Open Thread Experiment

Grant Desme
, OF, Athletics (AFL: Phoenix)
Yesterday’s stats: Did not play

After pounding out 10 homers in his first 12 games, Desme hasn’t hit a home run in his last eight games. He’s still hitting .370/.457/.802, and I’m not sure there’s a prospect generating more debate in baseball right now. I’ve talked to three scouts this week who saw him at various stages of the season. One saw him at Low-A Kane County, one saw him at High-A Stockton, and one saw him in Arizona. All three had wildly varying opinions on Desme, with projections ranging from never getting to the big leagues to hitting 30 home runs there. We know he has power, we know he has speed, we know he strikes out at a disturbingly high rate, and he’s also incredibly streaky. Throw in the age factor because of all the injuries and there are just so many big positives and glaring negatives that it’s just plain hard to figure him out. So how about an open thread on the subject? What is Grant Desme four years from now, an All-Star or in Triple-A?

Bonus round: Are we even sure he’s better than the similarly skilled/tooled
Corey Brown?

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Several weeks (months?) ago, I heard someone say that Desme is likely to have an Eric Byrnes-like career. I could see that happening...seems to have a similar skill set. I doubt he'll ever post even one 30-homerun year at the big league level, but I think he'll get to 20-homers a few times and play good defense in left, steal a few bases and generally be a productive and useful player for a few seasons.
I heard the same Eric Byrnes comp and it made me wonder if EB is becoming the guy that people use to comp prospects they don't know what to make of - Aaron Cunningham was another guy comped to Byrnes. It seems like Desme has more power than Cunningham, but his age relative to level makes me unsure. I really think only time will tell on this one. Not to be a party pooper or anything.
I definitely think the Eric Byrnes comp is thrown out a little too much. He was an exception, not the rule. So, whenever I see the comp I figure that prospect has some long odds of having a successful big league career, but someone squinted and thought the guy had some outside chance of having at least one big year and couple decent ones in the majors. It also may be code for high effort as well.
I'm very interested in this thread, but I'm merely a fan with no professional experience or talent in evaluating minor-league players.

May I ask subsequent posters who have such experience to mention it in your post, anonymously of course?

Kevin has a great idea here if he can get the professional baseball community, which we all know lurks at this site, to pitch in.

But if it's just a bunch of know-nothings like me, we might as well discuss the Gold Gloves.
I have to agree with you - its just too early to tell. There are many possible outcomes for Desme and even the wild extremes wouldn't shock me. I feel like I just don't have enough information to even make an educated guess at this point. Should be very interesting to see what he does in 2010.
I think that as with any prospect we are looking as outsiders at the possibilities of what he could become. He could be a minor league slugger, a Japanese All Star, a bench player, an every day regular or a star you really could point to evidence of any of them with him based on what he's done.

Do I think he'll be a star? Not likely based on his skillset but would I be surprised after this performance? No
The strikeouts seem to be mostly vs RHP. Maybe he can be at least a lefty masher. He hasn't been durable anyway...maybe he can't play 155 games annually. I wouldn't mind a Bobby Kielty outcome.
When reading about desme I always come back to rob deer. Or Mickey tettleton. Take out deers/ tettletons walk rates and add in good defense and speed and they seem to be similar players at the plate. My question is is there value in that kind of player in todays MLB? Of course I could be completely off....
Was that meant to be a joke? You're essentially stating that Desme, like Rob Deer and Tettleton, has power. Sorry to be a dick, I just don't see how they are comparable at all.
Low ba, high slugging, ridiculous k rate, decent defenders, desme has more speed/ tettleton and deer took more walks. They're not as different as they seem at first glance
So if you swap walk rates with defense and speed and you have the same player? Sorry, but you could pick almost any two players and pull off this exercise.
Desme is indeed hard to evaluate. He will be 24, I believe, at 2010 SP. If his comparables are Deer and Tettleton, each started in MLB at 23, so he's a year late, but injuries explain that. Deer had a 12 year career and 230 HR, Tettleton a 14 year csareer and 245 HR. My view is, a guy with these talents, whatever his other skill deficits may be, belongs in the major leagues. The most difficult hitting skill is plate discipline. If any organization can teach him (assuming he's teachable), it's Oakland. Apparently, he fields and runs the bases reasonably well. Why then skepticism as to his having a career? He will have one, we just don't know what kind.

Kevin, if you are going to keep this thread going, you need to supply some data on Desme, which I don't have access to. But a wonderful puzzle. Thanks
I saw him three times in Arizona last week. He was consistently fooled on breaking balls out of the strike zone. Jack Cust was who immediately came to mind.
That's strange, considering Cust is very rarely fooled by breaking balls outside the strike zone. He's much more likely to take a breaking ball down the middle than to chase one outside the zone.
I think I'd put it this way: Desme has history working against him in a couple of ways with his age, level and performance relative to the first two.

-23 is not young for Low or High A
-BABIP was .359 at Kane County and .350 at Stockton
-the California League is a hitter's paradise so I think his power numbers at Stockton have to be taken with a grain of salt
-cumlative MLE = .193/.242/.340 with 172 K's
-numbers from 07 and 08 are so small we've got nothing to gauge his improvement/growth with

I have no idea what he'll be, if anything, but if scouts are as torn as we are I think it's safe to say it would be a surprise if he turns into more than a regular on a 2nd division team.
He just finished a season split evenly between low-A and high-A at age 23, with 30 homers but a ton of strikeouts. Let's assume part of the reason he started so hot in the AFL is that a lot of the pitchers had never seen him, and now that they've adjusted he's making outs. On my own observation as a fan, having seen him at Stockton and in the AFL, he takes a lot of bad swings, and he didn't appear all that fast to me, although if the scouts say so I can't dispute it. So unless he tears up double-A at 24 next summer it seems to me the odds are long for any kind of major league career.
BTW, what's the little number in parenthesis under our Display Names? I missed that somehow. Mine says "440" right now.
It's probably your BP subscription #.

A comment on the Rob Deer/Grant Desme comp: Tettleton/Deer were 3 true outcome players. If you only produce two of those 3 outcomes, You're a 4A hacker, at best. The difference is huge. If you're going to K all the time, you have to have other means of getting on base or you're going to fail in the majors.

I disagree. If all you do is homer and walk, you can be on my team anytime. Kidding, of course.
The number is your subscriber number. If you use the comment threads for a while you'll probably associate these with the frequent commenters to some degree and be able to track through changes they make with their actual display name, for example.

Rob Deer could play defense.
In 5 years Grant Desme will be 28 years old.
I saw Desme play in two games last weekend in the Arizona Fall League. I can only go by what I saw, and despite all the early hype, I'll avoid drafting him next year.
So if there was Fantasy Baseball in the early 1900's and you saw Babe Ruth go 0-8 with 4 Ks over two days you wouldn't have drafted him, either?

If you can only go by what you saw: 1) You're going to miss a hell of a lot; and 2) you're on the wrong website.
Some things I noted when looking at the numbers:

His K rate was a whopping 27.4% of plate appearances. It was fairly consistent between low-A and high-A.

His BB rate was pretty low - 7.5% in low A and 12.7% in high A. Nice to see the improvement, but when you are striking out over 25% of the time, I want to see that BB rate higher than 12.7%.

Stockton is a hitters paradise. The Cal league in general boosts offensive production, and Stockton's 2008 park factor for HR was 1.27 (I cannot find the 2009 calculation yet). The MWL is most definitely a pitchers league, but even KC plays better than average for the batter. Its park factor from 2008 was 1.10 on HR.

Definitely take those HR numbers with a huge grain of salt. The speed is nice to see, but I am afraid he will not reach base often enough to use it. I simply cannot justify putting him on my top 100 despite the excellent AFL showing. If he starts to walk more in 2010, I will most definitely change my mind.
Desme does it again (11/13)
2 for 4, 2R, HR, 2RBI, SO
Even the best prospects come with a caveat, and not even a guy like Desmond Jennings is assured of anything in the major leagues. What you have to like about Desme is the fact that, unlike a number of toolsy prospects over the years , he has actually put up numbers at the minor league level (and now in the AFL).

What you have to question about him is, Moneyball-hype aside, his organization. Most organizations seem to take on, more than just a personality, a deep-rooted penchant for doing certain things better than others. And in such organizations the prospects, regardless of their skill sets at the time they were drafted, seem to eventually settle into a generic organizational sameness. Oakland, for all their ability to develop pitchers (and never underestimate the home ballpark in that regard), has never seemed to be able to develop hitters (again, one should probably not underestimate the home park factor).

If Desme were a Ranger or a Red Sock, I might believe he had a chance to become a productive ML hitter. On the A's, however, history says he'll never produce at the big league level like his minor league numbers hint that he has the talent to.
You have an interesting thesis, but I'm not sure if I buy the "never develop hitters" comment. I'm thinking of Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Eric Chavez, and Miguel Tejada. And I'm sure someone will start yelling "steroids", but I will note that plenty of other organizations have developed hitters who have been accused of using steroids, as well as hitters who have actually tested positive. I don't really want to get into an argument where we separate hitters whom we "know" used, and those we "know" did not, as it will be based on our guesses. And this is not even discussing the changing of team's philosophies over time, or the change in personnel, etc.
Also interesting that you talk about home ballpark as being key in the A's development of pitchers, and then you suggest the Rangers and Red Sox develop hitters better, without noting that both of them play in ballparks that are pretty darn good for hitters. Just some things to think about.
Years from now, when people look back at the Legend of Grant Desme, and ruminate about what might have been, this chat thread will be a great way to summarize the arguments!
"What is Grant Desme four years from now, an All-Star or in Triple-A?"

If he's really on a fast track he might be a Cardinal, but not in St. Louis.
Or he might be a Padre, but not in San Diego.
He might not be on the A's but he'll still be close to the Angels.
Say it ain't so!! WHY God, why did you lure Grant from us A's fans?!? This is the worst possible news for atheists, such as me, who have to face the prospect of one of our top prospects whiling away the hours teaching people about the Easter Bunny's best friend. At least the Easter Bunny brings candy.
A's trade Grant Desme to God for PriestToBeNamedLater and Ryan Church.
I tried Atheism for a while, but I got tired of all the fundamentalism and dogma.
Me? I'm an A'stheist.