Northern CA players in Law's Top 10 prospects by team

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

Whether you agree or disagree with the evaluations of ESPN baseball scout Keith Law, it is a good idea to pay attention to his rankings because he tends to stick to his own guns and is not just a writer or TV guy who puts together the same rankings as everyone else.  I tend to value differing opinions because it is so much easier to "go with the flow" versus writing what you think and believe. 

For instance, Law doesn't have Brett Jackson (Cal) ranked in his overall Top 100 yet MLB Network had Brett at #46 overall.  Law doesn't have Tanner Scheppers (Fresno State) ranked in his Top 100 and MLB Network had him at #43 overall.  Now, a prospect list can focus on prospects in a different way.  Some lists might be about which players have a chance to make an impact (also subject to opinion) this season while another list is about long term potential.  I am not saying I like Law's lists better than MLB produced lists, compiled in large part by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, but when I read or hear May's and Law's evaluations, I tend to feel like Law is much more grounded in his own evaluations, with his own eyes and opinions while I tend to think Mayo largely solicits the opinions of others and is not grounded in traditional scouting.

It is VERY surprising to me that not one player in Law's Top 100 has ties to Northern CA.  We all know that Southern CA is the #1 region in terms of producing big leaguers (and the Law and MLB lists are littered with SoCal kids), while Texas and Florida (in particular South Florida) also produce their fair share.  However, Northern CA has widely been recognized as being one of the top producing regions.  The Blue Jays studied which regions are strongest when they overhauled their scouting staff a couple of years ago and found that at the time, heading into the 2010 scouting season, Northern CA was #2 overall in producing current big leaguers, behind SoCal.  So to not have even one player in Law's Top 100 and only two in the MLB.com Top 50 (and Sheppers is FROM Southern CA and just happened to play at Fresno State) is quite surprising.  Take a look around the big leagues and there are impact players with Northern CA roots or at least ties... Sabathia (CY), Tulowitzki (2nd in ROY, MVP votes), Pedroia (MVP & ROY), Rollins (MVP) and plenty of other productive big leaguers such as Matt Garza, Aaron Hill, Derrek Lee, Brian Fuentes, Casey McGehee, Jason Bartlett, Carlos Quentin (not a native but played at Stanford), Ted Lilly, etc.

So what does the lack of players listed on the Top 100 and Top 50 lists indicate?  To me it indicates that the number of impact players from Northern CA is waning and when I say impact players, I mean STARS.  After taking a look at the players ranked in the Top 10 of each organization, at least according to Keith Law, I will offer my opinion about which players have the potential to be stars.

Boston Red Sox: #4 Lars Anderson, 1B (Jesuit HS)

Chicago Cubs: #2 Brett Jackson, OF (Miramonte HS, Cal-Berkeley)

Cleveland Indians: #8 Joe Gardner, RHP (Ohlone College, UC Santa Barbara), #9 Cord Phelps, 2B (Stanford)

Florida Marlins: #5 Scott Cousins, OF (North Valleys HS-Reno, USF)

Oakland Athletics: #3 Michael Taylor, OF (Stanford), #6 Max Stassi, C (Yuba City HS)

Pittsburgh Pirates: #7 Justin Wilson, LHP (Buchanan HS, Fresno State)

Texas Rangers: #3 Tanner Scheppers, RHP (Fresno State), #5 Robbie Erlin, LHP (Scotts Valley HS)

That is only 10 out of 320 players and of those 10 only six are Northern CA natives, with only two of those six being Bay Area natives (Jackson and Gardner).  To me, the only one who has a chance to be a big league star is Max Stassi.  I see Jackson and Cousins as starters for an average MLB club (meaning not a contender).  Phelps has a chance to be a starter at the big league level.  Scheppers likely will be in the big leagues at some point this year but doesn't have the type of command to be a #1 or #2 or even a #3 starting pitcher, which with his stuff, likely means he will be in the bullpen.  Erlin and Wilson both have a chance to be #3 or #4 type starting pitchers.  I see Gardner at best as a bullpen piece, Taylor as an everyday player but likely a 6-7 hole hitter on an average team, and Anderson as a 4A player... meaning good enough to get to the big leagues but will struggle to ever stick there.

The good news is that three of those players participated in Bay Area World Series (Jackson, Stassi, and Erlin) and I began the recruitment of Cousins to USF.

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