I know that many have given input about the list, and much of it has been very positive and uplifting. It’s great to hear back in a positive manner about something, and it makes you want to keep working hard to improve the list and progress it to the point where it models exactly what you want it to see.
However, much of list-making is trial and error. And trust me, and ask anyone that has ever made a list of such ambiguity like prospects, it’s a hell of a lot more missing than hitting. To my surprise, most shared similar sentiment that I did about certain players that I was high and low on. But others, I missed and I have to admit that.
These players are the ones that are the most notable that I missed on, according to YOU:
Tony Cingrani (SP/RP, CIN, HM): In all honesty, it depends on what you think is future is. Personally, I see a great two pitch mix. He could make a fantastic closer for a Reds squad that is continually looking to ruin a good arm like Chapman by forcing him into the Rotation. He’s got the potential to be shutdown in relief for the Reds. If he has to keep developing his changeup, in order to become a starter, he likely tops out as a #3 guy. Mid rotation is great, but I see a workhorse #4 more likely. I guess it’s just my personal opinion on him, but I don’t value him that high because of the huge chance that he ends up in relief for Cincy. And as you’ve seen, guys who have high relief potential get docked serious points in my book. Just look at Yordano Ventura (99th). And Bruce Rondon, who isn’t even ranked on my list. Established closers have enough difficulty HOLDING a job (Heath Bell, oh that Brian Wilson guy is looking for a minor league contract now, etc.) and players like Addison Reed have proven how difficult it is to become a closer. Teams use committees so often now that it’s hard to call one player or another a “lock”. Being reasonable about his starting chances, I could see putting him in the late 70s to late 80s. But I’m skeptical, and Dusty Baker hates prospects. So I’m leaning towards maybe late 90s. I don’t really regret leaving him off, but he could prove me wrong in a big way if he comes up strong as a starter.
Rymer Liriano (OF, SD, HM): Yes, he’s probably my biggest mistake. I saw tools, but the quick glance over the numbers didn’t do much for me. I mean, I find it kinda difficult to project a power-speed guy off of 8 home runs in 450 at bats between the super hitter friendly California League and Double-A. He hit five homers in nearly three hundred at-bats in the CAL. That’s hard to project the power from that. He strikes out at an above average rate, whiffing 24.3% of his 206 Double-A PAs. He had a wRC+ of 109 in High-A and 97 in AA. He’s 21 years old right now, so he still has time. And his base stealing is good, enough for an 80% success rate on 40 attempts, including 10-11 in Double-A. But the more I look at him, I see a single threat player. He didn’t clear the jump to Double-A very well, and he has some work to do. That’s typical when you go from the CAL League to somewhere like San Antonio. He should probably be on the list in the 70s or so, because I think I’d take him over quite a few of the bottom-end high upside prospects (Kepler, etc.) but I don’t think he’s a top 50 player like most claim. Time will tell.
Robbie Erlin (SP, SD, UNR): What cautioned me the most about Robbie was his elbow injury. I’m always worried when it comes to elbow injuries. Not so much about how they return, because it seemingly feels like a lot of guys who go under the knife or through some preventative rehab end up turning out just fine. I worry about the residual effects of missed time. When a young prospect misses three plus months, that’s missing over half a season. That doesn’t seem like much, but it’s the difference between being “young for the league” and being “age appropriate”. Erlin already has a lot of the odds against him. The Padres have a pretty good amount of starting pitching, as well as a lot coming up with him. Beyond the majors, you have names like Casey Kelly, Adys Portillo, Donn Roach and Keyvius Sampson. It’s quite a stable, and most prospect farms would kill to have arms like that. And that doesn’t even touch the lower levels of Low-A and short season, where there are tons of interesting names. I can’t see Erlin playing in Petco, I see him being a trade chip sooner than later. He likely is a starter somewhere, but I don’t think it’s Petco. He’s good enough, and he should be ranked somewhere in the 80s or 90s, but I’m not as high on him as I once was. Part is his fault (elbow injury) but part is just the fact that the Padres have so many good arms that some will have to fall back to relief or trade. A good problem to have.
Dorssys Paulino (SS, CLE, UNR): You can hate me for not ranking him. Most have said that he belongs ranked in the Top 100 prospects,but I’m going to have to hold off for just a smidge more. He dominated rookie ball for 188 Plate Appearances. He did have a wRC+ of 157, at the position of shortstop, but in general I still want to wait a tick. He’s still hitting against rookie ball pitching. Once he went up to short season (NY-PL) baseball his K% rose by 6% and his BB% dropped from 8% to 4.8%. His ISO tanked from .256 to .136. Yes, that was only 62 PA, but it shows that he’s still on a learning curve. On top of that, let’s look at the future. He’s going to move off of SS. Lindor is locked in, and unless something happens (don’t rule it out, there’s a long way to go) Paulino will have to slide somewhere else. Lindor has SS locked, and Kipnis is likely the future at 2B. Does he move to the OF? Possibly. There doesn’t seem to be a good hole for him to slot into in the field that would maximize his bat. In whole, I think he deserves a potential HM selection. But I don’t think he’s going to be a smooth hitting SS like most think, because he won’t even play that position, if he even stays in the middle infield. He’s one to watch though, and he’ll make my list if by June he’s performing in full-season ball.
Courtney Hawkins (OF, CHW, HM): People have claimed that him and his teammate Keon Barnum have probably the best power in the 2012 draft. I might have to agree. But then again, power really doesn’t do much when you don’t have much else. I’m not saying that applies to Hawkins, but I think that basing his case for Top-100 status on his power potential is a bad argument to make. The biggest plus that Hawkins has going for him is his level of polish, according to the White Sox. They sent him to High-A in September, which is impressive for such a young high school hitter. They think highly of him. His strikeout pattern and walk pattern worry me a bit (K: 23.3%, BB: 4.8%) but that can be fixed. He looks a lot to me like most other White Sox draftees. A lot of tools, including power (8 homers) and speed (11 SB) but also a strong flip ability. So he’s an athlete. But I wonder how well the White Sox will develop him. That’s always a concern with an organization that doesn’t pump out stars continually (Gordon Beckham offsets Chris Sale). I’m hesitant to crown Hawkins until he shows me a full season of talent. Until then, an honorable mention is appropriate.
Those are just my takes. Feel free to rank them wherever you want on your list. You may criticize some of my arguments, but I tried to root them in fact and just cause. I didn’t “not like a guy because he’s not my style” or call Erlin “short” and walk away. I tried to root my stuff in numbers. Small Samples are to be taken with a grain of salt, but they are numbers in general. I hope you enjoyed the piece, and feel free to mention other players that you think deserve the Top 100 spots.