:25 AM

ZiPS has Lavarnway at 243/316/405 for an OPS+ of 89. Obviously that's much less than you would think from his minor league numbers and certainly not nearly good enough for a bat first prospect. Hell, even as a catcher that's nothing special. ZiPS also picks up a perhaps telling comp of Bobby Estellela, another "catcher" with big numbers who excited statheads, but never panned out.

I remember digging up some MLEs when that came out and realized that because of his age most the big stat performances were actually quite pedestrian. It was really just the small sample in AAA that seemed to translate really well. A system that gives a lot of credence to those early MLEs - like ZiPS apparently - spits out a pretty mediocre projection.

It'll be interesting to see what other stats based projctions have to say about Lavarnway as a hitter. I know the system BIS uses and brands with Bill James name is really high, but that system tends to be really optimistic on minor league hitters. I don't tend to put much trust into it at all.


That's interesting. Is Lavarnway really that old for his leagues? He was 23 for most of this year, and he's a 4th year college draftee at catcher, where progress is slow and the bat usually comes later, especially if they're focused on defense. One "tangible-intangible" that is perhaps missing is that I'm assuming Lavarnway is off the charts of the distribution of intelligence, having gone to Yale. The other thing I'd say is that I haven't seen a lot of scouting opinions on his hitting, as opposed to people just pointing to the stats and saying he's a good hitter. To me, he had a very advanced approach at the plate, and a pretty quick and short stroke given his frame. I don't know why you'd weight Bobby Estrella as the projection more so than Mike Napoli and Mike Stanley.

On his defense, we saw no problems in the 2-3 or so games he caught under intense pennant race pressure. I don't know. My guess is that if Lavarnway had a Stanford baseball pedigree he'd be ranked much higher than he is even if he had exactly the same performance.

#39 philly sox fan


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Posted 24 December 2011 - 11:36 AM

That's interesting. Is Lavarnway really that old for his leagues? He was 23 for most of this year, and he's a 4th year college draftee at catcher, where progress is slow and the bat usually comes later, especially if they're focused on defense. One "tangible-intangible" that is perhaps missing is that I'm assuming Lavarnway is off the charts of the distribution of intelligence, having gone to Yale. The other thing I'd say is that I haven't seen a lot of scouting opinions on his hitting, as opposed to people just pointing to the stats and saying he's a good hitter. To me, he had a very advanced approach at the plate, and a pretty quick and short stroke given his frame. I don't know why you'd weight Bobby Estrella as the projection more so than Mike Napoli and Mike Stanley.

On his defense, we saw no problems in the 2-3 or so games he caught under intense pennant race pressure. I don't know. My guess is that if Lavarnway had a Stanford baseball pedigree he'd be ranked much higher than he is even if he had exactly the same performance.


I always think the age thing is really interesting for college senior signs. They're always too old for thier leagues and get dinged as a result, but it's not like it's their fault they're playing below thier appropriate age. Jeez, I remember making that argument for Eckstein and Youk a million miles ago. Unfortunately, it's easy to remember the small number of those types who do keep hitting and work out vs the (presumably) many who do not.

23 is a bit old for a top hitting prospect in AA where he started the year (and also his previous A ball stints). It's ok for AAA and I think that's why his AAA line is really the only one that translates well.

I looked at claydavenport.com for Clay's DTs and equivalencies and I think they underscore the poor ZiPS projection.

Clay's MLE for Lavarnway in AA is 254/323/434. That's a .260 EqA (where .260 is league average hitter). That's good for a fulltime catcher. It's poor for a full time DH.

But in AAA it is 279/364/571 for a .306 EqA. Obviously that's very good, but arguably it's the only stretch of play that supports the idea that Lavarnway can be an impressive MLB hitter.

Davenport also calulates a peak performance translation based on each level of play. I assume it's just applying aging curves and scaling up to an age 27 season.

The peak based on his AA performance is 263/335/488 for a .277 EqA. That's very good for a fulltime catcher. It's marginal for a full time DH. There really aren't any backup C/DH types to compare too, but I guess that's ok.

The peak based on his AAA performanceis 296/381/639 for a .326 EqA. Obviously that's fantastic, but it's only based on ~250 PAs and it's much different than his prior career.

The low ZiPS projections are a pretty good match for Davenport's AA translations.

Sox fans seem to think there are no questions about Lavarnway's bat, only his defense. The stat projection systems are going to suggest there are still some sizable quastions about his bat.

#40 alskor

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 01:57 PM

Does anyone actually think he will stick at SS? I haven't seen anyone write that.

Mike Newman (from ScoutingtheSally/fangraphs) put it at 60/40 for 3B over SS recently. Bogaerts isn't your typical big dude who doesn't move well enough for SS. He's athletic enough for it now... issue is more that if he grows anymore he's going to thicken up and slow down. Fwiw, I do think 3B is much more likely than RF at this point - talking in terms of skill set & tools more than org. needs, obviously. Arm, actions and athleticism could make him a very good 3B.

I've talked to a couple scouts about Bogaerts who agree with Mike that SS isn't out of the question. One example I've been using is that Bogaerts looks like much more of a SS than Manny Machado does. Machado is a bit thicker at the shoulders and waist and has a fuller lower half. I'd think both guys ends up at 3B but I'd probably give Bogaerts the slightly better odds of staying at SS. All conjecture, of course, as we're projecting how 16-21 year old kids' bodies will grow... which is some of the least firm footing there is in scouting/player development.

#41 John DiFool

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 10:29 PM

Bill James has Lavarnway at .275 .351 .527, which yes is probably just as optimistic as Zips is pessimistic, but wagering the average of the two gives you a pretty good player, esp. if he sticks at C.

#42 Eric Van


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Posted 27 December 2011 - 10:33 AM

Clay's MLE for Lavarnway in AA is 254/323/434. That's a .260 EqA (where .260 is league average hitter). That's good for a fulltime catcher. It's poor for a full time DH.

But in AAA it is 279/364/571 for a .306 EqA. Obviously that's very good, but arguably it's the only stretch of play that supports the idea that Lavarnway can be an impressive MLB hitter.

Davenport also calulates a peak performance translation based on each level of play. I assume it's just applying aging curves and scaling up to an age 27 season.

The peak based on his AA performance is 263/335/488 for a .277 EqA. That's very good for a fulltime catcher. It's marginal for a full time DH. There really aren't any backup C/DH types to compare too, but I guess that's ok.

The peak based on his AAA performanceis 296/381/639 for a .326 EqA. Obviously that's fantastic, but it's only based on ~250 PAs and it's much different than his prior career.

The proper thing to do is combine the translations into a single season. In fact, that's basically the whole point of translating them. It's usually a good idea to pay no attention to which level the player performed better at, according to the translations. After all, players routinely have one half-season or first or last two months that's much better or worse than the rest of the season, and what's predictive is, far more often than not, the whole season, combined. (Figuring out the exceptions is almost an art form).

In Lavarnway's case, the overall MLE (including MLB) is .264 / .341 / .500 (.282 EqA / TAv), and the overall peak projection is .276 / .355 / .557 (.299), or a bit better -- the peak translation of his MLB numbers is the same as the regular translation, and that seems to be a mistake.

He also rates him as an exactly league-average catcher in terms of SB / CS and WP / PB, which is consistent with the analysis I did mid-season comparing him to FedX. Given that he looked perfectly adequate in his MLB trial, that he has those numbers, and that he's only been catching a few years and has been a tremendously hard worker and has already improved a great deal -- I just can't fathom the notion that he might not be good enough to be a regular catcher.

#43 Corsi


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Posted 27 December 2011 - 01:53 PM

Apologies if this is too long. There's some good nuggets in here.



Baseball America revealed its Top 10 prospect list for the Red Sox last week and it was surprising to seeJose Iglesias, the purported shortstop of the future, squeezed out of the list.



Jim Callis, executive editor of the esteemed publication, explained why Iglesias did not make the cut.



"Outside the Red Sox organization, I never spoke to anyone who had faith in his bat," Callis said. "His defense is special enough where if he could hit .260 or so he could help, but he just doesn't do anything well enough run well, steal bases, hit for average, hit for power, draw walks. If you're looking at him as a .260 hitter, maybe he has an on-base percentage of close to .300 but I think that's the upside."



Callis said that he may turn out to be a better defender than the Sox' new utility infielder, Nick Punto , but that a better comparison could be free agent Cesar Izturis (good glove, career .255 hitter, .295 on-base percentage) or Pokey Reese(good glove, career .248 hitter, .307 OBP).



"I haven't given up on him as being an everyday shortstop in the big leagues because I think his defense is that good," Callis said. "The guy he might be most similar to is Pokey Reese."



Callis is quite high on 19-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts, ranked No. 2 in the system (behind third baseman Will Middlebrooks).



"I was aggressive with his ranking, but I think he's the most likely prospect in their system to be a star, him and (catcher Blake) Swihart (ranked No. 3)."



Bogaerts' 2010 stint in the Dominican Summer League provoked comparisons to Hanley Ramirez, said Callis, and his 16 home runs in 265 at-bats with Single-A Greenville this year as a 19-year-old were eye-opening.



"I don't think he's necessarily a shortstop in the long term," Callis said, "because he's a big kid, 6-foot-3, strong."



Swihart at No. 3 and Lavarnway at No. 9 also might strike Red Sox fans as a flip from expectations. Lavarnway's offensive skills are quite high and he has exceeded expectations, including defensively as a catcher, every step of the way since he was drafted out of Yale in 2008. Callis said Lavarnway "is a tough guy to rank. The question you always hear is, 'Can he catch regularly in the big leagues?' and people say 'He's better than you think,' and I say, 'You didn't answer the question.' I don't think anybody can answer the question yet."



With Swihart, Callis said comparisons to San Francisco's Buster Posey are not fictional.



"I'm in no way saying he'll be that good," he said, "but if you look at his offensive tools and his athleticism, they're the same that Buster had at this stage. They're the same type of hitter."



Swihart turns 20 in April and was a first-round pick this year.

After Swihart, right-hander Anthony Ranaudo is the highest-ranked pitcher on the list. The only other pitcher is right-hander Matt Barnes, the club's other first-round pick this year. Barnes, who pitched for UConn, is ranked eighth.

Outfielders Bryce Brentz and Brandon Jacobs are ranked fifth and sixth. Brentz was drafted last year in the first supplemental round, while Jacobs arrived in 2009 in the 10th round. Third baseman Garin Cecchini, a fourth-round pick in 2010, is ranked seventh. A knee injury in 2010 and a broken wrist this July have slowed his progress down some but Callis wrote that Cecchini "is the best pure hitter in the system."

Outfielder Jackie Bradley, drafted in the first supplemental round this year, is ranked 10th.

http://www.bostonher...mlb#articleFull



#44 Kutcher Era Youth

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 04:04 PM

Bogaerts was 18 this year.

#45 philly sox fan


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Posted 27 December 2011 - 04:58 PM

The proper thing to do is combine the translations into a single season.


Yes, you are well known for ignoring small samples of success in favor of the bigger picture.

#46 Eric Van


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Posted 27 December 2011 - 08:48 PM

Yes, you are well known for ignoring small samples of success in favor of the bigger picture.

I said that knowing when to toss out data is an art form. Nobody knows how often I resist doing it, eh? ;)

Case in point: Miguel Celestino had the same sort of season Kyle Stroup had, hugely better after the first six or eight weeks or so of the season. (Look at where he ranks in the table I posted in the Top Prospect thread.) Is there any reason not to count the season start? I can't think of a good one. I've got it in the back of my mind and I'll probably boost his prospect status by a small amount on the chance that he was experimenting with something new and then abandoned it, but until I read something to that effect, the best guess is that it was an ordinary bad stretch that could just as well have happened at any other point in the year.

The same year that I correctly tossed out the middle chunk of Jed Lowrie's season (year he hurt his ankle) I just as correctly refused to consider Brandon Moss's big first- / second-half split as meaningful, saying that he just seemed to be a streaky guy who could have easily had the opposite split.

It's certainly true that I fairly often seriously consider, and wrongly so, one of these sub-samples to be meaningful. For instance (and most recently), it certainly looks like I was wrong about Pete Ruiz, a recent convert to pitching who posted unreal BB rates the second half of 2010. I thought his inexperience made it very possible that this represented a real breakthrough in command. He reverted completely this year, so it appears instead as if he caught something elusive that he couldn't recapture. Yet it wouldn't surprise me if he found it again. The odds of it being meaningful have dwindled to a fraction of a chance, though.

To my mind, getting it wrong pretty often is a sign that you're doing it right. You want to be aggressive in identifying the guys who might have upside. It's a lot like running the bases; if you never get thrown out, you're not taking enough chances.

Now, being in optimist by nature, I'm aware that I consistently over-estimate the odds that the sub-sample split I see is meaningful. When I point one of these out, I try to communicate (by tone, etc.) what I think those odds are. But I probably thought that Charlie Zink's new knuckler grip was 75% to be a real thing, and it wasn't. Ruiz's command seemed like a 50% real thing, and it wasn't.

Of course, being aware that you consistently over-estimate such odds doesn't really help prevent you from doing it again. It's worthless self-knowledge! Because every new shiny toy seems like the one that will break the pattern. Right now, I've got Kyle Stroup as the #8 pitching prospect in the system, after (in no order) Ranaudo, Barnes, Wilson, Pimentel, Tazawa, Doubront, and Owens, but ahead of Britton*, Workman, Raul Alcantara, Kukuk, etc. Is that insane? Probably. But being right about something like that feels way, way more good than being wrong about it feels bad. Our brains are wired that way in order to keep us taking risks.

Finally, think of this from the GM's POV. There is no almost no downside at all to thinking a C-level prospect has upside when he doesn't. An opposing GM wants Pete Ruiz as the random warm body in a trade and you refuse and give him Pedro Perez instead. It turns out they were both nothing prospects. What was the harm in severely overvaluing Ruiz? None. But if he was the real deal and you missed it, that's a huge downside. False positives in this test are harmless. False negatives can get you burned.

*Who, incidentally, is a guy that everyone may have seriously overrated based on one of these subsamples: the phenomenal end of 2010, his first year back after his injury. After 2011 you have people saying that he just had trouble sustaining his mechanics, period, and that the great stretch at the end of 2010 had little or nothing to do with coming back from the injury.

Edited by Eric Van, 27 December 2011 - 08:53 PM.


#47 mabrowndog


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Posted 28 December 2011 - 08:46 AM

You are the Mount Everest of bullshit.

#48 philly sox fan


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Posted 28 December 2011 - 09:38 AM

To my mind, getting it wrong pretty often is a sign that you're doing it right.


I wish I remembered how to change taglines.

Although I have to say that I disagree (I think) with Dog's comment. I found most of your post to have a tone more of a self-effacing charm than usual. I mean there's got to be a lot of bs in there, but that's hardly the worse thing in the world. And arguably, par for the course for an on line message board.

#49 Reverend


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Posted 28 December 2011 - 12:27 PM

I wish I remembered how to change taglines.

Although I have to say that I disagree (I think) with Dog's comment. I found most of your post to have a tone more of a self-effacing charm than usual. I mean there's got to be a lot of bs in there, but that's hardly the worse thing in the world. And arguably, par for the course for an on line message board.

Ode to Introducing Randomness and Calling it Methodology.

Edited by Reverend, 28 December 2011 - 12:38 PM.


#50 BannedbyNYYFans.com

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 03:31 PM

You are the Mount Everest of bullshit.

This is my favorite post in Minor League Forum history.

Edited by BannedbyNYYFans.com, 28 December 2011 - 03:31 PM.





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