Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Law list

Another day, another prospect ratings list. This one comes from Keith Law of ESPN (and formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays front office).

He has seven Twins prospects in the top 100 -- really, in the top 65: Miguel Sano (11), Byron Buxton (22), Kyle Gibson (41), Aaron Hicks (49), Oswaldo Arcia (59), Alex Meyer (61) and Eddie Rosario (65).

Law's stuff is behind ESPN's paywall, and I decided a while back that I contribute quite enough already to the ESPN Leviathan through my cable bill without popping for Insider status, so I'm not the guy to turn to for truly informed commentary on Law's analysis.

But the differences between his ratings and the others we've seen so far are strong enough to be worth discussing.

I don't know that anybody else thinks Hicks is a better prospect than Arcia; I surmise that Law is more sold on Hicks as a top-of-the-order table setter than the other list makers. Having Gibson well ahead of Meyer suggests that Law values Gibson's readiness more than the others do. And having Rosario that high indicates that Law (a) thinks Rosario will be a second baseman and/or (b) will retain the power he's displayed so far.

On Monday Law ranked the Twins farm system as the second best in the majors (behind St. Louis); Baseball America has the Twins system 10th and John Sickels ranks it seventh, so Law is more impressed with the Minnesota organization than those observers are. And since at least two of the BA guys have said the Twins have the best collection of hitting talent in the minors, that probably means Law thinks more highly of the pitching in the Twins system than they do.

Is there reason for that? Well, the Twins have spent a number of high picks the past two years on collegiate bullpen arms, some of whom they are trying as starters. If one or two of them do establish themselves as power-armed starters, the pitching depth in the system will be a lot better than it appears right now. I don't know that that's a particularly good bet; there are reasons guys like Luke Bard and Mason Melotakis were relievers in college.


  1. "I don't know that anybody else thinks Hicks is a better prospect than Arcia"

    There are plenty of people who think Hicks is a better prospect. He has a plus arm and plus range in center field. Arcia is a corner outfielder.

    Both have moderate to good power potential. Hicks has a lot more speed. Arcia has been a better hitter so far, but its not clear that he will be a better major league hitter. He needs to be a lot better to make up for the difference in defense and speed.

    Top 100 prospect lists are problematic at best. Its not even clear how you should evaluate their success 10 years from now. Anthony Swarzak was a Baseball America top 100 guy. Is he a success? Certainly compared to guys like Adam Johnson, JD Durbin and Michael Restovich.

    Denard Span never made a top 100 list. Neither did Trevor Plouffe. But Joe Benson did. In short, while these lists are entertaining, they aren't very good predictors of the Twins future.

  2. One of the reasons Bard and Melotakis were in the bullpen has to do with the nature of college baseball. It is a realitively short season with a lot of games piled together, sometimes really piled together because of weather. If you put your best arm or sometimes arms in the bullpen you can get them into as many as 3 games a week with perhaps a total of 6 or 7 innings. If you start them they probably aren't going to get more than that 6 or 7 innings a week anyway.

    As a bullpen guy, they will probably blow people away at the end of games and you can pick your situations when to use your best arms rather than have them locked into a rotation. Personally, I don't think the Twins have changed their philosphy on drafting so much, as college coaches have changed how they use their best arms.