In all seriousness, the midseason re-rank historically has been a fun way to shuffle the deck based on the ongoing season, while adding in the new cards of that year’s Draft class and international signees. As we all know, however, this year has been much different.
Because the season just started recently, and there have been zero Minor League games to get a sense of how prospects are developing, we more or less left the prospects on the preseason Top 100 in place and slotted in the 2020 Draft class as we saw fit. Only one member of the preseason Top 100, Pirates right-hander Mitch Keller, graduated before the re-rank, though there are more to come (see the first question below).
I bring this up mostly in response to many of the comments we’ve seen on Twitter. Because it’s been such a small sample size of big league play (a maximum of 12 games as of Wednesday), we didn’t feel there was enough information to move people around. We understand that people are upset that we didn’t move up Luis Robert on the Top 100, or that Kyle Lewis is too low on the Mariners list. And perhaps you’re right, but we’re talking less than 50 at-bats here, not enough for our tastes.
One thing certainly hasn’t changed: People like debating the lists, for better or for worse. So let’s not waste any more time and dig into your questions.
How many of the top 100 prospects do you expect to exhaust their eligibility this year and not be on the end of the year list? - (Chris W on Twitter)
Some are imminent. Dodgers right-hander Dustin May, he of the filthy two-seamer and our No. 25 overall prospect, graduates on Friday because of service time (This is a good time to remind folks that the parameter is rookie status: “A player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.”). Braves right-hander Kyle Wright, No. 57, will come off for the same reason next week.
Beyond that, some of it takes some guessing and projections for at-bats or innings pitched. Offensively, it seems that these guys are likely to, or have the chance to, surpass rookie status this year (*-not currently on active roster):
No. 2 Gavin Lux, Dodgers*
No. 3 Luis Robert, White Sox
No. 6 Jo Adell, Angels
No. 17 Nick Madrigal, White Sox
No. 23 Carter Kieboom, Nationals
No. 31 Brendan Rodgers, Rockies*
No. 36 Sean Murphy, A’s
No. 56 Nico Hoerner, Cubs
No. 62 Evan White, Mariners
No. 95 Andres Gimenez, Mets
On the mound, after May and Wright, I think we will/could see these guys lose prospect status:
No. 9 Nate Pearson, Blue Jays
No. 13 Jesus Luzardo, A’s
No. 16 Brendan McKay, Rays*
No. 65 Brady Singer, Royals
So that’s a total of 16 who have a shot of leaving the Top 100 for good, obviously depending on playing time and roster moves. That kind of leads me right into the next question ...
Is there a comprehensive list of prospects who fell out of the top 100 like Garcia? - (Jake Kostik on Twitter)
With 13 players added from the 2020 Draft that means a total of ... well, 13 players were removed from the list. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
Miguel Amaya, Cubs
Shane Baz, Rays
Brett Baty, Mets
Corbin Carroll, D-backs
Seth Corry, Giants
Tyler Freeman, Indians
Deivi Garcia, Yankees
Luis Garcia, Nationals
Brent Honeywell, Rays
George Kirby, Mariners
Ryan Mountcastle, Orioles
Tyler Stephenson, Reds
Simeon Woods Richardson, Blue Jays
This will largely be the pool we’re likely to draw from as we need replacements for the graduates listed above. There are some other 2020 draftees who could get sprinkled in as well.
Why was Jared Kelley ranked above Austin Hendrick and Garrett Crochet on predraft list but he’s behind Crochet on Sox list and not top 100 while Hendrick is? - (James Fox on Twitter)
I wanted to answer this one both specifically to the White Sox (and the current Top 100) as well as in a general sense. We actually talked about this on this week’s Pipeline Podcast, but let’s dive in a bit here as well.
First, in a general sense: We have never been 100 percent beholden to the order of our Draft Top 200 in terms of where they slot in to the Top 100, or team Top 30s, when we do our midseason re-ranks. Sometimes that’s been because a player has gone out and been better than advertised over the first two months of their pro debuts to make us think we underestimated what the transition might be like for them, especially if it’s a higher level of play than anticipated.
Obviously, that hasn’t happened this year. In fact, it’s the opposite. Our Draft rankings were largely based on summer performances and a little bit by what went on in the extremely abbreviated spring season. And we’re not so arrogant to think we got it exactly right. So we’re willing to tweak a bit based on industry feedback.
On the Draft Top 200, Kelley was one spot ahead of Hendrick, and for me, they were largely interchangeable in terms of their ranking on that list. There were questions for both. End of the day, the Reds were confident enough in Hendrick to take him No. 12 overall and give $4 million to sign. Kelley, meanwhile, went in the second round, No. 47 overall. Yes, the White Sox paid him $3 million to sign, and I’m very high on him still, but when the industry passes on a guy until signability comes into play ($3 million is about pick No. 22 in terms of pick value), we take notice.
Now, onto the White Sox list. I phoned a friend for this because my colleague Jim Callis does the White Sox Top 30. He rightfully pointed out that our ranking of Crochet (No. 18), compared to Kelley (No. 12), came partially because of questions about Crochet’s health. If this had been a normal season, after Tennessee held Crochet out super-cautiously early, the lefty could have easily returned and dominated in the SEC. Then he would have easily ranked ahead of Kelley on the Draft list, and maybe even would’ve been drafted before the White Sox picked at 11. But the White Sox got all the questions answered health-wise on Crochet, they took him a round earlier than Kelley and paid him more. Crochet is a lefty with a deeper repertoire and a better breaking ball than Kelley, so with Chicago intimating it thinks Crochet is good to go, it made sense for Callis to rank him ahead of the prep right-hander.
How do the skills of Jo Adell, Kyle Lewis, and Luis Robert compare across the board with each other? - (Asher Liu on Twitter)
Triple comp! I love it. Let’s start by looking at straight tool grades, shall we?
Hit: 55 -- Robert, Adell; 45 -- Lewis
Power: 65 -- Robert, Adell; 55 -- Lewis
Run: 65 -- Robert; 60 -- Adell; 50 -- Lewis
Throw: 60 -- Robert, Adell, Lewis
Field: 60 -- Adell; 55 -- Robert; 50 -- Lewis
Now I know what you’re thinking. How could you have graded Kyle Lewis so low? Haven’t you seen him in Seattle this year? Sure, it’s possible we were off a hair on Lewis and hey, based on the start of this season Luis Robert probably deserves 80s across the board. Keep in mind that our grades are pointing to the future, with who we think these players can become once they’re established big leaguers. I’m talking five, six years from now.
Could we be low on Lewis’ hit tool? Maybe. But can he hit .375 AND strike out 37.8 percent of the time? I’m dubious. Trust me, I’m rooting for him and I think he’s going to be a very, very good big leaguer, but I still see hit over power. And I don’t think the Mariners will complain if he settles in as a 50 hitter with 60 in-game power, right?
Over the course of the years we’ve been doing this, we’ve often missed in both directions in terms of grades. I personally love it when a prospect outperforms those projections. I hope Lewis continues to do it, Robert keeps showing off plus tools across the board and Adell, who just came up, gets the chance to settle in and prove his tools play at this level.