With just a few games remaining in the minor league season, it's a good time to look back at what took place. I thought a good start point would be my preseason top 30 list. Michael and I did make midseason revisions to our lists, but I always find the preseason ones to be better since they're not as reactive to a few month's worth of games.
This list started out fine. Despite a recent slump, Myers appears to be the player we thought he was (and he could certainly be crowned Rookie of the Year), and Archer recovered from a bit of an uneven start to be a key cog in the Rays' rotation. Before their season ending injuries, Lee and Guerrieri were both proving they deserve their high spots in the rankings, and because of some of the graduations around them, they could find themselves even higher.
I don't know if it's just me (and I have a feeling it probably is,) but it "felt" like Odorizzi had a mediocre season with Durham. The few really bad starts he had must've really stuck in my mind, because if you look at his stats, it's clear he didn't plateau in Triple-A at all. Compared to his 107.1 innings in the Pacific Coast League last year, his strikeout rate has gone up from 19.1% to 25.2%, and his walk rate is down a bit from 8.7% to 8.1%. His WHIP is down from 1.35 to 1.13. Since he's probably still going to be on these lists next season, it's important to remember he's only going to be 24 years old.
This is where things started to go south a bit, but it wasn't necessarily bad ranking. Shaffer had a down season at a level he should've handled, and that's why he's going back to the Arizona Fall League. It could be argued that Colome had a career season; his 1.31 WHIP wasn't a career low, but his 9.6% walk rate was his lowest since 2010, and he went on to make his ML debut. Elbow problems ended his season prematurely. Romero is still a tough pitcher to figure out with a declining yet still concerning walk rate and a strikeout rate that decreased again.
That's where things kind of fall apart. Hager and Sale were two players I ranked more aggressively than legitimate industry sources, and both burned me. I'm obviously not going to throw the towel in on Hager after a rough season, but the big second half he had in 2012 clearly did not carry over to this year with Charlotte. He's not a power hitter, so he's going to have to do better than his .256 average and .316 on-base percentage. The bar at the plate is set lower for up the middle players, but not that low.
Having Sale over Vettleson went against a lot of other rankings. In fact, Baseball America had Vettleson 14 spots higher. Vettleson's season was pretty average, but clearly it was better than Sale's. Snell at #12 wasn't controversial at all, but I think his season is going to be quite polarizing in ranking discussions this offseason. His walk rate went from a tad high at 9.0% with Princeton last year to an alarming 16.3% with Bowling Green. Do you consider it a fluke and point to his solid stuff and previous track record of performance, or is it more alarming to you than that?
Rivero is an interesting player to look at in the ongoing traditional stat v. newer metrics debate. His ERA was actually one hundredth of a run lower than last year, but all of the underlying factors were worse. His walk rate was up to 9.6%, easily a career worst, and his strikeout rate dropped from 20.6% to 16.8%. His WHIP was 10 points higher. Rivero is a player I've been a bit more aggressive on for a couple years now, but this was a down season for him.
16. Parker Markel, RHP
17. Brandon Martin, SS
18. Jesse Hahn, RHP
19. Tyler Goeddel, 3B
20. Andrew Toles, CF
Brett and Markel are two players that were pretty unspectacular with Bowling Green in 2012. I gave both the benefit of the doubt and kept them pretty high in the rankings. Brett will maintain his position thanks to a nice rebound season, but Markel will probably be out. In 82 innings, Markel posted a 6.37 ERA and 1.63 WHIP. He was put on the disabled list with shoulder problems in July. Maybe that was bothering him for a while before actually going on the DL.
I had concerns before ranking Hahn any higher than this: could he perform well against tougher competition, and can he handle a larger workload? His performance was still good; his strikeout rate was 22.9%, and his walk rate was 6.6%. The workload question remains up in the air though. He too spent time on the DL in July, and he only pitched 17 more innings than last year. He'll be 24 next season, and if he's going to start, he has to be able to throw more innings.
Beckham remains a tough guy to figure out. I'm inclined to have him higher than this now, but how much better was he than last season? His strikeout and walk rates were similar, and his ISO was only six points higher. His average was 20 points higher, but his BABIP was 32 points higher too. Guyer is going to be 28 years next year. I don't know if I can put him on this list again even if he's eligible.
My ranking of Glaesmann was in line with everyone else's, and the skepticism was probably warranted. His in-game power was way down after last season's breakout. We'll see how he does in the AFL. Oscar has gotten some nice reviews for his defense this year, and his .653 OPS was actually right around the league average in the NYPL.
I ranked Ames quite a bit lower than Baseball America, and he probably performed closer to their ranking than mine. His 18% strikeout rate was more average compared to previous seasons, but he still pitched pretty effectively in a career high 114.2 innings. I'd like to see that strikeout rate go back up next year with Charlotte, but he should be higher than this. Leonard's season wasn't particularly good, and having to play first base lowers his value.
In retrospect, Torres should have been higher. It was fair to be skeptical after his 2012 season, but his solid winter league results indicated he had made some improvements and in line for a better season. He has been tremendous for the Rays, and I don't know if anyone saw that coming. Carpenter and Harris are clearly players who should not be here at this point.
There are things to learn here, and looking back at previous mistakes should be an important part of anyone's minor league evaluations. I think one thing that stands out is having faith in players after down seasons: Brett, Markel, Martin, Carpenter and Harris are players I gave the benefit of the doubt to, and four of the five did not deliver again in 2013. At the same time, being reactive and making big decisions based on one season probably isn't a great idea either, but there's a happy medium between the two to try and reach.