Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Meaning of the Minors, Part 1.

This past week seemed to be the moment that the Royals’ farm system took center stage on a national stage. A year of steadily-building hype that started with an exceptional outing by Mike Montgomery in Wilmington last April, then a two-homer debut by Mike Moustakas coming back from a ribcage injury later that month, has reached full bloom with the unveiling of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list. Some highlights:

- Three Royals’ hitters – Eric Hosmer, Moustakas, and Wil Myers – ranked back-to-back-to-back at #8, #9, #10. I’m not sure if any team has ever had three prospects ranked in the Top 10 before.

- With John Lamb at #18 and Mike Montgomery at #19, the Royals had five prospects in BA’s Top 20. That is, according to Baseball America, unprecedented. (If the Royals had lost two more games in 2009, they’d have six players in the Top 20. The top three players selected last June – Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon, and Manny Machado – are all Top 20 prospects.)

- The Royals had four more players ranked – Christian Colon at #51, Danny Duffy at #68, Jake Odorizzi at #69, and Chris Dwyer at #83. That makes nine Royals in the Top 100 – and none of them scraped onto the bottom of the list. No team has ever had nine players on the Top 100 Prospect list before.

- Using a slightly more sophisticated point system designed by BA, which credits an organization with 100 points for having the #1 prospect, 99 points for the #2 prospect, all the way down to 1 point for the #100 prospect – the Royals had 574 points. Again, in the 22-year history of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospect list, the Royals have the highest-ranked collection of prospects ever. Only one team (the 2006 Diamondbacks) come within 100 points of the Royals, meaning that even if the Royals released Eric Hosmer today, they’d still have the second-best group of prospects in the last 22 years.

The Royals’ farm system has been on such a roll for the past year that it’s hard to believe that a year ago, Baseball America ranked the Royals as having the 16th-best farm system in baseball. Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law had them ranked higher – if I remember correctly, 9th and 10th respectively – but it’s safe to say that no one saw this coming. I’m an incorrigible optimist, and I thought that if Hosmer and Moustakas bounced back and the pitchers stayed healthy and Wil Myers hit and…yeah, even I didn’t see this coming. The performance of the farm system last season represents the greatest overperformance by the Royals in any significant facet since 1985.

Word on the street is that Joe Posnanski is in Arizona, writing a column about the Royals’ farm system for Sports Illustrated. Think about that for a moment – a team that has won 70 games just twice in the last ten seasons is getting a feature article in Sports Illustrated solely on the basis of its farm system. Something like a dozen Royals players are going to find their names inside the pages of SI before they’ve played a game in the major leagues. (Already, there’s an article on SI’s website about the Royals’ minor leaguers here.)

And with all that, someone had to go and splash the cold water of reality on the proceedings. Over at Royals Review, a gentleman named Scott McKinney performed a quantitative analysis of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospect list over the years, and came to the rather reasonable conclusion that only about 30% of all Top 100 Prospects turn out as “successes” at the major league level. Or to put it another way, about 70% of all Top 100 Prospects go bust.

How very rude of him. (You can read his study here.)

This article got a fair amount of attention, not just on these here internets but also on Kansas City radio, where my friend Soren Petro spent the better part of an hour talking about the implications, and painting a picture of the Royals’ future that can only be described as depressing. I asked for the opportunity to make a rebuttal, and was on Soren’s show this past Tuesday. As things usually go when I’m on the radio, 35 minutes passed in a blink of an eye, and while we covered a lot of topics and discussed a lot of players in detail, I never got around to arguing the main point, which is whether we’re overrating the potential impact that the farm system is going to have on the future of the team at the major league level.

Fortunately for you, that means I can make my case here instead.

I don’t have any real issues with McKinney’s study; on the contrary, I think his results only quantified what most analysts already suspected, which is that the risk of prospects – even top prospects – is far greater than we’d care to admit. For years, we’ve been saying that the best way to develop a starting pitcher in the majors is to start with five pitching prospects. According to McKinney, that rule of thumb is exactly true; the success rate for pitchers on the Top 100 list is 23%. (For position players, not surprisingly, it’s much higher – 37%.)

Five of the Royals’ nine Top 100 Prospects are pitchers, but the risk is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the Royals have three Top-10 hitting prospects, a class of prospect which is about as low-risk as they come. McKinney estimates the success rate of Hosmer, Moustakas, and Myers at around 61% each. So of the nine prospects, McKinney arrived at an “expected value” of 3.104 successes. (Actually, I believe McKinney made a math error – he assigned John Lamb and Mike Montgomery the wrong values – and the actually “expected value” should be 3.452 successes.) Basically, two of the big three hitters should be a success, one of the five pitchers, and then the Royals get a freebie with Christian Colon. Two of the other six players will be “contributors”, guys who aren’t above-average players but still have value in the majors, and the other three or four will be busts.

That’s not nearly the scenario Royals fans are looking for. More to the point, if the Royals end up with three above-average players (including one star) and two contributors out of their farm system, coupled with the 100-loss talent they have in the majors right now, they’re not going to sniff contention in the next few years without a massive infusion of talent from outside the system.

Before you throw yourself off a bridge, let me massage the data a little. While I agree with the gist of McKinney’s conclusions, I do think that the overall success rate he comes up with overstates the risk of prospects a little. I think that for three main reasons, which I’ll expound upon by using three different players as props:

Todd Van Poppel: Van Poppel was considered the best player available in the 1990 draft, but fell to #13 overall because of the bonus demands of one Scott Boras. (In some ways, Van Poppel was the first top draft prospect to fall in the draft because of signability issues.) He made eight starts in the minors that summer, and while he was overpowering – 49 strikeouts and 18 hits allowed in 38 innings – he also walked 19 batters. The following spring, he ranked #1 on Baseball America’s. In 1991, Van Poppel was rushed to Double-A, and in 131 innings he walked 90 batters against just 115 strikeouts. That performance dropped him on the prospect list in 1992…all the way to #2.

I’ve been a subscriber to Baseball America since 1992 or 1993, and they’ve been the gold standard for coverage of the minor leagues since well before then. But I do think that in the early years of their Top Prospect list Baseball America overvalued scouting reports, and understated the risk with pitchers four levels away from the majors. I think even they’d acknowledge that they do a better job of evaluating prospects today than in the past.

(Another good example was Kiki Jones, a high school right-hander selected #15 overall in the 1989 draft by the Dodgers. He wasn’t particularly tall at 5’11”, but he threw hard, and in 12 starts in rookie ball he went 8-0 with 1.58 ERA and struck out a batter an inning. The following spring, Baseball America unveiled their first-ever Top 100 Prospect list. Kiki Jones was #6 overall. Jones struggled with arm problems and never even reached the majors.)

McKinney addresses this phenomenon in his study; breaking out the lists by year, he found that the success rate for players was only 27% from 1990 to 1993, and around 32% from 1994 to 2003. And this year, Jameson Taillon, who compares favorably with Van Poppel as right-handed flamethrowers from Texas high schools, is ranked at “only” #11.

Bill Pulsipher: Pulsipher, a big hard-throwing left-hander selected by the Mets in the second round in the 1991 draft, ranked as Baseball America’s #21 prospect overall three years later. Pulsipher spent all of 1994 in Double-A as a 20-year-old pitcher, and was outstanding – in 201 innings, he allowed 179 hits, and while he allowed 89 walks, he also struck out 171 batters.

Read those numbers again. Pulsipher threw TWO HUNDRED AND ONE INNINGS. In a minor league season that ended around Labor Day. In just 28 starts. And as those walk and strikeout numbers suggest, those weren’t exactly high-efficiency innings.

The following spring, Pulsipher ranked as the #12 prospect in baseball, a part of the Mets’ Generation K along with Paul Wilson (#16) and Jason Isringhausen (#37). All three had shouldered huge workloads – Wilson in college, the other two in the minors. Pulsipher made it to The Show in 1995 and in 17 starts posted a 3.98 ERA. He then blew out his shoulder, didn’t return to the majors until 1998, and was a shell of his former self. No one can fault his effort – as recently as 2009, he was still toiling on the fringes of organized baseball, in Mexico and the Northern League, which is just incredibly sad.

Wilson blew out his shoulder after his rookie season in 1996, and missed three seasons, but returned to the majors in 2000 and managed to find gainful (if not necessarily effective) employment for the next five years. Only Isringhausen – who in 1994 threw just 193 innings in 28 starts, the lucky guy – had a productive career, as a closer, and only after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Teams don’t handle their pitching prospects the way they did 20 or even 10 years ago. John Lamb made 28 starts last year, the same number that Pulsipher threw in 1994, but only threw 148 innings. And he threw the most innings of the five Royals pitchers on the list. Presumably, the success rate of pitching prospects has gone up over time as teams have become more careful with them. But if they have, I’m not sure McKinney’s study would have captured it, as in order to have an extended follow-up period he ended his study with BA’s 2003 Top Prospect List.

Pablo Ozuna: Once upon a time, Pablo Ozuna was a Top 10 Prospect. Prior to the 1999 season, BA ranked him the #9 prospect in the land. Over at Baseball Prospectus, where I had started my own Top Prospect list, Ozuna landed at #5. And why not? In 1998 Ozuna, as a 19-year-old shortstop in the Midwest League, had just hit .357 and stolen 62 bases. He had just been traded from the Cardinals to the Marlins as the centerpiece of the deal that brought Edgar Renteria to St. Louis.

Only it turns out Ozuna wasn’t 19 years old during the 1998 season. He was 23, and turned 24 before the season ended. Needless to say, he shouldn’t have been a Top 100 Prospect, let alone Top 10, but Ozuna’s real date of birth wasn’t revealed until it was too late. Ozuna would eventually break in with the 2005 White Sox as a 30-year-old rookie utility player.

Ozuna is just the most glaring example of what has been a very common phenomenon among Latin American prospects – particularly from the Dominican Republic, where a lack of accurate record-keeping has made it easier for ballplayers to carry around fictitious birthdates and even names. The US government cracked down on identity theft in a post 9/11 era, which has limited but hardly ended the problem. It would be interesting to see whether Top 100 Prospects from the Dominican Republic were more likely to go bust than American-born players.

In any case, this doesn’t affect the Royals. Eight of their nine Top Prospects were born in America; Christian Colon is from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

These three factors all conspire to lower the success rate of top prospects, and I think it’s fair to assume that as these factors are eliminated, that the expected success rate of top prospects should rise. I think it’s a modest difference, but it could be the difference between having three successes and four successes out of the Royals’ collection of Top 100 guys.

Also, while I think that McKinney uses a fair definition of “success” – a player averaging 1.5 fWAR a season over the first six full seasons of his career – for most players, I’m not sure that’s a fair threshold for relievers. Actually, I’m fairly sure it’s not. Robinson Tejeda has been, by any objective standard, a useful reliever for the Royals the last two years. He threw 61 innings last year, 74 innings in 2009 (when he made 6 starts), and had a 3.54 ERA each season. That’s not an elite-level reliever, but that’s a pretty useful set-up man.

But Tejeda didn’t reach the 1.5 fWAR threshold in either season. Daniel Bard, who had an outstanding season as the Red Sox’ set-up man last year, clocked in at exactly 1.5 fWAR. It is quite possible for a pitcher to be a successful reliever in the majors without qualifying as a “success” by the parameters of this study. That’s not a huge failing of the study, because out of 100 prospects, generally only three or four are relievers at the time they’re placed on the list. But with most teams carrying seven relievers at a time, it’s important to note that over a quarter of a team’s roster is exempt from the definition of “success” posed by this study.

Still, out of the other 18 roster spots, if the Royals wind up with four average or above-average players out of their farm system, that’s not going to be good enough. I have no illusions about that. And yet I still think that the Royals have the talent in their farm system right now to build a sustained contender in two or three years.

The reason is quite simple. Oh…but would you look at the time? (Or word count?) It’s getting late. I’ll explain why in Part 2.

34 comments:

Josh "Old Man" Duggan said...

I'm assuming that in part two the fact that guys like Brett Eibner, Robinson Yambati, Yordano Ventura, and Cheslor Cuthbert come into play in part two, right?...

Glen said...

Rany, you make an excellent point about the abuse of pitchers in the early to mid 90s. Not only were they overworked in the minors, but college and high schoolers were never pitch-counted, so how many of those top 100 prospects entered the list as damaged goods already?

Todd Van Poppel, for instance, threw 133 pitches on the day he made his announcement that he was wouldn't sign with any team who drafted him so he could go play for the Texas Longhorns (there was a lot of speculation Van Poppel cut a pre-draft deal with the champion A's, so he ginned up his love of campus life to scare off the Braves).

Glen said...

I guess I contradicted myself -- if HS pitchers were never subject to pitch counts, we wouldn't know how many Van Poppel threw that particular afternoon. I should have said that coaches probably didn't CARE about pitch counts on their young arms. Coaches like Cliff Gufstafson were notorious for overusing pitchers -- which, ironically, probably meant Van Poppel was lucky he changed his mind and signed with the A's in 1990.

Brent said...

Petro did not do a good job contextualizing the results of McKinney's study (which was good). Four reasons (I had a longer explanation but lost it because of the ID issues on the site):

1) prospects outside the top 100, that do not have the tools to ever be in the top 100, will end up playing important roles on the team (Aviles, Kila, Johnny G, Teaford, etc.). Not all, but some. That adds more talent to your team from the farm system. Some prospects outplay their tools.

2) McKinney tracked anyone who ever made a BA top 100, including those that declined in the rankings while still in the minors. The fact that all of the Royals ranked (except Odorizzi and Myers) have been to Double A. helps the success rate some I think.

3) It also means that, in a 3-4 year period (before the first wave really hits arbitration), the Royals ought to have a lot more than 9 prospects in the Top 100. I believe Crow was in last year (so the numbers ought to be run with 10). Can they get 6-9 more in a three year period? I think that likely. And if most are in the high minors, you are talking about not 3 above average to elite players supplied by the system, but 5-6 total. That's a good start on a team before trades and FA acquisitions.

4) Player performances vary by year. Look at the historical WAR database for Royals players. It is hard, even for good players, to generate more than 20-25 WAR in a career. Even players deemed below average or busts by this statistic might have 1-2 really good years at key times for the Royals. Injuries happen. Performance fluctuation is expected. The league is littered with guys that are replacement level, but that also had career years for teams going deep into the playoffs. The fact that the Royals will have these guys in their prime only makes it more likely that they will get guys at their peak, even if short.

These reasons make me much more excited about the Royals' chance of success. The prospect system is so deep, and with such a mix of different types of players, that I think it has become too big to fail.

ilroyalfan said...

One thing that also has to be taken into account is the overall (and, for the Royals) deserved pessimism in the RR site. The commenters there are very intelligent and thoughtful statisticians for the most part, but they sometimes let there reliance on the Royals past and sabermetrics get in the way. That being said I eagerly await your discussion of the next wave of prospects that were too young and untested to make the top 100 this year, but will make it next year or subsequent years.

Kyle said...

I got attacked pretty good at RR for thinking there are going to be more success stories with this system than there has been in the past. There are already talented players in KC, and players that don't count as prospects anymore. Guys like Escobar (former top 15 on BA's list), Cain, Butler, Hochevar (former top prospect), Gordon (former top prospect).

Some players are considered "busts" by that article. I wouldn't consider them busts just yet, but they haven't broke out yet. So they are "busts".

They won't all be superstars, but there will be at least 1-2 superstars, and 3-4 contributors on this list alone. Not even taking into consideration the past and future lists that will include multiple Royals prospects.

Ryan E. said...

One thing I believe that is (possibly) overlooked in the study is the volume of prospects on the list. Having multiple prospects on the list would seemingly point to a quantifiable effect due possibly to the organization's player development ability (Trust the Process). Just eyeballing the organizations with historically good farm systems, it seems the success rate for their prospects is better than the population at large.
Rany touched on it a bit, but how many prospects have been ruined by the team that drafted them, either through overuse (especially for pitchers) or by promoting players too soon (Alex Gordon perhaps).
It would be interesting to partition the data by the number of prospects on the list and try to quantify the success rates that way. Maybe have a category for, 1-2 prospects, 3-4 prospects, and 5+ prospects, but as always there will probably be sample size issues.

Michael said...

I hate cliffhangers...

I also agree that one thing going for the royals are the quality players not in the top 100 yet. Cheslor Cuthbert is probably the most intriguing prospect we have. A smooth fielding third baseman who will get his first full season ball this year at 18 years old. :)

ironhorseblues said...

really? a top 20 prospect from the 2009 draft? they picked Luke Hochever and Aaron Crow in prior drafts so that would be a maybe top 20 prospect depending on whether they tried to get a top pick on the cheap like they did with those two (you get what you pay for)

pjbronco said...

What? The Royals are releasing Hosmer today? How did this happen???

:-)

My luck is kind of like this: the Royals could contend in 2012. The Mayan calendar will be right.

Brent said...

To Ryan E.:

This part of the objection has been handled. In the original study, he also checked success rate by system. And as it turned out, no matter the quality of the system, there is not a significant difference in success rate in the long term.

Of course, we are getting BA's rankings of those systems (not the organizations internal judgments). That might be more a reflection of the consistency of the rating system (with its inherent biases).

kevin said...

"Sustained contender" is a relative term when it comes to the Royals. While many people think the Glasses have improved their mgmt style I still tend to believe that we'll lose any of our players that become good as soon as they're able to split. Glass is simply never going to maintain a good enough payroll to be a sustained contender, imo.

Jacob said...

Rany is betting against house money in this post and trying to find ways to justify it.

The study is really good, but did anyone need a study to show that most prospects fail? Everyone knows that most of these guys will flame out.

And that leaves Royals fans depending on GMDM to make good trades and FA signings to compete.

Maybe GMDM can trade Mous for Friedman. That way, the Royals have a good chance at competing. Otherwise, the Royals will have some prospects surrounded by the likes of Yuni, Guillen, Pods, Ankiel, KEndall etc. Good luck with that.

Big Hatt said...

+1

Rany, I love you man. You've done great things. But the pro-GMDM bias you've developed is difficult for me to understand. And its frustrating to read from someone whose opinions I have taken as gospel for so long.

I mean, how many different ways can you say our farm system is awesome? And how much credit can you really heave at Dayton in a year when the Royals are likely to lose 100 games again?

I don't want to nitpick or be too negative, but your articles annoy me now. I never, ever thought that would happen.

mark said...

I wish you had mentioned performance enhancing drugs. How many careers were held up or moved off their ideal position by the fact that they were competing to take a job away from an older player using drugs. They lost some of the natural advantage youth gives them and I thought that was at least as large a factor as the age of players from over seas.

Michael said...

Big Hatt-How is it difficult to understand? Just 4.5 years ago, Moore took over a team that not only sucked at the big league level, but had almost nothing in the minor leagues either.

Now, at least we have a solid minor league system ripe with talent. Soon, that talent will begin graduating players to the major leagues. This is how the Twins did it a decade ago, and how Tampa has done it in the last few years.

It's how small market baseball has to be operated. We cannot afford to fight with the big boys in free agency, so we have to do it in the draft and in the international markets. Moore has shown himself to be quite adept at this.

I will grant anyone that his free agent signings are questionable, but those will drop in significance once the team is made up mostly of kids currently in the minor league system.

Jason said...

So the question for me is, which ones are gonna be busts and which ones end up being successes?

My guess for busts are Montgomery, Dwyer, and Odorizzi. Not that I think they don't look good, but compared to the other six, they'd be the one's I'd keep an eye on. Montgomery has already had some arm issues, Odorizzi is the furthest away (and therefore more likely to have something go wrong) and Dwyer--I don't think will be a bust, but I don't think he'll end up as a starter, either.

I think Hosmer, Myers, and Lamb will be the big successes. Moustakas will be valuable and not a bust, but not a star, either. Same with Duffy and Colon.

Hope I'm wrong and they're all viable ML options, but those are my guesses.

ian said...

Randy,
New to your blog. Great insight. Some time can you do a nice mind numbing blog on all the catagories of stats that you use and what they mean, our (your) very own baseball jargon referance catalog.
Also in one of your blogs you were talking about developing your site. jnimon.com is a guy who does great work (no not my company). Highly recomended from one baseball geek to another. Keep pouring out - ian

Kenneth said...

Podcast was interesting

christopher said...

Great points Rany. Social science evidence is always very weak (which is why you have to take all studies regarding baseball with a grain of salt as it is never pursuant to a controlled study). Studies regarding drafts, prospects, etc are even weaker because those studies, evaluations are ever-evolving. I remember when Bill James said you should never take a HS pitcher in the first round. Well, his study was based on the pre-Scott Boras era when college looked like a good deal compared the few grand he would get in the draft. When you pay $5M signing bonuses, teams actually get the best HS players and those tend to work out.

In other words, studies about prospect lists are just a review of a history that is quite different from the current situation. Hosmer, Moos, Myers, and our pitchers are GREAT prospects and no study of the flaws of past prospect lists change that fact.

Ryan E. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan E. said...

To Brent:
It seems to me (and in no way do I mean this negatively) the methodology of dividing the prospects by organization was done rather crudely. It simply divides the prospects by teams which in no way takes into account the changing dynamics of an organization. I don't think it is fair to say that the player development for the Royals is the same under GMDM, as it was under Baird, as it was under Herk Robinson.

Again the whole issue is probably moot as sample size issues would leave too much uncertainty in any kind of meaningful inference.

Antonio. said...

Two things:

Building a fantastic farm system doesn't excuse the excrement he's shoveled us in the time he's been here.

And two, recheck your history. This isn't how the Twins/Rays did it. When their farm systems started to graduate, they had a strong core of young veterans to support them, not Melky/Francouer/Francis/Chen. When each team started winning, their very first seasons had precious few guys 21-24, but were loaded with guys 25-30. We simply do not have that.

steak said...

Yes, lets get on to part 2 :)

Drafting and developing talent is vital to success in the bigs, but as others (and I) have eluded, we need to acquire FAs.

Think Carlos Pena for the Rays or David Ortiz for the Red Sox.

Can we do it? I think no.

Also, Michael, the cliche is "rife" with talent.

Kansas City said...

Terrific stuff.

I question whether historical data on prospects is all that probative with respect to 2011 prospects of the Royals or any other team. The statistical sample size is relatviely small, of course the Royals prospect sample size is incredibly small at 9 or 10 top prospects. There also are so many variables that it make comparisions difficult. I think it is just as likely that there will be significantly greater success as that there will be just average success. Bring them up and let them play.

I don't mind Rany having such a positive focus on the prospects. It is what we have as Royals fans, so let's get on the bandwagon.

Michael said...

Antonio-By the time 2012-2013 roll around, we will have Billy Butler, Luke Hochevar, Mike Aviles, Joakim Soria, and who knows who else we might retain or sign as a free agent, in the 25-30 age group. That's plenty of experienced contributors right there.

The 2001 Twins had plenty of young guys, and plenty of contributors in the 25-30 age group that you mention. Obviously, the Royals will have that every year, simply because not all the prospects are going to come up at once. There will be plenty of free agent signings as well to augment the roster and provide "leadership", which is why Frenchy was signed in the first place. Say what you want about his baseball skills, but the guy is a natural leader. Plenty of bad baseball players went on to be great coaches and managers.

My point is, when guys like Hosmer and Myers are "stars" and we're not signing a Jose Guillen to be that star hitter, then it doesn't hurt the team quite as much when he sucks as it did 3 years ago when we signed him. Our base of talent should be so much higher than it used to be that free agent signings won't mean nearly as much as they did 4, 5, and 20 years ago.

The 2001 Twins didn't rely on free agent signings to become winners. They built through the farm system to become winners. Every single one of their offensive starters except Cristian Guzman (Chuck Knoblauch trade) and David Ortiz (Dave Hollins trade) were either drafted or signed as amateur free agents by the Twins.

Their pitching staff was also very similar. All major contributors were either drafted, signed as amateur free agents, or received in trades as minor leaguers.

My point is still valid. The way small market baseball is winnable is building through the farm system and on up.

Kenneth said...

I am a transplant to this area. I guess it is because the Royals have no hope at all that this prospect class is generating such buzz on Ranny's board and all over the interneet. The suprising this is national writers picking it up as the story.

I'm glad the cupboard is no longer bare. It will make me happy to root for success for these young prospects but honestly I think Pittsburgh is getting the shaft on this one. Here is a team that has promoted a great talent, Andrew McCutchen. Last year three more players climbed out of their minor league system. Jose Tabata, Pedro Alverez & Neil Walker and all look to be above averate contributors to this organization. One that has had more losing seasons than the Royals in the last 20 years. Until the Royals are able to bring 1 all star and 3 above average hitters to the major league level I will have to rank them 2nd behind Pittsburgh. Because at the end of the day it's what you produce not what is your potential, that really matters.

I would agree the Royals have a good shot of producting one all star bat and one above average bat. Heck, Kilahue and Gordon either one could has the potential to be above average and Butler would be an all star if he ever develops the ability to hit 25-30 hr's. That is without any current promotions. What can make the Royals better than the Pirates is they also have a lot of pitchers in line for promotions in the next two years. So if they have four hitters produce and some pitching succeed at the major league level in addition the combination would provide the ablility to dramatically improve the current situation of 100 loss seasons.

While I agree the potential is there but I guess I don't get excited about potential. At the rate at which prospects fail in the major leagues I think heaping all these expectations on these young kids before they ever reach the majors is unfair. Even if the fan base is desperate for something, anything to be happy about. These are still human beings who are just kids. Let's let them have some fun and develop without having to label them a bust just because they don't live up to our expectations. Let's keep the bar a little lower so they can exeed our expectations and then we can be happy for them. Instead of doing what we have done to Gordon which is send him back to the minors when he isn't the second coming of George Brett.

I will be rooting for everyone one of these kids to get their dream job, being an everday major leage ballplayer.

Antonio. said...

The best leaders lead by doing. Read up on the recently deceased Richard Winters, a great man. And it's ahwile before the Royals have a strong group of 25-31. And Butler/Soria are the only people that belong in the group. Aviles had one great season, one poor partial season destroyed by injury and an ok 2010 that showed a strong finish (with a weak enough start that it took a great finish to produce an ok finish). Aviles is also about to start his age 30 season. He's not in the group. Hoche has a career 78 ERA+. Is that someone you want to include? Hope is one thing, but until he does something...

Antonio. said...

My point is that out of that Twins team, Guzman was the only plus contributor that was under 25. The others all had OPS+ under 100.
Out of the players getting the most playing time:

Dougie 27 122 OPS+
Koskie 28 120
Hunter 25 101
Lawton 29 119
Ortiz 25 106
Mays 25 145 ERA+
Radke 28 116
Milton 25 106
Guardado 131

Who will represent these players, guys good enough to make the prospects' transition easier, on the 2011-12-13 Royals?

Michael said...

You have to be somewhat fair to Hoch and acknowledge the fact that he's a groundball pitcher who has had one of the worst infield defense's in baseball his whole career. If Escobar is as good as advertised, and Getz as well, I would think his numbers would improve dramatically. And once Hosmer is up for good, that'll make a pretty decent infield, as far as defense is concerned. I have questions about it offensively, of course. Mous won't win any Gold Gloves at third, but he won't be a complete hack over there.

My point still stands though. Small market baseball teams HAVE to build through the farm system. When Dayton came on, he had a horrible ML team and a horrible farm system. Now the farm system is the envy of baseball. All we have to wait for now is for these kids to graduate to the Major Leagues, and we'll be contending again soon enough. (Unless we do something stupid like the Diamondbacks did and trade all our awesome prospects for has beens)

Michael said...

Here's a question....what would you have done to help build a winner or done differently than Dayton? And be realistic. For example, there was no way the Royals could have or would have signed Matt Holliday when he was a free agent or Carl Crawford.

Royals said...

I got a wager for you. Royals will spend the Meche money and win the posting rights to Darvish next year. How great would he look along with Montgomery, Lamb, etc to back up all that hitting talent? All you haters can eat it, this time is going to be different.....

David W. Lowe said...

Each individual player should be evaluated based on his own strengths, weaknesses, and overall makeup (moxie), rather than have percentages applied based on previous prospects.

It is possible that ALL of the Royals prospects will be busts. It is also possible that ALL of them will be stars. Will it be 30%? Will it be 75%? Who knows?

The mental makeup of each player, as well as the physical condition, is what matters the most. Along with the opportunity to play. From what I've read, these Royals prospects have the moxie and mental makeup to make it. And they will definitely have the opportunity to make it (i.e. they won't be blocked by some steroid-popping freak).

David

fred595 said...

Great analysis and writing.

On the BA misses in their Top 100 list, please add the name of Brad Radke.

I recall drafting Radke for my Roti team the year that the Twins promoted him from AA to the majors rotation.

I can still recall reviewing his minor league record, and I was impressed with his loew ERA's, ratios, and especially the lpw walk rates. I was alos impressed by the fact that Radke ahd a winning record almost everywhere in the ninors.

BlaineFred
Annapolis, MD