On the occasion of Keith Law's Top 10

By Jason Wojciechowski on January 31, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Keith Law, who I'd love to say is a "friend of the blog" in that way that sometimes people do on their baseball blogs, but that'd be a lie because I don't know Keith at all and I doubt Keith has any idea who I am or what this blog is, recently released his massive collection of prospect rankings, including his overall top-100 list and a top-10 list (plus commentary that identifies some players past 10) for each team. He also threw in an organization rank for every team.

The meat of any prospect ranking is the writeup, not the ranking, and Law's articles, except for the one on the Rays, are ESPN Insider-only, so I won't be sharing a whole lot of what he said or what any other paywalled source said, but we can combine Keith's list with MLB.com's list and Baseball America's list (and eventually with Baseball Prospectus' list1 and maybe even John Sickels') to start to build a sort of consensus prospect list. (Note that Baseball America listed their 10 before the Robertson trade, so he's lopped off the top.)

T1. Matt Olson
T1. Franklin Barreto

Olson and Barreto are 1-2 on all four lists, and I'm sure they'll be 1-2 on Sickels', with two going one way and two the other. They're about as different as you can get: the mediocre defensive first baseman with contact issues but great power vs. the fast, athletic maybe-SS maybe-2B maybe-CF (?) with good barrel-to-ball abilities but little likely home-run pop. Olson will play this year at Double-A, which will be more of a test than it normally is because not only will he be facing advanced pitching, he'll be doing it outside of the Cal League's friendly environs. Barreto, meanwhile, is just 18 and two levels behind Olson; there's a lot of time for all sorts of things, good and bad, to happen.

  1. Matt Chapman
  2. Renato Nunez

MLB.com has these two reversed. Law notes that Nunez's defense has improved to the point where it's not crazy to think he could stick at third. It isn't clear that his on-base percentage would be high enough in the majors to carry first base, so any projection as a starter probably hinges on him staying at third. Chapman, as with Olson-Barreto, is kind of Nunez's opposite in that he's a no-doubt defensive third baseman, but the bat will have to step forward: Walking literally once a week in Low-A doesn't really cut it.

From here on out the names will maybe get less familiar, so I'll put their current position and what level they'll probably play to start 2015:

  1. Dillon Overton, SP, Low-A
  2. Raul Alcantara, SP, Double-A (sort of; his surgery was May 2014 and he'll probably work his way back at lower levels)
  3. Chad Pinder, 2B, Double-A
  4. Kendall Graveman, SP, Triple-A/MLB
  5. Sean Nolin, SP, Triple-A

These five are all mixed up and you can take them in essentially whatever order you want. High-upside guys returning from injury? Overton and Alcantara. Middle infielder who could now be the shortstop of the future, to the extent such a thing exists in Oakland? Pinder. Back-end starters very close to the majors? Graveman and Nolin. Baseball America has the low-upside, close-to-the-majors types higher than the other three; Law and MLB.com have them reversed.

I'm going to list the rest of the players by the same average-of-the-rankings order but it's essentially meaningless, even by the standards of prospect rankings. Past the top couple of players, we're talking wild cards in any system, and that's particularly true in a system that's by consensus one of the bottom seven or so in the game. So just for completeness, here's everyone else who's mentioned one on or more list:

  1. Bobby Wahl, RP, High-A
  2. Daniel Gossett, RP, Low-A
  3. Max Muncy, 1B, Triple-A
  4. Brett Graves, RP, Low-A
  5. Joe Wendle, 2B, Triple-A
  6. Yairo Munoz, SS, Low-A
  7. Bruce Maxwell, C, Double-A
  8. RJ Alvarez, RP, MLB
  9. Chris Bassitt, SP, Triple-A
  10. Rangel Ravelo, 1B, Triple-A
  11. Billy Burns, CF, Triple-A
  12. Jaycob Brugman, LF/RF, Double-A

  1. We do know, from the Baseball Prospectus Top 101 published with the Annual, which is out now, that Franklin Barreto ranks above Matt Olson. So I'll incorporate them as 1-2 on that list even though I don't know anything about the rest of the ranking.