Both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America dropped their Top 100 lists today (well, BP does 101, because whatever), and a year after having no prospects on either list, the Mariners have four on BA’s and two on BP’s. One key difference to keep in mind: Baseball America does not cap players who have professional experience in other countries, meaning that as Shohei Ohtani made the list last year, so too did Yusei Kikuchi this year. Baseball Prospectus curtails any players past a certain age/experience level. To go much further down this road requires a teleological discussion on the nature of prospects, however, and we have other fish to fry. [Consults copy of PETA’s Style Guide.] Sorry, I mean we have “other shoelaces to tie.” Here’s a link to the Baseball Prospectus list and the Baseball America list; note that both require subscriptions. We subscribe to both at the site (also, thank you for buying the Breaking T shirts when we advertise them; we use the proceeds from that to pay for our subscriptions to sites like these, so it’s a huge help to us when you do that, thank you). If you’re seriously interested in getting more into prospects—and now with the Mariners farm on the rebound is a great time to do it—consider a BA subscription, which has info you won’t be able to find anywhere else. BP also has the very useful eyewitness scouting reports of the minors, which I will be reading intently with regards to the West Virginia Power this year.
The earliest any Mariner drops in on either list is Justus Sheffield, 27 on BA’s list. That’s down slightly from his position last year. Sheffield actually moves up seven spots on BP’s list, but BP is significantly lower on Sheffield than BA, ranking him as the 50th best prospect in baseball. That’s one of the more significant discrepancies between the two lists, although not quite to the level of BP leaving 2018 draftee Phillies 3B Alec Bohm unranked while BA lists him at 65, ahead of Jarred Kelenic.
Speaking of Kelenic, BP thinks slightly more highly of him than BA, positioning the teenage outfielder at 63 vs. BA’s 68 (behind Bohm, who posted a wRC+ of 87 at short season this year). If there is a significant difference between how the two publications evaluate players, I would say that it seems to me BA takes into account what players do in college/amateur ball a little more, whereas BP weighs more heavily what a player has done since beginning their professional career. That makes sense, since Baseball America’s entire focus as a publication is on prospects and their coverage of the college game significantly more wide-ranging. It is something to keep in mind, though, when looking at how each publication evaluates a player like Bohm vs. someone like the Angels’ Jo Adell, drafted out of high school in 2017. Both publications like Adell, but BA has him sixth while BP has him as the second-best prospect in baseball.
Baseball America does cast the net a little wider in considering older players or those who have pro experience when making prospect lists, and so Yusei Kikuchi comes in on their list at 45. Last year Ohtani was BA’s number two prospect.
After a strong performance at the AFL, Evan White cracks BA’s Top 100 list for the first time in his career, sneaking on in the very last spot. He’s in good company there—fellow Mariner Justin Dunn occupied that same spot in 2016. White doesn’t make BP’s list, but he is mentioned on their “next 10”—although he barely makes that as well, coming in at nine of ten players listed (and therefore...hang on just let me add this up here...110 overall). BP isn’t sold on White’s power profile yet, although acknowledge that if he continues as the “poor man’s Cody Bellinger,” he’s a lock for a Top-101 spot next year. I assume that refers to power only, because Evan White’s first base defense makes Cody Bellinger look like a hippopotamus on stilts.
Some other interesting things of note:
- The Rays and Padres both have NINE top-100 prospects at BA. Personally I like the Rays system a shade better for depth, but the Padres for impact players (although several of those impact players, like Francisco Mejia and Luis Urias, have graduated to MLB).
- For the third consecutive year, the Braves have eight prospects on BA’s list, one less than last year. The Padres and Braves have been the heavy-hitters of farm systems for a while, but I expect to see that shift some as both systems graduate players to MLB.
- The Yankees place two prospects on BP’s list, Estevan Florial and Jonathan Loaisiga, who pitched 24 MLB innings in 2018 and will age off the list next year. BA has no Yankees in the Top 100.
- Aside from Bohm, one of the other biggest discrepancies between the two lists is Orioles prospect Ryan Mountcastle. BP has the bat-first Mountcastle at 51; BA has him all the way down at 90.
- Mr. Irrelevant: Evan White clocks in last on BA’s list. BP chose to give their last slot to Kyler Murray, who may opt to play football instead of baseball.