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
50-41 can be found here
40-31 can be found here
30-21 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 20-11.
Jeff Ellis: Clint Frazier, over the last two years, has changed his profile significantly. After some early struggles with contact, he seemed to figure things out during the second half of 2015. I would attribute much of this to a tireless work ethic and a competitive nature that just won’t allow him to rest on his laurels. Frazier, as a high schooler, resembled Popeye and, in spite of being under six feet tall, he was always projected to have plus power. This was due, in part, to the fact that he had the quickest bat I have ever seen from a high school player. This was the first year Frazier moved to the corner outfield spot and, thanks to his arm and speed, I think he could be a plus defender there. He has always been an aggressive hitter, which leads to strikeouts, but his walk rates have been on the rise. I am not sure he will be a .300 hitter, because of his aggressive nature. I think, though, that his on base percentages will be strong, with 25-30 home runs most years and a lot of doubles as well. While Clint has been around since 2013, he didn’t turn 22 until the end of last year. I expect he will spend a good chunk of the year in AAA. He struggled a bit with both the Indians’ and Yankees’ AAA affiliates. At the end of the year, he must be added to the Yankees 40 man roster, so I would not be surprised at all to see him get called up this summer for an extended look. Frazier has above average tools across the board, but the best is his work ethic. I would not be surprised by anything he ends up accomplishing as a Major League player.
Jeff Ellis: Lewis Brinson is the last of what I will label the “get off my lawn players”. These are the players where my capsule ends up coming off as negative because, while I think they are a top 100 prospect, I don’t agree with the field when it comes to their overall valuation. This is often a case of tools over production. While one can’t scout a box score, and the differences in parks across the minors make it hard to have uniform standards, I still think there are important numbers that can help guide you as an evaluator. There are a lot of people who are worlds smarter than I am that do a better job of this. I try to learn from them and add more to my knowledge base but, for now, I use what I know. Brinson is a big old bucket of tools. He can play centerfield and run, and should have power. The numbers are by no means bad for Brinson, either. It’s just that I don’t see a clear road to top player status with him. The size, power, and speed profile leads one to hope for an Adam Jones like outcome. The hit tool is the big question and he does not walk at all, so on base percentages will always be low. Thanks, in part, to injuries, his power has not developed as hoped yet. His defense is the one area that is Major League ready and, if he can combine it with his power ability, there should be enough there for an above average starter. The ceiling is sky high, but for a player in AAA who is this highly rated to have so many concerns is a red flag, to me.
Jeff Ellis: I know we are likely the high site on Kolby Allard. He is one of the players, though, where neither of us really had an issue with his placement. I know he is an undersized lefty, who was hurt in his draft season and barely pitched in the minors in 2015. This only makes his 2016 all the more impressive, though, as Allard pitched nearly 100 innings between rookie and low-A ball and posted strong walk and strikeout rates. He has always been a pitcher and not a thrower, and this year confirmed that to me. He is an advanced pitcher for his age and time in the minors. Allard, if he continues to progress, could conceivably make it up to AA at some point this season. I think there is solid number two potential in Allard. His curve might have been the best in the prep class in 2015 and I think profiles as his best future pitch. His fastball is also a potential plus pitch and his change and slider should be at least average. The package is a left handed pitcher with four average to plus pitches and plus control and command. This is not a profile that is often seen amongst left handed pitchers. His smaller size, injury issues in high school, and lack of eye popping velocity will move him down some lists. I think both Taylor and myself just felt that Allard is the exception where, unless a catastrophic injury occurs, it is really hard to see him not becoming at least a Ted Lilly like starter.
Jeff Ellis: Willy Adames is a player that I really went to the mat for, as it were. When he was the big prospect in the David Price deal a few years ago, I was left scratching my head. Now he got legitimate consideration to make the top ten for this piece. Adames played all of last year, at the age of 20, in AA and performed very well. His power numbers spiked this year, as did his walk rate. He has never been a high contact guy, but the jump in walks helps balance out what have been lower averages so far in the minors. His career minor league average is .265 which, while not bad, is something I wanted to note, as few players hit for higher average in the majors than the minors. There is a greater chance of this happening, though, with Adames, as he is so young and those are the players who can see average jumps. I have heard debate as to whether Adames can stick at short but, even if he moves to second, his value is still high, as a potential plus on base player with average pop is something very few teams have at second or short. From my perspective, when I see a player with plus bat speed and extreme youth in the upper levels, who plays up the middle, I am in. I think what stood out the most for me, though, was that, as a 20 year old, he walked 74 times in AA. This is a very impressive number and shows patience and an understanding of the zone rarely seen in a player at that age. We are in a new age of shortstops and Adames should be another member of the elite club, one who should be in the majors no later than 2018. Since he is already on the 40 man, I expect he will get some time with the Rays this year.
Jeff Ellis: Rafael Devers has been on top 100 prospect lists since 2015, when he was a 17 year old player in the Gulf Coast League. Devers has been a level to level player the past two years, moving from low-A to high-A. He has always been one of the youngest players at his level, but his numbers have not quite lived up to his lofty projections. He really struggled to start the year, but had a strong finish in the second half, which helped quiet the concerns that some had after his slow start. Devers hit and power tools have made him one of the top third base prospects in baseball the last two years. He is a bit undersized, at six feet even, but most people still project him to be a plus power hitter. The fact that he has hit double digit home runs and over 30 doubles the last two years, along with his extreme youth, help demonstrate why many, myself included, think Devers could be a 25-30 home run hitter down the road. He has a bit of a stocky build, which has led to concerns that he might shift to first, thereby hurting his value. As a third baseman, he should be an average defender, as long as he stays in shape. The Red Sox have traded away so many top tier prospects, but Devers is one they have made sure to hold onto, which says a lot about their internal view. Devers will likely spend a majority of this year at AA and will be 20 the whole year. If he continues to improve, Devers should be the Red Sox full time player by 2019, with a chance to help by 2018.
Jeff Ellis: I am sure that people who have read these lists are tired of me preaching about youth. Yet, it is impossible to ignore youth when it comes to Ozzie Albies. He is a spot ahead of Devers and a little over two months older but, while Devers has reached high-A, Albies played half of last season in AAA, at age 19. He had a fantastic start last year in AA, stealing bases, hitting for average, and hitting for surprising power for his frame. Albies is 5’9”, so the fact that he was on pace for double digit home runs as a 19 year old in AA stood out. I would personally have kept Albies at short and moved Swanson to second, because of the stronger arm that Albies has. It’s a nice problem to have for the Braves, as both players could potentially be plus defenders at short, with plus offensive profiles. Albies’ best tool is his speed. Albies’ ability as a switch hitter, along with speed and low strikeout rates, will make him a top of the lineup bat. Albies’ ability as a hitter is almost as strong as his speed. The profile reminds me so strongly of Jose Reyes. As I find myself writing this profile, I have talked myself into thinking that Albies should be higher on this list, which says a lot because of how high he already is.
Jeff Ellis: Tyler Glasnow has front of the rotation potential. The reason he is not in the top ten is because of my concerns with his control. When I wrote on Mitch Keller, I said I could understand why people would list Keller as the Pirates’ top pitching prospect, and the reason for me was the stark difference in control. Glasnow has started 102 games in the minors and his walks per nine is 4.43. There was just one qualified starting pitcher in baseball last year with a higher walk rate, former Pirate Francisco Liriano. Liriano was so ineffective last year that the Pirates gave up two solid prospects to get out from under his contract. Glasnow has been unhittable in the minors, thanks to his pure stuff. His hit rate has been 5.35, which is why his ERA has been so low in the minors. This number is impossible for a pitcher to sustain in the majors. Jose Fernandez posted the best rate in the majors last year, at 6.24. Glasnow is huge, at 6’8”, and has two plus pitches with his fastball and curve. His fastball might be the best one on this entire list. There is no doubt that Glasnow has number one potential. I would place the odds of it happening at less than ten percent, though. I have more concerns with players who are over 6’6” than players under 6’3” and, when you combine it with the control problems, it makes me leery. His rate data shows extremes that will likely hinder his chances of being effective. Glasnow has pitched in the majors, but is far from a safe or finished product.
Jeff Ellis: Victor Robles ceiling is a plus version of Manuel Margot, to me. Maybe it’s because I just wrote the Margot profile, but both are right handed centerfielders with similar size and profiles. Robles, at the age of 19, has excelled across both levels of A-ball. The stat that stood out the most to me, though, was the fact that he was hit by 34 pitches last year. He is going to challenge Brandon Guyer for the Major League lead in hit by pitches if he keeps this up. I imagine he will, as he has had double digit hit by pitches every season in the minors so far. Robles’ best skill is his speed, followed closely by his arm. He could play anywhere in the outfield, but is a potential Gold Glove player in centerfield. Robles, in spite of his youth, is another player who has shown strong understanding of the strike zone. He has shown little power in the numbers but, with his bat speed, the hope is that, as he matures and gets bigger, his power might became an average tool. He has enough speed that, even if he loses a grade of speed as he bulks up, he should still be an above average to plus runner. If the power does not end up average, then the profile is really similar to what I wrote on Margot. The low end outcome for Robles is a potential plus defender in centerfield, with lead off skills. The upper end outcomes are MVP level performance.
Jeff Ellis: These rankings were done before spring training began and the reports of Lucas Giolito’s continued struggles. Normally, I would say this would not change anything, as spring training doesn’t matter, but it has been a year to forget for Giolito. It has been a year of mechanics and control issues, which led to him being on the block and then traded. It always concerns me when an arm seems to be actively shopped by a team, especially one this close to the Majors and with this much upside. If Lucas Giolito had not gotten hurt and required Tommy John surgery as a high school senior, he would have had a legitimate chance to be the first prep right handed pitcher to ever go number one. On a side note, it seems more and more like 2017 will be the year where this finally happens. Instead, Giolito wasn’t even the first pitcher drafted out of his high school, as Max Fried went nine spots before him. Giolito hit triple digits before injury and can still get it up there. He sits in the mid 90’s and has moved progressively through the system. This year, his walk rate jumped in AA from what it had been the year before in AA. I read talk that the Nationals fiddled with Giolito’s mechanics and this led to his control woes. Giolito is the prototype of what a team looks for in a potential ace pitcher. He is now in one of the best systems in all of baseball when it comes to developing pitchers. There is still ace potential here, but there are just more concerns than he has had since his injury in high school.
Jeff Ellis: So it’s probably time to admit I was wrong on Austin Meadows. I knew he was the better athlete, but I rated Frazier ahead of him in the 2013 draft. Meadows has the stronger approach of the two, along with being a better runner and a more likely centerfielder. The better approach is a bit surprising, as Meadows has 500 fewer at bats than Frazier in the minors, basically an entire season’s worth. The reason for this difference is that Meadows has been dogged by minor injuries. Between injuries and the lack of power shown by Meadows, I would understand anyone who still preferred Frazier. I lean towards Meadows, because of ceiling and likely position. Meadows made it to AAA this year, at just 21 years of age. He should be able to handle centerfield for the Pirates, with a chance for a plus hit tool and 15-20 home runs. I know he has not shown this in game but, with his tools, size, and youth, I can’t see how he wouldn’t end up with at least average power as he fills out. Meadows is a potential 20/20 player for the Pirates. If the Pirates trade Andrew McCutchen this year, Meadows should be ready to step in and be able to match the overall production, albeit in different ways, as McCutchen gave the Pirates last year, but with stronger defense. Austin Meadows Pittsburgh Pirates Lucas Giolito Chicago White Sox Victor Robles Washington Nationals Clint Frazier New York Yankees Lewis Brinson Milwaukee Brewers Kolby Allard Atlanta Braves Ozzie Albies Tyler Glasnow Rafael Devers Boston Red Sox Tampa Bay Rays Willy Adames