Today we’ve rolled out the 2018 MLB Draft version of THE BOARD, but rather than just point you to an article explaining how the minor-league version works, we’ll take a second to go over the differences between the draft and minor-league versions.
Obviously, the amount of information we have for these players is different than what we have on minor leaguers, so we think the presentation of our information should reflect that reality. While you can look at a pro prospect’s stat line and get a quick idea of how advanced they are, amateur stats (particularly outside of the top couple college conferences) often don’t tell a coherent story. This, along with the varying types of prospects in the draft, means that we need to be more specific about the indicators of projection rather than just our median tool grades. We capture that, in the minor leagues, with ‘variance’; for amateur players, however, we felt we needed more detail so that it’s not necessary to memorize every report to quickly compare players.
This is manifested in the columns marked Athleticism, Frame, Performance, and Delivery. All four apply to pitchers and the first three apply to hitters. Every player is graded on a five-point scale of either —, -, +, ++ or neutral (blank). In addition to age and some other factors not captured here, these factors are influential for us when attempting to craft the rankings. It should help better establish, at a reader’s glance, the relative strengths and weaknesses of each player. Sometimes that’s necessary, as the tool grades often end up so close to 50 that it’s hard to differentiate these players without breaking down mechanics on video or memorizing all the small separators in our reports. This also more closely mirrors how big league draft rooms work, with selective categories (like 95+ mph fastball, scoring well on a mental skills test, etc.) getting their own stickers put on specific draft magnets so that separating qualities beyond tools can be identified more quickly after the first few rounds.
Performance is self-explanatory and we consider level of competition in that grade, too. Delivery is also pretty self-explanatory, and there are some cases where pitchers need to make delivery adjustments. If we think a relatively quick fix is possible, however, we’ll leave them at neutral. Frame is a grade on how a player’s body composition and physical projection interact with the tools; it helps to explain how a pitcher could add velocity or a hitter could grow into power. Athleticism is a little more tricky. For pitchers, it’s the looseness of their actions, ability to repeat their delivery, visible in how they field their position and get off the mound, and the capacity to gain or keep present stuff rather than lose it. For hitters, it’s more than just the power/strength/speed or “football athleticism,” as we call it. It also includes actions in a player’s swing and the field, body control and overall explosion between the lines, adding up to more of a baseball-specific athleticism.
We’ve also included the Future Value (FV) for each prospect so you can see how he will fit into the minor-league version of THE BOARD after signing. In addition, for the 50 FV or greater players, we have slotted them in our updated (and soon-to-be released) minor-league prospect rankings to give a better sense of how they fit in the prospect landscape. Some of the players are ranked past 100 since we’re going to rank every 50 FV player, and there are 128 of those right now between pro prospects with eligibility for the list and draft prospects. We have also used 40+ and 45+ FV grades to further differentiate tiers of prospects, which will be included for minor-league prospects in the next update.
We’ve decided to list exactly 131 players in our draft rankings because that’s how many we feel are 40 FV quality or better — and thus we’ve evaluated to be of quality to appear on the minor league team prospect lists. That number may change by a handful, though, as we get closer to draft day. We’ll also be adding nearly 200 more names in lower tiers of prospects in the coming days, player we feel would appear among the Others of Note section on team prospect lists. They will be ranked within the four demographics (hitter/pitcher, high school/college) with additional video and information.
We will also add a double asterisk before the names of any seniors to denote their diminished negotiation leverage, as that is a big factor for whether they go ahead of or behind where their talent projects. In this top-131 version, Oregon State lefty Luke Heimlich (read his report for more about why he is ranked) is the only true senior, but Wake Forest righty Griffin Roberts is a 22-year-old junior, with Arkansas righty Blaine Knight and Stanford righty Tristan Beck both just behind him age-wise as pitchers that didn’t sign as eligible sophomores last year and are seen as motivated to sign this year.