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Monday, July 18, 2005

Sickels Dodgers Farm Midterms

Missed this when it came out about three weeks ago, but John Sickels did a useful Dodgers Farm review. A lot of Some (happy, now?) bad news about a bunch of different some pitchers, it looks like (Hanrahan, Jackson), and some of the bigger name offensive guys aren't getting it done, either (Loney, Navarro).

Update: I should say Sickels said something nice about the other guys on the list; I shouldn't imply that Sickels is dissing the Dodgers' minor leagues here at all. That's my job; like I've said, forget even the major leagues, wake me when any of these guys get past AA and find consistent success.

Update 7/19: And this is the last comment I'm taking on this subject.

Alright, I checked 3 times just to be sure, but I didn't see Hanrahan's name on that list of prospects, also I didn't think that he was a big name anymore anway. The comment on Navarro didn't seem that negative either. Pimental was the only other pitcher that had a negative comment and he wasn't a big name either. Are you sure you weren't just a bit over-eager to report that the Dodger prospects weren't as good as advertised?
Down in the comments, Sickels recommends turning Jackson into a closer. Interesting.
He's not on the list, but if you read the comments, he's lost that lovin' feeling. And yes, I am getting sick of hearing about how great the Dodgers farm system is when all their interesting prospects hit AA and stall. Some of the guys are good; but look at where those guys are that he does have nice things to say!

1. Joel Guzman - AA
2. Chad Billingsley - AA
3. Johnathan Broxton - AA
4. Edwin Jackson - demoted to AA
5. James Loney - AA for the second time and struggling with average and power
6. Chuck Tiffany - A Vero Beach
7. Yhency Brazoban - Dodgers, and a 5+ ERA
8. Dioner Navarro - AAA Las Vegas, with "disappointing power"
9. Delwyn Young - AA
10. Russ Martin - AA

Well, I have a day job so I'm not going to go past the top ten. But yeah, there's a number of guys who made the upper tiers of this list who are seemingly stuck at AA.
Other than jackson and loney, the guys considered elite prospects (guzman, billingsley, broxton, tiffany) have maintained their progress. Meanwhile LaRoche and Martin, and perhaps Orenduff, are putting themselves in that elite territory. Baseball America just put up a midseason top-25, they had Guzman, Billingsley, and LaRoche in the top 12. They also identified Loney and Jackson as dissapointments, but named Martin, Broxton, Tiffany, and Orenduff as rising stars. So by my count as 2 dissapointments (Loney,Jackson) 2 guys who maintained their already elite status (Guzman,Billinglsey) and at least 4 that are contending for top spots:(Martin,Broxton,Orenduff,Tiffany,Denker?,Johnson?,Kuo?,Abreu?,Navarro?)
Other than loney and jackson, the two dissapointments, who's hit AA and stalled? Aybar has held up in Las Vegas, and Navarro was voted onto the PCL allstar team, although he didnt play. I would hardly call guzman or billingsley stalled in AA, both are among the youngest in the league. Martin has taken a big step forward this year if one of the top 3 catchers in the minors. Delwyn Young is the only one that could be catogorized as "old" for his league, but this is his first shot at it. Moreover, a big reason why loney and Jackson (i throw in Beltre while im at it) have stalled because they were rushed. So the dodgers are obviousley going to be more cautious with these guys, none of them are quite Delmon Young, but then again who else is? Patience is going to be required, but given that AA is a fairly extreme pitchers envioronment, but some of these hitters are going to be good, Rob seems to be the only one disagreeing; BA, BP, Sickles, ect love the dodgery farm system.
Sorry, I don't think the Dodgers system deserves a "love". Maybe "like", but my point is that all these guys seem to hit a wall at AA and halt. The ones who haven't are recent promotees. Put it this way, I'm not about to French kiss Logan White any time soon (a fact that no doubt would comfort him if he knew about it). Let's see some of these terrific kids at the major league level if they're so great.
Look, it's well-established that you have a hard-on for your idea that the Dodger system is over-rated, and I'm not going to dispute that. What I'm saying is that you are really stretching it to try to make this list agree with you based on what Sickels says. I didn't even bring up your extremely poor choice of wording with "a lot of bad news about a bunch of different pitchers"
The least you could do is have your comments have something to do with the actual list and its contents.
And how long does one have to be in Double A to "stall" there? Most of our Double A prospects have been there a short time and are well below league average age. Loney is repeating the year there (and is STILL young for the league), but his last season was a write off because he broke his middle left finger and had surgery during the season. Loney's numbers are superior at age 21 to Mike Piazza's, and Piazza was playing a level below Loney at age 21, in high A Vero Beach (Piazza's slugging percenatge was not even .400 at age 21, his power developed later).

Our prospects are young and developing at an appropriate pace, so I think Rob is sounding awfully tiresome nagging about not getting big league results before they should ever be expected. It's like a little kid in the back seat of a car whining, "Are we there yet?" Logan White has only been drafting since 2002, and it is not the fault of White, DePodesta, or Dan Evans that the Dodgers' farm system before any of them ever worked for the Dodgers was one of the worst in baseball. And how many Angels' prospects drafted since 2002 have made the majors? Zero, that's how many. McPherson was a 2001 draftee and he has just become a regular major leaguer this year.
And Huston Street came up this year.

I expect one player, out of this entire system, ought to be ready after a couple years -- no, strike that, three years -- if the draftees are really as hot as all that. There are going to be superior outliers if things are going as well as all that. And I just don't see that.

BTW, Loney's line in 2005: .274/.355/.389. Last year I could deal because of the medical problems. But this year?

Miller. Jackson. Hanrahan. Not in the 2002 and beyond drafts? Fine. But I'm not convinced these guys are going to be impact players.
And if the Dodgers had wanted to use a top draft pick on a college closer who would be MLB-ready quickly, they could have drafted Street, instead of letting him go to the low-payroll, small-market team that didn't want to have to actually pay the going rate for a closer. Having Gagne already, I don't suppose we thought that would be a good use of a drft pick. The Dodgers have been drafting 18-year-old HS kids with high potential who are going to take longer to develop than college guys drafted in their early 20's. It is how good those players are when they are ready, not how quickly they make the majors, that will ultimately determine if they were good picks. But in the meantime, there are scouting reports and stats, and people who are experts in this field are highly impressed by the Dodgers minor league talent. And if your position is that baseball prospects can't be very good if they are not MLB-ready at age 21 (the most senior age of ANY of Logan White's high school draftees), then I have to say you are entertaining opinions about matters that you are too ill informed to have any business thinking about. I'm not saying that to be mean, or rude, it is just a fact. There are PLENTY of things I know nothing about, or know little about, but I don't spend any time thinking, talking, or writing about them either.

So you don't like Loney's current stat line? How about this one:


That was Piazza's stat line for the year when he was Loney's age, 21, only he was NOT in Double A like Loney, he was in Single A at the time.
Rob, is Steve Schmoll good enough for you?
Oh, and I want to add that it might be misleading to call Sickel's article a "Dodgers Farm review". It's a review of the top 20 list he made BEFORE the season started. That list does not represent the current top 20 in the farm very well.

And personally I wouldn't call it useful either, as it didn't say anything we couldn't see from the stats, but that's just me.
CanuckDodger --

(1) We will have to agree to disagree on this one. Adrian Beltre within the Dodgers system is my counterexample, as would be, say, Felix Hernandez within the Mariners' system now, who is almost certain to get a callup this year.
(2) How many guys have that line who DON'T make it? Prospects have good years all the time who later turn into pumpkins. This is especially true of pitchers (viz. Greg Miller, Joel Hanrahan).

There may be some good players in the Dodgers system, but they're going to have to do a lot more to convince me of it.
One further comment, CanuckDodger: take a quick gander at Piazza's minor league numbers: it took him four years to get through to the big club, including most of his 1992 season in AAA Albuquerque. This is my point exactly: where are all those supposedly great Dodgers if not in AAA? Shouldn't we be seeing some of them in AAA now? You can call me ignorant all day, but I would be choosing my examples a little better if I were you.
Noodlemantra: maybe. The fact that Schmoll got cut from the team once was scary.
Again, blah, blah, blah, you don't care for the Dodgers system, that's fine, it's a defendable position, but you have yet to defend your obsession with it by stretching the truth of this posting, again where is the "a lot of bad news about a bunch of different pitchers" you might be able to mention 3 pitchers that there is any bad news about, how is that a lot of bad news about a bunch of different pitchers. What does that even have to do with the fact that you believe most of their prospects get stuck at AA?
Again, don't try frame Sickels' posting as consistent with what you think.
Chris: you're getting on my nerves here. Read the damn post. I said Sickels was mostly complimentary to the Dodgers players. Buzz off if you can't handle that.
I did read it, and still fail to find where you explain the term a lot of bad news for a bunch of different pitchers or a correction of that language.
Like I said before, I have no problem with your feeling about the Dodger prospects, but I would like to know who these bunches of pitchers with a lot of bad news are.
I should say Sickels said something nice about the other guys on the list; I shouldn't imply that Sickels is dissing the Dodgers' minor leagues here at all.

Enough with the feigned ignorance. Go away.
Most of the prospects on the Jacksonville AA team are doing well enough to be expected to start at AAA next year. Then we would have stacked talents at every level in the minors. It really just takes one more stinking year. Or do you really think 6 top 100 prospects will somehow all turn into pumpkins in a year?
Noodlemantra -- fine; let's see them do it. What bothers me is the insistence that the 2002 class was so great, yet why aren't there any impact players at AAA from that class yet? And if that's true for the 2002 class, what of the 2003 and 2004 classes?
because most of the players from 2002 are only 21 years old. There are three 2002 draftees making an impact in there first tours in AA(martin,broxton,young). But I guess that doesnt count. They should be rushed to AAA, or majors, and if they dont produce, give up on them? This is the way the yankee's have run their farm system the last couple of years. If youre only going to judge a farm system by 21 year olds making an impact in AAA and above, your making a big mistake, those are rare. Oh, and by the way, Navarro is 21, and was selcted to the allstar team, and leads all catchers in his league in obp. And aybar is still overlooked. What exactly are you looking for? As for the schmoll comment, he was cut while trying out as a position player, which is why he tryed pitching.
No, Sanchez, I mean when Schmoll was sent back down to AAA from the Dodgers.

Rushed? No. My claim is there ought to be at least one of them banging down the door. And I don't see it.
Rob, Mike Piazza made it through the minors in four years because he was a college player drafted at age 20. If you want to say our prospects should be expected to be ready by age 24, great, I won't dispute that, but you are not saying that. You are wondering why they are not in the majors at age 21.
Are you saying the Dodgers drafted no 20 year olds?
Rob, I've been analyzing this topic in a little more detail ever since I read one of your initial posts. I've taken a look at the 40-man rosters for the Dodgers, Angels, and Braves so far. For each player, I looked at their progression through the minor leagues primarily noting the time where they became a good major leaguer. I defined a good major leaguer as someone who produced above average performance for their position for a significant period of time. Among those three teams, there are no players drafted under 20 who had a major league impact in their 3rd year after being drafted. There are only 6 players drafted younger than 20 who had an impact in their 4th year after being drafted (John Smoltz, Mike Hampton, Andruw Jones, Rafael Furcal, Vladimir Guerrero, & John Thomson). The median time to a major league impact for players drafted under 20 is 7 years, including high quality players such as Eric Gagne, Milton Bradley, Marcus Giles, and Chone Figgins. I understand your impatience with the system, but, at least so far, the data shows that your concerns are unfounded. If you'd like, I can send you a copy of the Excel spreadsheet with the data I have so far. Let me know.

The median time for players drafted 20 or older is 5 years. This is obviously less relevant for the Dodgers since they have consistently spent top picks on high school players, especially pre-DePodesta in 2002 & 2003.

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