The BA Prospect Handbook, Part One

A look at the highlights from the 2011 Baseball America Prospect Handbook

Last week, the estimable Brian Oliver graced us with his thoughts about the state of the Nationals Farm system, citing the recently arrived Baseball America Prospect Handbook and the #14 organizational ranking for the Nationals. This week, I’d like to take some time discussing some of the other highlights from the book.

While I still think BA is a bit of a cheerleader, and that Sickels remains the gold standard, I’ve come to the conclusion that the handbook is a lot like the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” issue: You can berate its status, lament its influence, but you just can’t ignore it. I may not always agree with them, but I will say that my opinion of BA has changed for the better.

The book ranks the Top 30 prospects. Two of the 2011 Top 30 were traded away with the acquisition of Tom Gorzelanny (Michael Burgess, A.J. Morris). As the headline suggests, I’m breaking up the list to have multiple posts and discussion fodder . But before I do that, let’s take a look at what happened to last year’s Top 30:

Graduated (6) — Stephen Strasubrg, Drew Storen, Ian Desmond, Justin Maxwell, Luis Atilano, Roger Bernadina

Lost On Waivers (3) — Aaron Thompson, Juan Jaime, Marco Estrada

Traded (3) — Michael Burgess, A.J. Morris, Graham Hicks

Retired (1) — Will Atwood

Dropped Out (5) — J.R. Higley, Jack McGeary, Atahualpa Severino, Adrian Nieto, Jeff Mandel

If you’re following the parenthetical numbers and doing the math, then you know that 14 of this year’s Top 30 prospects are holdovers (12 if you exclude Burgess and Morris) and there are 16 new names on the list. For the sake of comparison, let’s look at the two organizations that were above and below the Nationals #24 organization ranking last year. The #23 Chicago White Sox (this year’s #27) also had 14 holdovers from 2010 to 2011 while the #25 New York Mets (this year’s #20) had 18 holdovers.

Clearly, the newcomers Nats’ Top 30 are the difference, but I think it’s fair to say that’s not just simply the addition of a certain 18-year-old phenom. As Baseball America put it: “Last year, the Nationals system consisted of Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond and a few other contributors. This year’s system is Bryce Harper, Derek Norris, Danny Espinosa and the 2010 draft class [italics mine], but the top is heavy enough to put the Nats in the first half of the rankings.”

Tomorrow, I’ll break down the 16 “new guys” in terms of how they were acquired, but without further ado, here’s the first 15 of the Baseball America Top 30 Prospects for the Washington Nationals…

  1. Bryce Harper, OF
  2. Derek Norris, C
  3. Danny Espinosa, SS/2B
  4. A.J. Cole, RHP
  5. Wilson Ramos, C
  6. Sammy Solis, LHP
  7. Cole Kimball, RHP
  8. Eury Perez, OF
  9. Chris Marrero, OF
  10. Brad Peacock, RHP
  11. Yunesky Maya, RHP
  12. Destin Hood, OF
  13. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B
  14. Rick Hague, SS
  15. Robbie Ray, LHP

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

17 thoughts on “The BA Prospect Handbook, Part One”

    1. Brown is listed under the Athletics as their #11 prospect. If this is not simply an oversight, my guess is that Willingham trade happened after the cutoff date, which I would guess was December 15, given that a prospect acquired by St. Louis on December 12 was listed as a Cardinal and not a Mariner.

  1. Sue,
    Does this qualify then as the ‘middle hanging fruit’?
    Once again, I’m curious what TBRFan has to say about Destin Hood at #12.
    Maya’s too old for this list.

    1. I agree about Maya, but technically he’s a rookie, so technically he’s prospect. And yes, this is the, um, middle-hanging fruit.

  2. I have no problem with BA’s top fifteen–not that I totally agree, but considering the relative subjectivity involved, it seems quite reasonable. Hood would be the one choice, I’d question most, at least being this high on the list. I think Ramirez is beginning to show more promise, than his teammate.
    Does anybody know for certain whether Adrian Sanchez is being groomed to be a shortstop or a second baseman?

    1. The BA book says Sanchez profiles best at 2B since he lacks the arm for SS or the power you’d want from a 3B. I have him as SS because I thought that was where he was heading (i.e. he was playing 2B because Hague was playing SS) but looking more closely at his usage, I’m going to move him to 2B since that’s where he’s played the vast majority of his games on defense.

      Ramirez is listed as a Nationals prospect, but Brown is listed as an A’s prospect indicating that the list was made (or the deadline came) before the trade, as BinM suggested.

  3. I asked about Brown and Ramirez. BinM thought the list might have been made up before the trade.

  4. In terms of how the farm system is doing … as a point of comparison it would be nice to know where in the Nats organization Corey Brown and Henry Rodriguez would be placed? I doubt that either would be above Norris or Harper … but I can’t Brown at #11 on the Nats prospects list … nor HRod that low?

    1. Corey Brown is old (for a prospect) and seems to have some common problems that cause people to be skeptical (e.g. there are questions about whether he can hit). He wouldn’t make my top 15, simply because of the questions that persist in spite of the fact that he has spent plenty of time in the minors. HRod would probably crack my top 15–gotta love an arm that can hit triple digits, even if there are more walks than you want.

      1. HRod is no longer a prospect. My mistake for looking at his innings total but not how long he was on the Oakland roster, which was far more than 45-day limit for rookie (i.e. prospect) status.

  5. The top half seems pretty solid; I think that I would have either put Maya higher (ahead of Kimball) or not on the list. Marrero is always difficult; my first inclination is to put him lower, but I wonder if that is circumstantial because we expected more than he has produced so far. Somewhat surprised that Hood, Hague and even Lombardozzi come out ahead of JP Ramirez.

    Question – how are the Rule 5 guys treated? Are they in here and just not top 15, or because of their ‘up or out’ technicality are they lumped in with their original teams (or ignored altogether)?

    1. One of the two MLB-phase Rule 5 pickups made the list, one did not. Tomorrow, I’ll post Nos. 16-30

      1. You big tease! Based on the publications’ track record alone, I’d guess Ramirez makes the top-30 (BA have always been ‘suckers’ for the young’uns). Besides, Broderick’s numbers weren’t eye-popping, even though he compiled a nice extended season in 2010.

  6. Looking at this list, I might actually agree with it. Thinking of all the outfielders i’ve seen come through Hagerstown, is Eury Perez the best i’ve seen and deserving of the highest ranking outfields prospect in the Nats system? Fielding wise, heck no. Batting – maybe; he just seems to get on base. If I was a pitcher, he’d annoy the heck out of me. Destin Hood above JP Ramirez – um, no. I think they are ranking him there on rawness and possibility, over JP’s consistency at the plate and in the field. I will watch with curiosity at the P-Nats box scores this year…I want to see what bigger competition means for all of them.

    I also think Lombo should be higher on the list.

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