Analyzing the Top 50: Howard or Floyd Number One?

The debate is on. Who is the better prospect, Gavin Floyd or Ryan Howard? In wrapping up our list of the Top 50 Phillies Prospects, <i></i> chose Gavin Floyd, but there are good arguments for Ryan Howard being the choice. Here are our reasons why it was Floyd over Howard.

In figuring out the Top 50 Phillies Prospects, it wasn't easy to come up with the list. Like any list of this sort, it's easy to argue who should have been where and why. Perhaps the biggest argument came at the very top of the list. Who is the better prospect, Ryan Howard or Gavin Floyd? Let's look at why made Gavin Floyd the top pick.

First, is the argument of age. Both hit the majors last season, but Floyd did it at age 21, while Howard was a couple months away from turning 25 when he made it to Philadelphia. If you figure that they go through their careers and retire at the same age - whatever that age may be - Floyd will have had three more seasons than Howard would have. Naturally, there's no telling who will play to what age or what they'll accomplish in their careers, but there is enough of an age difference that the scales tip toward Floyd in that department.

Another argument is the pitcher versus position player discussion. Which is more important? You can also extend that to which is more important in the scheme of things for the Phillies. Generally, pitchers are more valuable. As the saying goes, 'you can never have enough pitching'. Of course, in the Phillies' organization, there is a pretty telling lapse of offense, although that hole appears to be closing somewhat with the emergence of players like Chase Utley, Jake Blalock, the wealth of center field prospects and of course, Ryan Howard. One key consideration though is that Howard may be blocked at every turn. There's Jim Thome at first base, which has necessitated Howard learning how to play left field. That experiment is generally going pretty well and although it may take some time, Howard will likely pick up on how to play the position as he gets more work this spring and again this summer as he plays the position at AAA Scranton. Even if he does learn how to play left field well enough to do it in the majors, there is still the question of Pat Burrell. Should Burrell return to his form that pushed him toward stardom - remember, that at one time, he was somewhat of the Ryan Howard of the organization - there still wouldn't be room for Howard.

Then, there's the question of accomplishment. There is no doubting that Howard completely dominated pitchers at the AA level, pretty much dominated them at the AAA level and certainly wasn't overmatched by them at the major league level. You could also say that Howard dominated at Clearwater in 2003, hitting 23-82-.304 in the Florida State League. His first two minor league seasons were very good, but not dominating. Actually, as minor leaguers, Howard was the more dominant of the two players. Floyd has always put up very impressive numbers and has generally dominated hitters in the leagues that he's worked in, but hasn't truly had a dominating sort of season at any level. That doesn't mean that he won't be a dominating major league pitcher, since he moved at a pretty brisk pace and still has a lot of developing to do. If he spends the season at Scranton, odds are that we will see a more dominating type performance from Floyd than we've seen at other levels.

Ranking the top players in an organization is anything but an exact science. You can never truly know how a player will perform down the road. Young players who look like they're going to be the next great phenom suddenly fizzle at the upper levels. Upper level players who have blue chip prospect written all over them suddenly turn up injured and suspicions start to arise. All you can do is go with what you see on the field from players, look at the stats that their efforts have produced and try to gauge how valuable they can be down the road. Then again, that's part of the fun of baseball. Who will do what and for how long? It's an exact science that fans thrive on to provide endless hours of speculation, discussion and at times, downright argument. We hope that our ranking of the Top 50 Phillies did all of those things for you.

Minors 25 27 2.94 76 72 6 454.0 379 179 148 164 367 32
Majors 2 0 3.46 6 4 0 28.0 25 11 11 16 24 1
Minors 94 335 .290 444 1637 243 474 87 11 6 206 517 .374
Majors 2 5 .282 19 39 5 11 5 0 0 2 13 .333

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