The MLBPipeline.com crew has begun the process of revamping our Top 100 Prospects, and we'll release the updated list at the end of January. My first step was putting together a personal list of the 50 best prospects, and here are a few random observations from my rankings:The clear top
The MLBPipeline.com crew has begun the process of revamping our Top 100 Prospects, and we'll release the updated list at the end of January. My first step was putting together a personal list of the 50 best prospects, and here are a few random observations from my rankings:
The clear top three guys for me are White Sox second baseman Yoán Moncada, Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres and Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, in that order ... I listed only five pitchers in my top 32, starting with Cardinals right-hander Alex Reyes at No. 9 ... prospects not on the current Top 100 (remember, we put it together in July) who made my top 50: Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (No. 31) and Cardinals catcher Carson Kelly (No. 49) ... next on my list at No. 51 would be Dodgers right-hander Yadier Alvarez, whom I suspect could rank significantly higher than that by the end of 2017.
:: Submit a question to the Pipeline Inbox ::
I've thrown out the Dansby Swanson/Derek Jeter comparison a few times, always with the caveat that it doesn't mean I think Swanson is a lock first-ballot Hall of Famer. But that parallel works in terms of their games and their personalities.
Like Jeter, Swanson should hit for a high average with moderate power (albeit good pop for a shortstop) and a decent amount of walks. He has similar quickness and should provide 20 or so steals per year. Swanson is a solid defender and likely a better shortstop than Jeter was, though he probably won't match The Captain's five Gold Glove Awards.
Swanson's charisma is reminiscent of Jeter's as well. Relative to the market sizes, Swanson will become as big a star in his hometown as Jeter was in New York.
Dan pointed out in a follow-up tweet that he was playing devil's advocate to some extent with this question, but I've also been asked it with more seriousness. To which my response is: Maybe we shouldn't go too crazy over 19 big league at-bats (yes, they included 12 strikeouts). Don't forget they came from a 21-year-old who had played exactly 45 games above Class A, who was asked to learn a new position on the job, who was doing so in the middle of a playoff race -- think he might have been a little overwhelmed?
If the Red Sox hadn't called up Moncada, his 2016 would be judged solely on his stellar Minor League performance: .294/.407/.511 with 15 homers, 45 steals and 72 walks in 106 games. He did strike out 124 times in 491 plate appearances, and there are some swing-and-miss concerns, though it also should be noted that he made less contact while he got more aggressive and started tapping into his power in Double-A. Maybe he doesn't reach his "Robinson Cano with more speed" ceiling, but his floor looks like a .260 hitter with 20 homers and 30 steals per year.
With Moncada's quickness and arm strength, he should be an asset almost anywhere on the diamond, though most evaluators project him as just an average second baseman. The only reason Boston moved him to third base was because it has Dustin Pedroia, not because Moncada can't play second base.
I'm less concerned about White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito's lackluster big league debut than others may be. He did get lit up for a 6.75 ERA, 26 hits (including seven homers) and 12 walks in 21 1/3 innings, but as with Moncada, I won't get too carried away by a small sample size. I also don't think the Nationals handled him very well last season, calling him to Washington on five separate occasions but never letting him take consecutive turns in the rotation, as well as having him change teams nine times.
Giolito is still just 22 and has barely pitched above Double-A. Some scouts worry if he can repeat his mechanics consistently to get enough out of his pure stuff, though White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper should be able to help with that. And it's hard not to love the pure stuff: a running fastball that can top 100 mph, an equally vicious power curveball and a sinking changeup that shows flashes of becoming a plus third pitch.
I'm not surprised that Chicago was able to get Moncada as the centerpiece of a Chris Sale deal, but I'm still stunned it got Giolito (plus right-handers Reynaldo López and Dane Dunning) for Adam Eaton. It feels like the Nationals sold low on a guy who began 2016 considered as the game's best pitching prospect.
I answered the first part of this question in my introduction to this column. I believe Torres is the top shortstop prospect in baseball and ranked him No. 2 overall. The Mets' Amed Rosario isn't that far behind, however, coming in at No. 5 on my personal Top 50.
Let's break down those tools. Torres is the better offensive player, as he has a chance to become an elite hitter with solid power, while Rosario's ceiling is more as a plus bat with fringy pop. Rosario's advantage comes with defense (he looks like a future Gold Glover while Torres is more dependable than flashy) and speed (he has plus speed while Torres is an average runner). Both have plus arm strength.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.