How’s My Driving?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I was hired to be FanGraphs’ Lead Prospect Analyst just after the 2016 Draft and took my first run at evaluating the entire minor leagues on my own the following winter. Enough time has now passed that many of the players from that era of prospecting have had big league careers transpire (or not). Hindsight allows me to have a pretty definitive idea of whether my call on a player was right or wrong in a binary sense, and gauge the gap between my evaluation and what the player ultimately became. Looking back allows me to assess my approach to grading and ranking players so that I might begin to establish some baselines of self-assessment and see how I perform compared to my peers at other publications. I spent time this offseason compiling the various Top 100 prospect rankings from seven years ago for the purposes of such a self-assessment. Below are the results of that exercise and my thoughts on them.

There are absolutely deeper avenues of retrospective analysis that can be done with prospect lists than what I have attempted below, approaches that could educate us about prospects themselves, and probably also about prospect writers. Before we get to a couple of big, fun tables and my notes, I want to quickly go over why I took the approach I did here, discuss its flaws, and posit other potential methods (while also including some thoughts about their limitations).

Below, I have compiled the 2017 Top 100 prospect rankings from the publications where it was basically at least one person’s full-time job to do this: FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, MLB Pipeline, and Baseball America. Of course, more players from the 2017 rookie class than were ranked on Top 100 lists have turned into good players, and so I’ve also included players who might be thought of as collective whiffs, guys who produced enough that they clearly should have been on Top 100 lists by my measure of production (i.e., they performed like a 50-grade player or better). I’ve also included anyone who I graded as a 50, but who was ranked just outside the arbitrary 100-player cutoff.

My goal here was to reflect on my work, not to create metrics that measure these publications’ performance against one another, and so I haven’t done that; the Top 100 rankings are the only comparative aspect of this piece, which you’ll find next to one another in the table below. Everyone has their fair share of hits and misses; readers can get a sense of those on a case-by-case basis as they play with the table.

Eventually, someone could pool the lists and look at how the rankings correlate with WAR (either career WAR or WAR during a specific window of time, which is how I would do it) to compare everyone’s work, but I don’t believe quantitative analysis of this kind can be done on all the players who appeared on the 2017 rankings just yet. As you’ll see in the table below, a lot of the younger players from this prospect class are still in the early stages of their major league careers. As you’ll also see in the table, many of the guys who have had six- or seven-year big league tenures have had wild peaks and valleys in performance during that span. Folks inclined to do comparative analysis of this sort will want to wait and see how things pan out for guys like Ke’Bryan Hayes, Leody Taveras, and others like them before pursuing something like that. You can also really only do comparative analysis using rankings rather than grades, because while each publication tends to use the 20-to-80 scouting scale in some way, the approaches different people and publications take and the way the scale is applied varies pretty significantly from shop to shop (which I think is cool and good, by the way).

There’s nothing stopping me from looking at my own grades, though. So in that vein, career-to-date WAR for players who graduated from rookie status in 2017 (and only for those players) is included in the first table. In the second table further down the page, I go into deeper, more meaningful analysis of players from 2017’s prospect lists whose careers are now sufficiently long to do so, whose pre-free agency service time is complete. Part of my approach to forecasting players has been to focus on the window of service time prior to a player’s free agency, and now members of the rookie class of 2017 like Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, Jordan Montgomery, and others have played for long enough to be subject to this kind of analysis.

Why do I have this six-to-seven year cutoff? For one, I think it’s a fool’s errand to try to decide which of these guys is going to have a 15-year career (or more) when so few of them do. Teams also aren’t digging back into a free agent target’s scouting reports from seven years ago when he was at Double-A and using that information to decide whether or not to sign him, so why should a scouting report from when the player was at Double-A attempt to predict what kind of player he’ll be after he hits free agency? We should care about it as baseball fans, of course, but as a prospect analyst I believe I should not.

Here are our collective Top 100 lists:

2017 Top 100 Prospect Lists
FG MLB BA ESPN BP Name Pos Org 2017 Age Avg Rk Grad Yr Career WAR
1 2 2 17 5 Yoán Moncada INF CHW 21.7 5.4 ’17 14.4
2 1 1 1 3 Andrew Benintendi OF BOS 22.6 1.6 ’17 13
3 5 8 3 8 Amed Rosario SS NYM 21.2 5.4 ’17 7.6
4 4 3 2 2 Dansby Swanson SS ATL 23.0 3.0 ’17 21.2
5 10 6 9 6 Austin Meadows OF PIT 21.7 7.2 ’18
6 6 4 10 1 Alex Reyes RHP STL 32.4 5.4 ’18
7 3 5 4 15 Gleyber Torres SS NYY 20.1 6.8 ’18
8 8 13 8 7 Victor Robles CF WSN 19.7 8.8 ’19
9 7 12 5 4 J.P. Crawford SS PHI 22.1 7.4 ’18
10 25 21 21 24 Anderson Espinoza RHP SDP 18.9 20.2 N/A
11 11 11 26 35 Ozzie Albies 2B ATL 20.1 18.8 ’17 18.9
12 49 26 46 23 Yadier Álvarez RHP LAD 20.9 31.2 N/A
13 13 7 6 26 Cody Bellinger 1B LAD 21.6 13.0 ’17 21.7
14 15 16 19 11 Brendan Rodgers SS COL 20.5 15.0 ’20
15 14 14 12 9 Eloy Jiménez OF CHC 20.2 12.8 ’19
16 18 27 38 12 Lewis Brinson CF MIL 22.7 22.2 ’18
17 21 10 43 21 Willy Adames SS TBR 21.4 22.4 ’18
18 20 15 37 28 Francis Martes RHP HOU 21.2 23.6 ’17 0.2
19 12 25 13 10 Lucas Giolito RHP CHW 22.5 15.8 ’17 14
20 30 42 34 41 Corey Ray OF MIL 22.4 33.4 N/A
21 16 32 7 36 Michael Kopech RHP CHW 20.8 22.4 ’21
22 17 18 11 13 Rafael Devers 3B BOS 20.3 16.2 ’17 21.2
23 23 24 24 18 Manuel Margot CF SDP 22.3 22.4 ’17 9.7
24 34 20 48 NR Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B TOR 17.9 31.5 ’19
25 97 96 23 45 Cal Quantrill RHP SDP 22.0 57.2 ’19
26 9 23 25 14 Tyler Glasnow RHP PIT 23.4 19.4 ’17 9.8
27 19 17 30 56 Mickey Moniak OF PHI 18.7 29.8 22
28 45 31 NR 30 Reynaldo López RHP CHW 23.1 33.5 ’17 9
29 41 43 20 29 Jay Groome LHP BOS 18.4 32.4 N/A
30 26 9 15 20 Nick Senzel 3B CIN 21.6 20.0 ’19
31 51 46 83 46 Riley Pint RHP COL 19.2 51.4 N/A
32 72 41 45 33 Jorge Alfaro C PHI 23.6 44.6 ’18
33 91 86 61 79 Delvin Pérez SS STL 18.2 70.0 N/A
34 24 39 27 16 Clint Frazier OF NYY 22.4 28.0 ’17 -0.7
35 NR 67 36 31 Ronald Acuña Jr. CF ATL 19.1 42.3 ’18
36 31 30 54 22 Brent Honeywell RHP TBR 21.8 34.6 ’23
37 40 28 18 34 Francisco Mejía C CLE 21.3 31.4 ’19
38 29 34 68 70 Kyle Lewis OF SEA 21.6 47.8 ’20
39 NR NR 76 17 Robert Gsellman RHP NYM 23.5 44.0 ’17 2.3
40 37 45 22 49 Blake Rutherford OF NYY 19.7 38.6 N/A
41 53 37 32 67 Kolby Allard LHP ATL 19.5 46.0 ’19
42 61 58 31 66 Alex Verdugo CF LAD 20.7 51.6 ’19
43 58 87 28 58 James Kaprielian RHP NYY 22.9 54.8 ’21
44 33 29 73 38 José De León RHP TBR 24.5 43.4 ’21
45 22 62 NR 80 Bradley Zimmer CF CLE 24.2 52.3 ’17 2.9
46 48 22 16 27 Mitch Keller RHP PIT 20.8 31.8 ’20
47 44 36 96 50 Jeff Hoffman RHP COL 24.1 54.6 ’17 2.4
48 32 77 59 100 Kevin Maitan 3B ATL 17.0 63.2 N/A
49 55 47 35 73 Leody Taveras CF TEX 18.4 51.8 ’21
50 27 35 14 25 Josh Bell 1B PIT 24.5 30.2 ’17 8.7
51 28 63 63 54 Ian Happ 2B CHC 22.5 51.8 ’17 14.2
52 73 53 NR NR Germán Márquez RHP COL 21.9 59.3 ’17 17.4
53 NR NR NR 40 Sandy Alcantara RHP STL 21.4 46.5 ’19
54 86 66 52 96 Ian Anderson RHP ATL 18.7 70.8 ’21
55 57 68 85 55 Triston McKenzie RHP CLE 19.5 64.0 ’21
56 74 61 82 88 Matt Manning RHP DET 19.0 72.2 ’21
57 62 79 79 68 Luis F. Ortiz RHP MIL 21.4 69.0 ’23
58 65 93 41 59 Isan Díaz 2B MIL 20.7 63.2 ’19
59 38 33 71 19 Josh Hader LHP MIL 22.8 44.0 ’17 11.3
60 43 76 42 71 Braxton Garrett LHP MIA 19.5 58.4 ’22
61 46 90 44 63 Aaron Judge RF NYY 24.8 60.8 ’17 41.4
62 NR NR 50 NR Max Fried LHP ATL 23.0 56.0 ’18
63 35 19 57 37 Kyle Tucker OF HOU 20.0 42.2 ’19
64 56 NR 75 39 Yohander Méndez LHP TEX 22.0 58.5 N/A
65 66 81 39 32 Amir Garrett LHP CIN 24.7 56.6 ’17 0.3
66 50 60 53 48 Nick Gordon SS MIN 21.3 55.4 ’21
67 52 40 56 47 Franklin Barreto SS OAK 20.9 52.4 ’18
68 69 83 93 61 A.J. Puk LHP OAK 21.8 74.8 ’22
69 89 NR NR NR Christian Arroyo 3B SFG 21.7 79.0 ’18
70 NR NR 77 NR Luiz Gohara LHP ATL 20.5 73.5 N/A
71 NR 84 NR NR Jharel Cotton RHP OAK 25.0 77.5 ’17 0.7
72 NR NR NR NR Matt Strahm LHP KCR 25.2 72.0 ’17 5.2
73 63 71 29 NR Dominic Smith 1B NYM 21.6 59.0 ’17 -0.5
74 93 NR 40 94 Walker Buehler RHP LAD 22.5 75.3 ’18
75 42 44 NR 92 Hunter Renfroe OF SDP 25.0 63.3 ’17 9.9
76 NR 98 80 NR Adrian Morejon LHP SDP 17.9 84.7 ’20
77 NR 100 84 NR Justin Dunn RHP NYM 21.4 87.0 ’20
78 NR NR 47 NR Fernando Tatis Jr. 3B SDP 18.1 62.5 ’19
79 70 59 55 93 Anthony Alford OF TOR 22.5 71.2 ’20
80 NR 82 100 NR Brandon Woodruff RHP MIL 24.0 87.3 ’18
81 39 65 51 81 Carson Kelly C STL 22.5 63.4 ’18
82 NR NR NR NR Andrés Giménez SS NYM 18.4 82.0 ’20
83 59 55 33 65 Kevin Newman SS PIT 23.5 59.0 ’19
84 NR NR 70 NR Lucas Erceg 3B MIL 21.8 77.0 ’23!
85 99 57 69 76 Chance Sisco C BAL 21.9 77.2 ’18
86 88 89 62 NR Tyler Beede RHP SFG 23.7 81.3 ’19
87 NR NR NR NR Dustin Fowler CF NYY 22.1 87.0 ’18
88 NR 88 NR NR Anthony Banda LHP ARI 23.5 88.0 ’20
89 82 92 NR NR Willie Calhoun 2B LAD 22.2 87.7 ’18
90 90 49 58 42 Raimel Tapia CF COL 23.0 65.8 ’17 1.4
91 47 85 NR 43 Jorge Mateo SS NYY 21.6 66.5 ’20
92 NR NR 90 78 Jahmai Jones CF LAA 19.5 86.7 N/A
93 78 48 NR 64 Michael Soroka RHP ATL 19.5 70.8 ’19
94 81 56 95 89 Zack Collins C CHW 22.0 83.0 ’20
95 NR NR NR 57 Juan Soto OF WSN 18.3 76.0 ’18
96 64 75 72 85 Sean Reid-Foley RHP TOR 21.4 78.4 ’19
97 79 91 88 52 Justus Sheffield LHP NYY 20.7 81.4 ’20
98 71 NR NR NR Carson Fulmer RHP CHW 23.1 84.5 ’18
99 NR NR 74 NR Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B PIT 20.0 86.5 ’21
100 67 NR 49 NR Jesse Winker OF CIN 23.5 72.0 ’18
101 NR NR 64 72 Ariel Jurado RHP TEX 21.0 79.0 ’18
101 NR 54 66 84 Franklin Pérez RHP HOU 19.2 76.3 N/A
101 84 NR 78 NR Forrest Whitley RHP HOU 19.4 87.7 N/A
101 80 78 81 44 Sean Newcomb LHP ATL 23.6 76.8 ’17 2.9
101 NR NR 89 NR Jack Flaherty RHP STL 21.3 95.0 ’18
101 92 99 91 NR Stephen Gonsalves LHP MIN 22.6 95.8 N/A
101 NR NR 92 NR Christin Stewart OF DET 23.1 96.5 ’19
101 98 NR 97 NR Alex Kirilloff OF MIN 19.2 98.7 ’21
101 100 94 NR NR Matt Chapman 3B OAK 23.8 98.3 ’17 27.3
101 NR NR NR NR Kyle Freeland LHP COL 23.7 101.0 ’17 12.4
101 95 NR NR NR Jeimer Candelario 1B CHC 23.2 98.0 ’17 11.5
101 NR NR NR 86 Frankie Montas RHP OAK 23.9 93.5 ’17 9.6
101 68 50 NR NR Luke Weaver RHP STL 23.4 73.0 ’17 6.9
101 54 51 NR 83 David Paulino RHP HOU 23.0 72.3 ’17 0.1
101 36 38 NR 53 Tyler O’Neill OF SEA 21.6 57.0 ’18
101 60 52 NR 62 Erick Fedde RHP WSN 23.9 68.8 ’18
101 NR NR NR NR Ramón Laureano OF HOU 22.5 101.0 ’18
101 NR NR NR NR Greg Allen OF CLE 23.9 101.0 ’18
101 NR NR NR NR Hunter Dozier 3B KCR 25.4 101.0 ’18
101 NR NR NR NR Shed Long Jr. 2B CIN 21.4 101.0 ’19
101 NR NR NR NR Aristides Aquino OF CIN 22.8 101.0 ’19
101 NR NR NR NR Jacob Nix RHP SDP 21.1 101.0 ’19
101 NR NR NR NR Bryan Reynolds OF SFG 22.0 101.0 ’19
101 NR NR NR NR Dakota Hudson RHP STL 22.4 101.0 ’19
101 NR NR NR NR Zack Burdi RHP CHW 21.9 101.0 ’21
101 NR NR NR NR Marcos Diplán RHP MIL 20.4 101.0 ’21
101 NR NR NR NR Jesús Sánchez OF TBR 19.3 101.0 ’21
101 NR NR NR NR Cristian Pache CF ATL 18.2 101.0 ’22
101 NR NR NR NR Cole Ragans LHP TEX 19.1 101.0 ’22
101 NR NR NR NR Joey Wentz LHP ATL 19.3 101.0 ’23
101 NR NR NR 98 Tyler Jay LHP MIN 22.8 99.5 N/A
101 NR NR NR NR Oscar De La Cruz RHP CHC 21.9 101.0 N/A
NR NR NR 60 69 Thomas Szapucki LHP NYM 20.6 64.5 N/A
NR NR NR 65 NR Fernando Romero RHP MIN 22.1 65.0 ’18
NR NR NR 67 99 Trent Grisham OF MIL 20.2 83.0 ’19
NR 77 97 86 NR Dylan Cease RHP CHC 21.1 86.7 ’19
NR NR NR 87 NR Kohl Stewart RHP MIN 22.3 87.0 ’19
NR NR NR 94 NR Luis Castillo RHP CIN 24.1 94.0 ’17 21.7
NR NR NR 98 NR Sam Travis 1B BOS 23.4 98.0 ’17 -1.1
NR 87 NR 99 NR Robert Stephenson RHP CIN 23.9 93.0 ’17 2.1
NR NR 69 NR NR Cody Reed* LHP CIN 23.8 69.0 ’16
NR NR 72 NR NR A.J. Reed* 1B HOU 23.7 72.0 ’16
NR NR NR NR NR Matt Olson 1B OAK 22.8 NR ’17 24.6
NR NR NR NR NR Brandon Nimmo CF NYM 23.8 NR ’17 22
NR NR NR NR NR Jordan Montgomery SP NYY 24.1 NR ’17 14.1
NR NR NR NR NR Yandy Díaz 3B CLE 25.5 NR ’17 12.8
NR NR NR NR NR Teoscar Hernández OF TOR 24.3 NR ’17 12.6
NR NR NR NR NR Rhys Hoskins 1B PHI 23.9 NR ’17 11.6
NR NR NR NR NR Mitch Haniger RF SEA 26.1 NR ’17 11.4
NR NR NR NR NR Marco Gonzales SP SEA 25.0 NR ’17 10.2
NR NR NR NR NR Paul DeJong SS STL 23.5 NR ’17 9.4
NR 76 64 NR 77 Albert Almora Jr. CF CHC 22.8 72.3 ’17 2.1
NR NR NR NR 101 Tyler Wade UTIL NYY 22.2 101.0 ’17 0.2
NR 83 NR NR NR Derek Fisher OF HOU 23.4 83.0 ’17 -0.4
NR NR NR NR 51 Nick Williams OF PHI 23.4 51.0 ’17 -0.4
NR 75 70 NR NR Jake Bauers 1B TBR 21.3 72.5 ’18
NR 94 NR NR NR Richard Urena SS TOR 20.9 94.0 ’18
NR NR 73 NR NR Lourdes Gurriel Jr. UTIL TOR 23.3 73.0 ’18
NR NR NR NR 75 Brett Phillips OF MIL 22.7 75.0 ’18
NR NR 95 NR NR Rowdy Tellez 1B TOR 21.9 95.0 ’19
NR 96 NR NR NR Bobby Bradley 1B CLE 20.7 96.0 ’21
NR NR NR NR 82 Albert Abreu RHP NYY 21.3 82.0 ’21
NR NR NR NR 91 Adonis Medina RHP PHI 20.1 91.0 ’22
NR 85 NR NR 60 Grant Holmes RHP OAK 20.9 72.5 N/A
NR NR NR NR 74 Franklyn Kilome RHP PHI 21.6 74.0 N/A
NR NR 74 NR NR Casey Gillaspie 1B TBR 24.0 74.0 N/A
NR NR 80 NR NR Sixto Sánchez RHP PHI 18.5 80.0 N/A
NR NR NR NR 87 Trevor Clifton RHP CHC 21.7 87.0 N/A
NR NR NR NR 90 Yusniel Díaz CF LAD 20.3 90.0 N/A
NR NR NR NR 95 Anderson Tejeda SS TEX 18.8 95.0 N/A
NR NR NR NR 97 Alec Hansen RHP CHW 22.3 97.0 N/A
*Cody Reed and A.J. Reed lost rookie status the year before but were still within BA’s eligibility rules.
! Erceg graduated in 2023 but as a pitcher.

Some thoughts on this table before we get to the next one: Sort the table by career WAR and, boy oh boy, this feels bad. As a group, we missed entirely on half of the top six players from this class. My 55 FV tier ran all the way back to 72nd overall, which is far too many guys graded that highly. There aren’t 70 guys in the minors at any given time who are going to be top 10 players at their position across my multi-year window, and that is essentially what I was saying with a 55 grade. I know there are readers who think I’m too pragmatic or even miserly with my projections, but at this stage I was handing out big grades to too many players. Now my 55 FV tier tends to run 20-30 players deep.

I was also not properly assessing the importance of health, proximity, and stability as it pertains to pitching prospects. There are far too many young, lower-level pitching prospects absolutely stuffed on my list. Contemporary approaches to pitcher deployment have teams spreading innings across more guys, which flattens the distribution of production across the league’s arms. Teams need a lot of pitchers to get through a big league season, but it’s rare for them to lean on any one guy enough to make him as valuable as the top hitters in the league. As such, I should have more pitchers than hitters on my team-by-team prospect lists, but the Top 100 and the peak of each team list should mostly be occupied by hitters. Modern, scientific approaches to developing pitchers also began to take hold around this time and pitchers’ collective ability to get better quickly exploded. In a way, this made guys who throw 95 and have a good slider surprisingly fungible. At this time, I was also nowhere near understanding the impact of fastball shape and angle, and it shows on this list. I also had not yet developed the list-making processes and data infrastructure that I now have in place in the background while I’m working on all of this stuff.

Let’s dive deeper into the rookie class from this season. Below are the players who exhausted their rookie eligibility in 2017 who were also on a Top 100 list (not just mine) that year with their career WAR, WAR rank among all qualified position players or pitchers since 2016 (to capture cups of coffee from the prior year), my projected FV grade from the time, and how I believe the player actually performed on the FV scale during his “window of evaluation.” Obviously, click through to the player pages for more stats, nerd. I’ve also included some players who haven’t graduated, but whose careers have stalled for one reason or another. In cases where a player quickly fell out of baseball entirely, they were given a “bust” designation; others who have hung around the upper levels of the minors have been given an “org” designation. I’ve also included thoughts on a couple of the notable collective whiffs:

2017 Rookie Class Audit
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
1 Yoán Moncada INF CHW 21.7 14.4 83 70 50
I had a scout I trust warn me that Moncada wasn’t a do-everything player and that ranking him this high was foolish. That turned out to be true (though that scout also thought Cristian Pache was going to be God-like), and Moncada has been a frustrating paragon of inconsistency since his debut. Most of Moncada’s output is tied up in his two big seasons in 2019 and 2021. He’s had strikeout problems and has only exceeded 20 homers once. He did do well enough that I won my podcast bet with Carson Cistulli that Moncada’s best year would exceed Gavin Cecchini’s career WAR, but I was so fixated on everything but his hit tool that I (and everyone but Keith, basically) over-projected him.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
2 Andrew Benintendi OF BOS 22.6 13 100 65 50
Benintendi was high on everyone’s list largely because he was such a high-floored prospect, and indeed he became quite a good player very quickly. As a group we maybe should have cared more about his lack of size and strength, which capped his ceiling below that of the Devers and Bellinger types. This is an athlete whose physical peak came at age 23, and who has only had one above-average season since then, producing more like an average regular during the evaluation window.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
3 Amed Rosario SS NYM 21.2 7.6 193 65 45
Rosario’s reckless approach undermined his fantastic natural feel to hit and held his offensive performance in the average-to-below range during his pre-free agency window. Unlike a lot of players from the 2017 rookie class, Rosario never had that huge season or two that would have made up for his couple of lackluster campaigns, including his 2023 walk year. He also isn’t an especially good defensive shortstop. Though I nailed his hit tool projection, I underrated the impact of Rosario’s free-swinging approach and over-projected his defense.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
4 Dansby Swanson SS ATL 23.0 21.2 38 65 60
Tracking more like a 45- or 50-grade player until the shortened 2020 season, Swanson’s power leveled up in his late 20s, culminating in a monster contract year with the Braves in 2022. He didn’t quite hit the FV projected of him (had he hit for more power earlier in his career, like Matt Chapman, he would have), but he still became a star.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
10 Anderson Espinoza RHP SDP 18.9 0 DNQ 60 35+
Right after this list was published, Espinoza suffered a rare series of injuries that prevented him from pitching again until 2021. He was probably over-projected independent of injury, and I can’t say I’d rank an A-ball arm this high again in part because Espinoza helped me learn my lesson. At the time (I was at Espinoza’s last spring outing before he started getting hurt over and over), he was showing three plus pitches and I was projecting that his command would improve enough for him to be an impact starter. His arm strength has been more average of late and his command never really arrived.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
11 Ozzie Albies 2B ATL 20.1 18.9 47 60 60
This one was a bullseye, and Albies might have been one of the five most productive player from this rookie class had he had a healthy 2022. The way he did it was different than I projected, as I had a contact-oriented profile forecast for him.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
12 Yadier Álvarez RHP LAD 20.9 0 DNQ 60 Bust
My very first day as a full-time baseball writer was spent at Camelback Ranch watching Reds and Dodgers prospects in extended spring training. That was the first time I saw Álvarez in person, and it was incredible. He was loose and fluid, incredibly projectable, and already sitting in the mid-to-upper 90s at 20 years old. He was much more talented and projectable than the typical college pitcher going near the top of the draft, and I lost my mind. I was not alone, as I became aware that there were several high-ranking executives who, either just before or just after he signed, had top-of-the-scale grades and projections on Yadi. The cracks in his command didn’t begin to show until the back half of 2017, after which cracks also showed in Álvarez’s coachability, to the point that the Dodgers had to discipline him. He barely pitched in the 2019-2021 window, elected free agency after the 2022 season and hasn’t been signed.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
13 Cody Bellinger 1B LAD 21.6 21.7 37 60 60
With more than a third of his career output tied up in his incredible 2019 season, Bellinger was tracking like a 70 before he hurt his shoulder celebrating during Game 7 of the 2020 NLCS. Billed as a prospect with hit tool risk, Bellinger’s huge breakout came when he cut his K% into the teens. His career K% is close to the big league average, while Bellinger has gotten to all of the power and been every bit as great a defender as was projected. After two years of dour performance, he bounced back and made his prospect projection accurate with his big 2023.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
18 Francis Martes RHP HOU 21.2 0.2 DNQ 60 Bust
In 2014, Houston traded Jarred Cosart, Enrique Hernández and Austin Wates to Miami for Martes, Colin Moran, and Jake Marisnick. Martes had a 2.73 FIP in a full season at Triple-A the year prior to this prospect ranking and looked like a slam dunk star. He struggled with walks but struck out nearly 40% of opposing hitters his rookie season. He had TJ the following year, then had a PED suspension in each of the next two years. He was released in 2021 and has been pitching in foreign leagues since then.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
19 Lucas Giolito RHP CHW 22.5 14 48 60 50
Giolito had two or three seasons where he peaked as the Guy who everyone though he’d be, but it took a mechanical overhaul and the introduction of two new pitches for him to do it, including the changeup that would become his best offering by far. We have to take Giolito’s early-career, replacement-level struggles into account as we assess him here, as well as the little dip he’s experienced of late. He provides a great teaching moment in fastball/breaking ball interplay and utility, because his curveball was so big and cartoonishly loopy that big league hitters had no trouble identifying the pitch that had made so many high school and minor league hitters look like dorks.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
20 Corey Ray OF MIL 22.4 0 DNQ 60 Org
I considered Ray to be the best prospect in the 2016 draft and for a minute, that felt correct. In 2017, Ray hit 34 homers and stole 61 bases while mostly playing at Double-A. He was striking out 30% of the time, however, and that should have been a clue that his hit tool was suspect enough to make his big league forecast feel precarious. There was a huge learning opportunity for me here regarding bat path. Ray’s swing was so long that he was constantly swinging underneath fastballs in the up-and-away portion of the strike zone. Righty fastballs often finish in that location, and if you’re a left-handed hitter with this particular hole in your swing, it tends to be a bad thing.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
22 Rafael Devers 3B BOS 20.3 21.2 38 55 60
Three of Devers’ first four seasons were impressive for his age but only fairly productive compared to the rest of the league. As he’s become slightly more selective during the last few seasons, he’s leapt into a different stratosphere. Because he’s younger than a lot of other players from this class, Devers is more likely to continue to be a great player than guys whose decline phases are theoretically looming. But during his six-year window prior to free agency, he was a 60-grade player overall.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
23 Manuel Margot CF SDP 22.3 9.7 152 55 45
Signed by Boston during the Obama administration, Margot turned out to be the best player San Diego got back in the 2015 Craig Kimbrel trade. He was evaluated as a do-it-all center fielder at this stage in his prospectdom, and while Margot has been a damn good big leaguer at times, he never developed the power required to match my projection for him and became a quintessential 45-grade player. Injuries have also been a consistent part of Margot’s career. After parts of four seasons in San Diego, he was traded to Tampa Bay for Emilio Pagán, and thereafter tended to platoon with guys like Josh Lowe and Kevin Kiermaier. He’s a career .255/.309/.385 hitter overall, but has been a .281/.341/.420 hitter against lefties and played plus defense at all three outfield positions, a contender’s part-time outfielder.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
26 Tyler Glasnow RHP PIT 23.4 9.8 104 55 55
Injuries and inefficiency (especially early in his big league tenure) have marred Glasnow’s career to this point, and illustrate why pitchers tend to be ranked lower and more scarcely than hitters on Top 100 lists. On talent, Glasnow is a top 5-10 player from this rookie class, clearly, but fate has struck a cruel blow to his output and pitchers are more vulnerable to this kind of injury chaos. On actual production, he was not quite a 50. I think it’s fine to call this a collective “hit” for the group even though there’s a gap between our rankings and Glasnow’s production. His ability is undeniably special; he was properly evaluated. I’m not going to sit here and say the Pirates won the Chris Archer trade, but if part of the reason they parted with Glasnow, Shane Baz, and Austin Meadows was because they feared all three would have trouble staying healthy and productive, they were right about that part.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
28 Reynaldo López RHP CHW 23.1 9 112 55 45
Signed by Washington, López was a Top 100 prospect when he was dealt as part of the Adam Eaton trade that helped push the 2019 Nationals across the finish line to immortality. The White Sox started López until his options ran out; in the two and a half seasons in which he’s been a full-time reliever, his fastball velocity has leapt and he’s become one of the steadier and more durable setup men in baseball. The two seasons in which López worked over 180 innings are carrying nearly half his WAR total (and he had an ERA over 5.00 in one of them).
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
29 Jay Groome LHP BOS 18.4 0 DNQ 55 35+
At this point in my tenure at the site, I failed to appreciate how much time and risk should factor into the way these players are valued. Groome was an undeniably great talent in high school but every teenage pitcher is playing Russian Roulette with their ligaments every season for five years on their way to the big leagues, and Groome’s life was more complicated and volatile at home than I knew about. He was on San Diego’s 40-man last year and got roughed up at Triple-A.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
31 Riley Pint RHP COL 19.2 0 DNQ 55 35+
Pint’s fastball shape was always going to cause it to play down a bit, but it’s still surprising that he’s only managed to pitch a third of a big league inning so far during his career given his combination of elite arm strength and breaking ball quality. There are people around baseball who think Pint would have turned out much better than this had he been developed by an org with a better track record of helping pitchers.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
33 Delvin Pérez SS STL 18.2 0 DNQ 55 Org
Pérez looked like a potential five-tool shortstop in high school, but he failed a PED test prior to the draft and has never shown his pre-draft power in pro ball. He has kicked around the upper minors the last several seasons because of his defensive ability. I don’t think I’d totally move off of a similar high school player who tested positive today, but I certainly wouldn’t rank him 33rd overall.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
34 Clint Frazier OF NYY 22.4 -0.7 DNQ 55 35+
Monster bat speed wasn’t enough to make Frazier a successful big leaguer, and he has hopped around a couple different rosters during the back half of his evaluation window. In his best couple of seasons, Frazier hit for power in line with his projections, but his hit tool turned out to be more of a 30 than a 50. How were we all fooled so badly? The intoxicating smell of Frazier’s draft status definitely biased me for longer than was ideal, and he only K’d at a 21-22% clip in the several seasons leading up to his big league debut. Perhaps this is not the type of athlete we should be putting premium grades on; Frazier was more of a tightly wound, overly muscular stiff guy. He also is rumored to have struggled to fit into that Yankees clubhouse.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
39 Robert Gsellman RHP NYM 23.5 2.3 276 55 40
When is an uptick in a player’s performance going to regress to their mean, and when is it actual development? Gsellman looked great in 2016, when he was throwing harder than ever before as a starter and pitched so well in the big leagues that he was one out away from losing rookie eligibility. His fastball lost a tick the next season and it wasn’t long before Gsellman was shifted into lower-leverage multi-inning relief.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
40 Blake Rutherford OF NYY 19.7 0 DNQ 55 Org
Rutherford was an old-for-the-class high school prospect who got famous as an underclassman. His career is a lesson in adjusting draft evaluations due to age, and his low-ball swing was not built to hit for power in other parts of the zone.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
45 Bradley Zimmer CF CLE 24.2 2.9 DNQ 55 35+
Zimmer’s speed and ability to play a passable center field kept him gainfully employed for a half decade while he struck out 35% of the time, far too much for him to get to his raw power and claim a stable role.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
47 Jeff Hoffman RHP COL 24.1 2.4 272 55 40
Hoffman was a top five draft prospect at East Carolina until he blew out during his draft year. His style of pitching was ill-suited for Colorado and he struggled badly there for years before finding some stability in Cincinnati, especially after he was moved to the bullpen. In 2023, he had a three-tick velo spike in Philly and pitched like a good setup man, but throughout his pre-free agency years he was more like a fifth starter or low-leverage middle reliever.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
48 Kevin Maitan 3B ATL 17.0 0 DNQ 55 Org
I saw Maitan in Florida the fall before this Top 100 list came out, and he was already noticeably heavier than he was as an amateur. There are scouts who always considered Maitan to be overrated, who hated his swing from the start and thought he wouldn’t hit. After he was made a free agent as part of Atlanta’s bonus packaging scandal, he got another multi-million dollar bonus from the Angels, and his issues continued to worsen in their org.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
50 Josh Bell 1B PIT 24.5 8.7 172 55 45
Bell set a record for a second round bonus amount ($5 million) when the Pirates drafted him. He’s performed almost exactly as he was projected on offense but has fallen short from a WAR value standpoint. He’s a career .260/.347/.453 hitter who has played at least 143 games in each of the last six full seasons, and he’s hit at least 20 homers four times. Aside from the pandemic season, Bell has been an above-average offensive performer and has a career 114 wRC+, with strikeout, walk and SLG output in line with his scouting projections. But Bell’s terrible first base defense and the positional adjustment in WAR drags him way, way down to just under 9 WAR for his career. Bell has the seventh-lowest defensive adjustment in baseball since 2016, but he’s 37th in adjusted runs created during that span. Is our positional adjustment being too harsh on him? It feels like one of the best 50 hitters of the last seven years should feel good to have had on a Top 100 list, but Bell is a really terrible defender and there have been enough first baseman who’ve comfortably outslugged him since he debuted to consider him a little shy of average at the position.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
51 Ian Happ 2B CHC 22.5 14.2 87 55 50
Happ was tracking like a 45-grade player until the 2022 season, when he cut his strikeout rate and had two 60-grade seasons at the end of his evaluation window even though he transitioned to left field full-time during that span. Happ was not a very good second base or center field defender, and I slightly over-projected his second base defense, which is the biggest reason for the glancing blow level of accuracy here. I think he was “ranked” in the correct spot, but his FV grade was a little too heavy because my premium FV tiers ran too deep at this time.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
52 Germán Márquez RHP COL 21.9 17.4 29 55 55
Another hit, Márquez was actually tracking better than this before he ended his evaluation window with a mediocre 2022 and an injured 2023. Incredibly athletic despite his thicker build, Márquez was among the most productive hitting pitchers in baseball while NL hurlers were still tasked with swinging a bat. The Rockies stole him from Tampa Bay in a deal for Corey Dickerson.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
59 Josh Hader LHP MIL 22.8 11.3 79 55 55
This is where using WAR as the guideline for assessing players in this way gets tricky. Hader has been one of the more dominant relievers in baseball for the last several years and all of us would rank him well above where he slots if we’re just looking at WAR. I’ve made a manual adjustment to his actual performance grade to reflect common sense. Ideally prospects like this (Kyle Harrison and Ricky Tiedemann are good 2024 examples) would be ranked near the back of my 55 FV tier, guys who might have relief risk but are nasty enough to be elite closers if they can’t start. I think it’s reasonable to prefer to have Hader’s career so far over those of Moncada, Happ, Montgomery, and probably even Márquez, but once we get up to Albies and the guys above him, it’s a little too rich. That 55 FV area feels like it was right.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
61 Aaron Judge RF NYY 24.8 41.4 6 55 70
The apex player from this class, Judge generally occupied a spot in the middle third of our collective lists due to concerns about his strikeouts. He struck out at a 44% clip (!) during his September call-up prior to this offseason’s evaluation. Still, Judge had unique size, power, and athleticism, and his theoretical ceiling alone probably should have weighed heavier in the way he was pref’d at the time. Judge has routinely produced like a 70-grade player. He has two historic seasons (his rookie year and 2022) under his belt and probably would have had more if not for injuries, which have cost him 50 games or so in two of his last four seasons.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
64 Yohander Méndez LHP TEX 22.0 0 DNQ 55 35+
Méndez’s fastball velo from 2016 never really showed up again, as he sat mostly 92-93 mph in his 47 total big league innings. The injuries stacked up, and Méndez was also subject a team-imposed suspension at one point for seeking medical treatment outside the org.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
65 Amir Garrett LHP CIN 24.7 0.3 316 55 40
What happened here? Garrett was moved to the bullpen after his rookie year and had three great seasons in relief before his command collapsed after the 2020 campaign. He basically had no shot of being a 55 as soon as he was ‘penned, but it looked like he’d be a nasty enough reliever to maybe be a 50. Instead, his final three years of the evaluation window were bad enough to dilute his performance into this range.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
70 Luiz Gohara LHP ATL 20.5 0 DNQ 55 Bust
A lefty leviathan with, at the time, the hardest fastball of any starter in pro baseball, Gohara was jettisoned from Seattle along with several other talented players who had worn out their welcome through a perceived lack of effort. He pitched very well for the Braves in 2017, but his career came to an abrupt end after just shy of 50 career innings in part due to a shoulder injury that caused his comeback attempt with the Angels in 2020 to stall.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
71 Jharel Cotton RHP OAK 25.0 0.7 DNQ 55 35+
I underappreciated the ways in which Cotton’s fastball was not going to play against big league hitters. He was shelled in his one full season as a starter, then quickly ‘penned and didn’t have the velo spike he would have needed to stick around. He was an up/down bulk reliever who is now playing in Japan.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
72 Matt Strahm LHP KCR 25.2 5.2 181 55 40+
Projected as a mid-rotation starter, Strahm was never really given an opportunity to start by the Royals, and it wasn’t until his fourth big league season that the Padres gave it a try for a couple of months. Strahm thrived in a swingman role with Philadelphia in 2023, the best season of his career, but has mostly been a solid lefty middle reliever to this point.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
73 Dominic Smith 1B NYM 21.6 -0.5 444 50 35+
Aside from his white hot run in 2020, Smith has simply never had enough in-game power output to be considered a good everyday first baseman. His relatively low walk rates in the minors should have also been a sign that he wouldn’t clear the offensive bar at first base.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
75 Hunter Renfroe OF SDP 25.0 9.9 148 50 45
Does Renfroe feel a little undervalued by WAR? He’s among the top 30 home run hitters in baseball since he debuted and his all-world arm changes the way runners make decisions on the basepaths in ways I don’t think are properly captured in his data. Then again, he is a low-OBP corner guy, reaching base at a .300 clip. Ideally this is a player for whom you have a lefty-hitting partner on your roster, which I think makes my forecast a little too bullish.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
90 Raimel Tapia CF COL 23.0 1.4 410 50 40
Tapia was written up as a 60-hit/40-power center fielder but has performed like a 60-hit/30-power left fielder.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
101 Franklin Pérez RHP HOU 19.2 0 DNQ 50 Injuries
Pérez dealt with severe injury perhaps more than any other prospect since I’ve started doing this job.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
101 Sean Newcomb LHP ATL 23.6 2.9 253 50 35+
Young Nuke had command-driven relief risk but managed a strong first couple of big league seasons as a starter despite his poor command. The Braves decided to shift him into the bullpen in 2019, and Newcomb has remained a reliever while bouncing around to a few clubs (Cubs, Giants, A’s) the last several seasons. After a promising start, he has been more of an up/down reliever.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
101 Matt Chapman 3B OAK 23.8 27.3 23 50 65
Another player whose minor league strikeout issues drastically altered his standing as a prospect, Chapman struck out at a 30% or greater clip as soon as he reached Double-A. In a sense, the concerns about his hit tool have been correct, and Chapman has run hot and cold for most of the last four seasons. But his elite defense and ability to get to his power have driven star-level production, especially during his first few campaigns. He’s performed like a 65-grade player, not quite consistent enough to be a true 70. He was under-ranked pretty badly on everyone’s lists.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
101 Kyle Freeland LHP COL 23.7 12.4 64 50 50
Freeland had one huge 200-inning, 4-WAR season but has otherwise been a low-K backend starter with a 4.60 career FIP. From a WAR standpoint I hit on this projection, but if you wanted to argue that on talent Freeland is more like a no. 4/5 innings- eater than the mid-rotation types I try to rank on the 100, you probably could. He’s done this well in half a decade of pitching at Coors Field, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
101 Jeimer Candelario 1B CHC 23.2 11.5 118 50 50
A somewhat inconsistent year-to-year performer, Candy’s huge walk year propelled his overall performance into 50-grade range. He’s now a .243/.325/.414 career hitter and has stayed at third base for longer than my graduation time scouting report anticipated. During Top 100 work every year, I have a “Stable Bat-Only” cluster of players who get compared to one another as the list gets made. Candy is a quintessential example of this archetype and a great barometer for what the bottom of that group should look like.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
101 Frankie Montas RHP OAK 23.9 9.6 106 50 50
Remember that Frankie had a ton of relief risk as a prospect and it took him the better part of three big league seasons before he found his footing as a starter. Signed by Boston, he was traded to the White Sox as part of a package for Jake Peavy, then was sent to the Dodgers as part of a three-team swap centered around Todd Frazier, and then to Oakland with others for Josh Reddick and Rich Hill; he was eventually flipped to the Yankees at the 2022 deadline. Montas broke out at age 26 when he started throwing a splitter. He had three seasons as a dynamite mid-rotation type, though only two seasons with more than 100 innings pitched during his pre-free agency window, with some time lost to injury and some to a PED suspension. He produced right on the cusp of the 50 FV level in spite of persistent injury.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
101 Luke Weaver RHP STL 23.4 6.9 143 50 40
Weaver was tracking like a 45 in his first three big league seasons, but he struggled to stay healthy after Arizona acquired him in the Paul Goldschmidt trade and hasn’t crested 1.0 WAR in a single season since 2019. He struggled to find a good breaking ball and ended up pitching like a backend starter.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
101 David Paulino RHP HOU 23.0 0.1 DNQ 50 35+
Paulino had wrapped a season with 1.83 ERA at Double-A Corpus Christi prior to his ranking here. His 90 IP that year were by far the most he’s had in a single season of his career. He tested positive for PEDs in 2017 and has barely pitched in the big leagues since.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
101 Tyler Jay LHP MIN 22.8 0 DNQ 50 Injuries
Jay dealt with many injuries and at a certain point his peak stuff never returned. After not pitching since 2019, he made a comeback with the Mets Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse late last year. He was only sitting 90-91 mph, but his slider is still pretty nasty.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
101 Oscar De La Cruz RHP CHC 21.9 0 DNQ 50 Injuries
…And a PED suspension
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Luis Castillo RHP CIN 24.1 21.7 12 45 60
This was a weird one. Castillo entered 2017 having made just three starts above A-ball, and he K’d just shy of 6.5 per 9 IP with the Marlins High-A affiliate throughout his time there in 2015 and 2016. At the time, it was very difficult to have a truly thorough understanding of mid-minors players who I hadn’t personally seen; as my ability to access video and source data and the thoughts of scouts has improved since 2017, I like to think I wouldn’t have under-projected Castillo’s changeup quality or command quite so badly if I had it to do today. I can see why his delivery made me think he had relief risk, but his command should have trumped that, and baseball has a better understanding now of the advantages lower-release pitchers like this have when it comes to missing bats at the top of the zone. Castillo has evolved and his slider usage now outpaces his changeup, which hasn’t missed bats nearly as often as it did during the early portion of his career.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Sam Travis 1B BOS 23.4 -1.1 DNQ 45 Org
Travis simply didn’t have the physical tools to bang at anything close to the level of an average first baseman.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Robert Stephenson RHP CIN 23.9 2.1 279 45 40
The Reds shifted Stephenson into the bullpen half way through his rookie year and he struggled to find his footing until 2019. He’s been passed around the fringe of several rosters during the last few years, pitching especially well starting with when the Pirates pulled him off the scrap heap in 2022. In all, he’s performed like a pretty typical fastball/slider middle reliever.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Matt Olson 1B OAK 22.8 24.6 27 40 65
Yikes. Olson ended up having so much power that he’s third among first basemen in WAR since 2017. His blurb from the time overstates how bad the strikeout issues were in the minors. Upon reflection, this feels like I was looking for data to confirm apprehension I had about Olson’s unique swing, which not only turned out to be fine but is being copied by some other young hitters. Olson’s power makes every swing he takes a dangerous one, and he’s been awesome despite having one of the lower contact rates among first basemen. This is one of my all-time biggest misses and a rough unilateral whiff for the group. I only remember one person stumping for Olson at this time and it was former managing editor Dave Cameron.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Brandon Nimmo CF NYM 23.8 22 35 45 60
Aside from a 2018 season in which he showed an unusual amount of pop (owing perhaps to the juiced ball), Nimmo was tracking more like a 45-grade player until he cut his strikeout rate starting in 2020. He had three big-time seasons (four if you prorate his 2020 across an entire campaign) at the end of the evaluation window, as he traded OBP for power while remaining an average center field defender. I had a fourth outfielder grade on Nimmo and he turned into a star. I find some solace in knowing that it took a pretty significant mid-window adjustment for Nimmo to make a leap; my evaluation of his ability at the time was sound, but he changed in ways I didn’t anticipate. He’s a good reminder that prospects who play viable defense at a premium position, and who have a core offensive competency (in this case, on-base ability), tend to pan out.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Jordan Montgomery SP NYY 24.1 14.1 46 45 50
This one seemed like it was going to be a bullseye until Montgomery’s huge 2023. Injuries stymied his early-career output, but he was a very efficient innings-eating force for the last three seasons of his evaluation window, during which he began to throw harder even as his body seemingly backed up. My tool and pitch grades were too tightly clustered around 50 at this time, and with a more accurate evaluation of Montgomery’s stuff for the last half decade — 40-grade fastball, plus command of a plus changeup and plus curveball — I probably would have 50’d him.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Yandy Díaz 3B CLE 25.5 12.8 103 45 50
Until the last two seasons Yandy was performing in lockstep with my forecast from a value standpoint, but not really from a scouting point of view. I loved Díaz’s contact and OBP ability as a prospect, but I also thought the then-shortstop would be a great defensive third baseman. Instead, Díaz got super buff and transitioned from bad third baseman to fine first baseman. He’s performed like a nearly elite offensive player each of the past two seasons as he’s finally gotten to more of his power in games.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Teoscar Hernández OF TOR 24.3 12.6 106 45 50
Part of why Hernández wasn’t on the Top 100 was because he was such a bad defensive outfielder. The Astros traded him to Toronto in the middle of his 2017 graduation year as part of a package for Francisco Liriano. Hernández has performed like a 45-grade player with a monster three-year peak (when you prorate 2020) in the middle of his pre-free agency tenure. Remember when the Blue Jays played him in center field for half of the 2019 season? Teo’s plus-plus power helped him overcome 30-grade plate discipline and a below-average hit tool. He’s a great teaching case for guys like Tyler Soderstrom and Triston Casas: When there’s this much power, be patient.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Rhys Hoskins 1B PHI 23.9 11.6 117 45 50
When you prorate his performance so Hoskins isn’t penalized for his 2023 injury, he performed like an exactly average first baseman during his Phillies tenure thanks to his special power and above-average plate discipline. I severely over-projected Hoskins’ defense, which is probably more like a 30 than the half-assed 45 I dropped on him at the time. As with Teoscar, there was enough power and big league proximity here to merit stuffing Hoskins in the middle of the Top 100 despite his other issues.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Mitch Haniger RF SEA 26.1 11.4 121 45 50
Another player whose injuries limited his WAR output during the last half decade, Haniger had two or three really huge seasons in spite of pretty substantial splits, which were chief among the reasons he was evaluated as more of a platoon outfielder when he was a prospect. He broke late and was undervalued because of his age.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Marco Gonzales SP SEA 25.0 10.2 93 40 45
A classic command-oriented lefty with a plus changeup, Marco had two seasons with plus, All-Star WAR output and might have had a third if not for the pandemic. In fact, Gonzales’ rate stats in his 11 2020 starts were pretty easily the best of his career. A lot of his WAR generation comes from volume (including a 200-inning 2019 season), while his ERAs and FIPs were in the mid-4.00s, more in line with a no. 4/5 starter. But his WAR total here was probably robbed of what would have been a career-best season, so I’ve put my thumb on the scale just a little bit.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Paul DeJong SS STL 23.5 9.4 155 45 45
DeJong was sent straight to Double-A in his first full pro season and slugged .532 as a rookie the following year. An aggressive approach caught up with him over time and he ended his evaluation window with a .229/.299/.417 line befitting a slugging second division shortstop. This was a hit.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Albert Almora Jr. CF CHC 22.8 2.1 387 45 40
Almora had one full season’s worth of above-average offensive performance at the very start of his big league career. After that, his hitting fell off enough to consider him a glove-first fifth outfielder rather than a complementary regular type of fourth outfielder like Manuel Margot.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Tyler Wade UTIL NYY 22.2 0.2 DNQ 45 40
I had Wade projected as a premium utility guy and while he certainly developed rare defensive versatility, I over-projected his hit and power tools, which are more like 40/20 than the 55/30 I assigned him. The difference is Wade has been more like a low-end utility guy, a sixth infielder and fifth outfielder in one.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Derek Fisher OF HOU 23.4 -0.4 DNQ 45 Org
Fisher had plus power and plus-plus speed, but he never developed feel to hit or enough feel for defense to play center field. The Blue Jays and Brewers gave him opportunities in his mid-20s to see if things would click, and they didn’t. I have a gap between Bradley Zimmer’s eval and Fisher’s even though they were similar offensive players because Zimmer’s center field defense gave him more roster utility.
FG Rank Name Pos Org 2017 Age Career WAR WAR Rank FV Grade Actual Grade
NR Nick Williams OF PHI 23.4 -0.4 DNQ 45 35+
Williams was traded from Texas to Philadelphia in the Cole Hamels deal (Hamels and Jake Diekman for Williams, Jorge Alfaro, Jerad Eickhoff, Matt Harrison, Alec Asher and Jake Thompson. Not great!). He was a hyper-aggressive, sweet-swinging corner outfielder with big power and poor defense. After a couple of fair offensive seasons in Philly during which his overall WAR output was limited by his defense, Williams’ performance tanked and he had such a bad 2019 that it put his entire career WAR under water.





Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

159 Comments
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Browns0286member
1 month ago

Numerous players who have accrued career WAR are null in that column (Vlad Jr, Eloy, Cease, Alcantara, etc.)

Meg Rowleymember
1 month ago
Reply to  Browns0286

Yup – as noted in the piece, the WAR totals are only included for those players who graduated from rookie status in 2017.

Browns0286member
1 month ago
Reply to  Meg Rowley

Whoops, thanks – hastily read it as “since” 2017 rather than “in” 2017. Appreciate it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Browns0286
TKDCmember
1 month ago
Reply to  Browns0286

And it seems that may have also led to no analysis of those players. Acuña Jr. another one.

HappyFunBallmember
1 month ago
Reply to  TKDC

Presumably they will be discussed in future columns discussing players who exhaust their rookie eligibility in later years…

slamcactus
1 month ago
Reply to  Browns0286

It’s right in the article whose WAR totals are included and whose aren’t. But good news: if you want to know the other guys’ WAR totals clicking on their names the first time they appear in the article is free.

cowdisciplemember
1 month ago
Reply to  slamcactus

It is a bit confusing to include them in the same table rather than separately.

TKDCmember
1 month ago
Reply to  cowdisciple

It could also be helpful to include prior years’ rankings as well. Especially for some top prospects, it’s painfully easy to see that they are elite in their last years. Analysis of Acuña going into 2017 would quite frankly be more interesting than analysis of him going into 2018.

Browns0286member
1 month ago
Reply to  slamcactus

I was (erroneously) offering what I thought was a table correction, not lamenting my inability to find their WAR elsewhere. Thanks.

TKDCmember
1 month ago
Reply to  slamcactus

No need to be an asshole

Michaelmember
1 month ago
Reply to  TKDC

Look around for a mirror.

TKDCmember
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael

How exactly was I an asshole? Did I condescendingly tell someone a basic fact to feel superior, or was I simply mistaken about something?