The prospect business is a fickle one. There often is no right or wrong, or black and white. Only shades of gray. The “experts” in the business realize this. They also realize that rankings are often just for fun, and on any given player, you can get a variety of opinions. Rankings are a tool to give fans an idea of the players they are going to see in the future. That is, if they make it all. So why even bother with the business of ranking prospects?
Well, honestly, it’s a way to make a living for guys like Kevin Goldstein, Keith Law, and the good folks at Baseball America. There is nothing wrong with that, they are certainly providing a service to people who want to know about these guys. I try in my own little way to do that for people as well.
In that vain, I have to get something off my chest that has been there all year. Jake Marisnick of the Toronto Blue Jays is a top prospect. He has essentially been ranked in the top 50 by most of the services for 2012. There is good reason for that, Marisnick is a quality prospect with really good tools. Given that, I wanted to look at Avisail Garcia in a head-to-head battle with Marisnick, to see if the Tigers right fielder is a little bit underrated in the prospect world.
The reason I chose Marisnick in this “smackdown” is that his age, and the levels of which he has played at has been really similar to Garcia. Marisnick is basically two months older than Garcia, playing in both the Florida State League and the Eastern League this year. The two players at-bats are similar at both levels, and both even played in the Midwest League last year as well giving me a further opportunity for comparison.
The last caveat is that I have personally viewed both players in the minor leagues multiple times, though I haven’t laid eyes on Marisnick this season, so I am relying on some industry opinion in that regard.
You often hear about five tool players in baseball, but sometimes not what those tools are. The five tools are, speed, arm, hitting for average, hitting for power, and defense. I will judge the two players and then give a verdict on who I believe to be the better prospect.
Marsinick- Marisnick is an above average runner. Not only does he have good straight line speed, he shows an ability to steal bases, and in general is a good base runner. If I was to put a number on it according to 20-80 (80 is the best) scouting scale, I would put him at 55/55 (present/future).
Garcia- Garcia shares many of the same characteristics that Marisnick does. His straight line speed is good, and in general he shows a good aptitude when it comes to running the bases. However, he shows a little less aptitude when it comes to stealing bases, and his body type would lend me to believe he slows down in the future (55/45).
Marisnick- Marisnick is blessed with a strong arm for a center fielder. He gets pretty good carry on his throws, but at this point needs to work on accuracy. He also seemed to be in a hurry at times, and will do well to slow it down a bit and get behind his throws. 55/60
Garcia- This is a clear plus for Garcia. Garcia has above average arm strength. He is also accurate and shows an ability get behind his throws. Has a prototypical right field arm. 65/65
Hitting for Average:
Marisnick- Marisnick struggled this season to make the kind of contact he has in the past. Still, the tools are there. He shows above average bat speed, and is willing to work counts. His trouble stems from pitch recognition and can chase sometimes outside the zone. Most people believe the hand-eye coordination is there to continue to make improvements. I am skeptical at this point that he will hit for much more than .260 in the pros. Shows a willingness to hit the ball the opposite way. 45/55
Garcia- Garcia has made tremendous strides this season as far as pitch recognition goes. He also has good hand-eye coordination as well, and that might be part of his fault. Garcia rarely sees pitches that he doesn’t like in the strike zone. His next step is to be patient enough to swing at good strikes. He could stand to turn on more pitches. 50/50
Hitting for Power:
Marisnick- Marisnick has good raw power and with improvements in his approach should be able to tap into it. At the very least he projects to be a force with gap power due to his bat speed. I am not as convinced as others that he will tap into his power 45/60
Garcia- Garcia has the frame that looks like he is going to hit for power in the future. Again, like Marisnick, I am not convinced he is going to realize the potential. His swing as is, doesn’t generate the kind of bat speed you see in power hitters. In my opinion it’s because he doesn’t use that tree trunk lower half to good enough effect, not opening his hips fast enough to get the bat head through the zone quickly. 45/55
Marisnick- Marisnick is a good defender. He gets good jumps off the bat, runs balls down in the alleys, and has a strong arm. If he maintains his speed, he could be an above average center fielder. If not, he can handle right field as well. 55/60
Garcia- Garcia is a real good right fielder. He reads balls off the bat well, and uses his quality speed to chase balls down to both the gap and the line. His strong arm plays well in RF and defensively he should do so for years to come. His body will limit his defensive projection, as he will slow down in 5 or 6 years. 55/55
Some scouts like to use a 6th tool which is essentially make-up. I didn’t include this because I haven’t heard anything but good things in this regard to both players. As you can see from the grades I gave, Marisnick does look to have a higher ceiling, though Garcia in the present compares very favorably. I find it interesting however, that you aren’t likely to find Garcia in a ton of top 100 lists that you will still find Marisnick in. Maybe that will change when end of the year, or pre-2013 lists start rolling in.
Regardless of his ranking, or whether or not Garcia is a better prospect than Marisnick, Garcia has shown vast improvement. But I should caution Tigers fans, Garcia still has a long way to go. Defensively he can help, and offensively he can make contact, but it’s not the kind of contact the Tigers will need. They need some pop from their right fielder, and until Garcia makes some adjustments, I’m not sure he is much more than a 15 homer per year guy.