Written by: Ray Butler
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Another MLB midseason has arrived, which means it’s time for my annual midseason top 200 prospect list. As always, thanks to Fangraphs and Baseball Reference for the statistical side of everything. Thanks to Jason Woodell, John Calvagno, John Eshleman and Adam McInturff for the in-person insight that allowed me to fill in the blanks on several of the prospects you’re about to read about.
Most of all, thank YOU. The continued growth and interest in @Prospects365 and the site has certainly made the time and effort that goes into any prospect list worthwhile. This is just the beginning.
I hope you enjoy my 2018 midseason top 200 prospect list.
200. Pablo Lopez, SP, MIA, Age: 22
No pitching prospect in baseball has done more to earn your attention this season than Lopez, compiling a 1.15 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning in 54.2 IP between stops at AA and AAA. A former Mariner, Lopez throws a ton of strikes (1.6 BB/9 in 2018), so the floor is comfortable despite the right hander’s unspectacular ceiling. Now a call away from a big league debut, Lopez should eventually settle into the back end of the Marlins starting rotation and perform like a low-end #3 SP from time to time. I recently wrote about Lopez in the Ramblings.
199. Edgar Arredondo, SP, TEX, Age: 21
One of the more under-appreciated pitching prospects in baseball, Arredondo has breezed thru High-A competition this season, mostly as a 20 year old. The 6’3 right-hander has struck out 28% of batters he’s faced in 2018 (good for a 10.3 K/9), all while walking only 1.7 batters per nine innings and posting a 2.88 ERA. Now 21, Arredondo *could* get a taste of Double-A ball before the end of the regular season.
198. Thomas Szapucki, SP, NYM, Age: 22
Following Tommy John surgery in July of last season, Szapucki likely won’t return to competition until 2019, where he’ll likely be a 22 year old pitching in Low-A ball. Drafted in 2015, Szapucki has never thrown more than 52 innings as a professional. There’s obviously a ton of risk here, but with two plus pitches and the ability to miss bats at an astronomical rate, Szapucki still warrants consideration in deep, prospect-oriented leagues.
197. Braxton Garrett, SP, MIA, Age: 20
Another Tommy John recipient who finds himself on the tail end of my top 200, Garrett will return to action in 2019 as a 21 year old. While likely returning to A-ball, the southpaw features a fastball that plays up thanks to a plus curveball and above average command. A 2016 first rounder, Garrett’s professional career is off to a rocky start, but he still has the potential to someday be a middle-of-the-rotation big league starter.
196. Freudis Nova, 3B, HOU, Age: 18
An eighteen year old who’s never played full season ball, Nova is just one of the players (but the first seen in my updated rankings) who epitomizes my new method of ranking prospects. A 6’1 third baseman, Nova is currently graded with a 60-future hit, 50-future game power and 60 grade speed tools. He doesn’t profile as the prototypical powerful hot corner player, but Nova is worthy of your attention nonetheless.
195. Adam Haseley, OF, PHI, Age: 22
Andrew Benintendi Ultra Lite had a poor start to the 2018 regular season, but he’s since positively regressed to a .296/.336/.399 slash with 3 HR and 7 SB in 268 plate appearances. He doesn’t possess the raw power of Benintendi, but Haseley has a well-rounded skillset that should eventually make him valuable in real life and in the fantasy world. I’d love to see the 4.5 BB% improve, but Haseley’s long term status on prospects lists is dependent on the development of his plate approach anyways.
194. Connor Scott, OF, MIA, Age: 18
A 6’4, left-handed prep bat from Florida, Scott was drafted by the Marlins in the first round of the recently-completed MLB draft. Scott possesses a polished plate approach for a high schooler and borderline plus-plus speed, but I suspect there’s more to his power profile than the 40 he’s been graded with to this point. Already drawing comparisons to Kyle Tucker (who actually graduated from the same high school as Scott), the outfielder figures to add muscle to his wiry frame that could change his skillset during his minor league career.
193. Jalen Beeks, SP, BOS, Age: 24
The left-hander is already 24 years old and had an awful MLB debut recently, but the truth is he’s made some substantial improvements to his game and should be considered a potential late-blooming impact arm. I’m more than willing to dismiss his big league debit as a case of nerves, which makes it easier to focus on the fact he’s struck out 34.7% of batters he’s faced in AAA while also managing a 2.0 BB/9. I know the age doesn’t exactly make Beeks an attractive prospect hold, but there’s legitimate low-end 3/4 stuff here. I wrote more about Beeks in the Ramblings last month.
192. Tyler Stephenson, C, CIN, Age: 21
A big-bodied 21 year old in High-A, Stephenson has rode a 11.6 BB% to a .364 OBP so far this season. He’s added 6 HR in 225 plate appearances, and his 60-grade raw power should someday allow him to post 20+ home run seasons. The backstop has a long way to go as a receiver, but he has a cannon for an arm and should remain behind the plate throughout his professional career.
191. Lucas Erceg, 3B, MIL, Age: 23
I so badly want to quit including Erceg in my rankings, but I don’t have the guts to ignore his raw power yet. The third baseman has had poor batted ball luck so far this season (a .257 BABIP that’s led to a .234/.294/.340 slash), but it’s also important to remember that he’s now 23 years old and north of a full season removed from posting notable counting stats. Consider this my last-ditch hope that Erceg plays to his prospect-list potential in the second half.
190. Hans Crouse, SP, TEX, Age: 19
The next few months will be big for the Hans Crouse hype-train, as we’re in the process of seeing the 6’4 southpaw for the first time in Short Season ball. Possessor of a plus fastball and a plus-plus curve, the development of Crouse’s changeup and command will dictate his trek to stardom moving forward. If the walk numbers are down throughout the summer, Crouse should flirt with top 100-125 prospect status next preseason.
189. Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE, Age: 22
The first baseman has done *so much* to put to rest his contact issues from 2016 (29.7 K% then, 22.9 K% now), but the slash numbers have somehow drastically declined during that time. Bradley has had horrific batted ball luck this season, posting a .203 BABIP (!) that’s caused his slash numbers to suffer to the tune of .188/.296/.396. He should exceed the 23 HR he hit last season (he currently has 10), and while the Indians have a long-term need at first base, as a repeater in AA, Bradley seems no closer to a big league debut than he was on Opening Day.
188. Erick Fedde, SP, WAS, Age: 25
I’m hoping Fedde loses prospect eligibility down the stretch of this season, because at 25 years old he’s just about outgrown it. From a fantasy standpoint, the unfortunate reality is that Fedde’s outlook is likely that of a back-end option who posts respectable strikeout numbers along the way. The right-hander’s big league experience to this point has been diluted to an extent due the unsustainably-high HR/FB%, so I’d expect his MLB statistics to normalize once he becomes an official part of the Nationals rotation and can truly settle in.
187. Domingo Leyba, INF, ARZ, Age: 22
It’s hard to be too optimistic about Leyba, who finished last season with fewer than 100 plate appearances and has only appeared in 21 games this season thanks to a shoulder injury. However, he’s basically a sure bet to stick in the middle infield, and his plus hit tool should allow him to maximize whatever power he possesses. A strong, healthy second half would do wonders for Leyba’s prospect status.
186. Chris Shaw, OF, SF, Age: 24
A 70-raw power outfield prospect, Shaw has notched 12 home runs in only 193 plate appearances this season. Unfortunately, his strikeout rate has soared to 37.3% in those plate appearances (he’s in AAA), so there’s some fairly substantial Quad-A risk here. The K% was only 25.7% last season, and improving to that mark this season would be a relief for prospective fantasy baseball rosterers.
185. Kristian Robinson, OF, ARZ, Age: 17
Some evaluators have comped the physically-imposing Robinson to ‘baseball’s Julio Jones’. Others think he’s already Arizona’s best prospect despite the fact he hasn’t even graduated to Short Season ball yet. The reports on the 17-year-old outfielder are almost mythological: 70-future raw power, 60 speed, polished plate approach for his age; Robinson should be a widely-known commodity in the prospect world by this time next season.
184. Michael Gettys, OF, SD, Age: 22
I imagine that I’m the lone ranger who has Gettys as a top 200 prospect, but that’s okay with me. The toosly outfielder is finally making some major strides this season, lowering his strikeout rate more than seven percent (from 37.2% last season to 30.0% this season). With an improvement in contact, Gettys has seen his slash numbers increase in all three categories (.254/.329/.431 last season to .264/.335/.477 now). A lover of combo meals, Gettys is on a 26 HR/26 SB 162-game pace; let’s hope he continues to put the bat on the ball.
183. Trevor Larnach, OF, MIN, Age: 21
A high-profile college guy who’s found power this season, Larnach has been a staple on an Oregon State team that’s currently a contender to take home the College World Series. While the outfielder lacks premium speed, Larnach’s offensive profile resembles that of a player who should bat close to .300 with still-developing power. I’m interested to see his strikeout rate as a professional, but Larnach is certainly one of the more polished position players from the 2018 draft class and could move quickly thru Minnesota’s farm system.
182. Jeren Kendall, OF, LAD, Age: 22
Kendall 1) was not included in my preseason top 200 list, 2) currently has 33.6 K% this season, and 3) is not particularly young for High-A competition. So, why? I think we’re currently witnessing Kendall’s contact floor (he’s slashing .228/.332/.391 this season), so the upside is quite appetizing, especially when you consider the 5 HR and 20 SB in 229 plate appearances. It’s important to remember that Kendall only played in 35 Low-A games last season, and while he may never hit for an optimal average, he has 55-future raw power, 70 grade speed and a current 13.1 BB%. Let’s trust the Dodgers to continue to be the best developmental organization in baseball.
181. Adbert Alzolay, SP, CHC, Age: 23
The strikeout numbers that improved last season declined back to the ~6 K/9 mark he posted in 2016. It was also recently announced that Alzolay will miss the remainder of the season due to a strained lat (2018 is the year of the lat injury), an ailment that came at a poor time as it was probable he would make a big league debut at some point this season. Chicago has a long-term need in the rotation, and that’s a spot that should eventually be taken by Alzolay once he’s healthy and figures out Triple-A; for now, the 23-year-old right hander is a back-end guy in my eyes, both in real life and the fantasy world.
180. Will Smith, C/3B, LAD, Age: 23
A catcher whose value will always depend on your league format (meh in AVG leagues, adequate in OBP leagues), Smith must also compete with fellow-Dodger farmhand Keibert Ruiz for the future catching throne in Los Angeles. It’s currently Ruiz’s battle to lose, which is evident by Smith’s partial shift to third base this season (he played a little third base and second base last season). The 23 year old seems like a prime trade candidate as the deadline begins to approach, and a move to almost any other organization would give Smith an immediate bump in stock.
179. Wander Samuel Franco, SS, TB, Age: 17
Only 17 years old, Franco is in the midst of making his Rookie League debut this summer for the Princeton Rays. Widely known as the best international prospect from the 2017 signing class, Franco possesses a plus hit tool from both sides of the plate and is a plus runner. If his current-listed size of 5’10 190 lbs. is correct, Franco has added thirty pounds since inking with the Rays a year ago. I’m excited to see what the additional weight does for Franco’s raw power (evaluators graded it at 45 last season).
178. Nolan Gorman, 3B, STL, Age: 18
Gorman was arguably the most powerful prospect in the 2018 MLB Draft, and the addition of the teenage third baseman is an immediate infusion of raw power in a Cardinals’ organization that needed it. There are some fairly substantial questions centered around Gorman’s hit tool (namely, his ability to recognize and lay off spin) and whether he’ll remain at third base or eventually shift across the diamond. If his hit tool can simply develop to league average (and he doesn’t strike out in a third of his plate appearances), Gorman will eventually be one of the best dynasty prospects in baseball.
177. Bubba Thompson, OF, TEX, Age: 20
A 2017 first round pick, Thompson has 30 full-season games under his belt after getting a late start to the regular season. The strikeout rate isn’t pretty, but evaluators I’ve talked to think Thompson has at least a decent chance of someday possessing a league average plate approach. That would allow Thompson’s 55-raw power and 70 speed to play to its full potential, so the upside here is obvious.
176. Zack Littell, SP, MIN, Age: 22
The Twins really have some solid young pitching depth, and I think Littell generally slides under the radar in the prospect world. Don’t pay attention to his MLB debut; Littell, once he settles in, is a steady right-hander who will strike out 8-9 batters per nine innings in the big leagues while maintaining an ERA around 4.00. Jose Berrios, Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves and Littell will someday form a quartet of stout arms in the Twins starting rotation.
175. Beau Burrows, SP, DET, Age: 21
The next two starting pitchers on this list may not possess astronomical upside, but I’d be willing to bet they’ll someday be rosterable assets on your active fantasy roster. Burrows pitched half of last season in Double-A, and he’s currently repeating the level with a promotion to AAA Toledo imminent. The strikeout numbers are down and the GB% is up, but Burrows’ floor is can’t be ignored. He should make his big league debut sometime next season. My current #2000FollowerGiveaway involves a Burrows’ Bowman chrome auto. Don’t miss out!
174. Travis Swaggerty, OF, PIT, Age: 20
I hate that Andrew Benintendi has been the arch-type comp for undersized, toolsy left handed hitters with solid plate approaches, but here we are once again. Almost none the Benintendi-underlings possess Nintendo’s raw power or elite plate idealogy, and that’s true with Swaggerty too. But I do think there’s some 20 HR/20 SB potential here, especially if Swaggerty’s approach develops to the top-end of projections.
173. Carter Stewart, SP, ATL, Age: 18
Oh look, another potentially elite pitching prospect in the Braves’ organization. If did much research on the 2018 MLB draft class, I probably don’t need to tell you about Stewart’s hilariously good curveball. If you don’t know, it has a higher spin rate than any curveball in the major leagues. Yeah. But what gets lost in the talk of Stewart’s curveball is Stewart’s polish for a prep pitcher. The eighteen year old won’t be an option for Atlanta when their window of contention officially opens (it hasn’t yet), so I’ll be interested to see Stewart’s path of progression once he begins full season ball next season.
172. Yasel Antuna, INF, WAS, Age: 18
Sometimes decently-large sample sizes don’t match obvious skill sets, and that epitomizes Antuna’s first half with Low-A Hagerstown. At 18 years old, though, he’s afforded the luxury of patience, especially considering the fact that evaluators who have watched Antuna in person this season have come away impressed. The versatile infielder still has some physical projection remaining, and without a current ‘calling card tool’, I’m hopeful we eventually view Antuna as a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 55-speed prospect.
171. Will Benson, OF, CLE, Age: 20
I would not enjoy being tackled by Will Benson. At 6’5 225 lbs., Benson is a 70-raw power, 55 speed specimen who’s still in the beginning stages of figuring it out at the plate. He’ll always possess some swing and miss, and the success of his first half in Low-A this season depends almost entirely on your league format. Since your league should definitely use OBP instead of AVG, you should be content with the .348 OBP (aided greatly by a 17.2% walk rate) instead of complaining about the .197 AVG (not helped by a unsustainably-low .248 BABIP). If the approach ever truly clicks, Benson is going to be a high-impact big leaguer. The top-notch ceiling is something like a left-handed Aaron Judge with more speed….
170. Chris Rodriguez, SP, LAA, Age: 19
I would have bet a fairly-substantial amount of money on Rodriguez breaking out this season, but a stress fracture in his back had different plans. Now, Rodriguez’s age-19 season is basically a wash (I’ve asked around on a possible return date and have received nothing but crickets). Based on his pure stuff (at least two plus pitches), Rodriguez should probably be ranked more favorably than 170th. With the inherent risk associated with 1) teenager pitchers at lower levels and 2) teenage pitchers at lower levels with a history of back injuries, I’m going to play this hand conservatively with the hope Rodriguez returns *healthy* sooner rather than later.
169. Ronaldo Hernandez, C, TB, Age: 20
Let’s start with the negative: Ronaldo Hernandez is 20 years old and in Low-A. Seeing as catchers typically move one level per season, he’s slated to make his MLB debut during his age-24 season at the earliest. That’s also four years from now. On the flip side, all Hernandez does is rake. This is his first full season, but he’s never hit under .300 in any season of his professional career (I don’t count the 50 PA-sample in Rookie Ball in 2015 when he was 17 years old). I think Hernandez possesses the defensive prowess to stick as a catcher long term, and he certainly has the tools to eventually be one of the best offensive catchers in the big leagues. I wrote more about Hernandez recently in the Ramblings.
168. Edwin Rios, 1B/3B/OF, LAD, Age: 24
Not enough people know about Rios. Yes, he’s a 24-year-old prospect who’s yet to make a big league debut, but Rios is also a 55-hit/70-raw power guy with big time potential. Cody Bellinger would likely transition to an everyday outfield role if Rios becomes apart of the Dodgers’ route to success, so that obviously makes the path quite fuzzy. The best case scenario for Rios’ big league outlook may be a trade, which would probably make Rios a big-leaguer by the end of the regular season. For now, we’ll continue dreaming of the thought of a .290 AVG/30 HR prospect who remains vastly underrated. Rios has moved around the diamond quite a bit defensively so far this season, and I suspect that trend may continue once he finally reaches the big league level.
167. Mitch White, SP, LAD, Age: 23
Lots of folks were banking on White being the 2018 version of Walker Buehler, but that simply hasn’t happened thru the first half of the regular season. A troubling trend: White has walked more batters per nine innings in each season of his professional career. We’ve arrived at somewhat of a crossroads this season; the right-hander has a 5.7 BB/9 thru 31.2 IP in Double-A this season with a 5.97 ERA. The 23 year old still has a repertoire chalked full of above-average/plus pitches, but the command has seemingly taken steps back throughout his minor league career. I trust the Dodgers to right this ship, but our trust should be wearing thin, especially if White’s full-season numbers resemble the current numbers.
166. Calvin Mitchell, OF, PIT, Age: 19
There’s something to be said for box score stuffer prospects who are also relatively safe, and that’s what Calvin Mitchell brings to the table. He’s currently slashing .316/.379/.504 with 7 HR and 4 RBI as a 19 year old in Low-A, and while there are questions regarding Mitchell’s long-term viability as a stolen base threat, the power certainly seems here to stay (and reports suggest Mitchell’s HR count thru 265 plate appearances this season has occurred despite a flat bat path). Mitchell and Oneil Cruz are going to be one heck of a dynamic duo to follow throughout the minor leagues.
165. Gavin Lux, SS, LAD, Age: 20
An athletic middle infielder who’s flashed more pop than was once suspected, Lux is slashing .312/.396/.515 with 8 HR and 7 SB thru 265 plate appearances for High-A Rancho Cucamonga. There’s not much to dislike about this offensive profile, which hangs its hat on plus speed with a dash of emerging power. There’s a real chance Lux finishes with .300 AVG/15 HR/20 SB as a 20 year old in High-A. That’ll preach. I wrote about Lux earlier this month in the Ramblings.
164. Jose Siri, OF, CIN, Age: 22
Nearly 23 years old in High-A, Siri needed to follow his amazing 2017 performance with a similar output this season in order to retain consideration amongst most prospect lists. Instead, thru 122 plate appearances for High-A Daytona (he got a late start to his season due to injury), Siri has only slashed .252/.273/.365 with 1 HR, 9 SB and a 26.2% strikeout rate. Even worse? Siri is sitting at a 3.3% walk rate. The variance was always so high that Siri could fall off the face of the earth from a fantasy perspective if things didn’t go so well, and the numbers so far this season reflect what that notion would look like. But instead of panicking, let’s be patient and see what the numbers look like at the end of the regular season. For now, I’m well-aware that there’s a better-than-average chance that Siri doesn’t make my 2019 preseason top 200 prospect list. I hope to be pleasantly surprised from here on out.
163. Isan Diaz, 2B, MIA, Age: 22
By the time it’s all said and done, prospect rankers around the world are going to be absolutely sick and tired of ranking Isan Diaz. As most of you know, Diaz is a prototypical-case of AVG vs. OBP variance. The 26.3% strikeout rate (which is numbingly consistent with his career numbers) is much more acceptable with a .368 OBP (the walk rate is 15.5%) than it is with a .239 AVG. The Marlins seem content with playing Diaz at second base, so the main mystery remaining is the untapped power most folks think the 22 year old possesses. A .250 AVG/.360 OBP/15 HR/10 SB second baseman isn’t all that valuable in fantasy circles. A .250 AVG/.360 OBP/25 HR/10 SB second baseman is.
162. Jazz Chisholm, SS, ARZ, Age: 20
The slash numbers are none-too-pretty thru 240 plate appearances this season, so let’s instead focus on the home run and stolen base numbers of an undersized 20 year old in full season ball. Chisholm is slashing .253/.317/.479, but he has a 119 wRC+ thanks to 10 HR and 6 SB for Low-A Kane County. There’s potential for plus-power and plus-speed that groups with a league average hit tool to form an everyday player for the Diamondbacks. I tend to think Chisholm sticks at shortstop; I also think Chisholm’s slash numbers this season finalize closer to .270 AVG/.330 OBP with 18 HR and 12 SB. Not a bad age-20 season for a player who should eventually be an everyday guy at a premium position in the big leagues.
161. Dustin May, SP, LAD, Age: 20
The possibilities attached to rostering May in fantasy are nearly endless. After a rocky start to his 2018 season (that didn’t start until May), Red-Headed Thor’s numbers have stabilized quite nicely. In his last five starts, May has 27.2 IP, 27 K and a 2.28 ERA. The Dodgers are second to none when it comes to developing pitching prospects, so I’m all-in on trusting the process here. The development of the changeup will be key in transforming May from a middle-of-the-rotation pitching prospect to an upper-echelon pitching prospect, especially with a promotion to Double-A on the horizon.
160. J.B. Bukauskas, SP, HOU, Age: 21
The 2017 first round pick is 1) 21 years old, 2) in Low-A and 3) has all of 5.2 IP this season. Rumor has it that an oblique injury is what’s sidelined Bukauskas for most of the regular season, and there’s a decent chance he returns sometime in July. I’d expect the right-hander to throw some during fall ball before progressing to High-A Buies Creek to begin the 2019 season.
159. James Kaprielian, SP, OAK, Age: 24
Words can’t really describe the anxiety I have ranking a 24 year old who’s never pitched above High-A anywhere near my top 150, but Kaprielian has the talent to make it necessary. He was shut down nearly a month ago due to shoulder discomfort (the right-hander is making his way back from Tommy John surgery), but he’s begun to throw again and should be ready for Opening Day 2019. From a comeback standpoint, I think Kaprielian will begin next season in High-A Stockton before pitching most of the season for AA Midland. I know stashing a 25 year old, High-A pitcher isn’t the most scintillating endeavor ever, but the return associated with Kaprielian could be monumental.
158. JoJo Romero, SP, PHI, Age: 21
Romero allowed no fewer than three earned runs in his first six starts of the regular season, so his current full-season numbers certainly don’t reflect how good he’s been lately. In his last seven starts, Romero has posted a 3.00 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 45 IP. Romero credits the improvement on cutting down on his repertoire of pitches, so I’ll be interested to see what the numbers look like at the end of the season (he also needs to cut down on his home run numbers).
157. Peter Lambert, SP, COL, Age: 21
“A Rockies pitching prospect you can believe in,” I said as my famous last words. Really though, Lambert GB% is up eight percent to 50% this season, and while the strikeout numbers aren’t glorious, the 2.40 ERA and 1.3 BB/9 are. There are plenty of pitching prospects who possess more upside, but even as a future Rockies pitcher, I like the floor and safety that Lambert presents.
156. Nick Pratto, 1B, KC, Age: 19
The slash numbers and K% thru 260 plate appearances are ugly, but scouts I’ve talked to who have seen Pratto in person this season have come away utterly impressed. Recently named MVP of the South Atlantic All Star Game, Pratto possesses plus power and elite base running skills (though he isn’t overly fast from a speed standpoint). If the hit tool develops (and most think it will), Pratto should someday be the Royals’ everyday first baseman.
155. Cristian Javier, SP, HOU, Age: 21
I might be ranking Javier too aggressively for a prospect who exploded onto the scene so recently, but the right-hander’s strikeout/ERA combination has simply been too good to ignore. I think his performance in High-A Buies Creek will paint a crystal clear picture of the prospect Javier really is, and while the analytics of Javier’s 2018 performance are all over the place, all you have to do is look at the 36.4 K% and 1.64 ERA to realize what the ceiling looks like.
154. Austin Beck, OF, OAK, Age: 19
The counting stats haven’t matched the tools so far this season, but Beck is a toolsy teenager who’s perhaps outperformed the 40-future hit tool early in his professional career. Slashing .297/.336/.364 with a 23.2 K% this season, Beck, a first round pick last season, is currently in the throes learning how to become a professional hitter. With plus raw power and speed, Beck should eventually be a perennial 20/20 threat (with more in the tank, perhaps). If his on base ability continues to develop, the outfielder could be a special player.
153. Jarred Kelenic, OF, NYM, Age: 18
A prep outfielder who was the first high school player selected in this season’s draft, Kelenic has a plus hit tool, is an above average runner and has developing power. Though he was drafted as a center fielder, Kelenic likely projects as a corner outfielder as a professional. With a 6’1, 195 lb. frame, Kelenic should add a few pounds of muscle to his physique as he finalizes his physical development; there’s an outside chance he eventually becomes a prospect with plus hit and power tools who is also a strong runner.
152. Micker Adolfo, OF, CHW, Age: 21
Adolfo has lowered his strikeout rate by 4% while raising his walk rate by 3% this season. Of course the calling card is the 70-grade raw power, but Adolfo has only hit 8 HR in 281 plate appearances for High-A Winston Salem. As he continues to progress through an elbow injury, I’m hoping Adolfo’s power numbers increase as he nears 100-percent. The White Sox are hopeful that Adolfo returns to the outfield (he’s been DH’ing) before the end of the regular season. I wrote about Adolfo in the Ramblings in April.
151. Daz Cameron, OF, DET, Age: 21
Cameron deserves a little bit of lenience this season, with 2018 being his first full season with in the Tigers organization and all. And despite a 28-percent strikeout rate in 246 High-A plate appearances, Detroit has apparently seen enough from the outfield prospect to recently promote him to AA Erie. For the season, Cameron is slashing .264/.354/.383 with 3 HR and 11 SB. The 21 year old smacked 14 HR last season, so a second-half power surge in Double-A wouldn’t surprise me.
150. Alexander Canario, OF, SF, Age: 18
At 18 years old and currently in Rookie ball, Canario is a young outfielder who could absolutely explode in the prospect world this summer. Talented might be an understatement: 55-future hit, 60 raw power and 55 speed according to Fangraphs. At 6’1, 165 pounds, Canario should continue adding muscle weight that could enhance the power even more. Canario’s numbers at the end of the summer should be eye opening.
149. Zac Lowther, SP, BAL, Age: 22
Lowther’s 2018 performance can perhaps best be described as “college pitchers doing what college pitchers should do against Single-A hitters”, but I’m hoping there’s more to the story for the southpaw. The 22 year old was promoted to High-A Frederick nearly a month ago, and he’s bettered his ERA by more than a point (1.16 to 0.44) despite allowing a BABIP much higher (.192 to .291). The true test will come next season when Lowther pitches against Double-A competition, but for now we’ll bask in the glory of his Single-A numbers.
148. Matthew Liberatore, SP, TB, Age: 18
Perhaps the most polished prep arm in the 2018 MLB Draft, the 6’5 left-hander possesses the intangibles that allow high school draftees to progress relatively quickly throughout the minor leagues. Liberatore doesn’t necessarily pitch a consensus plus pitch, but depending on who you talk to, the southpaw throws either three or four above-average offerings (that grade at 55 in the scouting world). We’ll almost certainly have to wait until 2019 to see Liberatore in full season ball, but he should begin compiling professional IP this summer in the Gulf Coast League.
147. Mauricio Dubon, SS, MIL, Age: 23
It hurts my heart to know Dubon would likely be in the big leagues right now if he hadn’t torn his ACL earlier this season. Last season, the shortstop hit 8 HR and stole 38 bases despite posting an unlucky BABIP for a plus runner. This season, Dubon hit 4 HR and stole six bases in 114 plate appearances before suffering the season-ending injury. Dubon won’t return until 2019, but I still wholeheartedly believe in the middle infielder. Let’s hope the substantial knee injury doesn’t sap Dubon of any speed.
146. Francisco Morales, SP, PHI, Age: 18
When it comes to the Phillies, Matt Winkelman’s (@Matt_Winkelman) word is gospel to me. Recently on Twitter, Winkelman stated that Morales has the 2nd highest ceiling of any Phillies’ pitching prospect. Assuming Sixto Sanchez has the highest ceiling, that means Morales has a higher ceiling than Enyel De Los Santos, Adonis Medina, JoJo Romero, Franklyn Kilome and Ranger Suarez. That alone is worthy of your attention. Destined for full-season ball as a 19 year old next season, Morales has compiled a 3.24 ERA with eight strikeouts in 8.1 IP in Short Season ball so far this summer. The keys this season are simple: Stay healthy, build stamina. The risk attached to Morales is obvious, but the stuff is absolutely electric. I’m buying in early.
145. Oneil Cruz, SS, PIT, Age: 19
One of the more unique prospects in baseball, I find myself falling for Cruz more-and-more each and every day. The 6’6 shortstop (!!!!!!!!!!!) is now slashing .315/.371/.535 with 9 HR and 6 SB in 280 Low-A plate appearances this season. In this report from John Calvagno (who’s evaluated Cruz in-person this season), the shortstop possesses 70-grade raw power (according to Calvagno, Cruz’s exit velocities are the best he’s seen in the South Atlantic League since Rafael Devers in 2015) and 55 speed. The teenager is beginning to grow into his body, and the resulting stats have been eye-opening this season. Evaluators are split on whether Cruz can stick at shortstop throughout his professional career, and I’d say there’s at least a decent chance he eventually transitions to third base or a corner outfield spot. Even though he’s a teenager, I’d love to see him get a taste of High-A ball this season (the numbers are certainly worthy of a promotion). The plate approach is solid but aggressive, so development against High-A and Double-A pitching is absolutely critical for Oneil to reach his gigantic potential. Staff writer Andrew Lowe wrote about Cruz earlier this month.
144. Nick Neidert, SP, MIA, Age: 21
Neidert absolutely epitomizes how hard it is to definitely evaluate a pitching prospect. The right-hander had only struck out north of a batter per inning in one stint throughout his minor league career, but a trade from the Mariners to the Marlins has seemed to unlock unknown potential for the 21 year old. Neidert credits improved fastball command that’s led him to 77 strikeouts in 68.1 IP this season. When you consider his ERA is 3.16 (with an even better xFIP), now we’re getting somewhere. I do question whether Neidert can maintain the high strikeout numbers against better competition without premium fastball velocity, but it’s impossible to doubt the numbers he’s posted as a Marlins’ prospect so far this season.
143. Freddy Peralta, SP, MIL, Age: 22
Freddy Peralta is 1) a top 150 prospect in my eyes, 2) perhaps ranked a little conservatively in my rankings and 3) is ranked much more favorably in my list than most (not all) other industry lists. Let’s set the record straight: Peralta possesses some of the best swing-and-miss stuff in ALL of baseball. He walks his fair share of batters, but goodness he’s elite when he simply throws strikes. As a right-hander who only stands 5’11, there’s still some risk that Milwaukee eventually transitions him to the bullpen (the fastball/slider combination would be devastating); for now (and hopefully forever), the Brewers seem content to keep Peralta in the rotation. Take advantage of the fact he’s underrated.
142. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, TB, Age: 22
For whatever reason, I keep expecting Lowe to turn back into a frog. Instead, things are headed in the opposite direction, and it’s time to notate Lowe as one of the top first base prospects in baseball. Yeah, the BABIP is probably a little high for a player who doesn’t run that well, but find me an actual flaw in Lowe’s numbers this season. You can’t. Based on the numbers alone, this is probably a conservative ranking for the first baseman. If the stats remain in the realm they’re currently in for the remainder of the regular season, Lowe should be a top 100 prospect next preseason. #HailState
141. Cionel Perez, SP, HOU, Age: 22
Perez is one of the harder top 200 prospects to attempt to rank. The numbers are undebatable: 69 strikeouts in 54.1 IP to go along with a 2.32 ERA. In the hardest level of the minor leagues. Then you remember the southpaw stands 5’11, 170 pounds and has a history with elbow injuries. If I’m being real with you, it’s hard for me to believe Perez’s destiny is in the starting rotation, but I’m willing to trust the process until it steers me in a different direction. I’d wager Perez gets promoted to AAA Fresno sometime within the next calendar month, and there’s even a chance he plays a role in Houston’s bullpen down the stretch of the big league regular season.
140. Everson Pereira, OF, NYY, Age: 17
Breathe it in. Pereira is currently getting his first taste of professional baseball in Rookie League Pulaski, but there’s already a lot of hype surrounding the seventeen year old. Obviously there’s no such thing as a definitive statement when it comes to the swing of someone so young, but for now, Pereira is a player who should hit for average with developing power. He’s a plus runner, and early reports suggest there’s a good chance he remains in center field throughout his professional career. There’s risk, of course, but despite the distant ETA, Pereira possesses an uberly-exciting skillset. Remain patient as he develops.
139. Hunter Harvey, SP, BAL, Age: 23
This is Harvey’s first real minor league experience after undergoing Tommy John surgery early in 2016, and if you take away an unlucky ERA, the numbers aren’t all that bad. The problem, from what I’ve been hearing, is the lack of a third pitch in Harvey’s arsenal. The fastball is plus, the curveball has potential to be plus (he’s struggled to command it versus Double-A hitters), but the changeup reportedly has a ways to go.Just a few weeks ago, Harvey alluded to the fact he’s not quite ‘there’ yet, so the numbers should be interesting if he continues to progress this season.
138. Sandy Alcantara, SP, MIA, Age: 22
Let’s call a spade a spade: Yes, Alcantara throws a 70-grade fastball. It’s also flat, and the right-hander hasn’t really shown the secondary offerings that allow the premium-velocity-fastball to play to its potential. Alcantara hasn’t posted a K/9 greater than 9 since he was in High-A (in 2016, and no, his 8.1 IP stint with the Cardinals last season doesn’t count). In many organizations, Alcantara would have already been transitioned to the bullpen and would likely be in the big leagues pitching in a high-leverage role. Thankfully, the Marlins have an absolute ton of time to exhaust every option with Alcantara as a starting pitcher.
137. Dennis Santana, SP, LAD, Age: 22
Santana was on the cusp of being rosterable in redraft leagues this summer, then a lat tear landed him on the 60-day DL with the Dodgers. His numbers in Los Angeles were sneaky-good leading up to the injury (don’t you dare mention the ERA), but I’m more interested in the overall outlook. The development of Santana’s changeup could mean he really is destined to be a big league starting pitcher, which means we’re looking at a 22 year old who’s capable of striking out more than a batter per inning. If you’re looking for additional reading, I discussed Santana’s outlook in the Ramblings in May.
136. Kyle Lewis, OF, SEA, Age: 22
Hey, he’s healthy again! Lewis has hit 5 HR in 135 plate appearances this season, but his walk rate has crumbled to a lowly 4.4%. That hasn’t helped his slash, which currently sits at .272/.311/.472 thru 31 games. The first round pedigree is there, but so is the long, disappointing history of top-notch Mariners prospects. The bottom line is this: The outfielder simply needs to get on base more to hold value in the fantasy world. As a 22 year old in High-A, I’m hoping to see some strides made sooner rather than later.
135. Jay Groome, SP, BOS, Age: 19
I’ll say it: what a horrific, unfortunate start to a career. A first round pick in 2016, Groome has thrown all of 62 IP in his professional career due to various ailments and injuries. The latest setback is also the most severe: The southpaw underwent Tommy John surgery last month, and won’t return to game action until the later stages of the 2019 season at the earliest. Thankfully, Groome will only be 20 years old when he returns to competition, so the massive upside remains intact despite the injuries early in his career.
134. George Valera, OF, CLE, Age: 17
Boy oh boy, we may have something special on our hands. The sample is minuscule (19 plate appearances), but Valera has been fantastic in Rookie Ball so far this season. As a 17 year old. A certain industry site really pedaled the idea that Valera’s swing resembles that of Juan Soto. Others (whom I agree with) have compared the swing to Robinson Cano’s. It’s obviously tough to bank on a prospect who’s ETA is likely five years away, but Valera certainly appears to be a 17 year old worth rostering in deep keeper leagues. I wrote about Valera in the Ramblings last month.
133. Evan White, 1B, SEA, Age: 22
We all got super-excited a few weeks ago when White was promoted from High-A Modesto to Triple-A Tacoma, but it was short-lived thanks to the revolving door that’s been Dan Vogelbach’s 2018 season. Now back in Modesto, the development of the first baseman’s power will always be the big question pertaining to White’s prospect status. He has just 4 HR in 285 plate appearances so far this season, so there’s some reason to doubt. The 22 year old will always be a valuable player in real life, but how enticing is a .300 AVG/15 HR first baseman in the fantasy world?
132. David Peterson, SP, NYM, Age: 22
I’m not in love with the fact that Peterson is a 22 year old who was recently promoted to High-A St. Lucie for the first time, but I’m ranking the southpaw here based on the stuff and the stature. Peterson’s arsenal consists of three above-average (or better) pitches; at 6’6 240 lbs., there’s little doubt he’ll someday be able to sustain a full season of innings at the big league level. A first round pick in 2017, I expect Peterson to be pitching in Double-A to begin next season.
131. Sean Reid-Foley, SP, TOR, Age: 22
There’s something to be said for a pitching prospect who’s on the cusp of a big league debut, and Reid-Foley is just about to that point. Don’t pay any attention to the ERA in Triple-A: the xFIP is more than two runs better, and SRF’s ERA for the season is 3.41 (with 88 K in 74 IP). It wouldn’t surprise me Reid-Foley gets a cup of coffee sometime this summer or in the final month of the regular season, but he should be up for good regardless at some point next season.
130. William Contreras, C, ATL, Age: 20
It’s always risky to include young catchers in a prospect list, but there’s a ton to love with Contreras’ skillset. Slashing .298/.368/.424 with 6 HR for Low-A Rome, evaluators who have seen Contreras in person this season think the backstop could eventually evolve into a .280 AVG/20 HR big league catcher with above average defensive skills. In my mind, I visualize Contreras being one of the final pieces of the puzzle who’s called up to Atlanta before they win a World Series. I wrote about Contreras in the Ramblings less than a month ago.
129. DJ Peters, OF, LAD, Age: 22
70-grade raw power is the obvious calling card for Peters, but that’s about the only thing that’s been encouraging in the offensive profile so far this season. The outfielder has 14 HR, but he’s slashed .236/.325/.443 with a 31.5 K%. Despite the power, Peters’ wRC+ is only 104 in Double-A. The Quad-A risk seems to be growing, but Peters is far from a finished product and he possesses some of the most eye-opening raw power in the minor leagues.
128. Blake Rutherford, OF, CHW, Age: 21
Speaking of the second wave of White Sox position player prospects, Rutherford (like Basabe) is also experiencing a nice bounceback campaign this season. The 21 year old now has 6 HR and 9 SB (tehe) to go along with a .290/.329/.463 slash in High-A Winston Salem. I’d love to see the walk rate improve some to really complete the above-average hit tool, and I think the outfielder might be a level-per-season prospect in 2018 and 2019.
127. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF, CHW, Age: 21
The outfielder received a well-deserved promotion to Double-A Birmingham after slashing .266/.370/.502 with 9 HR and 7 SB in High-A. The five-tool 21 year old will now be faced with his toughest test yet in Double-A, but he should easily surpass his home run output from last season (he admittedly played most of last season injured). From a timeline standpoint, Basabe should eventually usher in a second wave of position player prospects to the big leagues.
126. Adonis Medina, SP, PHI, Age: 21
The 21 year old had a rough start to the regular season and an 8 ER outing a little more than a month ago, but in his last five starts? 29 IP, 17 H, 32 K, 1.24 ERA. As a matter of fact, Medina has allowed fewer than 3 earned runs in nine of his twelve outings so far this season. I expect his season-long ERA to remain under 4, and I think he’ll get his K/9 to 9 before it’s all said and done.
125. Michael Chavis, 3B, BOS, Age: 22
The third baseman is reportedly around two weeks away from returning from his 80 game suspension (he tested positive for a PED). Most simply assume he’ll start in Triple-A, and he might; but Chavis only slashed .250/.310/.492 in 274 plate appearances last season in Double-A. In my eyes, the suspension pushed Chavis’s ETA to next season, though he’ll also be a prime candidate to be traded if (when) the Red Sox look to add pieces for their postseason push.
124. Jose Suarez, SP, LAA, Age: 20
I’ll admit I was late to this hype-party (I mean, he is 5’10), but consider this ranking of Suarez a nod of approval. The numbers have backed up a little bit so far in Triple-A (the southpaw’s third level of the season), but it’s hard to poke holes at the numbers he’s posted when you look at them holistically, especially when you consider he’s only 20 years old. A bump in velocity with his fastball (I’m interested to see if it sticks as the season hits the homestretch) has allowed his plus changeup to be even more effective, and it certainly seems as though Suarez is destined for a big league rotation.
123. Corey Ray, OF, MIL, Age: 23
It’s impossible to not love what Ray has done so far this season. His walk rate is up. His strikeout rate is down. He’s already surpassed his home run total from last season, and he’s well on his way to doing the same with stolen bases as well. He’s an AVG/OBP variance guy, and he’ll strike out his fair share too. Despite that, Ray is undoubtedly trending in the right direction once again.
122. Aramis Ademan, SS, CHC, Age: 19
After a disappointing start to the 2018 season, I imagine I’ll be the high man on Ademan. That’s fine. I’ve read nothing but gushing reports from folks who have seen the shortstop play in person this season, but the numbers simply don’t match the tools (the sharp decline in FB% is probably a good place to start when attempting to figure out why). As a teenager playing a premium defensive position, I’m willing to be perhaps overly-patient with Ademan (a prospect obsession for me this preseason) and reevaluate again at the end of the regular season.
121. Sean Murphy, C, OAK, Age: 23
Murphy’s the most underrated catching prospect in baseball, right? Borderline plus hit tool, borderline plus power. There’s a real chance he’s a .300 AVG/20 HR big league catcher someday. I know owning a 23-year-old catcher in Double-A isn’t the most exhilarating endeavor ever, but Murphy is a safe proposition who should be rosterable in 12 team redraft leagues someday.
120. Jeter Downs, INF, CIN, Age: 19
A first round pick in 2017, Downs is currently tearing up Low-A to the tune of .260/.335/.427 with 9 HR and 20 SB. There are some questions as to how well Downs’ power and speed will play against better competition, but I think he’ll always benefit from ‘sneaky’ pop and the fact he’s an advanced baserunner. The Reds are typically patient with their young, position player prospects, but I’d love to see Downs get the nod to High-A Daytona before the end of the season.
119. Anthony Alford, OF, TOR, Age: 23
Alford is a fascinating player from a prospect list standpoint. How long do we include a prospect with 60-grade raw power and 70-grade speed when the numbers continue to not match the measurables? The outfielder (who’s been oft injured the past two seasons) has played at three different levels so far in 2018 (including a stint with the Blue Jays), and he’s posted a 61 +wRC in Triple-A Buffalo where he’s stationed now. The skills are absolutely obvious, but sooner or later they have to show up in box scores on a nightly basis.
118. Lazaro Armenteros, OF, OAK, Age: 19
The 19 year old was in the process of getting comfortable in Low-A Beloit when he injured his knee hustling out an infield hit. There’s been very limited information on Armenteros since the injury, and he’s currently on the disabled list. Nicknamed ‘The Cuban Bryce Harper’, Armenteros has a hit tool that should someday be MLB-average, plus power and plus speed. Once he returns, the strikeout numbers are worth monitoring, but we should get ready for him to hang out on prospect lists for awhile.
117. Austin Hays, OF, BAL, Age: 22
Hays has missed extended time with an ankle injury (though it appears he’s avoided surgery for now), so he won’t get a full season’s worth of at-bats and may play some in the fall to make up for missed time. Before he injured his ankle, Hays’ numbers were a case-study for diminished room-for-error that’s attached to prospects with tiny walk rates who don’t steal bases. I’m very hopeful that Hays returns from injury soon, but I remain skeptical on the overall outlook.
116. Nate Pearson, SP, TOR, Age: 21
2018 was supposed to be the year of Nate Pearson. The right hander was going to explode onto the scene and cement his status as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. Without second thought, I included Pearson in my 2018 prospect obsessions. Then, less two innings into his first outing of the season, Pearson took a line drive to his pitching arm, fracturing his ulna in the process. A late-season return can’t be ruled out, but I’d be willing to bet we won’t see Pearson in full season ball again until next season. In 2019, he’ll likely be a 22 year old pitching against High-A competition, but the plus-plus fastball and above average changeup and slider keep the upside at a monumental level. Get well soon, buddy.
115. Kevin Smith, SS, TOR, Age: 21
I know he’s a college hitter performing how a college hitter should versus low-minors pitching, but I think there’s more to the story for Smith. Between stops at Low-A Lansing and High-A Dunedin, the shortstop is slashing .330/.389/.582 with 12 HR, 57 RBI and 13 SB. Arousing. The walk rate and strikeout rate are adequate, and I think there’s a good chance Smith sees Double-A at some point this season once Bo Bichette gets promoted. With Bichette now projecting as a shortstop at the big league level, I think there’s a strong chance Smith eventually shifts to 2B defensively. There’s a lot to like here.
114. Tirso Ornelas, OF, SD, Age: 18
An 18 year old playing a large role for one of the most exciting teams in the minor leagues, Ornelas is slashing .269/.370/.432 with 7 HR and 5 SB in 273 plate appearances for Low-A Fort Wayne. For someone so young, Ornelas’s plate approach and discipline is thoroughly advanced (13.2 BB%, 16.8 K%). With 55-hit and 60-raw power tools, Ornelas is set up for success at every stop throughout the minor leagues. There’s some chatter that he’ll eventually transition to first base defensively, but I think Ornelas is a valuable asset regardless of his defensive position. He’s the real deal. Staff writer Marc Rodriguez wrote about Ornelas last month.
113. Corbin Martin, SP, HOU, Age: 22
A college arm, the Astros aggressively allowed Martin to skip Low-A altogether to begin the 2018 regular season. After allowing a grand total of ZERO earned runs in a 19.0 IP sample for High-A Buies Creek, Martin was promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi. The strikeout numbers have decreased a bit, but Martin has been effective against tougher competition. With three above average offerings and adequate command, Martin has potential to slot in the Astros’ rotation as a low-end #3 or high-end #4 starting pitcher.
112. Cole Ragans, SP, TEX, Age: 20
Another prospect obsession this season, Ragans’ 2018 season never actually left the launchpad. In March, the Rangers announced that the southpaw needed Tommy John surgery, thus ending his season before it ever got started. Ragans should be ready to return to action early next season, when he’ll be a 21 year old making his full season debut. I still believe Ragans is one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in baseball, though the hypothetical ETA has soured compared to what we once thought it would be.
111. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT, Age: 21
The numbers don’t quite suggest it yet, but I think Hayes is on the verge of an offensive breakout. The third baseman tinkered with his swing this offseason, which basically consisted of making some adjustments to unlock his raw power. This season in Double-A Altoona, Hayes is slashing .269/.336/.423 with 4 HR and 5 SB. It may not seem like much, but the 21 year old has already surpassed his home run output from last season. Hayes is capable of more stolen bases than he’s posted so far this season, and I genuinely feel as though everything’s about to click.
110. Luis Garcia, INF, WAS, Age: 18
Luis Garcia was born in 2000. Luis Garcia started the 2018 season as 17 year old in Low-A. Now a seasoned 18 year old, Garcia is slashing .289/.331/.392 with 3 HR and 7 SB. Standing at 6’0 190 lbs., Garcia figures to complete his development as a plus hitter with league average power and plus (perhaps plus-plus) speed. All while playing a playing with second base, shortstop or third base. Garcia has only walked at a 6.3% rate this season, but the 15.6% strikeout rate suggest the teenager has advanced (perhaps even elite) bat-to-ball skills. Seeing as this season is simply the tip of the iceberg for Garcia, I’d say there’s a lot to be excited about.
109. Jonathan Hernandez, SP, TEX, Age: 21
The numbers since Hernandez was promoted to Double-A don’t exactly allow us to exude confidence, but a 14 IP sample shouldn’t take away from the holistic picture Hernandez has painted this season. In 57.1 IP in High-A Down East, Hernandez struck out 77 batters (12.1 K/9). He posted a 2.20 ERA with a FIP and xFIP that verified Hernandez’s legitimacy. The right-hander possesses a mid-rotation arsenal with still-developing command. The Double-A numbers have been bad enough that it’ll take awhile for them to normalize, even once Hernandez settles in. If the 21 year old is rostered in your league, make sure his rosterer isn’t having second thoughts after a not-so-great small sample following a promotion.
108. Ezequiel Duran, 2B, NYY, Age: 19
Oh yes. A Rookie Ball second baseman sniffing my top 100. I fully believe Duran is the next big Yankees prospect. This time next season, I think we’ll consider Duran and Estevan Florial one of the best organization duos in the minor leagues. When you throw Everson Pereira into the equation, it’ll be a dynamic trio. Duran is advanced offensively, possessing 55-hit and 60-raw power tools. He should make some noise in Rookie Ball this summer, but 2019 should be Duran’s breakout season. Plan accordingly.
107. Jorge Guzman, SP, MIA, Age: 22
The right-hander was one of my prospect obsessions this season, and he’s chopped up High-A opposition like a 22 year old with an 80-grade fastball should. Statistically, the FIP and xFIP are far worse than Guzman’s 2.33 ERA thanks to a 5.3 BB/9. Despite the plethora of walks allowed, the real challenge will begin once Guzman is promoted to Double-A Jacksonville; evaluators who have watched Guzman this season have been less than giddy about the right-hander’s slider, changeup and command, even to the point that some think it’s basically a given that he’s destined for the bullpen. Miami can afford ample patience with Guzman, so I’m not making any definitive statements until we get a large sample versus better competition.
106. Wander Javier, SS, MIN, Age: 19
Javier figured to comfortably move into the top 100 of most prospect lists this season, but a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder derailed his season in May. We’ll see the shortstop in full season ball next season, and the numbers should be impressive. Everything Javier does is above average: He should hit for average, there’s some thunder in his bat, and he’s a strong runner. Javier is currently a fantastic buy-low candidate in fantasy leagues.
105. Shane Baz, SP, PIT, Age: 19
If Baz never materializes as a big time pitching prospect, it won’t be because he doesn’t have the ‘stuff’. The 19 year old (who is currently pitching in Rookie Ball) possesses three pitches that flash as plus. The biggest hindrance (other than being a teenage pitching prospect) is the command. There’s obviously a ton of time for development, but the BB/9 will be worth monitoring regardless moving forward.
104. Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, SD, Age: 21
The 55-hit and 70-raw power tools are finally playing to their potentials, and the resulting numbers have been absolutely splendid. The .300 AVG/20 HR/11.6 K% pace Naylor is currently on in Double-A is certainly doable for the 21 year old someday in the big leagues. Naylor has played more games in left field this season than at first base, which is likely a sign of things to come as he inches closer to a big league debut. Naylor was my featured prospect in the Ramblings wayyyyyyy back in April.
103. Nick Gordon, IF, MIN, Age: 22
Gordon was fantastic in Double-A early in the season, but he’s struggled since being promoted to Triple-A Rochester. On the season, the middle infielder is slashing .299/.337/.450 with 5 HR and 8 SB (he’s only batting .256/.276/.357 in AAA). He’s walked in fewer than five-percent of his plate appearances though, which is an ominous sign for a player who will likely never post eye-opening home run or stolen base numbers.
102. Anderson Espinoza, SP, SD, Age: 20
Everyone knows the deal with Espinoza. He didn’t pitch at all last season. He had Tommy John surgery last summer. He’s not going to pitch at all this season. That’s two seasons of ‘wasted’ development for Espinoza, but he’s still only 20 years old and should return to competition this fall. The Pedro Martinez comps remain intact, and the three plus pitches Espinoza throws should finally return with a vengeance soon. #Patience
101. Shed Long, 2B, CIN, Age: 23
Double-A was always going to be a huge challenge for Long, and I love what I’m seeing this season. The second baseman is slashing .270/.359/.423 with 6 HR and 11 SB in 283 plate appearances. Long has already surpassed his stolen base numbers from last season, so while I obviously can’t prove anything, I’d be willing to bet he played thru some sort of injury last season. With a .350 OBP/10 HR/20 SB season at the hardest level in the minor leagues certainly within his grasp, Long should stare down a big league debut sometime next season. I wrote more about Long last month in the Ramblings.
100. Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, TEX, Age: 22
It’s important to note that, regardless of the extensive positive facets surrounding Martinez’s outlook, we’re talking about a 22 year old in Short Season ball currently. We only have an 87 plate appearance sample to work with so far this season (Rookie Ball and A-), but I’m not exactly exuberant about Martinez’s 26.2% strikeout rate. Thankfully, he also has 3 HR and 6 SB in that sample, and the impactful five-tool potential obviously remains intact. Once they feel as though he’s officially settled in, the Rangers should be aggressive with Martinez’s minor league progression.
99. Cal Quantrill, SP, SD, Age: 23
Brace yourself: we’re about to talk about three starting pitcher prospects who are currently trending in an unfortunate direction. Quantrill is a solid prospect and almost certainly has a future in the Padres’ starting rotation, but there is growing doubt in the prospect community concerning the right-hander’s upside. Personally, I think Quantrill is a ~4.00 ERA, 8-9 K/9 future big leaguer whose arsenal and process will play well in the friendly-confine pitcher’s parks in the NL West (Coors Field excluded). He’ll never be a frontline guy, but Quantrill will someday be rostered in redraft leagues in the fantasy baseball world.
98. Chance Adams, SP, NYY, Age: 23
Adams posted 115.1 IP last season in Triple-A. He finished with a 2.89 ERA. He’s currently repeating the level with an ERA nearly double of last season’s number. He’s been passed over on various occasions to make his big league debut. This is telling. There have long been concerns that Adams will eventually transition to the bullpen, that the chance of that happening seems to increase by the day. If his future were clearly in the rotation, Adams would rank more favorably than 98th. As it stands, we’re pacing back-and-forth and crossing our fingers he remains a starting pitcher moving forward.
97. Albert Abreu, SP, NYY, Age: 22
When we discuss disappointing statistics that obviously don’t match up with loud tools, we’re almost always talking about position players. But Abreu certainly fits that description: Three plus pitches according to Fangraphs, but an ERA of 4.28 and a K/9 of only 9.7 (as a 22 year old in High-A). Sadly, there’s been some recent discrepancy of just how dynamic his non-fastball offerings are. When you pair that thought with fringe command, you find yourself with a pitching prospect who’s not living up to the hype. There’s still time for Abreu to right the ship, but there’s certainly reason to be concerned moving forward…
96. Daulton Varsho, C, ARZ, Age: 21
Varsho was well on his way to posting some eye-opening full season numbers before fracturing a hamate bone earlier this month. The injury will likely sideline Varsho for most of the remainder of the regular season, but it shouldn’t damper his performance in 57 games prior to the injury. The catching prospect slashed .290/.377/.467 with 8 HR and….. 15 SB. Varsho is a legitimate stolen base threat, which means he’s as dynamic as it comes as a minor league catcher. As his stock continues to grow, there will be questions concerning his ability to weather a 162-game major league season (Varsho is 5’10, 190 lbs). But until I’m told or have reason to believe differently, I view Varsho as a 55-hit, 55-raw power and 55-speed catching prospect. Need I say more?
95. Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE, Age: 20
Vamos, hit tool and lateral agility. There are two concerns with Jones. First, the 27% strikeout rate he’s posted in 270 Low-A plate appearances this season. How much will the swing-and-miss hinder the 20 year old throughout his professional career? Secondly, evaluators who have watched Jones in person this season question whether Jones moves well enough to stick at the hot corner throughout his career. There’s big time power in Jones’ bat, and if everything falls into place, the third baseman could be a top 25 overall prospect by this time next season. I wrote more about Jones earlier this month in the Ramblings.
94. Pavin Smith, 1B, ARZ, Age: 22
An unfortunate .246 BABIP has hindered Smith’s slash to .229/.335/.371 in 278 High-A plate appearances, but the underlying numbers are awfully encouraging. The first baseman already has 7 HR this season, a stat that speaks to his developing raw power (which there were questions about this preseason). With a hilariously good 13.7 K% in his back pocket, I remain bullish about Smith’s outlook. The stock should continue to grow over time. I wrote about Smith in the Ramblings back in April.
93. Monte Harrison, OF, MIA, Age: 22
Remember what I said about Blue Jays OF prospect Anthony Alford earlier in this list? The same holds true with Harrison. The two prospect have different issues, but the respectable performances this season can be summed up in one word: underwhelming. Harrison currently sports a whopping 38.9% strikeout rate that pairs bitterly with his .233/.316/.401 slash in Double-A. The BABIP is .374, so we’re genuinely witnessing an elite athlete who strikes out enough to truly impact their AVG and OBP. It’s easy to fall in love with Harrison’s tools, but sooner-or-later we need to see the skills take shape in the numbers.
92. Joey Wentz, SP, ATL, Age: 20
After a truly mesmerizing 2017 season, Wentz has struggled to an extent so far this season. Many have speculated 6’5 left-hander was dealing with an injury early in the season, but he attempted to pitch thru it before spending a month on the disabled list. Since his return, the southpaw has posted a 0.73 ERA in 12.1 IP. It’ll take awhile for the season-long stats to look pretty due to the horrific start, but there’s still plenty to be excited about with the 20 year old.
91. Jonathan India, 3B, CIN, Age: 21
The third baseman played the 2018 season in better physical shape, and the power developed nicely this season as well, propelling his stock to an eventual 5th-overall draft pick by the Reds. He should stick at third base defensively, and the offensive profile is awfully well-rounded. There’s always volatility when players begin their professional careers, but I’ve got India at 60-hit, 55-raw power and 55-run as he finishes his college career. The Reds have buckets of young infield talent.
90. Stephen Gonsalves, SP, MIN, Age: 24
Follow me here. Statistically speaking, I see some Sean Newcomb in Stephen Gonsalves: A left-hander who’s rarely hit hard, but often finds themselves in trouble due to spotty control. And what Gonsalves lacks in stuff compared to Newcomb, he gains in deception and ‘funkiness’. The 24-year-old southpaw was promoted to Triple-A early in the season, and the returns have had their ups-and-downs since. As a big leaguer, Gonsalves will have stretches where he’ll mimic a SP #3. He’ll also have stretches where he won’t resemble a big league starting pitcher at all. Let’s hope he finally settles in near the ceiling and not the floor.
89. Brady Singer, SP, KC, Age: 21
A 2nd round pick out of high school in 2015, Singer has been on the prospect radar for a long, long time. That means he’s more likely susceptible to prospect fatigue, but I think I have him ranked correctly in my #MidseasonTop200. The Royals will almost certainly tinker with Singer’s mechanics leading into his first full season as a professional, so there may be some #productivestruggle in High-A or wherever they place the right hander. However, there’s potentially three plus pitches under the hood to go along with a sterling pedigree. It’ll be fun to watch Singer and Casey Mize’s stock battle in the coming years.
88. Kolby Allard, SP, ATL, Age: 20
Allard is a surprisingly-polarizing prospect. If you don’t believe me, just ask my Twitter mentions. You may look at Allard’s stats and see a pitching prospect who struggles to miss bats. If that’s your go-to, your next move is to point out Allard’s current 81.0 LOB% this season. I choose to view Allard as a 20-year-old (!) pitching prospect in Triple-A. In the past two seasons, Allard has faced opposing hitters who are, on average, 5.8 years (!) older than him. I’m not saying Allard possesses the ‘stuff’ to ever strike out an elite number of hitters, but I do think he’s capable of much more than the 7.0 K/9 he’s posted so far this season, especially once he begins pitching against hitters closer to his own age. #TrustTheProcess
87. Cavan Biggio, 2B, TOR, Age: 23
The son of a hall of famer, Biggio’s value likely hinges on the format of league you play in. A late-blooming second base prospect, Biggio continues to tap into power that most fantasy baseballers didn’t know the 23 year old possessed. In 306 Double-A plate appearances this season, Biggio is up to 16 HR and 9 SB to go along with a .278/.397/.551 slash. The 25.2 K% is slightly problematic, but Biggio is looking more-and-more like the Blue Jays’ second baseman of the future each and every day.
86. Brent Rooker, 1B/OF, MIN, Age: 23
The 28.5 K% and 6.9 BB% is sub-optimal, but Rooker has 65-raw power and has basically been tabbed as the heir to Joe Mauer’s first base throne in Minneapolis. Though he’s already 23, it’ll take some time for Rooker to develop an approach capable of sustaining success at the big league level. It actually wouldn’t surprise me if Rooker doesn’t settle into an everyday role with the Twins until 2020; regardless, the 23 year old has the potential to someday be rostered as a first baseman in redraft leagues. That speaks volumes. I wrote more about Rooker in the Ramblings in May. #HailState
85. Danny Jansen, C, TOR, Age: 23
I have to remind myself he likely doesn’t possess the ceiling of a superstar, but Jansen possesses so many traits I desire out of my catcher in fantasy baseball. In his first full season in Triple-A, Jansen is slashing .299/.413/.474 with 5 HR and 4 SB. Almost equally important from the catcher position, Jansen nearly has as many walks as strikeouts this season (30 strikeouts, 29 walks). Sure, Danny Jansen will never have the fantasy value of a Buster Posey or Gary Sanchez. He also will never play a large role in losing your fantasy team a weekly matchup. If it exists, Jansen is the definition of a safe catching prospect. Acquire while you still can.
84. Joey Bart, C, SF, Age: 21
Want to feel old? The Giants just drafted a player who they perceive as their unquestioned heir to Buster Posey’s catching throne in San Francisco. Posey is now 31 years old, and his days as an everyday catcher seem to be trending downward. Enter Joey Bart. I’ve got 55-hit and 60-raw power grades on Bart’s offensive profile, and the number two overall pick will almost certainly remain a catcher throughout the meat-and-potatoes of his professional career. I’ll be interested to see how aggressive the Giants are with Bart’s progression through their farm system, but the outlook is lovely nonetheless.
83. Matt Manning, SP, DET, Age: 20
A 2016 first round pick, Manning basically gets no play in the roundtable of the top pitching prospects in baseball. But I don’t understand why. Drafted by the Tigers as an unsculpted ball of clay, the 20 year old was recently promoted to High-A Lakeland following a 55.2 IP-stint in Low-A in which Manning posted a 3.40 ERA while striking out 12.3 hitters per nine innings. Now faced with a new challenge, the next step in Manning’s development will be to limit the walks; the right hander posted a 4.5 BB/9 prior to his promotion. Manning possesses the ceiling of a #2 SP.
82. Bryse Wilson, SP, ATL, Age: 20
I’m slightly shook by Wilson’s below-average start in Double-A (a 6.25 ERA thru 44.2 IP), bu then I’m reminded the right-hander is only 20 years old and pitching versus opposition who’s 4.4 years older than him. Then I see the FIP and xFIP is more than two points lower than the ERA in Double-A. Then I see Wilson is striking out more than a batter per inning since being promoted. Then I see his BABIP-against in Double-A is .383. Get the picture? It’s easy to freak out about a pitching prospect who’s seemingly underperforming in a relatively-small sample following a promotion. But the underlying numbers with Wilson suggest the numbers should normalize relatively soon. At 20 years old, he’s certainly one of the better pitching prospects in baseball. I wrote more about Wilson in the Ramblings last month.
81. Shane Bieber, SP, CLE, Age: 23
Other than the unsustainable LOB%, I defy you to find a flaw in Bieber’s first 24.1 big league innings pitched. You can’t. The 23 year old has been fantastic in three different levels this season, and the legend seems to grow every time Bieber takes the mound. While in the long term, I wonder if Bieber can consistently command the ball amazingly enough to not get smacked around from time to time, it’s hard to poke holes in the body of work this season. Statistically, I think Bieber will remind us of Kyle Hendricks moving forward. I wrote more about the right-hander last month in the Ramblings.
80. Jeisson Rosario, OF, SD, Age: 18
I’m unintentionally setting the tone for this group of prospects with a ‘surprise’ at number 80. Rosario possesses elite plate discipline skills for his age (he’s 18), which is epitomized by his 15.1 BB% and current .387 OBP. He’s 6’1 190 lbs., so I’m hopeful more power is on its way as he finalizes his physical development. If the raw power ever surpasses its current grade (50), Rosario will begin drawing comparisons to another outfield prospect I’m awfully high on.
79. Griffin Canning, SP, LAA, Age: 22
The 2017 second round pick began the 2018 season in High-A. He’s now being considered for a big league call up. Canning slid under the radar preseason due to some questions regarding his health and college workload, but the right-hander has put them to bed with 73 strikeouts in 62 IP with a 2.47 ERA. The walks limit the potential a little bit, but there’s a chance Canning eventually becomes a big league #3 starting pitcher. Staff writer Zach Volland wrote more about Canning in May.
78. MJ Melendez, C, KC, Age: 19
The strikeouts (albeit his age) are slightly frustrating, but how do you not get excited about a 134 wRC+ and .534 SLG for a teenage catching prospect? Evaluators who have assessed Melendez in-person this season already consider him one of the best catching prospects in baseball, with room to grow as he figures out the zone and begins to work counts. If the hit tool gets to league average, Melendez will be a bonafide star. The catcher was featured in the Ramblings in May.
77. Enyel de los Santos, SP, PHI, Age: 22
The longer I evaluate and rank prospects, the more I prioritize safe pitching prospects who are close to the major leagues. de los Santos is exactly that, a 22 year old in Triple-A who’s in the process of posting his best season since Rookie Ball in 2015. The right-hander will almost certainly play a role in Philadelphia as the Phillies’ contention window officially opens, and I foresee a #3 SP who flirts with a strikeout per inning, a sub-3 BB/9 and an ERA between 3.00 and 3.50. That’ll preach any day of the week. I wrote more about de los Santos in May.
76. Seuly Matias, OF, KC, Age: 19
I don’t have the energy to manually check this, but I’ve probably written more on Matias than any other prospect this season. Here, here and here to get you started (side note: Matias was a featured prospect in the first Ray’s Ramblings of the season). When I debated Matias versus Khalil Lee, I mentioned that I thought Matias’s strikeout rate would be close to 50% were the outfielder in Double-A right now. It’s currently 37.1% in Low-A, and that number will be monitored closely throughout his minor league career. The power will always play. Can the hit tool develop to league average?
75. Alex Faedo, SP, DET, Age: 22
I’m reminded of how relatively-new I am to the baseball evaluation process every time I hear a thought process I didn’t know existed in the prospect world. That happened to me earlier this season regarding Faedo, when an evaluator told me to not worry about Faedo’s strikeout numbers in High-A. Why? The right-hander was sequencing differently than he would ever hypothetically sequence at higher levels. He was throwing his 50-grade changeup in pitcher’s counts. That’s part of the battle in evaluating low-minors prospects, and it’s also why there’s more to prospect development than box scores and stat lines. Faedo was recently promoted to Double-A Erie, and he’s been fantastic in his first two starts.
74. Akil Baddoo, OF, MIN, Age: 19
On June 1, Baddoo’s strikeout rate for the season was 31.8%. A month later, it’s sitting at 26.8%. The AVG is still a suboptimal .232, but I literally just finished naming the only flaws to Baddoo’s 2018 performance. Batting leadoff for Low-A Cedar Rapids, the 19 year old is sporting a .361 OBP. He has 8 HR and 13 SB. Despite some swing-and-miss in the profile (though it’s improving) Baddoo’s 16.3 BB% suggests the outfielder does possess fantastic plate discipline. He’s just getting started, but the teenager has 55-hit, 55-raw power and 60-speed grades according to Fangraphs. It’ll be so amazingly fun to watch Baddoo, Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and Brusdar Graterol progress thru the minor leagues together.
73. Justin Dunn, SP, NYM, Age: 22
I feel like there’s a countless amount of pitching prospects who are ‘developing a reliable third pitch’ away from becoming a viable asset in the fantasy world. Dunn’s ascension this season speaks to that point, as the right-hander’s changeup has become a big-time weapon that helps his fastball play to its 55-grade potential. With a wipeout slider acting as his out pitch, Dunn suddenly has the ceiling of a high-end #3 big league starting pitcher. As the Mets inch closer to selling at the big league level, Dunn could make a big league debut as early as sometime next season. The right-hander was recently featured in Ray’s Ramblings.
72. Jon Duplantier, SP, ARZ, Age: 24
With a lengthy injury history thought to be in the rearview mirror, Duplantier missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury and is now on the disabled list in Double-A with a biceps injury. I haven’t seen a timeline for the right-hander to return to game action, and Duplantier missing most of the season with various ailments would be quite unfortunate for a 24-year-old pitching prospect who’s never surpassed Double-A. When he’s been healthy, Duplantier’s statistics and ‘stuff’ have been amongst the best in the minor leagues. Let’s hope he can get healthy and stay healthy.
71. Drew Waters, OF, ATL, Age: 19
55-raw power, 60 speed. When you pair those two grades with the fact Waters may someday possess an above average hit tool, it’s easy to understand the budding stardom we may have on our hands. My fear with Waters is the over-aggressiveness at the plate. We’re currently seeing it with fellow-Braves farmhand Cristian Pache (who I’m also ranking in this group): Free swingers who don’t organically work counts and take walks naturally struggle to maintain optimal slash numbers. Waters’ walk rate is currently 5.2% in Low-A, so his time with High-A Florida (whenever he gets promoted) will be a gigantic test. It’s important to remember that Waters is only 19; if the hit tool truly develops, Waters has 20 HR/20 SB potential (or more) with a solid AVG to boot.
70. Leody Taveras, OF, TEX, Age: 19
I’m won’t lie: Despite the fact he made my 2018 prospect obsession list this preseason, I’m a little skeptical of ranking Taveras inside my top 70 currently. The outfielder hasn’t hit a home run since May 20th, and a once-sexy slash has declined to .253/.323/.345. Taveras is on pace to finish with similar numbers to what he posted last season, which would keep him below league average in the wRC+ department. Remaining mindful of the fact he’s currently 3.5 years younger than his average competition, it’s important to maintain continued patience in evaluating Taveras. For now, anyways.
69. Touki Toussaint, SP, ATL, Age: 22
It happened by accident, but there’s no way I could think of a better prospect to assume the duties of being ranked my 69th-best prospect this midseason. Toussaint has basically improved across-the-board this season, improving his K%, K-BB%, GB%, and ERA. He’s currently sporting a 2.93 ERA with a K/9 north of 11. Yeah. With a promotion to Triple-A possible at anytime, the big question with the right-hander remains: Is his future in the rotation or the bullpen? I’m slightly biased because Toussaint has always been a personal favorite of mine, but I really want Toussaint to remain a starting pitcher. Obviously, his fantasy potential hinges on the answer to that question. We should get our answer sometime within the next calendar year (and hopefully sooner). I wrote about Toussaint last week in the Ramblings.
68. Logan Allen, SP, SD, Age: 21
Allen is a favorably-aged, left handed pitching prospect with strong strikeout numbers in Double-A. I could end my anecdote there and it should be enough to get you excited. MacKenzie Gore, Michel Baez and Adrian Morejon get all the steam, but Allen should eventually find himself in the middle of the mix in the Padres rotation (on a team that should compete for championships perennially). His current numbers in Double-A are roughly what I believe he’s capable of in the big leagues. Allen was featured in the Ramblings last month.
67. Esteury Ruiz, 2B, SD, Age: 19
Probably the surprise of the #MidseasonTop200. His current numbers in Low-A don’t demand this ranking, but Ruiz is a 60-hit, 60-raw power, 55-speed second baseman who’s currently playing full season ball as a teenager. There are questions surrounding Ruiz’s future defensive position, but evaluators I’ve spoken to think the 19 year old will remain at second base throughout his professional career. With the offensive prowess to boot, Alfonso Soriano comps abound. I’ll leave you with this thought: Ruiz might currently be the best-kept secret in the minor leagues. Have a great day.
66. Jhailyn Ortiz, OF, PHI, Age: 19
No one clicks on a link to a prospect list hoping to read that it’s important to remain #patient with young prospects, but the bottom of the standings in deep-keeper and dynasty leagues is littered with managers who gave up on young, high-upside prospects too early. I’m not saying Ortiz is a future big league superstar, but I amsaying it’d be silly to abandon ship at this point of his career. Yes, the OBP is under .300. Yes, the strikeout rate is north of 30%. No, Ortiz hasn’t hit for the power that 70-grade raw power would suggest he should. That’s okay. The outfielder was a prospect obsession for me this season, and I’m in it for the long haul. #Believe
65. Chris Paddack, SP, SD, Age: 22
Paddack’s High-A numbers this season are hilarious: A 1.75 ERA with a 15.4 K/9 and 0.8 BB/9. Despite the fact the right-hander is 22 years old, the statistics are impressive. But I’m geared much more to the future. Paddack is primarily a 2-pitch pitcher, featuring a lively, low 90s fastball that’s effective thanks in large part to a devastating 70-grade changeup. The development of Paddack’s curveball is critical in evaluating his long term value. At the big league level, a two-pitch Paddack is probably a very good #4 SP with limited room for error. A three-pitch Paddack will flirt with #2 SP status with a boatload of strikeouts. The 22 year old was featured in the Ramblings in May.
64. Yusniel Diaz, OF, LAD, Age: 21
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say Diaz possesses one of the best plate approaches in the minor leagues, especially considering the numbers he’s posted so far this season as a 21 year old in Double-A. Diaz has walked and struck out an equal amount this season, which leads me to believe he’ll eventually tap into the utmost power he possesses. This season, Diaz is a well-rounded prospect who’s good at everything but lacks the power and speed to be a fantasy superstar. I’m hopeful that the power eventually develops into something special to pair with an on base percentage that should consistently remain closer to .400 than .300.
63. Brusdar Graterol, SP, MIN, Age: 19
Despite the widespread greatness throughout Graterol’s first full season of professional ball, I found myself struggling to rank him this preseason. As a fantasy baseballer in a deep keeper league, I’m wary of the risk associated to hard-throwing, teenage pitching prospects. As an evaluator and prospect list creator, I’m easily drawn to upside. Graterol’s ranking inside of my top 70 is probably a little aggressive, but can you blame me? The fastball is plus-plus, the slider is plus and the changeup is above average. He struck out over 30% of the batters he faced in Low-A this season while posting a minuscule 2.18 ERA. Graterol was recently promoted to High-A, which should be a huge test for a teenager whose command is still developing. His performance for the remainder of the regular season is one of my favorite prospect storylines moving forward. Graterol was featured in the Ramblings way back in May.
62. Cristian Pache, OF, ATL, Age: 19
The future Gold Glove center fielder finally got the “0 professional home runs” monkey off his back, but the holistic numbers have been a disappointing this season. Pache is still in the process of learning how to use his strength to his advantage with a bat in his hands, and I remain absolutely bullish about the 19-year-old’s fantasy future. I think we eventually see the numbers of a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 70-speed prospect, even if we have to wait until next season for it to come to fruition. The 3.4% walk rate this season is concerning (“He’s got a little Adam Jones in him” according to Jason Woodell (@JasonAtTheGame)) and there’s a chance Pache is more valuable in AVG leagues than OBP leagues once he reaches the big leagues. The outfielder was a prospect obsession for me this season, and I discussed him in the Ramblings in May.
61. Justus Sheffield, SP, NYY, Age: 22
Finally, a Yankees pitching prospect we can mostly believe in. Between Double-A and Triple-A this season, Sheffield has posted a 2.60 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 72.2 innings pitched. The BB/9 north of four is the concern here. The southpaw has commanded the ball much better lately (2.1 BB/9 in his last three starts), and I’m hopeful he can string together high-floor starts that eventually lead to a big league debut. My gut tells me he’ll eventually show glimpses as a #2 SP, but with his current command, the realistic ceiling is that of a solid #3. Sheffield was featured in the Ramblings last month.
60. Alec Hansen, SP, CHW, Age: 23
Oh, boy. Hansen has only pitched 16.1 innings in Double-A so far this season due to a forearm injury that sidelined him for the first two months of the season. And although the sample is obviously small, it’s been far from pretty. Heck, it’s been quite disastrous. I’ll spare you the numbers, but know this: the fear with Hansen has always been the dreaded ‘he needs to develop a third pitch to be a viable big league starting pitcher’. If he can’t, it’s almost a certainty he’ll eventually be relegated to the bullpen. We’re certainly not to that point yet, but it feels like the remainder of the 2018 season will be important for his career outlook. I’m proceeding with caution.
59. Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK, Age: 23
Okay, so the first two names on this list are having awful 2018 seasons, but I promise things will get better as we go. Not only is Mateo not reaching base enough this season, but he’s also striking out at a ghastly 29.8%. I’ve always been a believer in some hidden pop in the shortstop’s bat, but I’m growing wary of the notion that the hit tool never develops to the point that allows the power to play to its potential. Keeping Mateo in my top 60 is probably a little optimistic, but I’m remaining mindful that the 23 year old is only one season removed from hitting 12 home runs and stealing 52 bases. I’m willing to wait until the end of the season to reevaluate.
58. Zack Collins, C, CHW, Age: 23
Full disclaimer that also serves as a reminder for those of you who already know: I rank position-player prospects from an OBP standpoint. Because I play in an OBP league, and you should too. Imagine not rewarding position players for not taking a walk. Anyways, I’m not a fan of Collins’ strikeout rate climbing all the way to 28.9% lately, but the .420 OBP for the season (thanks in large part to a 21.7% walk rate (!)) is awfully appetizing. I also think Collins will eventually tap in to some more in-game power, though I recognize he needs to make more contact in order for that to happen. From an OBP-league standpoint, my main concern is Collins not panning out as a catcher defensively, and there certainly seems to be at least a little risk there. For now, I’ll remain optimistic.
57. Tyler O’Neill, OF, STL, Age: 23
I went back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth debating whether to include O’Neill in this list. When I finalized the 200 names for the list, O’Neill appeared to be relegated comfortably in Triple-A Memphis. Of course, now that I’m releasing the group of prospects that includes O’Neill, he’s been with the Cardinals the past few days and his prospect status continues to wane. As far as an outlook goes, I know the horrifically-bad 43.5% strikeout rate in the major leagues is impossible to ignore, but I genuinely think he’ll be much better when (if?) he’s ever given consistent playing time. I’ll go as far to say the numbers he’s posted in Triple-A this season aren’t too far away from what he’s capable of compiling at the big league level.
56. Estevan Florial, OF, NYY, Age: 20
“Estevan Florial has the loudest tools in the minor leagues.” An evaluator who watched Florial in-person earlier this season told me this. It’s not a far-out thought—heck, most scouts and evaluators agree that Florial possesses some of the most jaw-dropping skills amongst all prospects in baseball. The conundrum is piecing the skills together to create a molded, complete baseball player. Florial obviously isn’t there yet, and a hamate injury that might sideline the outfielder until Fall Ball certainly won’t help. Despite what the numbers say, reports suggest that Florial was in the process of improving his plate approach before being injured. I know it’s hard to keep the faith when the 20 year old posted such poor numbers and is now out for perhaps the rest of the regular season, but I’m hoping you realized Florial was a project in the infantile stages of becoming a complete player when you acquired him. If I’m right, you’re in this for the long haul. I’ll be following Florial’s progress closely this fall before reevaluating his status as a top 60 prospect heading into next season. The 20 year old was featured in the Ramblings in May.
55. Ryan Mountcastle, IF, BAL, Age: 21
What I love to see: A position player with 55-hit and 55-raw power tools who’s doubled their walk rate this season. Although it’s just from 3.2% last season to 7.1% so far this season, the development seems important. If the willingness to take a walk is here to stay, I love Mountcastle’s offensive profile. And if I can rely on a ~7% walk rate (or better, hopefully) from here on out, my only question with the 21 year old is his defensive future. He hasn’t played a single game at shortstop so far this season (he’s manned the hot corner or DH’ed in all 51 games he’s played in), and I worry that he’ll blend in offensively as a third baseman. Knowing the Orioles are likely about to experience a fundamental and philosophical changing of the guard, I remain optimistic about Mountcastle’s outlook.
54. Franklin Perez, SP, DET, Age: 20
You never want a prospect to suffer an injury, but I’m willing to wager the Tigers’ front office was quickly able to find some positives with Perez being on the disabled list until July. For starters, it helps limit the workload on a 20-year-old pitching prospect who’s never thrown 100 IP in a single season as a professional. It also pushes back the expected big league ETA for Perez; since the Tigers are nowhere close to legitimately competing, the delay is quietly-convenient from a front office standpoint. But where does Perez’s lat injury and late start to the season put us in the fantasy world? Remember: Perez hasn’t thrown a single inning in full-season ball as a member of the Tigers organization. The centerpiece of the return in the trade that sent Justin Verlander to Houston, Perez’s meteoric rise last season occurred entirely before he was traded to Detroit. With that being said, it’s important to be patient with a 20-year-old prospect in a new organization. The right-hander will likely experience some peaks and valleys while pitching for Double-A Lake Erie, and that’s okay. Even with Detroit’s impending patience with a prospect they consider a huge part of their future, Perez is still on the fast track to the big leagues and will likely (assuming good health and sustained performance) debut in his age 22 season. #Patience
53. Nick Madrigal, INF, CHW, Age: 21
If you had the honor of watching Madrigal play for Oregon State at some point this season, you understand the aura that surrounds the 5’7 prospect. College baseball is obviously not professional baseball, but Madrigal is easily one of the most advanced college hitters I’ve ever seen. He works counts. He hits the ball the other way when necessary. He beats out infield singles. He can play any position in the infield. He’s a player who will outperform each-and-every one of his tools. In today’s game, players with elite plate discipline seem more likely to reach their power potential than players who don’t, and I’m hopeful that’s the case with Madrigal. Even if he maxes out at 10 home runs, the combination of high batting average and stolen bases will make the 21 year old viable even in shallow redraft leagues.
52. Casey Mize, SP, DET, Age: 21
I imagine this will be a relatively-low ranking for Mize compared to other lists, but 1.1 has some work to do in order to become a sure-fire, top-of-the-line pitching prospect. I imagine the Tigers will tweak some of the right-hander’s mechanics (to develop repeatability), which means the results will be a work-in-progress until Mize becomes comfortable with the adjustments. At his best, I think the 21 year old is a top-tier #3 starting pitcher who will have stretches as a #2. Adaptation to mechanical alterations will be key in Mize’s development.
51. Heliot Ramos, OF, SF, Age: 18
Were you the guy who grew impatient with an 18 year old in Low-A and cut ties? Please tell me it wasn’t YOU! Ramos has been far from revolutionary for Low-A Augusta this season, but he’s actually posted a 102 wRC+ in a league in which he’s more than three years younger than the average competition. The hit tool has a ways to go, but it would be foolish and premature to discard 70-raw power and 60-speed after a half season. In Low-A. As an 18 year old.
50. Adrian Morejon, SP, SD, Age: 19
There hasn’t been much talk about it, but Morejon is currently on the disabled list with a flexor strain. The Padres are being super-cautious with the southpaw, but the hope is that the 19 year old is able to return to the mound for High-A Lake Elsinore later this month. I had questions regarding Morejon’s upside heading into this season, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the left-hander’s results. He’s struck out 27.3% of the batters he’s faced to pair with a 3.59 ERA, all while facing competition who, on average, is more than four years older than him. The slight build will always worry me, but for now I’ll maintain that Morejon has high-end #3 starting pitcher potential.
49. Corbin Burnes, SP, MIL, Age: 23
Colorado Springs is a living hell for pitchers. Complete honesty time: for the first time during the entire #MidseasonTop200 process, I checked my preseason rankings to see where I ranked Burnes. I had him 44th. The slight downgrade isn’t because his performance this season: the hilarious .352 BABIP against (for a pitcher who’s never exceeded a .280 BABIP against throughout his professional career) is simply a product of the Pacific Coast League. I am a little worried about the Brewers ‘temporarily’ transitioning Burnes to the bullpen in order for him to be a factor in the big leagues this season. From a real life standpoint, Burnes’ ‘stuff’ should play up fine in the bullpen. He’ll likely be an asset in Milwaukee later this season. From a fantasy standpoint, I worry he performs to the point that the Brewers are tempted to make him an official staple in their bullpen.
48. Colton Welker, 3B, COL, Age: 20
Anybody got any solid reading material on how much a blocked path impacts a prospect’s value? Because Colton Welker could be Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reincarnate and he’d still be blocked in Denver. The 20 year old is slashing .311/.378/.470 with 9 HR and a 21.6 K% this season in High-A. He’s taking more walks lately, which is absolutely lovely to see with the other facets of his offensive profile. Fundamentally, I’m of the belief that potentially-blocked paths to the big leagues tend to work themselves out. I’m happy to stick with that belief here, especially since Welker hasn’t advanced to the high-minors yet.
47. Christin Stewart, OF, DET, Age: 24
Make no mistake about it: if the Tigers were contending and had a need in their outfield, Stewart would be an everyday player in Detroit. Instead, Stewart is my top-ranked prospect in an organization simply biding time until their contention window reopens. Freely able to finagle with the service time of their MLB-ready prospects to their liking, the Tigers *might* promote Stewart to the big leagues for the final month or so of the regular season (depending on when the outfielder is activated from the disabled list with a calf injury). With a .269/.351/.504 slash, Stewart’s fantasy value will always fluctuate depending on whether you play in an AVG or OBP league. My favorite part of Stewart’s current offensive profile is the strikeout rate being more than five percent lower this season compared to last season, a trend I hope continues. I wrote more about Stewart in the Ramblings in May.
46. Jahmai Jones, 2B, LAA, Age: 20
Another ledge. If I compiled my rankings from an AVG standpoint, Jones would likely be outside my top 50. But I’m a sucker for the 12.3 BB% that’s pushed the 20-year-old’s slash to .241/.341/.392 this season. As a 60-speed prospect, Jones is certainly due for some positive regression in the AVG compartment. I also think the raw power is 55, which makes Jones a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 60-speed second baseman. The 20 year old shifted to second base at the start of the regular season, and I suspect that’s the primary reason he’s still in High-A. I’d assume a promotion is on its way sometime relatively soon. There might always be some volatility depending on your league format, but Jones’ ceiling is that of a 20 HR/20 SB second baseman. I rest my case. Interested in more? Jones was a featured prospect in the Ramblings last month.
45. Andres Gimenez, SS, NYM, Age: 19
As soon as I get excited about emerging raw power, the gaudy hit tool begins to show some holes. It’s likely nothing more than somewhat of a prolonged slump for Gimenez, but I’m still a little disappointed in the shortstop’s current .261/.337/.405 slash in High-A. Thinking big picture, I see a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 55-speed shortstopwho will be in Double-A next season as a 20 year old. I think there’s a decent chance Gimenez flirts with 20 HR/20 SB seasons at his peak in the big leagues.
44. Dylan Cease, SP, CHW, Age: 22
This is me taking a stance. I’m a believer in Cease’s new, cleaner, more repeatable mechanics. I’m a believer in Cease’s developing changeup that he’s now throwing 15-20 times per start. And honestly, if you do believe in those things, how can you not be bullish on Cease? The right-hander is certainly far from a finished product, but in my eyes, he’s certainly made some strides this season to not only remain a starting pitcher throughout his professional career, but to have an impact in fantasy rotations. Cease was promoted to Double-A Birmingham two weeks ago, and it’ll be the 22 year old’s biggest challenge in the minor leagues. As long as Cease remains healthy, I really think the prospect community as a whole will come around on the right-hander before the end of the regular season. A guy can dream, can’t he? I wrote more on Cease in the Ramblings back in May.
43. Khalil Lee, OF, KC, Age: 20
Back-to-back prospects I’m sticking my neck out on, but I’m a big believer in Khalil Lee. Despite just turning 20 years old, Lee was recently promoted to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he’ll put his seemingly-improved plate approach and contact skills to the real test. Lee slashed .270/.402/.406 with 4 HR and 14 SB in 301 plate appearances this season in High-A. You may point out that the center fielder’s home run total is down this season, and I’ll remind you that High-A Wilmington is one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the minor leagues. Unless Double-A pitching overwhelms Lee (there may be a temporary learning-curve as a 20 year old), I expect there to be more power output between now and the end of the regular season. I’ve evaluated Lee as a 50-hit, 60-raw power, 55-speed prospect. If he can duplicate the 15.9 BB% he posted in High-A before being promoted while keeping the strikeout rate south of 25%, he could be a 55/60/55 prospect heading into his AGE 21 SEASON IN DOUBLE-A. Lee is the real deal and severely underrated in the world of players approaching the top-tier of prospects in baseball. I debated Lee versus fellow-Royal farmhand Seuly Matias last month.
42. Dane Dunning, SP, CHW, Age: 23
I still get really sad every time I remember Dunning will probably miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury. The right-hander cemented himself as one of the best pitching prospects in the game this season, striking out 100 batters while posting a 2.71 ERA between stops at High-A Winston Salem and Double-A Birmingham. While Michael Kopech certainly offers upside worth dreaming about, Dunning is almost certainly the safest arm in the White Sox system. The 23 year old was the #CoverBoy in the Ramblings last month. Let’s just hope the next news we see regarding Dunning is good news………………………….
41. Kyle Wright, SP, ATL, Age: 22
The numbers haven’t been overly amazing this season thanks in large part to some eery home/road splits, but I truly get the sense that Wright is in the process of becoming a professional pitcher while tidying up some of the finer points. I’m a little surprised with the 3.9 BB/9, but I love the 55.0 GB% and home run suppression. Trusting the walk rate will descend and the strange splits will normalize eventually, I’m still supremely confident that Wright is a future big league #3 starting pitcher. It’ll be interesting to see if the Braves are willing to deal him at the deadline……
40. Michel Baez, SP, SD, Age: 22
In his next start (in the month of July, mind you), Baez should surpass his innings pitched total from last season. It’s a reminder that Baez is still so new to professional baseball despite being 22 years old. The right hander isn’t throwing as hard this season compared to 2017, and the K% has dropped from 36.4% to 24%. That’s scary, but it becomes rather terrifying when you notice Baez’s BB% has nearly tripled (3.6% to 10.2%). The ERA, FIP and xFIP are still fine, and I think it’s important to be patient with Baez before we consider last season an outlier. Regardless, it *feels* like the right-hander is currently trending in the wrong direction. Let’s reevaluate at the end of the season.
39. Brandon Marsh, OF, LAA, Age: 20
A 2016 first-round pick, Marsh is making his presence known in his first full season of professional ball. The outfielder has already moved up to High-A, and he’s slashing .264/.362/.413 for the season. You see the variance between the AVG and OBP, and with a 50-grade hit tool, that difference is likely here to stay. But even in AVG leagues, the combination of Marsh’s plus raw power and plus speed will be extremely valuable. As far as prospect lists go, the 20 year old is here to stay. Marsh was featured in the Ramblings last month.
38. Ian Anderson, SP, ATL, Age: 20
Since starting full season ball in 2017, Anderson has been one of the most consistent pitching prospects in the minor leagues. As a 20 year old in High-A, Anderson has raised his K% while lowering his BB%, FIP and xFIP. I’d imagine there’s both a decent chance Anderson exceeds 100 innings pitched this season and gets his first taste of Double-A by season’s end. He’ll never garner the hype of his pitching-prospect peers, but Anderson is one of the best young arms in the game.
37. Garrett Hampson, INF, COL, Age: 23
If Hampson played for another organization with very little infield depth, how would he be perceived in the prospect world? Because when you look at the numbers and scouting reports alone, he should be getting steamed much more than he currently is. He’s never batted under .300 for a season in his professional career. The lowest stolen base total he’s ever posted is this season’s 31, and he should have another 250 plate appearances before season’s end. As you know, the knock is the power. But Hampson hit 4 HR in only 172 Double-A plate appearances (while playing at a home park that’s not overly biased towards hitters) before being promoted to Triple-A; and you know my rule: players with advanced plate discipline and an advanced approach often exceed their power expectations when they reach the big leagues. I know the Rockies have a ton of infield depth in their organization. I know the Rockies aren’t exactly the poster boys for playing promising, young position players. But Hampson is a very good player perfectly capable of playing three infield positions, and I have to believe he’ll find his niche sooner rather than later. Hot take time? Garrett Hampson is Trea Turner Lite. I wrote more about Hampson in the Ramblings in May.
36. Alec Bohm, 3B, PHI, Age: 21
Yes, Bohm is my top-ranked 2018 draftee. A 6’5 240 lb. third baseman, the profile is rather obvious from a fantasy standpoint. The 21 year old is an advanced college hitter who has been able to generate power without sacrificing contact consistency. I have Bohm as a 55-hit, 60-raw power third baseman, and if anything, I may be selling him a little short in the power department. With his frame, there are concerns that Bohm will eventually shift across the diamond to first base; it’s obviously early, but defensive reports I’ve read since Bohm was drafted by the Phillies have been very, very positive.
35. Alex Kirilloff, OF, MIN, Age: 20
I think we have a 60-hit, 60-raw power prospect on our hands here. Kirilloff has been a revelation this season, slashing .332/.383/.577 with 14 HR and a 16.7 K% in stops at Low-A and High-A. Scouts I’ve spoken to echo the sentiment of Kirilloff being a pure hitter, and the consensus seems to be that the outfielder doesn’t possess an overly-athletic swing, but his bat stays in the zone for a long time with excellent lag. Depending on how aggressive the Twins want to be with a prospect who’s currently playing his first full season of pro ball (Kirilloff missed last season with Tommy John surgery), the 20 year old might get a taste of Double-A ball at the end of the regular season. I wrote more about Kirilloff in the Ramblings in May.
34. Pete Alonso, 1B, NYM, Age: 23
The first baseman has been a little shaky since being promoted to Triple-A (the wRC+ is still 111), but we’re still in the midst of a genuine prospect-breakout this season. Alonso is already up to 19 HR in 2018, a number that should continue to climb as the right-hander takes his swings in the Pacific Coast League. Barring a prolonged drought, the 23 year old should flirt with 30 HR and a .400 OBP this season. That’s truly remarkable. With the Mets already seemingly out of contention, a September cup of coffee shouldn’t be out of the question. Alonso was the cover boy of an edition of the Ramblings in April. He was also featured last month.
33. Brendan McKay, SP, TB, Age: 22
The 2017 first round pick has 2 HR and a .428 OBP in 152 plate appearances this season, but make no mistake about it, I consider him a top 40 prospect due to his pitching prowess. There’s certainly some ‘college pitcher dominating Single-A hitters’ in his profile, but McKay has struck out 69 batters in 48 IP with a jaw-dropping 38.1 K%. The oblique injury that landed him on the disabled list recently is really unfortunate, and it likely means he won’t advance to Double-A until the 2019 season. Eventually, McKay should team with Blake Snell and Brent Honeywell to form a terrific-trio of rotation arms in Tampa Bay.
32. Alex Verdugo, OF, LAD, Age: 22
Trade him, trade him, trade him! At this rate, a move to a different organization may be what it takes for Verdugo to finally crack the code of everyday big league playing time. He did some good things in Los Angeles earlier this season, but I’m much focused on the Triple-A numbers this season: .350/.393/.513 with 7 HR and a 13.1 K%. I still feel really good about Verdugo eventually tapping into additional power, and I think there’s a decent chance he eventually becomes a .300 AVG/20 HR big leaguer. Verdugo was a cover boy in the Ramblings in April.
31. Austin Riley, 3B, ATL, Age: 21
Riley is a tough prospect to rank right now simply because we don’t have a sample large enough to know if the 33.6 K% he’s sporting in Triple-A thru 113 plate appearances is legitimate or an anomaly. We do know that Riley inherently possesses some swing and miss in his profile, but it hasn’t been enough to simmer the hype of a .309/.369/.549, 10 HR performance thru 53 games by a prospect universally hailed as the future everyday third baseman for the Braves. Strikeouts aside, I remain skeptical that Riley is a .300 AVG big leaguer, but even a .270 hitter with 65-raw power should be pretty darn viable. The third baseman was featured in the Ramblings back in April.
30. Luis Urias, INF, SD, Age: 21
The versatile infielder has already matched his career high in home runs (6, lol), but an unfortunate reality concerning Urias is slowly beginning to set in with me. Let’s say Urias is able to double his career-high HR output in the big leagues. Let’s say he’s able to maintain the OBP he currently possesses in Triple-A. As a 50-grade runner, let’s say the 21 year old is able to notch 7 stolen bases with the Padres (the amount of SB he posted last season in Double-A). That would make Urias a .390 OBP/12 HR/7 SB infielder. With decent defensive skills, that makes for a really good real-life player. But you can probably finish my thought for me: How valuable are those numbers in the fantasy baseball world? Urias was included in the Ramblings last month.
29. Jesus Sanchez, OF, TB, Age: 20
The 20 year old got off to a fantastic start of the 2018 regular season, but he’s only managed two home runs in the past month, and reports suggest he’s selling out a bit offensively to recapture the power. There are parts of Sanchez’s offensive profile I love: The current .303 AVG paired with the 60-grade raw power is obviously a nice start. But you know how reluctant I am with position-player prospects with low walk rates, and Sanchez currently holds a 3.0 BB%. To truly maximize the potential behind the lightning-fast bat speed and uberly-quick hands, Sanchez needs to polish his plate approach and become more patient. He’s only 20, so there’s plenty of time to take steps in the positive direction.
28. Keibert Ruiz, C, LAD, Age: 19
Don’t you put the evil of a 19-year-old catcher prospect’s Double-A slash line on me. Don’t you dare. Ruiz has 7 HR and an 8.1 K%. Yes, the slash is .248/.302/.361, but the BABIP is .250. The underlying numbers are actually pretty good, and there’s a strong chance Ruiz will be the top catching prospect in baseball this time next season. You don’t see it now because he’s nearly five years younger than his average competition, but Ruiz is a 55-hit, 55-raw power prospect who will hit for average and power against competition closer to his age.
27. Willie Calhoun, OF, TEX, Age: 23
The walk numbers have diminished since he was traded from the Dodgers organization to the Rangers, which is concerning in my eyes. But Calhoun has always been a pure hitter, and a 5.0 BB% doesn’t really take away from that. Now settled in at left field, Calhoun is currently on a 13 game hitting streak, his first true hot streak of the season. My gut tells me Calhoun’s early-season struggles may have been a by-product of the minor league blues, and as he heats up, his chances of a big league promotion increase. As a 60-hit, 65-raw power, 10.7 K% prospect, the potential here is obvious.
26. Luis Robert, OF, CHW, Age: 20
By the time the outfield prospect fully heals from his latest thumb injury, Robert will have spent more time on the disabled list than he’s spent on the field during his professional career. He’ll also be 21 years old with only 87 full-season plate appearances, so the concerns here are fairly apparent. But so are the tools: 65-raw power and 60-speed with a developing hit tool. For now, Robert remains a high-risk, high-reward prospect with humongous potential. The White Sox prospect was featured in the Ramblings recently.
25. Carter Kieboom, SS, WAS, Age: 20
We might have already been at this point had Kieboom not missed a gigantic chunk of playing time last season due to injury, but the 2018 breakout seems full-steam-ahead. At High-A and Double-A combined, Kieboom is slashing .314/.394/.505 with 13 HR, an 18.0 K% and a 11.8 BB%. It’s really hard to poke holes in the numbers he’s posted this season. As the Nationals currently stand, Kieboom might play second base at the big league level. At this pace, it won’t matter. Kieboom has become one of the top middle-infield prospects in baseball. The 20 year old was featured in the Ramblings last month.
24. Jesus Luzardo, SP, OAK, Age: 20
Perhaps my most-proud 2018 prospect obsession other than Juan Soto, I assume Luzardo will skyrocket up prospect lists this preseason. The southpaw returned from Tommy John surgery down the stretch of last season, and the Athletics ‘aggressively’ placed the 20 year old in High-A to begin the season (he skipped Low-A entirely). After a minuscule 14.2 IP, Luzardo was promoted to Double-A. In 57.2 IP at the toughest level in the minor leagues, Luzardo has managed to strike out north of a batter per inning while posting a 2.81 ERA. There’s some potential for three plus pitches and above-average command in this profile, with some deception in the delivery to boot. Between Luzardo and A.J. Puk, the Athletics could soon have two of the most dynamic left-handed starting pitchers in baseball. More on the latter in my next post.
23. Mitch Keller, SP, PIT, Age: 22
From a ‘what does it look like on the mound?’ standpoint, Keller is easily one of the safest pitching prospects in baseball. He’s always going to strike out around a batter per inning. He’s never going to hurt you with walks. His GB% is strong. He suppresses home runs. Recently promoted to Triple-A (don’t stress over the small sample stats), the 22 year old is now just one-call-away from the big leagues. The prospect world underrates Keller. Don’t underrate him in your league. I wrote more about Keller in the Ramblings last month.
22. Triston McKenzie, SP, CLE, Age: 20
For the Indians, McKenzie’s late start to the 2018 season is nothing more than an inadvertently-convenient way to limit the slender right-hander’s workload this season. Holistically, McKenzie has been great in his 32.1 IP Double-A sample. Yes, the strikeouts are down, and I’d be willing to bet it’s because McKenzie lacks premium fastball velocity. Double-A was always going to be a big challenge for the right-hander, and I’m pleased with the results so far. The risk with McKenzie has always been whether he can weather (see what I did there?) a 162-game workload with a tiny frame. I remain optimistic on that front, though I suppose it remains to be seen.
21. MacKenzie Gore, SP, SD, Age: 19
The 4.15 ERA in Low-A certainly doesn’t match the pristine scouting reports I’ve recently read on Gore. Guess which ones I trust more? The teenage southpaw pitched thru blister issues at the start of the season, and he’s been much better lately (he hasn’t surrendered an earned run in four of his last five outings). There’s potential for Gore to someday possess three plus pitches to pair with plus command. It’s early still, but the 19 year old might someday be a #2 big league starting pitcher.
20. Francisco Mejia, C/OF, CLE, Age: 22
I read this article from SB Nation on Mejia recently, and it really opened my eyes to what might be a sad reality for the catcher prospect and the Indians. A scorching-hot month has helped normalize Mejia’s statistics, but that seems infinitely unimportant compared to the actual outlook of the 22 year old. Cleveland seems dead-set on Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez being their big league catchers for the long haul, and Terry Francona has alluded to the notion that Mejia seems at minimum somewhat disinterested in mastering the outfield defensively. That leaves us at a crossroads and perhaps hoping the Indians move the 22 year old to a catcher-needy organization at the deadline. Mejia was recently the #coverboy of the Ramblings.
19. Hunter Greene, SP, CIN, Age: 18
Greene has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 12 of his 16 starts this season. He’s also allowed four or more earned runs in the other 4 outings. It’s been an up-and-down season for the ‘prodigy’, which probably should have been expected from an 18-year-old pitching prospect in full season ball. The immense, ace-like potential remains unharmed, and the peripherals this season are solid. I find myself more bullish on Greene’s outlook now compared to the start of the season.
18. Sixto Sanchez, SP, PHI, Age: 19
Despite being only 19 years old, I think there’s a chance Sanchez would have been promoted to Double-A by now had he not been placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation a month ago. Sanchez has taken some big steps in his development this season; the GB% is north of 50-percent, he’s suppressing home runs, the ERA is under 3.00 and he’s striking out nearly a batter per inning despite often throwing his unperfected pitches in plus counts. As long as his elbow is genuinely inflamed and nothing is structurally wrong, Sanchez should be in Double-A by the end of the season with a chance at a big league debut next season as a 20 or 21 year old. The teenager was the cover boy of the Ramblings back in early June.
17. A.J. Puk, SP, OAK, Age: 23
Puk’s season was derailed before it really ever got started thanks to a torn ulnar collateral ligament that needed Tommy John surgery to repair. Puk would likely be in the Athletics’ rotation right now if he were healthy (he was having a fantastic spring training with the big league club), but now we’ll wait until next year to witness his big league debut. If the command develops to league average, Puk’s four plus-pitches will likely propel him to SP2 territory.
16. Brent Honeywell, SP, TB, Age: 23
Much like Puk, Honeywell was almost certainly going to be a large factor in a big league rotation in 2018 before undergoing Tommy John surgery before the season ever started. If you’ve watched Tampa Bay this season, you know they’re in need of starting pitching. Honeywell may not be completely-ready for the start of the 2019 season, but the 23 year old should pair with Blake Snell to form a young dynamic duo early next season. The arsenal is full and the command is above-average. Honeywell is a high-floor pitching whose consistency will make him a staple in your fantasy rotation.
15. Yordan Alvarez, 1B/OF, HOU, Age: 21
Another aggressive bump, but Alvarez is a 55-hit, 65-raw power prospect who hit 12 home runs in only 190 plate appearances in Double-A this season before being promoted to Triple-A. Now truly only a call away from the big leagues, most evaluators assume Alvarez will eventually assume the first base throne in Houston. From a roster-construction standpoint, an eventual full-time transition to 1B makes sense for the 21 year old. For now, Alvarez is playing the majority of his games in left field. The profile will impactful regardless of what position Alvarez plays. He was featured in the Ramblings last month.
14. Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL, Age: 21
Easily one of the best pure hitting prospects in baseball, Hiura skills have been on full-display this season. The second baseman is slashing .322/.381/.523 with 9 HR and a 19.8 K% between High-A and Double-A this season. Equally as important, since being promoted to Double-A, Hiura has played second base (instead of DH) in nearly every game. The final step in the 21-year-old’s offensive development will be to increase his walk rate, but the profile should be top-notch at the big league level regardless. Hiura was featured in the Ramblings last month.
13. Michael Kopech, SP, CHW, Age: 22
There’s really no other way to say it: Kopech has been disappointing so far this season. The BB/9 is sitting at a ghastly 6.1. The ERA is 4.70 (the FIP and xFIP are north of four, too). The strikeout numbers are still sky-high, but the command has backed up to the point it was at midway thru last season. Conveniently for the White Sox, it seems increasingly likely that Kopech will remain in Triple-A for the duration of the regular season. The ceiling is still insanely high, but the floor has descended back to something like ‘Tyler Glasnow’. That thought alone should give you a little pause moving forward,
12. Jo Adell, OF, LAA, Age: 19
Adell was aggressively-ranked 41st in my preseason top 200, but now he’s comfortably inside my top 15 following a spectacular first-half of the regular season. Between Low-A and High-A, the outfielder is slashing .319/.366/.608 with 17 HR and 11 SB. The strikeout and walk rates have a little ways to go, but it’s impossible to not be optimistic about Adell’s progression. There’s a non-zero chance Adell finishes the season in Double-A Mobile. A potential Adell, Mike Trout, Brandon Marsh outfield in Anaheim makes me feel things. Most recently, the teenager was included in the Ramblings last month.
11. Taylor Trammell, OF, CIN, Age: 20
Trammell is perhaps the most popular prospect in the short history of Prospects 365. He was my pick for this season’s breakout prospect. I ranked him 23rd this preseason. Now, Trammell is on the cusp of breaking into my top 10 overall prospects. The counting stats haven’t quite caught up to the pristine .311/.407/.449 slash line. The wRC+ is 150. He’s striking out at middling 18.9% rate. The Reds seem content conservatively promoting Trammell thru their system, but I’m hopeful the 20 year old gets the nod to Double-A before the end of the regular season.
10. Bo Bichette, SS, TOR, Age: 20
It hasn’t been a spectacular first-half for Bichette from a triple-slash standpoint, but evaluators who had studied Bichette’s swing knew Double-A would be a big challenge for the 20 year old. What I do love to see, though, is the shortstop’s 8 HR and 26 SB thru 370 plate appearances. The 16.5 K% is sublime too. Recent reports suggest Bichette will almost certainly stick at shortstop defensively, which will obvious enhance his fantasy value at the big league level. The current .305 BABIP should ascend a little, so I expect the batting average to improve from .269 between now and the end of the regular season.
9. Brendan Rodgers, INF, COL, Age: 20
I guess you can notate this as the first time I’ve ever ranked Rodgers ‘conservatively’. Still inside my top 10, I remain extremely bullish on the infielder’s outlook. The immense game power is coming to fruition this season, and Rodgers could flirt with 30 HR by the end of the season. The 11 stolen bases this season sticks out to me; the speed grade will never be spectacular, but Rodgers could potentially use his quick instincts to swipe a handful of bags at the big league level. As you know, the 20 year old plays in one of the more blocked infields in baseball, so the blurry-path puts a tiny damper on a big time offensive profile. Rodgers was a contrarian prospect obsession for me this season.
8. Royce Lewis, SS, MIN, Age: 19
I ranked Lewis 21st in my preseason top 200, so a jump into the top 10 is quite aggressive for a teenager who’s only in Low-A. But if anyone’s worth it, it’s probably Lewis. The shortstop is slashing .325/.372/.498 with 8 HR and 19 SB thru 300 plate appearances. The strikeout rate currently sits at 15.1% despite 2018 being Lewis’s first full season in professional ball, which speaks to the 19 year old’s advanced approach. The makeup is reportedly off the charts, and a promotion to High-A should be in the cards soon. Lewis was featured in the Ramblings back in May.
7. Forrest Whitley, SP, HOU, Age: 20
Behold. The top pitching prospect in baseball. Whitley possesses four plus pitches and above average command. He’s in Double-A and only 20 years old, so the current numbers might not fully suggest it, but Whitley has top-of-the-rotation written all over him. The oblique injury he recently suffered doesn’t *seem* too severe, and as long as he doesn’t miss too much time, there’s a decent chance Whitley finishes the season pitching out of the Astros bullpen. The potential here would put Whitley in the same statistical conversation as future teammates Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole. Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. He’s that good. The right-hander made the Ramblings last month.
6. Nick Senzel, INF, CIN, Age: 23
Senzel’s recent thumb surgery makes three top 20 prospects whose 2018 season ended early due to injury. In most organizations, Senzel would have suffered the injury at the big league level. In a Reds organization weary of starting their top prospect’s service clock, the infielder was stuck in Triple-A before being injured. I won’t go on a rant about how ridiculous it is that a player as talented as Senzel won’t make their big league debut until their age-24 season, but the versatile infielder has five tool potential and will be an impact fantasy player as early as 2019. My gut tells me he’ll eventually settle in at second base once he returns.
5. Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU, Age: 21
Kyle Tucker has arrived. As you know, the 21 year old was promoted to Houston this past weekend, where he should remain barring a putrid first month in an Astros jersey. Taking his place amongst an already-elite lineup, Tucker is a 65-hit, 65-raw power prospect with super-advanced base running abilities. The Astros’ top-ranked prospect has the skillset to make George Springer the second-best outfielder in Houston by the 2020 season. Tucker was the #coverboy of the Ramblings last month.
4. Victor Robles, OF, WAS, Age: 21
Robles was injured exactly three months ago today, and he finally seems close to returning to game action in Triple-A. Have you been a good fantasy player and attempted to buy-low on the future Nationals center fielder? Have you? Despite missing close to half of the regular season, Robles should be a factor in D.C. at some point down the stretch. The 21 year old is a 70-hit, 70-speed prospect. If he can find his way to 20 HR seasons, buckle your seat belts.
3. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SD, Age: 19
There are two mysteries remaining with FTJ’s offensive profile: With a 6’3 frame, will he continue to be a 20 SB threat once he finalizes his physical development? Will the strikeout rate always sit as close to 30% as it does now? The answer to those two questions will determine whether Tatis Jr. is eventually a five tool superstar or simply a really, really good player. More than a year ago, I compared Tatis Jr. to Manny Machado. I stand by that comp now. The legacy prospect was featured in the Ramblings last month.
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF, CHW, Age: 21
At 21 years old, Jimenez might be the most pure hitter in the minor leagues. The thing is, with 80-grade raw power, the outfielder is barely tipping the scale of what he’s capable of from a home run standpoint. If I’m poking holes, I’ll mention that Jimenez has never played a full season of professional ball without spending time on the disabled list. Let’s hope he can buck the trend once he reaches the big leagues. Jimenez was the cover-prospect in the Ramblings back in May.
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, TOR, Age: 19
All hail the impaler! Vladito is currently working his way back from a minor knee injury, but what he’s doing in Double-A (at his age) is unprecedented and unrivaled. One of the more interesting storylines in the second half of the regular season will be whether Guerrero Jr. makes his big league debut as a teenager this season or as a seasoned 20 year old next season. He has the ceiling of a hall of famer, though the majority of that production will likely come from first base. The top prospect was featured in the Ramblings in late May.
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any insight to DL HALL, where would he be ranked in your opinion?
He’s actually my 201st-ranked prospect in this list, and if I were to realign everything now, he’d likely be included. He’s mentioned in a project I’m currently working on.