There are a ton of changes to the previous list. A little more than half of the names -- 26 to be exact -- are new. There are a number of variables that contribute to this. One big one is graduation to the big leagues. The threshold for MLB.com Top 50 Prospects list has always been rookie status, and at this point, 17 of the old Top 50 have moved on to bigger and better things.
From the Preseason Top 50 Prospects list, the following have moved on: 1. David Price; 2. Matt Wieters; 4. Rick Porcello; 5. Cameron Maybin; 7. Travis Snider; 10. Colby Rasmus; 12. Andrew McCutchen; 13. Brett Anderson; 15. Dexter Fowler; 17. Trevor Cahill; 21. Elvis Andrus; 23. Mat Gamel; 24. Tommy Hanson; 45. James McDonald; 46. Derek Holland; 47. Kyle Blanks; 50. Jeff Samardzija.
Top 50 Prospects
|27||Jason Castro ||HOU||C|
The rest of the changes can be attributed to injuries or suspensions or subpar performances from some of the old Top 50. On the flip side, of course, are many players who played their way up the list or onto the list for the first time.
Because of those graduations, and because of his outstanding performance in his second full season, Braves outfield phenom Jason Heyward is the new No. 1 prospect. Hard to argue with a guy who's raking in Double-A before he's 20 years old, a Futures Gamer with a .997 OPS who's been on fire since being promoted up a level.
There are only two other members of the old Top 10 in this rendition. No. 2 prospect Madison Bumgarner moves up from No. 6, though he might feel a little lonely in his organization with the top two pitching prospects behind him (No. 33 Tim Alderson and Scott Barnes) having been dealt in recent days.
No. 6 Neftali Feliz moves up a few spots from No. 9. The right-hander has transitioned to a relief role lately, to perhaps help the Rangers down the stretch, unless he's included in a Deadline deal.
One of the biggest omissions on the old list, e-mailers were quick to point out, was Rangers first-base prospect Justin Smoak. In polling done, he narrowly missed being in the Top 50, largely because scouts hadn't seen much of him as a professional to rank him that highly. Even with an injury that set him back quite a bit, and some difficulty in transitioning to Triple-A, it's hard to imagine anyone not having him in their top 10, which is why he's at No. 4 now.
Other 2008 draftees in this Top 50 are Buster Posey (5), Brian Matusz (8), Tim Beckham (10), Pedro Alvarez (28), Eric Hosmer (30), Christian Friedrich (35), Aaron Hicks (36), Casey Kelly (37), Jason Knapp (39) and Jaff Decker (48).
That's not to say it's not a diverse group. Eight of the 50 came via the international signee route, and the position breakdown goes as follows:
RHP - 14
OF - 12
1B - 7
3B - 5
C - 5
LHP - 5
SS - 2