Allstar week 2016 has come and passed us as per usual midseason rankings get released for the minor league prospects. Baseball America being the first to release their top 100 rankings. It was asked of me, if I felt there was a lack of pitching in the rankings? If so, what happened to all of the arms?

I personally don’t think there has been a drop off in pitching quality as a means to a shortage in the top 100. I do think the quicker a pitcher can throw the quicker they seem to rise through the system, the less time for that particular arm to be ranked in a mid-summer rankings list. Simply put, the following is more of my thesis to the above question asked.

First, before we dive into the question raised let’s take a look at the top 10 rankings as a whole or representation for the whole 100 simply for the fun of keeping the question at hand in mind.

1. Yoan Moncada 2B Red Sox
2. Alex Reyes RHP Cardinals
3. J.P. Crawford SS Phillies
4. Lucas Giolito RHP Nationals
5. Trea Turner SS Nationals
6. Tyler Glasnow RHP Pirates
7. Dansby Swanson SS Braves
8. Alex Bregman SS Astros
9. Andrew Benintendi OF Red Sox
10. Austin Meadows OF Pirates

30% of the top 10 happens to be arms…30% gets you into the hall of fame as well so I am told. However, I do realize we aren’t talking about hitting, so to keep on track I can see from a simple numbers viewpoint that only 3 arms out of 10 sounds low.

When you think about it, pitching is 1 position, it represents roughly 11% of the players on the field. Can we really expect to have much more than 30% of arms in the top 10? TO further my first initial statistic of 30% being a lot of arms in the top 10, MLB pipeline’s preseason rankings only had 3 arms in the top 10 as well (Giolito, Urias, Glasnow).

Jeff Passan’s new book “The Arm” illustrates the fact that Tommy John is becoming more and more prevalent in the game today, even at the younger age of middle school. Could this be the reason there is a result for less top arms in the prospect rankings? Certainly one could say this has to be the reason. Or is it that pitching today is becoming more and more radar gun happy and less pitching ability?

Looking at the most recent 6 MLB Rule 4 Player drafts (2010-2015) first 2 rounds including any compensation picks, pitching is still of a need for every organization. MLB teams on average draft 49.58% arms out of all the players taken, leaving 50.42% to all other 8 positions.

So how is it that the perception is there is a serious lack of arms in the prospect rankings? I think it has to do with how pitchers are being used in today’s game.

Pitching velocity dating back to 2003 had an average of 90 mph, today it sits around 92 mph. Often, you hear about a recent arm called up as a “power” arm with great velocity and so so offspeed. Similar to the NFL’s need for quarterbacks every year I think there could be a need developing for higher velocity for MLB teams. If an arm comes into a game topping out at 91 he’s seen as a slow arm. 91 still creates a split second reaction from the hitter to determine whether or not to swing might I remind you.

I think the way the game is evolving pitching is no longer lasting in the minor leagues. Pitchers make jumps from Double A to the majors, which I know as well as you do this isn’t anything new. Teams take different approaches to calling their guys up, but they are still calling them up quite quickly.

Last year the Houston Astros called up both Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez from Double A to make starts for the big club.

The Chicago White Sox called up Carlos Rodon to spot start and pitch in their pen and now we see this year they called up 2015 First Round pick and BA’s #73 rank prospect Carson Fulmer to pitch in their bullpen. Fulmer a “power” type arm with excellent offspeed was only able to be ranked twice by BA. He didn’t even have time to crack the top 50 before seeing the big leagues.

As much as a ramble as this is and if you’ve made it this far I applaud you, but all and all I think in our current state of baseball the need for high velocity type pitching is at an all time high and team’s aren’t waiting to call their guys up.

Overall there was 41 total arms ranked in Baseball America’s top 100. I don’t believe there is a lack of arms being used, I just think there is a lack of time to keep these arms ranked in the top 100.  

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2 thoughts on “Top 100 missing arms?

  1. Interesting article Charlie! Do you think maybe we see less pitchers on midseason prospect lists because teams are more likely to call them up during the year due to MLB injury than position players? That is, I think a team is more likely to go to the waiver wire to replace an injured position player, whereas a pitching injury necessitates a promotion. I would point to the Dodgers, Pirates, and Nationals this season as examples.

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    1. Andrew, I like the point you mention about teams being more concerned to get a waiver wire bat than bring up a bat, where as the inverse could be in play with pitching. Totally agree with you! I, also, think hitting can take longer to develop thus requiring more “seasoning” in the minor leagues as opposed to today’s arms being “seasoned” at the big league level.

      Thanks for the comment!

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