Today, Keith Law released his his top 100 prospects in baseball. It’s led to some consternation and frustration for Twins fans. Sure, there were 6 (!) Twins prospects in the top 100: Byron Buxton (2), Miguel Sano (15), Alex Meyer (30), Nick Gordon (43), Kohl Stewart (53) and Jose Berrios (97). Not many had a problem with 1-5, but many thought Berrios should be ranked much higher.
I really think that Berrios will reach the top end of his projection, or his ceiling, so to speak, but that’s neither hear nor there. I don’t have any problem with having him slotting in at 97, even if I think he will eventually be better than Meyer or Stewart. Why is that? Because prospect rankings generally are less about what players have done in their time in the minor leagues and more about their physical attributes.
Consider the position players rated ahead of Berrios. Buxton is rated where he is because of his incredible athleticism, including speed and a strong arm. Sano is where he is because of his size and strength. Gordon is there because of his instinct and speed. Injuries and some mildly disappointing numbers as a result didn’t bring their ranking down by much.
Now consider the pitchers on the list. Alex Meyer is a hard thrower, who is very tall. Kohl Stewart was going to be quarterback for Texas A&M before he turned his attention to baseball. Both are extremely athletic, and have the frame of a durable athlete. Meyer has severe control problems and Stewart needs to work on secondary pitches, but both are rated highly, mostly because of what they, as physical specimens are capable of.
Berrios is a hard worker, and has blown through the lower levels of Minor League Baseball with authority. He has the confidence one would hope for from a top end starter. Unfortunately, at least when it comes to prospect rankings, he is only 5’10”, and it’s tough for him to get the desired downward plane on his pitches. People worry about his hittability and durability almost exclusively because of his size, not because of his performance.
I personally think that Berrios works hard enough to find a way to pitch around his size. That’s not something that prospect graders evaluate though, so it’s OK if Berrios has 96 players ahead of him in the rankings.