I started a series counting down prospects back in the fall. I wrote a list in late July, started writing the posts at the same time starting from the bottom up, doing one post every few days, then holding on to publish them all in a row. Halfway through the writing, I disliked it, and had already started posting them. Almost two months after making the list my opinions were changing. For a MLB player with a 15-year career, two months is not much time. For a prospect who might spend 15-18 months tops in full-season minor league ball, 2 months is a big chunk of their publicly-displayed minor league development.
From the time that I wrote my list and started typing the accompanying posts to the end of the year, Shelby Miller pitched 59 1/3 minor league innings, striking out 70 and walking only seven. He went from the pitcher passed up by Joe Kelly for a St. Louis rotation spot to the most dominant pitcher in the minor leagues and a no-brainer member of St. Louis’s post-season roster in under six weeks. In August, I went from having just read a little here and there about Addison Russell to enjoying in-person the religious experience of seeing Russell overshadow older players in low-A.
Things change for prospects in a short window like that, especially when we’re assuming the often futile task of putting them in some kind of order.
Instead of a Top 50, or Top 100, that lists players in a specific order, I’m doing a Top 54 (just to be arbitrary and to tie the number to the number in my online handle), and instead of ranking all the players I’m grouping them into tiers.