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Prospect Rankings, Latin American Signings, Jurickson Profar and Guillermo Pimentel

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If you recall, a little while back, I talked about how surprised I was to see Robbie Ross behind Jurickson Profar on various prospect rankings for the Rangers, given that:

1) Ross had signed in 2008 for about the same amount of money as Profar did in 2009;

2) Ross has met or exceeded expectations upon signing; and

3) Profar has not played in any league in the U.S.

My point at the time was that signing bonuses function as a sort of (admittedly imperfect) proxy for the way prospects are viewed at the time they are signed.  In particular, when a drafted player gets the same bonus as a free agent, that suggests that the drafted player is more highly regarded, since the free agent can offer up his services to any of 30 teams, while a drafted player can either sign with the one team that drafted him or go back to school.

Anyway...this came to mind recently when reading about former Ranger target Guillermo Pimentel, who signed with Seattle.  Kiley McDaniel had Pimentel rated as the #4 Latin prospect last summer, with Ranger signees Luis Sardinas and Jurickson Profar at #7 and #14, respectively.  While rating 15/16 year olds who aren't playing in game situations is about as reliable as the I Ching, it does seem fair to say that Pimental was more highly regarded than Profar during signing season, particularly Profar as a shortstop, rather than Profar as a pitcher (since teams generally felt Profar was a better pitching prospect than a shortstop prospect).

Pimental, incidentally, for those who forgot, was supposed embargoed by the Rangers last summer, and expected to sign with them for about $2 million, before defecting to the Rangers.

In any case, the disparate opinions were reflected in their ultimate prices, with Profar signing with Texas for $1.55 million and Pimental with the M's for $2 million

Flash forward to January, 2010, and the BA rankings.  Profar is ranked #5 in the 2nd best farm system in baseball by Baseball America.  Impressive, no?

Meanwhile, Guillermo Pimentel, in the 11th best farm system in baseball, is ranked #29.

Ballparking it, that means that Profar is probably on the cusp of being a top 100 guy in baseball -- say, in the 100-125 range -- while Pimentel is in the 600-900 range.

A pretty huge split between two guys who have been professionals for about 6 months, who haven't played in any minor league games in the U.S., and who barely played over the summer.

Particularly given that Profar has skyrocketed compared to Pimentel.

I don't have anything particularly insightful or profound to say here...this is just one of those things that has me scratching my head.  Were the Rangers just that much on top of Profar, and that much of a better read on him than the other teams that were scouting him?  Or did Profar do that much, between July and January, to elevate his stock?