I've chosen to use top 100 lists from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN and AOL as well as our own this year. If you put a lot of weight into a top 100 list that isn't included here, please email me a link to the list (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I use the following two terms in breaking down top 100s:
A total of 158 different players made the five top 100 lists. And 58 players appeared on all five lists -- that's a lot of agreement.
Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg were ranked at the top hitting and pitching prospect, respectively, in baseball by every publication except AOL, which had Mike Stanton and Desmond Jennings ahead of Heyward. Last year, Matt Wieters and David Price were unanimous selections as the top hitting and pitching prospect in baseball.
I'm a big believer in utilizing as much information at possible. Having other hard-working professionals putting together prospect ranking lists is a treat. I value what each of the sources below has to offer. It's great that so many people are investing energy into stacking up prospects. The publications are listed in order of how long they're been creating top 100 lists.
First Top 100: 1990
Primary Voices: Jim Callis, John Manuel, Will Lingo and Conor Glassey
Renegade Picks: Adam Moore (83), Chad James (78) and Noel Arguelles (100)
Loner Instances: Jose Tabata and Ryan Kalish
Baseball America has been atop the prospect coverage podium for two full decades now and no one appears primed to take that away from them. They are as connected as anyone in the industry, have the largest editorial staff and follow guys from the amateur ranks to the majors. BA has put out lists that take very few risks in each of the three years I've studied top 100s. They've been consistently conservative with a preference for high-ceiling talents over likely big leaguers who may not have as much upside. Until someone comes up with a popular approach that's outperforms theirs, why change?
First Top 100: 2007
Primary Voice: Kevin Goldstein
Renegade Picks: Hak-Ju Lee (63), Michael Inoa (66), Brandon Allen (85), Jordan Walden (89), Tim Melville (93), Gabriel Noriega (94), Fabio Martinez (95) and Ethan Martin (98)
Loner Instances: Yonder Alonso and Jhoulys Chacin
Baseball Prospectus has completely removed itself from its prospect roots as a quantitatively based publication that at times valued floor over ceiling. If a prospect has a very high ceiling, Goldstein has shown very little hesitation in promoting him. But his approach has varied a lot from year to year.
Last year, KG published a top 100 that was wildly different from the rest, ultimately leaving Kyle Blanks and Gerardo Parra as well as 2010 consensus top prospects Martin Perez, Domonic Brown, Christian Friedrich and Tyler Flowers off his list entirely. This year, Goldstein's list is as conservative as any. Though he did stick his neck out with a solid number of renegade picks, he matched BA and ESPN in ranking 97.4% of the prospects who appeared on at least four of the top 100s. Goldstein also took a very conservative approach with his top 100 list two years ago.
First Top 100: 2007
Primary Voices: Adam Foster, Lincoln Hamilton and Steve Carter
Renegade Picks: Alex Avila (34), Nick Weglarz (43), Logan Forsythe (45), Brandon Snyder (46), Jon Niese (48), Carlos Carrasco (60), Ian Desmond (63), Danny Espinosa (68), Chase d'Arnaud (69), Jonathan Lucroy (71), Max Ramirez (75), Ryan Strieby (79), Ivan De Jesus (85), Eric Young Jr. (89), Jemile Weeks (90), Reese Havens (92) and Kellen Kulbacki (95)
Loner Instances: Dee Gordon, Josh Vitters, Shelby Miller, Casey Crosby, Tim Beckham, Aaron Crow, Mike Moustakas, Drew Storen and Nick Hagadone.
Project Prospect has decided to take every prospect ranking "rule" you've ever seen and thrown it out the window. The other four lists either have 42% or 43% pitchers. PP went with 30%, citing injury risk as a reason for its conservative approach with pitchers. We also highlighted a handful of pitchers who we think are bigger injury risks than their peers, such as Jeremy Hellickson and Christian Friedrich -- reasoning detailed in the Digital Prospect Guide.
Rather than including more pitchers, we largely filled our list with guys who won't likely be stars but could have extended careers as solid big leaguers. We also have three times as many loner instances than everyone else, including Devaris Gordon and Josh Vitters.
As a staff, we made it out to a lot of minor league and college baseball games last year. We also spend a lot of time analyzing video and numbers. I think we've done a solid job with our loner instances -- most of our 2009 loner instances were with guys who are still prospect-eligible but didn't make any 2010 top 100s -- but we haven't hit on many of our renegade picks. With the addition of Carter and a stronger focus on scouting, we're hoping to name more sleepers this year.
First Top 100: 2008
Primary Voice: Keith Law
Renegade Picks: Eric Hosmer (34), Daryl Jones (59), Randall Delgado (85)
Loner Instances: Daniel Hudson and Donovan Tate
Law came out with a very unique prospect list in 2008 -- Carlos Triunfel ranked 18th and Angel Villalona 20th. He's since toned it down a bit. Similar to Baseball America's list, Law's pretty much had the same names as everyone else this year. He just ranked them differently. Two of his most aggressive 2010 rankings were Zach Britton (25th) and Tim Beckham (29th). He was relatively conservative with Alcides Escobar (54) and Mike Montgomery (75th). More so than any other publication, he stood firm with some guys who were highly ranked entering 2009 but went on to struggle -- see Beckham, Josh Vitters, Hosmer, Lars Anderson and Daryl Jones. Law makes it out to see a good number of amateur and minor league games. He was very vocal about evaluating players on his own opposed to relying on scouting reports from others when he first joined the prospect ranking scene.
First Top 100: 2010
Primary Voice: Frankie Piliere
Renegade Picks: Mike Minor (43), Anthony Gose (46), Andy Oliver (47), Tyson Gillies (50), David Bromberg (70), Zach McAllister (76), Daniel Schlereth (78), Craig Kimbrel (81), Jhan Martinez (86), A.J. Pollock (92) and Jurickson Profar (96)
Loner Instances: Jaff Decker, Zack Wheeler and Jiovanni Mier
Fankie Piliere has become a big name in the industry in a hurry. He first flexed his scouting knowledge with SaberScouting (co-founder). He then joined the Texas Rangers as a scout. Back to writing, Piliere provides analysis from a first-hand scouting perspective. Similar to Law, Piliere attends a lot of games. His first list shows a strong preference for ceiling, especially with live arms.
For more information on where each list ranked a particular prospect, check out the Industry Top 50+ Prospect List that I created.