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
60-51 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 50-41.
Jeff Ellis: Reynaldo Lopez has hit triple digits with his fastball and sits mid 90’s. This is what has gotten him the most notice, but is far from the whole story. His detractors will talk about his lack of size (all of six feet tall), issues with command, and tendency to over pitch. I often talk about pitchers vs throwers for guys who just go up and seem to try and throw as hard as they can with little finesse. It often leads to straight fastballs which, no matter the velocity, hitters in the majors will kill. Lopez can turn into a thrower, but has made a lot of progress towards being a pitcher. There might not be a better organization for Lopez to be with than the Chicago White Sox. They have a great developmental staff, which seems to always maximize pitcher's ability and understand their weaknesses. Lopez, for all his issues as a thrower, has actually posted ok walk rates in the minors. His control has not been as big an issue for him on a pitch to pitch basis. Lopez made it to the majors at the age of 22 last year. I understand why many think Lopez is a future reliever. The mix of command, height, and the fact that he has mostly been a two pitch pitcher combine to make this a likely outcome. At this point, Lopez is a sure fire major league arm who projects as a reliever. He should help the White Sox this year, which also enhances his value. Of course, now that Lopez is with the Chicago White Sox, they will teach him a cutter, giving him a more reliable third pitch, and somehow turn Lopez into a front of the rotation ace.
Jeff Ellis: Nothing has changed for Riley Pint from what I wrote about him leading up to and after the draft. He has a potential 80 grade fastball and a prototypical pitcher build. Colorado was aggressive with Pint, putting him in the rookie league, which is a huge jump from the competition he faced in Kansas in the spring. He had little problem striking out the much older batters he faced, but his command was also an issue. Pint’s ceiling as a pitcher matches anyone on this list. He could have three plus pitches, with a potential for the best fastball in baseball and a plus plus curve. He is also very far away from the majors and, outside of injuries, nothing derails a pitcher like problems with control and command. Pint’s possible outcomes are pretty much the entire range of pitcher outcomes. At this point, with Pint, time is the greatest factor.
Jeff Ellis: Hunter Renfroe was a player who, at Mississippi State, had been known more for tools than production, until his junior year. The Padres grabbed him at 13 and he was one of my favorite selections in the 2013 draft, a draft which has looked increasing better as time has gone on. The Padres have taken their time moving Renfroe through the minors. He finally got a cup of coffee with the Padres this year and should start the year with the big league club. Renfroe is never going to post a great on base percentage and will always have swing and miss to his game. His power is what will be his offensive carrying tool. His strong arm and athleticism give him a chance to be an above average defender in right field. Renfroe should settle into right field this year and stay there for a long time for the Padres. He might not be a three or four hitter, but looks like a guy who can be a fifth or sixth, with power and high strikeout rates.
Jeff Ellis: Jake Bauers was drafted by the Padres, then traded away in very regrettable Wil Myers deal. Most of the talk on that deal is how the Padres gave away Trea Turner or Joe Ross, but people often forget to mention Bauers, who really helped cement this trade as one of the worst in Padres history. Bauers was a great find by the Padres, a seventh rounder who only cost them 240K to sign. This past season, Bauers played mostly right field in AA and was 20 for the entire season. He didn’t turn 21 until October. He ended the previous year in AA, which means he made it to AA at age 19. Bauers hadn’t shown much power until last year, when he hit 14 home runs. His primary ability has been his ability to hit, walk, and not strike out. He has posted very high walk totals in the minors, with strikeout totals close to his walk total. For those who are not a fan of Bauers, they see a first base only player without the requisite power for the position. I see an exceptionally young player who could grow into average power and possibly play the outfield. The production for his age and level has been impressive. Bauers has a legitimate shot to play for Tampa this year, at the age of 21, which is rare in and of itself.
Jeff Ellis: Aaron Judge, much like Hunter Renfroe, was a college outfielder taken in the first round of the 2013 draft. Judge’s imposing size and strength always lead people to believe plus power should come to him. It was not until his junior year that he posted double digit home run totals. The other natural part of being 6’7” is a large strike zone, which often leads to a high strikeout rate. He is never going to be a high average player, but does walk enough to help bring up his on base percentage. In spite of his towering figure, Judge is a better athlete than one might expect. He plays a solid right field and has a strong arm to handle the position. Judge could be a 30 home run player for the Yankees, the only question will be can he make enough contact? Judge should get an extended look at the majors this year. One thing Judge has always done a good job of is adjusting to his level. I would not be surprised if, after his initial struggles, he ends up having a solid year.
Jeff Ellis: Alex Verdugo was one of the top two way players in the 2014 draft. Most of the talk on Verdugo leading up to the draft was that he would be best served as a left handed pitcher. The Dodgers bucked this trend and put Verdugo in the outfield, which was Verdugo’s desire as well, and it turned out to be a great decision. His background as a pitcher gives him a very strong arm in the outfield. He would profile best in right field, because of his arm strength, and is a good enough athlete that he should be at least an above average defender there. He has played center in the minors, but I don’t see that as likely. The Dodgers have been very aggressive with minor league players in general in the past few years. Verdugo was no exception and he spent all of 2016 in AA, at the age of 20. His low strikeout rate for the level, considering his age, really stood out and showed an advanced hitter with a strong eye for the zone. While Verdugo is not the biggest guy, listed at 6’0”, he showed some power in AA this year. There is concern that his power might be closer to average, because of his swing, but the profile for Verdugo is an above average bat and defender in a corner outfield spot. I assume he will be pushed again this year and Verdugo will either be a strong trade asset or will end being an option to help the Dodgers in 2018.
Jeff Ellis: Cal Quantrill, if healthy and pitching as a junior, would have likely been the first college player off the board and possibly the top pick in the entire 2017 draft. He took a calculated risk by not pitching last year, even when healthy, for Stanford. He was able to pitch a few bullpen sessions, which enticed the Padres to not just draft him 8th overall, but to sign him for over slot. He really impressed this summer, pitching 37 innings across three levels. He ended the year in high-A and should start next year there as well. Thanks to injury, Quantrill pitched just 129.1 innings in college and a total of 166.1 innings total over the last three years. Quantrill’s change is his best pitch, which says something, since his fastball sat mid 90’s this summer. Statistically, it’s hard to take much from Quantrill, as it was such a small sample size. Even so, Quantrill’s walk and strikeout rate data were impressive for a guy who had not pitched competitively in about 15 months. As Quantrill gets further and further away from his injury, he profiles as a potential ace pitcher.
Jeff Ellis: Nick Gordon comes from one of the most athletic families in baseball. His father, Tom, was a very athletic pitcher who excelled as a closer and his half-brother, Dee, has been known for his excellent speed. Nick might be the least athletic member, but that’s a hard family to compete in. Gordon has played well at every level, in spite of being young at each stop. He doesn’t present a single plus tool, but gets the job done as a defender and a hitter. Every single tool, outside of power, for Gordon is average or above average. I don’t see a real weakness in his game. Gordon won’t be a star, but I have faith in his ability to be a steady shortstop with a league average bat. Less than one third of baseball teams could claim to have a shortstop with at least a league average bat, who also was not a determinant defensively. Gordon’s position and performance for his age are why I pushed Gordon up the board a bit. I would not be surprised at all if the outcomes for Gordon improved, because of how young he is. Gordon played all of last year at age 20 and should get a chance in AA and AAA this year, with the intention of him becoming the Twins every day shortstop as soon as 2018.
Jeff Ellis: Braxton Garrett was a player who broke out at the NHSI last year, in terms of national notice. I put him first in a mock at one point and got roasted for it. While he didn’t go first, he was a top ten pick and the first prep lefty, which surprised many. I called him the safest of the top prep pitchers, because of his advanced feel, command, and control. I think this is still the case. I still think Garrett could move quickly in the minors, because of the previously mentioned ability. Garrett’s best pitch is his curveball and it's a weapon he can use against right or left handers. The Marlins did not push Garrett this summer, putting him into the instructional league. This was a puzzling move for me, because part of the value with Garrett was the fact that he was an advanced arm. Garrett is a likely middle rotation guy, with a shot at being a number two type. Garrett might not have the eye popping stuff of some of his classmates, but he has significantly less risk and no problems with maturity. My biggest concern with Garrett is the team who drafted him and the problems they have had developing pitchers since Jose Fernandez.
Jeff Ellis: Amir Garrett was drafted by the Reds way back in 2011. The Reds took Garrett in the 22nd round and paid him a million dollars to sign, knowing full well that he wanted to go to college and play basketball. The 2011 draft was the last before the current pool system went into place, which meant that there was no penalty for a team like the Reds, who went well over slot. Garrett’s first three years after being drafted, he pitched a combined 77 innings in the minors. Garrett went to St. John's and was a 20 minute a game player for them as a freshman and sophomore, before he decided to stop playing basketball and concentrate on baseball. So while Garrett has technically been a Reds player for nearly six years, he is really entering his fourth full season. As one would expect for a person who played basketball on the wing for a major division one program, Garrett is an excellent athlete. Last year was the first time that Garrett pitched in AA or higher. He ended up finishing the year in AAA. When there is a pitcher with Garrett’s size and athleticism, there is a chance for an ace pitcher. Now, much like every pitching prospect in the Reds minors over the last four years, Garrett’s trouble has been with command and control. This does give me some concerns, but his walk rate has not been awful and, again, one has to remember about his slowed development. Garrett should get a chance to pitch for the Reds this year and could potentially be their ace of the future. And yes, I do regret putting a pair of left handed Garrett’s back to back. Braxton Garrett Miami Marlins Amir Garrett Cincinnati Reds Nick Gordon Minnesota Twins Alex Verdugo Los Angeles Dodgers Cal Quantrill San Diego Padres Jake Bauers Tampa Bay Rays Aaron Judge New York Yankees Hunter Renfroe Riley Pint Colorado Rockies Chicago White Sox Reynaldo Lopez