These days there are lots of sites that do baseball prospect rankings. SBNation has its own in minorleagueball.com, Baseball Prospectus does them behind a pay wall, Fangraphs has them and even the MLB.com website does them. However, one of the most highly cited is Baseball America's top prospect list. They have been doing them for as long or longer than the others and the brand holds that extra respect most likely due to that. Today, they became the first of all of the aforementioned sites to release a 2014 Padres list. The list itself, along with a review of the 2013 season is free, but the full reports on each prospect are only available via subscription or by buying their prospect handbook.
Without further ado, here is their list for you to read and discuss:
|1. Austin Hedges, c|
|2. Matt Wisler, rhp|
|3. Max Fried, lhp|
|4. Hunter Renfroe, of|
|5. Casey Kelly, rhp|
|6. Rymer Liriano, of|
|7. Jace Peterson, ss|
|8. Burch Smith, rhp|
|9. Keyvius Sampson, rhp|
|10. Joe Ross, rhp|
No surprises in the top 4. Everybody loves them some Austin Hedges, Matt Wisler was on fire last season and is closer to the majors than higher upsided Max Fried and Hunter Renfroe was a well liked 1st round pick that projects as a major league slugger and did well in his debut last season.
The next two spots belong to the Tommy John surgery survivors. Those are always difficult to rank. Baseball America has always had a crush on Casey Kelly so it figures that they would show their love by making him their favorite after that core top 4. Without that crush I think many would figure on Rymer Liriano to possibly rank higher being that he has a lot of tools, is less affected by the arm injury and is already back playing baseball.
Next up is Jace Peterson who plays a premium position and has been steadily progressing through the minors posting some quality OBPs and stealing plenty of bases along the way. A nice choice for that spot.
Burch Smith's inclusion at #8 is a bit a surprise to me. His 6 starts for San Antonio were nothing short of fantastic. His major league debut was interesting because of all the strikeouts, but not very effective. He then had 12 starts where he more than held his own in AAA. Finally he seemed to have shook some of the rookie jitters during a solid September trial. Actually, I have kind of talked myself into liking his ranking. I think that early bump in the road in Tampa may have made too much of an impression on me.
Keyvius Sampson is another logical inclusion. He has had a few bumps in the road upon his promotions to AA and AAA, but eventually has settled down and pitched really well for stretches. At 22 he has time to learn a little before trying to translate his successes to the bigs. His stuff should play though.
The final spot going to Joe Ross (Tyson Ross' younger brother for those who didn't know) is a small sign that some of the shine is coming off him after being drafted in the 1st round in 2011. He's only 20 though and has time and talent to prove the doubters wrong after an inconsistent 2013 season.
If you are looking for notable snubs (or a just-missed list depending on how full or empty your glass is) there are a couple worth mentioning. 2011 1st Round pick 2B Cory Spangenberg had as good of a year at the plate as Peterson and even got promoted to AA while Peterson stayed in Lake Elsinore. OF Reymond Fuentes played well enough to earn his major league debut. So did 1B Tommy Medica. OF Travis Jankowski lacked pop, but got on base, stole 71 bags in 2013 and plays a good CF. Pitchers Matt Andriese, Zach Eflin, Juan Pablo Oramas and Donn Roach all had better seasons than Joe Ross and all but Eflin pitched at higher levels, but would seem to lack Ross' upside.