Every year, numerous organizations release lists of the top 100 prospects in baseball. Each group constructs its list using different criteria. They differ on things such as what constitutes a prospect (age, experience, etc.), preferences between a high ceiling vs. proximity to the majors and simple opinions on which youngsters they think show better tools.
Since the rankings vary depending on who you ask, we have taken a look at three of the most popular lists -- those of Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and Keith Law of ESPN -- to get a more complete look at the current landscape of the minor leagues.
There are 71 players who appear on all three lists. While each panel orders them differently, there is no debate regarding the top two prospects in baseball -- Minnesota's Byron Buxton and Boston's Xander Bogaerts rank first and second, respectively, on each version. The complete master list of 71 players in included below, ordered by their average ranks on the different scales.
A look at the master list offers some interesting conclusions. The top of the register is dominated by shortstops, who captured five of the first seven spots and eight spots overall. There are multiple factors that could have led to this result. First, their mere presence at the scarce middle infield position could endear them to scouts and automatically raise their stock. Second, it may be easier to agree on the merits of a young position player than on the future of a young pitcher, causing the rankings of pitchers to fluctuate more wildly from list to list. Or, it could be that these particular prospects are simply better players than their peers who play elsewhere on the diamond. Either way, the influx of talent at shortstop should whet the appetite of any fan who misses the days when Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra and Miguel Tejada ushered in a renaissance of talent at the position.
On the other hand, there seems to be a shortage of prospects on the right side of the infield. The only first baseman who made all three lists was Houston's Jonathan Singleton, who clocked in at No. 64 overall. There were only two other first basemen who appeared on anyone's register: Jose Abreu of the White Sox, whose status as a prospect is tenuous as a 27-year-old international free agent, and Dominic Smith of the Mets, who was No. 92 on BA's list and was left off of BP's list entirely despite a rave review from Law. Rougned Odor of Texas is the top-ranked second baseman at No. 47, and Kolten Wong of St. Louis (No. 57) and Arismendy Alcantara of the Cubs (No. 70) were the only others to make all three lists. However, there were seven other second basemen who appeared on at least one index.
The Cubs have the most players on the master list of 71 prospects with six entrants, but the Red Sox and Astros each have nine guys who appear on at least one of the three tables. The Twins, Cubs, Pirates and Rangers each have seven players who make it onto at least one prospect inventory. On the other side of the spectrum, the Angels, Rays and Brewers were shut out of the master list entirely. The Angels had just one player show up on any group's rankings -- second baseman Taylor Lindsay, who clocked in at No. 93 according to BA. The Rays had five players show up on at least one list, but only pitcher Jake Odorizzi made it onto two of them; he was left off by Law. The Brewers, meanwhile, didn't notch a single prospect on anyone's register.
The Oakland Athletics present the most interesting dichotomy. They had only one player make any list, but it was highly touted shortstop Addison Russell, who placed No. 6 on the master list. The Mariners also notched only one youngster on the master list, pitcher Taijuan Walker at No. 10, but two of their other prospects were included by both BA and BP.
The Master List
Including each player's position, team, and average rank from BA, BP, and Law. Tiebreaker goes to the player who has the highest single rank on any list (Baez and Correa each peaked at No. 4):
|30||Raul A Mondesi||ss||KCR||32.6|
On the left, totals by team, including number of prospects on the master list and the rank of each club's top entrant. On the right, totals by position, with Chicago's Alcantara being counted as a second baseman: