Friday, December 18, 2015

Down on the Farm: Thoughts on Community Ranking

So out of 17 responses to my request for a community ranking of 5 "second tier" pitchers in the Giants farm system, Sam Coonrod got 7 first place votes while Chase Johnson was a very close second with 6.  Chris Stratton got one vote from someone who values proximity to the majors over ceiling.  Andrew Suarez got one vote from someone who is impressed by his first pro performance and his combination of stuff and polish.  Jordan Johnson got one vote from someone who saw him pitch for San Jose and came away impressed with his stuff.

I find the Coonrod/Chase Johnson comp to be fascinating.  They are quite similar pitchers in that they throw their FB's in the mid-high 90's, both have has bouts of command issues and both pitched very well last year.  The big difference in my mind is that Chase Johnson pitched successfully in AA while Coonrod spent all season in Low A ball with 1 successful appearance for San Jose in the Cal League playoffs.  In running through a mental Giants top 50 prospect list after the minor league seasons were finished, I always had Chase Johnson ahead of Coonrod for that very reason, level of play.

The interesting thing is, Coonrod has been ranked higher on several Giants prospect rankings this year, generally polling in the #5,6 slots while Chase Johnson seems to be well below the top 10.  Yet, in our community poll, Johnson only got one less vote than Coonrod.  I guess my vote makes it even-Steven.   Several of the people who voted for Coonrod stated that they did so, at least in part, on the basis of the already published rankings.

So, why does Coonrod get ranked so highly by several national prospect evaluators, our community tends to rank them at least equally with about half ranking Johnson higher?  I honestly do not know the answer, but will put forward a few theories:

1.  The national rankers may have access to better, more in depth information from scouts and coaches who see something we do not see that separates Coonrod from Chase Johnson and the other 3 pitchers we ranked.

2.  Coonrod was much better known nationally prior to his draft than Johnson was before his, so even though Johnson was picked in a higher round, Coonrod may be better known to national writers.

3.  We, here in the When the Giants Come to Town community may actually know the Giants farm system and prospects better than the national writer.  That is because we follow the progress of Giants prospects on a game-by-game basis.  Some of us have seen some of these guys play in person, which definitely gives you a different perspective.  We also read everything we can get or hands and eyes on about Giants prospects.

4.  Maybe there are two separate groupthinks going on?  I believe there is a lot of copycatting that goes on between national prospect watchers, either because they have the same sources or they read each other and are influenced as such.  On the other hand, people like me, Covechatter, Shankbone and ogc tend to have a similar outlook and also read each other's stuff.  Maybe we tend to have the same circle of readers and generate our own groupthink?

I am not sure how my final rankings will shake out.  As I have said many times, don't get too hung up on exact rankings.  The important thing here is the Giants have at least 5 very impressive second tier SP prospects each one of whom has a reasonable case to be the highest ranked of the group.  As I said earlier, I definitely lean toward Chase Johnson here as a guy with essentially equivalent stuff who has succeeded at a higher level while the other guy still has to reach that level.


  1. As to your "copycatting" theory. I recall many years ago (about45years) talking with a scout for the New York Mets at a youth baseball tournament. I noticed that he always sat alone during tournaments while all the other scouts basically sat in a group and chatted during games. I went over and talked with the scout (his name escapes me) and asked him why he sat alone. His answer was that he didn't want to be influenced by the "group opinion" of other scouts , wanting to make his own independent evaluation

  2. Great points. Related to your #2 on Coonrod being more known, I do think impressions at draft time take a while to fade away. Both Chase Johnson and Coonrod had "pen arm" labels, but as we know Johnson was buried in the SLO bullpen by a vindictive coach.

    One more thing might be driving current thought, they both pitched in Augusta, both at age 22, one year apart, both had 22 starts and 23 appearances. Here are the results:
    Chase Johnson 2014: 110 IP, 4.58 ERA, 9.1 H/9, 3.3 BB/9, 7.7 K/9, 2.35 K/BB, 5 HRs allowed
    Sam Coonrod 2015: 112IP, 3.14 ERA, 8.3 H/9, 2.7 BB/9, 9.2 K/9, 3.35 K/BB, 3 HRs allowed

    I think they're both great prospects, I lean towards Coonrod mainly based off of first impressions. He has slightly better stats, but its also a different year, different hitters in the Sally, etc. One of the comments about seeing Johnson in your last post showed me that my impression of Johnson might be dated, I felt his motion was too herky jerky. The Giants are obviously always working to smooth out and simplify, that is also up to the player.

    I think we might have some groupthink but we also have different opinions. DrB and CC liked Mella more than I did, for example, with the big fastball.

    1. While you rank Coonrod higher than Chase Johnson, I strongly suspect that you have them much closer together than the national writers, which is probably due to your following the Giants farm system more closely and thus being more familiar with prospects who may not have hit the national radar.

    2. Agreed. One other thing though: Coonrod was a starter in college and was considered a value draft, Johnson was in the pen, and considered an overdraft.

  3. For me it was player weight. Which is a long essay or a short quip. And it's time to leave to go stand in line at the movie theatre. Like it's 1977 at the Coronet all over again.

    (FWIW, I may have been in one of those lines. I used to watch Star Wars once a month from its opening in 1977 until early 1979. I even tried to get a job there, but they were swamped with applications.)

    1. May the force be with you.

  4. I don't really like ranking guys because it somehow takes away their performance and sometimes it might be unfair for someone to rank really high ahead for a guy who's better for someone else's. It stirs up a nice conversation but it doesn't exactly do justice towards guys especially those who are tightly packed. As a guy who follows the Giants farm, I will say that the top 4 that I have listed are really close and it can be interchangeable overnight. I will say that the four are along the same lines with Coonrod having a marginal lead due to the impact he made on me when watching his videos this season. It's not taking away Chase's 14K appearance which is gold, Jordan's untapped potential and Suarez' rapid ascension up the ladder in the farm system.

    1. As I said before, the most important part of all this is not the exact rankings but the Giants having 5 really good "second tier" pitching prospects in their farm system.