It’s prospecting season for the baseball media’s minor league evaluators, the highlight of which has become the annual ranking compiled by former Blue Jays executive and current ESPN contributor Keith Law. What follows is a breakdown of Law’s rankings along with commentary about some of the selections (for last year’s breakdown, click here).
Keith Law’s 2013 Top-100 Prospect List, by Franchise (click to enlarge)
Note: Prospect Score is a cumulative total based on the assignment of a score to each ranking (100 for #1 to 1 for #100). It is a proprietary calculation not endorsed by Mr. Law and not intended to suggest the ranking is linear.
The Minnesota Twins, who catapulted from 14th to 4th in Law’s organization rankings, placed seven prospects with the top-100, besting the Padres and Rays, who each had six. The Twins also led the pack with a prospect score of 399, which represents the inverse sum of each individual player’s ranking. All seven of Minnesota’s placements ranked within the top-65, led by a pair of 19-year olds: third baseman Miguel Sano (11) and center fielder Byron Buxton (22).
Another team with both quantity and quality on the list was the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Bucs had five prospects crack the top-100, but were also one of only four teams with two minor leaguers in the top-20, joining the Mariners, Indians, and Mets. Although the Mets ranked 14th as an organization and 16th in terms of prospect score, Sandy Alderson’s farm system was the first to place two players on the list, with Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud listed at 12th and 13th.
Although every team was represented on the list, five organizations had only one prospect ranked, and, not surprisingly, all placed low in Law’s organization rankings. Only the Athletics, who boast the 10th best prospect on the list with 19-year old SS Addison Russell, finished higher than 25th in the organization rankings. In addition to Oakland, the “have nots” included the Tigers, White Sox, Brewers, and Angels, the latter plummeting from 15th to dead last in the organizational ranking.
The Yankees placed four prospects on the top-100 list for the second year in a row, but the turnover was 50%. Because of injury and poor performance, respectively, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances dropped out of the ranking, but Tyler Austin (52) and Slade Heathcott (57) took their place. The two outfielders joined Gary Sanchez (18) and Mason Williams (35), who were holdovers from last year. Although Williams’ ranking was stable compared to the 2012 list, Sanchez catapulted 37 slots. Also worth noting is Jose Ramirez just missed cracking the top-100, according to Law, who cited injury concerns as a reason for keeping the 23-year old hard throwing righty off the list (click here for an analysis of the Yankees’ organization ranking and the franchise’s growing dependence on prospects). Had Ramirez made the list, he would have reprented the Bronx Bombers only pitcher in the top-100. With four position players ranked, the Yankees were the only team with at least three selections, but no pitchers.
The only A.L. East team with fewer than four top-100 prospects was the Blue Jays, who cashed in many of their chips this off season. As a result, Toronto’s organizational ranking plummeted from third to 24th. Among teams within the division, the Rays led the way with six top-100 minor leaguers, a Prospect Score of 275, and an organizational ranking of 6th. The Red Sox and Orioles were similarly positioned in the middle of the pack in all three rankings, but each can claim a blue chip within the top-5. The Orioles’ Dylan Bundy rated as the best pitching prospect at third overall, while the Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts, who placed fifth, could finally be the solution to Boston’s long standing woes at short stop.
Similar to last year, half of Law’s top-100 were pitchers, including only seven southpaws. Among hitters, lefty swingers accounted for 28% of the list, while switch hitters comprised 14%, rates that were also on par with 2012. In terms of defensive positions, there were an equal amount of outfielders and infielders, with only four backstops thrown into the mix. Specifically, short stops and centerfields were the most common entrants on the list, highlighting the emphasis Law placed on skilled positions.
Keith Law’s 2103 Top-100 Prospect List, by Age
The youngest player in the ranking was Blue Jays’ 17-year old right hander Roberto Osuna, while two 25-year old righties, the Twins’ Kyle Gibson and Nationals’ Nathan Karns, were its senior members. Combined, position players averaged 20.7 years of age, while pitchers were a little older at 21.2 years. However, the disparity between the modal ages was wider, with position players most commonly being 20 years old, versus pitchers at 22 years old.