Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis do an admirable job covering the entirety of the minor leagues. I know from first-hand experience it can be tough to cover one team to the fullest extent, let alone 30. Recently, MLB.com published their updated version of the Detroit Tigers top 30, complete with the new international signees and fresh Rule 5 guy Akil Baddoo.
Baddoo checked in at 22 on the Detroit Tigers list heading into the season with an overall grade of 45, which suggests a possible everyday regular role but more likely a bench bat or utility player. Conveniently since their release, Baddoo has simply mashed from the left side while supplying surprising skills in the field–especially the arm, which required Tommy John surgery during his time in the Twins’ organization.
Every so often, Callis and Mayo will take note from fans across the nation about certain prospects and answer in a mailbag-style article. One loyal Pipeline-follower happened to ask this intriguing and pertinent question:
The question is valid for two reasons: first, one of the main sticking points with ranking a prospect is their risk. Not only with injury, but also age or profile. More plainly, it can be difficult to rank a 16-year-old with nothing outside of a couple of showcase-style videos. Part of what makes Baddoo so impressive and why he deserves to shoot up prospect lists is that he is putting his tools on display at the major-league level now as a 22-year-old. The risk of translation to MLB pitching and pace no longer exists.
Secondly is the performance itself. For those who may not follow the Tigers closely, it is fair to brush off a small sample size and move along (no dig on Mayo, but he did this to some extent in his article too). Fans have seen this type of performance all spring, though, so while I am famous for ‘spring stats are meaningless,’ Hinch purposely put Baddoo in scenarios to fail in spring and it just never happened.
Of course, Baddoo cannot maintain his .370 batting average or his feverish home run pace (on pace for about 54 home runs across a full season), but his feel for the strike zone and ability to drive the ball to all fields are certainly real–making an everyday future more likely.
Mayo balked and put the brakes on this top-100 discussion for Baddoo and justifiably so. It can be difficult to resist reactionary behavior in the prospect evaluation world. If they believe in Baddoo after 10 MLB games, one would wonder what prevented them from putting him higher on the list in the first place. In their case, it is probably best to stick with their initial conviction and allow the season to play out. Besides, he’s going to graduate soon anyway.
Baddoo probably isn’t a top-100 prospect now, but thankfully lists don’t matter and it appears the Detroit Tigers have a young, everyday regular in their lineup now and for years to come. A nice and worthwhile pickup by Avila and Company.