We continue Prospect Week 2018 by trying to address a question frequently asked by fans of teams that have just graduated multiple high-level prospects — namely, where would those graduated prospects rank if they were still eligible for the Top 100? We usually don’t have that answer ready off the top of our heads since, as prospect analysts, we aren’t thinking about those players very much. We decided that wasn’t okay, though. So now, whenever we do an updated top-100 or midseason list, we will also provide an update on the prospects who have lost their eligibility in the previous/current year.
Even for fans of teams with no players on the list below, there’s still some value here. Names like Derek Fisher and Clint Frazier have appeared in trade rumors, often packaged with or chosen in lieu of prospects who are constantly ranked. This list will help give some context to those rumors, with the Present and Future Value (PV and FV) grades to tie them together — a concept for valuation we will be making more accessible in the future.
There wasn’t a hard and fast cut-off for this list. We started simply by considering players who’d lost eligibility in 2017 and whom we project to be 50 FV or higher, thus being top-100-quality prospects. I believe Chad Green and Joe Musgrove are the two players who lost eligibility in 2016, but we feel as though they aren’t finished products yet or still have evolving roles, so you get two extra players graded on the list. There were also some interesting former top prospects who just missed this list (Jharel Cotton, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, etc.) whom Eric will address on a more individual basis later to explain why we’ve downgraded them.
For a quick primer on the PV and FV concepts — including, in particular, how it scales to WAR — see this article. Broadly speaking, the aim behind these rankings is to capture true talent level, so just because a rookie recorded two wins in half a season of playing time last year doesn’t mean he’s a 4 WAR player. It may mean we think that, going forward, he’s just a 2 WAR player and thus a 50 FV, despite outperforming some veterans who we also think are 50 PV/FV. We are projecting the future, not just reporting what happened. Think of PV as what we think his WAR total will be this year and FV as what we think his one- or two-year peak level will be.
If your team had a prospect who was rated in the minors as a 55 FV and he’s a 50 FV on here, it’s not just because his numbers were bad in a couple dozen MLB games, but rather because we think either the ceiling is now lower or he’s less likely to reach it. The only real example where the WAR totals overwhelmed what we considered to be the actual talent is Judge. We feel like he probably settles in as a 70 or 75 FV like Bellinger, somewhere outside of the top three at his position (outfielders) but very close to that level; it’s just hard to ignore the fact that he recorded highest WAR in baseball as a rookie, so we leaned toward WAR outcome when assigning his PV/FV in that case only.
Also, in close situations (like the 65 FV hitters), we tended to lean toward the guys we thought were more advanced now (higher PV) and taking hitters over pitchers (discussed in the above-linked Making the Top 100 conversation).