One of my favorite days of the year is the day I open my mailbox and see a cardboard box just big enough to hold the Baseball America Prospect Handbook. The first thing I do is read each of the 30 capsules about the Twins prospects. Then I proceed to read each of the other 870 reports in the book, usually a few times.
This year they added a new feature: the BA Grade along with the Risk Factor. Essentially, it makes it possible to compare all 900 prospects. If you want a general idea of where Miguel Sano would rank in the Rangers system, you take his grade (70/high) and find where that would fit (below all the other 70s – only Profar at #1 – and higher than all the other “high risks” – Leonys Martin at #4). He would slot in somewhere between Profar and Martin, most likely in between Martin Perez (65/medium) and Mike Olt (60/medium).
They have an in-depth explanation of the BA Grades as well as the Risk Factors, but I’m going to tell you how I interpret it and how I use it to rank the Twins prospects. (Note these are my grades and risks, not BA’s.)
All players are ranked on the 20-80 scale. This number would indicate a player’s ceiling.
80 – Once-in-a-Lifetime prospects. These are your Bryce Harpers, Josh Hamiltons, Ken Griffey Jrs… and not much in between.
75 – These are your franchise players and Ace starters. They’re out there… and the Twins have one (Joe Mauer) and traded one (Johan Santana), though Santana wouldn’t rank here anymore.
70 – The guys you expect to hear named to the All-Star game every year. When Justin Morneau was in his prime, he fits here. Staff aces, but not necessarily true “aces”.
65 – These would be your top-of-the-rotation starters and borderline all-stars. When Michael Cuddyer was keeping the Twins together last year, I would place him here; most of the time though, he’s a…
60 – “First-division regulars” (Denard Span), “middle-of-the-rotation starters” (lacks a second plus-pitch), or stud closers.
55 – Guys that look like they could be first-division regulars but lack a tool or two (Ben Revere) or a pitcher that doesn’t have it together all the time.
50 – This is where most players fit – second-division regulars, 8th
inning set-up guys or your best #4 pitchers.
45 – These would be platoon or utility guys (Jamey Carroll) or #4/5 starters (who can eat innings), middle relievers.
40 – This is where your #5 starters go, back-up position players or relief specialists.
35 – Long-relief/low-leverage relief pitchers or situation position players (defensive replacement, pinch runner, pinch hitter).
30 – AAA players and I hope not to rank any guys here.
As far as the Risk Factor goes, it’s pretty simple.
“Safe” means the player is at their ceiling and ready to contribute.
“Low” means that the big leagues is in their future and they’re very close to their ceiling.
“Medium” means that the tools are there, but this is an achievable gap between tools and MLB skills.
“High” means there is still lots of projection.
“Extreme” means professional baseball is new or there is a significant injury to overcome.
Similar to how things are in the Prospect Handbook, not all players with the same number are ranked together. Likewise, players with the same risk aren’t necessarily ranked together. BA’s preseason #2 Twins prospect, Joe Benson, is a 55/medium. Max Kepler, also a 55, is ranked #20 due his risk being “extreme”. Their ceiling is similar, but their “floors” are much different. Kepler is also ranked below a number of players with a lower ceiling. Why? Because their risk factor is much less.
The numbers mentioned above are purely for the purpose of examples. My rankings/grades may be much different, but at least you get the idea.
I am not including players that won’t be considered a prospect at year’s end (or that I don’t think
will), such as Chris Parmelee, Liam Hendriks, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar.
I’ve also included, in parenthesis, my pre-season ranking, if they were in the Top 10. Only Liam Hendriks, who ranked #6 on my preseason list, has graduated off.
This is a Top 50 and I waited until after the deadline to include players that were acquired… but I wanted Albers at 50, so it’s going to be a Top 50 plus 1 to include Pedro Hernandez
50. Andrew Albers, LP, 35/Medium, 10/6/85
49. Josh Burris, P, 45/Extreme, 11/28/91
48. Caleb Thielbar, LRP, 40/Medium, 1/31/87
47. Evan Bigley, OF, 40/Medium, 3/9/87
46. Deolis Guerra, RP, 40/High, 4/17/89
45. Austin Malinowski, LSP, 45/Extreme, 11/30/92
44. Romy Jimenez, OF, 45/Extreme, 5/14/91
43. Jorge Polanco, SS, 45/Extreme, 7/5/93
42. Angel Mata, SP, 45/Extreme, 12/3/92
41. Nate Roberts, OF, 45/High, 2/25/89
Of note: If Polanco shows he can hit, he will move back up prospect lists thanks to his defensive prowess. Jimenez has had a great month or so, but hasn't played much otherwise. Roberts has a knack for getting on base, but will have to stay healthy to show other tools are playable.
40. Tyler Duffey, P, 45/High, 12/27/90
39. Javier Pimentel, SS, 50/Extreme, 3/13/94
38. Miguel Gonzalez, P, 50/Extreme, 10/12/94
37. Angel Morales, OF, 45/High, 11/24/89
36. Michael Tonkin, RP, 45/High, 11/19/89
35. Daniel Ortiz, OF, 45/High, 1/5/90
34. D.J. Baxendale, SP, 45/High, 12/8/90
33. Daniel Santana, SS, 45/High, 11/7/90
32. Carlos Gutierrez, RP, 45/High, 9/22/86
31. J.D. Williams, OF, 50/Extreme, 11/20/91
Of note: Morales and Gutierrez, both top-10 prospects once, need to get healthy and prove they belong. J.D. Williams, who is one of the fastest players in the system, needs to show he’s a baseball player, not just fast. Baxendale is a starting pitcher to keep your eye on.
30. Zach Jones, P, 45/High, 12/4/90
29. J.T. Chargois, RP, 45/High, 12/3/90
28. Pedro Florimon, SS, 45/Medium, 12/10/86
x. Pedro Hernandez, LP, 45/Medium, 4/12/89
27. Dereck Rodriguez, OF, 50/Extreme, 6/5/92
26. Amaurys Minier, SS, 50/Extreme, 1/30/96
25. Kennys Vargas, 1B, 50/Extreme, 8/1/90
24. Alex Wimmers, P, 50/High, 11/1/88
23. Adam Walker, OF, 50/High, 10/18/91
22 (7). Adrian Salcedo, P, 50/High, 4/24/91
21. Mason Melotakis, LP, 50/High, 6/28/91
Of note: All of these names are intriguing. The pitchers – especially Jones, Chargois and Melotakis who could be huge movers with more experience – all have potential. Minier will debut next year. Vargas has lots of raw power.
20. Madison Boer, P, 50/High, 11/9/89
Struggling in the hi-A rotation, may have to go to bullpen to succeed.
19. Corey Williams, LRP, 50/High, 7/4/90
Lefty has struggled with consistency, can still fill a back-of-bullpen role.
18. Luke Bard, P, 50/High, 11/13/90
Recently promoted to E-Town, should get a chance to start.
17. Levi Michael, SS, 50/High, 2/9/91
Young for his level, Michael hasn’t hit.
16. Chris Herrmann, C/OF, 45/Medium, 11/24/87
Versatile defender has shown he can hit a little bit.
15. Jason Wheeler, P, 50/High, 10/27/90
Big-body who has thrown a ton of innings.
14. Matt Summers, P, 50/High, 8/17/89
Now only focused on pitching, watching his profile rise.
13. Hudson Boyd, P, 55/Extreme, 10/18/92
Has pitched well over his short professional career.
12. B.J. Hermsen, P, 45/Medium, 12/1/89
Not what you’d expect from his frame, but throws strikes and gets outs.
11 (9). Niko Goodrum, SS, 55/Extreme, 2/28/92
Great athlete getting another shot in Appy League.
10 (8). Joe Benson, OF, 50/Medium, 3/5/88
Down year, but glove still profiles as plus.
9. Max Kepler, OF, 55/High, 2/10/93
Filling out, could make lots of noise in next couple of years.
8 (4). Kyle Gibson, P, 55/Medium, 10/23/87
Coming back from TJ surgery; hopes to fill a rotation spot when healthy.
7 (10). Travis Harrison, 3B, 60/Extreme, 10/17/92
Big power from right side of plate; struggles defensively and may move to 1B.
6 (3). Aaron Hicks, OF, 55/Medium, 10/2/89
Switch-hitting starting to take (finally); super arm/defender in CF.
5. J.O. Berrios, P, 60/Extreme, 5/27/94
Excelling in GCL; dominant stuff.
4 (5). Eddie Rosario, 2B, 65/High, 9/28/91
Learning 2B, but real offensive threat with “quick-through-the-zone” bat.
3 (2). Oswaldo Arcia, OF, 60/Medium, 5/9/91
Pure hitter that is better in the OF than he looks.
2. Byron Buxton, OF, 70/Extreme, 12/18/93
Fast, super athlete, cannon arm, who needs to hit. If he hits with power, look out.
1 (1). Miguel Sano, 3B, 70/High, 5/11/93
Strikeout/defensive questions remain. No question about raw power – best in minor leagues.
What do you think? Who is too high? Who is too low? Who did I forget entirely?
My next addition will come out sometime after the calendar turns.