Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Top Prospects

I have been looking forward to Baseball America's still un-released 2007 top 100 prospect list. It seems the Yankees will finally have a nice presense on the list after many years without much of one.

The Baseball Prospectus list is already out, and from that it seems the Yankees have the most minor league pitching depth in all of baseball. An amazing turnaround of the past two years. However, how much do these lists mean?

Baseball America has been doing their lists since 1990. In that time, there have been 8 different pitchers who have been the #1 or #2 prospect in all of baseball (Phillip Hughes is #2 on Baseball Prospectus right now).

Here are the 8:
Rick Ankiel
Steve Avery
Josh Beckett
Felix Hernandez
Mark Prior
Brien Taylor
Todd Van Poppel
Paul Wilson

Of these 8, we are undecided on Felix Hernandez (although he was a big letdown last season), Prior has had injuries. Steve Avery had a nice career, and Josh Beckett has had a couple of very good years and could still have more. We also have 4 of the biggest busts in recent memory of the eight.

The next highest Yankee prospect after Taylor at #1, was Ruben Rivera at #2. Paul Wilson, at #2, has been the Mets' highest ranked prospect. The Red Sox have never had anybody above #9, and that was Frankie Rodriguez.

Since 1990 through 2006, there have been 37 different Red Sox (63 appearances) on Baseball America's Top 100 prospects, 39 different Yankees (65 appearances), and 40 different Mets (68 apperances).

Among the 39 prospects from the Yankees include such prominent names as Katsuhiro Maeda, Matt Drews, Mark Hutton, Adrien Hernandez, Russ Davis, Drew Henson (#9), and Ryan Bradley, and many other no-names as well as players who never made the majors.

In 1995, the top 4 were ; #1 Alex Rodriguez, #2 Ruben River, #3 Chipper Jones, #4 Derek Jeter. 3 out of 4 ain't bad. Other Yankees such as Russ Davis and Matt Drews also appeared on the list that season.

One 1995 Yankee rookie who never showed up on their list was Mariano Rivera. Rivera is not the only Yankee better than Matt Drews to have not ever made the list, as he is joined by Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Chien-Ming Wang, and Melky Cabrera.

Fortunately the Yankees traded Russ Davis, and 1994 Top 100 prospect member Sterling Hitchcock to get Tino Martinez, Jeff Nelson and Jim Mecir, and held onto their lesser prosect Mariano Rivera.

The question comes down to, could they have known, or should they have seen that these players should have been on the list?

While I will not go through the 100 players who were on the 1995 list, it can be seen that Rivera had talent from his minor league stats. Rivera had pitched 400 innings through the 1994 season, and had a career minor league ERA of 2.38. But they didn't pick him. What were they looking at?

The season before Jorge Posada's rookie year, he had a .406 OBP, not bad for a catcher, but still not chosen for Baseball America's list.

Eric Duncan made the 2005 list, but Cano and Wang didn't. In 2004, as a 21 year old in AA, Cano put up a .301 AVG, and a .491 SLG as a Middle Infielder. When Wang got promoted to AAA in 2005, he went 5-1 with a 2.01 ERA. Of course he didn't strike out as many as people would have liked.

Melky was just 20 years old when he cracked the Yankees, that alone deserved consideration, and he didn't even crack the Yankees' top 10 in 2006, when only the top 2 (which still included Eric Duncan), made the Top 100.

Kevin Youkilis, with his .487 OBP in 2003, never showed up on Baseball America's Top 100. Of course Jeff McNeely was #16 on the list one season, and the #22 spot has been held by both Dernell Stenson and Brian Rose.

After looking at these lists, I'm going to now take them only as a sign of trading potential for these teams. As the Yankees have traded many of the players on their list (Dioner Navarro, Matt Drews, Davis, Hitchcock, John-Ford Griffin, Russ Springer, Rafael Medina, and others), and held onto prospects who were not there. I'm going to just have to trust them when they make trades that they are hanging onto the correct people and to not worry so much about what publications think.

In 2005, they said the Yankee system was bare, and the prospects it produced that year had sophomore seasons of hitting .341, and the Cy Young runner-up.

Therefore, I am now putting top prospect lists next to "Power Rankings" on my list of things I know I should not look at.

P.S. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets, are #'s 1, 3, and 4, respectively in Sports Weekly's Power Rankings. But really, I'm not looking.


Sully said...

He's back!

And I had completely forgotten about Frankie Rodriguez... man, he looked good when the first called him up. I wonder what ever happened to him.

Sully said...

The list is out now, and the Red Sox got a cheap (or expensive, depending on how you look at it) #1.

Ross said...

I like their comment for Philip Hughes "As good as Chien-Ming Wang has been, this homegrown ace will be even better", well aren't they going to be a bit biased on that one since Hughes is their #4 and Wang never made their top 100.