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Minor League Players Of The Year

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on September 5, 2006

It seems like yesterday that we opened the 2006 baseball season with hope that the hometown club would accomplish several satisafying feats, such as challenging for a playoff berth, bettering the .500 mark and improving the status of the farm system.

Since the postseason is at least another year away and winning 81 or more games is looking less likely every day, let’s focus on what occured in the minor leagues this summer.

Position Player of the Year – Adam Jones, CF

Jones began the year as the system’s No. 2 prospect after a breakout season in 2005. He spent the majority of this season in Triple-A Tacoma and not only did the former first rounder impress, he took over the top spot on the list, edging out catcher Jeff Clement with a solid showing in the Pacific Coast League.

Jones, who turned 21 just five weeks ago, hit .287/.342/.484 with 16 home runs in 95 games. The right-handed hitting center fielder improved his game in all areas for the second straight season, showing off his ability to crush the fastball, make adjustments on the breaking ball and play a sound center field.

He has work to do both offensively and in the field, but Jones is well on his way to becoming exactly what the Mariners envisioned when they drafted him in the first round in 2003. Well, okay, not exactly – he was scouted as a shortstop whose second position was on the pitcher’s mound, but Jones has moved a lot quicker than originally expected, and has performed well at each level in the minors.

Adam Jones is the 2006 Prospect Insider M’s Minor League Player of the Year.

First baseman Bryan LaHair and outfielder Mike Wilson also received consideration.


Pitching Prospect of the Year – Mark Lowe, RHP

Lowe began the season in the California League and owned inferior competition to the tune of a 2.16 ERA and a 46-11 K/BB ratio. Cal Leaguers hit just .132 off the 23-year-old, quickly prompting the Mariners to challenge the former fifth rounder.

Nice try.

Lowe posted similar numbers with Double-A San Antonio in 11 games and 16 2/3 innings, again forcing the club to find a a way to make things a little tougher for the right-hander.

So, in attempt, again, to challenge Lowe, he was re-assigned to Triple-A Tacoma, where he’d ultimately spend the night in a Tacoma hotel, but never throw a pitch in a Rainiers uniform.

Lowe was immediately summoned to the big leagues, where he’d impress yet again, fanning 20 batters in his first 17 innings pitched, and showing off a fastball in the 97-99 mph range.  His nasty slider and plus change were too much for even big-league bats to handle.  Only a sore elbow could slow the 6-3, 200-pounder.
Lowe’s utter domination at three stops in the organization – including the big leagues – earned him this award, despite having some legit competition.  Combined, the Texas-Arlington product tossed 64 2/3 innings and allowed just 37 hits – only two home runs – and posted 80 strikeouts versus just 20 bases on balls.

He also put up a solid 1.44 G/F ratio and could turn all of this into another shot in the starting rotation somewhere down the line.

Lowe beat out Francisco Cruceta, who finished second in the minors with 185 strikeouts, Robert Rohrbaugh, Ryan Feierabend and Justin Thomas.

Coming up Wednesday Night: Breakthrough Player, Most Disappointing Prospect, Comeback Player and Defensive Player of the Year. The All-Prospect Team will be posted on Thursday night, though it shouldn’t reveal any surprises.

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21 Responses to “Minor League Players Of The Year”

  1. Willmore said

    Wow, surprising pick for pitcher of the year, for me at least. I would have thought you would go with one of the starters, but I see your point, Lowe has certainly been stellar, and one could hardly imagine a better season for him. Still, he is a reliever.

    Just a guess, but would most disappointing go to Tui ?

  2. If i was going purely on VALUE, a starter certainly would have gotten it. But Lowe was the best pitcher with the best stuff in the entire system this year, and the results reflected that, too.

  3. JD said

    Off the top of my head.

    Breakthrough – Mike Wilson, Ryan Feierabend
    Dissapointing – Tui, Clement (injured and rushed)
    Comeback – Travis Blackley, Baek, Snelling (more so in the MLB)
    Defensive – Don’t really know.

  4. Willmore said

    Jason, I would agree, but if Cruceta were a reliever, I would think that he could post numbers that were just as good, if not better. I have a hard time giving relievers too much credit for anything, because their performance is so shaky year-to-year and it is based on luck as much as ability more often than not. But a best picher category is so subjective, that anyone could certainly get it, and Mark Lowe is as good a candidate this year.

    Also, I would like to congratulate the Kaisers, and join in wishing them a long and fruitful partnership in marriage.

  5. Goose said

    I really hope these guys get significant playing time between now and the end of the year. With Hargrove, it’s unlikely to happen, but it would be nice.

    I’d like to see Crueceta take Felix’s starts in the rotation. Either that or Feirebend. Those two guys are gonna be fun to watch pitch I think.

    In a perfect world, Adam Jones would start stealing at bats away from Ichiro as well. Heck, I would even consider making Ichiro a bench player from here on out this season in favor of getting Jones at bats. But we all know that will never happen.

    Chick,Dobbs, and Jimenez….meh. If they don’t get alot of playing time, I won’t be complaining that much.

    Bohn and Navarro….probably just going to be defensive replacements anyways so…..

    I don’t consider Clement to be a dissapointment this season. Can’t really expect much out of a guy who shouldn’t of seen AAA until at least next year anyways. Not to mention he was coming back from surgery.

  6. dnc said

    Breakthrough – Cruceta? Lowe again? (I guarantee he would get it if somebody else got POY)
    Dissapointing – Tui, hands down
    Comeback – Blackley (since Snelling’s minor league comeback was uninspiring)
    Defensive – Navarro? (would have been Cabrera, one would think)

  7. Jerry said

    RE Clement,

    It is really hard to put his performance in context.

    In just 15 games at AA, he hit .288/.386/.525 before getting injured.

    I don’t think that those numbers – at that level – are at all beyond what he is capable of.

    If he had stayed at AA after returning from his injury, I think that he would be up there with the top 25 prospects in baseball.

    A case in point is Alex Gordon. He was the top college hitter coming out of the same draft class as Clement. Gordon hit .325/.427/.588 in AA, also in the Texas League. Those numbers are really impressive, but Gordon improved as the season went on, as he was at .301/.404/.511 before the allstar break. That is pretty close to Clement’s production in his limited time in the Texas League.

    I think that it is not unlikely that Clement would have put up big numbers in AA if he had not been promoted following his injury. Really, I think that his rate stats from early in the season are a pretty good guess at what he might have hit.

    Gordon is on the short list for the top prospects in all of baseball. Clement wouldn’t have equaled his numbers, but Gordon is probably going to end up at 1B or an OF corner, while Clement plays the toughest position on the diamond. If Clement had not been rushed to AAA, he would be right behind guys like Gordon among the top prospects in baseball.

    Clement had no business being in AAA for half the season. In fact, starting him at AA was even aggressive.

    I like how the M’s have challenged some players, but it has really bitten them in the ass on a few occasions (Tui, Johnson, Clement to name a few). Even Jones, who more than held his own in AAA, would have likely spent all of 2005 in the Cal League and all of 2006 in AA in most other organizations.

    There is some point behind the hyper-aggressive promotions. But it makes it really difficult to compare prospects. If Clement were in AA all year, would we be comparing him to the best prospects in baseball? The same question is pertinent to Jones.

    A good comp to Jones is AZ CF prospect Chris Young. Young hit .277/.377/.545 with 26 HRs in AA in 2005 and .276/.363/.532 with 21 Hrs in the PCL this year. Young and Jones are very similar types of players: super athletic CFers who often are compared to Mike Cameron. But Young was 21 last year and 22 this season. Jones is 2 years younger. If Jones had spent all of last year in the Cal League, and all of this year in San Antonio, his numbers would probably surpass Young’s, and he would still be a year younger.

    Although Baseball America and other authorities take age into consideration, Young was ranked the 23rd best prospect in baseball, while Jones was ranked 64th.

    Obviously, the job of the M’s farm system is to produce major league players, not top prospects. But it is really hard to compare M’s prospects to guys in any other organization because the stats are from dramatically different contexts.

    The most extreme example is Matt Tuiasosopo. He is likely to be considered the biggest bust in the organization. But Tui was drafted out of highschool in 2004, and held did pretty well in the Midwest League at age 19 last year. This year, he did pretty well in the Cal League at age 20, hitting .306/.359/.379 in the first half. He wasn’t hitting for the power that everyone expects from him. He has undeniable raw power, but his inside-out swing keeps him from driving the ball.

    If the M’s had left him at Inland Empire all year, he could have worked on addressing that weakness in his game. Why not have him work on extending his arms and getting leverage in a league where he was not having that much trouble making contact? At that point, he was still quite young for that level.

    Instead, the M’s promoted him to AA, where he was totally helpless, hitting .185/.259/.218! His K/BB ratio didn’t change much between the two levels, so there is a glimmer of hope. But he was totally incapable of making contact against advanced AA pitchers, and had only 5 (seriously, 5) extra base hits in the second half. I would be amazed if the guy has any confidence left at all. The worst thing is that the M’s wasted an opportunity to let Tui work on his game. How can you work on your weaknesses when you are completely and totally overmatched like this?

    Besides the fact that 2006 was a wasted year of development for Tuiasosopo, how do we really get a good grip on his status as a prospect. His numbers are putrid, but he had no business playing in AA this year in the first place. If he had stayed at High-A, and even if his numbers didn’t improve at all (which is unlikely), he would still be a pretty good prospect. The guy is only 20, so he still has time on his side.

    In evaluating where he is as a prospect, we should probably be talking about a young player who does everything well except hit for power, and speculate about when his doubles will start leaving the park. Instead, were talking about a guy who looks like a major bust.

    I like that the M’s are aggressive with their prospects. But sometimes I think that they take it way too far. And for the purposes of comparing the state of the M’s farm system versus other clubs, it is really difficult because most of the M’s position players are playing one (and sometimes two) levels ahead of similar prospects in other organizations.

  8. dnc said

    Who cares if the Mariners philosphy makes it hard to our prospects versus the rest of baseball. That shouldn’t even be a consideration, unless we’re looking showcase them for trades (which we’re clearly not doing in the case of Jones/Clement).

    The problem with our philosophy is we’re overpromoting some kids so fast they have no hopes of keeping up. Tui is the prime example here, Johnson and Rivera aren’t far behind, but I’d also throw in Jones in the big leagues, Cabrera before the trade, and Tillman to that group. Clement certainly belongs as well.

    I don’t understand the problem with letting a kid experience a little success.

  9. Oly Rainiers Fan said

    I think while it’s good to have a general philosophy, you can take it to far, as in apply it across the board to everybody. People are very different in how they respond to stress, and while one kid will thrive on the increased pressure of a too-quick promotion, another might lose confidence enough to really deal them a setback, possibly even career ending. That ends up making more of a statement on how they handle stress as opposed to whether they have the talent and ability to learn/enhance their skills (kind of like the equivalent of signing a guy for grittiness or composure as opposed to tools and abilities). I worry we might end up washing out some of the guys we need.

  10. taro said

    With Ichiro in CF I’m no longer even interested in the Adam Jones experiment. Jones in CF means Ichiro in RF and either Snelling out of the lineup or Sexson traded. We’d be looking at 2008 or beyond to contend in that scenario. The offense can take a 150 OPS downgrade at one position.

    I’d just as soon trade Beltre’s contract away and use convert convert Jones back to the infield in AAA for a year, or better yet, use him as a primary trade piece in a trade for a highly paid impact player.

  11. taro said

    No beef with Lowe as the #1 pitching prospect. Hes easily #1 and I hope we see HIM, and not crap like Baek and Woods, break the rotation in 2007.

  12. marc w. said

    Jerry,
    Gotta disagree a bit on Tui. I know I’ve been the biggest pessimist on the guy, and I’m sincerely hoping he proves me wrong. But after 2+ years of showing very little power, I think we may need to reevaluate his status as a legit power threat. His numbers in the cal league this year weren’t good; he had a lot of grounders go through for singles. Couple that with his long overdue position shift, and we’ve got a corner IF/OF with zero power. You rightly point out that he was young relative to the league, but then, so were guys like Asdrubal Cabrera, Jones, etc. Those guys saw their average fluctuate, but they hit for a bit of power (as one should in the Cal League). I would’ve been fine with calling him overmatched temporarily if he was hitting .150 but making his hits go a bit further when he got them. As it stands, I think people may be giving him a pass based purely on his draft position and athleticism. I think for a guy who’s had a lot of hype and a lot of expectations, he’s GOT to be the disappointment of the year. He’s done worse at the same age as a number of less-heralded prospects, and the one tool he absolutely has to have is nowhere to be found. As for power being his only problem, um, defense? And he’s clearly not gotten the hang of plate discipline either, as he strikes out a lot too. He had a .400+ BABIP in IE, and that’s about it for what went right for him this year. I’d love it if his doubles started leaving the park, but at this point I’d settle for some doubles, period.
    I agree that the M’s will take him off the fasttrack and let him regroup a little. I’m hoping that the AFL experience will be beneficial, though to be fair, it didn’t really help Clint Nageotte…
    With Clement, many of the same concerns apply. You’re probably right that he’s adjusted his swing after the injury or to deal with quality AAA pitching, but when Ismael Castro, AsCab, Scott Youngbauer etc. are putting up better power numbers, something isn’t right. I don’t care about his low average; I’d expect him to struggle to make contact against advanced pitching. But I’m just not sure what to make of his amazingly low XBH percentage. Or the fact that he’s hitting so many grounders. For his pro experience, he’s clearly not the most disappointing prospect, but his tenure in Tacoma is moderately troubling. Remember, it’s not THAT rare for a polished college hitter to move up the ranks this fast. Ryan Zimmerman was in Washington in 05, and Evan Longoria is in AA despite being drafted in June. So yes, he’s been promoted aggressively, but not remarkably so – and as an aside, I think Alex Gordon’s being pushed criminally slowly. What the hell are they waiting for?

    Other contenders for most disappointing: Jesse Foppert, Clint Nageotte
    Comeback: Travis Blackley.
    Breakthrough: Cruceta
    Defensive: AsCab (oops, nope), um, Navarro?

  13. Jerry said

    Mark,

    I think that there is some basis to your comments about the failings of Tui and Clement. However, how can you really make any conclusions about a players strengths and weaknesses when that player is totally overmatched? That is exactly the problem that I was talking about earlier.

    All of the stats that you listed for both Clement and Tui are nearly worthless for estimating the players value. For us bloggers, who don’t get to see these players very often and don’t get to talk to scouts, it becomes nearly impossible to come up with any sort of meaningful analysis. Although I think that your comments about Tui and Clements peripheral stats (XBH%, ect) you simply cannot get away from the fact that neither player should have been there in the first place.

    It would be like taking Adam Jones’ stats from Seattle and criticizing him for his lack of power, his inability to draw walks, his problems making contact, etc. With Jones he passed the AAA sink/swim test, so we can look at his stats from there. But even that promotion was probably too aggressive.

    The fact that guys like Zimmerman and Tulo are moving faster than Clement is really irrelevant. Everybody knew that those two would move fast. Clement’s value is in his upside, and the fact that he offers a power bat from a position where that is really really rare. Everyone knew that Clement had defensive issues to work on. He just wasn’t an untra-polished prospect. When the Nats drafted Zimmerman, the fact that he was ready to play at a ML level immediately was a huge part of his value, because his upside is a lot lower than other players in that same draft (like Cameron Maybin).

    The thing that is the most frustrating for me is that these promotions are pointless.

    In Tuiasosopo’s case, you have a player who has a major issue to address in his swing. He also could needs to refine his approach at the plate. He has been a position switch waiting to happen since the day he signed. He has huge raw power, great tools all around, and a lot of potential. But he is exactly the type of guy that you have to be patient with. Why promote him to AA when he was already very young for his age? Why promote him when he was not dominant? Why promote him when you know that you will have to move him to a position he has never played before? It was just stupid.

    With Clement, you have a player who you knew would need some time to work on his defense. His position is so important that you can’t really rush the guy and let him learn on the job. The best way to do that would be to put him in a league where he will hit (like Inland Empire) and let him focus on catching. Instead, they move him to AA. That was not a huge issue, because he seemed to be hitting early on. But why promote him again, before he even got a chance to hit in AA for a decent period of time? What is the rationale behind promoting a guy to AAA in his first full pro season after he is coming back from two surgeries? The M’s have a very good catcher locked up for the next three years, have a decent defensive player in Rivera as a backup, have an even better backup option in Quiroz, and have a promising guy in Rob Johnson ahead of Clement. There is just no reason to do that.

    With Jones, you have the one success story (if we ignore the Seattle promotion debacle). But even with him, everyone in the league was scratching their heads when he was promoted to AA last season. Starting him in AAA was also a suprise. At each of those levels, he was hitting pretty well, but he was not dominant.

    I can understand promoting a player really quickly if he forces the issue. None of these players did that. Only Jones was even holding his own. All three had major hurdles to get over defensively.

    I just don’t get it.

    But we should be careful about labelling guys like Tui and Clement disappointments. Both were playing at least a level higher than their specific cases warranted.

    If you push any prospect too far, they will look like shit. If that was what the M’s were trying to do, they succeeded.

  14. marc w. said

    I don’t agree that Jones was the only success story. Asdrubal Cabrera is the same age as Tui, and was a teammate in Wisconsin a few years ago. Since that time, he was promoted aggressively and ended up in AAA at 20 (along with Jones). That made him a pretty valuable commodity, and it’s the sort of thing that allows you to reap the benefits of certain players earlier than you otherwise would – it’s why Snelling was up in MLB at 20, or why Raffy Soriano was plucked out of AA and placed in the M’s bullpen years ago – same goes for Mark Lowe. It’s not all bad; they don’t always look overmatched, and sorting out who does/doesn’t and at what level they stop succeeding is important data. It’s not the ONLY thing; you’re right that this might seriously impact a prospect’s confidence. But it’s a defensible strategy, and hasn’t been some sort of disaster. Jones and Livingston languishing on the bench in Seattle for weeks at a time, THAT’S indefensible.

    In Tui’s case, I’m wondering if they didn’t do it to really hammer home the point that his swing needed an overhaul. His ISOs were in Domingo Ramos territory, but I can imagine a young kid going ‘yeah, I’m hitting .300!’ Now it’s clear that they’re going to have to recreate his swing from scratch, and I bet Tui will be a lot more willing to listen. Maybe that’s a needlessly cruel way to do things, or maybe it’s genius. I don’t know. But while I agree Tui’s been overmatched, I don’t agree that we can’t take anything from it. I think what we take from it is that he’s going to have to reinvent himself – at A, AA or wherever – to succeed. That’s what makes him such a disappointment. He’s an athlete that’s going to need to relearn baseball, and I think we all thought his pure baseball skills would translate better in the pro game. I think it’s safe to say at this point we overestimated those skills – at least *at this point*.

    With Clement, yes, he was doing exactly what you’d expect in AA, but a guy who’s hitting that well at AA, at 22 or whatever, probably shouldn’t be hopelessly overmatched at AAA. I think the numbers and his swing (I’ve seen him a lot in AAA) show that he’s trying a different approach either to (subconsciously) avoid pain or to gain some understanding of the pitchers a bit more. I mean, his average has improved each month, even as his slugging drops. That’s not the same guy who was hitting .290/.520 in AA. It’s just so patently unnecessary; I’m really hoping the M’s or the R’s staff aren’t getting on him for striking out. We simply don’t need him to be a contact hitter; we need his power. I don’t know why he’s looking like he’s trying to sacrifice the latter for the former. I agree, though, that it’s probably not going to matter in a year or two, but it seems overly defensive to say it’s not a bit of a disappointment. A very slight one, yeah, but it’s there. Note that this is totally different than the Tui case: I’m not saying Clement isn’t a good prospect, or that he’s overrated in the M’s system or nationally. He just had a disappointing second half, which probably won’t carry over all that much.

  15. Jerry said

    Marc,

    Again, I am not against promotions if the player forces them.

    Asdrubal Cabrera was putting up really good numbers in High-A last year, so his promotion to AA wasn’t that crazy. Tacoma…well, that was a suprise. And Drubie didn’t exactly paint the league red when he got there.

    I think that each player needs to be treated as a separate case, regardless of age. If a player isn’t raking, a mid-season promotion doesn’t make sense. Thats what happened with Snelling, Soriano, and, most recently, Lowe: they forced the club to give them a shot.

    But I am more conservative than the guys running the M’s farm system.

    And I have to admit, it worked out well with Lowe.

  16. Since these awards are for “Pitching Prospect of the Year” and “Position Player ‘Prospect’ of the Year” and not just MVP, POY, etc, Cruceta loses out.

    Plus, as good as he was, he did post a 4+ ERA in a pitcher’s park.

  17. Edman said

    I find it funny that some defend the “baby steps” way through the minors. That use to be the M’s standard operating proceedure, regardless of ability. They seldom strayed from it. Tell me, just how many prospect flurished under that system?

    You think it’s tough jumping to AAA ball from high A? Just how easy is it to jump from AAA to the bigs? I support pushing your top prospects. It’s only going to help them when it comes time to move to the majors. They’ll have experience dealing with a bit of failure. They’ll learn from it.

    I’d rather do that, than to have a guy cruise slowly through the minors, never challenged, only to get to the bigs and feel buried.

    You have to separate the good ones from the bad. Better to find out before they get to the big leagues…..than after. Personally, I’ve seen way too many kids struggle when they get here….not knowing how to adjust. I believe it will pay off. It’s hard to watch, but it’s not necessarily bad.

  18. Jerry said

    Edman,

    There is not a shred of evidence that supports your claim that pushing players quickly helps them eventually make the jump to the big leagues.

    If you look around baseball, the M’s are promoting players much more aggressively than any other club. This is mainly within the minor leagues, as the club doesn’t usually skip players straight from AA to Seattle (Lowe being the exception).

    Look at the guys that have been pushed aggressively this year: Matt Tuiasosopo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Adam Jones, Rob Johnson, and Jeff Clement. Only Jones had success (well, until they promoted him to Seattle, where he floundered). Tui, Cabrera, and Johnson had seasons that were utter failures.

    That whole ‘let them experience failure now’ argument just doesn’t work as a blanket policy. You have to evaluate each player on a case by case basis. Anthony Butler is a pretty good example: he pitched much better than expected, and earned his early promotion to the NW league.

    Rob Johnson, on the other hand, was pushed way too hard. Johnson had a decent year at Wisconsin last season (.272/.319/.430). He got a late season promotion to High-A Inland Empire, and did well in a short stay there (.314/.381/.443. in 19 games). The guy was officially a decent prospect after that unexpectedly good season.

    Now, the M’s should have started him back in High-A. He only played 19 games there in 2005. The Cal League is a good hitters league, so Johnson probably would have had good numbers to start the season there. THEN, then M’s could have challenged him with a promotion to AA. That jump is usually a difficult one for hitters, as the Texas League has a lot more pitching talent.

    Instead, what do the M’s do? They jump him up to AAA to start the season. Johnson essentially skipped two whole levels (because he hardly played in High-A at all). In his second full minor league season, the M’s jumped him from Low-A to AAA. What happened? He hit a putrid .231/.261/.318, with no power and a huge spike in K’s. He was completely, totally, 100% overmatched. How can you improve as a player when you that lost?

    You could take the above paragraphs and replace “Rob Johnson” with “Asdrubal
    Cabrera”, and insert Cabrera’s stats, and arrive at exactly the same conclusion. Cabrera was an even better prospect, and now he has been reduced to trade bait for an old RH platoon DH. Nice.

    The one thing that you seem unable to grasp is Corey Patterson syndrome. When you push a player too fast, he can’t work on fundamentals. With Patterson, the Cubs rushed him through the minors and to the big leagues way too quickly. He never had the chance to develop any semblance of plate discipline, and he was totally unable to deal with major league pitching. Five years later, he is finally holding his own, but his lack of hitting fundamentals has really limited his value. He could have been a #3 hitter. Instead, he is the second coming of Preston Wilson.

    Really, you can see the effects of this hyper aggressive policy already. The M’s biggest weakness as a team is that they lack guys who can work counts, make pitchers work, and get on base. We have a team full of hackers: Betancourt, Lopez, Johjima etc. I you have watched Snelling play lately, it really reinforces how much this team lacks patient, professional hitters.

    That type of approach is a skill that can be learned. It is something that players have to work on. Unfortunately, you can’t teach young hitters to work counts when they are 20 years old and in AAA after one full season in pro ball. When you take a player and put him into a league that he is not ready for, he will end up doing whatever he can to keep his head above water. That is not conducive to working on fundamentals and shoring up weaknesses in your game.

    I have not even mentioned trade value and service time. When you rush prospect until they fail miserably, you really hurt their trade value. Asdrubal Cabrera is a prime example. Also, when you rush guys like Jones to the big league way too early, you force them to learn basic skills while their arbitration clock is ticking. If the M’s go with Jones in Seattle next year, he is not likely to start to really play to his potential until he is 23 or so. By that time, he will be getting expensive. By the time he enters the beginning of his prime years – 26 to 27 – he will be either gone in free agency of really expensive.

    I just don’t see the wisdom in this philosophy.

  19. Edman said

    Really, Jerry? You’ve done an analysis of how fast players move in other systems? Me thinks you’re making stuff up, to fit your perception.

    I sure as hell don’t know, and I doubt you do.

  20. Jerry said

    No, I haven’t done a statistical analysis or anything.

    My point was that you were just talking, and not backing up anything you said with any sort of data. You are the one preaching the value of rushing prospects, so it is on you to show that it is working.

    I backed up my commnets by looking at prospects in the system who absolutely fell apart this year. Tui, Clement, Johnson, and Cabrera were all among the top 10 prospects in our system, and all were varying degrees of disappointing this year.

    If you think that promoting prospects until they fail miserably is a good tactic, prove it.

  21. marc w. said

    As I said Jerry, it’s perfectly defensible if you don’t get too bent out of shape when a top prospect hits .230 or so in AAA. I don’t mind that one bit. And for as bad as AsCab’s average was, he was getting on base at a very reasonable clip. I just don’t buy the argument that a prospect can’t move up until he hits .320+ at any stop. It’s been exciting to see how many guys have been able to separate themselves and flash potential we didn’t really knew they had. Look at Jones – most thought he was a raw athlete who might develop 20HR power down the line, and oh, he’d have to learn a new position. I think the M’s promotion of him resulted in his stock rising to well in the top 50 prospects in all of baseball. It’s now clear his ceiling is 30HR+ at his peak, and he even flashed some good instincts in CF (though he’s still raw).
    I know I was the hardest on the trade of AsCab, but that had more to do with Bavasi *really needing* a RH DH guy, and overpaying thanks to the fact that Carl Everett was sucking up outs in the middle of the M’s line-up. I never would’ve made that trade, but Cabrera’s promotion schedule has nothing to do with it.
    Look at it this way – instead of Clement/Johnson struggling at their first taste of AAA in 2007 or 2008, they’ll be repeating the league, and they should be expected to improve big time.

    As for other systems, look at what the White Sox do – they started Ryan Sweeney last night at age 21 (he skipped low A), and they’ve done virtually the same with guy he was replacing, Brian Anderson. Skipping a level isn’t that unheard of, and while it’s weirder for guys like Johnson skipping AA, he’s sort of a special case – the M’s may have wanted to pair him with specific coaches and pitchers. Further, so many teams seem to veer from one philosophy to the other on a whim. Look at KC, and what they did with guys like Greinke and Angel Berroa, and then compare that to what they did with Justin Huber, Butler, and Alex Gordon. Does anyone hear NOT think Alex Gordon’s ready for AAA? What has it got them? I think the M’s are to be commended for at least having a plan; now they’ll have some data to look at and evaluate the success/failure of their approach.
    I think the M’s approach is, on balance, working, though we’re years away from the data on that. I’d love to point to the great pitching we got for Choo and AsCab, but I can’t do that – though again, that’s more to do with emergent needs and Bavasi’s own dealmaking prowess, but I see more successes than failures: LaHair, Navarro, Huber, Lowe, Jones, Livingston (last year), Cabrera, O’Flaherty, etc. all more than make up for Tui and Johnson (and even his inclusion is debatable).

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