A quick look at “impact” prospects

Santana? We don't need no stinkin' Santana
Game 82: Hahaha, nice one Girardi

Fox sports workhorse Ken Rosenthal has a nice piece up about Joe Girardi’s bullpen management skills, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Tucked away in the middle of the post is this gem:

Critics, pointing to the stalled developments of pitchers such as Ian Kennedy and Jeff Marquez, say the Yankees overrate their prospects, something to which practically every organization could plead guilty.

“I’ve seen a lot of guys who will play in the big leagues and pitch in the big leagues,” says one rival scout who is assigned to the Yankees’ system. “But I haven’t seen an impact player.”

You know what, Rosenthal’s scout friend is right. I do think there is a little wordplay going on here, though. How many true impact players, guys that could come up and make an immediate dent in the bigs, are sitting in the minors right now? Two, three, maybe four? What every team has is potential impact players. Every single team, even the Mets and ChiSox with their barren farm systems.

Austin Jackson, Jose Tabata and Jesus Montero clearly have the talent to be impact Major Leaguers, as do pitchers like Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman and Mark Melancon. These guys are all a year or so away from the big leagues though (especially considering Brian Cashman’s latest words about Melancon), so you can’t consider them impact players yet. It’s a fine line.

Most prospects don’t work out, we all know that, and that’s exactly why it’s important to have depth. You want to know the best way to judge and compare farm systems? Look at the #10, #20 and #30 prospects, not just the top 10. Depth is paramount, and right now the Yanks have a nice amount of it.

Santana? We don't need no stinkin' Santana
Game 82: Hahaha, nice one Girardi
  • Realist

    You can’t really take everything that professional scouts or writers say as gospel. While I agree that NY does overrate their prospects, I remember professionals like the aforementioned claiming that Domingo Jean was a better pitching prospect than Mo back in ’95 ;-)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

      Well assuming that they were looking at Mariano Rivera as a starting pitching prospect, was that really an err in that particular scout’s judgment?

      • Realist

        Certainly, plus I never said starting pitcher…now did I? :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

    How dare you not include Chris Garcia as a pitcher with impact talent, how dare you!11!!1uno!

  • http://www.blog.fbhof.com Lou

    This is EXACTLY why it is ok to move prospects at times.

    • Jon

      For the right price.

      Not just for the sake of moving them.

  • r.w.g.

    There’s probably a bit of truth to the lack of impact guys in the system.

    I wouldn’t worry about it too much, because even though Cashman wants to build from within, he’s still no fool and will get free agents — and pay a lot of money for them — when it makes sense.

    I think guys like AJack, Hughes, Brackman, and Montero are probably the most realistic guys to have significant impacts. And we don’t really know about Brackman because he’s still rehabbing from surgery. But I like the 2nd tier of hitters in the Yanks system.. Tabata, Laird, Suttle. I like the job the Yankees have done with position players.

    A lot of these players are still 2 and 3 years away, even if things go in a wildly positive direction, so maybe it’s not as obvious how much of an impact some of them can make.

  • Lanny

    This is why you need to move prospects for established major leaguers.

  • Babe’s Ghost

    Personally, I think non-specific quotes from anonymous scouts are complete BS. Presumably scouting is a skill, and some scouts are better than others, so until I have some sense of an anonymous scout’s track record I have no reason to put more faith in their judgment than I would in BA, which has both a transparent methodology and a track record. I’d like to hear what this scout had to say over the past couple of years. Did he pick out CMW, Cano, Joba? Is this scout an ‘old school’ guy or does he look at statistics? Is he a low level schmuck or their top level talent evaluator?

    Furthermore, the fact that the scout comes from a rival organization that is presumably looking to trade for Yankees prospects on favorable terms gives them an incentive to talk down the Yankees farm system in order to lower our prices. After all, we’ve traditionally been the patsy in so many prospects for vets trades, if we start valuing our prospects more highly that will put a crimp in people like the Beaner’s style.

    All of that said, it’s entirely possible that ‘we’ overvalue our prospects, and the scout might be right. But I’d like to see some data before I take him seriously.

  • John S

    why do we include brackman in any of our lists? i think that’s a little ridiculous. why not include sanchez then?

    unfortunately this scout is dead on: no surefire impact players. but like Mike wrote there are probably only a half dozen of those floating out there.

  • the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusiness

    Joba Chamberlain is a rookie. He is also an impact player. I’d imagine that such an asset is more valuable than a guy who everyone believes will be an impact player when he reaches the majors in two years.

    Babe’s Ghost perfectly stated why I put little stock in quotes from “a rival scout” or “an executive with a National League team.” The latter might be someone like Ed Wade or Kenny Williams who looks to acquire players with “an edge.” The GM of the Blue Jays, a team reputed to rely heavily on statistical analysis in player evaluation, is more interested in how much a guy likes playing baseball than in how well the guy plays baseball. There is an entire network of scouts and executives that supplies Bill Madden with insider information. This is primarily because he has a powerful platform but also, at least in the early stages of his career, because they find him to be a good baseball analyst. I’m really not interested in hearing these people’s opinions. They are the kind of “experts” who champion Joba as an 8th inning guy and hold Scott Brosius in higher regard than Alex Rodriguez.