Things may seem like they are getting a little bit repetitive with all of the discussion of new Cincinnati Reds signee, shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez (listed on Baseball Reference as Aldredo Rodriguez). He’s going to be discussed again today, but in the broader scope of things. We will also be talking a little bit about another international signing by the Reds, outfielder Crisitan Olivo, who was signed for $1,000,000 over the summer.

MLBPipeline.com is the official Major League Baseball rankings/prospect site. It’s not always the most up-to-date rankings site around, and their rankings can get awfully confusing at times. What is interesting though is that they tend to place prospects immediately upon a trade or a new signing. They even keep a Top 30 international prospects list, that includes anyone that has been eligible to sign, whether they are signed or not, in the current signing period.

Using their rankings, and their individual tools grades, I charted out the Top 15 international prospects according to their rankings, and included Reds Cristian Olivo who ranked 26th. The chart includes their age, the team they signed with, their signing bonus and their OFP.

OFP stands for overall future potential. It’s an overall grade for the future potential, based on the tools of a player where you add up the numbers for each tool (20-80), then divide by the number of categories (this changes in pitchers based on how many pitches they throw – for position players it’s always divided by five, as they only have five tools). Scouts are given the discretion to adjust that OFP number slightly based on other things that they saw from a player. It’s not a perfect system, as some tools are certainly more valuable than others and thus should carry more weight (hitting is more valuable than the throwing for nearly every position on the field, as an example). But, generally speaking, it gives you a good idea of the overall future potential of a given prospect, where 50 is considered to be an average, everyday caliber Major Leaguer. With that all in mind, here’s how the MLB Pipeline Top 15+1 International Prospects broke down:

Rank Age Player Team Bonus OFP
1 19 Yadier Alvaez Dodgers $16,000,000 58.75
2 20 Vladimir Gutierrez Unsigned N/A 57.5
3 19 Yusniel Diaz Dodgers $15,500,000 61
4 21 Alfredo Rodriguez Reds $6,000,000 50
5 20 Eddy Julio Martinez Cubs $3,000,000 62
6 18 Lucius Fox Giants $6,000,000 54
7 16 Vladimir Guerrero Jr Blue Jays $3,900,000 49
8 16 Lazaro Armenteros Unsigned N/A 60
9 16 Starling Heredia Dodgers $2,600,000 55
10 17 Jhalyn Ortiz Phillies $4,000,000 51
11 16 Gilberto Celestino Astros $2,250,000 50
12 17 Wander Javier Twins $4,000,000 54
13 17 Seuly Matias Royals $2,250,000 53
14 17 Christian Pache Braves $1,400,000 52
15 17 Alvaro Seijas Cardinals $762,500 55
26 16 Cristian Olivo Reds $1,000,000 50

What immediately jumps out here is that all six of the top guys are at least 18-years-old. That’s not terribly surprising given that they are more advanced and thus a little bit easier to project. Another thing that jumps out is that the Dodgers are flexing their “we’ve got more money than everyone else and laugh at you chumps” muscle, spending over $33M before any penalties are levied (which would include another $33M paid to MLB). The Reds landed two of the listed players. The #4 overall prospect being Alfredo Rodriguez and the #26 prospect being Cristian Olivo. Both players have the same OFP of 50, an everyday Major League of average quality. So why did they sign for such different amounts and why are they ranked so far apart?

Let’s dive a little deeper and compare the two, according to what MLB Pipeline is suggesting:

Player Hit Power Run Arm Field
Alfredo Rodriguez 40 40 60 50 60
Cristian Olivo 40 50 60 50 50

Similar hit, speed and arm grades. Olivo gets the edge in power and Rodriguez grabs the edge in fielding. Of course, what’s missing here is the current grades of these tools. Cristian Olivo jsut turned 17-years-old, while Alfredo Rodriguez just turned 22. The grades for Rodriguez are a bit safer to actually happen than those for Olivo. And that’s one of the reasons that his signing bonus, and ranking, are quite a bit higher despite the two projecting as similarly valued players. There’s just less risk involved, at least according to the reports (and history).

What’s also worth noting about the MLB Pipeline scouting report, is that it seems a little more favorable on the power output of Alfredo Rodriguez than reports from other places. We are working with very limited reports in total, but it is interesting to see one that gives a little more hope to things than the ones we had seen prior to this one coming out. Of course, simply seeing a 40 for hitting and a 40 for power may not exactly tell you much without knowing what that means exactly. Here’s a general scouting scale for what each grade on the 20-80 scale means (note that this is general – some teams will have a slightly different scale, but it’s probably very close to this one):

Grade Average Home Runs
80 .320 40+
75 .310 35-40
70 .300 30-35
65 .290 27-30
60 .280 23-27
55 .270 19-22
50 .260 15-18
45 .250 12-15
40 .240 8-12
35 .230 5-8
30 .220 0-5

In regards to the two Reds prospects list here, the projections don’t exactly suggest a good average for either guy, sitting in that .240 range (though, these can and probably will change some once we get longer looks at both – though it’s more likely to change for Olivo because of his age and the complete lack of any time against professional pitching). Rodriguez projects for 8-12 home runs, which for a shortstop isn’t all that bad. Olivo falls into the 15-18 range, though it is worth noting that some others believe he’s go 60 potential power. The one thing missing here, and it’s a lot tougher to put a grade on, is the players on-base skills. Zack Cozart, for example, is a .240 hitter with 8-12 home run power. But he’s not anything close to an on-base percentage player. Jimmy Rollins over the last three years has also been a .240 hitter with 8-12 home run power, but he’s walked nearly twice as often and provided significantly more offensive value because of it (though still a below-average offensive player).

Going back up to the overall rankings, if MLB Pipeline happens to be correct in these rankings, it suggests that the Reds paid for some certainty that comes with the signing of an older player in Rodriguez (it’s weird calling someone who just turned 22 “old”, but by comparison – he’s old). His OFP doesn’t stack up to a lot of the guys ranked in the Top 10, but he’s probably a little bit safer than those guys as well.