FanPost

Midseason Top 50 Rankings List


This is my first rankings list and first fanpost.  I'm looking forward to feedback.  I've included recent draftees, just because it's interesting to me to try to place them.

The list:

1. Bryce Harper The staggering upside in his bat has to put him ahead of Trout.  He has put up a 330/429/586 line so far (14 HR's) in his debut in the Sally league as an 18-year old.  He looks like he'll play solid defense with a great arm in RF, and while he doesn't play CF like Trout, with a bat like that, who cares?  Might be the best power-hitting prospect *ever*.  I actually love his makeup as well: hyper-competitive can be a good thing. 
2. Mike Trout Both recent lists have him at #1, and I get it.  He looks like he could improve the Angels' outfield and lineup right now, and he won't turn 20 for another six weeks.  Plus center-fielders with this kind of offensive potential are rare commodities.  Harper and Trout are 1 and 1A in most people's minds, but I'd draft Harper without a second thought.  Tougher call is Trout versus the two guys below him (which is not a knock on Trout).
3. Julio Teheran Hasn't really been a dominant pitcher yet (in the strikeout sense), but can you expect him to be as a 20-year old in AAA?  He's still skinny and projectable, with a mid-90's fastball, a plus change, a plus curve, solid command, and smooth delivery.  I think he needs more development time than the Braves are giving him; still, I'd have him just a tick ahead of Miller as the best RH pitching prospect in the minors, due to his success at a higher level. 
4. Shelby Miller Looks great so far in the Texas League after completely dominating the FSL with 13.8 K/9.  That K-rate has dropped a bit (below 10) in his first four starts in AA; small sample size, of course, but it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to AA.  Fastball is hitting upper-90's, curveball is developing into a plus pitch.  So far so great.
5. Dustin Ackley I've been converted into a cautious believer.  After mediocre overall results last year, not counting an explosion in the AFL, and a slow start to this year, maybe the offensive fireworks over the last couple of months in the PCL should be taken with a grain of salt, but his numbers over that time looked like his ridiculous college numbers.  With a gun to my head, I take him for my MLB team ahead of anyone below him, which means that I guess I believe.  
6. Matt Moore He won't stop striking people out: he made the A-to-AA jump and kept his K-rate up around 12, with improving command of a curveball that looks Clayton Kershawish and a fastball that pushes 95.  What's not to love?  
7. Mike Moustakas I have some concerns that his OBP might be a liability in the majors, but no doubts that he'll hit home runs, and he's the Royals 3B of the present and near-term future.  Can't see him any lower than this.
8. Manny Machado Cooled off a bit after his hot start, and is now sitting with a 276/376/483 line.  Still very fine for an 18-year old in the same Sally league that Bryce Harper is menacing.  Should stick at shortstop, and his BB/K ratio is right around 1/1 already.  Very promising overall package. 
9. Desmond Jennings He needs to be in a major league outfield.  Bill James argues that players reach their defensive peaks before they reach their offensive peaks, and Jennings might be at or around his defensive peak.  I doubt he'll ever be an impact bat (he's not Carl Crawford), but he'll get on base and he's a smart and fast baserunner (64/8 SB/CS over the last year and a half).  Sam Fuld's days are numbered ...
10. Anthony Rendon Would be higher than this if not for the injury worries that made five teams pass on him in the Rule 4 draft.  (What do they know that we don't know?)  The bat looks great: power, plate discipline, contact.  Blocked by Zimmerman at third for the Nats; where does he end up?  Can he play second?  Is he a 1B/OF?  Lots of question marks.  
11. Wil Myers He gets an injury mulligan for his start this year, but the 15/37 BB/K rate has to be a little disappointing.  Probably best, due to the injury, to rate him on his prospect bona fides going into the year, in which he looked like the best hitter coming out of A-ball not named Trout.  It bears watching how he bounces back in the second half, though.  
12. Jesus Montero  All kinds of disappointment: ballooning K-rate, low walk rate, low power output, confirmed DH-only status.  Still, 2007-2010 happened as well, and can't be tossed out with a terrible start to 2011.  I'll put my money cautiously on the he's-bored hypothesis, and give him a sneaking into the top-10 vote of confidence.
13. Jurickson Profar Yet another 18-year old budding shortstop superprospect in the Sally, Profar's 269/378/490 line looks strikingly similar to Machado's.  No doubt that Machado has much more power potential, but Porfar looks like a better defensive shortstop.  Prospect smackdown!
14. Anthony Rizzo The knock on him going into the year was that he'd hit for average, and he'd hit for power, but not for both at the same time.  A 365/444/715 line (ahem, in the PCL) demonstrated that yes, he can do both.  Remains to be seen whether he'll have the same troubles Brandon Belt and Jerry Sands endured earlier this year in the NL West, but he gets the benefit of the doubt for now.
15. Devin Mesoraco Followed up his 2010 breakout with similar production so far in 2011: a 322/402/526 line so far, though he's on pace for fewer home runs.  (Most of his home runs last year were hit at lower levels.)  The bat looks like it will play, and he should be able to stick behind the plate, but the question is whether he *will* stick behind the plate when Yasmani Grandal shows up.  His bat looks merely solid in an OF spot.
16. Carlos Martinez This is a really aggressive ranking, but it's what my gut tells me.  He always seems to be ranked two or three tiers behind Taillon, if not more, but it seems to me that they're comparable prospects.  His debut as a 19-year old in the Midwest league has him with 43K's to 12 walks in 32 innings.  Potential 80-grade fastball, potential for plus secondary pitches, and he's performing.  Taillon's a better-known commodity, but head-to-head I gamble on Martinez.
17. Jameson Taillon A 19-year-old in the Sally League with 38 K's in his first 42 innings, and has only walked 4 batters in his first 10 starts.  Mid-90's fastball and great curve, with a great frame and great projection, but he's far enough away (as a pitcher, especially) that he's not a top-10 prospect for me yet, as he is in some other recent lists.  He's in a tier with Carlos Martinez as a 19-year old low-A pitcher to me - and I really like Martinez.
18. Paul Goldschmidt Everyone knows this breakout story; how real is it?  Walk rate way up, strikeout rate way down, and he's dominated the Southern League with a 328/450/626 line in 70 games.  The power was already there, and the rest of the story forces me to give him an aggressive ranking.  Real, I think.  Arizona needs him to be real to end their endless search for a 1B.
19. Trevor Bauer Bauer says throws six pitches regularly, and I don't doubt it, like I don't doubt the long toss.  I don't like comps as a rule, so no Timmy Lincecum comps here, but with the unorthodox delivery, the strong command both of a mid-90's fastball and the array of secondary pitches, the eccentricity: something makes me think that he's going to be very good.
20. Jose Altuve Somewhere between 5'3" and 5'9", and I don't care all that much where.  With a ridonkulous 402/440/622 line across hi-A/AA so far (sure to regress), I'm taking the leap on this little guy.  Walk rate around 7%, but K-rate around 10%.  Looks like he will definitely hit for average, stick at 2B, maybe blow us all away.
21. Gerrit Cole This ranking is all about scouting reports: great fastball, great frame, potential for more plus pitches.  That kind of potential from a college arm is worth quite a bit, but why were the college results so pedestrian?  Some results against professional hitters could move him up fast.  
22. Brett Jackson This kid seems like a pretty safe bet to me.  He strikes out too much (51 in 48 games so far), but he should stick in CF, get on base at a decent clip, hit for decent power.  I'd want a guy like that in my minor league system.
23. Jacob Turner Everyone seems to be expecting this kid in the majors soon, because he's a Detroit prospect, but I think he's got work left to do.  He's 6'5" with a projectable fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90's, he's developed a potentially plus CB to go with it, but it needs work.  Fine results in the Southern League as a 20-year old, but he's not going to be a strikeout pitcher: 64 K's in 79 innings.
24. Jarrod Parker Gave up 15 ER in 7 IP in his first two starts back from Tommy John; since then he's had a 3.17 ERA in 11 starts, with a 50/27 K/BB and 4 HR's.  An underrated comeback story, I think: those stats aren't dominant, but they're very solid for a TJ comeback, I think.  Still a ways to go, but I see him in the Diamondbacks rotation at some point in 2012, and I still see front-of-the-rotation potential as the TJ recovery gets further behind him.  Ranking him ahead of Perez might be aggressive, but that's how I'd draft them. 
25. Martin Perez He's improved in his second go-around in AA, as was to be expected.  He's cut his walk rate from 4.5 to 3.5, his HR/9 from 1.1 to 0.6, his hits/9 from 10.6 to 8.7.  He's also striking out fewer hitters, though (9.1 to 8.6).  He's got a potentially strong arsenal of pitches, and his results are strong for a now 20-year old in AA, but something about him still makes me cautious.  Probably the control questions.
26. Jason Kipnis Promotion to AAA going just fine: his 295/372/506 line is remarkably consistent with what he did at every level from lo-A to AA - always a BA around .300, OBP around 380, SLG around .500.  Better infield prospect than Chisenhall, I think.  At least an offensive upgrade over Orlando Cabrera right now for the Indians, though probably not defensively yet.
27. Drew Pomeranz Fine start in the Carolina League, striking out 77 against 23 walks in 60 innings so far, and giving up just one HR.  Like the guys in the two spots below him, he needs a promotion to AA.  Love the stuff from the left side.
28. Jake Odorizzi Struck out 93 in 66 innings in the Carolina League so far, while walking 20.  Solid fastball and breaking ball, still needs to develop his change.  Probably ready for a promotion to AA. 
29. Matt Harvey Very fine start in the hi-A FSL, but like Odorizzi and Pomeranz probably needs a AA test soon.  The 92 K's in 76 innings give Mets fans something to hope on, but it will be worth watching how the fastball plays at higher levels and how the secondary stuff develops.  Go Mets. 
30. Jean Segura Injured hamstring has him on the DL.  Started the season very strong offensively, tailed off a bit to a pedestrian 276/343/428 line so far, though he did steal 18 bags in 37 games.  Hard to say whether the injury contributed to the tail-off, but he has the tools to complement Trout nicely in the Angels up-the-middle future.  
31. Yasmani Grandal The bat looks good in the California League: a 296/410/510 line so far.  Has had a few defensive troubles so far, but it's an encouraging start to his first full year.  Plate discipline looks strong, with 41 walks in 56 games, though he's also struck out 57 times.  
32. James Darnell Not exactly young for the level (24 in AA), but the results can't be ignored: 349/441/635 in 65 games in the Texas League so far.  He's also walking more than he's striking out (42/38).  Defense and long-term position are questions, especially with Gyorko in the same system and Headley in the majors.  Not sure why I have him lower than Goldschmidt, but that's what my instincts say.  
33. Hak-Ju Lee Gets on base, hits for solid average; not many home runs yet but a decent number of doubles and triples.  Tall and skinny, and some power may come eventually, and he looks like he'll stick at shortstop.  Sickels is probably right to like him. 
34. Gary Sanchez Rough start to the year, on and off the field, but the 779 OPS still isn't at all bad for an 18-year old in the Sally League.  (How stacked is the Sally?)  Perhaps we expected more, but I'm not going to let 44 games drop this kid too far in my book; the reasons he was rated so highly in the pre-season are still there, scouting-wise.
35. Dylan Bundy Most polished high school pitcher to hit the draft in quite a while.  The combination of the high-90's fastball, strong secondary stuff, and command at such a young age makes me have to put him on the list.  High risk, of course, but less so than HS pitchers usually are, and very high ceiling.  Love this kid. 
36. Jedd Gyorko In the Padres 3B glut with Darnell and Headley, a level behind Darnell, and two years younger, but hitting just about as well: 381/444/650.  Wasn't seen as this kind of hitting talent, and a wait-and-see approach to his ranking seems appropriate.
37. Danny Hultzen Hultzen was seen as the "safe" pick in the 2011 Rule 4 draft, but I think that's selling him short.  He's got a plus fastball from the left side, strong secondary stuff, strong command, and he's polished enough to move quickly.  Could be a race between Hultzen and Bauer to be the first draftee to make the mojor leagues.  Should be a solid #3 behind Felix and Pineda.
38. Danny Duffy Aggressive promotion schedule, from hi-A to start last year to the majors this year.  Maintained solid dominance and control throughout the minors, but has had some control issues in his very small sample so far in the bigs.  His ceiling seems lower than Pomeranz, Harvey, Odorizzi, but he looks fine in the long run.
39. Tyler Skaggs Nice results in the Cal League so far, striking hitters out at 11.1 K/9, solid control.  Low-90's fastball and a plus curve, needs to develop a third pitch to succeed at higher levels.
40. Kyle Gibson The high-80's/low-90's fastball isn't the foundation on which to build a future rotation anchor, but he gets ground balls, throws strikes, and has a solid slider and useable change to back it up.  Feels strange ranking him behind guys like Bundy and Skaggs, but that's how I'd take them.
41. Derek Norris Rebounding some after a weak start, he's been otherwise consistent with his usual profile: lots of walks, lots of strikeouts, solid power.  Many a catcher has built a career on this profile.  His defense hasn't been bad, and his arm is actually solidly above average - he's thrown out 39% of baserunners in his career.
42. Arodys Vizcaino Big fastball, above-average curve, doesn't walk many batters, young for AA: lots to like about Vizcaino.  Needs to develop his change to be a viable major-league starter, but he could be on his way.  Like his ceiling better than Randall Delgado's in the crowded pantheon of young Braves pitchers.
43. Taijuan Walker Dominating in the Midwest League, and won't turn 19 until August.  56 K's to 14 walks in 45 innings.  In the Carlos Martinez category of scouting report darlings with huge fastballs who are backing it up with results.  (Martinez's bigger fastball and better secondary stuff have him a couple of tiers ahead in my book.)  
44. Robbie Erlin Had a great start to the year in Myrtle Beach, with a 62/5 K/BB ratio in 54 innings.  Has given up 33 hits and 6 HR's, though, in 29 innings in AA, after only giving up 25 hits and 7 HR's in those 54 hi-A innings.  Too small a sample, of course, to give us an answer to the $1M question about Erlin: does he have the arsenal to succeed at higher levels?
45. Anthony Ranaudo He's healthy and putting up fine results against A-ball competition.  Hard to know what to make out of him at this level: his strikeout rates are solid but not overwhelming (67 K's in 68 innings), his control is solid (3.1 BB/9).  He fell a ways in the draft, but it looks like the Red Sox got yet another steal here, but how much of a steal will be proved at higher levels. 
46. Rubby de la Rosa Another aggressive promotion, Rubby (Roo-bie) skipped AAA and is slotted into the Dodgers rotation, at least for the present.  His fastball got him noticed as a preseason sleeper, and he was pitching well, with plenty of K's but too many walks, before the promotion.  Control problems since the promotion are not surprising.  He could surely use some more development time.  
47. Jaff Decker Decker was on an absolute tear to begin the year, but has slumped back to a 236/388/442 line for the year now.  I'm optimistic he's got more power than that is his bat, and 58 walks in 66 games represents a valuable, proven skill, even if he strikes out too much.  I think these rankings caught him mid-slump.
48. Manny Banuelos Issuing too many walks so far this year, and the pre-season dreams of Banuelos joining the Yankees in 2011 look far gone now, but he's still a 20-year old in AA striking out nearly a batter per inning (56 in 59 innings), and he still has an impressive arsenal to build on for the future.  Still deserves to be a top-50 prospect, in my opinion.
49. Francisco Lindor One more young shortstop to project.  Looks like he should have a plus glove, and the pre-draft workouts that had him rumored as high as #2 have to give him a little more cred.  If he is in fact a plus defender at short with plus contact skills and the potential for 10-15 HR's down the road, he makes the list.
50. Trevor May After walking 61 batters in 70 innings in his first run through hi-A ball in 2010, May has cut that to an acceptable 35 in 71 innings in his second try in 2011.  Always plenty of upside, with a career K/9 of 11.5, a mid-90's fastball with movement, and a decent curve and change, with this improvement in his control, he gets the "sleeper" spot, the last spot on my list. 
Honorable Mentions Wilin Rosario, Yonder Alonso, Lonnie Chisenhall, Zach Lee, Grant Green, Zach Wheeler, Nick Franklin, Travis D'Arnaud, Jose Iglesias,  Archie Bradley
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