We recently released our Dynasty Team Top 100 Prospect Rankings. After sifting through the the Staff Consensus Prospect Rankings, I identified the players below as players I was low on. In the following list, the first number listed will be the consensus staff ranking, while the second number will be my personal ranking. The entire list can be found here. This week, I will be releasing a piece on players I was higher on than the rest of the crowd. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at where I was right and everybody else was wrong:
PLAYERS I AM LOWER ON
CJ Abrams, SS, SDP
My Rank 45/ Average Rank 25
Before we break out the pitchforks and torches, my rank is not an indictment of Abrams skillset. To be clear, Abram’s uber talented, boasting high octane speed with an intriguing bat-to-ball skill that was on full display during his first 150 at bats in rookie ball. He’s my #5 prospect in first year player drafts. That is good! My argument, in a nutshell, is the development tract, rawness in the hit tool, a question of position, and an aversion approach to shoving players to the top of lists based on small sample size.
If you want to call it fading (and again, I don’t really feel as if I am), here is why I ranked him into the 45th slot. With an ETA about 3 full seasons away, you are relying on a 19 year old high school product whose hit tool has a long ways to go if it is to be fully actualized. I am suspect on his ability to stay in the infield given the insane amount of depth the Padres have in the system. Does anyone really believe that Abrams will move Manny Machado off of 3rd or Fernando Tatis Jr. off of short? There are at least 3 other established names in the Padres system who are enticing to fill the keystone slot. If he has to learn the outfield, it’s not insurmountable, but it’s not ideal.
Coming into mock first year player drafts, it wasn’t really a question that Bobby Witt Jr. was a better product. However, with his struggles in the Arizona Fall League coupled with Abrams’ immediate success, the field seemed to flip flop on their belief-to-suspect ratio. That seems reactionary. Maybe I’ll end up being wrong, but I’m not going to overpay for a 19-year-old because he performed well over 150 plate appearances against names like Robin Vazquez, Peyton Long, Miguel Lar, Karlos Ruiz, and Keegan McCarville. Never heard of those guys? Yeah, me neither. Also, I made one of those names up, but I’m guessing you didn’t even know.
Mitch Keller, P, PIT
My Rank 73 / Average Rank 58
Oh, Mitch. What am I going to do with you? I was very high on Keller for a couple years before fellow writer Shelly Verougstraete started dumping cold water all over the righty. Keller’s stuff is…good? If you’ve read my articles before, you know I value players on a few things. One of my primary considerations is the system that is tasked with developing said player. It’s been long since the days of Ray Searage, pitcher whisperer, and many of the Buc’s pitchers (Musgrove, Taillon, Glasnow, Archer) have faltered or failed to live up to expectations. Keller is just another beat on the death march drum of Pirates pitchers displaying good stuff only to be brought down by middling results.
Keller carries two pitches which proved to be nasty in the minors: a four-seam fastball and a curveball. In his debut, te 95 MPH heaters results were, in a phrase, vomit inducing. Despite a very strong K/9 ratio, Keller’s four seamer led the league (minimum 440 offerings) in BABIP at .591, which in turn led to a .633 wOBA. He’s not this bad, but there’s a question of if he’s as good as we thought.
If Keller winds up as a rosterable starting pitcher with a respectable K/9, 4+ ERA who – despite his metrics never really harnesses his true ability because his four seamer continuously gets battered…oh…oh God… he’s Chris Archer.
Brandon Marsh, OF, LAA
My Rank 76 / Average Rank 60
Hello, there. May I interest you in a fourth outfielder who hits for a small amount of power (15-20 HR) and small amount of speed (5-10 SB)? If you’re betting on him to his more than 20 HR, you’re likely going to wind up disappointed. Marsh has posted GB% of more than 46% at every stop along the way. Somehow it became worse in his 2019 Double A stint when, over 400 PA, he posted 52.6%. Do you anticipate him stealing more than a handful of bases a year? The ratios on caught stealing aren’t super friendly to your argument. Do you like Nomar Mazara? Because he feels a lot like a slightly faster Nomar Mazara.
GUYS I DIDN’T RANK WHEN MOST OTHERS DID
JJ Bleday, OF, MIA
Average Rank 51 / # WHO RANKED HIM 9
In retrospect, I am underappreciating Bleday. In first year player drafts, I largely ignored the college bat and preferred to ogle over names like Andrew Vaughn, Bobby Witt Jr., CJ Abrams, Jasson Dominguez, and Adley Rutschman. I’m not sure if this speaks to the potential star power at the top or the type of skillset Bleday seems to provide.
Bleday struggled to begin his career at Vanderbilt before bubbling up during his sophomore stint and subsequently exploding as a junior displaying some real power. He’s going to need it too as all signs point to a corner outfield profile. Bleday has no speed to speak of and he isn’t much of a fielder. In the scouting videos I’ve seen, Bleday has a lot of motion in his hands which cause me to wonder how the power will translate against off-speed stuff. A history of core injuries scares me a bit and give me a bit of pause as well. In the end, however, if you want to tell me I was wrong to have not ranked him, I would probably say you’re right.
Logan Gilbert, P, SEA
Average Rank 61 / # WHO RANKED HIM 10
Admittedly, I am a height snob with pitchers. I’m assigning you, the reader, a bit of homework. Take about 5-10 minutes to read Eli Ben-Porat’s seminal work done in The Hardball Times The Increasing Importance of Pitcher Height. TL;DR? There is no benefit to pitcher height. The optimal height for pitchers is 6-foot-4 with diminishing results in categories like swinging strike, spin rate, and movement.
How many pitchers are taller than 6’5”? Of the 151 starters listed in RosterResource at the moment only 8 are monster humans. Kyle Gibson (6’6”), Tyler Glasnow (6’10”), Jordan Montgomery (6’6”), Lucas Giolito (6’6”), Chris Sale (6’6”), Noah Syndergaard (6’6”), Zack Eflin (6’6”), and Adam Wainwright (6’7”). How many of those players have had significant/chronic injuries before their age 30 season and/or have well documented struggled with their mechanics? All but (maybe) one.
Yes, Gilbert is a giant human. That shouldn’t preclude me from ranking him in the top 100 one its own. By all reports, he’s been pretty sound with his mechanics and he offers four good (but not great) pitches. He’s a college arm that might debut this year. These are all good signs!
Like Seattle, however, I shall continue to rain on any parade. Let’s go back to the history of a club having the ability to develop prospects is another factor. Digging back through the last decade here are some names that come up as top Seattle prospect pitchers: Michael Pineda, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Luiz Gohara, Danny Hultzen, and Max Povse. So please forgive me if I fail to buy-in on Seattle pitching prospects.
Pitchers. They’ll break your heart.
Sean Murphy, C, OAK
Average Rank 66 / # OF RANKED HIM 9
Catchers are gross and bad. I felt bad enough ranking 4 catchers. After some deep reflection, I should have ranked Murphy before Keibert. Yet, here we are. We live with the consequences of our decisions. If Murphy winds up hitting 20 HR with a .260 average, what does that get us in the end?
A rosterable catcher in 12 team leagues, maybe? But what are we really saying here? He’s a rosterable catcher. That’s damning with faint praise. Is that really top 100 prospect worthy? In my eyes, I’m tasked with giving you names that could elevate your team into winning a pennant. Sean Murphy is a name you’re acquiring in an effort to shore up your roster for a run in the playoffs, but he’s never going to be a reason your team is in the playoffs.
Daniel Lynch, P, KCR
Average Rank 76 / # OF OTHERS WHO RANKED HIM 10
I’ll be honest. One of the reasons I didn’t rank Lynch is because I would then need reasons to rank his other org mates. Daniel Lynch doesn’t stand out any more than Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, or Kris Bubic. During the On The Farm Royals cast, I mentioned how these names were all very similar albeit solid. In 2022, when they’re all up, they’ll all be fine. Still, I believe if you were to blind me to the names, I’d have no idea who was who.
In fact, let’s try it out:
Looking at the numbers, there is no demonstrable difference between 3 of these players. Keep in mind all the prospect arms 21 or 22. All prospects spent at least half the season in high A ball. All prospects, with the exception of one, pitched over 100 innings. In order, the players were Kowar, Singer, Lynch, and Bubic.
Again, nothing particularly stands out to me in the lines. The bonus for Lynch? He offers 5 average pitches. That’s a lot. Typically, however, major league organizations pare down offerings in an attempt for repeatable mechanics and release points, so I wouldn’t bank on that as your sole positive.
The negatives? Lynch is 6’6” which, if you glossed over the Logan Gilbert blurb, see above for my feelings for giant human baseball players. Underscoring my concern with massive beings on the mound? Lynch missed seven weeks with arm discomfort in 2019 which is the explanation of the kid gloves.
If someone else wants to take a chance on a big boy with yellow flags and middling results, please do and let me take chances on players with higher upside. If I’m forced to take a Royal arm? It’s going to be Kris Bubic.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)