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John Sickels has been posting his 'Top 20' prospect lists for each team over at his website. He finished up the final teams this weekend so I decided it'd be interesting to try to quantify his rankings.

The natural thing to do with Sickels' letter grades is to take those and figure out the GPA like you would in the academic world. However, when you use a scale like that youíre assuming that an A and a C is equal to two Bs. I think itís highly unlikely that a GM would trade one of his A prospects for two B prospects, let alone throw in a C prospect. So I tried to come up with a scale that was more realistic that gave more credit to teams with top prospects. Hereís what I ended up with:

A	12
A-	9
B+	6
B	4
B-	3
C+	2

Using this scale it takes three players to equal one player a full letter grade higher. For example, three B- players are equal to one A- player. Similarly, three B players equal one A player. I think itís a fair representation of the return that teams get from players. Would something like this happen in the baseball world? Probably not, but prospects are very rarely traded for each other anyway.

The other thing that I did with Sickelsí top 20 lists was to give no credit for C prospects. One reason is that these players are all long shots, but the other reason is that with a cutoff of the top 20 players youíre not going to get a good comparison from one organization to another. One organization might go 30 deep with C or better and another might only go 22 deep. For instance, the Diamondbacks had 18 players that were a C+ or better and 2 C players in their top 20. On the other hand the Mets only had 9 players with a C+ or better, with 11 players getting Cs. Itís not likely that the Mets had too many more C prospects, but itís likely that the Diamondbacks did and they would not get credit for that going just on the top 20. (Note Ė there were 7 teams that had at least 20 C+ or higher ranked players so if they had C+ players beyond the top 20 theyíd be getting shortchanged a bit. The teams are Giants, Braves, Twins, Brewers, Dodgers, Indians, and Marlins.)

Onto the rankings!

Team	         Total
Diamondbacks	89
Dodgers	        86
Marlins		83
Angels		76
Twins		76
Indians		76

Giants		70
Braves		67
Brewers	        67
Devil Rays	67
Athletics	62
Orioles		59

Red Sox	        59
Astros		58
Rockies	        58
Rangers	        54
Cubs		53
Cardinals	53

Royals		52
Blue Jays	51
Tigers		49
Yankees	        48
Mariners	47
Pirates		47

Padres		47
Phillies	43
White Sox	42
Nationals	40
Reds		38
Mets		32

One thing to consider with these rankings is trading. The Marlins would have been in the middle of the pack if they didnít have their fire sale this offseason. So while theyíre in the top tier of prospects their major league team is going to be awful this year. The Phillies ranked low, but would have been even lower if they didnít make the Thome trade where they picked up a couple pitching prospects from the White Sox.

On the other side of things several teams weakened their minor league system to acquire players to help them now. The Mets are a prime example, trading just about everyone they could with the exception of Milledge to get Delgado and LoDuca. As mentioned already, the White Sox weakened their farm system to acquire Jim Thome and Javier Vazquez, the Red Sox traded a few prospects to the Marlins for Josh Beckett, and the Braves parted with Andy Marte to get Edgar Renteria. To a lesser degree the Jays weakened their system when they traded away Zach Jackson. If they had held onto him they would have ranked 16th, but wouldnít have Lyle Overbay.

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Mike Green - Monday, March 06 2006 @ 10:32 AM EST (#141899) #
Interesting. The D'Back system features 5 position players who are A or A- prospects, and a bunch of B and C pitching prospects. That's the ideal. They've also got a very smart GM, and look to be very well set up in the long run.
Ben - Monday, March 06 2006 @ 02:32 PM EST (#141910) #
Interestingly enough, if you use the basic grade point calculations (4 points for an A, 3.67 for A- and so on) you get essentially the same thing. A few of the teams are switched but none of them are really more than two spots off or so. However, I do think that this is a better way of doing it.
Cristian - Monday, March 06 2006 @ 02:54 PM EST (#141913) #
The D'Back system features 5 position players who are A or A- prospects, and a bunch of B and C pitching prospects. That's the ideal.

Why is this the ideal? Especially for a team like the DBacks who have many of their positional prospects blocked and show very weak pitching at the major league level.

Geoff - Monday, March 06 2006 @ 02:59 PM EST (#141915) #
I'd have to go with the Angels as the best positioned team.

Although it's not too hard to squander wealth of talent. They could lose a few good angels for nothing (and have been) and still be contending for strongest organization of talent.
Mike Green - Monday, March 06 2006 @ 03:13 PM EST (#141917) #
'A' pitching prospects have much more unreliability than 'A' position prospects. Injuries play a key role in this, of course. If you look at John Sickels 2004 guide to prospects for instance, you'll find that 80% of the top 20 position players are well on their way, but less than 50% of the top 20 pitchers. Actually, more of the pitchers rated #30-#40 are in that year doing well. Quantity over quality, basically, when it comes to pitchers, whereas quality over quantity when it comes to position players.

The D'Backs have Jackson, Young, Quentin, Upton and Drew. With Hudson, Tracy and a catcher, that'd make a fine young lineup in 2008. I don't see who is blocked.
Mike Green - Monday, March 06 2006 @ 03:37 PM EST (#141919) #
I missed the prospect trade of a couple of days ago. The D'Backs acquired second baseman Alberto Callaspo from the Angels for right-hand pitcher Jason Bolger. With Aybar, Wood and Kendrick ahead of him, Callaspo seemingly had no place in Los Angeles and the D'Backs acquired him for one of their many C pitching prospects. Smart move.
Cristian - Monday, March 06 2006 @ 04:15 PM EST (#141921) #
It really is all about supply and demand, isn't it? If everyone focuses on 'A' hitters, then the 'A' pitchers (as unreliable as they may be) will be much more valuable. I'm still pumped up about the Jays minor league system. If the Jays strike it rich with one or two of their pitching prospects than the system will have done it's job. With Purcey, Banks, Romero, and Janssen (plus all the other guys who would get much more press in a less deep system) the Jays are still doing well in spite of a lack of hitting prospects.

You also mention that no one of the DBacks prospects will be blocked by 2008. I would argue that guys are being blocked in 2006. Chris Young, Conor Jackson, and Carlos Quentin could all crack the 2006 lineup but can't play because of the decaying carcasses of Shawn Green, Luis Gonzalez, and Tony Clark. Admittedly, Clark is playing better than ever.
Mike Green - Monday, March 06 2006 @ 04:23 PM EST (#141922) #
My comment was not at all intended as a slight towards the Jay system, which is bursting to the seams with B, B- and C+ pitching prospects.

Cristian - Monday, March 06 2006 @ 04:37 PM EST (#141924) #

I bundled your comment about ideal prospect balance with every comment I've heard disparaging the Jays' system. You have to admit though, based on what you feel an ideally balanced system should look like, the Jays aren't even close.
Mike Green - Monday, March 06 2006 @ 04:48 PM EST (#141926) #
I don't know. Many of the doubters are concerned about the absence of an A pitching prospect like a Chad Billingsley. That doesn't bother me in the least. The fact that the system lacks any A, B+ or B position prospects (Aaron Hill and Russ Adams now being in the lineup) is obviously not a plus, and I don't know of anyone here or elsewhere who thinks that it is.
Geoff - Monday, March 06 2006 @ 07:47 PM EST (#141936) #
Shouldn't first- or second-year major leaguers count for something more in evaluating a team's invaluable Young Talent Depth?

I don't see why the judgement of a team's position for the future would disregard the talent level of young players on the ML roster. However, I understand it's easier to treat the evaluation of each as different beasts, but it's nearly futile to adhere an evaluation to the separation of majors and minors.

Isn't the great amount of hype about young players caused by the restricted ownership rights the team has over them? Understandably, young high-quality talent guaranteed to be in your system for six years of service has an enormous value (not to mention the checks on salary). So, how come guys in the minors are all evaluated (with an eye on their 0 years of service) while the first and second-year guys are looked at like chopped liver when an assessment is made on a team's talent base for the future. Is it because the big club is where young talent either flops or exceeds expectation? ...thus exposing the faults in talent evaluation?

So to sum up, I understand why it's easier to separate evaluating talent in the minors from those with the big club, but I don't like it.
Glevin - Monday, March 06 2006 @ 10:35 PM EST (#141950) #
The team I was most surprised by was how low Detroit was. Verlander is a stud, Zumaya is only a step behind him, and Cameron Maybin has tremendous upside. 3 of the top 35 prospects according to BA. I know they have a couple of other pretty good prospects as well (Clevlen is the only one I can think of right now though).I always see the same top-4 teams on top, so that must tell you something. The Mets always seem to be the bottom team as well.
Michael - Tuesday, March 07 2006 @ 09:22 PM EST (#142004) #
I agree with Geoff that you have to look at young players (especially pre-arbitration players) to properly evaluate a team.

I think the other fault, that BP points out a lot, that the prospect guys miss out on is the low ceiling major league ready guys are really a lot more valuable than the high ceiling low minor guys. In otherwords a guarenteed 1.5 WARP player is generally more valuable than a player who is 5% likely to be 6 WARP, 25% likely to be 2 WARP, 20% likely to be 0.5 WARP, and 50% likely to be 0 WARP [who has an exp value of 0.9 WARP].
rtcaino - Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 09:55 PM EST (#142357) #
In the new BP, they rank teams in terms of highest projected VORP for players under 25. Toronto ranks 5th overall for pitchers. Surprisingly they rank middle of the pack for position players. They are stuck in a cluster with only about 9 teams significantly ahead of them.
Mike Green - Friday, March 31 2006 @ 11:00 AM EST (#143824) #
Here are BA's organization rankings. The Jays rank 25th in the majors, and last in the division, according to BA. The difference between BA and others, including myself, is their evaluation of the Jay pitchers. They see no Grade A pitching prospects, and downgrade them accordingly. For Sickels and BP (and myself), Grade A pitching prospects are not seen to be that much more valuable than Grade B pitching prospects. I'd rather have 2 Grade B pitching prospects than 1 Grade A pitching prospect. It's much different for position players.
MatO - Friday, March 31 2006 @ 02:45 PM EST (#143845) #
Rating the Yankees 17th is bizarre. Hughes is listed a their best prospect and even though he is a fine prospect he hasn't pitched above A ball and had to be shut down last year with shoulder issues. Eric Duncan is number 2 and he didn't hit at all in AA and is being switched to 1B. The 3,4,5 prospects were all in the Gulf Coast League. This is a middle of the road minor league system?
Mike Green - Friday, March 31 2006 @ 03:16 PM EST (#143850) #
My eyebrows raised when I saw that too. The Yanks do have a couple of pitchers in Columbus who might help them, although they're hardly great prospects.
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