Brandon Wood is #1

Brandon Wood is the Angels’ top prospect according to most lists.

In his latest "Ask BA," Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis ranked the #1 prospects for all thirty organizations. The AL West teams’ rankings haven’t been released yet, so Jim gave away that Brandon Wood will be ranked the Angels’ #1 prospect. Callis ranked him #12 among the thirty #1 players.

Wood was ranked #1 by me last November in the 2007 Top 10 Prospects report. He was also ranked #1 last December by John Sickels in his forthcoming 2008 Baseball Prospect Book.

Baseball America announces their Top 10 Angels prospects tomorrow. There’s usually an on-line chat with the author, so be sure to check the BA web site at for the time and instructions.

When the BA 2008 Prospect Handbook hits the streets in a few days, it’ll have the top thirty prospects for each team. I think even Jim Callis will admit that any ranking beyond 15-20 is a crapshoot.

Here are two basic stats I often mention as a reminder of just how few players really are "prospects."

Stat #1: Overall in the minors, only one out of every ten players will ever set foot in a major league dugout. They may last no more than one game.

Stat #2: Of those who get to the majors, only one in four will log five years in the majors.

Combine the two stats, and it means that only one in forty minor leaguers will have a significant major league career. In any one year, a major league organization will have roughly 200 minor leaguers under contract. Apply the 1 in 40 rule, and that means that only five of those 200 will turn out to be major league regulars.

If that’s true, it means that a respectable Top 10 list has those five guys on it. The other five won’t make it, or will be those who have less than five years in the majors.

So what’s the point of going beyond a Top 10 list? Stat #1 tells us that 20 out of 200 should set foot someday in a big-league dugout. If you try to go beyond 20, it starts to become fairly meaningless. It’s an opportunity to talk about some dark-horse, high-risk candidates, and it’s always nice for organization players to get some love from the industry’s trade paper.

When I do my Top 10 lists, inevitably I’m asked who’s in the 11-20 range, and so on. In my mind, I know the guys who would be next on the list, but I just don’t feel like it’s worth the intellectual exercise because as you go further down the list they’re less likely to become major league regulars — which is the point of defining who is a "prospect."

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