The 2015 In-Season Prospect Update

Since I made you wait a little longer than I intended for a mid-season/trade-deadline prospect rankings update, I decided to expand upon the form with four lists instead of just one. Each of these lists uses tiers like my other lists, but each list is also ordered by preference within each tier. I’ve also started using Present Value (PV) in addition to the normal Future Value (FV) as a better way to show how close a prospect is to reaching his ceiling, or being ready for a call-up. See this article for more about FV and the 20-80 scouting scale in general.

The first list is the standard top-prospect list with the standard 130 at-bat/50 innings pitched qualifications, so prospects in the big leagues are eligible for the list. That said, a few players like Kyle Schwarber and Daniel Norris are about a week from losing their prospect eligibility and are in the big leagues, so I moved them to another of the lists below in anticipation.

The second list features players who were eligible for the Top 200 Prospect List last year that didn’t make it, but would do so comfortably now. Think of this as the minor-league version of “pop-up guys” that you’ll hear referred to more often in the draft: players that improved greatly in a short period of time. The standard for being listed is 50 FV, which was the 80th through 143rd prospects on the preseason list, but, for reasons I’ll explain below, should be even higher this year.

The third list contains the players from this summer’s draft and July 2nd international signing period who meet the same 50-FV-or-better requirement.

The fourth list features the players who lost their rookie eligibility this year and are now 50-FV-or-better players, which includes lots of players from the Top 200, but also some prospects that emerged this year due to their performance in the major leagues.

The blind spot of this sort of article is the players on the preseason Top 200 who are still prospects, but not in the Top 26 update. Those players have already been written about a lot in the past, and you can probably read my preseason report, look at their 2015 numbers and guess about where they’ll land this off-season. Everyone else of consequence should be mentioned below.

Talent Ebbs and Flows

This is the first time that I’ve done a “rookie of a certain caliber” type list, but everyone I talked to said this group is much bigger, maybe even double the size of most rookie classes. In this case, the narrative of a historic rookie class diluting the top-end talent in the minor leagues appears to be correct. You’ll notice each of the top few tiers in the first list below is smaller than it was in before the season.

Next summer’s draft class is seen as an above-average crop and this past summer’s draft was seen as below average. The most recent July 2 class was seen as above average, but most of those players won’t appear on lists like this for another year or two when they start playing in America.  You could connect these points to see an ebb and flow of talent, projecting it to hit another high in a year or two.

I ranked the top 2016 draft prospects before the summer and will have updated rankings for that class in a few weeks. Here’s a refresher on this summer’s draft class and July 2 class.

The Top Prospect List

While the Top 200 was based on a round number, it also worked out that a natural cutoff in talent appeared right at 200. I was planning on doing a top 25 or 30 for this update but it worked out that 26 players was the number around which I could find some sort of consensus.

There was a solid group of talent that missed the cut and I won’t mention all of them, but it’s only right to Rockies fans to point out that your team had five players just miss the cut: righties Jeff Hoffman and Jon Gray, along with shortstop Brendan Rodgers (who is atop the third list below), center fielder David Dahl and third baseman Ryan McMahon. Those five won’t be easy to sort out this winter for the organizational list as they’re tightly packed.

Other teams with multiple players in the just-missed group: the Rays with righty Brent Honeywell and shortstop Willy Adames, the Reds with left fielder Jesse Winker and righty Robert Stephenson and the Mets with left fielder Michael Conforto, shorstop Amed Rosario and lefty Steven Matz.

I didn’t list the 2014 FV for Dansby Swanson since I didn’t formally do that for draft prospects before the spring, but he would’ve been a 50 FV if I had done that; I had him 7th in the class last fall.

I list the 2014 ranking and FV for players as a quick way to show progress during the 2015 season for each player but also to keep things honest. I’ve complained for a while that there’s no accountability in the prospect-rankings game and this is one of the ways I’m looking to change that, at least for me.

Since I didn’t rank the last 57 players in the Top 200 (the 45+ FV group), I just gave those players a rank (173) that reflected the average of that whole group. Also, I said in the introduction to the Top 200 that Yoan Moncada would rank 8th on the list if he were eligible, then he signed before Opening Day (the cut-off for these rankings). Due to this, any player ranked lower than 8th on the Top 200 has his rank one number lower than it was on the published list.

Top 26 MiLB Prospects
Current 2014
Player Pos Age Org PV FV FV Rank
1 Corey Seager 3B 21.3 Dodgers 50 65 65 6
2 Byron Buxton CF 21.7 Twins 45 65 70 2
3 J.P. Crawford SS 20.6 Phillies 45 65 60 11
4 Lucas Giolito RHS 21.1 Nationals 45 65 65 7
5 Julio Urias LHS 19.0 Dodgers 50 65 65 4
6 Yoan Moncada 2B 20.2 Red Sox 20 65 65 8
7 Jose Berrios RHS 21.2 Twins 50 60 60 25
8 Orlando Arcia SS 21.0 Brewers 45 60 50 88
9 Luis Severino RHS 21.5 Yankees 50 60 60 27
10 Nomar Mazara RF 20.3 Rangers 40 60 55 47
11 Tyler Glasnow RHS 22.0 Pirates 40 60 60 13
12 Ozhaino Albies SS 18.6 Braves 20 60 55 35
13 Joey Gallo 3B 21.7 Rangers 45 60 60 17
14 Franklin Barreto SS 19.5 Athletics 20 60 55 80
15 Trea Turner SS 22.1 Nationals 45 60 50 84
16 Blake Snell LHS 22.7 Rays 50 60 45+ 173
17 Alex Reyes RHS 21.0 Cardinals 20 60 55 77
18 Austin Meadows CF 20.3 Pirates 20 60 55 31
19 Manuel Margot CF 20.9 Red Sox 20 60 55 36
20 Rafael Devers 3B 18.8 Red Sox 20 60 55 49
21 Brad Zimmer CF 22.7 Indians 40 55 50 119
22 Aaron Judge RF 23.3 Yankees 45 55 55 59
23 Gleyber Torres SS 18.7 Cubs 20 55 45+ 173
24 Dansby Swanson SS 21.5 D’Backs 20 55
25 Jorge Mateo SS 20.2 Yankees 20 55 50 103
26 Clint Frazier CF 20.9 Indians 20 55 50 102

*****

Minor-League Pop-Up Guys

Some of these guys jumped from just missing the Top 200 to being a top 100-150 prospect, which isn’t that big of a jump.  The more exciting prospects are ones that jumped from 35+ or 40 FV preseason grades. Astros righty Francis Martes went from an intriguing short-season power arm Houston got as a throw-in in the Colin Moran/Jarred Cosart deal to a guy flashing stuff similar to this summer’s #4 overall pick, Rangers righty Dillon Tate.

This off-season, I wrote that Nationals center fielder Victor Robles was “one of the most exciting players in the system” and he “could shoot up this list if the raw tools convert into performance” despite not playing an official game in America at that point. He was 18th in the system before the year, but is 3rd now and, like Martes, would make the above list if I stretched it to 40.

I was the high guy on Alford after a scorching fall instructional league performance, but it was a risky move since he had been playing football full-time up until instructs. Alford rewarded my faith with a big 2015 and these three players have been and will continue to get hype this off-season, both from their own GMs and from writers referencing what prospects teams are asking about most often in trades.

Not in MiLB Top 200 Before 2015, At Least 50 FV
Current 2014
Player Pos Age Org PV FV FV Rank
1 Francis Martes RHS 19.7 Astros 35 55 35+
2 Victor Robles CF 18.2 Nationals 20 55 40
3 Jorge Lopez RHS 22.5 Brewers 40 55 45
4 Anthony Alford CF 21.1 Blue Jays 20 55 45
5 Gavin Cecchini SS 21.7 Mets 45 55 45
6 Jose De Leon RHS 23.0 Dodgers 40 55 45
7 A.J. Reed 1B 22.3 Astros 45 50 45
8 Javier Guerra SS 19.9 Red Sox 20 50 40+
9 Jacob Nottingham C 20.4 A’s 20 50 35+
10 Cody Reed LHS 22.3 Reds 35 50 35+
11 Anderson Espinoza RHS 17.4 Red Sox 20 50 40+
12 Max Kepler LF 22.5 Twins 45 50 45
13 Trevor Story SS 22.8 Rockies 45 50 45
14 Connor Greene RHS 20.4 Blue Jays 20 50 40
15 Luke Weaver RHS 22.0 Cardinals 20 50 45
16 Michael Fulmer RHS 22.4 Tigers 40 50 45
17 Franklyn Kilome RHS 20.1 Phillies 20 50 40+
18 Jairo Labourt LHS 21.4 Tigers 20 50 45

*****

The Crop of New Pro Talent

These are the new pros who signed in the last few months that are likely to make the top 100-125 this off-season. You’ll notice that the rankings and FVs are very close if not identical to how I graded them before they signed. Rodgers would make the main prospect list if I expanded it to 40. Dansby Swanson is the only player from this group who isn’t on this list because he made the Top 26.

The July 2 guys don’t have FanGraphs profiles and haven’t played in a pro game yet because they sign deals for the next year: on July 2, 2015, they sign a 2016 contract. This is done to get an extra year of control before the Rule 5 Draft, since they’d only play two months after signing and are so far away from contributing. These players will debut in instructs in September/October at the spring training homes of their teams.

Draft/July 2 Signees From 2015, At Least 50 FV
Current 2014
Player Pos Age Org PV FV FV Rank
1 Brendan Rodgers SS 19.0 Rockies 20 55
2 Alex Bregman SS 21.4 Astros 20 55
3 Kyle Tucker RF 18.6 Astros 20 50
4 Carson Fulmer RHS 21.7 White Sox 40 50
5 Tyler Jay LHS 21.3 Twins 40 50
6 Andrew Benintendi CF 21.1 Red Sox 20 50
7 Trent Clark LF 18.8 Brewers 20 50
8 Yadier Alvarez RHS 19.4 Dodgers 20 50
9 Dillon Tate RHS 21.3 Rangers 20 50
10 Ian Happ RF 21.0 Cubs 20 50
11 Cornelius Randolph 3B 18.2 Phillies 20 50
12 Daz Cameron CF 18.6 Astros 20 50
13 Tyler Stephenson C 19.0 Reds 20 50
14 Kolby Allard LHS 18.0 Braves 20 50
15 Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B 18.6 Pirates 20 50
16 Lucius Fox SS 18.1 Giants 20 50

*****

The (Many) Graduated Prospects

This is why you’re hearing so much about the legendary rookie class this year: it’s really good. I don’t have context for how many players would’ve been on last year’s version of this list, but scouts estimated about 20-25 would represent a normal year. As the elite talent and depth of this off-season’s prospect list won’t stack up to last year’s, this year’s rookie class will likely be seen as the best for many years. There’s still other players that could be added to this list, like Braves third baseman Hector Olivera, Cardinals right fielder Stephen Piscotty, Yankees righty Luis Severino or Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo.

Another interesting element of this list is to compare players who are similar in value now that weren’t close entering the year, like numbers 15 and 16 on this list, Matt Duffy and Jorge Soler. Since age, track record, contracts and other factors come into play beyond just the PV/FV grade, I can’t say this perfectly maps to trade value, but to say before the season that Soler and Duffy could be near each other seemed impossible. For reference, Duffy’s 40+ FV grade would’ve ranked him in the 700-800 range on a prospect list entering the season, if I went that deep, and Soler was 14th.

I had FVs for the Korean and Cuban pro imports (Kang, Castillo, Tomas) before the season, but didn’t put them on the prospect lists for a number of reasons, mainly that they were seen as finished products for the most part, undermining the concept of a prospect list. Olivera was a 55 FV before the season.

Some in the game categorize successful big-league players as those with and without prospect hype. Corey Kluber and Gerrit Cole are giving their teams similar value this year and one of them was a top prospect in his age group at around 17 and every year since then, while the other could’ve been acquired for little until he turned 27 and emerged as an asset.  One of the first things I wrote for FanGraphs was admitting this sort of player (and others) often are overlooked. This kind of list and others like it trying to capture true talent level and upside will help you more quickly notice when a Matt Duffy, Matt Carpenter or Matt Shoemaker is emerging, since you can notice when he starts passing hyped prospects that you’d otherwise just assume are better without investigating.

This list is also another way to attempt to get things more transparent and accountable with my rankings. The Duffy/Soler example is more of an outlier than an example of a blind spot (or so I think right now), but it’s a perfect example of the sort of thing at which the rankings media doesn’t re-visit often enough.

There are some articles out there that rank young big leaguers, to try to fill some of the vacuum for scouting content about these players, but even then, they are almost never graded so you could compare them to current prospects. Soon, I’l be grading all the big leaguers on this PV/FV scale so you can compare the present and possible futures for players at all levels, something that someone should’ve done a long time ago.

Lost Prospect Eligibility in 2015, At Least 50 FV
Current 2014
Player Pos Age Org PV FV FV Rank
1 Carlos Correa SS 20.9 Astros 65 75 65 5
2 Kris Bryant 3B 23.6 Cubs 70 75 70 1
3 Noah Syndergaard RHS 23.0 Mets 60 70 60 20
4 Kyle Schwarber C/LF 22.5 Cubs 60 65 60 22
5 Joc Pederson CF 23.3 Dodgers 60 65 60 12
6 Francisco Lindor SS 21.8 Indians 55 65 60 15
7 Miguel Sano 3B 22.3 Twins 50 65 60 16
8 Addison Russell SS 21.6 Cubs 50 65 65 3
9 Carlos Rodon LHS 22.7 White Sox 50 65 65 9
10 Jung-Ho Kang SS 28.4 Pirates 55 60 50
11 Maikel Franco 3B 23.0 Phillies 55 60 55 39
12 Lance McCullers RHS 21.9 Astros 55 60 50 127
13 Blake Swihart C 23.4 Red Sox 45 60 60 10
14 Eduardo Rodriguez LHS 22.4 Red Sox 45 60 60 24
15 Matt Duffy 3B 24.6 Giants 55 60 40+
16 Jorge Soler RF 23.5 Cubs 45 60 60 14
17 Andrew Heaney LHS 24.2 Angels 50 55 55 51
18 Raisel Iglesias RHS 25.6 Reds 55 55 55 63
19 Steven Souza RF 26.3 Rays 50 55 55 53
20 Devon Travis 2B 24.5 Blue Jays 50 55 45+ 173
21 Vince Velasquez RHS 23.2 Astros 50 55 55 76
22 Michael Taylor CF 24.4 Nationals 50 55 50 134
23 Daniel Norris LHS 22.3 Tigers 40 55 60 18
24 Joe Ross RHS 22.2 Nationals 50 55 45
25 Matt Wisler RHS 22.9 Braves 45 55 55 42
26 Kevin Plawecki C 24.5 Mets 45 55 55 41
27 Enrique Hernandez SS 24.0 Dodgers 50 55 50
28 Jake Lamb 3B 24.9 D’Backs 50 55 45+ 173
29 Randal Grichuk CF 24.0 Cardinals 50 55 45+ 173
30 Andrew Susac C 25.4 Giants 45 50 50 87
31 Nate Karns RHS 27.7 Rays 50 50 40+
32 Taylor Jungmann RHS 25.7 Brewers 50 50 45
34 Dilson Herrera 2B 21.5 Mets 45 50 50 110
35 Rusney Castillo CF 27.9 Red Sox 45 50 55
36 J.T. Realmuto C 24.4 Marlins 45 50 45
33 Chris Heston RHS 27.4 Giants 50 50 35+
37 Yasmany Tomas LF 24.8 D’Backs 45 50 50
38 Mike Foltynewicz RHS 23.9 Braves 40 50 55 70
39 Roberto Perez C 26.7 Indians 45 50 40
40 Robbie Ray LHS 23.9 D’Backs 45 50 45
41 James McCann C 25.2 Tigers 45 50 45
42 Dalton Pompey CF 22.7 Blue Jays 35 50 50 81
43 Alex Gonzalez RHS 23.6 Rangers 40 50 60 28
44 Anthony DeSclafani RHS 25.3 Reds 45 50 45
45 Eddie Butler RHS 24.4 Rockies 35 50 55 43
46 Roberto Osuna RHR 20.5 Blue Jays 45 50 50 120
47 Michael Lorenzen RHS 23.6 Reds 35 50 50 89
48 Trevor May RHS 25.9 Twins 45 50 45
49 Aaron Sanchez RHR 23.1 Blue Jays 40 50 55 71

We hoped you liked reading The 2015 In-Season Prospect Update by Kiley McDaniel!

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Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.

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Teddy
Guest
Teddy

great post kiley, as a nats fan i am really excited about robles, with how well he has done in short season as an 18 year old, can you see him finishing this season among the top 25 going into next year?

libradawg
Member
libradawg

As a Braves fan, Ross is the one who has my strict, undivided attention.