The winter months can become rather bland for baseball fans. It occasionally cooks up a treat in the form of a big trade or a controversial free-agent signing, but largely, the winter months represent a holding pattern in which fans tirelessly pour over depth charts and work to convince themselves that their favorite team will be much-improved for the upcoming season.
For prospect junkies, though, the winter months also offer a cornucopia of prospect rankings to consume and debate. Ryan and I will be unveiling our Top 30 Prospects in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, I’ve compiled a listing of the major top prospect lists across the blogosphere:
|Baseball America||Baseball Prospectus||MLB.com||Minor League Ball||Baseball Prospect Nation||FanGraphs|
These lists are obviously not uniform — and that’s largely due to the variance in scouting as a whole — but it’s important to recognize that each individual will prioritize overall ceiling and big-league readiness differently. That prioritization can account for many of the major differences. For example, FanGraphs has Jim Henderson ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the organization. Ryan and I wouldn’t dream of doing that because he possesses the ceiling of a solid seventh or eighth inning reliever in the big leagues. If I’m valuing prospects, I would prefer someone who has a chance to start over someone who’s definitely a reliever. But, for some prospect evaluators, the likely success at the big league level for Henderson outweighs the ultimate upside of someone like Jorge Lopez, who ranked as high as sixth on Baseball Prospectus and Baseball Prospect Nation.
Prospect rankings are rarely wrong or right. It’s about preference. Rather than having the correct rankings, it’s more important that an individual can defend their rankings with solid scouting reports and projections because the ultimate goal of these rankings is to illustrate a reasonable expectation for a prospect’s future role at the big league level. How one chooses to prioritize the individual skills ultimately becomes secondary. It’s the conversation that matters.
And the overarching conversation regarding the Brewers’ system is that the organizational depth in the minors has drastically improved. It lacks star power, which certainly hurts the overall value of the system, but the number of legitimate potential big leaguers has increased significantly over the past couple years.
For example, Logan Schafer currently projects to rank in the mid-teens in the Disciples of Uecker Top 30 Prospects. That represents a downward trend for Schafer from the last couple years. In that time, however, Schafer cemented himself as a high-floor prospect and has become the favorite for the Brewers’ fourth outfielder this upcoming season. His drop in the prospect rankings should not be seen as a reflection of Schafer’s overall talent level decreasing. Instead, it can be ascribed to the continued development of various Brewers prospects and the overall acquisition of talent in the MLB Draft and the trade market.
That’s a nice development to see if you’re a Brewers fan.