Friday, November 21, 2008

Sickels' Nationals Top 20 Prospects List Out

Check it out here. Bottom line: Sickels thinks our system isn't nearly as good as the hype would suggest. Guys who you hear a lot about who are rated lower than you'd expect include Adrian Alaniz, Josh Smoker, Stephen King, Ian Desmond, Destin Hood, Smiley Gonzalez. Just a whole lotta future bench guys, if you believe Sickels. The good news? He agrees with me that Garrett Mock is underrated. He still likes Detwiler. That's about it. (Ed. note: after thinking more, I realized this isn't a totally accurate way of summarizing what Sickels is saying actually; a lot of the C-level guys are just too young to project, but a big stockpile of under-20 grade-C guys is not a bad place to be; we just lack a strong top tier of sure-fire, can't miss guys. For the umpteenth time, Aaron Crow would have really helped.)

Also, when you read Sickels's grades, you'll need to know his grading scale to understand what he's saying, and for whatever reason he doesn't have that in any prominent location on the site. Here it is, courtesy of commenter Mike:

Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.

Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.

Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.


Sean Hogan said...

Alaniz not getting any love isn't a big surprise to me. What does surprise me is that Destin Hood ranked so low. He's one of those toolsy guys that usually doesn't end up getting lower grades until he puts up bad numbers for the 3rd straight year in AAA.

Steve Shoup said...

Actually Steven I'm not sure if the hype is really still there for our system. While we won't know for awhile I'd guess the Nats are about middle of pack in terms of overall talent when BA releases their Prospect Handbook. I think Sickels System in Brief was dead on: "The Nationals system is not as bad as you think it is, but it isn’t very good, either. They have a lot of depth in C+ style prospects, but lack impact talents beyond the top few, and even guys like Marrero and Detwiler have big question marks." I think that is something that has become clear to us over the last year. Last year's 9th overall rating was prob a bit inflated, as the Nats system has a ton of potential but little in the way of sure things. The silver lining for the Nats is a number of their "C+" prospects are 18-20 year olds in their 1st or 2nd season overall. They still have the chance to reach their full potential and become top prospects.

The only surpise for me was Smoker, he struggled in Low A but pitched well in the GCL. We also found out that he was injured but the good news was it wasn't an invassive surgery setting his career back a year. That to me is what surprised about the ranking, its not as though he had TJ surgery or a Labrum that would keep him out for awhile. I think that Smoker deserves another shot at low-A and for a 20 year old that is very age appropriate. On a side note I will be interested in seeing if either Jake S. or Dean rank on the Marlins list.

JayB said...

No surprises here.....Exactly why they need to sign top picks and spend more in international area.

Where we differ maybe is this realistic view of Nats Farm system is just more justification for spending on younger FA Like Tex and Trades for proven MLB types that others want to dump for salary reasons.....we did not give up much in the Marlins trade. At this point of the team's history, they must put a respectable product on the field. Doing that does not hurt the signing of top picks or international players. It might coast us a draft pick or two but as you can see from these ratings all that would cost a C or maybe C+ prospect......for 2014.....those can be replaced by international work and some tangle benefits from what they say is the best scouting department in baseball…that should produce better drafting thus lessening the need for quantity over quality.

Steven said...

JayB--You're mischaracterizing my position as anti-FA across the board. My off-season game plan called for the Nationals to go after Dunn and a good SP like Derek Lowe. Just because Tex isn't the guy I'd go after doesn't mean I'm opposed to using free agency across the board. I'm also not arguing that we don't need a "respectable product." My position is that we need to work for a contender as soon as possible while also trying to get respectable now, but that trade-offs exist, and that we should err on the side of getting a contender sooner. I assume that's what you're thinking when you say "younger free agents," not just "free agents."

Anyway, I just think we're talking past each other a little.

On the Marlins deal, when Scott Olsen gets pulled from the rotation in June with a 6.00 ERA, I don't think anyone will call that a "respectable product." Maybe I'm wrong about him. We'll see.

JayB said...

Fair Enough Steven,

The only difference I see is I think they blew the opportunity in 2008 to error on building vs. respectability. They now have to error on the side of respectability in 2009. I do not see any chance that Olson is as bad as you keep saying....lets make sure we both own up to the facts on July 1.....

JayB said...


The reason I am so hard on the Nats is that this did not need to be the case. Injuries and lack of talent really were not the reason they must now focus on 2009 as the primary focus. The 2008 product was so bad not because of loses but because of the way Acta and the team allowed such a lackluster, uninspired product out on the field day after day after day. Pena should never have gotten those AB's. Lopez, never should have been on the roster. Leading the NL in errors is not a matter of talent....AAA or AA players do not need to make that many errors on a MLB field....that is all on ACTA or Jimbo or both for the tone they set with the team. The point is had they lost 102 games but been and exciting hit and run, scratch a run out here and there type of team that worked hard and played average defense then they would still have been many times did we need to see Pena strike? How long did we need to see Lopez jog down the line before we knew things had to change.....Acta or Jimbo or both blew any hope of using 2009 as a building on youth year. Sad but true.....all they had to do is play respectable AAA baseball last year....they did not.