Top 50 prospects: Much has changed

Top 50 prospects: Much has changed

It's been nearly eight months since MLB.com came out with its preseason Top 50 Prospects rankings. So much can happen in that period of time to make that ranking outdated and obsolete.

With that in mind, and particularly relevant with all of the Minor Leaguers who have been traded at the Trade Deadline in recent days, a new Top 50 list is coming your way.

The method for this list isn't as scientific as it was for the preseason rankings, where scores of scouts were polled, and their lists were dumped into a spreadsheet to come up with the overall list. Rather, think of this update as more of a glimpse into what the list heading into the 2010 season might look like when the usual polling is completed. The rankings here reflect more of a assessment than a representation of what the baseball industry thinks.

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
Rank
Player
Team
Pos
1Jason HeywardATLOF
2Madison BumgarnerSFLHP
3Mike StantonFLAOF
4Justin SmoakTEX1B
5Buster PoseySFC
6Neftali FelizTEXRHP
7Chris TillmanBALRHP
8Brian MatuszBALLHP
9Jarrod ParkerARIRHP
10Tim BeckhamTBSS
11Alcides EscobarMILSS
12Jesus MonteroNYYC
13Matt LaPortaCLE1B
14Wade DavisTBRHP
15Freddie FreemanATL1B
16Jake ArrietaBALRHP
17Jeremy HellicksonTBRHP
18Yonder AlonsoCIN1B
19Brett WallaceOAK3B
20Michael TaylorPHIOF
21Carlos SantanaCLEC
22Desmond JenningsTBOF
23Austin JacksonNYYOF
24Domonic BrownPHIOF
25Logan MorrisonFLA1B
26Kyle DrabekPHIRHP
27Jason Castro HOUC
28Pedro AlvarezPIT3B
29Mike MoustakasKCSS/3B
30Eric HosmerKC1B
31Josh VittersCHI3B
32Lars AndersonBOS1B
33Tim AldersonPITRHP
34Ben RevereMINOF
35Christian FriedrichCOLLHP
36Aaron HicksMINOF
37Casey KellyBOSRHP/SS
38Martin PerezTEXLHP
39Jason KnappCLERHP
40Matt DominguezFLA3B
41Michael BowdenBOSRHP
42Peter BourjosLAAOF
43Julio BorbonTEXOF
44Mat LatosSDRHP
45Jhoulys ChacinCOLRHP
46Jennry MejiaNYMRHP
47Derek NorrisWASC
48Jaff DeckerSDOF
49Matt MooreTBLHP
50Angel VillalonaSF1B

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

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.