Top prospect lists are more of a form of art than a science, since they use observational rather than numerical data as an input. There are several prospect lists out there, so is there a need for another?

I have been trying to devise a way to evaluate prospects objectively, without gut feeling rankings that once made Tod Van Poppel the best prospect in baseball. Also, I strongly believe that starting pitching, relief pitching and position playing are different beasts, so lists that contain all 3 of them are mixing apples and oranges and tangerines. So, let's talk about oranges and tangerines and leave the apples for another day.

I created a preliminary formula mid-season, taking a cut in rating the Twins prospects after 2007. I knew that it was rough and extremely preliminary. Since, I devised the PE measurement, components of which were in the pitching evaluating formula and I think that this one is a bit more accurate, so I am willing to share with a bit more confidence.

The formula I use to evaluate Minor league pitching prospects is containing the following criteria

The formula is:

Where PE is pitching efficiency this year, the MLB average PE is the average starter or reliever PE in the majors in 2008, depending on whether the prospect is a reliever (def: more games in relief than started) or a starter, the level is the highest level the player played that year described by as follows: Rk (DSL/GCL) 1, Rk (APP) 1.5, A 2, A+ 2.5, AA 3, AAA 4, MLB 5, and the levels ascended is the difference of the highest level played from the lowest level played the last 3 years (using the former numbers) + 1 (i.e. if a player started at A+ and assented to AAA, the levels ascended would be 4-2.5 = 1.5 + 1 = 2.5). The + 1 is there to avoid dividing by zero issues. Players that stay at the same level have level ascended = 1. Age is the age of the player in the beginning of a season. The effectiveness has a higher weight than improvement and improvement between this season and the last has a higher weight than improvement between last season and the season before. In order to keep the integrity of the results, players who showed a negative improvement were scored as 0; however negative effectiveness compared to MLB PE was scored as was.

Here is how the Twins' starting pitchers rank using this formula:

Daniel Osterbrock, 21, Rk (ELZ), 28.01

Pedro Guerra, 18, Rk (DSL), 14.18

Miguel Munoz, 19, Rk (GCL) 10.23

Adrian Salcedo, 17, Rk (DSL), 10.00

Eliecer Cardenas, 20 (Rk, DSL) 9.91

Ramon Acosta, 21, Rk (DSL) 8.70

Bobby Lanigan, 21, A, 7.99

Michael McCardell, 23, A, 7.53

David Bromberg, 20, A. 5.39

Anthony Swarzak, 22, AAA, 2.34

Tyler Robertson, 20, A+, 2.25

Shooter Hunt, 21, A, 2.23

Errol Simonitsch, 25, AA, 2.17 (released)

Angelo Sanchez, 19, Rk (GCL), 1.93

Martire Garcia, 18, Rk (GCL), 1.87

Michael Tarsi, 21, A, 1.60

Jeffrey Manship, 23, AA, 1.54

Kevin Mulvey, 23,AAA, 1.53

Cole Devries, 23, A+, 1.16

Philip Humber 25, AAA, 1.14

Brian Duensing, 25, AAA, 0.67

Ryan Mullins, 24, AA, 0.49

Steven Hirschfeld, 22, A, 0.41

Alex Burnett, 20, A+, 0.31

Yohan Pino, 24, AA, 0.26

Jay Rainville, 22, AA, 0.18

Daniel Berlind, 20, A, -0.19

Deolis Guerra, 19, A+, -0.46

Oswaldo Sosa, 22, AA, -0.95

Brian Kirwan, 20, A+, -0.96

Before the newly drafted class had a chance to make a dent I indicated that in my opinion, Pedro Guerra was the best arm in the Twins minor leagues, and that the DSL Twins have some of the best pitching prospects.Using these results, that statement proved to be pretty accurate. However, Dan Osterbrock who was drafted on the seventh round this year from University of Cinncinaty, put incredible numbers in Elizabethton (7-2, 13 GS, 75 IP, 104 K, 8 BB, 3.00 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) easily earning him the title of the best Twins starting pitching prospect.

Dan Osterbrock is a 6'3", 186 lbs, lefty from Cincinnati, OH. He has an 87-91 mph fastball with plus location and a great changeup, which is his out pitch. He needs to develop and improve his breaking pitches. Think of a lefty version of Kevin Slowey with a better change up and not as good breaking stuff. He helped lead Elizabethton to the best record in the Appalachian League.

The DSL wealth needs to be taken more seriously and the players need to be included in the prospect list pool; this is a fact.

As far as relievers go, here is the ranking:

Robert Delaney, 23, AA, 13.65

Jose Gonzalez, 18, Rk (DSL) 12.02

Andrei Lobanov, 18 Rk (GCL) 10.52

Leonardo Parra, 21, Rk (DSL), 10.42

Anthony Slama, 24, A+, 9.72

Michael Allen, 21, A+ 9.15

Edison Alvarez, 19, Rk (DSL) 8.07

Jose Mijares, 23, AA, 7.37

Curtis Leavitt, 21 Rk (Elz) 4.45

Joe Testa, 22, A+, 4.31

Bobby Korecky, 28, AAA 4.11

Matthew Williams, 21, A+. 4.09

David Martin, 22, A, 3.67

Steven Blevins, 21, A+, 3.14

Blair Erickson, 23, A+, 2.92

David Shinskie, 24, AA 2.85

Danny Rondon, 21, Rk (Elz) 2.69

Ben Julianel, 28, AA, 2.49

Renzo Reverol, 17, Rk (DSL) 2.25

Jose Lugo, 24, A+, 1.74

Santos Arias 21, A, 1.73

Matthew Fox, 25, A+, 1.28

Bradley Tippett, 20, A, 1.27

Kelvin Mota, 20, Rk (GCL) 1.17

Timothy Lahey, 26, AAA, 1.08

Carlos Gutierrez, 21, A+, 1.04

Charles Nolte, 22, A, 0.98

Spencer Steedley, 23, A+ 0.84

Ludovicus Van Mil, 23, A, 0.69

Thomas Wright, 20, Rk (Elz), 0.64

Mariano Gomez, 25, AAA, 0.55

Ricky Barrett, 27, AAA, 0.36

Frank Mata, 24, AA, 0.23

Armando Gabino, 24, AA, 0.07

Henry Reyes, 23, A+, 0.04

Jean Mijares, 20, Rk (GCL) 0.01

Bruce Pugh, 19, Rk (GCL) -0.06

Jay Sawatski, 26, AA, -0.18

Carlos Carrillo, 18, Rk (DSL), -0.27

Kyle Aselton 25, AA, -0.31

Chris Anderson 22, A, -0.72

Eddy Santana, 20, Rk (DSL) -0.83

Lesmir Vargas, 21, Rk (DSL), -0.84

Lee Martin, 22, Rk (Elz) -0.98

Michael Mopas, 20, Rk (GCL) -1.12 (released)

Danny Hernandez, 22, A+, -1.15

The ranking of the relievers indicates the the winner of the MiLB pitcher of the year award, Robert Delaney, is the best Twins' reliever prospect, which is not a surprise.

Back to the formula. Do I think it's perfect? Nope. But I think that if a pitcher has actualized a 12.48 K/9, 13 K/BB, and 1.04 WHIP season (Osterbrock) should be valued more and ranked higher than a pitcher who supposedly has better tools but has been regressing every year in his professional career (Deolis Guerra). Think of it as a car race: If a driver with a stock Chevy Impala beats a driver with a stock Ferrari Testarossa more kudos to him. The Ferrari guy needs to know how to use his car and until he proves so, he should not be taken seriously. And this is not a list of who is the most ready for the majors, but of who has the most potential based on actualized potential and improvement throughout his minor league career, factoring in his age and level of play.

Because people would like to see tidy lists, here is my list of the top 15 starting pitching prospects and the top 20 relief prospects.

Now that I am done with the oranges and tangerines, next will take a look at the apples, but, alas, there are a lot of varieties of them, so they will need to be sorted out.

I have been trying to devise a way to evaluate prospects objectively, without gut feeling rankings that once made Tod Van Poppel the best prospect in baseball. Also, I strongly believe that starting pitching, relief pitching and position playing are different beasts, so lists that contain all 3 of them are mixing apples and oranges and tangerines. So, let's talk about oranges and tangerines and leave the apples for another day.

I created a preliminary formula mid-season, taking a cut in rating the Twins prospects after 2007. I knew that it was rough and extremely preliminary. Since, I devised the PE measurement, components of which were in the pitching evaluating formula and I think that this one is a bit more accurate, so I am willing to share with a bit more confidence.

The formula I use to evaluate Minor league pitching prospects is containing the following criteria

- Overall effectiveness compared to the average MLB starter or reliever
- Effectiveness improvement each of the last 2 years compared to the previous year
- level of play (i.e. AAA, AA, A etc)
- number of levels ascended
- Age

The formula is:

Where PE is pitching efficiency this year, the MLB average PE is the average starter or reliever PE in the majors in 2008, depending on whether the prospect is a reliever (def: more games in relief than started) or a starter, the level is the highest level the player played that year described by as follows: Rk (DSL/GCL) 1, Rk (APP) 1.5, A 2, A+ 2.5, AA 3, AAA 4, MLB 5, and the levels ascended is the difference of the highest level played from the lowest level played the last 3 years (using the former numbers) + 1 (i.e. if a player started at A+ and assented to AAA, the levels ascended would be 4-2.5 = 1.5 + 1 = 2.5). The + 1 is there to avoid dividing by zero issues. Players that stay at the same level have level ascended = 1. Age is the age of the player in the beginning of a season. The effectiveness has a higher weight than improvement and improvement between this season and the last has a higher weight than improvement between last season and the season before. In order to keep the integrity of the results, players who showed a negative improvement were scored as 0; however negative effectiveness compared to MLB PE was scored as was.

Here is how the Twins' starting pitchers rank using this formula:

Daniel Osterbrock, 21, Rk (ELZ), 28.01

Pedro Guerra, 18, Rk (DSL), 14.18

Miguel Munoz, 19, Rk (GCL) 10.23

Adrian Salcedo, 17, Rk (DSL), 10.00

Eliecer Cardenas, 20 (Rk, DSL) 9.91

Ramon Acosta, 21, Rk (DSL) 8.70

Bobby Lanigan, 21, A, 7.99

Michael McCardell, 23, A, 7.53

David Bromberg, 20, A. 5.39

Anthony Swarzak, 22, AAA, 2.34

Tyler Robertson, 20, A+, 2.25

Shooter Hunt, 21, A, 2.23

Errol Simonitsch, 25, AA, 2.17 (released)

Angelo Sanchez, 19, Rk (GCL), 1.93

Martire Garcia, 18, Rk (GCL), 1.87

Michael Tarsi, 21, A, 1.60

Jeffrey Manship, 23, AA, 1.54

Kevin Mulvey, 23,AAA, 1.53

Cole Devries, 23, A+, 1.16

Philip Humber 25, AAA, 1.14

Brian Duensing, 25, AAA, 0.67

Ryan Mullins, 24, AA, 0.49

Steven Hirschfeld, 22, A, 0.41

Alex Burnett, 20, A+, 0.31

Yohan Pino, 24, AA, 0.26

Jay Rainville, 22, AA, 0.18

Daniel Berlind, 20, A, -0.19

Deolis Guerra, 19, A+, -0.46

Oswaldo Sosa, 22, AA, -0.95

Brian Kirwan, 20, A+, -0.96

Before the newly drafted class had a chance to make a dent I indicated that in my opinion, Pedro Guerra was the best arm in the Twins minor leagues, and that the DSL Twins have some of the best pitching prospects.Using these results, that statement proved to be pretty accurate. However, Dan Osterbrock who was drafted on the seventh round this year from University of Cinncinaty, put incredible numbers in Elizabethton (7-2, 13 GS, 75 IP, 104 K, 8 BB, 3.00 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) easily earning him the title of the best Twins starting pitching prospect.

Dan Osterbrock is a 6'3", 186 lbs, lefty from Cincinnati, OH. He has an 87-91 mph fastball with plus location and a great changeup, which is his out pitch. He needs to develop and improve his breaking pitches. Think of a lefty version of Kevin Slowey with a better change up and not as good breaking stuff. He helped lead Elizabethton to the best record in the Appalachian League.

The DSL wealth needs to be taken more seriously and the players need to be included in the prospect list pool; this is a fact.

As far as relievers go, here is the ranking:

Robert Delaney, 23, AA, 13.65

Jose Gonzalez, 18, Rk (DSL) 12.02

Andrei Lobanov, 18 Rk (GCL) 10.52

Leonardo Parra, 21, Rk (DSL), 10.42

Anthony Slama, 24, A+, 9.72

Michael Allen, 21, A+ 9.15

Edison Alvarez, 19, Rk (DSL) 8.07

Jose Mijares, 23, AA, 7.37

Curtis Leavitt, 21 Rk (Elz) 4.45

Joe Testa, 22, A+, 4.31

Bobby Korecky, 28, AAA 4.11

Matthew Williams, 21, A+. 4.09

David Martin, 22, A, 3.67

Steven Blevins, 21, A+, 3.14

Blair Erickson, 23, A+, 2.92

David Shinskie, 24, AA 2.85

Danny Rondon, 21, Rk (Elz) 2.69

Ben Julianel, 28, AA, 2.49

Renzo Reverol, 17, Rk (DSL) 2.25

Jose Lugo, 24, A+, 1.74

Santos Arias 21, A, 1.73

Matthew Fox, 25, A+, 1.28

Bradley Tippett, 20, A, 1.27

Kelvin Mota, 20, Rk (GCL) 1.17

Timothy Lahey, 26, AAA, 1.08

Carlos Gutierrez, 21, A+, 1.04

Charles Nolte, 22, A, 0.98

Spencer Steedley, 23, A+ 0.84

Ludovicus Van Mil, 23, A, 0.69

Thomas Wright, 20, Rk (Elz), 0.64

Mariano Gomez, 25, AAA, 0.55

Ricky Barrett, 27, AAA, 0.36

Frank Mata, 24, AA, 0.23

Armando Gabino, 24, AA, 0.07

Henry Reyes, 23, A+, 0.04

Jean Mijares, 20, Rk (GCL) 0.01

Bruce Pugh, 19, Rk (GCL) -0.06

Jay Sawatski, 26, AA, -0.18

Carlos Carrillo, 18, Rk (DSL), -0.27

Kyle Aselton 25, AA, -0.31

Chris Anderson 22, A, -0.72

Eddy Santana, 20, Rk (DSL) -0.83

Lesmir Vargas, 21, Rk (DSL), -0.84

Lee Martin, 22, Rk (Elz) -0.98

Michael Mopas, 20, Rk (GCL) -1.12 (released)

Danny Hernandez, 22, A+, -1.15

The ranking of the relievers indicates the the winner of the MiLB pitcher of the year award, Robert Delaney, is the best Twins' reliever prospect, which is not a surprise.

Back to the formula. Do I think it's perfect? Nope. But I think that if a pitcher has actualized a 12.48 K/9, 13 K/BB, and 1.04 WHIP season (Osterbrock) should be valued more and ranked higher than a pitcher who supposedly has better tools but has been regressing every year in his professional career (Deolis Guerra). Think of it as a car race: If a driver with a stock Chevy Impala beats a driver with a stock Ferrari Testarossa more kudos to him. The Ferrari guy needs to know how to use his car and until he proves so, he should not be taken seriously. And this is not a list of who is the most ready for the majors, but of who has the most potential based on actualized potential and improvement throughout his minor league career, factoring in his age and level of play.

Because people would like to see tidy lists, here is my list of the top 15 starting pitching prospects and the top 20 relief prospects.

__Starters__- Daniel Osterbrock
- Pedro Guerra
- Miguel Munoz
- Adrian Salcedo
- Eliecer Cardenas
- Ramon Acosta
- Bobby Lanigan
- Michael McCardell
- David Bromberg
- Anthony Swarzak
- Tyler Robertson
- Shooter Hunt
- Errol Simonitsch
- Angelo Sanchez
- Martire Garcia

__Relievers__- Robert Delaney
- Jose Gonzalez
- Andrei Lobanov
- Leonardo Parra
- Anthony Slama
- Michael Allen
- Edison Alvarez
- Jose Mijares
- Curtis Leavitt
- Joe Testa
- Bobby Korecky
- Matthew Williams
- David Martin
- Steven Blevins
- Blair Erickson
- David Shinskie
- Danny Rondon
- Ben Julianel
- Renzo Reverol
- Jose Lugo

Now that I am done with the oranges and tangerines, next will take a look at the apples, but, alas, there are a lot of varieties of them, so they will need to be sorted out.