The new ranking of baseball's Top 100 prospects
Twins' Buxton now No. 1 as trades, Draft and performances alter view of the pipeline
Way back in January, MLB.com launched its Top 100 Prospects list, along with Top 20 rankings for each organization. Now, well into the season and past the Draft, Minor League All-Star breaks and the Futures Game, the landscape of the MLB Pipeline has changed considerably.
Prospects have graduated off that list, while strong and subpar performances have necessitated some serious shuffling. A whole group of prospects, courtesy of the June Draft, needs to be considered as well. And as prospects coming to the forefront with Wednesday's Trade Deadline approaching, it's a good opportunity to re-rank everyone, from the Top 100 to the Top 20 by team and even the Top 10 by position lists.
The year began with a very impressive top five: infielder Jurickson Profar of the Rangers in the top spot, followed by right-hander Dylan Bundy of the Orioles, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, Rays outfielder Wil Myers and Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker. Profar and Myers are now off the list, having passed the qualifiers for being a Major League rookie (130 at-bats for hitters, 50 innings for pitchers or 45 days on an active 25-man roster) and Bundy has slid a bit because of elbow surgery.
But Taveras and Walker are still part of the elite group, each moving up a spot from their preseason ranking. And there's a new name at the very top of the list -- Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 Draft who has had a tremendous first full season. He's joined by organization-mate Miguel Sano in the top three -- much like Orioles prospects Bundy and Manny Machado were in the 2012 midseason rankings. Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor rounds out the top five.
The newest additions to the lists are just getting their pro careers started. Trying to figure out where 2013 draftees belong in the rankings is always an interesting exercise. So dig in, voice an opinion in the comments below, and enjoy.
A grand total of 23 prospects have moved off of the preseason list after surpassing the rookie threshold. Many, not surprisingly, are coming up prominently in Rookie of the Year conversations. Most have been midseason callups, rather than guys who made Opening day rosters.
After Profar and Myers, three others from the Top 10 have moved on, and they're all pitchers: Jose Fernandez of the Marlins, Gerrit Cole of the Pirates and D-backs lefty Tyler Skaggs. They are joined by eight others -- Mike Zunino, Shelby Miller, Anthony Rendon, Julio Teheran, Trevor Rosenthal, Chris Archer, Nick Franklin and Jedd Gyorko -- who were in the initial Top 50.
There are others who were removed from the list because they haven't performed to expectations at this point in the season. Five players fell off the list. Mariners lefty James Paxton, who was No. 61 on the list at the start of the season, was the highest-ranked player to come off. Ethan Martin of the Phillies, Cody Buckel of the Rangers, Trevor Story of the Rockies and Gary Brown of the Giants were the other four.
Add up the graduates and the dropouts and there are 28 new names on the new Top 100. Most of the newcomers are prospects who began the year in pro ball, with many added to the list over the course of the season as graduates came off. Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, at No. 52, and Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, No. 53, are the two highest-ranked Minor Leaguers who didn't begin the year on the list. Five prospects -- Julio Urias of the Dodgers, Eddie Butler of the Rockies, Jimmy Nelson of the Brewers, the Eduardo Rodriguez of the Orioles and Garin Cecchini of the Red Sox -- are making their first appearances in the rankings.
Eight other new names come courtesy of this year's Draft. Three of them cracked the Top 50, led by No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel of the Astros. Third baseman Kris Bryant may have gone one pick ahead of right-hander Jonathan Gray in the first round, but Gray, now pitching in the Rockies organization, finished three spots ahead of Bryant, who's just getting his Cubs career started. The other five were all top-10 picks: Clint Frazier, who went No. 5 to the Indians, Kohl Stewart (No. 4 to the Twins), Austin Meadows (No. 9 to the Pirates), Colin Moran (No. 6 to the Marlins) and Trey Ball (No. 7 to the Red Sox).
While most people might initially notice Buxton's climb to the top, his 17-spot jump is far from the largest among players who were in the preseason Top 100. Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha used his quick ascent to Triple-A and the big leagues to leap 65 places, from 83rd to 18th. Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco moved 50 spots, from No. 65 to No. 15. Giants right-hander Kyle Crick also jumped into the Top 50, moving 39 slots to No. 47. Red Sox lefty Henry Owens, Padres catcher Austin Hedges, Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, right-handers Roberto Osuna of the Blue Jays and Robert Stephenson of the Reds and Astros outfielder George Springer all made jumps greater than 30 spots.
There is a flip side to every coin, of course, and several players, while not falling off the list entirely, dropped precipitously. Mike Olt, recently sent to the Cubs from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal, went from No. 22 to No. 63. Padres outfielder Rymer Liriano (from 55th to 87th) and Rays shortstop Hak-Ju Lee (from 56th to 81st) saw their stock fall largely because of injuries. Right-handers Trevor Bauer of the Indians and Matt Barnes of the Red Sox dropped 25 and 21 spots, respectively.
At the start of the season, all 30 organizations had at least one representative in the Top 100. That is no longer the case. With Julio Teheran graduating, the Atlanta Braves no longer have a prospect on the list. Four teams -- the Giants, Brewers, Angels and White Sox -- have one player apiece.
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The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox are atop the standings with eight prospects each. Houston has added four since the preseason list came out, the largest positive increase of any team. The Twins are just behind Boston and Houston with seven Top 100 prospects and there are four teams -- the Royals, Marlins, Pirates and Cubs -- now with five prospects each.
Having the most prospects doesn't necessarily give you the best system, because it doesn't speak to a system's depth. But a weighted scoring system can be used to look at which organization has the most impact or elite talent.
Giving 100 points to the team with the No. 1 prospect, 99 to the team with No. 2 and so on, it puts the Astros on top with 435 Prospect Points. But the Red Sox are fourth at 330. The Twins are second (397) and the Cubs are third (336). The St. Louis Cardinals, with 303 points, round out the top five.
Thanks to those four additional prospects, the Astros had the biggest increase from the preseason list, jumping 235 points. The Cubs picked up 130, thanks partially to the additions of Olt via trade and Kris Bryant via the Draft. The Twins, who gained 102 points, were the only other team to make a triple-digit jump.
On the flip side, the Mariners lost 178 points, with some graduates (Zunino, Franklin) and Paxton dropping off the list. The Rangers, losing Profar and Martin Perez to graduation and Olt in the trade, lost 165 points, while the Rays dropped 153 points.
When re-ranking the Top 10 by position, pitchers were particularly easy, as the Top 100 continued to be pitching-heavy. There are 48 pitchers on the list -- 39 right-handers and nine lefties. Outfielders came next, with 24 representatives, followed by 12 shortstops. Eight third basemen made the rankings, with four catchers, three second basemen and just one first baseman bringing up the rear.