For the past week, MLB Pipeline has been dissecting our 2021 Top 100 Prospects list in various ways. In addition to looking at the players with the best tools and the best-represented teams on the list, we also offered a team-by-team preview of the prospects who fans might see join the Top 100 ranks once the season begins.
Of course, some of those prospects are much closer to making the Top 100 than others.
Here is a detailed look at 10 players who fell just outside the Top 100 bubble, as determined by MLB Pipeline’s internal voting process and feedback from club officials.
Ryan Weathers, LHP, Padres
The No. 7 overall pick from the 2018 Draft put up solid numbers but also battled fatigue at Class A Fort Wayne during his first full season, pitching with diminished velocity as the year progressed. But velocity wasn’t an issue for Weathers last season, and he spent the summer at San Diego’s alternate training site sitting in the mid-90s with sharper secondary stuff before joining the Padres’ NLDS bullpen at age 20. The young left-hander stands to quickly enter the Top 100 if he can show that same durability and power stuff in a starting role.
Gunnar Henderson, SS, Orioles
Henderson drew rave reviews for his performance as the youngest player at Baltimore’s alternate training site, showing the type of tools and natural ability that made him a second-round pick in 2019. He already has an impact left-handed bat and will only add more power as he grows into his ultra-athletic and projectable 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame. Henderson’s size does lead to questions about his future as a shortstop. Still, the Orioles believe he can stick at the premium position, and there is little doubt about the 19-year-old’s ability to play either third base or center field if that doesn’t work out.
Jackson Rutledge, RHP, Nationals
Rutledge posted gaudy numbers at San Jacinto JC in Texas (0.87 ERA, 134 K, 82 2/3 IP) on the strength of his upper-90s fastball and nasty slider en route to becoming the No. 17 pick in the 2019 Draft. The 6-foot-8 right-hander has had those two dominant offerings on display early in his pro career, though it was the gains he made in repeating his delivery at Washington’s alternate training site last summer that has his stock trending in the right direction. With better feel for his mechanics, Rutledge operated with significantly better control and command and made strides in developing his curveball and changeup.
Bryson Stott, SS, Phillies
That the 2019 first-round pick from UNLV finished 2020 at No. 87 on the Top 100, but narrowly missed the cut this year is more of a reflection of other players passing him in the eyes of evaluators than anything Stott did or didn’t do last season. He’s still very much in the Top 100 conversation (clearly), and there’s a lot to like in the 23-year-old shortstop’s across-the-board tools, led by hitting ability that could be plus, as well as some sneaky power potential from the left side.
Ed Howard, SS, Cubs
Howard led Chicago's Jackie Robinson West squad to the Little League World Series finals and was viewed by scouts as the top true shortstop prospect in the 2020 Draft, when the Cubs selected him 16th overall. The 19-year-old is an easy plus defender at shortstop with smooth actions and great hands, and scouts like his chances of making an impact at the plate, pegging the teenager as someone who will hit for both average and power at the highest level.
Noelvi Marte, SS, Mariners
The Mariners signed Marte for $1.55 million in July 2018 after MLB Pipeline had ranked him as the 10th-best international prospect in his class. He rewarded the organization by slashing .309/.371/.511 in his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2019, but could not build on the progress in earnest in 2020 due to the pandemic. He still earned high praise for his performance as the youngest player at Seattle’s alternate training site, where he flashed an assortment of loud tools while gaining the type of experience against older competition that could lead to a breakout campaign in 2021.
Liover Peguero, SS, Pirates
Signed for $475,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, Peguero had as much helium as any young prospect in Arizona’s system -- he hit .326/.382/.485 while reaching Class A Short Season Hillsboro in 2019 at age 18 --- when the Pirates acquired him and right-hander Brennan Malone for Starling Marte a little more than a year ago. The 20-year-old shortstop fared well against advanced competition as the youngest participant at Pittsburgh’s alternate training site last year, showcasing a promising blend of hitting ability, speed and defense at a premium position.
Alejandro Kirk, C, Blue Jays
The fact that Kirk made neither the Top 100 nor the Top 10 Catchers list speaks to how deep that position is going into the 2021 season, as he was one of several young backstops who fell just short of cracking both lists. Signed by Toronto for $7,500 out of Mexico in September 2016, Kirk hit .315/.418/.500 with more walks (89) than strikeouts (60) in the Minors en route to his Major League debut in 2020 at age 21. The 5-foot-8, 265-pound backstop lived up to the hype offensively, hitting his first career home run as part of a 4-for-4 game before finishing with a .375 average in nine contests. Kirk’s size will always lead to questions about his defensive future and overall profile, but the bat and the approach are both for real.
Tyler Soderstrom, C, A’s
Soderstrom was viewed as perhaps the top prep catcher in the 2020 Draft class but fell to the back of the first round, where the A’s took him with the No. 26 pick and then signed him for $3.3 million, nearly $650,000 above slot value. He’s a polished hitter, one with a gorgeous left-handed swing and sound approach that gives scouts high confidence when projecting the 19-year-old backstop as a plus hitter with power. And while concerns about Soderstrom’s defense, which currently is below average, ultimately kept him from making the Top 100 to open 2021, it also underscores his upward potential as he begins to improve behind the plate.
Seth Corry, LHP, Giants
Like Stott, Corry finished 2020 in the Top 100 (No. 94) but didn’t land a spot on this year’s list. The 2017 third-rounder from the Utah high school ranks dominated in ’19, finishing first in the Class A South Atlantic League in ERA (1.76), strikeouts (172), strikeouts per nine innings (12.6), whiff rate (34 percent) and opponent average (.171). He pitched particularly well down the stretch, too, allowing just 11 runs (nine earned) in his final 14 starts. Scouts are eager to see how the 22-year-old left-hander’s low-90s fastball that can touch 96, downer curveball and improving changeup translate against more advanced hitters in 2021.