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MLB Draft 2015: Aggregate rankings for top-tier talent

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Here's a handy, tiered list of available talent likely to be selected on Day 1 of the MLB Draft.

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This purpose of this post is to list an aggregated ranking of five of the most recent and most trustworthy pre-draft prospect ranking lists.

MLB.com's Top 200
Baseball America's Top 500
Fangraphs' Top 80
True Blue LA & David Hood's Top 200
Minor League Ball & Matt Garrioch's Top 400

My goal in assembling this was to take the rough projections of sources I trust (and are not also behind a paywall) and attempt to collect them into some sort of straightforard informal aggregate ranking so as to get us away from the mock draft mentality that people get stuck in during this time of year. While mocks are fun, especially in an unpredictable draft year like this one, they tend to distract from meaningful player analysis in favor of a contest to see who knows each team's drafting mentality the best.

As such, this document should not be taken or read as a mock draft. This is not a projection of the order in which the players will go, nor is it the order the players should go. This document aims to identify and consolidate various interpretations of where a player's talent lies in relationship only to other draft eligible players. It does not take into account any of the very relevant factors in drafting theory, such as signability, risk or injury history (though these things may be influencing the analysts themselves as they make their rankings, intentionally or otherwise).

Ideally, a meaningful aggregation would contain more than five lists, and there are surely more than five qualified sources of assembling such numbers. However, few people put in the effort to do so, and many of those that do keep their data close to their chest behind a paywall. On a recent Fangraphs Audio, prospect analyst Kiley McDaniel mentioned the lack of information of this kind that ends up being available to the average fan due to these constraints. Think of this as an experiment to see what kind of consensus can be drawn, if any at all, out of the top class of analysis that I will be using heading into draft prep on Monday.

In terms of the results, I'm fairly please. While opinions vary more and more as we get deeper and deeper into the prospect rabbit hole, the names available did settle into a set of fairly obvious tiers in terms of the range in which their average ranking fell. This implies to me that across the five lists, even though each tier features some players that saw great diversity in their rankings right next to ones that were consistently ranked across the board, that there is at least some kind of stability evident here.

Due to the limitations provided by Fangraphs' list currently being limited to just 80 names, I have only included players that appeared in at least one Top 80 among the five lists. This turned about to be a fitting cutoff, as the results of the averages tend to get more and more jumbled right past the 80ish mark, which is right where Day 1 of the draft will be finishing up (75 picks on Day 1). In cases where a player appeared beyond 80, I included the average from the list as it is a conclusive point of data regarding the aggregation. In the cases where a name didn't appear at all, I still included the player (so as to ensure the short Fangraphs list didn't limit the field too strongly into the latter part of the top 100 names or so), but I made a note for each player that did not appear on a particular list, to clarify that this particular player's value may be reflected somewhat slightly differently were their name to appear on all five lists.

1. Top of the Class

Brendan Rodgers SS HS 1.8
Dansby Swanson SS 2
Alex Bregman SS 3.8
Carson Fulmer RHP 4
Dillon Tate RHP 4.6

These five players are considered, on aggregate, the five top talents of the class by a wide margin. With the No. 3 pick, the Rockies will be able to obtain one of these if they so choose. They are most interested in Rodgers and Swanson, but may opt to skip over Bregman, Fulmer or Tate in order to draft a name from the top of the following tier like Tyler Jay instead, with the intention of sniping more difficult-to-sign names in the 27-44 range.

2. First Round Talent

Kyle Tucker OF HS 9
Andrew Benintendi OF 10.6
Tyler Jay LHP 11.2
Walker Buehler RHP 12.6
Daz Cameron OF HS 12.8
Kolby Allard LHP HS 13.2
Garrett Whitley OF HS 13.6
Mike Nikorak RHP HS 14.2
Kyle Funkhouser RHP 14.6
Ian Happ OF 16.6
Trenton Clark OF HS 16.8
Brady Aiken LHP 18.4
Nick Plummer OF HS 19
Cornelius Randolph 2B HS 19.2
Jon Harris RHP 20.2
Tyler Stephenson C HS 21.4
Chris Betts C HS 21.8
Ashe Russell RHP HS 23.8
James Kaprielian RHP 25
Beau Burrows RHP HS 26.2
Phil Bickford RHP 27.4
--- 1st Round Ends
Michael Matuella RHP 27.6
Nathan Kirby LHP 29.4

This tier contains the majority of the players that the prospect rankings feel, in aggregate, should be considered acceptable for drafting in the first round within this class. With 28 names between tiers one and two, the Rockies will have access to at least two of the names from this tier at pick No. 27. The Rockies may have an easier time chasing after a second name from this tier if they draft Jay over someone from Tier 1.

Though some recent mocks have seen prizes like Garrett Whitley and Mike Nikorak fall to the No. 27 pick, I'd count on the most likely available names to fall in the second half of this tier. A couple of notable possibilities include Nick Plummer, who may end up being among the best valued picks within the Compensation Round given how the five lists feel about his talent, as well as Beau Burrows, who David Hood pointed to as a favorite option for a high school arm at the No. 27 slot. Burrows had not been on my radar, but given how he is separated from other HS arms that had my attention like Donny Everett and Dakota Chalmers, Hood isn't the only one who thinks Burrows should be seriously considered as first round level talent.

3. First/Second Round Talent

Justin Hooper LHP HS 33
Donny Everett RHP HS 33.6
D.J. Stewart OF 33.8
Cody Ponce RHP 34.6
Dakota Chalmers RHP HS 37.6
Kevin Newman SS 37.6
Ke'Bryan Hayes 3B HS 38.6
Alex Young LHP 39.6
--Compensation Round Ends
Austin Smith RHP HS 40.8

This small tier shows the players that will likely compose the majority of picks within the Compensation Round. Not quite deemed overall as high of quality as the first round talent above, these players stand out above the majority of the talent tier that will likely occupy most of the second round.

Though the Rockies will have access to at least two names from Tier 2 at pick No. 27, the team may instead choose to pick from among these names, especially if they led off with Rodgers or Swanson. Stewart, Ponce and Young represent examples of player who might be easier signs, and Hayes, son of former Rockies third baseman Charlie Hayes, is not considered likely to go to college, making him a safer selection than other high school selections at this stage of the draft.

Justin Hooper ranks among my favorites in the draft, but even with a Jay pick at No. 3, don't look for the Rockies to be among the first in line to try and lure him into the fold. Many feel he has the highest ceiling of any HS arm in the class (albeit with a lot of work ahead of him to get there), and that won't be an easy sign outside of Round 1.

4. Second Round Talent

Mitchell Hansen OF HS 44.8
Juan Hillman LHP HS 47
Peter Lambert RHP HS 48.6
Jacob Nix RHP 49.4
Riley Ferrell RHP 50
---Comp. Balance A Ends
Eric Jenkins OF HS 50
Jalen Miller SS HS 50.6
Chris Shaw 1B 50.6
Triston McKenzie RHP HS 51.6
Kyle Holder SS 52.4
Scott Kingery OF 52.6
Nolan Watson RHP HS 52.8
Alonzo Jones 2B HS 53.4
Richie Martin SS 53.6
Kep Brown OF HS 54.6
Chandler Day RHP HS 56.75 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Drew Finley RHP HS 57.5 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Luken Baker RHP HS 58.8
Kyle Cody RHP 59.6
Bryce Denton 3B HS 60.6
Jacob Woodford RHP HS 60.6
Kyle Molnar RHP HS 62 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Cole Sands RHP HS 62
Tyler Nevin 3B HS 62.8
Demi Orimoloye OF HS 63.4
Josh Staumont RHP 63.4
Donnie Dewees OF 63.6
Tristan Beck RHP HS 64
David Hill RHP 64.6
Jahmai Jones OF HS 65.8

This tier contains what is considered the bulk of players who should fall somewhere in the neighborhood of the second round, as well as the first round of competitive balance picks. Both of the Rockies' No. 38 and No. 44 picks would project to be selects from among the names inside the first half of this tier, if we are basing the availability of these players on perceived prospect quality among the lists.

Here we can find many names which are examples of players that are often being mocked to go as early as late Round 1, though the talent evaluators consider them to be closer to Round 2 material (Richie Martin, Scott Kingery and Donnie Dewees are among the names that may be considered more valuable by the teams themselves than the crew of ranking evaluators).

This also marks the first tier that features players that didn't make Fangraphs' fairly short 80-player ranking; so while Chandler Day, Drew Finley and Kyle Molnar are fairly well thought of by other sources, Fangraphs did not see room for them within their top 80 picks, meaning that the numerical value of these three is elevated a bit by there being no reference for where Fangraphs would rank them.

5. Third Round Talent

Brady Singer RHP HS 69.8
Blake Trahan SS 70.6
Lucas Herbert C HS 72 (Fangraphs Unranked)
---2nd Round Ends
Nick Neidert RHP HS 72
Andrew Suarez LHP 74.2
Ryan Burr RHP 75.75 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Josh Naylor 1B HS 76.2
Joe McCarthy OF 78.4
---Comp. Balance B Ends
Thomas Eshelman RHP 80
Mike Soroka RHP HS 81.2
Mikey White SS 81.8
Ryan Mountcastle SS HS 82.25 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Trey Cabbage 3B HS 83.6
Joe DeMers RHP HS 85.25 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Skye Bolt OF 85.75 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Cole McKay RHP HS 86.5 (Fangraphs Unranked)
David Thompson OF 88 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Christin Stewart OF 89.25 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Tristan English RHP HS 90.75 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Antonio Santillian RHP HS 91.6
Bryan Hudson LHP HS 91.67 (Hood, Fangraphs Unranked)
Mitchell Traver RHP 92.5 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Taylor Ward C 94.4

This tier likely contains the final information of any meaning in regards to the aggregation of the lists. Players from in here represent what is determined to be among the lowest set of players that could probably have an argument of being drafted at the end of Day 1 of the draft, which concludes with the second competitive balance round. Therefore, keeping on with the Rockies' side of things, their third round pick (and first of Day 2) should fit somewhere within the talent level of the middle of this tier.

Fittingly, right as that barrier is reached in terms of number of names, we hit the average of 80 mark, which essentially signifies the point in which the lists begin to lose value as there are fewer and fewer names which have a reference point from all five lists. By the time we reach the end of this tier, players are varying in number from list to list by numbers in the dozens. This could be read as the final set of names with coherent collectivity that can at all resemble agreement.

6. Fourth Round and Beyond

Mac Marshall LHP 98.5 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Wesley Rodriguez RHP HS 99.25 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Brett Lilek LHP 101 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Austin Rei C 102.5 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Jeff Degano LHP 103
Alex Robinson LHP 105 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Blake Hickman RHP 106.5 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Harrison Bader OF 107.4
Travis Blankenhorn SS HS 110.25 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Ryan McKenna OF HS 112.75 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Brendon Little LHP HS 113.8
Brandon Lowe 2B 115.75 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Nick Shumpert SS HS 120.5 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Kyle Dean OF HS 121 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Kolton Kendrick 1B HS 127 (Hood, Fangraphs Unranked)
Jacob Taylor RHP 128 (Hood, Fangraphs Unranked)
Jason Heinrich OF HS 129.5 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Chad Smith OF HS 133.2
Dayton Dugas OF HS 135 (BA, Fangraphs Unranked)
Andrew Stevenson OF 136.5 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Doak Dozier OF HS 157.25 (Fangraphs Unranked)
Luke Shilling RHP HS 161 (MLB, Fangraphs Unranked)

This final tier contains the leftovers, the scattered few names that appeared on at least one list as the 80th best draft prospect or below. In a true aggregate of all of the lists, we would see a whole lot more names lumped in among these ones (players such as Parker McFadden, Logan Allen, Jonas Wyatt and Jonathan India are examples of players who would be among them, but were not ranked higher than 81 on any of these lists).

Disagreement among the names here is significant; after we depart Tier 5, we end up with many players ranking as low as the 50s or 60s on one list and as high as the 300s on another, effectively making this a selection of "at least one evaluator thinks they're pretty good" names.

I'd look at this particular set as a list of players that should be considered possible steals in the fourth round or beyond, prospects who at least one talent analysts identified as potentially being capable of more than their peers did, but likely too risky to view as on-par talent selections.