The Top 100 prospects list is extremely challenging — much more difficult to do than the Top 15s. Trying to intertwine the best prospects from 30 different organizations into one master list results in many headaches and second guesses. I settled on the finished list about a week ago and already have some reservations and desires to make minor tweaks. At some point, though, you have to cut the ties.
If you’re unfamiliar with my work (I’ve been doing these annual lists at FanGraphs for five years now), I’ll give you a brief overview of how I make my rankings. I talk to multiple contacts within the industry (mosly scouts and front office staff) when creating my Top 15 prospects and Top 100 lists. Along with insider information, I also utilize my own opinions based on live game observations and video. I’m not a scout but I’ve been watching baseball for more than 20 years and writing about prospects for more than 10.
You can read the full scouting reports for all the players and see each club’s full Top 15 prospects lists here. Click on the players’ names to see their statistics and even links to previous articles written about them at FanGraphs.
The Cream of the Crop… aka The Top 10 of the Top 100
1. Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas (2013 LVL: AAA/MLB, ETA: 2013): Just 20 years old, Profar is probably ready to be at least league average at the plate and an above-average defender. With solid big league depth ahead of him, the challenge will be to find regular playing time for him.
2. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis (2013 LVL: AAA/MLB, ETA: 2013): Taveras has a chance to become the best home-grown offensive talent since Albert Pujols. The young outfielder hits for both average and power and should provide solid defense in left or right field.
3. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore (2013 LVL: AA/MLB, ETA: 2013): A once-in-a-generation talent, Bundy made A-ball hitters look like little leaguers. Injuries may be the only threat to the talented right-hander’s ability to anchor the Orioles’ starting rotation for years to come.
4. Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay (2013 LVL: AAA/MLB, ETA: 2013): In one of the more shocking moves of the winter, Kansas City traded the talented young slugger to the Rays, choosing to strengthen its big league pitching staff rather than build around the young, middle-of-the-order hitter. Time will tell if the decision was a prudent one.
5. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston (2013 LVL: AA/AAA, ETA:2014 ): Bogaerts displayed uncanny power for a teenager in 2012, while also hitting more than .300. He has to tighten up his plate discipline and there are questions about his ability to stick at shortstop long term but his ceiling is immense.
6. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh (2013 LVL: AAA/MLB, ETA: 2013): The Pirates have been a disappointment to Pittsburgh fans for too long, but Cole could help lead a new wave of talent to the big league club that should make the organization playoff contenders for years to come. He has legitimate No. 1 starter potential if he can harness the command on his fastball.
7. Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona (2013 LVL: AAA/MLB, ETA: 2013): The Diamondbacks received a solid contribution from a rookie left-hander in Wade Miley in 2012 and Skaggs could be the next to impact the big league level — and the latter pitcher’s ceiling is significantly higher.
8. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami (2013 LVL: AAA/MLB, ETA: 2013): The big-bodied Cuba native had a breakout season in 2012 at the age of 20. Combined between two A-ball levels, he posted a 1.75 ERA with 158 strikeouts — and just 35 walks — in 134 innings. He has a chance to develop into a No. 1 or 2 starter. He should bring back a lot of value when the Marlins trade him in five to seven years.
9. Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York (NL) (2013 LVL: AAA/MLB, ETA: 2013): Wheeler is finally getting the attention that he deserves as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. He has the ceiling of a No. 1 or 2 starter, and could be ready for the majors in the second half of 2013.
10. Christian Yelich, OF/1B, Miami (2013 LVL: AA/AAA, ETA: 2014): Yelich has a sweet left-handed swing and he projects to hit for above-average power as he matures as a hitter. If he can stick in center field at the MLB level, his value will be immense.
The Rest of the Top 100
14. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh: Taillon is the first player on this list that doesn’t get enough attention, in my honest opinion. A hard-thrower with above-average control and a strong frame, he could slot in behind fellow right-handed pitching prospect Gerrit Cole in the Pirates’ starting rotation for years to come.
15. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore
16. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota
17. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota
18. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City
19. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta
20. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland
21. Nick Castellanos, RF/3B, Detroit
22. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago (NL)
23. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto
24. Michael Wacha, RHP, St. Louis: The first real big shock on this list, in part because he’s ranked so high and in part because he’s ranked ahead of the likes of Shelby Miller (albeit one spot) and Trevor Rosenthal. Wacha has dominated in pro ball – both in 2012 and during this spring. Critics will say it’s because of his small sample size, as well as his limited innings due to pitch counts (rarely turning the lineup over). If you watch him pitch, though, it’s not hard to envision him dominating in longer stretches.
25. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis
26. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona
27. Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay
28. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland
29. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston
30. Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati
31. Austin Hedges, C, San Diego
32. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati: I don’t know why Stephenson doesn’t get more love but he’s a hard-throwing young pitcher with an impressive frame and two potentially-plus pitches (fastball, curveball). The delivery has improved and the repertoire is working itself out nicely.
33. Alen Hanson, SS, Pittsburgh
34. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston
35. Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis
36. Mason Williams, OF, New York (AL)
37. Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay
38. Brian Goodwin, OF, Washington
39. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington: On the bat alone, Rendon could probably be ranked much higher on the list. Unfortunately, he’s been extremely brittle during his amateur and pro career. A third baseman, his defensive home is also in doubt thanks to the presence of Ryan Zimmerman at the big league level. A move to another position could limited his defensive value.
42. Gary Sanchez, C, New York (AL): I wrestled with the exact placement of Sanchez and settled on this spot. I’m playing it safe and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him in the 15-25 range for the 2014 Top 100 list.
43. Addison Russell, SS, Oakland: A 2012 first round draft pick, Russell wowed talent observers during his pro debut — both for his on-the-field abilities, as well as his plus make-up. Add in the fact that he plays a premium position and you have an exciting up-and-comer. Personally, though, I feel expectations should be tempered until he plays in full-season ball.
44. Danny Hultzen, LHP, Seattle: Hultzen is a tough guy to rank thanks to his half-season meltdown last year that saw him walk 43 batters in 48.2 innings of work at the triple-A level. His struggles can be traced back to mechanical issues that got into his head. He’s looked better this spring.
47. Mike Olt, 3B/1B, Texas: Olt has some desirable skills but he might be a little over-hyped. I want to like him more than I do but I’ve gone away underwhelmed each time I’ve seen him hit. I see a player with above-average defensive skills at third base but average to slightly-above-average skills at the plate.
48. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado: Make-up and maturity concerns may have helped magnify Arenado’s modest 2012 season. He’ll turn 22 in April, has an impact bat if he realizes his potential and is ready for triple-A.
52. Delino DeShields Jr, 2B, Houston: I get why DeShields is not found higher on a lot of Top 100 lists (including defensive questions), but he’s got pedigree, an undervalued plus tool and made significant strides in his development in 2012. If he can improve his defense, he could be an impact player; it’s not often that you find a player with legit 60+ steal capabilities. I personally think DeShields has a better chance to hit big league pitching than Reds speedster Billy Hamilton, who is much more hyped as a prospect.
53. George Springer, OF, Houston
54. Jackie Bradley, OF, Boston
55. Allen Webster, RHP, Boston
56. David Dahl, OF, Colorado
57. Jonathan Schoop, 2B/SS, Baltimore
58. Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis
59. Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, St. Louis
60. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh
61. Matt Davidson, 3B, Arizona: I’ve always been a big believer of Davidson’s abilities and his improved defense should allow him to stick at the hot corner. Playing half of his games in Arizona could help pad his power numbers.
64. Carlos Sanchez, 2B, Chicago (AL): Probably the second most shocking ranking on list, I’m going against the field here with Sanchez — whom I doubt made any other Top 100 lists. The second baseman impresses me with his baseball skills, as well as the way he carries himself on the field. I think he gets a bit of a raw deal because he’s in the White Sox underrated system and because he doesn’t have loud tools. I truly think he’ll exceed expectations when given the opportunity.
69. Tony Cingrani, LHP, Cincinnati: Cingrani gets a high grade here because he’s left-handed with above-average stuff for a southpaw. He’s also close to MLB ready with three average-or-better pitches.
70. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington
71. Daniel Corcino, RHP, Cincinnati
72. Andrew Heaney. LHP, Miami
73. Martin Perez, LHP, Texas
74. Nick Franklin, SS, Seattle
75. Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Los Angeles (AL)
76. Dorssys Paulino, SS, Cleveland
77. Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota
78. Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
79. Justin Nicolino, LHP, Miami
80. J.R. Graham, RHP, Atlanta
81. Roberto Osuna, RHP, Toronto: I’m surprised Osuna doesn’t get more love considering his age, skill set and results from 2012. The right-hander impressed Toronto so much that they started to refer to ‘The Big 3’ (Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino) as ‘The Big Four.’ The emergence of the young Mexican native helped ease the front office’s concerns over parting ways with Syndergaard and Nicolino while improving the major league product.
84. Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City: Our own prospect maven Mike Newman got a good look at Starling earlier this season and came away uninspired. The Kansas native appeared in just 53 games in 2012 so I’m erring on the side of extreme cautioned with the hopes he’ll have a breakout 2013 season while playing a full-season schedule.
87. Slade Heathcott, OF, New York (AL): On talent alone, Heathcott could be higher on this list, but the ‘throw-back’ prospect has been injury prone throughout his career and has never accumulated more than 76 games played in a season. There are also some make-up/maturity issues that have cropped up in the past; if he continues to distance himself from those, while also showing more durability, he could zoomed up this list.
88. Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia
89. Casey Kelly, RHP, San Diego
90. Jake Marisnick, OF, Miami
91. Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles (NL)
92. A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington
93. Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego
94. Tyler Thornburg, RHP, Milwaukee
95. Luis Sardinas, SS, Texas: In a system filled with multi-talented young shortstops, including Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar, it’s easy to understand how Sardinas gets overlooked at times. He offers above-average defense and at least average offensive skills.
Delino DeShields Jr.
AL East (18 prospects)
New York: 3
Tampa Bay: 6
AL Central (15 prospects)
Kansas City: 3
AL West (15 prospects)
Los Angeles: 1
NL East (15 prospects)
New York: 3
NL Central (19 prospects)
St. Louis: 6
NL West (18 prospects)
San Diego: 5
San Francisco: 1
Los Angeles: 4