Introducing the Sortable Draft Board

The Sortable Draft Board features draft-prospect ranks, tool ratings, and likely selection range — and costs zero dollars.

In my continuing quest to increase transparency and reduce the amount of information that I know and do not communicate, today FanGraphs has rolled out a thing that I think is most appropriately described as the Sortable Draft Board. There is lots of information I wanted to include, so we made three tabs to include all the stuff I think you want to see while also separating the information by type. The general idea behind this is to:

1. Give you the tools to re-rank these players to your preferences, as you now have all the information necessary to have some reasonable amount of confidence about doing such.

2. Create as little difference as possible between the amount, quality and specificity of pre-draft information and the post-season organizational minor-league prospect lists.

3. Do away with rankings that are some unspoken combination of how good I think the player is and a CYA vanity play of ranking a player in the order of how I think he’ll actually be drafted, instead showing both pieces of information which you can combine at your discretion.

I think we’ve included all the necessary information you’d want in number form, from scouting grades, velocities for pitchers, projected slash lines for the top hitters (available for 50+ FV players, under the positional sorts in the Scouting tab) from where I ranked these guys pre-season, where I put them in my last mock draft, where I rank them personally and the range of where I think they’ll be drafted.

A couple things I should clarify before I get questions about them:

1. In my Black Swan piece, I said the top tier of draft talent in which the Black Swan players reside usually composes a group of 15-20 players. I said this year is weaker than usual and will likely be on the low end of that range. I have 14 players as 50 FV or greater, which would represent that top tier and is in line with my previous statements. Any one scout can add or subtract a player from that total, or sub in one guy for another, but I think this reflects the industry consensus as well as my own opinion. The 55 FV and higher level (only two players in this class) is where this draft is behind others, since there’s usually at least five players of that caliber or better. For a primer on the scouting scale and how to convert them into offensive numbers, see the tables here.

2. The FV is on the same scale as the offseason minor-league prospect lists. Obviously, some of these will move up or down a grade as I learn that teams were laying in the weeds on this guy, or this guy’s summer performance in pro ball effectively answered/raised a question about his ability. The idea is that no wild, unexplained swing of a dozen or more spots within the draft class will occur — or, if it does occur, will at least be properly explained. I also introduce Present Value (PV), on the same scale as FV, which I’ve been using for almost a year at FanGraphs. For the purposes of this year’s draft, however, this can basically tell you which college pitchers are good enough to contribute in a big-league bullpen right now as a middle reliever.

3. Risk is on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Most players here receive a 3 or 4, since this is on the scale of all minor leaguers and no pro experience renders them more risky than average. ETA is the year I think the relevant prospect will make his MLB debut, but it could be at the beginning or end of that year, so don’t go too crazy about applying these; they’re more useful as comparisons of polish amongst similar players. Range is the pick range in which I think they’re most likely to land, but there’s obviously going to be a handful of players that slip a couple rounds due to bonus demands (Alonzo Jones is a common guess for a prospect that could slip many rounds from where his talent suggests). I adjust the ranges based on this, but it’s near impossible to tell which top two round talents will slide a few rounds versus sliding merely 20 picks due to signability. For the purposes of the Board, I’ve assumed that is everyone is signable enough, knowing that a handful of guys aren’t, but also that it’s impossible to be sure about that beforehand.

4. The tool grades are used the same as minor-league prospect lists, but there is something I should explain regarding the hit tool grades of college versus high school players. For example, Daz Cameron has a 50 future hit tool, but technically has the tools to be a 60 hitter. His performance against good pitching hasn’t been as good as his tools indicate it could be, but if he really hits in the minors, that grade could go up a few ticks. Accordingly, Ian Happ is a 50+ hit tool, but if he does the same thing, his hit tool probably doesn’t go above 55. Essentially, the farther the player is from the big leagues, the wider the range of possibilities for his hit tool to change, for better or worse. That didn’t seem obvious to me, so I thought I should point out that a prep player’s 50 hit tool isn’t the same as a college player’s 50 hit tool, even if I value them equally by giving them the same number.

5. This list will be updated continually up until draft day, adding players and details to existing players as information rolls in, I edit video, write reports, etc. If you’re more interested in just seeing hundreds of names of guys for the top 10 rounds rather than a more detailed ranking of the top few round types, see my draft rankings from April, which have been updated to include new names as I got them.

We hoped you liked reading Introducing the Sortable Draft Board by Kiley McDaniel!

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Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.

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Joey Gallo
Joey Gallo

You hit this one WAY out of the ballpark!