Ray Butler’s 2018 December Top 100 Prospects: #61-80

Written by: Ray Butler

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

A couple of links before we get started: Make sure you’ve read the first installment (#81-100) of my Top 100 prospect list. Then, read all about one of the wildest trades you’ll ever see in fantasy baseball. Ronald Acuña Jr., Cody Bellinger, Eloy Jimenez, Fernando Tatis Jr., Jack Flaherty and Wander Franco were ALL involved. Read about the trade here.

80. Nate Pearson, SP, TOR. Age: 22

Nate Pearson legitimately has the stuff to someday be the TOP pitching prospect in baseball. He’s spent more time injured than healthy, though, and it could eventually lead to him begin a high-leverage bullpen arm. If you like taking risks in your fantasy baseball farm system, you should be doing everything you can to target Pearson this offseason.

79. Brandon Marsh, OF, LAA. Age: 21

Marsh will never be everyone’s cup of tea: he’ll always be more valuable in OBP leagues than AVG leagues, and the five tool impact will often pair with a strikeout rate north of 25 percent. The athleticism and defensive prowess means Marsh might reach the league before his bat is quite ready, so patience (as always) is important here. I really hope the Angels challenge him with a Double-A placement to begin the 2019 season. Marsh made the Ramblings in July.

78. Josh James, SP, HOU. Age: 25

A strong start to the 2018 season landed James on Fangraphs’ Fringe Five list, and he somehow continued improving to the point that he is now a consensus top 100 prospect. James arguably did more for his stock last season than any pitching prospect in baseball (take a second and Google his triumph over sleep apnea), and we might officially figure out whether the right-hander is destined for the rotation or bullpen in 2019. James made his Ramblings debut in August.

77. Jahmai Jones, 2B, LAA. Age: 21

There’s more value in OBP leagues than AVG leagues, but Jones is basically a shoe-in to reach double-digit home runs and stolen bases on a yearly basis at a shallow position. Now that he’s officially transitioned from the outfield to second base, I’d expect him to produce at a better clip offensively in 2019.

76. Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS, SD. Age: 19

80. Grade. Speed. A 2018 draftee, the infielder somehow found a way to steal 22 stolen bases in 195 plate appearances last summer. The power is certainly “developing” to say the least, but a .346/.453/.409 slash more walks than strikeouts in 45 games is enough to arouse any baseball fan.

75. Jon Duplantier, SP, ARZ. Age: 24

The right-hander was limited to 74 IP in 2018 thanks to a plethora of different injuries, so it was nice to see Duplantier thrive and post great numbers in the Arizona Fall League following the regular season. A big league debut is certainly a possibility in 2019, but I’d rather see the 24-year-old reach 150 IP regardless of the level.

74. Yusniel Diaz, OF, BAL. Age: 22

Mr. All-Around now plays for an organization that grants him a clear path to the big leagues. Diaz simply does so little to hurt your fantasy team. Last season, the outfielder slashed .285/.392/.449 with 11 home runs, 12 stolen bases and a 16.1 K%. Those numbers are despite the fact he posted a .267 BABIP in Double-A after being traded to Baltimore.

73. Ryan Mountcastle, 3B/SS, BAL. Age: 21

The 6.1 BB% is actually close to a 100% increase from his output in 2017, and from a pure hitting standpoint, Mountcastle is one of the most talented prospects in baseball. The problem is the defense, which could eventually force Mountcastle to shift to a corner outfield position. The current infielder made the Ramblings in July.

72. Luis Patiño, SP, SD. Age: 19

2018 served as a full-season debut for the ages for Patiño, catapulting the right-hander from an afterthought in the best farm system in baseball to *easily* one of the best pitching prospects in the best farm system in baseball. I worry a little about the frame, but pitching in the California League in 2019 will paint a clearer picture of just how dominant Patiño could be.

71. George Valera, OF, CLE. Age: 18

Okay, so. George Valera is not Juan Soto. I’m not saying Valera is the next Soto. BUT. Perhaps the most important reason Soto was somewhat unheralded coming in to last season was because the outfielder spent most of the 2017 season on the disabled list. Only six games into his professional career, Valera suffered a broken hamate and never returned to action. The then 17-year-old slashed .333/.409/.556 (with a home run and 13.6 K%) in the 22 plate appearance sample. Ask yourself this question: Had Valera regressed a bit and slashed .300/.375/.475 with 12 home runs in 273 plate appearances (the same number of PA Wander Franco had in Rookie Ball this summer), how highly would Valera be ranked this offseason and next preseason? Top 50? Top 25? At minimum, it’s worth contemplating. If Valera comes out firing in 2019 similarly to how Soto performed early in 2018, this will be the last time you can acquire him without forking over an arm and a leg. Thanks for listening.

70. Bryse Wilson, SP, ATL. Age: 21

My love for the right-hander is well documented (here, here and here to start). There’s some bullpen risk here (a little because of the stuff, a lot because of the organizational depth), but at just 21 years old, the Braves should give Wilson every opportunity in the world to reach his peak as a rotation arm. Don’t you dare bring up his minuscule big league sample from last season.

69. Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE. Age: 20

He struck out in a quarter of his plate appearances, but Jones walks so much that there was a .122 gap between his season-long AVG and OBP (.283 and .405, respectively). Then you notice the 19 home runs as a 20-year-old in full-season ball, and you realize we’re on to something here. Jones will probably be back in High-A to begin the season, but his performance versus Double-A pitching this summer will be telling.

68. Trevor Larnach, OF, MIN. Age: 21

The raw power might be plus-plus, and he hits the ball to left field enough to not be crippled by defensive shifts. Larnach will play against more appropriate competition in 2019, and I’ll be keeping my eye on the AVG and K%. The Twins probably won’t be very good, but the 21-year-old college hitter could be fast-tracked anyways,

67. Danny Jansen, C, TOR. Age: 23

The catcher position is a wasteland in fantasy baseball, but Jansen brings a lot of good qualities (strong OBP, low K%) to the table. The Blue Jays are reportedly trying to find a trade for Russell Martin, and it’s a good bet the 23-year-old is Toronto’s everyday catcher for at least most of the 2019 regular season and beyond.

66. Adrian Morejon, SP, SD. Age: 19

I can’t quite make up my mind on Morejon. On one hand, I worry slightly that the southpaw doesn’t have the stuff to miss an elite-amount of bats at the big league level (not to mention the underwhelming frame). On the other hand, I remember Morejon struck out more than a batter-per-inning as a 19-year-old in the California League last season. I LOVE the increase in GB% from 2017 to 2018, so I’m holding steady in my intrigue for now.

65. Victor Victor Mesa, OF, MIA. Age: 22

I’m afraid I might be the low-man on Mesa. At 5’9 165 lbs., I worry the power numbers will be less-than-exceptional in the fantasy baseball world. I’m anxious to see how he fares against top-competition pitching in America, but Mesa’s speed and approach should allow the outfielder to always reach base at a high clip.

64. Brendan McKay, SP/1B, TB. Age: 23

The left-hander might eventually become a Pitcher Only, but I expect the Rays to continue utilizing him both as a pitcher and a position player in 2019. He probably should have pitched against Double-A hitters at some point last season, so this season will obviously be important. The Rays are often slow to promote their pitching prospects, but I suspect the southpaw could get a shot in the big leagues if Tampa Bay contends for a playoff spot this in 2019.

63. Luis Garcia, INF, WAS. Age: 18

A full-season player as a 17 and 18 year old last season, Garcia slashed .298/.336/.406 with a 15.1 K% and 111 wRC+ between stops at Low-A and High-A. The raw power is now widely considered above average, and the 12 stolen bases in 2018 don’t necessarily reflect the speed output we should see as the infielder continues to develop. There’s a good chance Garcia reaches Double-A as a 19-year-old in 2019 (positionally, it’ll be similar to Andres Gimenez last season). Before he became a staple in the prospect community, I ranked Garcia 110th in my midseason prospect rankings this summer and included him in the Ramblings in July.

62. Vidal Brujan, 2B, TB. Age: 20

A promotion to High-A last summer figured to be a major challenge for Brujan, but the second baseman actually outperformed his Low-A numbers after being bumped to the Florida State League. Now officially on the map, a repeat performance from last season in 2019 might land Brujan on top 25 lists by the end of the season. I wrote more about Brujan in the Ramblings in August.

61. Dane Dunning, SP, CHW. Age: 24

Did we really avoid a serious elbow injury with Dunning last summer? If we did, I smell a late summer call up for the 24-year-old in 2019. I’ll have my fingers crossed all season, because Dunning was easily one of the best pitching prospects in baseball while he was healthy last season. The right-hander was the #coverboy of a Ray’s Ramblings in June.

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

Featured image courtesy of MLB.com.

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