Welcome to the second annual ESPN.com ranking of the top 100 prospects in baseball. Last year's No. 1 prospect, Evan Longoria, ended up winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award, setting a high standard for the player at the top of this year's list.
The rankings are limited to players who still have rookie eligibility; that means they have yet to exceed 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the majors, and have not yet spent 45 days on the active roster of a major-league club, excluding callups during the roster expansion period after Sept. 1. Only players who have signed professional contracts are eligible. When ranking players, I consider scouting reports on players -- usually my own, supplementing with conversations with other scouts and front-office executives as needed -- as well as performance, adjusted for age and context.
I've included last year's rank for players who appeared on the top 100 last offseason. An "ineligible" player (IE) was still an amateur at this time last January, whereas an "unranked" player (UR) was eligible but didn't make the cut.
# -- player's age as of April 1, 2009
Keith Law, formerly the special assistant to the general manager for the Toronto Blue Jays, is the senior baseball analyst for Scouts Inc.