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 80-71.
Jeff Ellis: Tyler Beede is a player who feels like he has been around longer than he has. This is due in part to the fact that he was a first rounder out of high school back in 2011. He ended up going to Vanderbilt instead and has progressed steadily in the minors. I have seen him in person a handful of times and he was much better in 2016 than in 2015. When I saw him in 2015, he looked like a borderline non-prospect. He struggled with command and was very hittable. In 2016, he settled in for AA Richmond and looked like a future mid-rotation starter. His control and command looked much improved and his velocity was up in 2017. Beede should start the year in AAA and be ready to help out the Giants if there is an injury or an ineffective starter. The profile might not be sexy, but there is value in a three or four type arm who can eat a lot of innings.
Jeff Ellis: I am not willing to quit on Carson Fulmer after he had a rough year while pitching across the three upper levels of baseball. I mean, if we just compare him to the previous player on this list, we can see why it would be silly to give up on Fulmer. Fulmer started 18 fewer games, basically a season’s worth, in college. Fulmer was also drafted a year after Beede. While Fulmer was pushed and appeared in the majors this year, Beede repeated AA. Fulmer was always going to be a debated player. For those who were never on board with him as a starter, this past season was all the proof that was needed. He is too small and his delivery is too violent, so he has to be a reliever. I still disagree and see a guy with two potential plus pitches who has front of the rotation potential. I know the negatives and, combined with a bad year, that is why he is so low on the list. Don’t get me wrong, I do have concerns with his shrinking strikeout rate and his walk rate has always been a tad high for me. Yet one subpar year where Fulmer was aggressively pushed is not enough for me to jump off his bandwagon.
Jeff Ellis: One of the funny things about this top 100 prospect list is the fact that my history is as an Indians writer, yet I was much higher on the Angels prospects, while Taylor is an Angel’s writer and was higher on the Indians. I have been a fan of Jahmai Jones since the fall of 2015. I very aggressively put him 12th on my fall board that year for the draft. At the time, I thought the offensive profile was similar to Addison Russell. I still see some run for comparison offensively. Jones is a plus athlete who looks like he would be able to play football or baseball with his strong frame. Even though 2017 will be his third in the minors, he is still a teenager. Jones won’t turn 20 until August. He has a chance to stick in centerfield, though his bat should play in either corner. His best skill, in spite of his athletic ability, is his work ethic. I have a hard time not thinking Jones will be successful when you combine his athleticism, youth, and work ethic.
Jeff Ellis: Willie Calhoun might not have any position, yet I still pushed for him to be even higher on this list. Another player I have been a fan of since the draft, Calhoun was a steal of a fourth round selection for the Dodgers. He was easy to overlook as an undersized junior college player. He spent his second year in the minors and first full season in AA and hit 27 home runs to only 65 strikeouts. He has a potential for plus power in spite of being all of 5’8” and his hit tool should also be plus. The bat should profile fine in left field and, if the defensive play there does not work, then Calhoun should find a home as an everyday DH. If he could legitimately play second base, Calhoun would be a top 10 prospect, but the fact that he might have no position at all means he is here on the list. I would not be shocked to see Calhoun ticketed to an AL team at the deadline, as DH does seem his likely future.
Jeff Ellis: Jesse Winker is another player who feels like he has been around for a long time. Winker was taken in the supplemental round of the 2012 draft. He has moved up the minors slowly, but steadily since then. Back in the 90’s, Winker would have been viewed as a fourth outfielder, but his profile now is that of an above average regular. He is a corner outfielder who might never hit 20 home runs in a season, but likely will because he plays for the Reds. He will balance out his lack of home runs with doubles and walks. Winker looks like an ideal future number two hitter. He will work counts and get on base. He should spend the majority of the year in the majors. He does not seem like a star but should be a solid regular for a long time. The profile reminds me a lot of a pre-breakout Michael Brantley.
Jeff Ellis: It's confession time--I was a lot higher on JD Davis than Matt Chapman when both came out of Fullerton. I kept hearing about power potential, but he had yet to show this in games in college. Chapman’s best tool was also his cannon arm. He was 98 off the mound as a pitcher. He combines a plus-plus arm with plus-plus defense at third. He continues the A’s third base defensive tradition of Josh Donaldson and Eric Chavez. Chapman should be a Gold Glove contender for years at third. His best offensive tool is his power, which he started to show in game in 2015. His power is to all fields and an easy plus tool. The question is will Chapman hit enough to access his power and, if he does not, is his defense good enough to deal with below average on base skills? He will get his fair share of walks, but he is going to challenge for the league title in strikeouts most years. I think the power/defensive profile is enough for an everyday player. He is far from a safe bet, though, and I am sure more than a few scouts have had Brandon Wood flashbacks watching Chapman.
Jeff Ellis: Max Fried was a high school teammate of Lucas Giolito and was actually drafted before him in the 2012 draft. While Giolito has been healthy in the minors and is on the cusp on the majors, Fried has yet to play above A-ball. At 23 years of age, he is well behind the expected developmental curve for a pitcher. He still makes the list because he hit 97 last year as a lefty, with good athleticism. I see a mid-rotation starter as the likely outcome for Fried, but would not be shocked if he ended up being more. The Braves can take their time with Fried, as they have so much talent. After pitching just 10.2 innings in 2014 and missing all of 2015, it was a big step to see Fried pitch over 100 innings this past season. Fried is a player who likely jumps up or falls off the list when he finally faces advanced competition this year.
Jeff Ellis: The Brewers got a pretty good prospect in Isan Diaz when they traded Jean Segura to the Diamondbacks. Diaz was a former second round pick and one of the few well-known prospects left in the Diamondbacks system last year. Diaz, at the age of 20, put up excellent power numbers in A ball this year. He put up high walk totals and also high strikeout totals this year as well. Diaz has played shortstop and second base in the minors. He is likely to end up at second, especially because the Brewers already have Orlando Arica manning shortstop. Diaz presents a plus offensive profile and has a chance, with his ability, to be a top five offensive second baseman in baseball down the line. It would be natural to compare him to Willie Calhoun on this list, as they are similar sized second basemen. The reason that Diaz is higher is his ability as a defender. Diaz has come a long way since his high school days in Massachusetts. There is potential for a middle of the order bat with plus on-base skills and above average power. If anything, this might be too low for Diaz.
Jeff Ellis: Sean-Reid Foley was a player I rated as among the top 20 talents in the 2014 draft and, three years later, I think it is safe to say I was correct. I was shocked when he not only fell to the second round but to pick 49 overall. He ended up signing for over a million dollars and is one of the Blue Jays best prospects. Foley was a player who I saw back then as a mid-rotation innings eater. Now he is hitting 97 with his fastball, sits mid 90’s, and has a curve which also looks like a future plus pitch. In 2015, Foley struggled with his control, but this year he looked like a new man. I am always going to be excited by a 20/21-year-old in high A with a strikeout rate over 11 and a walk rate under three. Foley has potential as a number two type pitcher. As long as Foley can keep his mechanics clean, he should spend a good chunk of next year in AA. I must also say Foley sported an 80-grade mustache last year.
Jeff Ellis: Luke Weaver, as a player, must be used to flying under the radar. Even when he was the Friday night starter and only projected first round pick from Florida State, it was his closer who got the most attention. Now, in fairness, his closer was Jameis Winston, who ended up being the first pick in the NFL draft. It didn’t help either that his junior year saw a dip in velocity that also coincided with a dip in his strikeout rate numbers. Weaver was always a likely late first rounder, because of his height. His control has always been strong and so has his command. I would say his control is a plus skill. His control and fastball alone give him a solid chance as a starter. He relies heavily on his fastball, mixing in a changeup and a curve. Weaver is a likely back of the rotation starter but is one who should be ready to spend the majority of next season in the majors. Tyler Beede San Francisco Giants Chicago White Sox Luke Weaver St. Louis Cardinals Sean Reid-Foley Toronto Blue Jays Isan Diaz Milwaukee Brewers Max Fried Atlanta Braves Matt Chapman Oakland Athletics Jesse Winker Cincinnati Reds Willie Calhoun Los Angeles Angels Los Angeles Dodgers Jahmai Jones Carson Fulmer