Written by: Ray Butler
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Throughout January, it became understood in the Butler household that my nights were going to consist of Parks and Recreation and working on my preseason content. Since the new year, I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve run through P&R (from start to finish) no less than four times. I’ve now watched the show in its entirety north of ten times, which is an accomplishment I’m quite proud of.
As always, the ‘headliner’ of my preseason content is the top-200 prospect list, which I’ve dubbed the #P365Top200 on Twitter. I’m proud of this list, and I stand by the time and energy I exerted into the rankings and write-ups.
As always, thanks to Fangraphs and Baseball Reference for easily-accessible statistics and information. Thanks to Prospects Live for easily-accessible videos of so many of the prospects you’ll read about in this list.
I hope you enjoy this list half as much as I enjoyed creating it.
200. Cole Roederer, OF, CHC. Age: 19
Drafted with the 77th overall pick of the 2018 draft, Roederer already grades at 50 or better at all fantasy-relevant facets of his tool-kit (hit, power, speed). Despite some swing-and-miss during his first professional stint (at Rookie Ball), the 5 home runs and 13 stolen bases in only 36 games this summer will do little to quell the growing hype surrounding the teenager. Scouts are split on how the outfielder projects physically; some evaluators think further growth will eventually dictate a move to left field for Roederer. That would also mean he’ll lose a step, but the prediction is far from a consensus based on folks I’ve talked to. For now, we can dream on an outfield prospect that finalizes his development with borderline-plus raw power and above-average speed. Roederer will see full season ball in 2019, where I’m hoping he fares better versus southpaws than his small sample from last season (.593 OPS).
199. Luis Medina, SP, NYY. Age: 19
The numbers in Rookie Ball from this summer aren’t too inspiring, but Medina has the highest ceiling of any pitching prospect ranked near the tail-end of my top-200. Heck, he has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in my top-250. The command is in such an infantile stage that it hasn’t moved on to solid food yet (his K/9 in Rookie Ball this summer was 11.75. The BB/9 was 11.50). But with two 70-grade-or-better pitches (fastball and curveball), the sky is the limit for the teenager. He may never make it to Double-A, but I think Medina is in a system and surrounded by people to make some serious strides as soon as the upcoming season. Depending on how he looks this spring and the amount of patience the Yankees choose to utilize, we may or may not see Medina in full season ball until 2020. Staff writer John Stewart profiled the right-hander and other Yankees farm arms in February.
198. Joe Palumbo, SP, TEX. Age: 24
I took a pretty good look at Palumbo in this article discussing candidates to be this season’s Chris Paddack, but I’ll repeat a few things here. There’s bullpen risk. There’s also a chance Palumbo, who will be challenged from an innings pitched standpoint in 2019, finally puts durability and performance together and experiences a legitimate break out this season. Read the article linked above for more on the 24-year-old southpaw.
197. Blake Rutherford, OF, CHW. Age: 21
How about the bad news first? We keep waiting on Rutherford’s athleticism to carry him to another level in the prospect world, but it simply hasn’t happened yet (hello, 54.4 GB% last season). The good news is the once oft-injured outfielder played in 115 games last season (487 PA), and the adjustments he needs to make to reach his potential are pretty obvious. Assuming continued durability, I’m hopeful Rutherford is able to make some tweaks to his mechanics versus Double-A pitching in 2019. If we could suddenly pair a 15-20 home run ceiling with Rutherford’s other skills, we’d be cooking with grease. The outfielder has reportedly bulked-up this offseason while training with Christian Yelich, and the ball has been exploding off his bat so far in Spring Training. Sustained power with a little more loft in his profile would do Rutherford’s stock wonders.
196. Brock Burke. SP, TEX. Age: 22
Recently traded to the Rangers in the three-team Jurickson Profar deal, Burke broke out in a big way in 2018, striking out 27.2% of the batters he faced while posting a 3.08 ERA between stops at High-A and Double-A. According to Fangraphs, while still a member of the Rays organization, Burke and other Tampa Bay pitchers participated in a Driveline Baseball program. Burke credits the program to improving his velocity and command. Now a member of a new organization, the 22-year-old will look to repeat his 137.1 IP, 158 K, 3.08 ERA performance from last season. If he does, he’ll likely be a big leaguer by the end of the regular season.
195. Tyler Freeman, INF, CLE. Age: 19
Every prospect in baseball strives to have the bat-to-ball skills of Freeman. The problem is the infielder is a little too anti-three true outcomes, especially for a player with limited power potential. Freeman walked in a staggeringly-low 2.7% of plate appearances in Short Season ball last summer. The 7.3 K% is awfully nice, but it’s justified to wonder how well Freeman’s uber-aggressive approach will play versus full season pitching. Without much power to fall back on, I’m hopeful we see a progression in Freeman’s plate approach in full season ball in 2019.
194. Alex Canario, OF, SF. Age: 18
The bat-to-ball skills are still sitting at the kids’ table, but there’s a ton to love about what Canario has shown at the Rookie Ball level the past two summers. In a combined 482 plate appearances between both rookie levels in 2017 and 2018, Canario has 11 home runs, 26 stolen bases and a .357 OBP. Conversely, the outfielder has struck out in 24.5% of his plate appearances and has only mustered a .250 AVG. Plus athletes tend to reach their high-upside ceilings at a better clip than non-plus athletes, and with Canario likely debuting in full season ball as an 18-year-old this season, I believe the outlook is quite optimistic.
193. Isan Diaz, 2B, MIA. Age: 22
Perhaps the epitome of a valuable OBP league prospect (turn your head if you play in an AVG league), Diaz’s .232 AVG last season would likely surprise you once you knew he posted a 107 wRC+. And that’s where the fun begins. Between Double-A and Triple-A in 2018, Diaz hit 13 home runs and stole 14 bases. The plus raw power is obvious when you watch the second baseman swing the bat, but the hit tool may never ascend to a place that allows Diaz to fully access it. Some good news, potentially, is that the second baseman actually had a higher AVG against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching last season. Of course, neither was above .240, so there’s some work to do here. The Marlins will be nowhere close to competing in 2019, so the 22-year-old could get ‘service clock’d’ more so than he should.
192. Eddy Diaz, INF, COL. Age: 19
For the non-VIPers: one of the motifs of this list is “more walks than strikeouts lands you on Ray’s prospect list”. Not only did Diaz walk 6.3% more than he struck out this summer in advanced Rookie Ball, he did so while stealing 54 bases in 51 games (!!!!!!!!!!) (223 plate appearances). The only real video I’ve seen on Diaz is grainy cell phone footage of an at-bat filmed during the summer of 2017. At that time, the infielder’s swing featured a leg kick that makes me think the power may come as Diaz finalizes his physical development (he has 0 career home runs in 378 professional plate appearances). Let’s hope he doesn’t lose a step when that happens.
191. Mike Siani, OF, CIN. Age: 19
Other than Jarred Kelenic, Siani might have been the most polished prep hitter from north of the Mason-Dixon Line in the 2018 draft. The lack of above-average raw power limits the 19-year-old’s ceiling a little, but the hit tool and speed will probably grade as plus as Siani continues his development. With such an advanced plate approach for his age, I really think the outfielder has a chance to boost his stock facing Low-A pitching throughout 2019. Standing 6’1, I want to believe Siani eventually develops more game power than appears likely presently.
190. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF, CHW. Age: 22
Basabe’s moonshot of a home run versus Hunter Greene in last summer’s Future Game speaks for the explosiveness the outfielder can show at times, but I think taking a look at the 22-year-old’s 2018 stats gives us a better idea of what type Basabe is on a game-to-game basis. The 15 home runs and 16 stolen bases feels about right for Basabe at the big league level someday, though it’ll be accompanied by a strikeout rate that hovers around 25%. More valuable in OBP leagues than AVG leagues, the outfielder slashed .258/.354/.445 last season. Again, that feels just about right for LAB in the big leagues. Thank you, sweet, sweet walk rate.
189. Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK. Age: 23
Mateo will eventually prove over rankers or under rankers completely wrong, and I’m not sure there’s much of a middle ground. There seemed to be so much hope for Mateo after he was traded to Oakland as part of the Sonny Gray trade. Greener grass. A clearer path. Immediate success after being traded. But things came crashing down for the shortstop in 2018, so much so that Mateo posted a pitiful 62 wRC+ in 131 Triple-A games. The home run output decreased. Stolen bases? Decreased. Walk rate? Decreased. Strikeout rate? Increased. Batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage? It all went down. It’s just hard to get behind this profile right now.
188. Cal Mitchell, OF, PIT. Age: 20
Despite not possessing the most explosive tools you’ll find in this portion of the list, Mitchell put together a nice season in 2018 that might also give us a solid glance into his future. Competing in full-season ball as a teenager last season, the outfielder slashed .280/.344/.427 with 10 home runs and an 8.3 BB%. Mitchell is below average defensively and will be limited to either left field or first base throughout his career, so the offensive profile (considering those defensive positions) isn’t something you’re running a red light for in order to acquire. However, there are evaluators out there who believe Mitchell eventually gets to 55-hit, 55-raw power before his development finalizes, and the risk of becoming a platoon player doesn’t seem likely (he posted a .903 OPS versus LHP in 2018). I’m interested to see what the power output is in the Florida State League this season.
187. Shed Long, INF, SEA. Age: 23
After a solid 2017 campaign, it appeared Long was a short-stride away from kicking down the door of top 100 lists. Instead, the second baseman regressed in some key areas in 2018, including a drop in AVG and rise in K%. It was refreshing to see Long get back to stealing bases last season, and the MLB floor here is looking like 10 HR/10 SB seasons for the next 8-10 years. Now that I think about it, scroll up a few places on this list. Statistically speaking, Shed Long is the Luis Alexander Basabe of second base prospects. It would have been unclear how he fit within the Yankees organization after being traded for Sonny Gray in January, but he was only a Bronx Bomber for about thirty minutes before being traded to Seattle. The Mariners plan to move Long around the infield, which could get him to the big leagues quicker while also enhancing his potential fantasy value.
186. Jeisson Rosario, OF, SD. Age: 19
The teenager faded down the stretch last season, slashing .234/.320/.336 with a 26.4 K% in his last 28 games of the regular season. The blip on the radar casts a shadow on Rosario’s season-long stats, but the teenager’s potential is why he’s ranked here anyways. A superb athlete known for his on-field flips, Rosario stands 6’1 and 190 pounds, but his current swing doesn’t readily allow the outfielder to hit for much power (3 home runs and a 48.6 GB% in 2018). I’m buying the 60-hit, 55-speed tools with the hope that the Padres eventually help Rosario unlock whatever genuine power potential he’s got.
185. Anderson Espinoza, SP, SD. Age: 21
Perhaps the best current example of a cautionary tale in the prospect world, Espinoza was a near-consensus top-50 prospect when he was merely 17-years-old. Now closing in on his 21st birthday, Espinoza hasn’t thrown a competitive pitch since 2016 and hasn’t faced competition above the Low-A level. Now seemingly close to 100% following Tommy John surgery rehabilitation, I included Espinoza in a recent article detailing candidates to be 2019’s Chris Paddack. Give it a look for more on the young Venezuelan. The right-hander has reportedly looked good in Padres camp early this Spring Training, boasting a fastball that’s topped out at 97 mph in bullpen sessions. Let’s hope we look back on 2019 as the year Espinoza got back on track.
184. Kolby Allard, SP, ATL. Age: 21
Allard’s three appearance, 8 IP stint with the Braves last summer went… not well, to put it lightly. But the left-hander’s capabilities are much more like what we witnessed from Allard in Triple-A in 2018. Look, the upside here is never going to blow your socks off. The 21-year-old is never going to miss a ton of bats because his fastball is only average. Allard only struck out 19.5% of the batters he faced in the minor leagues last season, and a K/9 between 7 and 8 throughout his career should probably be expected. Other than the ability to locate the entirety of his arsenal, the southpaw’s best trait is his mound makeup and pitchability. Because of these things, Allard is able to get the most out of his unspectacular repertoire of pitches. There’s not a top-of-the-rotation ceiling here, but the left-hander should stick around in the back-end (SP4 or SP5) of a big league rotation for a while. Allard’s best attribute in dynasty leagues is likely the combination of his age and proximity to the big leagues.
183. Miguel Vargas, INF, LAD. Age: 19
Want to know the craziest thing about an 18-year-old Vargas slashing .330/.404/.465 between both Rookie Ball levels and Low-A last summer? He did so after not playing competitive baseball for two years. Craziness. Vargas is a strong, athletic infielder who profiles as an adequate third baseman or above average first baseman (he’s played both professionally). Scouts believe his 6’3 frame will continue to add good weight as he fills out, which should lead to the power you’d expect from someone that size. Evaluators have also said that witnessing a Vargas BP-session is a thing of beauty, and the teenager sprays the ball to all fields with ease. Staff writer Tyler Spicer profiled Vargas in February.
182. Luis Oviedo, SP, CLE. Age: 19
Another teenage pitching prospect who reached full season ball at the end of last season, Oviedo is oozing with stuff and projection and has the ceiling of a top-of-the-rotation starter. Short season ball was no match for Oviedo last summer: the right-hander struck out 32.7% of the batters he faced (1.88 BB/9) while posting a 1.88 ERA. The 19-year-old did manage to total a 3.00 ERA in two full season starts at the end of the season, but our first real sample from Low-A will come in 2019. Oviedo has four offerings, but his best two pitches are currently (and undoubtedly) the fastball and changeup. As he continues to refine his game, it’s easy to envision Oviedo someday becoming a mid-rotation-or-better big league starting pitcher. Our Adam Tulley published a deep dive on Oviedo in March.
181. Tucupita Marcano, INF, SD. Age: 19
A future, first-ballot hall of famer based on his name alone, Marcano was so good at his first stop stateside in the Arizona League that he finished the season in Short Season ball. In 237 plate appearances total, the teenager slashed .366/.450/.438 with a 12.7 BB%, 6.8 K% and 15 stolen bases. So many good ingredients. Standing at a scrawny 6’0 165 lbs., Marcano has very little power projection with his current frame and needs to add good weight to ever unlock any potential with the tool. But everything else: the fantastic plate approach, the plus speed and the above average defense, point towards a player who will be included on this list for a while. Full season ball awaits in 2019.
180. Taylor Widener, SP, ARZ. Age: 24
Consider this: Widener basically struck out a whopping 31.9% of the batters he faced (in Double-A) last season with a two-pitch arsenal. Sure, he mixed in the changeup too, but the aforementioned two-pitch combo is one of the deadliest in the minor leagues. In actuality, the refinement of the changeup will ultimately determine whether Widener is an effective big league starting pitcher or a dynamite reliever. In real life, the difference is moderate at most. In the fantasy baseball world, you’re on your hands and knees praying that Widener’s powerful arsenal eventually officially expands to three pitches.
179. Sean Murphy, C, OAK. Age: 24
Statistically, Murphy reminds me a lot of fellow catching prospect Danny Jansen. The latter has done more to unlock his game power, but Murphy will likely post better AVGs throughout his career. The unfortunate difference between the two (for Murphy anyways) is that Jansen made his big league debut at the age of 23 at the end of last season. Now 24-years-old, Murphy is yet to see meaningful time at any level above Double-A. Looking at greener pastures, the Athletics do have a pretty blatant need for stability from their catcher position at the big league level, and Murphy figures to eventually fill that role. I think there’s a chance that happens sometime in 2019.
178. Evan White, 1B, SEA. Age: 22
White possesses a lot of qualities you want from your first baseman in real life. The 22-year-old hit .300 last season while walking in 9.4% of plate appearances and striking out at an acceptable 19.4% rate. Even more important, White is already one of the best defensive first basemen at any level of baseball, and he should contend for multiple Gold Gloves as a major leaguer someday (he profiles similarly to Cody Bellinger defensively and could play outfield if needed without skipping much of a beat). The only thing missing for the first baseman is 1B-type power, which is kind of important as you evaluate whether White could potentially play a role for your fantasy team. He hit 11 home runs last season, and 15 at the big league level is probably a fair cap without a mechanical adjustment.
177. Lazaro Armenteros, OF, OAK. Age: 19
It always felt like, with the expectations that were thrust upon him, Armenteros’s development would never be linear. And if that was your genuine thought process, you’re taking a deep breath after the last season. The 33.8 K% tells one story, whose ending likely ends with Armenteros landing outside the top 200 this preseason. But the 10.6 BB% and .374 OBP (don’t look at the .427 BABIP) are the saving grace and allow us to remain optimistic on teenager moving forward. It feels like this is an important season for Armenteros’s development.
176. JoJo Romero, SP, PHI. Age: 22
2018 was a weird season for Romero. In his first five starts of his age-21 season in Double-A (Reading is notoriously hitter-friendly), the southpaw posted a 7.18 ERA and only struck out 17 batters in 26.1 IP. From then until his season was ended in mid-July due to a rib injury, Romero tallied 83 strikeouts in 80.1 IP and posted a 2.69 ERA. Along the way, the left-hander’s fastball velocity dipped from 91-95 mph to 86-88 mph, then back to its original speed. Romero has a four-pitch mix and solid command, which pair to force a lot of groundball outs (52.3% last season). The 22-year-old projects as a mid-tier SP3 capable of striking out a batter per inning while inducing a lot of weak contact. Romero will be away from Reading and should be fully healthy, and the subsequent numbers in 2019 should reflect it.
175. Ryan McKenna, OF, BAL. Age: 22
A prospect who emerged last season with top-of-the-order speed and plate discipline, McKenna has a chance to bat lead off in Baltimore before he turns 24. Unfortunately, the .436 BABIP while in High-A last season tells us the 22-year-old’s spectacular .377/.467/.556 slash was likely unsustainable. The numbers took a dive after a promotion to Double-A, and McKenna went down swinging in 22.4% of his plate appearances in 60 games at the level (up from 15% while at High-A last season).
174. Malcom Nunez, 1B, STL. Age: 18
A pure hitting machine who has the chance to someday be one of the best first base prospects in baseball, Nunez posted video game numbers in the Dominican Summer League last summer. Read this without raising your eyebrows: .414/.497/.774 with 13 home runs and only three more strikeouts (29) than walks (26) in 199 plate appearances. He’ll turn 18 in March. Physically superior to his competition in the DSL, it’ll be interesting to see what the Cardinals have planned for Nunez in 2019. He played more third base than first base last summer, but I’ve been told the teenager is practically a shoe in to fully transition to first base at some point in his prospect career.
173. Jay Groome, SP, BOS. Age: 20
When he was drafted, it was widely predicted Groome would become a dynamite-pitching prospect if he could simply stay on the field. At the time, it was thought that off-the-field issues might eventually derail the southpaw’s career. In actuality, it’s been injuries. The 20-year-old has totaled only 52 innings pitched in three professional seasons, and that number is likely to remain the same until 2020 (Groome underwent Tommy John surgery in May last year). The left-hander still has youth on his side and the high ceiling still remains, but the margin for error will be much smaller when he finally returns to the mound in 2020.
172. Bobby Dalbec, 3B, BOS. Age: 23
Bobby Bombs is a case-study in the art of the Three True Outcomes, and an amazing 50.5% of his plate appearances in 2018 ended with a home run, strikeout or walk. Like the aforementioned Isan Diaz, Dalbec will always be more valuable in OBP leagues than AVG leagues. It’s not that the third baseman expands the strike zone constantly (12.2 BB% last season), it’s that he doesn’t always do damage when he sees a pitch in the zone (32.4 K%). Fortunately, the power is such that even if Dalbec only lowers his strikeout rate to 30% or thereabouts, he’ll still prove valuable in the fantasy world. The 32 home runs in 2018 are not out of the realm of possibility for Dalbec as an eventual big leaguer.
171. Spencer Howard, SP, PHI. Age: 22
Howard chewed up and spit out under-classed competition in his first full season in 2018, so it’ll be interesting to see the right-hander in the Florida State League (and perhaps the Eastern League) in 2019. At his very best, Howard can throw four different pitches that flash plus; thanks to occasionally-spotty command, at other times, Howard doesn’t locate his fastball and struggles to miss the bats his arsenal says he should. The right-hander began to make waves down the stretch of last season. He can officially announce his presence as a top-pitching prospect in 2019.
170. Daniel Lynch, SP, KC. Age: 22
A college arm who has a chance to move quickly through the Royals’ system, Lynch has a four-pitch arsenal that can be fully utilized anytime the southpaw toes the rubber. None of the pitches are earth-shattering, but Lynch’s ability to induce ground balls at a high-rate with above average command keeps the floor comfortably high for the southpaw. The Royals will likely be fairly deliberate with the progression of first round picks Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar, but I’ll go out on a limb and say Lynch has an outside shot of making a big league debut in 2019.
169. Shane Baz, SP, TB. Age: 19
A scout comped Baz’s command to Tyler Glasnow’s to me when Baz was drafted in the first round in 2017. At first I thought the comparison was lazy (both right-handed hurlers were members of the Pirates at the time), but 76 IP into Baz’s career, the statement has held true. Also, both are members of the Rays now. The 19-year-old is very athletic, so hope abounds he eventually overcomes the command woes. The right-hander throws four pitches, but the fastball and slider are the calling cards. The walk rate has been so poor that it’s not a given, but I’m hopeful we see Baz in full season ball in 2019.
168. Clarke Schmidt, SP, NYY. Age: 23
It me, ranking a 23-year-old who has yet to reach full season ball inside my top 170. Careless, you may say. Reckless, you may think. I took a deeper look at Schmidt in my article discussing pitchers who could be this season’s Chris Paddack, but I’ll briefly expound here. Schmidt is going to sneak up on a lot of people this year, and I keep hearing the Yankees are ready to be aggressive with the right-hander’s path to the major leagues. This ranking allows you to be fully aware of the 2017 first rounder and take steps to secure stock before your league mates do. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.
167. Nick Solak, 2B/OF, TB. Age: 24
Better late than never, it’s officially time to PUT SOME RESPECK ON NICK SOLAK’S NAME! Honestly though, I’m not sure what else the 24-year-old has to prove to universally be known as a viable prospect. With a hit tool and speed that are both plus or near plus, Solak hit 19 home runs and stole 21 bases in Double-A last season, all while slashing .282/.384/.450 (with a sustainable .330 BABIP) with a 12.0 BB% and 19.8 K%. Woo-wee. With the value of defensive versatility increasing by the day in baseball, Solak started nearly as many games in the outfield last season as he did at second base. He’ll start in Triple-A a 24-year-old in 2019, but there’s no reason Solak can’t make his big league debut around the same time as fellow Rays prospect Nathaniel Lowe. My gut tells me someday, the prospect community will look back on Solak’s minor league career and thinks “why didn’t we give this guy more credit?” as he makes waves in the big leagues.
166. Jeter Downs, INF, LAD. Age: 20
Man, there’s absolutely everything to love about a borderline industry top 100 prospect being traded to one of the best systems in baseball in terms of helping prospects reach their potential. I’m not as high on Downs as most are, mostly because fantasy baseball doesn’t always reward well-rounded skillsets without plus tools. You might be quick to point out the 37 stolen bases last season, but Downs benefits from strong base running instincts and is not known for his straight-line speed. It’s fair to predict Downs will be capable of posting double digit HR/SB seasons with a moderate AVG and OBP as a big leaguer someday, and he’ll likely do it while manning second base defensively.
165. Austin Hays, OF, BAL. Age: 23
Quite honestly, I’m pretty sick of having to rank Hays on my prospect lists. And it’s not simply because the 23-year-old refuses to relinquish his prospect status, but because Hays’s skillset isn’t my cup of tea anyways. In 1043 career minor league plate appearances, Hays has walked 15 times (4.3 BB%). To get away with that, you have to possess a special hit tool and either earth-shattering power or game-changing speed. I’ll concede Hays has plus power, but the speed and hit tool are only average. The 23-year-old is an above-average defender and will likely be a productive big leaguer at some point, but I think the future will prove Hays’s 2017 breakout was an outlier of his capabilities. The outfielder missed a large portion of last season with multiple injuries, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t play a role for the Orioles sometime 2019.
164. Jeremiah Jackson, SS, LAA. Age: 19
Jackson doesn’t quite fit the Angels’ prospect calling card of stockpiling supremely athletic outfielders, but that’s only because the teenager preps from the dirt defensively before each pitch. A superb athlete, Jackson was drafted in the second round last summer before hitting 7 home runs and stealing 10 bases at two rookie levels. Unfortunately, the shortstop went down swinging in 30.9% of his 191 plate appearances. The hit tool development is really the only thing that could hinder Jackson from reaching his 60-raw power, 55-speed ceiling, but we tend to believe in athletes around here. I’m going to let Jackson cook for a year before passing judgment. Our Andrew Lowe predicted the shortstop could have an Oneil Cruz-like ascension this season.
163. Parker Meadows, OF, DET. Age: 19
A high-variance, toolsy teenager whose family has history with top prospect lists, Meadows development will be all about growing one tool while desperately holding on to others. Check this out: the outfielder slashed .290/.377/473 despite striking out in a whopping 29.2% of his plate appearances last summer in Rookie and Short Season ball. The development of the hit tool will be the most important facet of Meadows’s development. But standing at 6’5 185 lbs., maintaining his current plus plus speed is nearly just as important to his sky-high ceiling. Full season ball in 2019 awaits.
162. Jhon Torres, OF, STL. Age: 19
Is that a teenage prospect with a 50-grade hit tool, massive raw power and the willingness to take a walk I see? Traded with Conner Capel to the Cardinals for Oscar Mercado in a trade that made sense for both organizations, Torres unquestionably has the highest ceiling of the three players in that trade. Get a whiff of these numbers: .321/.409/.525 with 8 home runs, a 10.2 BB% and a 19.9 K% in 44 games this summer. Despite already sporting a 6’4, 200 lb. frame, scouts think Torres could continue to grow even more throughout the next calendar year. Full season ball will tell a more complete story, but Torres has the makings to be a of future, middle-of-the-order masher in St. Louis. Staff writer Marc Rodriguez ranked Torres aggressively in January.
161. Ethan Hankins, SP, CLE. Age: 18
There’s miles and miles of development left to be had, but Hankins is currently the odds-on favorite to eventually be perceived as the steal of the 2018 draft. Standing 6’6 200 lbs., Hankins features a plus fastball, a soon-to-be plus slider, a curveball and a changeup. A shoulder injury upended Hankins’s chances of being 1.1 last summer, and he slipped to 35th overall. Surprisingly, the teenager made a couple of appearances in Rookie Ball at the end of the season, which makes you think the right-hander bounced back from the shoulder issue quicker than expected. He’ll turn 19 in May, so Hankins is currently stuck between obviously sticking to Short Season ball this season and obviously debuting in full season ball at Low-A. Selfishly, I hope it’s the latter. Our John Stewart profiled the right-hander in February.
160. Kyle Muller, SP, ATL. Age: 21
The Braves have enough pitching prospects to arm a small village, but it’s past time to give Muller his due. To put it in proper perspective that’s relevant to the structure of Atlanta’s organization, the monstrous southpaw doesn’t have the ceiling of a bonafide staff ace in real life, but he’s more than good enough to headline a potential trade for active talent the Braves can utilize to help them win big in 2019. Still developing, and with a chance to strikeout a batter per inning before it’s all said and done, Muller will likely begin the 2019 season back in Double-A. A promotion to Triple-A will likely be on the near horizon. The Braves will be in the market for help down the stretch of an impending playoff run, and Muller will certainly be a prospect opposing front offices ask about throughout this season.
159. Tristen Lutz, OF, MIL. Age: 20
Scouts who evaluated Lutz in-person last season are currently more excited about the outfielder than the 2018 statistics would recommend, but a couple of putrid months (check out the April and August numbers) weighed down the outfielder’s slash numbers more than they would be otherwise. He still struck out in 27.6% of his plate appearances, but evaluators tend to agree the whiff rate will drop as Lutz refines his bat control. The raw power is plus plus, so the 13 home runs last season is just scratching the surface of the 20-year-old’s power potential.
158. Travis Swaggerty, OF, PIT. Age: 21
The fantasy team name potential is endless if you roster Swaggerty, but you’re probably more in love with the raw power and speed the 2018 first rounder possesses. But prospects with those tools who ranked outside of any top 100 list must have a flaw, and for Swaggerty it’s the hit tool. A college hitter, the 21-year-old struck out 25.3% of his plate appearances between Short Season ball and Low-A last summer. In 229 plate appearances between the levels, Swaggerty hit .239 with 5 home runs and 9 stolen bases. The wRC+ was 108. There’s plenty of time for development here, but Swaggerty is currently a low-floor, high-ceiling college bat who’s hard to love until we see more.
157. Triston Casas, 3B, BOS. Age: 19
If you’re a dynasty player who acquires raw power and waits for the rest of the cards to fall where they may, Casas is in the center of your sweet spot. Most already consider the third baseman’s raw power 80 grade, and at 6’4 240 lbs., Casas certainly looks the part. Unfortunately, the 19-year-old’s plate approach is unpolished and will likely lead to a high strikeout rate early in Casas’s professional career. If he can develop the hit tool to 50 or even a 45, Casas could be one of the most prolific power hitters in all of baseball. It should also be mentioned that an eventual move to first base defensively is expected.
156. Elehuris Montero, 3B, STL. Age: 20
My gut tells me Montero’s 106 plate appearance sample at the end of last season saturated his perception in the prospect community a little, which is stupid if you’re basing the change of opinion on the third baseman’s slash numbers only. However, it might be fair to question whether Montero’s naturally-aggressive approach will hold up in the Florida State League with a bigger sample in play. Scouts also consider Montero limited from a mobility standpoint, so much so that he may not be able to remain at third base at the big league level. Regardless of his defensive future, Montero should continue to produce offensively at every level of the minor leagues without too much issue.
155. Franklin Perez, SP, DET. Age: 21
Once a consensus top 100 prospect who’s slipped down lists thanks to a tumultuous 2018 campaign, Perez is primed to reemerge as a viable pitching prospect in 2019. The right-hander was featured in my recent article discussing candidates to be this season’s version of Chris Paddack, and Perez’s age makes a ‘comeback’ easy to root for. Casey Mize and Matt Manning are the current darling pitcher prospects in Detroit’s system, but Perez has a solid chance of joining that party once again in 2019.
154. Geraldo Perdomo, SS, ARZ. Age: 19
I wanted to see if Perdomo had walked more than struck out in his 257 career plate appearances, but I quickly figured out the slash numbers were just as impressive: .280/.423/.372. And yes, the shortstop has a career 18.5 BB% and 15.1 K%, which, as you know by now, is the quickest way to my heart. A switch hitter with skills from both sides, Perdomo is a plus hitter who, for now, projects to hit 10-15 home runs and steal 10-15 bases per season. As the shortstop continues to fill out and add muscle, the former number should climb closer to 20. The 19-year-old remains relatively unknown for now, so acquire at the ground floor while you still can.
153. Freudis Nova, INF, HOU. Age: 19
Other than increasing his patience (which, in fairness, could be said about 95% of the prospects his age), it’s really hard to poke holes in what Nova has done since beginning his professional career in 2017. Through two summers of Rookie Ball, the infielder is slashing .276/.337/.407 with 10 home runs and 17 stolen bases (15.6 K%) in 347 plate appearances. It’s not well-known, but Nova was originally destined to be a member of the Marlins’ organization. After failing a PED test in 2016, he was released and eventually signed by the Astros, a team he figures to make an impact for someday. Defensively, Nova has played second base, third base and shortstop during his short pro career. With his offensive skills, being versatile defensively would increase his stock all the more.
152. Wenceel Perez, SS, DET. Age: 19
When you’re a teenage prospect with a limited power ceiling, you better have great bat-to-ball skills to be considered for a prospect list of any length. A lot of prospects on this list have fit that bill, but Perez is as good as any of them. Perez played in three different levels last season, slashing .312/.363/.429 with a 13.5 K% in 251 plate apperarances combined. Perez possesses plus speed, so his 13 stolen bases in 2018 should just be scratching the surface of his eventual output. The current, limited power probably caps the shortstop’s home run potential to 10 or so for now, but at 19-years-old, Perez should continue to develop in that area.
151. Grant Lavigne, 1B, COL. Age: 19
Lavigne 1) is a teenager, 2) walked more than he struck out last summer and 3) possesses plus raw power. Drafted by the Rockies with the 42nd overall pick in last summer’s draft, Lavigne immediately improved his prospect stock by hitting 6 home runs and slashing .350/.477/.519 in 258 plate appearances in Rookie Ball. Lavigne’s 12 stolen bases in 59 games might make you raise your brow, but they’re likely more of an indictment on batteries in the Pioneer League than a testament to the first baseman’s straight-line speed. The 19-year-old will move on to full season ball in 2019, and a promotion to High-A Lancaster before the end of the regular season might be in the cards if Lavigne continues to perform. Our John Stewart profiled the first baseman in February.
150. Tony Santillan, SP, CIN. Age: 22
Santillan probably should have been more on our collective radar following a solid 2017 campaign, but the right-hander backed it up last season and finds his way into my top 150 because of it. Santillan made 26 starts in 2018, compiling 149 innings pitched with a 21.3 K% and 3.08 ERA in the process. The strikeout rate won’t blow any minds, but the 22-year-old’s 6.0 BB% (15.3 K-BB%) helps lay a solid, mid-rotation foundation for Santillan. There’s a chance the right-hander begins the season in Triple-A, but I think it’s more likely Santillan notches 5-10 starts back in Double-A before being promoted to Louisville.
149. Miguel Amaya, C, CHC. Age: 20
Amaya made some really solid strides last season, increasing his BB% by six percent and OBP by .083 in his first full season of pro ball. The catcher also flashed more of his above-average raw power, hitting 12 home runs after totaling only 4 home runs combined in Rookie and Short Season ball in 2016 and 2017. The defensive skills are adequate, and Amaya figures to stick at catcher throughout his big league career. The tools of an everyday player are evident here, though Amaya will likely progress at a one-level-per-season pace on his trek to Chicago.
148. Hans Crouse, SP, TEX. Age: 20
Hans Crouse is going to be a prospect you love to roster. The right-hander has a fiery mound presence, which is a nice cherry-on-top when your arsenal includes two 70-grade offerings. The problem, for now, is that the right-hander is still developing a changeup that would slot as his third pitch. It’s probably a 40-grade pitch for now. Crouse’s mechanics are… unique, and his arsenal is so top-heavy that he’ll be a risk to move to the bullpen throughout his prospect career, which would hurt him in fantasy but might help flourish in real life. 2019 will be Crouse’s first extended stay in full season ball.
147. Seth Beer, 1B/OF, HOU. Age: 22
A lot of scouting reports had Beer pegged as a 1B-only draft prospect last spring and summer leading up to the draft, but the 22-year-old actually played more games in the outfield than at first base after being selected by the Astros in the first round. And though he was competing against unworthy competition until he was promoted to High-A, for his final 27 games the first baseman’s .304/.389/.496 slash with 12 home runs in 296 plate appearances still feels notable. A pure hitter who will be more valuable in the fantasy realm than in real life throughout his career, Beer should continue to progress quickly through the Astros’ system.
146. Akil Baddoo, OF, MIN. Age: 20
Similar to my lede on Marlins prospect Isan Diaz, when a prospect hits .243 and strikes out in 24% of his plate appearances, you don’t often expect to see an above average wRC+. Baddoo somehow managed to post a 121 wRC+ in 2018 despite those numbers, mostly thanks to hitting 11 home runs and stealing 24 bases in Low-A. From an AVG standpoint, I think Baddoo is a strong bounce back candidate in 2019 (despite a solid spray chart and plus speed, Baddoo’s BABIP was only .311 thanks to a 9.2 LD% and 19.9 IFFB%). The ingredients are all there—solid plate discipline, above-average raw power and plus speed—for Baddoo to someday be a consensus top 100 prospect. We just need the skills to manifest themselves a little more on the field in 2019.
145. Joey Wentz, SP, ATL. Age: 21
Oblique and shoulder injuries forced Wentz to miss a large chunk of last season, and the southpaw’s stuff just didn’t seem all the way right even when he was healthy and competing in High-A. It seems a little unfair that I ranked Wentz 68th in my preseason top 200 list last season, and now he slots here despite a season that was so obviously affected by injuries. Assuming he’s healthy, the Braves will likely challenge the southpaw with a Double-A placement to begin the season. And assuming he’s healthy, Wentz is a good bet to ascend prospect lists once again in 2019.
144. Dustin May, SP, LAD. Age: 21
Ginger Thor is a prospect we all want to have big-time upside, but we just haven’t seen it since May was a third round draft pick in 2016. And it’s really perplexing. The right-hander’s fastball touched 97 at times last season. The slider is plus. The command is plus. Maybe the lack of a true third pitch is making him a little too predictable? Despite the meh 22.1 K% in 2018, May did post a whopping 55.0 GB%. There’s a lot of savory facets in May’s profile. He’ll begin the 2019 season back in Double-A, and it feels like he’s just one ingredient away from skyrocketing up prospect lists throughout the industry.
143. Adam Haseley, OF, PHI. Age: 23
Adam Haseley is one of the most underrated prospects in baseball. After being selected by the Phillies in the first round of the 2017 draft, some discarded the outfielder because of the initial, unspectacular reports of moderate power potential. But Haseley turned the haters into believers in 2018, slashing .305/.361/.433 with 11 home runs in 118 games (despite playing 79 games in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League). Playing half your games in Reading’s home stadium would make anyone look like a power hitter, but Haseley’s continued ascension in 2019 will be very real. There’s a chance the 23-year-old is considered a 60-hit, 60-raw power prospect a year from now. Somewhat of a post-script: I would love to see Haseley attempt to steal more bases in 2019. With Bryce Harper now a member of the Phillies until kingdom come, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the 23-year-old dangled in trade talks at some point this season.
142. Brayan Rocchio, INF. Age: 18
Rocchio is a 5’10, 150 lb. teenager who slugged .442 last summer between Rookie Ball levels. That’s somehow not even close to the most fun thing about the infielder. Rocchio stole 22 bases in 60 games last summer. A switch hitter with a good approach from both sides, the 18-year-old only struck out in 11.5% of his plate appearances and slashed .335/.390/.442. He’s currently graded with below-average raw power, but I expect that to change as he continues to fill out physically. Rocchio is already a hot commodity in dynasty leagues, and I think his stock will continue to grow this season.
141. J.B Bukauskas, SP, HOU. Age: 22
Mum was the word on the injury that caused Bukauskas to miss the first portion of last season, but word finally leaked that the right-hander suffered a back injury in a car wreck last spring. The injury would eventually restrict Bukauskas to 13 starts in 2018, but the 22-year-old seemed to make the most of them. The arsenal was lacking a true, reliable third pitch, but the changeup seems to have taken some positive steps forward in the past six months. However, the command is only average, and it will take a moderate toll on Bukauskas’s ceiling if it doesn’t ascend to the next level. But if it does, imagine what the next step will be for a prospect who struck out 30% of the batters he faced as an incomplete prospect in 2018. Our Dylan Matthews took a deep dive on Bukauskas, an RPM darling, in February.
140. Eric Pardinho, SP, TOR. Age: 18
Ranking an undersized, 18-year-old pitching prospect who hasn’t pitched above Rookie Ball inside of my top 150 isn’t exactly my comfort zone, but Pardinho has the makeup and pitchability that makes me feel like this placement is low risk… relatively speaking. The right-hander is a plus athlete who already features a mid-90s fastball and a plus curveball. He used the combination to strikeout 31.5% of the batters he faced while posting a 2.88 ERA in the Appalachian League last summer. Short Season ball for Pardinho in 2019 is the safe bet, but don’t be surprised if the Jays challenge the right-hander with a full season placement similarly to how they handled Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette in 2017.
139. Tirso Ornelas, OF, SD. Age: 19
The counting stats from Ornelas’s age-18 season in Low-A may not knock your socks off, but evaluators think the outfielder has all the makings of a future middle of the order, impact bat. Fangraphs has already slapped 55-hit 60-raw power grades on Ornelas, and scouts who have evaluated the outfielder in-person have come away impressed. The AVG and lack of home runs last season may sour you, but make sure you notice Ornelas’s 44.3 IFFB% that lowered his BABIP for the season to .297. When you remember the Padres prospect played the entirety of 2018 as an 18-year-old, it’s easy to assume more game power is on the way. I’d be surprised if Ornelas doesn’t climb prospect lists while in the California League this season. M-Rod has been our resident Tirso Ornelas drum beater, and he recently included the 19-year-old in his 2019 ‘All-Hype’ prospect team.
138. Corbin Martin, SP, HOU. Age: 23
Last season was Martin’s first full campaign as a pro, and the right-hander was unquestionably impressive. The 23-year-old struck out (exactly) a batter per inning, finished with a 2.58 BB/9 and posted a 2.51 ERA between High-A and Double-A, officially announcing his viability as a pitching prospect in the process. With clean mechanics and a four-pitch arsenal, Martin is a solid-bet to remain in the starting rotation throughout his career once he reaches the big league level. Led by a fastball that he commands well and a plus slider that often acts as his out pitch, Martin might get a few opportunities in Houston at some point in 2019 before really settling in with a spot in the rotation next season.
137. Luiz Gohara, SP, ATL. Age: 22
Finally removed from a season that was headlined for Gohara by a death in the family and a shoulder injury, the southpaw has reportedly dropped significant weight (35 pounds as of November) with his sights set on a bounce back campaign in 2019. The unseen truth is this: Gohara was rushed to the big leagues out of necessity in 2017 (the Braves needed to see how the left-hander projected before making a decision as to whether or not to protect him during the offseason’s Rule 5 draft). The left-hander was fantastic in four different levels that season, making Atlanta’s decision to keep the southpaw easy. What the prospect and fantasy community didn’t account for was, while he was strategically rushed to the big leagues in 2017, Gohara’s undeserved consequent was missing out on development and seasoning he needed to reach his long-term big league potential. That fact, combined with the aforementioned personal tragedy and shoulder injury, created the perfect storm for the 22-year-old’s 2018 season. The numbers backed up, the health was never good, and Gohara has since plummeted down prospect lists. He’ll enter the 2019 season completely healthy, in better shape, and ready to restore his standing as an above-average pitcher at the big league level. Note: Or maybe not? Gohara recently felt some prolonged shoulder tightness after a bullpen session in Spring Training. The minor ailment isn’t thought to be serious, but it could potentially impact where Gohara begins the upcoming season.
136. Sherten Apostel, 3B, TEX. Age: 20
Named as a PTBNL in the trade that sent Keone Kela to Pittsburgh, Apostel is a pure-hitter who is certainly one of the most intriguing position player prospects who hasn’t yet reached full season ball. The opinions of scouts vary greatly with the 20-year-old. Some think the hit tool will eventually become plus; others think Apostel will be lucky to get the tool to average. Some think he projects just fine to remain at third base; the naysayers think a move to first base is in the cards. What’s impossible to disagree on is the upper-echelon raw power and prophetic eye (18.3 BB% between Rookie Ball and Short Season A last season). I personally think Apostel eventually (probably) shifts across the diamond to first base, but his offensive tools will profile just fine either way. I’m buying. Shout out to Prospect Live’s Eddy Almaguer for this Apostel puff piece from January.
135. Nick Pratto, 1B, KC. Age: 20
I ranked Pratto 184th on my #Top200 last preseason, and he’s 49 spots higher here despite striking out in 27.9% of his plate appearances in Low-A in 2018. That has to mean the rest of the profile looks good, and it certainly does Pratto: 14 home runs, 22 stolen bases, and a .280/.343/.443 triple slash as a teenager in full season ball. The first baseman’s straight-line speed doesn’t impress many scouts, but Pratto utilizes his athleticism and instincts to remain a threat on the base paths. I’m more skeptical on this happening for fellow Royals farmhand Seuly Matias, but I could see Pratto’s 2019 strikeout and walk rate improving similarly to how Khalil Lee’s improved while at High-A Wilmington last season. If it does, Pratto will likely sneak into the top-100 by the end of the season.
134. Shervyen Newton, 3B/OF, NYM. Age: 20
In true Mets over-seasoning fashion (I kid), Newton has compiled 719 plate appearances between the Dominican Summer League and Appalachian League the last three seasons. Crazily, though he’s never played a professional game as anything but a teenager, Newton’s career walk rate sits at 16.4%. The career strikeout rate is 24.1%, and overcoming some swing-and-miss issues will be a huge factor in fully unlocking his plus power. Smart money is on Newton (6’4 and not overly athletic) eventually shifting from shortstop to either third base or a corner outfield spot, where his switch-hitting power would project just fine.
133. Brandon Lowe, 2B/OF, TB. Age: 24
A monstrous 2018 campaign witnessed Lowe progress from Double-A, to Triple-A, all the way to the big leagues for a 43-game stint with the Rays towards the end of the season. A third round pick in 2015 who officially started his professional career the next season, Lowe totaled 16 home runs combined in his first two seasons in the Rays’ organization (917 plate appearances). Last season, the 24-year-old hit 28 home runs. As is usually the case when we witness a spike like Lowe’s last year, the left-hander pulled an elevated the ball more in 2018. He might bounce back-and-forth between Triple-A and the MLB for a little while, but Lowe should eventually become an everyday player with multi-positional eligibility
132. Will Smith, C/3B, LAD. Age: 24
A versatile catcher prospect who smacked 20 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A this season, Smith raised his stock immensely in 2018 and could make his big league debut this season. The 24-year-old doesn’t get the hype he deserves because he shares an organization with Keibert Ruiz, a 20-year-old catching prospect who’s a consensus top-100 prospect. While Ruiz has never played a position other than catcher, the Dodgers have experimented with Smith both at second base and third base throughout the past two seasons. My gut tells me Ruiz will be Los Angeles’s main catcher once he’s ready, but Smith should still see some time behind the plate if the Dodgers choose to go that route. When he’s not catching, Smith’s bat is good enough to spell Justin Turner at third base when needed (and Turner is a UFA after the 2020 season). The 24-year-old does have some strikeout tendencies and will never hit for average, but the consistent double-digit walk rates make him more valuable in OBP leagues.
131. Corey Ray, OF, MIL. Age: 24
I could simply type “hit 27 home runs and stole 37 bases last season” and leave it at that, but there’s a lot more to the story for Ray and his potential value as a big leaguer. Unfortunately, the factors that follow the counting stats are why Ray is ranked where he is on this list. The outfielder went down swinging in 29.3% of his plate appearances last season, which was an actual improvement from 31% clip he posted the season before. The subsequent slash was .239/.323/.477. The stolen base output actually paints an accurate picture of Ray’s speed: it’s plus plus and really the only reliable facet of his skillset. The 24-year-old is a below-average defender, so he likely won’t have the opportunity to continue developing his bat at the big league level while adding solid defensive value with his glove. Instead, Ray will be forced to continue improving his bat-to-ball skills in the minor leagues. The ceiling here is massive, but there’s growing doubt Ray he ever reaches it.
130. Cavan Biggio, UTIL, TOR. Age: 24
A Three True Outcomes darling (48.7% of plate appearances last season), Biggio has a good chance of eventually becoming a versatile, powerful asset in the fantasy world once he’s promoted to the big league level. The 24-year-old’s shortcoming is contact rate, striking out in 26.3% of his plate appearances last season in Double-A. The pitfall is bad enough that Biggio’s ceiling will always come with the caveat that he’ll post low AVGs, though he walks more than enough to be more valuable in OBP leagues than batting average leagues. Biggio played five different positions defensively in 2018 while at Double-A; while the meh hit tool means there’s some Quad-A risk here, it’s more likely the 24-year-old settles into a utility role with the Blue Jays at the big league level. I’d expect his 20 SB output from last season to be sliced in half (at least) once he debuts for Toronto.
129. Leodys Taveras, OF, TEX. Age: 20
Taveras’s full season debut in 2017 was supposed to be a minor blip on the radar for a prospect whose defensive skills far exceeded his offensive skills. He might have fallen a few spots on top 100 lists, but he was certainly still included. Then 2018 happened, and I think it’s officially time for us to examine Taveras’s ceiling from a fantasy baseball perspective. The glove will always carry the profile, which means Taveras is a more valuable prospect in real life than on fantasy-focused lists like this one. But he’s only 20-years-old and will either be repeating High-A to begin the 2019 season or moving up to Double-A. There’s plenty of time for the bat to catch up, it just might take a little longer than we originally thought.
128. Wander Javier, SS, MIN. Age: 20
2018 was supposed to be the year of Wander Javier. The shortstop figured to easily move into consensus top 100 territory last season, and it was going to be aided by stellar numbers in his full season debut. Now much more risky than he was this time last season, Javier will take on full season ball with all eyes on the development of his hit tool. If the shortstop makes strides in decreasing the strikeout rate in 2019, the industry will be able to comfortably slap 55-hit, 55-raw power, 55-speed grades on the 20-year-old. There’s also a chance this ranking looks foolish in a few months. Either way, with Javier close to finally returning, @DustyColorado must be losing sleep on a nightly basis.
127. Jordan Groshans, INF, TOR. Age: 19
A 6’3 athlete whose physical potential you can dream on, Groshans slashed .296/.353/.446 with 5 home runs in 207 plate appearances between both Rookie Ball levels after being drafted in the first round by the Jays last summer. As he continues to develop physically, I think Groshans will eventually become a ‘pure hitter’ prospect whose offensive skills will play just fine at second or third base (I don’t really see him sticking at shortstop but there’s certainly a chance). The teenager will take on full-season ball in 2019.
126. Monte Harrison, OF, MIA. Age: 23
Multiple times in this list, I’ve discussed a prospect’s acceptable wRC+ last season despite a very-flawed fact of their statistical profile. Conversely in this scenario, when a player hits 19 home runs and steals 28 bases, you expect to see a wRC+ higher than Harrison’s 104 from last season. You already know why, but I’ll tell you anyways: the outfielder struck out in a jaw-dropping 36.9% of his plate appearances, which proved enough to drop his slash numbers to a moderate .240/.316/.399. Recently in the Arizona Fall League, Harrison showcased a quieter swing that featured less of a leg-kick than the outfielder utilized during the 2018 regular season. The adjustment will help with the contact issues, but the real progress will come when/if Harrison better recognizes offspeed offerings.
125. D’Shawn Knowles, OF, LAA. Age: 18
The floor might be a little bit lower here, but there are more similarities between Knowles and fellow Bahamian outfielder Kristian Robinson than one might think. Knowles only stands 6’0, 165 lbs., but the outfielder had no problem utilizing his power last summer, hitting 5 home runs in 253 plate appearances between both Rookie Ball levels as a 17-year-old. The speed is what Knowles hangs his hat on though (9 SB last summer), and it’s the skill that helps the 18-year-old easily project towards the top of a future big league lineup. If everything breaks right, Knowles might be a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 60-speed prospect before it’s all said and done. The Angels have outfield prospects FOR DAYS.
124. Logan Allen, SP, SD. Age: 21
Pitchers whose best offering is their changeup don’t exactly have the most sterling track record in big league history, but Allen has found success throughout his minor league career and he struck out over a batter per inning between Double-A and Triple-A last season. The Triple-A ERA (1.63) looks awfully pretty, but it’s hard to ignore the 4.78 xFIP is the more accurate representation of how the southpaw performed at the level (the BB/9 was 4.23). The industry seems pretty split on Allen’s big league outlook: some think Allen is a bonafide top-100 prospect and are willing to die on that hill. Others consider Allen a future top-tier SP4 who flashes as a SP3 from time-to-time over his career. I tend to side more with the latter group, but two things occurring at Triple-A (and likely the MLB at some point) would change my mind: Allen maintaining a strikeout rate similar to the one he posted while in Double-A last season (26%), and raising his GB% closer to league average (at least).
123. Luis Rengifo, 2B, LAA. Age: 22
Allow me to quickly hit the bullet points of Rengifo’s three-level 2018 campaign: .299/.399/.452. 7 home runs. 41 stolen bases. 109 runs scored. 75 walks. 75 strikeouts. Quite frankly, I’m in love with Rengifo’s high floor, low-risk profile, especially as a future big league second baseman. The big league ceiling is something like 12 home runs and 25 stolen bases that teams up with an above-average AVG and savory OBP to form a valuable middle infielder. The Angels have made moves this offseason that signify they’re attempting to contend in 2019, so Rengifo should have a decent shot at becoming LAA’s everyday second baseman at some point this season. There’s sneaky redraft value here.
122. Ronaldo Hernandez, C, TB. Age: 21
After being placed in Rookie Ball for three consecutive summers to develop defensively, Hernandez finally got a shot in full season ball in 2018. Offensively, he did not disappoint. Statistically, the .284/.339/.494 slash with 21 home runs was as good as any catcher prospect in baseball. The industry seems split on whether the 21-year-old can stick behind the plate defensively, and an eventual move to first base is certainly a possibility (and an unfortunate one). Hernandez walked in only 6.9% (nice) of his plate appearances last season, and I’m interested to see what the numbers look like in the Florida State League in 2019 if that number doesn’t increase.
121. William Contreras, C, ATL. Age: 21
An 83 wRC+ in a 90 plate appearance sample at High-A at the end of the season put a damper on the holistic 2018 numbers, but Contreras is easily one of the best offensive catching prospects in the sport. From video I’ve seen, Contreras continually tweaked his swing throughout last season, probably to the point that it had an adverse effect on his performance. The Braves will continue to sculpt the finer points of Contreras’s skillset, and the 21-year-old could realistically be ready for everyday catching duties in Atlanta by 2021. Complete transparency: The rough-draft of my #P365Top200 had Contreras closer to the 150 mark, but I quickly decided that was too bearish of a ranking. I’ve moved him up quite a bit (as you can see), but if anything, this still isn’t high enough. I’m very interested to see his performance this season versus High-A and Double-A pitching.
120. Antonio Cabello, OF, NYY. Age: 18
I was under the impression Ezequiel Duran was going to be the Yankees’ short season, position player prospect to break out last summer. If not? It would definitely be Everson Pereira. Instead, Cabello stole the show, slashing .308/.427/.522 with 5 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 192 plate appearances last summer before a shoulder injury ended his season (it should be noted that Pereira played at a higher-level of Rookie Ball). The small sample we have on Cabello, combined with his current 5’10 160 lb. frame, make me cringe a little when I say this, but the teenager has a chance to develop into a 60-hit, 60-raw power, 60-speed monster who would be ranked towards the very top of prospect lists. The size, sample and subsequent risk also keep Cabello saddled here until we get a clearer picture on what we can expect moving forward, but the early returns are reports are certainly drool worthy.
119. Seuly Matias, OF, KC. Age: 20
Matias is a big, athletic slugger who exploded onto the scene with 31 home runs in 2018 during his first full season as a professional. According to Fangraphs, an ‘excellent’ ISO is anything at .250 or higher. Matias’s ISO last season was .320. That’s the good news. The bad news is the outfielder’s hit tool may be a 30 right now, and it led to a .231 AVG, .303 OBP and 34.8 K% in Low-A last season. Matias hit the ball over the fence 31 times in 2018; he reached base via a hit 47 other times combined. I think it’s safe to call the raw power an 80, but the approach has so much work to do for Matias to ever come close to reaching his big league ceiling. All eyes will be on the 20-year-old in High-A in 2019.
118. Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, TEX. Age: 23
As you can see, I’m probably the low man on Martinez throughout the prospect community. And maybe you think my reasons are unfair, but I can’t currently find myself falling-head-over heals with a prospect who struck out in more than a fourth of his plate appearances as a 22-year-old in Short Season ball last summer. In general, I think the best-case scenario for JPM is topping out at 55-hit and 50-power, and when you consider he likely won’t sniff the big leagues until age 25 or later, it’s hard for me to be a huge fan. Thankfully, our first full season sample from Martinez will come in 2019.
117. Julio Rodriguez, OF, SEA. Age: 18
A 17-year-old making his professional debut this summer, Rodriguez slashed .315/.404/.525 with 5 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 255 Rookie Ball plate appearances. He just turned 18 in December, but in my opinion, Rodriguez should get a shot in full season ball to begin the 2019 season. The placement would really test the outfielder’s hit tool, which most scouts agree over-performed to an extent last summer. Rodriguez has a long ways to go, and he now plays for an organization that is full rebuild mode. But the early returns are certainly positive, and if he answers the bell again this season, Rodriguez will gain ground on new Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic.
116. Brady Singer, SP, KC. Age: 22
The Royals’ lack of competitiveness will likely keep Singer in the minor leagues for the entirety of the 2019 season, but it’s entirely possible the stuff and stats scream ‘big league ready’ by the end of the summer. Kansas City’s selection with the 18th overall pick last summer, Singer pitches with lots of emotion and has scouts drooling over his makeup. The right-hander’s delivery is, at minimum, as impressive as any of his offerings, which are headlined by a fastball/slider combination. Along with Jackson Kowar and Daniel Lynch, Singer’s development and progression will likely signify the reemergence of the Royals as a contender in the American League.
115. Bubba Thompson, OF, TEX. Age: 20
A two-sport star in high school who finally gets to focus on baseball, Thompson was pretty dang impressive in his first full season as a professional in 2018. Fully dedicated to one sport, the Rangers rebuilt Thompson’s swing early last season to improve the outfielder’s contact rate. The numbers continued to improve as Thompson distanced himself from an early-season knee injury; the 8 home runs, 32 stolen bases and .289/.344/.446 triple-slash are overwhelmingly impressive when you consider every factor that was pitted against the outfielder. I’m bullish on the 28.7% strikeout rate from last season decreasing in 2019 in High-A.
114. Jonathan Loaisiga, SP, NYY. Age: 24
I watched every pitch Loaisiga threw in his four starts with the Yankees last season (the right-hander also made five relief appearances in the big leagues in 2018). At times, the 24-year-old looked thoroughly unhittable. At other times, Loaisiga couldn’t buy a strike and bludgeoned his ERA in the process. Despite his age, the right-hander has thrown all of 183.1 IP throughout his entire professional career (I couldn’t think of a proper James Kaprielian joke to go here); despite the stuff being fully-ready, even if Loaisiga takes notable steps forward in 2019, it’s unlikely the Yankees force a full-season’s workload on him. The 24-year-old was profiled by our John Stewart in February.
113. Brent Rooker, 1B/OF, MIN. Age: 24
A 124 wRC+ in Double-A last season despite a .254 AVG and 26.4 K% tells you everything you need to know about the thunder in Rooker’s bat. A limited fielder who might snag multi-positional eligibility while being relegated to left field and first base, Rooker, like many others in this portion of the list, will always carry move value in fantasy baseball than in real life. I would imagine Rooker gets bumped to Triple-A to begin his season after spending the entirety of last season with Chattanooga, and while the Twins might choose to let him marinate there until 2020, my money is on the 24-year-old debuting in the big leagues sometime in 2019.
112. Marco Luciano, SS, SF. Age: 17
In a system that, quite frankly, stinks, Luciano has the ceiling of a potential top-5 overall prospect. For a 17-year-old, Luciano utilizes his lower-body really well when he swings. The teenager possesses plus raw power, which will play just fine regardless of whether he sticks at shortstop or eventually shifts to third base. We won’t see Luciano until Rookie Ball this summer, where the shortstop will be a trendy pick to be the 2019 version of Wander Franco. It’s risky to basically pay a top-100 fee for a prospect who hasn’t competed stateside yet (and might not until 2020), but Luciano has the potential to reward your investment in spades.
111. Ronny Mauricio, SS, NYM. Age: 18
It’s not often I feel as though another site published something so articulate it can’t possibly be topped, but I genuinely feel that way about a recent Fangraphs report on Mauricio: “Much of scouting teenage prospects has to do with identifying good athletes and good frames, and like many of this century’s All-Star, power-hitting shortstops, Ronny Mauricio is both.” The teenager doesn’t yet possess the polish of fellow Mets prospect Mark Vientos, but Mauricio might have a higher ceiling. It’ll be fun to watch the duo over the next few years. Thankfully, as Mets prospects, we don’t have to worry at all about Mauricio or Vientos being artificially inflated by the industry…
Not that they’ll need it.
110. Luis Garcia, SS, PHI. Age: 18
By now, you guys and girls should know how much I respect Prospects Live’s Jason Woodell. Well, in November of last year, Jason ranked Garcia as the top prospect in the Phillies’ system. Above Sixto Sanchez (at the time). “A superstar in the making” in his own words. In all likelihood, we’ll have two Luis Garcia’s in the top-100 by the midseason point of the regular season. The shortstop will play the entirety of the 2019 season as an 18-year-old in full season ball, and it’s fully expected that Garcia will hold his water just fine while at Lakewood. If the power takes a step forward at some point, we’re probably talking about a prospect whose worst tool grades at 55.
109. Nico Hoerner, SS, CHC. Age: 21
A college bat whose immediate mechanical tweaks after the draft paid dividends last summer, Hoerner’s home run output may sneak up on some folks in 2019. The 21-year-old impressed at three different levels (albeit only 60 plate appearances) before an elbow injury ended his summer early. The shortstop returned in the Arizona Fall League, and the scouting reports of the bat-speed and plate approach were drool-worthy. He could eventually shift to second base, but Hoerner’s offensive skillset screams ‘fast mover’ to me, to the extent that he could threaten a big league debut this season. The offensive polish is that good. To that point, there have been recent whispers that the 21-year-old might start the season in Double-A Tennessee.
108. Deivi Garcia, SP, NYY. Age: 19
I’ve kept denying Garcia, and denying Garcia, and denying Garcia because of his slight build (5’10 163 lbs.), but I can deny him no more. It was only a 74 inning-season for the right-hander in 2018, but it spanned three levels and featured some eye-popping numbers, including a 35.5 K%, a 2.43 BB/9 and a 2.55 ERA. Garcia features a mid-90’s fastball and a curveball that grades by some as plus-plus. The changeup will eventually be a nice third pitch for the teenager, and when the repertoire is paired with Garcia’s advanced command, you begin to see why the Yankees pitching prospect is the apple of many evaluators’ eyes. Garcia should begin the 2019 season in Double-A, but a big league debut sometime this season figures to be in the cards if the right-hander remains healthy. Our John Stewart featured the teenager in a February look at the Yankees’ pitching prospects.
107. Austin Beck, OF, OAK. Age: 20
I mean this quite literally: Beck’s 2018 stat line was as deceiving as any prospect’s inside my top-250. The Athletics stripped down Beck’s old swing, rebuilding it with the necessary mechanics to allow the outfielder to make more contact. The reconstruction seemed to work, as Beck only struck out in 21.9% of his plate appearances after K’ing in 29.3% of his PA the previous season in Rookie Ball. The counting stats were nearly non-existent (2 home runs and 8 stolen bases all of last season despite possessing plus raw power and speed), but it’s assumed future tinkering with the swing will allow Beck to recapture his power. The 6th-overall pick of the 2017 draft, there’s a strong chance Beck makes some notable strides in 2019. A lot of scouts are all-in on Beck breaking out in 2019.
106. Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, SD. Age: 21
With a contact profile that arouses me every time I check it out on Fangraphs, Naylor is ‘truly unlocking his massive raw power’ away from bordering on star prospect status. We saw more flashes of it last year, when Naylor hit a career-high 17 home runs in Double-A, which surpassed his previous high of 12. The approach is elite, and it led to the 21-year-old slashing a superb .297/.383/.447 in 2018 with a lovely 12.0 K%. Naylor played more games in left field than first base last season, and with Eric Hosmer unfortunately anchored to the former position in San Diego, Naylor will likely make his big league debut as an outfielder. And despite the Padres currently boasting a jam-packed outfield, the 21-year-old should make an impact sometime in 2019.
105. Christin Stewart, OF, DET. Age: 25
If your fantasy farm system is stocked full of high-ceiling/low-floor prospects with a lot of variance, acquiring Stewart would certainly help offset that. I feel like we already have a really good idea of the type of player the 25-year-old will be on a yearly basis at the big league level. His value will be higher in fantasy leagues that value walks (.263 AVG versus .363 OBP in Triple-A last season), but it feels safe to assume the outfielder will hit anywhere from 20-30 home runs annually (with the juiced balls in the big leagues, he could exceed that). The noticeable difference in Stewart’s performance last season was the drop in strikeout rate; he struck out in 20.3% of his plate appearances in 2018, which was down from his previous career mark of 24.1%. Farewell from my prospect lists, Mr. Stewart.
104. Cole Winn, SP, TEX. Age: 19
The recent history of right-handed prep pitchers being taken in the first round is… not good. To say the least. But I haven’t learned my lesson yet, and Winn’s repertoire made it easy for me to remain a sucker. There’s athleticism, there’s a deep arsenal and there’s sound mechanics that all play in Winn’s favor as a professional. The Rangers have been finicky with their touted pitching prospects early in their professional career, so it’s not a shoe-in that Winn is immediately placed in full season ball to begin the 2019 season. Regardless, if any right-handed prep pitcher can shake the recent curse, it’s probably Winn. We’ll see.
103. Heliot Ramos, OF, SF. Age: 19
We all know Ramos underperformed last season in Low-A, but what goes largely unnoticed is that the outfielder still posted an above-average wRC+ in the South Atlantic League (104). Ramos, like so many other prospects from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, face facets of development that go largely unnoticed throughout the prospect community (for example, Ramos reportedly struggled to acclimate to the cold weather in Augusta early last season). I’ve digressed, but it’s all so much deeper than we could ever know. A 60-raw power, 60-speed prospect with a full season of baseball in the United States under his belt, Ramos will be a popular pick to bounce back in a big way in 2019. Can’t say I disagree. Pray for the hit tool here.
102. Michael Chavis, UTIL, BOS. Age: 23
Chavis is a power-first prospect perfectly capable of making his big league debut in 2019. The problem with that is the Red Sox already have two options at third base in 2019 (one of which, Rafael Devers, is their undoubted future at the position). So if Chavis does head to Boston at some point this season, it’ll likely be to play first base. The problem with that is Mitch Moreland is basically a lock to play against right-handed pitchers, so Chavis would figure to play against southpaws. The problem with that is the Red Sox also have the reigning World Series MVP in Steve Pearce, who platooned at first base with Moreland down the stretch and in the playoffs last season (Pearce has historically hung his hat on mashing left-handed pitching). The Red Sox also have to figure out what they’re going to do with Sam Travis, a former prospect who used to hang out near this portion of prospect lists. Are you maybe seeing the issue with Chavis here? Perhaps surprisingly, the 23-year-old is taking backfield reps at second base this spring, a la Travis Shaw in Milwaukee. If he proves adequate at the position, Chavis’s path to big league playing time in Boston suddenly becomes much more clear. The power is legit. Like, maybe plus-plus, 30-40 home runs at the big league level legit. The top prospect in the Red Sox system is certainly one to keep an eye on this season. Prospect Live’s Ralph Lifshitz recently published a solid, deep-dive piece on Chavis.
101. Griffin Canning, SP, LAA. Age: 22
A three-level pitcher in 2018 (his first season of professional ball) who struck out 26.3% of the batters he faced, Canning skyrocketed up prospect lists and should make his big league debut sometime in 2019. The right-hander has somewhat of a jerky delivery, and deception plays at least a little bit of a role in what Canning brings to the table from the pitching rubber. The 22-year-old has four pitches that are headlined by a mid-90s fastball. Both breaking balls are above-average deliveries. Completed with a changeup, Canning’s arsenal gives him a good chance of becoming a mid-rotation big league starting pitcher. If the right-hander can improve any of his three 55-grade pitches to plus territory (or if the changeup gets to 55), the ceiling will move into the low-end SP2 conversation.
100. Daz Cameron, OF, DET. Age: 22
After playing the entirety of the 2017 season in Low-A, Cameron progressed all the way to Triple-A last season and will knock on the door of a big league debut throughout 2019. Around the prospect-sphere, the outfielder is considered a 55-raw power, 55-speed player who is making strides to develop his hit tool and game power. Fellow Tigers prospect Christin Stewart will likely surrender prospect eligibility early this season, but with the Tigers not figuring to genuinely contend again for another two or three seasons, don’t be surprised if Cameron receives a ‘check list’ of things he needs to improve on before being considered for a big league promotion. If it all comes together, Cameron has .270 AVG, 20 home run, 25 stolen base potential.
99. Justin Dunn, SP, SEA. Age: 23
Despite only playing professional baseball for three years, it’s already been a winding road for Dunn. A first round pick in 2016, a 30 IP sample in Short Season ball that season boosted the right-hander into several top-100 lists prior to his first full season. But 2017 was a disaster; Dunn walked 4.5 batters per nine innings and posted a 5.00 ERA in High-A. No longer on any top-100 lists, the 23-year-old bounced back in a big way this season. Between High-A and Double-A, Dunn struck out 27.1% of the batters he faced and notched a 3.59 ERA. The difference? The right-hander really turned a corner with the development of his changeup last season, utilizing it in any count to make his deadly fastball/slider combination even dirtier than it already was. The latest turn of Dunn’s winding road was being traded to the Mariners as part of the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade. He’ll be back in Double-A to begin the 2019 season.
98. Adonis Medina, SP, PHI. Age: 22
Medina’s worst pitch might be his fastball. Medina’s fastball is above average. The right-hander carved up batters in the Florida State League last season, posting a 26.1 K% and 3.42 xFIP in 111.1 IP. The slider/changeup combination is really what makes Medina click, and it’s the key to making the right-hander a big league SP3 someday. The 22-year-old is a good athlete; I’ve already mentioned the strikeout rate, but my favorite part of Medina’s profile is his ability to induce groundball outs. A big Double-A test in Reading awaits in 2019.
97. DL Hall, SP, BAL. Age: 20
I (foolishly) left Hall off my #MidseasonTop200 last season, but I’m rectifying that mistake now. And trust me, the southpaw deserves it. Scouts love in the in-season development that occurred for Hall in 2018, and the southpaw was markedly better in the second half than the first. Unlike many of his same-age peers, Hall’s arsenal only needs continued refinement instead of the development of any semblance of a third pitch. I won’t say it’s a shoe in, but with the frame to boot, Hall has as good of a chance as any 20-year-old to remain a starting pitcher throughout his professional career. High-A awaits in 2019, where the left-hander will have the opportunity to cement himself as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
96. Hudson Potts, UTIL, SD. Age: 20
Hudson Potts doesn’t care that you think he’s over-performing. As a 19-year-old last season between High-A and Double-A, Potts smacked 19 home runs and slashed .260/.335/.455 with a 26.8 K% in 542 plate appearances. The power-first aspect of Potts’s offensive profile would make you assume he ranks higher on fantasy lists than real-life lists, but the 20-year-old is a solid defender who projects to be an above-average big league defender at third base. It gives Potts a study floor on real-life prospect lists as well. The right-hander has funky swing mechanics and will always be susceptible to strikeouts, but he could flirt with 30 home runs a time or two in his prime. A .260 AVG (.330 OBP), 25 HR, 25.0 K% big league projection feels about right. With the Padres recently signing Manny Machado, Potts has been getting reps at first base and second base this spring. How the decision makers choose to utilize Potts defensively throughout the 2019 season will be quite telling as it relates to the 20-year-old’s potential fantasy value.
95. Kevin Smith, INF, TOR. Age: 22
Get a whiff of this: in 575 plate appearances last season (his first full campaign in pro ball), Smith slashed .302/.358/.528 with 25 home runs and 29 stolen bases. Aroused? The truth is, the infielder’s numbers after being promoted to High-A are more representative of Smith’s true talent. There will always be some swing and miss in Smith’s game, and the AVG should settle around .270 versus top-tier competition. A good athlete with obvious pop, Smith should be capable of 20 HR/15 SB seasons at the big league level. Double-A pitching to begin the 2019 season will be Smith’s toughest test yet.
94. Tyler Nevin, 1B, COL. Age: 21
Nevin finally appears fully healthy and rust-free after a severe hamstring injury forced him to miss almost all of the 2016 season. The 6’4 first baseman slashed .328/.386/.503 in High-A last season, adding 13 home runs and a tolerable 18.5 K% in 417 plate appearances. Nevin is really in the top-half of the top-200 list, though, because of what he’s shown us lately. From July 1st to the end of the regular season, the 21-year-old hit 9 home runs and slashed .363/.430/.553 in 57 games. As an encore, Nevin slashed a scorching .426/.535/.593 in 71 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League. Double-A should be ahead for Nevin this season, where I’m hopeful he continues to unlock his raw power in game settings.
93. Oneil Cruz, SS, PIT. Age: 20
There’s a lot of development that has to occur for Cruz to reach his ceiling, but the potential here is that of one of the most prolific sluggers in all of baseball. Cruz is the epitome of a free-swinger, so much so that his moderate 7.7 BB% last season is a little bit deceiving. The eagerness to swing is really the only thing standing in the way of the 20-year-old continuing to unlock his massive power. At 6’6, there’s a lot of concern about Cruz’s future defensive position. He played all 102 games at shortstop last season, but evaluators are split on whether his frame will allow him to continue to play the position at higher levels. If he does move away from shortstop, third base or right field are the likely landing spots. Cruz certainly has the arm and offense to profile just fine from either spot. At the dish, Cruz is a little bit of a reverse-splits player, compiling a 1.015 OPS versus left-handed pitching and a .778 OPS against righties. The 20-year-old’s development of his approach (namely, his pitch recognition and plate patience) is something I’m most interested to see this season.
92. Esteury Ruiz, UTIL, SD. Age: 20
Perhaps the personification of a fantasy prospect, Ruiz is an offense-first player who might be without a long-term defensive home. That means you likely won’t see him on any real-life top-100 prospect lists this preseason, but he fits in just fine here. The 20-year-old slashed .253/.324/.403 with 12 home runs and 49 stolen bases last season in a Midwest League that doesn’t go out of its way to favor hitters. He struck out in 28.6% of his plate appearances, but there’s a general consensus amongst scouts that the hit tool should develop quite nicely over the next few seasons. I’m in the minority when I say I think he has a decent chance to stick at second base, which means Ruiz would hypothetically be a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 55-speed player at one of the thinnest positions in fantasy baseball. Left field would be the destination if the 20-year-old were relegated. Ruiz’s numbers in the California League this season should be fun.
91. Jazz Chisholm, SS, ARZ. Age: 21
Chisholm catapults into my top-100 after narrowly missing my December Top 100. The shortstop’s hit tool is still getting picked up in the car-rider line, but I’m a sucker for high-ceiling athletes at premium positions, and Chisholm is certainly that. As a 20-year-old last season, Chisholm slashed .272/.329/.513 with 25 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 501 plate appearances between Low-A and High-A. He’s also a plus defender, so his offensive development will have a longer leash than a prospect with similar offensive tools but poor defensive ability. And that’s good, because Chisholm struck out in 29.7% of his plate appearances; he also only posted a .670 OPS versus left-handed pitching. The lack of a current hit tool means Chisholm carries some variance, but the above-average raw power, speed and defensive skills make the 21-year-old awfully intriguing moving forward. He’ll carry quite a bit of helium into the 2019 season, and I’m hoping the shortstop shows an increased affinity of laying off first-pitch non-fastballs in Double-A Jackson.
90. Khalil Lee, OF, KC. Age: 20
I thought we were going to see a power breakout from Lee after he was promoted to Double-A and away from the pitcher-friendly confines in Wilmington, but a back injury ended the outfielder’s season early in August. I want to believe Lee can hit for above-average power, and I’ve spoken well of it in the past. But the more I study, the more I tend to think his propensity to hitting the ball on the ground might get in the way. The 20-year-old dropped his strikeout rate significantly last season, and he has a good chance to eventually hit either first or second in the Royals’ big league lineup, especially if he increases his production versus left-handed pitching (.661 OPS last season). The home run and stolen base output should increase in 2019.
89. Daulton Varsho, C, ARZ. Age: 22
‘Baby Realmuto’ likely would have been even higher on this list had a fractured hamate not derailed a chunk of his 2018 season. A 55-hit, 55-raw power, 55-speed catching prospect, Varsho brings value to every aspect of fantasy baseball while playing a positional that typically offers the least. The problem, as I’ve stated before, is his size. Listed at 5’10 190 lbs., it’s hard to envision Varsho being able to withstand entire seasons behind the dish at the big league level (Francisco Mejia is currently fighting this fight with a similar frame). Maybe I’m wrong and Varsho sticks at catcher for the next decade at the big league level. I think it’s more likely Varsho eventually either splits time between catcher and another position (that would be a fantasy gold mine), or he moves to another position completely. He’s a 22-year-old who will tackle Double-A for the first time this season, so we’re not too far away from finding out what the Diamondbacks have in store for him.
88. Jordyn Adams, OF, LAA. Age: 19
Say it with me: projectability. Adams has plus raw power and 80-grade (!) speed. The hit tool is currently bad, but to my knowledge, 2019 will be the first year Adams has ever focused fully on baseball. He’s a freak athlete in the class of Jo Adell and Monte Harrison. We bet on athletic, unsculpted prospects around these parts, so I’m obviously excited to see Adams in full-season ball this season. With Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh a couple of levels ahead of him, Adams should be able to develop and progress at his own pace.
87. Ryan Mountcastle, UTIL, BAL. Age: 22
Despite starting his 2018 campaign late thanks to a fractured hand, Mountcastle smacked 13 home runs and slashed .297/.341/.464 in 102 games and 428 plate appearances. Prospect Live’s Ralph Lifshitz’s ‘contact over approach’ description for Mountcastle couldn’t be a more perfect label, though the 22-year-old did walk in 6.1% of his plate appearances last season, which might make you giggle until you realize his previous career mark was 4.1%. With sketchy defensive skills, Mountcastle will need all the help he can get to squeeze out value offensively (especially since left field or first base are the most likely defensive outcomes).
86. MJ Melendez, C, KC. Age: 20
Even on lists that have a focus on fantasy baseball, we can always take solace in knowing that a catcher prospect will remain behind the plate throughout his career. That’s Melendez. An upper-echelon athlete for his position, Melendez possesses both solid defensive skills and a strong arm. Earlier in this list, I predicted Royals prospect Nick Pratto would show some nice improvements in contact rate in 2019. I believe the same will happen for Melendez. Even if the 30.3 K% only improves to 25% before Melendez finishes his development, the rest of the offensive profile (see: raw power) gives the backstop immense offensive value. Melendez’s next stop in High-A Wilmington may suppress his power to an extent, but I’d like to think the 20-year-old has .270 AVG/25 HR upside in the long-term. All you need to know about what the Royals think of Melendez is the fact he was invited to Spring Training as a 20-year-old who has zero at-bats above the Low-A level.
85. Isaac Paredes, INF, DET. Age: 20
In a way, Paredes positively regressed to the mean in 2018, benefitting from better batted-ball luck than he experienced in 2017. Between High-A and Double-A, Paredes slashed .278/.359/.456 with 15 home runs and a 15.1 K% in 502 plate appearances. I’ve got the infielder at 55-hit and 55-raw, though there’s more risk than you would think due to lack of projection physically. The 20-year-old has what scouts refer to as a ‘bad body’ and likely won’t grow anymore, so the continued development of his skills will be instrumental in any continued success. Service clock considerations will certainly come into play, but Paredes could hypothetically make his big league debut in 2019. Next season is more likely.
84. Colton Welker, 3B, COL. Age: 21
I was under the assumption that Welker’s power output was really going to take off in 2018 while he was in the California League (High-A). The 13 home runs were fine but a little disappointing relative to expectations. The third baseman did slash .333/.383/.489, though it’s a little inflated thanks to a .395 BABIP. Defensively, Welker has reportedly improved his skills and is now considered a practical lock to stick at the hot corner. Playing away from altitude in Double-A this season is going to be huge in determining Welker’s future outlook.
83. Matthew Liberatore, SP, TB. Age: 19
In my December top-100 prospect list, I said it wouldn’t surprise me if Liberatore eventually becomes better than fellow Rays prospect Brendan McKay. Let me take it one step further: if any pitcher can eventually dethrone Casey Mize as the best pitching prospect from the 2018 draft class, I think it’ll be Liberatore. The southpaw already has two plus pitches (fastball and curveball), and both his slider and changeup could eventually be above-average offerings (they’re not there yet). For a prep arm, Liberatore is as polished as it gets. There’s legit SP2 upside here. I can’t wait to see the left-hander in full season ball this season (please don’t stick him in XST, Rays).
82. Mark Vientos, 3B, NYM. Age: 19
Vientos is an offensive-minded third baseman who broke out in a big way in 2018 while in the Appalachian League. In 60 games and 262 plate appearances, Vientos slashed .287/.389/.489 with 11 home runs, a 14.1 BB% and a 16.4 K%. The plate approach is fantastic (especially for his age) and the power is substantial. Vientos will make his full season debut in Columbia to begin 2019, and it feels likely the teenager will be knocking on the door of top-50 lists (if not more) by the end of the season. There’s 60-hit, 60-power upside here.
81. Michel Baez, SP, SD. Age: 23
It’s widely assumed Baez pitched without his best stuff in 2018 thanks to an early-season back injury, but the 6’8 right-hander still managed to strike out 25.1% of the batters he faced (more than one per inning) while posting a 3.69 ERA between High-A and Double-A. The biggest question I have with Baez is, further removed from the back ailment now, whether the premiere, upper-90s fastball velocity will return. If it does, the 23-year-old is currently a SP2-upside arm ranked in the back-half of top-100s. With an arsenal complete with a plus changeup and a developing curveball, Baez will start the 2019 season back in Double-A.
80. Jon Duplantier, SP, ARZ. Age: 24
The way I see it, Duplantier basically has one question left to answer before becoming a valuable, mid-rotation, big league starting pitcher: can you stay healthy? As a professional player, Duplantier has a 1.79 career ERA. He’s struck out an astounding 29.5% of the hitters he’s faced. He’s never posted a season-long GB% under 50-percent. The makings are there. The durability hasn’t been. To my count, the right-hander has dealt with shoulder, elbow, hamstring and biceps injuries dating back to his college days at Rice. Overcoming the ailments that have seemed to find him is really the last thing Duplantier has left to conquer before becoming an impact pitcher at the big league level.
79. Brandon Marsh, OF, LAA. Age: 21
ESPN would refer to Marsh as ‘deceptively’ athletic, but the truth is the outfielder is just an excellent athlete. The overall profile here is good, though the defensive skills currently exceed the offensive prowess. Marsh hit 10 home runs and stole 14 bases last season, slashing .266/.359/.408 along the way (579 plate appearances). The 21-year-old struck out in 27.1% of his plate appearances in 2018, and the continued development of the hit tool is the undoubted factor that would take Marsh’s prospect status to the next level. The Angels have outfield prospects galore, so the outfielder should receive the time he needs to reach his potential. Don’t be surprised if Marsh begins the 2019 season back in High-A.
78. Justus Sheffield, SP, SEA. Age: 22
I can’t wait to see the number of people who don’t criticize my ranking of Sheffield now that he’s been traded away from the Yankees organization. I’ve always been somewhat of a low-man on the left-hander, mostly because I’m not sure the command will ever be good enough for the perceived SP2-ceiling to take hold. But the stuff is awfully good, and Sheffield is major league ready in an organization that figures to need arms for a lot of innings this season. Consider this: In his past two seasons at the minor league level, Sheffield has struck out 23.5% of the batters he’s faced (8.9 K/9) while walking 3.5 batters per nine innings. The ERA has been 2.78, though it could be argued the .279 BABIP means the left-hander has been a little more lucky than he should have been (the FIP is 3.64). There’s very little doubt Sheffield is a mid-rotation big league pitcher, I just continue to think less of the upside than most other evaluators.
77. Jahmai Jones, 2B, LAA. Age: 21
Jones had some funky numbers last season for a prospect with his skillset: .239/.337/.380 with 10 home runs and 24 stolen bases in 559 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A. The AVG is particularly peculiar, but I’m willing to chalk up the low number to Jones being preoccupied learning a new position defensively. Long term, the 21-year-old is going to need to make strides in lofting the ball a bit more (48.5 GB% last season) to fully unlock his hit tool and power potential. With a full season at second base under his belt, I think the holistic offensive numbers will improve in 2019. I’m in the minority, but I see 20 HR/20 SB upside if Jones reaches his ceiling.
76. Nick Madrigal, INF, CHW. Age: 22
Quite the enigmatic prospect, Madrigal and his anti three true outcome skillset are one of the hardest to rank on a fantasy-focused list like this one. The hit tool is obviously plus and perhaps plus-plus, but the uber-aggressive approach doesn’t give Madrigal the comfortable floor we typically see from players with a 70-grade hit tool. The speed is somewhere between plus and plus-plus as well, so on the outside looking in, the 22-year-old will always be an AVG/SB-fueled. That notion is furthered when you consider Madrigal has shown very little power throughout his college or professional career (he’s hit 8 home run in three seasons of college and pro ball combined), though the White Sox think the infielder will develop adequate power during his time in the minors. Madrigal should move quickly through Chicago’s system; I’m interested to see how well his free-swinging approach works throughout an entire season of pro ball.
75. Nate Pearson, SP, TOR. Age: 22
There’s some pertinent injury background information on Pearson that you need to know in order to correctly evaluate him. I won’t dive into that here for originality’s sake, but I linked to a previous write-up you should read if you don’t already know the history. Pearson’s stuff is elite, and you’d be hard-pressed to successfully argue he doesn’t have some of the best stuff in all of baseball. If the right-hander can simply hold up health wise, there’s all the makings of a high-end SP2 here. You know I don’t throw that label around lightly. But the checkered injury history makes him impossible to be ranked base on pitchability only, though that could certainly change with a stellar 2019 campaign.
74. Xavier Edwards, SS, SD. Age: 19
Edwards can fly. The speed is five-alarm 80 grade, and the hit tool is more than good enough to allow Edwards to utilize his best skill on the base paths frequently. There’s very little power to speak of, and the shortstop has the swing of someone who recognizes their best skill is speed. Unless that changes (and he’s only 19, so it may), Edwards will continue to hit the ball on the ground at a high rate. I think a fair fantasy (ceiling) comparison is a Dee Gordon who walks more, which is an extremely valuable asset as long as you’re not relying on him for power. Tracking Edwards in full season ball at Fort Wayne will be fun in 2019.
73. Yusniel Diaz, OF, BAL. Age: 22
A well-rounded outfielder with a chance to eventually become something more, Diaz was the prized-return piece in the Manny Machado trade last season. The outfielder has never exceeded 11 home runs or 12 stolen bases in a single season, though he’s a career .285/.392/.449 hitter (14.2 BB%, 16.1 K%). It might be a lot to ask, but if Diaz can continue to pull and elevate the ball more (he showed some signs last season of doing these things more frequently) than he has historically, the remaining parts of the approach likely lead the 22-year-old to stardom. The top prospect in a farm system who’s top-third is full of high-variance position players, Diaz brings an ultra-high floor and reliability to the table.
72. Luis Patiño, SP, SD. Age: 19
Patiño was sensational last season in his full season debut, notching a 2.16 ERA in 83.1 IP in Low-A. He struck out 29.7% of the batters he faced (10.6 K/9). The right-hander has a dynamite fastball and a plus slider, but he needs to develop a reliable third pitch to take the next step as a pitching prospect. Why? Left handed hitters slashed .345/.421/.457 versus Patiño in 2018. The teenager was able to mask that flaw against Low-A competition. He likely won’t be able to do the same in High-A this season or Double-A competition after that. Because of this, the development of a true third offering (I’m hoping he simply improves his changeup) will be the key for Patiño moving forward. He’s only 19-years-old, so the current shortcomings are certainly not a death sentence.
71. George Valera, OF, CLE. Age: 18
I won’t repeat it here, but I made an interesting comparison for Valera in my #DecemberTop100 a few month ago. You should give that a look. The outfielder made scouts drool in his brief, six game stint in Rookie Ball before a fractured hamate ended his season early. It’s become a cliché at this point, but it’s nearly impossible to watch Valera swing the lumber without thinking of Robinson Cano. Despite his young age and competitive inexperience, Valera is a polished hitter. I’ve seen a couple of 70s thrown around when discussing the hit tool, but I’ll be extremely conservative and predict that if Valera fills out physically, he’ll be a 60-hit, 55-raw prospect before 2021. Maybe before 2020. Again, that may be too conservative. Understand the upside here?
70. Bryse Wilson, SP, ATL. Age: 21
The epitome of a bulldog on the mound, Wilson features three above-average pitches (the fastball is probably plus) and the pitchability to eventually become a mid-rotation big league starting pitcher. What’s crazy is Wilson ranks inside my top-75 overall, yet he’s only ranked fifth amongst Braves pitcher prospects. The log-jam has to be headed towards an endgame relatively soon (one would figure, anyways), which probably means really good prospects are either traded or relegated to a bullpen role. With three reliable pitches and above-average command, I think Wilson is a solid bet to remain in the starting rotation throughout his career. With the organizational depth of the Braves, though, we might end up waiting long than we’d like to see him pitch at SunTrust Park consistently.
69. Victor Victor Mesa, OF, MIA. Age: 22
Mesa has been away from competitive play for more than a year now, so it’ll be interesting to see how quickly we’re able to evaluate Mesa’s true on-field talent. I think the 22-year-old will be a more valuable real life player than fantasy asset, the main reason being the below-average power (but also because of the sterling defensive skills in center field that weigh heavily on his standing in real-life lists). The speed is, of course, Mesa’s calling card, but the hit tool is currently just average. For now, the fantasy comp reminds me a little bit of Ender Inciarte. Of course, we haven’t seen Mesa play stateside yet, so this comparison could be hilarious by the end of the 2019 season.
68. Danny Jansen, C, TOR. Age: 24
I’m telling you: there’s something to be said for a high, reliable floor with catching prospects. That’s Danny Jansen. Unless the skills deteriorate, the backstop should be good for a .270-.280 AVG and 10-15 (perhaps more) home runs annually once he gains his footing in the big leagues. He’ll never be a superstar, but he’ll always be rostered and utilized in your fantasy league—even if you only play in redrafts. The Blue Jays recently shipped Russell Martin to the Dodgers, so it currently appears Jansen is in line to receive a lion’s share of the workload behind the plate in Toronto in 2019. If he plays to his talent, the Jays have their catcher for the next decade.
67. Adrian Morejon, SP, SD. Age: 20
The southpaw is only 20-years-old and is already above average at just about everything concerning pitching. The fastball is borderline-plus, the curveball is above average, the changeup is plus and the command is above average. The only aspect of Morejon’s I’m not in love with is his height, though the polish and arsenal means he’ll likely remain in the rotation throughout his career. A hip injury limited the left-hander to 62.2 IP in High-A last season, but with the Padres contention window seemingly getting closer by the day, I think a Double-A placement for Morejon is the most likely outcome heading into the 2019 season.
66. Brendan McKay, SP/1B, TB. Age: 23
Can I make a prediction? I predict the Rays insistence on allowing McKay to continue being a two-way player eventually has an adverse effect on his pitching development. McKay is 23, but he’s only pitched 47.2 innings at the High-A level (thanks, oblique injury last summer). His bat likely needs more time in High-A, but the ‘stuff’ on the mound is ready for Double-A to open the 2019 season. In the end, these facts will have a bigger impact on his ETA than any other facet of the profile. If McKay can eventually settle in as a mid-tier SP3 and total 150-200 plate appearances per season as a designated hitter, he’ll easily be one of the most interesting players in baseball.
65. Dane Dunning, SP, CHW. Age: 24
Did we or didn’t we escape a serious elbow injury with Dunning last season? Time will ultimately tell, but at this point there’s no reason to assume the right-hander is anything but healthy. Had the 24-year-old finished last season healthy, we’d probably be discussing whether or not he’d break camp in the White Sox starting rotation. Since his season ended in late June, Dunning will likely begin 2019 at Triple-A. The moves Chicago makes to improve its active roster will play an underrated role in determining Dunning’s 2019 path. If he remains healthy, a big league debut should be expected at some point. Note: Eeeeek. The White Sox recently announced Dunning has been dealing with forearm discomfort. Thankfully, after consulting with famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews, the current plan is for the right-hander to rest his arm before beginning a throwing program.
64. Kyle Wright, SP, ATL. Age: 23
Command development will be the difference in Wright being a solid, mid-rotation big league starting pitcher and an unremarkable back-end rotation piece. The more I look at the arsenal, the more I think there’s some upside that didn’t necessarily show itself in Wright’s numbers from 2018. The 23-year-old possesses four pitches that could eventually grade at 55 or better. For Wright, it’ll be how well he locates those pitches that will determine his future role. The Braves have some sorting-out to do with their starting rotation before Opening Day, but Wright is currently a favorite to open the season in Triple-A. He’ll log big league innings at some point in 2019.
63. Triston McKenzie, SP, CLE. Age: 21
The ceiling isn’t quite what I once stupidly thought it was, but McKenzie is inching closer and closer to becoming a near-lock to be a high-floor SP3 in the big leagues someday. A forearm injury delayed McKenzie’s debut last season, but his 90.2 IP keeps his development on track. The right-hander had good fortune with batted ball luck in 2018, and the stint in Double-A was McKenzie’s first to not strike out more than a hitter per inning. The 21-year-old has dispatched most of the worry that his tiny frame wouldn’t hold up in a rotation, and McKenzie figures to eventually become a modern-day big league starting pitcher: 5-to-6 inning outings or through the starting lineup twice—whichever comes first.
62. Joey Bart, C, SF. Age: 22
Bart is not the slam-dunk catching prospect I thought he was when the Giants drafted him in the first round last summer. The catcher position is basically a black hole in fantasy baseball, so high-floor catching prospects give me confidence that high-ceiling, high-variance catching prospects don’t. Bart is in the latter group, mostly because of his uber-aggressive approach and vulnerability to striking out. Don’t get me wrong: Bart is going to be an above-average big league catcher. He’s strong defensively, and the offensive ceiling reminds me of a Salvador Perez who reaches base slightly more.
61. Alec Bohm, 3B, PHI. Age: 22
I ranked Bohm first amongst first-year players in my #MidseasonTop200 last season, but an injury-plagued summer and continued evaluation of the hit tool now has him ranked fifth amongst those players. Bohm is a massive, 6’5 third baseman who carries the plus plus raw power you would think he does by looking at him. While he was only able to accrue 121 plate appearances last summer due to a knee injury, Bohm should begin the 2019 season at Lakewood in Low-A. He has some work to do in the department of being more selective and swinging at pitches he can do damage with, but the 22-year-old could progress quickly through the Phillies system if proves durability and performs to his talent level.
60. Josh James, SP, HOU. Age: 26
One of the best feel-good stories of the 2018 season, James overcame sleep apnea, witnessed a huge jump in his stuff and is now a consensus top-100 prospect who’s destined to be an impact big leaguer in 2019 and beyond. The right-hander features a three-pitch repertoire of a plus fastball, plus changeup and borderline plus slider that join together to form a masterpiece of an arsenal. The only thing that limits James’s ceiling is the command, but it’s enough (currently) to limit the upside to that of a mid-tier SP3 instead of the SP2 his stuff says he is. As long as the Astros don’t get cute and decide to change his role, James has sneaky redraft value in 2019. Note: A recent quadricep strain will keep the 26-year-old from cracking the Astros’ Opening Day rotation. Despite being relegated to a multi-inning role from the bullpen or the Triple-A rotation, I still foresee James playing a gigantic role in Houston throughout the 2019 season.
59. Trevor Larnach, OF, MIN. Age: 22
A polished college hitter, Larnach proved to be too much for his Rookie Ball and Low-A competition last summer, slashing .303/.390/.500 with 5 home runs and a double-digit walk rate in a 42-game sample. I think ‘fast track’ is written all over Larnach, and he should start the 2019 season in High-A at least. The outfielder possesses easy plus raw power, but he’ll probably be an experienced big leaguer before we ever see the home run output reach its potential. Larnach is not to the level of Royce Lewis or Alex Kirilloff yet, but he’s certainly good enough to help form a three-headed monster that will set up camp in Minneapolis before 2021.
58. Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE. Age: 20
With massive power and the ability to take the ball to the opposite field as he desires, Jones has a lot of ingredients to be an impact fantasy player someday. The third baseman hit 19 home runs between Low-A and High-A last season, slashing .283/.405/.466 in the process (519 plate appearances). Noisy mechanics means Jones is a decent bat to always strike out more than we’d like him to (his 25.2 K% last season is a fair projection), but the delicious 17.1 BB% makes up for the swing-and-miss shortcomings. There were whispers that Jones might not be able to handle third base in the long run, but reports at the end of the 2018 regular season suggest he’ll be adequate at the position moving forward. The 20-year-old only slashed .186/.307/.299 versus left-handed pitching last season; those numbers obviously need to improve as Jones begins continues to progress through the minor leagues.
57. Luis Garcia, INF, WAS. Age: 18
Garcia made a name for himself last season, slashing .298/.336/.406 with 7 home runs, 12 stolen bases and a 15.1 K% as an 18-year-old (!) in Low-A and High-A. The infielder is just beginning to tap into his potential. His swing doesn’t currently allow for a ton of power, though it figures to be altered at some point in his minor league career. Fangraphs has Garcia at 60-hit, 55-raw, 55-speed and I think they’re on the dot. Second base is probably his future defensive home, though he’ll likely continue to move around the infield for now. Garcia will almost certainly be a 19-year-old in Double-A at some point this season.
56. Vidal Brujan, 2B, TB. Age: 21
The second baseman broke out in nearly every way possible last season, hitting 9 home runs, stealing 55 (!!!!!!!!!!) bases and slashing .320/.403/.459 in Low-A and High-A. Brujan is a prospect who would provide plenty of value your fantasy team without many home runs, but scouts think the 21-year-old may eventually develop league average game power. Perhaps my favorite add-on to Brujan’s profile is the walk and strikeout rate (11.5% and 12.4% last season respectively). The second baseman only played 27 games in the Florida State League after being promoted last season, so I imagine that’s where he’ll start in 2019. A mid-summer promotion to Double-A should be in the cards for Brujan.
55. Yusei Kikuchi, SP, SEA. Age: 27
I feel a little slimy including a 27-year-old in a prospect list, but my Twitter followers made it pretty clear they wanted Kikuchi included in this prospect list. Let me paint you a picture: what if you knew that, barring injury, a pitching prospect would be a sure-fire middle-of-the-rotation big league starter? That’s Kikuchi. Recently posted from the NPB and signed by the Mariners, the left-hander is basically a mid-tier SP3 if he can avoid the same injury scares that have plagued him in the past. Kikuchi’s best pitch is a filthy, wipeout slider; he counters the offering with a mid-90s fastball and a curveball that doubles tactically as a slow changeup. The Mariners will reportedly find ways to limit the southpaw’s workload in his first season stateside, but he should provide as much immediate value as any pitching prospect on this list. Join me in praying that the shoulder holds up.
54. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT. Age: 22
Allow me to plagiarize my industry buddy Connor Kurcon for a moment: Ke’Bryan Hayes is #good. The floor is to die for: Hayes slashed .293/.375/.444 with a 11.2 BB% and 16.5 K% last season. He’ll compete with Nolan Arenado for the NL Gold Glove at third base as soon as he arrives in the big leagues. Because of these facts, Hayes is a safe prospect. But I think there’s a higher ceiling than we currently see. Hayes possesses plus speed, but he didn’t run as much last season as he did in 2017 (12 SB in 2018, 27 SB in 2017). I also think there’s more thunder in his bat than we’ve seen so far. He may never reach 20 home runs in a season at the big league level, but Hayes should post double-digit home run seasons without much effort throughout his big league career.
53. Drew Waters, OF, ATL. Age: 20
Waters is as tooled-up as any prospect in the minor leagues. There’s a chance he finalizes as a 60-hit, 60-raw power, 60-speed outfielder who has the arm to easily profile from right field at the big league level (let’s be real, Cristian Pache will be in centerfield). He’s got a ways to go before reaching that ceiling, though, and his aggressive plate approach will be heavily challenged in the Florida State League this season. I’m hesitant to throw a 30 HR/30 SB projection on a prospect who will hit a lot of pitcher’s pitches with his current approach, but Waters does figure to carry the 20 HR/20 SB label pretty comfortably with plenty of development left to go.
52. Estevan Florial, OF, NYY. Age: 21
Florial has enough tools to build a skyscraper by hand, but staying healthy and continuing to improve his plate discipline will be absolutely critical in the young outfielder one day reaching his massive ceiling. Florial was bitten by the ole’ ‘fractured hamate’ bug last season, missing a month and a half of competition in High-A as the consequence. The 21-year-old possesses plus power, plus speed and above average skills defensively, but the hit tool lags behind and handicaps the other tools to an extent. Florial did make some positive strides in his strikeout rate (24.6% in 2018, 31.1% in 2017), and the walk rate is already good enough to provide value in OBP leagues. If he can simply avoid being injured in 2019, this could be the season Florial officially becomes a top prospect. Post-script: Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek
51. Kristian Robinson, OF, ARZ. Age: 18
No need to dive deep here. Robinson is my breakout prospect pick for the 2019 season. Soak it up.
50. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, TB. Age: 23
A pure-hitting prospect who made some astounding strides in 2018, Lowe has become one of the top first base prospects in baseball and should make his MLB debut sometime this season. Between three levels last season (High-A, Double-A and Triple-A), Lowe slashed a jaw-dropping .330/.416/.568 with 27 home runs and 102 RBIs. Not in love yet? Check out his 445 plate appearances from High-A and Double-A. Pull%: 34.4%. Oppo%: 32.5%. The approach should allow Lowe to maintain a high AVG even in the big leagues. The 12.3 BB% does the same for his OBP. We have to see some sustainability in 2019, but Lowe seems destined to be an above-average offensive first baseman in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
49. Brusdar Graterol, SP, MIN. Age: 20
Graterol has an effort-filled delivery and has already endured Tommy John surgery as a 17-year-old in 2015. That’s basically the entirety of the negatives in Graterol’s entire profile. There’s potential for three plus pitches here: the fastball and slider are already there, and the changeup appears to be on its way. When you figure in the fact the right-hander posted a 2.5 BB/9 last season (mostly as a 19-year-old), you can understand why he’s ranked so highly on lists like this. I suspect Graterol will probably debut back in the Florida State League to begin his 2019 campaign, but a bump to Double-A should happen before the midseason point.
48. Jonathan India, 3B, CIN. Age: 22
India possesses a beautiful swing and could be a fast-mover through Cincinnati’s farm system. Some of the third baseman’s value is tied into his above average defensive skills, but the offensive profile plays just fine in the top-50 of fantasy-focused lists. India doesn’t possess world-changing speed, but he’s been a successful base stealer throughout his college and early-pro career. I figure he’s a solid bet to steal anywhere from 10-20 bases perennially. With a good chance to hit for a decent average and above average power, India could potentially be the first player from the 2018 draft to reach the major leagues.
47. Keibert Ruiz, C, LAD. Age: 20
In 2018, Ruiz played the entirety of his season as a 19-year-old in Double-A. He was 4.9 years younger than his average competition. Despite this, Ruiz posted a 100 wRC+ thanks in large part to 12 home runs and a minuscule 8.0 K%. The slash numbers weren’t great, but they’re tolerable when you consider his age and the fact a lot of his focus is centered around continuing to develop behind the plate defensively (where he’s projected to remain throughout his career). The Dodgers just traded for Russell Martin, who should simply serve as a bridge for the organization until Ruiz is fully ready. He may rest more than a normal catcher thanks to Will Smith, but Ruiz’s 55-hit, 55-raw tools can make him a top-tier fantasy catcher option.
46. Francisco Mejia, C, SD. Age: 23
Despite an unimportant 62 big league plate appearance sample last season in which Mejia posted a 73 wRC+ and a 30.6 K%, the time is nigh for the 23-year-old. The Padres have reportedly discussed trading Austin Hedges this offseason, but even if he remains in San Diego, Mejia is in line to a receive the majority of starts behind the plate. In Triple-A last season (before and after being traded from Cleveland), Mejia slashed .293/.338/.471 with 14 home runs and a 17.7 K%. That’s after the catcher only managed to hit .190 throughout the first two months of the season. The season-long minor league numbers from 2018 paint a pretty accurate pitcher of what Mejia should be capable of at the big league level. And as the Padres creep closer to contending in the NL West, Mejia should receive ample opportunities to prove he’s their long-term catcher.
45. Mitch Keller, SP, PIT. Age: 23
If you’re going to be a floor-over-ceiling prospect inside the top-50, the floor better be pretty high. That’s Keller, though I think there’s more upside here than the stats suggest. The right-hander utilized his changeup frequently last season in attempt to develop the pitch, and the sequencing will certainly be different once Keller reaches the big league level (also, I’d guess the walk rate decreases back to his career norm). The most important aspect of the 23-year-old’s 2018 season was the sustained health; Keller notched 142.1 IP between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A. The Pirates are the worst team in the NL Central, so unfortunately, there’s no rush in promoting top prospects to the big league level and starting their service clock. That being said, Keller should make his big league debut at some point in 2019. I’ll end with a disclaimer: some evaluators who have watched Keller in person think he’s a future reliever.
44. Gavin Lux, 2B/SS, LAD. Age: 21
Lux basically possesses everything I like in a prospect from a fantasy standpoint: an above average hit tool, above average raw power, above average speed and a keen eye at the plate. Double-A figured to be a huge challenge for Lux after being promoted in August; instead, the infielder slashed .324/.408/.495 with 4 home runs in 120 plate appearances. Lux totaled 15 homers last season, and standing at 6’2, more power could be on his way. As the 21-year-old inches closer to a big league debut, two things should be noted: 1) with Corey Seager manning shortstop with the Dodgers for the next decade or so, Lux might transition to second base at the big league level. 2) The infielder slashed .226/.278/.298 versus left-handed pitching last season. Improving against southpaws would further improve Lux’s stock.
43. Ian Anderson, SP, ATL. Age: 20
Following 20 starts in High-A, Anderson was promoted and received four starts in Double-A to end the season. It’s notable anytime a 20-year-old achieves that feat. The stuff is more than adequate. The determining factor for Anderson will be the development of his command. Though he’s never been less than 2.5 years younger than his average competition, Anderson’s career BB/9 is 3.7. It hasn’t derailed his success, but it’s an obvious focus point moving forward; it might sound crazy to say since he’s only 20, but with the Braves’ pitching depth, Anderson’s command development might determine his future role. For now, smart money is on the right-hander becoming a solid SP3 at the big league level.
42. Garrett Hampson, 2B, COL. Age: 24
We can never trust the Rockies to play their young players consistently, but as of now, Hampson is slated to receive a lion’s share of the workload at second base at Coors Field this season. Here’s the thing: I look at Hampson’s numbers from last season, and I don’t think they’re too far away from what he’ll be a capable of as an everyday big league starter. That would mean we have a .311/.382/.462, 10 home run, 36 stolen base player on our hands. Maybe it’s just .280/.330/.400 with 8 home runs and 30 stolen bases, but dang that’s valuable in fantasy leagues from second base. 2019 is an important season for Hampson, and he currently finds himself entrenched in a battle for the cornerstone with the Rockies with former top-100 prospect Ryan McMahon and…. Pat Valaika.
41. Casey Mize, SP, DET. Age: 21
1.1 in last season’s drafts, Mize was given four starts in High-A last summer and figures to progress through Detroit’s farm system quickly. Everything that Mize does is boosted by his plus command. Because of this, three of the right-hander’s four offerings grade at 55 or higher. Ironically, it’ll actually be the development of his fourth pitch (the changeup) that will eventually determine Mize’s ceiling. For now, the 21-year-old is an undoubted SP3 who will slot into the middle of your fantasy rotation without much risk. But headlined with the polish and arsenal, Mize will continually duke it out with Matt Manning and Franklin Perez to determine the future ace of the Tigers’ pitching staff.
40. Sixto Sanchez, SP, MIA. Age: 20
From what I’ve heard, Sanchez was so close to being promoted to Double-A prior to his injury last season that he practically had one foot out the door. An elbow ailment derailed the remainder of Sanchez’s season, and the right-hander also skipped pitching in the Arizona Fall League after a setback in recovery. Mum is the word on whether or not the 20-year-old will be fully healthy and ready for competition. If he’s not, the ‘reliever’ whispers will continue growing in quantity and volume. If all iswell, Sanchez should start in Double-A. Whenever he returns, I’m hoping he continues to show confidence in his slider and changeup, which would undoubtedly help keep advanced hitters off the elite fastball. Checking this box would help Sanchez thrive (and pitch backwards) when facing lineups for the second and third time in an outing. Please. get. healthy. and. stay. healthy.
39. Matt Manning, SP, DET. Age: 21
In my first ever prospect list (preseason 2017), Manning ranked 83rd. In every prospect I’ve published since then, Manning has ranked no worse than 89th. For a former prep right-hander, the consistency has been remarkable. Now, Manning’s stock is seemingly skyrocketing. At only 20-years-old, the right-hander got two starts at Double-A at the end of last season. For the season, Manning struck out a whopping 31.6% of the batters he faced in 117.2 IP (11.8 K/9). If he can simply continue to develop his changeup (which, as a solid athlete, he should), there’s legit SP2 upside here. I’m desperately crossing my fingers for continued good health.
38. Hunter Greene, SP, CIN. Age: 19
Evaluating Greene is currently similar to evaluating Dane Dunning; both are coming off elbow injuries, but both avoided surgery. The pair will reportedly be ready for Spring Training, but only time will tell if the duo truly avoided needing Tommy John surgery to fully-cure their ailments. Greene is as athletic as it comes on the mound, and his arsenal is highlighted by an effortless, triple-digit fastball that’s currently too straight to be a truly dynamic pitch. From an effectiveness standpoint, the right-hander’s slider is probably his best current offering. Greene also throws a curveball and changeup that could eventually grade as above average pitches. Dangerously assuming the elbow troubles are behind him, the next step in Greene’s slow-paced development will be adding movement to his lightning bolt of a fastball.
37. Alex Verdugo, OF, LAD. Age: 22
With Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp now across the country in Cincinnati, the time is nigh for Verdugo to finally make a consistent big league impact. In his minor league career, the outfielder has slashed .309/.367/.444 with a microscopic 11.4 K% in over 2000 plate appearances (124 wRC+). The 22-year-old will never be a consistent contributor in the stolen base department, but the 60-hit, 55-raw power tools are further highlighted by Verdugo’s ability to consistently put the ball in play. Whether it’s with the Dodgers or another organization, Verdugo will finally make a big league impact sooner rather than later. The skillset makes him an easy player to like.
36. Austin Riley, 3B, ATL. Age: 22
When the Braves drafted him as a prep bat in 2015 (a day that will live in infamy for many Mississippi State baseball fans), it was widely thought Riley would eventually transition from the hot corner to first base. Since then, Riley has worked tirelessly to develop his defensive skills, and is now considered a long-term third baseman. The raw power is what Riley hangs his hat on, and 30 home run seasons at the big league level should be attainable at his peak. The problem is the contact rate; the 22-year-old has struck out in 25.9% of his plate appearances through 426 minor league games. That number is actually an improvement from the 28.4% strikeout rate last season, so it’s fairly obvious what the 22-year-old must improve upon to reach his power-fueled potential in the big leagues. With Josh Donaldson and Johan Camargo already proven commodities and rostered in Atlanta, Riley has taken reps at first base and in the outfield this spring to increase his versatility and, consequently, his big league value for the upcoming season.
35. Luis Robert, OF, CHW. Age: 21
I feel so freakin’ slimy ranking Robert here despite the injury history and lack of notable success in game settings. But the aforementioned facts don’t hide the fact Robert is only 21-years-old and could hypothetically see Double-A pitching at some point in 2019. The outfielder has 322 career professional plate appearances and only three home runs, which is hilarious when you watch his swing and realize the raw power is obviously plus. I have Robert’s raw power, speed, defense and arm all ranked as plus, so on paper, the hit tool is the only thing missing from the outfielder becoming a complete, five-tool prospect. If for no other reason other than our sample size and comfort, Robert needs to prove his durability in 2019 and beyond.
34. Jesus Sanchez, OF, TB. Age: 21
Most young, position player prospects with high ceilings have the same hole in their game: their hit tool stinks. Sanchez has that hole, yet he possesses fantastic bat-to-ball skills (17.3 K% in his career). Instead, Sanchez tries to destroy pitches a little too frequently, which leads to unbalanced, soft contact against pitcher’s pitches. The career 5.8 BB% speaks to this, though the outfielder did manage to walk in 10% of his 110 Double-A plate appearances after being promoted last summer. At a chiseled 6’3 210 lbs., Sanchez certainly looks the part of a prospect who possesses plus plus raw power. The 21-year-old should see most of his at-bats in Double-A this season, which will be a needed test worth passing if Sanchez hopes to reach his gaudy ceiling.
33. Cristian Pache, OF, ATL. Age: 20
I would have bet a substantial amount of money on Pache breaking out last season (he was on my 2018 prospect obsession list), but the numbers that followed simply didn’t support that prediction. But other than a too-aggressive approach and meh pitch recognition, scouts thought the outfielder made positive strides last season. If nothing else, Pache hit the first nine home runs of his professional career. He’s a future Gold Glove winner, so he’s likely a better real life prospect than fantasy prospect, but the offensive ceiling is as high as it is underrated. I’m doubling down on Pache in 2019. He’ll likely be one of the final pieces of the puzzle that should lead to a World Series title in Atlanta.
32. Dylan Cease, SP, CHW. Age: 23
I could talk about Cease’s 2018 development all day, everyday. Know how evaluators constantly discuss the need of a pitching prospect to develop a reliable third pitch? Cease followed through on that need last season, establishing his changeup (and the effectiveness of cleaner mechanics) to further-polish the qualities he brings to the mound. In 124 IP between High-A and Double-A, the right-hander posted a hilarious 32.5 K% (11.6 K/9) and an equally-impressive 2.40 ERA. With Michael Kopech seemingly sidelined until Opening Day 2020, Cease has the unique opportunity to become the White Sox’s top pitching prospect throughout the 2019 season. There’s also a chance he makes his big league debut before we turn the page to a new decade.
31. Touki Toussaint, SP, ATL. Age: 22
Toussaint’s 29 IP-stint with the Braves last summer showcased everything the right-hander brings to the table, including a 26.0 K% and 6.5 BB/9. With those stats filed to the back of our minds, the .180 opponent AVG and 3.78 FIP basically says everything we need to know about Toussaint: at times, the only opponent capable of beating the right-hander is himself. Out of the many Braves pitching prospect within the organization, I think it’s inarguable Toussaint has the highest ceiling. From a fantasy baseball context, he also has the lowest floor. In other words, it wouldn’t surprise me if Toussaint was the Braves’ second-best starter by the end of the 2019 season; it also wouldn’t surprise me if he was a two or three-inning swingman by August.
30. Nolan Gorman, 3B, STL. Age: 18
As an 18-year-old, Gorman blasted 17 home runs in his first taste of pro ball (274 plate appearances) last summer, slashing .291/.380/.570 in the process. The strikeout rate was 27.7% though, and the hit tool figures to be Gorman’s hypothetical hiccup as he continues progressing through the Cardinals’ system. Having already debuted in full season ball, there’s a good chance Gorman reaches at least High-A as a 19-year-old this season. The tool-developers within St. Louis’s system will work tirelessly in the coming seasons to improve the former portion of Gorman’s 50-hit, 70-raw offensive profile. I don’t expect the teenager to be a fast mover (the approach needs real work), but the potential fantasy (statistical) outlook randomly reminds me of a left handed, third base version of 2018 Jesus Aguilar.
29. Jarred Kelenic, OF, SEA. Age: 19
Kelenic is currently my top-ranked player from the 2018 draft class, which excites me and makes me sick to my stomach at the same time. The sixth-overall pick last summer, Kelenic utilized his five-tool skillset immediately last summer, slashing .286/.371/.468 with 6 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 251 plate appearances while in Rookie Ball. Then, in early December, Kelenic was traded from New York to Seattle, immediately becoming the Mariners’ best prospect in the process. The teenager currently grades as a 60-hit, 55-raw, 55-speed prospect in my eyes, though scouts think the outfielder could lose a step as he finalizes his physical development. It’s already been announced that Kelenic will debut in full season ball (Low-A) in 2019, where he could officially cement his status as one of the top position player prospects in baseball.
28. Mike Soroka, SP, ATL. Age: 21
It’s almost unheard of for a pitcher to log five big league starts before their 21st birthday, but that’s exactly what Soroka accomplished last season. It would have been a lot more, too, but a shoulder injury forced the right-hander to the disabled list in late April, basically ending his season for all intents and purposes. Soroka doesn’t have the most explosive stuff amongst Braves pitching prospects, but the makeup and polish are so good that Soroka should easily remain in the SP3 conversation throughout his career. Continued shoulder discomfort derailed the right-hander’s chances to break camp in the big league rotation, but he’ll undoubtedly play a role in Atlanta at some point in 2019.
27. A.J. Puk, SP, OAK. Age: 24
The 6’7 left-hander put together a Spring Training performance last season that made the decision makers in Oakland think twice about relegating him back to the minor leagues instead of slotting him into the rotation; their decision was made easy when it was announced Puk needed Tommy John surgery. The 24-year-old is slated to return this summer, and I’d say it’s more likely than not we have to wait until 2020 to see Puk in a green and yellow uniform. You not need worry about the southpaw’s ‘stuff’: it’s some of the best in the minor leagues. But pre-surgery, Puk’s command had also really taken a step forward, which was the biggest hurdle the pitcher needed to clear in order to reach his top-tier SP2 ceiling. There’s a bit of burn-out surrounding the 24-year-old as he creeps closer to returning to competition, but don’t let that hinder you from properly valuing him for what he is.
26. Luis Urias, INF, SD. Age: 21
Something that really struck me as I was researching Urias for this write-up: Take a look at his early-career numbers in Rookie Ball, Short Season and Low-A. In 106 games between those three levels (458 plate appearances), Urias slashed .298/.385/.337 with more walks than strikeouts and zero home runs. I’d bet one of the prospects currently ranked in the back-end of my #Top250 with the same attributes will ascend prospect lists the same way Urias has. The 21-year-old will begin the season as San Diego’s everyday shortstop, though he figures to shift around the diamond once Fernando Tatis Jr. is promoted to the big leagues. Call it a hunch, but to go along with a plus hit tool, I think Urias will show sneaky, league average power (or a little better) throughout his career.
25. Peter Alonso, 1B, NYM. Age: 24
Alonso was basically playing a video game last season, slashing .285/.395/.579 with 36 home runs, 119 RBIs and a 13.2 BB% in 574 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A. In turn, the Mets’ decision-makers drew the ire of their fanbase for keeping the first baseman in the minor leagues instead of giving him a chance to gain major league experience for a club that was nowhere close to contending at the end of the season. Alonso does figure to become New York’s everyday first baseman at some point in 2019, and he should provide plenty of power for your fantasy team throughout the next decade (30-40 home run seasons are in store here as long as he stays healthy). I do think the 24-year-old will be more valuable in OBP leagues than AVG leagues thanks to a double-digit walk rate and Alonso’s appetite for offspeed pitches away from the zone. Something like .250/.330/.530 with 30 home runs should be the expectation once the first baseman settles in to everyday life at the big league level.
24. Chris Paddack, SP, SD. Age: 23
A little self-promotion before we dive in. In January, I published an article discussing possible candidates to be the 2019 version of Chris Paddack. The right-hander’s emergence was one of the biggest prospect stories of the 2018 season, and his continued stellar performance this spring has made him a shoe-in for a big league debut in 2019. The 23-year-old might possess the best changeup in the minor leagues, and it was the main contributing factor to left-handed hitters slashing .148/.193/.227 versus Paddack last season. The numbers against right-handers were also good, though I do worry how they’ll look when facing top-tier competition if Paddack’s curveball doesn’t progress. Thankfully, the command is plus, which gives Paddack a high floor to pair with his developing upside. MacKenzie Gore has higher upside, but Paddack will almost certainly be slotted at the top of Padres rotations that should compete in the National League throughout the next 10-15 seasons.
23. Andres Gimenez, SS, NYM. Age: 20
One of my favorite prospects in all of baseball, Gimenez was promoted to Double-A as a 19-year-old for the final 37 games of the 2018 season. For the season, the shortstop slashed .281/.347/.409 with 6 home runs and 38 stolen bases in 504 plate appearances. The hit tool and speed are plus, and the defensive skills are unquestionably above average. My favorite part of Gimenez’s profile, however, is the power that’s on his way. It’s the weakest part of the shortstop’s game, but I think it gets to 55 before it’s all said and done. If Gimenez continues performing to his talent level, the Mets will have a VERY interesting decision to make regarding Amed Rosario’s future as early as Opening Day 2020. As I said last midseason, there’s 20 HR/20 SB-upside at the big league level here.
22. Michael Kopech, SP, CHW. Age: 23
We finally got to see Kopech in big league action last season, yet the debut couldn’t fend off heartbreak. The fireballing right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in September, ending his 2018 season and putting a stop to his 2019 campaign before it ever started. We won’t see Kopech again until 2020; thankfully, the right-hander will start next season as a 23-year-old with his entire career in front of him. With a high-spinning blur of a fastball and a borderline plus plus slider, Kopech possesses one of the deadliest two-pitch combinations in all of baseball. When he returns to full-health, the continued development and refinement of the changeup will determine whether Kopech reaches his high strikeout, SP2 ceiling.
21. Alex Reyes, SP, STL. Age: 24
Thanks to Tommy John surgery in 2017 and a torn lat in 2018, Reyes has thrown only 4 IP of big league baseball since 2016. He’s reportedly made strides in rehab this offseason, and the Cardinals
are planning to prepare Reyes as a starter for the upcoming season have recently said the 24-year-old will either break camp as a big league, multi-inning reliever or be relegated to Triple-A, where he’ll be stretched out as a rotation arm. I tend to think he’ll eventually be used as a multi-inning swingman in 2019 before transitioning back to the rotation in 2020. It’s been awhile, but at full health, Reyes throws four 55-to-60-grade pitches with adequate command. Baseball deserves a pitcher with Reyes’s arsenal, and I sincerely hope this is the last time I rank him on anything other than an active player list.
20. Brent Honeywell, SP, TB. Age: 24
A fun fact you won’t care about: Honeywell was the final prospect write-up I completed in this novelette of a prospect list. Honeywell should be an active player keeper for you this offseason, but the right-hander’s elbow had other ideas. Tommy John surgery shelved the 24-year-old early last preseason, and Honeywell won’t likely return to competition until this summer. The right-hander has the deep arsenal you dream of when you acquire a pitching prospect, and most of his offerings grade at 55 or better. When you add the above average command, you quickly realize Honeywell will be a high-value fantasy asset for the next decade.
19. Brendan Rodgers, SS, COL. Age: 22
A pure-hitting infield prospect, Rodgers has witnessed his stock trend downward slightly throughout the last calendar year. In 114 games last season, Rodgers slashed .268/.330/.460 with 17 home runs (474 plate appearances) and a 19.4 K% between Double-A and Triple-A. The concerns of scouts and evaluators regarding Rodgers are the plate approach and plate discipline. The infielder has developed a reputation as a free swinger, and the 6.5 BB% last season speaks to that notion. Rodgers is a 55-hit, 60-raw prospect who will end up at either second or third base at the big league level. To reach the upside that’s associated with those grades, the 22-year-old will need to develop better patience and selectiveness at the plate.
18. Yordan Alvarez, 1B/OF, HOU. Age: 21
Despite having never played above High-A prior to last season, Alvarez only accrued 190 plate appearances in Double-A before he was promoted to Triple-A last summer. Between the levels, the 21-year-old slashed .293/.369/.534 with 20 home runs and a double-digit walk rate in only 379 plate appearances (he missed nearly a month in May due to a hand injury). That’s a homer every 19 plate appearances. Alvarez’s strikeout rate did rise in 2018, but even 24.3 K% remains consistent throughout the remainder of his career, the 21-year-old should provide more than enough value to overcome the shortcoming. Alvarez played more left field than first base last season, but scouts are skeptical he’s anything other than a first baseman at the big league level. There’s been a lot of discussion surrounding Fangraphs ranking Alvarez 125th (as a DH only on a real-life list) in their 2019 prospect list. While our M-Rod recently discussed the importance of defense even on fantasy-focused prospect lists (and I agree with this stance), I’m not quite ready to ding Alvarez too much because of his defensive woes.
17. MacKenzie Gore, SP, SD. Age: 20
A teenage pitching prospect only threw 60.2 IP and posted a 4.45 ERA last season. He’s still a top-20 overall prospect. That’s how good Gore is, and the top-of-the-rotation upside is still obvious despite an imperfect full season debut. Blisters on his pitching hand sliced up Gore’s 2018 campaign, though the light workload will be nothing more than a footnote in the southpaw’s minor league career as he continues to develop. Gore has four offerings, all of which grade at above average or better. Furthermore, the arsenal tends to play up thanks to Gore’s fantastic command. Oh, and despite Gore’s ‘rocky’ Low-A experience, the left-hander still struck out 28.4% of the batters he faced while compiling a 3.16 xFIP. There’s SP1 (!) upside here.
16. Jesus Luzardo, SP, OAK. Age: 21
Luzardo and Juan Soto were the crowning jewels of my prospect obsession list last season (this season’s version will be published next week), the latter of which exploded onto the big league scene after only 35 plate appearances in Double-A. The former also broke out in 2018, racking up 129 strikeouts and a 2.88 ERA in 109.1 IP between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A. The changeup is the southpaw’s best pitch, but Luzardo also has the fastball, curveball, command and makeup to make him a complete pitcher. There’s an outside chance the 21-year-old breaks camp with the Athletics, but an early-season, big league debut should be in the cards regardless. The southpaw is a top-tier SP3 who will pitch like a SP2 often.
15. Carter Kieboom, SS, WAS. Age: 21
A year removed from sustaining a debilitating hamstring injury that derailed most of his 2017 season, Kieboom had a huge 2018 campaign, slashing .280/.357/.444 with 16 home runs in 558 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A. The 21-year-old possesses some of the most blessed hands in the minor leagues, and scouts think he’ll someday be capable of compiling 25-30 home run seasons at the big league level. Trea Turner will be the Nationals shortstop for the foreseeable future, so Kieboom figures to either move to second or third base once he arrives at baseball’s top level. The bat will play at either position, though I selfishly would love to see Kieboom become one of the best fantasy second basemen in baseball.
14. Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL. Age: 22
I think I’ve used this term in every prospect list he’s ever been a part of, but Hiura is a pure hitter. He will never provide much value on the base paths. He’s adequate at second base, but he’ll never be an award-winning defender in the big leagues. Hiura’s value rests in his bat, which is good, because the 22-year-old is a 60-hit, 60-raw power prospect who’s found success at the plate at all four levels he’s competed at since being drafted in the first round in 2017. The second baseman slashed .293/.357/.464 with 13 home runs in 535 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A last season, and he figures to be a strong candidate to make his big league debut at some point in 2019.
13. Taylor Trammell, OF, CIN. Age: 21
My breakout prospect pick last season, Trammell didn’t put up the counting stats in High-A to warrant that title. In 461 plate appearances, the outfielder slashed .277/.375/.406 with 8 home runs and 25 stolen bases. Fine numbers, but not worthy of the ‘superstar’ label. Despite that, Trammell, by most accounts anyways, still possesses a plus hit tool and game-changing speed on the base paths. The raw power remains 55-grade, and accessing it more in games could be the key in unlocking a new dimension in Trammell’s prospect status. One thing Trammell certainly has going for him is his affinity for left-handed pitching, slashing .310/.405/.405 versus southpaws last season. With an average-at-best throwing arm and peculiar route running, left field is likely the 21-year-old’s destination defensively. The outfielder will be on my prospect obsession list again this season, and Double-A should be kinder to Trammell than the Florida State League was.
12. Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU. Age: 22
I get the sense there’s a little prospect fatigue here, and after Tucker slashed a hurl-inducing .141/.236/.203 in 72 big league plate appearances last season, it’s easy to understand why the perception of the outfielder is currently a little sour. I’d rather talk about Tucker’s Triple-A numbers from last season, which are for more representative of his talent and what he’ll bring to the table at his big league peak. The 22-year-old slashed a hilarious .332/.400/.590 with 24 home runs and 20 stolen bases in the minor leagues in 2018, striking out in only 18.1% of his plate appearances to top it off. While it’s not fair to expect those on base numbers perennially through his major league career, Tucker has .280 AVG/25 HR/15 SB upside at baseball’s top level. The Astros are currently overstocked in the outfield, so if Tucker is not receiving every day at-bats to begin the 2019 season, make sure you take a deep breath and remind yourself he’s only 22.
11. Nick Senzel, UTIL, CIN. Age: 23
Join me in hoping 2019 is the season Senzel finally shakes his unfortunate injury look. To my recollection, the 23-year-old has battled minor elbow surgery, vertigo, and an index finger injury throughout the past calendar year alone. The ailments postponed what should have been Senzel’s rookie season in 2018, but he’s primed to make his name known at the big league level this season. The utility player (the Reds seem to like him in center field for the near future) should be a .300 hitter throughout his career, and I think we’ll see more power in the big leagues than the output we’ve seen in the minors. I hope this season is Senzel’s launch pad.
10. Jo Adell, OF, LAA. Age: 20
An 80-grade athlete who’s a solid bet to contribute in every possible facet of real life and fantasy baseball, Adell was so good in his first full season of pro ball that he progressed to Double-A as a teenager. The outfielder slashed .290/.355/.543 with 20 home runs and 15 stolen bases (25.2 K%) in 440 plate appearances (three levels) in 2018. With plus defensive skills, the swing-and-miss issues are really the only thing that stands in between Adell and stardom at the big league level. The outfielder will be back in Double-A to begin the 2019 season, where he’ll have a fantastic opportunity to refine his contact skills versus some of the best pitching the minor leagues has to offer. For now, Adell being a top-5 prospect at the end of this season is a solid bet. Note: The 20-year-old recently strained his hamstring and sprained his ankle in a Spring Training game. The timetable for his return is said to be 10-12 weeks. If the Angels were thinking of perhaps aggressively promoting Adell early this season, this injury probably halts those plans.
9. Alex Kirilloff, OF, MIN. Age: 21
A 6.8 BB% in a season-long sample would normally be a red flag for a prospect ranked this high on a list, but Kirilloff was too busy teeing off on Low-A and High-A pitching to care. The outfielder slashed .348/.392/.578 with 20 home runs and 101 RBIs (15.3 K%) last season, skyrocketing up prospect lists in the process. It’s a 70-hit, 60-raw profile in my eyes, which means Kirilloff has ‘future fantasy superstar’ written all over him. John Calvagno recently tweet-comped Kiriloff’s swing to Joey Votto’s, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s not an original thought, but the 21-year-old has the tools to compete for AL batting titles throughout his big league career.
8. Wander Franco, SS, TB. Age: 18
I only threw up in my mouth a little when I ranked an 18-year-old who has never seen full season pitching this high on a prospect list, but Franco has done nothingwrong so far in his professional career. It was only Rookie Ball last summer, but I’ve got the shortstop as a 70-hit, 55-raw, 60-speed prospect heading into his full season debut in 2019. The bat speed is electric and the selectiveness is just as good; from a fantasy perspective, the only reason I didn’t consider ranking Franco higher is the general lack of experience. That will be remedied this season, and the teenager could challenge Royce Lewis for the top-overall prospect at the end of the calendar year.
7. Bo Bichette, 2B/SS, TOR. Age: 21
For the first time in his professional career, my 7th-overall ranked prospect will soon be the top-ranked prospect in his own organization. Bichette has lived in the shadow of one of the best prospects in the 21st century throughout his time in the minor leagues, but his time to shine should come sometime this season. The infielder has a skillset that should make fantasy players drool. He’s a 60-hit, 60-raw player at a premium position. He’s only an average straight-line runner, but the speed plays WAY up thanks to Bichette’s elite base running skills. I think the 21-year-old will begin making a true impact at the big league level next season, but a debut in 2019 is certainly not out of the question. Pitchers will attack Bichette differently once VGJ is no longer in the same lineup, and I’m very interested to see how the infielder adjusts.
6. Forrest Whitley, SP, HOU. Age: 21
The 21-year-old phenom threw all of 26.1 IP last season due to injury. Despite this, Whitley’s stock has still found a way to improve throughout the last calendar year. He’s 6’7 and has mechanics that help him use his height to his advantage. He throws five pitches, four of which grade at 55 or better. He has above-average command and knows how to maneuver his way through lineups multiple times in an outing. The Astros have already lost Charlie Morton and don’t figure to be ‘in’ on Dallas Keuchel, so Whitley has every opportunity to either break camp as a major leaguer, or get promoted within the first two months of the regular season. Either way, it’s almost a lock that the right-hander makes an impact in the big leagues in 2019. If Whitley finds a way to max out, there’s top-5 starting pitcher upside here.
5. Royce Lewis, SS, MIN. Age: 19
Is it really a hot take to predict Lewis is the top overall prospect before the end of the 2019 season? My top four prospects are fairly safe bets to lose their eligibility at some point this season, so Lewis has an opportunity to swoop in and take that crown without too much conflict. It’s not too-far of a stretch to say the shortstop will someday forfeit his prospect status with all five tools grading 55 or better, but you’re here to read about the 60-hit, 55-raw, 60-speed tools that make Lewis such an appetizing fantasy asset. To say Lewis has 20 home run/20 stolen base upside might be too conservative, which is all you need to hear from about a shortstop prospect in order to fall in love. When you factor in an AVG that should settle anywhere between .280 and .320, you realize the stardom that Lewis might someday attain.
4. Victor Robles, OF, WAS. Age: 21
I think I might be in love with Robles’s 2019 outlook. After being limited to 291 plate appearances last season due to a hyperextended left elbow (following a freak outfield injury), Robles is slated to become the Nationals’ everyday centerfielder this season. The defensive skills outweigh the bat-related tools for now, but I’m ranking Robles here because I’m a believer in the long-term offensive potential. Robles’ power could legitimately tap-out at 10-15 home runs per season at peak, but the borderline plus plus hit tool and definitively plus plus speed give the 21-year-old plenty of offensive value. Even a .300 AVG, 10 home run, 30 stolen base ceiling gets you picked in redraft leagues, and I think that’s exactly what Robles brings to the table at his best. The outfielder also made my high-value active player list, and you’ll be seeing his name once more as my preseason content continues to roll out.
3. Eloy Jimenez, OF, CHW. Age: 22
It’s crazy that you can basically be the consensus 3nd-ranked prospect in baseball and be underrated, but I feel like that’s where we’re at as we rank Jimenez for the final time (hopefully). In 408 career minor league games, the outfielder has slashed .311/.359/.519 with an 18.2 K%. There’s .300 AVG/30 home run potential here, but if I’m nitpicking, Jimenez must develop more patience to make that happen at the big league level. If I’m reading between the lines of White Sox GM Rick Hahn’s quotes this offseason, it would be a little perplexing/unpleasantly surprising if Jimenez weren’t a big leaguer by the middle of May at the latest. As I bid his prospect status adieu, I’m reminded of the Futures Game in 2016, when the world first heard Jimenez’s name. We’ve all come such a long way since then.
2. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SD. Age: 20
Defensive skills considered, there’s a fairly legitimate argument to be made that FTJ is actually the best prospect in baseball according to overall-value categories like WAR. In a fantasy-focused list, Tatis Jr. sits here due only to the generational talent that ranks above him. It’s true FTJ has a 27.7 K% in over 1000 minor league plate appearances. But he’s also slashed .280/.358/.487 during that time, and the double-digit walk rate helps null the pain that is often associated with strikeout issues. Along with a couple of other evaluators, I’ve been comparing the 20-year-old to Manny Machado since 2017 (when Tatis was 18). That comparison still feels rock-solid, and he (along with, wouldn’t you know it, the recently-acquired Machado) should be the face of an organization that begins competing for World Series rings throughout the next decade. With Machado now in place, interesting players like Franmil Reyes, Luis Urias and Matt Strahm already in the fold and pitching prospect Chris Paddack surging this spring, Tatis Jr. could make his big league debut earlier this season than we originally assumed he would. Selfishly, I’m hoping FTJ plays a role in continuing to usher in a new, more free-spirited generation of baseball.
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, TOR. Age: 20
If this is all she wrote for VGJ on prospect lists, it’s been one heck of a ride. In the first prospect list I ever published (preseason 2017), I ranked Guerrero Jr. 27th. In the write-up, I mentioned how I couldn’t wait to see the third baseman in full-season ball. He was 17. We’ve come a long way. We could talk about the tools, but you already know about them. You know the offensive profile has the ceiling of a future hall of famer. A hall of famer. You also know scouts are split on whether VGJ will remain at third base or eventually transition to first base, but it doesn’t really matter because he might someday be the most valuable fantasy asset at either position. It’s been an honor to watch Guerrero Jr. develop in the minor leagues, but I’m ready to see what this generational talent looks like in a major league uniform. You should feel likewise. Oblique discomfort means the 20-year-old won’t break camp with the Blue Jays, but VGJ should receive the call sometime in May (if not earlier). Let’s make a conscious effort to never take a prospect like Vladito for granted.
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