In a surprise move, coming with the unveiling of Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects List, Baseball America named Evan Longoria their 7th best prospect (6th, if you don't count Daisuke Matsuzaka as a prospect like myself).
Oh, what a firestorm this ranking begat.
All biasness aside, Longoria had one of the biggest debuts that a college hitter has had in awhile and was very surprising considering such a lackluster scouting report that he came into the draft with. True that he was considered to be the best position player in the draft, but many didn't consider 2006 to be a great draft class for hitters. Drew Stubbs was the only other "big name" college hitter coming out of that draft class and there were already questions, before the draft, about his ability to hit. With all this, Longoria still produced far more than he was expected to. Most scouts seen a ceiling of 20 HRs for Longoria, at his peak.
So what'd Longoria manage to do?
He managed a .315/.360/.597 line with 18 HRs in 62 games (248 at-bats) spread out between 3 levels. His season didn't stop there, he added 3 more HRs in the Southern League Playoffs in which he was one of the biggest factors in Montgomery's "Road to the Championship."
While most of the argument against Longoria isn't regarding his production in his debut, many people deem this as Baseball America's "hype machine" getting the best of them again and their knack for choosing "The Next Hottest/Biggest Thing" over prospects that fans believe have proven themselves to be superstars already.
So scratching Alex Gordon off the list, seeing as he's regarded as the Top Prospect in Minor League Ball in 98% of all prospects lists, here's how Longoria stands against other "fan faves" in 2006.
Evan Longoria, 3B, TB- 18 HRs, .315 Average, .957 OPS
Brandon Wood, SS/3B, Ana- 25 HRs, .276 Average, .907 OPS
Ryan Braun, 3B, Mil- 22 HRs, .289 Average, .871 OPS
Justin Upton, OF, Ari- 12 HRs, .263 Average, .757 OPS
Andy LaRoche, 3B, LaD- 19 HRs, .315 Average, .924 OPS
Jay Bruce, OF, Cin- 16 HRs, .291 Average, .871 OPS
Andrew McCutchenson, OF, Pit- 17 HRs, .294 Average, .809 OPS
Troy Tulowitski, SS, Col- 13 HRs, .291 Average, .843 OPS
Billy Butler, 3B/OF/DH, KC- 15 HRs, .331 Average, .887 OPS
While people can use the "Small Sample Size" argument for Longoria, who had half as many ABs than a majority of these hitters, his stats are pretty good for a guy that had already completed a full college season in which he had a .353/.468/.602 line with 11 College HRs in 200+ College ABs..
Looking at those stats, listed above, you'll notice that Evan may not lead any of Batting Average or HR categories, he leads them all in OPS. Take it with a grain of salt, but when you've just finished a full college season and posted those stats in another 248 ABs...you've got a pretty decent career ahead of you.
If you're complaining now about his ranking, I'd be worried about when BA's next Top 100 rankings come out with him in his first full season in the minors with 15 more pounds of muscle added to his frame and the knowledge that he acquired by being in big league camp.
Is Longoria an elite prospect? Who knows, but sometimes it's better to let the stats do the talking.