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ESPN’s bottom 50: it’s only Robert

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Dane Dunning’s at No. 109, Nick Madrigal comes in ~No. 112

Arizona Fall League All Star Game
Lonely 54: Robert gets a flaccid ranking from ESPN — but it’s still better than the Dane Dunning or Nick Madrigal treatment.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I’ll save the full rundown of ESPN’s (listing of Chicago White Sox prospects for tomorrow, when Law releases his Top 50. But with two pieces in (both paywall Insider articles), it’s looking like we’ve finally found the handwringer among all the prospect listings: Keith Law [gasp]!

(Apologies to katiesphil, who just published a humdinger of a review on a pretty darn good book, Law’s “Smart Baseball.” Tough timing.)

It appears that Law has deigned to allow three White Sox — Eloy Jiménez, Michael Kopech, and Dylan Cease — in his Top 50. But Law is an iconoclast, so maybe a surprise four sneaks in ... or perhaps Cease still hasn’t done enough. We’ll see, tomorrow.

For now, only Luis Robert has made the ESPN Top 100, at No. 54. That’s an eight-spot fall from 2018, when Law placed Robert No. 46. Highlights from the writeup include Law likening Robert to a young Jermaine Dye in batting practice. Law’s basement for Robert seems to be plus defense in center field, “mistake power” and a solid everyday player. Ceiling, Law touts Robert’s “star-level tools” that, with better health, could lead to more than just an average MLB player.


One spot the White Sox are well represented on Law’s list is in the “others” category, i.e. guys who just fell short of the Top 100. The South Siders place two there, Dane Dunning at No. 109 and Nick Madrigal at (an unspecified but presumed) No. 112.

Dunning “might have made” the Top 100 if not for his health (tough crowd, man), namely a “moderate elbow strain that has not required surgery yet” (damn, that’s cold). Law projects Dunning as a No. 3 presuming his breaking stuff matures, and, as the case with Robert, good health.

Law dings Madrigal for a very limited upside, basing that significantly on his grade-35 power, which limits him to “average regular.” Law does offer routes to MLB stardom: .300-plus average with good gap power, and/or upping the ISO, and/or developing the defense to that of “Chase Utley.”

Not to pick on Law at all, but there’s no mention of the wrist injury suffered last spring that likely sapped some of Madrigal’s power, or the fact that one of Madrigal’s most universal plaudits has been his defense. Madrigal was a No. 15 (!) Baseball Prospectus selection, and falls almost 100 places at ESPN; now those are a couple of dissenting opinions.