As you may have noticed, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus released his Mets top 20 prospect rankings earlier this week. There are a lot of new rankings floating around right now but Goldstein's are one of a small handful that I actively take note of and encourage others looking for a good perspective on the system to consider each year.
Aside from knowing his sh*t, Goldstein has a couple of things going for him that most prospect watchers -- and creators of Mets prospect rankings -- do not: It sounds silly but he has actually prospect-watched; meaning he's seen many, if not most of these players play. Call me old fashioned, but I like that. Also, he has no problem bucking the trends with his picks, which is saying something in the current tide of largely cookie cutter rankings.
See his Mets rankings below:
System In 20 Words Or Less: With improvement coming via all three areas—draft, trades, international—the Mets are finally moving in the right direction.
1. Matt Harvey, RHP
2. Zack Wheeler, RHP
3. Jeurys Familia, RHP
4. Brandon Nimmo, OF
5. Juan Lagares, OF
6. Jordany Valdespin, 2B
7. Jenrry Mejia, RHP
8. Reese Havens, 2B
9. Cesar Puello, OF
10. Michael Fulmer, RHP
11. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF
He'd go on to round out the top 20 by making a few more interesting picks such as Wilmer Flores dropping down to no. 16 behind AA favorite Darin Gorski at no. 14 and including low ceiling September call-up Chris Schwinden in the final spot.
Some random reactions:
- It seems that most of the top sources give Harvey the edge over Wheeler and I'm with them there, though I really can't fault anyone for going with the newcomer.
- I appreciated the aggressive placements of Valdespin and Lagares. On most of the 2012 lists out so far (Mets Fever gives you a nice little scoreboard here) you'll typically find both of these guys anywhere from the teens to outside of the top 20 entirely. Both players are certainly flawed, but at a certain point performance -- especially at a high level of the minors -- has to count for something, and in my book that something is pretty substantial.
- Also appreciated the fact that while he penalized Mejia for the TJ surgery -- as he described in a subsequent Q&A with Toby Hyde -- he wasn't too heavy-handed in doing so with a guy that has arguably had the most success at the highest levels of any pitcher in the system. And his stuff ain't too shabby either...
- Goldstein also isn't quite riding the recent wave of love for Cesar Puello; many other sources have him within the top five if not higher. He's even less impressed with the rest of the youthful trio in Flores and Marte. I know that Flores actually wasn't awful in 2011 if you look hard enough but at some point he's got to give us a reason to get excited -- at least if he's going to hang around the top ten -- and IMO he hasn't done that since '09; maybe I'm being overly gun-shy but smells a little too much like FMart.
- I must say I do have a lot more love for Capt. Kirk, though I'm willing to accept that I'm in the minority on that. The bulk of his value proposition revolves around the ability to play center and having watched a lot of him in Buffalo I'm not ready to cede that one.
All in all, it's an interesting list. He definitely didn't give us the same old boilerplate Mets ranking that you might see in other places. There are some major variations here. However, he's in luck because when measured against my recently completed ranking* it turns out that he's not far off the mark!
The reason I typically like Goldstein's rankings though is because he always seems to strike a nice balance between the analytical side and the more subjective approach. Meaning stats vs. scouting. I look at ranking prospects as a sort of philosophical exercise, so really nobody is wrong it's just about what's important to you.
However, I will point out that I appreciate that he does not often fall into the trap of youth. By that I mean the tendency to overvalue the unknown. This is something you see all throughout the world of prospect rankings, year after year and it bugs me. In a way I think we overrate the young players because they've yet to show us their failings, and we prefer that fantasy of a flawless prospect to the guys who may be higher though better competition has clearly pointed out their flaws.
That's why it's so common to see someone like FMart or Flores begin their prospect career at the very top of rankings and seemingly each year they drop a few spots, even as they get closer to the majors. This means someone like Juan Urbina, Aderlin Rodriguez, any of those guys who look great in Rookie-ball that we hope will remain as flawless as they climb. Yet that's almost never happened, and to rank based on those hopes -- and in doing so overlooking the importance of performance in the high minors -- isn't really realistic. Yet we pretty much all do it.
But that's just my nonsensical ramblings coming through again. Your thoughts?
*To Chris' point from his announcement yesterday, in the absence of the Annual expect to see the aforementioned Top 50 ranking here online starting next week, chock full of all the analysis and insight you've come to know and love in the AAA.