Have you ever used the Google Earth app?
It’s become simply accepted as normal now. But when it came out, as someone who remembers the pre-Internet world of paper maps, the fact that you could start with a view that showed you the entire Earth, and then zoom in until you could see a satellite image of your individual house was a truly amazing experience. It both showed the vastness of the Earth and the minutiae of your neighborhood with a spin of a scroll wheel.
When you look at the Top 100 Prospects list, it’s worth thinking of this as the baseball equivalent of zooming in to see an individual house.
The Top 100 Prospects list ranks roughly 1.5% of the players who are eligible to be on the list. Each of the 30 MLB teams is allowed to have 180 minor league players on rosters in the U.S. If you add in the Dominican Summer League rosters, that will give you another 35 to 70 players per MLB team. That’s a little less than 7,000 players in affiliated baseball at any one time.
Not all of those players are still prospect eligible. Each team will have a number of Triple-A players who have exhausted prospect eligibility. Figure there are 15 players per MLB organization that are no longer prospect eligible.
These are all rough numbers, but if you say there are 6,500 signed players who are eligible to be on the Top 100 Prospects list, it’s clear that the 100 who actually make it are an extremely small subset of the population of players eligible to be ranked on the 100.
Even within the Top 100, there are clear distinctions. We placed a BA Grade on the 900 players who make Top 30s in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook. Gunnar Henderson, Baseball America’s No. 1 prospect, is a 70/Medium. No. 2 Prospect Corbin Carroll is a 65/Medium.
You can figure out an “adjusted BA Grade” for each of those players by taking their likely ceiling grade and then adjusting for the risk. Extreme risk for these purposes equals a 15-point drop. High is a 10-point drop. Medium is a five-point drop and low means no point deductions.
This year there is one player with an adjusted BA Grade of 65 (Henderson). There are eight with adjusted grades of 60, 11 more with 55s, 33 50s and 75 45s.
So while most of the top 10 are one gradation below Henderson, and the players in the 11-20 range are one gradation below the top 10, the player at No. 45 and the player at No. 25 have effectively the same grade. A player who ranks 55th and on the Top 100 and a player who ranks 125th and off the…