What follows is simply a list of prospects who exceeded rookie-eligibility requirements in 2018. They are sorted into FV tiers (as listed at time of graduation) but not ranked within those tiers. Note the players whom we missed in the “Not Ranked” section at the bottom of the list. Lou Trivino (dominant reliever, probably should have been a 45 FV) and Niko Goodrum (a multipositional bat, typically a 45 FV for us) are prominent whiffs. Several of the 35 FV players were graded more highly in previous years (Fletcher, Laureano, O’Hearn, Palka) and they are a lesson in impatience and over-correction. Also take a gander at this piece from last winter, which I think has aged pretty well, especially the list of middle infielders.
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Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.
Interesting how 13 or 15 non-ranked rookies recorded at least 0.5 wins this season, with over half of that exceeding 1.2 WAR. Obviously this doesn’t control for playing time or future projection, but imo this demonstrates just how value there is to be found in unheralded players. I wonder how this compares to other rookie classes of un-scouted players?
Interesting! I think you’d have to look at a longer sample (maybe 3 years) to really know if there’s value. And you’re right, it could just be a this-year thing.
The question is where’s the value. If there’s no connecting thread that helps you identify the type ahead of time, then the takeaway is that of the >6,000 minor leaguers who never get written up on a team Top-X list, some of them will still make the majors and some smaller number of them will add real value.
I’d be surprised if this year was an outlier. It’s not accurate to say these guys aren’t scouted, it’s just that they’re not talked about much outside their own organizations. Just eyeballing the list I see at least two guys (Crick, Herrera) who were ranked here and elsewhere for multiple years, including in their teams’ top 10s, before poor performance dropped them off everyone’s radar. It’s not a huge surprise that some of those guys leverage the tools/skills scouts saw in them early in their careers to find some sort of role in the majors — generally in relief/utility.
Aside from that, I’m not really sure what lessons there are here other than that breakouts can come from nowhere (C. Villanueva, D. Rodriguez) or that some of the guys who grind it out until their mid-late 20s can show themselves deserving of big-league looks, even if they’re never exciting enough to get written up as top prospects (most of the rest of the NR names on that list).
There is some survivorship bias here. Org guy gets called up, does well in a small sample so gets more playing time and accrues WAR. Doesn’t mean they will continue to be 1-2 WAR guys – it probably isn’t their true talent level.
Most of them will fade into oblivion, while a few will outperform the scouting reports and carve out a decent MLB career.