Jeffrey Paternostro is the Lead Prospect Writer for Baseball Prospectus
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: I should have made more coffee, but we will go as long as a feisty toddler naps.
John (TN): What prospect ranked in the top 25 had the most disagreement/was the most divisive among the prospect team?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: I think at least as far as Top 25 goes we are generally able to get on the same page, although I was higher on Walker and Pena and lower on Volpe and Baty I think.
bccourtney7071 (Chicago, Illinois): What is the ceiling of how high James Triantos can reach come midseason if he shows out at Low-A?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: Comfortably midseason 50 guy, Peguero jumped similarly from offseason to midseason if you want an example of what he might have to do. Volpe jumped even further (and then further again) but I don't think its fair to expect him to do that.
Neville Chamberlain (Sudetenland): This ranking makes me irrationally excited about Jordan Walker. Give me some red flags for why I shouldn't bank on him hitting 500 hrs in the bigs.
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: He might be a first baseman with a 30% K-rate, although I don't think there's really as much hit tool or positional risk as you'd think if I just broadly described the profile to you.
Josh (Houston): What a climb for Jeremy Pena. BP is certainly higher on him than other places. What's the quick case for such a high spot on the list?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: While I (and certainly Jarrett) would have liked to have seen a longer track record of hitting for power this year, the fact that he showed as well as he did after wrist surgery makes us think the power gains last year were real, and he's at least a plus shortstop.
Aaron Ashby (Milwaukee): I go up to the majors and drop a 3.58 FIP with a 29% k rate in 30 innings after dominating AAA for another 60 innings, all at the relatively young age of 23 and somehow I slot in behind guys like Hancock and Vasquez who can't strike anyone out at AA? (FYI - Joe Ryan is in the background fistpumping as I write this)
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: Jarrett, just gchat me next time. Anyway, he doesn't have a particularly long track record of control and command and there's significant reliever risk. And yes, you can say that about Vasquez too if you want (I would conversely not read much into four AA starts)
officialstankman (Southold, NY): So, for some reason I remember the post-trade deadline episode of For All You Kids Out There, in which you guys sort of mock the Mets for thinking that their offer for José Berríos stacked up to the Blue Jays'. Basically, the sense I got at the time was that the Mets seemed to think Ronny Mauricio was just as good (if not better) a prospect as Austin Martin, and you guys did not. With the caveat that I may have misunderstood/misremembered your analysis, I was just wondering if you could give a little insight into what went into ranking Mauricio/Martin back-to-back (I don't know Martin's body of work all too well, but I guess I expected him to be a little higher and Mauricio a little lower).
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: Yeah, I don't think any of us are super comfortable with the Mauricio ranking, but the back half of the list was a bit weaker than past year (for a couple different reasons I think). I think the larger issue with the Berrios trade is other teams (and yeah probably the Twins although I didn't outright ask) don't think he's as good as Martin, or at least not as valuable a trade piece when the deal was made. I'd expect Mauricio to have a fairly wide range of opinions based on how teachable you think the approach and swing decision issues are and to a lesser extent how model-heavy you are.
BillAdams (Myrtle Beach): Where did Pedro Leon fall? Do you ever publish ranks outside the 101?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: Leon would have been somewhere 111-150 broadly speaking. It's fair to give him some time to adjust after a chunk of time off from playing and there's a nice base of tools, but hit tool questions and I don't know if there's star upside really.
Marcus (Florida): Hi Jeffrey and thanks for taking my question. In 2025 in your opinion, who will be the better MLB OF and Fantasy OF between Sal Frelick and George Valera coming from two completely different kinds of backgrounds?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: We ranked Valera significantly higher, but given the speed/stolen base gap here if you wanted to take Frelick for fantasy I'd get it, he's less volatile. He's also probably not a center fielder and I'd expect Valera to produce more with the bat given the power and OBP potential.
Ted Lasso (Richmond): Given the tepid reception of Jasson Dominguez and Royce Lewis, who says “no” to a 1-for-1 trade between the two?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: Hmm, interesting question. I think this falls into the category of each team having way more information about their own guy and not trusting the other end of a challenge trade, but as far as guys who I don't fully trust their swings to work at a high level, Lewis has more ways he can impact the game, assuming a mostly normal return from a torn ACL, which is also not a given.
Hank (Cincinnati): How close was Mark Vientos?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: Looking at our long list he was somewhere 122-154
Big Mo (Fayetteville): Hey guys love the work. I was wondering how close Mark Vientos was to making the top 101, and about his outlook for the future? He put up great numbers as a 21 year old in the high minors but I know the defense has concerns, I am just wondering if you could shed light on his progression?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: So a little bit more on Vientos, this is mostly a production profile, as it's an effortful kind of plus raw power, and he's a well-below-average outfielder, only a bit better at third. If you really believe in the bat it might not matter, but I also saw him swing through a lot of 92-94 in Double-A so I'm not sold he's a clear starter given the defensive concerns. If this sounds a little like JD Davis well, you wouldn't be the first person to give me that comp.
Diogo J (Liverpool, England): You're starting a team from scratch. Who would take first, second and third among Shane Baz, Oneil Cruz and Jarred Kelenic, and why? Thank you for all you do.
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: Maaaaaaaaan, I think I'll just go with our rankings and take Baz here. I know he's a pitcher but he feels a bit less volatile than Cruz, and while I think Kelenic will be fine long term, it's tough to take a corner outfielder that struggled as badly as he did in the majors against the other two options (with the caveat that the others haven't really had a chance to fail in MLB).
John (LA): How close is Cleveland to being the top farm system in baseball? And any prospects who could blow up for them?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: It's a much flatter group of top systems than in recent years, but Cleveland lacks the kind of elite prospects at the top to get them into my first tier of systems. It is super deep and I'd expect them to be on the rise for a couple more years. I'd expect Petey Halpin to move up next year, and while we ranked him highly and I expect he's graduating, I do wonder if I still underranked Gabriel Arias
Lukas (NYC): If it was just you making the list, how high would Randy Vasquez have been?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: I got him where I'd have him. I like him a lot but there's reliever risk and the stuff dudes with reliever risk tend to get dropped in the 90s or so. McLanahan, Skubal, and Schmidt fit that general group last year.
gregtbone (Boston): Thanks for the chat!! Of the non-Top 101 prospects, who do you think has the highest ceiling (pitcher and hitter)?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: It's kind of cheating to take someone who just missed, but I think the answer is actually Alcantara for hitters (although you could go with Jay Allan too). For pitchers, give me Jake Eder, which is a different kind of cheating.
T (memphis, TN): Any word or news on the status of Sixto's shoulder? What would you place the odds on him being able to impact the Marlins rotation this upcoming season?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: I saw the same instagram soft toss video as everyone else, and will note that as a 40-man guy he isn't allowed to rehab with team people during the lockout which could be a big issue. He does not look like someone who will be ready for Opening Day I will put it that way.
Steve (MA): Your rating of George Valera (33) is considerably higher than other lists I have seen. Can you explain your optimism and what his path to the Guardians OF might look like. Thanks!
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: We think he will get on base a lot and hit for a lot of power while being a good defender in a corner. That's the short answer. I know the swing is weird, but I think the approach and hit tool are a bit underrated too. I don't think he's really a 2022 candidate--although not impossible he rips off a year in the upper minors--but I think 2023 is a good target to get through any potential growing pains in AA/AAA.
officialstankman (Southold, NY): I remember after the 2020 draft thinking the newly cost-cutting Ray Sox were drafting Nick Yorke as a sort of underslot deal to grab Blaze Jordan in the second round and as the brother of a Red Sox fan, feeling very bad for him. I was just wondering how Yorke has outperformed his pre-draft report and if his development offers any insight into how the Red Sox develop hitters more broadly/has followed the general development path of other hitters in the system?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: So I don't know that he's outperformed it per se, or at least as much as you'd think. I think we are all just going to fade the hit tool driven prep bat because because so many of them couldn't actually hit pro pitching. There were defense and power concerns with him too, so he really had to hit. The power has come quickly, he looks stronger now and the swing is geared to get enough over-the-fence pop to up the offensive ceiling some, but really he just went out and looked like a 70 hit guy, when previous prospects of this type almost immediately didn't.
ari blum (Lawrence): What’s your view on Cesar Prieto? Was he anywhere near the top 101?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: Prieto isn't eligible until he signs, and while he has more recent game action than someone like Leon did, I generally defer on IFA signings until we have more actionable pro information. I remarked to Craig earlier that if we never ranked a prospect that hadn't played stateside, our lists on balance would probably have been more accurate overall. Although "accurate" can go in quotes there for a variety of reasons.
Mike (New York): Crazy that Juan Soto is younger than Adley, regardless who is a prospect who has the potential to explode like Soto did in 2018 or is that a once in a generation phenom.
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: Once in a generation is perhaps a bit strong (Acuna had a similar type breakout Atlanta just slow rolled him a bit more), but yeah I'm not really in the business of betting on prospects jumping right from the low minors to top 10 player in baseball.
coffeeguy8806 (PDX): Hola Jeff!
I noticed George Kirby got pushed down. For college pitchers like Kirby, do you view them as needing a pretty linear upward improvement like Meyer to stay on top 101 discussions? Lacy comes to mind as well.
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: He more or less held steady for us in the 20s. I think he's potentially the next tier up among pitching prospects but given the way the Mariners used him (and all their prospect arms really) it's hard to go full throttle until we see him approaching something more like a normal workload.
Gus A (Laconia, NH): Any hope Brendan McKay puts it all back together, or too much injury risk?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: Unfortunately I think it's just been too many arm injuries at this point.
CubbieBear (Chi-Town): What’s your long term outlook for Luis Matos and how quickly do you think he ascends to the majors?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: It was a really strong full season debut for Matos, but I think he's going to be something like a level-by-level guy given the broader base of tools. I think the breakout has sort of already happened here.
michael (minnesota): Was Heliot Ramos close to making the top 101? Has the rose fully lost its luster?
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: He wasn't close to be honest. Still a decent shot to be a regular, but the approach was really exposed in the upper minors this year. He's adjusted before, but it gets harder now.
Chris (Fort Myers, FL): Thank you for the great write ups and lists, the staff at BP is outstanding and appreciated.
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: Child is up, so we will wrap it here. Thanks for reading all offseason. Jarrett and I will go into the list in more detail, and answer more of your questions on twitch, Monday night at 8 PM. twitch.tv/baseballprospectus
Top 101 chat w/Jeffrey Paternostro: .