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  • Writer's pictureAndy Singer

Late-January Thoughts

By Andy Singer

January 23rd, 2024

I began my "Mid-January Thoughts" post last week by saying that I very rarely post "thought" posts. Last week's post seemed to get a fair amount of reaction, so I thought I'd break my own rule and do another one today. In the last week or so, I've been doing a lot of work preparing to organize and revive the SSTN Top-15 Prospects series as soon as my day job settles down in early February. I also did some more thinking about a topic or two I've covered in the SSTN Mailbag over the last couple of months, so I actually have a fair number of interesting strands that seem worthwhile in this format. Let's get at it:

  • I wrote in my bio here on the site that I am a misplaced baseball rat that loves analyzing both statistics and player mechanics. If I'm being completely honest, as comfortable as I am with statistical analysis, I enjoy breaking down video of both hitting and pitching mechanics more than almost anything I do in the world of baseball. Statistics can tell you a story, but video analysis of mechanics tell you the why and the how. How the two play together is always fun to try to figure out, but I've always been someone who likes to figure out how something works. As a perfectionist and as someone who can be somewhat obsessive (both a gift and a curse), finding even tiny flaws in the way something works is a hobby of mine, and in baseball, it means finding ways to unlock more performance.

  • I don't work for a team, and at the moment I'm not giving any lessons in baseball. When I write about mechanics, my guess is that plenty of people who work for teams are finding the exact same mechanical tweaks when they analyze video. Writing about these analyses are a way for me to voice my opinion, but they also serve as a form of prediction. If the player/team sees the same thing, can they implement it? And if they do implement those changes, do they have the effect I expect? No one wants to build a robotic player, so I believe there mechanical changes that push too far beyond a player's natural capabilities, but still good athletes are capable of making changes for the better.

  • I think these interests and beliefs are why I like evaluating prospects so much. At the end of the day, I believe strongly in being aspirational, and I want to think about what someone might some day be capable of achieving. When evaluating prospects, statistics are important to a point, but it's not the be-all-end-all like it is in the Majors. How does a guy move? What makes his swing or delivery work? What doesn't work? What changes need to be made as a guy moves up the ladder? What shouldn't be touched? How will a guy's body change as he ages?

  • There are also attributes that really matter (particularly to scouts) that people like us can't know at an arm's length (usually). When you shake a guy's hand, how strong is his grip? This sounds silly, but it's one of the first things you pay attention to with a hitter. It speaks to a guy's ability to control the bat head in the strike zone even when he has to adjust after the pitch is thrown. It also speaks to his ability to grow into more power over time. When watching a guy in person, sometimes you can make this evaluation off of how balls fly when they don't hit the sweet spot of the bat, but it takes a lot more work.

  • All of this is by way of saying that I've been doing a lot of thinking about how players are evaluated. When you evaluate a lot of players, you also identify your own proclivities and blind spots.

  • I identified one of my own blind spots this off-season. I am very willing to bump grades of pitchers up a half to full grade to high if they have 3 above-average or better pitches and 2 of those are genuinely plus, regardless of the control/command profile. Now, to be fair, I often grade these guys as impact relievers, but I'll believe that command can come for guys that have good athleticism.

  • One likely miss on this front was Luis Medina, who the Yankees dealt at the 2022 Trade Deadline to Oakland. At one point, I considered Medina a top-3 prospect in the system. He hasn't shown the stuff or command I thought he'd have at the MLB level. Did I get it wrong, or has Oakland really messed with his pitch mix/mechanics? Hard to say, but I do think I was too aggressive with my grade for someone like Medina. It's something I'm keeping in mind going forward.

  • In my early review of the Yankees' farm system, there's a few guys who pretty clearly fit into the top-4 in some order. After that though, things are really interesting. The farm system has lost some depth, but there are a fair number of "diamond in the rough" types you can dream on.

  • I also have some guys who I already know are likely outside of my Top-15 who I really like: TJ Rumfield, Caleb Durbin, Brock Selvidge, and Tyler Hardman. I wrote about Rumfield in the SSTN Mailbag already, but I was very impressed in my in-person and video looks at him. If he could play anywhere other than 1B, he'd be in my Top-15. Durbin is someone who I think could force his way into the Top-15 soon; I don't think he gets enough credit for his tools due to his diminutive size. Selvidge is another guy with good stuff who I think might poke his way into the Top-15. Hardman has the most pop of anyone on this list, but he's 1B only for me and he strikes out a ton. He seems like a hard worker though, so it wouldn't shock me if the bat makes a jump this year.

  • Thinking about prospects is fun, but it can also be frustrating. On the Bronx Beat Podcast the other day, Paul and EJ pointed out that Chase Hampton's delivery looked like Gerrit Cole's. I've watched probably 2 hours of video on Hampton, and stunningly that similarity never occurred to me. It's also frustrating to realize that many prospects don't pan out. Is it that the evaluation was bad or that baseball is just really hard and many guys deal with injuries and things beyond baseball to which we'll never be privy? I lean towards the latter in a lot of cases.

  • Think really hard about what happened to the last batch of Baby Bombers. Now, think about my last bullet-point.

  • I'll give one thing away: Jasson Dominguez is still my personal top prospect. I've thought a lot about him since my quick note in the SSTN Mailbag the other day. The Yankees absolutely shouldn't rush him back - he's too valuable long-term. However, giving him a carrot to push for is also a good thing. Letting him know that he's valued and has an important place on the roster when he's ready can really help a guy's psyche. Recovering from a long and arduous surgical rehab can be lonely and tedious. Sometimes, a public boost can help keep a guy going. I really don't think Brian Cashman was saying anything reckless. I think for once, he was trying to motivate and re-assure a player through the media. Given Cashman's recent gaffes, I thought he played this one well.

  • Evaluating prospects is hard, but it's rewarding when it's done. I'm looking forward to sharing this work with all of you.


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell

I have been saying this all the time how too many times, we rely on "numbers" and "statistics" when evaluating a player, especially a prospect or a potential free agent signing or trade acquisitions. There are so many other factors that go into how a player will perform. Mechanics is a very important one. Another is the ability to make adjustments when pitchers figure out how to pitch to a hitter, or hitters figure out how to hit a pitcher. There is also the "change of scenery" factor. When a player joins another organization, he will encounter a different manager who will use him differently than the manager did on his old team. He will also encounter different coache…

Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell

They actually look pretty good. I am just not used to change when it comes to Yankee uniforms, but I do vaguely remember those from pre-1973, now that you mention it. My use of the word "vaguely" is significant. These new uniforms also look like the ones that they wore in the cornfields of Iowa in the "Field Of Dreams" game a few years ago.


Cary Greene
Cary Greene

Neat article Andy, looking forward to all of your assessments on prospects. I know I've disagreed with you at times on various prospects or aquisitions, but to be fair, at times I've thought you really hit the nail on the head with many of your assessments. All baseball peeps make lots of mistakes when evaluating talent of course, so that goes without saying. It's just so costly when the Yankees fail to evaluate their own internal talent properly and these players go on to make an impact elsewhere. Yet, for each case of this, there are many cases that are the opposite, where the Yankees send off a player another team was high on and the player turns into a…


Alan B.
Alan B.

Ah, more layman's terms to us fans who like using their eyes more than the damn numbers, so refreshing! My only personal thing about prospects is lots happen enough in terms of guys stalling out as they climb the latter, like what happened to Eric Duncan - tore through the minors but completely stalled and petered out at AAA, or guys like Chance Adams or Mark Montgomery, who had total success in all levels of the minors but were either duds in the Majors or never even really given a chance. One thing I really poo-poo is the guys who are just drafted or stuck in rookie ball.

But Andy, I agree with you whole heartedly about video. When …



Mr. Singer, your frankness in describing your method of prospect analysis, and your personal quirks to that end, is refreshing. I very much look forward to your coming article.


Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger

Can't wait for the article to come Andy!

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