This is as much for me as it is for you, as I’m as guilty as anyone of getting caught up in the hype around big-name MLB prospects. But most MLB prospects suck, and it’s important we not lose sight of that.
I don’t know why that’s important. Actually, it’s not important all you want. Continue overhyping prospects all you want. But before you start swooning for some dude with a cool name and a strong reputation that you’ve never seen play, you should probably check out this post from Royals Review last offseason.
Players ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects “bust” — i.e. contribute little to nothing at the big-league level — nearly 70 percent of the time. 70 percent! And Baseball America is awesome at what it does. It’s just that trying to figure out which baseball players will be good and which will suck is an extraordinarily difficult task.
Mets fans — and I again include myself here — love to get all woe-is-me and recount the series of big-name Mets prospects who have failed at the Major League level: Alex Escobar, Alex Ochoa, Generation K. But check out that Royals Review post again: From 1990-2003, the Mets prospects succeeded at roughly the league average rate. Every team in the Majors has its Alex Escobar.
And this is obviously not to say teams should give up on grooming prospects or we should give up on tracking them. When a young player turns into a legitimate Major Leaguer, his team has a cost-controlled contributor for up to seven seasons. That’s enormously valuable.
But there are no sure things, and when leafing through prospects lists to determine good trade packages the Mets can get in return for R.A. Dickey, remember that the large majority of guys you’re reading about won’t ever provide their teams a quarter of what Dickey gave the Mets last year. And same goes for the guys on the Mets’ list.