It is with great honor I submit to the fantastic readers of Razzball my first prospect-centered column. The concept will be a fun one for anybody looking forward to Ralph’s prospect omnibus that will drop in the coming days (stay tuned!).
Two prominent lists dropped in the last few weeks. One comes from Fangraphs, the other comes from Baseball America. Below I look at a few players with large differentials between the two lists. This gets tricky with players who are on one list and not on another, but I made it work.
Before we launch ourselves into the prospect stratosphere, a few logistics…
- Fangraphs’ list (FG)
- Baseball America’s list (BA)
- Note 1: Both of these lists are NOT constructed with fantasy baseball in mind. Does that confuse things for your dynasty league? Yes. But prospect value and dynasty value have a strong correlation to one another with some exceptions (catchers, defense, etc.).
- Note 2: As with all prospect lists, the difference between 10 and 20 overall is very different from 70 and 80 overall. Nit-picking slots if both players are outside the top 75 is a tedious activity with little reward.
- Note 3: Fangraphs ranks 131 players. Baseball America ranks only 100. Fangraphs also includes 2018 draft picks, while Baseball America is waiting for the signing deadline to pass to update their list. There are about 10-15 players from the draft deserving of top-100 ranks. Since Fangraphs ranked an extra 31 players, the adjustment needed when I calculate +/- differences below is minimal and therefore dismissed for the sake of simplicity.
- Note 4: The narratives below each playe are my thoughts and my thoughts alone. As for reasoning why each organization ranked each player in said manner, I cannot provide anything more than speculation.
- Note 5: Each player will end with a “Who do I side with?” decision. For this exercise, I picked one rank or the other that I liked better – no in-between. As I am generally an indecisive person, this was excruciatingly difficult, and I presume, entertaining for all.
- Note 6: Two players graduated on FG’s list and not BA’s: Alex Reyes and Ryan McMahon.
Jo Adell, OF, LAA — 59th overall on FG, 13th overall on BA — BA 46 spots higher
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) June 27, 2018
Guessing the thought process behind ranks for either list is difficult and likely misleading. So let’s try it anyways. It seems like the scouts returning the “big time” grades on Adell are not the scouts who the crew at Fangraphs sourced when gaining more information on Adell. Either that or Fangraphs is hedging for some of the risk embedded in every 19-year-old prospect with less than 200 plate appearances in High-A.
Inflation in Adell’s stock comes from the quick application of his future 70-grade raw power. While it’s easy to scorn the nine teams that passed on him in 2017, if you told each of those teams his power would showcase this quickly, he would have been neck-and-neck with the no. 1 overall pick, Royce Lewis.
I cringe as I say the words “Lewis Brinson” in tandem with Adell for who I am reminded of. If you reframe that sentence and say Adell could be what we hoped Brinson would be from day one in the major leagues, it makes me more comfortable. Regardless, it’s a loaded comparison given Brinson’s track record in the majors so far. Adell already has 16 home runs in 60 games entering Sunday, July 1. Brinson’s minor league high was 21 back in 2013. The difference? Brinson played in 62 more games.
Who do I side with? Baseball America
Adrian Morejon, LHP, SD — 106th overall on FG, 24th overall on BA — BA 82 spots higher
Last summer, I witnessed the worst start of Morejon’s career in the minor leagues. Situations like this leave observers in one of two states: struggling to come away with positives or forcing the discovery of positives. Where you land on that spectrum comes from your expectations prior to first pitch. Morejon, at the time, was an 18-year-old lefty with a feel changeup as his primary offspeed pitch. While many considered his feel for that pitch unprecedented for his age, he didn’t throw gas to give on-lookers a characteristic to be wooed by if everything else fell apart. That said, I came away a little bit disappointed with what I saw.
Thankfully, development occurs with most prospects. Now in High-A, Morejon seems to be settling in extremely well. He has posted a 26:6 strikeout to walk ratio in his past three starts, eclipsing at least five innings in every outing since the middle of April. His strikeouts are also up substantially from his sub-30-inning sample in Fort Wayne, which provides some helium to the assumption that three average to slightly above average pitches can result in higher upside, even if it’s solely because of this volatile characteristic we call “youth”. I really struggle with which site I sided with due to how large the disparity in ranking Morejon is.
Who do I side with? Fangraphs
Luiz Gohara, LHP, ATL — 26th overall on FG, 72nd overall on BA — FG 46 spots lower
Gohara is the oldest of the players highlighted in this column… at only 21 years old. Three of the biggest differentials between these two lists come on players who are only 19 years old. In youth, there is uncertainty, and therefore, difference of opinion. We still overlook, however, how advanced Gohara is for his age, even with his recent struggles. Five starts at the major league level in 2017 presented us with success on the back of only a plus slider. His fastball didn’t grade out well and we confirmed how raw his changeup really was. But his peripherals looked decent and he was generating an exceptional rate of swinging strikes.
Fast-forward to 2018 and even without his health concerns, we were presented with an even rawer changeup than we initially saw, some squaring up of his plus slider, and a fastball that graded out slightly better. This is to say, pretty much everything changed with Gohara. Determining whether his command edges to average is where the baseline for his ranking starts, before you even consider whether his changeup can reach the plateau of average as well. Fangraphs seems to land more favorably on this factor than Baseball America.
Who do I side with? Baseball America
Christian Pache, OF, ATL — 28th overall on FG, not ranked on BA — FG at least 73 spots higher
The only player inside each site’s top 40 to not appear on both lists is Pache. He’s easily the most interesting prospect in baseball. He possesses three tools that presently grade out as elite or near-elite: speed, arm and fielding ability. The tools that matter most for fantasy – hit and power – are both in the development stages of his career. At only 19 years old, however, if one projects with partial optimism him figuring out how he becomes even a slightly below average hitter at the major league level, he can be the same defensive advantage that has kept Billy Hamilton in a major league lineup for (almost) the entirety of his career. Fangraphs has provided a Kevin Pillar comparison multiple times in chats they conduct with readers, creating even more confusion for the average fantasy owner trying to value a commodity whose fourth- and fifth-best tools primarily dictate his value.
I wrote this offseason about Pache and the potential for his swing to become more Acuna-like in the coming years. (That sentence may come back to haunt me.) His swing was extremely level, conducive to line drives and ground balls, confirmed by his lack of a single professional home run in 750+ plate appearances, a streak broken this season. Even more confusing were the two home runs he hit this spring… in one game. If I could ask for one thing from Pache, it would be for the intrigue around him to sustain. The industry – especially writers – need perplexing players for days when column ideas are few.
Who do I side with? Fangraphs
- Keibert Ruiz, C, LAD — 65th overall on FG, 28th on BA — BA 37 spots higher
- Franklin Perez, RHP, DET — 115th overall on FG, 42th on BA — BA 73 spots higher
- Corbin Burnes, RHP, MIL — 27th overall on FG, 61th on BA — FG 34 spots higher
- Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT — 42nd overall on FG, not ranked on BA — FG at least 58 spots higher
I wonder how BA and FG would rank me on Twitter… – @LanceBrozdow