Each February brings us prospect lists, lists and more lists. If you are like me, you are swimming in them. What I will be doing in this annual three-part series is to offer some clarity and context by putting the elements of selected lists relevant to the St. Louis Cardinals side-by-side.
In future installments, we will look at the top ten prospects in the Cardinals system according to a handful of national raters. Then we will look into their respective views of the Cardinals’ system-wide ranking.
Here, I am starting with a system-wide comparison from an individual player perspective. Specifically, we will look at the Cardinals players appearing on a group of seven national top 100 lists.
The included seven
The sources I chose to list are nationally-known, with past histories and track records that one can look back upon.
ESPN, written by Keith Law (subscription article)
BaseballHQ, from Rob Gordon and Jeremy Deloney
MLB.com, compiled by Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis
Fangraphs, by Kiley McDaniel
and finally, our rankings: Scout.com.
The columns in the table below are ordered by the site names as listed in the previous paragraph. The Cardinals players’ individual rankings within site’s top 100 are at the left of each name.
Though it may seem elementary, I will still point out that any organization’s “fair share” on a top 100 list would be 3 1/3 names (100 divided by 30 MLB organizations). The Cardinals had three prospects on four of seven lists and exceeded it in two of the seven, with an average of exactly three.
The consensus group is empty
From the big picture perspective, there is a high level of agreement as to the identity of the Cardinals top prospects. Only four different players appear on any of the seven top 100s.
Stephen Piscotty was one of three Cardinals closest to a clean sweep, with six of seven, in his case for the second year a row. The outfielder also earns special recognition as the only Cardinal to make the 2015 MLB.com list. Pretty exclusive territory, apparently.
Though our own Scout.com list was the only one to leave Piscotty off, I cannot be too critical of that decision. After all, the sequence of Cardinals on the national top 100 remained in sync with The Cardinal Nation’s 2015 top 40. In this case, the line was drawn at three Cardinals. That does not seem unfair.
For the second year in a row, 2013 draftee Rob Kaminsky just slipped into the bottom of the ESPN and Scout lists, and this year, he did the same on Fangraphs’ list, too. Still, any top 100 selection is worthy of attention.
Noticeably absent from any top 100 consideration was outfielder Randal Grichuk. Among the names most likely to crack these lists in 12 months with continued progress are pitcher Jack Flaherty and outfielder Magneuris Sierra. In fact, all three did receive mention in Fangraphs’ second 100. (Fangraphs is the only site of the seven to take their rankings that deep this year.)
Sorting the rankings
Following is a re-sorting of the same lists using a horizontal orientation by player name. That way, you can see how the top 100 placement for each player varied by the source. (Sites remain in their same respective columns as shown in the first table.)
Also note the color coding. That reflects the ranking change from 2014 to 2015, where green is positive.
All told, Piscotty’s good, but not great 2014 season, coupled with other emerging prospects across the game, led a mixed view of his year-to-year progress against his peers. As the colors indicate, the right-handed hitter’s numeric ranking worsened on three of the seven top 100 lists from year to year – BA, ESPN and Scout.com – while his 2015 placement improved over last year on the other four lists.
When ranked, Piscotty was between 62nd and 90th nationally, with the lone exception of Baseball Prospectus, a very strong backer at 32. That was not only Piscotty’s best ranking, it was the best placement by any Cardinal on any of the seven lists this year.
2015 marks a major improvement for both Gonzales and Reyes in the national spotlight. One year ago, Gonzales made none of the seven lists while Reyes had just a lone national placement, a no. 98 ranking by Fangraphs.
The two pitchers made very solid debuts on Baseball America’s list at 50 and 51, respectively, but each also had one placement in the 40’s. Marco is Scout’s 41st-ranked prospect and Baseball HQ pegged Alex at 45, their best individual showings.
Overall year to year trend continues downward
Considering the Major League graduations of Kolten Wong, Oscar Taveras and Carlos Martinez during last season, it is not surprising that the Cardinals top 100 showing is weaker in comparison to last spring.
As in the prior table, color indicates year to year trend, this case, the change in the number of Cardinals in the various top 100’s.
Number of Cardinals in top 100s by Year
In 2014, the Cards had six different names to appear on the seven lists, but only three prospects were on a majority of them – Wong, Taveras and Piscotty. Martinez was left off a number of top 100s one year ago due to inconsistent accounting as to his MLB time, and therefore eligibility.
2015 marks the second straight year of decline for the Cardinals. In 2013, St. Louis had anywhere from five top 100 players (ESPN) to seven (BP). All others were at six. Five prospects were unanimous selections – Taveras, Shelby Miller, Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal and Wong. Michael Wacha would have joined them, but was noticeably absent from ESPN’s list two years ago. We’ll have to charge Law with an error on that play!
Different sites may use slightly different criteria, but they all end up with an ordered national prospect list, which enables these types of comparisons. Always remember that your mileage may vary, however.
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