As is often the case, internet-specific farewell addresses come off like award show acceptance speeches, complete with the sandpaper tongue stroking of all intimate associations of note, a solipsistic sandwich of fake meat, imitation cheese, and vinegar-based spread, delivered to you as consumable and delicious food despite the fact it was never intended for you to [actually] eat. I want you to eat this farewell. This farewell is for you. From the heart, I want to thank the readers of Baseball Prospectus for their curious eyes and minds, for embracing my peculiar brand of communication and pushing me beyond the assumed limitations of the medium. This will be my final article for Baseball Prospectus.
Steven Matz was selected in the second round of the 2009 draft out of Ward Melville High School in East Setauket, NY, which is apparently a breeding ground for notable names, ranging from sporadically funny and continuously fat comedian/actor Kevin James, wrestler Mick Foley, former co-host of America’s Funniest Home Videos John Fugelsang, and Terrance Hobbs, lead guitarist for the death metal band Suffocation. Because of these notable names on his high school’s resume, and more importantly, his southpaw potential on the mound, Matz received a bonus of $895K, almost half a million over the recommend slot. The future was bright.
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Pick: 1:1 Team:Houston Astros Projected Selection:Brady Aiken Reason: Since Jeff Luhnow jumped behind the wheel of the Astros franchise, the team has been in the business of selling hope, which they cryptically bottle in their own process, and deliver from within by growing an infrastructure of young, cost-controllable talent. But up until now, this talent was merely physically impressive on the field and not all that aesthetically pleasing in the face. Things will change on that front, as I have it from a good source that the Astros’ Laboratory of Analytical Science Conclusions has discovered this weakness and will work to correct the deficiency by drafting Brady Aiken, a high school lefty with a tan that just won’t quit and a facial bone structure of an in-demand and slightly Scandinavian Tommy Hilfiger model. Bonus that he’s a lefty that can actually pitch.
Did we get too tethered to prototypes when it came to the Mets' top 2011 pick?
The 2011 amateur draft was a talent smorgasbord that could satisfy the most esurient of appetites, the significance of which we are only beginning to scratch the surface of. Starting up top with Pirates’ ace Gerrit Cole, the players taken in the first round read like a who’s who for the next generation of baseball—names like Bundy, Bradley, Lindor, Baez, Fernandez, Gray, Meyer, Springer, and Stephenson. Sandwiched between these hyped warriors of the future is Brandon Nimmo, the 13th overall selection in the class, taken right after Taylor Jungmann and right before Jose Fernandez. At the time, Nimmo was a relatively unknown prospect from the relatively unknown state of Wyoming, a player without a high school team and a narrative that was more focused on his lack of playing experience than his exploits. At the time, it was a head scratcher given the talent still available on the board, and even years later the revisionist commentary has been easy to come by. Brandon Nimmo over Jose Fernandez? Really?
Back in the fall of 2007, I was sitting with a few scouts and various team officials at an instructional league game, and I was open-eared to some their criticism of the scouting and player development coverage found on the internet. Specific to my work at the time, the Rangers prospect content I was producing offered very little substance to anybody outside of casual minor league fans, and the opinions I put forth on my boutique site weren’t taken seriously by the industry. I always wanted to write scouting reports—the kind of reports that my heroes in the stands would construct and submit, the kind of reports that offered far more significance than the surface player interviews or simple field observations I was producing. But I lacked the necessary skill-set to pull off such a scouting endeavor, so I chose not to fake it and continued with the primitive prospect work I was familiar and comfortable with.
What Mookie Betts' .400-plus batting average has us reconsidering.
I was first introduced to Mookie Betts on a baseball field back in 2012. It was the New York-Penn League, and the setting was pleasant even if most of the talent would eventually need to buy a ticket to participate in a major-league game. Betts was small and thin, and I didn’t pay much attention to him other than to highlight his name because he was drafted relatively high in the 2011 class and that alone is enough to justify a deeper look in the late-round mecca that is short-season ball. That was my first offseason to rank prospects, and Betts didn’t sniff the Red Sox top 10 list, and I don’t recall his name coming up in the discussion for the “On the Rise” candidates either. We ranked Bryce Brentz over Betts, if that gives you any indication how far off our radar Betts was at the time.
Is a tendency to favor fire-breathers a bias, or sound wisdom?
“Doesn’t pitch with enough fire.” He’s soft.” “Doesn’t attack.” “Lacks fortitude on the mound.” “Doesn’t pitch with confidence.” “I question the sack.” “Doesn’t act the part of a number one starter.” These are all descriptions found in various scouting reports on pitcher Mark Appel going back to his amateur days and continuing in the present. Validity of the scouting assessments aside, the number of evaluators questioning the fortitude of a recent 1:1 player is significant for several reasons, but for this particular article, I want to focus on the role fortitude plays in the scouting process, and why some pitchers take a hit based on such a subjective and often biased means of categorizing talent.
Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Addison Russell or Javier Baez? We polled front office types and our prospect staff.
The rise of the superstar shortstop prospect prompts preferential inquiries, as my email inbox, Twitter feed, and chat queues are continually maxed out with questions about Bogaerts, Baez, Correa, Lindor, and Russell, and if forced to choose, which one would I choose? The five chiseled heads on the modern Mount Rushmore of shortstop prospects (six if you go high on Mondesi) present a daily challenge of preference, a subjective exercise of forced selection tied to the realities of the present and the fantasies of the future, a tug-of-war we play with ropes made of tangible data, scouting memories of on-the-field motions, and the conceptual ideas of value and who will be most likely to achieve it.
Every farm system in baseball, ordered from best to worst.
1. Minnesota Twins Farm System Ranking in 2013: 4 2014 Top Ten Prospects: Link State of the System: No team in baseball can boast the same level of top tier talent on both sides of the ball and impressive depth at every level. Top Prospect:Byron Buxton (1) Breakout Candidates for 2014:Lewis Thorpe and Jorge Polanco Prospects on the BP 101: 8 Must-See Affiliate: Low-A Cedar Rapids Prospects to See There:Kohl Stewart, Felix Jorge, Stephen Gonsalves, Ryan Eades, Lewis Thorpe Farm System Trajectory for 2015: Down. It’s hard to stay on top, especially with some of the top talent in the system likely to graduate to the highest level (Sano, Meyer, Pinto)