Last week, MLB.com released their top 100 prospects, with the Pittsburgh Pirates having six players on the list. Today, Baseball Prospectus released their top 101 prospects, and the Pirates are once again well represented. This time they have seven players on the list.
The top prospect in the rankings is Jameson Taillon, who comes in at number 19 overall. That’s down from his 2013 ranking of 11, and is also down from his MLB.com ranking of 16th overall.
Gregory Polanco was next, ranking 24th overall. This was a big difference between his MLB.com ranking, where he ended up 13th overall, and ahead of Taillon.
Tyler Glasnow was third on the list, which matched his MLB.com placement among the Pirates prospects. His ranking with BP was 42nd, which was down from his #27 ranking with MLB.com.
Reese McGuire got a higher grade in BP’s ranking, coming in fourth on the Pirates list, and 59th overall. He just missed the MLB.com top 100, and was behind Austin Meadows, Alen Hanson, and Josh Bell on that list.
Josh Bell received about the same rating on both lists. He was 74th overall by MLB.com and BP had him 77th overall. Bell didn’t exactly dominate at the plate, but still shows good hitting tools, and it’s good to see that he’s still regarded as a top 100 prospect by two outlets.
Nick Kingham is another guy who just missed the MLB.com top 100, but finished in the BP top 101. He ranked 80th overall on this list, jumping past Meadows and Hanson.
Austin Meadows had a much lower ranking from BP. He was rated 45th overall by MLB.com, and was ahead of McGuire, Bell, and Kingham. On BP’s list, he was 89th overall. They included scouting reports for each player, although there were no reports available for McGuire and Meadows to explain why McGuire was much higher up, and Meadows was much lower.
Alen Hanson did not make the BP top 101 prospects, despite being ranked 67th by MLB.com.
Baseball Prospectus takes a different approach to the top prospect lists. In the last year they’ve put a big focus on having scouts at the games, getting live reports. I noticed that some of these reports went against the industry consensus, with the “industry” being “everyone who grades prospects online”. Sometimes that resulted in lower upsides for guys who are considered top prospects (I’ve seen Taillon and Glasnow mentioned as middle of the rotation starters), and sometimes that means higher rankings for some players (McGuire falling just outside of the top 50).
I will point out that since they’ve started this approach, BP has seen a few of their scouts hired by Major League teams, including some of the guys who had much different opinions about certain players. Prospect rankings can be funny in that manner. If you don’t have the same rankings as everyone else, then the initial reaction is that your rankings are wrong. The fact that BP’s scouts have gone on to MLB teams doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right. MLB scouts can also be wrong sometimes. It does show that teams feel some of these guys know what they’re talking about, even if their reports are different from others.
I personally don’t care about numerical rankings, which you’d know if you’ve purchased the Prospect Guide the last three years. I prefer to look at the reports. In this case, some of the reports are much different. I actually like when a report is different. It gives you the opportunity to go back and look at a prospect, evaluate all of the reports, and decide which report makes the most sense. You don’t get that opportunity when everyone ranks prospects the same way, and every report comes out with Jameson Taillon rated as a top of the rotation guy.
That’s what it should be all about. There’s never a consensus in grading prospects. Two scouts can look at the same player and have two completely different opinions. That’s why you always hear of “scouts being mixed” on a player or his tools around the time of the draft. Time determines who is correct in each individual case. The initial reaction is to ignore rankings that go against the consensus, but I prefer looking at those rankings and grades to get a different view point. In the long run, you might also find someone who finds top prospects before everyone else, or someone who correctly guessed that a prospect wouldn’t be as good as everyone else thought he would be.