Reviewing the Top 100 Prospects List, 50-26

This week we’re reviewing the annual pre-season Top 100 prospects list that originally ran in mid-March. Below you’ll find prospects 50 through 26 in the original order they appeared. Yesterday, we looked at prospects 75-51.

50. Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh: Bell opened 2012 in low-A ball but injured his knee in late April and had surgery. He has yet to return but the injury should not be a long-term concern. (Value Static)

49. Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco: Brown had a nice 2011 campaign but he’s finding the going a little tougher in double-A. The 23-year-old outfielder is producing league-average results with a wRC+ of 105. He’s stolen 22 bases on the year but has also been caught 13 times. Because speed is his best tool, Brown needs to do a better job of getting on base (6.1 BB%). (Value Static)

48. Christian Yelich, 1B/OF, Miami: Yelich, 20, was slowed earlier this year by an injury but he’s made up for lost time. He’s hit for average and power which has helped him post a wRC+ of 173. He could develop into a very talented No. 3 hole hitter and is probably ready for the challenge of double-A. Yelich could help Miami by the end of 2013. (Value Up)

47. Trevor May, RHP, Philadelphia: May has been passed by Jesse Biddle for the best arm in the system but he’s holding steady at No. 2. The right-handed hurler has struggled at double-A and currently has a 4.92 ERA in 89.2 innings. His command and control issues are definitely related to the challenges that he’s faced to this point in 2012. (Value Down)

46. A.J. Cole, RHP, Oakland: Cole got off to an extremely slow start after being included in an off-season trade between Washington and Oakland. The young hurler opened the year in high-A ball (California League) and posted a 7.82 ERA in eight starts. He was victimized by a .405 BABIP, though, and he also gave up seven home runs. The plus side is that he showed good control with a walk rate of 2.37 K/9. Cole is dominating low-A ball once again and should get another shot at high-A ball before too long (Value Down… a Bit)

45. James Paxton, LHP, Seattle: Paxton opened 2012 as one of the top arms in the system and was expected to move rather quickly and possibly help the big league club in the second half of the year – given that he originally signed with the organization in what would have been his senior year of college. The southpaw was inconsistent in May and then missed all of June due to injury. He’s back to throwing the ball very well in July and could still see the Majors by the end of the year (Value Static)

44. Michael Choice, OF, Oakland: I ranked Choice quite aggressively on this list and had my doubts at the time… and even more so now. He showed outstanding power numbers in both 2010 and 2011 (including the Arizona Fall League) but his ISO rate has dipped to .114 in 2012 at double-A. Because he doesn’t offer much beyond the power tool, Choice needs to make some adjustments if he’s going to be an everyday outfielder at the big league level. (Value Down)

43. Billy Hamilton, SS, Cincinnati: When he gets on base Hamilton is a very exciting player. After stealing 103 bases in 2011, the outfielder has already racked up 104 base thefts in just 82 games. He’s invoking memories of former Cardinals outfielder Vince Coleman who stole more than 100 bases three times at the big league level. Hamilton could accomplish that feat, as well, but the rest of his game (defense, hitting) still needs a fair bit of polish. (Value Static)

42. Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Colorado: Currently on the big league roster, Pomeranz has split the year between the Majors and the minors. His struggles at the big league level can be connected to his lack of control as his walk rate is at 5.09 BB/9, compared to a 3.86 rate in triple-A. (Value Static)

41. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago NL: After opening the year in triple-A with Bryan LaHair manning first base in Chicago, Rizzo has finally gotten his shot to play everyday with the Cubs and he’s taking advantage of the opportunity. The 22-year-old hitter is hitting .354 and has already slugged four home runs in his first 12 games. (Value Up)

40. Yasmani Grandal, C, San Diego: When the year began it was difficult to see where Grandal would fit into the Padres’ 2012 plans but struggles by incumbent backstop Nick Hundley (who replaced the rookie in triple-A) opened the door for the Cuba native. He’s played in just 10 games so far but has already made his presence known with four home runs. (Value Up)

39. Yonder Alonso, 1B, San Diego: Traded by Cincinnati to San Diego along with Yasmani Grandal in the Mat Latos deal, Alonso opened 2012 as the big league club’s everyday first baseman. His offense, though, has not been overly impressive. He has a .263 average with just three home runs in 293 at-bats. Alonso’s home ball park favors pitchers to the extreme and Alonso has yet to homer there (144 at-bats) but he has almost identical batting averages in San Diego and on the road. (Value Down)

38. Manny Banuelos, LHP, New York AL: The Yankees organization has seen quite a few of its young arms get hurt or take a step backward in their development this year and Banuelos fits into the former category. The left-hander hasn’t pitched since May due to an elbow injury that isn’t expected to require surgery. (Value Static)

37. Travis d’Arnaud, C, Toronto: d’Arnaud was playing extremely well in triple-A but he injured his knee and is expected to miss about another four weeks. He was hitting .333 with an ISO rate of .262 in 67 triple-A games and the injury is not expected to be a long-term concern. He should supplant current big league catcher J.P. Arencibia at some point in 2013 – and that would have likely happened by the end of ’12 if the injury had not occurred. (Value Static)

36. Anthony Gose, OF, Toronto: A member of the 2012 Futures Game, Gose is also one of the youngest hitters at the triple-A level. He is also one of the most impressive athletes in the minors but he’s still quite raw. Gose strikes out a ton but would still have a lot of big league value even if he hits .230-.240, thanks to his three plus tools: arm strength, defense and speed. (Value Static)

35. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland: The top prep shortstop available in the 2011 draft, Lindor opened 2012 in low-A ball and hit .314 in April. His average has plummeted with each subsequent month, though. One encouraging sign with the young player is his strikeout rate, which is still very low at 13.9%. (Value Down… a Bit)

34. Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City: Starling didn’t officially begin his pro career until the short-season clubs opened in June and he’s played just 10 games so far while dealing with nagging injuries. The outfielder is already flashing good power, though. He has 13 Ks and eight walks in 10 games. (Value Static)

33. Mike Montgomery, LHP, Kansas City: The young left-hander struggled to tame triple-A in two attempts and was just recently demoted back to double-A. At one time Montgomery was one of the top arms in the minors but his ceiling has been lowered significantly since he suffered an elbow injury (which did not require surgery) in 2010. (Value Down)

32. Randall Delgado, RHP, Atlanta: Delgado has spent the entire 2012 season at the big league level with mixed results. He’s been durable but he has a 4.52 ERA and has struggled with his control. (Value Static)

31. Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit: Castellanos, 20, opened 2012 in high-A ball and posted a wRC+ of 186, which included a .405 batting average. Promoted to double-A, he’s continued to hit for average and his power output has actually increased. He’s been quite aggressive at the new level with a walk rate of 1.7%.Castellanos has the ceiling of an all-star third baseman and he should be ready for the Majors by mid-2013. (Value Up)

30. Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles NL: Lee survived the potent California League and recently earned a promotion to double-A. He continues to flash good stuff coupled with above-average control. He still needs some work on his command but the right-hander should develop into a solid big league starter and could reach The Show within the next year. (Value Up)

29. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston: Bogaerts opened a lot of eyes with an impressive power display in low-A ball in 2011 and he’s become a better all around player this year at high-A. He still has good power (.193 ISO) while seeing his batting average and walk rate increase, while his strikeout rate has dropped. He could reach double-A in 2013 at the age of 20. (Value Up)

28. Martin Perez, LHP, Texas: The young left-hander made 26 starts at the triple-A level between 2011 and 2012 with mixed results. Perez, 21, recently received a promotion to the Majors and has made three appearances, including two starts. He possesses the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter. (Value Static)

27. Miguel Sano, 3B/SS, Minnesota: Sano’s calling card is his plus raw power and he’s flashed that in 2012 by hitting 18 home runs in the Midwest League. Unfortunately, he’s swinging and missing a lot with his strikeout rate above 28% and it’s dragged down his batting average to .246. He’s getting on base at a decent clip, though, because he’s walking a lot (13.7%). (Value Static)

26. Matt Harvey, RHP, New York NL: Harvey is on the cusp of reaching the Majors. The former first round pick has spent all of 2012 in triple-A and has put up solid numbers across the board in 98.1 innings of work. He has 102 strikeouts but he’s walked a few too many batters (42 free passes). He’s done a nice job of combating left-handed hitters and is holding them to a .218 average. (Value Up)

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

39 Responses to “Reviewing the Top 100 Prospects List, 50-26”

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  1. Will you be doing a mid-season top 50/100 prospects list?

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  2. KMiB says:

    “When he gets on base,” Billy Hamilton is a very exciting player…and he needs to work on his hitting, too, right?

    We all know he was leading the world in SB in Bakersfield, but apparently it’s been lost that he was also leading the league in OBP, and did so for most of the first half of the season.

    He’s steadily improved since he was asked to begin switch hitting 2 years ago, and has taken off. Hitting .323 with a .413 OBP says he’s got a pretty decent hold on that.

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    • ppabich says:

      Cal League Rule #1: Don’t pay that much attention to offensive numbers.

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      • Rob says:

        There should be some calibration if trying to cite actual numbers (like the .413 OBP), but “leading the league” in OBP means that he’s leading all the other guys who are also getting to hit in the Cal League. I’ve yet to see the player who can do better than #1 in his league.

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      • ppabich says:

        And Brandon Wood lead the Cal league with 43 homers. Weird things happen in the Cal league, and players often put up numbers that just can’t be reproduced. It seems he has improved his OBP, but to say he has a decent hold on it is the problem.

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      • ppabich says:

        Adding to that, Cal league teams are often in deserts or in high elevation areas. Balls move quicker in these situations and defenses are terrible in A ball. Because of Hamilton’s speed he might be benefiting from that as well. It’s a little more complex than “he is leading the league so he must have figured it out.”

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      • Jason says:

        I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that his hitting, as a recently promoted AA player, needs a bit of polish. It will be interesting to see how he performs at the higher level. However, Rob has a point, it would be ridiculous to criticize what he has done with his bat this year. He has made a huge improvement as far as I am concerned, so his value is up in my eyes.

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      • Jason says:

        Look at it this way, he went from 34th in the league in low A in OBP to the top of his high A league. Has he ‘figured out’ hitting? Maybe. Does he need polish? Probably. But has he improved? A lot. A whole lot. Value up.

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      • ppabich says:

        Nobody is criticizing his development, the issue is to not get carried away with numbers. It seems like he has improved, but there is a gigantic difference in hitting in the A+ Cal League and AA. There are two reasons to not get carried away with excitement: 1) There is a gigantic gap in talent between A+ and AA, it’s the second highest jump only behind AAA and the Majors. There are plenty of players who succeeded in A ball that couldn’t continue that developement into higher levels. 2) It’s 330 at bats. There is no doubt he is headed in the right direction, but to make stong conclusions about 330 at bats in A ball is a little rediculous.

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    • Radivel says:

      That’s in the PCL. It’s an illusion. This is not the OBP you’re looking for.

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  3. Average_Casey says:

    Paxton didn’t sign as as college senior. He would have been but after his junior year, Scott Boras did enough to make him ineligible for NCAA. He then went and pitched in the independant leagues for that year.

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  4. Jasson says:

    For curiosities sake: why are all the injured players considered “value static”?
    They’re all losing a year of development time and moving down the age+ chart. (I doubt there’s actually an age+ list, but you get the idea)
    It’s harsh to say someone’s value is down because they’re injured, but their value should be down because the talent may not return to its previous projection and they’re a now year behind in development.

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  5. Kevin S. says:

    Manny Banuelos is a LHP. You have that correct next to his name, but in your blurb you refer to him as a right-hander.

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  6. Ari Collins says:

    I’m not sure how Banuelos can help but have a lower prospect status after elbow issues. I mean, I’m hardly writing him off, but it’s a severe negative, and I see no positive to counteract it.

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    • Marc Hulet says:

      A tough call… I thought about it but gave him a mulligan for pitching at a high level at a young age. The missed development time hurts him less than some. Had it required surgery I would have lowered it…

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  7. Stringer Bell says:

    How is Gary Brown’s value not down? He’s almost 24 in AA, and performing considerably below what the 49th prospect should be doing at his age.

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    • Marc Hulet says:

      Basically when I ranked him at the beginning of the year I knocked him for his numbers being inflated and didn’t think it was fair to do it twice…

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      • Stringer Bell says:

        Is it not fair to stay he’s not close to the number 49 prospect? That’s what I’m saying, his value should be down based on his ranking. He’s an average prospect at this point.

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      • Giants 162-0 says:

        “Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco: Brown had a nice 2011 campaign but he’s finding the going a little tougher in double-A. The 23-year-old outfielder is producing league-average results with a wRC+ of 105.”

        Considering he was batting something like .230 with little to no power earlier this year , I’d say he is now adjusting rather nicely to AA (.288/.354/.392). With defense like his (and speed), the Giants hope to see him in the bigs sometime in ’13. He has always been an aggressive contact hitter with BABIP’s in the stratosphere; it looks like he is figuring out AA pitchers and making more solid contact as evidence by his BABIP climbing to .325 from somewhere in the low .200’s (from .369 last year) early in the year. lets not over react to a 1/2 season of the hardest jump in the minors, especially since he is trend up.

        As for his ranking, you look at a guy who profiles as a gold glove candidate to roam spacious AT&T with .300 AVG, ok to solid ISO and 40+ steals… I’ll take that guy any day, even if he doesn’t walk much.

        Yes I am a homer, yes, the projection seems lofty, but there’s a reason the Giants “reached” to grab him with higher rated prospects on the board. Given their scouting department’s success in past drafts in the first round (Lincecum, MadBum, Posey), and Browns abilities, I believe the above expected future production and the ranking is justified.

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      • Gary Brown says:

        i wouldn’t put Brown in the Top 100.

        @ “Giants 162-0″ – i lol’ed at your “given the Giants’ Scouting Dept’s success….” they are a joke in drafting and developing hitters (and i say this as a Giants fan). Posey was a finished product. the cupboard is now bare since the Wheeler trade and their farm system has to be ranked 25th or lower at this point. Tidrow might be a genius but that’s about it as far as their scouting dept.

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    • Rob says:

      While he has underperformed until very recently this year, Gary Brown has spent the entire year at AAA, not AA.

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    • Baltar says:

      Stringer and I have at least 2 things in common. We are both my favorite character in one of my 2 all-time favorite TV series, and we have a similar position on Gary Brown.
      While I respect the other responses to Stringer’s comment, I am concerned about Brown’s average performance in a AA league at his age. His low walk rate, as cited by Marc in the article, is of special concern, as he had that problem in college as well.

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  8. Impossibles says:

    I think you have to say Billy Hamilton’s value is definately up, his hit tool was questioned before this season but he’s really improved his numbers across the board (as KG mentions regularly), after a level bump.

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  9. Michael says:

    Yeah, I think that Billy Hamilton only being static, after almost the entire list of 75-51 was rising, is a bit odd. Hamilton has been outstanding, and his numbers are good for the cal league, not just good overall. More importantly, his BB is way up, his k rate is down, and he is stealing bases with the same success rate despite attempting much more frequently. His defense may be a concern, but offensively he is looking to be more than capable, and he has the best speed in the game. Every other midseason analysis has Billy as one of the biggest risers in the game. How can you justify listing him as static?

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  10. Mike says:

    Is there going to be a “Value Way, Way Up” for Mike Trout? I mean, he’s a little bit ridiculous (in a good way).

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  11. Paul says:

    Had the pleasure of seeing a few of these guys at the Futures Game. Castellanos was by far the most impressive. That ball he lifted to right center was impressive, tremendous strength and lift. And Boegarts is just smooth, really advanced. Yordano Ventura, not on the list, surprisingly was the most impressive pitcher and beat the “small reliever” tag to hell for me.

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  12. jim says:

    pomeranz dominated in his 2 starts back from AAA, with his velocity sitting 93-95, busting hitters inside, and shattering bats like rivera

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  13. Mike B. says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matt Harvey replace Dillon Gee in the Mets’ rotation, who might be done for the season. While they’ve said that they don’t want to rush Harvey it makes too much sense, provided they limit his pitch count, etc.

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  14. BOB_M says:

    Not really sure how May’s prospect is down since he had about 1 bad month after completely dominating in April and multiple scouts saying he was ready for the big leagues. But Banuelos who couldnt buy a strike and is now on the DL is holding steady. Everybody want to be a scout but no body want to do actual research.

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    • YanksFanInBeantown says:

      What’s that? Trevor May is 2 years older, and has worse results at a lower level than Banuelos?

      And Banuelos had 3 walks in 4 starts since coming off the DL with a back issue that had been affecting his mechanics, with all 3 coming in the game where he injured his elbow?

      Everybody want to be a scout but no body want to do actual research.

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  15. TiensyGohan says:

    Randal Delgado = 4.5 ERA in the MLB, value down
    Zach Lee = 4.5 ERA in the Cal league, value up


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