Prospect Drafting For Dummies

Some people love following prospects from the time the players are in high school and college to when they make it to the majors. I am not one of those people. It is important to have some idea of which prospects may have a impact in an upcoming fantasy baseball season. To keep the process simple every year, I create a combined ranking of different prospect rankings and merge them into one composite ranking. This year ranking ended using 7 different lists (I waited until Baseball America released their list to make it complete). Seven minds are better than one, especially if the one mind is mine.

The 7 different top 100 rankings I used to create the composite ranking are:

Baseball America
ESPN (Keith Law)
MLB (Jonathan Mayo)
Project Prospect
Bullpen Banter
Baseball Prospectus

In total, 160 different players were featured by the 7 sources. To get a composite ranking, I took the average ranking of each player. For the players with no ranking from a prospect list, I set the player’s ranking to 130 (half way point between 101 and 160) for that list. Here is a look at the top 10 players (complete list on Google Docs):

Composite Ranking Name Pos Team Age Scout ESPN MLB PP BP BB BA
1.9 Mike Trout OF LAA 20 2 2 1 3 1 1 3
2.0 Matthew Moore P TAM 22 1 1 3 1 3 3 2
2.1 Bryce Harper OF WAS 19 3 3 2 2 2 2 1
5.7 Shelby Miller P STL 21 6 6 5 5 5 5 8
6.6 Jurickson Profar SS TEX 18 7 7 7 7 7 4 7
7.3 Manny Machado SS BAL 19 8 8 4 6 6 8 11
8.4 Jesus Montero C SEA 22 5 5 9 12 4 18 6
8.9 Julio Teheran P ATL 21 4 4 18 4 20 7 5
12.1 Devin Mesoraco C CIN 23 12 12 8 14 13 10 16
12.3 Gerrit Cole P PIT 21 10 10 10 11 18 15 12

The way I usually use the list is to pick the highest ranked position player that is closest to the majors. I follow this method for these 3 reasons:

1. Pitchers get hurt easier. In 2010, I took Mike Stanton before Strasburg in a draft. I was ridiculed for it. The best pitchers get hurt and lose complete seasons. Hitters don’t get hurt nearly as much.

2. Highly ranked position players historically have better careers than equally ranking pitchers.

3. I like to have the chance that the player will play in the majors that season. With 70% of all prospects flaming out, I would like to know sooner, rather than later, if the player is going to be any good.

I don’t follow the minors enough to know which prospects to draft, so I have had to adapt. I have used this method of ranking prospects for several years and it has been productive. Hopefully others can also find it useful.

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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Paul M.
Paul M.

Thanks, will definitely be taking advantage of this, I also hate following prospects! For every Strasburg, there seem to be 10 Izzy Alcantaras or Brian Roses! Will you be making the more comprehensive list available, at some point?


At no point was Izzy Alcantara highly regarded. Brian Rose was, but certainly not on the level of a Steven Strasburg. Obviously the aren’t comparable, I just saw Izzy Alcantara and Strasburg in the same sentence and had to speak up.


I think the comparison was more for illustrative purposes, not to say Izzy was on par with Strasburg.

And also the fact that it’s not every day that you have the opportunity to make an Izzy Alcantara reference.