Heyward, Strasburg lead Baseball America's Top 100 prospects
Baseball America gets input from those inside the game to rank their Top 100
Do-everything outfielder Jason Heyward from the Braves is the No. 1 prospect
Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals was the No. 1 draft pick last summer
This is Baseball America's 21st annual Top 100 Prospects list, our definitive annual ranking of the best professional talent in baseball below the major league level. And this year we're turning the focus of the list to the best tool for each player. We'll highlight that tool, as well as giving it a grade on the 20-80 scouting scale -- where 20 is the worst, 80 the best and 50 major league average.
The Top 100 Prospects list is the culmination of BA's offseason prospect coverage, which begins with reviews of the top talent in each minor league and proceeds with ranking the talent in each major league farm system. Our staffers and correspondents talk to general managers, managers, scouting directors, farm directors, scouts, coaches and other baseball insiders. Four BA staffers contributed to the voting this year: Co-editors Will Lingo and John Manuel, executive editor Jim Callis and assistant editor Conor Glassey. Each compiled a top 150 list, and we then reviewed the composite numbers and made adjustments before locking down the final list.
The rankings follow BA's standard prospect guidelines, which means that any player who has not exceeded 130 at-bats, 50 innings or 30 pitching appearances in the major leagues (without regard to service time) is eligible. As always, our appraisal is not necessarily based on what a player will do this season, but what his ultimate major league ceiling is, weighed against the likelihood that he will reach that ceiling.
The Rays had the most prospects on the list, with seven. For a complete breakdown of the list, go here.
RELATED CONTENT: How have previous Top 100 prospects fared in their careers?
1. Jason Heyward, OF, Braves
The best combination of hitting ability, power and athleticism in the minors; scouts believe that this 20-year-old has a chance to hit .300 with 30 home runs or more.
2. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals
Strasburg has a premium breaking ball, and his fastball is the minors' best in terms of velocity, command and liveliness.
3. Mike Stanton, OF, Marlins
Another prototypical right fielder like Heyward; Stanton is stronger and perhaps more athletic, but lacks Heyward's pure hitting ability.
4. Jesus Montero, C, Yankees
Montero isn't a pure hitter, but he's as good offensively as any prospect; he's unlikely to catch everyday and already has taken grounders at first base this spring.
5. Brian Matusz, LHP, Orioles
The most big-league-ready pitcher on the list. Matusz's changeup, slider and curveball all rate above-average, as does his fastball command.
6. Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays
Another athletic, well-rounded Rays outfielder, but Jennings isn't raw, especially in terms of his polished offensive approach.
7. Buster Posey, C, Giants
The best hitter the Giants have drafted since Matt Williams. Posey's defense (specifically handling velocity) is the last major improvement he needs to make.
8. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates
The Pirates have plenty of needs, and Alvarez won't solve all their problems, but the streaky slugger could be a 40-homer threat by 2011.
9. Neftali Feliz, RHP, Rangers
The Rangers' power pitcher has developed a devastating changeup to go with his premium fastball.
10. Carlos Santana, C, Indians
Switch-hitter with patience and power who should be ready by the second half of 2010 to handle daily duties behind the dish.
11. Dustin Ackley, OF/1B/2B, Mariners
The best pure hitter to come out of college baseball since Robin Ventura in the late 1980s should have multiple batting championships in his future, no matter what position he plays.
12. Alcides Escobar, SS, Brewers
He's more ready to make take over as an everyday SS than Elvis Andrus was at the same time last year. His ceiling is lower, but his first season or two should be better.
13. Justin Smoak, 1B, Rangers
Ten teams passed on Smoak in the 2008 draft, yet he should be ready to seize a starting job in Texas this year, providing defense and power from both sides of the plate.
14. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants
Scout like the way he commands and uses his fastball; his numbers in the minors (27-5, 1.65, 55 BB/256 SO in 273 IP) speak for themselves.
15. Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies
16. Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs
Castro burst on the scene in 2009, jumping from Rookie ball to Double- A in a year. He has intriguing power potential and defensive chops for the middle infield.
17. Martin Perez, LHP, Rangers
Still a teenager, Perez has scouts dreaming on his three out-pitches: fastball, curve and changeup.
18. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays
"Hellboy" is the latest Rays pitching product, and while he's also the smallest, his fastball command, changeup and curve should help him fit in in Tampa.
19. Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins
A scratch golfer as a teen, Hicks is just learning to translate his prodigious tools -- which include tremendous arm strength, speed and power potential --into skills.
20. Logan Morrison, 1B, Marlins
An alum of Albert Pujols' junior college, Morrison has the hitting ability to seize Florida's first-base job as soon as he's ready.
21. Ryan Westmoreland, OF, Red Sox
In just 60 games as a pro, Westmoreland has shown the tools and flashes of the skills to be a trade-deadline chip for years to come.
22. Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Reds
The Reds are betting $30 million that this latest Cuban import -- with the 100 mph fastball -- will live up to at least some of the hype.
23. Tyler Matzek, LHP, Rockies
Matzek uses an old-school delivery but delivers 21st-century heat with a fastball that at times reaches 98 mph.
24. Casey Kelly, RHP, Red Sox
After trying to play shortstop and pitch last year, Kelly has focused his premium athletic ability (he turned down a football scholarship to play quarterback at Tennessee) exclusively on the mound.
25. Kyle Drabek, RHP, Blue Jays
Having had to live up to his big league name, now Drabek has to live up to being the main cog in the Roy Halladay trade.
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