Industry Top 100 Analysis

February 28, 2008
With over 4,000 players in the minor leagues, a top 100 prospect list really only looks at a sliver of the players who are trying to make their way up to the bigs. And there are dozens of prospect who are so far ahead of the rest that it’s improbable that anyone would look past them. This leaves many top 100 prospect lists looking quite similar in the grand scheme of things.

For example, 55% of the players who we ranked in our top 100 were also each on Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, and Mound Talk’s top 100 lists. That’s enough similarity to make three All-Minors teams while agreeing upon the same core group of players.

So what really separates these lists? How can we distinguish between what the four publications above offered in 2008 and Project Prospect’s list?

Six hours of research later and I think I have some answers.

Five-Star Prospects
No.   Player   Ave.   S.D.
1   Jay Bruce   1.2   0.4
2   Evan Longoria   2.4   0.9
3   Clay Buchholz   3.6   0.9
4   Joba Chamberlain   4.0   1.0
5   Colby Rasmus   4.4   2.5
6   Clayton Kershaw   6.0   0.7
7   David Price   9.0   4.2
8   Cameron Maybin   9.4   2.5
9   Travis Snider   10.4   3.3
10   Homer Bailey   12.0   5.2
11   Matt Wieters   14.0   2.4
12   Franklin Morales   16.2   9.2
13   Andrew McCutchen   17.4   6.1
14   Andy LaRoche   18.0   9.5
15   Jacoby Ellsbury   18.4   3.9
16   Wade Davis   18.6   5.0
17   Rick Porcello   18.8   5.7
18   Jake McGee   19.2   13.9
19   Brandon Wood   24.6   11.2
20   Johnny Cueto   25.4   13.7
21   Fernando Martinez   25.8   15.5
22   Mike Moustakas   27.6   11.7
23   Daric Barton   28.2   14.1
24   Nick Adenhart   28.6   5.7
25   Matt LaPorta   29.8   5.1
26   Jordan Schafer   30.2   10.6
27   Carlos Gonzalez   31.0   8.5
28   Angel Villalona   31.6   9.8
29   Joey Votto   31.8   17.2
30   Ian Kennedy   32.8   12.8
31   Jeff Clement   33.0   11.5
32   Desmond Jennings   33.2   19.1
33   Reid Brignac   33.4   11.5
34   Chris Marrero   33.6   17.7
35   Josh Vitters   34.4   11.1
36   Jason Heyward   35.0   5.1
37   Jose Tabata   36.0   9.7
38   Austin Jackson   38.8   10.4
39   Jarrod Parker   40.2   15.4
40   Chase Headley   43.6   16.6
41   Elvis Andrus   46.2   21.0
42   Matt Antonelli   47.0   27.6
43   Fautino de los Santos   48.4   9.7
44   Adam Miller   49.4   20.7
45   Geovanny Soto   49.6   17.4
46   Ross Detwiler   51.0   10.2
47   Carlos Triunfel   53.0   22.6
48   Lars Anderson   53.4   27.5
49   Carlos Gomez   56.2   17.5
50   Justin Masterson   57.0   4.5
51   Jed Lowrie   58.4   8.5
52   Manny Parra   64.2   24.0
53   Deolis Guerra   65.4   18.3
54   Chris Volstad   70.0   16.5
55   Hank Conger   72.8   18.7

Industry Agreement

Let’s start by highlighting the players who Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, Mound Talk, and Project Prospect agreed upon.

The list to the right is simply created from averaging the scores for the 55 prospects who we all had inside our top 100s. Let’s call them Five-Star Prospects.

Note that two players had average scores that ranked them well inside the top 50 but were not included on this list because they were both left off ESPN’s list – Gio Gonzalez and Brett Anderson. Three other players received multiple top 50 votes but were left off lists: Chin-lung Hu (PP), Beau Mills (BP and ESPN), and Eric Hurley (PP).

Shown in the column labeled “S.D.”, I also calculated the standard deviation for each prospect in our group of 55. As expected, standard deviation generally increases as we move down the list. There’s a ton of agreement with the top 17 prospects, except Franklin Morales – backed the most by BA, BP, and ESPN – and Andy LaRoche – backed the most by PP, BP, and MT. Jake McGee, Johnny Cueto, Fernando Martinez, and Daric Barton are the remaining five players on the top half of the list who spur notable disagreement. Elvis Andrus, Matt Antonelli, Adam Miller, Carlos Triunfel, Lars Anderson, and Manny Parra are the most disputed players on the bottom half of the list.

Publication Trends

It’s not fair to slap labels on publications based on one top 100. But there are clear trends that I was able to pick out with each list and I think it’s worth noting these trends so they are at least available for future analysis. I’ll break each publication down in four categories then give a summary of what I think makes their list unique.

The four categories I’ll be using are: renegade picks, loner instances, buddy picks, and an overall extreme score. Renegade picks are when a publication includes a player in its top 100 that no other publication did. Loner instances are when every publication included a player except one. Buddy picks are when a pair of publications select a player that no one else had in their top 100. And my overall extreme score is a basic calculation based on the definitions above – loner*3 + renegade*2 + buddy.

I have a lot of respect for each one of these publications and the hard work put in by the authors of each list. During the time I spent with Baseball America last year, it was obvious to me that everyone in that building works extremely hard – it's a much smaller publication that a lot of people realize. I've had conversations with Kevin Goldstein online and he has always been very professional, polite, and respectful with me. I think it's cool the Keith Law is willing to think as independently as he does, his list carries a unique value for that reason. And I'm a big enough fan of Koby's work that I asked him to help as a consultant for our list. I wrote this article not to bash any of my peers, but to simply offer a comparative study.

Baseball America

Primary Voices: Jim Callis, John Manuel, Will Lingo, and Chris Kline.

Years publishing top 100s: 19.

Loner Instances: Wladimir Balentien and Aaron Poreda.

Renegade Picks: Nick Blackburn (56), Daniel Cortes (57), Chuck Lofgren (71), Adrian Cardenas (76), Hector Gomez (95), and Drew Stubbs (100).

Buddy Picks: Kosuke Fukudome (30, PP), Ian Stewart (38, ESPN), Brett Sinkbeil (68, MT), Dexter Fowler (74, BP), Tyler Colvin (75, PP), Troy Patton (78, MT), Nolan Reimold (91, ESPN), Neftali Feliz (93, BP), and Jeff Niemann (99, MT).

Extreme Score: 27 = Moderate.

Summary: BA has a good balance of risk taking between hitters and pitchers. And it rarely strays completely away from the pack. The authors stick their necks out enough so their list is unique but not so much that their followers will wind up well off the beaten path.

Baseball Prospectus

Primary Voice: Kevin Goldstein.

Years publishing top 100s: 2.

Loner Instances: None.

Renegade Picks: Jeremy Jeffress (76), Wes Hodges (78), Ben Revere (97), and Chris Carter (99).

Buddy Picks: Neftali Feliz (30, BA), Engel Beltre (62, ESPN), Brent Lillibridge (63, MT), Gerardo Parra (64, ESPN), Alan Horne (67, MT), Michael Main (73, ESPN), Chorye Spoone (75, ESPN), Chris Nelson (80, ESPN), Henry Sosa (84, ESPN), and Dexter Fowler (92, BA)

Extreme Score: 18 = Conservative.

Summary: Some people may look at BP’s list and think, “Wow Neftali Feliz at 30! This list is wild!” But in the big picture that’s hardly true. If you’re looking for a list that includes a minimal amount of risk taking, this is what you want. And that’s not to say that this approach is flawed in the slightest. It’s entirely possible that the extreme urges certain publications tend to act upon are the ones that wind up looking foolish more often than not.

Project Prospect

Primary Voices: Adam Foster, Adam Loberstein, Doug Gray, and Koby Schellenger.

Years publishing top 100s: 2.

Loner Instances: Chin-lung Hu, Eric Hurley, Carlos Carrasco, Taylor Teagarden, Max Scherzer, Neil Walker, and Gorkys Hernandez.

Renegade Picks: Aaron Laffey (44), Aaron Thompson (46), Kevin Mulvey (50), Jesus Montero (70), Sean O’Sullivan (73), Anthony Swarzak (72), James Simmons (75), Chris Parmelee (86), Jeffrey Locke (89), Esmailyn Gonzalez (93), Kevin Ahrens (98), and Cody Johnson (100).

Buddy Picks: Bill Rowell (47, MT), Tyler Robertson (58, ESPN), Matt Dominguez (66, ESPN), Nick Weglarz (68, ESPN), Madison Bumgarner (71, MT), Kosuke Fukudome (83, BA), Will Inman (84, MT), Kasey Kiker (85, MT), Blake Beavan (87, MT), Matt Harrison (95, MT), and Tyler Colvin (97, BA).

Extreme Score: 56 = Extreme.

Summary: We went out on the limb with a lot of pitchers who managed to do an exceptional job limiting extra base-hits last season – something that some people believe is more a product or luck than skill. We also recognized a fair amount of high-upside hitters rather than going with more stable options who have proven themselves in the upper minors. In five years, this list will likely look either really bad or really good. Use with caution.


Primary Voice: Keith Law.

Years publishing top 100s: 1.

Loner Instances: Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Steve Pearce, Jair Jurrjens, Scott Elbert, and Michael Bowden.

Renegade Picks: German Duran (48), James McDonald (52), Brett Cecil (63), Felipe Paulino (65), Tommy Hanson (66), Kyle Blanks (68), Fernando Perez (72), Mitch Boggs (73), Jeremy Hellickson (75), Josh Donaldson (76), John Jaso (78), Jordan Zimmerman (83), Chris Withrow (86), Josh Smoker (90), Brad Lincoln (97), and Andrew Brackman (100).

Buddy Picks: Nolan Reimold (39, BA), Michael Main (46, BP), Matt Dominguez (54, PP), Nick Weglarz (62, PP), Ian Stewart (70, BA), Henry Sosa (74, BP), Chris Nelson (77, BP), Gerardo Parra (82, BP), Tyler Robertson (91, PP), Chorye Spoone (96, BP), and Engel Beltre (98, BP).

Extreme Score: 61 = Extreme.

Summary: Law pretty much came out and said that he doesn’t let anyone else influence his opinions. They are his own. Every renegade hitter pick he made – except Kyle Blanks – was a player over the age of 22. I believe just about every renegade pitcher he went with has above-average velocity. So though this list is extreme, it’s almost the reciprocal of the list we made, which means it’s less risky on the hitter side and more risky on the pitcher side. It will be very interesting to compare our list with Law’s five years from now.

Mound Talk

Primary Voice: Koby Schellenger.

Years publishing top 100s: 1.

Loner Instances: Jordan Walden.

Renegade Picks: Oscar Tejeda (82), Dellin Betances (85), Mat Gamel (92), Jon Meloan (93), and Aaron Cunningham (100).

Buddy Picks: Will Inman (41, PP), Bill Rowell (63, PP), Madison Bumgarner (66, PP), Brent Lillibridge (73, BP), Jeff Niemann (74, BA), Blake Beavan (75, PP), Troy Patton (78, BA), Alan Horne (84, BP), Brett Sinkbeil (89, BA), Kasey Kiker (96, PP), and Matt Harrison (97, PP).

Extreme Score: 24 = Moderate.

Summary: Koby’s extreme score is a little misleading, as most of the risks he took were in the final third of his list. With the exception of his high praise for Will Inman, his list is quite conservative. Again, this will likely lead to a list that ultimately doesn’t miss on many prospects but doesn’t unearth many from the beaten path, either.

“Mock Draft”

To demonstrate the differences in thinking between each of the five publications that I highlighted, I have put together a 31-round, off-line mock prospect draft. Order was determined randomly. The draft was done in a serpentine style, with each publication selecting the highest player available from its top 100 when its turn came up. The results are below:

Rd. ESPN Baseball Propectus Baseball America Project Prospect Mound Talk
1 Evan Longoria Jay Bruce Joba Chamberlain Colby Rasmus Clay Buchholz
2 Franklin Morales Travis Snider Cameron Maybin David Price Clayton Kershaw
3 Homer Bailey Rick Porcello Matt Wieters Jake McGee Andy LaRoche
4 Fernando Martinez Wade Davis Jacoby Ellsbury Ian Kennedy Johnny Cueto
5 Desmond Jennings Jordan Schafer Andrew McCutchen Daric Barton Brandon Wood
6 Josh Vitters Jarrod Parker Mike Moustakas Chris Marrero Jeff Clement
7 Carlos Triunfel Joey Votto Elvis Andrus Gio Gonzalez Reid Brignac
8 Angel Villalona Chase Headley Carlos Gonzalez Matt LaPorta Matt Antonelli
9 Jose Tabata Nick Adenhart Jason Heyward Austin Jackson Beau Mills
10 Lars Anderson Neftali Feliz Adam Miller Fautino de los Santos Eric Hurley
11 Geovany Soto Chin-lung Hu Kosuke Fukudome Aaron Laffey Will Inman
12 Carlos Gomez Ross Detwiler Deolis Guerra Sean Gallagher Waldimir Balentien
13 Nolan Reimold Manny Parra Brett Anderson Aaron Thompson Hank Conger
14 Taylor Teagarden Steve Pearce Ian Stewart Bill Rowell Neil Walker
15 Michael Main Chris Tillman Jair Jurrjens Trevor Cahill Max Scherzer
16 German Duran Jed Lowrie J.R. Towles Kevin Mulvey Justin Masterson
17 James McDonald Jordan Walden Carlos Carrasco Michael Burgess Chris Volstad
18 Matt Dominguez Ryan Kalish Nick Blackburn Tyler Robertson Luke Hochevar
19 Tim Alderson Matt Latos Chris Davis Greg Reynolds Madison Bumgarner
20 Brett Cecil Engel Beltre Daniel Cortes Nick Weglarz Michael Bowden
21 Felipe Paulino Brent Lillibridge Brett Sinkbeil Jesus Montero Scott Elbert
22 Tommy Hanson Gerardo Parra Radhames Liz Sean O'Sullivan Chris Perez
23 Aaron Poreda Alan Horne Brandon Jones Cole Rohrbough Jeff Niemann
24 Kyle Blanks Bryan Anderson Chuck Lofgren James Simmons Blake Beavan
25 Fernando Perez Chorye Spoone Dexter Fowler Phillippe Aumont Troy Patton
26 Mitch Boggs Jeremy Jeffress Tyler Colvin Anthony Swarzak Oscar Tejeda
27 Henry Sosa Wes Hodges Adrian Cardenas Kasey Kiker Jaime Garcia
28 Jeremy Hellickson Chris Nelson Collin Balester Chris Parmelee Dellin Betances
29 Josh Donaldson Gorkys Hernandez Joe Savery Jeffrey Locke Mat Gamel
30 John Jaso Casey Weathers Hector Gomez Esmailyn Gonzalez Jon Meloan
31 Jordan Zimmerman Ben Revere Drew Stubbs Matt Harrison Aaron Cunningham


I’ll gladly share the excel sheet that I put together for this column. Just email a request to