There's roughly 85-95 players at any one time on full-season rosters, and only perhaps 10% of those players end up having major-league careers of any consequence. Look around at the prospects sites and read prospects guides and you'll see up to 30 or even more players per organization profiled as major-league prospects. Well, as mentioned above, only a very small portion of minor-league players end up having a major-league career, so unless you're a die-hard prospect hound, following that many players isn't worth your time.
That's where Prospects That Matter come in. This concept was Jay's brainchild in 2008; he got tired of putting time and effort into following marginal players that would make it to AA or AAA but no higher, or having just a small cup of coffee in the majors. What he was trying to distill from those big lists of "prospects" was a list of players with a legitimate chance of becoming a major-league player. The rest the casual minor-league follower could ignore for now, or ignore forever; I'm sure there will be players that won't meet these criteria that eventually blossom into major-league players, but those should be the odd exceptions, not the rules.
So what were the criteria that Jay set down?
- In Triple-A: succeeding at age 25, solid at 24, or younger.
- In Double-A: succeeding at age 23, solid at 22, or younger.
- In High-A: succeeding at age 21, solid at 20, or younger.
- In Low-A: succeeding at age 19, solid at 18, or younger.
- In short-season leagues: solid at age 17 or younger.
In other words, it's a combination of age and results. In some cases there might not be one player in a level that meets these criteria, but you know what? Maybe no one from Lake County (to take an example) will ever become a regular major-leaguer. One only has to look at the Indians' recent (as in since the late 90s) track record to know that not many minor-leaguers have developed into major-league players.With minor-league players we tend to wishcast quite a bit, seeing only the upside without the flaws, and this system helps to curb our enthusiasm down to a more rational level.
Because normally this list should be done either after the minor-league season or until well into the minor-league season (so that the statistics have a large enough sample), I'm going to cheat a little to do this now. I'm going to ignore this year's stats (which are very SSS) but count the level the player is currently in.
Jay further divided the PTM (and non-PTM) into smaller groups:
- Prospects That Really, Really Matter - players who've met PTM criteria at an excessively young age.
- Prospects That Really Matter - those who beat the PTM criteria with room to spare.
- Prospects That Matter - others who've cleared the bar.
- Too Accomplished to be Prospects - graduates to the majors who are still of "prospect age"
- Too Old to Matter - players who are still in the minor-league system but are too old to make the PTM list.
- Prospects That Might Matter at Some Point - notable players who still have age on their side; could make future PTM lists.
Mid-season Update: June 25, 2013
New Prospects That Matter
In this update, four players who were PTM will be moved to Too Accomplished to be Prospects, and three players will join the PTM. If you've been following the weekly updates throughout this season, you'll have a fairly good idea who these four are. The four players who were added both meet the requirements laid out above in addition to having a history of success or the tools to succeed in the majors.
Here are the players that were not listed among the PTM before the season but are eligible for addition:
- 1B/DH Chen-Hsui Chen (Age 24, AAA)
- C Roberto Perez (Age 24, AAA)
- RHRP Preston Guilmet (Age 25, AAA)
- C Jake Lowery (Age 22, AA)
- RHSP Will Roberts (Age 22, AA)
- LHSP Shawn Morimando (Age 20, A+)
- RHSP Michael Peoples (Age 21, A+)
- RF Anthony Santander (Age 18, A-)
- 3B Leonardo Castillo (Age 19, A-)
There's one player in Arizona (Francisco Mejia) that meets the criteria, but his season is just beginning.
That's not a huge list to choose from, and it excludes several players that are having fine seasons, even dominant seasons, but miss the criteria because of age. For example, Tyler Naquin, who is in his Age 22 season, is having an outstanding season in Carolina, and if I were basing this on projections/scouting, he'd be a shoo-in. But that's the point of the criteria: it purposefully makes a player dominating a level reach a higher, more age-appropriate level before he can be included. This is a list designed to just give the casual minor-league follower the prospects worth following, and if I included all the players having decent seasons at lower levels, then the list would be 2 or 3 times larger, and would defeat the purpose of a list, because if everyone's included, then the designation of a prospect loses its meaning. The criteria is strict at lower levels, and much more forgiving in AA and AAA, which is as it should be for this purpose, as results start to matter more at those levels. I fully expect Naquin, once he's promoted to Akron (whether its this year or next), to make this list.
With all that being said, here are the mid-season additions to the Prospects That Matter:
- RHSP Preston Guilmet (Age 25, AAA) - even though he doesn't get rave reviews for his stuff, you argue with what he's done at every level of the organization. A 9th Round selection in 2009, Guilmet's rates have uniformly excellent (career 7.2 H/9, 9.8 SO/9, 2.0 BB/9). Yeah, his upside is a 7th-inning, possibly 8th-inning guy, but there's little risk here.
- C Jake Lowery (Age 22, AA) - The Indians for most of the season have been shuffling their catching prospects up and down their full-season leagues, but I think now they have everyone where they should be. For the first half of the season, Lowery and Roberto Perez shared playing-time, mostly because the Indians had an organizational hole because of injuries and promoted everyone up a level. Lowery probably should have started the season in Carolina again, but he had no problems offensively in a tough hitter's league. A 4th Round pick in 2011, Lowery's upside was as a starting catcher, and it looks like he's back on that path.
- LHSP Shawn Morimando (Age 20, A+) - In an organization rife with disappointing pitchers, Morimando has exceeded all expectations. A 19th Round selection in 2011, Shawn has blown past other more celebrated high school arms to excel at Advanced A. He has a four-pitch mix, and is very polished for someone his age. His stuff isn't exceptional, and that worries me, but he's more than fulfilled the criteria for inclusion here.
Anthony Santander is doing OK in Lake County, but he's not having what I consider a solid season. Likewise, Chun Chen is struggling a bit in his first taste of AAA. Both were borderline choices, but I decided to err on the side of caution for now.
Next: A review of the current PTM list, and of prospects that might make the list in the future.