Welcome to the Walk-Off Walk Midseason Top 50. For the first time in this blog’s history, the rankings won’t just be my thoughts on the matter, but the product of three different voices chiming in. In addition to me, Ryan Cothran has submitted his version and the new addition to the blog, Stephen Tolbert, has gotten in on the act as well.
Below is the list. Shortly before I posted this, I also posted a Walk-Off Talk with all three of us throwing out our thoughts on a variety of things such as the top pick, certain surprises in the rankings, and a few players who should climb up the rankings very soon. When you’re done digesting our overall list, scroll down or click here to check it out.
There are a couple of criteria that must be met to be on this list. One, the prospect has to be 25-and-under. Second, the prospect still must retain rookie eligibility. Dansby Swanson exhausted his eligibility this season – meaning, he cannot be a rookie again. Speaking of Swanson, he’s one of 13 players to not make this list after being part of my Top 50 during the preseason. Swanson, who was #1, was joined by Luke Jackson (#24) as players who graduated off the list. Juan Yepez(#27) was traded while Steve Janas (#41) was released. The remaining nine players simply fell off, led by Michael Mader at #28.
Finally, when there was a tie among prospects average ranking, I lifted Andy Harris’s tie-breaking rule and went with the top individual ranking from any three contributors. This happened four times during the Top 50.
A lot of agreement overall in regards to the top ten prospects in the system as only Wentz’s ranking by Tolbert had him outside the Top 10. Allard and Soroka, drafted with consecutive Braves’ choice in 2015 and headlining the Mississippi rotation as 19 year-olds, both had an average rank of 5.67. All three writers were in agreement over the Top 3 prospects, but each had a slightly different take.
After a lot of the same players showed up in each contributor’s Top 10, half of the next ten included players a member of WOW ranked outside the Top 20. Poe learned from his previous mistake and pushed Bryse Wilson up the rankings 24 spots, but still ranked him lower than anybody else and five spots below his WOW rank. Cristian Pache had a much smaller climb but jumped seven spots to #19th. Dustin Peterson became the second member of the rankings to win a tie-breaker after tying with an average of 19.33 but winning based on Poe’s 14th placement.
As the rankings increase, we start to see much more diversity in thought. Tyler Pike, one of three previously unranked players among this group of ten, makes the Top 30 despite being ranked #43 in Tolbert’s ranking. In addition, a pair of players in Anfernee Seymour and Akeel Morris rank higher in the composite rankings than any of their rankings in each of the contributor’s three lists. Both Seymour and Pike are among the four biggest climbers with the aforementioned Bryse Wilson joining them. However, nobody jumped higher than Johan Camargo, who goes from unranked to #23.
For the first time, we begin to see guys appear who wasn’t even on all three lists as Freddy Tarnok reaches #37 despite not being on Poe’s list. Ricardo Sanchez is the last player whose combined rankings equal less than 100. Drew Harrington and Lucas Herbert tied with an average of 36.33, but Harrington’s top individual ranking of #28 secures the #35th spot for him. Braxton Davidson dropped 16 spots, one of biggest declines in the rankings compared to preseason. Randy Ventura makes this list after being included in the preseason 5 Looking In accompanying article to the Top 50. He’s the only one of that group to do so.
The final ten prospects had a great deal of variety. Five are new to the rankings after not making the preseason one. Jason Hursh returns to the Top 50 rankings after getting removed in the preseason. Drew Lugbauer becomes the fourth member of the 2017 draft class to join the Top 50. In addition, Hursh and Kade Scivicque came down to a tiebreaker. As did Devan Watts and Juan Contreras. One last note – Izzy Wilson was originally going to rank as the #49th top prospect in the preseason list, but a trade after the list began, which added Thomas Burrows and Luiz Gohara to the organization, prompted me to push the preseason list to a Top 52. No such need this year.
Keep scrolling to read the authors’ reasoning for how they arrived at their choices.