Friday, January 21, 2011

Analyzing Baseball America and FanGraphs' Dodger Top 10 prospects

Baseball America, one of the foremost authorities on prospects, released its 2011 Dodgers' Top 10 prospects list today. To my surprise, FanGraphs also released its Top 10 today.

Now let me preface this by saying I am no authority on prospects or scouting, but the BA's Top 10 confuses the hell out of me.

I'm going to compare the two lists with each other and my own rankings, which I released on Jan. 10.

I was way off on my prediction for Baseball America's list.

Rank BA FanGraphs FKB (mine)
1 Gordon Gordon Sands
2 Lee Lee Gordon
3 De La Rosa Robinson Robinson
4 Withrow Sands Lee
5 Webster Jansen De La Rosa
6 Sands De La Rosa Webster
7 Elbert Webster Jansen
8 Jansen Miller Miller
9 Martin Withrow Landry
10 Robinson Gould Withrow

Baseball America

Where to begin? The top three are all good in my book. Dee Gordon was BA's No. 1 last year and apparently isn't concerned about his 2010 performance. So much so that BA named Gordon the Dodgers' best defensive infield prospect, despite his well-documented fielding woes. That is a little curious. He definitely has the ability to overcome his mistakes, though.

Zach Lee is getting all kinds of praise and accolades without even throwing a pitch. Rubby De La Rosa was the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

The first head-scratcher comes in at No. 4 -- Chris Withrow. Withrow, who ranked No. 2 on this list a year ago, had a disastrous season at Double-A, yet he only falls two spots. He has some of the best stuff and most potential in the organization, but it's still surprising to see him ranked so high.

Jerry Sands is a little low for my taste, as you can see, but I guess I can understand that one.

Then, the biggest "What the...?" moment checks in at No. 7. Scott Elbert is BA's No. 7 prospect.

Really? Not only is he ranked at seven, but he's ranked ahead of Kenley Jansen.

Baseball America's love affair with Elbert has been well documented, as he's been ranked in the Dodgers' Top 11 ever since 2005.
Elbert's Baseball America rankings

2005: 11
2006: 6
2007: 3
2008: 4
2009: 5
2010: 6
2011: 7
It's not like Elbert has done anything in the minors or majors to justify this ranking. It's just Baseball America's propensity to rank former first-round picks in the Top 10.

Jansen checked in at No. 8. He was No. 14 last year after pitching 12 innings. One would think he'd rank higher after dominating the minors and his 27 major-league innings in 2010. However, relievers don't usually rank high in BA's Top 10.

Ethan Martin is No. 9 and despite a season worse than Withrow (at a lower level, too), he stays in the Top 10. He definitely has the talent, bu the needs to prove it this season.

By now, you're probably wondering where Trayvon Robinson is ranked. Well, he is the Dodgers' 10th-best Dodger prospect.

What?

Not only did Robinson break out in 2009, he followed it up with a great 2010 season at Double-A. His walk rate is improving and he's not trying to hit the ball over the fence all the time. He profiles as an everyday center fielder by most accounts, yet BA has him at No. 10.

Like I said, a lot of head-scratchers on BA's list.

The most glaring omission from the Top 10 is Aaron Miller. He was a former first-round pick, yet he didn't get the same love as Withrow, Elbert and Martin. He struggled mightily at Double-A, but he was still really good at Inland Empire.

FanGraphs

FanGraphs' rankings of the Dodgers' top two are the same as Baseball America. However, the rest of its list is a lot less confusing and debatable than BA's.

Robinson checks in at No. 3, which is where I ranked him. No. 1 prospect, Sands, checks in at No. 4. Then, there's a run of three right-handed pitchers from No. 5-7 -- Jansen, De La Rosa and Webster.

The missing Miller checks in at No. 8, which is where I ranked him, too. Withrow's ranking is a little more realistic at No. 9.

Finally, a surprise with Garrett Gould at No. 10. I like the ranking and he'd rank higher on a lot of lists if not for his injury and decrease in velocity.

There were no glaring omissions or curious selections on FanGraphs' list.

Overall, I like FanGraphs' list much better than BA's. It seems to be based more on "right now" than "what if?"

That should just about do it for prospect season, aside from Brandon Lennox's Top 200 at True Blue LA. He's already ranked 130 prospects with 70 more to go.

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