Why Ruben Amaro Hates Prospect Lists


Ruben Amaro hates your top prospects list, you know. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

There are many things about Ruben Amaro that sabermatricians and watchers of the game don’t like.

They don’t like how he “doesn’t care about walks” and seems to pay nary a mind to on base percentage. They don’t like how the Phillies are one of the only teams not to employ some kind of analytics department in the front office. And they don’t like the fact that he doesn’t seem to have any kind of long-term plan for the franchise’s success.

On Sunday, Amaro made even more friends and jacked the smug-o-meter up even higher, when he took a shot at the people who look at and analyze team’s minor league prospects, telling CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury

"“We have some guys that may be available,” Amaro said. “Clubs have asked about some guys that you don’t see on the top 25, top 50 lists of everyone who knows everything about baseball. I said that sarcastically, by the way, because I don’t think people know (crap) about it. You can print that if you’d like.“There’s just a lot of those lists that come out that make me laugh. I don’t see anyone working for any major-league clubs that do that with those lists. It’s interesting.”"

Aside from the fact that much of the information that makes up these lists are taken from scouts working for teams for those major-league clubs, that is some sharp criticism aimed at the likes of Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and prospect experts like ESPN’s Keith Law and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, all of whom periodically put out lists of the top 50 and 100 prospects in baseball.

Why would Ruben get so upset by these lists? One would assume that teams are making decisions regarding prospects based on reports they get from their own scouts and not relying on Keith Law’s Top 100. But here’s why Ruben may care about this.

Fans of every team around baseball pay attention to these lists, and many people take them as gospel. Too much so, in fact. These lists are opinions and not set in stone, yet people take them as the end-all, be-all.

Certainly a lot of work goes into them and they serve as a terrific thumbnail for casual fans who don’t get to follow the ins and outs of their team’s minor league system. It’s also a very nice snapshot of a franchise minor league system.

However, once you’ve been placed in these top 50 or 100 lists, you are seen as a “golden child,” and the price to acquire a player on one of those lists becomes sky high, especially in the eyes of the fans of that team.

No one wants their team giving away a “Top 100 prospect” for Michael Young.

Conversely, Amaro sees only Jesse Biddle in the top 50 of most lists, and perhaps Maikel Franco and/or Adam Morgan in the top 100 of other people’s lists. He knows that any trades that go down, whether he’s buying or selling, is likely going to be judged by the public based on these rankings, some of which are four or five months old.

Right or wrong, Amaro believes he has players in his minor league system that are as good as anyone else in the lists of these supposed “experts,” yet because they are not on those lists, he won’t get as much for them.

Of course, if the Phillies had done a better job drafting the last few years (and yes, I know they relinquished first round picks to sign free agents, but good drafts are made in the middle and later rounds, too), or if the team hadn’t traded away so many blue chip prospects (which was the right thing to do at the time, by the way), then maybe he’d have more prospects in these top 50 lists.

At the end of the day, though, Amaro is probably upset that what he’s able to trade away and what he’ll be able to acquire has public relations ramifications attached to them because of these highly publicized lists.

I’m not saying Ruben is in the right here. I do not think he is.

But I think this is part of the frustration of a man who is facing a crossroads and doesn’t know which path to walk down.