WTNYFebruary 18, 2004
Justifications and More Rankings
By Bryan Smith

Hope everyone enjoyed my top fifty prospects, it’s 6600 word Gleeman-length post was my longest ever. I didn’t receive a ton of feedback, but I want to spend today explaining, justifying, and going deeper into the realm of prospect ranking.

Yesterday in the comment section, by far the best feature of Movable Type, Will Carroll asked my methodology behind my rankings. I’m no scientist, and even if I were, prospectology is no field that can be researched. My best attempts including reading everything I can get my hands on, from daily Baseball America reports to articles in small-town minor league newspapers. I compare statistics for every minor leaguer, and when possible, and go see as many games as I can. I’d be lying if I said I weighed everything equally, because I don’t. Instead, the rankings look somewhat like this:

1. Statistics- The central influence for all new-age baseball fanatics
2. Scouting Reports- Trust Baseball America first, but all reports are fair game
3. Other materials
4. Personal Experiences

I’ve learned to trust my own judgment last, as talent evaluators like Josh Boyd, or the numbers, tend to tell the story best. Numbers are my key instrument, but sometimes potential is too salivating to ignore. The reason I rank Alexis Rios ahead of Jeremy Reed is solely based on ceiling, Reed hit for better average, has more immediate power, better stolen base skills, etc. But as I pointed out yesterday, the only 6-6 outfielder that has hit for .300 in the past is a Hall of Famer.

But the reason Edwin Jackson is ahead of Greg Miller proves that I’m a stat-head at heart. Southpaws that have the numbers Greg Miller did in AA have immense ceilings, and I don’t doubt that. But Edwin Jackson had better H/9 and K/9 numbers last season, at a higher level. Jackson is the much better bet to reach his potential, and since he’s older, less likely to suffer an injury.

Another question I got yesterday was about Gabe Gross. I was asked where Gross would stack up in the next group, whether it be the next ten or next twenty. Little did Jay know, Gabe Gross was the next guy on my prospect list. The rest of my top 90 list goes as follows:

51. Gabe Gross (TOR OF)- High OBP-type that is a good bet to reach his potential. I thought the Blue Jays traded Bobby Kielty?
52. Matt Peterson (NYM SP)- Dominating numbers in the FSL and very good pitcher’s body. A good bet to breakout big-time next season.
53. Jeff Francouer (ATL OF)- I’m less high on Francouer, a physically-gifted player that is a bit too raw. Jeff could go in either direction, but flaming out is a decent bet.
54. Taylor Buchholz (HOU SP)- Houston wouldn’t have dealt Billy Wagner if they hadn’t received their best pitching prospect since Roy Oswalt. One of the top five curveballs in the minor leagues right now.
55. Justin Jones (CHC SP)- An injury seems probable for Jones, who must add weight to his tall frame. Has succeeded at each stop since becoming a pro...few prospects have an arsenal this good.
56. Chris Snelling (SEA OF)- U.S.S. Mariner says Snelling’s ceiling is Tony Gwynn, and while I’m not that high on him, the Australian needs to stay healthy for an entire season to really prove his potential.
57. Khalil Greene (SD SS)- The former collegiate player of the year didn’t have the year he was hoping, mostly because the Padres rushed him. A year in AAA could make him equal to J.J. Hardy.
58. Jesse Crain (MIN RP)- Stormed through three levels in a breakthrough season. Proving that University of Houston closers make good prospects (see Wagner, Ryan), could be a big help come midseason.
59. Kris Honel (CHW SP)- Honel’s knuckle-curve draws comparisons to Mike Mussina, which seem to be fair. Rushing the Providence High School right-hander would be foolish considering his potential.
60. Andy Sisco (CHC SP)- The numbers just aren’t matching with potential. Sisco stands above 6-8, and can dial his fastball in the mid-90s. His arm is a concern, but Sisco could breakout huge if he stays healthy.

And the rest, without my input:

61. Justin Huber (NYM C)
62. Adam LaRoche (ATL 1B)
63. J.D. Durbin (MIN SP)
64. Fausto Carmona (CLE SP)
65. Jason Lane (HOU OF)
66. Corey Hart (MIL 3B)
67. Joel Hanrahan (LA SP)
68. Ramon Nivar (TEX 2B/OF)
69. Manny Parra (MIL SP)
70. Jose Lopez (SEA SS)

71. Jayson Nix (COL 2B)
72. Joel Zumaya (DET SP)
73. Sean Burnett (PIT SP)
74. Chadd Blasko (CHC SP)
75. Dan Meyer (ATL SP)
76. Freddy Sanchez (PIT 2B)
77. Bubba Nelson (ATL SP)
78. Bobby Brownlie (CHC SP)
79. Alberto Callaspo (ANA 2B)
80. Brandon Claussen (CIN SP)

81. Matt Cain (SF SP)
82. Ryan Madson (PHI SP)
83. Ryan Howard (PHI 1B)
84. Rett Johnson (SEA SP)
85. Kevin Youkilis (BOS 3B)
86. Mike Jones (MIL SP)
87. Kevin Olsen (FLA SP)
88. David Bush (TOR SP)
89. Chad Tracy (AZ 3B)
90. Felix Hernandez (SEA SP)

Notice that I only included three 2003 draft picks in my top 90, and that was on purpose. I limited myself to players who had Major League experience, and Delmon Young, as I think it’s fun to see where the top pick stacks up. So by demand, here is my top ten prospects from the 2003 draft:

1. Rickie Weeks- 2B- Milwaukee Brewers
2. Delmon Young- OF- Tampa Bay Devil Rays
3. Ryan Wagner- RHP- Cincinnati Reds
4. Ian Stewart- 3B- Colorado Rockies
5. Kyle Sleeth- SP- Detroit Tigers
6. Ryan Harvey- OF- Chicago Cubs
7. Conor Jackson- 3B/OF- Arizona Diamondbacks
8. Jeffrey Allison- SP- Florida Marlins
9. Michael Aubrey- 1B- Cleveland Indians
10. Brad Sullivan- SP- Oakland Athletics

Finally, using my top 90, I’d like to give my organizational rankings. To do this, I count how many players each team had in the top 90, and if teams are tied, I add up the rankings of each player (the lower, the better the ranking). For example, Tampa Bay and Houston both have two players in my ranking. Tampa Bay’s two players are ranked second and seventeenth, while the Astros two are fifty-fourth and sixty-fifth. So since Tampa Bay’s 19 is lower than the Astros 119, the Devil Rays get the better ranking. After that long explanation, these are my organizational rankings solely bases on my top 90 prospect list:

1. Anaheim Angels
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Chicago Cubs
4. Seattle Mariners
5. Los Angeles Dodgers
6. Toronto Blue Jays
7. Atlanta Braves
8. Minnesota Twins
9. New York Mets
10. Pittsburgh Pirates
11. Philadelphia Phillies
12. Baltimore Orioles
13. Colorado Rockies
14. Florida Marlins
15. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
16. Oakland Athletics
17. Kansas City Royals
18. Chicago White Sox
19. Tied- St. Louis Cardinals
19. Tied- San Diego Padres
20. Cleveland Indians
21. Houston Astros
22. Arizona Diamondbacks
23. San Francisco Giants
24. Cincinnati Reds
25. New York Yankees
26. Texas Rangers
27. Detroit Tigers
28. Boston Red Sox
29. Montreal Expos

That’s it for today. As always, leave any questions in the comments below...


Another good column - thanks for answering my question re Gabe Gross. I think that the Jays have a good nucleus - nuclei - of players to improve their lineup and we bauxites enjoy hearing that from other sites.

Nice work, I definitely appreciate the effor that goes into something like this.

As a Reds fan I was curious as to your reasoning for Brandon Claussen coming in at number 80. You're a bit more wary of him than other prospect sites, so I was just wondering why that might be.

Once again, very interesting list!

Hi, remember me?

I think the Jays have a fantastic nucleus. I think the Roy Halladay signing means the team won't re-up Carlos Delgado, but I could be wrong. The team will have quite the offense anyways...I'm still very high on Josh Phelps.

I like Claussen a lot as a prospect, and I think he could even be the Reds best starter this year (but hey, so could Juan Cruz). His strikeout numbers last year is what dropped him down to 80. He's likely to reach his potential, but sadly, there's not a lot of that anymore.

Oh yeah, aren't you that overrated SS prospect that belongs 3rd on Red Sox lists (Shoppach)?