Diving into all the new prospect re-ranks

August 11th, 2023

At long last, the new Top 100, team top 30s and top 10 by position lists are live. And, as always, they’ve created some (usually) healthy debate and discussion. So I decided to dedicate this week’s MLB Pipeline Inbox to wading into those waters and answering questions you had about all of the lists.

Which prospects were the hardest to rank in the updated Top 100 Prospects List? -- @StevieDAles97

In general, the pitchers with injuries or health questions were the ones that were a little tough to place. Typically, we try not to knock a guy down because of Tommy John surgery, but obviously that has to be given consideration. Phillies prospect Andrew Painter was really tough because if he comes back at full strength, and there’s no real reason to think he won’t, why wouldn’t he still be the best pitching prospect in baseball, or at least closer to No. 1 Draft pick Paul Skenes? At the same time, he isn’t really going to be pitching at truly full strength until 2025, given that he didn’t have the surgery until July, so we took that into account when we put him at No. 29.

We had a few questions about how we could have Kyle Harrison (Giants) ahead of Ricky Tiedemann (Blue Jays) among the left-handed pitchers, given the command issues Harrison has had. Again, the fact Tiedemann has thrown just 20 2/3 innings this year, has been dealing with biceps issues a year after having his work load so closely monitored, is why he’s a little behind Harrison. And yes, we know Harrison has missed time, too, but it was a hamstring issue that the Giants were being very careful with (understandably), which worries us less than the arm issues that have kept Tiedemann off the mound so much this year. We’ll be watching those two closely though as we move ahead.

One other guy who has become very difficult to figure out how to rank is Jasson Domínguez…. Which I’ll talk more about in the next question.

Mr. Mayo, your last rankings had Jasson Domínguez at no. 44. Now he's dropped like a rock to 80?! What gives? -- @JGaeche

A few people weighed in on The Martian; I chose this question because, well, he was more respectful than some of the others. But I digress.

Domínguez has become one of the most difficult prospects to figure out where to put on the Top 100. I will tell you that we did have him a bit higher in our first draft of the list, but we got fairly overwhelming feedback from the scouting industry that we had him high. And when they talk that loudly, we listen.

It’s weird to have a little “prospect fatigue” over a guy who is only 20 years old, but here we are. There are those in the industry who think he was over-hyped from the moment the Yankees signed him. On the positive side, he’s young for his level and if he can keep getting to his power, could edge close to a 20-40 season. He’s been much better since July 1, with a .336/.404/.464 line.

The flip side of the coin is overall, scouts have not loved his approach at the plate, where he seems passive at times, letting good pitches go, and over-aggressive at other times, chasing pitches. In other words, his swing decisions have been very inconsistent. He’s fairly physically mature and while he’s still running well and was reportedly in better shape this year, some think he ends up in a corner outfield spot.

Even within the Yankees system, it’s not like Domínguez was the clear choice, and we listened to feedback from evaluators who have Spencer Jones ahead of Dominguez (which is how they are ranked in this edition). In the end, I think Domínguez’s ranking is more a matter of us perhaps correcting after getting too carried away from the outset. He still has every chance to be a very good Major Leaguer, which is why he’s in the Top 100, but maybe he won’t be some monster combination of Mickey Mantle, Mike Trout and Bo Jackson, as some had suggested.

Hey MLB Pipeline, how is Aidan Miller a Top 100 prospect and Colin Houck not when Houck was ranked higher in the top Draft prospects list? Literally nothing has changed about either besides them signing with teams -- @Eddie_Mets

How close was Matt Shaw to making the Top 100? -- @BillHecht74

I decided to group these together so I could discuss the placement of the 2023 Draft class. We have 11 of them on the Top 100, which actually surprised us a bit, as we thought there might be more given the strength of the class. Look for more to get added as we have guys graduate and don’t be surprised to see Shaw land there soon -- he was close to making the new list from the get-go.

As for the Miller vs. Houck debate, I get it. Houck (Mets) was indeed at No. 12 and Miller (Phillies) was at 13, but that’s splitting hairs a bit; there isn’t really that much (if anything) separating the two high school infielders. I think if Houck were a good 10-20 spots ahead of Miller, that would be a better argument in terms of why Miller is on the Top 100 and Houck is not. That said, we’re not afraid to admit/adjust from our Draft rankings if, after the fact, we were off on some rankings.

In this case, Miller was tough to rank on the Draft list because his hamate injury sidelined him all spring, but we always had a feeling that had he been healthy and scouted all his senior year, he’d have been in the top 10 (and probably selected that high). So that was taken into account.

As was the fact that Miller was taken earlier than Houck (No. 27 vs. No. 32) and got paid more ($3.1 millon vs. $2.75 million). Miller has gotten off to a very good start, though that didn’t really figure into the equation because it’s a small sample size, but scouts did note how good Miller looked out of the gate and that he could take off next year. I think Houck certainly could work his way on in the future -- we really like him -- but those are the reasons Miller has the edge right now.

Are prospect gurus too gun shy on Phillies’ Johan Rojas? He is playing like Superman in the majors for a team in the playoff hunt. He certainly has to be a top-100 guy at this point. -- @ADRellim

I do the Phillies list, so I’ve known and written about Rojas for quite some time. And for a long time, I’ve known he could defend at a Gold Glove level in the big leagues for years. And his speed was going to play, too. He’s always made contact at the plate, but the thing that’s held him back prospect-wise was the impact of the contact. He was driving the ball a bit more in Double-A Reading this year (where it’s a really good place to hit and his home-road splits speak to that), but overall, that’s been lacking. And I’d warn against putting too much stock into the small sample of his big league play. Yes, he’s been dynamic. Yes, he’s hitting well. But yes, he’s slugging .386. I think Rojas is going to be a big leaguer for a long time, but he wasn’t a Top 100 guy because of that concern about a lack of impact at the plate.