The Scout top 100 prospect list for 2017 is updated and can be found here
Taylor and Jeff will go through spot by spot explaining why these players were selected and why they fell where they did on this list. Here is the first set of players rated 100 to 91.
Jeff Ellis: Chance Adams is one of the players I fought for on this list. When one gets to the one hundred spot there are a lot of players that enter consideration and some I liked more than Adams. Yet, in the end, Adams was a player that Taylor and I could agree on. The glaring negative here is Adam's size, or lack thereof. He stands six feet tall, and there are concerns about the violence of his delivery as well. The concerns with violence of delivery are many, but one issue is that it can lead to command issues, which are present with Adams. He reminds me a lot of fellow 2015 draft pick Carson Fulmer. Fulmer went 8th and Adams went 153rd. Adams started out at JUCO powerhouse Yavapai College for two years before transferring to Dallas Baptist for one season, where he worked exclusively out of the pen. This season was the first time Adams has started since his sophomore year at Yavapai in 2014. He worked across high A and AA this year, with high strikeout rates and solid walk rates while being young for his level. He has also been pretty much unhittable at every level looking at his hit rate data. It is impressive to see a guy being stretched out into a starter finding the success he had at AA. His fastball is an explosive weapon that sits mid-90s and pretty much guarantees a floor of a reliever. His best secondary pitch is his slider and he also has worked on his change. As one would expect of a former reliever, both of these pitches need work and could end up causing Adams to have to move to the pen. The floor to ceiling gap is rather huge for Adams, as he could end up a solid number two or he might end up in the pen as a middle inning guy.
Jeff Ellis: Luis Urias is a player that Taylor was insistent about making the list during our process. I was not familiar with him at the start, but through the process started to see why. Urias, at the age of 19, performed at a high rate while being nearly five years younger than the league average age. While it is unusual to see such a young prospect already moved to second base, it seems like his best position going forward. Urias struck out just seven percent of the time this year. He walked more than he struck out this year, but that doesn’t tell the full picture. Urias also was intentionally walked eight times and hit by 13 pitches. While it might seem odd, the ability to get hit by a high number of pitches does seem to be a skill. Heck, Brandon Guyer has basically made a career out of that being his only average or better skill. It also speaks to the respect that opposing managers showed Urias that he was pitched around so often. The negative here is that there is basically no power. The hope is that he could be a 30 double guy down the road, but I would not expect double digit home runs. That being said, the numbers at his age, along with his size, reminds me of Jose Ramirez of the Indians. Ramirez is a lot thicker than Urias, so I would not expect the same power potential down the road. Urias’ best outcome is as a high OBP second baseman, a perfect guy for the tool hole in the order.
Jeff Ellis: Alec Hansen was one of my guys for this list. I was very critical of his performance this year at Oklahoma, but he looked like a different pitcher in the minors for the White Sox. The talent was always there for Hansen, who started the year as the favorite to be the top player selected in June’s draft. I commented on draft day how the White Sox were one of the best places for Hansen to land because of their track record with pitcher development. I know Hansen is not on most lists, but I think anyone who writes about prospects would agree that there is a real chance that he is a top 20 prospect in baseball in a year's time. His size and stuff have always given him a chance to be a legitimate ace. His issues with command and control held him back. His walk rate in A ball and the rookie league were lower than he ever posted in college. The issue here is small sample size. I could look back next year and realize that I missed the boat. I could be too excited by the limited performance of a pitcher whose stuff was easy to fall in love with. At the same time, if he goes out and does not implode next year he should be on every list. We have seen pitchers like Robert Stephenson and Sean Newcomb stay on prospect lists for years because of stuff, in spite of command and control issues. On stuff alone, Hansen is an intriguing enough arm. I think he has to be mentioned among the top prospects in baseball.
Jeff Ellis: Speaking of Robert Stephenson, the right hander from Cincinnati did not make my initial list. This should come as no surprise for people who follow me regularly. I am a stickler for strikeout and walk rates when it comes to developing pitchers. This might seem hypocritical right after fawning over Hansen, especially when Stephenson is just a year and a half older than Hansen and has pitched in the majors. Yet it was the improvement that Hansen showed that got me excited. Stephenson’s control has been a concern since he was drafted and the improvement has been minimal. His velocity was all over the place this year as well, which is a concern. A big problem with Stephenson is that he combines this high walk rate with a high home run rate, while pitching in a park that is not kind to pitchers. I expect Stephenson will get a long look this year for the Reds. Unless something clicks, I just don’t see a starter here anymore. He has a chance as a pen arm, thanks to solid secondary offerings and a fastball which has been plus at points. At this point, though, I think his command and control are likely to turn Stephenson into a guy who bounces around from team to team as they try to turn his front of the rotation stuff into a front of the rotation pitcher.
Jeff Ellis: Stephen Gonsalves is about as far away from Robert Stephenson as you can get. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say Gonsalves has the worst fastball of any pitcher on this list. He mostly sits in the high 80s, but the lefty has been incredibly hard to hit in the minors. The lack of stuff combined with low hit rates leads me to believe he must hide the ball well and have some deception in his delivery. He is your typical crafty lefty with solid secondary offerings, but one area where he does matchup with Stephenson is that he also struggled with his control this year, as his walk rate jumped upon reaching AA. Now I am not super concerned for a pair of reasons. One, he was nearly four years younger than the league average. Secondly, he had the exact same issue the year before when he jumped to high A part way through the year. He then came back and dominated high A. His numbers in AA were still quite good, so it's not like he died when he went up a level. When it comes to a guy like Gonsalves, he has such a razor thin margin of error. He is likely a pretty solid innings eating left handed backend starter down the road. Yet, if anything goes wrong with him it will reduce him to more of a depth arm.
Jeff Ellis: Christian Arroyo is a prospect I saw in person multiple times this year. I never came away super impressed with Arroyo. As a matter of fact, in my write ups I thought he would be likely to repeat AA again next year. He is just 21, even though he feels like he has been around for a while; this upcoming season will be his fourth in the minors. His carrying tool has always been his hit tool, and it has to be for him to be a major league player. Arroyo doesn’t have another average skill offensively to me. His power is well below average, his speed is average, and he has never walked much. He played all over the infield this year and I think, going forward, a utility player is his mostly likely outcome.
Jeff Ellis: Dylan Cease was taken by the Cubs in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. He was viewed as one of the top arms in the prep class that year. He slid to the sixth round, thanks to a combination of injury, slight height, and bonus demands. The Cubs were able to roll their savings (1.5 million) from signing Kyle Schwarber under slot and added Cease. Cease had been reported as hitting 100 in high school and, right as his hype was taking off, promptly needed Tommy John surgery. He has been listed at 6’1” or 6’2” most places and both place him below the 6’3” number, which is often used as the breakpoint for determining if a pitcher is small. Cease, thanks to his injury, has pitched just two seasons in the minors. He has been unhittable both in low A and the rookie league, while posting high strikeout totals. His walks have also been high, which is an area for concern. The stuff is there for a potential number two pitcher down the road. It is still hard to evaluate Cease, as he has pitched just 66 innings the last two years combined because of injuries. Cease’s fastball and its reported velocity hitting triple digits this past summer has gotten him a lot of attention. This next year is so important because, if Cease is unable to stay healthy, there is a chance he might be moved to the pen.
Jeff Ellis: Tyler O’Neil generated more debate on this list than any other player. I am a big fan of O’Neil, who was taken in the 2014 draft and was aggressively pushed by the Mariners, spending his entire season in AA. His performance at age 21 in the Southern League was quite impressive. O’Neil has shown easy power the past two years in the minors. He is not the biggest guy out there but, thanks to his bat speed and frame, he projects to have plus power down the road. Another reason I was such a big supporter of O’Neil is that, in spite of jumping to AA, his strikeout to walk ratio was nearly cut in half. The question for him is will he be able to play outfield well enough or is he going to end up a DH/1B down the road. I believe in the bat of O’Neil enough to project him out as a starting outfielder down the road. His improvement, along with his performance relative to age, makes O’Neil one of the more interesting outfield prospects in the game.
Jeff Ellis: Ian Anderson was a surprise pick in the MLB draft. He was not considered the top right handed prep arm in the draft, nor the third best player. The Braves, though, were able to save 2.5 million dollars, as Anderson signed for the seventh highest total of any pick. This money allowed the Braves to go well over slot on several other picks. The track record for highly picked draft prospects from the state of New York has been spotty of late. It has been hard to elevate the talent there because of extended winters shortening baseball seasons. Anderson was always viewed as an upside arm throughout the process, because of his velocity and being a cold weather arm. Anderson spent some time in the rookie league and did not look lost. He was facing a mix of college and high school talent and pitched well, in spite of being three years younger than the league average. Anderson needs to add weight and get stronger, but there's a chance for an ace here. He is so far out and has a limited track record, so he is far from a safe bet but, personally, I would rather roll the dice on his talent than a more advanced arm with more pronounced issues.
Jeff Ellis: Chance Sisco is another player I got to see multiple times in the Eastern League this year. The Bowie Baysox were a team full of veteran minor league players, so Sisco got an advantage playing with several players who are likely to be future coaches. Sisco himself was just 21 last year, making him young for the level. He was promoted to AAA because of how strong he performed in AA. Sisco is an average defender. He won’t win any awards, but he won’t have to move off the position. His arm is his biggest weakness behind the plate and might lead to teams running against him. What Sisco has done in the minors is hit and get on base. He is never going to generate much power, but could be a 20 to 30 doubles guy while posting excellent on base percentages. There is a ton of value in an average defender who is an average bat at catcher. Sisco looks like a player with a plus hit tool and a strong eye at the plate. Sisco is a player who I think is a bit underrated, even by us. He has always been young for his level and always hit. His BABIP in the low minors shows a player who has made consistent good contact. Last year there were just five catchers with a wRC+ of 100 or more who qualified, and the highest qualifying on base percentage was .362. Sisco’s worst year in the minors, in terms of OBP where he played in more than 20 games, was .387. The scarcity of catchers who can hit makes Sisco even more valuable than a prospect with a similar offensive profile.
Ian Anderson Chance Sisco Chance Adams Tyler O'Neill Christian Arroyo Alec Hansen Luis Urias Dylan Cease Stephen Gonsalves Robert Stephenson Atlanta Braves Baltimore Orioles New York Yankees Seattle Mariners San Francisco Giants Chicago White Sox Chicago Cubs Minnesota Twins San Diego Padres Cincinnati Reds