Black Jack

Are any prospects can't miss?

  Well one more day to make the big sweeping trade that will deplete a team's minor league system while trading all those can't miss prospects.  But realistically, how many of these prospects are really worth a crap?
   Every White Sox 2009 pre-season writeup listed Former white Sox prospect Brandon Allen as a top 5 prospect in the organization.  But he was traded away for a struggling middle reliever, Tony Pena, when the bullpen was arguably the strong point of the Sox at the time.  Obviously not a can't miss within the organization.  So how are these lists created, and how much validity do they have?

   During my playing days, the Yankees always seemed to have several "prospects" that they would trade away EVERY YEAR to get that much needed veteran guy to hopefully take them to the promised land.  problem is, I don't remember many of those guys being considered "mistakes" after they ended up having dominating careers elsewhere.

   We will constantly hear about the Tigers trading John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander or the Mariners trading Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb (they just needed that closer didn't they!)  But how often do we hear about the Jack McDowell to the Yankees for Lyle Mouton etc.?

   The bottom line is that every team has a magic list of about 10 "prospects" in their organization who are highly touted, overrated, over-projected, you name it.  Playing this game at the highest level and being consistent over a number of years is what a "can't miss prospect" truly is.

   That is why baseball is the only sport that has such an intricate minor league system and requires almost every ball player to hit all of them and be successful at all of them along the way.  Can't miss prospects are as rare as Mark Buerhle's perfect game.

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45 Comments

bkelly said:

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Jack, I couldn't agree more! I work with a bunch of Cubs fans, so I constantly hear about how great the Cubs farm system is. Their fanbase (and I suppose their management) does an excellent job of pimping up the 'talent' on the farm. But you're right, in the end, most of that talent doesn't pan out.

In my mind, I think the last true can't miss prospect was Joe Mauer, but now that I think about it, I think there may have even been questions about him. Am I off base there, or have there been a few since him?

Jack McDowell said:

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It depends how close to an organization you are. That's what I'm getting at, every team has their own "can't miss" guys. Guys like Mauer are tough for everyone to get behind because he came from High School. I think of my draft in 1987 when Griffey went #1 overall. That was a slamdunk. He was a Major League player in High School. How about Strasberg? He'll more than likely end up as another Prior...but Boras will get his 5% of the signing bonus.

part-time pariah said:

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i'm sure we all remember the hype behind prior when he got drafted...

Jason Gage said:

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You mean the guy that the Twins got ridiculed for when they took him over the "can't miss" Mark Prior. Everyone that gets drafted has doubts but Prior was the last guy hyped as "can't miss" in a draft (well before Strasburg of course).

joey said:

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"We will constantly hear about the Tigers trading John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander or the Mariners trading Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb (they just needed that closer didn't they!) But how often do we hear about the Jack McDowell to the Yankees for Lyle Mouton etc.?"

That would be an excellent point, if you were akin to a John Smoltz or a combination of Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe.

Jack McDowell said:

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OOOOWWWW. You really got me on that one. But in your rush to make me look like an asshole, you got it reversed. I wouldn't be the prospect, but rather the veteran who was traded. So I guess I just need to be akin to Doyle Alexander and Heathcliff Slocumb! Plus, when I played I actually WAS akin to every one of those players as they matured and actually better. Smoltz lasted longer but when we played I was ahead of him performance wise. So I guess you're wrong on both points. Don't be in such a hurry to be an ass and you'll save yourself some face!

joey said:

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Jack allow me to apologize. I was entirely off-base. You certainly were better than John Smoltz. And hey, 'Stickfigure' is better than Led Zeppelin too. Whatever makes you happy pal.

Jack McDowell said:

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Once again, you were WRONG in your initial jab at me because you switched the veteran / prospect particulars of the trades. I win and am now up 1-0. Next from 1990-1996, a seven year period which included our Cy Young years here are the numbers: John Smoltz 100-72 3.44 ERA 1532 IP 32 CG 1323 K's 522 BB's. And now my numbers for those years 111-67 3.73 ERA 1567 IP 61 CG 1117 K's 490 BB's. Yeah, he was out of my league. He was a #3 as well so he faced #3 pitchers. I win again and am up 2-0. Lastly I have never in my life claimed that stickfigure was better than any other band. A clean 3-0 sweep!

joey said:

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Yes, you pointed out I was wrong in my 'initial jab' already. Calm down, Jack. You are treating me like I'm a Yankees fan after you got shelled in the second game of a doubleheader. :)

Congrats on your 'clean 3-0 sweep'--do you get a ring for that?

J said:

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Joey, you're kind of a massive tool aren't you? You're the typical douche bag who only ever dreamed of playing in the pros but realized that throwing a ball and swinging a bat like Anthony Perkins in "The Jimmy Pearsall Story" clearly wasn't gonna cut it, but hey, you can still try out for a co-ed softball team, that is if you can hang with the girls. The simple fact here ding dong is that you got your ass handed to you by Jack and now you're embarrassed so you just keep compounding the shit piling up on you by trying to be witty and you're just not. And before you respond to me, think hard about it asshole. This back and forth was started by you, a bitter, no talent hack. Go open a bag of cheetos and watch your man crush, Zac Efron in High School Musical again. If that doesn't calm you down just go get a mani-pedi and tell all the girls at the salon how you got verbally abused on this sight because you have the intelligence of drywall. Douchebag!

joey said:

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haha, served. te amo. besos.

Jack McDowell said:

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I'm perfectly calm. I'll take any shit you have to give, but if you're incorrect on the shit you give then I will point it out. You began this with a personal insult that really had nothing to do with the post I offered about "can't miss prospects." Let me guess also...you voted for Obama.
Always angry, and always OFF POINT.

joey said:

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Wow, you took a jab at Tiger Woods in your steroids-related post, and now you're talking about Obama. Doesn't take a genius to figure out what's going on here! I'll try to stay more 'on point', like how you mentioned voting for Obama.

J said:

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Are you for real? So now because two men were mentioned by Jack that just so happen to be black, you're now inferring Jack to be a racist. What the fuck? Would it be fair to say that you didn't like President Bush and because he's from Texas, you also hate all Texans? Good Lord you're an idiot. That kind of mentality is everything that's wrong with this country.

If anyone disagrees with Obama's policies, ideologies or agendas they must be a racist if they're white or an uncle Tom if they're black, right? This is what you're getting at. Calling out Tigers massively increasing physique in a short time frame can't possibly have anything to do with illegal substances huh? Trying to speak with someone like you is like trying to reason with an inebriated person.

I could get more enlightening information out of a big steaming pile of dog shit versus the vacuous drivel we're getting from you. Grow up. Stop inciting controversy with your stupidity. Not everything is about race you poor pathetic victim you. You whiners that pull the race card at a drop of a hat goes against everything the great Martin Luther King Jr stood for and believed in.

joey said:

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I didn't infer; I implied. YOU inferred.

J said:

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It's the same difference asshole.

Infer:
-to conclude from evidence or premises.
-to reason from circumstance; to surmise.

Imply:
-to involve or indicate by INFERENCE, association or necessary consequence rather than by direct statement.

Stop involving yourself in the minutia of my response to your obvious inference/implication of racism towards Jack. You're not in the same league as me douchebag.

Do yourself a favor, apologize to Jack for insulting and attacking him right out of the gate and stop while you're behind. You're not going to gain any ground here.

bkelly said:

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If there was some sort of image or emoticon type thing that I could insert showing a guy clapping I would.

But since that isn't an option, all I can say is well done, very well done.

bkelly said:

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When you were traded, what was that feeling like? I don't remember the circumstances anymore to be honest. Was your name thrown around a lot as possible trade bait, or were you taken totally by surprise? How does it feel to be traded at the deadline? And looking back, what's it like to see you were traded for a guy who didn't amount to much? Do you look at it like "I'm glad they gave up on me and ended up getting the shit end of the stick?"

Jack McDowell said:

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My trade was very interesting. I was traded during the lockout that ended the World Series in 1994 which if you look at the labor law is illegal and should have been invalid. It was a small story because obviously there were other more pressing things in the game at the time!!! But...when we came back to play in March '95, I was told the union wouldn't press the issue of my trade. They didn't want the backlash of fighting a thing for a single player after the whole mess of the lockout. Anyway, I ended up playing for the Yankees, in my 7th full year. Another thing that went virtually unnoticed was the fact that I had to play 7 full years to become a free agent. Kenny Rogers and I were the only two players who weren't granted out full time for the days spent during the lockout. Everyone else became free agents except us!

expatnyc said:

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That's a great question. Jack, I recommend doing up a post on it to coincide with the deadline.

nmymnd said:

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Seems like we've had a slew of "can't miss" prospects that did miss in recent years. Off the top of my head I'm thinking Borchard, Anderson, and Fields. Granted Fields and Anderson might pan out, if not for us though. Seems like most of the guys that end up being "can't miss" sure didn't have that label initially. Buehrle is a good example of that. Quentin probably had that label for a time in AZ, but hopefully he'll make good on that with us. Ramirez could end being can't miss, if only in the warm months. With all that being said, I think we're in agreement Jack. If there's a way to bring Halladay in by gutting our farm system, I'm all for it. After all, who knows who our next 38th round "can't miss" prospect will actually be?

Jack McDowell said:

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yeah, so many lower picks become stars as well. That is why baseball is such an inexact science for projections. Talent and tools don't always get it done.

ALCentralFan said:

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Considering the fact that the White Sox will need a starter to plug in a minimum of 3 more times prior to Peavy being Major League ready, any ideas who that may be (I think the DJ Carrasco experiment is over). They have a young kid by the name of Daniel Hudson, who is lighting it up in Birmingham- any other possibilities?

Thanks..

Jack McDowell said:

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Not sure what they'll do. It surprised me that they didn't give Poreda a crack instead of Colon earlier so who knows where they will go with it.

part-time pariah said:

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firstly, black jack, you are the man...period. you made me want to be a pitcher (but i sucked, so i gave up) when i was a youngling. i almost killed my fist-baseman trying the 'fake-to-3rd-throw-to-1st' move.

i've heard a lot of criticism on the allen trade, and i can see both sides, really. however, until he puts up those numbers on a major league team, i'll remain indifferent.

i'll admit, i was scratching my head at that move entirely, and i generally have faith in what kenny serves up (well, except for giving swisher away, and selling low on javy).

it's going to be a long summer my friend. keep up the great blog!!!!!

Zoso said:

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Well sure, Jack, in some cases you have to go for it. But in some cases, it makes no sense to go for it because "it" isn't gonna happen. For example, this White Sox team. Halladay isn't getting us a ring, so I'll be happy to hold onto Beckham, which is who they'd certainly want given their extraordinary demands of other teams. Allen for Pena is colossally stupid though, any way you slice it.

part-time pariah said:

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i think there is logic behind the pena trade...it's flawed logic, but i see what they were going for. again, until allen puts those numbers up in the MLB, there is no 'winner' in the trade.

the young trade looked really bad initially, but what has he done since?

Zoso said:

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How is there logic behind it? Pena is a mediocre reliever who we could've found without giving up a TOP 10 PROSPECT. Allen was the apparent successor to Konerko, who we have for one more year. I don't wanna hear "he hasn't done anything yet." He was a top 10 prospect for us and looked pretty decent. The Sox have a decent eye for corner position players. It's not that we gave up a complete stud. It's that we gave up a good prospect for a mediocre reliever we could've gotten for less. Look what we gave up for Thornton--Joe Borchard, a sub .200 absolute bust. Maybe Pena will become a good setup man, but it does. not. matter. We gave up way too much value for him.

webegeek said:

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I thought we could get more for Allen, but the reason they let him go was because the young cuban star they signed last winter is apparently not going to be a big league 3rd baseman and is now targeted to be a first baseman, so Allen became expendable. That was the thinking, whether logical or correct I'm not commenting on.

part-time pariah said:

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allen was blocked, at 1B, by fields, viciedo, and possibly flowers. this makes him expendable. again, i know it's flawed logic, but you have to look at it from all angles.

webegeek said:

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oops, you already covered it, should have read further before I posted.

Zoso said:

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So he was blocked by two 3B and a C. Oh, I see. Never mind then...

part-time pariah said:

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sigh. fields failed at 3B. he had been spelling konerko there. vicideo does not project as a 3B...LF and 1B are the likely destinations. the same goes for flowers. he's too big to be catching for his whole career...again, likely moved to 1B.

Zoso said:

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Fields also failed at hitting, pariah. If he was "blocking" Pena from anything, then why was he just sent down--in favor of Wise no less? Resubmit. Flowers is still a C. Viciedo is still a 3B. Nobody was blocking Allen from anything.

part-time pariah said:

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oh i didn't mean he was blocking pena from anything...i was talking about allen. fields was already on the mlb team, while flowers and viciedo (AND allen) are/were down on affiliates. allen just didn't have a shot to come up and play 1B. do you honestly see paul konerko going anywhere anytime soon? even positionally?

i believe dye will be DH-ing well before konerko...HENCE, allen didn't have a chance, and becomes expendable for bullpen help (which is turning out to not be so helpful).

rustysurf83 said:

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There is no logic behind the Pena trade from any angle...you don't trade a top ten prospect for a mediocre reliever. period.

part-time pariah said:

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you're right. kenny said, 'hey fellas, let's go out and make the worst move period. let's put my job in jeopardy!'

that's exactly how it went.

Connor MacLeod said:

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Yeah, because Kenny's job is really EVER in jeopardy. He can even have his kid leading off and sucking in the minors and no one cares.

rustysurf83 said:

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that's about how it looks from the outside...

part-time pariah said:

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well perhaps you should 'apply' for the GM job of the white sox. i'm sure you'll do a much better job clinging to 'prospects'.

Connor MacLeod said:

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Right after I 'apply' for the US President job. What a joke.

Why are you talking, are you also a GM?

rustysurf83 said:

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Anyone with a hint of baseball knowledge outside of KW and Ozzie could probably do a better job as GM and Manager given some of their decisions this year.

part-time pariah said:

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never mind.

lesnessman said:

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Jack:
Great blog...you should be on the air in chicago.
Who rates these prospects as "top prospects," the organization or some other group??

rustysurf83 said:

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There's a deal that I'm willing to give up prospects for. Peavy for Poerda, Richard, Russell, Carter.

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