Ranking the top prospects (26-50)
The top college pitchers from the 2012 draft lead this group
Welcome to ESPN Insider's 2013 ranking of the top 100 prospects in baseball.
This is my sixth such ranking for Insider, and there has been quite a bit of turnover from last year's list. The top four players from last year all received too much playing time in the majors in 2012 to qualify again; the top two, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, won their respective leagues' Rookie of the Year awards. Baltimore's Manny Machado would have ranked second on this list but lost his rookie status in September after he crossed the 130 at-bat threshold. This year's list shows the depth in the minors right now in shortstops and right-handed pitching, with a shortage of talent behind the plate.
• The rankings are limited to players who still have rookie eligibility; that means they have yet to exceed 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the majors and have not yet spent 45 days on the active roster of a major league club, excluding call-ups during the roster expansion period after Sept. 1.
• Only players who have signed professional contracts are eligible.
• I do not consider players with professional experience in Japan or Korea "prospects" for the purposes of this exercise, which means no Hyun-Jin Ryu (among others).
• When ranking players, I consider scouting reports on players -- usually my own, supplementing with conversations with other scouts and front-office executives as needed -- as well as performance, adjusted for age and context. I've made one adjustment in my ranking philosophy in recent years, favoring higher-upside prospects over lower-ceiling prospects who are closer to the majors. This better reflects how these players are valued now by front offices and scouting departments, and gives me a chance to deliver more information on prospects whose names or scouting reports might be new to you.
• I use the 20-80 grading scale in these comments to avoid saying "average" and "above average" thousands of times across the 100 player comments. On that scale, a grade of 50 equals major league average, 55 is above average, 60 is plus, 45 is fringy or below average and so on. Giancarlo Stanton has 80 raw power. David Ortiz has 20 speed. An average fastball for a right-hander is 90-92 mph, with 1-2 mph off for a lefty.
• I've included last year's rank for players who appeared in the top 100 last offseason. An "ineligible" player (IE) was still an amateur at this time last January, whereas an "unranked" player (UR) was eligible but didn't make the cut. I've also tagged players who were on last year's sleepers list or list of 10 players who just missed the cut.
To get the complete Top 100, featuring Keith Law's in-depth scouting reports, you must be an ESPN Insider.