Back in May I wrote an article discussing the Savannah Sand Gnats trio of Kevin Plawecki, Jayce Boyd, and Brandon Nimmo, who were mashing the South Atlantic League (SAL) at the time. Specifically, the discussion centered around the downplaying of Plawecki and Boyd’s performances because they were “old for their league” or not “age appropriate.” A common rule of thumb appears to suggest that age appropriate for the SAL is somewhere between 19-21, with 22 being pretty questionable. Plawecki and Boyd were 22 and so doubt was cast on their stellar performances.
Where did this rule come from? Well, probably from people with much more knowledge and experience in these sorts of things than you or I. The problem, however, is that this rule appears to mostly apply to prospects at the top tier in talent and how they generally perform well while being young for their league. It certainly didn’t sprout from the actual numbers, as my research suggested.
As a refresher, the table below summarizes the average age, median age, and age ranges for the leagues in which the Mets have an affiliate except for the GCL and DSL. It also includes those same metrics for the Mets’ affiliates specifically. Note that the metrics are derived from players’ ages as of 5/12/2013 and the numbers were derived before all of the promotions and shuffling of players this season.
|Age Metrics||Pacific Coast League (AAA)||Eastern League (AA)||Florida State League (A+)||South Atlantic League (A-)||New York-Penn League (SS-A)||Appalachian League (Rookie)|
|Average Age||27 yrs 4 ms||26 yrs 10 ms||25 yrs 4 ms||24 yrs 5 ms||23 yrs 10 ms||24 yrs 0 ms||22 yrs 4 ms||22 yrs 5 ms||21 yrs 9 ms||21 yrs 10 ms||21 yrs 0 ms||20 yrs 5 ms|
|Median Age||26 yrs 6 ms||26 yrs 6 ms||24 yrs 9 ms||24 yrs 0 ms||23 yrs 4 ms||23 yrs 4 ms||22 yrs 3 ms||22 yrs 2 ms||21 yrs 6 ms||21 yrs 4 ms||21 yrs 1 ms||20 yrs 7 ms|
|Age Range||19.6 – 38.11||21.9 – 32.11||20.7 – 41.5||21.9 – 29.8||19.5 – 41.5||19.9 – 36.8||17.8 – 29.2||19.9 – 24.8||17.5 – 35.8||18.4 – 33.1||17.3 – 28.4||17.8 – 25.3|
The most important number above is the median age in each league. According to the numbers, Plawecki and Boyd were pretty much spot on for age appropriateness in the SAL. It’s understandable that you temper expectations for a prospect that should perform well in a league in which they are age appropriate. It also makes sense that you get excited for youngsters outplaying the older competition and therefore rate them higher. That doesn’t mean you completely disregard production from a player when they so fully dominate their league, as Plawecki and Boyd did to the SAL in the first half of the season.
About the only thing they could do to silence the doubters was to get promoted to the next level and keep on performing, and that’s exactly what they did. On June 20th, the 22-year-olds were both promoted to High-A St. Lucie in the Florida State League (FSL). In the FSL, the two are currently performing as such:
- Boyd: .287/.349/.487 with an OPS of .836, 4 home runs, 23 RBI, and a 12/10 K/BB in 31 games
- Plawecki: .317/.410./416 with an OPS of .826, 1 home run, 20 RBI, and a 12/9 K/BB in 30 games
All of a sudden these two are performing at a high level in a league where, according to the table above, they are slightly younger than the competition. You’d obviously like to see more power production from a first baseman, but it’s clear that Boyd so far has shown a hit tool that could lead to the development of more power down the line. Still, there’s a legitimate question as to whether he will ever hit enough for the position.
Plawecki, on the other hand, is certainly making prospect watchers take notice. Not only is he hitting well for the catcher position, which adds tremendously to his value, he’s also shown strong defense behind the plate and has thrown out 29% of runners. You may start seeing Plawecki creeping his way on to top 100 lists this offseason if his production continues. In fact, John Sickels at Minor League Ball has recently stated that Plawecki could make his next top 100. You will most certainly see him shooting up Mets-specific prospect lists and possibly in the discussion for top catching prospects overall. How crazy would it be for the Mets to have two of the top catching prospects in the game?