Comments on: Jameson Taillon Finishes 18th on’s Rankings Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Thu, 20 Nov 2014 12:15:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: Tim Williams Fri, 10 Aug 2012 00:32:00 +0000 It’s not just the free agent part. You draft Machado and pay him $6 M because you think he’s going to be a certain level of player. He might be the best option they have, but he’s not yet the player they thought he would be when they drafted him.

If we’re setting a low bar of just being better than the worst player on the major league roster, they could find some 4A guy to do the job. He’s replacing Wilson Betemit, who has a .750 OPS. I’d be surprised if Machado does better than that. He might have an easier time improving over Hardy (.660 OPS), but from what I understand he’s up to replace Betemit, not Hardy.

By: RandyLinville Fri, 10 Aug 2012 00:28:00 +0000 I think the strongest argument against promoting him was made by BlueBomber in an earlier comment. That is, he might not be an improvement over what they currently have.

I understand what you are saying about becoming a young free agent and trying to maximize the limited amount of time of player control. But I believe if Machado is the best option for SS or 3B in the whole organization at age 19 or 20 or 21, then he should be in the Show, even if you risk losing him as a free agent at a young age.

By: Tim Williams Fri, 10 Aug 2012 00:19:00 +0000 Going one by one:

Bryce Harper – Wasn’t really dominating in Triple-A. Didn’t dominate in AA. He’s hit a wall lately after a hot start.

Justin Upton – He at least had success in AA and AAA (only a limited amount of time in AAA). He struggled his age 19 season.

Adrian Beltre – Jumped from AA to the majors, with a .992 OPS in AA at the time. He struggled in the early part of his career. He had two seasons with an OPS > .800 by the age of 25, and didn’t really become the player he is now until that point (with some inconsistencies along the way).

Andruw Jones – It was limited time, but he was dominating AA and AAA. He had a .709 OPS at 19 and a .745 OPS at 20.

Edgar Renteria – Had a .713 OPS in Triple-A, so he’s a guy who wasn’t tearing up the level. He really didn’t have a good season until he was 25, with three sub-.700 OPS seasons mixed in his first few years.

ARod – Posted strong numbers in AAA. He actually came up at 18. Limited playing time at 18-19, with a .609 OPS in 196 at-bats. He broke out at the age of 20.

Pudge Rodriguez – As you pointed out, he had poor numbers in AA. At ages 19-20 in the majors he combined for a .648 OPS. At 21 he had a .727 OPS. His first big year was 22, with an .848 OPS.

Griffey – Posted an .845 OPS in AA before making the jump to the majors. He had a .748 OPS the first year, then became a star at the age of 20 and didn’t look back (until injuries hit).

Juan Gonzalez – He might not fit on this list. He came up at 19 briefly, after a full season at AA. He went back for a full season at AAA at the age of 20, then came up briefly during the season. He wasn’t really in the majors for good until 21. Technically he was up at 19, but I think it was more to get a taste, rather than to be up for good.

Gary Sheffield – Good numbers in AAA before coming up. In his 19-20 seasons in the majors he combined for a .650 OPS. Didn’t break out until the age of 23.

Jose Oquendo – Didn’t have good numbers at all in the minors, and never really became much in the majors.

Ricky Seilheimer – His age 19 season was the only time he was in the majors.

Robin Yount – He went from low-A to the majors. His first three years he combined for a .629 OPS. He cracked .700 in a season at the age of 21. He didn’t really break out until 23.

Claudell Washington – Went from AA to the majors, with good numbers in AA. Never really had a great career, and he didn’t start putting up consistently good numbers until 24.

Darrell Porter – Went from low-A to the majors at 19. Went back to AAA at the age of 20, after putting up a .629 OPS in 70 at-bats in the majors at 19. He had an .800 OPS in AAA, then came back up for a .406 OPS in 56 at-bats at the age of 20. Didn’t really come up until 21, when he had an .820 OPS. Kind of similar to Gonzalez.

I think there’s a very strong trend here. The majority of these guys went on to have successful careers, but almost all of them struggled at ages 19-20, even if they did have success in AA or AAA. Some of them struggled until ages 23-24, at which point they became good consistent players.

I’m not saying that Harper and Machado can’t have the careers that these guys had. I think they will. I just think they could see struggles early in their careers. Maybe those struggles will be limited to their age 19 season. Maybe it will be 19-20. Maybe more than that.

As you pointed out, there’s a decent amount of players who have come up to the majors at 19, and most of those guys were more deserving based on their AA and AAA numbers. But I think this supports my point even more. There’s not a good track record of guys having success in the majors at 19-20. And if guys aren’t even dominating AA and AAA, I think it would be less likely that they’d be the exception.

I just don’t see a need to rush prospects in these situations. Especially with the economics of baseball these days. If Harper and Machado become stars, Washington and Baltimore will have a hard time signing them for their free agent years. And if you rush them up, you’re making them free agents before they hit their prime. Right now Harper is on pace to be a free agent after his age 25 season. He still would have been a young free agent, even if they gave him a bit more time. But if you’re going to pay him a huge bonus, and you’re likely only going to have him for 6.5 years, then don’t you want the best possible production for those years?

By: James Vargo Fri, 10 Aug 2012 00:00:00 +0000 Harper is going to be great, but someone please tell me why he was in the All-Star game. One shouldn’t get chosen because of potential, since his numbers were OK, but not better than many others. We will be sick of him in future AS games as it is.

By: RandyLinville Thu, 09 Aug 2012 23:48:00 +0000 Last 15 players to get 50 or PAs at their age 19 season or earlier:
Bryce Harper
Justin Upton
Adrian Beltre
Andruw Jones
Edgar Renteria
Pudge Rodriguez
Juan Gonzalez
Gary Sheffield
Jose Oquendo
Ricky Seilheimer
Robin Yount
Claudell Washington
Darrell Porter

To your point, most of these guys were raking when they were called up. Exceptions would be Renteria (.713) and Pudge (.683). Griffey (.845 the season before as he made the Opening Day roster) and JuanGon (.848) weren’t tearing it up.

We have to assume Baltimore knows what it is doing. Other than Seilheimer & Oquendo (and Harper so far), the guys on the list varied from making multiple all-star teams to making the HOF. That’s a pretty good track record for inserting a 19 year old into the Show.

By: john.alcorn Thu, 09 Aug 2012 21:04:00 +0000 Tim, are you aware of a study that shows that promoting too soon is damaging? Anectodally we know it happens (see Castillo, Jose) but is it more than random noise? Both Jose Guillen and Aramis Ramirez were rushed and turned out OK.

By: john.alcorn Thu, 09 Aug 2012 21:01:00 +0000 Truth, he’d be at Bradenton if we had picked him.

By: Tim Williams Thu, 09 Aug 2012 15:30:00 +0000 I don’t think anyone is suggesting a firm rule. But I can’t think of many cases where it looks smart to move a 19 year old with an OPS under .800 from AA to the majors.

By: Tim Williams Thu, 09 Aug 2012 15:28:00 +0000 I agree on Harper. I just don’t know why you’d bring up a player well before he’s ready. You draft a guy and pay him a big bonus for what he could become down the line. So why call him up before he reaches that level of performance?

By: Tim Williams Thu, 09 Aug 2012 15:27:00 +0000 Most of those guys are college guys. That’s a normal quick progression through the system. Machado and Harper both came out of high school, and were promoted a year and a half in to their careers (less for Harper), while not having the numbers to support a promotion.

Cole might be in AAA or the majors with another team, but that’s not saying it would be the right call. And the Pirates aren’t conservative with prospects. Just because they don’t make extreme moves like this doesn’t mean they’re conservative.