The Crystal Ball 2021 Top-100 Prospect List

Written by: Ray Butler

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Yo, I should have started creating projected prospect lists a long time ago.

My first-ever ‘crystal ball’ list has quickly become one of the most popular reads on the site in 2020, so today I’m publishing the composite version of the projected 2021 top-100. I am leaving the ‘just missed’ portion off this composite list, but you can still read it here.

I also rambled a bit about the impact of a (likely) shortened 2020 minor league season on near-future evaluations, which will mostly affect young prospects at risk at being held at their teams’ individual complexes instead of being assigned to Short Season leagues. Amateur seasons being delayed or canceled all together will likely push collegiate players up draft boards, and it will also lead to slightly unrefined scouting reports and FYPD lists until more information becomes available.

Lastly, this season’s J2 class will be a complete crapshoot to evaluate and rank prior to this season. The International signing period (normally in early July) is being pushed back to next January, so the prospect industry will be forced to rank prospects we have *very* little information on. As you’ll read below, I’m projecting two prospects from the 2020 J2 class to make next preseason’s top-100.

On a recent episode of the Prospects 365 Fantasy Baseball Podcast, I dove into the ideology behind some of the bullish rankings on this list, and some of the bearish rankings on this list. You can listen to my analysis on Jose Garcia, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Peyton Burdick, Noelvi Marte, Alex Kirilloff and Forrest Whitley (as it relates to this list) by clicking here.

Below is north of 8000 words on how I’m projecting my 2021 top-100 prospect to look… a year ahead of time. Enjoy!

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

50. Nolan Gorman, 3B, STL

Gorman dropping a couple of spots from his placement on my 2020 list isn’t as much about me thinking the third baseman will post another mediocre offensive performance this season, despite continuing to be younger than his competition. It’s more about the realization the fantasy ceiling isn’t what we originally perceived it to be, especially if the batting average continue to sits at .250-.260 with a lackluster walk rate and a strikeout rate north of 25 percent. 2020 Rank: 48th

49. Nick Lodolo, SP, CIN

Lodolo and Kyle Boddy are a match made in heaven. I think we’ll see a more-physically developed version of the left-hander this season; factor in an improved changeup and what should be a terrific statistical output in the Florida State (and hopefully Southern) League, and Lodolo ascending into the top-50 becomes an inevitability. 2020 Rank: 74th

48. Sixto Sanchez, SP, MIA

Sanchez’s transformation from flame-throwing teenager to complete pitcher should become more visible and evident to the general prospect world this season, perhaps even ending in the right-hander’s MLB debut. Sanchez will never be a fantasy ace, but the depth of his arsenal and his understanding of how to attack hitters means he’ll be a mainstay in the Marlins’ rotation and in fantasy rotations alike. Of course, this ranking assumes Sanchez is able to stay healthy, which is far from a given. 2020 Rank: 40th

47. Shane Baz, SP, TB

Every season throughout Baz’s development is going to be important, especially with mounting opinions that the right-hander’s future, optimized role is in the bullpen. The numbers from the Florida State League this summer won’t be nearly as important as reports on Baz’s mechanics and repeatability. 2020 Rank: 46th

46. Oneil Cruz, SS, PIT

I don’t have to waste any time here reminding you of this one-of-a-kind profile. What I will say is, if Cruz can make it through 2020 with the plan of him sticking at shortstop remaining intact, the dream will be awfully close to coming true. In a perfect world, it’s an assumption this offseason that Cruz will debut in Pittsburgh early next season once he’s immune to Super 2 obligations. 2020 Rank: 54th

45. Drew Waters, OF, ATL

Waters’ 53.8 K% in 26 Spring Training plate appearances versus subpar competition was a sobering reminder the outfielder still has plenty of growing left to do. Of course the strikeout rate won’t be nearly that high in Triple-A later this summer, but the expectation should be for the outfielder’s hilariously-high .435 BABIP from last season to drop quite drastically. There will be more uncertainty surrounding the outfielder’s future value if this scenario comes to fruition, leading to a small drop on prospect lists next preseason. For what it’s worth, with a shortened season on the horizon, I do not expect Waters to make his MLB debut this season. I would love to be wrong. 2020 Rank: 30th

44. Matthew Liberatore, SP, STL

The Cardinals’ under-utilization of technology in developing young pitchers aggravates me to no end, and I’m sure this spring was a bit of a culture shock for Liberatore after beginning his professional career with the technologically-savvy Rays. That said, it’s hard to argue with St. Louis’ track record of getting the most from its pitching prospects, and I expect for Liberatore to benefit beginning in 2020. 2020 Rank: 63rd

43. Jeter Downs, INF, BOS

Downs will naturally receive some lenience in evaluations early this season as he acclimates to a new organization, but I’m much more interested in 1) the stolen base output, and 2) whether he continues playing shortstop, or if the Red Sox begin thinking ahead and place him at the cornerstone more than we’ve seen in the past. I’m hopeful more of the industry will see that Downs’ high pulled fly ball rate will suppress his on base skills a bit, but we’re still looking at a prospect who will eventually become a big league regular at minimum. 2020 Rank: 64th

42. Emerson Hancock, SP, C/O 2020*

While Hancock doesn’t have the jaw-dropping explosion within his arsenal that Asa Lacy has (Lacy was included in the #51-100 portion of this projected list), the former has the latter topped in every other fact of pitching. Hancock has the better body, much cleaner mechanics and more polish—not to mention four pitches that all have the chance to get to average or better once Hancock becomes a professional. It would be fairly shocking if the right-hander was not the first arm off the board in this summer’s MLB Draft. 2020 Rank: Not Ranked

41. Grayson Rodriguez, SP, BAL

No, I still don’t have Rodriguez overtaking fellow-Orioles pitching prospect DL Hall on this projected list (I actually think Hall will have a fantastic 2020 season), but I do have the right-hander continuing the ascension he began last season. I am very curious to see if the Orioles can Rodriguez to tinker with his sequencing while in the Carolina League—similarly to how we saw Hall pitch in 2019. 2020 Rank: 50th

40. Clarke Schmidt, SP, NYY

Things were lining up perfectly for Schmidt to play a role on the Yankees this season, perhaps even on Opening Day (he wouldn’t have stuck in the Bronx for the entirety of the regular season). With James Paxton expected back when the regular season eventually begins, we can still be hopeful Schmidt makes his big league debut later this summer before exhausting prospect eligibility sometime in 2021. 2020 Rank: 80th

39. Daulton Varsho, C/OF, ARI

There’s at least a decent chance the ‘C/OF’ designation for Varsho next season won’t be accurate, since he’ll see—at minimum— a substantial amount of time in the outfield this season. Pre-Starling Marte trade, you could make a pretty good argument Varsho would be of great assistance in the Diamondbacks’ outfield down the homestretch of the 2020 season. But with role outfielders like Tim Locastro and Josh Rojas already on the 40-man roster, we may be better off expecting Varsho to begin making a big league impact in 2021. As you can see from my aggressive bump from this season to next season, I’m not at all worried this profile may eventually lose catcher eligibility in fantasy. As a matter of fact, a full transition may prolong the speed output we’ll receive from Varsho moving forward. 2020 Rank: 68th

38. Cristian Pache, OF, ATL

Unlike Drew Waters (listed above), I do expect Pache to make his big league debut down the homestretch of the 2020 regular season. I’ve adamantly said the outfielder’s offensive development at the MLB level will be a slow burn, so there’s at least a decent chance Pache is stuck in prospect purgatory a year from now. After struggling mightily to remain efficient while stealing bases the past two regular seasons, I thought it was interesting Pache was able to swipe three bases during MLB Spring Training without being caught a single time. 2020 Rank: 29th

37. Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE

Jones should reap the benefits of being fully-healthy this summer once the minor league season begins, especially since he had offseason surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb. Opinions of the third baseman are still somewhat split throughout the industry, so it’ll be important for Jones to connect the dots on a strong campaign that will likely be split between the Eastern League and International League. 2020 Rank: 33rd

36. George Valera, OF, CLE

Like his teammate Brayan Rocchio in the #51-100 portion of this list, full season ball (following a Low-A cup of coffee late last summer) should make Valera immune from being kept at the Indians minor league complex this summer. There’s quite a bit of volatility amongst evaluators with regard to the outfielder, ranging from ‘he’s a future top-10 prospect’ to ‘I just don’t see it’. While 2020 won’t be Valera’s defining minor league season, it should give us some clarity on what to expect moving forward. In my eyes, only a slight uptick in ranking from this preseason to next preseason was appropriate. 2020 Rank: 45th

35. Simeon Woods-Richardson, SP, TOR

Woods Richardson is a big riser on this list, aided by the assumption he’s simply able to repeat his stellar performance from last season. I spoke in depth about the right-hander’s 2020 outlook on a recent episode of the Prospects 365 Fantasy Baseball Podcast. SWR could finish the season as a teenager in Double-A; at this rate, he’ll make his MLB debut before he’s able to legally purchase alcohol. 2020 Rank: 99th

34. DL Hall, SP, BAL

I’m afraid a marginal bump for Hall (47th on my 2020 list to 34th here) won’t be enough in retrospect, especially assuming the southpaw is able to stay healthy and he reverts to attacking hitters in ways that best suit his arsenal. Still, it’s hard not to be at least a little conservative after Hall posted a 15.6 BB% in 2019; I assume the walk rate will decrease in correlation with better overall results for the left-hander in the Eastern League this summer. All those buy low shares you’ve scooped-up throughout the last calendar year? They’ll pay off handsomely beginning this season. 2020 Rank: 47th

33. Jordan Groshans, 3B, TOR

Reports on Groshans from early last season were fantastic despite the fact he only played 23 games before being sidelined with a foot injury. The infielder will reward the patience of his dynasty league rosterers beginning this summer, when he’ll likely be assigned to the Florida State League. This time next season, we’ll be heralding Groshans as one of the best pure-hitting prospects in baseball. 2020 Rank: 43rd

32. Ronny Mauricio, SS, NYM

Mauricio is physically filling-out the way we anticipated he would a year ago. Now, despite his impending assignment in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League this summer, the shortstop will begin displaying the switch-hitting power that would make him one of the most exciting, droolworthy prospects in the sport. 2020 Rank: 41st

31. Brandon Marsh, OF, LAA

Marsh’s placement here is simply the effect of an underrated prospect becoming…. rated. The regular season being pushed back actually allows an elbow strain the outfielder suffered during Spring Training to fully heal without forcing him to miss any meaningful games, and Marsh’s well-rounded (yet still very loud) skillset will simply overwhelm the friendly confines of the Pacific Coast League. 2020 Rank: 51st

30. Jazz Chisholm, SS, MIA

Know why me projecting a 20 HR/20 SB campaign for Chisholm this season wouldn’t be a bold prediction? He nearly accomplished the feat last season, despite it being his worst as a professional. If he can post those same counting stats with improved on base numbers (.220 BA, .321 OBP in 2019) and a decreased strikeout rate (32.1% in 2019), a move into the top-30 may not be a big enough boost. 2020 Rank: 52nd

29. Forrest Whitley, SP, HOU

I dove into Whitley’s drop on this projected list on Episode 5 of the Prospects 365 Fantasy Baseball Podcast. If the right-hander is still prospect eligible next preseason, a drop on prospect lists feels almost inevitable. Here’s to hoping he finds repeatability in his mechanics and the same explosion we witnessed pre-2019 this season as he continues to knock on the door of big league viability. 2020 Rank: 9th

28. Tarik Skubal, SP, DET

Skubal’s rise on this crystal ball list compared to his standing on my 2020 list is partly an admission to a slight under-rank and mostly due to the fact I think the southpaw proves this summer he’s not a fastball-only starting pitcher. The increase in usage of Skubal’s slider, curveball and changeup will serve as the catalyst in the left-hander’s quest to become a complete pitcher. I can only assume the Tigers rostering three, top-30 pitching prospects by the end of the summer would be a popular topic of conversation next offseason. 2020 Rank: 86th

27. Nick Gonzales, 2B, C/O 2020*

It’s already been said many times, but the optimal outcome for Gonzales as a professional is Keston Hiura. Of course, Gonzales will first need to prove he can 1) stick at second base with fringe average defensive skills, and 2) steal bases professionally as a fringe average runner. Gonzales’ biggest naysayers will point to the friendly hitting environment at New Mexico State, but his ridiculous offensive success in the Cape Cod League has largely put those concerns to rest. 2020 Rank: Not Ranked 

26. Brendan Rodgers, INF, COL

Prospect fatigue won’t even begin to describe how we’ll feel about Rodgers if we have to rank him on prospect lists next preseason. Seeing as I find myself extremely high on Ryan McMahon in 2020, it’ll likely take an injury—in my eyes—for Rodgers to accrue the 55 at-bats necessary during a shortened season for him to graduate from prospect status. I’ll take the under, but I do think the infielder will recoup some of the luster he lost in 2019 this summer in Triple-A. 2020 Rank: 44th

25. Riley Greene, OF, DET

I would love for an 80 plate appearance sample in the Midwest League late last season to mean Greene is assigned to the Florida State League this summer. I am in the minority when I rank JJ Bleday over Greene, but a flashy, first full season from the latter in a pitcher-friendly league might incline me to re-evaluate next offseason. If I make another crystal ball list next offseason (for 2022), it wouldn’t surprise me if Greene ascended all the way into the top-10. 2020 Rank: 58th

24. JJ Bleday, OF, MIA

I’ve never understood why some evaluators penalized Bleday for a…. slightly above average offensive performance last summer in the Florida State League after an extremely long college season. Destined for Double-A to begin his first ‘full’ season as a professional, Bleday should battle with Andrew Vaughn for title of first 2019 draftee to debut in the big leagues. 2020 Rank: 56th

23. Corbin Carroll, OF, ARI

This begins a run of young outfielders who were drafted last summer. We know Carroll can hit; we know Carroll can run. For the outfielder to arrive in the conversation of ‘potential fantasy star’, he’ll need to develop average-or-better power. I think we’ll feel pretty good about that prospect a year for now, even to the point there’s at least a decent chance Carroll will jump both Riley Greene and J.J. Bleday a year from now. 2020 Rank: 59th

22. Logan Gilbert, SP, SEA

I think about Gilbert’s extension at least five times a week. The stuff will never be overly explosive, but the right-hander’s clean mechanics, four-pitch arsenal and above average command present a clear path for Gilbert to become an above average starting pitcher at the big league level. I’ll be interested to see where the right-hander is assigned this summer, and how many subsequent bats he misses once the regular season officially begins. 2020 Rank: 53rd

21. Jose Garcia, SS, CIN

Oh, yes. I discussed Garcia’s impending ascension on a recent episode of the P365 FBP, but you’re well aware the shortstop has been a hot topic of conversation on the site throughout the offseason and preseason. The shortstop’s rise to prominence in the prospect world in 2020 shouldn’t be surprising—it should be expected. And thanks to the rise, he’ll have an outside chance at breaking camp with the Reds next spring. 2020 Rank: 89th

20. Trevor Larnach, OF, MIN

A full season away from the suppression of the Florida State League should do wonders for Larnach’s power output. I’m curious if the Twins re-assign him back to the Southern League for a brief stint before promoting him to the International League before the end of the summer. Were you surprised Alex Kirilloff moved down on this projected list? Larnach is the main reason Kirilloff’s outlook is much more fluid now than it was a year ago. 2020 Rank: 34th

19. Taylor Trammell, OF, SD

In a lot of organizations, the statistical output I’m expecting from Trammell early this summer in Triple-A would lead to a subsequent call-up and a big league debut. The outfield depth in San Diego might suppress that notion a bit, but I remain bullish about the mechanical adjustments Trammell made late last season carrying over to the Pacific Coast League this summer. 2020 Rank: 28th

18. Austin Martin, SS, C/O 2020*

Watching film of Martin after reading his reports, he strikes me as a prospect whose individual tools are just good enough that—when you combine them all together—it forms a great prospect. When I evaluate a profile that’s chalked full of fringe plus tools, it’s the safety of the floor that sticks out to me first. When you pair that floor with a swing that generates natural loft, elite plate discipline and the prospect of sticking at shortstop defensively, Martin has star potential as a professional. 2020 Rank: Not Ranked

17. Matt Manning, SP, DET

Just so you know, I wrote Manning’s blurb immediately after Casey Mize’s. You can read the latter’s to see my thoughts on the effects of a shortened season for top prospects on bad teams (two spots beneath Manning’s). While it’ll mostly be about staying healthy for Mize, Manning could actually use as much time as possible to refine his secondary pitches (mostly the changeup) before debuting at the MLB level. Assuming good health, the teammates will be hot commodities in redraft leagues next season. 2020 Rank: 19th

16. Noelvi Marte, SS, SEA

I dove into great detail regarding Marte’s adjusted 2020 outlook on a recent episode of the P365 FBP, but I’ll summarize here. The shortstop being kept at the Mariners’ complex this summer would make it fairly difficult for his stock to ascend into the top-10 of prospect lists, if for no other reason than the lack of exposure. However, we do have more information on Marte than on prospects such as Robert Puason and Erick Pena, so it wouldn’t take much for the shortstop to receive a notable bump regardless of his summer assignment. 2020 Rank: 42nd

15. Casey Mize, SP, DET

While I believe the delayed start to the 2020 regular season will benefit a number of pitchers from my current prospect list, I suspect it’ll have an adverse effect on both Mize and teammate Matt Manning. With the Tigers not contending in the AL Central, both right-handers may be handled conservatively this summer, which means they may debut shortly before the end of the regular season while still maintaining prospect eligibility heading into 2021. Long term, this would mean very little, but it’s probably best to rein in expectations for Mize this season. It would be very reassuring if the right-hander were able to make it through the shortened 2020 season completely healthy, though. 2020 Rank: 18th

14. Brennen Davis, OF, CHC

What, you thought I was going to be ranking Davis conservatively in a CRYSTAL BALL PROJECTED list? No way. Those who are currently lowest on the outfielder have incorrectly labeled him as an injury concern, which simply isn’t correct when you realize he injured his hand/fingers twice last season while attempting to bunt. Assuming his 204 plate appearances in South Bend last season were sufficient, a placement in the Carolina League (High-A) will only allow his fantastic plate discipline, outstanding bat control and emerging power to shine even brighter throughout the prospect world this season. 2020 Rank: 31st

13. Royce Lewis, SS, MIN

There will likely be much more volatility to Lewis’ ranking next season compared to the three-spot drop we see here. Thing is, it’s equally likely the shortstop is able to recoup the stock he last season…. then some. I’m desperately hopeful I get to catch a Lewis series in the Southern League before he gets promoted to Triple-A later this summer. 2020 Rank: 10th

12. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, KC

Witt Jr. should be immune to the young prospects who could be held back at their respective team’s complex this summer. While that means he’ll get plenty of exposure to live looks and an abundance of reports, it’ll also be the shortstop’s first large sample as a professional. Assuming the hit tool doesn’t show many holes against pitching in the South Atlantic League, Witt’s other tools should lead to a surge on prospect lists. 2020 Rank: 26th

11. Luis Patiño, SP, SD

Look closely. It’s only a projection, but I’m ranking Patiño as the best pitching prospect in the sport a year from now. We won’t quite have the opportunity to see how well the right-hander will hold up to a ~120 IP workload this season thanks to the delay, but a mixture of graduations and the prospect of purgatory for a few, other late season debutants could form the perfect storm that Patiño can take advantage of, especially if he performs well in the Texas League. 2020 Rank: 24th

10. Adley Rutschman, C, BAL

Since I began procuring prospects in 2017, Rutschman is the only catching prospect I’ve evaluated who might prove to be immune to the ‘fade catcher prospects’ mantra that’s become widespread throughout the dynasty industry. Not only does he have a strong chance of someday becoming the first catcher off the board in redraft leagues, he also has a chance to be such a game changer at the position, he’s off the board in the first few rounds of drafts. The offensive output this summer—especially if the Orioles choose to conservatively assign him—should be nutty. 2020 Rank: 22nd

9. C.J. Abrams, SS/OF, SD

Followers have seem fairly surprised when I’ve picked Abrams over Noelvi Marte when asked to compare the two on Twitter. There’s a reason the teenager ranked more than 20 spots higher than Marte on my top-200 list this preseason, and the naysayers are about to bear witness this summer when Abrams debuts in full season ball. I’ll repeat my ‘Trea Turner upside’ comp here. 2020 Rank: 21st

8. Jasson Dominguez, OF, NYY

You’ll be able to rest easy this winter once it’s confirmed the unreal hype surrounding Dominguez throughout the past calendar year was completely warranted. Our looks and reports will likely be very limited since I suspect the outfielder will be held at the Yankees’ stateside complex instead of being assigned to the Gulf Coast or Appalachian League, but we’ll see enough to know Dominguez is already one of the very best prospects in baseball. 2020 Rank: 16th

7. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CHW

I’m guessing White Sox fans who read this list will bypass the fact their prized first base prospect will be a top-10 prospect a year from now (in my eyes, anyways) and instead bicker about the fact I ranked Spencer Torkelson a spot ahead of Vaughn. No matter. I would love to see Vaughn opening the (shortened) season in Double-A, regardless of whether or not he receives a promotion to Triple-A before the end of the summer. In my eyes, beginning the season in the Southern League would put Vaughn on track to debut in Chicago by next May or June, less than two years after he was selected third overall in the draft. 2020 Rank: 15th

6. Spencer Torkelson, 1B, C/O 2020*

One of the toughest decisions throughout this entire projected list was how to rank Torkelson in relation to Vaughn. In the end, despite evaluating a pair of bat-first first basemen, I simply think Torkelson’s offensive skills are just a tad bit louder/more explosive than Vaughn’s. In my mind, the duo will forever be attached throughout their professional careers, especially since their respective debuts should occur near the same time. 2020 Rank: Not Ranked

5. Marco Luciano, SS, SF

If Wander Franco eventually stops running like a lot of evaluators think he will (myself included), Luciano’s offensive profile—or at least his upside—will pair closely to Franco’s. And Julio Rodriguez’s, for that matter. Of course, we need to cross our fingers and our toes that Luciano gets assigned to an actual Giants affiliate this summer instead of being relegated to their complex. I’ll also be interested to see how he looks at shortstop. 2020 Rank: 12th

4. Kristian Robinson, OF, ARI

In my mind, the margin between Robinson and Luciano heading into next season will be razor thin. If I gave a strict nod to on base skills, for latter would likely slot here, but Robinson’s counting stat prowess—specifically his ability to steal bases with the toned-down figure he sported during spring, gives him the advantage by a nose. 2020 Rank: 11th

3. Jarred Kelenic, OF, SEA

Much like in 2020, the process behind ranking Kelenic below Rodriguez is simple: the latter is often praised for his well-balanced skillset, but I see more explosion and loudness when watching Rodriguez. Kelenic stole 20 bases last season, and we should closely monitor that output again this season. We should also keep an eye the outfielder’s batting average, since a sustained, pull-heavy approach (54.3% last season) likely won’t allow Kelenic to continue hitting .291 (his BA last season) in the upper levels of the minors or once he debuts in Seattle. For what it’s worth, I would have bet Kelenic graduated from prospect status had the regular season been 162 games. 2020 Rank: 6th

2. Julio Rodriguez, OF, SEA

I dove into the distinctions between Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic in the latter’s write-up directly above this one. Instead of hashing-out those details again, I’ll use Rodriguez’s space to say I do expect him to make a real push for top-overall prospect status, even with Wander Franco retaining eligibility. Regardless of whether or not Kelenic makes his big league debut later this summer, I eventually expect the pair will team-up and give the world their first real big league sample sometime next summer. 2020 Rank: 3rd

1. Wander Franco, SS, TB

It was slightly unlikely Franco was going to graduate from prospect lists even with a normal, 162-game MLB season. Now that a decrease in games feels inevitable, the infielder will almost certainly headline prospect lists again in 2021. I have been beating the ‘Wander Franco won’t be the runner a lot of folks think he’ll be’ drum since the new year, and if that comes to fruition once the minor league season begins, the gap between he and the 2nd-ranked prospect (Julio Rodriguez here) will be quite tight. 2020 Rank: 1st

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