In past years, TigsTown has used a very subjective, round-table discussion format to determine the ranking of the Tigers' top prospects. That will not be the case this time around. Instead, we have developed a process by which we incorporate both the statistical evaluation and the visual/scouting evaluation of these players. It is our hope that this method of prospect ranking will provide a more unbiased and thorough look at our future Tigers.
First and foremost, to qualify as a prospect and receive consideration for the list, a player must not have exhausted their Major League rookie eligibility limits. Players who have exceeded 50 innings pitched or 150 plate appearances will not be considered for inclusion.
Pitchers and position players were graded on similar scales; balancing performance, potential, and those impossible to quantify, intangibles.
Position players are graded based on their ability to hit for power, ability to hit for average, plate discipline, speed, instincts, defense, and throwing arm. Each of these categories is further broken down to allow for a more in depth evaluation. For example, the ability to hit for power is separated into power potential, doubles, and home runs. Power potential is evaluated on a scouting or more subjective basis, while doubles and home runs are evaluated based on how the player has performed to date (for example, the percentage of hits that result in doubles or home runs).
A player's composite score is derived from a weighted total of the seven individual categories. The weighting is structured as follows: Ability to hit for power = 20%, ability to hit for average = 20%, plate discipline = 20%, speed = 10%, instincts = 10%, defense = 15% and throwing arm = 5%.
Pitchers are graded based on the quality of their pitching arsenal, control, and durability. A pitcher's repertoire accounts for 50% of their composite score, while control and durability account for 35% and 15%, respectively. Each offering a pitcher has in their arsenal is graded based on velocity (and potential to increase that velocity), movement, and the individual control of that pitch. A pitcher's control is scored on two levels. First, on their ability to throw strikes consistently, and second, on their ability to control the ball within the strike zone by hitting spots. Scores for durability are based purely on past injury history, with little regard for body type or thought of future problems.
Once these original scores had been compiled, the system allows for some adjustment based on age relative to competition, starting pitchers over relief pitchers, etc. If a player had been competing at a level above or below what their age may suggest, a standard increase or reduction may be applied. Similarly, in order to differentiate between the value of a relief prospect versus a starter, a standard deduction is applied to all relief pitchers. And lastly, an additional, very minor deduction is applied to all pitchers in the system as a result of the increased burnout or injury rate inherent in pitching prospects. These additional factors provided a final tweaking and ensured that the system produced a list that was both logical and consistent in the evaluation of every player.
Overall, standardizing the manner in which we rank the Tiger's prospects will allow us to provide a more in depth and consistent evaluation of the minor league system. As always, I encourage questions and comments (email@example.com) on not only the rankings, but the logic and methodology as well. Look for this year's Top 50 Prospects to debut on the site starting Monday, October 17th!