The Scout top 100 prospect list for 2017 is updated and can be found here.
100-91 can be found here
90-81 can be found here
80-71 can be found here
70-61 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 set of players rated 60-51.
Jeff Ellis: Carson Kelly was taken by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2012 draft. He started his career at third base but, after two seasons in the minors, was moved to catcher. Kelly has excelled with this transition and looks like a potential plus defender with a strong, accurate arm. Kelly made it to the majors this year at age 22. Offensively, Kelly’s bat is likely a sub average tool. He has never shown much power in the minors and I am not expecting a lot going forward. I think both his hit and power tool are going to be closer to 40 grade than 50 grade skills. He has never struck out much, but has never walked much either in the minors. Yadier Molina turns 35 this year and Kelly is the heir apparent. Kelly is a ready, plus defending catcher whose offensive profile is strong for the position. There is a chance that his profile could improve. He has been so focused on his position change, is just 22, and works his tail off. I would not be surprised if he ends up exceeding my offensive expectations.
Jeff Ellis: Walker Buehler has struggled with health the last two years. Since being taken by the Dodgers with the 24th pick in the 2015 draft, Buehler has pitched five innings in the minors. Buehler started his junior year as a top five draft prospect and, by the end of the year, I kept him in my top ten, but just barely. He had an elbow issue, which lead to a late start and poor performance. Once he was drafted, it was revealed that he needed Tommy John surgery, which is why he has pitched so little in the minors. Now, you might think, why is a late first rounder who has been hurt a top 60 prospect? The reason is that, when Buehler came back this year, instead of sitting low 90’s, he was sitting mid and hitting 100. Buehler has three above average pitches and his fastball and curve both could end up plus. Every write on Buehler will mention a slight build; he is 6’2”, which is considered undersized, and is listed at 175 pounds. His smaller size, it was thought, could lead to injuries, which have slowed his development. He isn't likely to throw 99 or 100 as a starter in game, but there is front of the rotation potential here as long as he can stay healthy.
Jeff Ellis: I have to be honest, I am in the minority who thinks Luis Ortiz is a better prospect than Lewis Brinson. Both Ortiz and Brinson were acquired in the Jonathan Lucroy deal at the deadline last year. Ortiz is a player who has always been underrated. I think this is because of Ortiz’s build. He is 6’3”, which puts him at the bottom range of accepted height. He is the opposite of the previously mentioned Walker Buehler, though slight is not a word that has been used to describe Ortiz, whose listed weight is 55 pounds more than Buehler, at 230. I have read in several places that people think he might be closer to 250. There have been concerns with conditioning, even though Ortiz has never had an issue with injury and has had no problems maintaining his velocity. Some people are just thicker built and Ortiz is one of those guys, to me, though, of course, he needs to be careful; thick or not, too much weight can be an issue. He sits low to mid 90’s and his slider is a legit plus pitch. His command and control look like plus skills to me as well. Ortiz spent most of his year at AA, at age 20, this year and found success. He struggled a bit after the trade, but this didn’t raise concerns for me. I think Ortiz is a fairly safe mid rotation starter with a chance for a bit more. I would not be surprised if he became a number two starter. His combination of control and command make him a safe bet to be a future Major League starter.
Jeff Ellis: Delvin Perez might have been the top player in the past year’s MLB draft, if not for a combination of being busted for PEDs and lots of talk about character issues. He had the look of a future plus shortstop defensively, one who could win a few Gold Gloves down the line. Shortstops are the quarterback of the MLB draft, they always rise on draft day. Perez’s ability and profile reminded many of Francisco Lindor when he was draft eligible. It didn’t hurt that both are Puerto Rican shortstops with November birthdays, which made them very young for their class. Now, in fairness to Perez, almost no one expected Lindor to do what he has done as an offensive player in the majors. The better comp in terms of production, though, would be Brandon Crawford. The size and defensive profile are similar. This is the second Cardinals player to appear in this piece and both are players at premium positions whose best tools are on the defensive side.
Jeff Ellis: Franklin Barreto is a big faller on this list from a year ago, for me. Barreto had a breakout year last year in the California League, a well-known hitter’s league. Last year, I was excited by the chance for a plus hit tool with above average power from the shortstop position. A year later, he now looks like a second baseman or center fielder with an above average hit tool and average power. I also have some concerns with his walk to strike out ratio in the minors, which can often lead to trouble. I recognize that here is player who made it to AAA at the age of 20, which means stats can mislead a bit because of his age to level. I am writing this capsule on his 21st birthday, which is February 27. Barreto has shown the tools to be a top tier player as an up the middle player with his speed and hit ability. Yet, at the same time, the A’s had him try a variety of positions, which shows me that they are concerned about his ability to handle shortstop. At the end of the day, Barreto is 21 and should spend the majority of the year in AAA. He is extremely young at each level and has performed well. It would be foolish to count out a player with his success at his age through the minors.
Jeff Ellis: Mike Soroka is a player I was very wrong about when it came to the draft. He didn’t make my lists for the 2015 draft. I will be honest, Canadian players are often a blind spot for me, along with D2, D3, and the JUCO ranks. Soroka spent the entire year in low-A; this was impressive, as he was 18 for most of the season. He didn’t turn 19 until August. He did this while showing strong control and hitting 96 with his fastball. Soroka needs to add some bulk but, if he can, the profile is pretty clear as a mid-rotation innings eater. I wish there was a higher strikeout rate this year in Rome, but he was nearly four years below the league's average age. At this point, the excellent command Soroka showed limits his floor, to me. Barring some kind of unforeseen injury, Soroka should be helping the Braves in two to three years.
Jeff Ellis: Yadier Alvarez was given a 16 million dollar signing bonus, which means that he really cost the Dodgers 32 million to sign, with penalties. This alone should signify just how well the Dodgers thought of Alvarez. The Cuban right hander has hit triple digits and sits in the mid 90’s. He is a plus athlete with an easy delivery. Alvarez could be something special, a true ace type of pitcher, but his control and command have been a struggle for him. Alvarez will be 21 in a couple of days and spent most of last year in A-ball. Alvarez’s potential is as high as any pitcher on this list. The question is will he be able to command his stuff well enough to reach his potential?
Jeff Ellis: Kevin Newman is about as different as you can get from Yadier Alvarez. Whereas Alvarez is a lottery ticket arm with significant concerns, Newman is one of the safest position players in the minors. I saw Newman multiple times and he seemed to get better every game. Newman's hit tool and eye at the plate are plus skills. He should be an on base machine from the shortstop position. He is an average defender at short. He gets the job done, but don’t expect any awards. He has no power and it would be a surprise to me if he ever hit double digit home runs. His value offensively is entirely based on his ability to get on base. There were six shortstops in all of baseball who posted a .350 on base percentage or better. The 10th best OBP for a SS last year was Jody Mercer, of Pittsburgh, at .328. This lack of production at the position is why Newman is so valuable, in spite of his limitations. Newman is a sure shortstop who will be able to get on base. He fits the profile of a number two hitter and could end up helping Pittsburgh this year.
Jeff Ellis: Triston McKenzie’s performance this year at high-A was one of the most impressive of any pitcher in the minors this year. McKenzie didn’t turn 19 until August and split his season between low-A and high-A. He started six games in high-A and had a strikeout per nine of nearly 13 and a walk rate per nine of a little over 1.5. The performance would have been spectacular at any age, let alone for someone who just turned 19. McKenzie is still a work in progress, though. He doesn’t throw hard and needs to add weight. On draft day, McKenzie was 6’5” and 165 pounds. It’s often hard to get updated height and weight data but, needless to say, he needs to get bigger. There has never been a successful pitcher with McKenzie’s listed size. The hope is that, as McKenzie fills out and gets stronger, he will add some velocity. His control is a clear plus skill and so, if his stuff can pick up as he gets stronger, there is certainly ace potential here. McKenzie is a great athlete, which I believe helps pitchers to stay healthy as they pitch and as they get bigger. In terms of production and skills, McKenzie is one of the safest arms in A-ball that you can find. Barring an injury, he should be at least a mid-rotation arm with a chance for a lot more.
Jeff Ellis: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was always going to get a lot of attention because of his famous father. He played this past season at the short season level, at the age of 17. Guerrero won’t even turn 18 until March. In spite of being just 17 and playing against a mix of mostly college players or guys in their second year in the minors, Guerrero excelled. He was actually the youngest player in the Appalachian League last year. He had a low strikeout total, which one would not expect for a player his age. He walked nearly as much as he struck out and even posted solid power numbers, which were in the top ten for home runs in the league. The Blue Jays have been trying Guerrero at third and there is no doubt this would enhance his value, but I am skeptical of his ability to stick long term. He has a strong arm, which should not be a surprise if you remember his dad, but I am betting on him growing out of the position long term and moving to a right field, to take advantage of his arm. He is a cathedral ceiling type of talent who could easily end up being one of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball in another year. Delvin Perez Walker Buehler St. Louis Cardinals Luis Ortiz Milwaukee Brewers Carson Kelly Yadier Alvarez Los Angeles Dodgers Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. Toronto Blue Jays Triston McKenzie Cleveland Indians Mike Soroka Atlanta Braves Franklin Barreto Oakland Athletics Kevin Newman Pittsburgh Pirates