FanGraphs Top 50 Prospects

I stated last week that I had no plans to release a mid-season top prospects list, but the popularity of the Top 100 prospects review series forced me to reconsider. So I spent the weekend compiling an updated Top 50 prospect list.

The prospect ranks are a little thin this year, with teams leaning on young talent more — and more prospects, in general, appear to be spending less time in the minors before getting thrown into the big league fire.

With this particular list the Top 25, or so, prospects are set pretty firmly in my mind while the latter half of the list is very interchangeable and there are 10-15 players leftover who could easily slide onto the list with much argument.

Please note, the list does not include any 2012 draft picks or prospects currently playing in the Majors.

1. Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers
2. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
3. Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City Royals
4. Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets
5. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
6. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
7. Danny Hultzen, LHP, Seattle Mariners
8. Travis d’Arnaud, C, Toronto Blue Jays
9. Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore Orioles
10. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
11. Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
12. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves
13. Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers
14. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins
15. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
16. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
17. Xander Bogaerts, 3B, Boston Red Sox
18. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
19. Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
20. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
21. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
22. Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets
23. Christian Yelich, 1B/OF, Miami Marlins
24. Jonathan Singleton, OF/1B, Houston Astros
25. Jacob Turner, RHP, Detroit Tigers
26. Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
27. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
28. Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Kansas City Royals
29. Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees
30. Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
31. Mike Olt, 3B, Texas Rangers
32. Mason Williams, OF, New York Yankees
33. Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals
34. Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox
35. Anthony Gose, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
36. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
37. Billy Hamilton, SS, Cincinnati Reds
38. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
39. Jake Marisnick, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
40. Matt Davidson, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks
41. Alen Hanson, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
42. Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego Padres
43. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals
44. Jackie Bradley, OF, Boston Red Sox
45. Tyler Austin, OF, New York Yankees
46. James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners
47. Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
48. Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF, Minnesota Twins
49. Tyler Thornburg, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
50. Jedd Gyorko, 3B, San Diego Padres




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


100 Responses to “FanGraphs Top 50 Prospects”

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  1. Simon says:

    Any chance you could list the 10-15 near misses. It would probably cut down the number of what about that guy questions.

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  2. TKDC says:

    You ranked the prospects of my team way too low!

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    • chuckb says:

      You left out the required indignation and ad hominem attacks toward the author’s intelligence.

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    • china_dave says:

      I know! The nerve of these people, to debate highly subjective assessments of value. And on a sports website, no less!

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      • TKDC says:

        You have every right to make blanket, unsupported complaints about the ranking of a player that happens to play for a minor league affiliate of the team of which you have a fanatical relationship; and I have every right to make fun of those who take advantage of that right. This comment was not meant as a criticism of adding facts and logical reasoning to the discussion.

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    • Nick V says:

      This joke is old.

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  3. Jonathan says:

    Bogaerts is having a good year, but I don’t see him as beating out Barnes or even Bradley.

    Bradley may be older, but he is just something else, even mired in his current slump.

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    • Matt says:

      Bogaerts is also a SS, but listed as a 3B. Many don’t see him sticking at the position, but he’s still playing there so far.

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    • KyleL says:

      Bogaerts has far and away the highest ceiling of the three, and is three years younger than Barnes playing at the same level (same was true of Bradley up until about three weeks ago). There’s a lot to be said about a guy putting up even OK numbers in that league at such a young age.

      Since 1990 only six guys have had ISOs of .188 or higher (Bogaerts’ current ISO) at 19yo or younger in that league: Bogaerts, Jason Heyward, Chris Marrero, Aramis Ramirez, Andruw Jones, and Melvin Neives.

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      • Paul says:

        He was very impressive looking at the Futures Game. I agree, I think he should actually be in the Top 10 on this list.

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  4. dan l says:

    I like Ramon Flores a lot more then some of the guys you have on this list.

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  5. maguro says:

    So what’s the deal with Taillon? Why is he getting his butt kicked in the Florida State League?

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    • James says:

      Uh, what do you mean getting his but kicked? Or are you just looking at his ERA? If that is the case, then what are you doing on Fangraphs?

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      • chuckb says:

        Hopefully he’s learning about the problems in evaluating pitchers solely on the basis of their ERAs.

        Maybe he’s not there yet and is just to the part about RBI and saves. In any case, fangraphs is where he needs to be.

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      • maguro says:

        Oh, yeah, Taillon’s doing awesome – 6.42 ERA, 21 BB/39K in 54 IP over his last 10 starts in the FSL. Exactly what I’d expect from the #5 prospect in baseball!

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      • TBird says:

        Thanks for the condescending response, James. No need to attack him for a harmless question…

        I think the question is well-warranted and I’m wondering why he is so high on the list as well. His K/9, BB/9 and FIP aren’t eye-popping. I know he is only 20, but there are a handful of players with comparable ages and better FIPs.

        What am I overlooking? The numbers I see don’t seem worthy of #5 prospect…

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      • Paul Sporer says:

        maguro & TBird – the problem is putting a lot weight into minor league numbers, especially low minors ones. They just don’t mean much and they are generally a poor judge of a player’s performance when taken alone whether they’re good or bad. You’re much better off reading up on scouting reports on the guys.

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  6. Greg says:

    Tyler Thornburg is pitching in the major leagues. One start and now out of the bullpen for the Brewers.

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    • Bob says:

      I had the same though, though I doubt the author follows the Brewers as closely as I do. I’d give him the benefit of the doubt, because it was one spot start earlier in the year, before being sent to AAA. He was recently recalled (post-ASB), to bolster the bullpen.

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  7. NRowe says:

    What’s the deal with Billy Hamilton being ranked below Hak-Ju Lee? Do you think Lee ever be a player worthy of starting in fantasy?

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    • David says:

      Whether he is or isn’t worthy of fantasy, he’ll be a much better REAL baseball player than Hamilton because he’s a very good to exceptional defender at shortstop, while Hamilton is a somethingorother fielder/baseman to be determined later.

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      • ChangingSpeeds says:

        Disagree. Consensus is that, while Hamilton’s not a SS (and if you saw the Futures Game you got verification of such), he should transition to CF where he can leverage his insane speed to good effect. If he learns to run good routes to balls, think what he could do playing crazy shallow (like Andruw back in the day)…Lee might be a good real-life player, but doesn’t have a single tool that comes close to Hamilton’s game-changing speed.

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      • chuckb says:

        @ changingspeeds: shouldn’t we care about which player has the higher likelihood of becoming the better “real-life player” than the one who’s going to help our fantasy teams the most?

        And when Hamilton moves to CF, he’s still going to have to learn how to play the position. His speed will help him but he’s not going to become Andruw Jones overnight.

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      • davef says:

        I am sure the consensus that leaves Lee at SS and moves Hamilton to the OF and the unknown translation of his abilities there is why Lee is ranked higher. Same reason rankers always struggle when a guy’s future position, and ability to play it, is more or less unknown

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      • ChangingSpeeds says:

        @chuckb My comment has nothing to do with fantasy per se. Hamilton has the ability to change the game *in real life* on both sides of the ball in ways that Lee simply cannot. Lee profiles as a good, maybe even above average, defender at SS which is very valuable. Hamilton however has the chance to demonstrate once-in-a-generation type speed.

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      • jfish26101 says:

        I think you and many are overstating the value of speed. Yes he is extremely fast, yes he will put pressure on the D when he is on base, yes his speed in CF will allow him to make up for mistakes in the field, but even great speed still has a moderate impact on a player’s value.

        The biggest thing for Hamilton is can he sustain his ISO (.100+) and continue to show improvement in plate discipline. If he can do that, he can be more valuable than Lee. If he cannot, and Lee cannot improve those same areas of his game, then Lee will have more defensive value which is just about all they will bring to the table.

        It will be interesting if Hamilton finds success because it has been a long time since a similar player has gotten a legitimate opportunity to see how valuable their speed can be. Maybe Hamilton will show speed can be more valuable than currently believed, but I think the argument can most definitely be made that Lee has a better chance to be a valuable player…though neither is looking particularly great at the moment to me which is sad as a Lee owner.

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    • KCDaveInLA says:

      I was surprised at Hamilton ranking so low too. Probably those Vince Coleman comparisons did more harm than good.

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  8. ChangingSpeeds says:

    Looking forward to seeing Oscar Taveras in the top-10 when the ’13 prospect lists are put together. He looks like Vladdy from the left side. Sooo sick.

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  9. Jason says:

    Springer

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  10. eric says:

    I don’t get the Bundy love. He’s very young, plays for an organization that hasn’t developed a pitcher since Mike Mussina, and will be in the AL East. I’m sure he’s a very good pitching prospect but #2 seems awfully high for someone so far away with so many things going against him

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    • ChangingSpeeds says:

      I get that you haven’t read anything about Dylan Bundy.

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      • eric says:

        Yeah I have. Why would you say that? My points have nothing to do with whether he’s a great talent or not.

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      • busch says:

        Then what’s your point Eric? These rankings are based on talent, not factors outside of the player’s control.

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      • eric says:

        These rankings are based on projections of who will be the best future major leaguers. I assume that does not mean they play in a vacuum. There are other factors beyond their raw talent

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      • jfish26101 says:

        Sure there are other factors besides talent, though it is the largest one (followed closely by performance which Bundy is making a very strong case with as well). However, his age (when at an appropriate level), and whether previous players within the organization were successful aren’t very important when ranking a prospect.

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    • chuckb says:

      Being young works for him, not against him. The other 2 knocks you have against him are wholly irrelevant.

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      • eric says:

        Being young works for him in terms of his performance being all the more impressive, but it works against him in terms of the injury risk he will be facing as he matures. And if you think the level of competition he will face in the majors and the ability of his franchise to develop talent are irrelevant than we clearly have very different views of how to identify future stars and guys who face more perils than others.

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      • ChangingSpeeds says:

        I think it’s reasonable to speculate that Bundy would be the consensus #1 pick if the 2011 draft were held today. His spot atop the rankings is definitely warranted. Prospect lists are built on “ceiling,” not who could help their club most in the near-term.

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      • Bob says:

        Being young does not make you more injury prone. If anything, younger players are less injury prone because they haven’t taken the same year in-and-out pounding of an older player.

        I also don’t think that having good teams in your division make you a dimmer prospect. Which teams are good is constantly changing, and you still only play the Rays so many times. Not to mention that a talented player doesn’t suddenly become untalented because Jeter happens to be on the other team.

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      • eric says:

        I think some of you are being intentionally obtuse here.

        Boston and NY (and TOR to a lesser degree) have been top 3 offenses for a decade or more and with their budgets and ballparks that doesn’t figure to change anytime soon. All the parks in the AL east are among the top few in runs/games from most ballpark effects systems I have seen. That will not change anytime soon.

        There is a TON of research about the injury risks for young pitchers as they mature. The younger the pitcher the more likely he is to suffer a major injury, which is why so much care is taken in protecting their arms up to their age 22-24 seasons (in most cases).

        Baltimore has been very cautious with Bundy, which is a great thing for his future, but the fact remains that he has several years before he will be out of the high-risk red zone that all young pitchers must clear.

        I know the list is based on ceiling. But when a guy is 2-3 years from being ready for the big leagues and is a pitcher, the chances of reaching his ceiling is reduced compared to a guy closer to being ready and who is more physically mature.

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      • Matt H says:

        eric – The strength of his future opposition shouldn’t affect Bundy’s ranking. While I agree that this will affect his performance, I would assume that these rankings are more about their skill and relative impact than stat lines. All pitchers on the Orioles are going to have worse stats than the rest of the league, but I wouldn’t say that they’re worse pitchers because of it. He will still have the same impact on the Orioles as he would on the Mariners, even if he puts up poorer numbers for the former.

        If these were fantasy rankings, it would be an entirely different matter, of course.

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      • ChangingSpeeds says:

        Yes, pitching in the AL East is a beast. Doesn’t impact his status as a prospect.

        Yes, pitching is violent, and pitchers are injury risks. Doesn’t impact his status as a prospect.

        Yes, Baltimore will handle Bundy cautiously. Doesn’t impact his status as a prospect.

        Being 2-3 years from the bigs (at 19 yrs old, at that) doesn’t negatively effect — in any way whatsoever — his ceiling, and improves his status as a prospect.

        I’m not interested in arguing these points further, but am willing to concede simply to prevent any more discussion of the obvious. Cheers.

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      • henry says:

        how has no one brought up the fact that bundy’s mechanics are impeccable? he has so little effort it’s crazy. i realize everyone can get hurt, but those mechanics are another reason why he’s #2.

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  11. Uncle Randy says:

    Looks legit. Where would you have Kolten Wong?

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  12. Pat says:

    Curious where Mesoraco would rank if eligible, and not locked up in Dusty’s dungeon

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  13. Bad Bill says:

    I’m not sure that excluding “prospects currently playing in the Majors” is really a good criterion, Marc. The problem is that it makes for a list that can look very anachronistic very quickly, just depending on who came up for a look-see on the particular days when you were compiling your list, as opposed to a week earlier or later. If you had happened to compile this during Julio Teheran’s or Jacob Turner’s brief excursions into the majors this year, they wouldn’t qualify. There may be others, as well as guys omitted from the actual list who are only up for a cup of coffee but really are “prospects” rather than permanent major leaguers. (This said, I concede that I can’t immediately think of a better way to do it.)

    Incidentally, the breakout by teams:
    Toronto: 4
    Arizona: 3
    Boston: 3
    Kansas City: 3
    NY Yankees: 3
    Pittsburgh: 3
    Seattle: 3
    St. Louis: 3 (amusing trifecta, although I’d have had Taveras considerably higher)
    Baltimore: 2
    Detroit: 2
    Miami: 2
    Minnesota: 2
    NY Mets: 2
    San Diego: 2
    Texas: 2
    Atlanta: 1
    CHI Cubs: 1
    Cincinnati: 1
    Cleveland: 1
    Colorado: 1
    Houston: 1
    LA Dodgers: 1
    Milwaukee: 1
    Philadelphia: 1
    Tampa Bay: 1
    Washington: 1
    CHI White Sox: 0
    LA Angels: 0
    Oakland: 0
    San Francisco: 0

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  14. Turbo Sloth says:

    As much as I love Olt’s power, I like your conservative ranking of him here. He certainly has concerns, most notably the Ks. Always makes a prospect a higher bust chance, but I think he’ll overcome it

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    • Joel says:

      He sure has one hell of a nice looking swing!

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    • Ross says:

      I’m not saying he should be ranked higher, but I’d have him top among the third basemen. After the AFL last year Arenado and him were 1 and 1a, and while Nolan hasn’t impressed nearly as much this year Olt has continued the tear he was on, as well as improved his pitch selection. He certainly will have his fair share of Ks, but he will also draw walks and hit for power. He is also the best defender at the hot corner. Castellanos has had a breakout year for sure, but I’d have him just behind Olt.

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  15. Telo2 says:

    People always seem to forget Brett Jackson. What about Matt Adams. I dont understand how you forget these things.

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    • Scott says:

      He didn’t forget Brett Jackson or Matt Adams. They’re just not good enough to make the list.

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    • Butters says:

      Strikeouts have always been at least a bit of a bugaboo with Jackson, and this year he’s whiffing an insane amount — basically three strikeouts for every two games played. That’s nuts; and the walks are way down this season, too.

      I’d still have him in my top 50, likely in the 40-45 range…and the same for Adams, who’s sort of Jackson in reverse. Not an ath-o-lete by any stretch (surprising nimble around the bag, with good hands, though), and won’t take a walk, but has shown a real impressive power-to-contact ratio. A few years of .300/.350/.550 is a distinct possiblity. And there may be even more power than that (his road OPS in the PCL is well above 1.200 so far).

      Q: If Keith Law is correct, and Alen Hanson really is a shortstop long term, does he rightly belong in the discussion for top 15-20 status? The teenager is murdering the Sally League in a way that would be superb for a corner outfielder.

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  16. Chad Dubick says:

    Very aggressive ranking for Zack Wheeler. He has been impressive.

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    • Average_Casey says:

      From what I have read/heard I don’t quite understand why he’s ranked ahead of Walker. Pretty much everyone talks about Walker being either the first or second best pitching prospect in baseball. Basically, they say he could be better than Bundy but Bundy’s floor is higher and Bundy’s the better pitcher now. This is the first conversation that involved Wheeler as one of the top 2 pitching prospects.

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      • Mike says:

        I would assume its mostly because of Walkers lack of control. Has struggled with it this year, although I do agree, I believe his ceiling is higher, but also his floor is not high as wheelers.

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      • Paul says:

        Based on seeing both of them at the Futures Game, I agree with Wheeler ahead of Walker. One of the things that is really nice about that game is you get to see how big and physically developed guys really are.

        For example, Jake Odorizzi is really, really small. Singleton does not look anywhere near 230 pounds. Just simply does not look like he’ll have the base to generate above average power. Wheeler was legitimately a big, strong kid whose body just worked really well. He was very impressive looking.

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      • Sen-Baldacci says:

        What does Ryan Braun’s body tell you about his power? Little guys can produce bat speed and the that’s what makes the ball travel. I agree, though, I expected to see a ryan howard type guy out of singleton.

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      • Paul says:

        That’s a fair ding because I didn’t express the take very well. Really what I’m talking about is perceptions based especially on the comps that get thrown around. For example, Odorizzi being small doesn’t mean he won’t be any good. But he’s often compared to Greinke, and the two have dramatically different body types. You can see that Zack has a lot of power in his hips and could put on quite a bit of weight, especially in his legs, if he wanted to. Odorizzi is very slim. Certainly he’s athletic, but physically the Greinke comp does not fit for me.

        Another Royals whose physical report as a small and skinny relief pitcher didn’t look right to me. Yeah, he’s skinny, but he looked a lot taller than I expected and didn’t look like a guy who won’t be able to put on some weight.

        I was actually surprised that Wheeler was as physical as he was, and used it properly, because that’s not really an emphasis of the scouting reports.

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      • Paul says:

        Referring to Ventura as the other Royals who gets the small reliever tag.

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      • ZenMadman says:

        Cars move faster than pedestrians.

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  17. Matty Brown says:

    I want a top 250 prospect list!

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  18. baty says:

    Teheran’s ranking here shows a lot more patience than what I’ve had lately. He’s a frustrating one. He’s reminding me of past frustrations with Phil Hughes and Homer Bailey.

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  19. Paul says:

    I am a little surprised to see Machado and Castellanos so low. They both have their “man muscles” as Dayton Moore would say and just look like men among boys. As much as I like Wil Myers, I’d have Machado and Castellanos both ahead of him (as well as the almost frail looking Hultzen.

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  20. jim says:

    arenado has gone up 6 places since pre-season top 100, yet your evaluation of him was value down? does not computer

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    • Tom says:

      People on the top 100 have graduated to the majors?
      Other prospects have dropped?

      (I think the first item is probably the main reason, without going through the lists)

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  21. Okra says:

    Thanks for publishing a mid-season ranking, Marc. Like it a lot better than just revisiting the pre-season rankings.

    Also, where would Bauer and Andrelton Simmons rank if still in the minors?

    Thanks.

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    • TKDC says:

      This is an interesting question (regarding Simmons). If Simmons had not been called up and was just playing really well in the minors, I can’t imagine he’d be any better than a fringe top-50 guy, probably off this list. However, if he’d been (and this is a fantasy world) sent down instead of getting hurt, I can’t imagine his 1.7 WAR June would not land him in the top-10. This seems odd because all we have is a little more than a month of MLB data, but I think it’s true.

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      • bstar says:

        DRS likes Simmons even more than UZR, so his bWAR was actually 2.4. He was cranking out a higher dWAR/150 than Brett Lawrie before BIS fixed their problem of over-rewarding the plays Lawrie was making in the Jays shift.

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  22. duworkson says:

    Nick Franklin?

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  23. Fostar says:

    This list looks rushed.

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  24. Nolan says:

    The biggest surprises on this list, for me, are Arenado and Shelby Miller. Both are struggling (with Miller specifically drawing “what happened?” types of reports) and both are dealing with the big, nebulous “character concerns” cloud over their heads.

    Maybe it would be reactionary to dump either of these guys to the back of the top 50, or out of the top 50 completely, but I’m very surprised that their rankings haven’t changed much at all. In Arenado’s case, he may even be higher.

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  25. Robbie G. says:

    If anyone is super bored, I’d like to see which players on this list were at one point traded to their current team, and I’d also like to know basically what that trade looked like. I suppose I could do this myself but I suspect there are some folks who can probably whip something like this together far more quickly than I could.

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    • Tim says:

      I’m a Tigs fan and love Castellanos….but he isn’t fully developed yet physically…and as a fielder he’s a work in progress. He’s not bad, he just needs reps at 3b ( or RF as was the case this week, as if he keeps clowning pitching at AA he’ll be in teh Tigers lineup somehow in the latter half of 2013)….but to suggest he’s ahead of Wil Myers is crazy talk…Myers is the real deal and is waiting for Dayton Moore to trade Frenchy…..and get just one starting pitcher that doesn’t suck. Poor Royals finally get a bunch of talent and can’t do anything but put a group of punching bags like Sanchez/Hochevar/Chen together as a “veteran core” and then see Duffy/Paulino snap their UCLs and Montgomery flame out…

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      • Paul says:

        Here is his Futures Game home run vid: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=22968093&topic_id=33636260&c_id=mlb

        As a Tigers fan I’d assume you are familiar with Royals stadium. A less than fully developed player doesn’t lift that pitch to that spot in the stadium. Live it was quite a bit more impressive because to get the type of backspin he put on that ball his strength was evident.

        I saw him on vid somewhere last year, maybe in last year’s FG and was shocked at how skinny he was. I don’t know if you’ve seen him lately, but he has filled out a ton, has to be at least 30 pounds since being drafted. The reason I would put him ahead of Myers is that I agree with you that he’s not “fully” developed. Take a look at the video again. Is that not a 20 year old Miguel Cabrera? Castellanos is very slow already and is definitely not a developing 3B who needs to put on weight. He is a rapidly developing middle of the order bat who will end up in LF in the near term and 1B long term. But it doesn’t matter because that bat will play anywhere.

        If Wil Myers is better than the guy in that vid, who has 20 pounds of muscle to go, and is a year younger than Wil, as a Royals fan I really, really, really hope you are right and I’m wrong.

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  26. Steve says:

    What about Starling Marte? Killing it right now

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  27. Shawn says:

    What does Oscar Taveras have to do to get some respect? He just turned twenty a month ago, he’s posting an OPS that is only four points behind the league leader (Mike Olt) whose nearly four years older than him, and he’s got no noticeable weaknesses in his game. His worst part of his game is speed, and that’s at worse a 40 on the scale. BA ranked him 18th and Sickels ranked him 8th.

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  28. Ky says:

    Wilmer Flores should be on this list was on it a couple years ago and now regain his form and is having a breakout season

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  29. MeanMaggie says:

    Go Gyorko! He’s on fire. This may be the only time he’s on the list as he’ll probably get called up to the show next month. Add in that he plays both 3B and 2B and he could be very valuable. Good OBP, good Power, and hit at every level.

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