For the 3rd straight year (that it’s been available), I’ve subscribed to MiLB.TV. I’ve always had a passion for prospects, but felt as though I was just scouting a stat-line. While I’m hardly David Lee, I have been able to differentiate between tools and performance and it’s provided me a newfound experience to watching Minor League Baseball.

For pitchers, I care less about ERA and more about K/BB ratio. I’ve also learned to also give pitchers a little grace when it’s apparent that they’re working on something specific (which is why ERA can be so misleading). Also, David Lee has been an inspiration for me to see between command and control and that’s helped my pitching eye. It’s the driving force behind why I’ve been so much higher on Tucker Davidson than Kyle Muller. Commanding the zone is so much more important than just throwing strikes and Tucker does both better than Muller which is why one projects as a starter and the other, reliever.

For young hitters, I’ve realized what a detriment a high-k total can be in their path to the bigs and have really looked for hard, consistent contact out of budding players. Years ago, I was a HUGE Matt Young fan and likely came on Braves Journal once/weekly begging for his promotion. He was a leadoff guy with a high OBP and stole a whole lot of bases. I cannot recall who it was, but one of the guys writing about Braves prospects told me straight up that he’d never hit in the bigs and his bat would be knocked out of his hands on a nightly basis. It happened within his first 10 plate appearances in the Majors.

For catchers, it’s truly about listening to the pitchers that throw to them. Never ignore rave reviews of a catcher that come for a handful of pitchers. When Christian Bethancourt was coming up through the org, the org raved about his athleticism, but looking back on it, the pitchers that he received? Mostly crickets. Also, it’s common sense I know, but the bat is likely going to be slow to develop so look for hit tools rather than polish. A mistake I made with Alex Jackson was the lack of understanding raw power vs. in-game power. As his stats stand today at AAA, he’s only got 6 Ks in 30 PAs, so maybe there’s still chance for him. I’ll always land on the side of optimism as it just fits my personality.

Today’s post will be a narrow-down of sorts for the Top-30 list that will be coming midyear. This is normally something that goes on behind the scenes, but I thought I’d bring this thought exercise out in the open considering we hadn’t had much to chat about in terms of prospects and I’m just so damned excited!

The Graduates

Our last Top-30 prospect list finished up on December 26, 2019, about a year and a half ago. Many of those names have now graduated (or will have graduated) from prospect status by the time the midseason list comes out. Others have been traded and are now on other team’s prospect lists. Those are:

  1. Ian Anderson (was ranked #2)
  2. Kyle Wright (was ranked #4)
  3. Bryse Wilson (was ranked #5)
  4. William Contreras (was ranked #9)
  5. Huascar Ynoa (was ranked #14)
  6. Patrick Weigel (was ranked #19)
  7. Jeremy Walker (was ranked #26)
  8. Phil Pfeifer (was ranked #27)

The Usual Suspects

These guys have shown up on the prospect list for a few years and will be , at the least, considered for a return, some hopefully for the last year.

  1. Cristian Pache
  2. Drew Waters
  3. Kyle Muller
  4. Shea Langeliers
  5. Tucker Davidson
  6. Braden Shewmake
  7. Jasseel De La Cruz
  8. Trey Harris
  9. Michael Harris
  10. Bryce Ball
  11. Daysbel Hernandez
  12. Freddy Tarnok
  13. Mahki Backstrom
  14. Greyson Jenista
  15. Justin Dean
  16. C.J. Alexander
  17. Victor Vodnik
  18. Vaughn Grissom
  19. Trey Riley
  20. Nolan Kingham
  21. Beau Philip

The Noobs

There’s been 1 draft, some international prospects signed, and some late bloomers to consider. These are not in any specific order, merely a list.

  1. Jared Shuster
  2. Tyler Owens
  3. Bryce Elder
  4. Jesse Franklin
  5. Joey Estes
  6. Stephen Paolini
  7. Hayden Deal
  8. William Woods
  9. Ricky DeVito
  10. Spencer Strider
  11. Ty Tice
  12. Troy Bacon
  13. Kurt Hoekstra
  14. A.J. Puckett
  15. Indigo Diaz
  16. Kasey Kalich
  17. Riley Unroe
  18. Andrew Moritz
  19. Roddery Munoz
  20. Darius Vines
  21. Willie Carter
  22. Ambioris Tavarez

Moving on UP

Of the 43 players listed above, there are several big time movers here and, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know the names. Whether it be they came from nowhere because of an absent 2020, or have just taken the world by storm in 2021 after solid production in the past, these are guys that will be moving several spots up on our prospect list.

  1. Michael Harris
  2. Shea Langeliers
  3. Victor Vodnik
  4. Bryce Elder
  5. Spencer Strider
  6. Indigo Diaz
  7. Roddery Munoz

It’s Going Down, I’m Yelling Timber

And the not so fun part of this exercise…when a player is simply not producing, even in a small sample, their prospect status takes a hit. Depending on the extent of the sample and age, it could be a small or large decline. Those unfortunate souls are:

  1. Trey Harris
  2. Greyson Jenista
  3. Braden Shewmake
  4. C.J. Alexander
  5. Nolan Kingham
  6. Beau Philip

That’s a Wrap

43. For now, that’s the number we’ll start with when determining our prospect list. Sure, if we’re doing a 3-party system again this year, they’ll likely be more additions before then, based on performance and/or individual preference, but you get the picture. In looking at this list, I’m still of the belief that this system isn’t near as top heavy as many would assume and there’s talent all through the system.