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What the Updated MLB Prospect Rankings Say (and don’t say)

Syndication: The Corpus Christi Caller Times Angela Piazza/Caller-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK has decided not just to post results and highlights, but content as well. This means, alongside the other outlets (Fangraphs, Baseball American, ESPN, and AstrosFuture), we get to see their prospect rankings.

Mid-season rankings always mix speculation and results. How one ranks, for instance, players just drafted who’ve been professional ball players for two weeks is, let’s say, a matter of taste.

The overall farm ranking is going to be back in the toilet after the system seemed poised to get out of the bottom 5. That will happen when you graduate Yainer Diaz and Hunter Brown, and lose Drew Gilbert, Ryan Clifford and Korey Lee. Still, here we are. A few observations

  1. Who’s at the top? I know that Luis Baez is raw, and a #2 ranking on a 19 year-old is a huge compliment. But he’s basically performed on offense during his first 26 games at A ball in a similar manner to how Jacob Melton, 3.5 years older mind you, has performed in A+. Similar offensive value and bb and K rates. Melton runs, throws, and fields better, but it’s hard for me not to see Baez as clearly the better prospect.
  2. Who’s in the top 5? Arrighetti and Matthews make sense at 3 and 4, but I was surprised to see Dezenzo over Loperfido. Zach D has had one fewer year of professional ball that Joey L but is still at the same level, but Loperfido is showing similar slugging prowess at AA with much more athleticism and performance. Zach D torched A+ pitching in a hitters’ park and has been a league average hitter in AA over 40 games. I’d put Loperfido 5th and Dezenzo much lower.
  3. “Check out the the big gain on Bloss.” Sorry, this is a bad Pulp Fiction pun. Of the 2023 draftees, Matthews (#4, 1st round) and Treadwell (#16, 2nd round) make some sense. I’d probably have Treadwell in the lower teens. It makes some sense to have the 3rd rounder, Bloss, next. But he wasn’t given 3rd round money and seems like he was picked there as a money saver. Astros Future has Cam Fisher and Chas Jaworksy ranked (and no Bloss). It’s hard to tell whether this was just being lazy or really thought that Bloss deserved to be ranked in the top 30 based on being a 3rd round pick.
  4. It’s time to celebrate the 2021 draft. Remember that one? I’ll refresh you if you’re afraid to click. No 1st and 2nd rounders. Rolled the dice on signing Alex Ulloa in the 4th round but he ended up going to college. The one high risk talent was Ty Whitaker, who’s repeating low A and is out of most top 30s. The one guy who performed in the top 5 picks, Chayce McDermott, was traded in the deal for Trey Mancini (he’s ranked 11th in a good Baltimore system). Despite all of that disadvantage, the 2021 draft class still abounds in the top half of these rankings. 6th rounder Arrighetti (3) tops the list, followed by 7th rounder Loperfido (6) and 8th rounder Colton Gordon (7). But wait, there’s more: 12th rounder Rhett Kouba (9) and 18th rounder Will Wagner (15) are also represented. I’d say Will Wagner is too low. Further, 5th rounder Quincy Hamilton is currently injured, but he did make it to AAA in less than two years of pro ball. 13 of our top 15 come from a draft class that was decimated by penalty. Barring injury, there’s 6 bona fide major leaguers in that draft, including three who probably crack a rotation next year. That might be the best pound-for-pound draft that any team had in 2021.
  5. If you want to get ranked, perform. Lots of guys off this list due to injury or under-performance (Whitaker, Q Hamilton, Logan Cerny, Edinson Batista, Sandro Gaston). Meanwhile, guys who’ve performed have been acknowledged. Note especially Zach Cole (10), nobody’s favorite from the 2022 draft, who Fangraphs didn’t rank on account of having a grade 20 bat. Well, he has 18 HRs, 31 SBs, and is absolutely torching the high-A Sally (wRC+ 183 in 26 games). I don’t think a 23-year old who K’s 30% of the time in A ball is worthy of a top-10 ranking, but is giving him his due based on what he’s doing. One can say the same for Luis Baez, who was generally regarded as similar to Camilio Diaz (28) and Esmil Valencia (29) going into the season. They’re also teenagers but haven’t gotten into A ball yet. Baez has, and has performed. So too, guys who project as relievers based on size and frame: Alimber Santa (21), Jose Fleury (24) and Jaime Melendez (27) are likely ranked because of age. Meanwhile, Nolan Devos (nr) who probably has the best chance of starting from that group, wasn’t ranked.

Who’s being forgotten? When does Colin Barber lose his luster? Who’s going to break out from the 2023 class? Share your comments as we get ready to even the series against Miami.