Since SB Nation’s founding, Minor League Ball provided a unique thing to baseball fans. John Sickels nearly single-handedly delivered quality scouting content and prospect analysis to the masses. For 13 years his work was freely available, offering an incredible deal of value to readers and fellow writers alike. This winter, Sickels was let go by our parent company, Vox Media, but he has fortunately landed on his feet. Sickels has Joined The Athletic and provided his first contribution: his preseason Top-100 prospects in all of baseball. If you’d like to read more from John, seeing his work is worth a subscription, because good work is worth rewarding, in my humble opinion.
As we have done with Keith Law’s list for ESPN, MLB Pipeline’s, and Baseball Prospectus’ and Baseball America’s, we’ve got a quick breakdown of what you need to know. We’ll also have another breakdown when FanGraphs releases their list later this week. Sickels places two and a caveat Mariners in the Top-100:
LHP Justus Sheffield at No. 33
OF Jarred Kelenic at No. 67
Additionally, Sickels slots Yusei Kikuchi in an interdimensional portal between spots No. 20 and No. 21, noting his previous professional experience and more advanced age make the 27-year-old a prospect by some definitions but not others. That pegs Kikuchi between Rays LHP Brendan McKay and Cardinals RHP Alex Reyes.
Sickels’ appraisals also come with a variant on the 20-80 scouting scale, delivering a letter-based grading system. Sheffield, Kikuchi, and Kelenic are all given B+ grades. For reference, there are just five grade A prospects, 10 grade A-, and 62 B+ prospects. The rest of the list is filled out by B grade prospects, and they are likely numerous beyond the Top-100.
Additionally, in a section listing his favorite sleeper prospects in each system, Sickels pegs OF Dom Thompson-Williams and RHP Erik Swanson as his best bets to exceed expectations. It is quite the commentary that all four prospects of note were acquired this offseason, and, amusingly all from New York.