Answering your Top 100 Prospects list questions

Pipeline crew reveals toughest prospects to rank, more in latest episode

January 31st, 2024

The 2024 Top 100 Prospects list dropped last week, and as you can expect, there was plenty of discourse about the rankings.

In this week's edition of the Pipeline Podcast, the prospect guru trifecta of Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo and Sam Dykstra answered questions from the mailbag spanning from players who just missed the list to the toughest players to rank.

On the MLB Pipeline Podcast, Callis and Mayo are your tour guides through all the unfolding stories and breaking news of baseball's top prospects. Each week, you'll find out about the stars of tomorrow from the guys who know today. Download, subscribe and help others find the show by leaving a rating and review on iTunes or your favorite platform.

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

Callis: "This is a great question because there are so many guys that are tough to rank. For me, it’s ; he’s just been tough to figure out. Most hyped international prospect ever, he got off to a slow start last year and hit [.254] in Double-A. We knocked him down the Top 100, it seemed like he immediately went on a tear after that. He gets up to the big leagues, homers off Justin Verlander in his first game, hits three more homers in the next seven games, then he blows out his non-throwing elbow and has Tommy John surgery that is going to sideline him for half the season -- he’s still tough for me to figure out."

Mayo: “There were a couple pitchers that were tough for me, but the guy I’m going to focus on is Tink Hence from the Cardinals. The stuff is real, it’s top-notch stuff; he has a chance to have three plus pitches, four usable pitches. He’s shown the ability to miss a ton of bats, it’s exciting stuff, but there are a bunch of qualifiers."

Dykstra: ", and I’ll steal a Jim line in that Misiorowski might have the most electric stuff in the Minor Leagues right now, that’s outside of Paul Skenes who we have ranked at No. 3. We have Misiorowski at 33. He climbed three levels in his first full season last year, he was a second-round pick of the Brewers in 2022. He struck out 110 batters in 71 1/3 innings, they shut him down late with some arm fatigue, but it seems like everything should be good to go for 2024."

What changed to push Aidan Miller and Matt Shaw ahead of Jacob Wilson, when your pre-draft rankings AND their draft order had them behind him? Wilson came into pro ball and succeeded in the exact fashion he was meant to, and reached High-A. What gives? -- @ThunderbirdRay

Mayo: "Here’s the thing: this happens every year. The Draft rankings are not a set in stone situation, I’ll start with that. Some of it is because we’re talking to different subsets of evaluators. We’re talking only to amateur scouts and where they see players as the Draft approaches.

"Now for these players in particular, it’s not that Jacob Wilson did anything wrong. He did have a strong debut, drew a lot of walks as he always does, didn’t strike out like he always does, he hit .333 while making it to High-A as pointed out. The one question about ... is how much is he going to impact the baseball at this level.

The two players that are ahead of him, made it to Double-A and showed that he has no problem impacting the baseball and he’s super toolsy, he runs. , I think we had kind of low on the amateur list because he didn’t play his senior year of high school and it was a little hard to get a sense of how the industry valued him. ... Had he been healthy in Florida for his senior year, he very likely would have been a Top 10 pick. So, I think the fact that he came out and he performed well and he looked really good and the Phillies are excited, I think those are the reasons those guys floated ahead of Jacob Wilson.”

What does Victor Scott II gotta do? He doesn’t need hype, he leaves it on the field. Take that into consideration for once -- @schotime9

Dykstra: “The guy led the Minor Leagues in stolen bases last year -- him and Simpson actually ended up tied with 94 stolen bases because they took one away from Victor Scott II.

What plays in the game now is speed. Speed is more valuable than it has ever been and Victor Scott II is a legit 80-grade runner. He loves going, and once he gets on first base, everybody in the ballpark knows he’s going and you still can’t throw him out. That’s tremendous. It’s plus-plus defense in center, too. He didn’t strike out a lot at High-A or Double-A last year, he’s always hovering around that 110-120 wRC+ level and didn't crack our Top 100 list because I have some questions about what kind of power hitter he’s gonna be.

He had nine homers last year, didn’t have an isolated slugging percentage above 130 at either stop. It went up at Double-A but the Texas League is more hitter friendly than it’s ever been. Then if you look at his splits, he had nine homers; none of them were against lefties last year (actually had [just] two extra-base hits total against lefties). ... He slugged .353 vs. left-handers. That’s something he’s going to have to work on.

"He’s somebody that could very easily get on this list very quickly, but speed alone -- even in today’s game -- isn’t enough to get you on the Top 100. Defense alone isn’t enough, either. He’s not quite the five-tool player I think a lot of people want him to be, but he is one of the most electric players you’re ever going to see on a Minor League field, especially. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was the Cardinals starting center fielder in the second half, I just want to see the power play a little bit more because impacting the ball does play a huge role in creating value today, too. So, you could see him on the Top 100 very quickly in 2024, he’s just off the list for now.”

Which Astros prospect has the best chance to make the Top 100 list next? -- @PKnowsBall

Mayo: "I do think we’ll see Jacob Melton on this list, maybe even fairly early in the year. I thought the Astros stole him in 2022 when they got him in the second round.

"They got him with the 64th overall pick and he’s really tooled up. Last year, in his first full season of pro ball, he got to Double-A. He hit .245 with an .800 OPS. That's not super exciting, but he had 23 homers and 46 steals in 99 games and the underlying metrics in terms of the swing decisions and quality contact were really good. Talking to some analysts both with the Astros and other teams, they look at that stuff and they think that the numbers didn’t even do justice to the year he had. So, I think he’s going to break out and speed is his best tool, could be solid or better tools across the board and I do think we’ll see him on the Top 100 Prospects list sometime this year.”

[Nolan] Schanuel reaches base in his first 29 MLB games in a row, to the tune of a .402 OBP, obliterates the Minors (albeit with limited exposure) and he’s 95th [overall]? -- @AaronBurkart

Mayo: “Here’s the thing: I like Nolan Schanuel ... but just because he had a high on-base percentage during his time in the big leagues doesn’t mean that he belongs higher on the list. I think that the Angels have done a really good job lately of identifying advanced players and getting them to the big leagues quickly and them having some success. Zach Neto held his own. The fact that Nolan Schanuel got to the big leagues last year about a month after being drafted is amazing.

"We talked about the limited exposure, 109 big league at-bats; you talked about the on-base, you didn’t mention that he slugged .330 and hit one homer. ... We’re just not convinced enough to run him up the list just based on the fact that he got on base in every game he played. That gives him a very, very high floor. I think he’s going to be a solid big league performer, but until he shows that he can impact the ball, it’s going to be a tough profile for a space which is the only spot he can play defensively in the big leagues.”