Baseball America’s latest top-100 prospects list has some interesting implications. The Blue Jays are well represented, with 6 players making the list, headlined by Vladimir Guerrero Jr at #16.
Several times per year, Baseball America publishes a list of their view of the top 100 minor league prospects in baseball. The most recent update was published yesterday (May 11).
Much has been written about the Jays’ farm system over the last few years. How prior to the 2015 season the Jays were ranked 8th in baseball by John Sickels of Minor League Ball. How that dropped to 25th going into 2016 after the Jays traded 11 pitching prospects (including Daniel Norris and Jeff Hoffman) as part of the 2015 trade deadline “all in” approach. And how Sickels ranked the Jays at 19th going into 2017, but noted that they had above-average upside.
Given this roller-coaster ride, it was interesting to see six Blue Jays prospects in the May 11th BA100 update. But the raw number of prospects does not tell the full story. So the accountant in me decided to play with the numbers a bit.
Six is good
The Jays’ six prospects in the BA 100 – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. @ 16, Anthony Alford @ 34, Lourdes Gurriel @ 68, Sean Reid-Foley @ 70, Rowdy Tellez @ 89 and Bo Bichette @ 93 – is the third highest total. The Braves have 8 prospects on the list, and the Rockies have 7. The Rays, Brewers and Yanks also have 6.
On the other end of the scale, two teams had zero players on the list: the Angels and Royals. And six other teams had only a single representative – the Rangers, Twins, Orioles, Marlins, Tigers and Diamondbacks.
Toronto Blue Jays
Get the point (s)?
Of course, a #1 prospect is not the same as a #100. So as an (admittedly simplistic) exercise, I assigned values between 1 and 100 to each prospect depending on their ranking. The #1 prospect (Yoan Moncada) got 100 points, the #2 (Gleyber Torres) got 99, and so on down to the #100 prospect (Chance Adams) who got 1 point. I then added up the point totals for each team.
Not surprisingly, the two teams with the most players on the list also had the highest point totals: the Rockies (7 players, 381 points) and the Braves (8 players, 369 points). The four teams with six players in the list also finished in the top 10, points-wise, with the Jays in 10th place with 236 points.
10th place is not bad, but in the Jays’ case it might undervalue their farm system as younger players like Vlad and Bo are discounted to some extent due to playing at lower levels.
Quality over quantity
If you take the total points for each team (as described above) and divide by the number of players, you get an average points-per-player. So for example, the Jays’ 236 points divided by 6 players would give an average of 39.3, which is the 6th highest average of the 28 teams represented in the list. The highest average is the Pirates, who only have three players on the list but with two of them (Austin Meadows and Kevin Newman) in the top 20.
And in a classic good news / bad news scenario, after graduating so many good young players in recent years after their brilliant B-name drafting strategy (Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley Jr., Benintendi, etc) the BoSox have only two players in the current list. The bad news is that they rank 14th (Rafael Devers) and 41st (Jason Groome), giving the Sox the second highest average-points-per-player at 73.5, just ahead of the paler hose who come in at 73.2.
The bottom line
Having multiple players in the BA top 100 list is no guarantee of future success. However, more players is better than fewer players, especially with the big jump by Alford and the upside of the teenagers Guerrero and Bichette. If the Jays really can sign Eric Pardinho and Miguel Hiraldo, and with a bit of luck on June 12th, the Jays could be a top-10 minor league system again by the end of the year.