Book review: BA Prospect Handbook
It’s probably not a good idea to review a book without reading it cover-to-cover, but I’m so jacked up about the Baseball America Prospect Handbook being here that I’m about to lose control and I think I like it. If you’re new to keeping track of minor-leaguers, checking out the handbook is the best way to get up to speed and stay there throughout the season. It has scouting reports on each organization’s best 30 prospects, ranks the top 50 prospects in the game, the top organizations, breaks down each team’s draft from the previous years, etc. No single prospect guide is perfect, but this one is probably the best there is.
So far, here are some things that have stood out:
- The biggest addition for 2011 is including the scouting grades for each team’s No. 1 prospect. Scouts rate players on a 20-80 scale on a variety of tools and the book includes those for the first time. Example: the Padres’ top prospect (RHP Casey Kelly) received a 60 rating for all three of his pitches and 65s for his command/control and delivery. I like it because it allows readers to compare top prospects organization-to-organization. If you want to know how the Astros’ top prospect compares to the Royals’ top prospect, you can do that. You know, if you’re into being depressed.
- The Indians “may have had baseball’s best draft” in 2010. Thank goodness.
- Seems like the biggest issue for the Padres’ younger prospects has been staying healthy. OF Donovan Tate’s problems have been well-documented, RHP Keyvius Sampson had a tear in his labrum which led to changed mechanics which led to elbow trouble. Both were allegedly healthy as they left the fall instructional league.
- Jeudy Valdez looked good in the few games he played at shortstop last year; according to the book, that’s where the Padres see him long-term.
- RHP Brad Brach finally made the Padres’ top 30… barely. He’s ranked 30th. Apparently people don’t believe in his off-speed stuff or his ability to continue dominating at the higher levels. The numbers so far are insane: 140 career appearances, 9-6, 1.90 ERA, 78-for-83 in save chances, 189 K in 151.2 IP, .196 average against. Is that good?
- Top 30 players listed as potential TinCaps in 2011: Tate, OFs Everett Williams and Rymer Liriano (again), Sampson, RHP Zach Cates and maybe RHP Adys Portillo. All very young/inexperienced. Of course, everything could change during spring training.
- Mets RHP Jenrry Mejia didn’t play baseball until he was 15, and he only started because he saw how much money Dominican prospects could make. He had been making $8 a day shining shoes until he got $16,500 to sign with the Mets.
- Former TinCaps swept the Padres’ minor-league awards for 2010. Geoff from Ducksnorts was at the awards dinner and reports that Jeudy Valdez made “the shortest acceptance speech ever” after winning the Baserunner of the Year award. Without hearing any more, my guess is he said, “Thank you,” and walked away. He’s a quiet guy when he’s speaking Spanish, let alone English.
- Padres GM Jed Hoyer says the roster is more balanced in 2011 than it was last year. He’s concerned about the bullpen, but I think most GMs are. It’s the toughest area to predict from year to year.
- Uni Watch hammers the Padres’ logo/uniform decisions. I think the unis look decent.
- A Midwest League alum is spending his off-season making artificial limbs for amputees. In his debut with Bowling Green (at Parkview Field), he went 4-for-5, hit two homers and doubled.
- The Indians aren’t looking to trade Grady Sizemore. Good thing, because it doesn’t make sense to trade one of your few trade-worthy players when his value is at its lowest point ever.
- A book examines home-field advantage and why it exists. The main reason might surprise you.
- Here’s analysis of which teams are the best at winning arbitration cases. The Rays are undefeated (5-0). Also, I’m a little surprised there have only been about 13 cases per year.
- The Rays are installing new turf at their dome. It doesn’t seem like anybody actually knows how it’s different from the old stuff (aside from being “the most advanced” and able to “remain upright longer” which sounds it’s taken straight from a Jimmy Johnson commercial), which seems like lame reporting.
- The Marlins are getting hosed out of a home series by U2. One of the downfalls of not owning their own park. Also, they’re changing their name to Miami Marlins next year? Who knew? Now they just need to change the mascot to Gators, move to the American League and lose to the Cubs in the 2015 World Series and the “Back to the Future II” writers will look like geniuses.
- The prospect handbook’s arrival pushes back my reading of Ghost Wars, which is about Afghanistan, the CIA, terrorism, etc., from a historical perspective. So far, it’s been excellent.
- Aaron Rodgers is officially my favorite quarterback in the NFL. First the championship belt celebration when he scores touchdowns, now this.
- I recently went shopping for clothes, trying to use some of the gift cards I got for Christmas. Maybe I’m only noticing this because I go shopping for clothes about twice a year, but when you’re in any store (with few exceptions such as the sporting goods store), women are clearly dominant, regardless of what part of the store you’re in. I was trying to look at some shirts and about three women came rolling in (to the men’s section, mind you), getting all up in my personal space, pulling hangers off the racks, showing their control over the clearance rack. It was like one of those nature shows where lions protect their territory from a marauding band of slightly-hesitant hyenas. It was like they could sense I had no idea what I was doing. Utterly intimidated, I still escaped with three shirts.
Musical guest…Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood!
Have a great wee