Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Evaluating Baseball America's Top Ten Twins Prospects

Here is Baseball America's top ten from this coming year.

1. Aaron Hicks, of
2. Wilson Ramos, c
3. Kyle Gibson, rhp
4. Miguel Sano, ss/3b
5. Ben Revere, of
6. Danny Valencia, 3b
7. Carlos Gutierrez, rhp
8. Angel Morales, of
9. David Bromberg, rhp
10. Max Kepler, of

There are three players on this list who have yet to appear in a professional game, Gibson, Sano and Kepler. I am extremely skeptical of this kind of evaluation, especially Kepler and Sano  who are both under 18, are from Europe and the Dominican respectively and therefore have been seen by only a very few professional scouts. No one is even entirely certain how old Sano is. Gibson is a college pitcher.The story is that he dropped to the Twins in the draft as a result of an injury he spent last summer recovering from. The Twins are very high on him and expect him to move fast, but again this is a projection from his college play, not as a pro.

The rest of the list is also largely unproven.  Hicks, Revere, Morales and Bromberg have not played above A ball. Valencia, Ramos and Guttierez all spent part or all of last season at AA. Valencia is the only player on the list who is expected to be ready to help the Twins this season. But Valencia really struggled at AAA last year, both offensively and defensively and his upside is probably pretty limited. Ramos is close to ready to help, but the Twins have a guy named Mauer blocking him. Guttierez could move quickly if the Twins give up on the experiment with him as a starter and move him back to the bullpen as BBA anticipates. But he will need a full season to develop if he is going to be a rotation candidate and there is a pretty long list of pitchers ahead of him in that role 

The other question is who is missing. I would add former first rounder Trevor Plouffe, but I seem to be the only one still high on him. If he gets a chance he could surprise people the same way Denard Span did. Rene Tosoni and Chris Parmelee would also be candidates. On the pitching side, Delios Guerra should be in the top ten. And I think Duensing, Swarzak and Manship would be considered if they are still eligible by BBA standards.


TwinsTarget said...

Plouffe shouldn't be in the Top 25, much less the Top 10. He can't run, he can't hit for power, and he can't field as well as some other middle infield prospects in the Twins' system.

But I agree with you about Kepler.

John said...

If you asked every MLB team whether they would rather have Sano or Plouffe, I'd be shocked if they didn't unanimously choose Sano. I think that's the simplest and most logical method of ranking prospects- who would you rather have?

Now, arguments can obviously be made to move certain prospects up or down. But there is no question players like Sano (few though they are) belong, unless you think scouts are unable to identify young players with very high upside.

I do think Kepler is over-ranked... his raw ability doesn't seem so incredible as to outweigh his lack of experience even by amateur standards.

TT said...

John -

I don't think many scouts have a very good handle on a kid who hasn't played professional ball. They have even less of a handle on a kid who is 16 and hasn't played outside the Dominican. Sano, Keppler and Gibson are on the list as much because of what we don't know as what we do. They all have the physical tools but, compared to prospects who have played professionally, we don't have much information about the limitations on how they will use those tools in real life.

I just don't think you can evaluate the work ethic a 16 year old kid is going to have five years from now. Right now Sano is all upside and we all know how that psychology works. Its the reason virtually every first round draft choice appears on BBA's top ten lists. And over half of them never appear in a big league game.

As for Plouffe, I think he is undervalued right now. We will see where that goes in the future.

Jim H said...


I agree with your post. I have never understood how you can rank prospects who haven't played professionally yet. It explains why Shooter Hunt is a top ten prospect one year and nowhere to be found on any list the next.

I think a more sensible way to do these lists is to rank the prospects who are near ready(maybe within 2 years of the majors or AA and higher) and have another list with prospects with the highest ceiling. You could appear on both lists but at least you could more easily gain a little insight into who might be near ready to help from the farm system. It also would highlight potential future stars.

These top 50 lists are hard to figure out, you are basically listing everybody who you think might someday play in the majors.

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