Written by: Ray Butler
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First and foremost, I have so many people and entities to think. To my wife, thank you for happily granting me the time needed to put together such an extensive, exhausting list. The crazy hours exerted wouldn’t be worth it without your love and acceptance. Also, I’m so jealous of your Braves fandom. Fangraphs and Baseball Reference, thank you for your free, easily-accessible statistics. I don’t scout stat-lines to make my prospect list, but advanced-statistical track records are important nonetheless. Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, Fangraphs, MLB.com, Keith Law and ZiPS, thank you for the work you do and the lists you release. Your direction and voice throughout the years has led me to finding my voice in the baseball writing world.
Last but certainly not least, I want to thank YOU. I’ve said it before, but your commitment and interest in my writing has pushed me to better myself. Your interest has pushed the blog to be its best self. Your interest is going to help us reach heights I never thought were achievable. The future at Prospects 365 is not only extremely bright, but it’s also endless. And it’s endless because of you.
Lots of people have asked, so I’ll clarify now: I made the decision to not include Shohei Ohtani in my prospect list, simply put, because I don’t think he’s a prospect. I could probably be convinced otherwise, but including Ohtani in this list means he would also be included I were to create a farm-systems ranking, and I don’t really agree with that methodology. Ohtani has never played in a minor league game, and other than potential rehab appearances, he likely never will. For what it’s worth, had he been included, Ohtani would have ranked as the 2nd best prospect in baseball.
This list is certainly not bulletproof. I still debate a few of the placements myself, but such is the life of a prospect list. I stand by my work, and I certainly welcome a healthy debate. There are literally an infinite amount of ways you could rank the top 200 prospects in baseball. This is mine:
200. Michael Gettys, OF, SD, Age: 22
Possessing some of the loudest tools in the minor leagues (some good, some not so good), Gettys remains an intriguing player in my eyes. Now 22 years old, I’m hoping the Padres give Gettys a taste of AA to start the 2018 season. The 17 bombs and 22 swiped bags last season are simply undeniable, but so is the unsightly 37.2 K%. Gettys remains worth a mention because if everything ever clicks, he’ll be truly special. Truly. I’ve never wished for a prospect to simply post a 30 K% more than I am with Gettys. Check in on him from time-to-time this season.
199. Renato Nunez, 3B, OAK, Age: 24
The quad-A potential with Nunez might be higher than it is with any other prospect in this entire list, but his strongest tool (power, duh) is a tool you can own for basically nothing in fantasy leagues. He’ll never reach base at an optimal rate, but you know that from the onset. Players with 25-30 HR potential are always worth monitoring, we simply need Nunez to experience some big league success in order to remain with the Athletics. Also, the Athletics might be the most underrated team in the league heading into the 2018 season. Might Nunez play a role in a potential bid for an AL Wild Card spot?
198. Delvin Perez, SS, STL, Age: 19
It was a struggle to remind myself that Perez is still a teenager after scanning box scores nightly only to see him barely surpass the Mendoza Line during the 2017 season. He remains a disciplined hitter, even if the 0 (ZERO!) home runs last season is much more notable. His 70-grade speed should mean we don’t see another season of a .226 BABIP, so I’m expecting much better numbers this season. I’m keeping Perez in the back of my mind heading into the 2018 season and am hoping to be surprised.
197. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF, CHW, Age: 21
I was higher on Basabe than most in the industry heading into last season, only to witness the Venezuelan native triple slash .221/.320/.320 with a 10% increase in strikeout frequency. Basabe hit 12 home runs in 2016 (5 last season) and stole 25 bases (17 last season). I think he may repeat High A to begin the 2018 season, but I certainly haven’t lost all hope. With his second season as a member of the White Sox organization on the horizon, I still suspect big things are in store for LAB.
196. Rowdy Tellez, 1B, TOR, Age: 23
I’m totally stealing this from a Baseball Prospectus post from last season, but Rowdy Tellez was Subdued Tellez in 2017. The decline was truly puzzling. Destined to play a role on the Blue Jays at some point this season, Tellez had a steep decline in power (23 HRs in 2016 to 6 HRs last season) and on base ability (.387 OBP in 2016, .295 OBP in 2017). Like, what the heck? Of course, my favorite baseball saying is that prospect development is almost never linear, and I’m hoping that last season was simply a long bump-in-the-road for Tellez. He’ll play this season as a 23 year old and has plenty of time to figure things out. Tellez remains a prospect who has the chance to someday be an impact major league first baseman.
195. Luis Ortiz, SP, MIL, Age: 22
A fixture in top 100 lists prior to last season, Ortiz actually lowered his ERA during the 2017 season, but his K% decreased and his BB% more than doubled; other peripherals (HR/9, FIP, and xFIP) didn’t do him many favors last season, either. At 22 years old, he’s still got plenty of time to reach his top 100 prospect potential. He’ll probably top 100 IP for the first time as a professional this season, so it goes without saying that 2018 is absolutely crucial for him.
194. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., UTIL, TOR, Age: 24
LGJ was widely thought to have one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in the minor leagues heading into the 2017 season. Now, he’s practically a no-show on prospect lists across the board. The biggest problem with Gurriel Jr. last season was that we didn’t see enough of him. He barely surpassed 250 plate appearances due to injury, and what we did see of him wasn’t overly impressive. Now 24, I imagine the Blue Jays will probably start Gurriel Jr. at AA with the chance to progress him quickly if he can play to his assumed potential AND (more importantly) stay healthy. A player with his potential should remain on your radar.
193. Thomas Szapucki, SP, NYM, Age: 22
Szapucki was great last season (8.4 K/9, 2.90 FIP in 29 IP) before undergoing Tommy John surgery. If you remember, Szapucki had a back injury that ended his 2016 season early. He also started last season on the minor league DL due to a shoulder impingement. Tommy John surgery is obviously much more severe than the other injuries, but I hope we’re not seeing an unfortunate trend with the southpaw. The talent is truly undeniable, but we need Szapucki to get healthy and remain healthy before we can have much faith.
192. Sean Reid-Foley, SP, TOR, Age: 22
After posting a 2.81 ERA in 2016, Reid-Foley posted an earned run average north of five (5.09 to be exact) last season. It was a huge step backwards for a player I ranked the 74th best prospect prior to the 2017 season. The strikeout numbers were acceptable (though there was a slight fall-off), but the BB% rose nearly two percent from 7.3% to 9% (which isn’t dreadful, but notable nonetheless). I’m not sure if the Blue Jays will place SRF in AAA to begin the season, or if he’ll repeat AA at least initially. With some positive regression, a 2018 MLB is certainly not out of the picture for the big right-hander.
191. Yohander Mendez, SP, TEX, Age: 23
I feel like Mendez has been largely forgotten about on prospect lists heading into the 2018 season because he’s been roughed up in brief stints with the Rangers in both 2016 and 2017. I choose to think that a 15.1 IP sample size simply isn’t enough to write off a prospect, especially a left-hander with the arsenal that Mendez has (he also had a strong finish to his AA season). I do think Mendez has one more full-season of minor league development left before he’s truly ready to take a spot in the Rangers’ full-time rotation, but he’s still squarely on my radar as a guy who has a 55 or 60 future value.
190. David Paulino, SP, HOU, Age: 24
Paulino was unlucky (a 4.11 xFIP despite a 6.52 ERA and .354 BABIP) in 29 IP with the Astros last season. Of course, Paulino was also suspended for 80 games last summer due to a positive test for performance enhancing drugs. It went basically untalked about because it was in the middle of the playoffs, but Paulino’s season was actually ended due to elbow surgery to remove a bone spur. He’ll probably be relegated to AAA to begin the season, but he could be the first man up if the Astros’ rotation were to suffer an injury. The talent is certainly there, now we simply need Paulino to remain clean and an opportunity.
189. Corey Ray, OF, MIL, Age: 23
The Brewers insistence on keeping Ray despite their push to contend in 2018 tells me all I need to know about how decision makers feel about him despite his putrid 2017 season. Ray certainly has some holes in his swing, but I’m going to remain patient on a prospect who can potentially impact every offensive category for my fantasy team. Even if the best he has to offer in his second season of professional baseball is a 28% K-rate, I do expect to see a better output of HRs, AVG, and OBP. With his ceiling, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make a reappearance on top 100 lists sooner rather than later. With his floor, I wouldn’t be surprised if he disappeared from the prospect radar altogether. As a fantasy baseball owner, your interest in him has everything to do with how much of a risk you’re willing to take.
188. D.L. Hall, SP, BAL, Age: 19
A 2017 first round draft pick, Hall will simply be getting his feet wet in professional baseball this season. A lefty of average height and build, Hall has some big time bat-missing potential. I’m sure the Orioles will keep Hall’s workload fairly restricted this season, but I’ll be keeping an eye on his K% and BB% nonetheless. I also feel as though I’m contractually obligated to remind you of the Orioles’ recent history development (or lack thereof) of pitching prospects. Here’s to hoping Hall breaks the mold.
187. Hans Crouse, SP, TEX, Age: 19
A second round draft pick in 2017, Crouse was stupid-good in his brief, 20 IP stint in Rookie Ball last season. Crouse will probably follow in the footsteps of fellow Rangers farmhand Cole Ragans and pitch in Short Season A ball in 2018, so we may not have a full-season sample until 2019. Regardless, keep his name in the back of your mind and monitor his development closely.
186. Tyler Beede, SP, SF, Age: 25
Beede took a sizable step back last season, posting a 4.79 ERA and a 6.9 (not that nice) K-rate in AAA. Certainly not the campaign I thought I would see from the player I ranked 100th prior to last season. He’s currently not a bad buy-low option, just remember that he’ll pitch most of the 2018 season at 25 years old; he also remains more of a high-floor guy rather than a guy with an otherworldly ceiling. I thought a 2017 MLB debut was a sure bet for Beede last offseason, now I’m simply hoping he gets a shot in the big leagues sometime this season.
185. Justin Dunn, SP, NYM, Age: 22
Yes, Justin Dunn had an awful 2017 season. No, I’m not giving up on him yet. 2018 should be Dunn’s first 100+ IP season as a professional player, and I suspect we’ll an improved BB-rate and an ERA that more closely resembles the FIP and xFIP (and that’s a good thing). I’ll mention it throughout the release of my top 200 prospects, but it’s SO important to remember that, yeah, Dunn wasn’t great last season. But it was also his first season as a professional player. Patience, patience, patience.
184. Nick Pratto, 1B, KC, Age: 19
A 2017 first round pick, Pratto was immediately viewed as the eventual heir to the first base throne abandoned by Eric Hosmer in Kansas City. It’s beginning to look like Hosmer may resign with the Royals, but Pratto remains a solid prospect nonetheless. At a position that’s relatively starved for talent, Pratto will likely compete with Pavin Smith over the course of the next few seasons to claim the title of the top 1B prospect in all of baseball. Regardless of the outcome of Hosmer’s impending decision, Pratto (who’s only 19) certainly possesses big league potential.
183. Braxton Garrett, SP, MIA, Age: 21
I ranked Garrett 69th (nice) in my 2017 top 200 prospect rankings, but he’s since had Tommy John surgery (not nice). The gigantic lefty only threw 15.1 innings left season, but he’s only 20 and has plenty of time to reach the massive ceiling he was given after being drafted by the Marlins in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft. If you play in a dynasty league, the buy-low window with Garrett is shrinking every day. If you play in a deep keeper league, keep an eye on him and consider making the addition when he gets closer to returning to minor league game action.
182. T.J. Zeuch, SP, TOR, Age: 23
An absolute monstrosity of a pitcher (6’7 225 lbs), Zeuch thrived in High-A last season despite less-than-stellar strikeout numbers. Both Zeuch’s curveball and fastball are above average pitches, and he’s probably destined for 100+ IP in AA this season. Zeuch is fantastic at keeping the ball in the yard; if he can improve his strikeout numbers, he’ll be on top 100 lists this time next season.
181. Peter Alonso, 1B, NYM, Age: 23
Alonso will likely be a 23 year old playing in AA to begin the 2018 season, but he’s 1) displayed power at every stop he’s made in the minor leagues, 2) he gets on base at a high clip, and 3) he puts the bat on the ball and doesn’t strike out often. Those factors alone are worth giving him a look, even if his path to the majors is blurry with Dominic Smith assumedly being the heir to the first base throne for the Mets (eventually). If New York is competitive, I could see Alonso being a main piece they could look to move in effort to shore up a position at the trade deadline. Talented players overcome blurry paths, and Alonso was impressive in 2017 during his first full season of professional baseball.
180. Nicky Lopez, SS, KC, Age: 23
Lopez 1) is a valuable base stealer, 2) doesn’t strike out, 3) has the potential to bat .300, and 4) plays a premium position. He may never have the power that elite fantasy shortstops possess (relative to the position), but Lopez has a lot of tools to someday hold value at the big league level. Even if his ceiling is 10 HRs in the big leagues, he’ll get on base and swipe enough bases to make an impact. Lopez will likely start the year in AA (where he finished the 2017 season), and whenever the Royals finally figure out that Alcides Escobar isn’t Carlos freakin’ Correa, Lopez’s path will be much more clear.
179. Jordan Luplow, OF, PIT, Age: 24
Luplow improved in basically every important offensive category from the 2016 season to the 2017 season. He dominated stints in AA and AAA (combining to slash .302/.381/.527 to go along with 23 HRs) before struggling in 87 plate appearances with the Pirates. I’m intrigued to see whether Luplow’s true offensive profile resembles that of last season, or if he’ll find a middle between his 2016 and 2017 campaigns. If he can find a spot as an everyday big leaguer and repeat his success from last season, Luplow will have standard league value. Even with Andrew McCutchen now in San Francisco, the Pirates still have Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Austin Meadows, and others who will certainly have their say in the Pirates’ outfield outlook in the near future.
178. Wander Samuel Franco, SS, TB, Age: 17
Wander. Samuel. Franco. What a freakin’ name (even though it’s not even the best name in this batch of top prospects). And what a freakin’ talent. Including Franco on a list like this is based purely on projection and potential, and Franco possesses both of these. He’s 16 years old, so he’s nowhere near making a big league impact (it’s a very similar situation to Kevin Maitan last season), but it’s never too early to put a potential star on your fantasy radar. Since there are no stats to talk about, here’s a few fun facts about the Rays’ youngest gem. He was the consensus (or at least near-consensus) #1 international prospect last season (before Luis Robert became available). He’s a switch hitter. HE HAS TWO BROTHERS WHO ARE ALSO NAMED WANDER FRANCO!!! Fun facts aside, if he can get the hang of professional baseball, Franco should be a fixture on prospect lists for the next four or five seasons.
177. Dillon Peters, SP, MIA, Age: 25
Few prospects in baseball were as triumphant last season and Marlins prospect Dillon Peters. After undergoing Tommy John surgery shortly after being drafted in 2014, Peters officially began his professional career in 2015 before competing unrestricted in 2016. Last season, Peters dominated batters in High-A and AA before getting his first taste as a big leaguer late in the regular season. The 31.1 IP big league sample isn’t fantastic thanks to an out-of-character BB%, but that certainly didn’t sour me on the southpaw. He’s 25 years old and small-framed, so he may not have the enormous upside of other pitchers you’ll see on this list. However, I think Peters possesses the floor of a back-end-of-the-rotation starter. The Marlins will certainly give Peters an extended look at some point this season.
176. Mickey Moniak, OF, PHI, Age: 20
Evaluators across the board ranked Moniak last season based mostly on his hit and speed tools with the assumption that Moniak, in his first season of professional baseball, would meet the expectations of a defending #1 overall draft pick. A year later, we’re ranking Moniak based on a harsh reality that he ‘might’ not be great at any aspect of evaluation. We never expected him to hit 20 HRs, but we CERTAINLY expected him to reach base at a MUCH higher clip than the cringe worthy .284 OBP mark he posted last season in Low-A. Of course, one season is wayyyyyy too soon to give up on a #1 overall draft pick, and he’s only 19. But I think we’d all agree that Moniak needs to have a much better showing in 2018 to retain any top prospect or fantasy value moving forward.
175. Jose Siri, OF, CIN, Age: 23
The 24 HRs and 46 SBs last season were truly remarkable, but there’s a reason I (like most industry lists) remain bearish on Siri. He absolutely has to show a willingness to take more walks this season; a 6% walk-rate exposes holes in swings against better competition. Speaking of competition, Siri’s age (he’ll play half of the 2018 season as a 23 year old) was basically league average (which isn’t great) in Low-A last season. A repeat performance of his 2017 season with an increased BB% would lead to a huge bump for Siri on my list, perhaps as soon as my midseason top 100.
174. Taylor Ward, C, LAA, Age: 24
If I don’t have an elite catcher in fantasy baseball, my goal is to acquire or draft a player who isn’t going to absolutely suck the life out of my team. A catcher who will take a walk, won’t strikeout a ton, and will simply be a solid albeit unspectacular piece of my team’s puzzle. Ward fits all of these categories. He ALMOST walked as many times as he struck out last season (57 BBs, 60 Ks). The willingness to take his base led to an appetizing .368 OBP. He never hit more than 15 HRs in a single season, but he’ll check a ton of boxes as you look to fill a catcher void that can be a black hole if you’re not careful. I consider Ward the catcher of the Angels’ future.
173. Evan White, 1B, SEA, Age: 22
Pavin Smith (who you’ll read about when we get closer to the top 100) was the toast of the town in the first base world during the 2017 MLB draft, but White has all the makings of an everyday MLB first baseman. 60 hit tool/60 power tool first basemen are continually becoming harder and harder to find, but White could possibility fit the bill. I think he’ll always hit for a solid average, so if he ever reaches his power potential… watch out.
172. Arquimedez Gamboa, SS, PHI, Age: 20
Arquimedez Gamboa is simply here because I couldn’t afford to leave the name off this list. Just kidding. (But really, I bet Gamboa’s ADP was slightly inflated just so people could say the name.) A switch hitter, Gamboa is really just scratching the surface of his potential. At 20 years old, I think Gamboa will continue to fill out, and I think the power will follow. Gamboa possesses above average plate discipline, and that’ll serve as a great foundation as his physical skills begin to mimic the advanced approach. Even if he’s not worthy of being owned with your fantasy league’s format, bookmark Gamboa’s Fangraphs page and keep it close to your heart. He has real breakout potential in 2018.
171. Colton Welker, 3B, COL, Age: 20
Like Garrett Hampson (who you’ll read about soon), if you’re a fantasy player who obsesses with the path of a prospect, Welker may not be your cup of tea. If you (rightfully) are willing to take a risk on a player with an abundance of talent and tools regardless of a potential muddy path, Welker should be squarely on your radar. Remember: it may take longer than you’d like, but good players always find a way to overcome a sketchy path to the big leagues. Welker may never steal a base on purpose, but man can he hit. I think there’s a chance his ceiling resembles that of a .280 AVG, 25 HR corner infielder. There’s a chance he moves to first base, but his talent might hold value regardless. I expect Welker to be a rather well-known name amongst fantasy baseballers before the end of the 2018 season.
170. Christin Stewart, OF, DET, Age: 24
Stewart spent the entirety of the 2017 in AAA, mashing 28 HRs and posting a .335 OBP (albeit a .256 AVG). There’s nothing wrong with those numbers, which is good, because I think it may be his ceiling. I see a bit of AAAA potential with Stewart, but the Tigers are in full-blown rebuild mode, so when the left handed slugger finally gets promoted to Detroit, the club will certainly be patient with him. At his very best, Stewart might total 30 HRs and a .350 OBP as a major leaguer; my personal opinion perceives him more as a 25 HR, .320 OBP player though.
169. Anthony Banda, SP, TB, Age: 24
Don’t you dare let anyone tell you Banda was bad last season after he was promoted to Arizona. Yes, he did have a 5.96 ERA. Yeah, he walked 3.5 batters per nine innings. He also struck out nearly a batter per inning and posted an FIP of 3.24. All in all, Banda’s first taste of the major leagues was a mixed bag, but the future remains bright for 24 year-old southpaw. Recently traded to Tampa Bay, Banda may need an opportunity to arise for him to make a gigantic impact on your active roster this season, but at the very least he’ll bide his time and continue developing while in AAA.
168. Garrett Hampson, 2B, COL, Age: 23
The problem with the immense amount of talent that the Rockies are currently developing in the minor leagues is simple: How are we supposed to confidently acquire stock in assets whose big league future seems completely blocked? Talent. Founds. A. Way. And Hampson has a TON of a talent. The second baseman ‘should’ continue to post averages north of .300 without breaking much of a sweat. The power is still a work in progress (but 8 HRs last season isn’t terrible), but the calling card is the speed. FIFTY ONE (51!) stolen bases in 2017. Yeesh. At 23 years old, Hampson should begin the 2018 season. He doesn’t have the youth that makes a lot of high-upside prospects so attractive, but I really think there’s a shot that Hampson eventually becomes a 10-12 HR, 25-30 SB, .300 AVG player. Those stats play regardless of age. Depending on what the Rockies decide to do with D.J. Lemahieu (and, in turn, Brendan Rodgers), Hampson’s path could be just as blurry as it seems or not nearly as blurry as it seems—it truly remains to be seen. What doesn’t remain to be seen is that Hampson is extremely talented and could continue his ascent on prospect lists.
167. Domingo Leyba, SS, ARZ, Age: 22
It’s always hard-pressed to say that a prospect lost an entire season of development due to injury, but Leyba had a rough go of it in 2017. Totaling only 96 plate appearances and seeing his season cut well-short thanks to shoulder surgery, Leyba, now assumedly healthy, will be a prime bounce back candidate this season. He’ll probably start in AA, but a quick promotion could be in order if Leyba were to perform to his ability while exhibiting durability. Depending on the performance of the Diamondbacks middle infielders, Leyba could find himself in the mix for a big league promotion down the stretch of the 2018 regular season. On the flip side of that coin, Leyba could also be a valuable trade piece if the Diamondbacks have a positional need at the trade deadline this season.
166. Starling Heredia, OF, LAD, Age: 19
Heredia really seemed to pick up some hype at the end of the 2017 season, but he’s gone widely untalked about this offseason. The 20 year old hit .325/.397/.555 with 7 HRs, 34 RBIs and 10 SBs at three stops last season… all in 234 plate appearances. Heredia is easily one of the most raw prospects to be included in my top 200 prospects, but he might also possess one of the highest ceilings. I simply need to see a larger sample size before I slide all my chips to the center of the table, and I should get that this season as Heredia prepares for his first full season of professional baseball. There are certainly some holes in his swing (29.5% K% last season), but I have no doubt that the Dodgers organization will help the 6’2 Heredia develop to his full potential. If I were to make a list of the ten prospects I’m most excited to see this season, Heredia would certainly make this list.
165. Kevin Newman, SS, PIT, Age: 24
I’ll admit it: Kevin Newman made me mad last season. Owner of what was thought to be one of the best hit tools in the minor leagues, Newman scuffled his way to a pedestrian .267/.311/.363 triple slash with just 4 HRs and 11 SBs. None of that screams anything in the ballpark of being worthy of an appearance on top prospect lists. I’m certainly skeptical, but I’m not waving my white flag yet. I’m really interested to see if Newman recommits to taking more walks (9.4% BB% in 2016, 5.3% BB% in 2017) this season. I’m really hopeful that we see a .300 AVG, .350 OBP campaign from Newman in 2018, and I think that’s a real possibility.(which would likely lead to his first big league call up). However, I also wouldn’t be too surprised if he were an afterthought on a hypothetical top 200 prospect list this midseason.
164. A.J. Minter, RP, ATL, Age: 24
I know, I know. No one really like to read about relief pitchers on prospect lists. But you know that I know that, so wouldn’t the fact that Minter makes this list entice you to take notice? I think there’s a really good chance that Minter is closing for the Braves at some point during the 2018 season. There’s some lefty-lefty specialist risk here, but Minter is easily one of the most electric relief pitchers in the minor leagues. With the Braves destined to be one of the best teams in the league in the coming years, there’s a real chance that Minter becomes a top 5-10 closer in fantasy baseball.
163. Tanner Scott, SP, BAL, Age: 24
Scott’s statistics were all over the place last season. A 2.22 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 3.45 xFIP, and 11.35 K/9 (22.2% K%). Sign me up, right? Then you notice that Scott walked an astounding six batters per nine innings and had a LOB% of 84.3%. Something’s gotta give. I think, obviously, the LOB% will regress. But Scott will either overcome the control issues in AAA (where he’ll start the 2018 season), or his electric stuff might be forced to manifest itself from the bullpen. It’s easier said than done, but even at 23 years old, Scott will skyrocket up prospect lists if he can simply cut his BB/9 from 6.0 to 4.0.
162. Jake Burger, 3B, CHW, Age: 22
Looking for an off-the-radar sleeper who doesn’t have much experience in baseball yet could fly through the minor leagues? Burger might be your guy. Need more evidence? A first round draft pick last season, Burger has a grand total of 217 professional at-bats. Who cares? The White Sox still invited the third baseman to big league camp this spring. I also think Chicago will be aggressive with Burger’s placement this season, and I assume there’s an outside shot we see him move all the way up to AAA before the conclusion of the season. Burger hit north of 20 HRs while in college during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and the HR output is something I’ll be keeping a close eye on again this season.
161. Akil Baddoo, OF, MIN, Age: 19
Let me go ahead and get this out of the way… this group of twenty prospect has a few 80 grade names on it, Baddoo including. I don’t know how much of a power threat Baddoo will ever be (5’11 185 lbs.), but his plus speed and developing contact ability make him an intriguing prospect. He’ll get his first shot at full season ball in 2018, so we should get our first real sample from Baddoo soon. I think Baddoo can be a 10-15 HR/20 RBI/.340 OBP guy at his peak, just remember that there’s a ton of variance and volatility projecting (with any certainty) a player who’s never played a full season of professional baseball.
160. Wander Javier, SS, MIN, Age: 19
Five tools? Check. Physical projection left? Check. Premium age? Check. Premium position? Check. At 6’1 but only 165 pounds at 19 years old, Javier should continue developing physically over the next two or three seasons. There’s always so much volatility and variance projecting teenage prospects who have little experience playing professional baseball, but for now, I sense a 15 HR/15 SB seasonal projection for Javier, with plenty of room to grow. There’s a reason the Twins signed him for $4 million. Might we see Javier in full season ball this season?
159. Justin Williams, OF, TB, Age: 22
If you missed out on Williams down the stretch of last season, familiarize yourself with him now. Drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2013, Williams was traded to Tampa Bay in 2014 for Jeremy Hellickson (Arizona might end up regretting that one). In 409 plate appearances in AA last season, Williams slashed .301/.364/.489 with 14 HRs. Those numbers are further accentuated when you consider Williams raised his BB% nearly six percent and lowered his K% over two percent. Now squarely on prospect radars, Williams will likely begin the 2018 season in AAA Durham. With Rays OF prospect Jake Bauers knocking on the door of his first MLB call up, Williams should be next in line. Williams’ .300 AVG, 20 HR potential should make him a household name amongst outfield prospects in the minor leagues.
158. Hunter Harvey, SP, BAL, Age: 23
I could have very easily played Harvey in the 180-200 range with other prospects who are basically #posthype at this point, and you probably wouldn’t have batted an eye. But the truth is, I see more in Harvey. I want to believe. I want to believe so badly. 2018 will be the season that Harvey, now fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, finally gets unleashed. Having only thrown 31.1 IP the past two seasons combined, Harvey is not expected to be on a tight innings restriction this season. Reports are that Harvey has added muscle over the course of the offseason (of course, EVERYONE has added muscle over the course of the offseason, and every one is in the best shape of their life), and the right-hander was added to the Orioles 40 man roster this offseason. It may sound simple, but equally important for Harvey to nearing a big league call up is simply staying healthy and taking the ball every fifth day. I’m excited to see what Harvey’s future has in store.
157. Seth Romero, SP, WAS, Age: 22
Intrigue and ceiling are two of the main things fantasy baseball fans look for in prospect lists, and Romero is certainly both. The big southpaw was dismissed by the University of Houston baseball team after an incident with a teammate (this following other incidents). Romero, who was slated to be one of the top picks of the 2017 draft, consequentially fell to the Nationals with the 25th overall pick in the first round. Romero will play most of the 2018 regular season as a 22 year old, and he’ll either start at Low-A or High-A. There’s obviously some risk with Romero, but if the Danger Zone is your thing, Romero has the makings of a top-of-the-rotation big league starting pitcher. If he stays out of trouble, it’s hard to imagine Romero not being a top 100 prospect this time next season (if not even better).
156. Alex Kirilloff, OF, MIN, Age: 20
I ranked Kirilloff 118th last preseason with the assumption that he’d easily slide into my midseason top 100. I thought there was a decent shot the outfielder took prospect circles by storm in his first full season of professional ball. Instead, the left hander underwent Tommy John surgery before the season even started, postponing his emergence by a calendar year. It’s now been a calendar year (almost, anyways), and Kirilloff is one of the most underrated prospects in the minor leagues heading into the regular season. He’ll play the entire 2018 season as a 20 year old, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Kirilloff flirted with 20 HRs in his first full season. I’ll also be interested in Kirilloff’s walk rate, as it could eventually be the difference in the outfielder being an elite prospect and simply being a top 100-150 prospect.
155. Seuly Matias, OF, KC, Age: 19
This is largely a ranking based on pure potential. Matias will get his first real look at professional baseball this season after spending 2016 and 2017 playing Rookie Ball. He’s easily one of the rawest players in my entire top 200 prospect list, and the massive K% while playing Rookie Ball suggests just that. Drawing comparisons to Nomar Mazara and Domingo Santana (according to Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projections), Matias could eventually develop to by the optimal hybrid of the two: A powerful outfielder hampered slightly by a relatively-high K% and a relatively-low BB%. In an organization that is widely unexciting, Matias is worth monitoring throughout the 2018 regular season.
154. Marcos Molina, SP, NYM, Age: 23
Molina missed the entire 2016 season thanks to Tommy John surgery, then had a prolonged start to the 2017 season due to a lat strain. Finally healthy, Molina notched an impressive 3.21 ERA in 106.2 IP, striking out 7.3 batter per nine innings along the way. Molina has a full arsenal of pitches, but the fastball and slider are the showstoppers. I want to see him another year removed from Tommy John surgery before I throw out any definites, but for now, I think Molina is a solid #3 starting pitcher with some room to grow. Here’s to hoping he makes it through the 2018 regular season injury free.
153. Brent Rooker, 1B/OF, MIN, Age: 23
Just what this list needed: A little Mississippi State flavor. One of the oldest members of the 2017 draft class, we know more about Rooker than most other first year players coming into the 2018 season. Rooker is going to mash. He’s always mashed. But I do wonder about a couple of things concerning the former Bulldog: Do the Twins see Rooker as a long-term outfielder, or do they view it as a way to get him into their big league lineup more quickly thanks to Joe Mauer’s current hold on first base in Minnesota? Also, can Rooker overcome some swing-and-miss issues at the professional level to post tolerable on base numbers? My best guess is that the Twins view Rooker as the eventual heir to Mauer’s first base throne in Minnesota, but they need to explore every avenue possible in case Rooker is needed during a potential playoff run this season. As far as his contact ability, I think Rooker will do just enough in the on-base world to hold value in standard fantasy formats. All bias aside, I think Rooker has a big league projection of a .270-.280 AVG, .330-.340 OBP, 20-25 HR player. Of course those numbers play better in the outfield than at first base, but Rooker should be valuable across the board in fantasy baseball; he should also move quickly through Minnesota’s minor league system.
152. Blake Rutherford, OF, CHW, Age: 21
Let’s call a spade a spade: Rutherford massively underperformed expectations last season. .260/.326/.348, 2 HRs, 35 RBIs, and 10 SBs doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but don’t forget about the pedigree here. A 2016 first round pick who is now with the White Sox, Rutherford finds himself in one of the best farm systems in the major leagues with plenty of time to right the ship. With elite athleticism overflowing from the right-handed outfielder (who’s only 20), I’m holding steady with Rutherford. You should too.
151. Mauricio Dubon, SS, MIL, Age: 24
Dubon’s on base ability regressed significantly last season and he still slashed .274/.330/.382. Even though the shortstop hit a career best 8 home runs (note: some of these homeruns were hit at AAA Colorado Springs) and stole a career best 38 bases, it was somewhat of a disappointing offensive campaign for Dubon. With Orlando Arcia entrenched at the shortstop spot in Milwaukee, the Brewers experimented with Dubon at second base at times last season. I still think Dubon has potential to post a .300 AVG, 10 HR, 30 SB season at his peak, and those number will play regardless of defensive position. An interesting thought is that Dubon could be of interest to opposing teams if the Brewers look to add bullpen or starting pitching depth during the regular season. A hypothetical trade (and Dubon has already been traded once during his professional career) likely wouldn’t hurt Dubon’s chances of sticking at shortstop long term.
150. Jake Rogers, C, DET, Age: 23
Franklin Perez and the aforementioned Daz Cameron were the headliners, but Rogers could someday be thought of as one of the (if not ‘the’) best pieces of the return when the Tigers traded Justin Verlander to the Astros at least season’s deadline. Rogers’ 18 HRs, 350 OBP, and 20.8 K% last season should alone be enough to excite you. Rogers was part of the return to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander deadline trade last season, and I suspect he’ll start in AA this season. He won’t get the “newcomer” hype of Keibert Ruiz, but Rogers (who is above average defensively behind the plate) is worth taking a chance on if you suspect you’ll need a catcher in 2020.
149. Dustin May, SP, LAD, Age: 20
Yadier Alvarez (who you’ll read when we get to the latter stages of this list) is no longer unrivaled as the pitching prospect with the most potential in the Dodgers’ farm system. At a slender 6’6 180 pounds, May shouldn’t be done developing physically. The lanky lefty struck out an impressive 8.6 batter per nine innings last season and had an FIP that was nearly half-a-run better than his ERA. Both were comfortably in the threes. As he continues to develop, May will become increasingly intriguing. The major thing to watch is the continued development of May’s changeup. If it can become an above average pitch, May will likely become a top 100 prospect. Without it, May will likely project as a back-end-of-the-rotation starter or high-leverage reliever.
148. Daz Cameron, OF, DET, Age: 21
Much like another prospect you’ll read about shortly, Cameron was part of the return received by the Tigers in the Justin Verlander trade last season. Cameron is a plus athlete who is beginning to tap into his power potential, smacking 14 HRs last season to pair with his 32 stolen bases. When you consider Cameron finished with a .351 OBP, we have ourselves an interesting prospect. At only 21 years old, Cameron should continue developing power while gaining experience in the Tigers organization. Since Detroit is in the midst of a complete rebuild, they can afford to let Cameron develop fully before considering a potential call up. At this rate, the outfielder might get a cup of coffee at the end of next season.
147. Tristen Lutz, OF, MIL, Age: 19
Lutz made a mockery of Rookie Ball in a 111 PA sample after being drafted at the tail end of the first round last season, and the 19 year old outfielder should start in full season ball in 2018. Lutz’s calling card is his power, but it certainly looks like he possesses the skills to hit for power while not sacrificing batting average or on base percent. With Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison now members of the Marlins organization, I think Lutz is currently the best outfield prospect in the Brewers organization. With the ceilings of Lutz and fellow farmhand Corey Ray, the Brewers likely have two outfield prospects with MLB All-Star ceilings.
146. Will Smith, C, LAD, Age: 23
Smith would have long been titled the ‘catcher of the future’ if he played for the majority of organizations in the MLB, but he’s not even the best catcher in the Dodgers’ farm system. A backstop capable of hitting double-digit home runs, reaching base at an above average clip, and stealing a handful of bases, Smith will likely begin the 2018 regular season in AA with a chance to be promoted to AAA sometime this summer or fall. With Keibert Ruiz’s stardom continuing to emerge, Smith will almost certainly be an attractive trade asset for the Dodgers this regular season. If traded, Smith’s prospect status will likely receive a small bump depending on his new organization.
145. Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE, Age: 20
If I had to choose a #141-160 prospect who has the best chance of someday being a top 20 prospect, I think I’d roll with Jones. A 2016 second round draft pick, Jones began last season in Rookie Ball before finishing the season at Low-A. I’m interested to see what happens to the .317/.430/.482 triple slash he posted in Low-A when his BABIP regresses from the .417 mark, but a 6’4, Jones’ current ceiling resembles that of a .300 AVG, 25 HR third baseman. He should his first taste of full-season ball to begin the 2018 season, and Jones could find his way onto several midseason top 100 lists (or, of course, I could be scratching my head).
144. Ronald Guzman, 1B, TEX, Age: 23
I keep waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for Guzman to reach his 20 HR, .300 AVG potential. The first baseman hit 16 HRs in 2016, and I thought he was destined to break the 20 HR mark for the first time in his career last season. Instead, Guzman only mustered 12 HRs in 527 PA in AAA in 2017. I MAINTAIN that I truly believe Guzman will one day be a big-time slugger, even after he becomes a post-hype player. Guzman should make his MLB debut sometime this season, and I’ll be watching him closely. He’s a guy who’ll be on my queue throughout the regular season, and I’ll remain ready to pull the trigger if his physical tools lead to a higher home run output. For now, he’s a high floor first baseman.
143. Jorge Guzman, SP, MIA, Age: 22
Drafted by the Astros in 2015, traded to the Yankees prior to last season, traded to the Marlins prior to this season. 2018 will mark Guzman playing for his third organization in three seasons. A lowered BB% highlighted somewhat of a breakout season for Guzman last season, and he could potentially surpass 100 IP for the first time in 2018. If he continues developing physically and keeps the walk-rate low, there’s real potential for Guzman to become one of the best right handed pitching prospects in baseball. Yes, I’m excited.
142. Adam Haseley, OF, PHI, Age: 22
Haseley is a prototypical ‘high-floor/low-ceiling’ prospect. He has all the makings of an outfielder who will hit anywhere from .280 to .300 on a yearly basis, score a lot of runs, steal a few bases, and hit a few homeruns. He’s safe, and you know what you’re getting into if he’s on your fantasy team. He’ll always be solid, but what are the chances he becomes spectacular? Simply put, Haseley needs to become more of a home run hitter OR more of a base stealer in order for that to happen. The Phillies (in my opinion) are on the rise, and Haseley has a chance to progress through their system quickly. There’s always a spot on a top 200 prospect list for a player who has the floor of Haseley’s, but I think the 2018 regular season will show us if he’s capable of being a top 100 guy.
141. Adbert Alzolay, SP, CHC, Age: 23
What Alzolay lacks in premium youth (he’ll play the entire 2018 season as a 23 year old and will likely start in AA), he makes up for in the box score. Between High-A and AA last season, Alzolay logged 114.1 IP and finished with an ERA of 2.99. What’s more, he averaged around 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a low walk rate. There’s a lot to like here. As a member of the Cubs organization, the path to the majors is obviously cloudy, and Chicago doesn’t exactly have an appetizing recent track record of developing starting pitching in the minor leagues. Alzolay has the tools to break that trend, though. With the Cubs moving most of their farm talent over the past few seasons to improve their major league club, Alzolay will almost certainly be a topic of conversation amongst trading partners if Chicago needs to make a move at the trade deadline.
140. Danny Jansen, C, TOR, Age: 23
This time last year, I really thought that in 2018, the Blue Jays catcher prospect I’d be hyping on a prospect list would be Max Pentecost. Instead, I’m writing about Jansen, and with good reason. More walks than strikeouts in 2017. Ten home runs throughout three levels (High-A, AA, AAA). A combined 10 HRs, .323 AVG, and .400 OBP. What’s there not to like? Okay, okay. Maybe you wish he hit for more power. But listen to me: I’d rather get 10 HRs and a 9% K% from my catcher than 15 HRs and a 20% K%. With Pentecost’s positional future in serious question, it’s looking like Jansen may be the eventual heir to Russell Martin’s throne in Toronto.
139. Mike Matuella, SP, TEX, Age: 24
High-risk, high-reward. Perhaps no prospect on this lists fits that title better than Matuella. The 23 year old has literally been through the ringer. He was diagnosed with spondylosis (a lower back condition) in 2014. In 2015, he underwent Tommy John surgery. Both of these occurred while Matuella was still in college. Instead of being a top draft pick, the Rangers took a chance on the battered right hander in the third round. After a grueling rehab and a setback that prolonged the timeline of his return, Matuella threw 75 IP in 2017, totaling a 4.20 ERA (though his FIP and xFIP were better) and a 7.2 K/9. Nothing too magical from the outside looking in, but the numbers are quite remarkable when you consider the injuries and that the 75 IP was his first taste of professional baseball. At a gigantic 6’6 220 lbs., Matuella is built to eventually have the capability of withstanding the toll of a 162 game season. He boasts three above average pitches, and the most important factor in Matuella’s outlook is simply remaining healthy and gaining experience. He’s certainly not a top 100 prospect in my eyes (yet), but if everything clicks right and Matuella continues to show durability, there’s potential to be a #2 starting pitcher.
138. Ryan Castellani, SP, COL, Age: 22
Yes, Castellani is a pitcher for the Rockies. I know, I know. And then you look at his stats from last season, and you probably wonder why he’s on a list like this, much less #138. The first thing that jumps off the page at me is that Castellani’s FIP and xFIP are both nearly a run better than his ERA last season. He’s not a heavy strikeout guy, but he also pitched in AA as a 21 year old this past season. As a Rockies’ pitcher specifically, Castellani keeps the ball in the yard (0.92 HR/9 last season), and he has a slightly above average ground ball rate (45.1% GB% last season, which was actually the lowest number he’s posted in four seasons as a professional). It’s always best to tread carefully when getting your hopes up about a Rockies pitcher, but Castellani has the makings of an above average big league pitcher. Heck, he’s not even the only Rockies pitching prospect you’ll read about in my #121-140 rankings!
137. Freicer Perez, SP, NYY, Age: 22
If size is your thing, Perez is almost certainly on your radar. Standing at a monstrous 6’8, Perez enjoyed a fantastic first full season in professional ball last season and will look to build on that momentum last season. Still extremely raw, Perez is viewed as a high-ceiling prospect whose potential hinges greatly on his ability to repeat his mechanics continuously (like most tall pitching prospects). With his height, I’d like to see Perez continue to develop physically. We’ll likely see the Dominican native in High-A to start the season, and a repeat performance from last season with a slight uptick in strikeout frequency should land Perez in several midseason top 100 prospect lists.
136. Chris Shaw, OF, SF, Age: 24
Shaw may not be Heliot Ramos, but he ‘could’ be one of the most underrated prospects on this entire list. Giants’ position player prospects tend to be underrated in prospect list thanks to the hellish offensive conditions at AT&T Park, but it’s hard to look at Shaw’s .292 AVG and 24 HR output last season at 23 years old and not fantasize of a player who has an outside shot of hitting .300 with 30 HRs at their peak, even in San Francisco. Shaw isn’t a stolen base threat, and there’s certainly some swing-and-miss tendencies in play. But at the price you’ll be asked to play, why not take a chance on a player with Shaw’s ceiling? Especially when the outfielder could play a role with the Giants’ major league club sometime in 2018.
135. Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE, Age: 22
Bradley made some of the on-base strides that we were hoping to see last season, raising his AVG by 16 points and lowering his K% nearly seven percent. He walked less, though, which led to his OBP actually decreasing from .344 in 2016 to .331 last season. The home run output decreased as well, which is likely the biggest reason for the drop in his ranking (I ranked Bradley as the 82nd best prospect in baseball prior to last season). Yonder Alonso recently signed a two year deal with the Indians, but he’s certainly not viewed as the first baseman of the Cleveland’s future. Bradley will continue to develop on the farm (he’s expected to play in AAA this season) with the expectation he’ll be major league ready sometime next season.
134. Erick Fedde, SP, WAS, Age: 25
Fedde got a shot with the Nationals last season, and things, quite simply, did not go well. Fedde posted a 9.39 ERA in 15.1 IP (though the 4.12 xFIP is much better) before being shut down with a right forearm strain. A Tommy John surgery recipient, any sort of arm injury or discomfort is always worrisome, but the Nationals were adamant that they were simply being abundantly cautious. As for the 2018 season, Fedde will duke it out with A.J. Cole for the final spot in the Nationals rotation. Even if he loses out on an Opening Day spot, it’s a safe bet to assume, barring injury, Fedde will be a heavy contributor to the Nationals pitching staff this regular season and for the foreseeable future.
133. Lucas Erceg, 3B, MIL, Age: 23
If you’re wondering where you’ve heard Erceg’s name before, you probably remember his eye-opening success last season during spring training. In the minor league playoffs last season, Erceg was promoted all the way from High-A Carolina to AAA Colorado Springs. It was certainly a challenging assignment, but Erceg showed (albeit in a small sample) that AAA pitching wasn’t overwhelming whatsoever. The on base ability regressed some last season, and Erceg will need to replicate his 2016 success in order to insert himself into midseason top 100 lists. Like most Brewers prospects, Erceg would hypothetically be a subject of trade talks if Milwaukee needed to add pieces throughout the regular season.
132. David Peterson, SP, NYM, Age: 22
Peterson is 1) a gigantic left handed pitcher, and 2) a prospect who dominated in a short sample in Short-Season A last season despite falling victim to a .444 BABIP. The number 20 overall pick last season, Peterson struck out an unsightly 14.7 batters per nine innings as he got his feet wet in professional baseball. I feel like projecting a Mets’ starting pitcher prospect is simply projecting the next wave of MLB starter to get freakishly injured, but Peterson could very well break the mold. The southpaw will almost certainly get his first taste of full season ball in 2018, and Peterson could eventually take his major league place amongst starting pitchers named Syndergaard and deGrom. Fingers crossed.
131. Shed Long, 2B, CIN, Age: 22
I struggle to determine just how ‘in love’ with Shed Long I am. There’s no way he’s a legit power hitter at the MLB level, right? Long stands at 5’8 and only weighs 180 pounds. But… he’s hit 15 and 16 HRs in the last two seasons respectively. The stolen base output diminished last season as Long only totaled nine stolen bases after registering 21 swiped bags in 2016, but the .358 OBP in 2017 is impossible to ignore. Long is viewed as the second baseman of the Reds future, even if that future won’t officially begin until sometime in 2019 or later. As Long continues to progress in minor league difficulty, I’m thoroughly interested to see if the HR numbers remain consistent. I’m also interested to see if Long will reestablish himself as a stolen base threat this season, or if we’ll get to X that category off of future contributions. Long is easily one of the most intriguing middle infield prospects heading into the 2018 regular season.
130. Peter Lambert, SP, COL, Age: 21
Don’t mind me, I’m just ranking another Rockies’ pitching prospect in my top 200 prospect list. And Lambert isn’t the last one! Lambert is a year younger than Ryan Castellani (a pitcher you hopefully just got done reading about), but he’s already surpassed 140 IP in a single season before throwing a competitive pitch at the age of 21. Impressive. Lambert has improved his K/9 during each of his three professional seasons, and I expect that trend to continue this season. A trend I hope comes to a stop is Lambert’s GB%, which has decreased in each of his three seasons as a pro (42% last season). Inducing weak contact on the ground is absolutely crucial as a Rockies pitcher, and Lambert’s fate on prospect lists depends heavily on his ground ball output in the near future. Lambert will pitch in AA this season with a chance at an MLB debut sometime in 2019.
129. Harrison Bader, OF, STL, Age: 24
Bader is in a really weird spot for evaluators, list makers, and fantasy baseball players. He played in 32 MLB games last season with the Cardinals, totaling 92 plate appearances. The small sample wasn’t that great, but Bader retained prospect status nonetheless and is less than a calendar year removed from being a top 100 prospect across the board throughout the industry. Bader will reportedly battle Tyler O’Neill this spring for a spot in the Cardinals’ everyday outfield, with the loser likely being relegated to AAA Memphis. Bader will strike out his fair share, but he has 25 HR/10 SB potential, which means you could do far worse when targeting outfield prospects heading into the 2018 season.
128. Franklyn Kilome, SP, PHI, Age: 23
I have an irrational love for Franklyn Kilome. I can’t really explain why, but I do. If I had to guess? It’s probably because I feel as though Kilome is one of the most athletic pitchers in the minor leagues. The 6’6 Kilome (who only weighs 175 pounds, let’s hope that improves) threw 127 innings last season, compiling a 2.83 ERA and striking out 103 batters along the way. As Kilome continues to tap into his athletic potential, I expect the strikeout numbers to really progress at some point, perhaps as early as this season. I absolutely love the pitchers in the Phillies system, and while Kilome may not rank as highly as some of his fellow teammates and farmhands, the Dominican Republic native might have a higher ceiling than any Phillies pitching prospect not named Sixto Sanchez.
127. Jaime Barria, SP, LAA, Age: 22
A three level pitcher in 2017, Barria totaled 141.2 IP and a 2.80 ERA last season for an Angels system that has quickly risen to prominence. He’ll never be an elite strikeout pitcher, but Barria should eventually be a major league starting pitcher who you can plug into your rotation with little concern. Barria will probably begin the 2018 season in AAA, but there’s a chance (especially with the sketchy injury history of a lot of the Angels’ starting pitchers) that Barria, at some point, plays a role in the Angels’ major league rotation.
126. Zack Littell, SP, MIN, Age: 22
Know what I hate? When prospects receive somewhat of a downgrade when they get traded to an organization in a smaller market. Littell almost cracked my midseason top 100 list last season, and I’ll be danged if I exclude him from this list simply because he now plays with the Twins instead of the Yankees. Littell, by definition, is a high floor prospect. He’ll never crack the top 20. Heck, he may never even crack the top 50. But Littell’s floor makes him an upper-echelon #4 starting pitcher, with room to develop into a #3. An 11th round pick in 2013, Littell posted an eye opening 2.12 ERA while striking out 142 batters in 157 IP between High-A and AA with the Yankees and Twins. A 2018 MLB debut is certainly not out of the question for Littell, and an encore of his 2017 performance would force ALL industry evaluators and websites to take notice of the 22 year old.
125. James Kaprielian, SP, OAK, Age: 24
Like other industry prospect lists, I ranked Kaprielian comfortably inside of my top 100 heading into last season. Then disaster struck. It was announced in April that Kaprielian would undergo Tommy John surgery, ending the youngster’s season before it really got started. During his rehab process, Kaprielian was traded to the Athletics as part of the Sonny Gray acquisition by the Yankees. Kaprielian is nearing full-health, and even posted a video of him throwing recently on Twitter. He won’t play in the limelight of a big market team, but Kaprielian still has a ton of upside and, with expected development, could eventually pitch as a #2 starting pitcher in fantasy circles. He’s one to monitor very closely this season.
124. Brian Anderson, 3B, MIA, Age: 25
Opinions and outlooks on Anderson throughout the prospect and fantasy baseball community are all over the place. His cup of coffee with the Marlins last season didn’t go so well, but Anderson DID show major untapped power potential throughout AA and AAA before receiving his first MLB call up. Now that the Marlins can afford to be as patient as possible, Anderson should be an everyday player whose ceiling lies somewhere at the 20 HR, .340 OBP mark. Those aren’t superstar numbers for a third baseman in the fantasy world, but when you combine them with the fact that his strikeout numbers will never kill you, Anderson could hold value in standard fantasy formats.
123. Isan Diaz, IF, MIA, Age: 22
I ranked Diaz as the 50th best prospect last preseason (yikes) because I saw massive power potential at a premium position. Diaz was only 20 at the time, and I thought his contact skills would continue improving as he gained more experience in the Brewers system. Basically, every part of my thought was wrong. The power potential remains, but Diaz struggled last season in High-A. He had 132 fewer PA due to fracturing his right hamate bone in August, but Diaz’s home run total decreased from 20 in 2016 to 13 last season. His AVG and OBP decreased. The wRC+ decreased by more than 40 points. Even the K%, which was already a poor 25.2% in 2016, worsened to 26.6% in 2017. So why does Diaz even deserve a spot at all this season? Because he’s a 21 year old with 25 HR potential at second base. Because he gets the fantastic opportunity to ‘reset’ after being traded to Miami as part of the Christian Yelich trade. Sure, Diaz has holes in his swings that could potentially hinder him from reaching his potential. But giving up on a 21 year old with massive potential because of a bad season leads to people losing sleep as their league mates win championships with players like Diaz playing key roles. I’m certainly not concern-free when I evaluate Diaz, but I’m choosing to hold steady to see what 2018 has in store before doing anything rash.
122. Zack Collins, C, CHW, Age: 23
After our draft last season, one of my league mates made the argument that Zack Collins was ‘the best catching prospect in the game’. The comment was made in reference to me drafting Francisco Mejia nearly two rounds after Collins was taken. Lol. Like many catchers, you perceive Collins differently depending on whether your league is an AVG or OBP league. Why? Collins only mustered a .224 AVG last season between High-A and AA. He posted a .370 OBP between the two leagues. With 19 HRs last season, the power is everything we thought it would be. The defensive performance (which was the biggest concern this time last season) developed to an extent in 2017, though the White Sox still acknowledge that Collins needs to further develop from a blocking and game management standpoint. Collins has reportedly been revamping his swing this offseason in effort to be quicker to the ball, and it’ll be interesting to see how the adjustments manifest themselves in game action this season.
121. Brandon Marsh, OF, LAA, Age: 20
If any prospect in my current 121-140 range is capable of someday becoming a top 10 or 20 prospect, my money is on Marsh. A five-tool player, Marsh destroyed Rookie Ball pitching last season, leading to a .350/.396/.548 triple slash with 4 HRs and 10 SBs in only 192 plate appearances. Yeah, that’s one way to announce your professional arrival. Marsh is an elite athlete who’s built to one day become an elite power hitter. At 6’4 210 lbs., Marsh is built like an NFL wide receiver, and he’s still learning to use his frame to its full potential. Not only will Marsh get a shot at full season ball this season, but I think there’s a chance he progresses quite quickly through the Angels’ system. There’s some injury history here, but Marsh has one of the best compilation of tools in the minor leagues. Now might be the last time to acquire him without paying an arm and a leg.
120. Nick Gordon, IF, MIN, Age: 22
This might be a head scratcher for you, but here’s a question that’s beginning to be asked more and more in prospect circles: What is Gordon really, really good at? As a fantasy baseball owner, what part of Gordon’s game can you hang your hat on? The middle infielder was once viewed as a player that shared a lot of the same tools as his older brother (Mariners OF Dee Gordon) with a little more power and a little less speed. It’s true that Gordon possesses a little more pop than his older brother (though he’s never hit double digit home runs in a single season), but he only stole 13 bases last season. The K% jumped to 23.2% and he batted .270. I’m certainly not ready to write Gordon off as a potential fantasy asset, and he’ll likely be a fine real-life MLB regular. I do, however, have some genuine concerns moving forward as to whether you should own him on your fantasy team.
119. Yusniel Diaz, OF, LAD, Age: 21
In just his second professional season, Diaz was solid across the board in 2017. .292/.354/.433, 11 home runs, and 9 stolen bases. Even though he’s 21 years old, I still feel like much of the top 120 placement with Diaz is based on projection. What he ‘could’ be. The stats in his two professional seasons won’t jump off the page when you compare them to many of the other prospects on this list, but they become much more attractive and inviting when you consider that Diaz is still extremely raw and has been (on average) 3.2 years younger than the average competition at each level he’s competed. What’s more, I kind of get the sense that we’re either really close to Diaz officially breaking out, or we’re really close to deciding that he may never be the superstar the Dodgers hoped he’d be when the Cuban native signed a $15.5 million contract in 2015. I lean more towards Diaz potentially breaking out, which means you’d be ranked much higher when I release my midseason top 100 list.
118. Kevin Maitan, SS, LAA, Age: 18
So, it turns out that a 17 year old playing professional baseball (even Rookie Ball) may not exactly look like the next coming of Ted Williams. Quite frankly, Maitan looked a typical 17 year old baseball player: Lots of strikeouts and not a lot of walks. An unspectacular professional debut (even though it was just a 176 PA sample), paired with a trade from the Braves to the Angels, led to a notable descension (or complete omission) on industry prospect lists for Maitan. As I’ve already claimed that it’s too early to give up on prospects who are in their early-to-mid 20s on this list, it’s certainly to early to throw in the towel on Maitan. Remember when Maitan was being compared to this generation’s Derek Jeter? It feels like yesterday. Give Maitan some time to familiarize himself with a new organization, then reevaluate his status following this season.
117. Andres Gimenez, SS, NYM, Age: 19
Long term projections for Gimenez are all over the map. The facts are this: Gimenez played in full-season ball as an 18 year old last season. He struck out only 15.3% of the time, had 14 stolen bases, and finished with a .346 OBP. If you don’t consider the fact that he only hit four home runs, those numbers are thought-provokingly impressive. I choose to believe that Gimenez will continue to develop physically, which means the power numbers will continue to improve. Seeing as Gimenez may possess one of the most advanced approaches in the minor leagues (and easily the most advanced approach of an 18 year old in full-season ball), I think the shortstop’s offensive numbers will continue to progress each season for the foreseeable future. For now, I’ll set his MLB projection at 15 HRs and 15 SBs with a .350 OBP and very few strikeouts. I wouldn’t trust the Mets organization to sharpen my pencil with a $100 pencil sharpener, but there’s a chance that Gimenez could eventually develop into a bonafide star.
116. Nate Pearson, SP, TOR, Age: 21
Possessor of a triple digit fastball, Pearson was silly good in the small, 20 IP sample he produced in Rookie Ball and Short Season A after being drafted last summer. The Blue Jays really think Pearson will someday supplant Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez at the top of their rotation someday, and the 6’6 240 pounder may have the stuff to do just that. At 21 years old, Pearson will play his first full season of professional baseball in 2018. His offspeed offerings can vary in quality from time to time, and there does seem to be some bullpen risk here. However, there’s no reason to think that Toronto won’t do absolutely everything in their power to make Pearson a top-of-the-rotation arm who could make his MLB debut as early as sometime next season.
115. Cole Tucker, SS, PIT, Age: 22
47 stolen bases. .358 on base percentage. Shortstop. Interested yet? Tucker seems to be a classic case of “please just find a way to hit 10 HRs” in fantasy circles. He’s useful and valuable regardless, but could develop into somewhat of a star with a little more pop. The Pirates swear they aren’t rebuilding, but their roster is vastly taking a new shape and will continue looking for impact bats. I think there’s a decent chance that Tucker eventually becomes a face of the new-look Bucs. He’s flying under fantasy radars, so now might be your best shot to acquire game-changing speed at an attractive price.
114. Beau Burrows, SP, DET, Age: 21
The “analytics vs. scout’s eye” debate will certainly reach its peak with Luis Urias (who you’ll read about decently soon) this preseason, but I feel like Burrows may be a close second. Analytics see a pitcher who finished with a 3.20 ERA and more strikeouts than innings pitched last season between High-A and AA. Scouts see a pitcher with one above average pitch who began to show flaws after being promoted to AA last season. Burrows’ profile is truly fascinating, and we’ll get to pick our side and watch it all unfold in 2018. After scanning a few industry lists that I trust, I find my ranking of Burrows somewhere in the middle. I find myself skeptical of Burrows’ ability to consistently fool batters as the level of competition improves, yet I can’t belittle Burrows’ success from last season. With Burrows likely returning to AA to begin the 2018 season, we’ll get a quick idea (even at the tender age of 21) as to whether Burrows is here to stay, or if his dominance of High-A hitters last season was, in retrospect, a fluke.
113. Anderson Espinoza, SP, SD, Age: 20
So, the floor is certainly lower here than it was this time last year, but the Pedro Martinez comparisons didn’t simply disappear because Espinoza (who won’t turn 20 until next month) had Tommy John surgery at the end of last season. Espinoza didn’t throw a competitive pitch last season, and he’ll miss the entirety of this season as well. There’s a lot of risk associated with a pitcher who misses two whole seasons due to injury, thus the cautious ranking here. If you play in a dynasty league, you should be doing everything you can to buy-low on Espinoza with the admission that he’s a long-term hold. The Venezuelan still has plenty of time to right the ship.
112. Dane Dunning, SP, CHW, Age: 23
I don’t get why Dunning isn’t receiving more hype. I understand that Alec Hansen is very good and has a chance to be a star, but that doesn’t mean Dunning should simply be an afterthought. When you consider that the Nationals have traded both Dunning and Jesus Luzardo (who you’ll read about later), considering their current 5th SP situation, you might get sick to your stomach. Dunning has the build to be a future innings eater in the big leagues, not to mention he struck out well more than a batter per inning last season between Low A and High A. The ERA and xFIP was almost equally impressive. The White Sox will soon be really, really good. Dunning should eventually be a fixture in one of the best rotations in baseball, even if he’s a high-end #4 SP.
111. Yu-Cheng Chang, SS, CLE, Age: 22
Yes, I see the 2017 batting average and on base percentage. Yeah, I see the strikeout rate too. Do you see the 24 home runs and 11 stolen bases though? At shortstop? Those don’t grow on trees. Even if Chang’s MLB potential is a HR-only middle infielder, I’m willing to bet that the career low .254 BABIP from last season positively regresses in 2018. I really think Chang is capable of a .330 OBP, 20 HR, 10 SB line at his peak.
110. Chris Rodriguez, SP, LAA, Age: 20
A former 4th round, 20th pick (eyeball emoji), Rodriguez’s ranking has been skewed in many lists due to the variance between his ERA and FIP. If ERA didn’t exist, Rodriguez would likely be an across-the-board top 100 prospect who will pitch most of the 2018 regular season as a 19 year old. Rodriguez’s highest placement so far has been Low-A, but the advanced peripherals are very promising despite an unsustainable BABIP. Rodriguez has hovered around striking out a batter per inning (despite being nearly four years younger than his average competition) with a low BB%. Rodriguez is also well ahead of his time in keeping the ball in the yard. The Angels system has experienced a meteoric rise over the last calendar year… don’t forget to include Rodriguez when you discuss the best names that the organization has to offer in the prospect world.
109. Mitchell White, SP, LAD, Age: 23
If you’re looking for a guy outside of my top 100 who might make the most unexpected MLB impact during the 2018 regular season, it might be White. I know the Dodgers rotation may seem packed and it may seem unlikely, but my goodness. White’s performance during his first full season of professional ball is undeniable. 2.93 ERA, 88 strikeouts in 73.2 innings pitched. Now hear me out: What if White takes the same career path as fellow Dodgers prospect Walker Buehler? White pitches well throughout the 2018 regular season, then gets promoted to Los Angeles to perform out of the bullpen in the latter stages of the regular season. Then, in 2019, White begins the season in the bullpen (to lightly restrict innings) before getting fully unleashed down the stretch. We’d all take that, right? That’s not as wild of a thought as you might think. White may have more bullpen potential than Buehler (and Buehler has a decent amount of bullpen potential), but the talent and raw stuff is simply nasty. Let’s not forget that he plays for an organization that’s known for developing home-grown arms.
108. Touki Toussaint, SP, ATL, Age: 22
I love. Touki. Toussaint. I love him. I think I’d give my right arm to see him become a big-time major league starting pitcher. I think Toussaint has some of the best pure stuff in the minor leagues, and the variance between his ERA and FIP last season allow him to be just underrated enough heading into 2018 to make him a breakout candidate. Toussaint made moderate improvements with his control last season, and I think he’ll further improve in that category this season. My biggest worry is the other arms in the Braves’ system. Toussaint relies heavily on an elite fastball and curveball, but the changeup is still developing (though scouts think it could be a major league average pitch someday). With an arsenal that’s still fully developing being paired with sketchy control at times, Toussaint could eventually become a high-leverage bullpen arm for a Braves team that will be rising to prominence just as Toussaint becomes ready to play a role in Atlanta. I’ll buy his shirsey regardless, but I hope he finds a way to remain a starting pitcher (I think he’s got a decent shot, thanks in no small part to his plus athleticism). If he does, he has one of the highest ceilings of any pitching prospect in baseball.
107. Jorge Alfaro, C, PHI, Age: 25
Patience is a virtue. Unless it isn’t. I feel like Alfaro has been a fixture on fantasy lists for nearly a decade. We thought 2016 would be Alfaro’s breakthrough season. Then we thought 2017 would be Alfaro’s breakthrough season. Neither happened. So where does that leave us heading into the 2018 season? Well, as of the middle of February, it seems like Alfaro is the favorite to be the Phillies’ everyday catcher behind the plate this season. There’s our window of hope. If Alfaro secures the job, the next step would be displaying the plus-plus power that has eluded the catcher recently (12 HRs last season, 15 HRs in 2016). I’m far from a fan of the low OBP and the high K%, but the catcher position is such a black hole that any sort of lottery ticket is worth acquiring at Alfaro’s low price. My fingers are crossed that Alfaro breaks through completely once he’s finally given an everyday shot at the big league level.
106. Riley Pint, SP, COL, Age: 20
I haven’t cared about a pitcher’s win/loss record in years, but I couldn’t help but laugh at Pint’s 3-16 record last season. Yikes. We all had (at minimum) slight reluctance ranking Pint last season due to him being a ‘Rockies pitcher’, but my goodness. The BB%. The ERA. The FIP. The ungaudy strikeout numbers. It was truly a freshman professional performance to forget for “maximum amount of ice cream I have ever consumed in one sitting.” Just as concerning as the numbers is the fact that multiple scouts noted that Pint’s 70 grade fastball played flatter than it should, which is obviously a no-no at any professional level. Regardless of anything that happened last season, Pint will pitch the entirety of the 2018 season as a 20 year old, and I’m willing to give him one more shot before genuinely evaluating my long-term stance on the pitcher labeled as the future ace of the Colorado Rockies. Here’s to hoping my ‘narrowly outside of the top 100’ ranking for Pint this preseason doesn’t feel irrationally aggressive this time next season.
105. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT, Age: 21
The difference in Hayes’ 2016 and 2017 statistics are staggering. The third baseman seemed to be headed in the right direction in 2016 when he decreased his GB% and increased his FB%, but that trend reversed itself last season. Hayes’ homerun output decreased from 6 to 2 (lol) despite an increase of more than 100 PA last season, but the stolen bases dramatically increased from 6 to 27. The OBP also increased mightily from .323 in 2016 to .345 last season. All over the place. If I believed more in Hayes’ power potential, he would have been a very intriguing candidate to be a potential superstar prospect. As it stands, like fellow farmhand Cole Tucker, I’m hoping Hayes displays enough power to confidently acquire him in the near future.
104. Brett Phillips, OF, MIL, Age: 24
Despite the ranking, I’ll readily admit that it’s hard to have much confidence in Phillips 2018 season or near-future outlook. It’s certainly not all his fault, I mean, the Brewers acquired two All-Star caliber outfielders who will roam the green grass of Miller Park for the foreseeable future. So where does that leave Phillips. Hopefully? It leaves him eventually traded. Phillips’ 2017 numbers are typical Phillips numbers: Above average power, above average OBP, well above average number of strikeouts. If your team can absorb the strikeouts without skipping much of a beat, Phillips (thanks to his across-the-board contributions) can hold some major value. However, as I’ve already stated, he might need a trade in order to be a consistent big league contributor beginning this season. If you’re willing to bet on that, you were already willing to take on the strikeout frequency. My eyes and ears will be open on Phillips this season.
103. Pavin Smith, 1B, ARZ, Age: 22
A first baseman who hits .300, strikes out very little, and has untapped power potential? Yes please! Look, Smith walked more than he struck out in a 223 PA sample in Short Season A after being drafted last summer. There’s no such thing as a safe prospect, and that certainly holds true at a low-floor, high-ceiling position like first base. However, Smith’s floor might keep you comfortable at 1B for a decade. Think Eric Hosmer (ugh) with potentially more power (!!!!!!!!!). Don’t worry about the fact that Paul Goldschmidt is only 30 years old. Grab Smith whenever and wherever you can and #TrustTheProcess.
102. J.B. Bukauskas, SP, HOU, Age: 21
One of the more underrated arms of the 2017 MLB Draft, Bukauskas is an intriguing right hander who has a chance to rise quickly through one of the best developmental organizations in baseball. Bukauskas was a strikeout machine at the University of North Carolina, and, despite an unimposing build, projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter whose name you’ll misspell a countless amount of times throughout his professional career. It’ll be hard for any prospect to repeat the 2017 success of Astros farmhand Forrest Whitley, but Bukauskas is certainly a prime candidate to make the next big jump for the Astros in the world of both prospect lists and big league projection
101. Stephen Gonsalves, SP, MIN, Age: 24
I understand your lack of giddiness with Gonsalves. He’s not ridiculously young, he doesn’t have jaw-dropping strikeout numbers, and he doesn’t play for an exhilarating organization. I get it. But pitching is the most volatile position in the prospect world, a high floors will leave your heart unbroken much more often than high ceilings. I think Gonsalves is a solid #3 SP who will flash more at times; he’ll also strike out nearly a batter per inning at the MLB level. Sometimes, “you could do a WHOLE lot worse” makes more sense than “yeah, but this guy has an outside shot at being a superstar.” Gonsalves is the solid, consistent starting pitcher who will play an unsung role in winning your fantasy team a league championship someday.
100. Chance Sisco, C, BAL, Age: 23
My fingers are crossed, but it’s looking like this may be the last time we have to include Sisco on our prospect lists! With Wellington Castillo now in Chicago, the path has been seemingly cleared for Sisco to be the Orioles Opening Day catcher. It’s about time. The backstop sacrificed some contact ability (career high K%) for some extra pop (career high 9 HRs) last season. I’m not sold on him ever being a star, but I do think he’ll be drafted regularly in standard formats throughout his big league career. Here’s to Sisco being ineligible for this list by the time we get to midseason.
99. Michael Chavis, 3B, BOS, Age: 22
Chavis exploded onto the scene last season, mashing 31 HRs and slashing .282/.347/.563 between stops at High A and AA. The performance was enough to land Chavis on prospect lists across the industry heading into the 2018 season, but what will the encore look like? The third baseman is unlikely to duplicate the .360 BABIP he posted in High A last season (he had a putrid .265 BABIP in 24 more PA in AA after being promoted), and I project him more of a .260/.325/.450 player moving forward. I hope to be surprised. Interestingly, Chavis played some first base in Peoria during the Arizona Fall League. With Rafael Devers seemingly the Red Sox third baseman for the foreseeable future, Chavis’s future (defensive position and, possibly, long term team) will obviously play a huge role in his value moving forward.
98. Dylan Cease, SP, CHW, Age: 22
Why ‘pitcher wins’ is the most useless stat in baseball, exhibit 34,829,470,273: Cease went 1-10 last season despite compiling a 3.28 ERA with a sub-3 FIP while striking out 126 batters in 93.1 IP. Crazy. CRAY-ZEE. This time last season, Cease had been labeled as the pitching prospect who was finally going give the Cubs a viable ‘homegrown’ starting pitcher. Then, Cease was traded to the White Sox alongside Eloy Jimenez in exchange for Jose Quintana. The White Sox will soon be one of the best teams in the MLB, and Cease certainly has a chance to play a major role in any future success. A Tommy John surgery recipient, if he performs to his projections this season, Cease will be knocking on the door of a major league debut during Spring Training next season.
97. Colin Moran, 3B, PIT, Age: 25
At 25 years young, there’s a bit of #posthype associated to Moran. But thanks to a swing change and a new opportunity with a new club, the third baseman could kick down the door and become a fantasy mainstay in 2018. Moran increased his FB% by more than ten percent, which led to a career high 19 HRs. Moran also increased his AVG and OBP and lowered his K%. None of that really mattered, though (because the Astros’ infield is set for the next decade), until Moran was traded to Pittsburgh (along with others) in exchange for SP Gerrit Cole. He should be penciled in as Pittsburgh’s every day third baseman, and there’s a real possibility that Moran is a .300 AVG/25 HR hitter at his peak.
Side note: I originally scoffed at the Pirates’ return for Gerrit Cole, but I’ve since convinced myself that both Moran and Joe Musgrove will be above average MLB players. I suppose we’ll see.
96. Logan Allen, SP, SD, Age: 21
Allen doesn’t get the same hype that a lot of Padres prospects are currently receiving (maybe because he was originally drafted by the Red Sox), but it’s time to take note. One of my favorite things about Allen: he surrendered only three home runs in 125 innings pitched last season (his first full professional season). Oh, he also struck out 143 batters. He walk numbers aren’t high. Allen is an underratedly solid prospect whose buy-low window is quickly diminishing. There’s a chance the Padres stick him back in High-A to begin the 2018 season, but I think we’ll see Allen pitch predominantly in AA during his second full season of pro ball.
95. Dustin Fowler, OF, OAK, Age: 23
It’s a true shame that a lot of average baseball fans only remember Dustin Fowler as the Yankees player who suffered a gruesome leg injury in his first ever MLB game. During his rehab, Fowler was traded from the Yankees to the Athletics, where he’s hoping to become an outfield staple beginning this season. A lot of Fowler’s value lies in his ability to steal bases, so I’m very interested to see if he continues swiping bags at the same rate as he did in past seasons (25 SBs in 2016, 13 SBs in 70 games last season). Fowler has never been one to take many walks, so I’m interested to see if he can maintain a batting average north of .280 in the major leagues. The 23-year-old lefty is currently viewed as the favorite to land the Athletics starting center fielder job, so Fowler should be an instant-impact prospect if you can grab him this preseason.
94. Alex Faedo, SP, DET, Age: 22
Faedo has actually been drafted by the Tigers twice (once as a senior in high school, once as a member of the Florida Gators), and the 6’5 225 pound right-hander has the chance to absolutely blaze through Detroit’s minor league system. The knock on Faedo (by some) is that he doesn’t possess an overpowering fastball (and some scouts question whether he’ll be able to strike professional batters out consistently like he did at Florida). The critique comes with the caveat that the fastball still has some projection remaining. Faedo’s slider has been given a 70 grade future projection, and his best asset may be his advanced game management. Two things I’ll be looking for in Faedo this season: 1) What level he begins the season at, and 2) how consistently he can strike out professional hitters.
93. Ryan Mountcastle, IF, BAL, Age: 21
It appeared Mountcastle would be ranked much higher than 93rd on this list early last season. Then, Mountcastle was promoted to AA and proceeded to slash .222/.239/.366 in 159 PA. In all, Mountcastle totaled 18 HRs and 8 SBs with a .287 AVG in 538 plate appearances last season. That’s the good. The bad? Mountcastle walked a grand total of 17 (SEVENTEEN!) times in 538 plate appearances last season. That’s good for a 3.2% BB%. How is that even possible? Now, Mountcastle is an above average athlete and has plenty of time to develop better plate discipline and a more selective eye. He’ll likely begin the 2018 season back in AA, and Mountcastle’s future status on prospect lists will have everything to do with how willing he is take more walks beginning this season.
92. Sandy Alcantara, SP, MIA, Age: 22
The centerpiece of the Marlins’ return for OF Marcell Ozuna, Alcantara will now take his triple digit fastball to perhaps the worst team in the major leagues. Alcantara got his first taste of major league baseball at the end of last season despite having a relatively disappointing season in AA Springfield. I remain rather skeptical as to whether Alcantara will remain a starting pitcher throughout his career, but I do think a trade to the Marlins (who can afford to be patient) helps that cause. Based on pure stuff, Alcantara is more than capable of racking up strikeouts at the big league level. However, the command will have everything to do with Alcantara either being a well above-average big league starting pitcher or the pitcher who posted a 7.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 125.1 IP last season in AA.
91. Bryse Wilson, SP, ATL, Age: 20
Man, do the Braves have a ton of great arms on the farm. A fourth round pick in 2016, Wilson excelled in his first professional season, posting 139 strikeouts and a 2.50 ERA in 137 innings in Low-A. Wilson doesn’t necessarily have one pitch that blows hitters and evaluators away. Instead, the right-hander leans on his ability to not walk batters nor allow homeruns. His fastball projects as an above average pitch, and he’ll likely be a 20 year old pitching in High-A to begin the 2018 regular season. It would not surprise me at all if Wilson eventually ranked higher than at least one of the Braves pitchers you’ll read about later in this list (Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka and Kyle Wright).
90. Aramis Ademan, SS, CHC, Age: 19
The conversation has shifted from “Geez, the Cubs farm system is STACKED!” to “Geez, the Cubs farm system SUCKS!”, and I simply feel like that’s allowed Ademan to become somewhat of a hidden gem. As an 18-year-old last season, Ademan hit 7 HRs and stole 14 bases while finishing with a .324 OBP in 317 plate appearances. Ademan was three years younger than his average competition in his Short Season A and Low-A placements. The future projection is also exciting: At 5’11 160 pounds, Ademan will continue to fill out as he gains more experience. The speed is here to stay and the power should continue increasing, so I’ll throw a dart and project Ademan as a future 15 HR/20 SB/.340 OBP player. The Cubs have absolutely no reason to rush him, so Ademan will continue progressing comfortably through a Cubs system known for developing position players.
89. Matt Manning, SP, DET, Age: 20
Manning no longer has the luster of a first year player and hardly threw 50 IP last season, and I feel like those facts alone led to his omission on a couple of lists I’ve studied so far this preseason. Not here. At 19 years old (now 20), Manning dominated Short Season A and Low-A to the tune of 62 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched with a 2.68 FIP. The 4.4 BB/9 isn’t great, but I’m more than willing to chalk that up to Manning’s first taste of professional baseball (and only his third year of focusing on pitching…. In his entire life). At 6’6, Manning certainly has the stature of a typical MLB starting pitching bulldog. He’s greener than a gourd, but with more experience, Manning has the realistic ceiling of a high-K, athletic, #2 starting pitcher.
88. Carter Kieboom, SS, WAS, Age: 22
Kieboom looked well on his way to enjoying a breakout season in 2017 before injuring his hamstring in May. The injury limited Kieboom to only 255 PA; he hit 9 HRs and slashed .297/.396/.493 between stops at Rookie Ball, Short Season A and Low-A. Kieboom possesses an attractive floor and ceiling, but I like the floor particularly. He may never be a valuable base stealer, but Kieboom looks like a consistent double-digit homerun hitter who will reach base at a rampant pace thanks to an advanced eye and willingness to take walks. It should be noted that Kieboom would likely be a top target for the Marlins if the Nationals get serious about acquiring catcher J.T. Realmuto.
87. Shane Baz, SP, PIT, Age: 19
Prepare yourself to hear this phrase as long as Baz is a prospect: It’s all about his command. Baz had arguably the deepest arsenal of any prep pitcher draft in last season’s MLB draft, and that arsenal will be on display in 2018 during Baz’s first full season of professional baseball. The repertoire only matters, though, if Baz develops more consistent command. There’s no reason to think he won’t improve like any other 19 year old top 100 prospect, but the current tools make Baz somewhat of a low-floor/high-ceiling prospect. When it all clicks (and the Pirates have a recent track record of developing pitchers), Baz could be the next in a long line of Texas fireballers to make a big-time big league impact.
86. Albert Abreu, SP, NYY, Age: 22
We still haven’t gotten the full Albert Abreu Experience yet thanks to injury, but there’s a lot to like about the Dominican Republic native. Already drawing comparisons to current Yankees stud Luis Severino, if he can stay healthy, Abreu could easily be a top 50 prospect across the board by midseason. Don’t let the 175 pound label given to Abreu on team and statistical websites fool you: the right hander is built with a sturdy lower body that will help him maintain his velocity deep into starts and throughout a 162 game season. The Yankees should at least think about placing Abreu in AA Trenton to begin the 2018 season; as far as projections go, I think Abreu is capable of striking out more than a batter per inning while maintaining an ERA in the low-to-mid 3’s. There’s an outside chance that Abreu eventually develops into a #2 SP, and you know I don’t use that projection loosely.
85. JoJo Romero, SP, PHI, Age: 21
With Sixto Sanchez’s rise to prominence, Adonis Medina’s emergence, and Franklyn Kilome’s elite athleticism and eye-opening potential, I feel like Romero is often an afterthought in discussions about the future of the Phillies’ pitching staff. Use this to your advantage. Romero was simply fantastic last season in Low-A and High-A, totaling a 2.16 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 129 IP in his first full professional season after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB draft. Romero has above average command (7.0 BB%) and keeps the ball in the yard extremely well for someone with such little professional experience. The southpaw might not have the astronomical ceiling of future teammate Sixto Sanchez, but Romero has mid-rotation potential nonetheless.
84. Jake Bauers, 1B/OF, TB, Age: 22
If 13 HRs, 20 SBs and a .368 OBP in 2017 weren’t enough to get you excited about Bauers heading into this season, now he’s got clear opportunity. The ink just dried on the Rays designating Corey Dickerson for assignment. Logan Morrison isn’t expected to return to the club, and although Tampa Bay did just acquire C.J. Cron, Bauers almost certainly figures into the Rays plans this season. The stolen base potential will be handy for a player who should maintain dual 1B/OF eligibility, and a .350 OBP/20 HR should be attainable after getting accustomed to the big leagues. Bauers will certainly be more valuable in OBP leagues than AVG, but the lefty will probably hold value across the board beginning sometime this season.
83. Brandon Woodruff, SP, MIL, Age: 25
One of the few pitchers in the history of the world to not get completely obliterated by the friendly hitting confines in AAA Colorado Springs, Woodruff enters the 2018 season as a candidate to land the final spot in the Brewers rotation to begin the regular season. Like the aforementioned Colin Moran, despite being a 25-year-old prospect, Woodruff is an absolute perfect player for any rebuilding team who also needs to fill its active roster spots. The ceiling may be somewhat limited due to unspectacular strikeout numbers, but Woodruff should eventually become a consistent innings eater that will check a lot of boxes for your fantasy rotation.
82. Cole Ragans, SP, TEX, Age: 20
I know this is a relatively unique take, but I think Ragans is already one of the best left handed pitchers in the minor leagues, with a chance to someday be the best. The 13.7 K/9 last season was otherworldly; the 5.5 BB/9 last season was obviously suboptimal. Ragans posted a solid 3.42 xFIP in his first season of professional ball (Short Season A), and he has the tools to be a top-of-the-rotation big league southpaw. I’ll be keeping an eye on his walk rates this season in High-A. At 6’4 190 lbs., he’s built to eventually be able to take the ball every fifth day over the course of a 162-game season. At 20 years old for the entirety of the 2018 season, I think there’s a chance he doubles the 57.1 IP he totaled in 2017. There’s a ton of variance possible, but I currently view Ragans as a future #2 SP who could knock on the door of a big league debut as a 21 year old in 2019.
81. Max Fried, SP, ATL, Age: 24
Another southpaw, Fried was actually better after being promoted to Atlanta than he was in AA and AAA last season. While Fried was still with AA Mississippi (and in the same rotation as Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka), I had a chance to speak with a handful of scouts about the trio of prospects. Almost unanimously, they preferred Fried to Allard or Soroka (while admitting that all three would eventually be ‘big league guys’). Fried’s long-term ceiling in the big leagues might eventually be as high as his control takes him. He’s certainly capable of missing bats, but at times, his pitch count gets away from him due to working deep counts and walking hitters. Fried will compete against fellow lefties Sean Newcomb and Luiz Gohara for the final two rotation spots in Atlanta his spring. The short straw will likely begin the season in AAA Gwinnett.
80. Tyler Mahle, SP, CIN, Age: 23
If you only look at the ERA in Mahle’s first 20 IP in the big leagues at the end of last season, you would think that the right-hander kicked down the door with a vengeance during his first stint in the MLB. The peripherals aren’t nearly as kind, but there have certainly been far-worse first go-arounds under the bright lights. Mahle finds himself in the midst of a competition to secure the final spot in the Reds’ big league starting rotation heading into the regular season. There are seemingly a handful of competitors vying to fill the spot, and since Mahle has the least amount of service time compared to his opposition, it’s easy to conjure up the thought that he’ll likely begin the regular season in AAA. Some folks seem to think the Reds will be the surprise team in the MLB this season (I certainly don’t), but if that theory materializes, Mahle will almost certainly play a big league role at some point during the season. Don’t fret if you have stock in Mahle and he doesn’t break camp with Cincinnati; I think he’s a solid #3 SP with a lovable floor regardless of when he finally finds his footing in the big leagues.
79. Kyle Lewis, OF, SEA, Age: 23
I strongly considered bumping Lewis down in my list due to the latest news of him undergoing arthroscopic knee injury (the latest of several issues he’s faced with his right knee), but I decided to hold steady here. This time last season, I thought Lewis and Corey Ray would ascend through prospect lists both A) together, and B) quickly. Ray barely made my #Top200 list at all, and while Lewis made my list comfortably, his future is almost equally cloudy. Lewis has barely surpassed 300 professional PA, yet he’s already received the dreaded ‘injury-prone’ label. The knee issues are truly troubling, but the Mariners are hoping (following the scope) that Lewis’s discomfort is officially in the past. If the issues are behind him, Lewis could convincingly re-establish himself as a top prospect during the 2018 regular season. If there’s another recurrence sometime this season, my ranking of Lewis will seem overly aggressive and perhaps even ignorant. I’m near the end of my rope with Lewis, but I’m giving him one more shot and reevaluating at the midseason point before beginning to wave my white flag.
78. Fernando Romero, SP, MIN, Age: 23
I’ve said it a countless amount of times already, but allow me to say it again here: Fernando Romero continues to fly under the radar amongst top pitching prospects in the game. I know it’s hard to get overly excited about a 23 year old who’s never pitched above AA, but Romero has never had a full-season of professional baseball in which he has totaled an ERA over 3.53. Romero’s professional path was decelerated slightly thanks to undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014, but the right-hander seems destined to make his MLB debut well before 2020. Look, the Twins are going to be a lot better than most people give them credit for, and as the rotation stands right now, Romero has an excellent chance to take his place in the major leagues sometime during the 2018 regular season. The walk-rate was oddly high last season, but the BABIP suggests that Romero was unlucky on balls hit in play. He may not possess the ceiling of a superstar, but Romero should eventually be a starting pitcher you can plug into your rotation without much continual stress.
77. Jesse Winker, OF, CIN, Age: 24
I know that now is a really weird time to attempt board the Jesse Winker hype train, but I think I’m finally coming around on appreciating the value he brings to the table. If you demand that your fantasy outfielders hit 30 HRs, Winker is certainly not the player for you. Heck, if you demand your fantasy outfielders hit 20 HRs, Winker might not be the player for you. But if you demand your fantasy outfielders carry a super-high floor and don’t kill you in any statistical category, than you should be all about Jesse Winker. He’s never going to be a superstar. Your fantasy team is never going to hang it’s hat on Jesse Winker. But the outfielder has finally found a path to relatively-regular MLB playing time, and your team’s non-HR offensive categories will flourish with Winker playing a role on your team. Fifteen homeruns could be the ceiling for Winker, but he’s still a valuable asset even if he’s a better real-life player than fantasy puzzle piece.
76. Tyler O’Neill, OF, STL, Age: 23
Remember those pictures of NFL safety LaRon Landry sculpted like a Greek god as he holds some sort of supplement? Tyler O’Neill is basically the baseball equivalent of that. If you haven’t seen him already, I genuinely recommend you Google “Tyler O’Neill Spring Training 2018” and have a look-see. Dude could probably flick his fingers and destroy half of us. Anywho. On the field, O’Neill finds himself in the midst of a position battle with Harrison Bader, who also made my top 200 prospect list. I’d make a prediction on the eventual winner, but trying to read Mike Matheny’s mind is like trying to guess whether or not McDonald’s ice cream machine is currently working. O’Neill’s potential ceiling projects as a slightly weaker Khris Davis. Something along the lines of 30-35 HRs with a .310-.320 OBP and a 27% K% sounds about right. That’s not every fantasy player’s cup of tea, but if it’s yours, as soon as O’Neill secures an everyday job, he’ll hold consistent value for you.
75. Adonis Medina, SP, PHI, Age: 21
The. Phillies. Have. The. Most. Underrated. Farm. System. In. Baseball. As a 20 year old, Medina ‘SON’D’ Low-A hitters during his 119.2 IP last season. Medina finished with a 3.01 ERA (there’s not a noticeable disparity between the ERA and FIP or xFIP) and 10.0 K/9 in his first full season of professional baseball. The BB% was fine, too. While Medina has officially emerged as a top 100 prospect (in most lists, anyways), I consider him more of a high-floor prospect than a high-ceiling guy. In my eyes, that simply means that Medina may never be a high-end #2 SP, but I do think there’s a relatively decent probability he becomes a solid #3 SP at the major league level. If you feel as though I should annunciate further, I currently consider Marcus Stroman, Gerrit Cole, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Berrios ‘solid #3 SPs’ at the major league level. Of course, now’s a perfect time to remind you that prospect development is rarely linear; any projection I give you could eventually (or quickly) bite me in the rear-end. As of now, Medina is one more solid full season away from solidifying his place amongst the top pitching prospects in the sport, and I suggest you invest stock in the Phillies (in general) as soon as you possibly can.
74. Jay Groome, SP, BOS, Age: 19
Blessed with one of the best curveballs in the minor leagues and a frame destined for the spotlight of Boston, Groome spent the majority of his first professional system sidelined with various injuries. The southpaw totaled only 55.1 IP last season, and outside of the K/9, the statistics weren’t too attractive whatsoever. Luckily, a 19 year old not posting jaw-dropping numbers in his first season of professional baseball isn’t jaw-dropping news to me. Groome has three potential-plus pitches as well as command that could develop into an elite tool. If he’s healthy, Groome should pitch close to 100 innings during the 2018 season. If you’re a relatively know Jay Groome owner, I encourage you to not be moved by the inevitable scolding hot-takes you’ll read following each and every Jay Groome outing during this regular season. I swear, the Red Sox’ fanbase and local media are capable of making even the most distant follower question their sanity.
73. Yadier Alvarez, SP, LAD, Age: 22
Admit it: You’ve completely mistaken Yadier Alvarez for Yordan Alvarez (and vice versa) at least once throughout your immense prospect research. It’s okay, we’ve all been there. I know Alvarez’s 2017 stats by heart. If you think I’m about to bail on a pitcher who potentially has FOUR above-average pitches after one unspectacular season, you’re out of your freakin’ mind. With the ERA out the window, the FIP comparison of Alvarez’s stints in High-A and AA last season are nearly identical. The BB/9 are unacceptable, but you probably feel better about the overall body of work when you consider that perhaps the most raw pitcher in full-season ball struck out north of a batter per inning last season as a 21 year old. Alvarez still has a loooooonnnnggggg way to go. It may be 2020 before we even think about seeing him in a Dodgers uniform during the regular season (though I think there’s a decent chance we see him at the end of the 2019 regular season). But within perhaps the best developmental organization in the MLB, I tend to believe that Alvarez will eventually (at minimum) approach his ridiculous potential. What’s his potential, you ask? I hesitate to give anyone a SP #1 label, so I’ll say Alvarez’s ceiling mimics that of a high-end #2 SP. Just know that the rock bottom floor is Alvarez never officially arriving as a major league starting pitcher.
72. Franklin Barreto, IF, OAK, Age: 21
Remember when I said I hoped Chance Sisco was ineligible for my 2018 midseason top 100 list? The same holds true for Barreto. I feel like I’ve been seeing him on lists forever, yet he’s somehow only 21. Barreto has 20 HR/20 SB potential, but the ceiling could potentially be limited by his refusal to take walks consistently. This was evidenced at the end of last season (in a small 76 PA sample) when Barreto slashed .197/.250/.352 with the Athletics despite posting a BB% higher than the number he posted in AAA throughout most of the regular season (he also had a 43.4% K% during that sample, lol). I tend to think the Athletics are on their way to being much better than they’ve been lately, and I think Barreto has a chance to be a relatively large part of their future success. However, I do question how valuable a 15/15 (or even 18/18 or 20/20) middle infielder really is if he doesn’t have the AVG or OBP to boot.
71. Kolby Allard, SP, ATL, Age: 20
I had the chance to see Allard pitch this summer for the AA Mississippi Braves. I talked about this with Max Fried and I’ll also talk about this with Mike Soroka. Why? Because nothing helps shape an evaluation of a prospect like seeing him in prospect. Plus, it’s a total #humblebrag that I got to see FOUR top 100 prospects over the course of a week (Fried, Soroka, Allard, and Ronald Acuna). I think Allard will be an above average MLB pitcher, but I find myself lower on the southpaw than most folks in the industry. I think the 6’1 190 lb. label he’s been given is quite generous (especially from a height standpoint), so I worry a bit about his future projection (yes, even though he’s only 20). I hope I’m wrong, because I could watch his curveball on an endless loop until the end of time. The Braves pitching prospects are so good that Allard excelled in AA as a 19 year old last season AND HE’S NOT EVEN THE TOP BRAVES PITCHING PROSPECT IN THIS GROUP OF 20 PROSPECTS. INSANITY!
70. Chance Adams, SP, NYY, Age: 23
I can’t confirm this one, but like the aforementioned Allard, I feel as though I’m lower on Adams than most industry lists. Why? Because I think there’s at least a 50% chance that Adams’ future is in the bullpen. From a fantasy standpoint, I hope I’m wrong. From a real-life baseball standpoint, I visualize Adams being the future prelude to the nastiness that is Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman and I get moderately giddy. Outside of his above average fastball-slider combination, I worry about the remainder of Adams’ arsenal. The repertoire, combined with the steady, slight statistical output decline as Adams has progressed through the Yankees system, leads me to believe that New York could bring him along similarly to how the Brewers promoted Josh Hader last season. Long term, I think Adams becomes a multi-inning relief mastermind that bridges the Yankees from the starter to the 8th inning. Like any prospect on my #Top200 list that I’m not necessarily sky-high on, for your fantasy team’s purposes, I hope I’m wrong.
69. Cristian Pache, OF, ATL, Age: 19
If defensive stats were included in fantasy baseball, Pache would easily be a top 20 fantasy prospect across the board. Even if he never amounts to much as a hitter, the Braves could have a future Gold Glove center fielder lurking in their farm system. For Pache, it’ll be all about the offensive development. The centerfielder played the entirety of the 2017 season as an eighteen year old in Low-A, triple slashing .281/.335/.343 with 32 stolen bases and a modest 20.2% K%. Not too shabby, right? Unless you’ve already noticed the lack of disparity in his OBP and SLG. Pache hit a grand total of 0 (ZERO!) home runs last season in 514 at-bats. Yes, he was 3.5 years younger than the average age of competition in Low-A, but the lack of power is our conundrum nonetheless. Some scouts believe that Pache’s power simply hasn’t developed yet, and with a 6’2 185 lb. frame, the homeruns will come in due time (these scouts and analysts will also note the decrease in GB% and increase in FB% last season). Others believe Pache will be forced to accrue value without being much of a homerun threat. It’s a big if (heck, Pache has 750 professional plate appearances and 0 career HRs), but if Pache can simply develop enough power to threaten double digit homeruns perennially, the on base ability and stolen bases will likely make Pache a top 20 big-league outfielder. If Pache can eventually tap-out the homerun potential that his athletic frame suggests he possesses, the centerfielder will be the 2020’s version of Starling Marte. Regardless, I’m acquiring stock in Pache whenever I can and think he has an outside shot of officially breaking through in 2018. His ranking is currently capped a little simply because of the lack of power we’ve seen so far, but Pache is one of my favorite prospects heading into the 2018 regular season.
68. Joey Wentz, SP, ATL, Age: 20
If your life was on the line and you had to correctly rank the arms in the Braves farm system, would you just give up? A 2016 first round pick, Wentz carved up Low-A hitters last season to the tune of a 2.60 ERA with 152 strikeouts in 131.2 innings pitched. And so it goes for the development of Braves pitchers. Wentz allowed 3.1 BB/9, but he also only surrendered four homeruns throughout the entirety of the regular season. I honestly don’t know what Atlanta will do with all their arms, but they certainly have the firepower to pull off a blockbuster of a trade before it’s all said and done. At 6’5 210 lbs., Wentz has three above average pitches and continually-developing command that lot of scouts view as a plus-tool in the future. I think there’s a chance that the Braves challenge Wentz with a placement in AA to begin the 2018 season, but the southpaw has a top-of-the-rotation ceiling regardless of how accelerated his journey through the minor leagues is.
67. Jesus Luzardo, SP, OAK, Age: 20
As good of a closer as I think Sean Doolittle is, I think the Athletics got the much better side of the deal that was made between the Nationals and A’s last July. And yeah, I think Blake Treinen will be a great closer in Oakland and Sheldon Neuse might someday be an average MLB player. But that’s not why. I think the aforementioned trade could eventually be known as the ‘Jesus Luzardo Trade’. Now more than two seasons removed from Tommy John surgery, Luzardo seems primed and ready to take his place amongst best pitchers in the minor leagues this season. Luzardo only threw 43.1 IP last season between Rookie Ball and Short Season A, but he compiled a miniscule 1.66 ERA and struck out 48. Regardless of sample size, those are eye-opening numbers. This season, Luzardo should near 100 IP and will get to test his skills in full season ball. He could be a top 25 prospect by Spring Training next season.
66. Yordan Alvarez, 1B/OF, HOU, Age: 21
We knew the hilariously high .449 BABIP Alvarez posted in 139 plate appearances in Low-A last season wouldn’t stick after a promotion to High-A, and I looked on with watchful eyes to see what the stat-line would look like after things normalized for the young first baseman/outfielder. The regulated numbers were much less impressive. Alvarez slashed .277/.329/.393 with only 3 HRs and a 7.5% BB% in 252 High-A plate appearances. After the dust settled, I still found (and continue to find) myself high on Alvarez; I won’t lie, a lot of it is based on the power projection. Excuse the cliché, but Alvarez is still ‘growing into his body’. At 6’5 225 pounds, the sky is seemingly the limit in the realm of homeruns, as long as Alvarez maintains a swing capable of allowing him to reach his potential. I tend to think Alvarez projects as a future first baseman for the Astros, but I’m not ready to count him out as an outfielder quite yet. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that Alvarez hits 20 or more homeruns in 2018 and finishes the season knocking on the door of a big league debut. If he repeats or nearly-repeats the 12 HR output he produced last season, prepare yourself to see a lot of “Yordan Alvarez is the next Ronald Guzman” takes this time next preseason.
65. Austin Riley, 3B, ATL, Age: 21
As a Mississippi State student at the time, I remember being absolutely livid when Riley decided to forego his commitment to MSU and instead turn pro and sign with the Atlanta Braves after being drafted in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft. Turns out, Riley probably made a wise choice. When I think about the Braves during the next decade, my main concern is that Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna won’t have enough star-power support for the Braves to be elite offensively. Yes, I know Atlanta’s middle infield will consist of Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies. I think that duo will spend most of the next decade being above-average offensively, but not elite. Riley has the chance to be the Braves third elite bat in the near future. The hot-corner 21 year old finished the 2017 season with 20 HRs and a .339 OBP in stops at High-A and AA. I feel strongly that the best is yet to come for Riley. While a late season cup of coffee may be Riley’s best shot of making his MLB debut in 2018, the Mississippi native could be the Braves’ everyday third baseman as early as Opening Day in 2019. At his current developmental rate, I think Riley could progress into an annual 25 HR hitter whose OBP hovers close to .350. He may never a fantasy superstar, but his performance will mandate being owned regardless of fantasy format.
64. Jahmai Jones, 2B/OF, LAA, Age: 20
There are distant whispers from the Angels beat writers that Jones *may* transition from the outfield to second base (at least to an extent), and the move would indisputably make Jones one of the hottest names in the prospect-game in the blink of an eye. The Angels have Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, and Justin Upton manning the outfield for the foreseeable future, and second base might be their weakest position of current organizational depth. If Jones officially makes the transition, he could be MLB ready by sometime next season. Jones is a plus athlete who still has some untapped power potential remaining. The right hander slashed .282/.348/.446 last season with 14 HRs and 27 SBs. He also didn’t strike out much, finishing with an impressive 18.3% K%. From a projection standpoint, I think there’s an above average chance Jones flirts with 20 HR/20 SB seasons with a nice OBP and K% in the major leagues. Those numbers retain value regardless of defensive position, but Jones would easily be near the top of the second base position from a fantasy standpoint if the rumored move actually occurs. Keep your eyes and ears open throughout Spring Training to get a better sense of the Angels’ plans for Jones.
63. Jhailyn Ortiz, OF, PHI, Age: 19
Perhaps the runner up for my ‘2018 Breakout Prospect’, Ortiz seems ready to officially bust onto the baseball scene this season. Signed as a 16 year old in 2015, Ortiz has taken baby steps the past two seasons (Rookie League in 2016, Short Season A last season) to prepare himself for full season ball, which he will seemingly begin playing this season. Based on raw ability only, Ortiz’s power may only be mirrored by that of White Sox super-prospect Eloy Jimenez. In the entire minor leagues. There are legitimately people inside of the Phillies organization who believe Ortiz will eventually be the best prospect the Phillies have developed in the last decade. If you’re looking for a question mark, I know I’m certainly interested to see his contact rate this season in full season ball. Even if the 19-year-old outfielder only develops a league-average hit tool, it would be more than enough to allow his massive power potential to manifest itself. For now, Ortiz is a complete lottery ticket who could be ranked anywhere from 10th to completely off this list a calendar year from now. I’m willing to bet Ortiz becomes a very well-known prospect soon, so you might want to jump on the bandwagon before it leaves the station.
62. Jorge Mateo, UTIL, OAK, Age: 23
I drafted Mateo prior to the 2016 season thinking I had captured lightning in a bottle, mainly because I watched his swing and surmised that he was capable of someday hitting double-digit homeruns to go along with his 40+ stolen bases on a yearly basis. What I didn’t take into account was Mateo’s modest hit-tool (and I’ve long moved on from the utility player). I think being traded from the spotlight of the Yankees organization to the Athletics was one of the best moves possible for Mateo, and I actually think his stock is headed in the right direction. Mateo’s potential reminds me of a more-powerful Billy Hamilton who plays in the middle infield. The on base percentage will never be great, and Mateo will likely strike out quite a bit more than Hamilton. However, there will always be room for a 10 HR, 40 SB (with room to grow in both categories) middle infielder on your fantasy roster.
61. Ryan McMahon, IF, COL, Age: 23
A potential 20 HR/.350 OBP hitter with a low K% whose basically been awarded a starting spot amongst one of the best lineups in the big leagues? Yes, please. It’s been a winding road for McMahon, but he finally seems to be on the cusp of becoming a household name in Denver. The Rockies are on record saying that Ian Desmond will get most of his reps in the outfield, and the team is reportedly not interested in resigning free agent first baseman Mark Reynolds. The effect? Via the process of elimination, McMahon will likely be the Rockies Opening Day first baseman. Even better, McMahon could hypothetically spell Nolan Arenado and D.J. LeMahieu just enough to retain 2B and 3B eligibility. Regardless, McMahon will almost certainly hold value in standard league fantasy formats beginning this season.
60. Anthony Alford, OF, TOR, Age: 24
Alford’s tools scream as loudly as any tools in the minor leagues. But the outfielder will turn 24 in July, he’s played three full seasons of professional ball, and the numbers simply haven’t matched the skillset yet. Let me clarify: Alford has been good. Last season, he slashed .299/.390/.406 in three different minor league stops. Alford also received his first taste of the big leagues with the Blue Jays, but the right-hander fractured his left hamate bone in his fourth MLB game. Alford hit 5 HRs and stole 19 bases last season in the minor leagues, but the tools suggest Alford is capable of hitting 15-20 HRs and stealing 30 bases. For me, the 2018 season will be telling as to whether Alford is capable of tapping into the ceiling of his massive potential, or if he’s a superior athlete who might not ever figure it all out. For the sake of his place in the top half of top 100 prospect lists, Alford will need to post his first professional campaign of 10+ home runs during the 2018 season.
59. Jon Duplantier, SP, ARZ, Age: 24
Named Pipeline Pitcher of the Year at the conclusion of last season, Duplantier was one of the most dominant pitchers at any level in 2017. The right-hander finished with a hilariously good 1.39 ERA with 165 K’s in 136 innings pitched. Duplantier is one of those ‘needs to develop a solid third pitch’ guys, but if you don’t invest now and Duplantier replicates his success from last season, he’ll be a top 25 prospect and owned by someone else in your league. At this point, it’s not really important to consider (because Duplantier hasn’t pitched at a level more advanced than High-A), but the humidor in Arizona will eventually give a slight bump to Duplantier’s potential major league value. He’s a late bloomer, but Duplantier could be a middle-of-the-fantasy-rotation guy for you as early as sometime in 2019.
58. Cal Quantrill, SP, SD, Age: 23
Possessor of what is easily one of the best changeups in the entire minor leagues, Quantrill will play the 2018 season two years removed from Tommy John surgery and will likely knock on the door of an MLB debut at some point this season. Now, there is some unfortunate research that speaks to the low strikeout rate amongst pitchers who rely heavily on their changeup, but Quantrill also boasts an above average fastball that should continue to develop as Quantrill extends further and further away from UCL surgery. I’ll be interested to see if Quantrill’s BABIP against improves in 2018 (opponents had an insane .353 and .341 BABIP against Quantrill in High-A and AA last season). It’s bound to, right? Some positive regression in that category would lead to a slight bump in Quantrill’s performance. The Padres window is about to open, and Quantrill could play near the top of their rotation when they’re ready to legitimately compete in the NL West.
57. Monte Harrison, OF, MIA, Age: 22
A lot of prospects are considered “one of the best athletes in the minor leagues” because Monte Harrison exists. Harrison is a freak athlete, and it’s far from a unique take to consider him the very best athlete in the minors. Harrison totaled 21 HRs and 27 SBs (swoon) last season in Low-A and High-A. The .272/.350/.481 slash is also encouraging (in other words, the man is at least willing to consider taking a walk), even if the K% was a high 27.1%. Harrison’s swing is certainly not flawless, and it must continue to evolve in order to not be exposed against higher-level competition. I tend to think that elite athletes have a better chance of ironing out mechanical issues than functional athletes, so I remain optimistic in Harrison’s future. I’m not necessarily in love with the move from Milwaukee’s farm system to Miami’s, but Harrison’s ceiling holds massive value anywhere on planet. Just know that even in the height of his prime, Harrison (who is a big-time low floor/high ceiling prospect) will likely disappear from your production spectrum for a couple of weeks (or a month) each season.
56. Heliot Ramos, OF, SF, Age: 18
“He’s probably got the highest upside of any prospect they’ve had since Buster Posey.” Those are the words from Jim Callis, a senior writer for MLB Pipeline, when discussing Ramos recently. How many prospect evaluators are slightly-limiting Ramos’ ceiling thanks to the pitcher-friendly confines of AT&T Park in San Francisco? It’s certainly an interesting nuance, but I’m not sure it should have much to do with how we view Ramos (currently 18 years old and years away from an MLB debut) as a prospect in 2018. Ramos has the chance to be a state-of-the-art five tool contributor. He’s extremely athletic, he packs some pop, and he should be a factor on the bases until late in his career. There’s absolutely-zero chance that he maintains the .500 BABIP he posted last season in Rookie Ball, but the fact remains that even though he’s ranked inside of the top 60, Ramos might be the most underrated athlete (and one of the most underrated prospects in general) in my top 200 list.
55. Miguel Andujar, 3B, NYY, Age: 23
Andujar looked destined to the Opening Day third baseman for the Yankees, but a trade for Brandon Drury will likely keep the Dominican Republic native at bay…. for now. A potential .300 AVG/20 HR hitter who doesn’t strike out much holds a ton of value regardless of the fact that he plays third base. Unfortunately, I think Brandon Drury is going to become quite valuable in pinstripes, so I’m not sure how Andujar will make a big league impact this season. If Drury pans out, Andujar could be a prime candidate to be traded at some point this season. If Drury flatlines, I think Andujar could get a shot at everyday playing time relatively early during the season. If there’s a complaint, it’s that I’m not sure Andujar can continue his high on-base ability long-term in the major leagues if his BB% remains near six percent.
54. Leody Taveras, OF, TEX, Age: 19
Scouting the stat-line of Taveras’s 2017 performance would likely lead to a much lower ranking than I have him here, but the talent, intangibles, and age discrepancy between Taveras and his opposition is simply unquestionable. Taveras was 3.5 years younger than the average competition he faced in Low-A, and the low K% goes to show just how advanced Taveras’s offensive approach is (despite the unsavory AVG and OBP). I think Taveras has an above-average chance of excelling in 2018 (nothing crazy, but a 15 HR/20 SB campaign wouldn’t surprise me). Speaking honestly, Texas isn’t noticeably close to contending in the American League; if Taveras projects like I think he will, he may be A New Hope for the Rangers sometime next season or in 2020.
53. Ian Anderson, SP, ATL, Age: 20
Thought I might rank 20 prospects in 2018 without including a Braves pitching prospect? Think again. A lot of my in-the-know Braves guys think Anderson is the best arm in the entire system, which is no small feat seeing as the Braves have the most arm-stockpiled system I’ve seen since I began evaluating prospects more than two seasons ago. The command isn’t optimal (which is what you would expect from a 19-year-old professional pitcher), but scouts I’ve talked to think Anderson will eventually possess MLB-average command at least. Like they did last season with older arms, I could see the Braves challenging Anderson with a potential AA placement to begin the season. It would be the first true arsenal test for the right-hander, who largely skated through Low-A with his above-average fastball/curveball combination. The Braves will almost assuredly move multiple arms as their window begins to open, but seeing as they drafted Anderson with the third overall pick of the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft, I think the soon-to-be 20 year old is relatively safe in Atlanta’s elite farm system.
52. Franklin Perez, SP, DET, Age: 20
It’s weird how a trade from one team to another can make a prospect symbolize something totally different than he would have otherwise. If Perez were still a member of the Astros organization, he’d most likely blend in (or perhaps even be an afterthought) with Forrest Whitley, David Paulino and the immense active roster the Astros currently possess. Now with the Tigers (as the main piece in return for Justin Verlander), Perez represents the future for an organization that desperately doesn’t want to normalize not making the playoffs. At 20 years old with a deep arsenal that features three above-average offerings (fastball, curveball, changeup), Perez is a strong-bet to remain a starting pitcher throughout his career. I’m very, very interested to see if he can maintain the performance of a top 60 prospect under the tutelage of a new organization.
51. Austin Hays, OF, BAL, Age: 23
If you care anything about the Orioles or Hays, you’re probably wondering why I don’t have Hays ranked higher than I do. Honestly, I’m worried that I have him ranked too high. I haven’t directly said this (though you’ve probably understood my vibe when I’ve alluded to it), but I just can’t hitch my horse to a prospect who refuses to take a walk. You may disagree; you may be tired of me saying it. I don’t care. That being said, it’s hard to argue against Hays’ non-BB% stats in AA and AAA last season: .329/.365/.593 with 32 HRs, 95 RBIs and 85 strikeouts in 563 plate appearances. A dream-come-true for a stat line scout, right? The problem is how well the holistic picture (namely the 4.4% BB% last season in the minor leagues) projects to the biggest stage the sport offers. In the long-run, Hays will likely be much more valuable in an AVG league (he should post a .270 or better AVG in his prime) than an OBP league (which might minimally exceed .300 in his prime). He’ll average anywhere from 20-30 homeruns. You know what you’re getting with Hays. The conundrum is obvious: Is the 23-year-old outfielder worth his current price tag? If you think so, he’s probably already on your team. If he’s not, he’ll probably be on another owner’s team for the foreseeable future. I’m an OBP/TB guy, so I’ll gladly let Hays slide and pay the pied piper if he exceeds expectations in the future. So be it.
50. Keibert Ruiz, C, LAD, Age: 20
I feel like it’s such a lazy comp seeing as he’s still a prospect, but we may have another Francisco Mejia on our hands. At this point, Ruiz is a mythical figure. He’s never batted below .300 in any professional season, he’s never approached a 15% K% in any professional season, and he’s increased his power output since beginning his professional career in 2015. What’s not to like? Honestly, I’m not sure. If I’m nitpicking, Ruiz will likely never be a 20 HR hitter. There isn’t a huge discrepancy between his AVG and OBP because he doesn’t walk at an optimal rate. His path to the majors is cloudy. Other than that? I’m scratching my head. Ruiz likely won’t be ready until late-2019 at the earliest, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue developing like a typical Dodgers prospect. Ruiz might someday be ranked similarly to how I’m ranking Francisco Mejia this season, which would make him one of the most valuable prospects in the entire minor leagues.
49. Justus Sheffield, SP, NYY, Age: 22
He might not receive the hype that Chance Adams does (to me, anyways), but if I had to pick a Yankees pitching prospect to potentially play a crucial role in my fantasy rotation, I’m immediately sliding my chips to the middle of the table in favor of Sheffield. The right-hander threw his most IP in a single season in his first professional season as a member of the Indians organization. Sheffield was 19 and 20 years old, and it was before he was traded from Cleveland to the Bronx in a trade that featured Andrew Miller. Yes, the Yankees will always possess one of the most polarizing pools of prospects regardless of talent due to interest level, but Sheffield is legit. The profile is far from finalized, but I could certainly see Sheffield making an impact in the Bronx before the end of the 2018 season as a 22 year old, whether it be the regular season or postseason.
48. Jesus Sanchez, OF, TB, Age: 20
Another guy I considered for a potential ‘breakout prospect of the 2018 season’ label, Sanchez burst onto the scene in his first full professional season and has squarely planted himself amongst the best prospects in baseball who can’t yet sit down at a blackjack table or buy alcohol. The hit tool is just-now beginning to progress and he hit .305 last season. The power tool is just-now beginning to progress and he hit 15 HRs last season. Oh, and he was more than two years younger than his average competition. Yes lawd. Look, I highly disagree with the Rays organizational moves so far this season (when was the last time a sub-.500 team made high-volatile, lateral-move(s) with a successful outcome?), but the end game with Sanchez might actually be improved thanks to the unceremonious exit of Corey Dickerson from the organization. With the timeline likely decelerated until sometime in 2019, Sanchez has one of the most attractive outlooks of any prospect ranked between 41st and 60th.
47. Carson Kelly, C, STL, Age: 24
One of the most talented players at a premium position in the entire minor leagues, one of the most blocked paths in baseball. I don’t know this from personal experience, but Kelly has to be extremely frustrating to own in the fantasy realm. I briefly discussed the Yadier Molina/Carson Kelly situation here,, but the recap is this: If you own Kelly, you’re hoping he gets traded as soon as humanly possible. That’s not a fantastic spot to be in. If he remains in the Cardinals’ organization, there’s a real chance that (barring injury) he doesn’t become a fantasy asset until he’s 27 years old! Yowzers. What’s more, he’ll likely lose his prospect eligibility this season regardless of Molina’s health, which means you’ll be forced to use an active player slot on a player who either plays in the big leagues once a week or remains well-above-average in AAA. Like I said, a trade remains the best case scenario for Kelly. Are you willing to pay a top 50 price for a prospect to simply hope he gets traded? It’s one of the toughest situations any player faces in my entire top 200 list.
46. Adrian Morejon, SP, SD, Age: 19
It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me that Morejon has been bumped-down on most prospect lists after his performance last season. “He’ll need to strikeout more batters to retain top-prospect-status” doesn’t seem fair when the player you’re evaluating is almost FOUR years younger than his average competition. All in all, I think the Padres’ $11 million man is right-in-line with the projection he was given the day he signed a big-league contract. The man was clearly above-average in his first taste of professional ball, and he only threw 63 IP. He’ll likely exceed (or at least near) 100 IP this season, and it’ll be in full season ball. Like the aforementioned Cal Quantrill, Morejon has a chance to be at the top of the rotation when the Padres’ window-of-contention opens. Actually, Morejon and Quantrill could potentially form one of the most formidable duos in the major leagues someday. You should be doing everything you can to acquire Morejon from your league mate right now. Once the next wave of prospects graduate, Morejon could find himself somewhere in the top 25 range. I also expect the K% numbers to increase as Morejon continues to mature and develop. He has legit-#2 SP potential.
45. Alex Verdugo, OF, LAD, Age: 22
I use this cliché from time-to-time when doing write-ups on players, and I’m going to use it here: Alex Verdugo is not for everybody. If Ender Inciarte with a higher batting average but fewer steals is your cup-of-tea, I probably don’t have to tell you that you should be head-over-heels in love with Verdugo. If you prefer a prospect with a higher ceiling and lower floor, you likely discarded Verdugo as a potential acquisition a long time ago. At the end of the day, prospect lists are all about taste. Sure, Verdugo could eventually be the 15 HR hitter that Inciarte likely never will be, but there’s no NL MVP ceiling there. But as I’ve discussed several times already, Verdugo won’t lose you matchups over the course of a week. He won’t strike out, he’ll walk enough to keep his OBP high. He’s the ultimate high-floor/limited-ceiling prospect who just-so-happens to play in the best developmental system in baseball. If there’s untapped potential to be reached, the Dodgers will find it with Verdugo. At minimum, you’re drafting Verdugo and (at some point) plugging him in to your starting lineup without worry. At best, Verdugo develops into a top-of-the-lineup bat who easily surpasses 100 Rs each season while batting somewhere around .325 in one of the best lineups in the major leagues. Simply put, Verdugo is one of the safest prospects in this entire #Top200 list.
44. Corbin Burnes, SP, MIL, Age: 23
Of all the pitchers inside of my top 50, Burnes is likely the most underrated and least talked-about. Everyone talks about the Brewers rotation and its weakness when compared to the Cubs. Everyone thinks the Brewers should sign or trade for a premium starter (see: Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb (lol), or Lance Lynn). The truth is, the missing piece in the rotation could very well be Burnes. The 23-year-old has a very high floor because he keeps the ball in the yard and doesn’t walk people, though a potential AAA placement in Colorado Springs to begin the 2018 season would be the ultimate test of those skills. From a statistical standpoint only, I could see Burnes mimicking the numbers of a guy like Kyle Hendricks. He’ll never be a #1 or high-end #2 SP, but he certainly won’t cost you large stretches of success and will (likely) commonly aide your rotation tremendously.
43. Willie Calhoun, UTIL, TEX, Age: 23
I feel like there are hundreds of baseball gurus that want to take everything about June Calhoun’s offensive approach and inject it into their veins. No batting gloves, free swinging (without striking out), and huge success. Now, Calhoun plays in a league that can afford him at-bats without exposing his defensive shortcomings. The trade from the Dodgers to the Rangers was one of the best things (from a fantasy standpoint) that could have happened to Calhoun, and it appears as though his offensive prowess will take full-flight at the major league level in 2018. Rougned Odor comfortably roams second base on an everyday basis for the Rangers, so Calhoun will mainly play left field or DH (with occasional spells at 2B when Odors get a rest day). As far as projections go, I think Calhoun will be a perennial .280 AVG/25 HR hitter with spurts of something better. Calhoun has never neared a 20% K% in any of his professional seasons, so the high floor should make Calhoun a staple in fantasy lineups throughout the next decade.
42. Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL, Age: 21
Keston Hiura has never played a full season of professional baseball. Keston Hiura is one of the most pure hitters in the minor leagues. Defensive placement/potential is a major question mark with the 2017 first round pick, but the Brewers are brimming with confidence with Hiura. Heck, they even invited Hiura to their MLB Spring Training without a full-season of professional experience under his belt. I’m interested to see if his throwing-elbow holds up over time (he received a PRP during the offseason after reportedly partially tearing his UCL during his amateur career). Tommy John surgery would obviously cost him an entire season of development, so let’s hope the injection is enough to keep him on-the-field…. Forever. If surgery is officially out of the picture, Hiura remains a high AVG/OBP prospect with questionable power numbers. There’s certainly HR numbers to be had, but we won’t really get an idea of what those look like until Hiura plays a full professional season (that means that trained eyes will be watching him throughout the 2018 regular season). I expect him to tempt double-digit HRs as an MLB hitter with room to grow. The upside is the AVG and OBP numbers, which should remain around .300 and .350 respectively throughout Hiura’s minor league development.
41. Jo Adell, OF, LAA, Age: 19
If box-jump ability translated to baseball performance, Adell may be the next Babe Ruth. Seriously, if you haven’t watched Adell perform feats some would consider impossible, allow me to bless you here. In my rankings, Adell tops what is a meteorically-transformed farm system. He’s young, he’s an elite athlete, and he possesses a high-ceiling without a ‘holy crap my parachute isn’t opening’ floor. If I’m being detail-oriented, I think Adell’s ceiling increases while the floor decreases throughout what should be his first full-season of professional baseball. In general, I think he’ll be ranked primarily due to his notable ceiling this time next season. The Angels are about to be a legitimate threat throughout the next decade. Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani will obviously be the household names, but Adell has a chance to be a major factor in the rise to prominence as well. I’m iffy as to what defensive position Adell will play when he’s MLB-ready (there are probably more moving parts with the Angels’ future than any other MLB organization), but I do know that I’m all-in on the tools and future outlook.
40. Brendan McKay, SP, TB, Age: 22
I’m a little worried that McKay is ranked a little too high thanks to the pipedream that he remains a two-way player throughout his professional career, but the talent (namely as a pitcher, where I think he ends up) is unquestionable. McKay will make headlines as Shohei Ohtani Lite, but he should be on your radar as a potentially-overpowering southpaw. The Rays swear they aren’t tanking, and McKay was amongst the most advanced pitchers drafted last summer. They likely won’t be motivated to bring McKay along quickly (unless they miraculously content in the AL East. Not happening), and they’re known for promoting pitching prospects notoriously slow anyways. But if there’s any pitcher in their first full professional season who’s capable of taking an expedited path throughout Tampa’s system, it’s McKay. The prospect of owning a two-way player is fun and all, but draft McKay with the mindset that he’ll eventually become one of the best pitchers on your squad.
39. Alec Hansen, SP, CHW, Age: 23
My thoughts on Hansen prior to last season, when I ranked him as the 172nd best prospect in baseball:
“Hansen stands 6’7 and got his professional career started on the right foot after being taken in the second round by the White Sox during the 2016 draft. The White Sox promote pitching prospects like no other, so Hansen has a shot of advancing through the system quickly if he gets off to a solid start in 2017.”
Sorry, that’s just me tooting my own horn. Hansen pitched in three levels last season, dominating in stops at Low-A and High-A before cruising through his first 10.1 IP of AA ball. Hansen would easily be the top White Sox pitching prospect if Michael Kopech didn’t exist; even though Hansen doesn’t possess a triple-digit fastball and the Tommy Hilfiger-model looks of Kopech, their ceilings aren’t crazily-dissimilar (and Hansen certainly has a higher floor). The White Sox are at least a season away from being a playoff factor, so I certainly expect Hansen to spend most (if not all) of the 2018 season in AA and AAA. A late season cup of coffee could set the stage for Hansen’s first full season in the big leagues in 2019.
38. Michel Baez, SP, SD, Age: 22
Alec Hansen stands at an impressive 6’7, but he’s not even the tallest pitching prospect in the first two pitching prospects ranked in this post. Baez has only thrown 63.2 innings of professional ball, and he’s not young for his minor league level (which will likely be High-A to begin the 2018 season), but geez. If you’re looking for absurdity, check out what Baez did against batters in Rookie Ball and Low-A last season. It’s actually hard to find something to temper just how fantastic the right-hander was (if I’m nitpicking, Baez struggled to an extent with home runs, and he’s unlikely to maintain the super-low BABIP allowed this season). Ranking him so favorably is certainly risky, but he could easily outperform even the most bullish of expectations in his first full professional season. The bottom line is that Baez has been stateside for less than two years, he has THREE plus pitches (fastball, changeup, slider), and he’s still learning the game. That’s a recipe for developing a potential superstar, even if we have to keep the volatility of pitching prospects in the back of our mind.
37. Austin Meadows, OF, PIT, Age: 23
I really hope you didn’t give up on Austin Meadows. Last season was a disaster. He didn’t flash the elite hit tool as often as he should have. He didn’t flash the plus power tool much at all. He didn’t even flash the stolen base ability as much as we thought he would. I made the mistake of underranking J.P. Crawford after he underachieved during the first half of last season, but I won’t allow recency bias to cloud the massive potential that Meadows possesses. It likely won’t have an immediate impact on his ETA, but Andrew McCutchen being traded to the Giants was a positive (albeit indirect) step in Meadows’ path. I think he’ll start the regular season in AAA Indianapolis. He obviously (more so than any other prospect in my top 40) needs to show that he won’t spend a large chunk of each season on the disabled list, but he could make his major league debut sometime this regular season. You have a fantastic opportunity to jump on Meadows’ mini #PostHype appeal. You should take advantage while you still have the chance.
36. Willy Adames, SS, TB, Age: 22
Adames probably doesn’t have the ceiling that most of my #21-40 prospects have, but the floor is that of a usable middle infielder for the next decade. Actually, Adames easily has one of the safest floors of any prospect in the entire minor leagues. At his core, while there’s not one category he hangs his hat on, Adames has 15 HR/15 SB potential (with flashes of more). At his best, Adames will be one of the best shortstops in baseball from an OBP standpoint (he’ll always be more valuable in OBP leagues than AVG thanks to an attractive BB%). The Rays (for whatever reason) re-upped their love fest with Adeiny Hechavarria this offseason, and that muddles Adames path more than it should. He’ll almost certainly make his MLB debut at some point this regular season, and he should hold at least some value (even in relatively shallow leagues) from the onset.
35. Luis Urias, SS, SD, Age: 21
Ah, yes. We’ve arrived at the most underratedly polarizing prospect in baseball. Scouts see a major league-average middle infielder who will be good at a lot but great at nothing. Lovers of analytics see a player with phenomenal on-base ability and developing power who plays a premium position regardless of whether it’s at shortstop or second base. I have two main questions when it comes to Urias: 1) Is he capable of hitting double digit homeruns at the big league level? 2) Is he capable of stealing double digit bases at the big league level? My gut tells me that Urias will hit somewhere between 12-15 HRs at his peak, but he’ll only muster 5-8 swiped bags during that time period. The truth is, if you’re in love with Urias, it wasn’t for the power or steals anyways, but for the elite AVG and OBP. It’s also tasty to remember that Urias will likely bat at or near the top of the Padres order when their immense minor league talent reaches the major leagues in totality, so he’ll likely surpass 100 runs scored on an annual basis throughout much of his major league career (I’m all-in on the thought of some combination of Manny Margot, Urias, and Fernando Tatis Jr. batting back-to-back-to-back for San Diego in the relatively near future). It’s going to be weird to live in a world in which the Padres are really good, but it certainly seems like Urias will be one of the best players on a team that should compete with the Dodgers for the NL West within the next five seasons.
34. Jack Flaherty, STL, SP, Age: 22
Even though Flaherty is amongst the top 40 prospects in all of baseball by most sites and evaluators, is still seems like he’s flying under the radar—even amongst young Cardinals pitchers. Flaherty fits the classic profile of a stud pitching prospect who is major league ready but will be relegated to the minor leagues at the start of the regular season. Truth be told, the Cardinals would almost certainly be better off with Flaherty instead of Miles Mikolas (as a Cardinals fan, I’m still flabbergasted about that deal. It’s hard to conjure up a scenario in which St. Louis isn’t doomed over the course of the next decade). Instead, the Cardinals will likely give Mikolas wayyy too many opportunities to succeed while Flaherty wastes bullets in the minor leagues. Heck, Flaherty may not even be the immediate backup plan if the Cardinals lose a starting pitcher to injury (welcome back, Alex Reyes), so while it’s far from impossible, it’s probably best to temper your expectations of Flaherty being a staple in your fantasy rotation at any point this season. There may not be a superstar ceiling associated with Flaherty when you evaluate his tools or track record, but he should pitch as a #3 SP throughout the prime of his career. Imagine a quartet of Carlos Martinez, Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty. I just got chills. Even during his worst stretches, Flaherty’s above-average command and deep repertoire of pitches make a potential move to the bullpen fairly unlikely, which is a notion that is worth its weight in gold by itself.
33. Estevan Florial, OF, NYY, Age: 20
While the future MLB value of most top 40 prospects is labeled with a “when” instead of an “if”, Florial is more of a wild card within this elite group. Since he plays in the system of the most popular team in baseball, Florial’s profile is well-known. 13 HRs, 23 SBs, .372 OBP, all as a 19 year old in Low-A and High-A. Of course, the 31.1% K% is almost equally noticeable. Florial was completely omitted from some big-time industry lists due to his contact issues last season. I choose to believe that, like most 19 year old prospects playing against competition who (on average) is almost three years older, that Florial is still a work-in-progress whose pot of gold at the end of the rainbow just so happens to be superstardom. Those ideas are not mutually exclusive. A sustained K% would certainly limit Florial’s long-term potential, but a small improvement from 31% to something like 27% would open the optimal avenues of potential for the young outfielder (especially if he can maintain the double digit BB%). Some have thrown out a 30 HR/30 SB ceiling for Florial. I’ll be more conservative and project a 25 HR/25 SB ceiling with the acknowledgement that Florial could someday be the #1 overall prospect.
32. Juan Soto, WAS, OF, Age: 19
If you’ve been on-board with us at Prospects 365 for long, you know all about my love for Ronald Acuna long before he became a household name in the prospect world. What you might not know is that Soto was actually ‘runner up’ for my breakout prospect of last season. It looked like he was well on his way to putting up dynamite numbers, but injuries limited the teenager to only 123 total PA between Low-A and Rookie Ball. In those plate appearances, Soto largely overmatched his opposition. The corner outfielder batted .351/.415/.505 with 3 HRs and a hilariously-good 7.3% K%. The most deceiving part of those numbers? The lack of home runs. Soto is a physical specimen with potential to hit 25 HRs annually without sacrificing on-base ability (just don’t expect the silly triple slash numbers he posted against lesser competition last season). Soto needs to prove his durability over the course of an entire regular season, but if he can maintain his statistical pace (or anywhere near it) while remaining healthy, we’re probably talking about a top 10 or 15 prospect before it’s all said and done. I don’t blame the Nationals for not wanting to move Soto for non-premium major league assets.
31. Kyle Wright, SP, ATL, Age: 22
Just when it seemed as though the Braves had stockpiled all the high-quality arms they would ever need when their window of contention opened, they decided to draft Wright with their first round pick in last summer’s MLB draft. Perhaps the most polished arm that the Braves have added at the time of acquisition, Wright has a very good chance of jumping from level-to-level at a rapid pace (with a chance of making an MLB debut sometime this season!). I have a hunch that there’s some underrated bullpen potential with Wright, which would pummel his fantasy value while making quite a bit of sense for Atlanta. Wright has a full five-pitch arsenal (with four pitches that scouts consider potentially above average at the MLB level), so Wright doesn’t have much volatility in right handed/left handed splits like fellow-farmhand Luiz Gohara (who you’ll read about soon). I’m certainly not trying to scare you, but if his destiny forces him to a role in the bullpen, I could see Wright being one of the best swingmen in the entire major leagues. Every good team needs one, and Wright could certainly be the multi-inning reliever the Braves rely on as they rise to prominence in the NL East. If he remains a starting pitcher, Wright has the makeup and arsenal to be a high-end #3 SP with flashes or a little bit more. Regardless, Wright will almost certainly be a very-high value pitcher in real life with a strong possibility to be high-value in the fantasy world.
30. Lewis Brinson, OF, MIA, Age: 24
I’m not at all a fan of the risk associated to Brinson’s floor, but a ceiling achievement probably means you’re drafting Brinson in the same range as a guy like George Springer. From an offensive ballpark standpoint, Brinson’s value clearly took a hit when he was traded from Milwaukee to Miami as the centerpiece in the return for OF Christian Yelich. But it’s deeper than that. Brinson now faces much less competition to land everyday playing time, and whatever the future holds in Miami, Brinson is sure to be a key piece. Now I know I’m certainly not the first person to use this comparison (the fantastic writers at Baseball Prospectus nailed it), but Brinson’s floor resembles that of Keon Broxton’s. Some pop from time-to-time, some speed from time-to-time. But lots of strikeouts and an on-base ability that doesn’t really make the reward worth the risk. If Brinson is worth the plunge for you, the ceiling is a hybrid of Springer and Starling Marte’s best qualities. That’s a guy who can put your entire team on his back for weeks at a time.
29. Triston McKenzie, SP, CLE, Age: 21
From time-to-time, I like showing you my past evaluations on prospects. Here’s what I wrote last preseason when I ranked McKenzie as my 56th best prospect.
“There’s real concern that McKenzie never fills out physically. If he doesn’t, it’s likely that he’ll be relegated to a bullpen role (see: Carl Edwards Jr.). I’m choosing to believe that he does fill out, and that he also continues striking batters out at an impressive rate.”
A year has passed, and I feel like everything in that write-up still holds true. Now, McKenzie’s slender, 165 lb. frame didn’t hinder him from destroying High-A hitters in 143 IP last season. McKenzie’s 3.46 ERA was impressive, and the FIP and xFIP were even better (not to mention he averaged 11.7 K/9 (!!!!) and 2.8 BB/9). If McKenzie can post another ~150 IP season in 2018 (in AA) with similar strikeout, walk, and runs allowed numbers, I’ll officially be on the ‘Triston McKenzie can succeed in the MLB as a 165 pound starting pitcher’ train. If McKenzie currently weighed 180 pounds, I think he’d be a top 15 prospect in all of baseball. Something to think about.
28. Mike Soroka, SP, ATL, Age: 21
Soroka is listed at 6’5 225 lbs. on most sites that list that information, but he actually looks even more like of a thoroughbred in person. Hips. Like. Tree. Trunks. I watched Soroka pitch in-person last summer, and if he had been at-age, I’d consider Soroka an extremely high-floor pitcher who pitches to contact and eats innings. But seeing as Soroka was an amazing five years YOUNGER than the average-age competition in the Southern League, it was quite impressive. I’m still not sure Soroka will ever be a premium-strikeout starting pitcher (he lacks the elite velocity at this point), but I think he has an above-average chance of being a great #3 SP with flashes of a #2 SP from time-to-time. The Braves will certainly trade pitching assets at some point to acquire positional talent when they’re ready to contend, but I have a hunch that Soroka will play in Atlanta for most of his career. From a statistical standpoint, I think Soroka’s prime will be comparable to that of Jose Quintana. Always solid, never spectacular.
27. Scott Kingery, 2B, PHI, Age: 24
Cesar Hernandez is going to rightfully hinder a top 40 prospect from playing his native position once they’re officially promoted to the big leagues. Truth is, Hernandez is an underrated MLB asset and Kingery seems to possess the versatility to excel at defensive positions other than second base. Kingery witnessed his home run total jump from 5 in 2016 to 26 (!) last season, a number that no one saw coming from the 5’10 180 lb. second baseman (if you’re wondering, Kingery has above average lower-body strength and explosive hips). Now entrenched in the top half of prospect lists, Kingery will likely begin this season in AAA with a promotion to the big leagues on the near-horizon. To go with the surprising power, Kingery also notched 29 stolen bases last season (so we’re clear, Kingery hit 26 bombs and swiped 29 bags in 2017…. all while slashing .304/.359/.530). With Hernandez likely retaining the 2B job in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future, Kingery could play third base or in the outfield at the beginning of his career (or even shortstop if J.P. Crawford flounders). After long being reluctant, I’m finally buying in to Kingery’s future. Not to mention he’ll be playing on a playoff contender throughout most of his career….
26. Luiz Gohara, SP, ATL, Age: 22
Straight up: If Gohara genuinely weighs 210 lbs. (as he’s listed on team and statistical sites), then McDonald’s has the most reliable ice cream machines in the fast-food game. It simply isn’t true. When I saw him this summer, Gohara reminded me more of a pulling offensive guard than anything in this world associated with 210 pounds. Another meteoric riser, Gohara played in four different professional levels last season, capping his season with a 29.1 IP stint in Atlanta at the conclusion of the 2017 regular season (it should be noted that the Braves needed to expedite Gohara’s path due to possible exposure in the Rule 5 draft had he not been protected). The southpaw uses a fastball-slider pairing to be a high-strikeout pitcher, but his long-term value likely rests in his ability to overcome struggles against right-handed hitters. Gohara currently finds himself in the midst of a battle with Sean Newcomb and Max Fried for the final two spots in Atlanta’s starting rotation. If Gohara continues to develop and reaches his ceiling, the common comp is prime C.C. Sabathia. That accomplishment would mean that Gohara would be a main anchor for a Braves team competing for the National League crown on a yearly basis.
25. Luis Robert, OF, CHW, Age: 21
Robert’s brief 28 game sample in Rookie Ball last season certainly isn’t going to temper the expectations for a player described as “the best player on the planet, no questions asked” by an evaluator less than a calendar year ago. Now in his first big league Spring Training, White Sox and baseball fans alike are daydreaming about Robert, Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada someday forming a terrific trio for one of the most talented teams in the MLB. Robert has all tools (and then some) necessary to be a five-tool superstar. I think Robert has 60-power, 70-speed future value. The hit tool will be a work in progress for awhile (which means the K% may be suboptimal for awhile too), but Robert should benefit from a high BABIP throughout his career that will make his on base statistics tolerable (or more than tolerable) as he approaches his prime. Robert will be 21 in August, but the White Sox will almost certainly be patient with Robert’s path; their window of contention will likely officially open in 2020, and I think that’s when Robert will become an everyday MLB player (though I think he’ll likely get promoted sometime next season). The rock bottom floor is quite low, but Robert’s top-level ceiling resembles that of a 30 HR/30 SB player.
24. A.J. Puk, SP, OAK, Age: 23
There were questions about Puk’s command and ability (as a 6’7 220 lb. mammoth) to repeat his pitching mechanics consistently when he was taken with the 6th overall pick of the 2016 MLB Draft, but the former Florida Gator has put those worries to bed and is now knocking on the door of an MLB debut. I love when a prospect uses everything in his toolbox to his advantage, and Puk certainly does that. The southpaw uses his massive frame to utilize extension that most pitchers can only dream of. Puk has an above-average fastball that pairs well with a wipeout slider, and his changeup and curveball appear to be MLB average pitches at worst. Athletics manager Bob Melvin has already alluded to Puk’s big league readiness (though he acknowledged he doesn’t make personnel decisions), and a couple of sites have labeled the left-hander as a dark horse candidate to break camp in the A’s starting rotation. I think it’s much more likely he begins in AAA, but a mid-summer promotion (if he performs to potential) is certainly possible (if not likely). Puk has potential to be a strikeout-heavy #2 SP.
23. Taylor Trammell, OF, CIN, Age: 20
You already know my thoughts on Trammell. I’m all in.
22. Hunter Greene, SP, CIN, Age: 19
I wonder if there’s anyone in this world who looked at Greene’s microscopic 4.1 IP sample in Rookie Ball at the end of last season, saw his ERA, and think “Oh crap, I can’t draft this scrub!” Smh. Just think: Most fantasy baseball leagues are jam-packed full of scrubs. Greene is a prodigy. Based on talent alone, there’s potential for the teenager to someday be talked about in the same breath as Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. Seriously. The question is, do you trust a pitching prospect who’s younger than 20 years old to develop into what he’s ‘destined’ to be? Will the arm stay healthy? Will he mature physically like evaluators expect him to? If you believe the answer to both of those questions is yes, then you’ll happily pay the top-25 prospect price for Greene. If you’re a patient fantasy owner who understands that prospect development (especially for pitchers) will have its peaks and valleys, I actually like Greene’s value at this spot. Just understand that perhaps more so than any other prospect drafted last summer, the Reds will be super-conservative with Greene’s progression through their minor league system.
21. Royce Lewis, SS, MIN, Age: 19
My gut tells me there was a slight (and perhaps indirect or accidental) downgrade for Lewis out-of-the-gate because of Mickey Moniak’s disastrous start as a professional player shortly after being drafted with the first overall pick of the 2016 MLB draft. All you need to know about what the Twins think of Lewis is that they haven’t (to this point, anyways) been willing to include Lewis in any discussions pertaining to a trade for Rays ace Chris Archer. In my calculation, there’s nothing Lewis can’t do. He’ll hit for average, he has some pop, he’s a tremendous threat on the bases, he’s fantastic defensively and he’s a superb team leader. While he may never be the 30 HR middle infielder that’s so sexy within prospect circles, Lewis does possess the across-the-board skillset that could potentially make him the #1 overall prospect. The Twins have done a fantastic job of shoring up their active roster this offseason, but their main window of contention will likely open when players like Lewis and Brent Rooker emerge as big time offensive major league threats to pair with Byron Buxton’s budding stardom. Lewis and Buxton can eventually form one of the most formidable duos in the big leagues.
20. Brent Honeywell, SP, TB, Age: 23
I had Honeywell ranked just outside of my top 10, then we learned the right-hander (who was on the cusp of making his big league debut) needs Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL in his pitching elbow. It’s an unfortunate blow to one of the best pitching prospects in the game as well as a sobering reminder of just how volatile even the safest of pitching prospects can be. To adjust, I moved Honeywell similarly to how I moved Alex Reyes last preseason when Reyes underwent Tommy John surgery during Spring Training. The sad thing is I think that might be too generous. Reyes figures to be a major cog for the Cardinals as a 23-year-old rookie who already had his first stint in the major leagues. At best, Honeywell will be a 24 year old making his major league debut sometime next season. At worst, Honeywell becomes a #posthype guy whodoesn’t get his feet firmly planted in the big leagues until 2020, when he’s 25 years old. Other than the unfortunate recovery time, Tommy John isn’t nearly as disastrous as it was once perceived to be. There’s no reason to assume Honeywell will be worth anything less than the 11.3 K/9, ~2.75 FIP we witnessed last season. Unless there’s an unexpected hiccup during the recovery process, Honeywell remains a low SP #2, high SP #3 who won’t be a major league factor until sometime next season.
19. Mitch Keller, SP, PIT, Age: 22
Keller has become the epitome of the top-tier SP prospect you don’t hear too much about, but he’s never been anything but solid and you should probably pay more attention to him than you currently do. Keller has ‘a strikeout per inning’ potential, he doesn’t walk many batters, he keeps the ball in the field-of-play, and he’s maintained a low ERA, FIP, and xFIP throughout the course of his professional career. The Pirates have enough MLB starter-ish arms to likely keep Keller in the minor leagues for the majority one of more regular season. I’ll get more into this later, but I kind of think the Pirates will exceed expectations this season, thanks in no small-part to the starting rotation. In my dreams, Keller, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Joe Musgrove, and ‘insert name here’ will eventually form one of the best rotations in all of baseball. I think the mystique of Ray Searage has been overplayed recently, but I’m not sure Keller needs much help to reach his full potential. If I have time before Opening Day, I’m going to write a piece on how I believe the ideology of owning pitching prospects should change (it’s already kind of changing?). Simply put, for a couple of different reasons, Keller is a pitching prospect I’d currently acquire if possible. That shouldn’t really have to be said about a top 20 overall prospect, but we’re definitely #shook following the recent Brent Honeywell news.
18. Sixto Sanchez, SP, PHI, Age: 20
The biggest criticism I’ve ever received throughout a prospect list release is that I failed to include Sanchez in my #Top200 prospect list last preseason, and boy do I regret it. On the flip side of me saying that Mitch Keller is a prospect I’d like to acquire stock in, I think Sanchez is actually quite risky despite his high ranking. Honestly, the high ranking plays a fairly large role in the risk. Don’t get me wrong: The risk has absolutely nothing to do with talent. Sanchez won’t be 20 until July, so he could have as many as two full-seasons of development remaining in the minor leagues. That’s a wholeeeeeee lot of time for a pitching prospect to remain linear in their development, regardless of track record. Just saying. Statistically speaking, Sanchez is everything you want in a pitcher: A fastball that tops-out in the triple digits, high strikeouts, low walks, low home runs, etc. and so forth. On paper, the biggest hurdle Sanchez faces is succeeding at a level higher than High-A. He’ll receive that opportunity during the 2018 season, and there’s a chance that Sanchez is the top pitching prospect in baseball heading into next season. Of course, he could also eventually be a cautionary tale as to why it’s extremely risky to acquire top-tier, low-level pitching prospects at a premium price (if you play in a non-dynasty league). I like Sanchez, and I generally like Phillies fans. Here’s to hoping Sanchez continues to develop into the star he appears to be.
17. Bo Bichette, SS, TOR, Age: 20
If you’re not a fan of paying a premium price for a prospect with a funky swing, Bichette likely isn’t your cup of tea. But it’s hard to overstate just how good the legacy was last season, totaling 14 HRs and stealing 22 bases between Low-A and High-A while slashing a ridiculous .362/.423/.565. There’s some concern that Bichette’s unique swing mechanics won’t remain as effective against better competition, but the truth is that Bichette’s on-base numbers could regress to an extent this season without the middle infielder losing too much value. If Bichette continues to overwhelm pitchers in AA and so forth, he could potentially be ranked similarly to how Gleyber Torres currently is (inside of the top 10 across-the-board). For now, the Blue Jays offense is simply inadequate when compared to that of the Yankees and Red Sox. But if Bichette, Anthony Alford and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. can reach their near-full potential (or better), Toronto will be comparable offensively to the teams that featured the younger versions of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. All three should officially reach the MLB-level while Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez still have plenty of bullets left in their right arms, which is a scary thought for opposing fans.
16. MacKenzie Gore, SP, SD, Age: 19
High-leg kicks and high ceilings. Not only is that phrase an impressive slogan for a pitching prospect website, it’s also a perfect description of the outlook for the phenom, teenage pitching prospect. Gore was taken third overall in last summer’s MLB draft, and he’s the only pitcher ranked 1-20 who will pitch the entirety of the 2018 season as a teenager. The Padres have Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon, Cal Quantrill, Anderson Espinoza, Eric Lauer, and Logan Allen who ALL have mid-rotation ceilings. Gore has a better floor/ceiling combination than anyone in that group. He certainly fits into the “please be careful” conversation that I detailed when discussing Sixto Sanchez (see above), but it’s hard to contain your excitement over a guy frequently compared to a Jon Lester/Cole Hamels hybrid. Gore will utilize his four-pitch arsenal and above-average command in full-season ball at some point this season (the Padres will look for ways to restrict Gore’s innings when applicable early in his professional career). There’s a fairly-uncrazy path of output that would lead to Gore being baseball’s best pitching prospect this time next season.
15. Walker Buehler, SP, LAD, Age: 24
Including Buehler, two of the next three prospects listed seem to be major success stories on how it’s certainly possible for pitching prospects to overcome the once-dreaded Tommy John surgery. Buehler showed his gargantuan strikeout potential throughout four (yes, four) different levels last season. Beginning in High-A and ending in Los Angeles with the Dodgers, Buehler compiled 125 strikeouts in only 88.2 IP. With last season’s inning total being the highest Buehler has posted during his professional career, the Dodgers will likely restrict Buehler’s workload again this season. The right-hander’s spring timetable has been slowed anyways thanks to back stiffness, so Buehler’s Opening Day status remains blurry at best. Knowing the Dodgers, I’d guess that Buehler will begin the season as a multi-inning reliever or AAA starter-on-a-pitch-count before being stretched out and assuming a spot in the Dodgers rotation. Buehler has potential to be a strikeout heavy, low-end #2/elite #3 SP.
14. J.P. Crawford, SS, PHI, Age: 23
The most-patient of fantasy baseball prospect owners are reaping some serious benefits for holding on to Crawford throughout his struggles from time-to-time over the past two seasons. Crawford went on an insane stretch while in AAA last season, recapturing his game power and posting a .351 OBP thanks to possessing one of the most high-disciplined plate approaches in baseball. There’s a pretty substantial difference in value for Crawford depending on whether you play in an AVG-league or OBP-league. The shortstop doesn’t have a track record of posting .300 batting averages, but a delicious walk rate (14.2% BB% in 556 PA last season in AAA) increases his usefulness if your league uses OBP. As I’ve stated, the Phillies are about to reprise their role as a contender in the NL East. Crawford has a golden opportunity to be the face of their contention window. Crawford has .370 OBP/15 HR/10 SB potential, which means he’d be a starting shortstop even in shallow fantasy leagues.
13. Alex Reyes, SP, STL, Age: 23
Much like Buehler, Reyes has overcome receiving a new ligament in his throwing elbow, and now he’s knocking on the door of becoming a stronghold in the big leagues. I wouldn’t trust the Cardinals’ front office to sharpen a pencil (much less manage an entire baseball organization), so I imagine Reyes will play whatever role is the least important for the Cardinals’ pitching staff once he’s officially unleashed shortly after Opening Day. He’s not my 2nd ranked pitching prospect on this list, but I think Reyes has the most potential of any pitcher in my #Top200 list who’s not named Michael Kopech. With his arm troubles hopefully in the rear-view mirror, Reyes’ right wing will continue to get stronger throughout the 2018 regular season. If he progresses fairly linearly, Reyes should clock anywhere from 98-100 MPH regularly as a fixture in the Cardinals rotation next season. Whether he’s utilized as a high-leverage reliever, a multi-inning swingman, or handed a spot in the rotation from the onset, Reyes will hold real-life and fantasy value as soon as he toes the rubber in a regular season game for the first time since the 2016 season.
12. Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU, Age: 21
Is having your swing compared to that of Ted Williams good? That’s been the common comparison for Tucker this spring in Astros camp. I’ve spoken to a couple of scouts who were negatively taken aback by the outfielder’s poor showing last fall in the Arizona Fall League (triple-slash of .214/.305/.310 in 95 PA), but Tucker has silenced the naysayers by dominating in early Spring Training games this preseason. The 21-year-old’s swing is a little more timing-based than most hitters, so it’s feasible to think that Tucker could be a streaky offensive performer against the best pitchers in the world once he reaches the major league level. Most evaluators believe that Tucker won’t replicate his stolen base effectiveness in the big leagues, but I do think he’ll be capable of swiping ~10 bags annually to pair with his .350 OBP/25 HR potential. If Tucker thrives against AAA pitching to being the regular season, it’s possible that he’s a regular for the Astros before July 4th. It’s wild to think that Tucker could eventually be one of the biggest offensive contributors for a big league club who just won the World Series. If you were having doubts, the Astros are here to stay.
11. Francisco Mejia, C, CLE, Age: 22
Ranking a catcher this high on a prospect list can make an evaluator look like a genius or an idiot. In Mejia’s case, I’ll be a genius if he remains locked in at the catcher position. His hit tool will likely remain phenomenal, and his power should continue developing. On the other hand, this ranking will make me look like an imbecile if Mejia gets moved from the catcher position to third base. Sure, the hitting prowess and increasing power will remain. But how much fantasy value does a .320 AVG, 15-20 HR third baseman have? Maybe some, but not nearly as much as a catcher with the same stats. So what’s the future hold? Mejia’s career outlook has been a main topic of conversation between myself and the industry folks I’ve befriended over the last calendar year. I wish I had some breaking news to report, but it’s nearly a 50/50 split between folks who think Mejia will stick as a backstop throughout his career and people who think he projects as a future third baseman. The actuality may lie somewhere in the middle. It’s certainly easy to visualize a scenario in which Mejia plays catcher for the first few seasons of his career before transitioning to a less-taxing defensive position (similarly to what the Indians did with Carlos Santana). Mejia is currently a less-safe own than he would seem, so hopefully we get some thorough clarity relatively soon.
10. Forrest Whitley, SP, HOU, Age: 20
You see Forrest Whitley being suspended 50 games for a violation of the minor league’s drug program policy. I see a golden opportunity to acquire the second-best pitching prospect in baseball. A lot of people will forevermore view Whitley as a bonafide cheater, though the story I’ve been told paints Whitley as a much-less egregious offender than he’s been made out to be. I ranked Whitley 117th last preseason, now he’s in my top 10. If you were bullish on Whitley from the onset, you’re likely reaping the benefits right now. And to be frank, I could care less about Whitley getting nicked with a drug program violation (unless he failed a test for something much more severe than what I’m hearing). He likely wasn’t going to be a factor in Houston throughout the first 50 games anyways, so at worst, this pushes Whitley’s ETA back to the beginning of 2019 instead of the end of 2018. Size-wise, Whitley’s 6’7 240 lb. frame is comparable to A.J. Puk. Statistically, Whitley’s run through three different levels last season is comparable to… nobody. Eventually pitching in front of one of the best defenses (and overall teams) in the major leagues, Whitley has the potential to be the best pitcher on your fantasy team as early as 2020 or 2021.
9. Michael Kopech, SP, CHW, Age: 22
Imagine a fantasy baseball owner who doesn’t prioritize fireballers. You really want that guy to be your friend? Absolutely not. Kopech hangs his hat on the triple digit fastball, but I get the sense that his focus this season will be honing his offspeed offerings in effort to make him a complete pitcher. Kopech’s biggest red-flag heading into last season was his command, but we witnessed it decrease by almost a batter per innings from 2016 to last season (even if it came at the expense of a few strikeouts here and there). Simply put, Kopech is learning how to pitch under the bright lights. As he likely prepares to begin the regular season in AAA, Kopech needs to continue showing his improved command and ability to strikeout batters frequently. For now, Kopech’s ceiling-comp lies somewhere between Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Martinez. You don’t want to know Kopech’s floor comp (but I’ll tell you anyways: It’s a mixture of Tyler Glasnow and a high-leverage reliever). I’m hopeful that Kopech has finally put the ‘character red flag’ worries to rest so we can spend the entirety of the 2018 season pinpointing just how good the right-hander can be. He’s the only starting pitcher in the minor leagues who has a ceiling of a genuine #1 SP (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).
8. Nick Senzel, IF, CIN, Age: 23
Just when it seemed like Senzel’s floor couldn’t be higher, the Reds upper-management announced that Senzel would see action in the middle infield to increase his potential versatility defensively at the big league level. Check this: Senzel has one of the highest floors in ALL of baseball. He’ll bat .300 (at least) without breaking much of a sweat as an MLB player, but the question is if he’ll be a 15 HR hitter or a 20 HR hitter. With his offensive ability, I tend to think Senzel will find a way to max out his tools; with that in mind, I could see Senzel posting .325 AVG/20 HR seasons during his prime. The Reds are about to be much better than they’ve been over the past five seasons, and Senzel figures to play a huge role in their uprising. Much like his feature teammate Joey Votto, Senzel is a guy who can easily be under-appreciated because he’ll never be earth-shattering in anything that fair-weathered fans care about. He will, however, play a crucial role in winning fantasy championships throughout the course of the next decade.
7. Gleyber Torres, IF, NYY, Age: 21
I doubt Torres would still be a prospect if he didn’t suffer a freak UCL injury last season, but here we are. The addition of Giancarlo Stanton to an already-loaded Yankees lineup is a nice plus for Torres’ future, seeing as he’ll probably bat in front of Stanton and Aaron Judge once he finally settles in with a big league role. The Yankees have some fascinating decisions to make in regards to Torres. Will he begin the season in AAA or with the big league club? Does he play second base or third base? My best guess is that the Yankees take it slow and let Torres get reaccustomed to game action in the minor leagues to begin the season. Whether it be May or June (or even later), Torres will get the call and become the Yankees everyday second baseman, with the possibility of playing some shortstop or third base depending on performance and injuries. Torres will be one of the main pieces in what’s assumed to be one of the best teams in the leagues for the foreseeable future. It’s fathomable that we see some big-time regression with Didi Gregorious in the near future, which would likely lead to Torres shifting back to his native shortstop position at some point.
6. Brendan Rodgers, SS, COL, Age: 21
Basically an afterthought when compared to the uberathletes listed around him, all Rodgers does is post outrageously good offensive numbers no matter the minor league level he’s playing in. It’s true, Rodgers doesn’t possess the elite athleticism that Fernando Tatis Jr., Victor Robles, and Ronald Acuna possess. But he’s got plenty of functional athleticism (which is my fancy way of saying that Rodgers is ‘just’ athletic enough to get by at his defensive position without becoming a burden), and he certainly has the offensive skillset to be a wonderful asset regardless of his future defensive position. My main long-term concern with Rodgers is his walk rate, though it didn’t stop him from slashing .336/.373/.567 last season between High-A and AA. He’ll likely being the 2018 regular season back in AA, but he has a chance to be a major league player by September. My gut tells me that we saw the absolute best of Trevor Story during the 2016 season, and that Rodgers will eventually assume the everyday shortstop position in Denver. He’s a .300 AVG/25 HR MLB middle infielder who will bat in one of the best offensive lineups in the major leagues. That’ll preach.
5. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SD, Age: 19
FTJ was my 126th ranked prospect last preseason. He’s now my 5th ranked prospect. As far as meteoric rises go, Tatis Jr. arguably tops any prospect over the last calendar year. The shortstop threw up a ridiculous 22 HR/32 SB statline last season, but the total value isn’t that far off to what Tatis could eventually be worth at the major league level. Before I was all-in, I ranked FTJ 50th in my midseason top 100 prospect list last season. The player I comped Tatis to? Manny Machado (I’m not the first person to note the similarities). I think Tatis Jr. has an above-average chance of eventually transitioning from shortstop to third base, but the offensive attributes could make FTJ a fantasy superstar regardless of his defensive position. The stolen bases will likely decrease as Tatis Jr. finalizes his physical development, but the power numbers should cap-out near the 30 HR mark. That’s with double-digit stolen bases and a favorable OBP. Get the picture? I think the strikeout rate eventually settles near the 25% mark, which will be a tiny-prick-of-the-finger when you consider the overall value that Tatis Jr. brings to your team. As a six-year-old Cardinals fan, I was listening on FM radio when Fernando Tatis Sr. hit two grand slams in one inning while playing for the Cardinals. His son will live in infamy for much more than a one-inning anomaly.
4. Eloy Jimenez, OF, CHW, Age: 21
I comped Eloy to Nelson Cruz last season, and I still really like the comparison. Others in the industry have compared Jimenez to Kyle Schwarber, which is perplexing until you take into account the fact that Jimenez won’t struggle against southpaws the way the left-handed hitting Schwarber does. Regardless of who he most closely resembles, Jimenez has the potential to someday be a .300 AVG/30 HR big leaguer. That’s elite, and something that only a handful of baseball players on planet Earth can claim. I tend to juggle Jimenez’s ETA, mostly because of the White Sox’ contention window. If he can stay healthy, he’ll almost certainly be capable of being an MLB-regular by some point this summer. With all exterior factors and ulterior motives in play, the worst-case scenario seems to be a cup-of-coffee for Jimenez in 2018 and the opportunity to break camp with Chicago next season. In a league that continues trending toward prioritizing players with massive powers, Jimenez completely fits the profile.
3. Victor Robles, OF, WAS, Age: 21
With all the hype surrounding Ronald Acuna, Robles has somehow become underrated on prospect lists heading into the 2018 season. The truth is, even without the current glitz and glamour that Acuna possesses, Robles has just as much potential with slightly less power. Robles is tooled out, and if Bryce Harper remains with the Nationals following the 2018 season, he’ll bat in one of the best lineups in the league in the early stages of his career. Yes, Bryce Harper’s future status impacts much more than Harper alone. Out of the spotlight for now, the next few weeks is the perfect time for you to check in with your league mate to ensure they’re dead set on keeping the young star. Robles is going to be very good for a very long time. Adam Eaton is expected to be fully-healthy on Opening Day, so Robles will perhaps absorb his last bit of seasoning before receiving a promotion to The Show at some point during the regular season. Robles is a player who may be better in real life than in fantasy, but he’ll be so freakin’ good in real life that he’ll be very, very good in fantasy as well.
2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, TOR, Age: 19
Likely the #1 overall prospect next season, the 20-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has just begun scratching the surface of his potential. He totaled a .323/.425/.485 triple slash with 13 HRs, 76 RBIs and a fantastically low 13.4 K%… all while being, on average, 3.8 years younger than his Low-A and High-A competition. VGJ is still growing and developing physically, and we should begin to see his raw strength more this season. I would be shocked if Guerrero Jr. doesn’t at least threaten (if not surpass) the 20 HR mark in 2018. His future position is a question mark (I tend to think he’ll eventually move from the hot corner to 1B), but he legitimately possesses every necessary offensive tool to be an all star (and hold all star value in fantasy leagues) regardless of his defensive position. I’m not the first person to conjure up this thought, but I could certainly see VGJ’s career take a similar path to Miguel Cabrera’s. If you’re new to baseball, that’s absolutely an upper-echelon compliment.
1. Ronald Acuna, OF, ATL, Age: 20
Mike Trout. That feels almost blasphemous to say, but if Ronald Acuna lives up to the hype and the expectations, his value will be similar to that of the best player in the sport. We’ve come such a long way from following the High-A Florida Fire Frogs Twitter account to track his at-bats and stats. Barring injury, 2018 will be the year we see Acuna don an Atlanta Braves jersey and take his place amongst the exciting up-and-comers in the big leagues. The many nuances of service time likely means he’ll start the season in AAA Gwinnett, but I’d imagine he’ll be an everyday outfielder for the Braves before the end of June. I’m sure pitchers (even in AAA) will make adjustments to Acuna’s tendencies from the 2017 season, so I’m interested to see how he performs from the starting line. You’ve probably read about the Braves reportedly ‘wanting Acuna to wear his hat the correct way’, which is absolutely ridiculous. But my takeaway from that story is that Acuna is viewed in such a light that even the tiniest of things can cause a big stir to some people, which is an honor in a way. This is only my second full season as an amateur baseball evaluator, but Acuna (whose flamboyance can play a role in continuing to usher in a new era in the MLB) is far-and-away the best prospect I’ve evaluated to this point. It’s almost sad that my love affair with ‘prospect’ Ronald Acuna is almost over. It’s been a fantastic ride. Thankfully, my admiration gets to evolve to loving ‘MLB star’ Ronald Acuna. Enjoy his prospect status while you still can, there won’t be many like him.
Love my list? Hate my list? Either way, prepare yourself for the extensive Q&A article I’ll be fielding and publishing prior to Opening Day based on my #Top200 list. I’d be more than happy to answer any question you have about my stance on individual prospects or my list holistically.
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