Baseball America Top 100 ‘23: 5 Red Sox

Jason Bae

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Guardians have some impressive pitching depth in the minors. Also I had Logan Allen mixed up with the other Logan Allen.
 

johnlos

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Yup. This is a really interesting conversation.

I think a ton of the questions about Yoshida are a Rorschach test about the state of Japanese baseball writ large. Because he's more of a statistical monster than an obvious scouting play.

Any moron could see that Ohtani had a damn good chance to be special: just look at the dude. Seiya Suzuki, similarly, has obvious, standout light-tower power and impressive athleticism. The tools are undeniable. That's not everything, but it's a lot.

But Yoshida is a little dude with a great eye and a good swing — not wildly different from recent Red Sox' standouts Pedroia and Betts. Great swing decisions, elite contact skills, average-to-plus pop. Deciding what you think of Yoshida means deciding how those peripherals are likely to translate, which means basically, deciding what he'd look like against the kinds of pitchers he'll see over here. Will he still be able to make those same kinds of swing decisions when he has to decide to lay off a Josh Hader slider or whatever? That's a trickier projection to make.

My own view is that Japanese baseball is pretty high-quality nowadays, and that Yoshida will be a great value. There are stylistic differences, but they aren't as stark as they were twenty years ago. Just like over here, the pitching has taken huge strides in terms of velocity and just overall sophistication. People used to say that the NPB was between AAA and MLB, but I think it's most of the way to MLB caliber.

If you moved the the Yakult Swallows from Tokyo to Toledo and installed them in the National League Central, they would come in... third, probably — maybe second? I'm not taking the Cubs, Reds, or Pirates over them.
I’m with you. I think a good way to think of this supposed 87th prospect ranking is at worst the NPB is as good as AAA. If a young guy had OPS’d 1.000 the last few years in AAA he’d be a top-10 prospect. Maybe BA is accounting for value I guess? But if that’s true he shouldn’t be on a prospect list he should be on a FA signings list and you compare him with Benintendi and Nimmo.

Anyway he’s one of the few things I’m excited about this year.
 

jon abbey

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BA is not accounting for value, they ranked Senga 16th on the same list.
 

gehrig

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For whatever reason, there were some really dumb opinions floating around about Yoshida in the internet scout community before his contract came as a reality check. Fangraphs had a 35+ grade on him, which is just absurd for a guy that was dominating Japan for years. 35+ is what they would give to a 9th round college pick after a surprisingly solid year in Low-A.
 

jon abbey

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For whatever reason, there were some really dumb opinions floating around about Yoshida in the internet scout community before his contract came as a reality check. Fangraphs had a 35+ grade on him, which is just absurd for a guy that was dominating Japan for years. 35+ is what they would give to a 9th round college pick after a surprisingly solid year in Low-A.
This is worded really strangely, the contract was not a 'reality check' but a belief by BOS that he is much better than anyone else seems to think, not just the 'internet scout community' but the other 29 teams, which is why he signed with BOS so quickly.

The nice thing is that none of this matters anymore, he is signed and will get a chance to prove one side or the other correct starting in a few months.
 

simplicio

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Yoshida is the most interesting part of this coming season for me. I think he offers the single biggest data point we have so far on actually judging Bloom's abilities as CBO.
 

gehrig

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This is worded really strangely, the contract was not a 'reality check' but a belief by BOS that he is much better than anyone else seems to think, not just the 'internet scout community' but the other 29 teams, which is why he signed with BOS so quickly.

The nice thing is that none of this matters anymore, he is signed and will get a chance to prove one side or the other correct starting in a few months.
If someone rated Yoshida as highly as like Devlin Granberg or whoever, and then he signs for $90 million and they instantly increase his grade by a lot, then it's fair to say that the contract served as a reality check.

It does not appear to me that you have much insight on what all other 29 teams thought of him.
 

jon abbey

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It does not appear to me that you have much insight on what all other 29 teams thought of him.
Right, I don't need to, but Scott Boras did. One thing we know about Boras is that he doesn't let his guys sign unexpectedly quickly unless he is surprised by how large an offer is, same as Ellsbury to NY.
 

EvilEmpire

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Assuming the reports that Yoshida is mediocre to poor in the OF are true, there is a lot riding on how well his bat adjusts to MLB pitching. It will be interesting to see how it goes next season.

I think best case the Red Sox have Dustin Pedroia with no defense and occupying an OF slot.
 

billy ashley

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MLB pipeline has Casas as their #1 1B prospect, but I was surprised to also see Niko Kavadas also make the top 10: https://www.mlb.com/news/top-first-base-prospects-2023?partnerID=mlbapp-android_article-share

I'm not terribly surprised. Kavadas has enormous offensive upside. Pretty much everyone just accepted that he'd hit at all levels before AA, and he crushed. His AA deubut wasn't great but it wasn't horrific in a limited sample. The gap between High A and AA has never been wider and you'd expect some adjustment.

Kavadas is probably not a major league ball player, but there is a small chance he's Travis Hafner. Ranking him 10th on a 1B list makes sense. If he misses (and e's probably going to miss) it isn't embarrassing. If he does live up to that considerable offensive upside (much less likely) you'd loo pretty silly not including him.

I might be wrong, but I think Seth Beer has gotten some top 100 love in recent years. I think Kavadas could be that type of prospect going into next season, if he can adjust to AA (big if).
 

johnlos

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If someone rated Yoshida as highly as like Devlin Granberg or whoever, and then he signs for $90 million and they instantly increase his grade by a lot, then it's fair to say that the contract served as a reality check.

It does not appear to me that you have much insight on what all other 29 teams thought of him.
After the initial "we can't believe this" reports there were reports saying other teams were lower but in the neighborhood. As Jon Abbey said Boras would have waited if we didn't blow him away but the Sox knew their price and knew they had the money once X left so they pounced. Based upon those later reports my guess is at least one other team was in the $70m range and chances are bidding from teams that missed out on FAs (SFG?) would have got Yoshida up to $90m regardless. So it made some sense for the Sox to start with their real offer.

Assuming the reports that Yoshida is mediocre to poor in the OF are true, there is a lot riding on how well his bat adjusts to MLB pitching. It will be interesting to see how it goes next season.

I think best case the Red Sox have Dustin Pedroia with no defense and occupying an OF slot.
As the Athletic article I quoted above goes into, Yoshida is above average coming in on balls (and they measured it over the course of years). I imagine the Red Sox have the best analytics in the world on how left fielders play in front of the Green Monster and accounted for his defensive value in their offer.
 

Sad Sam Jones

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Guardians have some impressive pitching depth in the minors. Also I had Logan Allen mixed up with the other Logan Allen.
I need to get the 2023 Guardians thread started, but if Cleveland doesn't make a trade they could very well start the season with guys who made their MLB debuts last year back in the AA rotation. The top 4 starters ticketed for AAA are all BA Top 100s.
 

pokey_reese

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Baseball Prospectus put up their top 101 list:

Mayer - 13
Casas - 35
Bleis - 67
Rafaela - 73

Pretty similar to BA rankings, slightly better for the young guys, and I don't believe they include the Japanese pros who are switching leagues.
 

walt in maryland

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I’m with you. I think a good way to think of this supposed 87th prospect ranking is at worst the NPB is as good as AAA. If a young guy had OPS’d 1.000 the last few years in AAA he’d be a top-10 prospect. Maybe BA is accounting for value I guess? But if that’s true he shouldn’t be on a prospect list he should be on a FA signings list and you compare him with Benintendi and Nimmo.

Anyway he’s one of the few things I’m excited about this year.
So true. I heard Jim Bowden trashing the Yoshida signing on XM last week. Not sure he's ever seen Yoshida play, but his two primary objections to the signing seemed to be: 1. He's 5-8; and 2. He's Japanese
 

snowmanny

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This is worded really strangely, the contract was not a 'reality check' but a belief by BOS that he is much better than anyone else seems to think, not just the 'internet scout community' but the other 29 teams, which is why he signed with BOS so quickly.

The nice thing is that none of this matters anymore, he is signed and will get a chance to prove one side or the other correct starting in a few months.
So true. I heard Jim Bowden trashing the Yoshida signing on XM last week. Not sure he's ever seen Yoshida play, but his two primary objections to the signing seemed to be: 1. He's 5-8; and 2. He's Japanese
The over-under on when the signing will be determined a boon or bust is the sixth inning of the opening day gamethread.

But the 5'8" criticism is particularly amusing given that the Red Sox went 119-57 with the a collection of the shortest starting outfielders any of us have ever seen.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I assumed that's the reason he's no longer a GM.

I'll never understood why consistently failed GMs get to comment on other GMs' moves.
Not that I'm about to defend Bowden's abilities as a GM because I think he's a buffoon (though he did have some successes), he quit his last job while mired in controversy. So his absence from MLB front offices might be a case of him being tainted. Could also be that the game has passed him by at this point.
 

jbupstate

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So true. I heard Jim Bowden trashing the Yoshida signing on XM last week. Not sure he's ever seen Yoshida play, but his two primary objections to the signing seemed to be: 1. He's 5-8; and 2. He's Japanese
I listen far too much to MLBNetwork Radio on XM. I’m amazed at how little research most of the talking heads do. Lots and lots of when I was a player or executive. The Bloom/FSG topic is a godsend for these shows. All roads lead to a Let’s Talk Red Sox problem segment.
 

Jimbodandy

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The fact that Bowden hates the Yoshida signing gives me confidence that it will turn out well for us.
I was thinking the same thing. You can't think of Jim Bowden without thinking of his record of poor talent evaluation in trades along with a number of other horrible missteps and bad behavior. If he were a big fan of the guy, I'd be nervous AF.
 

Niastri

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The over-under on when the signing will be determined a boon or bust is the sixth inning of the opening day gamethread.

But the 5'8" criticism is particularly amusing given that the Red Sox went 119-57 with the a collection of the shortest starting outfielders any of us have ever seen.
Here's praying for two home runs and a nice play on a wall ball by that point to head that mess off at the pass.

Yoshida should be a nice player, as long as he can play average left field and his on base skills translate. I hope he doesn't have to ignore the yokels who only know he's not Xander.
 

jon abbey

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Here's praying for two home runs and a nice play on a wall ball by that point to head that mess off at the pass.
Good luck, fans are idiots (collectively). Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 HRs for MIA in 2017, got traded to NY that winter, hit 2 HRs opening day (in a road series) and was booed at home four games later in the home opener (his first game ever for NY at home!) for striking out.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Here's praying for two home runs and a nice play on a wall ball by that point to head that mess off at the pass.

Yoshida should be a nice player, as long as he can play average left field and his on base skills translate. I hope he doesn't have to ignore the yokels who only know he's not Xander.
One thing that could/should help is he is a high contact guy. As JA notes just above, the boo birds come out a lot faster for whiffs which inherently make you look bad especially if you are stacking up several in a game/series.
 

chawson

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One thing that could/should help is he is a high contact guy. As JA notes just above, the boo birds come out a lot faster for whiffs which inherently make you look bad especially if you are stacking up several in a game/series.
Tell that to Pablo Sandoval.
 

chrisfont9

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The fact that Bowden hates the Yoshida signing gives me confidence that it will turn out well for us.
It should.

I think he's considered an insider because baseball is basically a small business and an ex GM is going to know everyone. But of course his only function is as a place for his former rivals to unload useful tidbits as part of whatever their agenda is that, as we see more and more, are completely untrue. And his stuff is as lazy as it gets. It all makes sense right up to the point where the Athletic thinks its fans are stupid enough to want this "information." That's the part I don't get.
 

StuckOnYouk

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Guys like Bowden are good at letting you know about the inner workings of the life of a GM but as a guy who is telling us his opinions, it’s pretty empty stuff.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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It should.

I think he's considered an insider because baseball is basically a small business and an ex GM is going to know everyone. But of course his only function is as a place for his former rivals to unload useful tidbits as part of whatever their agenda is that, as we see more and more, are completely untrue. And his stuff is as lazy as it gets. It all makes sense right up to the point where the Athletic thinks its fans are stupid enough to want this "information." That's the part I don't get.
Bowden is going on 15 years removed from being a part of an MLB front office. How deep can his proverbial rolodex be at this point? I'm not sure how much insight he has left to give with the way baseball operations have changed.
 

67YAZ

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Law running a Q&A now. On the overall state of the Sox system:

I don't think the system is in great shape. With Bello graduating, is there a clear starting pitcher anywhere in the system? There are a couple of guys in the system I like to take steps forward next year (Romero, Lugo) but overall it's a below-average farm.
 

billy ashley

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I like Law more than most, but that's a really odd comment given that he thinks Boston currently has 3 top 50 prospects, and that Bleis at 72, is a guy who could easily be top 25 next season, with kind words for Romero and Lugo, thrown in as well.

Yeah, pitching is thin. It's hard to develop starting pitchers. When a team does, they flame out all the time. The system is about developing assets, for internal use or trade.
 

nvalvo

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Also... yes?

I totally get seeing Mata as a reliever, and seeing guys like Gonzalez, Perales and Rodriguez-Cruz as far away and still with plenty of questions to answer before they are clearly legible as SP. But that's the case for most pitching prospects. In fact, it would have been the case for Bello 18 months ago.

Guys like Brandon Walter and Chris Murphy are in the high minors and could be starting pitchers. I don't think Murphy would be all that great, to be clear, but he should be valuable as a depth piece during his option-able years. Walter has more ceiling.

Maybe I'm quibbling a bit about the word "clear" in the phrase "clear starting pitcher."
 

jon abbey

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Maybe I'm quibbling a bit about the word "clear" in the phrase "clear starting pitcher."
If only guys who Keith Law projected as 'clear starting pitchers' were allowed to be SPs, there would be about 50 total in all of MLB. He didn't think Luis Severino would be a SP either, and he was a top 3 AL SP for a season and a half.
 

jbupstate

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Law hated the Yoshida signing and now goes against the grain and poops on the entire farm as a below average system. Rafaela and Bleis both shot up the charts… same as Bello. More than a few guys below AA can increase their standing this season.

I was interested in Leiter being at 92. Add him as a SP to the Sox farm and does that make the system above average?
 

AlNipper49

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I like Law more than most, but that's a really odd comment given that he thinks Boston currently has 3 top 50 prospects, and that Bleis at 72, is a guy who could easily be top 25 next season, with kind words for Romero and Lugo, thrown in as well.

Yeah, pitching is thin. It's hard to develop starting pitchers. When a team does, they flame out all the time. The system is about developing assets, for internal use or trade.
I think that he is right. The farm system is a massive upgrade over what it was. The Sox system has been rated in the top 10 or so now. That's great. But I think as a pure machine for the MLB team you definitely need to balance it out more than it is. Or maybe it's intention as you say, and the Sox brass has hit on the variance of hitters versus pitching in being developed. That's probably something that I could buy, but I'm not sure that we're being tried to be sold that either.
 

scottyno

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Considering in the last few years they have added 3 cost controlled young pitchers who may be in the rotation, plus 2 more that could potentially be useful it doesn't seem like a huge problem that they might not have more starting pitching help in the immediate future.
 

johnlos

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Law running a Q&A now. On the overall state of the Sox system:
I don't think the system is in great shape. With Bello graduating, is there a clear starting pitcher anywhere in the system? There are a couple of guys in the system I like to take steps forward next year (Romero, Lugo) but overall it's a below-average farm.
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, which is getting harder to do with his lazy takes on Yoshida, I think his point is that while the Sox have some great upper-echelon hitting talent (11/37/40/72) they are thin in pitching prospects.

Indeed, even beyond these big four hitters, our best prospects are largely hitters (Yorke, Anthony, Blaze, and Romero). I've only seen 2 pitchers mentioned in our prospect top-10s (Mata and Walter). So beyond the hitter star power I can see why he's critical of the farm as a whole due to this imbalanced depth, even if calling it "average" would have made more sense to me. Similar take on what ^^Al Nipper said.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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Law running a Q&A now. On the overall state of the Sox system:
It’s not freakin’ mathematically possible to have the #s 11, 37, 40, and 72 prospects and have a bottom half system. That’s a top 12-14 system, minimum. You want to prioritize pitching? Ok, but then do so.
 

The Gray Eagle

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If we didn't have so many rotation injuries last year, then Bello wouldn't have pitched so much in the majors and would still be considered a "prospect" this year. But because he is ready to potentially help the big club right now, our system doesn't have a top starting pitching prospect anymore.
 

grimshaw

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It’s not freakin’ mathematically possible to have the #s 11, 37, 40, and 72 prospects and have a bottom half system. That’s a top 12-14 system, minimum. You want to prioritize pitching? Ok, but then do so.
And on average he is more bullish on their overall rankings due to Rafaela being so high. I don't believe there are other publications who rate them as below average.

I am fine if he thinks the majority of their depth compared to better farm systems is just going to be overripe fruit in a few years (and I agree to an extent), but you can't have it both ways.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Who really cares if Keith Law thinks the Sox system is below average? Farm system rankings seem largely subjective and highly irrelevant to begin with, like most lists.
 

jon abbey

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Who really cares if Keith Law thinks the Sox system is below average? Farm system rankings seem largely subjective and highly irrelevant to begin with, like most lists.
This is true, and I have less respect for Law’s rankings than most of the others, but what I think he meant here was below the top 100 guys. So the way he is answering (I think) factors in that you already know his opinion about the guys he wrote about, but what about the system below that? That’s what I’m guessing he meant anyway.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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This is true, and I have less respect for Law’s rankings than most of the others, but what I think he meant here was below the top 100 guys. So the way he is answering (I think) factors in that you already know his opinion about the guys he wrote about, but what about the system below that? That’s what I’m guessing he meant anyway.
Possible, but we‘ve spent a ton of time/assets building up our deep depth (10-40), so I kinda doubt it. But if he’s right, then… ugh.