Leo: The Prospect
Last week was college football’s signing day, an event that has grown tremendously over that last several years. There is now a recruiting “industry”, where media members spend countless hours researching high school players, ranking them, and covering their college visits as they narrow their possible selection down. Then after the recruits are signed, the experts grade each school’s class and determine who the big winners were on signing day. It’s a little more than I can handle.
I don’t purchase recruiting magazines or watch the signing day shows because many of those highly touted recruits will never become college football stars. There is no way to accurately rank a school’s recruiting class until their careers are over and their accomplishments are complete. It’s a lot of speculating and predicting that seems a bit much for my taste. I’d rather just wait until the season starts and watch the games. I know it’s crazy.
Professional baseball has its version of the recruiting frenzy, it’s the prospect and farm system rankings.
Many think the baseball prospect is a fascinating concept. There are some “can’t miss” prospects that never pan out and there are non-prospects that make it big. The “experts” decide who is a prospect based upon their potential and sometimes players reach that potential while other times they do not. Ranking prospects is as much art as it is science.
ESPN writer Keith Law has ranked the Cleveland Indians farm system 29th in MLB. The only team ranked worse is the Chicago White Sox. Prior to this season, the Tribe spent a few years in the top ten in most prospect rankings. These rankings are a reflection of the recent “graduation” of players to the major league roster and trades Cleveland has made, sacrificing some prospects to bolster its big league roster.
Last season’s top position player prospects, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis, have both advanced to the major eliminating them from “prospect” status. The Tribe also traded their top pitching prospects, RHP Alex White and LHP Drew Pomeranz, to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Clippers have been prospect fortunate in the first three years as Cleveland‘s Triple-A affiliate. Columbus has hosted the Indians’ top ranked minor leaguers each year. Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana, Alex White, Carlos Carrasco, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, and other big names have suited up for the Clippers since 2009.
This year, the organization’s top prospects are seemingly closer to diapers than the Triple-A level. Shortstop Francisco Lindor and RHP Dillon Howard are ranked #1 & #2 by Baseball America; they were the club’s top draft picks last June. Both were high school students less than ten months ago.
Clippers fans may see a return of “former” prospects like Matt LaPorta and Lonnie Chisenhall, if they don’t crack the Indians roster in spring camp. We’ll also likely see a continuation of the minor league journey for LHP Nick Hagadone (#3 prospect in Baseball America), RHP Chen Lee (#4), RHP Zach McAllister (#6), and LHP Scott Barnes (#9). All of those players are on the verge of breaking into the majors, but will need to perform well at Huntington Park until opportunity knocks.
The Clippers season will be a little different without a “mega-prospect” on the roster, but I believe the roster is shaping up to make for a very good Triple-A club. There will be, without a doubt, some players who greatly improve their stock by playing well. There will be others who fall further off the map because of their struggles. That’s the intrigue of watching young players compete. That’s what makes minor league baseball fun. So let’s get ready to watch the games and go from there.
Besides, who cares what the “experts” think anyway?