Farm Futures: Ranking Dilemmas: The Final Installment

Farm Futures: Ranking Dilemmas: The Final Installment

This article is part of our Farm Futures series.

The indefinite suspension of MLB, MiLB and fantasy baseball seasons are obviously a minor inconvenience compared to everything else going on in the world. However, in an effort to provide a distraction during this difficult period, I am going to peel back the curtain of my top-400 prospect rankings. This 13th article will cover the 44 prospects (not including 2020 draftees) who have not yet been covered in this series and remain on the top-400 following the big post-draft update. This will be the final installment in the series.

In addition to each player's rank, I have noted where each prospect was ranked on 10/1/19 and 1/1/20 (there are now graphs on each player's page to show how their ranking on the top 400 has changed), to provide a glimpse of how my valuation of these prospects has evolved throughout the offseason and spring training. For the players who saw big jumps from 10/1/19 to 1/1/20, my evaluation of that player changed significantly when I was able to do a deep dive on them while writing their outlook (available at the top right of each player page) for the magazine. Sometimes when I'm writing up a player, I have that ah-ha moment where I realize they need to be bumped quite a bit higher/lower, which is why there is sometimes significant movement when games aren't being played.

RankPlayer10/1/191/1/20 
353David Peterson255394 
354Randy Arozarena258151📉
356Brayan MedinaNRNR

The indefinite suspension of MLB, MiLB and fantasy baseball seasons are obviously a minor inconvenience compared to everything else going on in the world. However, in an effort to provide a distraction during this difficult period, I am going to peel back the curtain of my top-400 prospect rankings. This 13th article will cover the 44 prospects (not including 2020 draftees) who have not yet been covered in this series and remain on the top-400 following the big post-draft update. This will be the final installment in the series.

In addition to each player's rank, I have noted where each prospect was ranked on 10/1/19 and 1/1/20 (there are now graphs on each player's page to show how their ranking on the top 400 has changed), to provide a glimpse of how my valuation of these prospects has evolved throughout the offseason and spring training. For the players who saw big jumps from 10/1/19 to 1/1/20, my evaluation of that player changed significantly when I was able to do a deep dive on them while writing their outlook (available at the top right of each player page) for the magazine. Sometimes when I'm writing up a player, I have that ah-ha moment where I realize they need to be bumped quite a bit higher/lower, which is why there is sometimes significant movement when games aren't being played.

RankPlayer10/1/191/1/20 
353David Peterson255394 
354Randy Arozarena258151📉
356Brayan MedinaNRNR 
357Andry Lara360219 
358Bryan Mata198194📉
359Cole SandsNRNR 
360Brayan BelloNRNR 
361Yoendrys GomezNRNR 
362Mario Feliciano186296📉
363Rayner SantanaNRNR 
365Raimfer Salinas251324📉
366Mike Siani302283 
367Josh WolfNR279 
368Jairo Pomares106214📉
369Jack Herman347NR 
370Eduardo LopezNRNR 
371Matthew Thompson398387 
372Hudson Potts195381📉
373Andy Pages243218📉
374Rece Hinds306317 
375JJ GossNR382 
376Colton Welker200380 
377Pavin SmithNR268 
378Tyler Callihan278338 
380Jerming RosarioNRNR 
381Alfonso Rivas235144📉
382Alejandro Kirk230237📉
383Vaughn Grissom370276  
384Jorge OnaNR333  
385Seth Romero286312 
386Adrian MorejonNRNR  
387Otto LopezNR248  
388Gabriel Rodriguez153185 📉
389Thomas Szapucki217  235📉
391Kelvin DiazNR NR  
392Jeferson QueroNR NR 
393Taylor JonesNR 332 
394Owen Miller244311📉
395Kendall SimmonsNRNR 
396Tristen Lutz328NR 
397Bobby Bradley113206 📉
398Hyun-il Choi329360 
399Jhonkensy NoelNR307  
400Marcos CabreraNRNR 

Might Be Too Low

I'm content with where I have them ranked, but these are the players who I'm most worried about being too low on.

Hitter: Rayner Santana/Otto Lopez/Taylor Jones

Two things are holding Santana back in the deep 300s: he is a catcher and he struck out 27.1 percent of the time in the DSL. However, he hit 10 home runs and walked 37 times (17.3 BB%) in his first 48 pro games and doesn't turn 18 until August, so there is obviously a lot to dream on here. If ever there were reasons to forgive such a high strikeout rate, Santana being one of the youngest hitters in the DSL and logging a top-20 walk rate in the league seem like a pair of good excuses. All that said, he is a couple years away from being a couple years away from the majors.

Lopez has never been particularly young for the levels he has excelled at, but he has a lot of promising indicators. His strikeout rates are always elite. He hits for a high average while using the whole field and he puts his plus speed to work on the bases. It's the type of profile that I sometimes overrate, but that is typically underrated by others due to the lack of present power (.101 ISO at Low-A). Until he gets to a level where his hit tool doesn't play, we have to take him seriously as a potential everyday second baseman with a Jean Segura type of offensive profile.

Jones had a better wRC+, better BB% and better K% than Kyle Tucker while they were teammates at Triple-A last year. Obviously Tucker is the better prospect and Jones is three years older, but the Astros could have easily left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, given that he is a 26-year-old R/R first baseman. However, they protected him, in part because of how good his defense is at first base. Yuli Gurriel is a free agent after this season and I'm pessimistic about Yordan Alvarez being an everyday first baseman, so Jones could enter the fray in 2021.

Pitcher: David Peterson/Cole Sands

This is the portion of the rankings where three types of pitching prospects dwell: uber-talented teenagers with little to no track record; Adrian Morejon/Thomas Szapucki types who have stuff but probably can't handle a starter's workload; and potential No. 4 starters. Peterson and Sands fall into the latter category, but I think there's a chance they could outperform that No. 4 starter projection.

Peterson is a sinker/slider lefty whose low-90s sinker plays up slightly due to the extension he gets from his 6-foot-6 frame. He gets whiffs off his plus slider and while he doesn't have lights out stuff, a 24.5 K%, 7.4 BB% and 52.6 GB% at Double-A is really solid for a "back-end" type. He should compete for a big-league rotation spot in 2021, and I think there's a decent enough chance that he is viable as a SP5 or SP6 in 15-team mixed leagues.

Sands is a bit further away from the majors, but he is even more underrated than Peterson. Like Peterson, he has excellent command and boasts a plus offspeed pitch (changeup for Sands). He has a starter's frame (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) and had an excellent pro debut. If his command is as good as it seemed in 2019 and his slider improves slightly, Sands could be the No. 4 starter on a 90-win Twins team in a few years.

Might Be Too High

These are guys who I keep thinking I might have ranked a little bit too high.

Hitter: Gabriel Rodriguez/Kendall Simmons/Tristen Lutz

While it sometimes seems like the top J-2 guys always pan out, not all of them do, obviously. One thing I've learned is that if they are going to pan out, there are usually some clear signs in their debut season. After Marco Luciano, Rodriguez was very much in that mix with Noelvi Marte and Orelvis Martinez as the next best fantasy asset from the 2018 J-2 class. However, he had by far the worst statistical debut of the top tier in that class, and reports on his body suggest he is not going to be a speed threat, so he needs to hit. I'm keeping him on the top-400 for now, but it's basically just a show of respect to his pedigree.

Simmons has very impressive game power for a player as raw as he is, but his hit tool has a long way to go. He is already adept at lifting the ball out to the pull side (52.0 Pull%, 47.1 FB%), which is a legitimate plan of attack for players who want to beat the shift without using the whole field. I don't think he will make enough contact in the upper levels to make this all work, but for now I'll give him the opportunity to prove me wrong at Low-A.

Lutz is so boring, but he's produced just enough over the last couple years to always be hanging around the top 400. He has played in some pitcher-friendly environments at Low-A and High-A, and has gotten on base just enough and hit for just enough power to remain a legitimate prospect. However, as a R/R corner guy who won't run much, the bar to clear is very high for him to be an everyday player. He is a perfect example of a guy who lazy dynasty managers hang on to for a year too long, when they should have churned his roster spot in 2018.

Pitcher: Andry Lara

I fell in love with Lara over the winter, due to the fact he already had a plus fastball and flashed a plus slider as a 16-year-old. However, the more video I saw, the more concerned I became about his size. He is (perhaps generously) listed at 6-foot-4, 217 pounds, and I get Luiz Gohara vibes (in a bad way) about how his body will affect his performance in five years. The move may be to just hold Lara, let him dominate at every stop up until Low-A or High-A and then cash him out before his body becomes a clear problem, but I'd rather roll the dice on a position player from last year's J-2 class like Richi Gonzalez or Estiven Machado than just assume Lara will shove over the next couple years and also assume I'll be able to get something for him in a trade.

Feel free to ask me any prospect-related questions in the comments section or on Twitter.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Anderson
James Anderson is RotoWire's Lead Prospect Analyst, Assistant Baseball Editor, and co-host of Farm Fridays on Sirius/XM radio and the RotoWire Prospect Podcast.
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