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Friday, March 17, 2006

Breaking Down Baseball America's Top 900 Prospects

I like reading books such as Baseball America's Prospect Handbook, because I love lists and I like reading about prospects. If I can (and have room), I save the books and look at them years later to determine how accurate the lists proved to be. I also like looking at the demography of the top prospects, and I broke down the list in a few ways -- (i) country of origin and (ii) within the U.S., whether a player played at a four-year college, a two-year college or in high school. I have to admit that my breakdown totals 898 players. There was one player about whom you couldn't tell where he played last before the pros, and I suppose I goofed on the other one. Oh, one more thing, Baseball America listed the top 30 prospects per Major League organization.

With that by way of background, here goes (please note that I'm only writing about highlights and will not blog as to the background of each prospect -- you can read the book if you're so inclined):

United States 702 prospects

Rest of the World 196 prospects

United States, 4-year colleges -- 343 prospects from 156 different colleges. Of those four-year colleges, here's the breakdown of conferences:

ACC -- 33 prospects
Atlantic 10 -- 3 prospects
Big East -- 14 prospects
Big Ten -- 11 prospects
Big 12 -- 39 prospects
Big West -- 24 prospects
Conference USA -- 19 prospects
Mid-American -- 11 prospects
Pac-10 -- 30 prospects
SEC -- 42 prospects
West Coast -- 4 prospects.

The following are the four-year colleges with the most prospects:

Long Beach State -- 9 prospects
Louisiana State -- 9 prospects
Texas -- 9 prospects
Stanford -- 8 prospects
Mississippi -- 7 prospects
Rice -- 7 prospects
Arizona State -- 6 prospects
Clemson -- 6 prospects
South Carolina -- 6 prospects
Texas A&M -- 6 prospects
Tulane -- 6 prospects
Mississippi State -- 5 prospects
Oklahoma State -- 5 prospects.

2-year colleges -- 94 prospects

The following is a list of states who have the most prospects from 2-year colleges:

California -- 27
Florida -- 21
Texas -- 11.

High schools -- 265 prospects (from 38 different states). The following is a list of states who have provided 5 or more prospects from their high schools:

Florida -- 46
California -- 45
Texas -- 31
Georgia -- 23
Arizona -- 10
Louisiana -- 8
Oklahoma -- 8
Tennessee -- 7
Virginia -- 7
Pennsylvania -- 6
Ohio -- 5
Washington -- 5.

Countries outside the U.S. -- as said above, 196 prospects. The following is a list of countries that have provided 5 or more prospects:

Dominican Republic -- 78
Venezuela -- 69
Puerto Rico - 9
Australia -- 8
Canada -- 8
Taiwan -- 5.

So what does this all tell us, really? Here are a few thoughts:

1. If your kid is a prospect, move to a warm-weather state in the U.S. More specifically, go to Florida, California, Texas or Georgia, where he can play year-round.

2. A kid is more likely to be a top-30 prospect if he spends some time in college. This makes sense, because it's hard for eighteen year-olds to not only enter the work force but to move away from home to do so. College eases the transition, whether it's a two-year or four-year program.

3. Playing at college in warm-weather states helps a prospects cause. Sure, Princeton has three prospects, but with the exception of Oklahoma State, the top prospects from four-year colleges play in southern schools, Texas and Arizona. Yes, there are schools who penetrate the top 25 in the annual baseball polls who aren't in the warm-weather states, but those are typically the exception, not the rule.

4. If you're not from a handful of states in the United States, the odds are fairly steep against you're becoming a top-30 prospect.

5. There are more prospects from the Dominican Republic than there are from the top two U.S. collegiate conferences combined.

6. The top ten among four-year colleges having the most prospects only have one more prospect than the Dominican Republic. My guess is that the 78 prospects from the Dominican Republic collectively have spent less on their equipment in their lifetimes than the average U.S. college baseball team spends in a year.

7. I don't know what this statement signifies, that Stanford has as many prospects among the Top 900 as Australia and Canada. Who does that statement say more about? Is that a good or bad thing for Stanford?

8. Then again, I was surprised to see that Puerto Rico had only 1 more prospect in the Top 900 than either Australia or Canada.

9. Venezuela fares particularly well, too, with 69 prospects.

The book is always fun to read, and you can learn a lot about your favorite team. Not only are the Top 30 prospects listed (and short bios provided), but also the book provides a depth chart for minor leaguers in the organization at each position. This list goes beyond the Top-30 prospects on occasion, so you'll be well-prepared for the upcoming baseball season.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judging by Stanford's performance this weekend, I'm guessing its not a great thing for Australia and Canada...

2:09 AM  
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