I read John Sickels' Top 20 Prospect List with great interest. Afterward, I found he is in the process of making the same list for all MLB teams. I was reading the list for the Atlanta Braves, and found some people all bent out of shape because he gave Christian Betancourt, a defense first catcher, a C+. The actual write-up on the guy was:
16. Christian Bethancourt, C, Grade C+: Another guy who would rank higher on pure tools. Very impressive defense but his bat is awful and several sources regard it as hopeless. Saving grace is youth. He could be a late-bloomer but that might be seven years from now.
So I emailed him:
Thanks for your postings on the Top 20 Pirates Prospects. I follow the team's prospects (maybe too) closely and your write up seems to have encapsulated what I felt as the year progressed. There were good discussions on BucsDugout, and we thank you for joining in.
I also discovered today your rankings for several other teams, including the Braves. That discussion got a little contentious with a troll advocating the glories of Bethancourt and you conducted yourself well.
It made me wonder, however, since Tony Sanchez seems to be a similar player, albeit 3 years older, and you give them both a C+, how comparable are they?
Thanks for your insight. I enjoy your work.
This was his response:
Well this sort of illustrates the problems with trying to express analysis of a player into a single grade. Bethancourt is more athletic than Sanchez and, as you point out, is three years younger, which is a pretty big deal for future projection. He is more mobile than Sanchez and has a better arm. However, Sanchez has more polish, and while neither of them are terrific hitters at this point, Sanchez has shown more with the bat, demonstrating more usable power and a better approach to controlling the strike zone.
So while they are both Grade C+ prospects, their actual profiles are rather different.
I would say that Bethancourt has a higher ceiling than Sanchez, but he also has a lower floor. Sanchez has a good chance to be at least workable role player. Bethancourt's tools are better and, since he's younger, he has more upside into possibly developing into a long-term starting catcher. However, Bethancourt's approach to hitting is downright terrible, and his chance of complete failure is higher than Sanchez's.
So there you have it. Thank you John for your good work.