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Podcast: Building the Top 100 Prospects list

February 1, 2018

The following is an excerpt from this week's Pipeline Podcast, in which Tim McMaster, Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum discuss the construction of the Top 100 Prospects list. To listen to the show in its entirety, visit the MLB Pipeline Podcast page.Tim McMaster: Time for us to move

The following is an excerpt from this week's Pipeline Podcast, in which Tim McMaster, Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum discuss the construction of the Top 100 Prospects list. To listen to the show in its entirety, visit the MLB Pipeline Podcast page.
Tim McMaster: Time for us to move on to the Top 100 Prospects list. It is out. You can check out all sorts of stories on MLB Pipeline about it, and we'll get into some of that. I want to first start with just the process. Obviously this is something that you guys put a lot of thought into, there's discussions, I would think to some degree maybe arguments. I don't think you guys have ever come to punches, but a bit of an argument as well for who goes where. Mike, I want to start with you because you're obviously newer to the process than Jonathan and Jim are. Do they ever pick on you, team up on you at all? Or do you have equal say in the discussion for who lands where in the Top 100?
Mike Rosebaum: No, Jonathan and Jim have been very inclusive from the beginning, since I was hired, in creating our Top 100 and just the list process in general, giving me a voice. I felt this year it was more than ever, and for that reason, I believe, the list turned out, in my three years of doing it, it's my favorite that we've put together so far.
McMaster: So you're saying that giving you more say in this makes it a better list?
Rosenbaum: I wouldn't say that. I mean, I'd like to think that, sure. But it just felt like a very complete process this year. We were very thorough in our discussions, and by that I mean Jim quibbling. But it was a very sound process. We weighed each guy individually, lined them up, had multiple discussions, we each composed our own list of 125 guys, gradually narrowed it down in the next three drafts of that, submitted it for feedback with executives, used that feedback to craft a final list and that's kind of how we came to where we are today.
McMaster: And I think people need to realize how much goes into it and how seriously you guys take this because obviously the list comes out and instant debate on Twitter among fans and that sort of thing, you do take it very seriously. Jonathan, you guys each obviously have teams that you're kind of focused on, you obviously all have a broad range knowledge of all these players, but you have the certain teams that you focus on more than others. Do you find that you end up pulling for your guys, or not pulling, but arguing stronger for your guys just because you're more into those specific teams than the others?
Mayo: Well I have to because of Jim's anti-Braves vibes.
McMaster: Fair
Jim Callis: Everybody knows you're the anti-Braves guy, Jonathan, Come on.
Mayo: I do the Braves Top 30. I think it balances out when all is said and done. I don't if there's like a pulling for guys. You certainly have more familiarity with the guys that you've been writing up for a while, or talk much more about because they're on a team that you did the list for. But because these are all the upper-echelon guys, you know, maybe that comes into play a little bit more at the bottom of the list where there's a guy with a little bit more upside or you've heard a little bit more about that you want to sneak on to the back end of the list. But I don't think there's ever been a point or time where that's gotten in the way where you say like, "I can't believe that he wants to put 15 guys on from this team." And then if it happens, we make sure that we correct it. We correct that slant in one direction or another.
Callis: And I was going to say, too, I think Jonathan almost, it can work both ways too, because there can be prospects in an organization, if you've covered the organization for a number of years, where maybe you like him less than the other guys. It does balance out when we get feedback, so I think we're protected from it anyway, but I think it can definitely go in both directions. I don't want to get accused of hating a particular player, but I do know there's a player in one of the organizations that I do the top 30 for, that I think you guys both have in the Top 100 and I didn't. And I made a brief email comment as to why I thought it was maybe a little bit early to rank him, but you know, I think we all are careful to balance that out. Jonathan always jokes on this podcast about being a Pirates homer, but it's not like Jonathan is trying to put, you know, Kevin Newman or Kevin Kramer at No. 32 on the list either, so I think we're all cognizant of it. I think wouldn't you say guys, too, that a lot of times, if there's a guy on the bubble or we're on the fence about, a lot of times we'll probably defer to the guy that covers that organization because if, let's say it's a Nationals' guy and Mike does the Nationals, you know, Mike's talked to a lot more people in general about that specific player.
Rosenbaum: I think a good example of that this year, and you guys can weigh in if you have a better one, is Ryan Mountcastle. As the guy who does the Orioles' Top 30, I've gotten extensive feedback on him over the past year. I saw him first hand in the Fall League. I was kind of just pitching him hard to you guys, you guys were originally on the fence a little bit, but after discussions, as Jim was describing, you guys deferred to me in this scenario, as I did with Jonathan and Jim with other guys.