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The Toolsiest MLB Prospects In The 2021 Top 100

Cristian Pache Gettyuseme
Cristian Pache (Getty Images)

Even after a season when virtually nothing was normal, Baseball America has assembled its annual list of the Top 100 Prospects in baseball. As usual, plenty of debate went into the final product, which was more difficult than normal because of the lack of a minor league season or scouting access at teams’ alternate training sites (and in some cases instructional leagues).

One constant between this list and one presented under normal circumstances, however, is that the final product contains plenty of players with extraordinarily loud sets of tools. Grades from 60 (plus) to 80 (elite) abound throughout, giving the prospects on the list a chance at extremely bright futures.

Even among the Top 100, however, there are echelons. Entering the 2020 season, for example, Wander Franco ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the game, but he wasn’t the prospect with the loudest tools. That title went to White Sox outfielder Luis Robert, who was projected as a 55-grade hitter with plus defense and double-plus power, speed and throwing arm.

Robert showed hints of all those gifts in his debut season, when he ranked in the 96th or better percentiles in sprint speed (29.1 feet per second) and outs above average (7) but also showed the same considerable swing-and-miss issues (32.2% strikeout rate) that he exhibited in the minor leagues.

Robert graduated from prospect consideration and finished second in the balloting for the American League Rookie of the Year award.

In 2021, Franco still reigns as the top prospect in the game, but three players—two hitters and a pitcher—have taken over Robert’s spot as the players in the Top 100 with the loudest tools. To determine the leaders, we took a simple average of each player’s tool grades (five for all position players and anywhere from four to six for pitchers depending on their repertoires.

Using this system, Robert’s grade entering 2020 was 65. This year, the three leaders each come in one tick short, at 64 each. The two hitters who cleared the threshold were the Braves’ Cristian Pache and the Yankees’ Jasson Dominguez. On the pitching side, the honor went to Marlins righthander Sixto Sanchez.

Pache and Sanchez each made their big league debuts in 2020 and saw time during their teams’ respective postseason runs. By contrast, Dominguez, who signed with the Yankees in 2019, still has yet to play an official game. He was not at the Yankees’ alternate training site, either, and didn’t back on the field in front of coaches until the team’s instructional league in the Dominican Republic.

Pache is one of the game’s premier defensive prospects—the average of his speed, arm, and fielding grades is 73.33, the best on the Top 100—but his continually developing offensive skills have helped push him among baseball’s elite. He’s also one of just seven players on the Top 100 who have three 70- or 80-grade tools.

Even without an official professional game on his ledger, Dominguez still sits atop the Yankees Top 30 prospects above two high-end righthanders—Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt—who debuted in 2020. He is a potentially plus hitter, fielder and thrower and earns double-plus marks for his power and speed.

Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. is the only other player in the Top 100 with 60s or better across the board. Beyond Pache, Dominguez and Witt, five more players in the Top 100 have average tool scores of 60 or better: outfielders Jo Adell (Angels), Garrett Mitchell (Brewers), Julio Rodriguez (Mariners), C.J. Abrams (Padres) and Adley Rutschman (Orioles)

Rutschman and Pache are the only two position players on the Top 100 with three tools which grade as 70 or better.

To break it down even further, we’ve created categories for Hit Grade (which is the average of each player’s hit and power tools), Hit+Run (the Hit Grade with a player’s speed grade added), Defense Grade (the average of a player’s fielding and arm grades) and Defense+Run (the Defense Grade with a player’s speed added).

When broken down that way, three players in the Top 100 have Hit Grades of 70: Franco, Rutschman and No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson. When speed is factored, the two top scorers are Dominguez and Abrams.

Measured by Defense Grade, Pache is the Top 100’s best fielder, with a score of 75. He’s followed by Rutschman, Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) and Brandon Marsh (Angels), who each earn scores of 65. When speed is factored, Mitchell, the Brewers’ 2020 first-rounder jumps just behind Pache.

RANKNAMEPOSITIONTEAMHITPOWERRUNFIELDARMHIT GRADEHIT+RUNDEFENSEDEFENSE+RUNTOOLS AVERAGE
7Cristian PacheOFBraves45557080705056.677573.3364
91Garrett MitchellOFBrewers55558060605563.336066.6762
38Brandon MarshOFAngels555060607052.555.006563.3359
33Jasson DominguezOFYankees60707060606566.676063.3364
11CJ AbramsSSPadres70508060506066.675563.3362
15Ke'Bryan Hayes3BPirates60505570605555.006561.6759
56Vidal Brujan2B/SSRays60408055505060.0052.561.6757
16Bobby Witt Jr.SSRoyals60606060606060.006060.0060
13Jo AdellOFAngels50707050606063.335560.0060
29Royce LewisSSTwins45557055555056.675560.0056
66Andres GimenezSS/2BIndians50407060504553.335560.0054
32Drew WatersOFBraves55556060555556.6757.558.3357
17Randy ArozarenaOFRays556070505557.561.6752.558.3358
42Corbin CarrollOFD-backs60507060455560.0052.558.3357
2Adley RutschmanCOrioles70704060707060.006556.6762
3Julio RodriguezOFMariners60704555706558.3362.556.6760
79Jose GarciaSSReds50505060605050.006056.6754
75Geraldo PerdomoSSD-backs554055605547.550.0057.556.6753
50Oneil CruzSSPirates50706050606060.005556.6758
72Brennen DavisOFCubs50606050605556.675556.6756
90Bobby Dalbec3B/1BRed Sox40704550705551.676055.0055
43JJ BledayOFMarlins60605055606056.6757.555.0057
61Brendan RodgersSS/2BRockies55555055605553.3357.555.0055
4Jarred KelenicOFMariners70605550606561.675555.0059
85Robert HassellOFPadres60505555555555.005555.0055
77Jazz ChisholmSSMarlins40605555555051.675555.0053
93Kristian RobinsonOFD-backs457060555057.558.3352.555.0056
94Alek ThomasOFD-backs604560604552.555.0052.555.0054
65Ronny MauricioSSMets50504060605046.676053.3352
34Jordan GroshansSSBlue Jays60605050606056.675553.3356
45Nolan Jones3BIndians60605050606056.675553.3356
73Noelvi MarteSSMariners605550506057.555.005553.3355
83Heliot RamosOFGiants505550555552.551.675553.3353
88Brice TurangSSBrewers60406050505053.335053.3352
40Nick Madrigal2BWhite Sox60306050504550.005053.3350
1Wander FrancoSSRays80605050557063.3352.551.6759
31Riley GreeneOFTigers605550555057.555.0052.551.6754
86Zac VeenOFRockies556050505557.555.0052.551.6754
82Tyler FreemanSSIndians60405050555050.0052.551.6751
19Austin MartinSS/OFBlue Jays705555505062.560.005051.6756
51Nick Gonzales2BPirates704555505057.556.675051.6754
9Dylan CarlsonOFCardinals55555555455555.005051.6753
78Ha-Seong KimSSPadres55455550505051.675051.6751
12Marco LucianoSSGiants60704050606556.675550.0056
62Heston KjerstadOFOrioles50704050606053.335550.0054
41Joey BartCGiants456040506052.548.335550.0051
5Spencer Torkelson1BTigers60804555507061.6752.550.0058
71Jeter Downs2B/SSRed Sox55555050505553.335050.0052
67Daulton VarshoC/OFD-backs555055504552.553.3347.550.0051
47Triston Casas1BRed Sox55654055506053.3352.548.3353
49Josh Jung3BRangers60604050556053.3352.548.3353
54Nolan Gorman3BCardinals457040456057.551.6752.548.3352
96Orelvis MartinezSSBlue Jays60604540606055.005048.3353
97Austin HendrickOFReds50604540605551.675048.3351
48Francisco AlvarezCMets50603050605546.675546.6750
18Alex KirilloffOFTwins70604050506556.675046.6754
36Luis CampusanoCPadres556030505557.548.3352.545.0050
53Keibert RuizCDodgers604530555052.545.0052.545.0048
92Tyler SoderstromCAthletics60604040556053.3347.545.0051
39Trevor LarnachOFTwins50604045505550.0047.545.0049
21Andrew Vaughn1BWhite Sox60603050506050.005043.3350
87Michael Busch2BDodgers60604540456055.0042.543.3350
60Ryan JeffersCTwins555020604552.541.6752.541.6746
63Ryan MountcastleOFOrioles60605040306056.673540.0048
70Alejandro KirkCBlue Jays70502045506046.6747.538.3347
Riley Greene Markcunninghamgetty

What Opening Day Assignments Tell Us About Recent Draftees

We look at where all the first-round picks from 2019 and 2020 are assigned to start the 2021 season.

For Sanchez, 2021 marks the second straight year he’s held at least a share of the title of most tooled-up pitcher in the minors. His fastball ranks as a true 80—just one of five in the Top 100—and his changeup grades as a potential double-plus. Both grades are bumps up from 2020, when he entered the year with a 70 fastball and 60 changeup.

Sanchez’s slider also ticked up a half-grade, and he added a curveball that could potentially reach above-average as well. In fact, Sanchez’s only tool to remain static year over year was his control, which projects as plus.

Sanchez isn’t the only Marlin with a tantalizing set of tools, either. Max Meyer, Miami’s choice at No. 3 overall, ranks second among pitchers with an average tool grade of 62.5. His pitch mix includes a double-plus fastball and slider, a potentially above-average grades on his changeup and control.

Mathematically, Meyer’s lack of a fourth pitch helped him overtake Toronto righthander Nate Pearson by half a point. Pearson, who ranks No. 14 on the Top 100, mixes an 80-grade fastball with a double-plus slider, above-average changeup, average curveball and above-average control.

Pearson was inconsistent in his big league debut but finished the year with a dominant two-inning stint in the playoffs in which he struck out five hitters.

RANKNAMEPOSITIONTEAMFBCBSLCHCTRLOTHERTOOLS AVERAGE
6Sixto SanchezRHPMarlins805555706064.00
44Max MeyerRHPMarlins7070555562.50
14Nate PearsonRHPBlue Jays805070555562.00
37Asa LacyLHPRoyals705560605560.00
98Matt AllanRHPMets7060605060.00
22Grayson RodriguezRHPOrioles705060556059.00
10MacKenzie GoreLHPPadres605560606059.00
28Casey MizeRHPTigers605060705559.00
95Jackson KowarRHPRoyals6050705558.75
24Michael KopechRHPWhite Sox805060505058.00
25Daniel LynchLHPRoyals705060555558.00
27Spencer HowardRHPPhillies655560555558.00
26Triston McKenzieRHPIndians606055556058.00
35Logan GilbertRHPMariners606055605558.00
74Garrett CrochetLHPWhite Sox8060405057.50
81Edward CabreraRHPMarlins7060505057.50
30Matt ManningRHPTigers6060555557.50
100Shane McClanahanLHPRays706060504557.00
57Emerson HancockRHPMariners605055606057.00
69Simeon Woods RichardsonRHPBlue Jays605055606057.00
84Ryan WeathersLHPPadres6055506056.25
8Ian AndersonRHPBraves5550606056.25
52Brailyn MarquezLHPCubs804560504556.00
23Luis PatinoRHPRays704560555056.00
59DL HallLHPOrioles705550604556.00
20Tarik SkubalLHPTigers605560505556.00
46Matthew LiberatoreLHPCardinals606050555556.00
55Deivi GarciaRHPYankees556050605556.00
80Forrest WhitleyRHPAstros60555560405554.17
76Adrian MorejonLHPPadres606045604554.00
99Mick AbelRHPPhillies604560505554.00
64Clarke SchmidtRHPYankees6060455053.75
68Josiah GrayRHPDodgers6055455553.75
58Quinn PriesterRHPPirates606040505553.00
89Trevor RogersLHPMarlins555555505053.00



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