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Still the best source for prospect info
on March 19, 2012
For years Baseball America was pretty much the unchallenged leader when it came to minor league and prospects coverage. That has been challenged by talented others like John Sickels, as well as numerous impressive prospect websites, but BA still ranks as the best and most comprehensive. This year's edition of the handbook should help to maintain that standing.
Each team is given their own section where there are writeups for their top 30 prospects, including both stats and a fairly lengthy analysis. There is also about a page worth of general discussion about the organization's prospects, including how they've succeeded/changed over the past few years. It's interesting not only to read about past successes or failures, but also to browse the top draft picks for each organization over the last decade and to shake your head at some of the outrageous signing bonuses given out over time ($10 million to Travis Lee? Ouch).
One really nice addition to the BA Handbook is the addition of numbered scores and risk factors for each prospect. All prospects are scored on a scale from 20 (none in this book) to 80 (Bryce Harper), which allows you to at least guess the ceiling for each player. I found the risk factors more interesting, since they essentially tell you if a guy is a can't-miss (safe or low) or if you're dealing with a player who may just crash out before the majors (extreme). As a fan it's exciting and worrisome to see one of your team's prospects scored as a 65/medium, meaning they could be an All-Star but still have lots of work to do.
I think this book has wide appeal for baseball fans. For fantasy players, it's the best single source for digging out those prospects who may help you not only in 2012, but more likely in 2013 or 2014. And for fans of a particular team or just the game in general, this is the best way to find out whose coming along to help a team, and how bright one team's future might look versus another. This should be kept within arm's length during the season. An invaluable resource.