Re-ranking The 2011 Top Prospects (www.mlb.com)

How long does one need to wait to truly evaluate a prospects list? We think a decade is about right and that a retrospective right before Thursday night’s launch of the 2021 Top 100 makes a lot of sense.

How long does one need to wait to truly evaluate a prospects list? We think a decade is about right and that a retrospective right before Thursday night’s launch of the 2021 Top 100 makes a lot of sense.

In 2011, MLB.com put out its final Top 50 Prospects list before expanding to 100 prior to the 2012 season. The list was generated via polling of scouts and front-office executives, with a player receiving a first-place vote getting 50 points, second place getting 49, etc. The rankings were determined by the composite score for each player. That led to the following top 20:

1. Mike Trout, OF, Angels
2. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays
3. Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
4. Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies
5. Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners
6. Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Reds
7. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
8. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals
9. Jesus Montero, C, Yankees
10. Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves
11. Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays
12. Kyle Drabek, RHP, Blue Jays
13. Michael Pineda, RHP, Mariners
14. Mike Montgomery, LHP, Royals
15. Jacob Turner, RHP, Tigers
16. Wil Myers, C, Royals
17. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves
18. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pirates
19. Zach Britton , LHP, Orioles
20. Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals

We definitely nailed it right at the top, didn’t we? But not everyone in the top 20 would make it with 10 years of data and performance taken into consideration. Most of the players from this crop of prospects are still adding to their big league resumes, so this list could be different in another few years. But using projected WAR as a guide, the new top 20 (with their 2011 organizations listed and Top 50 ranking in parentheses) would look like this:

1. Mike Trout, OF, Angels (1)
2. Manny Machado, SS, Orioles (24)
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves (17)
4. Jacob deGrom, RHP, Mets (NR)
5. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies (NR)
6. José Ramírez, SS, Indians (NR)
7. Chris Sale, LHP, White Sox (25)
8. Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals (3)
9. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins (NR)
10. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox (NR)
11. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, D-backs (NR)
12. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlins (NR)
13. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Padres (NR)
14. Josh Donaldson, C/3B, A’s (NR)
15. Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves (NR)
16. Starling Marte, OF, Pirates (NR)
17. Kevin Keirmaier, OF, Rays (NR)
18. Brandon Belt, OF, Giants (26)
19. Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners (NR)
20. Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants (NR)

Trout would be at the top of this list no matter how you sliced it, and Machado comes in second based on projected WAR and is currently third (behind Sale) in terms of current accumulated WAR. Similarly, Freeman is third based on projections and fourth if ranked by actual WAR through 2020.

The top player who wasn’t in the Top 50 at all in 2011 is deGrom, and who could’ve seen that coming 10 years ago? The Mets ace was a ninth-rounder in the 2010 Draft and had undergone Tommy John surgery after his debut summer, so he wasn’t on anyone’s radar at that point.

He has company from his Draft class. Especially because the list was only 50 deep, only four players — Harper, Taillon, Machado (the top three players taken in 2010) and Sale, the No. 13 pick who reached the big leagues in his debut summer — made the top 50 back before the 2011 season. The new top 20 not only has Harper, Machado and Sale, but it would also include Yelich (No. 23 overall pick), Simmons (second-rounder) and Kiermaier (31st round) from the Class of ’10.

On the flip side of the coin, only six of the original Top 50 made this new ranking, with Trout obviously continuing to lead the way. Harper, Machado and Sale are accompanied by Freeman and Belt. Many of the Top 50 didn’t quite live up to advanced billing, even if all of them reached the big leagues at one point or another, with nine players carrying negative WAR. Several players are no longer active, led by Brown (No. 4) and Montero (No. 9).

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly MLB Pipeline Podcast.



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