Revisiting 2008's Loner Instances

September 10, 2009

Last year we conducted peer-review analysis of five 2008 top 100 prospect lists, Baseball America's, Baseball Prospectus', ESPN's, Mound Talk's and our own. With nearly two year's worth of performances and data now behind us, we should be able to get a decent look at how each publication's decisions are looking.

For the sake of this revisitation, Mound Talk, which hasn't been updated in over a year, will remain in the study but will not be analyzed.

This time around I'm going to review loner instances. I define a loner instance as every publication from our study including a player on its top 100 prospect list except one. That one publication is the loner.

Players are ordered below based on their average ranking from the four lists that ranked them.

Baseball America 2008 loner instances

1. Wladimir Balentien
2. Aaron Poreda

Balentien has emerged as a slow corner outfielder who doesn't hit for much power. While he has been impressive during his month and a half with the Reds, he didn't walk much and struggled making contact over 430 plate appearances with the Mariners.

Poreda spent a little over a month with the White Sox earlier this summer. He struggled with command but missed a lot of bats over 11.0 innings as a reliever. Traded to the Padres as part of the Jake Peavy deal, Poreda was then assigned to Triple-A Portland, where he walked 22.8% of the 162 batters he faced. Poreda is still just 22 years old -- he turns 23 in October -- and his strikeout and ground ball rates are promising. But he hasn't commanded the strike zone well this season.

Neither Balentien nor Poreda look like good bets to become above-average regulars at this point. Keep in mind that top 100 lists capture less than 5% of all prospects. And given that Balentien and Poreda were both in the 75-100 range of the other three lists, I wouldn't hold either of these ommissions against Baseball America.

Baseball Prospectus 2008 loner instances

There wasn't a single player who ranked on every list but Baseball Prospectus' in 2008.

Baseball Prospectus did differ from the ranks with seven prospects in 2009, in terms of loner instances, omitting players such as Domonic Brown and Martin Perez from its top 100.

ESPN 2008 loner instances

1. Gio Gonzalez
2. Brett Anderson
3. Steve Pearce
4. Jair Jurrjens
5. Scott Elbert
6. Michael Bowden

There's a little caution with pitchers here, isn't there?

Let's start with Steve Pearce, the only ESPN hitter loner instance. Pearce is a 26-year-old with below-average power, especially for a first baseman. While he may manage the strike zone well enough to carve out some kind of big league career, he probably isn't going to become more than a replacement level first baseman.

Gonzalez has had a decent second half with the A's. His command has been below-average -- and it was in the upper minors, too -- but he's striking out a lot of batters. The soon to be 24-year-old lefty still has a decent amount to prove. He's a potential above-average big leaguer, though.

Brett Anderson is one of the biggest misses of the players in this article. The 21-year-old could be one of the premiere pitchers in baseball over the next decade. ESPN did, however, rank Anderson 20th overall on its 2009 top 100.

Jurrjens was another major omission. He has quickly established himself as a above-average MLB starter.

While he hasn't proven that he can handle a starter's work load, Elbert has proven that he has swing-and-miss stuff. He has commanded the zone as well as ever in 2009, too. Elbert is looking like a strong bet to stick around in the big leagues.

Mired behind a strong group of MLB starters, Bowden isn't a guy who we've heard much buzz about this season. But he has been a solid Triple-A pitcher. He hasn't gotten many ground balls in the upper minors and his 2009 walk rate is the worst of his career. Still, the 23-year-old appears talented enough to surface as a 25-man roster pitcher eventually.

Project Prospect 2008 loner instances

1. Chin-lung Hu
2. Eric Hurley
3. Carlos Carrasco
4. Taylor Teagarden
5. Max Scherzer
6. Neil Walker
7. Gorkys Hernandez

After struggling in the majors in 2008, Hu was in the minors from April through September in 2009. He's a good contact hitter who doesn't hit for power or walk.

Hurley pitched well in Triple-A in 2008, but he has missed all of 2009 after having shoulder surgery.

Oddly enough, I think we're higher on Carrasco than most now. We were worried about Carrasco's poor transition to Double-A when we didn't rank him in our 2008 top 100. He has since proven to be a strong, durable strikeout pitcher with solid command. His weakness has been making too many mistakes within the strike zone. Carrasco has earned a shot in the big leagues. The question is what he'll do with it.

Teagarden has a good defensive reputation and some power. His well-below-average contact ability has helped make him a below-average offensive catcher in 2009. Teagarden will turn 26 this offseason. He may get a chance to become a full-time MLB starter at some point, but he hasn't earned it yet.

Despite the fact that he dominated High-A and Double-A hitters in 2009, Scherzer was a guy who we didn't see as a likely starting pitcher entering 2008. He had some command struggles in Double-A and we weren't sure if he could handle a starter's work load. Scherzer still hasn't topped 175.0 innings in a pro season, but he's been good enough over 150+ this season that he's looking like a major omission from our 2008 top 100 -- we had him at 148th on our 2008 Top 150.

Walker hasn't been very impressive in Triple-A over the last two seasons. He's a good contact hitter with decent power who doesn't get on base frequently. The 24-year-old still has time to improve his game. And he could eventually take on a role as a MLB regular. We don't see him as a good bet to become more than a replacement-level big leaguer.

An up-the-middle defender, Hernandez wouldn't need to hit much to become a decent big leaguer. The 22-year-old has been a well-below-average Double-A hitter this season, though. Hernandez is a well-below-average power hitter, below-average contact hitter and below-average on-base threat. He was one of our loner instances in 2009, too.


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