When mapping out this year’s Top 100, I found myself getting caught up in the layout. I’ve tried a few different ways to skin this cat, and I think my favorite so far was my first: Top 25 Prospects for 2020 Fantasy Baseball.
It was simple, sleek, easy to see, easy to scroll, and it was built in tiers, which feels like a realistic lens through which to view these players. You can argue that Bobby Witt Jr. is definitively a better prospect than Julio Rodriguez if you want to, or vice versa, but if you get offered one for the other in a trade, you might freeze up like me pondering the layout of this article. The differences are real, certainly, but they’re more aesthetic and subjective than anything like objective truth. It’s a difference in type or style more than a difference of quality.
I’ll try to stay concise in between the tiers here, but you can access a more in-depth consideration of each individual player by clicking on their names or skimming around in the 2022 Minor League Preview Index.
Drumroll please and away we go!
Julio is baseball’s best minor league hitter, and he’s added speed the past few years. Starting to resemble a center fielder on defense and chisel away at Witt’s positional advantage, which some people use to break the tie.
I almost put Cruz in the top tier. He’s closer to that group than he is the next one, I think.
Can’t go wrong here. The number one prospect in 2023 will likely come from this group. Carroll and Abrams could’ve played their way into the top tier if injuries didn’t cut their seasons short.
Baz was the first pitcher I drafted in TGFBI at 115th overall. Risky strategy, I realize, but Baz feels as safe as any top pitching prospect we’ve seen in a long, long time. His dominant stuff, diverse arsenal, plus command and team context are all green lights for early big league success.
Oh, you prefer Grey’s large adult son? Fine by me. Baltimore bumping the left field fence back 30 feet this year is just a coincidence, wink wink, but I sure appreciate the timing of it. He’ll still be an Oriole, so that’s not ideal, but they’re on the way up, and he’s talented enough to bring the rising tide every fifth day.
13. 2B Vidal Bruján | Rays | 24 | MLB | 2021
If Bruján got traded for Rutschman in your league, would someone complain?
I honestly have no idea. Almost bumped Bruján out of this tier because his perceived value has lagged, but the 50-steal upside with plus defense at several positions makes it hard for me to shake him. His 80th percentile outcome is rotisserie gold: something like .290 with 15 home runs and 40 steals. If he ever does get there, it’ll likely come with eligibility at multiple spots.
Might be cutting it a little fine here, but I’m through the looking glass at this point. Been staring at this a long, long time, moving stuff around, grouping it together, ungrouping it. That’s part of the reason I like tiers for this. Just makes my process better, I think.
Walker almost landed in the group above. Miranda and Matos almost landed in the group below, meaning this group almost did not exist. Riveting stuff, I know.
19. OF Zac Veen | Rockies | 20 | A | 2024
Kind of an upside sandwich here with high-probability big-league bats as the bread.
Vargas is the only surprise, I suppose, but I’ve seen him play a functional second base in AA, and I like everything about him in the batter’s box. Now I’m not saying he’ll be a major league second baseman, but he was playing there while Michael Busch was playing first at times late last year. They’d know better than most what he can do on defense. I’m now just rephrasing stuff I wrote this week in Prospect News: Top 10 Beneficiaries of the Universal DH, so it’s probably time to move along. I’ve run this one pretty snugly up against the deadline and yet here I am as the minutes tick down on a Saturday night rewriting sentences I’ve written before. Been a long week. Been simmering this thing to a boil for a long time. I’m excited. Jangly. Ready to close this thing out like Brad Lidge in extra innings.
Weirdest tier of the night goes to this crowd, but that was always going to be the case with the Jung landing spot. Kind of lost on how to handle the injury news. I didn’t drop Carroll much for his shoulder last year, and I felt like that was the right call in hindsight, so that’s the play for Jung at the moment.
Melendez has a case to be above Rutschman. Don’t hurt me. I’m just sharing thoughts. We want home runs, and he hits ‘em. Plus, he has that Varsho-esque wild card status of a possible full-slate of at bats if he ever shifts positions, or shares positions. We’re getting a little racey with the language here on Up All Night, but that’s how people have always felt about people (and characters) named MJ.
Luciano was in the tier above this before I got down to really writing my way through the thickets, where it occurred to me that he’s teetering closer to a big drop in perceived value than anyone’s really talking about, not that I know what everyone’s talking about. Just ran out of qualifiers there, but seriously, say Luciano strikes out 30 percent of the time in High-A this year and doesn’t graduate the level so much as times out of it by the end of the season. Where’s he at on next year’s hundred? That’s a slippery slope of a strawman sentence, but it’s more plainly within the range of outcomes for Luciano than most of his list-mates.
I am trying to trade for Hunter Greene, where I believe this ranking leaves room for profit.
I am not trying to trade for Triston Casas, who’s upside feels fully reflected in this ranking.
Thanks for reading!