A lot of prospect lists are tossed out over the course of the off season. By far the most influential one – the one quoted almost exclusively quoted in newspapers – is Baseball America’s Top-10 list. The list is available freely on line for everyone to read, but the scouting reports are subscriber only. The list:
1. Jesus Montero
2. Austin Romine
3. Arodys Vizcaino
4. Slade Heathcott
5. Zach McAllister
6. Manuel Banuelos
7. Gary Sanchez
8. J.R. Murphy
9. Jeremy Bleich
10. Andrew Brackman
This list heavily, disproportionately, favors low-level, high-ceiling talent over surer things. This is in contrast to last year’s BA list, which included low-ceiling sure bets Phil Coke, Alfredro Aceves, and the medium-ceiling Mark Melancon. This year’s list has an average age of just 20, almost 19 without Brackman.
While in some ways this is nitpicking, the ranking of McAllister so low is a part of the persistent pattern of BA underrating guys who don’t throw 95. Ask yourself this question: If you had Zach McAllister, would you trade him for Arodys Vizcaino? There’s no way in hell I would. McAllister is ready to contribute in the major leagues, and has a pretty good chance of being, well, pretty good. He’s no ace, but there’s a ton of value in a guy who can pitch 200 above-average innings and stay healthy. McAllister is that guy. Vizcaino has a lot of time to get injured or develop some kind of problem.
That said, the list is impressive, and an improvement over last season. There is some serious ceiling potential in the young guys. Someone on the bottom two thirds of the list is going to evolve into the next Jesus Montero, and maybe even the next Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, or Mariano Rivera.
I don’t currently have a subscription for economic reasons, but Mike at River Ave Blues mentioned Baseball America’s scouting report of Montero. They said that he has improved to only below-average defensively (something that Mike Ashmore has also said), and may grade out to an 80 hit, 80 power guy. That praise is as strong as you are ever going to see for Montero. The consensus seems to be that, at least for now, Montero will enter the Major Leagues as a catcher.
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