In the first draft of this list, I was going to make numbers 4 and 5 "BIG" and "DROP-OFF," but the scouts that read this don't have as good a sense of humor as they think they do. I also considered a 10-year anniversary reminder of a cultural treasure but couldn't pull the trigger, though Dylan Cease did make the list.
So, since I like to thumb my nose at tradition when it comes to the coverage of baseball, like to take shots at the powerful round numbers lobby (Big Round spokesman Charles Barkley declined comment) and I realized what a waste of time it is to rank more than a few prospects in order at this juncture, a tier system makes the most sense.
The system has existed for awhile and applies better to sports where multiple draftees have immediate impact, but also works well for lists with a lot of uncertainty. I will updated you with a scouting notebook from the early season later today, but here's a snapshot of where we stand now, with plenty of updates coming as the picture clears up.
Click on each player's name to see previous content, including video on 47 of the 52 players listed. See the top 53 college notebook, additional college notes and Florida Juco Notebook. Also see my comprehensive breakdown of the Phillies-Wetzler siuation, Rankings Index and July 2nd Index for previous similar articles along with my twitter feed for up to date news and analysis.
Tier One (1-4)
Description: This top tier has separated itself through strong summers and early spring performances. Rodon's velocity is down now (90-93, touching 94 mph) as it was at this time last year, while Hoffman's season debut was as good as his breakout Cape performance. I've been trumpeting Hoffman's upside since I saw him on the Cape and said there's a real chance he's Justin Verlander; now the track record is starting to accumulate. Kolek was in the high-90's in his debut while Turner was even better in his opening weekend. More than one scout I talked to said he thinks Turner still has a real shot to go ahead of Rodon; the internet perception of the slam dunk-ness of the order of these four is wildly overstated, particularly given how early it is.
Tier Two (5-12)
Description: These tiers are still in order, but I struggled with what order to put this tier in; none of these guys has earned top 10 pick status yet and you could literally put them in any order right now. I settled on Jackson at the top because his struggles with the bat this summer/fall may actually raise/clarify his stock. The belief was his bat was too advanced to spend time working on catching in the minors when he could be raking in the big leagues. The perception has changed enough that I could see him still going in the top 10, but now as a primary catcher. Gettys is the wildcard: the rest of this group can only move down from here but if scouts are convinced Gettys can hit, he has the upside to move to tier one.
Tier Three (13-21)
Description: Some of these guys could work their way up a tier and may do it in less than a month. Gordon could be an above average everyday shortstop with big league bloodlines, Schwarber has 70 raw power and isn't a terrible catcher while Beede flashes frontline stuff though the command wanders. The rest of the group is tougher to imagine moving up, but are solidly in first round consideration.
Tier Four (22-29)
Description: Down here the tiers get more diverse. Newcomb hasn't strung together many dominant outings but the 6'5/240 lefty was drawing Jon Lester comps when he was healthy; his season starts next week. Blewett is another big (6'6/210) northeast arm that came on late in fall and could take another step forward this spring. Fedde and Reid-Foley are power arms that regularly show two plus pitches with good size, but need to make progress with their feel this spring. Forbes is a personal favorite and projection play that could make a lot of money this spring while Verdugo is one of the safer bets in the prep class, with legit top 50 talent both ways.
Tier Five (30-37)
Description: This is the fringe first round group, with a number of volatile arms. Toussaint, Freeland, Brink, Cederoth and Marshall have all shown flashes of high first round stuff but have had trouble putting it all together. Bouchard and Aiken are high school teammates that are both polished talents and safe bets to go in the top 50, with some buzz that Aiken has suitors in the middle of the first round.
Tier Six (38-53)
Description: I had to cut this list off somewhere, but it could easily include another 10-15 names that would vary team to team. Right now, prep talents are a little easier to put in this group given the higher upside, but more than a few college talents will emerge to this tier in the spring and price tags/poor springs will cause some prep talents to fall back. Burdi may be the most famous in this group as a reliever that's been over 100 mph multiple times while Cosart, the little brother of Astros RHP Jarred Cosart, is the least famous, though he recently took up pitching and is already up to 98 mph with an above average hook. Cease's stock had a roller coaster summer/fall, but he's regularly in the mid-to-upper 90's and has shown an above average breaking ball.
Jake Cosart, RHP, Seminole State JC (FL)
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