Ray Butler’s 2018 Top 200 MLB Prospects: #141-160

Written by: Ray Butler

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High-ceiling, high-floor, post-hype, and underrated. There’s nearly an equal mixture of those four labels with the following 20 prospects as we continue our #Top200 release.

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.

On deck: Prospects #121-140

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Featured image courtesy of MiLB.com

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