Greg Halman and Michael Saunders?! Ahead of Carlos Triunfel and Phillippe Aumont?! That is going to produce some cognitive dissonance for folks, and that is going to persist all year. In order to "get" Halman and Saunders, we're going to have to stick the sabr pliers back in the tool belt. To a certain extent, at least. If we spend the year evaluating performances only, we are going to miss the point on the M's #1 and #2 prospects. .................. We received a question: if a minor-league hitter does go 4-5 years without impressive results, can you more-or-less rule him out as an impact player in the majors?
For comparables, can anyone think of an ‘athlete’ type guy who took more than four years in the affiliated minors to ‘get it’ - to be a MLB-ready bat?The answer is, "No." Some guys jell late. Off the top of my head, just a couple minutes with no database … you'll be able to find better examples: Carlos Guillen, a 5-tool blue-chipper when he was young, hit 228/297/293 in his age-22 season, 4th year in the minors, and as we all know, was a great disappointment in the majors all the way through his age-27 season. Then he became an MVP candidate at 28. Bobby Abreu spent 7 years in the minors (career 290/370/450 including all the repeated levels) and then in his 8th year, made the majors and had a lousy year. Geronimo Berroa spent 10 seasons in the minors before coming up to the majors and hitting 300/370/500 for several years. Edgar Martinez :- ) spent 7 years in the minors. Travis Hafner spent 7 years in the minors. There are any number of Luke Scotts, Ryan Healys and Jack Custs who stay in the minors for many years, and though saber guys shout about it, their ML orgs have serious reason to believe that they have holes preventing them from being MLB-ready. …………….. I don’t have a database available to compare # of minors AB’s, minors OPS, against high-OPS major league seasons later. But it would contain 100’s of players who were still developing at 22-23 and who became quality ML players. …………….. There is a general assumption we need to rein in a little bit: if you're going to be a #4 hitter in the big leagues, then pretty much you have to blast through the minor leagues like Delmon Young or Ken Griffey Jr. That's more-or-less what Mariners fans want to see, before they buy into a player's potential future stardom. Adam Jones didn't blast through the minors, exactly, but it was AFTER he showed outstanding age/arc results that everybody went from trashing him to deifying him. ………….. How recently was it, that we were hearing that Jeff Clement wasn't showing what he needed to be showing? To become even "much of a major league player," much less to have a shot to star? How recently was it, that we were hearing that Wladimir Balentien was outside the M's top-10 prospects, much less a prospect of the magnitude he is now? ………….. While we are "catching on" to blue-chippers like Jones, Clement and Tuiasosopo only after they do something spectacular, the Mariners are in the business of predicting when a young player will eventually do something spectacular. The more that Mariners fans watch guys like Jones, Clement, Wlad and others get dismissed, only to explode later, the more they should be realizing that age-arc is to be used with discretion. …………… Think of a continuum with [YOUTH, SCOUTING] at the far left side and [AGE, SABERMETRICS] at the other side. The younger a player is, the less that sabermetrics is the tool you want . The older he is, sure, the more the performance record prevails (with the reductio ad absurdum being Alex Rodriguez', or Phillippe Aumont's high-school career). ................ Matt Tuiasosopo was an info-taining debate as he returned shockingly-bad results early on. Particularly when Tui was extremely young, and promoted very aggressively, we should have realized that analyzing the performances would only take us so far. It doesn't matter if he's the 'worst age-19 player in AA history' or whatever, because in some cases the results do not matter *at all.* Tui is an example. As to the question of ‘tools’ players in Tuiasosopo’s specific template, that would be an interesting little investigation. But I’m sure all kinds of templates would be found in the late-bloomer category. Mike Piazza, who I think hits just like Tui, was a terrible hitter at age 21. He OPS’ed in the 600’s in class A baseball. For a lot of guys like Tuiasosopo, you've got to go to the tools-scouting wrench. .................. The Mariners' top two BBA prospects, Greg Halman and Michael Saunders, are cases in point. They've had success, but it is not their results that BBA likes. It's their potential -- the things they have not yet done -- that scouts like. You might reply that Triunfel hasn't done anything yet? Sure he has: his age-arc results are spectacular. Same with Aumont: he has thrown 96 mph fastballs and thrown Nintendo overhand sliders (AND has great results for his age). We are talking about seeing things that aren't yet easily seen. Don't dismiss the idea of evaluating the things that a prospect has not yet done. That's how the Mariners come up with guys like Adam Jones. Cheers, Dr D