Prospect rankings are arbitrary.
For one, the most heralded national experts rely typically on second-hand knowledge, research and a little observation to make their judgments about thousands of players nationally. Often local writers devoted to prospect watching provide rankings that are just as vital and respectable, since they’re focusing on just one team, not 30.
But that aside, rankings are just rankings. Often – for example – a player ranked a team’s 20th-ranked prospect finds a route to the majors and provides value a team’s third-ranked prospect will never accrue. Just look at the Phillies over the years – in a random exercise I queued up John Sickels, who does a great job writing about prospects at Minor League Ball, and his 2012 Phils pre-prospect rankings.
Look at it! Trevor May (who has provided some relief pitching value in Minnesota) is the top choice. Then it’s Jesse Biddle, Sebastian Valle, Brody Colvin and Larry Greene, four guys who’ve never touched the majors. A young Maikel Franco is 10th on the list. Near-MLB-ready Freddy Galvis is 17th. All the way down in the “OTHERS” list: Ken Giles and Cesar Hernandez.
This is not to lambaste Sickels. Again, he does great work. But all writers in 2012 were thinking about guys like May, Biddle, Valle, Colvin and Greene, when they provided little to no value in the majors.
It’s not their fault – they’re taking a snapshot of a moment, doing their best to say “in a perfect world, this ranking shows, in descending order, who we feel best about going forward.” It’s a little weird. It’s arbitrary.
So this year, let’s take all the reputable rankings out there, assign them a multiplier (because folks like Sickels, Keith Law and Baseball America get paid for this kind of thing) and try to understand the consensus. This is our Ultimate Prospect Index for 2017.
First, the rankings we considered: …
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