Thoughts On The Baseball America Prospect Lists

If you’ve spent more than five minutes reading this site, you probably know that I rely heavily on Baseball America’s prospect lists. One of the many things I looked at after buying this year’s Prospect Handbook was last year’s Top 30 list for every team – actually, the Top Ten – and where they ended up in 2010. Each of those 300 players fit into one of five categories. In order of frequency:

Deceased: 1 (0.3%) – Nick Adenhart, the Angels’ top preseason prospect, was killed in a car accident in April.

Dropped Out: 14 (4.7%) – Washington’s Esmailyn Gonzalez, a 19-year-old shortstop prospect who was the organization’s 10th best prospect in 2009, turned out to be 23-year-old Carlos Alvarez.

Traded: 28 (9.3%) – The only number one prospect traded in the offseason was New York’s Austin Jackson, who went to Detroit as part of the Curtis Granderson deal. This number does not reflect trades that occurred after Baseball America’s book went to press, such as the Roy Halladay deal.

Majors: 59 (19.7%) – The number one prospects for twelve teams played enough major league ball to lose prospect eligibility.

Re-ranked: 198 (66%) – This is the number of top ten prospects re-ranked anywhere in the top thirty, not just those who earned another spot in the top ten.

The most surprising number to me was the 4.7% that dropped off the list entirely.  Like many people, I think of the guys in the top ten as untouchables, guaranteed successes at the major league level.  On some level, I always knew that that wasn’t true, but seeing it as an actual number drove the point home.  On the other hand, an average of two players from every team spent significant time in the majors.

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