Welcome to the first day of the Braves 2011 Top-25 Prospect List. We'll post five players each day, counting down to the top-5 on Friday, where we'll also ask any Talking Chop reader to submit their own top-25 list. Remember, wait until Friday to submit your own top-25.
Before we get started, I felt this post was necessary to say a few words about how we compiled this list and about prospect lists in general. We could ask 25 different scouts to give us a top-25 Braves prospect list and we'd probably get 25 different lists, each with different players. These lists are quite subjective undertakings, and we here at Talking Chop used a bit of teamwork to try and balance out some of those opinions -- sometimes strong opinions -- about prospects.
We combined four top-25 lists to make one top-25 list for Talking Chop. The four lists were done by me (Martin Gandy), CB Wilkins, Matt Foreman, and Ben Duronio.
Both CB and I have seen a lot of minor league games this year (and most years), so a lot of our opinions are based on the good or bad games we saw some of these prospects have. For instance, the most dominant pitcher I saw this year in a Braves minor league uniform was Matt Fouch, but even if I ranked him in my top-25 that would hopefully be balanced out by Matt and Ben, who didn't see many minor league games and instead use the stats of these players and other scouting reports to come to their conclusions. (For the record, I didn't rank Fouch in my top-25, but I really like him -- hope he comes back from his military commitment soon.)
Another thing you may be wondering is, "why did you rank only 25 prospects?" To be honest, I had a hard time getting to 25 guys that I considered worthy to put on this list. Yes, there are a lot of other talented and toolsy players in the Braves system, obviously they have some positive or else they would have never been drafted or signed. When I do this list I'm looking beyond that to see how their skill will translate to higher levels, and taking a cautious approach to make sure they're not just a flash in the pan (I'll call this the Van Pope lesson, and we may one day call it the Elmer Reyes lesson -- we'll see).
So with all that in mind I thought "ranking" more than 25 players was a bit of overkill. Sure, we could rank 40 or 50 prospects, but would there really be a difference between #40 and #50 like their would be between #10 and #20? To me that sort of lessens the importance of that top group. So here is how we arrived at just a top-25, but a top-25 which is well thought out, and one in which every player truly belongs.
An interesting note about this year's list (from the four lists that were used, and other top-lists we've seen from other sources) is that the top-11 or 12 players are pretty much a given, though there is a lot of variation about where those guys rank amongst each other. After that there are about 7 or 8 guys everyone ranks, then massive variation in the bottom fourth of the list. This is another reason to only rank 25 guys (IMO). Anyway, next post in a few minutes, 21-25.