Written by: Ray Butler
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It’s finally here.
Not a minute too soon, I’m ready to release the latest edition of my top 200 prospect list. A tremendous amount of thought and effort has been put into this project (as I’m sure you’ll notice over the course of the next couple of weeks), but that certainly doesn’t make my list perfect or above reproach.
Regardless, I enjoy this series more than anything I create leading up to or during baseball season. I genuinely hope you enjoy it.
Without further ado…
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.
On deck: Prospects #161-180
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Featured image courtesy of Baseball America