Top 100 Prospects list unveiled

Benintendi leads the way, 35 newcomers crack the list

January 29th, 2017

OK, prospect fans, let's hear it.

It's time again to reveal the MLBPipeline.comTop 100 Prospects list and there is no question it will stir up debate and differing opinions. Honestly, we'd all be disappointed if it didn't.

:: Complete 2017 Top Prospects coverage ::

You'll see some familiar names and a lot of new ones in this year's edition. That starts right at the top. With gone, but certainly not forgotten, Red Sox outfielder has taken his place as the new No. 1 prospect heading into the 2017 season.

That was by no means a slam dunk, with any of the top three -- Benintendi, White Sox second baseman and Yankees shortstop -- solid candidates for the top spot. Overall, eight of the top 15 from a year ago graduated to the big leagues, so there's some turnover to discuss there.

Those still on the list must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues or have accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club(s) during the 25-player-limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.

The rankings will continue to follow the guidelines laid out by the Collective Bargaining Agreement in terms of who falls under the international pool money rules: Players who are at least 23 years old and have played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible. That will change with the switch to the new rules.

With that framework, the Top 100 is put together by myself, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, with input from industry sources, including scouts and front-office executives. It is based on analysis of players' upsides, tools and potential Major League impact.

Here's the Top 10:

1. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox

2. Yoan Moncada, 2B, White Sox

3. Gleyber Torres, SS, Yankees

4. Dansby Swanson, SS, Braves

5. , SS, Mets

6. , RHP, Cardinals

7. , SS, Phillies

8. Victor Robles, OF, Nationals

9. , RHP, Pirates

10. , OF, Pirates

Complete list »

The newcomers

Aside from the draftees and international signings -- more on them below -- there are plenty of new names to consider on this list compared with the 2016 preseason version. There are 35 prospects making their debuts on this list. The Dodgers' Cody Bellinger made the biggest leap, going from off the list to No. 13 overall. Cubs outfielder Eloy Jimenez is just one spot behind him at No. 14 and White Sox right-hander is close behind at No. 16. Blue Jays outfielder Vlad Guerrero Jr. (No. 34), Tyler O'Neill (36) of the Mariners, Cardinals catcher (39), Indians backstop (40), White Sox righty (45), Pirates right-hander Mitch Keller (48) and Yadier Alvarez (49) of the Dodgers are all debuting in the top 50.

Moving up, down and off

There was also plenty of movement from prospects who were on the Top 100 a year ago. No one has improved his status more than Mets shortstop Amed Rosario, who went from No. 79 overall last year to No. 5 now. Fellow shortstop of the Rays made the next largest jump, 60 spots, from No. 81 to 21. Outfielders Victor Robles (+55) of the Nationals and (+50) of the Padres are the other two players to move 50 slots or higher up the list.

Not all movement was in a positive direction, of course. Braves lefty is still on the Top 100, but he moved from No. 21 down to No. 80 overall. Reds right-hander also dropped considerably, 52 spots in all, from No. 35 to No. 87. White Sox right-hander and Reds outfielder both slid 33 spaces in the rankings.

Some prospects, because of injury or subpar performance, fell off the Top 100 list completely. There were 23 who will be looking to regain Top 100 status during the 2017 season. Brewers outfielder was No. 32 at this time last year, while 2015 first-round pick, right-hander (now with the Yankees), was No. 36. That pair, along with Rockies infielder Ryan McMahon, are the three prospects who were in the Top 50 to fall out of the Top 100 completely in this edition.

The graduates

Moving on can be hard to do. It can be tough to say goodbye to prospects, but when it's because they've graduated off of lists like these, it cushions the blow. And there were a lot of graduates from last year's list. Both Rookies of the Year -- Seager, who was No. 1 on this list a year ago, and , who came in at No. 53 -- are among the 29 prospects who went on to do bigger and better things in the big leagues in 2016. Three others earned National League ROY votes: , and . , and are all graduates who collected votes in the American League race.

Positional breakdown

Over the years, pitching has ruled the day in the Top 100. And once again, there are more right-handed pitchers on this list than any other position, with 32 representatives. The 10 lefties bring the pitching total to 42.

That's up from last year's total of 39, but not quite as commanding a presence as the 58 pitchers who were on the 2014 list and just shy of the 46 on the 2015 Top 100.

That means there are 58 ranked hitters. The hitter-pitcher split is even greater in the top half of the list, as 35 of the top 50 are position players.

Outfielders lead the hitting crop, with 25 on the list. There are 14 shortstops -- four in the top seven -- followed by six third basemen, five catchers and four each from the first and second base categories.

Feeling the Draft

The Top 100 list always gets a new infusion of talent every June. This year's list is no different, with a healthy dose of 2016 first-round picks up and down the 100.

A total of 16 from the Draft Class of '16 have been added to the rankings. Not surprisingly, No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak of the Phillies leads the way, coming in at No. 19 overall. Nick Senzel, taken No. 2 by the Reds, is next at No. 26, but then the order diverges a bit from how the Draft went down. No. 11 pick Kyle Lewis of the Mariners is ranked 29th, while No. 5 pick Corey Ray (Brewers) is No. 30 overall. The Yankees' Blake Rutherford (No. 37 on the Top 100), Jason Groome (41) of the Red Sox, Braxton Garrett (43) of the Marlins, the Rockies' Riley Pint (51), (69) of the A's, the Tigers' Matt Manning (74), White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins (81), the Astros' Forrest Whitley (84), the Braves' Ian Anderson (86), Delvin Perez (91) of the Cardinals, Padres top pick Cal Quantrill (97) and the Twins' Alex Kirilloff (98) round out the 2016 draftee list.

Overall, the list is once again Draft heavy, with 73 players coming via the annual June event.

International flavor

That means there are 27 players who came from the international market, starting with No. 2 prospect Moncada and No. 3 Torres. The newest arrival is one of the newest signees. Venezuelan phenom Kevin Maitan was at the top of the July signing class and makes his debut on this list at No. 32.

Maitan is one of six Venezuelans to make the Top 100, good for a second-place showing. It should surprise no one that the Dominican Republic leads the way with 17 players. Cuba has a pair, while Curacao and Colombia have one representative each. This doesn't include Canada, whose players are accounted for on the Draft list, but there are three Canadians on the list. Puerto Rico tends to have its own teams in international competitions like the World Baseball Classic, but players from there, like Delvin Perez on this list, are also draftees.