Ask BA

We’re still rolling out our minor league Top 20 Prospects lists, with the Texas League going up today and the two Triple-A leagues set for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Assistant editor Conor Glassey went through all of the Top 20s and sorted the players by their current organization. He counted each individual player once, so the Angels, for example, didn’t get credit for two prospects when Mike Trout ranked No. 1 in both the California and Midwest leagues. Here’s how each farm system did:

Rangers 18 Astros 9
Rays 15 Twins 8
Dodgers 14 White Sox 8
Mariners 14 Mets 7
Red Sox 14 Brewers 6
Rockies 14 Cubs 6
Yankees 14 Indians 6
Blue Jays 13 Marlins 6
Royals 12 Tigers 6
Angels 11 Cardinals 5
Braves 11 Nationals 5
Diamondbacks 11 Athletics 4
Giants 11 Orioles 4
Padres 11
Phillies 10
Pirates 10
Reds 10

It’s not a perfect way to evaluate a farm system, but there’s a correlation between the number of Top 20 Prospects and the strength of an organization. Most of the leaders on that list are going to rank near the top of our offseason farm system ratings.

    Both Jason Heyward and Mike Stanton had hugely successful rookie sesons. From here out, who do you see being the more productive of the two? Does Heyward become Ryan Braun, Nick Markakis or somewhere in between? Is Stanton closer to Ryan Howard or Adam Dunn?

    John Botelho
    Rockland, Mass.

I ranked Heyward and Stanton as the second- and third-best prospects in baseball, behind only Stephen Strasburg, in the 2010 Prospect Handbook. Even so, I didn’t expect them to be so good so soon in the major leagues.

Heyward hit .277/.393/.456 for an .849 OPS as a 20-year-old. Just 10 players his age or younger ever have done better, eight of whom are or will be Hall of Famers: Mel Ott (1.084 and .921), Ted Williams (1.045), Alex Rodriguez (1.045), Al Kaline (.967), Jimmie Foxx (.964), Frank Robinson (.936), Mickey Mantle (.924) and Orlando Cepeda (.854).

Stanton also kept very illustrious company, batting .259/.326/.507 with isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) of .248, the sixth-highest figure ever for a player 20 or younger. Ott (.306), Williams (.281), Rodriguez (.273), Bob Horner (.272) and Frank Robinson (.267) are the only youngsters to surpass Stanton. The scary thing is that both players are at least a few years away from their peak.

I’d still take Heyward over Stanton because I think he’ll be a more well-rounded hitter. Stanton has home run titles in his future, but Heyward will have a significant advantage in batting average and on-base percentage while providing plenty of power.

Heyward and Stanton are so talented that it’s hard to find good comparisons for them. Heyward has more on-base ability than Braun and more power than Markakis, and I see him becoming a .320/.420/.550 hitter in time. Stanton is a big-bodied slugger a la Howard and Dunn, but he hits righthanded and is much more athletic than they are. Howard has more power while Dunn draws more walks, so I see Stanton as closer to Howard.

    Which players from this year's draft do you think will crack the Top 100 Prospects list?

    Randall Courlander
    Rockville, Md.

The 2008 draft put 13 players on our 2009 Top 100 list, while the 2009 draft produced 19 members of our 2010 Top 100. If that sets the over/under at 16, give me the over. The consensus was that the 2010 draft crop was below average, but the overall talent in the minor leagues also appears to be down and one way or another, we’ll need 100 prospects for the Top 100.

Bryce Harper (Nationals), Jameson Taillon (Pirates) and Manny Machado (Orioles) were the clear top three prospects in the draft, and they’ll all rank in the upper half of the Top 100. Christian Colon (Royals), Drew Pomeranz (Indians), Michael Choice (Athletics), Deck McGuire (Blue Jays), Yasmani Grandal (Reds), Chris Sale (White Sox), Josh Sale (Rays) and Zack Cox (Cardinals) are locks for the bottom half. Matt Harvey (Mets), Kaleb Cowart (Angels), Alex Wimmers (Twins) and Zach Lee (Dodgers) will probably make it as well.

That makes 15 first-rounders for the Top 100. Sandwich picks Anthony Ranaudo (Red Sox) and Nick Castellanos (Tigers) likely will get recognized, as will second-rounder Stetson Allie. There might be a couple of more draftees who sneak in there as well.

    Outfielder Yorman Rodriguez played nearly the entire Rookie-level Pioneer League season as a 17-year-old, batting .339/.361/.456. Last month, Reds vice president of scouting, player development and international operations Bill Bavasi stated that if Rodriguez had been playing at Moeller High in Cincinnati, the baseball world wouldn't have been hyping Bryce Harper all spring and summer. How would your scouting reports compare the two?

    Erick Metzger
    Reynoldsburg, Ohio

Rodriguez is a talented and precocious prospect. We ranked him as the fifth-best prospect on our Pioneer League Top 20, noting his five-tool potential. He has a quick bat and plus raw power, speed and arm strength.

The Reds have every reason to be excited about Rodriguez, whom they signed for $2.5 million out of Venezuela in 2008. He’s just not as good as Harper, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft. Harper, who’s two months younger, projects as a better hitter (he’s more patient) with more power (he’s the best power prospect in draft history) and has comparable arm strength. He’s not as athletic as Rodriguez, but he’s no slouch and has a higher offensive ceiling, which is ultimately how the two right fielders will be judged.

" Oct. 5 Ask BA