Before the 2012 season began, MLB.com launched its first Top 100 Prospects list (it had previously been a Top 50), along with Top 20 rankings for each organization (previously Top 10s).
Well, a whole lot has happened since then, hasn't it? With a large number of prospects having graduated off the list and performances necessitating moves up and down, the end of the Minor League season seemed the perfect opportunity to re-rank everything, from the Top 100 to the Top 20 by team and even the Top 10 by position.
At the start of the season, the Top 100 list was headed by a very big three, in the Rays' Matt Moore, the Nationals' Bryce Harper and the Angels' Mike Trout. The new list has a new triumvirate at the top, with Rangers phenom Jurickson Profar at No. 1 overall, Orioles pitching sensation Dylan Bundy at No. 2 and his organization-mate Manny Machado at No. 3. Whether they accomplish what the old trio already has at such a young age remains to be seen, but the potential is clearly there.
Efforts like this have been undertaken before -- the 2011 Top 50 was reshuffled midseason, for example -- but this time, there's a new wrinkle. For the first time, the most recent additions to the pro game -- via the 2012 Draft and international amateur pool -- were considered for ranking.
So dig in, digest and enjoy. There's sure to be debate on who is and isn't on the list. That, after all, is the whole point.
The list of graduates from the preseason rankings, not surprisingly, is a who's who of rookie standouts. That's particularly true at the top, with Moore, Harper and Trout not only gone, but headed to Rookie of the Year Award votes while contributing to playoff contenders.
A total of 17 players came off the top 100 because they surpassed the rookie threshold. After the big three, there were seven -- Jesus Montero, Devin Mesoraco, Drew Pomeranz, Jarrod Parker, Anthony Rizzo, Yonder Alonso and Randall Delgado -- from the top 50 who have moved on.
Not all the changes were graduates. Some of the prospects came off the list because they didn't perform as expected in 2012, or, at the very least, were outperformed by others. Mike Montgomery, the enigmatic lefty from the Royals organization, was the highest-ranked prospect to drop from the Top 100. He was at No. 31 on the preseason list. Dellin Betances and Wily Peralta are the other two from the Top 50 to not make this edition.
A total of 20 were voted off the island, so to speak. Eleven of those were pitchers, yet only one -- Sammy Solis -- came off the list because of an arm injury, though Betances did hit the DL at the end of the year with shoulder soreness.
The list of newcomers, which stands at 36, can be split into two groups. There are the 27 players who weren't on Top 100 when the season began but were already playing pro ball. Then there are the nine who have been added via the 2012 Draft or international signing.
Of that first group, the Cardinals' Oscar Taveras stands out. The fact that the talented outfielder wasn't ranked during the preseason rankled many, but now he comes in at No. 13. Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez (No. 23), Red Sox righty Matt Barnes (42), Blue Jays righty Aaron Sanchez (44), Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (45) and D-backs third baseman Matt Davidson are the other newbies to break into the Top 50.
Then there are the eight members of the 2012 Draft class, to go along with one international signee, joining the new rankings. The Twins' Byron Buxton may have gone No. 2 overall in June, but he's eight spots ahead of No. 1 pick Carlos Correa, at No. 30 compared to 38 for Correa. That's a reflection of how most scouts had Buxton No. 1 on their 2012 Draft list, in terms of pure talent and upside.
No other Draftee cracked the Top 50, though Mike Zunino of the Mariners and Albert Almora of the Cubs came in at 51 and 52. Jorge Soler, who signed a nine-year deal with the Cubs in June, came in at No. 77. And Yasiel Puig fans, rest assured, he likely will get added soon.
Outside of the newcomers to the list discussed above, no one had more upward mobility than Red Sox shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts began the year at No. 76 and is now No. 35, a jump of 41 spots. The Tigers' Nick Castellanos isn't far behind, jumping 40 spots from 51 to 11. Javier Baez of the Cubs (plus-38), Andrelton Simmons of the Braves (plus-32) and his organization-mate, catcher Christian Bethancourt (plus-30) round out the top five of the biggest jumpers among players who were on the Top 100 at the start of the 2012 season.
On the flip side, there were some precipitous falls, and not just from the group that dropped off the list completely. Yankees lefty Manny Banuelos began the year as the No. 13 prospect in baseball. But after he missed nearly all of the season with injury issues, Banuelos is now down at No. 98, a drop of 85 slots.
Some members of the preseason Top 10 took a tumble as well. Right-handers Julio Teheran and Shelby Miller were at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, when that first list came out. The Braves' Teheran dropped 22 spots to 26 and the Cardinals' Miller slid 15 spots to No. 20, due largely to inconsistent performances in Triple-A this year. Miller turned things around late, which kept him from sliding further than he did.
Giving 100 points to the team with the No. 1 prospect, 99 to the team with No. 2 and on down, below are the top 10 teams in terms of "prospect points."
*The number in parentheses is the number of Top 100 Prospects the team has.
At the start of the season, every team had at least one representative on the Top 100. With White Sox closer Addison Reed having graduated off the list, Chicago is the one team not on this new ranking. There are five teams -- the Tigers, Indians, Dodgers, Angels and Phillies -- with one representative apiece, though Detroit and Cleveland have Top 20 players in Nick Castellanos and Francisco Lindor.
The Toronto Blue Jays lead all organizations with seven players in the current Top 100, while the Pirates and Padres have six apiece and five teams have five prospects ranked.
Does having the most prospects give you the best system? Not necessarily. Presence on a Top 100 list doesn't speak to depth in a system or where talent is on the organizational ladder. But what if a weighted score was devised so as to look at which system had the most impact or elite talent?
Giving 100 points to the team with the No. 1 prospect, 99 to the team with No. 2 and on down, it turned out it wasn't the teams with the six or seven names on the list that ranked at the top.
Using that system, the Mariners -- one of the teams with five Top 100 prospects -- sit atop the board with 327 points. The Pirates are next with 326, but then come the D-backs, despite only having four prospects in the Top 100, with 321 points. The Cardinals -- thanks to the addition of Taveras, Kolten Wong and Trevor Rosenthal -- improved by 153 points, the largest jump among all 30 teams. The Marlins, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Astros all increased their points total by more than 100.
On the down side, the Rockies slid the farthest (142 points), due largely to the graduations of Drew Pomeranz and Wilin Rosario, as well as the drop of Chad Bettis from the list. The Angels and A's also had triple-digit losses.
In addition to the Top 100 and the team Top 20s, all of the Top 10 by position lists were re-ranked accordingly. Not surprisingly, the new Top 100 continues to be very pitching-heavy, making it a bit easier to fill out those Top 10 lists on the mound.
There are a total of 45 pitchers -- 35 right-handed and 10 lefty -- on the new Top 100. That's actually down from the 48 on the preseason list. Outfielders are next, with 24, up three from the start of the year. Shortstops picked up three as well, from 11 to 14. There are seven third basemen, six catchers, three second baseman and one first baseman to round out the list.