Ray Butler’s 2018 December Top 100 Prospects

Written by: Ray Butler

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Happy 2019! I recently put the bow on my most recent prospect list. Here, I’ve compiled my top 100 prospects for you to read with a simple swipe of your finger. I hope you enjoy!

On New Year’s Day, Prospects 365 launched its first-ever Preseason VIP package for the 2019 season. It’s unquestionably the most important thing I’ve tried since creating Prospects 365, so make sure you read all about it right here.

As always, thanks to Fangraphs and Baseball Reference for the statistics used in this list.

100. Heliot Ramos, OF, SF. Age: 19

Statistically, it was a disappointing full-season debut for Ramos, a teenager who is widely considered to have some of the loudest tools in the minor leagues. Patience should abound, though, and he’s a solid candidate to bounce back in the California League in 2019.

99. Daz Cameron, OF, DET. Age: 21

Cameron makes a big jump from my midseason top 200 list, and it’s mostly because I believe he is making solid strides in unlocking his game power. He’ll always have some swing-and-miss in his game (and he’s more valuable in OBP leagues than AVG), but the outfielder’s arrow is certainly pointing up as we head to 2019.

98. Griffin Canning, SP, LAA. Age: 22

Fairly unheralded heading into last season, Canning surged thru the Angels’ system in 2018, debuting in High-A and finishing the season in Triple-A. I’m not completely sold on the 22-year-old missing a ton of bats at the big league level, and the Angels have a plethora of big league/AAAA arms to serve as rotation depth heading into next season; make no mistake about it though, Canning should be a mid-rotation fixture before it’s all said and done.

97. Michael Chavis, 1B/3B, BOS. Age: 23

A suspension and an oblique injury limited Chavis to 194 plate appearances in 2018, but he utilized a sky-high BABIP en route to posting some nice numbers upon his return. I’ve long thought Chavis will eventually shift to the right side of the diamond at the big league level, and I worry he’s a .260/.320 guy against the best pitchers in the world.

96. Hudson Potts, 3B, SD. Age: 20

Respect. Hudson. Potts. There’s a ton of variance in what scouts have to say about the third baseman, but one thing that can’t be argued is the on-field production, especially at Potts’ age. Maybe the naysayers are right and we’ve already seen the best Potts has to offer; maybe he’ll continue to exceed expectations. I discussed the third baseman more in the Ramblings back in August.

95. Tyler Nevin, 1B, COL. Age: 21

The 2019 season will be incredibly important for Nevin’s outlook as he faces Double-A pitching, but the first baseman put together what was arguably the best overall performance in the Arizona Fall League after a solid High-A campaign during the 2018 regular season. Still underrated, Nevin’s acquisition price remains fairly low, so now’s your chance to buy stock before it takes off during the 2019 preseason.

94. Matthew Liberatore, SP, TB. Age: 19

It was a small sample, but Rookie Ball was no match for the southpaw who, in my opinion, was the best prep arm in the 2018 MLB Draft. The Rays progress their pitching prospects notoriously slow, but I’d say there’s definitely a non-zero chance Liberatore ends up being better than farmmate Brendan McKay.

93. Oneil Cruz, SS, PIT. Age: 20

I was originally very skeptical about including Cruz in my December Top 100, but what can I say? I’m a sucker for 80-grade raw power. 2019 will be quite the challenge for the 6’7 shortstop; High-A pitching will tear him up if his approach remains as unpolished as it was at times in 2018. Cruz was featured in the Ramblings back in June.

92. Adonis Medina, SP, PHI. Age: 22

Medina allowed three earned runs or less in 16 of his 21 starts in 2018, striking out more than a batter per inning along the way. Pitching at Double-A Reading will be a tough task for the right-hander, but I’d bet Medina isn’t done climbing on prospect lists. The pitcher was featured in the Ramblings in July.

91. Daulton Varsho, C, ARZ. Age: 22

To an extent, a hamate injury (and subsequent surgery) quieted Varsho’s breakout in 2018, but the final numbers were still quite impressive. It’s easy to compare Varsho’s tools to that of J.T. Realmuto, but I’m fearful the slight build will never allow him to handle the workload of an everyday, big league catcher.

90. Justin Dunn, SP, SEA. Age: 23

Recently traded to Seattle in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz blockbuster, Dunn is now one of the top prospects in an organization that has a need for starting pitching. 2018 was the right-hander’s breakout campaign, utilizing a wipeout slider and an improved changeup to become one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Let’s hope the development continues in a system that’s struggled to develop its talent. Dunn was last featured in the Ramblings in June.

89. Isaac Paredes, INF, DET. Age: 19

I guess I assumed Paredes and his unspectacular body and “meh” overall skillset would eventually fade away. He has not. The Tigers were aggressive with the teenager, promoting him to Double-A Erie in July. The infielder answered the call, posting a higher wRC+ in Double-A than he had in High-A. The game power and defensive skills are still a work in progress, but Paredes answered a lot of questions in 2018.

88. M.J. Melendez, C, KC. Age: 20

The strikeout-rate in 2018 was higher than you’d like, but Melendez finished with a .492 SLG as a teenager in full-season ball. As a catcher. High-A Wilmington will suppress his power a little bit next season, but a lot of scouts and evaluators I talk to are dead-set on Melendez someday being the best offensive catching prospect in baseball.

87. Jordyn Adams, OF, LAA. Age: 19

Oh look, another tooled-up Angels outfield prospect. The calling-card is 80-grade speed, but some folks think Adams could develop above-average game power before he peaks. A post-Trout outfield of Adams, Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell might be the most athletic outfield in baseball someday.

86. Mark Vientos, 3B, NYM. Age: 19

The plate approach was more advanced for Vientos than expected this summer, which played a key role in the third baseman sky-rocketing up prospect lists this fall and winter. Full season ball will paint a clearer picture of the hit tool, but the plus raw power should project just fine from the hot corner. Snag Vientos before it’s too late. The teenager was featured in Ray’s Ramblings back in August.

85. Esteury Ruiz, 2B, SD. Age: 19

I ranked Ruiz super-aggressively this midseason, so I am glad I’m not walking back his ranking too much this offseason. If you look at Ruiz’s statistics only, you’ll probably wonder why he’s worthy of a top 100 prospect list. Just take a look at the scouting reports, which project the second baseman to develop an above-average hit tool and plus raw power. When you add that to the 49 stolen bases in 2018, you realize the teenager could someday be a star.

84. Kevin Smith, SS, TOR. Age: 22

The Blue Jays could have been more aggressive with Smith’s path in 2018, and this ranking comes with the caveat that facing Double-A pitching in 2019 could do a number on Smith’s prospect standing. However, the 25 home runs, 29 stolen bases and .302 AVG in 2018 paired with glowing scouting reports make the shortstop hard to ignore. Next season will be a big deal for the 22-year-old. Smith was featured in Ray’s Ramblings in July.

83. Colton Welker, 3B, COL. Age: 21

Welker’s 13 home runs in 2018 were a little disappointing, and the triple-slash is dampened when you notice the .395 BABIP. Still, the third baseman possesses the tools to someday man the hot corner at Coors if Nolan Arenado heads elsewhere in free agency next offseason. Welker was discussed in Ray’s Ramblings in August.

82. Michel Baez, SP, SD. Age: 22

A drop in velocity led to lower strikeout numbers, but Baez still found a way to strikeout more than a batter per inning in stops at High-A and Double-A in 2018. Destined to start 2019 back at San Antonio, Baez could knock on the door of a big league debut before the season’s over.

81. Khalil Lee, OF, KC. Age: 20

I’m not quite as high on Lee’s power potential as I was when I ranked him so highly this midseason, but the outfielder remains an under-the-radar commodity in the prospect world heading into 2019. Now promoted away from the pitcher’s haven of High-A Wilmington, I’m anxious to see Lee’s numbers next season. The outfielder was featured in the Ramblings in August.

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. The teenager was included in the Ramblings in July.

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 (herehere 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. The third baseman was featured in the Ramblings in June.

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.

60. Kyle Wright, SP, ATL. Age: 23

The right-hander doesn’t possess an overwhelmingly dynamic fastball, so there are questions surrounding his ability to induce ‘top-of-the-rotation’ strikeouts against major league hitters. The slider is a dominant offering, though, and the 23-year-old would be dynamite as a multi-inning reliever if the Braves choose to go that route with Wright. If he remains in the rotation, which you’re hoping he does if you roster him in fantasy baseball, Wright projects as a solid (albeit unspectacular), mid-rotation staple. The Braves prospect was last featured in Ray’s Ramblings in July.

59. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT. Age: 21

One of the easiest players to love in the minor leagues, Hayes did *a lot* of good things at the dish last season, though the numbers weren’t necessarily amazing. The glove will always be the 21-year-old’s calling card (it’s Gold Glove caliber at the big league level right now), but I’m a believer in what Hayes’ peak offensive production will look like.

58. Drew Waters, OF, ATL. Age: 19

The 30-game sample in High-A last season proved a lot of scouts right: Waters has work to do with his plate approach in order to succeed against above-average pitching. He’s only 19 though, and there’s legitimate 20 home run, 20 stolen base potential for the outfielder at the big league level. Waters’ pending 2019 performance at High-A Florida and Double-A Mississippi will either give us some pause about his long-term outlook, or it will officially launch his prospect status into stardom.

57. Kristian Robinson, OF, ARZ. Age: 18

Don’t mind me, I’m just setting the bar for what could be an earth-shattering year for Robinson. The young outfielder looks like he should be torching defensive secondaries to the tune of 175 yards and three touchdowns every Saturday. Instead, the 18-year-old phenom sticks to hitting dingers and stealing bases instead. He’s miles away from the big leagues, so the risk is apparent, but saying the sky is the limit for Robinson may not be doing him justice. Especially if more refinement means striking out less. The teenager was featured in Ray’s Ramblings in August.

56. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, TB. Age: 23

A .330 AVG, .416 OBP, 27 home runs and a 16.2 K%. These are the actual numbers Lowe posted last season between stops at High-A, Double-A and Triple-A. Phenomenal. The glove isn’t good, and Lowe will likely DH more at the big league level than play first base. He’ll maintain 1B eligibility, though, and Lowe and his thunderous bat should make their MLB debut at some point in 2019. The all-fields, jaw-dropping raw power will bring you to your knees.

55. Triston McKenzie, SP, CLE. Age: 21

McKenzie continues developing despite his slight stature. A forearm injury that sidelined him until June limited the right-hander to 90.2 IP in 2018, so I’m guessing the 21-year-old is still a full, healthy season of development away from being a legitimate candidate to fill a spot in the Indians’ big league rotation. I’m fearful the non-premium velocity will lead to a lack of missed bats versus big leaguers, but it’s important to be mindful that McKenzie is a long way away from being a finished product. The right-hander was discussed in the Ramblings in August.

54. Jonathan India, 3B, CIN. Age: 22

Jonathan India will be ranked in two different manners leading up to the 2019 season. Those who prioritize statistics and outcomes will feature India at the tail-end or outside of their top 100 lists. Others will focus more on scouting reports and ‘the process’, which will lead to inclusions anywhere from 50-75 on prospect lists (if not better). I’m in the latter group, of course, and think India will hit for just enough power to be a factor in redraft leagues once he reaches the MLB.

53. Brusdar Graterol, SP, MIN. Age: 20

An All-Name first teamer, Graterol showed enough improvement in his command last season to make you think he could someday be truly elite. Continued success versus High-A and Double-A hitters and sustained durability are the next stepping stones for the 20-year-old.

52. Nick Madrigal, INF, CHW. Age: 21

The raw power will never be what you’d like it to be, but Madrigal brings more than enough of other offensive skills that he’s impossible to discard. The strikeouts will always be nearly non-existent, but I’m hopeful he’s willing to walk more as a professional hitter before he reaches the major leagues. Madrigal was featured in the Ramblings in July.

51. Estevan Florial, OF, NYY. Age: 21

I believe. Florial’s 2018 campaign was hampered by a hamate injury that required surgery, but scouts who saw the outfielder in person were pleased with the progress Florial had at the dish. The big question will always be the hit tool, but Florial unquestionably has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in baseball. The 21-year-old was featured in the Ramblings in May.

50. Joey Bart, C, SF. Age: 22

A burning question that the entire prospect community will have heading into the 2019 season: what will Joey Bart’s hit tool look like versus age-appropriate competition this season? I’m ranking the catcher as though a just-good-enough hit tool will allow his plus power to shine in full season ball. With Buster Posey’s days as the Giants’ catcher waning, Bart could (should?) be fast-traced through San Francisco’s underwhelming farm system.

49. Justus Sheffield, SP, SEA. Age: 22

Disregard the 2.2 IP sample Sheffield produced with the Yankees during the home stretch of last season, but the ungaudy strikeout numbers and spotty command may keep the southpaw from ever being a top-of-the-rotation arm at the major league level. Recently traded to the Mariners, the road has been paved for Sheffield to log a lot of major league innings in 2019.

48. Alec Bohm, 3B, PHI. Age: 22

It was a weird first summer of professional ball for Bohm, mostly thanks to a knee injury that sidelined him for a month. Much like a lot of the other top hitters in the 2018 draft class, Bohm’s value will depend primarily on the development of his hit tool. He should progress quickly thru the Phillies’ farm system.

47. Gavin Lux, INF, LAD. Age: 21

Some thought Lux would fall back to earth after being promoted to Double-A in August of last season. Instead, the 21-year-old matched his numbers from High-A, posting a 147 wRC+ at both stops. It’ll be interesting to see if the infielder can replicate that performance in 2019, but for now Lux is one of the most underrated infield prospects in baseball. Read about his inclusion in a three-team, mega-blockbuster trade in my fantasy league recently.

46. Garrett Hampson, 2B, COL. Age: 24

The time is now for Hampson, a top-end speedster who figures to assume second base duties for the Rockies once current free agent D.J. LeMahieu signs elsewhere. I think Colorado’s signing of Daniel Murphy might actually help Hampson’s outlook: as long as he produces, the 24-year-old is versatile enough to shift over to shortstop or anywhere in the outfield and gain multi-position eligibility if the Rockies are bit by the injury bug. As it stands, Murphy should mostly play first base while Hampson mans second.

45. Keibert Ruiz, C, LAD. Age: 20

The Keibert Ruiz/Will Smith battle raged on last season, and the same-farm competition may come to a head at some point this preseason or during the 2019 regular season. Ruiz’s offensive skillset is far from finalized, and the hope is the 20-year-old (who had a delicious 8.0 K% in 2018) improves his quality of contact when he faces age-appropriate competition (Ruiz was 4.8 years younger than his average competition at Double-A Tulsa). It’s a decent bet that either Ruiz or Smith are playing for a different organization by the end of the 2019 season.

44. Matt Manning, SP, DET. Age: 20

A three-level pitching prospect in 2018 in his first full season of professional ball, Manning used his fastball/curveball combination to overwhelm hitters in Low-A and High-A before getting two starts at Double-A Erie to cap a fantastic campaign. The right-hander is very athletic and has a consistent, reliable delivery, leading scouts to believe his developing changeup will one day be a sturdy third pitch. A former two-sport star (baseball and basketball) in high school, Manning is just scratching the surface of his potential on the hill.

43. Ian Anderson, SP, ATL. Age: 20

The development of Anderson’s changeup has been crucial to the right-hander remaining one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, and the Braves giving the 20-year-old a taste of Double-A ball at the end of last season make you wonder what their plans are for Anderson in 2019. The right-hander consistently exhibiting reliable command will determine just how good Anderson will be at the big league level.

42. Cristian Pache, OF, ATL. Age: 20

The offensive stats weren’t gaudy for Pache last season, and his approach led me to the same conclusion that prospect guru John Calvagno made on Twitter recently (I’ll paraphrase): Pache’s glove will keep him moving thru Atlanta’s system, and that likely means he’ll make his big league debut before his offensive skillset is quite ready. In Athletes I Trust, though, and I fully believe Pache will someday be an offensive asset in the fantasy baseball world. Two things I’d love to see from the 20-year-old in 2019: more walks and more stolen bases.

41. Chris Paddack, SP, SD. Age: 22

Once it became evident that Cowboy Chris Paddack was back and better than ever following Tommy John surgery in 2016, it felt like a large chunk of last season was dedicated to waiting for the right-hander to get promoted to Double-A. It finally happened in July, and Paddack responded by posting a lower ERA at the level than he had at High-A earlier in the season. The 22-year-old totaled 90 IP last season, so he figures to receive a more strenuous workload in 2019. The progression of the curveball (or another, third reliable pitch to pair with the fastball and deadly changeup) will likely determine how many bats Paddack misses against elite competition.

40. Mitch Keller, SP, PIT. Age: 22

Every report I’ve read on Keller’s 2018 performance point to changeup usage being the reason the strikeouts were down and the walks were up for the right-hander last season. The much-needed third offering has certainly improved, and it’ll certainly be utilized when the 22-year-old makes his big league debut; hopefully, that’s sometime in 2019.

39. Casey Mize, SP, DET. Age: 21

I went back-and-forth on whether Mize or fellow-farmhand Matt Manning should be ranked more favorably in my #DecemberTop100, and there’s a chance I swap the two as I continue to evaluate leading up to the preseason. Regardless of his respective standing on prospect lists, Mize has a deep arsenal and should move quickly through Detroit’s system.

38. Francisco Mejia, C, SD. Age: 23

The Padres reported pursuit of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto isn’t exactly a vote of confidence for Mejia, who currently figures to split time with Austin Hedges in 2019 anyways. From a fantasy standpoint, it might not be a bad time to shop around and see what return you could receive in exchange for the 23-year-old. Conversely, remember: True talent always finds a way to overcome clouded paths.

37. Hunter Greene, SP, CIN. Age: 19

The first of many such cases you’ll read about in the next twenty prospects, Greene is currently in the process of recovering from an elbow injury that ended his 2018 campaign early. The right-hander will reportedly be ready for Spring Training, but don’t be surprised if the Reds slow-play the teenager’s workload this season. Greene’s stuff, athleticism and makeup give the right-hander the potential to be one of the best pitchers in all of baseball someday.

36. Alex Verdugo, OF, LAD. Age: 22

Alex Verdugo is going to be a solid, everyday outfielder at the big league level sooner rather than later (finally). From a fantasy standpoint, as has been the case for awhile now, the 22-year-old’s value hinges mightily on his ability to unlock his borderline-plus raw power in game situations. If 15 home runs is his cap, Verdugo will be a solid-but-unspectacular asset. If the outfielder can reach 20-25 home runs? Watch out.

35. Austin Riley, 3B, ATL. Age: 21

In a perfect world, you’d really like your first or third baseman to be the best player on your fantasy infield. Riley certainly has the raw power to make that possible at either position, but the disappointing strikeout rate may make that notion impossible if you roster him. Josh Donaldson is the Braves third baseman for at least 2019, so the 21-year-old may need a big league injury in order to impact your fantasy team this season.

34. Luis Robert, OF, CHW. Age: 21

It means very little because it’s such a small sample from such a raw prospect, but Robert has a career 99 wRC+ in 50 career professional games. He’s struck out in a fourth of his plate appearances. He hasn’t stayed healthy for substantial amounts of time. There’s a lot to dislike about what we’ve seen from the 21-year-old so far. But when it all clicks–and we’ve seen glimpses at times– Robert is easily one of the most electrifying prospects in the sport. It’ll be all about durability and contact rate for the outfielder in 2019. The volatility with Robert is such that I wouldn’t be too surprised if he was a top 10 prospect heading into 2020. I also wouldn’t be too shocked if he’s on the back-end of top 100 lists a year from now. Robert was included in the Ramblings in July.

33. Dylan Cease, SP, CHW. Age: 23

No preseason top 200 prospect did more for their stock than Cease in 2018, exhibiting a much-improved changeup and cleaner mechanics en route to carving up hitters in High-A and Double-A. There are still evaluators who think the right-hander is better suited for the bullpen, but another healthy, effective campaign in 2019 could officially extinguish those takes. If all goes according to plan, Cease should make his debut on the South Side at some point in 2019. The 23-year-old was last featured in the Ramblings in August.

32. Touki Toussaint, SP, ATL. Age: 22

There’s a wide-range of outcomes for Toussaint, spanning from the ceiling of a legitimate #2 starting pitcher, to a dynamic, multi-inning reliever, to one of the best closers in baseball. One thing is certain: the right-hander is ready to contribute at the big league level right now, so it’ll be interesting to hear and see Atlanta’s plan for the 22-year-old in 2019. Of course the fantasy value for Toussaint is limited if he ends up in the bullpen, but he’ll be one of the most intriguing arms in baseball regardless of his role.

31. Jesus Sanchez, OF, TB. Age: 21

There’s so much thunder in Sanchez’s bat, but the approach and aggression we’ve seen so far makes me wonder if the outfielder will ever fully-display his immense potential. A full-season versus Double-A pitching should paint a clearer picture of what can be expected from the 21-year-old moving forward. Remember this: a mediocre OBP paired with a lack of stolen bases leads to a flawed fantasy asset.

30. Jarred Kelenic, OF, SEA. Age: 19

The teenager had been definitively declared The Next Great Mets Prospect, until New York traded Kelenic and a plethora of other pieces to Seattle for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. The outfielder’s hit tool, raw power and speed have already been graded by most evaluators as above-average or plus with room to grow, and Kelenic’s skills were on full display this summer in Rookie Ball. Full season ball lies ahead for the left-handed slugger in 2019.

29. Nolan Gorman, 3B, STL. Age: 18

The strikeouts might only improve marginally as Gorman continues developing throughout his minor league career, but the game power (17 home runs in 274 plate appearances last summer) is already *well* ahead of Gorman’s 18 years of age. The hit tool will likely never be elite, so it’s important for the walk rate to remain around double digits throughout the third baseman’s career. There’s 30-40 home run potential in Gorman’s offensive profile. The teenager was a #coverboy of the Ramblings in August.

28. Mike Soroka, SP, ATL. Age: 21

The right-hander posted solid numbers in his first big league stint last season–as a 20-year-old– before a shoulder injury derailed his campaign. In total, Soroka only managed 52.2 IP last season, so it’ll be interesting to see how hard Atlanta chooses to push him in 2019. Soroka currently lacks premium velocity that leads to a plethora of strikeouts, but he’s also 21 years old and far from a finished product. The best is yet to come for the right-hander.

27. A.J. Puk, SP, OAK. Age: 23

You’re aware of the story here. Great Spring Training in 2018. On the cusp of making his big league debut. Then bam, an elbow injury shortly prior to Opening Day revealed Puk needed Tommy John surgery. The southpaw missed the entirety of last season, and he’s not expected to return to competition until sometime next summer. If he returns in his typical form, the 23-year-old has top-of-the-rotation potential both in real life and on your fantasy team.

26. Luis Urias, INF, SD. Age: 21

The infielder’s poor quality-of-contact led to a hilariously-bad BABIP after Urias was promoted to San Diego in August, but the small sample may be just what you need to acquire the 21-year-old at a discounted price this offseason. Already eligible at second base, it’s been reported Urias may shift to shortstop following the Padres’ acquisition of Ian Kinsler. I really think the infielder will hit for more power at the big league level than he did in the minors, which would pair nicely with his fantastic plate approach.

25. Andres Gimenez, SS, NYM. Age: 20

Breathe. It. In. The .281/.347/.409 slash with 38 stolen bases and an 18.3 K% as a 19-year-old in High-A and Double-A is enough to make Gimenez a solid prospect, but it’s the emerging raw power that makes the teenager one of the most intriguing infield prospects in baseball. The shortstop will likely begin the 2019 season back in Double-A, and an increase in home run output could make Gimenez a top 10 or 15 prospect by the end of the season. The 20-year-old was featured in the Ramblings in August.

24. Sixto Sanchez, SP, PHI. Age: 20

An elbow injury in June sidelined Sanchez *just* when it seemed as though the right-hander was close to being promoted to Double-A Reading. After missing the remainder of the season, it was then announced the 20-year-old would be ‘skipping’ the Arizona Fall League due to a setback in his recovery. With a moderate 6’0 frame, durability issues are always terrifying. However, if Sanchez can bounce back and remain healthy in 2019, there’s a chance he’s the top pitching prospect in baseball this time next offseason. There’s some good stuff on Sanchez in this Ray’s Ramblings from June.

23. Peter Alonso, 1B, NYM. Age: 24

He’s going to have to prove he can hit the curveball consistently at the big league level, but Alonso has 35-40 home run potential and should post walk-rates that will keep his OBP solid. With new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen aggressively pursuing ways to make his team increasingly competitive, Alonso should find his way into the middle of the Mets lineup early (if not on Opening Day) in 2019. Humblebrag: as his breakout was beginning, Alonso was a Ramblings #coverboy in April.

22. Michael Kopech, SP, CHW. Age: 22

White Sox fans deserved to see Kopech succeed at the big league level last season, but the right-hander was prone to the long ball and was a victim to an unearthly .381 BABIP before suffering a devastating elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Out for the entirety of the upcoming season, Kopech will pitch most of the 2020 season as a 24-year-old who will be on an innings limit. Sigh. Staff writer Marc Rodriguez discussed Kopech in his Ramblings in August.

21. Alex Reyes, SP, STL. Age: 24

Yes, Alex Reyes somehow found a way to miraculously maintain prospect status this offseason (literally by 0.1 IP). I’m probably the high-man left standing with Reyes, but I truly believe the right-hander has some of the best ‘stuff’ in all of baseball. He’ll likely be on an innings-limit in 2019, but the 24-year-old will almost certainly post some eye-opening numbers if he can simply stay healthy (which, as we’ve seen, is much easier said than done).

20. MacKenzie Gore, SP, SD. Age: 19 

The odds-on favorite to be the top pitching prospect in baseball this time next year, Gore only managed 60.2 IP in 2018 due to a recurrence of blisters. An unlucky .352 BABIP-against led the teenager to posting a 4.45 ERA in Low-A, but a closer examination reveals a 3.16 xFIP, which is more predictive of what the southpaw’s future holds. Gore will pitch in the California League in 2019, which should be an interesting challenge. The Padres might be tempted to accelerate the 19-year-old’s timeline as the organization prepares to contend in the National League, but I think it’s more likely that no steps are skipped in the seasoning of one of the most promising, young arms in the sport.

19. Brent Honeywell, SP, TB. Age: 23

The red carpet was rolled out and ready for Honeywell’s emergence at the big league level last season, but an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery had other ideas. The right-hander is expected back in competition sometime this summer, and his return could act as somewhat of an impact-arm trade for the Rays. The 23-year-old has ‘top-tier #3 starting pitcher’ written all over him, with flashes of more at times.

18. Brendan Rodgers, SS, COL. Age: 22

The .268/.330/.460 triple-slash with 17 home runs and a 116 wRC+ isn’t horrible, but I think Rodgers will suffer a slight descent on prospect lists throughout the industry in the upcoming preseason because we’re realizing his floor simply isn’t as high as we once thought. Don’t get me wrong: the 22-year-old’s power is massive, and he’ll max out whatever stolen base potential he’s got as a runner. But the approach is so aggressive, he’ll hit a lot of pitcher’s pitches throughout his career unless he exhibits more plate discipline.

17. Jesus Luzardo, SP, OAK. Age: 21

I kept waiting and waiting for the southpaw to meet his match last season, but Luzardo never did (don’t point out his Triple-A ERA unless the BABIP and xFIP are in your next sentence). It’s up for debate whether the 21-year-old will miss a gargantuan amount of bats at the highest level, but at minimum, Luzardo should be a middle-of-the-rotation fixture in Oakland without breaking much of a sweat.

16. Carter Kieboom, SS, WAS. Age: 21

The Nationals’ big league roster construction could mean Kieboom eventually moves to second base, but the 21-year-old’s raw power and advanced approach means he could someday be an All-Star at the position. His first bout versus Double-A pitching in the Eastern League left some to be desired, but I fully-expect sterling numbers in 2019 before he’s promoted to Triple-A. Kieboom was featured in the Ramblings in June.

15. Taylor Trammell, OF, CIN. Age: 21

My breakout prospect for the 2018 season didn’t put up the counting numbers of a superstar, but if 8 home runs, 25 stolen bases (not to mention a .375 OBP) is on the light side of what we can expect from a player with Trammell’s skill-set, the future is very bright. With fantastic plate discipline and 70-grade speed, the 21-year-old is a very high-floor player. If he ever unlocks the power we saw in the Futures Game last season, the outfielder will be a big league superstar. Trammell was mentioned consistently in the Ramblings last season, but I also discussed his skillset on the 80 Grade Podcast with Connor Kurcon and Rhys White in July.

14. Yordan Alvarez, 1B/OF, HOU. Age: 21

I wish he would have struck out less last season, but the 20 home runs, .293/.369/.534 slash and 139 wRC+ as a 20 and 21-year-old in Double-A and Triple-A is the tale of the tape for Alvarez. Yuli Gurriel only posted a 107 wRC+ as the Astros’ primarily first baseman last season, and it’s only a matter of time before Alvarez overtakes him in Houston. Until then, the numbers at Triple-A Round Rock should be impressive. Alvarez was featured in the Ramblings in June.

13. Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL. Age: 22

One of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues, it was a relief to see Hiura ease his way back in to playing second base fairly regularly in 2018. He’s only played one full-season of minor league ball, but it would be somewhat of shock if Hiura doesn’t play at least a minor role for what should be a very good Brewers team at some point in 2019. The second baseman was the #coverboy of this Ramblings from July.

12. Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU. Age: 21

The 72 plate appearance sample we were given by Tucker at the big league level last season left a lot to be desired, and the subsequent numbers make it easy to forget the 21-year-old hit 24 home runs, stole 20 bases and had a .400 OBP (!!!!!!!!!) in Triple-A in 2018. It’s going to click for Tucker at some point, and probably sooner rather than later. However, it is important to note that the Astros are currently in the middle of their contention window. For now, they also have the outfield depth to make Tucker a second-tier option if he continues to underperform at the big league level. Because of these factors, if Houston is serious about acquiring J.T. Realmuto or an upper-echelon starting pitcher before Opening Day, the 21-year-old will likely be the prized return piece. It’s unnerving for there to be so many unknowns for a prospect ranked so highly, but that’s where we currently stand with Tucker. During one of the hottest streaks in baseball at any level last season, Tucker was a #coverboy in the Ramblings in June. #Patience

11. Nick Senzel, UTIL, CIN. Age: 23

An injury-plagued 2018 campaign has caused Senzel’s ranking to drop a smidge, but that’s more about the performance of others than the 23-year-old’s shortcomings. What we did see from Senzel in 44 games last season was really good, including 6 home runs and 8 stolen bases in only 193 plate appearances versus Triple-A competition. The concern I have about Senzel from a fantasy standpoint is a potential move to the outfield. The 23-year-old has reportedly begun working in centerfield, and OF-only eligibility for a player with Senzel’s skillset would tarnish his fantasy value. Thankfully, it currently appears the Reds are leaning towards utilizing Senzel as a super-utility player (second base, third base, centerfield and perhaps even shortstop) in 2019 and beyond. If this were the case, we’d probably have a more valuable version of Marwin Gonzalez on our hands.

 10. Alex Kirilloff, OF, MIN. Age: 21

Jason Woodell tweeted in September that Kirilloff is a future batting champ. I rest my case. Really though, it’s hard to poke holes in anything the outfielder did in 2018. A hilarious .348/.392/.578 triple-slash. 20 home runs. A 172 wRC+ in 130 games between Low-A and High-A. It was quite the comeback for the 21-year-old after missing the 2017 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Whatever encore he has in store for us, it’ll likely come from Double-A and Triple-A as the Twins prepare the outfielder for his big league debut. Kirilloff made the Ramblings back in May.

9. Jo Adell, OF, LAA. Age: 19

One of the top performers throughout the minor leagues last season, Adell’s 20 home runs, 15 stolen bases and .290/.355/.543 triple-slash easily overwhelms the fact he also struck out in a fourth of his plate appearances. An explosive athlete, Adell should be capable of that home run and stolen base output in the big leagues someday, even if the hit tool only settles at league average. Adell was the #coverboy of this Ramblings from July.

8. Wander Franco, SS, TB. Age: 17

No prospect had a better summer than Franco, who witnessed his prospect status ascend from the outskirts of top 100 lists to the top 10 throughout the industry. And yeah, the numbers are great, but it’s the drool-worthy reports from scouts that make his catapult seem relatively safe instead of myopic. You know me: a 7.0 K% by any 17-year-old at any level puts you on my radar. Franco posted that rate while hitting 11 home runs and reaching base at a .418-clip in only 61 games this summer. The hype is real. Franco made his Ramblings debut as a #coverboy in July.

7. Bo Bichette, SS, TOR. Age: 20

You know as well as I do that Bichette gets overshadowed by the magnificence that is Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but the 20-year-old is without-a-doubt one of the most electrifying prospects in baseball. You might be a little turned off by the 11 home runs in 2018, but the hope here is that a portion of the 43 doubles in 2018 eventually evolve into home runs. Regardless of whether his eventual home is shortstop or second base, Bichette will be one of the better players on your fantasy team sooner rather than later.

6. Forrest Whitley, SP, HOU. Age: 21

You know you’re a good player when you only muster 26.1 IP in a season and it doesn’t negatively affect your prospect status. There’s a chance Whitley peaks with four plus pitches with above-average command, and he’ll pitch in an organization that’s proven it can get the most of of its pitchers. The 21-year-old is unquestionably the best pitching prospect in baseball; let’s hope he stays healthy and graduates from lists in 2019. Whitley was further-discussed in this Ramblings from June.

5. Royce Lewis, SS, MIN. Age: 19

An elite player with elite makeup, Lewis’s 2018 performance lived up to the hype of a #1 overall draft pick, and then some. The hit tool, raw power and speed may all be plus, and there’s a real chance the shortstop is the #1 overall prospect heading into the 2020 season. The shortstop was featured in the Ramblings in May.

4. Victor Robles, OF, WAS. Age: 21

A freakish elbow injury led to a weird season for Robles in 2018, but it also created an opportunity for the outfielder to fly under-the-radar this offseason before really exploding onto the scene in 2019. Nationals skipper Davey Martinez recently said he believes the 21-year-old is ready to be an everyday, big league player, and Robles should be an asset for you in fantasy baseball despite being more valuable in real life. The centerfielder was a #coverboyof the Ramblings in August.

3. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SD. Age: 20

I’m hopeful continued development leads to a more reasonable strikeout rate, but Tatis Jr. is going to be incredibly valuable both in the real world and in fantasy baseball. The 133 wRC+ as a 19-year-old in the Texas League speaks volumes. The shortstop’s 2018 season ended early due to a thumb injury, but Tatis’s stellar numbers in the Dominican Winter League should lead to a Triple-A placement to begin the 2019 season. A major league call up is on the horizon. The legacy prospect was a #coverboy of the Ramblings in June.

2. Eloy Jimenez, OF, CHW. Age: 22

The proof was in the pudding for Jimenez in 2018: .337/.384/.577 with 22 home runs and a 15.1 K%. You can poke holes and hypothesize there will be an adjustment-period for the outfielder at the big league level due to his aggressive plate approach; you can probably find even more footing if you worry about the string of injuries that have hampered the 22-year-old throughout his minor league career. Instead of stressing about the non-linear growth of prospects, let’s focus on what’s undeniably true: when he’s at his best, Jimenez will be one of the best hitters in the big leagues. The outfielder should be an everyday player for the White Sox by the end of April. Jimenez was recently featured in this Ramblings from earlier this month.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, TOR. Age: 19

If Vlad Jr. could rank higher than 1st, I promise he would. I’m really not sure what you’re expecting me to say here. The hit tool is prodigious. The power is prodigious. The defense is just good enough. The teenager will likely be one of the faces of the game by the end of the 2019 season, and “best player in all of baseball” is not out of the equation here. Vladito was a #coverboy of the Ramblings in May.

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