Image credit: Druw Jones (Photo by David Durochik/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
By now, you’ve likely seen our Top 100. If not, you can find the list—and so much more—right here. Those are the names. The process we use to come by those names and that order, however, is a little more intricate.
After the Prospect Handbook is put to bed, any member of the staff who wishes to contribute is asked to submit a list of their personal top 150 prospects. Some of us choose to color within the lines and stick with the orders you can find in the Handbook. Others do not. Instead, they base their lists more on personal preference based on their knowledge—which includes in-person looks, conversations with scouts, fisking of data and context clues.
Once those lists are compiled, we put the results into a spreadsheet, tabulate the scores and assign them points on their position—a vote at No. 1 gets you 150 points, No. 2 gets 149 points and No. 150 gets you a single point—and then use those results to form a preliminary ranking.
The next step is feedback from the industry. We take the preliminary list and send it to executives throughout the game and ask where our list might be amiss. Once all their input has been received, we adjust our preliminary list based on those findings.
Back to the individual lists. While everybody at BA is an expert on prospects, our tastes in players vary quite a bit. Naturally, that means some of us will be higher or lower than consensus on certain players—sometimes by a lot.
Here are a few examples of where individual staff members differed on players who did—and in some cases did not—make the list.
JJ Cooper was…
The only person not to rank Yanquiel Fernandez, Max Meyer, Luis Morales, Bryce Eldridge or Colt Emerson among the top 100 of their personal rankings. He was also the high man on Joey Ortiz and Ty Madden, who did not make the list.
Here’s JJ’s take:
I like Bryce Eldridge, but I don’t mind slow-playing the ranking on a power-first first baseman who also pitches. It’s a fascinating combination, but there’s a lot of potholes that could get in the way of his rise to the majors.
As far as players I was high on, I know there is some debate among scouts on whether Joey Ortiz ends up as a versatile utility infielder or a regular because of his bat. I’m sold that his glove and his ability to make consistent contact can play as an everyday shortstop, largely because he’s so good defensively. It may not be in Baltimore, where it’s hard to see him pushing Gunnar Henderson off the spot, but I do think Ortiz could have a productive and lengthy big league career.
I’ve long been a believer in Ty Madden, mainly because he combines feel for pitching with excellent durability. In a world where few pitching prospects get a chance to show they can handle reasonable workloads, Madden has already had three different seasons where he topped 110 innings. He probably would have done it in 2020 as well if the pandemic hadn’t gotten in the way. Madden may never be an ace, but he’s not far away from being a useful mid or back-of-the-rotation starter.
Matt Eddy was …
The only writer to include D-backs outfielder Druw Jones and Mets righthander Christian Scott in his personal Top 100 Prospects ranking. He was the only writer to exclude Yankees outfielder Everson Pereira from his Top 100.
Here’s Matt’s take:
Look: Expectations for Druw Jones are much lower today than they were when he ranked as the top draft prospect for 2022 and was selected No. 2 overall by Arizona. He has spent most of his time in pro ball on the injured list and has not performed outside of a 19-game finish to 2023 in which he compiled an .848 OPS for Low-A Visalia. But all the secondary tools that made Jones so attractive two years ago—speed, defense, raw power, athleticism—are present. He’s just been a tough player to evaluate because of missed time. However, any sort of Jones redemption story is dependent on the 20-year-old improving his direction at the plate to not step in the bucket and bail out on pitches.
Christian Scott pitched mostly out of the bullpen at Florida, where he was a sinker/slider pitcher. After drafting the righthander in the fifth round in 2021, the Mets modified Scott’s repertoire to focus on four-seam fastballs with an even distribution of sliders and split-changeups. He still throws his two-seam occasionally and dabbles with a curveball. He even took to a sweeper at offseason pitching camps. Scott turns 25 during the season but has the wide repertoire, plus control and competitive makeup of a potential No. 3 starter.
Everson Pereira walks a bit of a tightrope as a righthanded-hitting outfielder with a high strikeout rate and potentially no carrying offensive tool. The 23-year-old tends to make an impact when he connects, but he had a strikeout rate near 30% in the upper minors and one near 40% in his MLB debut. Pereira’s low rate of zone contact and high swing rate caution against major improvements in these areas.
Kyle Glaser was …
Here’s Kyle’s take:
Termarr Johnson has an exceptional eye at the plate and the growing strength to do damage on contact. That’s a really good place to start. The concern is the lack of pure contact skills he showed in his pro debut, which was largely a result of his approach. If he can avoid falling into the trap of trading too much contact in exchange for power, he’ll be fine, but he went too far in that direction in his pro debut and has to prove he can adjust his approach to be more contact-oriented.
Emmanuel Rodriguez has some promising traits to work with, including excellent strike-zone discipline and real power from the left side. The concern is he’s already very physically mature, has had trouble staying healthy and swings and misses in the strike zone more than is ideal. He doesn’t have much physical projection remaining and has yet to stay on the field for a full season, which is worrying at 20 years old. While his approach is sound, he gets beat in the zone a lot by Class A stuff, which doesn’t bode well for when he starts facing better pitching. He has potential if he can stay healthy and make more frequent contact against quality pitching, but he has to prove he can do that first.
Justin Crawford is a dynamic athlete who is blossoming physically and had a first full season that deserves a lot more attention than it’s getting. Hitting .344 with an .877 OPS in the Florida State League is a Herculean feat and a testament to his exceptional contact skills. He manages the strike zone, is comfortable hitting with two strikes, puts the ball in play consistently and should continue to get stronger and impact the ball more with maturity. Add plus speed and exceptional baserunning instincts, the athleticism to stay in center field and the elite makeup, and he projects to be a staple at the top of the Phillies’ order as long as he stays healthy and keeps on his current path.
Josh Norris was …
The lowest on Dylan Crews, and the only person to rank neither Drew Gilbert nor Connor Phillips. He was also the only writer to put Josue De Paula, Anthony Solometo, Thayron Liranzo, Jefferson Rojas or Jackson Ferris in his personal top 100.
Standout performance at a young age is one of the best indicators of future success. Josue De Paula showed that in spades in his first season outside of the complex levels. No, the power didn’t show up much on the back of his baseball card, but he hit the ball hard enough and controlled the zone well enough to make me believe that he’ll begin driving the ball with authority (and getting it in the air more often to his pull side) as he matures. Defense is a question mark, but De Paula showed early signs in 2023 of being one of the more talented teenagers in the lower minors.
Jefferson Rojas got a similar vote of confidence from the Cubs, who bumped the 18-year-old to Low-A Myrtle Beach after just one game in the Arizona Complex League. In a vacuum, Rojas chased more than is ideal. In context, however, he held his own in a pitcher-friendly league against more advanced arms and produced an outstanding season that included a strikeout rate of less than 20% and seven home runs in 70 games. Rojas needs to get stronger, but his first season outside of the DSL was mighty impressive. He could wind up on the Top 100 at some point in 2024.
Thayron Liranzo first came to my attention in spring training while combing through the hitting footage from a backfield game between the Dodgers and Reds. Even from the closed side, Liranzo’s swings made me stop and rewind over and over again. The way his hands ripped his bat through the zone and the ferocity with which he cleared his hips were clear indicators that I was looking at a hitter with a chance to do special things. In the regular season, he capitalized on that chance. The switch-hitting catcher slammed a Cal League-best 24 home runs but also produced a .962 OPS that was tops among all qualified MiLB catchers. He hits the ball quite hard but needs to cut down on the rate at which he swings and misses, but his 2023 season pointed toward a bright future.
Geoff Pontes was …
The only person to vote neither Jackson Chourio nor Jackson Holliday as the game’s No. 1 prospect. Instead, Geoff went with Wyatt Langford. He was the high man on both Colson Montgomery and Lazaro Montes, and was the only person to rank Kevin Alcantara, Jordan Beck, George Lombard Jr., Will Warren, Jairo Iriarte, Tyler Locklear and Yoeilin Cespedes. He was the only writer who didn’t rank Harry Ford, Rhett Lowder, Justin Crawford or Brayan Rocchio.
Here’s Geoff’s take:
I tend to enter the process of ranking with the idea of picking apart each player and weighing flaws and strengths. I’m less concerned with baseball card stats and more interested in evaluating traits and metrics that are more predictive. I value athleticism, power and outlier characteristics. Major league players are outliers within outliers, major league stars are the outliers of the outliers.
This is a theme with players that rank higher in my Top 100 than others. The Cubs’ Kevin Alcantara is a tall, twitchy athlete with outlier power and plus defensive skills in center field. There were nine cente rfielders in MLB last season that qualified for the batting title with a wRC+ above 100. The offensive bar to clear in center is low and Alcantara looks like a player who could develop into an impact player on both sides of the ball. In the same vein, Jordan Beck and George Lombard Jr. are both players that offer outlier impact and power with up the middle defensive chops.
On the pitching side I value fastballs with a combination of velocity, movement and outlier release characteristics. This rule of threes allows me to objectively look at each pitch and have a more precise understanding of how that pitch projects in the major leagues. We now have multiple years of Statcast data for the minor leagues as well as MLB, making it easier than ever to back test what works and what does not.
Pitchability matters and a pitcher like Rhett Lowder is a great example of this. Pitchability sets the floor for pitching prospects and provides a higher degree of certainty when it comes to projecting a pitcher as a starter. On the other hand the velocity, movement and release traits set the ceiling. In this way, I’m more likely to fade players with only mid-rotation upside in favor of those that could develop into frontline starters, the most rare of prospect archetypes in the game.