January 2010

Commenting etiquette

I’ve been trying to decide what, if anything, I wanted to say on this topic. In general, when people leave comments at the bottom of my stories on MLB.com, I usually ignore them. Not that I don’t care what people say/think, it’s just healthier for me overall not to get caught up in it.

But with the Top 50 list, I wanted to see the reaction, so I’ve been reading the comments that have been left with the story on the breakdown of the list. Now, let me say right off the bat that I’m not overly sensitive when it comes to these things. I can take most criticisms and even laugh about some of the cruder responses. (Feel free to send in your own Top 10  list for a fan’s top prospect ranking later on)

I’m all for freedom of speech, so I’m not going to tell people what they can/cannot or should/shouldn’t write. I love people who care about their team or a specific prospect so much that they want to voice their disappointment that he didn’t make the list or that their team is underrepresented. For instance, a guy commented about how Dan Runzler should be in the Top 10 based on his amazing 2009 season. Now, I respectfully disagree — Runzler had an amazing run and will be a very good big leaguer, but he’s not really a Top 50 prospect in my book. Ditto with all the folks who called for Daniel Hudson to be in there (Yes, he’s eligible — the only requirement I have is that a guy still have rookie status). I really like Hudson, but  just because he got our MiLB Starting Pitcher of the Year doesn’t mean he’s one of the top 50 prospects in the game. Good big leaguer, yes, but not quite on that level in terms of how all his stuff grades out and his upside compared to other pitchers on the list. Either way, I love hearing from people about that kind of stuff. That’s why we do this list.

I even laugh at the people who said I should be fired because I had Miguel Montero too low. The comment looked like this:

without being too critical, this dude is out to lunch. i hate the
yankees as much as humanly possible….but montero 19??? just for THAT
this guy should be fired. totally irresponsible. this is the first and
LAST time i’ll waste my time coming to this site for an honest top 50
rundown. my 18 year old son could have done a more competent job.

I’m glad he wasn’t being too critical. A little harsh, but just imagining the scenario was too funny:

Boss-type person: Umm, Jonathan, could you come into my office for a minute.
Me: Sure, what’s up.
Boss: I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to let you go.
Me: What?!? Are we having cutbacks? Did I get a bad evaluation? Have I missed deadlines? Did I do something inappropriate or unprofessional?
Boss: Jesus Montero.
Me: What? Jesus  Montero?
Boss: That’s right. Your list had him ranked No. 19. That’s way too low. If you really cared about your job, you would’ve at least had him crack your Top 10. Now pack your things and get out of my sight.

I even thought some of this one was funny:

Mayo = loco
you keep publishing garbage like this and someone more competent is
going to take your place. There are tons of sports writers out there
that would love to write for MLB. Unless of course you’re trying to be
the Rush Limbaugh of sports – intentionally spewing junk to get a rise
out of your audience.
Just a poor effort. Very disappointing to see someone not take their
job very seriously.

I never took Spanish, but I’m pretty sure Mayo does not mean loco. Might want to look that up. Anyone who knows me would likely laugh really loudly about the Rush Limbaugh comparison. I think that would be like comparing David Ortiz to Jacoby Ellsbury.

But (as the serious background music starts to play) this comment is where things get a little touchy to me. Again, I usually ignore this stuff and I will continue to do so. But I figured maybe this could count as a public service announcement for those of you who like to give your opinion after reading something (and more power to you!).

There’s no need to get personal, you know? You have a problem with the list? Great. Tell me and the world. But provide some substance, huh? At least the guy who said I should be fired provided a reason. Calling me completely irresponsible is a bit much — I didn’t yell fire in a movie theater or get behind the wheel while intoxicated here; I just had everyone’s favorite Yankee prospect  lower than most would have it. You disagree with it, fine. Back it up. He should be in the Top 10 because…

Now, the Rush Limbaugh comment, while making me chuckle, also had nothing to say. Again, some perspective people, these are baseball players we’re talking about here. Spewiing junk to intentionally get a rise out of my audience? Umm, I’m not calling the president a socialist fascist, or whatever Limbaugh might say. This is baseball. Of course,t he list is designed to stir debate.

And to my final point, the one that bothers me the most. I can’t force anyone to not say something, but really, you have no right to say my effort was poor or that I don’t take my job seriously. The same goes for the person who said I was lazy. I’ve been called many things, lazy in my work has never been one of them.

Seriously, you have no idea who I am or what I do here. I know, I know, I shouldn’t take this nonsense too personally, and I won’t, I promise. But if you’re going to attack me personally, I’m going to use this space for this time only to respond. You don’t really know how much time I took talking to scouts to put this list together and I’m sure you didn’t realize I wrote around 14,000 words for the text that went with the list, not to mention the prep work for the show. Why I have this urge to prove myself to you, I don’t know.

But that’s it. I’m done. Just think before you submit a comment. Argue about players, back up your arguments, say the list is terrible, fine. Just be wary about the tone. Not too much to ask, is it?

And with that, I leave you with a link to a “guest ranking,” this one from USA Today’s Steve Gardner, who’s got a neat fantasy baseball blog over there called Fantasy Windup.

Whew, that felt good.

So, what did everyone think?

Now that the show is a part of broadcasting history, tell me what you thought. I see some things on Twitter and some stuff in comments and I’ll try to respond to some things over time (there might be a chat in the works for later on, but we’ll see), but I need more validation from folks. So leave some comments here to make me feel better.

You can check out my breakdown of the Top 50 list. You can check out the complete list, all with cool video. You can email in your own Top 10 list (not just bloggers here, but fans, too, should chime in). You can even watch the entire show if you need to catch it again or (gasp) missed it the first time.

Things to address:

1. Heyward vs. Strasburg at the top: Did you think Stras should’ve been No. 1. I think an argument could be made for either, but I see a lot of support for Heyward out there (though in early fan voting, noted above, Stras was getting a bunch of No. 1 votes). It’ll be interesting to see what some of the other experts have to say out there.

2. Jesus Montero: This seems to be the one getting people the most riled up. I knew it was coming. Good split in the comments on the story about where he is. I could see him moving up some, but it’s the defense that kept him lower in some scouts’ minds. Thoughts on Montero are welcome here.

3. Aroldis Chapman. For the record, if you didn’t watch the show when I explained it. When I finalized the list, he hadn’t yet signed and I don’t consider players who aren’t yet with an MLB organization. If I did, I’d have to start considering amateur talent from college or high school ranks before they even are drafted and that’s not something I’ll do.

3. The obvious who is/isn’t on the list — who do you think should’ve made it, who you think shouldn’t have been on there at all. And remember, this is a prospect list, not a good players in the Minors list. There’s a difference.

4. What did you think of the shirt? Wish you could’ve seen all of the tie. Had purple in it, which made the shirt work even better. I think I pulled it off. Did you?

Believe it or not, I did not get to everyone who had graciously sent in guest prospect rankings. So I’ll keep them going the next couple days. Tonight, before I sign off and get some rest, I give you the Top 20 from Seth Stohs. You can catch his work on SethSpeaks.net and follow him on Twitter @SethTweets. Guy knows a ton about the Twins farm system. You can find out just how much if you go to his site (or straight to this link) and pre-order his Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook.

Anyway, looks like Seth knows a thing or two about prospects in all organizations. Some interesting names on his list.

1.) Jason Heyward – OF – Atlanta Braves
2.) Brian Matusz – LHP – Baltimore
3.) Stephen Strasburg – RHP – Washington Nationals
4.) Aroldis
Chapman – LHP – Cincinnati Reds
5.) Jesus Montero – C – New York
6.) Jeremy Hellickson – RHP – Tampa Bay Rays
7.) Buster Posey – C
– San Francisco Giants
8.) Carlos Santana – C – Cleveland Indians
Madison Bumgarner – RHP – San Francisco Giants
10.) Pedro Alvarez – 3B –
Pittsburgh Pirates
11.) Neftali Feliz – RHP – Texas Rangers
Dustin Ackley – 2B – Seattle Mariners
13.) Domonic Brown – OF – Philadelphia
14.) Aaron Hicks – OF – Minnesota Twins
15.) Justin Smoak – 1B
– Texas Rangers
16.) Starlin Castro – SS – Chicago Cubs
17.) Mike Stanton
– OF – Florida Marlins
18.) Derek Norris – C – Washington Nationals
Jaff Decker – OF – San Diego Padres
20.) Josh Bell – 3B – Baltimore

24 hours away

That’s right, folks. We’re just about 24 hours away from the big Top 50 prospects show on the MLB Network (8 p.m. ET, also simulcast on MLB.com/Live). Exciting stuff — I’m at the airport now waiting to fly home to Pittsburgh after what I think (I’ll let you guys be the judge tomorrow) was a very successful taping of the show. I have to say, working with Greg Amsinger and John Hart was a real treat. Hope you guys feel that came off, because I had a blast.

Anyway, got a few more guest rankings to try and get through here. Tonight, we’ll let Dustin Mattison from The Cardinal Nation (and, of course on Twitter @dustin_mattison) give it a whirl. He went 40 deep, for which he gets no extra credit, but I will run all 40. So here goes:

Stephen Strasburg
Jason Heyward
Buster Posey
Brian Matusz
Jesus Montero
Desmond Jennings
Aroldis Chapman
Neftali Feliz
Madison Bumgarner
10.  Carlos Santana
11.  Christian Friedrich
12.  Justin Smoak
13.  Pedro Alvarez
14.  Casey Kelly
15.  Mike Stanton
16.  Michael Taylor
17.  Wade Davis
18.  Dustin Ackley
19.  Aclides Escobar
20.  Brett Wallace
21.  Dominick Brown
22.  Jeremy Hellickson
23.  Jhoulys Chacin
24.  Martin Perez
25.  Kyle Drabek
26.  Fernando Martinez
27.  Chris Carter
28.  Mike Montgomery
29.  Tyler Matzek
30.  Lonnie Chisenhall
31.  Matt Moore
32.  Dan Hudson
33.  Aaron Hicks
34.  Ryan Westmoreland
35.  Todd Frazier
36.  Jenrry Mejia
37.  Brett Lawrie
38.  Starlin Castro
39.  Jarrod Parker
40.  Aaron Crow

A lot of different names in there, which I love. And a vote for Stras atop the list, the first one like that we’ve had here in a while.

OK, gotta make a run to the smoothy stand before I board the plane. Random celebrity sighting here at Newark Airport: Former US Senator and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Bradley.

Top 50 Preview: Guest rankings No.5

I might have to double up tomorrow to get all these in.

At any rate, here’s the latest guest ranker. It comes from an old friend on the Minor League journey I’ve taken the past few years… and he was kind enough to provide some text for me to throw in here:

The Hot Corner is in it’s third season covering the Texas League. The
weekly show can be found on every clubs website as well as the league site
and on Tuesday’s on your home milb.com. The big news this year is that The Hot
Corner takes to the airwaves broadcasting on radio stations around the Texas
League every Sunday one hour before each team’s pre-game show.
He can be followed at @daveabarr  (website and new twitter address coming
soon). Now here’s his list
1) Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves
2) Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals
3) Brian Matusz, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
4) Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants
5) Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
6) Neftali Feliz, RHP, Teas Rangers
7) Carlos Santana, C, Cleveland Indians
8) Justin Smoak, 1B, Texas Rangers
9) Jesus Montero, C, New York Yankees
10) Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
11) Mike Stanton, OF, Florida Marlins
12) Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants
13) Dustin Ackley, OF, Seattle Mariners 
14) Dominic Brown, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
15) Alcides Escobar, SS, Milwaukee Brewers
16) Chris Carter, 1B, Oakland A’s
17) Christian Friedrich, LHP, Colorado Rockies
18) Casey Kelly, RHP, Boston Red Sox
19) Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
20) Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers

Another vote for Heyward at the top. When this is done, I’ll combine all the guest rankings into a master list to provide some consensus among all who have sent them in. And don’t forget, the big Top 50 Show is on the MLB Network on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET. Don’t believe me? Well, check out the official release on the show!

Top 50 Preview: Guest rankings No. 4

Had I known this would be so popular, I would’ve started this earlier. Live and learn.

Got a few more entries to post here. Tonight’s comes from Daniel Moroz. He runs a blog called Camden Crazies, which I first thought was a site about depressed cities in southern New Jersey. But then I realized it was actually about the Orioles. Check out his site and follow him on Twitter @CamdenCrazies.

Here’s his list, with a nice little editorial note at the top:

01. Jason Heyward (Very easy call over Strasburg – for me, at least)
Stephen Strasburg
03. Desmond Jennings
04. Carlos Santana
05. Mike
06. Buster Posey
07. Jesus Montero
08. Pedro Alvarez
Neftali Feliz
10. Justin Smoak
11. Dustin Ackley
12. Brian
13. Aroldis Chapman
14. Chris Carter
15. Madison
16. Martin Perez
17. Wade Davis
18. Jeremy Hellickson
Domonic Brown
20. Fernando Martinez
21. Alcides Escobar
22. Michael
23. Brett Wallace
24. Casey Kelly
25. Starlin Castro

Interesting list, as they all have been. I’ve been loving the comments people have been leaving. Keep it up! That’s what this is all about!

Don’t forget, my Top 50 prospect list will be unveiled on the MLB Network on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. I’ll also be making an appearance on the Hot Stove show tomorrow (Monday) evening to preview Wednesday’s hour-long extravaganza. OK, time to turn in, early flight tomorrow…I’ll be back at some point to post another guest ranking.

Top 50 Preview: Guest Rankings No. 3

Editor’s Note: I originally posted this with Luke’s wrong Top 30. Corrected version is below. Also, be sure to follow him on Twitter @LukeGude

I don’t know if it’s the fun of putting together a top prospect list or the ability to get a free plug, but I’ve been getting more top prospect rankings from people over the last couple of days. Great stuff.

Today, we’ll go to paradise — Prospects Paradise, that is. That’s the site run by Luke Gude, and he’s today’s guest ranker. Let’s take a look at his Top 30, shall we?
1. Jason Heyward
2. Stephen Strasburg
3. Desmond Jennings
4. Brian Matusz
5. Carlos Santana
6. Buster Posey
7. Jesus Montero
8. Justin Smoak
9. Dustin Ackley
10. Pedro Alvarez
11. Neftali Feliz
12. Mike Montgomery
13. Mike Stanton
14. Alcides Escobar
15. Wade Davis
16. Tyler Matzek
17. Michael Taylor
18. Casey Kelly
19. Martin Perez
20. Starlin Castro
21. Yonder Alonso
22. Domonic Brown
23. Brett Wallace
24. Jeremy Hellickson
25. Jaff Decker
26. Aaron Hicks
27. Kyle Drabek
28. Jhoulys Chacin
29. Ryan Westmoreland
30. Fernando Martinez

The commenter who mentioned Decker recently might like this list better… Good stuff. Keep ’em coming. Just email me with your rankings and I’ll try to get them up before my Top 50 list is revealed on the MLB Network on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. Be sure to include the link to your site, as well as to a Twitter account if you’ve got one.
I love seeing how many people are out there following prospects and the Minor Leagues. It does the heart good.

Top 50 Preview: Guest rankings No. 2

Well, we kicked things recently by running Mike Newman’s Top 30 from Scouting the Sally.

Now it’s time for Round 2. This Top 20 Prospects list comes courtesy of Jordan Tuwiner over at Oriolesprospects.com (Follow him on Twitter @Orioleprospects). That sure is a fun site these days with all the work they’ve done in that system in the past few years.

Anyway, on to Jordan’s list:

  1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals 

  2. Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves
  3. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants
  4. Brian Matusz, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
  5. Desmond Jennins, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
  6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
  7. Mike Stanton, OF, Florida Marlins
  8. Carlos Santana, C, Cleveland Indians
  9. Neftali Feliz, RHP, Texas Rangers
  10. Dustin Ackley, OF, Seattle Mariners
  11. Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers
  12. Jesus Montero, C, New York Yankees
  13. Chris Carter, 1B/DH, Oakland Athletics
  14. Justin Smoak, 1B, Texas Rangers
  15. Dominic Brown, OF, Philadelphia Phillies 
  16. Madison Bumgarner, RHP, San Francisco Giants
  17. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
  18. Christian Friedrich, LHP, Colorado Rockies
  19. Michael Taylor, OF, Oakland Athletics
  20. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves

Pretty good list, no? Nice to see the differing opinions, with Jordan putting Stras No. 1 and Mike having Heyward in the top spot. That’s what makes this such an interesting exercise.

I’ve got one more guest rankings to post, either this weekend or on Monday. But there’s time yet for you to email me your list if you want me to throw it up there before the big Top 50 show on the MLB Network on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.

Top 50 Preview: Guest rankings No. 1

About a week ago, I urged folks to send in their own thoughts on who the top prospects in baseball are as we head toward the 2010 season. If you had a website or blog or some such venue that you use to wax eloquent about baseball and/or the Minor Leagues, I said I’d be happy to provide a free plug and link. (I’m still accepting lists if people are interested. All you have to do is email it to me.)

With my Top 50 list set to be unveiled on Wednesday evening (MLB Network, 8 p.m. ET, then on MLB.com right after the show airs), it’s time to let some other folks shine for a little bit. First up, Mike Newman.

Mike runs a terrific site called Scouting the Sally. On it, he provides reports aplenty, with video and analysis, of all the great prospects who troll the South Atlantic League (He can also be followed on Twitter @ScoutingtheSAL). For our purposes here, he branched out and gave his self-described high-ceiling, big tools bias a go on putting together a Top 30. Here it is:

RE: Top 30 Prospects1. Jason Heyward
2. Stephen Strasburg
3. Desmond Jennings
4. Jesus Montero
5. Mike Stanton
6. Neftali Feliz
7. Carlos Santana
8. Brian Matusz
9. Buster Posey
10. Justin Smoak
11. Pedro Alvarez
12. Dustin Ackley
13. Madison Bumgarner
14. Martin
15. Alcides Escobar
16. Fernando Martinez
17. Aroldis Chapman
18. Domonic Brown
19. Wade Davis
20. Casey Kelly
21. Jeremy Hellickson
22. Chris
23. Ryan Westmoreland
24. Brett Wallace
25. Hector Rondon
26. Dan Hudson
27. Jhoulys Chacin
28. Kyle Drabek
29. Logan Morrison
30. Matt Moore

So, what do you guys think? Leave comments here or go tell Mike directly. I’m sure he’d love to hear from you. I’m not going to say too much because I don’t want to give away too much about what my list will look like on Wednesday (don’t you love how I build the suspense?). I will say that when he told me he was a big raw tools type, I did expect to see more of that type on this list. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty solid. Just not exactly what I thought.

I should have another list to post on Friday or so.

A different take on Aroldis Chapman

Before I get to the meat of today’s post (and thanks to those who sent me some ideas for future content), just a quick note on the new 2009 MLBlogs rankings that are now up for your perusal. In the Pro Blogs category, I’m at No. 28, a drop of four places from a year ago. Evidently, blogging consistently helps with traffic. Go figure. I guess I’ll have to try that so I can move up in the rankings.

I promised in my last post some interesting info on Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban prospect who recently signed with the Reds. At the time of his signing, I wrote a story detailing what some scouts thought of the left-hander. It was, overall, fairly glowing. That’s understandable, considering Chapman is 22 and can crank it up to 100 mph.

But like with just about any player, you’re bound to find a variety of opinions when you talk to scouts. After the story ran, I heard from a scout who recognized the arm strength, but wasn’t so thrilled about the complete package. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to work with when it comes to Chapman, and it’s possible this scout will turn out to be wrong, but it’s just a differing opinion to add to the Chapman file. And if it takes him a little longer to get to the big leagues than some think, or if he struggles a bit at the outset, remember these words:

Fastball up to 95-100 mph. Slider is very inconsistent, below-average in quality. Changeup is well below-average. Mechanically, he often opens up too quickly with his front leg which, in turn, forces him to get around his slider. He doesn’t always find a consistent slot with his release point — high 3/4 to 3/4 — where he gets pretty good late movement. He doesn’t have a great feel for pitching. He is an above-average athlete with the kind of body you like to see in a pitcher. Future as a reliever seems more likely. Has shown a tendency to sulk and quit when the pressure is on.

There you have it. Take it for what it’s worth. But it’s worth noting if for no other reason than to understand that there’s always more than one opinion out there.

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