Zach Dillard over at FoxSports.com has for the past couple of seasons been compiling and combining the various prospect lists from both national and local sources into a composite list, which is pretty great. I decided to do the same, but with a slightly different approach.
For this list, I simply averaged the rankings across the lists that included the player, then penalized the player one point (adding to their score) for each list that they were not included. That means that Dansby Swanson, included on all 12 lists with an average ranking of 1, scored a 1.00. Jonathan Morales, showing up on 4 lists and with an average rating of 32.25, scores 40.25. I have only included the prospects that showed up at least three times. Where there was a tie, I broke it by the highest ranking on any list.
For this composite ranking, I chose 6 national lists, and 6 lists from sources that specialize in Atlanta Braves coverage. They are as follows:
All of these folks and organizations do tremendous work and have their own unique perspectives that are worth seeking out and understanding. But for now, let’s mash ’em up and see what we get.
There was a good deal of consensus on who the top 12 prospects in the system were, especially the top 3.
The Talking Chop prospect writing staff elected to graduate Swanson from their list since he is only two at-bats away from losing rookie status, but have indicated that had he been included on their list that Swanson would rank #1, so I have inserted Swanson on their list at that spot.
Albies is comfortably in the second slot, with only Baseball Prospectus and Walk-Off Walk dissenting and choosing to place him #3.
Even though Allard wasn’t placed on any list higher than #3, he was #3 on five of the twelve lists, didn’t place lower than 6th, and is the consensus best Braves pitching prospect.
Other than one other prospect, these are all the remaining players that have appeared on all twelve lists.
Of this group, Newcomb and Acuña had the most standard deviation, showing greater disagreement as to placement. Newcomb was placed as high as #2 (Walk-Off Walk) and as low as #11 (Fangraphs), with the main concern from the doubters being his continued lack of control. Defenders of Newcomb point to his improvement over the course of the year, especially in the final six weeks of the season.
For a player that has yet to play a single inning of pro ball, there was surprising unanimity regarding Kevin Maitan, who appeared as high as #3 (MLB Pipeline) and only as low as #9 (John Sickels), with most placing him in the #5-8 area.
For Mike Soroka, all of the pundits praised him for his control and his pitching intelligence, with the question most coming up from the ones that rated him lower (ESPN, Fangraphs, Tomahawk Take) concerned about the current lack of a true plus-level pitch.
While everyone seems to be on board the Acuña bandwagon as far as tools and potential, some list-makers want to see more performance before placing him closer to the top of the list, as Acuña missed two-thirds of the 2016 season with injury. There was a decided shift over the course of the off-season though, as lists that have come out more recently tend to rate Acuña, higher, perhaps as a reaction to his superb work in the Australian Summer League. The exception would be Baseball Prospectus, who rated Acuña #2 on their list despite being one of the first lists released.
Anderson, Fried, and Toussaint all fall into a the bucket of high-ceiling pitchers that still have something to prove. Anderson will start his first full year as a pro. Fried and Toussaint will try to build on very encouraging results from the second half of 2016.
This tier continues the theme of the end of Tier Two. Gohera rated #11 despite only appearing on 9 lists, as some of the lists were published prior to the January trade that brought him to Atlanta. It’s quite possible that Gohera would have rated higher than Fried and Toussaint if he had been in the Braves organization early enough to be included on all the lists. Gohara had an outstanding season for class A Clinton in the Mariners organization, but questions persist about his conditioning and control.
Weigel had possibly the best overall season of the Rome starting rotation, and got a late season promotion to Mississippi, but as a relatively unregarded thrower coming into the 2015 draft, some pundits want to see more. However, he is the last remaining prospect to actually appear on all 12 lists after Toussaint at #10.
Despite a second-half power and average surge for Rome in 2016, several pundits remain unconvinced that Riley will find success as he moves up through the organization, mostly referencing his bat speed and poor defense at third base. Riley represented the biggest split between the national writers, where he averaged a ranking of 17 (and was completely missing from Baseball Prospectus’s short list) and the local listmakers, where he averaged a ranking of 11.
On the flipside, there was a good deal of unanimity on the placement of Wentz, who like Anderson will be going into his first full season of pro ball, but who had a slightly tougher time in Danville to finish up the 2016 season.
Tier Four starts out with two sluggers that still have some warts to their games that cause some concern. For Peterson it’s uncertainty at how his line-drive power will translate to the next level, and general lack of an impact tool that could relegate him into a 4th outfielder roll. Like with Riley, there was more significant doubt from the national writers than the locals.
For Demeritte, there’s tremendous concern across the board about his strikeout rate, but it clearly concerned some pundits more than others. MLB Pipeline was overwhelmingly the most optimistic on Demeritte, placing him in their top 10.
Pache got a lot of “this is one to watch” attention from the listmakers, and what to make of someone with his tools and so much projection left created a big standard deviation. In general, the national guys were higher on Pache than the locals, but I have a feeling that may reverse itself as the locals get actual eyes on Pache when he moves up to Rome.
Finishing off this tier is the third of the the “Big 3” 2016 draft picks, Kyle Muller. Muller achieved early success like Anderson and Wentz, but did not get the mid-season bump to Danville, creating a bit more uncertaintly.
This group was particularly close in score. Three of this group, Minter, Sims, and Ruiz, are very close to the majors. Minter is the highest relief pitcher rated. Sims is a starting pitcher, but the consensus seems to be that his major league future is increasingly likely in the bullpen. Some pundits are concerned that Ruiz’s issues with left-handed hitters will cap his ceiling.
Jackson was all over the place as far as rankings, getting as high as #10 (Chop County) and as low as #30 (Baseball America). This is probably to be expected given the uncertainty around the former 6th overall pick as he showed some improvement last season but still demonstrates plenty of question marks regarding his offensive game, and now has both an organization and position changes to further muddy the waters.
Finally there’s Derian Cruz, the toolsy Dominican shortstop who demolished the GCL league in his first taste of pro ball, but who struggled tremendously when he moved up to Danville. Like with Pache, the national guys were higher than the locals on Cruz.
Presented without further comment is the remainder of the list.
24. Ricardo Sanchez, LHP – 29.11
25. Braxton Davidson, OF – 30.13
26. Bryse Wilson, RHP – 31.33
27. Brett Cumberland, C – 31.75
28. Ray-Patrick Didder, OF – 32.00
29. Luke Jackson, RHP – 35.00
30. Yunior Severino, SS – 35.40
31. Juan Yepez, 1B/3B – 35.75
32. Abrahan Gutierrez, C – 38.17
33. Drew Harrington, LHP – 38.29
34. Jonathan Morales, C – 40.25
35. Akeel Morris, RHP – 40.60
36. Matt Withrow, RHP – 41.00
37. Dylan Moore, IF – 41.67
38. Michael Mader, LHP – 42.00
39. Lucas Herbert, C – 42.50
40. Connor Lien, OF – 43.25
41. Anfernee Seymour, IF – 46.00
42. Jeremy Walker, RHP – 48.67
43. Randy Ventura, OF – 49.33
44. Caleb Dirks, RHP – 50.75
45. Thomas Burrows, LHP – 53.25
46. William Contreras, C – 57.00
47. Kade Scivicque, C – 57.33
48. Izzy Wilson, OF – 58.67
49. Armando Rivero, RHP – 64.00
50. Carlos Castro, 1B – 66.67
51. Dilmer Mejia, LHP – 69.00
52. Bradley Roney, RHP – 69.67
53. Chad Sobotka, RHP – 70.00
54. Yenci Pena, SS – 73.00
55. Juan Contreras, RHP – 80.00