Dilson HerreraMLB.com recently released its top 100 prospect list for 2015. The good news is that there were five Mets on the list. The news that makes me do a double-take is that Dilson Herrera was not one of them. It’s a major undertaking to do a list around one team; to do one for the entire league is a Herculean task. Undoubtedly, fans of each team thinks it has a prospect or two that was short-changed by being left off the list. But failing to include Herrera is an omission that in three years is going to be cringe-worthy for those who assembled these rankings.

You would think that a guy who went from Hi-A to the majors in a single season at age 20 might be worth consideration. You would think that the guy who ranked second in the Eastern League (among those with at least 200 PA) in wOBA and wRC+ and third in OPS might be worth including among the best prospects in the game. How silly of you!

Nationals prospect Michael Taylor made the list at #42. Taylor also played in the Eastern League last year and despite a BABIP 32 points higher than Herrera’s, his OPS was 32 points lower. And Taylor was three years older. So how does Taylor merit inclusion on this list while Herrera doesn’t?

Taylor is 6’3 while Herrera is 5’10. Taylor is from the heavily-scouted area of Ft. Lauderdale while Herrera is from Colombia, an area not known as a baseball hot spot. And perhaps most importantly, Taylor made the list last year.

This is not to rag on Taylor, who is a fine prospect. It’s just that if the Nationals called up and offered Taylor straight up for Herrera, my hope is that Sandy Alderson would politely decline and shift the conversation towards Ian Desmond. Not that Alderson should trade Herrera then, either.

The average NL second baseman last year put up a .251/.308/.361 line last year. In his brief amount of time in the majors, Herrera brought up that total, as he recorded a .710 OPS, despite a .256 BABIP. Herrera is ready to come up and be a league average – or better – second baseman right now in the majors, at an age that would still be viewed as a top prospect in Hi-A.

Over his three levels in 2014, Herrera recorded a .312 AVG with 16 HR and 23 SB in 653 PA. After hitting just three homers in his first 309 PA, Herrera socked 13 over his final 344 trips to the plate, including three in the majors. Since 1990, only five second baseman in MLB have hit .300 with 20 HR and 20 SB in the same season. Here’s what those guys were doing at age 20:

Roberto Alomar – Spent most of the year in the majors, where he hit .266 with 9 HR and 23 SB.
Craig Biggio – Was playing collegiately at Seton Hall.
Dustin Pedroia – After being drafted from Arizona State, Pedroia split time between two A-ball clubs and hit .357 with 3 HR and 2 SB in 185 PA.
Ryne Sandberg – Batted .310 with 11 HR and 32 SB in the Eastern League.
Alfonso Soriano – Was training at the Carp Academy in Hiroshima, Japan.

Of course, there’s a big difference between dominating Double-A and doing the same thing in the majors. Yet on an age-equivalent basis, Herrera was holding his own with what three Hall of Famers (Alomar, Biggio, Sandberg) and an MVP (Pedroia) were doing.

Herrera was excluded from MLB.com’s top prospect list. But because this list has been around only for a few years, let’s use the granddaddy of all prospect lists – Baseball America. BA has been producing a top 100 prospect list since 1990. Between 1990 and 2013, only 11 middle infielders have come up and made their MLB debut at age 20 or younger and retained their rookie eligibility. Here was their ranking on the following year’s top 100 list in parentheses:

1991 – Andujar Cedeno (#2)
1993 – Wil Cordero (#6)
1994 – Benji Gil (#23)
1995 – Alex Rodriguez (#1)
2000 – Travis Dawkins (#21)
2001 – Luis Rivas (#93)
2002 – Wilson Betemit (#8)
2002 – Omar Infante – not ranked
2004 – Andres Blanco – not ranked
2004 – Rickie Weeks – (#5)
2013 – Jurickson Profar – (#1)

Nine of the 11 were ranked, eight were in the top 25 and six were in the top 10. Infante was not ranked the year after he made his MLB debut but garnered a #95 ranking before the 2002 season. If allowed a do-over, there’s no doubt BA would add to its 2003 list a guy who’s been in the majors for 14 years and counting and has an All-Star appearance on his resume.

Even Blanco, perhaps the least-productive member of this group, has spent parts of seven seasons in the majors. There were nine players on that 2005 BA list who never made the majors and another six position players who did not amass Blanco’s 260 games and counting MLB total.

Most of these 11 guys to debut at age 20 and retain rookie eligibility were shortstops and there’s little doubt that if Herrera posted his 2014 numbers playing short that the perception would be totally different. But the positional difference should not change the equation from “Top 25” to “Not on the list.”

Again, we’re using historical trends from BA to judge an MLB.com list, which is not quite ideal. Hopefully, when BA releases its list in the near future, Herrera will be on it. But if he isn’t, that doesn’t change the fact that he had a fantastic 2014 and is one of the top prospects for the Mets. My opinion is that he’s the club’s top hitting prospect and one can make a case for him being the organization’s top overall prospect.

And it’s a shame that he’s not getting that recognition from some corners of the prospect world.

21 comments on “Dilson Herrera should be on every Top 100 prospect list

  • Fast Freddy

    He didn’t make Keith Law’s list, either

    • eric

      Although law did say he was part of the next ten. He was also ranked 8 th best 2b prospect by mlb.

    • Jackson

      Law, when asked:

      “…who’s the one guy (or more) that your instincts (gut) loved, but you couldn’t make a reasoned argument for and thus didn’t put on the list?”

      Answered:

      “Dilson Herrera”

  • Stephen

    Fantastic article. Dilson Herrera is tough to rank as a prospect but this puts it in a great framework.

    • Brian Joura

      There’s a bias against second basemen but I’m not sure why that should make it difficult to rank a guy.

      And thanks for the kind words

  • Chris F

    I completely agree Brian. Perhaps being shunned will give him more drive to make the big club. He will be in Flushing after the break or starting on opening day 2016.

    I read/heard somewhere we was in the “just off” list. KLAW said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Dilson became an all star.

  • Since68

    Dillon Herrera had a great year last year, but his previous two years in the minors were good, not great. This is probably the reason for the omission. I’m sure that if he follows up last year with another great year, he will be there.

    • Brian Joura

      Generally, it’s considered a good thing when a prospect puts up better numbers as he advances up the ladder. Not sure why that should be held against a fellow…

  • Patrick Albanesius

    Extremely well researched, as always Brian. Quick question. do you think Herrera will be able to maintain a high BABIP, as he has throughout the minors the past three seasons? It was .328 in 109 games with the Pirates in 2013, and .353 at A+, and .389 at AA last year. Is he the kind of hitter who might be able to maintain a BABIP north of .330 in the majors?

    • Brian Joura

      Since 2000, there are 765 MLB hitters who qualify for the FanGraphs leaderboards. Of those, only 64 have a BABIP of .330 or above. That’s about 8%

      It’s hard to project that number for anyone.

  • Wilponzi

    I get so annoyed by these lists. I feel they are totally worthless. A few days ago a list of the Top Ten Pitchers in MLB came out, and Madison Bumgartner wasn’t on it. The list also rated Cliff Lee as the second best pitcher in MLB. The author must of lived in a cave, and not been around the last two years.

    As far a Herrerra goes, the Mets know his value and that’s all that counts. He is to young to trade. Last year DeGrom didn’t make any of these lists look at the year he had!

    These lists are only for MLB-TV and when there is no real news to report. Its also used by teams like the Mets to justify not making any moves during the off season, and saying “look at what we’ll have in a year or two?” So come on out on endure a year of sub par baseball. The Cubs have been getting away with this for 100 years.

    • Name

      “The author must of lived in a cave, and not been around the last two years”

      Cliff Lee: 304 IP, 3.08 ERA, 121 ERA+, 1.109 WHIP.
      Bumgarner: 418 IP, 2.88 ERA, 120 ERA+, 1.063 WHIP

      And Cliff Lee’s been hurt this past year too. If you go back 3 years, the difference is even more in Lee’s favor. While Bumgarner has been completely dominant in the postseason, he hasn’t replicated quite the same success in the regular season.

      Here’s a good article explaining why.
      http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/107914854/madison-bumgarner-top-10-pitchers-mlb

      The key word is yet. I expect in a year or two, he’ll get there, espcially when guys like Scherzer,Wainwright, Lee fall off the list due to age.

  • Brian Joura

    Found another interesting nugget.

    FG has minor league leaderboards going back to 2008. In that time, only one other player besides Herrera put up a .900 OPS in the Eastern League as a 20 year old (min. 200 PA) and that was Xander Bogaerts. Now, Boegarts didn’t show up in the query above because he played more at 3B than he did at SS. But the following year after his debut, he was BA’s #2 overall prospect.

    BTW – Bogaerts’ Eastern League OPS was .909 compared to the .966 mark Herrera put up last year.

  • Metsense

    Herrera is the best position player in the farm system and your article supports that claim. It appears that he will be a very good major league second baseman and with his ability he has the potential to be a future all star. I think the Met front office believes that too and it is the reason that Murphy wasn’t traded. The Mets didn’t want to move Flores to second base and block Herrera.

  • Chris B

    MLB.com predicted Herrera making it to the majors in 2017. I think that alone is a testament to their poor assessment.

    Great article, Brian.

  • Pox

    Brian, In regard to a number of comments I made in the Alderson article, apparently I was reminded not to criticize an individual only his ideas. I had not familiarized myself with the Comment Policy of this site so I owe an apology to Mets360 and the authors of this site. I read this site on a daily basis and I enjoy it a great deal. Having said this, I frequently find the quality of opinion offered to be offensive in the shallow and mean spirited attitude taken towards the professional baseball people who are employed by the New York Mets. Given the background that you described in your authors bio, I am a bit surprised at the number of the posts that you allow not to be deleted due to what I would consider to be clear violations of the very standards this site intends to uphold. I post on a number of sports sites and the one sort of site I detest is one that condones censorship in any form other than racist or homophobic content. As Hunter S. Thompson said “Buy the ticket. Take the ride.” I agree with the premise that this site should strive to be a market place of ideas as opposed to a nasty troll battlefield but as I read more and more opinions that are hard edged and disrespectful I feel these sort of posters need to have their ideas and positions challenged from time to time and by challenging I mean both barrels right into the guts of their opinions. So in closing, because this is a Dilson Herrera article I will not violate protocol and simply say Dilson Herrera is a good prospect. Thank you for indulging me.

    • norme

      Hey Pox,
      Love your passion and admire your willingness to apologize.
      Please allow me, as a critic of Mets ownership, to make a comment:
      The Wilpons are deserving of the criticism they get both on a professional level and on a more personal level. Fred has been guilty of shifty business dealings (reference the way he gained partial ownership, the Madoff fiasco) and less than truthful personal dealings (reference the attempt to create a phony baseball history for his son).
      As for Jeff, his clumsy business dealings have, according to reports, been an important factor in the AAA club being exiled to Las Vegas. Many have pointed the finger at him for negative innuendo regarding former Met players. Let’s see what happens with the lawsuit brought by Leigh Castergine.
      Many fans view with ridicule the comments made by Fred Wilpon and Sandy Alderson regarding the state of the team, the attendance and the finances.
      As HST said, if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

      Finally, I admire the way Brian Joura runs this site. It is both entertaining and educational.
      The many writers who present their articles appear to have spent a good deal of time on their research. I may not always agree with their conclusions but most commenters reply with both good humor and thoughtful criticism. I think you would fit in nicely.

      • Pox

        Thank you, sir. I appreciate your remarks as fair and civil. I often lose patience with the sort of reactionary posts that seem more like tantrums than well thought out critiques. After fifty years of watching the New York Mets for better or worse, the idea that some fans appear to have is that winning is easy, hell, it seems that a number of professional baseball writers believe that winning is easy. After the Mets failed to win in 1987 Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News stated in a column that the reason he felt the Mets failed to repeat was because they were “gutless cowards”. Now if this is the sort of opinion offered by someone who has acheived the status of Mike Lupica one can only imagine the sort of idiots delight that will come from the rank and file poster on a site such as this. I think most reasonable baseball fans truely understand that winning isn’t easy. My main contention is that Sandy Alderson has an approach to team building that he would have followed even if all the money the Mets had gotten from Madoff were legit. A wrecked franchise, as Frank Cashen pointed out in 1980, takes about five years to repair if done properly, and even then a considerable amount of luck and good fortune is usually needed. I don’t always feel confident with moves Alderson makes and many of his dumpster diving attemps have yielded eggshells and banana peels instead of useful players. But I will not get on a site like this after an unsuccessful season and start railing about choices made in February that didn’t work out during the season. I believe in the philosophy of pitching and power as the most efficient approach to winning. It seemed to work for Baltimore and for Oakland for a number of seasons during different decades. Anyway, thank you again Mr. Norme, you seem to be a kindred spirit.

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