It's a labor of love when we re-rank the Top 100 Prospects list and all 30 team Top 30 lists (not to mention the Top 10 by position rankings). We know you appreciate the work based on the response we invariably get.And yes, that includes those who call into question
It's a labor of love when we re-rank the Top 100 Prospects list and all 30 team Top 30 lists (not to mention the Top 10 by position rankings). We know you appreciate the work based on the response we invariably get.
And yes, that includes those who call into question our new rankings. That's all part of this gig. If there wasn't dissent or the desire to debate decisions, we would take it as a sign of doing something wrong.
So this week's Inbox is obviously dedicated to dissent, an important part of why we all do what we do. There were many "How far was Prospect A from making the Top 100?" so I tried to group them and picked the prospects most often asked about.
There are a dozen members of the Draft class of 2017 on the new Top 100 list, starting with No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis, who comes in at No. 10 overall. Adell, who you mention, made a huge leap to get close to Lewis at No. 16 (left-hander MacKenzie Gore is between them at No. 11).
Now, if it were entirely up to me, I might cast my vote for Twins outfielder Brent Rooker, Mariners first baseman Evan White or even Orioles lefty D.L. Hall. But you didn't offer any of them up for consideration (and I won't pick choice F) on a multiple choice question with five options.
While I've been pleasantly surprised with the solid season Austin Beck has had, I think he's a little farther away from clicking as a Top 100 guy. So I'll cast my vote for Jeter Downs of the Reds. He's had a solid, albeit unspectacular, first full year, but I like his overall tool set a lot. I like that Downs is already showing some pop while maintaining an advanced approach. He can run a bit, too, and he's shown an ability to play on both sides of second base. Downs' name has not come up yet in Top 100 conversation, but I could see that happening at some point in 2019.
Wow, you guys really love Tony Santillan, huh? Trust me, I get it. He is at No. 5 on a pretty solid Reds Top 30 list, at least. Not enough for you? As a 21-year-old who is pitching well in Double-A, it's easy to understand why people are clamoring for Santillan to get more love on a Top 100 list. I like that he's kept his walk rate low this year, a big step in the right direction for a guy who some wondered if his command could keep him from starting.
The thing holding me back from being all in as Santillan as a Top 100 guy are some of his other peripherals. For a guy with stuff as good as his, he doesn't miss a ton of bats as he reaches the upper levels (7.7 K/9 this year). I know, that's not the be-all, end-all, but Santillan's hit rate has also gone up (8.6/9 this year compared to 7.3). He does get some ground-ball outs, but it's not an extreme rate. I still think Santillan has the chance to work his way onto this list, and he is young for his level, so there's time. And I do believe he's a big league starter in the making. I would just like to see Santillan make some progress in those areas before moving him up the rankings.
Pretty darn close. Waters made a very nice jump up the Braves' Top 30 list, going from No. 19 on the preseason list up to No. 9. And he's knocking on the Top 100 door.
Waters' all-around tool set is why the Braves took him in the second round of the 2017 Draft (I guess I should've chosen him as the next 2017 draftee to make the top 100!). He struggled with a promotion during his debut summer to the Appalachian League. But here's what I like to see: Waters made some changes to his mechanics and setup at the plate during instructs, learning from his struggles in the Appy League. And he's carried them over to this season, where he's having a very nice year with Rome in the South Atlantic League. The tools are playing. Waters can hit and run, and the power is going to come, so he has every chance to stay up the middle in center field. That combination spells Top 100-type guy for sure, and if he continues to progress, it's easy to see him continuing to climb up rankings.
If the list was just based on personality, Crouse would probably be in the top 10. That's not to diminish his abilities on the mound at all. And Crouse does come in at No. 5 on the Rangers' Top 30 list. He's been very, very good thus far in his brief pro career, missing a ton of bats and being very tough to hit.
I think there are a couple of things that held Crouse off the Top 100, for now. One is that he's been a little slow to advance. Not getting to full-season ball this season isn't a knock, but when stacking up the Top 100, it comes into play a little bit. Now, I know what you're saying: Shane Baz of the Pirates is on the Top 100 and he's kind of in the same boat. Fair point, but here's where the second variable comes into play. Because of Crouse's energy and up-tempo type of delivery, there's this slight concern that he could end up in the bullpen. I believe he has every chance to start, but that small concern contributed to him being on the outside looking in. I have a suspicion Crouse will pitch his way onto this list next year.
I have to take care of my folks in the Burgh to finish things off. Quickly on Hayes: We've always liked him, and now he's starting to drive the ball more consistently, making him look more and more like an impact-level everyday third baseman in the big leagues.
Now, on to Cruz, who is one of the most intriguing prospects in baseball. He made a jump from 14 to 5 on the Pirates' Top 30 list largely because of the progress he's made offensively. A return to A ball has really been beneficial and at 19 years old, he's still young for the level. Cruz has grown five inches since he was first scouted as an amateur and it's taken him some time to understand his new 6-foot-6 frame. His hit tool is catching up to his raw power tool, which is leading to a lot more extra-base thump this year. Cruz's overall approach has improved considerably and he's drawing more walks while striking out less.
Defensively, it's still up in the air. The fact Cruz is still playing shortstop at all is a testament to his freakish athleticism. He's made a ton of errors, which isn't uncommon for infielders at that level (look at Derek Jeter's first full season of pro ball). That said, Cruz probably won't stick there. The good news is that his offensive profile is looking like it will work from just about anywhere.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.