The BA List

Baseball America released their list of the overall top 100 prospects in baseball today. The link to it is here.

Generally, I am not much of a fan of prospect lists. Lists are an easy way to deliver content and I think the goal of most prospect lists is to inform people about some various players that they might not otherwise be exposed to. That’s a good goal, but it strikes me that often most of the ensuing discussion revolves around minute differences in opinion on the ranks themselves, rather than about the varying merits of the players. Maybe people keep track of prospects better than I do and so everything on these lists is old news to them, but is it really important to debate whether Stephen Strasburg should be number 1 instead of number 2?

That is not to say that I don’t look at the rankings, but I like to look them more as groupings than as strict delineations. For instance, Miguel Sano coming in only in the mid-90s after all the hype that he got? That surprised me and drove me to read some more recent reports on him to try and understand BA’s ranking. I liked how Brett Wallace was ranked 27th and Michael Taylor 29th. I guess BA sees that trade as pretty even?

Aroldis Chapman all the way up at 22? I am a bit skeptical that he should be that high, but I can understand why scouts would drool over him. Similar to Tanner Scheppers being all the way at 42. To me, nobody with his injury history should be that high until he shows himself well past the recovery phase, but I think that could be a fun debate.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

13 Responses to “The BA List”

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  1. gypsy soul says:

    this is an insightful and enjoyable article, thank you.

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  2. JDanger says:

    The focus on rank is something that bugs me as well. There’s inevitably a conversation that sounds like, ” yeah, but he’s ranked 9th and the other guy is ranked 2nd” when in fact the two prospect’s likelihood for major league success could be very similar.

    It may sound too simplified, but does BA or anyone else do a type of ‘Prospect Score’, perhaps similar to BP’s breakout %, based on some type of percentage rather than rank?

    Or do I like numbers too much?

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    • Brandon says:

      Haha, good comment. I literally thought that when looking at Carlos Santana’s ranking. Once I walked away from my computer I thought, “wait, he’s ranked 10th, that’s pedigree for a long, long, long major league career”.

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  3. Rick B. says:

    If you want to know about prospects in context look at John Sickels ranking on He gives everyone a grade that corresponds to John’s opinion of their big league potential. Some teams have 4 A’s while in other systems the best player is a B-.

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  4. drchstrpunk says:

    Matthew, you hit the nail on the head. The difference between number 10 and 20 on the BA list is probably minute. Take more from the scouting report than the number ranking. They should be used as a guide without perfect accuracy.

    Additionally, fans should not take personally a low ranking of a player on his team. What these writers write has no bearing on how they will actually perform.

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    • Josh says:

      2000 Baseball America Top 100 Prospects Rankings

      6. Ruben Mateo, of, Rangers
      7. Sean Burroughs, 3b, Padres

      37. Lance Berkman, of, Astros

      95. Jimmy Rollins, ss, Phillies

      I think I know who I’d rather have on my team.

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    • Brandon says:

      On a recent podcast BA discussed what their rankings mean towards the future of a player – relatively speaking. They noted that the top top players (so top 10 or so in a normal prospect class) represents players who should at least be everyday players and have a lengthy career. They went on to talk about the rest of the list – again, as it typically occurs – and it was surprising to hear that they don’t expect much of a career from players outside of the top 75 or so (if I am remembering correctly).

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  5. The A Team says:

    I think the best purpose of Top 100 lists is to put everyone’s top farm talent in perspective. Hardcore fans can get too bullish on their own prospects and these lists serve to even tempers. I’m a Phillies fan and so I’m very excited about Dom Brown. But in a world without Top 100 lists, I can easily picture my fellow Phillies fans arguing with Braves fans that Brown is just as good a prospect as Heyward. It’s a rough way to rank each team in regards to impact on the farm.

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  6. DL80 says:

    Dan Hudson 40 spots behind Brett Wallace? Ugh. I’m going to continue calling out Wallace’s low ceiling and wonder aloud why he’s anywhere near the top 30.

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  7. Will says:

    The other thing that’s problematic with prospect lists is that, for fantasy or strat-o-matic players, the key issue is how close a prospect is to the majors. A merely solid OF who’s starting the season in AAA and is expected to be called up by summer may have more value for the purposes of a 2010 draft than, say, a Donovan Tate type.

    I’d love to see a more detailed, sortable spreadsheet with a % chance that player X will reach the majors in 2010 and then another % for chance he’ll reach majors in 2011. That would be absurdly difficult to predict, but even a system like the “probable/questionable/doubtful” 75%/50%/25% scheme used in football injury reports would be interesting.

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