The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Quantity vs. quality on the prospect trade market

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Dec 20, 2010 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Brewers-Getting GreinkeDid you really think I’d let the aftermath of the Zack Greinke trade pass without linking to Joe Posnanski? Not a chance.

On his blog, Posnanski argued that the Royals traded their best player without getting a best-player type in return. There is no obvious superstar in the package of prospects coming from Milwaukee, and the theory is that one superstar trumps a handful of role players. At the big league level, I agree.

But, in the world of prospects, there is something to be said for quantity as much as quality. True, the Brewers didn’t give up anyone with Jesus Montero’s hype or upside, but Montero is not a superstar yet, and there have been plenty of small-name prospects who have developed into big-name big leaguers.

These were Baseball America’s Top 10 prospects in 2000:

1. Rick Ankiel, lhp, Cardinals
2. Pat Burrell, 1b/of, Phillies
3. Corey Patterson, of, Cubs
4. Vernon Wells, of, Blue Jays
5. Nick Johnson, 1b, Yankees
6. Ruben Mateo, of, Rangers
7. Sean Burroughs, 3b, Padres
8. Rafael Furcal, ss, Braves
9. Ryan Anderson, lhp, Mariners
10. John Patterson, rhp, Diamondbacks

Those were the elite young players in the game, the Montero-type future superstars who could headline any trade for an established big leaguer. A decade later, those 10 have combined for five all-star game appearances (all by Wells and Furcal), two Top 10 MVP finishes (Burrell and Wells) and one cautionary tale.

You could do this with any Top 100 prospect list in the Baseball America archive.

The 2005 top 10 had Hanley Ramirez, Joe Mauer and Felix Hernandez. It also had Joel Guzman, Casey Kotchman and Andy Marte. The 1996 Top 10 had Derek Jeter, Vlad Guerrero and Andruw Jones. It also had Ruben Rivera, Karim Garcia and Ben Davis. The 1990 Top 10 had Juan Gonzalez, Sandy Alomar Jr. and John Olerud. It also had Ben McDonald, Kiki Jones and Eric Anthony.

Can’t-miss prospects don’t exist. That’s part of the reason the Yankees signed Russell Martin. Montero is close to a sure thing, but he hasn’t done anything at the big league level just yet, and the depth of the Yankees system is as much a strength as the presence of Montero and Manny Banuelos at the top .

Let there be no doubt, quality matters. But in player development, so does quantity.

Associated Press photo

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