The BA Prospect Handbook, Part One

2014-BA-HandbookAs those of you on the Twitters already know, the 2014 Baseball America handbook did indeed arrive in yesterday’s mail. The staff has been reviewing it and so over the next couple of days, we’ll discuss what they found.

Like two years ago, the moves made in November and December are not reflected in the book. This is frustrating, but understandable given how long it takes to produce, edit, and publish a 500+ page book. Therefore, Robbie Ray, Billy Burns, and Adrian Nieto were included in the book.

Folks with the fetish interest in how the Nationals were ranked relative to the other 29 teams, will probably not be surprised that the folks from Durham placed Washington 21st. What is a bit surprising is that this is with fifteen different names than a year ago. It’s debatable how much further that would have dropped the Nationals, but given the conventional wisdom that the system is top-heavy, one or two spots sounds about right (H/T Brian Oliver for asking the question).

On that note, let’s take a look at what happened to last year’s Top 30:

Graduated (2) — Anthony Rendon, Taylor Jordan

Traded (4) — Ivan Pineyro, Robbie Ray, Billy Burns, Corey Brown

Free Agents (2) — Chris Marrero, Carlos Rivero

Dropped Out (9) — Jason Martinson, Sandy Leon, Ricky Hague, Destin Hood, Estarlin Martinez, Brandon Miller, Paul Demny, Wirkin Estevez, Jhonatan Solano

Unfortunately, the ratio of players who are or will turn 25 by midseason hasn’t improved. In fact, it’s gotten worse — eight this year versus six a year ago, as only four 2013 draftees were added. The cynic in me is now starting to wonder how much of this is influenced by BA trying to market the book towards fantasy baseball folks by including some of edge-of-the-40-man types in the last third of the list. When you see #31 in the next post, you may understand why I might suggest something like that.

Without further ado, here are the Top 15 from the book, with last year’s ranking in parentheses. In the next post, we’ll look at nos. 16-31:

1. Lucas Giolito (2)
2. A.J. Cole
3. Brian Goodwin (3)
4. Matt Skole (4)
5. Robbie Ray (18)
6. Sammy Solis (8)
7. Michael Taylor (11)
8. Jake Johansen
9. Nathan Karns (5)
10. Steven Souza (25)
11. Matt Purke (9)
12. Billy Burns (26)
13. Tony Renda (12)
14. Zach Walters (10)
15. Austin Voth

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.

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

  1. Interesting that they dropped Walters 4 spots despite hitting nearly 30 homers in AAA from the shortstop position. Yes i know of his limitations … just saying that normally that kind of eye-catching production is rewarded. They really rated Robbie Ray too (unlike, say, Keith Law). Good to see Voth getting some attention.

    1. As I noted back in November, I found it odd that Matt Skole stayed put despite playing just two (2) regular-season games and Sammy Solis moved up despite throwing less than 60 innings. Neither has proven themselves at AA. It’s almost like Walters, Karns, who both dropped four spots, were punished for putting in a full season. This is why I’m not a fan of rankings.

      1. Don’t forget the AFL.

        Solis was one of the best pitchers in a notoriously hitter-friendly league. I’m sure those 29 innings did a lot to assuage concerns about his health and whether he still has his ‘stuff’.

        Skole’s AFL was a bit of a mixed bag. The AVG (.184) and K% (28.6%) are worrisome, but everything else is pretty encouraging. His BB% was astounding (23.4%), ISO was very good (.245), and most importantly showed he may yet stick at 3B.

  2. What happened to Destin Hood? Will he be better off with another team? I thought he was on track to make the parent club by 2015-16

    1. Go to Luke’s watch list, etc. and you’ll see why. He has maybe 1 more year to resurrect his career. The good news is he signed for over a $1 million so has something to fall back on.

  3. Agree that Souza & Walters were low; they both had a great 2013 and B.A. didn’t notice. Baseball America tends to think 23 is very old so that may be part of it. The good news is they go all the way to 30, so there’s a lot more to argue about and chew on.
    Luke, I always figured you’d like Keith Law’s list the best because he spends more time actually watching these players play.

    Have you timed how much time will elapse before the dog starts chewing on your book?

    1. To be fair Souza’s rise from 25 to 10 is pretty incredible.

      I love what Souza’s been doing, but I’m hesitant to suddenly anoint him a top 5 prospect. The guy has played 7 seasons in the minors and has had exactly two not terrible seasons, and was old for his level (age 23 in Potomac and age 24 in Hagerstown).

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