John Sickels Weighs In On Phils’ Prospects
On Tuesday, John Sickels of Minorleagueball.com ranked 20 Phillies prospects. Sickels does it a little differently than most anyone you’re likely to see write up every system in the game. His lists are based on grades, from A on down, and we’ve seen before that he is not one to fall into the group think that sometimes plagues prospect reporters/scouts. His style can create a list that can feel “wrong”, but the logic behind it is up front, and as we know, prospect evaluation is terribly subjective. So, with that in mind, here are a couple places where he is JUST PLAIN WRONG. (This implies that I am right, which, if you follow me on Twitter, you know is not always a reasonable assumption).
1) Mickey Moniak (#2) is ranked ahead of Jorge Alfaro (#3) – Sickels calls Moniak a B+ prospect, which based on his criteria, I don’t disagree with, but he calls Alfaro a B/B+. For me, Alfaro is a small step ahead of Moniak – both play premium defensive positions (Alfaro does it better than he did a year ago, as Sickels describes), and both have questions about their offense. Moniak’s power is possibly years away, so assuming he’ll hit his ceiling (teens-twenty homers) is risky. Alfaro does not walk enough, and he takes himself away from his power with his aggressive approach. Moniak is just so far away from the show, that any small potential plus to his upside versus Alfaro is negated by the possibility that sometimes things inexplicably fall apart. And it doesn’t even have to “fall apart” – a small turn down could leave Moniak a league average centerfielder, and proximity for Alfaro wins the argument over that risk in my book.
2) Roman Quinn at #4 and Nick Williams at #8 – I like Roman Quinn, but ranking him ahead of the remaining field here seems to, if not ignore, at least underweight his injury history. Sure, some of his injuries are more fluky, but some bring into question Quinn’s durability. Williams, on the other hand, had a bad second half in 2016, but his ceiling is still crazy high, and I am not ready to write him off. Hopefully people don’t latch on to the Dom Brown reference Sickels makes. First off, I don’t think Sickels is making that as a comp, but rather giving a “for instance” – an “if he fails, it might be for some of the same reasons as Dom”. And beyond that, it’s far too early to tag a player with this much talent as a possible bust.
3) Ben Lively at #11 – This, to me, is just wildly overvaluing Lively – again it seems like Sickels is valuing proximity, which is ok, but in my mind, he’s also overvaluing an arm that has no solid fallback to the bullpen and no arsenal with which to assume he’ll be more than a #5 starter. Sickels calls all three of his secondaries average, which seems close to the consensus, but the read I get from other evaluators is that the fastball will not hold up well enough against big league hitters. Also, Lively has blocked me on Twitter, which is a glaring character issue, IMO. Way worse than getting in a fight with a guy named Boog. For me, Lively is in the 20s at best. I believe he is a big leaguer this year, but I feel like his reasonable floor is an up-and-down AAAA guy for the next couple seasons and the KBO in 2019.
There’s more that I don’t love about the list, but I suspect a lot of that is personal opinion. Ask a dozen evaluators, you’ll likely get a dozen different cohorts for the 11-20 range in the Phils system, and that’s without even asking them to be ranked. Sickels is fairly unique in his approach, and I have always felt good recommending people read his work. This year’s Phils Top 20 certainly won’t change my opinion on that.