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I’ve thought labeling prospects is a dumb concept for as long as I can remember. But I never thought I could really write that because Matt wasn’t on a prospect list. BUT now he is AND guess what…I still think labeling prospects is dumb. And now I’m going to write why I think that.
In sports, prospects are labeled all the time, but in baseball labeling prospects is most common because there are so many minor league players.
Usually each MLB organization has a list of 30 prospects then there is a Top 100 prospects list, which is just the top 100 players throughout the entire minors.
First things first — according to Wikipedia, “a prospect is any player whose rights are owned by a professional team, but who has yet to play a game for the team, or is not established with the team yet.”
Second thing, you’re probably wondering who makes these prospects lists. So Baseball America and MLB Pipeline each make lists. Baseball writers are the main people who are making these lists.
And I’m here to say as a writer I’m not dissing those writers who make the lists. I’ll be the first to tell you I think it’s so cool that Matt is on the prospect list — mainly because he earned it/deserves the recognition. But that also doesn’t mean I still can’t think labeling is dumb.
I will say though I would love to know how many of the people making the lists have actually seen Matt (or a majority of players on the list/considered for the list) play a game of baseball. Sure they’ve watched him on film, right? But that’s minimum to me to get the whole picture of what kind of player he is. And again I know they’ve done their research and definitely know what they’re talking about. They really go off numbers — especially with someone like Matt.
But anyway, the people making the lists aren’t the point of this post.
Matt entered the Dodgers prospect list at the end of the 2017 season — right before he was named Texas League POY and won the batting title…oh and right after a trade was made that sent a Dodgers prospect to another team. But ya know we’ll take it.
Prospects are labeled prospects based off two things from my perspective:
1) Value to the team aka how much money/signing bonus they spent on player and also what round they were drafted in comes into play too
I went through the MLB Pipeline Top 30 Dodgers Prospect List and compared signing bonus, round and when they were drafted/signed.
Matt and Kyle Farmer are the only senior signs (played all four years in college). Both are the only players on the list who signed a five-figure signing bonus. Matt was a 12th round pick. Kyle was an 8th round pick. Only one other player on the list was drafted lower (38th round), but said player also signed a six-figure ($100,000) signing bonus and is four spots higher than Kyle. Worth noting that Kyle was on the 40-man all 2017 season, hit a walk-off in the 11th in his debut and made the NLDS and NLCS rosters. He’s the 27th Dodgers prospect.
After the $100K bonus, every other player on the list signed for at least $250K. Eleven of those signing for over a million and seven signing for over $500K.
As for rounds outside of Matt, Kyle and the 38th rounder, every other player was drafted in the 7th round or higher. Thirteen players were drafted in the top five rounds. The top ten prospects were either drafted in the first or second round — or were international signs. International players are not part of the traditional draft. Those players are just signed and usually they get the most money and are the youngest players.
Nine of the Dodgers prospects are international signs and were either 17 or 18 years old when signed. Seven of the prospects were drafted out of high school. The rest were either drafted after their junior year or redshirt sophomore year of college.
Potential is where the international and high school prospects come in. Scouts see these guys play and base a lot of their assessment/draft status off of potential. What their bodies have potential to look like, how hard their arm has the potential to throw, how much power their bat has potential to have. Which is dumb.
I couldn’t find updated numbers but I know the type of players who made up the 2015 MLB Opening Day Rosters:
4-year college: 397
High school: 204
2-year college: 69
It probably looks different now. I know 2017 saw the highest number of international players in the history of the MLB. But I can’t imagine it’s much different. That speaks volumes to me. Experience > Potential
I wrote a blog when Matt was drafted that kind of touches on some of the same concepts.
I just wish baseball was a little bit more of how you perform — ya know once you’re in the minor leagues. I’m no expert in anything, but I don’t know many jobs that give you hundreds of thousands/multiple millions BEFORE you even prove you can do your job well. So many things (injuries, potential not panning out, burn out, etc. etc.) happen in the minors and then there are players who exceed expectations. And I won’t even get into the mental toll baseball has on a player. Mental toughness is seriously like 80% of the battle. I’m just saying maybe those things should pan out before prospects are labeled, pressure is put on and tons of money is given.
The higher prospect you are the lower your performance has to be. I didn’t realize that until I compared Matt to some of the other guys in the system. Matt has to over perform (which I mean HE HAS BEEN OVER ACHIEVING-OVER PERFORMING) because he didn’t sign for a ton of money and is an "older" player. But the higher prospects can play very mediocre/just get their reps and still get promoted and still be on track to the big leagues.
I’m not saying the higher prospects aren’t good. Because of course they’re good. I’m just saying I wish the playing field wasn’t so tilted before the players even play their first professional game. I’m just saying I’ve watched so many talented players who are not on their organizations prospects lists who are dang good. And they deserve some love and recognition too.
Baseball is very political and labeling prospects is no different.
But what do I know? I’m just out here rambling. Trying to make professional baseball not so flawed.
I should also say these thoughts are my own. Matt just checked for errors.
And as for Matt, he’s going to keep killing it…whether he’s labeled a prospect or not.
And I’m just going to always keep believing that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard and great performance beats prospects labeled, signing bonuses and potential.
Matt & Jesica Beaty
Welcome in to dreams and seams! A tell-all blog about our career dreams and path to reaching those dreams with some commentary about sports and life plus some videos too.
"Strive for the impossible because it makes the possible seem effortless." -Matt Beaty