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MLB.com releases its top-100 prospects list

Jan 26, 2012, 9:50 AM EDT

Matt Moore Getty Images

It’s top-prospects season.  The two lists I watch for each year are Jonathan Mayo’s at MLB.com and Keith Law’s at ESPN.  Mayo just came out with his.

I was mildly surprised that he has Matt Moore in the top spot ahead of Bryce Harper. But only mildly. When you strip away the hype over Harper, you realize that Moore has already done way more at higher levels and that an ace lefty is more valuable at this point than a big but unproven bat.  People’s mileage varies with this stuff.

Good interface, BTW, MLB.com.  You can side-scroll through the whole list of 100 really easily and go from player to player without full page reloads as opposed to having to go through a big slide show or something.

Enjoy, prospect hounds.

  1. sdelmonte - Jan 26, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Did a quick look-see by team, and without actually counting I saw a lot of Rays and A’s, which is no surprise. And a ton of Nats. Saw quite a few Braves, too, so maybe there is a future for your team, Craig.

    Was looking for Mets and saw only a couple, but took some little solace in seeing very few Phillies. Though all of them are pitchers.

  2. stex52 - Jan 26, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Here’s why I don’t like Ed Wade. After four years of continuous rebuilding, the Astros have three prospects, #41, #61 and #81. And #41 and #61 were obtained at the price of Hunter Pence.

    His tenure in Houston was one of abject failure.

  3. icanspeel - Jan 26, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    The Padres are definitely playing for the future, 6 on the list and was 7 prior to trading Rizzo.

  4. The Baseball Gods - Jan 26, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Would be a lot better if you could sort by team.

    • gambleoscar - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:18 PM

      The team-by-team Top 20 lists are coming out over the week of Feb. 6

  5. Ari Collins - Jan 26, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    If anyone’s interested, well respected prospect maven John Sickels (his annua prospects book is highly recommended) came out with his farm system rankings recently:

    http://www.minorleagueball.com/2012/1/23/2728027/2012-baseball-farm-system-rankings-prospects

    1) Toronto Blue Jays: Eight B+ prospects with ridiculous depth behind them.
    2) San Diego Padres: Incredible depth after the winter trades pushes this system almost to the top.
    3) Texas Rangers: Continues to churn out talent, with much more percolating at the lower levels. I do not give the Rangers farm system credit for Yu Darvish. They would rank number one if I gave them credit for Darvish, but in my mind that is unfair to the other teams: I see him as a major league free agent, not a prospect.
    4) Seattle Mariners: Jesus Montero plus three elite pitching prospects and others who can improve.
    5) St. Louis Cardinals: They don’t get talked about as much as other teams, but they have a Grade A prospect in Shelby Miller and a lot of pitching depth behind him. I think this system is underrated.

    6) Kansas City Royals: They slipped from last year’s top spot, showing the volatility of pitching prospects, but heavy investments in draft and foreign players should continue to show dividends.
    7) Tampa Bay Rays: Impact depth behind Matt Moore has slipped but this is still a robust organization.
    8) Atlanta Braves: Lots of pitching at the top, but they need more hitters.
    9) Arizona Diamondbacks: Another system with lots of pitching but not much hitting, even more extreme than Atlanta.
    10) Oakland Athletics: Trades helped this system a lot, would have ranked much lower otherwise.

    11) Boston Red Sox: Large group of B- types who can improve. Hitting stronger than pitching at this point.
    12) Pittsburgh Pirates: Heavy draft investments slowly-but-steadily raising the talent level in this system.
    13) Colorado Rockies: Middle of the pack at this stage, two definite impact talents and a large group of C+ types who can improve.
    14) Washington Nationals: The big trade with Oakland tore the top off this farm system. You still have Bryce Harper and some interesting players in the B- range. Would have ranked much higher without the trade.
    15) New York Mets: Solid depth in pitching, especially at the top with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Jeurys Familia.

    16) New York Yankees: You can make a case to rank them as high as 12 or 13. Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances are strong Grade B prospects for me and there is a nice balance between hitting and pitching.
    17) Minnesota Twins: Another middle of the pack organization, fairly balanced between hitting and pitching, some potential regulars with several solid role players.
    18) Los Angeles Angels: Not terrible, there is some depth behind Mike Trout but a lot of questions, too, and most of the tool-heavy bets in recent drafts haven’t paid off as well as Trout has.
    19) Baltimore Orioles: You have Machado and Bundy at the top but it falls off quickly after that.
    20) Chicago Cubs: Another middle-of-the-pack system with a lot of B-/C+ type prospects. Could rank much higher next year if some of the lower-level guys pan out.

    21) Cincinnati Reds: Heart of this system torn out by Mat Latos trade but there is enough at the lower levels that I think they can recharge quickly.
    22) Los Angeles Dodgers: Some intriguing pitching depth, much of it fairly close to the majors, but not much hitting.
    23) Detroit Tigers: Thins out very quickly after Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos.
    24) Philadelphia Phillies: There is some interesting pitching but tools guys not developing as hoped.
    25) Houston Astros: Gradually improving, and there are several players at the lower levels with a chance to develop. Could rank much higher a year from now.

    26) San Francisco Giants: This system has thinned out but is not hopeless. Pitching needs a recharge.
    27) Cleveland Indians: Of all the teams ranked low, the Indians have the greatest chance to improve in the coming years. There is a lot of talent at the lower levels, but most of it is in the C+ or “Grade C with higher potential” category right now because it is so far away. It would not surprise me to see the Indians in the Top 10 by 2014.
    28) Milwaukee Brewers: There is some talent on the pitching side but hitting looks thin.
    29) Miami Marlins: Relatively even balance between hitting and pitching, but not a lot of impact coming up.
    30) Chicago White Sox: You have two B+ pitching prospects in Addison Reed and Nestor Molina and some other raw materials for a decent bullpen. Hitting is a disaster. I like Tyler Saladino but I have huge doubts about their other hitting prospects.

    • homelanddefense - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:36 PM

      but how is that possible? Bozo always claims the Red Sox system is empty?

      • Ari Collins - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:42 PM

        Hmm. You’re right. Must be an alarmingly sloppy set of typos.

      • wlschneider09 - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM

        Keep that up mister and you’ll be the target of mistyped homophobic slurs!

      • thetruth1313 - Jan 26, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        @homelanddefense Funny- I thought the same thing.

        @wlschneider09 – He might not since this isnt a Red Sox article so he wont read this.

      • wlschneider09 - Jan 26, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        Good point, you speak the truth.

    • kcfanatic - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:39 PM

      6) Kansas City Royals: They slipped from last year’s top spot, showing the volatility of pitching prospects, but heavy investments in draft and foreign players should continue to show dividends.
      —————————————————————————————————————————
      Wrong. KC has slipped because they have called up numerous yound players from the minors making them no longer “prospect eligible”.

      • Ari Collins - Jan 26, 2012 at 2:30 PM

        Isn’t it both, though? Montgomery, Lamb, Jeffress, and Dwyer all took steps back last season, in most people’s opinion. The promotions certainly “hurt” too, but prospect regression was a big part of them falling too.

        They’re still a top ten system, and the Royals’ future is promising indeed. And yeah, he should have mentioned the promotions. as well. But it’s not one or the other. It’s both.

      • kcfanatic - Jan 26, 2012 at 7:07 PM

        Lamb had Tommy John Surgery and I believe Montgomery was just okay. So, yes it was a little of both.

  6. Ari Collins - Jan 26, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    About this list: I think most prospect followers consider it a poor list. It’s not necessarily that it’s opinions differ from the general consensus. It does, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s that it offers little rationale for its strange rankings, and seems to take an ASG “Every team gets equal representation!” approach. But perhaps that’s what we can expect from a writer working for MLB.

    • paperlions - Jan 26, 2012 at 11:29 AM

      Yeah, the overall list is strange, the position rankings aren’t as bad….but the combined list is…..well….odd.

    • gambleoscar - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      The list is based on polling of scouts and scouting directors across Major League Baseball. I’d suggest that THAT is “the general consensus” that matters.

      The criticism that there’s a lack of rationale is based on the presupposition that the list is “poor” and “strange.”

      And what type of rationale would you like? The methodology was explained: The annual ranking of baseball’s biggest and brightest young talent is compiled from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors, and based on analysis of players’ skill sets, high upsides, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams.

      Poorly and strangely posited.

      • Ari Collins - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:19 PM

        Polling scouts and scouting directors isn’t a rationale, it’s a methodology for accumulating data. The analysis isn’t internally consistent.

        Essentially he averaged scouting rankings and then did (informative!) writeups, but the writeups often conflict with the rankings. That’s what I mean about a lack of clear rationale.

        For example, Bubba Starling is ranked pretty much where most people would rank him, but his scouting report sounds like a top 5 prospect.

        On the other side of things, Manny Banuelos is oddly ranked among many pitchers with the same upside but much more polish, a lack of polish that the writeup focuses on, but the ranking ignores.

        This isn’t just my opinion. Of course your mileage may vary, and it’s not like every ranking needs to be the same to be “right”. But Mayo’s list is roundly seen as the least internally logical of the “major” prospect ranking lists.

  7. The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 26, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Word from the recent KLaw chat is that the four-letter is making him wait until after the superbowl to post his list. I guess a list of baseball prospects is going to draw too much attention from the superbowl or something.

  8. uyf1950 - Jan 26, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Just a guess but I’m going to say that even with trading Montero when BA’s list comes out in a month or 2 the Yankees will be in the Top 10.

    • paperlions - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      That would surprise me….I guess it depends on how much he likes Campos. Montero is gone, everyone thinks Betances is just a reliever now. There are some guys farther away that have upside, but I just don’t see top 10….closer to 15 (just based on things I’ve seen so far this spring).

      • stex52 - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:09 PM

        Just a quick note to you, Paper. I am obviously interested in this stuff, but I also obviously don’t put the effort into it that you do. You seem to be to bring a lot of realism to these arguments. That’s appreciated. Someone else doing some hard work I can pick up easily. As you know from some of our Astros and Cards discussions, I don’t have to agree with you 100% to appreciate the insights you bring to the table.

    • Ari Collins - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:12 PM

      I doubt it. I have them just out of the top 10, and I’m higher on them than most.

      Of course, they’re only that low because they turned Montero into Pineda, and I’d take a better major league team over a better minor league team any day.

      • paperlions - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        Exactly. Prospects bring value in 2 ways: 1) by becoming major leaguers and 2) by being traded for major leaguers.

      • natstowngreg - Jan 26, 2012 at 4:58 PM

        Exactly, which is why I’m not concerned about the Nats’ ranking dropping. A Gio Gonzalez in the hand is worth 4 prospects in the bush.

        Mike Rizzo is still working with Stan Kasten’s plan, which Kasten brought to Washington from the Braves. Collect lots of prospects, fill holes with some, trade others to fill holes.

    • uyf1950 - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:26 PM

      Well it won’t belong long before we find out a couple of months at most.

  9. Kyle - Jan 26, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Encouraged to see some Mariners high up on this list. Great stuff.

  10. hittfamily - Jan 26, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Nice that he thinks so highly of my Rays, but I do not. Chris Archer and Tim Beckham are way over ranked. Hell, Archer looked terrible last year. His command was garbage. I’m not calling him a bust, but he projects as a wild bullpen arm, which is hardly worth a top 60 slot. As for Beckham, he has come further than I thought he would in the last year, but if these rankings determine trade value, please Friedman, trade him.

    Also, am I the only one not that high on Yelich down in Miami. I am no expert on him, but every other scouting service I’ve seen has him dropping, not rising. The last one I saw had him 4th or 5th in the Marlins organization.

    Also, the Reds still got fleeced.

    • Ari Collins - Jan 26, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      Archer and Beckham are only okay, agreed. But Moore and Lee are excellent prospects, and Torres, Colome, Guerrieri, Mahtook aren’t too far behind. They have some premium prospects and a lot of depth at the top, even if they’re not QUITE as strong as in years past.

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