Kevin Goldstein’s Top 101 Prospects List for 2012 is Out – Familiar Names Abound

We’re reaching the end of the offseason prospecting season, and one of the most respected prospectors is finally out with his top list.

Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein (who is, by the way, a must-follow on Twitter) has revealed his list of the top 101 prospects in baseball entering the 2012 season, and – surprise, surprise – you’ll recognize the names.

Outfielder Brett Jackson is at the top for the Cubs, coming in at number 44 on the list. Shortstop Javier Baez is at 66, and first baseman Anthony Rizzo follows, all the way down at 75, far lower than he’s been on a number of other lists.

From Goldstein’s perspective, a first base prospect simply isn’t all that valuable, even if he can crush it. Indeed, first base prospects don’t show up on Goldstein’s list until number 69 (the Cardinals’ Matt Adams), when they pop up in a bunch. Rizzo is third among them, behind Adams and the Astros’ Jonathan Singleton.

Baez is the 7th shortstop on the list, and Jackson is the 11th outfielder.

Goldstein also preemptively answered folks’ questions about the three Cubans of the day, Yoenis Cespedes, Jorge Soler and Gerardo Concepcion. On Cespedes, Goldstein said he’d rank 20th on the list if he were signed … which he was just a few hours ago. Goldstein says Soler would come in at number 39, just behind some truly impressive prospects (and at the top of the Cubs’ list, were they to sign him). Concepcion, Goldstein says, was eligible for the list, but simply isn’t top 101 material right now.

After the release of his list, Goldstein also did a fair bit of chatting this afternoon, touching on guys both on and off the list. Goldstein said that Baez’s chance of sticking at shortstop long-term is about 10%, calling him a third baseman or second baseman in the future. Goldstein, sticking with his theme on first basemen, said that Dan Vogelbach could be a future top 101 prospect type, but he’ll have to absolutely crush it offensively to do it. The chat was relatively thin on Cubs-related content, but is an interesting read on how guys like Goldstein come up with their lists (including one fascinating question on whether he feels like the GMs/executives/scouts with whom he speaks about prospects is trying to pump up a kid’s value by getting Goldstein to rank the kid higher).

And, for what it’s worth, Goldstein calls the Cubs the present favorite to sign Soler (though he’d previously pegged the Cubs as the favorite to sign Cespedes – which is not a criticism of Goldstein, but, instead, a reminder that the prediction business is an imprecise one).

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

97 responses to “Kevin Goldstein’s Top 101 Prospects List for 2012 is Out – Familiar Names Abound”

  1. SirCub

    Clearly we are going about this the wrong way… There is noooo way Soler will sign with the Cubs. NOBODY thinks that he will, and even if he does, it DEFINITELY won’t be for less than $20 mil!  ; )

  2. Ryan

    He also just tweeted, saying he doesn’t think Matt Szczur is that good.. Not surprised.

    1. Noah

      Honestly, I’m holding off on making any real statements about Szczur until after this season. I think it will be interesting to see what happens now that he’s had a full offseason instead of going straight from baseball to football to baseball. Szczur could be a Top 25 prospect in baseball if EVERYTHING goes right. Or could he slide right off Cubs’ Top 10 lists.

      1. Luke

        I’m high on Szczur and even I wouldn’t put him in the league wide Top 100. Some analysts have (John Manuel of Baseball America has him in the Top 50), but I don’t think Szczur has shown enough to warrant that kind of recognition yet. The potential is there, though, no doubt about that.

        1. NLIADad

          Saw Szczur play in Cedar Rapids last summer when he went on his homer binge. He hit one 400+ to left center (wind aided). If he can maintain good hitting mechanics, he’d be a top 25 or 50 prospect, but it seems like most days he just relies on athletic ability.

          1. Luke

            That’s not surprising for a football / baseball guy coming out of college. It takes some time for them to hone their baseball specific skills to an equal level with their general athleticism. 2012 is the key year for Szczur (as it is for a lot of Cub prospects). If he looks good for most of the upcoming season, he could start to appear on Top 10 outfielder lists next winter. If he doesn’t, I’d expect the Cubs to trade him.

        2. Noah

          Szczur definitely would not be in my Top 100 right now. Or anywhere near it. I’m just saying that if he turns those physical tools into more noticeable baseball skills this coming season and is able to move up pretty quickly to Tennessee and have success there, the could really skyrocket up the boards to the top of a lot of prospect lists.

  3. When the Music's Over

    Reading Goldstein over the last few years, he seems to sort of have it out for the Cubs, especially the minor league system. To get him to be bullish about anything Cubs related is difficult, and when he is positive about someone or the team in general, it typically seems to also carry a sort of backhanded and or negative comment along with it.

    It really surprised me that he gave B. Jackson 5 starts this year, although if you read the comments section from his 2012 Top 11 Cubs Prospects writeup, you get the idea that he felt forced to rate Jackson a 5 start prospect because there simply aren’t enough good CF prospects. Basically Jackson backed his way into that rating.

    1. DocWimsey

      “Reading Goldstein over the last few years, he seems to sort of have it out for the Cubs, especially the minor league system.” Reality has had it out for the Cubs and (especially) their farm system over the last few years. Let’s face it, the MLB success of Cubs farmhands (especially position players) has been really bad.

      1. Luke

        I take it you weren’t invited to the Mike Fontenot Hall of Fame induction ceremony?

  4. rbreeze

    I hope we get Soler for 20 mil.  That’s a bargain for a top 40/50 prospect that has exposure to the quality of baseball that Cuba plays.  He could be up in 3 years.  He looks like a good guy from his picture.  Cespedes eyes give me the creeps.  I’m glad we didn’t get him.

    1. DocWimsey

      Seriously? You get the “creeps” from people’s eyes? Man, I’d love to play poker with you!

      More seriously, if 20 million actually is a bargain for Soler, then he almost certainly will get more. Remember, anybody can bid on this guy, which means that this is essentially an auction in which the bidders do not know how much the other bidders are posting. Now, a team like the Yankees might be able to get him for a slightly lower bid than the highest, but other teams are going to have to bid above “bargain” prices just to be competitive.

  5. die hard

    Interesting that he pooh poohed 1B as he had Joey Votto #53 in 2007 which would be consistent with his approach even tho he should be at least top 25 now…also that year he had Ian Stewart #70 which is about right as he never showed hes top 50 player ….not yet anyway..hopefully turns it around in 2012

    1. Noah

      I’d actually generally agree that a 1B should almost never be a super highly ranked prospect. It’s just that for a 1B to be a great player they have to be SUCH a good hitter that it’s hard to project. It’s impossible to look at anyone’s Triple A stats and say they will be Votto, Fielder or Pujols at the MLB level.

      1. die hard

        His 2010 list is telling as he shows 2 1B in top 25…also had Vitters ahead of Castro

    2. DocWimsey

      The Top 50 prospects from any given year should almost never come close to a Top 50 Players list. Remember, the Top 50 Active players represent guys signed over a 15+ year year span, the Top 50 Prospects represent guys largely signed over a 3-4 year span. All the rankings do is give you a prediction about the relative MLB success of the current crop.

  6. Noah

    Goldstein is also MUCH higher on Matt Adams than anyone else is. I have not seen him in anyone else’s Top 100 and have fairly resoundingly seen him listed as the 9th best prospect in the Cardinals’ system.

    I’ll say this: I like Goldstein and think he’s good at his job and great as far as accessibility is concerned, but think he let’s himself be swayed by being contrarian at times. If you want to see that in action, get him started on talking about college.

  7. Luis Salazar

    I love Brett Jackson’s huge Chew he has in the picture above. He makes me think Lenny Dykestra (without the roids) in that pic. If Goldstein saw that pic I am sure he would have Jackson inside his top 20.

    1. SirCub

      Yea, he’s probably relying too much on sabremetrics and swing mechanics. Old school scouting says take the guy who can spit the furthest!

      1. SirCub

        I totally used ‘furthest’ instead of ‘farthest’ to make fun of stupid old school scouts, not because I’m bad at talking good english.

        1. Luis Salazar

          Awww… The good ol’ days. When scouting consisted of judging a player on the size of his chew, the amount of chicks cheering for him, and the ability to be aggresive at the plate. Miss those days sometimes…

  8. Dave

    Is it me or the more I read these write ups on Cub prospects the less impressive they seem.

    1. Noah

      The problem with the Cubs’ top prospects are that they’re all significantly flawed in some way or another. Rizzo’s flaw is largely that he only plays 1B, and you have to hit very well to be an above average player there. Jackson’s flaw is lack of contact. Baez’s flaws are that he’s still young so he’s difficult to project, probably will have to move off shortstop and may have some attitude issues.

      Depending on what Baez does, he could be a Top 25 prospect at this time next year.

      1. Pat

        I think it will depend on his defense as much as anything else. If he has a good year and looks like he can handle shortstop he could easily make the top 25, due to ability at the position.

    2. Brian Myers

      I agree. One of the things I’ve begun to do is look at their minor league stats.

      Baez is unproven, Rizzo could be the real deal… but he also has well documented weaknesses he needs to overcome, Jackson looks like a .290 hitter with 20HR power that has low RBI’s for the number of AB’s…. if those numbers stick he’s a slightly above average, good quality, starting OF… and not a superstar.

      Obviously, stats are not everything, but it’s difficult to put those stats toward the top of all baseball in terms of prospects. On the other hand, they do have high POTENTIAL… which isn’t enough to drop them in the top 20.

      1. Noah

        Jackson won’t be a .290 hitter in the majors. He just Ks too much. Also, don’t pay attention to RBIs. Jackson has a low RBI total because he’s batted leadoff his entire minor league career. There’s never anyone on base in front of him, and that’s not his fault.

        1. BetterNews

          They said Mark Grace would never be a .300 hitter! We all know the outcome there.

          1. Noah

            Mark Grace struck out in just 6.9% of his Major League career at bats while maintaining a walk rate of 11.6%. Brett Jackson strikes out in 25% of his MINOR LEAGUE at bats. They aren’t at all comparable hitters.

            And the fact that Brett Jackson won’t hit .300 doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be at least a pretty good ballplayer. I wouldn’t be shocked if his peak is something like .260/.350/.475. If he does that while playing a strong defensive centerfield, he’d be very valuable. Of all MLB CFs with at least 300 PAs in 2011, an .825 OPS would have been the 6th best behind Kemp, Ellsbury, Granderson, Hamilton and Victorino. And Jackson should be a significantly better defensive CF than all of them but Ellsbury and Victorino at this point.

          2. DocWimsey

            Actually, Grace was projected to be a high average player as soon as he got the big leagues: he was much hyped for this starting in 1987. The projection was that he wouldn’t hit for enough power to be a good 1Bman or to make up for his lack of speed. (In the mid-1980′s, people still thought that stolen bases could make up for HR, and it certainly was a more valuable skill than it is now with all of the dead-air turf parks in the NL.) Grace was able to combine two skills: he knew where the ball would cross home plate when it was 10′ from the pitcher’s hand (which Jackson has but guys like Vitters lack), and he could get his bat on the ball (which guys like Vitters has but Jackson lacks).

            Grace was a classic example of a guy being misused because of misguided “fundamentals.” Despite his lack of speed, he was an OBP machine and a great baserunner. He routinely scored more runs than fast Cubs leadoff men because he was on base so much more often even with his fewer PAs.

            1. BetterNews

              Doc-I think Grace hit .254/.357/.313 in AAA ball before being called up. There actually was a lot of doubt as to his potential.

              1. TWC

                You do realize that what you think and the facts are two different animals, right, kid?  Retroactively looking a slash line from only 21 games in AAA before he was called up the the majors is a lot different than looking at his minor league history for the two full seasons before that, wouldn’tchathink?  Do you really think that his future projections were being made by scouts and prognosticators by his cup of coffee in AAA?  Do you?  Really?

                No, you don’t.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.  And I just fell into the trap of responding to you.  Shame on me.

                1. MichiganGoat

                  Well stated, and yes shame on you.

                2. Bric

                  Well Weather Channel, since you broke the seal I guess I can jump in too and not feel so guilty. Better News, Grace was the most highly touted and scouted prospect in the system before his call up. And guess what- the scouts were right. Just like, as Brett said, David Kelton.

                  Hendry’s gone, the WS drought continues, and the stats are still what they always were- just a bunch of numbers that have to be interpretted logically. Keith Law doesn’t hate the Cubs and there’s no conspiracy about grading talent. Just a lot of left over Hendry kool aide still being drunk by the millions he brain washed.

              2. Brian Myers

                Actually, there wasn’t much doubt Grace would hit. He hit .254 in AAA, yes, but that was only in 21 games (83 PA). Before that he hit .342 in Peoria and .333 in Pittsfield. In ’86, I saw him play for Peoria against the Springfield Cardinals. The Cardinals walked him with the bases loaded so they wouldn’t have to face him, intentionally walking in a run.

                The worry was that he would become Keith Hernandez. The good news is that he DID become like Keith Hernandez.

                1. DocWimsey

                  Grace’s poor AAA was both a very small sample size AND after he almost stole Leon Durham’s job away in spring training. Gracey absolutely crushed A and AA pitching the prior two years, and he’d come to people’s attention by the end of the 1987 season.

                  The reason why Grace didn’t get much attention until late 1987 was that much more attention was given to Rafael Palmeiro, who people already were projecting as a 1Bman. Raffy looked a lot more like Keith Hernandez than Gracey did, but people also thought that Raffy would hit for a lot more power than either Grace or Hernandez.

                  So, it was not that people were projecting sub-0.300 hitting from a guy with 0.338/0.408/0.533 line: it’s just that people were paying attention to the other 1B prospect.

        2. Brian Myers

          So a .270 hitting 20hr 20SB guy playing the OF. That make him Jeff Francoeur or Andrew McCutchen. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a reference of what we can perhaps expect.

          1. DocWimsey

            Er, which one? A team of Jeff Franceours would be the Baltimore Orioles offense. A team of Andrew McCutchens would be better than either the Sox or Yankees offense. Overall, you’d expect about 170-180 more runs from 9 Andrew McCutchens than from 9 Jeff Franceours. That’s the difference between 0.500 and cake-walking to the playoffs.

            In other words: Frenchy: bad; McCutchen: very, very good.

  9. Butch Cub

    I would love to see us add Soler, even if we overpay… with rule changes coming to prevent such things, why not go all in on this top 50 prospect. We are paying guys multi-millions NOT to be on our team… let’s throw some cash at this kid!

    1. Norm

      wrong reply

  10. BetterNews

    I can’t see how Rizzo could possibly rank behind Baez. Sorry Goldstein, your way off on that one. A first baseman with his potential not “valuable.” What? Are you kidding me? I almost fell out of my chair when I read that!

    1. DocWimsey

      Good hitting 1B prospects are not uncommon. Moreover, 1B is where a lot of good IF and OF prospects who reveal that they cannot play OF or the other 3 IF positions wind up. (It was the “DH” position in the days before DHs.)

      Good hitting SS prospects are, on the other hand, very rare. Only good hitting catchers are rarer than that.

      1. BetterNews

        Doc-What’s your point? Rizzo is a “natural” first baseman not a converted one. Baez is a kid who hasn’t done anything yet.

        1. TWC

          Did you bother to read Doc’s reply before responding?  He fairly clearly states his “point”:  good hitting first basemen are relatively common.  Good hitting shortstops are much less common.  Baez, therefore, has more perceived value, especially when you factor in his age.  Are you this obtuse on purpose?

          1. BetterNews

            No, I just reply blindly!(LoL)

          2. rocky8263

            I love to see obtuse used in a sentance, any sentance. Makes me all “Shawshank Redemption”.

    2. Norm

      Look at the 12th best 1B in baseball right now, and then look at the 12th best 3rd baseman in baseball.
      See the difference?
      That’s why position matters.

      1. BetterNews

        That doesn’t tell me a thing about how Baez could rank in front of Rizzo, Sorry.

        1. Noah

          Because it’s not just 9 random players you put on a field, they play positions. So how you really get better is by being better than average at every possible position and being worse than average at as few positions as possible. With Rizzo’s bat, the difficulty of adding significant value on defense at 1B and the strength of MLB first basemen offensively generally, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Anthony Rizzo spends a lot of time as a 3 WAR player. That’s solidly above average, but not a star. He could be a star, but a 1B has to hit so well to be a 5 WAR type player that it’s almost impossible to project.

          If Baez is capable of playing a good defensive third base, his ceiling is probably somewhere around being Evan Longoria. And the odds of Javier Baez reaching a 5 WAR per year ceiling is higher than the odds of Rizzo doing that.

          On the flip side, the odds of Baez being a bust are MUCH higher than the odds of Rizzo never contributing at the Major League level.

          It all has to do with how you value positional scarcity, ceiling and floor.

        2. Norm

          Ok, Goldstein believes that Baez’s offense + defense + position is more valuable than Rizzo’s offense + defense + position. Like others said in different words, position scarcity.

  11. King Jeff

    The point is that a first baseman with a good bat is more common than a shortstop with a good bat. Therefore, the shortstop is perceived to have more value. The fact that Baez hasn’t played yet only helps his perceived value. He is younger, and plays a more premium position than Rizzo. Until he proves otherwise, his potential is higher than Rizzo’s, at least in Goldstein’s eyes.

  12. cubsin

    For those of you who place too much value on Top 100 Prospects lists, I recall the year BA ranked Rick Ankiel #1 to Corey Patterson’s #2.

    1. ferrets_bueller

      interesting to note, at one point, both of them actually lived up to it. Albeit, extremely short lived.

    2. hansman1982

      I remember how loosely the name “Babe Ruth” was being thrown around when Ankiel was successful. Every single day of Sportscenter was a reminder filled hour of “you know, Babe Ruth was a pitcher before he was an outfielder”

  13. JulioZuleta

    Ten Padres. Atta boy, Jed.

  14. Turn Two

    At risk of alienating myself I am going to agree with Better News here. While I certainly understand what a dozen of you restated in your own words so eloquently and everyone understands how said lists are created, I have always been of the impression that these lists would hold more value if they simply based their ranking on the projected ability of the player to succeed at the big league level. They become even more of a subjective guessing game when you try to base it on relative play at their position. Based on the arguments being made, Baez still should be lower than Rizzo. The arguments I have seen are focusing on the fact that Baez is ranked higher because of his position, when clearly Baez does not even project directly to a position yet at this point. On the other hand, Rizzo is relatively proven defensively at first. Few among us would choose Baez over Rizzo on the basis of potential success. Again, I understand why Baez is higher on this list and how they are created, simply wish they were based more on the players likelihood of success than their potential ceiling levels based on their position.

    1. DocWimsey

      On one hand, what you write is intuitive. However, baseball demands that you put guys at catcher, SS and CF as well as at 1B. Buster Posey’s career line is 0.294/0.353/0.462. That is excellent for a catcher. That is pedestrian for a LFer. So, being able to play Posey at catcher instead of LF means that you can expect (over the whole season) more runs created from your catcher than a rival team’s catchers will create, either against you or against their opponents. That puts you just a little closer to the playoffs.

    2. Norm

      So then you would take a relief pitching prospect in AAA like Chris Carpenter, who is essentially a lock to be a big leaguer, over a guy like Baez? Because Carpenter is more a sure thing?

  15. njriv

    I’m pretty excited about Rizzo. I can see him finally being the young, power threat the Cubs have have been lacking from their young guys. They never really seem to really have any power hitters in their farm for quite sometime. I can see him being one of the club house leaders in the future. I have always been a fan of first basemen, like Grace, D Lee, Fielder and Pujols, it was even my favorite position when I played baseball for six years and throughout high school. Overall I pretty much can’t wait to see #44 pickin’ it on the right side of the infield for years to come.

  16. Chris

    Is it just me, or does it seam that a lot of people are a little high on Cuban defectors? I have a hard time believing that Soler would be ranked higher than Baez. From what I’ve seen, Baez has a ridiculous bat! Is it just his fielding keeping him behind Soler?

    1. Jeremy

      I thinks its more of his frame and physical tools that has everyone excited. I’m not to familiar with his actual scouting report baseball wise but from what I have read he has potential to be a 5 tool player unless he loses his speed as he gets bigger which is a likely outcome.

    2. Luke

      Not all Cuban defectors are so highly regarded. It is just that three of them who happen to be all came on the market his season, and the Cubs have been involved in all three. I doubt most fans remember that the Cubs signed two other Cuban defectors prior to Concepcion, or that they signed two last season (including Rubi Silva, who was decently well regarded in his own right).

  17. MichiganGoat
  18. oso

    Initiate obsessive Soler watch.

    1. TWC

      You misspelled “Ramon Ortiz”. HTH.

      1. ferrets_bueller

        I just had to bust out my Sonnanstine/Lopez/others post on MLBTR’s Ramon Ortiz post. Morons.

  19. cubsnivy56

    tingling with excitement……………..

  20. Abe Froman

    (In regards to the Van Dyck article) His wording is strange, it doesn’t read as if he is reporting a done deal a source just leaked to him, rather saying the Cubs are ‘expected’ to sign him. To me, its as if he is stating that the Cubs are the front runner right now, as has been widely reported, but wants some to misinterpret it as if he is breaking a story that potentially will break this way….and if it doesn’t he can just say, I said ‘expected’, I never said it was a done deal. It’s a vague fluff article full of no new information, or am I missing something?

    1. MontelleW_IA

      Wait a minute? Are you “The” Abe Froman? Sausage King of Chicago? LOL! Yes – we have your table for you – come this way! – PS – Love the Bueller reference!

      1. ferrets_bueller

        uh-oh…I might need to stop impersonating/making puns about the guy who impersonates this guy…

  21. Luke

    According to Kevin Goldstein on Twitter, the Cubs have reached a deal with Jorge Soler, at about $28 million over 4 years. The Cubs ARE NOT surrendering the last two years of team control and Soler will NOT be a free agent after four seasons. This is like the Samardzija or Concepcion deals, not the Cespedes deal.

    The deal cannot be official until he has been declared a free agent, gotten the proper visas, etc., but Goldstein believes it is done. The Cubs have signed Jorge Soler.

    And there was much rejoicing.!/Kevin_Goldstein

    1. JulioZuleta

      Well Luke, I think you and I agreed one of the Cubs’ two biggest areas of need was power hitting corner outfielders. Let’s modestly call this a step in the right direction.

      1. Luke

        Absolutely. The Cubs fill a farm system void with nothing but dollars. When a teams turns something they have into something they need, I call it a good deal.

        And I envy those of you who can make it to batting practice in Peoria this season. Baez, Vogelbach, Hoilman, Golden, Soler, and maybe even Candelario before the season is out. That’s going to be a show well worth the price of admission.

  22. PeteG

    I love Soler but the price is steep. He looks like a future all-star. Not to sure about Conception though.

    1. Luke

      Soler projects as a five-tool guy. Very high ceiling, but no small amount of risk to go with that. He’ll need two or three seasons in the minors.

      Concepcion could reach the majors much more quickly, but his ceiling is a lot lower. He is a much safer signing, but he’s likely to top out as a quality back of the rotation starter. Some guys with his stuff have surprised and become more than that, but there are exception rather than the norm.

      1. DocWimsey

        The problem is that we’ve seen so many 5 tool guys crash and burn because they didn’t have the 6th tool. Still, and as I wrote before, I cannot see Theo & Hoyer splurging so deeply if Soler didn’t show signs of this. And given that some people have stated that Soler would be a Top 50 prospect if he were signed, well, they must be seeing something! (I wish that we could find some numbers, though….)

    2. hansman1982

      I have yet to see a TOR prediction on Concepcion, then again we “only” paid $7M to get him.

  23. cubsin

    I was planning a weekend road trip or two to Peoria this summer. If all the prospects who could be there wind up there, I may just move to Peoria for the summer. Vogelbach at 1B, DeVoss at 2B, Baez at SS, Candelario at 3B, Soler, Easterling and Golden in the OF, Nefalti Rosario at C, and Maples and Concepcion among the pitchers? WOW!

  24. Nomar's Left Glove

    CLTV is reporting that the Cubs have signed Soler!