Top 100 fantasy baseball prospects

Last year, I took my first crack at compiling a top 100 fantasy prospect list. While I was happy with the results, it was far from perfect. This list isn’t perfect either, but I’d like to think it is a massive step-up from my rookie effort.

To qualify as a prospect for this list, a position player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats in the majors, and a pitcher must not have thrown more than 50 innings, or made more than 30 relief appearances. In addition, I’ve adhered to Major League Baseball’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement rookie rules, meaning Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes do not qualify (though Jorge Soler does). Soler is an omission because I am refraining from ranking until he signs with a club, not because he is lacking the talent or projection to land in the top 100.

When putting together this list I weighed ceiling, floor, minor league level, statistical performance, and scouting reports in varying degrees. I read through hundreds of scouting reports, and for most players, multiple scouting reports from different sources.

My primary scouting sources for information were Kevin Goldstein and Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus, John Sickels of Minor League Ball, Keith Law of ESPN, and the outstanding stable of writers/scouts from Baseball America. With scouting being such an inexact science, the reports sometimes varied wildly from source to source. Ultimately, I found myself needing to rely on my gut in some cases.

When using this as a cheat sheet, be sure to keep your league settings in mind. There is simply no way to cater to all possible league structures, and I didn’t have any specific league size or roster structure in mind when preparing it.

This article is only the first of many to look at the top 100 fantasy prospects. In the coming weeks, I will be following up with four separate posts of 25 prospects each which include write-ups. As such, I ask for you patience in asking detailed questions in the commentary section below about the individual featured prospects. Feel free to debate the merits of your favorite snubs, and lobby for players moving up and down the list. I also encourage readers to e-mail me with questions; I’m always happy to discuss baseball and answer questions.

Top 100 prospects:

Mental Health and the CBA
A particular bit of language in the latest CBA could have negative consequences for some players.

Rank Organization
Position First name Last name
1 Nationals OF Bryce Harper
2 Angels OF Mike Trout
3 Rays SP Matt Moore
4 Rangers SS Jurickson Profar
5 Mariners C Jesus Montero
6 Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado
7 Orioles SS Manny Machado
8 Reds C Devin Mesoraco
9 Blue Jays C Travis d’Arnaud
10 Royals OF Wil Myers
11 Yankees C Gary Sanchez
12 Twins 3B Miguel Sano
13 Diamondbacks SP Trevor Bauer
14 Braves SP Julio Teheran
15 Diamondbacks SP Tyler Skaggs
16 Cardinals SP Shelby Miller
17 Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon
18 Orioles SP Dylan Bundy
19 Red Sox C Ryan Lavarnway
20 Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts
21 Angels SS Jean Segura
22 Pirates SP Jameson Taillon
23 Pirates SP Gerrit Cole
24 Athletics OF Michael Choice
25 Padres OF Rymer Liriano
26 Rays SS Hak-Ju Lee
27 Cardinals 2B Kolten Wong
28 Royals 3B Cheslor Cuthbert
29 Tigers SP Jacob Turner
30 Mariners SP Taijuan Walker
31 Royals OF Bubba Starling
32 Padres 3B Jedd Gyorko
33 Rangers SP Martin Perez
34 Yankees SP Manny Banuelos
35 Mariners SP Danny Hultzen
36 Rockies SP Drew Pomeranz
37 Cardinals SP Carlos Martinez
38 Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo
39 Blue Jays OF Jacob Marisnick
40 Pirates OF Josh Bell
41 Twins 2B/OF Eddie Rosario
42 Mets SP Zack Wheeler
43 Mariners SP James Paxton
44 Giants OF Gary Brown
45 Marlins OF Christian Yelich
46 Cubs OF Brett Jackson
47 Astros 1B Jonathan Singleton
48 Cardinals OF Oscar Taveras
49 Padres C Yasmani Grandal
50 Blue Jays OF Anthony Gose
51 Rangers 3B Mike Olt
52 Mets SP Matt Harvey
53 Athletics SP Jarrod Parker
54 Braves SP Randall Delgado
55 Athletics SP Brad Peacock
56 Phillies SP Trevor May
57 Braves SP/RP Arodys Vizcaino
58 Diamondbacks SP Archie Bradley
59 Royals SP Mike Montgomery
60 Padres 2B Cory Spangenberg
61 Reds SS Billy Hamilton
62 Astros OF George Springer
63 Cubs SS Javier Baez
64 Yankees 3B Dante Bichette Jr
65 Pirates OF Starling Marte
66 Mariners SS Nick Franklin
67 Twins OF Oswaldo Arcia
68 Tigers 3B Nick Castellanos
69 Padres SP Robbie Erlin
70 Athletics C Derek Norris
71 Athletics SP Sonny Gray
72 Padres 1B Yonder Alonso
73 Diamondbacks 3B Matt Davidson
74 White Sox RP Addison Reed
75 Pirates SP Luis Heredia
76 Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks
77 Athletics SP A.J. Cole
78 Orioles 2B/SS/3B Jonathan Schoop
79 Indians SS Francisco Lindor
80 Royals SP Jake Odorizzi
81 Dodgers SP Zach Lee
82 Rockies SP Chad Bettis
83 Blue Jays SP Daniel Norris
84 Red Sox OF Brandon Jacobs
85 Yankees OF Mason Williams
86 Red Sox OF Bryce Brentz
87 Rays OF Mikie Mahtook
88 Cardinals SP Tyrell Jenkins
89 Yankees SP Dellin Betances
90 Astros SP Jarred Cosart
91 Brewers SP Wily Peralta
92 Rays SP Enny Romero
93 Phillies SP Jesse Biddle
94 Blue Jays SP Justin Nicolino
95 Reds 2B/3B Henry Rodriguez
96 Rays SP Taylor Guerrieri
97 Giants C Tommy Joseph
98 Blue Jays SP Noah Syndergaard
99 Brewers SP Jed Bradley
100 Mets SP Jeurys Familia


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James
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James

Arenado jumps out to me as being much higher ranked on your list compared to other prospect lists I’ve seen this winter.  BA has him at 42.  Can you explain your reasoning and give an educated guess as to why he was ranked so low on other lists?

Brad Johnson
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Brad Johnson

Keep in mind, this is not a vanilla top 100 prospect list. This list is specifically for fantasy purposes. Arenado could move into a full time role in a very friendly stadium this season at a position that is somewhat weak. That is why he’s drawing strong marks.

James
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James
@Brad Yeah, I definitely understand the “may have an impact this season” argument for prospect lists like this.  But Arenado is sandwiched at #6 between guys like Profar (#4) and Machado (#7), who have high ceilings but are a long way from the show.  Is the Arenado ranking due to the feeling he could contribute this year?  Or is it due to his ceiling? Is it realistic to expect a guy who hasn’t seen AA yet to contribute this year?  We saw Trout in roughly the same situation last year, with stellar A numbers and then a call up after… Read more »
Mark Himmelstein
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Mark Himmelstein

Being a Mets fan, the one guy I’ve still got my eye on (though don’t believe belongs on this list) is Reese Havens. He could be a pretty complete player if he ever managed to stay healthy—something like .280-20-10 out of second base with plenty of walks and doubles to help the counting numbers play up. He could even make an impact in mixed leagues this year and I’d probably be willing to take a flier on him in deeper NL-Only drafts.

Brad Johnson
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Brad Johnson
James, I agree with what your saying and I can’t speak for Josh – he’ll have to answer those questions for you. If I were to rank Arenado 6th, it would be because of the explanation I gave above. FWIW, I have him as a potential target in the second round of an aux draft in one of my leagues. He’s probably the 4th or 5th guy on my list for that slot but the other guys might not be around (like Hultzen). That puts him somewhere around a #35 rank for me. In that league, proximity greatly outweighs upside… Read more »
Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson

@ Kevin

Good suggestion, I do have an ETA with each player in their write-ups.  I may be able to edit that in here when I have time.

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson

@ Brad

100% agree, in a redraft league this list would look vastly different.

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson
@ James Arenado’s ranking is a bit of a blend between ceiling and my belief he’ll be up late this year, and a contributor (though not star) next year.  He makes soooooo much contact, but isn’t a slap singles hitter by any means.  It would be inaccurate to say his power went up this year (his ISO actually went down slightly), but he began tapping into his home run power.  It was strange placement by me sandwiching him between Profar and Machado given that both are high upside shortstops.  As far as speaking to the other lists, my guess is… Read more »
Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson

@ Mark

Havens is an interesting name.  He could be up as soon as this year to contribute if he stays healthy and rakes at Buffalo.  Staying healthy has been so tough for him.  I know John Sickels in particular thinks he’ll have a good OBP with power, but a lowish batting average.  The leagues you’ve outlined keeping tabs/flyers on him in sound reasonable t me.

Mark Himmelstein
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Mark Himmelstein
@Josh Yeah, I’ve never understood why Sickels is so worried about his average. He’s a pretty neutral GB/FB hitter, he’s not a super high-k guy, and outside of 2009 he’s never had a BABIP issue. I don’t think he’ll be a .300 hitter, but I also don’t see him putting up painfully low averages. Health is his biggest issue, but supposedly he had surgery to have a bone in his rib cage shaved down or something that was thought to be central to a lot of the issues he’s had, and he’s healthy now, so I’m cautiously optimistic he can… Read more »
joseph buccellato
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joseph buccellato

For those killing Josh, have you seen any of these players in person or on television?

99.999% of us haven’t, and probably Josh included.

He’s spending the time and effort to make a list/article. Combine them with other sources and draft whomever you want.

I’ll be sure to include his Top 100 in my consensus:

http://www.fantasyleaguegm.com/category/consensus-mlb-prospect-rankings-2012/

chris
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chris

I fail to see how Willin Rosario didn’t touch your top 100 prospects considering BP has him listed at 61 and BA has him at 87. Meanwhile some of your guys aren’t even ranked by one or both of BA or BP.

What is your reason for removing him from your list? It’s not his AB’s (only 54), and it shouldn’t be because of his poor showing last year as he was recovering from injuries.

I think you whiffed big time on this one.

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson
@ Chris Rosario had poor plate discipline pre-injury, and I was willing to overlook it in my first top-100 list back in September/October.  With up to date scouting reports for guys like Bogaerts, Liriano, Paxton, etc that didn’t qualify, Rosario got squeezed.  Keep in mind that BA’s and BP’s lists account for defense, as they are not fantasy prospect lists.  Being that he has a rocket arm, good pop times, and plays a premium position, he’s going to rank highly.  Rosario has power, but if the plate discipline doesn’t improve, he’ll have trouble being more than a one category (HR)… Read more »
chris
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chris
He’s very young at only 23 and while he may never have top notch BB rates he looks to have the floor of Bengie Molina who put up decent numbers for a fantasy catcher. Walks and power are typically dubbed ‘old man skills’, and I’m sure that he’ll develop more patience in time. Currently he’s slated to be Hernandez’s backup this year and possibly take the majority of playing time in 2013, while I don’t like the idea of the Rockies starting his arbitration clock early by having him as a backup right now (not to mention taking the bat… Read more »
Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson
@ chris The two catcher leagues point you bring up is a great one.  He definitely should get a nudge up in those formats.  I didn’t have a specific format in mind when making this list.  I just gave scarce position players a slight boost in their ranking.  Your time table is highly realistic.  I just wonder if he’d be better served getting more playing time in the majors.  Learning from Hernandez could be quite beneficial, but seeing more pitches and working on recognizing breaking balls, laying off balls out of the strike zone, etc wouldn’t be more beneficial.  He… Read more »
SIDA!
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SIDA!

As an arenado owner, I hope you guys are right. I think you are being a touch optimistic but concur with the assessment that he has the potential to contribute this season.

Chris
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Chris
@Josh I think I would have had him ranked in the 80’s as he has a good opportunity in the next year or so to get enough AB’s to be useful and he seems easily projected. Most of the guys 80 and below on your list either have serious warts combined with playing time issues (NY has recently said that they want to keep Betances in AAA, Henry Rodriguez is significantly blocked as other prospects are ahead of him along with Rolen, and even Lindor is more of a defensive whiz and his bat hasn’t developed much yet and he’s… Read more »
WI-FBBer
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WI-FBBer

I would second the suggestion that an ETA column be added.  Thank you.

ecp
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ecp

Arenado has yet to take an at bat above A ball; why are you so certain he will be in the majors this year?  Very few guys not named Trout or Harper or Griffey or Kaline or the like make that big of a jump.  Benefit of the doubt, even if he does it will be late and he will have virtually no fantasy relevance this year.

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson

@ WI-FBBR

I’ll post the ETA’s in the commentary sometime after I get home from work or this weekend.

@ ecp

As I said above, I don’t think he’ll make an impact in fantasy until next year, but I do think we’ll see him late in the year (more on that when his write-up is published with other top-25 prospects Friday).

kevin
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kevin

An “ETA” column would be a great addition here. It makes it easier to sort through the list based on league settings, and I’m sure you have the info handy since you helpfully included ETA in your first rankings list.

Brad Johnson
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Brad Johnson

In a re-draft league, the list should start with Moore and Montero and then continue as listed. Being at the MLB level with huge performance expectations is extremely valuable in fantasy.

As someone who watches the Phillies system very closely, any Phillies on this list are over-ranked.

e
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e

Gary Sanchez, c nyy, is higher on this list than most i’ve seen, particularly since he’s still a few years off.  Does this imply that his ceiling is a #1 prospect ranking in a year or two?

Nick Fleder
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Nick Fleder

Wil Myers strikes me as high; he’ll be a good player, but he doesn’t have a ton of power and speed.

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson

@ e

That is in fact his ceiling.  There will be more specifics about him when the top 25 player’s write-ups roll out this week.  In short, though, he’s a catcher that projects to hit in the heart of an order, sign me up for that.

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson
@ joseph Thanks for reading and commenting.  Everyone has been really respectful thus far, and any disagreements have been fair.  No complaints from me, differing opinions come with the prospect territory.  You are correct in assuming I haven’t seen most of these players (save for some youtube video here and there), but I am excited that I should be able to see more minor league games this year.  My work schedule will be more conducive to catching some games.  I’ll be able to catch New York-Penn League games in Auburn, International League games in Syracuse, possibly Rochester and Buffalo as… Read more »
Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson

@ SIDA

I may be a bit optimistic.  More than anything, I’m a sucker for his contact rate, ballpark, and the fact he’s already tapping into his power.  Hopefully the prospect write-ups will give a better indication of why I chose to rank players where I did.

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson
@ Chris Fair ranking range for Rosario, but I think he has as many warts as the others rounding out the list.  You cite Bengie Molina as a floor, but I think that’s a bit optimistic.  Like Bengie, Rosario is a free swinger and doesn’t walk much.  Unlike Bengie, Rosario strikes out significantly more.  He’s young enough to figure it out, but it’s not a given.  Betances was a tough player to rank.  I’m not a huge fan.  I think he’ll end up in the bullpen eventually (spotty control/command being the reason) but his stuff is good enough he could… Read more »
Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson
@ Nick You might be surprised about the power projection.  It’s not uniformly accepted, but I’ve read a number of scouting reports that peg him for plus power (25-30 home runs even).  Even if he only hits 20-25 home runs with a handful of stolen bases, a .300 average, while slotting in the heart of an order, wouldn’t that make him a slightly better version of Billy Butler with OF eligibility?  I’d think that would be a pretty awesome fantasy player.  His floor seems pretty high, and he’s not far from reaching the bigs either.  Those things helped him in… Read more »
Nick Fleder
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Nick Fleder

I guess I was putting too much stock in minor league numbers, but they look pretty unimpressive to me.

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson

Correction, 5th rated pitcher.  Missed counting Moore I believe.

gabe
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gabe

i dont see how you ranked shelby miller so low hes a fireballer with control as good as any with two plus pitches and an above average changeup. Its not like he hasnt dominated everywhere he’s ever been ever.

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson

@ gabe

He’s the fourth ranked pitcher, and a top-20 prospect, not sure how that can be construed as low.  Where have you read his change-up is above average?  I’ve read that it could become a plus pitch, and that it’s inconsistent currently.  I haven’t even read anywhere that it is currently an average offering.  His fastball and curveball are both definite plus pitches according to all outlets, though, and he should be up this year.  His “low,” ranking is a product of being a pitcher, and the depth associated with pitching (both current, and prospect).

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