The Crystal Ball 2021 Top-100 Prospect List: #51-100

Written by: Ray Butler

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Predicting the future is a fool’s errand.

I tried my best anyways.

You are looking at the #51-100 portion of my very first ‘crystal ball’ projected prospect list. This article covers the prospects who I’m predicting (completely guessing) rank from 51st to 100th on my prospect list for the 2021 season. To read my completed 2020 top-200 prospect list, click here.

I’ve already released the ‘just missed’ portion of this list, and I promise that article is a fantastic prelude for the write-ups you’re about to partake in below.

I apologize if you find this article redundant, but I’m sticking to our temporary mission statement for the near future: if our work can simply ease your mind from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic for ten seconds, it’s well worth our time and energy. Baseball is currently an outlet for thousands of people around the country and around the globe, so we’re going to do our best to continue releasing new content as often as possible.

Before we begin, there are some things you should know about the 2020 minor league season. First, the MiLB regular season will almost certainly be shortened—perhaps drastically. It’s hard to quantify how much of an impact a delayed/shortened season will have on prospects throughout each level of the minor leagues, and evaluating throughout the next calendar year will be uncharted waters for the industry as a whole.

Next—and most importantly—there’s already been whispers that the delayed start to the minor league regular season (which will likely translate to a delayed start to short season leagues) might mean organizations simply choose to keep their young, prized prospects at their respective facility throughout the summer instead of assigning them to Rookie Ball and Short Season leagues. This would be HUGE news for the near-future outlook of prospects like Noelvi Marte, Jasson Dominguez and many others. In this portion of the list specifically, it will affect our evaluations of prospects like Luis Matos, Robert Puason and Erick Pena amongst others.

A shortened season will also play a critical role in the volume of prospect graduations we witness in 2020, as well as the sample sizes we’ll receive from prospects who hope to explode onto the scene this season. I’ll try to highlight the players who this will most affect as I publish the full list.

Recently, it was announced the 2020 MLB Draft will be shortened to five rounds. While that will affect hundreds of current, amateur prospects, it isn’t likely to affect any prospect you’ll read about on a top-100 list next preseason. It was also announced that the signing day for international prospects—traditionally July 2nd—will be pushed back to next January for at least this season. This will drastically impact the way we evaluate those prospects leading up to publishing our 2021 prospect lists; I attempted to reflect the impact of that announcement on the list you’re about to read.

Let’s dive in.

100. Reid Detmers, SP, C/O 2020

Detmers’ ultimate fate as a professional will likely hinge on how well his fastball—which doesn’t possess premium velocity—will play against professional hitters. The curveball is elite both analytically and to the naked eye (I grade the pitch as a 70, and it reminds me of fellow southpaw Matt Liberatore’s), and the changeup flashes plus too. I don’t love that Detmers will have to frequently ‘mask’ his heater enough to allow the breaker and changeup to play to their respective potentials, but there’s low-end SP3 potential here if he optimizes his usage (and more if the FB velocity eventually ticks up). 2020 Rank: Not Available 

99. Matt Tabor, SP, ARI

The first pitching prospect I’ve ever included on a breakout article will have to be fantastic in the California League later this summer to become a top-100 prospect next preseason. Fortunately for Tabor, that simply means he needs to repeat his gaudy performance from last season. The entirety of the prospect world will likely know this name a year from now. 2020 Rank: 122nd

98. Carlos Colmenarez, SS, C/O J2 2020

A high-dollar, international shortstop who’s destined to sign with the Rays? Where have I heard this story before? There’s a lot to like about Colmenarez’s skillset, and he only ranks behind fellow 2020 J2 signee Cristian Hernandez because I believe the body is a bit less projectable. With this season’s international signing period being pushed to next January, I feel evaluators will be extremely resource limited when we ranked Colmenarez, Hernandez and others next preseason. 2020 Rank: Not Available

97. Sherten Apostel, 3B, TEX

Apostel is already a top-100 prospect in my book. To further ascend this list, he’ll need to prove he’ll bring more to the table than plus-or-better raw power from a corner infield spot. Ideally, he hits .270 or better in 2020 (with an OBP of .360 or higher) and I’m forced to re-evaluate. 2020 Rank: 93rd

96. Garrett Crochet, SP, C/O 2020

An electric, left-handed fastball/slider combination means Crochet makes the tail-end of my projected 2021 top-100 after being drafted in the first round this summer. The body is projectable and he’s an above average athlete, so it’s likely the fastball will touch triple digits before he finalizes his development. Developing reliable, secondary weapons versus right-handed hitters will likely determine Crochet’s ultimate fate as a professional. 2020 Rank: Not Available

95. Peyton Burdick, OF, MIA

Welcome to the thunder dome. Good friend Ralph Lifshitz—in my opinion—is the voice of authority on first year players throughout the prospect industry. Even Ralph admits he underrated Burdick earlier this preseason. Burdick ranking as a top-100 prospect a year from now would mean he officially broke out in 2020, but the tools are certainly present within this profile to make such a drastic ascension possible. Can’t wait to fill you Twitter timelines with the bird + eggplant emojis this summer when Burdick hits yet another home run. 2020 Rank: Not Ranked

94. Xavier Edwards, 2B, TB

If we thought Edwards was going to be lost in the middle infield shuffle as a member of the Padres organization, I can’t even begin to describe his status post-trade to the Rays. I said in my 2020 prospect list that Edwards comps to Dee Gordon, but how valuable is a Dee Gordon who’s platooned and struggles to find his footing in an everyday lineup? Let’s pray we have more clarity on the outlook by this time next year. 2020 Rank: 61st

93. Jhoan Duran, SP, MIN

I assume I’m the high man on Duran this preseason; there’s enough relief risk here to give me some anxiety, so he only gets a slight uptick from his placement on my current list. At the end of the day, I think the arsenal has just enough depth (sinker, curveball, splitter) and enough strikeout viability to remain in the starting rotation long term. 2020 Rank: 96th

92. Austin Hendrick, OF, C/O 2020*

I’m not incredibly fond of Hendrick’s swing mechanics (I think his chicken-winged back elbow and pre-swing wrist movements leave him susceptible to elevated velocity), though I certainly can’t deny the elite bat speed he generates once he gets going. Likely the house-favorite to be the first prep player selected this summer, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict Hendrick doesn’t honor his commitment to Mississippi State—my alma mater—next summer. Smh. 2020 Rank: Not Available

91. Cristian Hernandez, SS, C/O J2 2020

Okay, I fibbed. It’s true that the main factor that (narrowly) separates Hernandez from Carlos Colmenarez (who ranks 98th on this list) is a difference in physical projection. But I also mildly prefer Hernandez’s swing, which should easily lead to a notable power projection once the Cubs get their hands on him in the coming months and seasons. The same thing I said at the end of Colmenarez’s write-up obviously applies here, too. 2020 Rank: Not Available

90. Blake Walston, SP, ARI

Walston is rightly a popular breakout pick this preseason, and an 85-spot jump should be doable as long as he begins the (shortened) season at Low-A Kane County. The left-hander is everything you want from an upside standpoint (projectable body, three promising pitches), and we should begin to see the potential come to fruition in 2020. 2020 Rank: 177th

89. Francisco Alvarez, C, NYM

A 54-spot leap is about as bullish as I could be with Alvarez when you factor-in his position and what it means for his sample size in a shortened season. If the Mets opt to keep their prized backstop away from full season ball (which is a real possibility when you consider his age), this ranking will almost certainly be too aggressive. Don’t worry, the tools aren’t going anywhere regardless of where Alvarez is placed this season. 2020 Rank: 144th

88. Miguel Amaya, C, CHC

From my 2020 list: “If the Cubs eventually pull the trigger on trading Willson Contreras, it’s at least partially because Amaya is on the way.” The thought of an electronic strike zone being implemented raises Contreras’ hypothetical value, yet the Cubs still LOVE Amaya internally. I slightly under-ranked the backstop this season, so a statistical power uptick in the Southern League this summer will easily allow me to right the ship in 2021. 2020 Rank: 113th

87. George Kirby, SP, SEA

I don’t necessarily see top-of-the-rotation potential from Kirby, but I also find it unlikely he struggles at all versus hitters in the South Atlantic and California Leagues this season. That means a bump will be mandated from perception alone, though I’ll admit I struggled to rank him inside my top-90 even on a projected list. 2020 Rank: 103rd

86. Daniel Lynch, SP, KC

Daniel Lynch is 1) already 23-years-old, 2) has never pitched at a level about High-A and 3) only posted a 24.1 K% between the Arizona League, Appalachian League and Carolina League as a 22-year-old last season. It’s often hyperbole, but 2020 really will be a crucially important season for Lynch’s long-term outlook. Hopefully full health and a sample from both Double-A and Triple-A are in store. 2020 Rank: 95th

85. Luis Campusano, C, SD

In 2020, Campusano simply needs to maintain the excellent gains we witnessed last season to continue to ascend prospect lists. That’ll be easier said than done in the Texas League—especially since the catcher’s statistical sample will be especially limited in a shortened season—but other than perhaps a slightly-inflated BABIP, there’s nothing in Campusano’s statistical or mechanical profile to make me think a drop-off is inevitable or even probable. 2020 Rank: 110th

84. Shane McClanahan, SP, TB

Pitching as a 23-year-old in Double-A later this summer, McClanahan will have to pitch well enough to make evaluators believe he’ll be mostly immune to the way the Rays handle their pitching staff. Luckily, I think the southpaw is good enough to accomplish that feat, perhaps even to the point he could sniff an MLB debut down the homestretch of the 2020 regular season. 2020 Rank: 124th

83. Greg Jones, SS, TB

In all likelihood, Jones will play to his track record this season; that means eye-popping counting stats and worrisome whiff rates are in store. Hopefully, the shortstop’s first professional season will also give evaluators an appropriate amount of time to evaluate Jones—a unique player—correctly. At this point, it’s assumed he’ll be a top-100 prospect this time next season. 2020 Rank: 117th

82. Brailyn Marquez, SP, CHC

I was low on Marquez this preseason for the same reason I was low on Pearson: both possess a triple-digit fastball that I’m not sure is as good as common perception. Despite that, Marquez’s slider and changeup will allow him to continue ascending this list, and I’d love to be proven wrong about the fastball. 2020 Rank: 116th

81. Orelvis Martinez, INF, TOR

Sadly, Martinez strikes me as a player who could very easily be kept at a Blue Jays facility this summer instead of being assigned to a Short Season league. If that scenario comes to fruition, a huge ascension before next season’s list is published may not be possible. I’ll happily eat crow here if that means a larger sample for Martinez in 2020. 2020 Rank: 88th

80. Zac Veen, OF, C/O 2020*

Know that feeling of happiness and contentment you get when you realize your waiter/waitress is bringing you your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant? That’s how I feel watching Veen’s swing. He doesn’t possess the same speed that helped make prospects like C.J. Abrams and Corbin Carroll from last year’s prep class so exciting, but Veen’s present and potential power pairs with a noticeable feel to hit to form a prospect dynasty players will be reaching for in FYPDs this offseason. 2020 Rank: Not Available

79. Gilberto Jimenez, OF, BOS

We know speed and bat-to-ball skills are Jimenez’s calling card. What I hope—and what those who have already seen him in person expect—we witness this season is a power uptick. Even if it’s small, it would more than confirm the outfielder may be on the path to top-50 status. 2020 Rank: 102nd

78. Erick Pena, OF, KC

I assume I’ll take some slack for Pena and Robert Puason (ranked 75th) not skyrocketing my…. imaginary…. projected prospect list for next season, but here are the facts: I would say it’s more likely than not that neither Pena nor Puason are assigned to a Rookie Ball affiliate this summer. Instead, I assume both will be kept at their respective facilities in a ‘Spring Training’ type setting. That means eyewitness reports and statistical samples would be extremely difficult to come by. I’m not going to artificially over-inflate Pena’s ranking because it’s simply assumed it should happen. Unfortunately, we might find ourselves stuck in a bit of a holding pattern with these types of prospects later this summer, grasping on to every bit of information we can get our hands on. 2020 Rank: 84th

77. Hunter Bishop, OF, SF

There’s some hit tool volatility within this profile that might mean Bishop goes in the wrong direction during his first ‘full’ professional season, but I’m a sucker for high-OBP prospects, and that’s what the outfielder appears destined to become. Scouting the stat line is almost always a bad idea, but I do believe Bishop’s batting average and strikeout rate will bring us increased clarity this summer. 2020 Rank: 70th

76. Francisco Morales, SP, PHI

Morales and Luis Medina have been two peas in a pod in my evaluations lately (they ranked consecutively on my 2020 list), but I’m giving a nod to the latter on this projected list. Don’t worry: I still have Morales 30 spots higher here than I have him in 2020. I like the videos I’ve seen this offseason that hint at smoother (read: less violent) mechanics, and the Florida State League should promote an environment of success for the right-hander this summer. I’ll yell it every chance I get: THE STUFF IS ELITE. 2020 Rank: 106th

75. Robert Puason, SS, OAK

The write-up for Erick Pena (ranked 78th) says just about everything there is to say. I would love to be wrong about how super-young teenage prospects will be handled this summer, but I suspect I’m not. If I am right, I’m hopeful we still get the information we need to justly rank players like Puason and Pena a year from now. Until then, I’ll project their near-future rankings conservatively. 2020 Rank: 81st

74. Aaron Bracho, 2B, CLE

Thought about writing ‘Positionless’ for Bracho’s defensive label above, but it looked out of place compared to other prospects on this list. I threw a ‘switch hitting Willie Calhoun’ comp on Bracho on my 2020 list, and I’m standing by that here. He’s going to mash, and I’m very hopeful a microscopic, 32 plate appearance sample in the New York Penn League late last summer will make Bracho immune to being held at the Indians’ facility this summer. If he’s stuck in a Spring Training atmosphere, this aggressive ranking will have been too bullish in hindsight. 2020 Rank: 125th

73. Ethan Hankins, SP, CLE

Will 2020—the first season Hankins has played the entirety of a professional campaign in full season ball—be the year he begins to solve left-handed hitters? Statistically, the right-hander showed the ability to miss bats and induce a plethora of ground ball contact last season. A notable improvement against lefties while maintaining his strikeout rate means he’ll debut inside my top-100 a year from now. 2020 Rank: 115th

72. Heliot Ramos, OF, SF

I kind of hate what Ramos has become. Once hailed as the next coming of Eloy Jimenez. Then, after an extremely mediocre 2018 campaign, the outfielder posted a combined, whopping 137 wRC+ between the California and Eastern Leagues last season. Despite the bounce back, ‘Future Eloy’ is an extremely unlikely outcome here. I guess we’ll simply have to settle for “pretty dang good”. 2020 Rank: 77th

71. Garrett Mitchell, OF, C/O 2020*

Fantasy prospect lists exist for First Year Players like Garrett Mitchell. This skillset consists of a developing (but still unrefined) hit tool, untapped power potential and game changing (read: legit 80-grade) speed. When you factor-in center field defense, Mitchell has a floor/ceiling combination that gives him value both in real life and across the dynasty league spectrum. 2020 Rank: Not Available

70. Luis Matos, OF, SF

Sadly, Matos will likely be one of the prospects most affected if organizations opt to keep some of their most-prized (and young) prospects at their facilities this summer. Still, it wouldn’t take too much of a sample to confirm the early reports we received last summer, which would lead to a notable rise on prospect lists throughout the industry. One way or another, Matos is a solid bet to receive plenty of steam throughout the 2020 season. 2020 Rank: 127th

69. Daniel Espino, SP, CLE

I would love—LOVE—if Espino finishing the 2019 season in the New York Penn League means he’ll be assigned to make his full season debut in 2020. There’s enough questions within this profile that it’s not inevitable the right-hander greatly improves his stock this season. But as you can see, I feel strongly that—given an opportunity in the Midwest League—the explosive arsenal will make its presence known. 2020 Rank: 114th

68. Ian Anderson, SP, ATL

Regardless of the length of the 2020 season, there’s a really good chance Anderson—if healthy—will make his big league debut this season. However, it’s unlikely he exhausts prospect eligibility, and judging by my inclination to drop him from 57th this season to 69th (nice) on a projected 2021 list, he won’t exactly light the world on fire in his first, small big league sample. 2020 Rank: 57th

67. Alek Manoah, SP, TOR

I commonly paired Manoah with Nick Lodolo throughout their draft season, but the former’s development will likely be a bit more ‘slow burn’ that the latter, who you’ll read about in the top half of this list. I assume Manoah will break camp in either the Midwest League or (hopefully) the Florida State League, where he’ll continue developing a changeup to pair with his deadly fastball/slider duo. 2020 Rank: 75th

66. Josh Lowe, OF, TB

Lowe exploded throughout the 2019 regular season and in the Arizona Fall League; now, he’ll simply need to maintain those gains in 2020 to continue rising on these lists. This time next year, I assume his write-ups on prospect lists will mostly focus on how he plans on breaking onto a Rays’ active roster that currently includes Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot, both of whom are signed with the team for the foreseeable future. 2020 Rank: 94th

65. Brayan Rocchio, SS, CLE

Luckily, even if organizations choose to hold back some of their younger prospects at their facilities this summer, Rocchio will be immune as he projects to debut in full season ball in 2020. As long as this occurs, the shortstop should continue his climb as perhaps the most powerful pound-for-pound hitter on prospect lists. 2020 Rank: 82nd

64. Vidal Brujan, 2B, TB

The big risers on this projected list will be way more fun to read about, but it’s the descenders who should really catch your eye. Brujan gets bumped down largely thanks to the convincing argument our Tyler Spicer makes in this article. To maintain his premium prospect ranking, the second baseman will need to begin to prove he’s platoon-proof offensively. With his continual woes versus left-handed pitching and as a member of an organization that’s become well-known for its unique platoons, I’m going to take the under on Brujan separating himself from the organizational pack in 2020. That leads us to the same question I asked about Xavier Edwards above. How good is a Dee Gordon comp if it comes as the strong side of a platoon? 2020 Rank: 32nd

63. Hunter Greene, SP, CIN

Driveline’s Kyle Boddy taking the helm of pitching in the Reds system will do wonders for Greene, especially since I suspect the right-hander’s fastball carried inefficient spin pre-Tommy John surgery. We’ll also get to see Greene this summer for the first time since 2018, and I’m led to believe he’ll pitch really well in the Florida State League once the minor league season begins. 2020 Rank: 87th

62. Lewin Diaz, 1B, MIA

A huge jump for Diaz reflects two things: 1) I under-ranked the first baseman this preseason, and 2) I fully believe he’s destined for a big 2020 campaign. I say it every time I get the chance: the Marlins LOVE Diaz, and I think he’ll prove the love is warranted this season. I comped the first baseman to Jose Abreu Lite on my current prospect list and am sticking to that here. 2020 Rank: 145th

61. Jordan Balazovic, SP, MIN

Balazovic slotting here a year from now would be an excellent development, especially since I’ll have the opportunity to scout the right-hander in person later this summer once the Southern League season officially begins. Continuing to ascend prospect lists also means Balazovic was able to stay healthy in 2020, which continues to be one of the lasting concerns (it’s perhaps a nitpick since the statistical output last season was so good) when you evaluate his mechanics. 2020 Rank: 73rd

60. Asa Lacy, SP, C/O 2020*

Lacy will be an interesting rank throughout the industry over the next year as we attempt to pair perhaps the best pitch combination (fastball/slider) in the draft with some mechanical nuances that lead some to labeling him as a future reliever with injury risk. The further refinement of his changeup—which I’m a bit lower on than other evaluators—-and the continued smoothing of his mechanics will play huge roles in determining Lacy’s eventual role. From a ‘raw stuff’ standpoint, the southpaw likely has the highest ceiling of any arm that will be drafted this summer; I rank him bullishly here because it’ll be the fastball that leads the way. 2020 Rank: Not Available

59. Triston Casas, 1B, BOS

For only being 20-years-old, we already have a pretty good idea of what we can expect from Casas as a prospect. I’m hopeful a shortened 2020 season in the Carolina League produces similar results for the first baseman as his 2019 campaign—without the early season hiccups and stance overhauls. 2020 Rank: 69th

58. Alek Thomas, OF, ARI

My Andrew Benintendi comp for Thomas from my 2020 list has set well with me since I published it, and there’s obvious questions the outfielder must answer (power output, stolen base efficiency) to become a mainstay in the top-50. As you can see by his ranking here, I don’t think Thomas completely eases our mind this season. 2020 Rank: 66th

57. Edward Cabrera, SP, MIA 

The Marlins are coming. Cabrera will always be overshadowed by Sixto Sanchez, but there’s actually a decent chance the former becomes a higher-upside play in the fantasy world. Miami has no reason to rush either right-hander, but we’ll approach 2021 as though it’ll be our final season ranking both Sanchez or Cabrera on prospect lists. Cabrera should continue his ascent this season. 2020 Rank: 79th

56. Luis Medina, SP, NYY

I’m inclined to believe Medina will maintain the monumental gains we witnessed at the end of last season. If he can somehow reach 100.0 IP in 2020, 55th might not be aggressive enough a year from now. Sadly, the impending shortened season will limit the samples we’re about to receive across the board. 2020 Rank: 105th

55. Joey Bart, C, SF

There’s a lot of talk about an increase in doubleheaders once (if?) the 2020 season officially begins. If that comes to fruition, there’s a good chance Bart plays a larger big league role this season than I originally anticipated, perhaps even to the point he exhausts prospect status. Looking ahead, I think it’s slightly more likely Bart is ranked with the same mindset in 2021 that was utilized in ranking Sean Murphy this preseason: like an above average catcher prospect who’s ‘made it’. 2020 Rank: 67th

54. Jesús Sánchez, OF, MIA

There’s at least a decent chance Sanchez makes his big league debut this season, though it’ll partly depend on the length of the regular season. The Marlins were quickly able to adjust fellow trade acquisition Jazz Chisholm’s swing down the homestretch of the 2019 season; Sanchez will need to lift the ball more frequently this season to rank higher than this a year from now. 2020 Rank: 55th

53. Alex Kirilloff, 1B, MIN

The noticeable (projected) drop in Kirilloff’s ranking from this season to next season isn’t as much about a flat 2020 performance (though a repeat of 2019 would lead to a bit of a downtick) as it is the increasingly blurry path to every day playing time at the big league level. I’m high on Miguel Sano (first base) this season, and Trevor Larnach (right field) is already fairly comparable to Kirilloff offensively while also possessing superior defensive skills. If we’re hoping Kirilloff can eventually become the Twins’ everyday designated hitter, that’s a tough outlook to sell long-term. 2020 Rank: 17th

52. Jordyn Adams, OF, LAA

Adams is not without his flaws, but he’s been criminally underrated on prospect lists this preseason following a minuscule, not-so-pretty sample in High-A at the end of last season. A larger stint in the California League will be a big test for his contact skills (as we’ve already seen), but I also see the ridiculously loud tools manifesting themselves a bit more in the power and speed departments this season than they did in 2019. 2020 Rank: 62nd

51. Geraldo Perdomo, SS, ARI

The Diamondbacks traded Jazz Chisholm—a prospect who was thought to be the organization’s shortstop of the future—for Zac Gallen at last season’s trade deadline. Then, they traded Liover Peguero—a young, touted shortstop prospect who was destined to battle with Perdomo for heir to Nick Ahmed’s throne—as part of the Starling Marte trade this offseason. This undoubtedly paves the way for Perdomo, who already possesses fantastic on base skills, untapped power potential, above average speed and smooth defensive skills from the six. I assume I’ll be pot-committed a year from now. 2020 Rank: 65th

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