When Bret isn’t busy ruining our lives by creating the Bat Signal, he’s busy ranking things. Like, everything. I mean, look at this.

meme courtesy of @EricNeville

He actually made that ranking. It stunk.

Anyway, the Appels didn’t fall far from the tree (name humor) in this family, and sometimes we get the urge to rank things ourselves. Okay, fine, Ben gets the urge and I get a nervous breakdown. Nonetheless, what follows is at top 50 fantasy prospect ranking from each of us, and then an ensuing squabble about who did what wrong.


Craig’s Top 50

Ben’s Top 50

1. Oscar Taveras, OF, STL

1. Javier Baez, 2B, CHC

2. Kris Bryant, 3B, CHC

2. Oscar Taveras, OF, STL

3. Byron Buxton, CF, MIN

3. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, CHC

4. Javier Baez, 2B, CHC

4. Byron Buxton, OF, MIN

5. Noah Syndergaard, SP, NYM

5. Carlos Correa, SS, HOU

6. Addison Russell, SS, CHC

6. Addison Russell, SS, CHC

7. Carlos Correa, SS, HOU

7. Noah Syndergaard, SP, NYM

8. Joey Gallo, 3B, TEX

8. Joey Gallo, 3B, TEX

9. Taijuan Walker, SP, SEA

8. Taijuan Walker, SP, SEA

10. Corey Seager, SS, LAD

9. Archie Bradley, SP, ARI

11. Miguel Sano, 3B, MIN

11. Miguel Sano, 3B, MIN

12. Archie Bradley, SP, ARI

12. Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE

13. Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/OF, CHC

13. Joc Pederson, OF, LAD

14. Joc Pederson, OF, LAD

14. Mookie Betts, OF/2B, BOS

15. Lucas Giolito, SP, WAS

15. Arismendy Alcantara, OF, CHC

16. Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE

16. Lucas Giolito, SP, WAS

17. Jonathan Gray, SP, COL

17. Robert Stephenson, SP, CIN

18. Robert Stephenson, SP, CIN

18. Corey Seager, SS, LAD

19. Jorge Soler, OF, CHC

19. Jonathan Gray, SP, COL

20. Mookie Betts, OF/2B, BOS

20. Jorge Soler, OF, CHC

21. Nick Williams, OF, TEX

21. Blake Swihart, C, BOS

22. Carlos Rodon, SP, CHW

22. Josh Bell, OF, PIT

23. David Dahl, OF, COL

23. Andrew Heaney, SP, MIA

24. Josh Bell, OF, PIT

24. Alex Meyer, SP, MIN

25. Dylan Bundy, SP, BAL

25. Stephen Piscotty, OF, STL

26. Julio Urias, SP, LAD

26. Nick Williams, OF, TEX

27. Daniel Norris, SP, TOR

27. Raimel Tapia, OF, COL

28. Stephen Piscotty, OF, STL

28. Carlos Rodon, SP, CHW

29. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF, CHC

29. Dylan Bundy, SP, BAL

30. Rymer Liriano, OF, SD

30. David Dahl, OF, COL

31. Raimel Tapia, OF, COL

31. Julio Urias, SP, LAD

32. Matt Wisler, SP, SD

32. Daniel Norris, SP, TOR

33. Alex Meyer, SP, MIN

33. Clint Frazier, OF, CLE

34. Jameson Taillon, SP, PIT

34. Maikel Franco, 3B/1B, PHI

35. Blake Swihart, C, BOS

35. Henry Owens, SP, BOS

36. Jorge Alfaro, C, TEX

36. Tyler Glasnow, SP, PIT

37. Tyler Glasnow, SP, PIT

37. Tim Anderson, SS, CHW

38. Maikel Franco, 1B/3B, PHI

38. Jorge Alfaro, C, TEX

39. Henry Owens, SP, BOS

39. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF, CHC

40. Tim Anderson, SS, CHW

40. Rymer Liriano, OF, SD

41. Jimmy Nelson, SP, MIL

41. Aaron Sanchez, SP, TOR

42. Andrew Heaney, SP, MIA

42. Matt Wisler, SP, SD

43. Austin Meadows, OF, PIT

43. Kyle Zimmer, SP, KC

44. Clint Frazier, OF, CLE

44. Jameson Taillon, SP, PIT

45. Kyle Zimmer, SP , KC

45. Braden Shipley, SP, ARI

46. Dalton Pompey, OF, TOR

46. Domingo Santana, OF, HOU

47. Domingo Santana, OF, HOU

47. Jimmy Nelson, SP, MIL

48. Chi Chi Gonzalez, SP, TEX

48. Sean Manaea, SP, KC

49. Mark Appel, SP, HOU

49. Kohl Stewart, SP, MIN

50. Brandon Finnegan, SP, KC

50. Mark Appel, SP, HOU

Craig’s Toughest Omission: Kohl Stewart, SP, MIN
I love Stewart, and had him on the first couple iterations of this list, but between his level (Low-A), lack of innings (81 2/3 IP), being named after a department store (Kohl’s), and season ending arm injury (shoulder impingement from sleeping wrong), I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I don’t believe the injury is serious in the slightest, but it both a) exists, and b) shortened his season at least a bit. He’ll still throw plenty of innings in 2015, but I do wonder if there’ll be a domino effect in terms of an innings cap that’ll come into play down the line, and might delay when he could arrive in the big leagues. It’s all hypothetical, but I couldn’t avoid it in my mind’s eye, and so he’s stuck at 51. I don’t feel good about it.

Ben’s Toughest Omission: Jake Marisnick, OF, Astros
A few weeks ago on TINO, I said Marisnick was a no-doubt top 50 dynasty league prospect following his trade to the Astros, and I staunchly defended him against the narrow-minded, wrong, stupid Mr. Goldstein. Yet it would appear that the joke is on me, as I cannot in good faith rank Marisnick above any of the players I have here. I get that Marisnick doesn’t profile as a player who will hit for a high average, but he has power and speed and I think he’ll get on base often enough to contribute meaningfully in runs, too. He’ll have to battle a bit with Domingo Santana for playing time, but if he wins out, we’re looking at a player who could hit .240 with 15 homers and 20-plus steals next season, with more power and a higher average potentially to come. If this list went to 55, Marisnick would be on it and I’d be confident about having him on here.

Craig’s Ranking He Feels Worst About: Henry Owens, SP, BOS
I don’t know what to do with Owens. Ben said of Alfaro while in the midst of ranking “he looks ten spots too high and too low at the same time,” which encapsulates how I feel about Owens. He’s got the upside of a no. 2 fantasy starter in my eyes, even if my gut keeps telling me he’s a real life number four. I keep wondering if the change is going to miss bats at the highest level, and if his on/off command is going to leave him vulnerable to elite bats. Yet every time I turn around, Owens is throwing six innings with near-double-digit strikeouts and two hits. There’s clearly something preventing batters from squaring him up and I can’t ignore that even if I don’t think he’s a front-end option. I don’t know what to do with Owens, and I don’t feel good about it.

Ben’s Ranking He Feels Worst About: Matt Wisler, SP, SD
Matt Wisler is non-buttered wheat toast served with lukewarm tap water boring to me. He doesn’t have big upside. He doesn’t have one particularly dazzling pitch. He doesn’t miss an insane amount of bats. But he really doesn’t have any weaknesses either. Wisler’s command isn’t elite, but he’s never walked more than 6.8 percent of the batters he’s faced at any level. He lacks a punch-out pitch, but has three above-average offerings. And he has the best contextual factors you could ask for for a pitcher, aside from the Padres also being good. Still, Wisler’s been billed as a no. 2-3 fantasy starter for a while now, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s too high. Petco is great and all, but I still see Wisler as more of a no. 4-5 fantasy starter with some better performances in his peak. That’s still lofty praise, but I have a bad feeling ranking him ahead of more talented pitchers like Zimmer and Taillon.

What Ben Got Wrong (by Craig): Rymer Liriano, OF, SD
Already up in the big leagues, I’m not sure what Liriano did to deserve being ranked behind Tim Anderson. As much as I was out on Anderson and then in on him after seeing him live, the kid is at High-A and recently fractured his wrist. They’re similar players to me, so I understand wanting to group them together, but the (now) three level gap, as well as success at the upper levels more than makes up for the positional difference between the two in my eyes, especially with questions surrounding Anderson’s ability to stick at shortstop. It is only a couple spots of course, and not worth freaking out about but I do think Liriano deserves to be ranked significantly higher thanks to his ability to provide value in speed and power departments, combined with his immediacy. I’m not sure what Ben is doing here, and I don’t feel good about it.

Ben’s Retort:
Listen, I really like Liriano, so it’s odd for me to have to have to tear him down here. But it’s not like he’s a five-category contributor, and he has the worst contextual factors you can possibly imagine, playing in Petco and batting in the Padres lineup. I’m hopeful he’ll hit 15-plus homers and swipe 20 bases next year, but honestly, I view him like I view Marisnick, just with a higher but still non-elite average. Liriano is good and he should be owned in 14-team leagues next year, but Anderson has the potential to produce across all five main offensive categories and to do so at shortstop. And it’s not like I’m gambling on a player in Rookie ball here—Anderson was succeeding in High-A, and should start there again next year as a 21-year-old. I don’t think ranking Liriano ahead of Anderson is nuts—they’re only four spots apart in my rankings—but don’t make it seem like there’s no Rymer reason for slotting Liriano behind Anderson, either.

What Craig Got Wrong (by Ben/world): Chi Chi Gonzalez, SP, TEX
I love the nickname too, so I get where Craig is coming from here, but Gonzalez doesn’t belong on this list. His numbers in Double-A are very good this year, what with the 2.11 ERA and the 1.17 WHIP. But he’s falling just short of a 20 percent strikeout rate, he’s walking batters at a decent clip, and he doesn’t have the profile of an extreme bat-misser at the next level. If Gonzalez was a Padre or a Giant, that would be fine. But I’m not super optimistic about a no. 3-4 MLB starter and no. 5-6 fantasy starter who’ll pitch half his games in Arlington. Gonzalez is definitely a top 75 name, and I get that the proximity gives him some appeal. But to me, he doesn’t have the upside of the other high minors guys on this list—yes, even Henry Owens—and there are at least a dozen prospects I’d have ranked before him. Sorry if this phrase brings back bad memories for you, but it’s just not an enticing package.

Craig’s Retort:
Big words coming from the guy who ranked Sean Manaea opposite Chi Chi. Manaea might have a big strikeout rate, but he’s still up near 12 percent on his walk in addition to other mediocre numbers while still in High-A (at the same age as Gonzalez, no less). Gonzalez’s strikeout rate might not take you from six to midnight, but you should still give it the time of day. It’s solid enough that, when combined with his groundball percentage (51 percent at Frisco), there’s a lot to like. By no means is Gonzalez a future front of the rotation fantasy guy, but I know for a fact we both like Martin Perez, and I’m not sure why Gonzalez would be any different. Gonzalez is two steps from the major leagues with a disaster of a rotation in front of him, so opportunity should abound. At the back end of the top 50, I don’t mind sacrificing some sex appeal for a little security. I’m sorry if that rung true for you. I don’t feel good about it.

Point of Mutual Agreement:

Ben: Dom Smith did not factor in here.
Craig: Nor did Dan Vogelbach. Rough day for all the “Big Sexy”

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trade probability: Vogelbach+Almora+ minor pieces for good pitcher enough? better or worse package than the samardja deal Better question: who is most likely going to be left out of the Cubs starting lineup in a year or two that will likely be traded?
Taillon. Is his placement on both of your rosters due to the injury or regardless of it? Curious if it is taken into consideration or does his overall skills regardless of health dictate his rankings amongst other starters…Wisler, Heaney, Owens….
For me, health was a big factor. He should be back around the start of next year, but some rehabs take longer than others, and he'll likely be on some sort of reduced innings workload. When I look at a guy like Alex Meyer, who also has #2 starter upside, I just couldn't bring myself to put Taillon above him. Same goes for Wisler in that respect. There's probably a little less ultimate ceiling, but as far as fantasy goes, PETCO evens them out and ability to contribute for a full season gives him an edge in my book. If Wisler is still down in July of 2015? Then I might prefer Taillon. There's so much we don't know, so this is just playing the odds for me.
I've never been quite as high on Taillon as some others -- don't see a fantasy ace, or maybe even a fantasy No. 2. Add in his health, and he drops behind pitchers with similar or even slightly lesser upsides.
Differences of opinion are great! What informs your different take on the relative value of Raimel Tapia, Nick Williams, and Josh Bell vis-a-vis the midseason top 50 rankings of Jason Parks and company? Does it all have to do with ETA?
The biggest thing here is that it's a fantasy ranking. Tapia's greatest advantage might be that he could stick in CF, but that's mostly irrelevant to us in the fantasy realm. If we're comparing this to a mid-season top 50, it should be Bret Sayre's rankings.
Yep. Bell is closest and has the most power, so he's slightly ahead of the other two. You can flip Williams and Tapia and get no strong disagreement from me, but I've seen Williams in person and fell in love, so here we are. I'd expect more pop from Williams and a higher average from Tapia, ultimately.
I'm so proud. /sheds a tear
I think the owners of Liriano will need to be patient - he is a notorious slow starter.
I'm curious about the process you guys use to put a list like this together. Do you start with a previous ranking (say, Brett's mid-season list, or the preseason one) and a list of guys who've impressed you that you'd like to include, and then go top-down, comparing players 1-1 (or removing guys who "graduated") and looking for places to slot in your extra guys? Do you start with a much longer list like a top 250 and group the players into tiers, then refine the individual positions within tiers? Are the tiers based on overall ability, or do you break out by profiles like OFs, IFs, Cs, SPs, or by dominant tool and later stitch the list back together?
I make lists every off-season and used a combination of that list, Bret's list, Bret's mid-season update and some of my own notes to cobble this together. The longest I've ever gone is Top 200.
I had some more specific questions, now that I've gone back to look at Brett's list: You both have OT and Bryant above Buxton. Is this a preference for proximity, or have you seen something in the past month that either downgrades Buxton or upgrades the other two? Is Buxton still a "perennial top-5 pick" ceiling? Likewise, Noah Syndergaard is up about 4 spots, while Sano is down 5 on your lists relative to Brett's. Is that recency bias, has Syndergaard shown something a lot more in the past month to get the upgrade? Has Sano lost ground, or would the injury have made him lower for you guys even last month?
Re: Taveras/Bryant -- Taveras' bump up for me is because Allen Craig was traded, opening up playing time for him, and because I still believe in the ceiling. He's producing now and has extreme value in the long term. Bryant is my power fetish showing through. Buxton's promotion to Double-A is nice but Bryant might be a better pure hitter than we imagine and that's only going to enhance his already prodigious power. Buxton still has the same ceiling, but he's got to stay healthy to do it, and he's still a ways away having just reached Double-A. Re: Syndergaard -- I think that's a pure disagreement between Bret and I (I won't speak for Ben). I declared Syndergaard my top pitching prospect prior to the season, and while he's struggled some with health, he's healthy now and I have no problem with him assuming that top spot. I think he can contribute as soon as the Mets let him and it's my opinion that that contribution will exceed whatever Walker gives the Ms, and Bradley the DBacks. Both of those guys have suffered some injuries this season, and neither is pitching at the major league level, which set me back to my ranking coming into the season, with Syndergaard on top.
Hunter Harvey a no show on both lists. Was this because the elbow or more about proximity to the bigs? My initial reaction was that it is understandable to leave him off, but after browsing through some of the other pitchers ranked ahead of him, I'm now a little surprised he was snubbed. What gives?
Would've been in the next ~10 for me. Injury played a role, ya. Distance from majors, too. I preferred Stewart even before the injury though.
I briefly considered Harvey but I'd ask you instead to make the case for him as a Low-A arm that is shut down for the season? What's his reasonable timetable to the majors? Add in the injury, and I'm not sure what his case for inclusion is. I like Harvey a lot, and I see the possibility for two 65 grade pitches, and *maybe* an average changeup. if that changeup isn't consistently fringe-average or better though, he's well below his ceiling. There's too much risk and he's too far away for me to make the case for him on the top 50.
As weird as this sounds, props to Craig on the addition of Finnegan. I would have completely overlooked him, but he seems very deserving.
Ha, thanks. He's a personal favorite of mine and I was dying to put him on. Stewart might deserve the nod more, but already at Double-A... Finnegan was either getting 50 or getting written about below.
Love these lists. I'm surprised, though, that both have a pitcher like Walker ranked higher than a position player like Seager. Due to all the variables, I'd rank a position player over a pitcher almost every time.
One has pitched, and is on the verge of pitching in the majors, while the other has 19 games in the upper minors. I felt my ranking of Seager was aggressive but justifiable. I'm not sure how I could have slotted him ahead of Walker, especially with a potential move to 3rd base in his future.
It will be interesting when Seager is called up. Could be sooner than we all think.
Sure, but that's just conjecture and not based on any precedent the Dodgers have showed. They were slow to promote him to Double-A, even, so I'm not sure why they'd have the quick trigger now. Were he at Triple-A, or reportedly on the verge of a callup, I might well have him ahead of Walker. As it stands, one spot is hardly anything.
Also, wouldn't the Mariners trade Walker for Seager in a blink of an eye?
... no? That depends a lot on context and what the team needs. They're fairly deep in pitching, so perhaps they would. This is a fantasy prospect ranking, so whether an MLB team would trade one for the other isn't particularly relevant.
This suggests to me that you think Seager is a vastly superior prospect to Walker. I don't think that's a view many people share.
wow, piscotty seems crazy high. am I undervaluing him? I look at fringe top 100 guys like moya, demeritte and Francisco meija and kinda prfer them. obviously picsotty is closer, it just doesn't seem all that sexy. little to no movement here.
I do indeed believe you are crazy if you prefer Moya, Demeritte or Mejia to Piscotty, yes.