Hitting prospects 2010

The formula here is total bases plus walks plus steals for a point total. Then an adjusted point total is divided by games, for a score.

Let me briefly explain the adjustment, which subtracts games (or one point per game) from total points. I did something similar for major league hitters, when I noticed that (for example) Ryan Theriot’s point total was 58% of Albert Pujols’. Theriot’s game is not 58% of Pujols’ game. In terms of salary, Theriot is worth about $5 million–he’s still under club control so he doesn’t earn what he is worth–while Pujols is on the verge of a contract for $25-30 million/year. So Theriot equals 20% of Pujols, at best. To have my formula reflect that ratio, I had to subtract an equal number of points from both players. I used the number 200, a little arbitrary, and slightly more than a point per game; but the concept was that there is a certain point value that reflects minimal competence and is not recompensed. Neither Theriot nor Pujols gets paid for that level of competence.

Similarly with minor-leaguers, a minimal competence keeps you on the team and might get you promoted in the offseason most years, but does not put you on the parent team’s radar. You are roster-filler, not a prospect, unless something is left over after I subtract one point (i.e., one total base, walk or steal) per game.

Notes 18 May:

Matt Spencer, lefty-hitting 1B/OF acquired from Oakland in the Fox deal, was a good acquisition.

Justin Bour, lefty-hitting first baseman for Peoria, is the minor-league “rookie” (first full year in pro ball) highest in the rankings.

Darwin Barney has a nice BA at Iowa but his hits are mostly singles and he doesn’t walk or steal much. This holds his score down. Hak-Ju Lee has a low BA but a fair number of walks and steals, so he scores higher than Barney.

When you think about trading major-leaguers, you look at the pressure that is being generated below them in the organization. I have been saying that Theriot is tradeable–and certainly Castro brushed him aside easily–but nobody in the system seems to want Theriot’s second-base job. I was expecting better seasons out of Flaherty and LeMahieu, and I thought Lee and Watkins would be in a bigger rush. Theriot can continue to hold off Scales and Barney.

The real pressure is in the outfield and behind the plate. Six of the top eight hitting prospects here are outfielders, while #2 and #12 are catchers. Accordingly, I expect Fukudome to be traded any month now, and I continue to believe that Geovany Soto is prime trade bait. The fact that a player is hitting well makes a trade more, not less, likely.

Notes 23 May:

Players on the move this week are Welington Castillo, up from 11th on the list to #5; Hak-Ju Lee, up from 15 to 11; and D.J. Fitzgerald, who moved from 21 to 12 and is challenging Bour for the title of “rookie prospect of the year.”

I’m skipping Starlin Castro, of course, when I count down from the top of the list, since he’s a major leaguer now; but it’s instructive to show the point total and the score that got him the big promotion.

Notes 31 May:

Moving up: Flaherty, from #26 (.65) to #20 (.91); LeMahieu, from #31 (.40) to #27 (.71).

Moving down: Vitters, from #15 (1.05) to #23 (.81).

Added to list: Ha, Ramirez, Guzman, Morelli

Notes 7 June:

Moving up: Charles Thomas, from #35 to #23; DJ Fitzgerald, 17 to 8

Moving down: Josh Vitters, from #22 to 30; Darwin Barney, 20 to 27.

Notes 14 June:

Brett Jackson has jumped ahead of Chirinos and Snyder into first place (not counting Castro, of course). Brandon Guyer went from #10 to #4.

Dropping: Campana dropped from #5 to #8, Castillo from 6 to 10.

Notes 21 June:

Guyer up this week from #5 to #3 (Castro doesn’t count), and from a score of 1.29 to 1.50. Jae-Hoon Ha does not have many at-bats, and was able to jump from 13 to 5. Tony Thomas up from 25 to 20.

Notes 3 July:

While moving up to double A, Jackson has raised his score a whopping .20 points, blowing past Starlin Castro. I had kept Castro on the board partly because I thought his 1.88 was insurmountable. All hail Brett Jackson! At this rate, the Cubs will have to trade Marlon Byrd or sit “the untradeable One.”

Chirinos and Castillo are now second and sixth in this offensive ranking of Cub prospects. Castillo has to be considered the catcher of the not-too-distant future.

Notes 13 July:

Moving up: LaHair, 14 to 5; Fitzgerald, 16 to 8

Moving down: Castillo, 6-14; Spencer, 7-22; Hoffpauir, 8-16; Canzler, 13 to 20

Notes 24 July:

Ha moving down from #6 to 18.

Lee moving up from 16 to 8. That puts two Theriot challengers in the top ten, since Tony Thomas is now #10. Watkins up from 25 to 20.

Notes 26 August:

Marquez Smith’s score jumps from 0.84 to 1.05. He moves from #27 in the rankings to 13.

Among Peoria hitters, Bour is first at 1.18, followed by Lee at 1.07, then Fitzgerald, Ha, Cerda and Watkins bunched between 1.03 and 0.92.