When it comes to analyzing minor league players, it is certainly important to consider both the statistics they compile and the connection between that performance and the visual/mechanical elements of their process behind the numbers. However, if there’s one group of prospects who can be effectively analyzed (in a shorthanded fashion) from a purely statistical standpoint, it’s probably first base prospects. In general, they’re below-average defenders–none of the 25 qualified first basemen in 2013 posted a positive FanGraphs Defense value, after all–and as a result, they are held to extremely high offensive standards. Evaluating a first base prospect, then, often comes down to a simple method: If he hits, he’s interesting, and if he doesn’t, he’s not.
Applying this crude method to White Sox first base prospect Rangel Ravelo probably would lead many toward the second conclusion. Ravelo’s not entirely off the radar–he hit .312/.393/.455 with High-A Winston-Salem this year as a 21-year-old, enough to slot him into the final slot on Baseball America‘s top 30 White Sox prospects. But he’s a first baseman who is a career .298/.359/.402 hitter–that’s a meager .104 Isolated Power and just seven home runs in 1179 plate appearances since being drafted in sixth round in 2010 out of a Florida high school.
The logical conclusion to draw, then, is that Ravelo, while perhaps a talented hitter, is never going to have the power required to make an impact given what’s likely to be little defensive ability. Then again, maybe the visual/mechanical aspect still retains importance for first basemen, because it paints a very different picture of Ravelo than his production does.