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Reflecting On Top 100 Lists, Part 3

In the first two parts of this series, I discussed my pre-2011 top 100 list and the results of some of my more audacious placements on that list. Now, I’m going to turn my attention to this year’s list, to see some of the differences I had with others. Wally took a stab at comparing my list to others earlier this month in a great mini-series, and with the help of that and some other resources, I’ve identified 24 players that I was considerably higher on than most other analysts. In this installment of the series, I’ll look at those 23 and identify some trends, and discuss which rankings I stand more firmly behind than others.

Robbie Erlin, #11

I got carried away here. Make no mistake–I still think Erlin is underrated–but he shouldn’t have been above the likes of Manny Machado, Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, and Devin Mesoraco. I’d probably have him around 25th if I did the list again, which is more “aggressively optimistic” than “insane.”

Cody Buckel, #19

Same deal as with Erlin here–Buckel is way overlooked and is a top 50 prospect to me, but I got too carried away with putting him this high.

Drew Hutchison, #20

Broadly speaking, this is the same sort of reach that Erlin and Buckel were, though I find I’m regretting it less, for some reason. Hutchison’s stuff seems to hold up better on closer inspection than Erlin’s or Buckel’s does, but that’s strictly a hunch, not some sort of scientific observation.

Anthony Gose, #22

Here’s something we didn’t see a whole lot in Part 1–me reaching on a tools guy. The only instance of that on the 2011 list was probably Rashun Dixon. I think it’s a good sign that my aggressive picks aren’t all strictly pitchers with 10 K/9 and 88 mph fastballs this year. I stand by this ranking, by the way, though Gose certainly has the bust potential to make it look stupid.

Joe Wieland, #24

I regretted this ranking from the moment I finalized the list, and dreaded unveiling it for weeks. Not that Wieland’s bad, but like Erlin, I’d roughly double his ranking if I redid the list. I’m not sure what compelled me to rank him this high, but I very quickly questioned whatever it was.

David Holmberg, #31

I’ll be keeping a very close eye on Holmberg’s progress this year. I’m pretty comfortable with this ranking, though I would’ve gotten uncomfortable with it if it were any higher. He’ll be an interesting test case, as a guy who basically had nothing left to prove in A-ball at age 20, but seems to lack huge projection.

Nestor Molina, #44

Here’s a tough player to rank. On one hand, the stats are incredible, and he’s got two good pitches. On the other, the stuff isn’t great, he’s a small guy with a high-effort delivery, and some like him better in relief. As with Holmberg, I’m fine with where I ranked Molina, but would sooner move him down 25 spots than up 10.

Miguel De Los Santos, #49

I must’ve missed the memo that nobody’s taking De Los Santos seriously as a prospect anymore. The guy has put up K/9 rates above 12 for basically his whole career, and his stuff is solid–yes, he walks too many, but I’m still betting on the upside. Given how all-over-the-place his numbers are, there’s a lot of ways to look at this guy, and I guess I picked a very optimistic one. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Ryan Lavarnway, #53

I’m surprised Lavarnway isn’t taken more seriously–you can’t do a whole lot more to prove yourself as a hitting prospect than slug .612 in the International League, and while he probably isn’t the greatest defensive catcher, he’s hardly Jesus Montero back there. This is where my ranking philosophy, which weights floor a bit more heavily than most due to attrition concerns, comes into play as well, as I like Lavarnway’s provenness.

Tim Wheeler, #56

I didn’t really give this ranking a second thought at the time, and in looking at the list, it doesn’t really stand out in a “WHAT? Tim Wheeler 56TH?!” sort of way, but the more I think about this, the less I like it. His high strikeout total, lack of doubles to go with his big homer numbers, age, and previous struggles make him more of a back-end top 100 guy to me.

Yordano Ventura, #57

Too optimistic. Upon reflecting, I’m convinced Ventura will face a move to relief at some point, so I’d probably drop him from the list if I did it now.

Jonathan Galvez, #58

Another tools bet. Not a whole lot to say on this other than that he’s a bigtime player to watch in 2012. I might do an article on him at some point.

Vinnie Catricala, #59

I love the bat. I think this guy is the new Lucas Duda–a player who put up huge numbers that few seemed to notice. There’s only a very select group of hitters–Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Jesus Montero, maybe Lavarnway, maybe a couple of others–that I’d take as surer bets to provide middle-of-the-order thump.

Tom Milone, #60

Man, I really got out of the box on this stretch, didn’t I? Milone’s the classic sort of player I love–he’s had tremendous numbers at every level, and he even did well in some brief MLB playing time. Since I weight floor so highly and am not as quick as others to brand a finesse with a “back-of-the-rotation ceiling,” it makes sense that I’d like Milone more than others. It’ll be interesting to see if he can post the mid-to-upper-3s ERAs I’m betting he can.

Keyvius Sampson, #62

There seem to be a lot of doubts about his ability to stay a starter, which makes sense given his size, delivery, and history of shoulder woes. I’m fine with my ranking here, but I understand why others have him in the 90-110 range.

Eric Surkamp, #64

I took a lot more time on this year’s list than I did on past ones, but still, stuff slipped through the cracks. Nowhere was that more evident than me (apparently) ranking Surkamp as the Giants’ best prospect, above Gary Brown (76). Yeah, I find Surkamp a bit underrated and Brown a bit overrated, but not to that extent. Whoops.

Steve Lombardozzi, #66

This is another instance where the high floor was attractive to me. If I did a more upside-based ranking, he wouldn’t be on the list.

Julio Rodriguez, #67

I’m torn on this one. Everything I seem to be hearing about Rodriguez this offseason is universally negative, as the reports of him throwing in the low-90s in 2010 seem to have dissipated. On the other hand, he did have a great age-20 season in High-A and has a long track record of dominance, in addition to a bit of projectability left. I’d probably be more cautious with him at this point.

Marcell Ozuna, #71

Tools again. It’s interesting that I feel much more comfortable with my rankings of these toolsier players, even if they’re still way higher than most.

Matt Lollis, #74

Explained here.

Brian Dozier, #77

Explained here.

Yorman Rodriguez, #79

Another tools/ARL bet. I go into a lot more detail about his possibilities here.

Maikel Cleto, #85

Just when you thought all my tools guys were hitters, I bust out the guy with the fastest velocity of 2011 MLB pitchers! I’m a huge Cleto fan and definitely stand by this; while there’s a chance he ends up in relief, there’s also a chance he becomes an impact starter, which more than justifies this spot to me.

Joel Carreno, #89

Carreno is in the same tier as Cleto and Dellin Betances (#88) in that they all have a high likelihood of ending up in relief, but something to recommend them as potentially valuable starters. In Carreno’s case, though, that optimism is centered more on stats than raw attributes, which makes his ranking more dubious than the others to most. I’m fine with it, though.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, there’s already some stuff I wish I could change. As much as I’ve learned about the scouting side of the game, I still clearly have a tendency to get wrapped up with statistically-dominant pitchers. That’s all well and good, but in more than a couple of cases (Surkamp, Erlin, Wieland, Buckel), it just got too ridiculous.

On the positive side, clearly my reach selections were not all just statistically-based, which I think makes the list work better. Also, my ranking philosophy certainly can explain some of the differences with guys like Milone, Lavarnway, Lombardozzi, and Dozier.

There are always things to refine, though as I showed in Parts 1 and 2, it’s a lot easier for your pessimism to prove correct than your optimism. By definition, these are thus unlikely to work out. I feel pretty confident at least a couple of them will look pretty smart a year from now, but time will tell, and I’ll certainly be revisiting in the future and learning from my mistakes.

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Tags: Anthony Gose Brian Dozier Cody Buckel David Holmberg Drew Hutchison Eric Surkamp Joe Wieland Joel Carreno Jonathan Galvez Julio Rodriguez Keyvius Sampson Maikel Cleto Marcell Ozuna Matt Lollis Miguel De Los Santos Nestor Molina Robbie Erlin Ryan Lavarnway Steve Lombardozzi Tim Wheeler Tom Milone Vinnie Catricala Yordano Ventura Yorman Rodriguez

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