Yes, it’s been slow on the prospect news front. It’s less than a month until pitchers and catchers report to Viera, but that’s little consolation to the seamheads. As the headline says, John Sickels has released his Top 50 batters and Top 50 pitchers to the folks that have pre-ordered his annual book.
Coming in at #1 is Bryce Harper — not much of a shock, with Philadelphia farmhand Domonic Brown coming in at #2. Harper is one of seven Grade A batters this year, with four others getting the A- grade. That’s 11 out of roughly 2500 hitters, so it gives you an idea as to how tough a grader he is… and what that means.
Admittedly, there’s a bit of drop to the next slot. At #25 is Derek Norris, who gets a B+ from Sickels, which is the same grade as last year. Clearly Sickels believes that the AFL Norris is the one we’ll see in ’11 and likes the progress he made on defense this year. Norris is the lowest-ranked B+ grade, behind Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis and ahead of Seattle’s Nick Franklin.
The final National is Danny Espinosa, coming in at #38 with a Grade B score, also the same grade as last year. Sickels was one of the few that believed in Espinosa coming into the 2010; most were like I was — suspicious about his power breakout in ’09. Espinosa comes in ahead of the Dodgers’ Jerry Sands and behind Minnesota’s Miguel Sano.
Suffice it to say, there were no Nationals pitchers in the Top 50. This is not a shock since it appears that Sickels prefers to wait a year before grading anybody. If I’m wrong about that, then it could also mean that Sammy Solis earned a B- grade, as all 50 pitchers were Grade B or higher (Jeremy Hellickson was #1 of six Grade A’s; there were four A- pitchers). I’ll have more to report once the book comes in.
In response to the first comment, here’s a breakdown of the number of Sickels’s Top 50 Batters & Pitchers by organization:
|Zero||Florida, Houston, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Arizona|
|One||Baltimore, Boston, White Sox, Cubs, Detroit, Mets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Texas|
|Two||Atlanta, Cleveland, Colorado, Angels, Minnesota, Yankees, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, Toronto|
|Three||Dodgers, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Washington|
|Zero||Florida, Milwaukee, Oakland, San Francisco, Washington|
|One||Arizona, Baltimore, Boston, Cubs, White Sox, Cincinnati, Colorado, Houston, Mets, Seattle, St. Louis|
|Two||Cleveland, Detroit, Dodgers, Minnesota, Yankees, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Texas|
I can double-crunch it, but I’ll save both myself and everyone else the time: KC has the most Top 50 picks with 11 out of 100, followed by Tampa Bay with seven and then Atlanta with six. Florida and Milwaukee have no Top-50 prospects while Arizona, Houston, San Francisco, and St. Louis have just one. Washington is one of seven organizations with three Top-50 picks, which is about what you’d expect for a club that will probably rank in the middle third on most lists.