Having long been a sucker for high-ceiling athletes, the absence of four extremely young players may be a bit surprising. Infielders Steven Fuentes, Wily Adames, and Aaron Sayers, along with outfielder Manuel Joseph were all strong candidates for the last 15 spots on the list but for varying reasons, their raw skills sets gave me pause as I prepared the final ranking. Fuentes and Sayers were the most difficult to leave off the list and each could very well enter the rankings based on fall scouting and postseason discussions with scouts.
Other infielders that missed the list included three first basemen that have all appeared among the Top 50 prospects at various times. Dean Green, James Robbins and Aaron Westlake all present the ability to drive the ball out of the park and Green even offers the potential to develop into a plus hitter. However, Green has spent the bulk of this season on the disabled list in Lakeland and even when he was healthy, the Tigers did not see fit to promote him to Double-A after raking in the Florida State League in 2012.. Both Robbins and Westlake offer impressive raw power but that comes with considerable swing and miss and overall offensive profiles that do not lend well to Major League projection.
On the pitching side, high floor, low ceiling arms like Warwick Saupold and Kenny Faulk were in the discussion at the end of the process, but ultimately, both players project better as organizational arms that may earn a cup of coffee at some point. Faulk is a left-on-left reliever without a "go-to" breaking ball and Saupold's overall arsenal comes up short when attempting to project his ability to get big league hitters out consistently.
At the other end of the spectrum, boom-or-bust right-hander Brenny Pualino has previously ranked as high as the TigsTown Top 10 prospects, but as he approaches his second full missed season due to arm problems, his prospect stock is in serious decline.
From the bullpen, several right-handers were close to the back of the rankings but their ultimate projection as up-and-down middle relievers left me searching for more raw tools and intriguing ceilings. Pitchers like Evan Reed, Michael Morrison, Luis Marte and Jose Ortega all have the raw arm strength to pitch effectively at the Major League level, but in the end I remain unconvinced that they can consistently hardness their stuff to pitch in high-leverage situations.
There is no exact science to ranking prospects and the movement of players from inside the Top 50 to the outer fringes is not uncommon, particularly given the tiny differences that must be drawn between players that all own marginal Major League projections. In the end, cases can be made for movement of players from off the list into the last few spots and vice versa, but the ultimate line comes down to the personal scouting and player development preferences of the person compiling the list.