Inbox: New Top 100 Prospects list

February 4th, 2021

Now that MLB Pipeline has unveiled its new Top 100 Prospects list, your questions about the rankings are pouring in ...

Out of Abrams, Witt and Franco, who do you guys think can develop the best all-around game?
-- @DevBluejaysfan

Wander Franco (Rays, No. 1 on the Top 100), Bobby Witt Jr. (Royals, No. 7) and CJ Abrams (Padres, No. 8) are three of the best prospects in baseball and the three best shortstop prospects. Witt has the chance for at least plus tools across the board, which makes him potentially the most well-rounded player of the trio.

Franco has the highest offensive ceiling, but he can't quite match Witt's speed, arm or shortstop defense. Abrams' top-of-the-scale speed makes him the fastest of the trio, but he doesn't have Witt's power and his arm is a tick less strong.

Do you believe the Marlins rotation of Sixto Sánchez, Max Meyer, Edward Cabrera, Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López and Trevor Williams will become the best young rotation in baseball? Or do you feel Detroit is still the favorite there?
-- @SportsMia

There are four teams that placed at least three pitchers on the Top 100. The Rays are the only club with four (Luis Patiño at No. 19, Brendan McKay at No. 72, Shane McClanahan at No. 84, Shane Baz at No. 90). The Tigers have the highest-ranked trio (Casey Mize at No. 11, Tarik Skubal at No. 24, Matt Manning at No. 25), while the Marlins (Sixto Sánchez at No. 15, Max Meyer at No. 28, Edward Cabrera at No. 68) and Mariners (Emerson Hancock at No. 31, Logan Gilbert at No. 33, George Kirby at No. 92) also have three.

While I love Detroit's big three, Miami's isn't far behind and I'm going with the Marlins because of the depth behind them. Sánchez, Meyer and Cabrera could become frontline starters, Sandy Alcantara and Pablo López are established big leaguers who will still be just 25 this season, and there are not-quite-Top-100 prospects such as Braxton Garrett, Trevor Rogers and Nick Neidert who pitched in Miami last year. And on top of all that, the Marlins grabbed five pitchers we ranked among the 80 best prospects in the 2020 Draft: Meyer (first round), Dax Fulton (second round), Kyle Nicolas (supplemental second), Zach McCambley (third) and Jake Eder (fourth).

If Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter, Jordan Lawlar, Jaden Hill and Matt McLain were already eligible to be ranked in the Top 100 Prospects list, roughly where would they each be ranked?
-- @puk32ellers

Let's expand this to include our top six 2021 Draft prospects: in order, Vanderbilt right-hander Rocker, Texas high school shortstop Lawlar, UCLA shortstop McLain, Miami catcher Adrian Del Castillo, Louisiana State righty Hill and Vandy righty Leiter.

Rocker is comparable to the best pitchers in last year's Draft -- Meyer, Asa Lacy (Royals, No. 30 on the Top 100), Hancock -- and would fit near them in that 28-31 area. Lawlar, who could have at least solid tools across the board, belongs in the same range. They're a slight cut above the rest of the 2021 Draft talent.

McLain has some similarities to White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal (No. 40) and could go in the 40s because he doesn't have Madrigal's strong track record in pro ball. Del Castillo is a bat-first catcher with a higher offensive upside but less ability behind the plate than Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers, No. 57), and he could go a few spots ahead of Ruiz depending on what you want in a backstop.

Hill and Leiter have pitched a total of 37 1/3 innings in college between them, so I'd conservatively put them behind Josiah Gray (Dodgers), Nick Lodolo (Reds) and Brailyn Marquez (Cubs), our group of arms at 58-60. If they pitch as well this spring as I expect them to, I'd be more aggressive at that point.

Between Deivi García and Clarke Schmidt, who is more likely to make an impact for the Yankees in 2021? Long-term?
-- @asgriff1418

Schmidt checked in at No. 88 on the Top 100, while García just missed the list after finishing 2020 at No. 87 (four spots behind his fellow Yankees right-hander).

As the Top 100 rankings imply, Schmidt has more long-term value. They have similar breaking stuff but he has a better fastball and changeup and superior control to García. He also has a frame more suited for holding his stuff deeper into a games and over the course of a season.

García is poised to make a greater impact in 2021, however. He turned in three quality starts in six tries late last summer and got the call to New York before Schmidt, who got knocked around in three appearances. García has a leg up in terms of cracking the rotation and making the big league club to begin this season.