Prospect List-Mania 2008

Just like I did last year, a rundown of the various prospect lists out there.


Criteria
: Once upon a time it was all stat-based (or at least it seemed so), but since hiring Kevin Goldstein (formely of Baseball America) to be their minor league guy, I think he actually bothers to watch some of these guys and certainly talks to a scout or two.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Geovany Soto, C
2. Josh Vitters, 3B
Four-Star Prospects
None
Three-Star Prospects
3. Donald Veal, LHP
4. Jose Ceda, RHP
5. Josh Donaldson, C
6. Sean Gallagher, RHP
7. Tyler Colvin, OF
8. Eric Patterson, 2B/OF
9. Welington Castillo, C
10. Tony Thomas, 2B
Two-Star Prospects
11. Jeff Samardzija, RHP

Just Missing: Kevin Hart, RHP; Chris Huseby, RHP; Larry Suarez, RHP

Sleeper: Kyler Burke

What They Say: Colvin is a below-average center fielder range-wise, and many feel he'll need to move to a corner in short order. That leaves him as a bit of a tweener--his swing-at-anything approach led to just five walks in 62 Double-A games, which is not enough of an offensive force to play in a corner everyday. Lefties give him significant troubles, and he adjusts by shortening his swing, which costs him any chance at power against them.



Criteria:
Stress tools and ceiling over stats, speak to a lot of scouts, can be guilty of relying on reputation over substance on occassion.

1. Josh Vitters, 3B
2. Geovany Soto, C
3. Tyler Colvin, OF
4. Jose Ceda, RHP
5. Sean Gallagher, RHP
6. Donald Veal, LHP
7. Josh Donaldson, C
8. Jeff Samardzija, RHP
9. Tony Thomas, 2B
10. Kevin Hart, RHP

BEST TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average - Tony Thomas
Best Power Hitter - Josh Vitters
Best Strike-Zone Discipline - Sam Fuld
Fastest Baserunner - Leon Johnson
Best Athlete - Tyler Colvin
Best Fastball - Jose Ceda
Best Curveball - Casey Lambert
Best Slider - Alessandro Maestri
Best Changeup - James Russell
Best Control - Mark Holliman
Best Defensive Catcher - Welington Castillo
Best Defensive Infielder - Josh Lansford
Best Infield Arm - Josh Lansford
Best Defensive Outfielder - Sam Fuld
Best Outfield Arm - Kyler Burke

What They Say: The Cubs haven't signed a position player who developed into an all-star for them since Joe Girardi in 1986, but they have high hopes for Soto, Pie and four players taken by highly regarded scouting director Tim Wilken in his two drafts for the team (Colvin, Donaldson, Thomas and Vitters).

We discussed this list when it came out.


Criteria:
I (still) have yet to pick up a copy of his annual prospect book (which I really should do), but he did spend some time as Bill James’s assistant so he definitely has a mind for statistics. That being said he actually makes it a point to watch every single team and player I believe over the course of the season which is an impressive amount of traveling.

1. Josh Vitters, 3B, Grade B+
2. Geovany Soto, C, Grade B+
3. Sean Gallagher, RHP, Grade B
4. Eric Patterson, 2B-OF, Grade B (I dropped him from B+ due to defense)
5. Tyler Colvin, OF, Grade B
6. Josh Donaldson, C, Grade B
7. Donald Veal, LHP, Grade B-
8. Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Grade B-
9. Jose Ceda, RHP, Grade B-
10. Tony Thomas, 2B, Grade B-
11. Billy Petrick, RHP, Grade C+
12. Kevin Hart, RHP, Grade C+
13. Sam Fuld, OF, Grade C+
14. Jake Fox, C-1B, Grade C+
15. Allesandro Maestri, RHP, Grade C+
16. Steve Clevenger, C, Grade C+
17. Mitch Atkins, RHP, Grade C
18. Mark Holliman, RHP, Grade C
19. Matt Craig, 3B, Grade C
20. Larry Suarez, RHP, Grade C
21. Ryan Acosta, RHP, Grade C

What They Say: These systems with lots of Grade C guys are hard to do.There are 15 other guys in the book who rate as Grade C, any of them could slot into the back end of the top 20 depending on what you are looking for.

 

Criteria: Couldn't tell you...

1. Tyler Colvin
2. Josh Vitters
3. Eric Patterson
4. Sean Gallagher
5. Donald Veal
6. Jeff Samardzija
7. Geovany Soto
8. Sam Fuld
9. Jake Fox
10. Josh Donaldson

Criteria: That's Project Prospect if it's hard to read. I don't know much about the site, but they seem to be doing good work.

1. Josh Vitters
2. Geovany Soto
3. Kosuke Fukudome
4. Sean Gallagher
5. Josh Donaldson

Honorable Mentions: Tony Thomas, Jeff Samardzija, Donald Veal, Tyler Colvin, Eric Patterson

What They Say: The Auburn University product started his collegiate career as a third baseman before moving behind the plate. Some believe he’ll become a solid defensive catcher some believe he’ll move off the position—maybe even to second base.

Criteria: Very similar to Baseball America in emphasizing tools and ceiling. Very intimate with the Cubs personal though so they get a lot of inside info from their coaches and staff, which should help on matters of makeup and such not.

(Their list isn't available online yet, but their editor forwarded me their list and gave me permission to publish it. The comments at the bottom are from the print magazine mailed to me.)

1. Tyler Colvin
2. Josh Vitters
3. Geo Soto
4. Donald Veal
5. Sean Gallagher
6. Jeff Samardzija
7. Chris Huseby
8. Jose Ceda
9. Kevin Hart
10. Eric Patterson
11. Justin Berg
12. Josh Donaldson
13. Tony Thomas
14. Mark Holliman
15. Larry Suarez
16. Mitch Atkins
17. James Russell
18. Rocky Roquet
19. Ryan Harvey
20. Mark Pawelek


What They Say:
Gallagher's fastball is consistently in the low- to mid-90s, but his primary breaking pitch may be something of an enigma. He has shown a plus curveball, but hte Cubs wanted Gallagher to switch to a slider in order to have the same arm slot as his fastball.

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Deric McKamey Top 15

Criteria: The list was published at scout.com, but Deric is the author of Minor League Baseball Analyst. His rather unique ranking system is listed below. He responded to some reader questions as well.

1. Kosuke Fukudome (OF)- 8A
2. Josh Vitters (3B)- 9D
3. Tyler Colvin (OF)- 8C
4. Geovany Soto (C/1B)- 7A
5. Jeff Samardzija (RHP)- 9D
6. Sean Gallagher (RHP)- 7B
7. Jose Ceda (RHP)- 8C
8. Eric Patterson (2B/OF)- 8C
9. Donald Veal (LHP)- 8D
10. Josh Donaldson (C)- 8D
11. Jose Ascanio (RHP)- 8C
12. Darwin Barney (SS)- 7C
13. Chris Huseby (RHP)- 8D
14. Tony Thomas (2B)- 7C
15. Kevin Hart (RHP)- 6A

PLAYER POTENTIAL RATING
Scale of (1-10) representing a player’s upside potential

10 – Hall of Fame-type player
9 – Elite player
8 – Solid regular
7 – Average player
6 – Platoon player
5 – Major League reserve player
4 – Top minor league player
3 – Average minor league player
2 – Minor league reserve player
1 – Minor league roster filler

PROBABILITY RATING
Scale of (A-E) representing the player’s realistic chances of achieving their potential

A – 90% probability of reaching potential
B – 70% probability of reaching potential
C – 50% probability of reaching potential
D – 30% probability of reaching potential
E – 10% probability of reaching potential

What They Say: Soto has been at the Triple-A level for three years, which is long enough for me to be able to accurately assess his probability rating as an A. He is 25 years old, which is not young for a prospect, and is not a workhorse type catcher that is going to catch more than 120 games (he has never caught more than 102 games in seven minor league seasons). I do believe in his improved offense, but not at the level he hit in 2007 and certainly not Hall of Fame-caliber. By giving Soto a 7A Potential Rating, I’m confidently saying that he will be an average MLB regular, which is still pretty good. I don’t see him as an All-Star and with all the other things factored-in (age, role,and past performance), I like how I have him rated.

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The View from the Bleachers Top 10

Criteria: Joe asked about ten different baseball sites for their rankings (including your very own Arizona Phil) and amassed the totals, MVP style.

1. Geovany Soto

2. Josh Vitters

3. Tyler Colvin

4. Sean Gallagher

5. Josh Donaldson

6. Donald Veal

7. Jose Ceda

8. Eric Patterson

9. Jeff Samardzija

10. Tony Thomas

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And finally my top 15...

I get to bend the rules though, and instead of sticking to the standard Rookie of the Year qualifications that most folks use as a cutoff, I use a more vague, "hasn't really gotten his shot in the majors yet" qualification. I'll keep my descriptions short though to lessen the risk that I say something as dumb as I did last year about Carlos Marmol.

1. Felix Pie -
I'm sure most folks would still put Pie first if he didn't have 177 AB's last year in the majors, even if they were 177 mostly ugly AB's.

2. Kosuke Fukudome -
Technically he's a rookie and Pie is not, so he makes my list, which already looks better than most of the ones above. My plan is working to perfection.

3. Sean Gallagher -
He looked a little overmatched in the majors last year, but a 2 66 ERA in Triple-A at age 22 is pretty impressive. Word is he's trimmed down considerbaly this offseason and can get the fastball up in the mid 90's with more regularity. I'll be disappointed if he ends up getting traded to be honest.

4. Geovany Soto -
Put me in the Deric McKamey camp on this one...Soto was certainly incredible last year, but it was his third stint in Triple-A. I know he made a lot of adjustments last year (mostly Slimfast), but I don't think he's that GOOD.

5. Josh Vitters -
14 games don't mean a thing...

6. Jeff Samardzija -
He'll be entering only his second full year of baseball and his "stuff" is considered excellent. I learned my lesson with Carlos Marmol last year.


7. Eric Patterson -

The man without a position...

8. Tyler Colvin -
I'm not too big a fan, his bat sounds like it's just okay for a corner outfielder or first basemen and doesn't sound like he has the range to handle CF. And a nearly 5:1 K to walk ratio is Ryan Harvey territory.

9. Jose Ceda -
The control issues are worrisome, but I'm still learning my lesson from Carlos Marmol.

10. Josh Donaldson - We know Arizona Phil loves him, but if he can't stick to catcher, he won't be nearly as interesting. Of course if he moves to second base....

11. Tony Thomas -
Sounds like Eric Patterson about two years ago...good bat, worried about his defense.

12. Donald Veal -
We'll see how he rebounds after a tough offseason where he lost his father.

13. Billy Petrick -
I liked what I saw last year...he just has to stay healthy.

14. Kevin Hart -
Also, liked what I saw last year minus the injury concerns. I just think Petrick has better stuff.

15. Mark Pawelek -
It's been an ugly few years since he got drafted, but I stil think he has the talent to prevail.

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Comments

I noticed that Sam Fuld did not make your list nor many other lists. Just curious did you consider him or did you not think he has any potential?

Rory:
I noticed that Sam Fuld did not make your list nor many other lists. Just curious did you consider him or did you not think he has any potential?

Interesting. Surely he'd a top-10 list or two.

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Ryno
http://wolf-report.blogspot.com

he would probably have been #16 if I went that far....although him, Petrick, Hart and Pawelek could be shuffled around on my list. Just don't see much of a ceiling and think he's an ideal 4th OF/bench player.

Inside the Ivy likes him so much, they listed him twice (#12 and #14).

good catch, Steve made a typo...#14 is Holliman and it's fixed.

Interesting that BA gives the nod to Colvin over Samardzija. Is that a bias against pitchers?

I think that they are just in the habit of always choosing a position player. Had someone reminded him about Smarzadfraj they probably would have given him the nod.

I was going to criticize those who have Smardypants rated ahead of Veal, because, frankly Veal was better at A than he was, and he was better at AA (I know he was drafted a year earlier).

But then I looked at Veal's splits... in 2007 he was .326 .425 .432 .856 vs .246 .345 .366 .711. Obviously a pretty big split descrepancy. In 2006 the splits weren't quite as pronouced, but still there, about a .070 difference. The funny thing though, is it's the left handers who smoked him in 2007 and hit a bit off him in 2006. That makes me think that it's more experience than anything else, and eventually he'll start to dominate left handers like you would expect a power pitching lefty with a big curve to.

I think that another year at AA where he can get a bit more comfortable and work with some of the same coaches, should help him fix his problems against lefties, which will drop his pitch counts and turn him into a legitimate MLB starting candidate by 2009.

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"By giving Soto a 7A Potential Rating, I’m confidently saying that he will be an average MLB regular, which is still pretty good. I don’t see him as an All-Star and with all the other things factored-in (age, role,and past performance), I like how I have him rated."

The NL All-Star starting catcher last year (Martin) had an EQA of .294. Soto's in AAA was .311 and in MLB it was .351. Even if Soto does regress some (and I think that's likely as well), he's still going to be in the all-star conversation as a catcher. The debate should be whether he is an 8 or a 9, thinking he's not going to be a 'solid regular' means he's either out of touch with his own system or he doesn't understand about positional value.

I think McKamey is saying that 2007 for Soto might have been a bit of a fluke based off the rest of his minor league career, hence the rating. We all hope he's wrong and that he took the "step" last year, but it's a reasonable opinion that I happen to share. Maybe he should be upgraded to  an 8C or something, but that's as high as I'd go.

What kind of numbers are you expecting for Soto?

I am thinking .280 .340 .460, which with solid defense will make him an ASG candidate, unless a handful of guys go nuts.

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