Think Blue

Obsessing over the Dodgers' minor league system so you don't have to.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Baseball America's Pioneer League Top 20

After placing 3 prospects on the AZL Top 20, the Dodgers only saw a single player, RHP and 2009 3rd round pick Brett Wallach, make the PL Top 20. With talented hitters such as league-MVP Brian Cavazos-Galvez, Jerry Sands, Angelo Songco and Gorman Erickson putting up outstanding numbers but not getting any recognition as top prospects, it makes me wonder why Baseball America omitted these talented Dodger farmhands. Here are some possible reasons.

1. Ogden's home park

It was mentioned during Matt Eddy's chat that Ogden led the league with 89 home runs, with Missoula placing second with 80 and Helena rounding out the top 3 with a relatively miniscule 46. Eddy suggests Ogden's "extremely favorable power-hitting conditions" was a significant contributor to the Raptors' hitters' success. However, it seems the players didn't get the memo. BCG hit 9 HR at Home and 9 away, Sands hit 7 at Home and 7 away, Songco hit 4 at Home and 3 Away, and Erickson hit 3 at Home and 2 Away. As a matter of fact, Sands, BCG and Erickson had higher OPS's on the Road than at Home. Add to that Sands' overwhelming success in his second stint with Great Lakes in a pitcher-friendly league and the argument doesn't hold much water when you look just a little closer at the numbers.

2. Age

This seems to be a more plausible explanation for me, though everyone except BCG is the age of a college junior. Looking at the top 20 list, there are only 8 players who are 20 or older and only one of those players was a hitter (Carlos Ramirez, a catcher who batted .376/.500/.638). However, the average age of the league was just under 21 (20.8 for hitters and 20.9 for pitchers). So I hardly think that holding someone's age against them when it's average for the league is fair.

3. Athleticism

This seems to be the most likely culprit. None of BCG, Sands, Songco or Erickson are billed as great athletes. Note that the three outfielders profile in corners and Erickson is said to be just "average" behind the plate in the future. Baseball America is a very tools-oriented entity, which places a great amount of importance on projection. And that's not to say that BCG, Sands and Songco aren't athletic enough. Both Galvez and Sands spent some time in CF, and you don't put plodders who can't handle corner spots in center. Songco is the least athletic of the group and still should be able to handle LF.

I believe these rankings represent Baseball America's modus operandi rather than the true talent level of these 4 Dodger prospects. I have no problem with or its writers and think they can rank prospects any way they like. I just hope that people realize that tools aren't everything and what happens on the field matters.


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