By: Austin Alexander - June 28, 2009
Each time we publish our player rankings in the various classes, we are sure to come under fire from those of you who enjoy visiting our site. Many of our viewers are prep players and their parents, easily the most critical of the names they see, the names they don't see and, of course, the order that they are ranked in...which we can understand and appreciate!
So how much stock should be put into a ranking? Not just a DP ranking, but any ranking? I'll explain it this way. A ranking is simply an opinion poll where the order of the teams or players is fully subject to the eye of the beholder.
Take any draft in the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball as an example. Each year there are surprises that emerge as superstars, likewise, every year there are major busts who drain the funds of the clubs they sign with. Tom Brady was a 6th round pick, Courtney Brown was the 1st overall choice in 2000, what ever became of him? In the NBA, Sam Bowie was once drafted ahead of some fellow named Michael Jordan. How about future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza going in the 62nd round as a favor pick while the immortal Stan Royer was taken in the 1st round of that same draft as a catcher. You often see good trades and bad ones too, some work out, some don't.
The moral of the story, sometimes even the best in the business get it wrong. Scouting is a very imperfect profession, any good scout will tell you just that. Any ranking is simply as reliable as college football's BCS.
When Diamond Prospects sits down with a very deep log of names, we exhaustingly pour a ton of time into getting the right names on the list and in the best order that we can, knowing all the while that we will be scrutinized with what we print.
We'd like to take this time to address some very popular questions/concerns when we fire out our take on each class...
Criteria for being ranked: Like college coaches and pro scouts, we put very little stock in a player's statistics at the high school level. Evaluating is all about making a generalized opinion that combines information and viewings of the player, his makeup and body-type, the tools that are present and how those tools "project" in the years to come.
Phrases we hear quite often: "His velocity is usually...last week he did XYZ... or he normally runs the 60 in..." Understand that pro scouts, college coaches and any other evaluator must go on what is seen on their radar gun, their stopwatch and with their own eyes. Opinions on players and evaluation reports cannot be turned in based on what a player previously did according to a rumor. For example, you'll have to search high and far to find a college coach or scout that sat in a recruiting meeting or pre-draft conversation and put their name on what a parent said about their own kid. Seeing is believing, especially when your livelihood is on the line.
How does a player fall in the rankings: This happens quite often, especially when a player emerges early on in the process. A simple explanation applies. While some guys fail to develop, many others players get better during their prep careers and that players' stock shoots ahead of others. New names and talent are continuously bursting onto the scene and can land themselves in front of another player who may have also improved since the last ranking.
Why is Player ‘X' ranked at a different position than he plays for his high school: The long-short on this topic is that on a high school team, players may have to spend the majority of their time at a position that best fills the needs that his team has. Just because a given player has always been his team's best shortstop does not, in any way, serve as proof that he profiles best at that position. Former Dorman and Gamecock standout Steven Tolleson is a perfect example. Growing up, every team that he played for, he was the shortstop, and a darned good one at that. Upon landing at USC, he found himself in both corner outfield spots and three infield positions. He eventually became their shortstop and has recently appeared in the Major Leagues as a second baseman for the Oakland A's. Point here is that, a given player may project at multiple positions depending on what level of club you are representing and what your present needs may be.
Who has input on a DP Ranking: Here at DP, I can assure you that we do our due diligence before we ever publish a ranking of any kind. In addition to many, many nights camped out in high school bleachers across the state, we usually allow 50+ people of importance to weigh in before you ever see a ranking. Will we get it right every single time, certainly not. Will you always agree with our choices, no chance! For that matter, it's very difficult to get scouts who watch baseball for a living, to agree on a 1-10 in any class!
We promise one thing, however, we do put our time in to make our rankings as accurate as humanly possible. Perhaps, that is also our subliminal way of suggesting that we frown upon parents trying to sway our opinions of their children!
Take our DP Rankings for what they are, an educated opinion with plenty of input.
However, rankings do not mean squat when it's time to play baseball. If anything, a high ranking makes you a target, it certainly does not earn you one single hit or win. It does not necessarily earn you a scholarship or college opportunity. Players who are not ranked or are ranked low, understand that a ranking is far from a death sentence. Regardless of where a player lands, anyone that participates in this game should work hard, play hard and try to make yourself a better player each day.
We receive more than a few inquiries around the calendar regarding our player and team rankings. We are flattered that our hard work does not go unrecognized and we do appreciate the interest level from our viewers. But keep it all in the proper perspective, because at the end of the day, it just a ranking of teenagers.