Below is our list of the top-100 prospects in baseball. The scouting summaries were compiled with information provided by available data, industry sources, as well as from our own observations.
Note that prospects are ranked by number but also lie within tiers demarcated by their Future Value grades. The FV grade is more important than the ordinal rankings. For example, the gap between prospect No. 5 on this list, Victor Robles, and prospect No. 35, Sean Murphy, is 30 spots, and there’s a substantial difference in talent there. The gap between Travis Swaggerty (No. 56) and Adrian Morejon (No. 86), meanwhile, is also 30 numerical places, but the difference in talent is relatively small. You may have noticed that there are more than 100 prospects in the table below, and more than 100 scouting summaries. That’s because we have also included 50 FV prospects who didn’t make the 100; their reports appear below, under the “Other 50 FV Prospects” header. The same comparative principle applies to them.
As a quick explanation, variance means the range of possible outcomes in the big leagues, in terms of peak season. If we feel a prospect could reasonably have a best big league season of anywhere from one to five WAR, that would be “high” variance, whereas someone like Colin Moran, whose range is something like two to three WAR, would be “low” variance. High variance can be read as a good thing, since it allows for lots of ceiling, or a bad thing, since it allows for a lower floor. Your risk tolerance could lead you to sort by variance within a given FV tier if you feel strongly about it. Here is a primer explaining the connection between FV and WAR. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.
You’ll also notice that this year, we’ve added probable FV outcome distribution graphs for each prospect on our list. This is our attempt to graphically represent how likely each FV outcome is for each prospect. Using the work of Craig Edwards, we found the base rates for each FV tier of prospect (separately for hitters and pitchers), and the likelihood of each FV of outcome. For example, based on Craig’s research, the average 60 FV hitter on a list becomes a perennial 5+ WAR player over his six controlled years 26% of the time, and a 27% chance of accumulating, at most, a couple WAR during his six controlled years. We started with these base rates for every player, then manually tweaked them to reflect how we think the player differs from the average player in that FV tier, since a player in rookie ball and a player in Triple-A with the same FV grade obviously don’t have exactly the same odds of success. So, these graphs are based on empirical findings, but with the subjectivity of our opinions included to more specifically reflect what we think the odds are of various outcomes. This is just a concept we’ve been kicking around for a while, one we hope to continue to refine to try to better communicate things about prospects.