At long last, the slightly belated mid-season re-ranking of the Bleacher Nation Top 40 Prospects list is ready to go. And even though I probably say this every year, this one really was the most difficult. (The preseason list can be seen here.)
For example, the top four choices from the pre-season list have all graduated to the majors. That meant, instead of just settling on one or two new names at the top, I needed a whole new top. And in addition to those four, I also struck three more names as having effectively graduated to the majors (more on that in a minute).
And even with those slots opening up, I did not have enough space for all the new names who needed to be included. There are fifteen names on this who did not appear in the pre-season rankings. That is a remarkable number of new entries for a mid-season list like this.
Before we get into the numbers and (eventually) the list itself, though, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, I do not rank purely on ceiling, but on a combination of how good I think a player is likely to be and how likely that player is to reach that level. These factors, the factors I call Projection and Risk, are based on a mix of (too much) subjective valuation and (not enough) objective number crunching. This approach produces a list that should contain most of the names you would expect, but likely in a very different order as compared to other prospect rankers who favor ceiling more than other factors.
Second, I rank only players who have played in actual games with real stats in a league based in the United States. Extended Spring Training does not count, and neither do the Caribbean leagues (Dominican or the Venezuelan). The reason for this is that I need either stats, video, or (preferably) both in order to have any chance of ranking a player accurately, and the Rookie level is the earliest I can start to gather that data with any sort of meaningful consistency.
And, finally, this list is meant to be a shorter update to the full Top 40, not a complete re-analysis. Some of the features you are used to seeing in the pre-season lists, such as projected major league arrival date, are missing. Don’t worry, those lines will be back next spring when I do the big version of the Top 40 again.
Overview of the Changes
Because this list has changed so significantly from the previous version, I think it is useful to take a high level view of the changes as a whole.
A total of seven players graduated from the pre-season Top 40, including the top four prospects in the system. With their previous rankings, those players are:
1. Kris Bryant
2. Jorge Soler
3. Addison Russell
4. Kyle Schwarber
21. Eric Jokisch
24. Dallas Beeler
31. Matt Szczur
One player, number 39 Ivan Pineyro was traded at the July deadline.
That means there were eight holes on the list. And since this list contains fifteen new names, that means seven players have been dropped. Those players are Armando Rivero, Stephen Bruno, Daniel Lockhart, Tommy Thorpe, Kevonte Mitchell, Gioskar Amaya, and James Norwood.
So, who are the new players? You’ll just have to wait and see.
And, finally, let’s take a look at where the members of the new Top 40 are currently playing baseball.
The Iowa Cubs had a healthy number of prospects on the previous list, but they have not received that many reinforcements over the course of the season. As a result, there are only two Iowa Cubs in the new version. That is the lowest representation of any team in the organization.
Tennessee, on the other hand, is stacked. Twelve of the new Top 40 are currently playing in Double A, including half of the top ten.
Myrtle Beach matches Tennessee prospect for prospect with twelve listings of their own. This team is particularly rich in pitching prospects right now, it seems.
A lot of these players began their seasons in South Bend, but many have already moved up the system. Even so, these Cubs have six on the list.
Eugene is the home team for five of the new Top 40, and the remaining three are playing for Arizona.
As for the list itself, you’ll have to wait to see the beginning tomorrow.
In the meantime, I would be interested to see if anyone can figure out who all of the fifteen new names are.
[Brett: I totally bet one of them is Ian Happ.]