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When prospect projections go wrong

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Have you been reading the scouting reports and projections for all the young prospects the Twins drafted this week? Well get a load of this!

Minnesota Twins Photo Day
Looks like a slap-hitting shortstop to me!
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

With the MLB Draft finishing up on June 14, it can be fun to take a look at various scouting reports and projections for the players the Twins drafted and revel in what could be. Few phrases bring out such hope as "number one draft pick." Say it. Right now, wherever you are. Feel that tingle in the air? That's the tingle of potential.

Well I'm here to crush your dreams and bring you back down to earth. Scouting and projecting players is hard. Really hard. The younger a player is, the more difficult it is to project their future. But that doesn't stop people from trying.

As proof of how difficult scouting players is, I looked up every Twins player's page on baseballprospectus.com. I then found the earliest scouting-report-type things for each player to see where the projections were just plain wrong. So when you look at the potential future of players such as Royce Lewis, just remember that so many things can change between now and a players potential major league career.

Joe Mauer

“Noteworthy Comparables: Sean Burroughs, Hank Blalock, Jayson Werth-Baseball Prospectus, 2004

A couple caveats here, The noteworthy comparables were from PECOTA projections and even author Nate Silver admits that it's difficult for the projections system to be accurate for Mauer because of his size, skill, and position—but I still get a giggle out of Joe Mauer someday being the next Sean Burroughs. Burroughs would actually go on to play in ten games for the Twins in 2012. It's safe to say that Mauer easily surpassed those comparables.

Eddie Rosario

"Perfect World Projection: He could be a second baseman with 15-20 home runs and stolen bases. That's a star." -Kevin Goldstein, 2011

Not only did will Rosario never reach that perfect world projection as a second baseman, Rosario wont even be in the infield again. He's found his major league position in left field. Even something as seemingly simple as projecting where a player will play on the field can change through development.

Miguel Sano

"There's a chance he'll need to move to right field, and some wonder if first base will be his only option once he's in his mid 20s." -Kevin Goldstein, 2011

Here's anther example of how difficult it can be to predict a players position. In 2011 it was totally feasible that Sano could eventually move to right field. Now? Not so much! No one could have known just how disastrous of a decision that could be.

Fortunately Sano has turned himself into one of the very best third basemen in the American League and may remain there for years to come if his defense remains strong.

Brian Dozier

"While he has gap power and should provide plenty of two-baggers, it's unlikely he'll ever reach double-digit home-run totals in the big leagues." -Kevin Goldstein, 2011

LOL. This one is my favorite. Ok, but seriously, this speaks to how out of nowhere Dozier's power came from. He hit 15 home runs in his entire minor league career. Fifteen in 1405 at bats. No one could have predicted Dozier to ever hit 42 home runs in a major league season.


None of these are knocks on the people who give us scouting reports. In fact, most of baseballprospectus' reports were pretty accurate. But not all of them. As mentioned earlier, so many things can change through development. Some players figure things out, others regress never to recover. It's something that should be kept in mind when looking at any prospect, especially the ones as young and far away from the majors as those newly-drafted.