Ranking prospects is such a subjective business. That is evident by comparing Baseball America to Major League Baseball Pipeline to the latest list to drop, ESPN insider Kiley McDaniel's Top 100. We've seen some combination of Cole Young, Harry Ford, Colt Emerson, and former Mariner prospect Gabby Gonzalez making the cut on the two former lists. McDaniel has middle infielders Emerson, Young, and Ford on his board, but their order is eye-opening.
Many outlets, such as MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, have Cole Young listed as the Mariner's #1 prospect, but McDaniel's list hints at a possible restacking of the deck. While Young checks in as his 38th-ranked prospect and Ford at 52, Emerson's nuclear professional debut across two levels, in which he slashed .374/.496/.550 as one of the youngest prospects in the California League, has added some helium to his ranking. McDaniel has the 2023 first-rounder checking in at #25 on his Top 100.
"The industry already seems to be universally sold on Emerson being the real deal, so there's a chance he could zoom through the minors, keep an eye on him out of the gates this spring."- Kiley McDaniel on Colt Emerson
Additionally, I wouldn't take this as a slight at Ford and Young's development and subsequent future. Both players are firmly entrenched as Top 100 prospects on multiple lists. They've also established themselves within the organization as masters at controlling the zone, authoring walk rates well above the minor league norm.
McDaniel isn't the only prospect guru to notice Emerson's unique skillset. Kyle Glazer recently joined Seattle Sports 710 Hot Stove show and foreshadowed Emerson's rise, stating the toolsy teen could end the 2024 season as the 25th-best prospect in the game. The remarkable thing is Emerson could be ahead of schedule.
Again, these rankings are very subjective because scouts grade prospects differently, and sometimes organizations have their own scouting scales. Either way, the 19-year-old Emerson has a bright future thanks to above-average tools across the board and an elite hit tool.