KLaw’s Top Impact Prospects for 2011


Keith Law posted his list of the top 20 impact prospects for the 2011 season today (Insider req’d), with Freddie Freeman, Jeremy Hellickson, and Kyle Drabek leading the way. Jesus Montero is the final name on the list simply because of the uncertainty about how much he’ll play this season. “I have little doubt that he’ll hit if he plays,” said KLaw, “but don’t have a good sense of when he’ll play — or if he’ll end up traded for a starting pitcher.” Fair assessment, I don’t think anyone, not even the Yankees, has a concrete idea of how much Montero will play for the big league team this summer. Remember, it’s not a top prospect list, just a list of which guys will have the most impact at the Major League level in 2011.

As an added bonus, Dan Szymborski ran down his ZiPS projections for all 20 players on the list (also Insider), and he came up with (get this) .273/.334/.503 with 28 homers for Montero next season. Forget Rookie of the Year, if he does that while playing behind the plate regularly, he’s an MVP candidate.

Categories : Asides


  1. Kiersten says:


    Ok, now that that’s out of the way, carry on.

  2. RL says:

    .273/.334/.503 with 28 homers

    From Montero??? I’d take that from Texiera! If he can approach those numbers, it means:

    a) He’s playing (a lot)
    b) He’s catching (can’t get enough time at DH with ARod and others needing days off, as well as Posada being the full-time DH
    c) He’s all that he’s cracked up to be and more! (Hope he does that with the Yankees!)

    • Louis says:

      Umm… I wouldn’t take that from Tex- but that’s just me

    • Ted Nelson says:

      “I’d take that from Texiera!”

      I agree that those numbers would be HUGE for Montero, but that would be Teixeira’s worst OPS season since his rookie year… So I really hope to get more than that. It wouldn’t be far off from last season, but that was his worst season since his rookie year. With 6 years and $135 mill left on his contract I hope Tex bounces back and 2010 wasn’t a sign of what he’ll be throughout his 30s.

      I would assume those numbers are as a full time major league starter all season. i.e. If Montero is with the team all year, playing, and healthy… that’s what his line is projected to be.

      I expect the Yankees to keep Jesus developing behind the plate, but hypothetically Posada could go down early in the season and open up a whole lot of DH PAs (same at any position on any team, of course).

    • bexarama says:

      From Montero??? I’d take that from Texiera!

      Oh geez, Teixeira is a very good player who’s still in his prime who had a down year, let’s stop acting like he sucks. If Tex puts up a .334 OBP next year I’ll be very disappointed with him.

  3. Jason says:

    Actually, at the end of the introduction it says “All projections are full-season projections, even though many of these players will be up for only parts of the season.” So that means that if he plays in 30 games and hits about 5 homers, the prediction of 28 HR/162 games will be correct. However, they’re still predicting him to hit .273/.334/.504 in the time he’s up…so that’s something!

  4. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    Halladay – NA
    Lee – NA
    King Felix – NA
    Price – NA
    Kershaw – NA
    Johnson – NA
    Greinke – NA
    Lester – NA
    Only one ace left, that leaves one trade possibility……

    Jesus for Javy Vazquez.

  5. Monteroisdinero says:

    Just bring him up in late May and play him every game at catcher the rest of the way and the #’s will take care of themselves.


  6. Sean C says:

    That projection seems a little too optimistic. However, I will take that level of production from a 21 year old MLB catcher every day of the week.

  7. Ted Nelson says:

    I liked this piece in that Law made his assumptions with each player pretty clear. You had the prospect ranking as a gage of how he thought they’d perform (plus Szymborski’s ZiPs projections in terms of ESPN’s total coverage) and roughly how much time he thought they’d spend in the big leagues in what role.

    End result is that if you disagree you know why. You might disagree with Law on the rankings, Szymborski’s ZiPs model, or Law’s guess at how much time they might spend in the bigs/what role they’ll be used in.

  8. Steve H says:

    Here is the list of players who caught 100+ games at the age of 21 or younger and put up an OPS of at least .837:

    Johnny Bench .840 (1969)

    Lower that to .800 and the list is:

    Johnny Bench .840 (1969)

    • Esteban says:

      So you’re telling me there’s a chance.


    • mustang says:

      Please don’t tell me your comparing him to Bench.

      • The Real JobaWockeeZ says:

        Right because Steve said explicitly “Jesus Montero is Johnny Bench.”

        Yup. Very quotable.

      • Steve H says:


        Just trying to temper the unrealistic expectations.

        • mustang says:

          Oh, OK

          I was thinking the same as far as “temper the unrealistic expectations”

        • Ted Nelson says:

          They’re optimistic, but not necessarily unrealistic. Who knows how much Jesus will even play this season, but these stats are generated based on mathematical models. Once in a lifetime players do have to come along once in a lifetime. Jesus may not be that guy, but he just may be.

          The point to me is also to say “this is what he’s capable of” not “this is what he’ll do in 2011.”

      • T-Dubs says:

        Reading is not your strong suit, eh?

      • bexarama says:

        He’s actually saying the exact opposite.

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        Sparky Anderson said the same thing about Thurman Munson after he hit .550 (or something insane) in the 4 game sweep to the Reds in 1976.

        Any comparison to Bench is fine with me.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            A comparison is not the same thing as saying “this is what he WILL be.” It’s just a comparison. He has the skills and potential to be a HOF player (hitter really). That’s not the same as saying he WILL BE a HOF player.

            To me the people who lash out at anyone who suggests Jesus might be a great player are just as bad as the people who insist there’s no way he won’t be a great player. He certainly COULD be a great player. He also certain could not be. We’ll just have to wait and see.

            Going into last season and saying that Jason Heyward would OPS .849 as a 20 year old rookie would also have been very optimistic… it happened though. Mauer only had 122 PAs in 2004–which is certainly possible for Jesus if Martin and Posada hitl–and OPSed .939 at 21.
            Sure, on the other hand Brandon Wood OPSed .460 to date after being a top prospect. That’s also possible.
            These mathematical models theoretically take the Heyward’s and Wood’s into account. If they say Montero projects to be great, I’ll take it. I’m not counting on it, but I’m *expecting* a good MLB hitter.

            • mustang says:

              “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

              That’s the best projection.

            • bexarama says:

              It’s one thing to say he’ll be a great player. I certainly think he’s got the skills to be a great, great hitter and I’m even okayish on his prospects at faking it at catcher for a while.

              It’s quite another to suggest he’ll come up and immediately dominate (for every Heyward there’s a Wieters) when he struggled so much early on last year, or that he’ll be Pujols or Johnny Bench.

              • Steve H says:

                for every Heyward there’s a hundred Wieters’


              • mustang says:


                Or to throw the words HOF player or MVP.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  Just like your 15-20 HR comment, you have to look at context and not just jump to conclusions. 15-20 HRs is pretty meaningless if you don’t give the context of PAs. It’s completely different to suggest Jesus *will be* an MVP or HOF player than to suggest he *can be* one. Context is everything.

                  No one can say for sure what he will be or won’t be, so the thing to do is to make impartial projections with confidence intervals around them based on historical data. It doesn’t have to be that he will 100% be this or that, we can use probability curves and all kinds of other basic stats stuff.

                  • mustang says:

                    And I can do all that based on the baseball I seen. There is probably a better chance that he reaches my numbers then the ones projected but regardless I would be happy with either.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      I guess you are a genius, then, and that is great for you. For the rest of us mortals mathematical models are the way to go when there is so much data and so many variables.

                      The only numbers you listed were HRs and AVG…

                    • mustang says:

                      Not a genius just don’t need mathematical models to project the game I followed for so long.

                    • mustang says:

                      BTW those mathematical models are base on Jesus’ minor league numbers, but here to hoping that they all come true.

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    To process all the data necessary to arrive at a probability curve of Jesus’ rookie year stats based on historical data… You’d have to be not only a genius but probably a computer. These projections may not be accurate, but they’re on the right track. Perhaps over time they’ll improve their models. Perhaps there is just no way to come up with an accurate model, but if you know your margin for error and a rough probability curve the model can still be very valuable.

                    These models can pick up statistical trends that no human could in their head. They can also miss weaknesses that any scout would pick up.

                    Out of curiosity, what does your experience tell you about a rookie surpassing that projection for Montero’s OPS just about every season? Jesus was arguably the best hitter in the minors the 2nd half of last season, so while he might falter I don’t see why he can’t have a ROY type season given the PAs.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                “for every Heyward there’s a Wieters”

                If you put together a decent model it should account for that. Which is why I put more stock in a quantitative model then off-the-top of your head calculations like Mustang’s “15-20 HRs” or your 1 to 1 relationship between Heywards and Weiters.

                He could come up and immediately dominate (especially since he’s probably breaking camp travelling to Scranton). He could be Pujols or Bench. The way to look at these things though is with impartial models and not “I say he’ll be awesome at 21″ “I say he won’t be awesome at 21.”

              • Ted Nelson says:

                Pujols, by the way, had a 21 year old OPS of 1.013… Montero’s ZiPs projection doesn’t put him in the same neighborhood.

        • Steve H says:

          And Sparky Anderson was dead wrong.

  9. ultimate913 says:

    .273/.334/.503 with 28 homers

    O_O Am I reading this right? Holy ****.

    • ultimate913 says:

      When will the ZiPS projections be viewable to the public(well, the non-paying public)? I want to see how that compares to other prospects.

      • Cult of Basebaal says:

        Dan is running ZiPS on a team-by-team basis, I don’t think he’s finished all the teams, but you can find what he’s finished over at baseballthinkfactory.org for free.

  10. The Real JobaWockeeZ says:

    Freedie Freeman number one. Wat.

  11. mustang says:

    Between James and this projections are too much to say the least.

    .265ish, 15 to 20HR and good enough to be at least a back-up catcher and I would be happy.

    • mustang says:

      This year

    • Ted Nelson says:

      You would be happy with less, but those guys used actual mathematical models to come to their projections. They didn’t just pull numbers out of the air.

      They are not saying “I love Jesus and I think he’s awesome!” They are pushing a button on their computer and coming up with projections. Certainly these projections are not 100% accurate, especially with prospects.

      • mustang says:

        I have problems with putting too much worth on projections in general more so when they are basing them of minor league numbers.

        • Steve H says:

          Yeah, these are the same projections that had Matt Wieters hitting about .400/.600/.800. Using historical minor league numbers can spit out a projection, but can certainly be too bullish on the high end guys.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            I’m not saying that Jesus will reach those levels, but what frustrates me is people tempering expectations to the point where they make it seem like he can’t reach those numbers. There are the Heywards, the Poseys, the Mauers, the Benchs, the Pujols, etc. who do come along from time to time.

            Rather than looking for an exact projection, I’d look at it as a projection with a confidence interval around it. You roughly expect X. You’ve probably got a lot of variability within a couple of standard deviations in either direction. Then you’re also going to have your Jason Heyward outliers on the positive side and your Brandon Wood outliers on the negative side.

            I at least like that these models are trying to come to a conclusion mathematically and impartially. A more in-depth study would also put a probability curve around those projections.
            On the other hand, people saying “I think maybe 15 HRs…” That does nothing for me. There’s no context and they’re just pulling it out of their… Mustang is just saying I will not accept these mathematically arrived at results, and I’ll instead just trust a number I pulled out of my “gut.”

            • mustang says:

              ” Mustang is just saying I will not accept these mathematically arrived at results, and I’ll instead just trust a number I pulled out of my “gut.”

              First I’m not ” pulled out of my “gut” I’m basing it on watching over 15 years of baseball and numerous rookies. The facts are that those projected numbers just don’t happen often and the “context” they are pulling them from are the minor leagues.

              They’re reasons why people celebrated guys like Heyward and Posey because they don’t come along too often.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                Exactly what I meant by “pulling it out of your ‘gut.’”

                “They’re reasons why people celebrated guys like Heyward and Posey because they don’t come along too often.”

                They come along about every season. http://www.baseball-reference......_rol.shtml In the past 10 years across 2 leagues there have been 14 position playing ROYs. The only 4 who didn’t OPS at least .838 were middle infielders, and Pedroia still managed .822 and Hanley .833. Maybe it won’t be Jesus, but it’s a very good bet that some rookie this season is going to OPS his ZiPs projected line.

                • mustang says:

                  I give up!

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    Did the time you gave up happen to coincide with the time you saw the ROY list and saw that a rookie OPSing .840 is not that rare? That you don’t have to be Albert Pujols to do it, and that he actually OPSed 1.013 as a 21 year old rookie?

                • mustang says:

                  “Maybe it won’t be Jesus, but it’s a very good bet that some rookie this season is going to OPS his ZiPs projected line.”

                  Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

                  Sorry couldn’t help it.

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    He was arguably the best hitter in the minors last season in AAA so his odds of winning ROY are relatively good given the playing time. There are different development tracks, but some guys do start strong. Maybe there is some trend that leads the models to predict Jesus is one of those guys. Maybe not. I’ll take that over “my gut says a rookie C will hit .265 with 15-20 HRs” any day of the week.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            “can certainly be too bullish on the high end guys.”

            There’s a whole lot of room below .500 SLG, but the interesting thing to me is that it’s not as if all these guys have .500 SLGs in the projections. Jesus is pegged 40 points ahead of #2 Domonic Brown in SLG and 60 points ahead of #3 Freddie Freeman. Belt and Moustakas are known for just crushing baseballs, and the model has them at .440 and .435.

            I have no idea about the accuracy of this model, but it’s not just saying all these young kids are going to crush the ball… It’s specifically saying Jesus Montero is projected to crush the ball. Saying that he stands out amongst his peers.

            Doesn’t make it right at all. But great to see for a Yankee fan.

        • mustang says:

          Regardless I’m looking forward to seeing what the kid can do.

  12. Steve H says:

    Number of players who have caught 75 games and slugged .500 or greater by age

    21: 0
    22: 3
    23: 6
    24: 10
    25: 8

    A tad bullish there.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I don’t see why you’re limiting the scope to Cs. Jesus is a hitter whose defensive position is C. It seems like at least as many teams would pull him off C as leave him there. The ones who would leave him there would do so knowing he’s a below average defensive C, but just to get the premium bat at a position where they are scarce and average is pretty awful.

      In terms of rookie hitters SLGing .500… 21 is young, but it happens all the time: http://www.baseball-reference......_rol.shtml

      And that line is not even coming close to comparing him to Pujols, by the way… At 21 Pujols SLGed .610 and had an OBP of .403… Those would be ridiculous expectations.


        the reason is simple. Catchers take a beating every day. It’s a much harder job. A talented hitter could have tempered stats because they are catching every day.

        you can’t just dismiss that

        • Ted Nelson says:

          My point is that it also goes both ways, though, and not that many super talented hitters have necessarily played C. You’re also looking at a small sample of 21 year old Cs who were ready for the majors. Jesus may not be ready defensively (ever maybe, but at least probably this season), but his bat just might be ready. Guys like Jorge and Posada weren’t OPSing .840 in the bigs at 21 because they were in A ball. Jesus was already crushing AAA pitching at 20. His development path may be very different.

          Plus, being major league ready at a young age doesn’t completely equate to career greatness, even if it’s a good indicator. Jesus could come up and OPS .850 at 21, 22 and become more of a Wil Cordero than a Hanley Ramirez.

  13. Reggie C. says:

    Looking at how a polished catcher like MATT WEITERS produced mixed results this past season in lieu of high expectations, we’re crazy to not taper Montero’s 2011 projections.

    That said … i want the kid to get 500 PAs.

    • The Real JobaWockeeZ says:

      He’ll get it in Philly. I have literally no faith that our ownership will not freak out in May and immediately trade Jesus.

      Cash will fight it to no avail.


      • Evan3457 says:

        For Blanton? Or Kendrick? Seriously.

        Philly has a catcher; his name is Ruiz. He doesn’t suck. And he can actually catch and throw.

        They also have a halfway decent firstbaseman, I think.

        They also DON’T have a DH there, except for 9 games a year, at most. Not counting World Series games.

  14. Yazman says:

    Hoping Montero is the backup catcher @220 PAs and part time DH @250 PAs (sorry Jorge) after a May call up.

    As a fan, anyone you’re more excited to watch than Jesus?

  15. Dan Novick says:

    Just so y’all know, this is what The Hardball Times projects for the next six years:

    2011 AL 21 503 462 67 138 28 1 25 85 0 0 84 36 2 14 .298 .349 .528 .877 .374 -2.0 3.7
    2012 AL 22 498 455 70 138 28 1 28 90 1 0 81 37 2 14 .303 .355 .556 .911 .386 -2.0 4.2
    2013 AL 23 513 467 74 143 29 1 31 97 1 0 82 39 3 14 .307 .360 .574 .934 .394 -2.0 4.6
    2014 AL 24 516 469 76 145 29 1 33 100 1 0 81 40 3 14 .309 .364 .588 .952 .401 -2.1 5.0
    2015 AL 25 520 471 76 145 29 1 34 101 1 0 82 42 3 14 .309 .365 .591 .956 .402 -2.1 5.1
    2016 AL 26 524 473 77 145 29 1 34 102 1 0 83 43 3 14 .307 .365 .588 .953 .401 -2.1 5.1

    The columns are off, but you could figure it out.

  16. Monteroisdinero says:

    Oh if you folks had seen the ball fly off Montero’s bat at Scranton in August and Sept. El hombre!

  17. camilo Gerardo says:

    i’m thinking 833ops is way too aggressive. should be closer to 950 or above

  18. Brian says:

    here is a question for you guys…would you guys trade Montero for Posey? Weiters? Santana?


    28 HRs!!! i would be so unbelievably happy you can’t even understand

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