How Many Minor League Prospects Are Future MLB All-Stars?
When discussing prospects, the conversation inevitably turns to upside.
How many of these prospects project as future all-stars? How many will be true difference-makers as opposed to complementary players?
Those are the questions fans—and often front office officials—seek the answer to, often without a definitive answer.
But there is one question we can answer: How many prospects in the minor leagues each year are future all-stars?
After all, an All-Star Game selection is often a validation of a player’s talent, either as the best player on his team or one of the best in his league. There are questionable selections from time to time, but more often than not all-star potential is the barometer by which a prospect’s upside is measured.
To find out how many prospects in the minors each year become all-stars, we compiled the list of the 396 different players named an all-star the last 10 seasons (2009-2018) and checked off each season they played in the minors with prospect eligibility.
From 2003-2012, between 96 and 123 minor leaguers each season went on to appear in an All-Star Game. The average number of future all-stars in the minor leagues in a given season was about 110.
Note the totals at the end of the sample will grow as there are likely some 2011 and 2012 minor leaguers who will make future all-star teams. For players who were minor leaguers between 2013-2018, many are either still in the minors or are at the start of their major league careers and have not had time to grow into all-stars.
On average, there are more future all-star hitters than pitchers in the minor leagues at a given time. On average, 59 position player prospects each season from 2003-12 were future all-stars, compared to 51 pitchers. The reason is pretty straightforward: More hitters (214) than pitchers (182) have been selected as All-Stars the last 10 seasons.
Making an all-star team is easier now than it used to be thanks to the steady growth of all-star rosters. There were only 36 all-stars between both teams for the first All-Star Game in 1933. This decade, rosters have expanded to 34 per team, meaning there are at least 68 all-stars per season (thanks to injuries, usually there are more).
Of course not all prospects are created equal. Just like big leaguers, some are better than others.
The Baseball America Top 100 every year attempts to identify the top prospects in the game. Since there are only 100 spots on the list and more than 100 minor leaguers in a given season on average become all-stars, some don’t make the list by simple math, although the never ending churn of prospect graduations and arrivals means that almost everyone gets a chance to rank as a Top 100 Prospect. Alexei Ramirez is one notable exception, as he signed out of Cuba after the 2008 Top 100 Prospects had been unveiled and graduated before the 2009 Top 100 Prospects list arrived.
So, how many how many of the All-Stars the past decade were Top 100 Prospects at one point? Overall, 61 percent of all-stars from 2009-18 were Top 100 Prospects—68 percent of hitters and 54 percent of pitchers.
We also found that 72 percent (87 of 121) of multiple-time all-star position players over the past 10 seasons were once Top 100 prospects. Sixty-five percent (52 of 80) of multiple-time all-star pitchers over that same timeframe were Top 100 prospects.
It’s not surprising that there is a better success rate on picking hitters who become all-stars than pitchers. Plenty of relievers make all-star teams, but in all but the most extreme cases, they do not crack the Top 100.