This year's list of the top 100 MLB prospects comes at a time when the status of the 2022 season is in limbo, but not to fear: The minor league season will start on time regardless of if they agree to a new CBA in the majors.
To give further context for the more casual prospect fan, I've added some new categories to simplify some of the lingo and tool grades. First, "type," which categorizes a player for comparison among other players on the list and other years. I find I tend to round up on certain types (plus tools, plus makeup, middling stats) and round down on others (now velocity, teenaged right-handers) and you probably also have some preferred prospect types of your own.
The second is "reminds me of." This isn't a true comparison, because most players don't have a one-for-one perfect analog. There's also a lot of uncertainty with prospects, so it's by default looking at the rosier potential outcomes compared to some current MLB players. I'm basically explaining a player's ranking in a handful of simple words by saying they remind me of a current All-Star and have a high-risk every-day player upside, but you can also see why a lower-risk player might rank higher.
Combined, I think that's just enough simple information to make your own conclusions -- as a fan, aspiring future GM, fantasy team owner, card collector, etc.
Here is a quick overview on the 20-80 scale used extensively throughout the list and standard across the baseball industry. For the top tier of prospects, I present their tools as 45/60 meaning presently it's a 45 and I project it to be a 60 at maturity. 50 is major league average (which is a really good present tool for a minor leaguer), 55 is above average, 45 is below average, 60 is called plus (one standard deviation above average), 70 is plus-plus (two standard deviations), and 80 (three) is the top of the scale, where just a handful of players in the big leagues reside.
Tools also scale to commonly used numbers. For game power, 50 equates to 15-18 homers per year, 55 is 19-22, 60 is about 25, 65 is about 30, etc. while run grades equate to specific times on a stopwatch, a 50 hit tool is about a .260 batting average, average fastball velocity is 92-93 depending on your role and handedness, and so on. Other tools like throwing for position players or off-speed pitches are more based on visual evaluations, but there are some objective figures to round your observation up or down.
A position player with all 50 grades, depending on position, is probably a very good reserve or weaker starter. This 20-80 scale also applies to the FV (future value) number I use to sum up a player's overall value. A 50 PV (present value) is a 2.0 to 2.5 WAR player. FV of a prospect who is big league ready maps to this pretty well; the top tier (65 FV this year) of prospects are projected to have multiple peak seasons of 4-to-5 WAR. Last year's top prospect Wander Franco was a 70 FV (the highest grade I've given out) and projects for multiple 5-6 WAR seasons, while the MVP winner is usually around 7-8 WAR. The further down in the minors you go, the more it's just a weighted average of potential outcomes and becomes a tiered system of ranking prospects based on their trade value relative to top-tier prospects.