Frequently Asked Questions


SoxProspects.com (General)

 Main Site Questions

 Prospect Rankings

 Message Board Questions

 SoxProspects News Questions

 Wiki Questions

 Player-Related Questions

 MLB-Related Questions


SoxProspects.com (General)

Who runs this site?
The site is run by me - my name is Mike Andrews (email: mike@soxprospects.com). I'm a long-time follower of the Red Sox farm system. Chris Mellen, Chris Hatfield, Matt Huegel, and Jon Meoli are also part owners of the site. We get plenty of help from the SoxProspects staff in operating the main site and SoxProspects News. The moderators also try to make sure that the forum discussion stays interesting and relevant.

Are you that Mike Andrews?
No, I'm the dude, man – not former Red Sox infielder and former Jimmy Fund President Mike Andrews. Big fan of his work though. We try to support the Jimmy Fund here as much as possible through promotions and donations.

Is SoxProspects.com just one site?
We try to make it look like one site - whether we do a great job is up for some debate. SoxProspects is actually a family of sites run on four separate servers: (1) SoxProspects.com (the main site), which includes most of the content, including the rankings, team rosters, and player pages; (2) the SoxProspects Forum, run through ProBoards; (3) SoxProspects News (the official news page), run through Google Blogger; and (4) the Wiki, the information vault run through Wikispaces.

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Main Site Questions

Are the scouting reports based on firsthand observations?
Nearly all of the scouting reports here are based on firsthand observations. We attend minor league spring training every year, where we're able to scout all of the players in the organization over an extended period of time. The staff and I also regularly attend games in Boston, Pawtucket, Portland, and Lowell over the course of the season, and have begun making annual trips to Salem, Greenville, and the Fall Instructional League in Florida. We also have other eyes and ears in each of the affiliate cities.  In addition, we regularly interview many of the top prospects in the organization, who generally provide us with their take on scouting themselves and their teammates. We are also in regular contact with the Red Sox front office, the affiliates, the affiliate broadcasters, and several player agents, who give us their take on scouting reports. All of these reports are combined with information from professionally published scouting reports to make up the player reports here at the site. However, keep in mind that there are some occasions where none of the staff have had the chance to see a prospect play (yet), such as the case with recently-acquired or recently-drafted players, or often times with players in the Dominican Summer League. In those instances, we typically compile our info from the professional scouting services, news reports, or second hand accounts. Then we make every attempt to get out to see the player as soon as he makes his organizational debut in order to update the reports based on first hand information.

How does the prospect grading system work?
Prospect grades are set by the Staff scouting team based on first-hand observations and pro scouting reports. Grades are based on current projection and ceiling. Check out the prospect grading methodology.

Why do some players have "INJ" listed as their prospect grade?
A prospect's grade will be replaced by "INJ" when that player has a major injury. It's very difficult to rank and grade a player when he has a major injury, because the player's projection is largely contingent upon how that player comes back from the injury, and how much development time he will miss. Each injury situation is just so unique, it makes it extremely tough to predict a player's projection and ceiling until we see how long he's out and how well he heals (grading players is a difficult exercise on its own without factoring in speculation based on sometimes incomplete and/or undisclosed medical information ). Th
e INJ will be replaced by a grade once the player returns to full health. 


Who nominates the Players of the Week? Who picks the Players of the Month? What about the SoxProspects All-Stars or Yearly Awards?
Each Sunday during the season, the staff nominates the five best players and pitchers from the previous week (Saturday-Sunday), and the community votes from those five players.  As for the players of the month, the Staff and I pick those each month ourselves. The All-Stars and yearly awards are nominated by the staff and ultimately voted on by the community.

Why aren't there up-to-date stats on each of the individual player pages?
There are two ways to update stats on a website: by hand or by database linking. Database linking takes sophisticated software coding and costs money to link to the professionally-kept statistical databases. We are in the alpha stages of creating a hybrid database where we enter certain info by hand on a daily basis, and most of the stats update themselves.  However, that's still in the very early stages.  At this point, I still enter the stats by hand on the main pages of the site every day. As you might expect, to enter every player's stats on his page on a daily basis by hand is a daunting task. Accordingly, at this point the best we can do is insert links to each player's stats pages on MiLB.com, and enter the final player stats at the end of each season.

Why are the statistical categories different on certain of the player pages?
As of September 5, 2008, all newly-created player pages for pitchers have added two new statistical categories and dropped two others.  WHIP and K/9 were added, and complete games and shutouts were removed.  Also, all pitcher pages created after September 5, 2008, will maintain the IP stat in mathematical format (5.3 IP rather than 5.1 IP to show 5 1/3 IP; 5.7 IP rather than 5.2 IP to show 5 2/3 IP). Pitcher pages existing before September 5, 2008 will NOT be changed to the new format. Statistical categories for position players remain unchanged for all time periods. 

Are the Projected Rosters based on hard data or speculation?
For the most part, projected rosters are based on educated speculation taking into consideration the current and previous placement of players and the Red Sox front office's tendencies over the past five years. Also, options, contract status, and service time may dictate where a player will start the following season. Additionally, we do keep in touch with several players during the season and off-season, and in some cases they are told where they are projected to start the following season. Thus, there are also several instances when the projections are based on hard data.

Is there or can there be a player depth chart?
I get this question every couple months, and to be honest, I just don't see that much of a difference between what the team rosters org chart is and what a "depth chart" would be. In terms of depth as to whom will be called up to Boston first, Pawtucket players will be the first players called up on 95% of occasions (Portland players have been called up directly a few times over the last few years). In my opinion, there simply would not be much difference between the org chart and the depth chart, at least not to merit maintaining an entirely different list. Because I received this request a few times, I did try to keep a depth chart on the Wiki for a few months in 2007 and emailed the members who requested it. Nobody paid much attention so I ultimately nixed the idea. All that being said, if you feel strongly that a depth chart would be a worthwhile addition to the site, I encourage you to start one up on the Wiki and maybe it will catch fire.

I have my own Red Sox or minor league baseball website. Can I exchange links with you?
The short answer is yes. However, I have just one criterion for new sites - I like to wait until a site has been operating for two months before exchanging links. I get link exchange requests every few weeks or so, and I used to okay them right away upon each request, only to find that many of the links were inactive within a matter of weeks, leaving this site with a bunch of dead links. I guess a lot of people like the idea of starting a Red Sox website, but when they find out how much work it is to maintain and how much competition there is, sometimes they just give up. Once your site has been going for two months, I'll gladly exchange links, just drop me a line. Also, keep in mind that in the first two months, you can advertise your link in the signature line of your posts on the Forum here. Just don't make the content of your actual posts spam advertising your site - if your post is intelligent and relevant, the more likely a member is to follow the link.

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Prospect Rankings

Who sets the prospect rankings?
I set the rankings each Friday (sometimes Thursday night) during the season with input from the Staff. The entire site membership votes on the rankings twice a year. Those votes are taken highly into consideration in setting the rankings. In August 2007, we also opened the SoxProspects Meta Forum, where we accept input on the rankings from the membership year round. During the off-season, the rankings may change minimally based on transactions, injury news, updated scouting reports, and Fall & Winter league performance.

How are the prospects generally ranked?
Generally, prospects are ranked on the basis of the projected contribution each player will make at the major league level (not necessarily for the Red Sox).  A lot of factors go into such an analysis.  First, how does one project what type of contribution a player will make years down the road?  Second, even if one knew precisely how a player was going to perform, how does one generally measure any player’s “contribution”?  There’s no denying that it's a subjective exercise and an inexact science.  Taking that into consideration, below are some factors that go into projecting future performance:

What specific factors go into projecting a player’s future performance?

  • Tools:  Tools are the starting point in analyzing a prospect.  For position players, there are five primary tools: hitting for average, power, speed, fielding, and arm strength.  Some even consider “batting eye” the sixth tool. For pitchers, you have tools such as arsenal, velocity, command/control, and deception.  Some of these tools can be measured with a radar gun or a stopwatch, others need to be observed with the human eye. While it's been said that “you either have the tools or you don’t”, a player’s tools certainly can be improved upon and refined over the course of the development process.  Build, athleticism, and mechanics are also part of the "tools" discussion.

Build & Athleticism: A player’s build and athleticism are a parallel aspect to his “tools”, and often can give you an idea how to project what tools have room for refinement.  Scouts generally look for athletically-built middle infielders and center fielders with speed, lateral quickness, and good acceleration out of the box, while corner infielders and corner outfielders should have strong frames or at least the ability to add some muscle.  Catchers generally need to have rugged frames with strong cores to withstand the daily catching grind.  As far as pitchers are concerned, a pitcher who is 6’1” to 6’6” and projects to be 200-235 pounds is something scouts look for to ensure endurance over the long haul.  Note that there are undoubtedly exceptions to all of these generalities.

Mechanics:  Another aspect that is vital to analyzing a player is his mechanics.  For pitchers, a scout might ask: what’s his arm slot?  What is the release point for his various pitches?  Is his delivery fluid and smooth, or is it compact or erratic?  Does he maintain his balance during his delivery?  One of the most important factors is that the pitcher is able to maintain a consistent delivery through each outing.  Mechanics also play a role in the movement of pitches, as well as the stress the pitcher puts on his arm that could potentially result in injury.  For hitters, analyzing mechanics involves examining each player’s stance, bat speed, and the fluidity of his swing.   

  • Ceiling: One of the most important factors in ranking prospects is determining each player’s ceiling and his chances of reaching that ceiling.  “Ceiling” basically means if a player refines all of his tools to the best of his abilities and reaches his full potential, what kind of player can we expect?  After approximating a player's ceiling, one must consider the chances of the player reaching his ceiling. This is where prospect ranking gets tough and highly contentious.  On one hand, you may have a player who has the ceiling of being a perennial All-Star, but since he is unrefined, 18 years old, and playing in Rookie Ball, the chances of him reaching that ceiling are only 20% - and there’s a decent chance that he could never even reach the majors.  On the other hand, you could have a AAA player who’s ceiling is merely a platoon outfielder, but considering his proximity to the majors he has a 90% chance of reaching that ceiling and at worst he projects as an average major league fourth outfielder.  We tend to lend a little more credence to sure-fire major leaguers even if they have a low ceiling, while at the same time keeping in mind that many of the big market teams (the Red Sox in particular) don’t generally have a strong need for replacement-level players.  It’s a delicate balance.
     

  • Stats: Stats are important too – at some point, a player has to demonstrate he’s putting his tools to good use. Moreover, some players that scouts dismiss for lack of tools still manage to statistically dominate the minors and go on to have very productive major league careers.  For position players, one can always look at basic stats such as AVG, OBP, SLG, HRs, and SBs.  However, there are a number of other stats that can be indicative of how a player is actually performing and how he will continue to perform as he works his way up the ladder, such as RC, IsoP, IsoD, BABIP, LD%, and K%.  For certain younger players who have not filled out their frames, some consider doubles to be indicative of future power potential.  Splits are also important – how does a hitter fare against LHP v. RHP?  How well did he hit in April v. August?  And there’s always the ballpark and league splits to consider.  As far as fielding goes, unfortunately advanced fielding stats are not generally available for minor league players, so stats don’t play a big role in this site's analysis of the players' fielding skills.  For pitchers, ERA is still important and strikeouts are vital, but we also consider secondary stats such as WHIP, K/BB, K/9, BAA, and GB/FB fairly indicative of present and future performance. For starters, minor league wins don’t generally mean a whole lot, and WHIP is often a better stat than ERA to gauge relievers.  LH/RH splits also should be factored in.  IP is an indicator of whether a starting pitcher is ready for the full major league season grind. Taking all of this into consideration, stats become more important towards the upper levels when a player starts reaching his ceiling. Conversely, stats for high-school age players in their first year of pro ball aren’t always very indicative of future performance.  Also, many players have “adjustment” periods when promoted to each level to allow them to adjust to more advanced competition, so stats early on at each level are discounted to a point. 
     

  • Age:  Age in and of itself won’t tell you a whole lot about a prospect, but indirectly it’s a big factor in projecting prospects.  If a player is a lot younger than the general track, he can be given some leeway to struggle and make adjustments. If a player is old for his level, it's important to look at the reasons why he is not being promoted, even if he is dominating. In those cases, age is generally an indicator that there's something else going on that's keeping the prospect off of the MLB track, such as concerns that his game won’t carry over to higher levels. Here is an example of your general MLB track – Level (Age):
      
    College Players: SS-A (22), High-A/AA (23), AA/AAA (24); AAA/MLB (25)
       JuCo Players: SS-Rk/A (20), Low-A (21), High-A/AA (22),  AA/AAA (23); AAA/MLB (24)
       HS/Int’l Players: SS-Rk/A (18/19), Low-A (20), High-A (21), AA (22), AAA (23), MLB (24)
    Obviously every player follows his own track, but this is a general guideline that can indicate whether a player is behind or ahead of the average MLB player track. 
     

  • Experience: Experience goes hand-and-hand with proximity to the majors and age.  How has a player performed at the higher levels against advanced competition?  Has he had to repeat levels?  Why?  How long of an adjustment period has he needed at each level?  These considerations factor into the analysis of how the player may perform at the major league level. 
     

  • Intangibles/Miscellaneous: A number of other secondary intangible factors may also be considered, such as intelligence, decision-making ability, clubhouse presence, maturity, game preparation, hustle, confidence, intimidation factor, off-the-field responsibility, composure, and mound presence.  Some other tangible and semi-tangible factors that may be considered include injury history, versatility, contract status/options, and general trade value.

Altogether, these are the general factors considered when this site attempts to rank the top Red Sox prospects.  As I’ve mentioned, the prospect rankings are objective and often require one to balance raw “potential” vs. major-league readiness, much as a scouting director would have to consider when creating a draft board. Ultimately, one might even look at the rankings as a type of “draft board” – if these prospects all immediately became eligible for some type of hypothetical expansion draft, in what order would they be drafted?  We’d like to think that the rankings would be generally parallel to such a list. 

What players are eligible to be ranked and what does PG mean?
"PG" means "Post-Graduated" Prospect - a minor-leaguer who has graduated from prospect "status" due to exhausting his MLB rookie eligibility, but who is still age 25 or younger. When post-grads are returned to the minors, they are reinserted into the rankings where they would have been ranked had they not graduated, but not given an actual rank. For more info on prospect eligibility and abbreviations, check out About this Site.

Should prospects just be ranked in terms of signing bonuses?
Not really. However, signing bonuses, to some extent, show how much value the Red Sox placed in a certain player when signed. But there are a number of reasons why the amount of the bonus does not exactly correspond to the rankings. International free agents are on the free market while draftees cannot spar team against team in a bidding war (they can only use their status as a bargaining chip). College seniors have little bargaining power - their options are to sign or to stay home. Sometimes teams want to pay a lot for raw potential. Some players value money above all else and some don't. Some players have Scott Boras as an agent. Other kids don't even have agents and just use their father as an advisor. Some high school kids really want to go to college and can use that as an effective bargaining chip, while others really just want to play pro ball right out of high school and may not be able to use the college leverage as effectively. That's just the tip of the iceberg - there are a number of factors that go into determining bonuses, and talent isn't always the sole determinate factor in the bonus figure.

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Message Board Questions

Why was my thread moved?
In all likelihood, your thread was moved or deleted because it didn't fall in line with the Ground Rules. That may be something innocent like starting a thread on a topic that is already being discussed in its own thread, or it may mean that you were purposefully acting belligerent. Check out the ground rules or email me if you have any further questions.

Will you be updating to a new message board platform?
The old EZBoard message board migrated to Yuku on November 5, 2007. We moved off of Yuku and onto Proboards on September 4, 2012.

Is there an ignore function on the message board?
Yuku does have an ignore feature. 

How does one become a Moderator?
The Mods were promoted to Mods because they are the most frequent and well-informed posters here. Their job is to make sure the discussion stays on topic. (Technically I am a moderator as well).  Remember though, we are all just regular posters - just because a Mod disagrees with your post it does not mean that the Mod is always right and you are always wrong. None of us have any magical powers, and we're wrong a lot of the time, just like everybody is wrong a lot of the time. The Mods are also on somewhat of a rotating schedule that may or may not change a few times per year.

What's the deal with the membership levels?
There are just two levels  for non-staff members: Veteran Members and Rookies. Some posters may also have their posting rights limited for ground rules infractions.  If you want to be have your posting rights re-instated, just pay careful attention to the quality of your contributions on the message board.

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SoxProspects News Questions

Are the news reports on SoxProspects News trustworthy?
Yes. The news reported on SoxProspects News is not the unconfirmed speculation or rumor that may be found on the message board. SoxProspects News only reports confirmed news. When I say confirmed, I mean either: (1) we received the news directly from the player/his family, the Red Sox, or the minor league affiliate; or (2) the report has been reported and/or confirmed by another trustworthy news source.  In the case of the latter, we will attribute the news story to its source.

Who writes for SoxProspects News?
The lineup of writers and editors for SoxProspects News can be found on the SoxProspects News page.

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Wiki Questions

What the [bleep] is a Wiki?
A "Wiki" is a collaborative website whose content can be edited by anyone who has access to it. Wikipedia is the most well-known Wiki. The SoxProspects Wiki is a vault of Red Sox and Red Sox minor league information that the SoxProspects.com community compiles and shares online.  Any members of the SoxProspects community can have access to the Wiki by simply applying. 

Can I contribute to the Wiki?
Anyone can post on the SoxProspects Wiki. SoxProspects members are encouraged to post or update any of the info there. All you need to do is sign up for posting and editing access. If you've been thinking about pitching in, please sign up!  We really, really appreciate any help.

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Player-Related Questions

How do you pronounce Chih-Hsien Chiang?
It's pronounced Chee-sin Chang. Pronunciations for certain players' names are listed on their individual player pages.

Can I get in touch with the prospects through the site?
No, sorry.  

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MLB-Related Questions

Where can I learn about MLB and minor league transaction rules?
The transaction rules are governed by the Major League Rules, the CBA, and the Professional Baseball Agreement. In the 2008-2009 off-season, I completed a Summary of the ML Rules.

If a prospect isn't on the 25 man roster on August 31, can he still be on the playoff roster?
Players who are on the 25-man roster, the major league DL, or the Bereavement List within a given organization on August 31 are eligible to be on that team's playoff roster.  Other players are generally not eligible to be on the playoff roster.  However, if a player in the organization is on the DL on August 31 and still on the DL at the end of the regular season, that player may be replaced on the playoff roster by any player that was in the organization as of August 31.  For example, any player on the 15-day or 60-day DL on both August 31 and the end of the season may be replaced by a minor leaguer who may not have been on the major league roster as of August 31 (see Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007).  That replacing player does not have to be a pitcher if he is replacing a pitcher, nor does a position player have to be replaced a position player. Once the playoffs start, if a player becomes disabled he can be replaced by any player from the 40-man roster, even during the series in which the player was injured.  However, under those circumstances a pitcher must be replaced with a pitcher and a position player with a position player.  Additionally, the replaced player may not be activated for the remainder of the playoffs.

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