FanGraphs Audio: The Evolving Criteria of the Pitching Prospect

Episode 774
There is, technically, such a thing as a pitching prospect; the presence of pitchers on draft boards and top-100 lists suggests as much. As the profile of the major-league pitcher evolves, however, so does the criteria by which minor leaguers and amateur talent have to be assessed. Should evaluators employ a “minimum acceptable velocity”? How ought the chance of injury be integrated into a Future Value grade? Guest Eric Longenhagen answers questions very similar to these, if not these questions exactly.

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Audio after the jump. (Approximately 56 min play time.)

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Regarding the proportion of hitters and pitchers on a top-100 list, would it be more useful to start by making two separate lists: one of pitchers and one of position players? I’m not trying to tell Eric how to do his job or asking him to completely change how he does it but I think it makes more sense to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. Even within those categories there are subsets that make sense to separate, especially within position players. Certainly afterwards one can merge them all into a big master list but, especially given the lack of precision inherent on the 20-80 scale (I still don’t understand why you can’t give a guy a 53 grade or a 69), it seems like it would be much easier to sort through a stack of 45s or 55s if you were starting by ranking them vs the guys who they are actually trying to beat out of a job. That is to say, that there are 5 starting pitchers and 8 starting position players on every big league team; a pitching prospect is not going to be battling a 3B prospect for a roster spot (unless both are fringy reliever/bench guys, in which case neither would be on a top-100 list).
I’m not saying that teams are trying to specifically trade for or draft pitching or hitting prospects (trading and drafting is the purpose of these lists, right? not entertaining nerdy college kids…) but when trading or drafting, wouldn’t an exec address the choice by asking “okay, who are the 2-3 best pitching prospects available and who are the 2-3 best position players?” before comparing pitchers to hitters to make the final call? I guess that’s how I would do it if I were an exec but I’m not. I’m an entomologist. So my question ultimately is, would it be more useful to present these lists broken into pitchers and hitters? It seems like it would make defending the final within-group rankings more straightforward.