Who doesn't love a good list? With the off-season finally winding down, I compiled a top 100 prospect list for the 2013 season. Make no mistake about it; I'm not a scout, I don't know any scouts, and to my best recollection, I've only seen one of these players live (Travis d'Arnaud). Since my nuanced evaluating abilities are rudimentary at best, I'm not sure if that would add anything to the piece anyway. I am able to think critically however, and I use all the scouting reports, stats and information that are available to me.
I have a system to arrive at 100 prospects. I form aggregate top 10 rankings for each team, using lists from Minor League Ball's John Sickels, Baseball America's staff, Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus and Keith Law at ESPN. I take the best prospect from each team and compare him to the top prospects from his division rivals. I then take the top prospect from each division and compare him to the other division leaders, and the top player among those six will be at the top of the list. I repeat this process until I reach 100, filling in new prospects in the division lists and "semi-finalists" as necessary. Starting today, I'll count down the list, include where they were on the list I did last year and some brief thoughts for each player.
100. Adam Morgan LHP Philadelphia (Not ranked): The Cliff Lee comparisons are a bit much for the 2011 third round pick because his stuff and control aren't nearly as good, but their deliveries are quite similar. He's not the last player from that third round on this list.
99. Gary Brown CF San Francisco (29): I was a huge fan of Brown after his 2011 season, but his improved power proved to be a Cal League mirage. He's still a great athlete who could play Gold Glove defense in center field, but there's less optimism that he can be the complete package now.
98. Clayton Blackburn RHP San Francisco (NR): Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley grabbed all the headlines as Oklahoma prep pitchers in 2011, but Blackburn really emerged in 2012. His upside isn't nearly as high, but he generates a ton of ground balls and fills up the strike zone.
97. Chris Stratton RHP San Francisco (2012 pick): Stratton is another Giants arm that can move quickly, just what they need from a farm system that's generally been unproductive since they graduated Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. His stuff is just okay, but he really knows how to pitch.
96. Michael Wacha RHP St. Louis (2012 pick): It was clear on draft day that Wacha was a steal for the Cardinals at #19, and his brief pro career so far has certainly backed that up. The Cardinals probably didn't need any more arms with potential in the upper minors, but here they are.
95. Garin Cecchini 3B Boston (NR): I admit this is a tad aggressive, but I've liked the older Cecchini since the run up to the 2010 draft. This ranking is more about the potential he has and not solely on-field production to this point, and he could hit for average and power down the road.
94. Michael Choice OF Oakland (67): Choice has big time power potential, but he swings and misses a lot and is just an okay outfielder. The A's have shown plenty of times they don't mind that kind of player, and the hot streaks he's capable of going on make him worth it.
93. Tyler Austin OF Yankees (NR): Austin had a breakout 2012 season, starting in low-A and finishing with a cup of coffee in AA at just 20 years old. He has a nice approach and a good feel for contact, but the power will have to develop a little more for this corner outfielder.
92. Slade Heathcott OF Yankees (NR): While Austin is a polished bat, Heathcott provides an athletic, higher risk alternative in the outfield. He's athletic, plays a good center field and has some power potential, but he has missed a lot of time with injuries, never playing more than 76 games in a season.
91. Kolten Wong 2B St. Louis (NR): Perhaps more than any other organization, the Cardinals have focused on college players in the first round in recent years, and they've made it work. Wong doesn't have high upside, but he should hit for a high average and provide above average defense up the middle.
90. Tony Cingrani LHP Cincinnati (NR): Cingrani was taken five picks before Adam Morgan, and his minor league numbers have been nothing short of eye-popping (33.1 K%). If his slider improves, he's absolutely a solid starter for Cincinnati.
89. Henry Owens LHP Boston (NR): Owens had a pretty strange pro debut in 2012 with a FIP that was significantly lower than his ERA. He's a big lefty with deception in his delivery, and he has impressed in spring training. He needs to refine his control though, and that can be difficult for tall pitchers.
88. Zach Lee RHP Los Angeles (40): The Dodgers paid over $5 million in 2010 to sign him away from an LSU commitment, and although he's already reached AA, there seems to be less optimism about him. His stuff isn't really high end, but he's athletic and throws strikes.
87. Corey Seager SS Los Angeles (2012 pick): Corey has more upside than his older brother Kyle, but so far his only pro experience is 202 plate appearances in the hitter friendly Pioneer League. He's a third baseman in the end, so he'll have to get stronger and hit for more power.
86. Robert Stephenson RHP Cincinnati (NR): Stephenson was one of many high ceiling arms in the loaded 2011 class, and the Reds have been as careful with him as the Rays have been with Taylor Guerrieri. He has touched 100 MPH in the past, but he'll have success pitching into the low to mid 90's.
85. Yasiel Puig OF Los Angeles (2012 signing): Everyone on this blog is dumber is now dumber for having listened to comparisons to Bo Jackson, but Puig does have talent. He has great strength and isn't a bad athlete for his size, but he's had very little exposure to pro pitching so far.
84. Jarred Cosart RHP Houston (48): Cosart's blister problems in recent years have been reminiscent of Josh Beckett five to seven years ago, but unfortunately for Cosart, he hasn't had success when on the field. He has the three pitch repertoire to start, but command and delivery concerns will land him in the bullpen.
83. Eddie Rosario 2B Minnesota (70): I'm really not sure why I had Rosario so high on last year's list, but later in the top 100 is appropriate for him. He has good bat speed and a bit of pop, but where he plays on the field is a major question mark. His bat profiles at second base if he can stick there.
82. Delino DeShields Jr. 2B Houston (NR): The former top 10 pick had a great rebound season in 2012, and that included a 101 steal season that some may not have noticed because Billy Hamilton stole many, many more. He could be a leadoff hitter with his patience approach.
81. Luis Heredia RHP Pittsburgh (88): Heredia is already 6'6 and filled out at 18 years old, and the Pirates hope he doesn't keep growing which could lead to mechanical problems. He has big fastball velocity, but his strikeout rate has been a bit underwhelming in his young pro career so far.
80. Courtney Hawkins OF White Sox (2012 pick): Hawkins was a rare pick out of high school that was able to reach high-A in his draft year. He's very strong with great raw power, and he'll need it because he's going to have to play corner outfield at some point in his career.
79. J.R. Graham RHP Atlanta (NR): Graham has a pretty unique profile; he's a rare, short right hander that can pitch in an ML rotation, his fastball can sit in the mid 90's, and despite his height, he can generate ground balls effectively. His slider gives him another effective pitch, and his changeup is improving.
78. Dorssys Paulino SS Cleveland (NR): Paulino started the season in a complex league, and he easily conquered that before finishing the season in the New York-Penn League. He has a nice approach for a young player, and he can really hit too. The challenge will be staying at shortstop as he gets older.
77. Kyle Crick RHP San Francisco (NR): Of the three Giants arms on here, Crick has the superior stuff in the trio. He also carries the most risk. He has great fastball velocity and movement and strikes out plenty of batters with it, but he needs to cut down on his walks badly.
76. Avisail Garcia OF Detroit (NR): Garcia's breakthrough season started in 2012 with the Lakeland Flying Tigers, and he finished it getting regular playing time with the big club. The television commentators' constant comparisons to Miguel Cabrera got tiresome, but he is a big, strong athlete.
Hopefully tomorrow will bring the next 25 on the list, and the Rays will start being represented. I hope this can start some discussion because rankings like this are incredibly subjective.