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Ruben Amaro on prospect rankings: “It’s all a bunch of crap”

Feb 22, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

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David Murphy reports Ruben Amaro’s reaction to the ESPN/MLB/Baseball America et al. prospect rankings, all of which have the Phillies ranked pretty low:

“It’s all a bunch of crap,” he said earlier this week.

If Amaro’s dismissal is a case of sour grapes, he is certainly going to great lengths to disguise it … Whatever happens, the Phillies seem likely to enter the season with a total of first- and second-year players on their roster that is unprecedented in the post-World Series era. That would seem to indicate one of two things: Either the talent in the minor league system is better than the national pundits think or the Phillies are going to be in for a long season.

I am not a prospects guy so I can’t say much beyond what I read in Law and Mayo’s rankings. And to be fair: the measure of Ruben Amaro’s success has been and still is, at least for now, how well his veteran-laden club does in the short term, not how things play out in the long term.

That said: in an ideal world you build for both the preset and the future. And even if your immediate concern is not how well those prospects look, being concerned about their quality is not “crap.”


  1. thebadguyswon - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    No one can debate that Amaro has gutted the farm. And its happened without them winning another championship. Surely, he has begun to restock their minor leagues, but he also took a wrecking ball to their farm too in the last couple years.

    Wasn’t long ago the Phillies were winning the division every year AND they had a top 5 farm in all of baseball.

    • Francisco (FC) - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:17 PM

      The last time that happened was likely 2008. Serious farm depletion started in ’09, they were winning divisions based primarily on the homegrown talent and the acquisitions made through 09-11 while chipping away at the minor league talent in an effort to stay not just on top but overwhelm the division (remember up till last year their win totals were increasing each year AND the distance between 1st and 2nd place increased as well).

      The championship charge is spurious: everyone knows the postseason is a crapshoot. Amaro did everything in his power to keep the team at the highest level possible at the cost of minor league talent and the results were a team that dominated for 4 years and had great shots at getting couple of more championships but it simply did not pan out. Had the Phillies won their fans would all say it was worth it and Amaro would have a statue at CBP right now.

      • thebadguyswon - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:31 PM

        Their farm ranked #3 in Baseball America at the start of 2010.

      • Francisco (FC) - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        Ah. I stand corrected on the ranking point then, it seems the farm slipped later (2011? 2012?). But I stand by my championship comment.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      Actually they were number 4 three years ago….but to your point, you want to go look at who the guys were that made them #4? Dom Brown, Kyle Drabek, Jonathan Singleton, and Anthony Gose were the big names.

      Almost sounds liek that #4 ranking was……crap?

      • thebadguyswon - Feb 22, 2013 at 5:35 PM

        Gose and Singleton were still highly regarded prospects with their new clubs. Singleton ranks near the top of Houston’s farm now.

        Amaro has a valid point. Even Baseball America makes HUGE mistakes with prospect rankings every year.

        However, the Phillies would be best served to stop selling off prospects regardless of how their team is doing in June. Especially considering the overall age of their club.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:40 PM

        Can’t believe I left Michael Taylor off that list…..

        If you are going to criticize Amaro for “raiding” the farm system, then you have to look at the trades you are talking about. No one has become a blue chip, or is trending that way. And are you seriously going to say getting rid of Luke Donald, Lou Marson, Carlos Carasco, and J.A. Happ were bad moves? People said so at the time…..and think of this. What if the Phillies had not traded for Oswalt in 2010, and they ended up that year with the year they just had (rem,eber, they were just 2 games above .500 in July). The sell out streak had just begun, and if 2010 had tanked, the streakwould have ended. You would have no Cliff Lee in 2011, no continued success that year, and no Cole Hamels this year – all due to revenue. But you WOULD have J.A. Happ and Jonathan Singleton. Does that sound good to you?

        The fact is, Amaro listening to people say “don’t trade the young talent” is the reason we are stuck with “can’t miss” Dom Brown. It’s all a very nuanced thing

      • Francisco (FC) - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:51 PM

        I always had the impression Amaro wanted to give Brown proper development time while Manuel wanted to rush him to the bigs. I think this disagreement was a factor in screwing him up (breaking his hamate didn’t help either)

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 23, 2013 at 7:51 AM

        I agree – and to be clear, I did not want them to trade Brown, and frankly, was very nervous about losing Happ. But the criticism of trading young guys ignores what would have happened without the guys they got, and ignores who the guys are they traded. The real criticism you can make of the Phillies is not the trades they made, but not making good draft picks. Ed Wade was always hesitant to pull the trigger – but for every Eric Valent and Tyler Bucholtz he would not let go of, there was a Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard he was hanging on to as well. Amaro has been trading the Valents and Bucholtz of the world – you want to criticize the Phillies, then point to the fact they have not drafted well.

    • dwdive - Feb 22, 2013 at 6:06 PM

      Name 1 prospect he traded away in the last 3-4 yrs that is any good? anyone? anyone? anyone? still waiting? bueller, bueller? bueller?

      • Kevin S. - Feb 22, 2013 at 6:27 PM

        d’Arnaud, Cozart, Singleton, Gose…

      • thebadguyswon - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:01 PM

        Singleton and d’Arnaud.

      • dwdive - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:28 PM

        Who? d’Anaurd, Gose Singleton? Those guys have done NOTHING. What are you talking about? Singleton might be the only player that might actually be a major league player and he was blocked by Howard and Ruf. Stop it already, all of those guys are nothing so far

      • Kevin S. - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:48 PM

        D’Arnaud can’t be anything? If you want to argue that at the time of the trade his distant ETA and the accompanying uncertainty regarding his development meant shipping him out for Halladay was a no-brainer I’d agree with you, but that’s not what we’re saying here – it’s 2013 and he’s poised to be the next stud offensive catcher some time this year. Acting like he’s some kind of non-prospect is lunacy. As for Singleton, Ruf wouldn’t block my sister and Howard should have been allowed to walk if the alternative was signing him to that boondoggle of a contract. What happened when Ryan Howard was “blocked” by a player who was much better then than Howard is now? Oh, that’s right, they moved Thome to clear Howard’s path. Should have done the same for Singleton. Gose is already a quality defensive center fielder at the tender age of twenty-one, and we hardly declare kids who can barely drink busts because they struggle in their first partial season in the league.

      • dwdive - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:54 PM

        What’s really funny, is that a guy RAJ traded 3 years ago (d’Arnuad) has doen nothing so far, in fact he was in the minors last year at age 24 and suffered another injury, while a 26 yr old Ruf was breaking Ryan Howards HR records, and he’e not considered because of his age? He will be 10 times a better player than d”Arnaud.

      • Kevin S. - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:10 PM

        I like how you use D’arnaud’s current age (which he just hit) and compared it directly to Ruf’s age (which he hit last year) to make it seem like they’re closer in age than they actually are. I like even more the fact that d’Arnaud hit AA in 2011, when he was three and a half years younger than Ruf was in AA. Yeah, age matters when one guy hits a level younger than most of the population and the other dominates when he’s older than the competition. Ruf didn’t show a lick of power until he was playing against kids younger than him. I further like it that we’re ignoring the fact that Ruf plays at the least important defensive positions while d’Arnaud is at the most important position. But hey, go ahead and pretend it matters that Ruf hit one more homer in AA than Howard did with over 100 extra AB/150 extra PA while being a year and a half older at the level.

      • tuberippin - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:06 PM

        Singleton is one of the game’s top 1B prospects and the Astros’ 1B of the future. Travis d’Arnaud is the game’s top catching prospect and has been so highly valued that he helped fetch Roy Halladay in one trade, then reigning AL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey in another trade.

        1) How high are you?
        2) Are you seriously trying to make the argument that these guys are not good because they haven’t hit the majors yet?
        2a) Did you forget Ryan Howard didn’t get a full season in the majors until he was twenty-six years old?

    • schmedley69 - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:35 PM

      Yes, their farm system ranked #3 in baseball at the beginning of 2010, and at one point Dom Brown was ranked the #1 prospect in all of baseball. Here we are 3 years later, and Dom Brown can’t even earn a starting job on a team that is desperate for OF help, and not many of the other players who earned them that #3 ranking have made much of an impact in the big leagues, so maybe Amaro is on to something? Everyone should take these prospect rankings with a grain of salt, because chances are, they aren’t very accurate.

      • phillyphreak - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:26 PM

        Amaro is onto something in the way of always blocking Dom. Juan Pierre, Delmon Young etc.

        You can say that prospect lists are crap like RAJ but to some extent, they are just extensions of how others in baseball value these players. Prospect rankings are also fluid-injuries, attrition, performance, and team handling all play a role in the constantly changing value of players.

        RAJ can say that he doesn’t agree with these lists but he can’t pretend that these are written by idiots either. After all, every team makes these internally anyway.

        Finally, just because a player appears on these lists doesn’t mean he will be a star. There is a ton of value in good players too…..

  2. Francisco (FC) - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    And even if your immediate concern is not how well those prospects look, being concerned about their quality is not “crap.”

    I think he probably means that he doesn’t pay attention to those rankings and instead focuses on what their development department says. I’m sure he doesn’t think prospect quality is crap, just that he’s not going to lose sleep over how the team’s farm system is rated by ESPN/MLB/Baseball America.

    Each team probably has their own proprietary system on how to rank prospects and what their value is to the organization. I highly doubt that when trades are executed it’s because they’re based on where ESPN/MLB/Baseball America has them ranked.

    • paperlions - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:25 PM

      The Phillies are the only team in baseball with no analytical department, and they seem proud of the fact. I seriously doubt they have a proprietary prospect ranking system…..I mean, getting all their scouts together in a room and having discussions about who they like best isn’t proprietary, is it?

      The available prospect rankings on-line are all based on a combination of scouting in person and discussions with professional scouts that work for MLB teams….so it isn’t like those opinions are completely divorced from the the professional scouting community, they more a reflection of it.

      • Francisco (FC) - Feb 22, 2013 at 5:07 PM

        Your two statements seem to contradict each other, you’re going to have to clarify what you mean: either professional scouts opinion matter or they don’t. If the online prospect ranking is a reflection of the scouting community, why would any Phillies prospect ranking composed of the analysis done by their own scouting professionals be invalid? I doubt their own people are divorced from the community even if their conclusions may be different.

        I have no idea how they go about collecting and assembling data but your description seems to paint the Phillies as a moneyball-esque cabal of “get-of-my-lawn” types. An aspect I found hilariously exaggerated in the movie. Do you think they traded away Vance Worley because of his new girlfriend?

      • paperlions - Feb 22, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        Yeah, the scouting comment was on purpose and intended to give that implication…glad I was able to convey that….I was going to name a couple of guys to try to fill out the picture but couldn’t come up with any crotchety sounding old dude names. I really don’t think the Phillies are back in the 1950s…but they aren’t in the 2000s either.

        In short, I think Amaro’s comment is hyperbole. Probably, what he means is that rankings are highly subjective (which they are) and are not particularly indicative of future performance (though, of course, guys with elite tools make the list more often than not and are also more likely to become elite players)….because they reflect a probabalistic process, not a deterministic one.

      • tuberippin - Feb 23, 2013 at 8:12 PM

        I did not know that my Phils lack a statistical analysis department.

        This explains why I never see any postings regarding jobs in that field (or really any vaguely similar type of field) with the Phillies when I routinely check job postings for MLB/MiLB/Office of the Commissioner.

    • baseballisboring - Feb 23, 2013 at 5:12 AM

      Also, I guess maybe part of the point he’s making is that prospects are incredibly unpredictable to begin with. See: Brown, Dominic & Drabek, Kyle. But these prospect lists aren’t thrown together haphazardly. Keith Law said he started writing his a little bit before Christmas, and it just got released like two weeks ago. The lists are composed of the opinions of other scouts, front office people, etc., and the fact that no one seems to be very high on the Phillies system really isn’t a good sign at all. But all it takes to turn that around is a couple of unexpected breakouts, so it’s possible the Phillies know some things about a couple of their guys that we don’t.

  3. zzalapski - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Maybe he weighed too much his own status as a prospect back in the late ’80s?

  4. drewzducks - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Is he referring to the rankings or the Phillies prospects ?

  5. philsieg - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    “…unprecedented in the post-World Series era. ”
    We’re not going to play the Series anymore? Now what the hell do I do in October?

  6. danrizzle - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    “amaro” is Italian for “bitter”

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    I think if the Phillies win the World Series, they should make a movie about it. The movie can focus on Darren Ruf, Ben Revere and Delmon Young and how they contributed. Because, like Moneyball, why would they even have to bring up Lee, Hamels, or Halladay…those guys wouldn’t have had much to do with the success, right?

    • alang3131982 - Feb 22, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      Will they spell the players names correctly? this comment makes no sense.

    • baseballisboring - Feb 23, 2013 at 5:14 AM

      I’ve read this comment 3 times and I still don’t know what you’re getting at.

  8. mabunar - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    “Whatever happens, the Phillies seem likely to enter the season with a total of first- and second-year players on their roster that is unprecedented in the post-World Series era”

    Starting Rotation – all vets
    Starting Infield – vets
    C – vet once Ruiz serves suspension
    OF – Mayberry and Young have been around, even Revere has 2 full seasons already
    Bullpen – Closer and Setup are vets

    Ok, so Galvis, Ruf, D.Brown, Kratz and a few relievers makes this an astonishing youth movement???? I feel like the O’s, Astros and Pirates do more than that every single season.

  9. El Bravo - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    Murky at best mofos!!!!!

  10. paperlions - Feb 22, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    The think to remember about such lists is that they are also high on ceiling….there are plenty of quality MLB players that will never see a top 100 list. Somewhat obviously, I would hope, the rankings are for the fun of fans and serve as points of departure for fun discussions about prospects and tools and stuff.

    There are plenty of guys in the minors right now that will never even be considered for a top 100 list that will have better careers than about at least 1/2 of the guys on the 2013 lists….that is just the way rankings, talent, injuries, projection, and development work….much more stochastically than people treat them.

    • thebadguyswon - Feb 22, 2013 at 5:40 PM

      Baseball America is notorious for this. This June, there will be players drafted that play 20-30 games as a professional this summer. And then, based on those few games and scouting reports, BA will rank a few of them in the top 40 of all prospects in baseball.

      They rank Jose Fernandez ahead of Zack Wheeler. Both pitchers should be very good. But BA gives Fernandez the edge despite the fact that Wheeler has had success at higher levels. Its all ceiling. They “project” Fernandez as a ace (#1) and Wheeler as a #2.

      Keep in mind that 10 years ago two of the best pitching prospects in baseball were Kurt Ainsworth and Jesse Foppert. Who you say? Exactly the point. For all we know, Fernandez and Wheeler end up just like them. (crosses fingers that they dont)

      • paperlions - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:07 PM

        Yeah, some guys that do rankings readily admit this….there is a thing called “prospect fatigue” that everyone is subject to, where a guys ranking falls or stays the same despite him progressing well…the closer a guy is to contributing, the better bet he is (obviously, as there are now fewer levels at which he may hit his ceiling) and probability is nearly as important as ceiling….and guys that are close have a much higher probability. I think one reason many people downgraded Miller was because he looked great before and he still does….but he’s been ranked for years now so he’s less interesting…despite the fact that he has better stuff and is more advanced than some of the guys ranked ahead of him.

  11. illegalblues - Feb 22, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    heard this: rubes uses an ouija board as his main analysis tool

  12. dwdive - Feb 22, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    The man hasn’t traded anyone that panned out for another team yet! The best player is probably Worley, but he got Rivere in return, and they are deap when it comes to pitching. Singleton m,ay turn out to be a player, but other than that, ALL of the players he traded for Lee, Pence, Halladay, and Oswalt have turned out to be nothing. The “Prospect” ranking are a bunch of crap, because the criteria they use is nonsense. Ruf isn;t considered a prospect because of his age, and he may be the rookie of the yr this yr. He broke all of Howards records in the minors and looked good at the end of last year when they brought him up. Also, Worley was never really considered a top prospect, and the guy finished 2nd in rookie of the yr voting, and had an absolute fantastic yr in 2011.

    • thebadguyswon - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:03 PM

      Travis d’Arnaud will get to know you real well real soon.

      • dwdive - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:25 PM

        stop it, d’Arnaud? Really? that guy is a below average player at best

      • tuberippin - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:08 PM

        ^not sure if trolling or just “developmentally disadvantaged”

    • paperlions - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:09 PM

      There also hasn’t been anyone drafted since Amaro took over that has panned out for the Phillies. He essentially has been GM for a ready made team that also was ready to spend a lot more money.

      • dwdive - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:31 PM

        Pretty sure he drafted Jesse Biddle who is their best prospect and a stud left handed starter, that is one guy that will get to know you real soon

  13. thekingdave - Feb 22, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    But they still have Dominic Brown, who was the greatest prospect ever and worth keeping for Pence as opposed to Singleton, Cosart, and Santana.

  14. thekingdave - Feb 22, 2013 at 6:21 PM


    Cosart and Singleton wont hit the bigs till the end of this season or next and Domingo Santana’s still at the low levels. Too soon to declare victory.

    • dwdive - Feb 22, 2013 at 6:27 PM

      ALL of the players he traded for Lee and Halladay are bums. Cozart has done nothing and singleton was blocked by Howard and Ruf, and please give me a break with Santana. I’m ok with the guys he has given up. You have to look at the returns also. There are guys he got back for Pence and Victorino that could pan out. Again, their top 10 is loaded with pitching, so I’m ok with him giving up Cozart, May, Worley, and Santana, and again, Singleton was blocked by 2 guys that are already better than he is.

      • thebadguyswon - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:04 PM

        The Phillies Top 10 isn’t loaded with anything.

      • dwdive - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:35 PM

        Yeah ok, Ruf will be a stud this yr starting in left, and they are loaded with starting pitching, do a little homework before making yourself look dumb. Jesse Biddle will be in the rotation in 2014, and he will be a stud left handed starter.

  15. thekingdave - Feb 22, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    So Cosarts done nothing so far and Santana’s in A ball, so they have zero chance of panning out. But the mid level prospects acquired from SF do have a chance of panning out. Ok, makes total sense.

    • thebadguyswon - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      He’s completely ignoring d’Arnaud, which is amusing.

      Howard is better than Singleton now, but let’s wait a year on that one.

      • tuberippin - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:16 PM

        This dude is a clown…and unfortunately we both appear to be Phils fans.

    • dwdive - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:45 PM

      let me know how those guys are doing in a year or 2. So far neither one of them is doing much in the minors, while 2 of the guys RAJ got in return look like they will be contributing in the majors this yr. You guys are as dumb as the “prospects list” That never pans out to be anything. Ypu think d’Anaud is ever going to be as good as Ruiz? Stop it already

  16. macjacmccoy - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    He’s right. If you dont think so they go over where the best players in baseball used to be ranked and how good formerly high ranked minor leagues ended up being. Also how prospects go from being in the top 100 one year and no where close the next.

    The facts are whoever ranks prospects gets it wrong more times then they get it right.

  17. macjacmccoy - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    He’s right. If you dont think so then go over where the best players in baseball used to be ranked and how good formerly high ranked minor leagues ended up being. Also how prospects go from being in the top 100 one year and no where close the next.

    The facts are whoever ranks prospects gets it wrong more times then they get it right.

  18. officialgame - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    When you go through a decade and have a chance to win you do what needs to be done to assure yourself a post season birth. That means trading good young prospects for short term veterans. I am not surprised at all that the Phils farm system need to be replenished especially at the upper levels. If the Phillies fall out of this years race I wouldn’t be surprised if they become sellers and move guys like Utley, Lee and Doc.It could quickly infuse a nice amount of talent to their minor league system.

  19. dwdive - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    ok, so the acquired Lee, Halladay, Pence, Oswalt, and the best they gave up was Singleton, Cozart, and d,Arnaud? Ok, where’s the problem?

    • tuberippin - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:18 PM

      Problem #1 – Gutting a significant portion of the farm system to acquire star players in an attempt to win another World Series championship

      Problem #2 – Failed to win that second World Series championship

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