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January 8, 2010

Future Shock

Rays Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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top 11 prospects

Five-Star Prospects
1. Desmond Jennings, CF
2. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP
3. Wade Davis, RHP
4. Alex Colome, RHP
5. Matt Moore, LHP
Four-Star Prospects
6. Tim Beckham, SS
7. Reid Brignac, SS
Three-Star Prospects
8. Alex Torres, LHP
9. Nick Barnese, RHP
10. Wilking Rodriguez, RHP
11. Luke Bailey, C

Four More:
12. Todd Glaesmann, CF: The Rays' third-round pick in '09 is an outfielder who's a bit athletic with plus power and good speed.
13. Kyle Lobstein, LHP: An over-slot signee from '08, Lobstein was impressive in his pro debut, but scouts saw more pitchability than stuff.
14. Jeff Malm, 1B: A bat-only pick who was dubbed by one scout as "a high school-equivalent of Brett Wallace."
15. Jake McGee, LHP: The power lefty struggled with both command and getting his velocity back during his brief return from Tommy John surgery.

1. Desmond Jennings, CF
DOB: 10/30/86
Height/Weight: 6-2/180
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 10th round, 2006, Itawamba CC (MS)
2009 Stats: .316/.395/.486 at Double-A (100 G); .325/.419/.491 at Triple-A (32 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 4

Year in Review: A toolsy outfielder, Jennings rebounded from an injury-plagued 2008 campaign with another breakthrough season, winning Double-A Southern League MVP honors and putting up even bigger numbers over the final month of the year at Triple-A.
The Good: On any baseball field he steps on, Jennings' tools stand out like a sore thumb, but he's as much of a baseball player as he is an athlete. He makes pitchers work, rarely swinging at bad pitches and using his plus-plus speed to wreak havoc on the basepaths once he gets on. His quick, smooth swing leads to few strikeouts, and his power is at least average, projecting for 14-18 home runs annually. He gets good jumps in center field, covers a ton of ground with his speed, and his arm is solid.
The Bad: Scouts have trouble finding any real holes in Jennings' game. His routes in the outfield can get a bit circular at times, but he has more than enough speed to make it a non-factor. He can get somewhat streaky at the plate at times.
Ephemera: Jennings was an 18th-round pick by the Indians in 2005 out of high school in Pinson, Alabama, a tiny town in the middle of the state that also produced former big-leaguer Terry Jones.
Perfect World Projection: Jennings will be a high-impact leadoff hitter. Imagine Carl Crawford with outstanding plate discipline.
Path to the Big Leagues: It's not especially clear to start the season, but the Rays didn't find a right fielder this offseason for a reason.
Timetable: Unless he's too good this spring to deny, Jennings will begin the year at Triple-A Durham, but he should reach the big leagues by the All-Star break.

2. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP
DOB: 4/8/87
Height/Weight: 6-1/185
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 4th round, 2005, Hoover HS (IA)
2009 Stats: 2.38 ERA (56.2-41-14-62) at Double-A (11 G); 2.51 ERA (57.1-31-15-70) at Triple-A (9 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 7

Year in Review: Hellickson is a highly advanced righty who limited both Double- and Triple-A hitters to a sub-.200 batting average. He was the best pitcher in the minors down the stretch, allowing 10 hits over 27 innings in his last four starts while striking out 41.
The Good: No pitcher in the minor leagues can carve up hitters like Hellickson. While his 91-93 mph fastball rates only a scouting scale 55-60 for pure velocity, it plays up at least a full grade due to movement and his throwing it with some of the best command in the game. His curveball is a plus pitch, and his changeup is a true big-league out pitch that he'll throw at any point in the count. Beyond the plus stuff and plus-plus command and control, his pitchability is off the charts, as he mixes his pitches and sets up hitters like a veteran, leaving one scout to say, "I know I'm not allowed to use this guy as a comp, but every time I see Hellickson, he reminds me of Greg Maddux."
The Bad: While scouts are unanimous in their praise for Hellickson, some wonder if his stuff is enough for his minor-league dominance to carry over to the big leagues. While he works both sides of the plate with aplomb, he can get stuck in the upper half of the strike zone at times.
Ephemera: If you add up just the third inning from his nine starts for Triple-A Durham, Hellickson tossed a one-hitter with 14 strikeouts.
Perfect World Projection: Hellickson will be an All-star starter.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Rays have a big-league rotation pretty much setů for now.
Timetable: Barring injury, Hellickson will be back in Triple-A to start 2010, but like Jennings, he has the ability to force his way to the big leagues at some point in the year.

3. Wade Davis, RHP
DOB: 9/7/85
Height/Weight: 6-5/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 3rd round, 2004, Lake Wales HS (FL)
2009 Stats: 3.40 ERA (158.2-139-60-140) at Triple-A (28 G); 3.72 ERA (36.1-33-13-36) at MLB (6 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 3

Year in Review: The most advanced righty in the Rays' system was meeting expectations at Triple-A, but he took a step forward in his big-league debut, dominating in three of his six starts.
The Good: Davis is a pure power pitcher with a nearly perfect frame, outstanding mechanics, and two big-league plus offerings. He parks his fastball at 92-94 mph and touches 96 when he dials it up. He complements his heater with a hard curveball that features significant break and nearly identical arm action with the fastball, making it very hard to pick up. He maintains his stuff deep into games, and he pitches with a bit of a nasty streak.
The Bad: There are scouts who see Davis as potentially more dominating out of the bullpen, as beyond his two excellent offerings, his repertoire falls short. His changeup is a below-average pitch that often hangs, and he also throws a slurvy slider, which at times just looks like an overthrown curve. His command and control is no more than average.
Ephemera: Of the 14 players drafted out of Lake Wales High School in Florida, Davis is the first to pitch in the big leagues, while former World Series MVP Pat Borders is the only one to hit a home run.
Perfect World Projection: He'll be a good mid-rotation starter.
Path to the Big Leagues: Davis is big league-ready.
Timetable: Davis will compete for the final rotation slot this spring, but he could even fit in a major-league relief job if that doesn't work out.

4. Alex Colome, RHP
DOB: 12/31/88
Height/Weight: 6-2/184
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007
2009 Stats: 1.66 ERA (76.0-46-32-94) at Short-season (15 G)
Last Year's Ranking: Not ranked

Year in Review: A high-ceiling Dominican, Colome blew away scouts in the New York-Penn League, as he led the circuit in strikeouts (94) and lowest opponent's average (.174).
The Good: One veteran scout who covers the entire Rays system said Colome is the best short-season pitcher he's seen since Neftali Feliz, with a ceiling unmatched in the system. He already has 93-96 mph velocity that gets up to 98, as well as an effortless delivery and skinny frame that offers plenty of projection. His power breaking ball should develop into a true big-league out pitch, and he's surprised many by flashing a solid changeup.
The Bad: Colome is raw. His command comes and goes, as does the quality of his secondary offerings, which vary from start to start. Scouts believe that a more balanced delivery and consistent release point would address both issues. More than anything, he just needs innings.
Ephemera: Alex is the nephew of Jesus Colome, who won 11 games and saved five more during a six-year stretch with the Rays from 2001-2006.
Perfect World Projection: Colome has the ability to be an impact starter, but he has closer potential if he's forced to the pen.
Path to the Big Leagues: The positive aspect of his being so far away is that all of the pitching talent at the top isn't a big concern.
Timetable: Colome will make his full-season debut in 2010, and at 21, the Rays won't be afraid to move him up to High-A if his dominance continues.

5. Matt Moore, LHP
DOB: 6/18/89
Height/Weight: 6-2/205
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: 8th round, 2007, Moriarty HS (NM)
2009 Stats: 3.15 ERA (123.0-86-70-176) at Low-A (26 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 6

Year in Review: The bulky left-hander built on an impressive pro debut in 2008 by leading all of the minors in strikeouts and the circuit in opponent's batting average (.195).
The Good: Moore has two major-league out pitches. He has above-average velocity for a southpaw, sitting a 91-93 mph with his fastball, and he's seemingly incapable of throwing it straight, showing the ability to add both cutting and sinking action to the pitch. His curve is an even more effective offering when Moore throws strikes with it, featuring late, heavy break. He's shown some feel for a changeup that clearly improved from his pro debut.
The Bad: While he made strides throughout the year, Moore's command and control remains sketchy, and there are games where he's over-reliant on his fastball, as it's the only pitch he can throw for strikes. His delivery takes a lot of effort and could use some smoothing out. His wide frame borders on soft, creating some with long-term concerns about his conditioning.
Ephemera: Moore had more strikeouts than innings pitched in 24 of 26 starts last year.
Perfect World Projection: With his upside, he could be an All-Star left-handed starter.
Path to the Big Leagues: There's a bit of a gap between the Davis/Hellickson duo and the next wave of young pitchers in the system, so Tampa Bay has time to figure it out.
Timetable: Moore will begin 2010 at High-A, and he should have little trouble continuing to put up big numbers in the Florida State League.

6. Tim Beckham, SS
DOB: 1/27/90
Height/Weight: 6-0/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2008, Griffin HS (GA)
2009 Stats: .275/.328/.389 at Low-A (125 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 2

Year in Review: The first overall pick in the 2008 draft had a full-season debut that could only be classified as disappointing.
The Good: Scouts still see plenty of promise in Beckham based on his tools and athleticism. He has excellent bat speed and strong wrists, with many believing enough of his doubles will turn into home runs for him to hit 15-18 annually. He's a smooth, natural shortstop with an above-average arm and enough quickness to stay at the position. Despite not breaking out as expected, Beckham never seemed to press or show anything less than maximum effort.
The Bad: Beckham turned out to be far less refined that expected, as his play was described by one scout as "out of control" on both sides of the ball. He's far too aggressive at the plate, flailing at bad pitches and rarely finding himself in hitter's counts. Defensively, he rushes both his transfers and his throws, leading to a high error total.
Ephemera: Beckham had an immense home/road split in 2009, hitting just .223/.280/.287 at home, but looking like an all-star on road trips, with a .328/.376/.492 line.
Perfect World Projection: He still has the ability to make his selection as the first pick justified.
Path to the Big Leagues: Beckham is behind All-Star Jason Bartlett and advanced prospect Reid Brignac on the depth chart, but he's also years away.
Timetable: It's hard to expect a big statistical season from Beckham at High-A Charlotte, so he'll go there to work on the fundamentals.

7. Reid Brignac, SS
DOB: 1/16/86
Height/Weight: 6-3/195
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: 2nd round, 2004, St. Amant HS (LA)
2009 Stats: .282/.327/.417 at Triple-A (96 G); .278/.301/.444 at MLB (31 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 5

Year in Review: A talented shortstop, Brignac seems stuck at Triple-A due to the emergence of Jason Bartlett.
The Good: Brignac has above-average power for the position and fits the mold as the new breed of big, athletic shortstops. He's come leaps and bounds as a defender, possessing good range to both sides and a strong arm with good accuracy and carry.
The Bad: Many scouts are bothered by the fact that Brignac has morphed into a completely different player over the last few years. Once a California League MVP who few thought could stay up the middle, he's now a defensive wizard who brings little to the table other than occasional power. He's always been an impatient hitter, looking to attack fastballs early in each at-bat.
Ephemera: The 45th overall pick in the draft has not been a kind one in baseball history, as Jeff Branson (1988) is the all-time leader in home runs with 34, while John Dopson (1982) leads in the win category with just 30.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a good everyday shortstop with plus defense and 15 home runs annually.
Path to the Big Leagues: It's completely and utterly blocked.
Timetable: Brignac played in Mexico this December, leaving some to wonder if he was being showcased for trade possibilities. The Rays might be trying him out at other infield positions this spring to use him in a bench role, but it would be hard to see him get many at-bats there.

8. Alex Torres, LHP
DOB: 12/8/87
Height/Weight: 5-10/175
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Venezuela, 2005 (Angels)
2009 Stats: 2.74 ERA (121.1-93-63-124) at High-A (21 G) with Angels; 3.12 ERA (26.0-23-17-25) at Double-A (5 G) with Angels; 2.77 ERA (8.2-7-5-7) at Double-A (2 G) with Rays
Last Year's Ranking: Just missed (Angels)

Year in Review: The little lefty continued to put up big numbers and was one of the key players sent to Tampa Bay in the Scott Kazmir deal.
The Good: Torres just gives hitters fits. His 88-92 mph fastball doesn't light up a radar gun, but he keep batters off balance by adding and subtracting from the pitch, using both sides of the plate, and changing his grips to add various action to the pitch, including heavy sink. He throws a pair of quality breaking balls to further disrupt hitters, and he works low in the zone with both pitches.
The Bad: Scouts have a lot of questions about Torres' ability to handle a big-league starters' workload. Beyond his short and skinny stature, his below-average control leads to high pitch counts, and he often had problems getting out of the upper 80s with his fastball by the fifth or sixth inning. He's gotten a lot of strikeouts by using his breaking balls as chase offerings, and he'll need to start throwing them more for strikes.
Ephemera: Despite being a southpaw, Texas League left-handed hitters went 9-for-19 with four walks against Torres in his five starts for Double-A Arkansas before the trade.
Perfect World Projection: Torres projects to be a fourth or fifth starter with many relief possibilities.
Path to the Big Leagues: It's hard to be a pitcher in the Rays' system without elite-level stuff.
Timetable: Torres will begin 2010 in Double-A, but he has the ability to earn a big-league look in September.

9. Nick Barnese, RHP
DOB: 1/11/89
Height/Weight: 6-2/170
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 3rd round, 2007, Simi Valley HS (CA)
2009 Stats: 2.53 ERA (74.2-56-25-62) at Short-Season (15 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 8

Year in Review: Limited to just 15 starts and 74 2/3 innings due to shoulder issues, Barnese made the most of them by allowing just four earned runs in his first 33 innings for the Hot Rods.
The Good: Barnese pounds the strike zone with a 90-94 mph fastball that he works both sides of the plate with aggressively. He flashes a good curveball at times, as well as a changeup with promise. Like many Rays pitching prospects, he attacks hitters and pitches efficiently.
The Bad: Barnese depends on his heater too much at times, mostly due to inconsistency with his other pitches. He has a tendency to get around on his breaking ball, causing it to flatten out, while also missing the release on his changeup, causing it to straighten.
Ephemera: Simi Valley High in Southern California also graduated both Jared and Jeff Weaver.
Perfect World Projection: He'll likely be a solid middle-rotation starter.
Path to the Big Leagues: He's years away from crowding that situation even further.
Timetable: Barnese will join Moore at High-A Charlotte this year to form one of the Florida State League's most potent one-two punches.

10. Wilking Rodriguez, RHP
DOB: 3/2/90
Height/Weight: 6-1/160
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Venezuela, 2007
2009 Stats: 3.21 ERA (56.0-44-12-52) at Rookie-level (13 G)
Last Year's Ranking: Not ranked

Year in Review: The Venezuelan righty impressed with both his stuff and polish during his stateside debut.
The Good: Rodriguez had some of the best stuff in the Appy League last summer. His low-90s fastball explodes out his hand, and scouts see plenty of projection for more, as he routinely touched 96 and 97 nearly every time out. Beyond reliably throwing it with velocity, Rodriguez throws the pitch equally consistently for strikes. His curveball is average now with potential for more, and he has some good feel for his changeup.
The Bad: Rodriguez just needs innings to refine his game. His size is of some concern to some, but the ease of his delivery helps to mitigate it. He still needs to improve both secondary offerings, and also needs to learn how to use the lower half of the strike zone as effectively as he does the upper half. He has a tendency to overthrow and press with runners on base.
Ephemera: Rodriguez stayed out of trouble in the Appy League by limiting hitters to a minuscule .157/.208/.243 batting line with the bases empty.
Perfect World Projection: Rodriguez, like Colome, has the ability to turn into a dominating force.
Path to the Big Leagues: He's so far away, and there are so many pitchers ahead of him.
Timetable: With Colome and Rodriguez, the top of Low-A Bowling Green's 2010 rotation might be even better than what Moore and Barnese provided in 2009.

11. Luke Bailey, C
DOB: 3/11/91
Height/Weight: 6-0/198
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 4th round, 2009, Troup County HS (GA)
2009 Stats: Did not play
Last Year's Ranking: Did not qualify

Year in Review: One of, if not the best high-school catchers in the draft coming into the spring, Bailey injured his elbow while pitching and required Tommy John surgery. The Rays gave him a $750,000 bonus to avoid going to Auburn.
The Good: When healthy, Bailey provided impressive tools and athleticism for a catcher. He has 60-65 raw power on the 20-80 scouting scale and despite a wide-bodied, classic catching frame, he's at least an average runner. Prior to the surgery, his arm was a pure weapon, and his receiving skills are very good for his age.
The Bad: Bailey's surgery cost him nearly a year of development, and we won't know how much arm strength he's retained until he takes the field. Beyond the power, there are questions about his bat, as there is more of an uppercut to his swing as opposed to natural loft, and he has plenty of holes to close in his strike zone.
Ephemera: Bailey became the first player drafted out of Troup County High in 11 years, with former Cub David Kelton being the last, and right-hander Jimmy Haynes being the most successful big-league alum.
Perfect World Projection: If he's healthy, this pick could be a steal.
Path to the Big Leagues: In what has been one of the strongest farm systems in baseball for much of the decade, catching has always been an issue, and it still is.
Timetable: Bailey is expected to be healthy by spring, but he'll almost assuredly begin the year in extended spring training before beginning his pro career in the Appalachian League this summer.

The Sleeper: A 2009 ninth-round pick who signed for $625,000, left-hander Kevin James packs plenty of projection into a long, skinny frame. He is already up to 92 mph on his fastball and has a good feel for both his curveball and change.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (Born 4/1/84 or later)

1. Evan Longoria, 3B
2. Desmond Jennings, CF
3. David Price, LHP
4. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP
5. B.J. Upton, OF
6. Wade Davis, RHP
7. Alex Colome, RHP
8. Matt Moore, LHP
9. Tim Beckham, SS
10. Reid Brignac, SS

Longoria was really no better in 2009 than '08, but even if he's already maxed out, he's an elite third baseman with power and Gold Glove defense. Price failed to meet expectations in 2009, especially in his ability to miss bats, but there's still a strong breakout possibility. Upton is a total dart throw. He could get dealt in a change-of-scenery deal to make room for Jennings, or he could go 30/30; either scenario wouldn't surprise. Just missing are Sean Rodriguez, who is a better short-term utility piece than Brignac, and Matt Joyce, whose ceiling likely ends at fourth outfielder.

Summary: The Rays that exploded in 2008 were a team that was built to last, and the farm system is stocked to keep them at the top of the division for years to come. They'll have trouble remaining an elite organization without having top picks every year anymore, but that's for all the right reasons.


Next up: the Texas Rangers.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

68 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Rob Moore

I guess Colome was the surpise pitching prospect you've alluded to?

Jan 08, 2010 09:28 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Indeed.

Jan 08, 2010 09:34 AM
 
nonspin

This seems kind of unfair

Jan 08, 2010 09:31 AM
rating: 3
 
3n2sports

Courtesy of Cots:

2009 Payroll (rounded down)
Rays: 63
Red Sox: 121
Yankees: 201

Still seem unfair? What's unfair is that the Yankees are allowed to operate a farm system.

Jan 08, 2010 09:39 AM
rating: -1
 
nonspin

Really?

My comment was said in jest. Relax, buster. I think the Rays talent is awesome.

Jan 08, 2010 11:00 AM
rating: 0
 
3n2sports

My comment was also in jest...although somehow you're not the only person to take my comment seriously. I thought the ludicrous suggestion that the Yankees dissolve their farm system would be enough of an indicator...

Jan 11, 2010 11:54 AM
rating: -1
 
patrickc

It seems kind of awesome, if you think about all the players/match-ups you'll get to see in the AL East

Jan 08, 2010 09:46 AM
rating: 2
 
3n2sports

If the Rays continue to swap out veteran pieces for high upside prospects, they could easily survive their lack of early picks. We already know that in a perfect world, Mark Mulder and Huston Street can turn into Brett Anderson and Michael Taylor (and Chris Carter, etc, etc...) while providing plenty of value in other players during the 6 intervening years.

Jan 08, 2010 09:37 AM
rating: 2
 
cjgeisler
(199)

Five "5 Star" players, and none of them are 1st round picks. Now that's just damn impressive.

Jan 08, 2010 09:42 AM
rating: 12
 
Dave Holgado

Thanks for the great list, Kevin. What an embarrassment of riches for the Rays.

The Neftali comp (as well as the highest-ceiling-in-the-system tag) referenced in his comment ought to be clear enough indication, I suppose. But I'm still not sure whether Colome is the pick you've been teasing us with all these months. Yes?

I ask because BA's got A.C. at #7, albeit listing him (incorrectly) as a southpaw, so the pick doesn't seem too out of nowhere. And that difference in rankings might account not only for a difference in enthusiasm for Colome, but also BA's greater optimism about Beckham and Brignac (which in my opinion is warranted only re the former). Then again, if they can't bother to get his handedness right, they're not exactly screaming his name from the mountain tops.

But that's why I'm confused, as you don't seem to be making too much of your #4 (and 5-star) ranking either. Anyway, like some others, I had my money on it being Martin Perez (who, as a side note, goes by "Martin" to everyone except Merryl Streep, who for some reason gets away with calling him "Marty"). And I was pretty damn sure it wouldn't be a Blue Jay. So if Colome's the guy, I'm glad the wait is over. Now I can focus on obsessing over where you'll come out on Bumgarner (I know he'll be second fiddle to Posey... but any hope that his velocity will return? or were those gun readings from '08 inflated to begin with?).

Jan 08, 2010 09:43 AM
rating: 0
 
Dave Holgado

I see you've answered my question already. Note to self: shorter comments. Thanks again, Kevin.

Jan 08, 2010 09:45 AM
rating: 1
 
sungods7n

holgado, KG has been talking about the "next Neftali Feliz" for LONG before the Rays BA list. He couldn't exactly ask BA to overlook him completely so he would fit the Neftali scenario perfectly.

Jan 08, 2010 09:53 AM
rating: 0
 
philly

The difference will be less where Colome is ranked relative to other people on the TB Top 10 and more where he is ranked relative to others on a Top 100 list.

As a 5 star prospect BP is putting Colome into the top 50. I don't many other people do, but we'll see.

Jan 08, 2010 09:56 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Philly nailed it. Colome might not seem insanely high, but he would be in other org. I have him as a Top 50 guy.

Jan 08, 2010 11:20 AM
 
Dave Holgado

Gotcha. Makes sense. And I think part of my reaction was based on me not giving Wade Davis enough credit for likely making the back end of your top 20. I guess his having been on the prospect radar for several years now, combined with what seems to be a lack of true front-of-rotation upside, have caused me to discount him a bit. But he deserves his due, and his success in the upper minors and MLB probably does warrant him ranking ahead of a guy like Colome who's yet to see full-season ball at 21, no matter how electric Colome's stuff, nor how high his ceiling.

I also agree with sungods7n's point, that you couldn't have controlled the momentum which likely brought other prospect hounds around on Colome over the few months that have passed since you first alluded to this (and I assume BA is talking to some of the same or similar scouts as you). Though perhaps that augers for going ahead and touting the guy as soon as you know you want to. You'll get more credit that way! And blame, too, but that's the nature of the beast. And anyway, whoever said that the waiting is the best part obviously never heard that Tom Petty song.

Jan 08, 2010 12:40 PM
rating: 0
 
Dave Holgado

Btw, I know it was off topic, and you'll get there when you get there, but any thoughts on Bumgarner? I'm hopeful that it was just a tired arm, but that doesn't quite make sense given how his innings were limited, and how the decreased velo and K/9 was apparent for at Connecticut as well.

Jan 08, 2010 12:47 PM
rating: 0
 
RHughes

2009 Payroll (rounded down)
Rays: 63
Red Sox: 121
Yankees: 201

What's the unfair part?

Should the Yanks be legislated to forfeit any advantage gained from playing in the largest/wealthiest market on the planet as well as any dollars earned by spending over 100 years cultivating and promoting the most successful franchise in sports history?
Yeah, that sounds fair; lets make the Yanks spend 63 million because that's what Rays like to spend. Unfortunately, that would be totally unfair to the Pirates, so maybe the Rays should only spend what the Bucs do on payroll...

Of course, then there's really not much point to trying to become successful, is there.

Jan 08, 2010 10:06 AM
rating: -3
 
Daddyboy

Maybe not unfair, but makes it easy to root against them, which is why they're the most hated team on the planet.

Jan 08, 2010 10:19 AM
rating: 6
 
Richard Bergstrom

I like the Yankees because every year, they try to win. I don't go out of my way to root for them, but I do respect that.

Jan 09, 2010 11:11 AM
rating: -3
 
Al Skorupa

"Try to win" = spending gobs of money?

Damn all those small market teams that never "try to win!" I hate them so much!

Jan 09, 2010 11:24 AM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom

Yeah, the Yankees try to win by spending tons of money and if you think the Steinbrenners are the richest owners in baseball, you are sadly mistaken.

That's the funny thing about all this large market vs small market debate. You could be a billionaire yet be called small market. Before he passed away, Carl Pohlad's worth was almost two and a half times that of George Steinbrenner. The Braves and Tigers owners also were worth more than Steinbrenner at the time this article was written.

http://www.startribune.com/business/16332206.html

Sure, playing in a big market means you can get more merchandising and team revenue and it cuts into ownership expenses less. Yet there was a time when all these "small market" clubs like the Twins etc were tops in the league in attendance and everyone was buying Homer Hankies.

Jan 09, 2010 12:16 PM
rating: -1
 
3n2sports

It was a joke...

Jan 08, 2010 10:47 AM
rating: 1
 
hessshaun

People don't get jokes on here.

Jan 08, 2010 13:31 PM
rating: 5
 
Randy Brown
(189)

The issue isn't that people on this website don't have a sense of humor, the issue is that sarcasm is nearly impossible to project in a short typewritten comment.

For instance, if I said "Melvin Nieves was one hell of a ballplayer", you probably have no idea if I thought Melvin Nieves was great or if I'm joking. (For the record, I'm not joking...Melvin Nieves was awesome.)

Jan 09, 2010 17:45 PM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom

It's true it is harder to project humor over typing/text, but it's not impossible.

For instance, if I said, "Melvin Nieves was one hell of a ballplayer?", you probably have some idea if I thought Melvin Nieves was great or if I'm joking. (For the record, I'm joking...Melvin Nieves was not awesome.)

Jan 10, 2010 11:16 AM
rating: -1
 
3n2sports

Anyone who suggests that the Yankees dissolve their farm system has to be joking. Right?

I'm sorry to have spurred a completely worthless conversation about the Yankees, minor league history, and whatever else was said on the topic with my offhand comment...

Jan 11, 2010 12:00 PM
rating: -2
 
Dr. Dave

"Should the Yanks be legislated to forfeit any advantage gained from playing in the largest/wealthiest market on the planet?"

You act like having monopoly rights to half of metro NYC (and 3/4 of NYC baseball history) is somehow an accident. It isn't; it's a conscious decision by the owners of MLB to greatly restrict competition for the NYC market. The Yankees have the market they have because MLB replaced two storied franchises with one expansion franchise. If they had chosen to replace the departed Dodgers and Giants with the Mets, the Athletics, and the Braves, we would all now be discussing the Red Sox enormous revenue sharing payments.

Ideally, that's what revenue sharing should be: compensation for unequal market monopoly rights.

Jan 08, 2010 11:39 AM
rating: 8
 
John Carter

3/4 of NY baseball history? Did you forget to count the Dodgers and Giants? It would be closer to 2/5.

Jan 08, 2010 15:54 PM
rating: -1
 
TGisriel

Summary of the Yankees and their market:

1. The Yankees have an advantage because of the very rich market in which they operate.

2. The Yankees have maximized their advantage through good management.

3. This makes them very hard to compete with.

I, for one, credit them for #2, and would like to see the advantage of #1 addressed to make the playing field more fair.

Jan 08, 2010 11:44 AM
rating: 3
 
John Carter

The Yankees have a large market because baseball is better off being spread more around the continnent than having 5 franchises in the same market that is 5 times larger than the smaller ones (or however many). So, that is a good thing.

That this great market has a slight advantage over the other markets is a good thing, because that many more people can enjoy their excellence. That is a good thing - and fair in that sense.

Around the time of the '94 strike, baseball critics were bemoaning the fact that there was no dominant team to root against. It was boring having different teams in the W.S. every year. Since, 1996 the Yankees have been that team. The critics got what they wished for. Is it really so bad?

Won't the victories of the small guys be that much sweeter? Can't the small market fans cheer together for the smaller market teams that do make it to championship? ... such as St. Louis, for example?

Jan 08, 2010 15:39 PM
rating: -2
 
Patrick

I was thirteen when the strike happened, so I don't know much about what the baseball critics were thinking about competitive balance. However, the period between 1996 and 2001 was possibly the least interested I've been in baseball since I can remember, and only part of that was because my favorite team sucked during that time. Mostly I was bored that the same team (NYY) always seemed to be winning. Getting to see new teams play for the championship so often since then has been great. Variety is the spice of life, man.

Jan 08, 2010 21:47 PM
rating: 0
 
buddaley

"Getting to see new teams play for the championship so often since then has been great. Variety is the spice of life, man."
______________________________________________________
As a matter of fact, more competitive than at any time in the history of the game. 1996-2001 was an anomaly in this era. It could just as easily been the Braves or Indians who did it. In fact, the 1995 World Champion Braves were probably a better team than the post-season novice 1996 Yankees and blew out NY in the first 2 games. They certainly had a better rotation than NY.

Jan 09, 2010 06:38 AM
rating: 2
 
Patrick

Longoria's walk rate went from 9.3% in 2008 to 11.0% in 2009, and his strikeout rate decreased from 27.2% to 24.0%. Looks like improvement to me.

Jan 08, 2010 10:08 AM
rating: 2
 
CRP13

Equalized to project 2008 to 671 PA, you're talking about 11 walks and 21 K's difference. That's not 'leaps and bounds' improvement.

Splitting hairs isn't necessary, the dude's a stud either way.

Jan 08, 2010 10:32 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Agreed, the dude is a stud, but take out the intentionals and it's even less a dramatic step forward.

Jan 08, 2010 11:22 AM
 
Patrick

I know it's not a dramatic step, but a player raising his UBB% by one percent and lowering his K% by three is positive. As a fan of Longoria, I was pretty happy by the progress he made in 2009 and think it bodes well for an even better 2010.

Jan 08, 2010 12:56 PM
rating: 0
 
larry

is there some reason colome and moore were flipped in the top talents under 25?

Jan 08, 2010 10:09 AM
rating: 1
 
Birdfan01

No love for Joe Cruz? He put up good numbers in the Sally League and seems like a guy with some projection remaining.

Jan 08, 2010 10:16 AM
rating: 0
 
CRP13

4.04 ERA and .284 BAA in A-ball doesn't scream upside right off the bat, but I know nothing about him beyond the numbers. He had a higher ERA than 5 starters on his OWN team who made at least 10 starts.

Jan 08, 2010 10:43 AM
rating: 0
 
Birdfan01

He also had a 9.09 K/9 and only a 2.39 BB/9. Add in the fact that he is just now growing into his 6'4" frame, and I think you have a pretty legitimate prospect.

Jan 08, 2010 10:59 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

He's a legit prospect and in my 16-20 range. System is too good for him to rank higher, remember the context we're dealing with here.

Jan 08, 2010 11:23 AM
 
airlifting

Is there any comparison to be made between Jared Mitchell and Desmond Jennings? If Mitchell shows any power improvement in the next two years, wouldn't it be a perfect comp? Great eye, great speed, solid defense...

Jan 08, 2010 10:38 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

You would need PERFECT development for that to happen. Could it? Sure, but there are 20 guys you could say that about and how many will do it? One? Maybe?

Jan 08, 2010 11:25 AM
 
BillJohnson

Not to be curmudgeonly, but I'm wondering if Tampa's well-deserved reputation for farm-system excellence may be leading to some grade inflation here. Yes, the system is strong by any reasonable standards, and has been for years. But if it's THAT strong year after year, then shouldn't that strength have translated by now into either an utterly dominant team, or a whole pile of superstars on other teams resulting from the Rays' lamentable inability to pay for them? Neither has occurred, at least yet.

Jan 08, 2010 10:39 AM
rating: -1
 
CRP13

They WERE utterly dominant in 2008 and slightly less so in 2009 for lots of reasons:
-BJ Upton fail
-Regression from Shields and Kazmir, plus Price's learning curve
-The Yankees were vastly improved
-Gravity pulled extra hard on Tampa than on the rest of the globe.

Give them a couple more years before they can be called a one-hit-wonder.

Jan 08, 2010 10:46 AM
rating: 6
 
Drew Miller

As a Red Sox fan, god, I hope so.

Jan 08, 2010 13:56 PM
rating: 2
 
hyprvypr

If the LA region pooled all their 'revenue' into one team and sucked up every superstar for $30m/year all the Yankee fans would probably cry foul. It's just unreal how hypocritical and ignorantly self-entitled New York fans are.

The MLB salary situation is and has been broken for a decade or longer.

Jan 08, 2010 10:53 AM
rating: -1
 
CRP13

And yet, the Rays, Twins, A's, and Indians are generally very competitive. And I hate the Yankees too, but only because their fans are obnoxious.

I like the current pay system. Salary caps and equal trading has made NFL and NBA off-seasons interminably boring.

Jan 08, 2010 10:59 AM
rating: 1
 
John Carter

P.S. I am not a Yankees fan. I was just making what I think was a logical argument (mis-edited, sorry) that it is fair and good they have an advantage over the other teams. The same is true of other large market teams and any other ownership that wishes to outspend other teams on their players. That's the American way.

Jan 08, 2010 15:45 PM
rating: -1
 
flyingdutchman
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The reason neither has occurred is that only some prospects work out. As a matter of fact, fewer prospects work out than most here at BP acknowledge.

I am not denying that prospects are important to have and to develop. What kinda bothers me though is stuff like the Hellickson perfect world projection above: He "...will be an All-Star starter." Really? WILL be? Why not just say "All-Star starter"? I know it sounds nit-picky, but that sort of thing contributes to this idea that there is any such thing as as a sufe-fire prospect.

Actually, the perfect world projection, since Greg Maddux's name was invoked, is that Hellickson IS like Maddux but maybe a little better, and thus one of the greatest pitchers in history, and a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Is anyone going to say it's not possible? If not, it makes no sense to have a 'perfect world'. It makes sense to simply have a projection, sure, but not a perfect world projection, and certainly not one that claims something "will" happen.

Jan 08, 2010 11:06 AM
rating: -7
 
tballgame

Here's a projection chart for you:

5 star - Makes a ML roster at some point. More likely than not to have a career exceeding 5 years.

4 star - Role player. Starts for a team with low expectations.

3 star - Quad-A player. Peaks with a "free [Player X]" story and/or a September call-up.

2 star - Insurance/car salesman with some wonderful war stories.

1 star - Insurance/car salesman with a wonderful war story.

Think of 'Perfect World Projection' in the context of the 90th percentile in PECOTA. Not the absolute ceiling, but most will fall short.

Jan 08, 2010 11:40 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

You need to read what Kevin wrote. He said (and you even quoted) "Perfect World Projection", i.e. that is his ceiling. Kevin never said he'd reach it for sure.

Jan 08, 2010 12:04 PM
rating: 1
 
flyingdutchman

Yeah, I know I'm being nit-picky. Just a bit of a pet peeve, I guess, though I do think Kevin tends to overstate most 5-star prospects' chances.

Jan 08, 2010 12:04 PM
rating: -3
 
John Carter

I think you are over nit-picking - taking it overly literal. By Perfect World Projection, I think Kevin means something reasonable like a 10-20% chance of happening not a 1% chance of happening. Which would you rather hear about?

Jan 08, 2010 15:50 PM
rating: 3
 
TGisriel

I have been reflecting on the role of prospects as compared to the role of "expensive" free agents in the development of a winning team in light of the thought provoking post of Matt Swartz on January 4.

Based upon the chart on that post, the winningest teams generally get most of their WARP from the AM "auction market" (players eligible for free agency). Certainly the NM "non-market" players (players before and through their arbitration years) are important, but this does not seem to be the way that winning teams separate themselves from their competitors.

Consider the range of AM WARP for teams in 2009: It ranged from a high of 46.3 (the Yankees, World Series Champs) to -.1 (Padres). Clearly there is a wide divergence.

The NM range, however, only ran from a high of 40.2 (Phillies, World Series losers) (Rays were next at 39.1) to 18.4 (Mets). Yankees were the second lowest for NM WARP at 18.6.

Certainly every team want WARP from every source, but the richest (the New York teams) gain their WARP advantage from being able to spend on the free agent market.

Jan 08, 2010 12:07 PM
rating: 3
 
flyingdutchman
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Thank you, mattymatty2000. I forgot to read the article!

Actually, maybe I didn't make myself clear. Look at those projections again. 5-star prospects "will be" great, while 3-star and lower guys "could be". Colome "has the ability to", Torres "could be" just an everyday guy, Barnese "likely will be" in the middle of the rotation. Yeah, in a perfect world? So COULD he be a #1 or a #2. Sure! Why are some prospects talked about in terms of the great things they will do while others are talked about in terms of the mediocre things they could do? Doesn't make sense, and it contributes to the overrating of top prospects. It obscures the fact that the great players are more spread out among the field of prospects.
All I'm saying is, admit to what can't be known and just try to be accurate on the projection. Of course, we are all aware of what a lot of these guys could be, and we are all aware that there are gems whose ceilings are as yet unrecognized.

Jan 08, 2010 12:24 PM
rating: -7
 
Cromulent

Thanks, KG. Anything on Hector Guevara?

Jan 08, 2010 13:12 PM
rating: 0
 
Drew Miller

This system explains much more fully why the Red Sox are upping payroll. They're needing to complete for their playoff lives, not just the division.

Jan 08, 2010 13:57 PM
rating: 0
 
havens


Interesting that Jennings already rates ahead of Price on the Under-25 list. I feel like, in the prospect world, there's a tendency to overrate players who haven't been exposed to the big leagues yet. I am fully on board with the idea that Jennings has the potential to be an impact player, but Price was one of the truly elite prospects in the game at this time last year and, while he was not perfect, flashed exactly the type of stuff expected of him. Now he's behind Jennings? Seems off to me.

Jan 08, 2010 15:53 PM
rating: 2
 
ostrowj1

I think it is more of a tendency to underrate high-profile prospects who don't excel immediately in the big leagues.

Jan 08, 2010 16:11 PM
rating: 2
 
John Carter

Unless the Rays have had a change in policy, you can count on Jennings and Hellickson starting the 2010 season in the minors no matter how well they perform in Spring Training.

Jan 08, 2010 15:57 PM
rating: 0
 
mwashuc06

You have anything on McEachren Kevin??

Jan 08, 2010 20:55 PM
rating: 0
 
mibush

Keep in mind that the Rays didn't even sign their top two picks in this year's draft.

Out of curiosity, where would Matt Sweeney rank? I seem to remember hearing that he was a decent prospect when the Kazmir trade went down.

Jan 08, 2010 22:13 PM
rating: 1
 
tcrouch

Great stuff, Kevin, thanks. How much are the Rays kicking themselves for passing on Alvarez, Matusz, Posey, etc. and taking Beckham. Any idea on what the team's true feelings are regarding Beckham and his progress?

Jan 09, 2010 09:10 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Hey Kevin, this might be a semi-silly request, but when you run these lists next year, can you include stolen bases and stolen base success rate? It'd be a good add-on to help fantasy league people out.

Jan 09, 2010 11:13 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Richard,

Remind me closer to that time and it will be done.

Jan 09, 2010 12:51 PM
 
m1rch00

Great info. Like these rankings a lot. However, one minor point needs correction I believe. Nick Barnese's 2009 stats say "Short-Season" while the text refers to the [Bowling Green] Hot Rods, a Low-A Sally League team.

Jan 09, 2010 22:21 PM
rating: 0
 
greenie55

I have been tracking Wilking Rodriquez since I by happenstance saw him pitch this summer in an Appy League game. Had never heard of him - haven't seen his name in any prospect lists that I can recall since. But he was a little Pedro. Live arm and at times, killer change up. Dominating. I circled his name and filed the game program...it's why I love minor league baseball.

Jan 10, 2010 19:01 PM
rating: 0
 
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