Keith Law released his updated Top 25 prospect list yesterday, and the names lie pretty much where you’d expect. Oscar Taveras is No. 1, with Byron Buxton and Xander Bogaerts rounding out the Top 3. Archie Bradley has shot up the rankings to No. 9, while Dylan Bundy is down at 11. Michael Wacha, who’s about to make his MLB debut, now sits at No. 24.
But there is one name that’s really jumped out in Law’s revised rankings, causing a great swelling of pride among Red Sox faithful. Third baseman Garin Cecchini has gone from being unranked before the season to claiming the No. 23 spot, in a jump that I don’t think anyone could’ve seen coming.
Now, this isn’t to say that Cecchini hasn’t been impressive so far in 2013. In 187 PA in High-A, he’s hitting .355/.465/.594 with a higher walk rate than strikeout rate, and despite persistent cries of average speed he’s 11-for-15 in stolen bases as well. The .400 BABIP suggests some regression is coming, but when your wRC+ is 195, you’re doing something right.
Here’s Law’s reasoning for the rank:
Cecchini is a high-IQ player with a good feel for hitting but no plus tools who just missed my preseason top 100 and now looks like he clearly should have made it, hitting .365/.475/.615 and translating that ability to hit into above-average power production. There’s absolutely some randomness/sample-size stuff at work here, but the early reports from scouts are glowing — it’s hard not to write up a player positively when he goes 8-for-10 in a three-game series.
That’s all well and good, even if some of this does seem to be a typical KLaw play in terms of making a controversial ranking to grab headlines. It’s not a strategy I can really blame him for, as clicks lead to cash, but it’s one that does make me take his huge ranking swings with a grain of salt.
All of this, though, leads to my main point, which is that the headlines that these rankings generate can open up real opportunities for dynasty and keeper leaguers.
If you’re reading this site, odds are you’re already very, very invested in the minor leagues and can probably name the Top 100 prospects off the top of your head. You read a lot of the same people we do: Law, Baseball Prospectus, John Sickles, Jonathan Mayo, Bullpen Banter, etc, and when even one of those sources is really high or really low on a player, that players perceived value can fluctuate pretty wildly.
Raul Adalberto Mondesi is one great example. How many of you would know who he is if Jason Parks didn’t exist? Bubba Starling is another. If Mike Newman hadn’t been so vocal in decrying his hit tool, might we all still rate him a bit higher?
Essentially, if prospects were a currency, they’d be Bitcoin (heyo, topical reference).
This is good to keep in mind when you see an eye-popping ranking like Law on Cecchini, because it gives owners a chance to buy low and sell high just as those in redraft leagues do.
The flip side, of course, is that you may not want to sell Cecchini because he’s legitimately getting better. If he really is turning into an elite prospect before our eyes, you’ll be kicking yourself for years to come if you deal him away for Jason Grilli right now.
In this specific case, Cecchini is a player who’s clearly on the rise and someone who’d be in my Top 100, but I think you can sell high on him too. Don’t trade him for a quick fix, but if someone’s frustrated on a good young player who might still rebound – say, Eric Hosmer – and has interest in Cecchini, I think that’s a deal that I make. Then again, when it comes to Hosmer it’s pretty clear I have a problem.
Either way, if you’re a Cecchini owner, just realize that yesterday’s Law ranking gives you opportunity. And if you don’t own Cecchini, make sure you don’t pay a premium for him in the next couple of weeks.