Written by: Ray Butler
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As far as forest fires go in the prospect world, the one I started a few nights ago on Twitter was pretty spectacular.
Every prospect in baseball with “top overall prospect” potential:
Bobby Witt Jr.
Am I missing anyone?
— Prospects 365 ⚾️ (@Prospects365) April 5, 2020
Total honesty time: I only tweeted that list to give me some #content worth discussing in this article, but the replies exceeded even my wildest expectations. Scroll down to the bottom of this article if you’re anticipating my response to some of the replies I received, but you should be more interested in the discussion that takes place directly below this introduction.
In my experience, a helpful exercise when evaluating minor leaguers—whether it be for a prospect list or for my dynasty leagues—is to consider the prospects who have the potential to someday become the #1 prospect in all of baseball. As time continues to pass and I gain more experience in the evaluation world, I find the quantity of prospects who fit this hypothetical title continues to shrink as inherent flaws, positional penalties and archetype history becomes more apparent the longer I evaluate. Prospects who *truly* deserve to be on this list (and it’s certainly more individualistic than other, prospect-centered exercises you can perform) are the players that—more times than not—I’m willing to ‘go the extra mile’ for during trade talks, First Year Player Drafts, etc.
For the list you’re about to read, I narrowed the scope to *current* prospects who have the potential to someday be the top-ranked prospect in the sport. That’s #1 overall. *Current* means that 2020 MLB Draft and J2 signees aren’t eligible on this list, though prospects like Austin Martin, Spencer Torkelson, Cristian Hernandez and Pedro Pineda can certainly be on your personal list if your prospect knowledge extends into the amateur and open universe world.
Before you indulge yourself in the prospect goodness below, make sure you check out my 2020 top-200 prospect list AND my projected 2021 top-100 prospect list. Those lists are fantastic starting points for the content you’re about to read. Remember, the prospect lists I create are fantasy-focused lists, and that context is especially important in an article like this one.
Now, in descending order based on my 2020 prospect list, let’s dive in to each and every prospect who (I believe) possesses the tools and potential to someday be the top-ranked prospect in all of baseball….
2020 Rank: 1st
Why it’s possible: So the prospect gods definitely threw me a softball to begin this list. It’s possible that Franco has potential to be the #1 overall prospect in baseball because he’s already the #1 overall prospect in baseball. Mind-blowing, I know. As you likely read in my recently-published, projected prospect for next season, it’s very likely Franco will still be the top-overall prospect in baseball next preseason.
The path to #1: What’s Wander Franco during at this very moment? Taking a nap? Eating ice cream? Playing The Show? Whatever he’s currently doing, that’s his path to becoming the #1 overall prospect in baseball. The throne sure is comfortable (don’t be surprised if the stolen base output begins to diminish this summer).
2020 Rank: 2nd
Why it’s possible: So, let me explain my logic here. Adell is very unlikely to ever be the top-overall prospect in baseball. Why? Because smart money is on Adell exhausting his prospect eligibility before Wander Franco, who currently wears the crown. Despite that, it just didn’t feel right to omit the 2nd-ranked prospect in all of baseball on a list of potential top overall prospects. Also, if the baseball universe is wrong and the Rays handle Franco aggressively this summer while the Angels handle Adell conservatively, the latter would hypothetically become the top overall prospect by default. I hope that logic makes as much sense to you as it does in my head as I type this.
The path to #1: As I stated above, the path for Adell to become the top-ranked prospect in the sport is both very narrow and very unlikely. Not only would Wander Franco need to graduate from prospect lists, but Adell would need to perform admirably enough in Triple-A to ward off the other prospects you’re about to read about.
2020 Rank: 3rd
Why it’s possible: The prospect of reaching a plus hit tool and plus-plus raw power lays an eye-opening foundation from a fantasy standpoint. Depending on how aggressive you expect the Mariners to handle Rodriguez next season, he should likely be considered the odds-on favorite to be the top-ranked prospect in baseball heading into 2022.
The path to #1: A lot of evaluators are hoping we see continued development of Rodriguez’s plate approach in the near future (his approach is widely considered aggressive; the 6.8 BB% last season speaks to that). An improved approach should allow the ink to dry on a 60-hit tool, which would then shift the focus to whether Rodriguez’s raw power finalizes as a 70 or an 80. Assuming he’s able to remain in right field defensively, the final hurdle in Rodriguez attaining the top overall slot will simply be holding-off prospects like Marco Luciano, Kristian Robinson and others who will likely enter the conversation throughout the next calendar year.
2020 Rank: 6th
Why it’s possible: The meteoric, three-level rise from Kelenic last season has the prospect world on the edge of its seat to see what the outfielder has in store for his encore. The 20-year-old’s pedigree and work ethic allow even pessimists to feel decent about 1) his chances of sticking at centerfield despite only possessing adequate skills for the position, and 2) remaining a factor on the basepaths even as he ages with a thick, muscular frame.
The path to #1: Kelenic’s path to the very top is muddied a bit by the fact he projects to graduate from prospect lists around the same time as Wander Franco (sometime next season). I’m still of the belief the outfielder’s profile is a bit more high-floor than the high-ceiling statistical output we received last season; however, if Kelenic is able to repeat the .290 BA/23 HR/20 SB pace he posted last season this summer while in Double-A and Triple-A and Franco’s speed output decreases or disappears (at least a decrease appears likely), the gap between the two will be much tighter than the current perception.
2020 Rank: 10th
Why it’s possible: Lewis is the only prospect on this list to not make the original list I tweeted a few days ago (embedded below). I did consider adding him to the list that was originally tweeted but eventually omitted him thanks to the same thought process I mentioned in Jarred Kelenic’s write-up above (same MLB ETA as Wander Franco, but not currently ranked as highly as Kelenic). So what changed my mind? I’m about to ramble a bit, so buckle up. Throughout the last month, my mentions have included a tweet that said “Royce can’t hit” and another tweet that said “Royce fell off a cliff. I question why people still have him in the top-20.” The sender then, perhaps predictably, alluded to his stats from last season. Prospect lists built on statistics are built to lose. Prospect lists built on statistics are built to be retweeted into an oblivion years after the fact based on hilarity and lack of accuracy. Stop telling prospect evaluators to rethink their methodology because they’re not “looking at the numbers”, especially if the prospector has scouted Lewis in person multiple times throughout the last calendar year. If you’d like some additional thoughts, you can look up the 17-second rant from Joe Budden that recently went viral (those are his words, not mine). Yes, Lewis is currently flawed offensively. The catalysts of those flaws are loud, pre-swing hand movement and a huge leg kick, both of which leave the shortstop susceptible to elevated velocity. The numbers from last season reflected those flaws (.236 BA, .290 OBP, 94 wRC+ as a 19-and-20-year old in the Florida State League and Southern League), but they don’t reflect Lewis’ true talent or potential. Despite a below average statistical season, the 20-year-old still ranked 10th on my 2020 top-200 prospect list, which is right in-line with his current standing on other industry lists. At his best, Lewis can be a 55-hit, 60-power, 70-speed fantasy prospect at either shortstop or center field. Reaching that potential would certainly put him in the “top overall prospect” conversation.
The path to #1: There’s not too much more left to say. Lewis must quiet his mechanics if he ever wants to reach his on base potential. He’s only two seasons removed from slashing .315/.368/.485 as an 18-year-old in the Midwest League with quieter mechanics, so we know it’s in there. This feels like the right time to remind you to buy-low on Lewis in your dynasty leagues, if possible.
2020 Rank: 11th
Why it’s possible: Amongst all the prospects discussed in this article, Robinson and Marco Luciano (listed directly below) are—in my mind—the two most sexy options to eventually become the heirs apparent to the “top overall prospect” throne. Both members of that duo strike me as prospects who would have current betting odds around +400 or +500 to eventually become 1st-ranked prospect, and we’d empty the tank on that prop. Anyways, my love of Robinson is well-documented. He lived up to the hype last season and—depending on the nuances of an adjusted 2020 MiLB season—should finish his Age 19 season in the California League.
The path to #1: There’s always been skepticism as to whether Robinson will continue to be a viable threat on the basepaths as he fills-out physically, but he showed up to minor league camp this preseason trimmed-up and thin. Wiry, even. It’s evident the outfielder wants stolen bases to be a part of his skillset long-term, and he’s exerted himself to prove it. Continuing to impact the game on the basepaths (especially as he inevitably fills-out) while cutting-down on his strikeout rate (which should see some organic improvement whenever Robinson finally faces opposing pitching closer to his age) are the two main developments that would make an ascension to 1st-ranked prospect possible.
2020 Rank: 12th
Why it’s possible: Bat speed. Bat speed. Bat speed. Luciano possesses it in spades, perhaps to the point his only elder on this list is Wander Franco. Examining the tools, the potential for Luciano to eventually earn grades of 60-hit, 70-raw power is reminiscent of Julio Rodriguez, who is a little more than eight months older than Luciano but already in High-A. The bodies are quite different, but if the latter ends-up in right field (it’s assumed he’ll eventually move away from shortstop), the two prospects might be pretty dang similar from a fantasy standpoint.
The path to #1: The solidifying of fantasy-relevant tools upon debuting in full season ball is a necessity for Luciano to maintain the steam that’s been building since he debuted stateside last summer. The stolen bases in the AZL aren’t representative of the teenager’s genuine skillset, and it’s considered unlikely Luciano will be a factor in the stolen base department as he progresses through the minor leagues. Without a viable speed output and the likelihood his real-life floor is lowered by a move to third base or right field, Luciano will really have to mash to become the top-ranked prospect in baseball. It’s doable and will be well-deserved if he’s able to accomplish the feat.
2020 Rank: 16th
Why it’s possible: I’m going to publish an entire article about this, but if you haven’t pre-ordered it yet, purchasing and reading Future Value is a MUST if you’re in the prospect industry, aspire to someday be in the prospect industry or care about the development of prospects whatsoever. Amongst the many facets and stories discussed within the book is the story of the first time Yankees brass laid eyes on Dominguez. The details will all but dismiss your fears of Dominguez dynasty shares falling victim to “Maitan-itis”. The track record is present; the hellaciously-loud tools are present. Now, Dominguez simply needs experience, good health and good mentors to reach his immense potential.
The path to #1: There needs to be a carry-over of Dominguez’s talent and skills once he debuts stateside. The Gulf Coast League was likely in the cards for the outfielder assuming a normal, full minor league season; now, it’s likely he’ll be kept at the Yankees’ complex for the duration of the summer before likely debuting in the New York Penn League next summer. Dominguez is already maxed-out physically (I’m not sure the term ‘chiseled’ really does him justice), so he simply needs experience for his present skillset to manifest itself in a competitive environment. Continual good health might be the only thing standing in the way of Dominguez’s eventual climb to the very top of prospect lists.
2020 Rank: 21st
Why it’s possible: Abrams is a prospect whose fantasy potential you can immediately get a feel for by scouting the tool grades on his FanGraphs page. 70-future hit, 60-future raw power, 80-current speed. Woof. I made a comparison I absolutely love in Abrams’ write-up on my 2020 prospect list: “Remember in 2016 when Trea Turner was promoted to the Nationals and exploded onto the scene while playing center field? That could be Abrams’ career.” Abrams won’t mirror Turner’s 162-game pace of 29 home runs and 73 stolen bases (l-o-freakin’-l), but you get the idea.
The path to #1: With Fernando Tatis Jr. destined to man shortstop in San Diego for the next decade or more, it’s likely Abrams ends up center field, which would lower his fantasy floor a bit. A hypothetical move would increase the necessity of a consistently-awesome offensive output, which is certainly possible with Abrams’ tools. I’m completely game for Abrams to do battle with fellow first rounder Bobby Witt Jr. for title of “#1 overall prospect” before it’s all said and done, though plenty of other prospects on this list will have a say as well.
Bobby Witt Jr.
2020 Rank: 26th
Why it’s possible: Pedigree and tools. Witt was a notable amateur prospect long before he was selected second-overall by the Royals last summer. He’s not a flawless prospect by any stretch of the imagination, but his wide-stretching skillset (meaning both offensively and defensively) means that—despite a sketchy hit tool—the real life floor here gives Witt multiple avenues to finding success both as a prospect and at the big league level.
The path to #1: Like a lot of the prospects mentioned in this article, Witt’s hit tool will need further development and refinement if he ever hopes to reach the pedestal of the prospect world. Luckily for Witt, he’ll only need to reach an average hit tool for his plus speed and plus-or-better power to really take shape. The fact he has a strong chance to stick at shortstop should help, and I’m hopeful he’ll be immune to the recent shortcomings amongst Royals position-playing prospects.
2020 Rank: 42nd
Why it’s possible: Perhaps the most-hyped prospect of the 2019-2020 offseason, Marte already possesses intriguing raw power and 70-grade speed. In a perfect world, he’ll finalize his development while playing a premium position (shortstop) defensively. His impending stateside debut will better help us understand just how much potential lies within this profile.
The path to #1: Like many 18-year-olds, both Marte’s hit tool and plate approach are seemingly in their infantile stages. As he continues his offensive development, he’ll also need to solidify his skills at shortstop (30 errors in 63 Dominican Summer League games in 2019 simply won’t cut it longterm). If Marte can ascend through the levels of the minor leagues without being hindered by his hit tool and without being moved away from shortstop, he’ll only have to outperform and out-project most of the prospects on this list, amongst hundreds of others. No big deal.
2020 Rank: 59th
Why it’s possible: A plus hit tool, plus plus speed and plus defensive skills lay a spectacular foundation for this profile. Everyone knows the development of passable-or-better power will determine the extent of Carroll’s eventual viability in the fantasy world. The extent in which you project that development (while considering the teenager’s slight frame) will be vital in the perceived likelihood the teenager ascends to the very top spot on prospect lists.
The path to #1: Unlike so many of the other prospects you’ll read about in this article, Carroll will need to develop adequate-or-better power instead of refining his approach or bat-to-ball skills. The exit velocities are better than you’d think, so an alteration in Carroll’s swing plane—and a subsequent increase in raw and game power without a harshly converse effect on the hit tool—would give the outfielder a better overall skillset than former top overall prospect Andrew Benintendi. Instead of mentioning it specifically at the bottom of the article, I’ll mention it here: I’m not sure Alek Thomas is going to become the prospect a lot of people assume he’ll be. I ranked Carroll over Thomas on my 2020 list and also see more upside in the former’s profile, so of course Carroll was more likely to make this list.
2020 Rank: 81st
Why it’s possible: *taps on microphone while clearing throat* hello, there are still scouts in the Dominican Republic who prefer Puason to Jasson Dominguez. For the initiated, the phrase “uber-projectable, switch-hitting shortstop” probably takes your mind to Ronny Mauricio. Puason could be Mauricio with plus speed—who’s also able to unlock legitimate game power earlier in his professional career. He’s the exact reason an exercise like this can be so useful; after acknowledging the low floor associated to Puason’s archetype, you realize a prospect currently ranked outside the top-80—with no statistical track record or history of stateside success—has the potential to someday be the top-ranked prospect in our sport. Make sure your dynasty league mate is valuing him correctly.
The path to #1: The reason Puason may always remain on the outside-looking-in of the “top overall prospect” conversation is his hit tool. Long-levered and aggressive spell trouble from an evaluation standpoint, though at 17-years-old, Puason has plenty of time to outgrow his perceived, early-career deficiencies. If the teenager is able to develop an average hit tool—with plus-or-better tools in every other facet of his skillset—he’ll undoubtedly be in the conversation of #1-overall prospect.
Extinguishing the Endless Flames
Welcome to the jungle. Here, I’m going to run through some of the more common replies I received to my tweeted list of potential #1 overall prospects, commenting on a few, specific prospects while explaining the ideology behind why a few individual and a few types of prospects were omitted from the list. Away we go….
What if this list is wrong?
Let’s quickly discuss a group of prospects who were mentioned multiple times in the replies that I have some sympathy towards. If the list above wasn’t inclusive enough, the following players should be considered the main suspects to eventually ascend to the top spot on prospect lists.
- There’s no arguing that Ronny Mauricio has massive potential, and his archetype is the epitome of why minor league counting stats often don’t matter whatsoever. But our recent track record with #1 overall prospects is quite simple: if you don’t possess a viable amount of speed, you better be darn elite from a hit and power standpoint. There’s a chance Mauricio becomes a 70-grade shortstop once he finalizes his physical development, but I just don’t foresee the on base skills that would pair with the power to propel Mauricio to the very top of prospect lists. Top-10 potential? Absolutely. Just not top-1. (PS: increase that fly ball rate, boo)
- There wasn’t too many mentions of Brennen Davis in the replies to the tweeted list, but I personally feel he has an outside chance of ascending to #1 someday. In order for that to happen, he’ll to continue developing his hit tool (it will need to be perceived as plus, though I’ll admit those who are currently projecting his future hit tool as average are underrating him) and maintain his speed viability as he continues to fill out physically. The thought of him finalizing as a 60-hit, 60-raw power, 60-speed outfield prospect is not completely outside the realm of possibility, though I believe it’s much more likely the final grades are 55/60/55. A very good prospect who’s simply a little too well rounded (read: not quite loud enough) to become the best overall prospect in the sport. My love for Davis dates back a ways.
- George Valera is currently listed on FanGraphs as 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds. He possesses fringe average speed, so that’s an immediate red flag on a list like this one—especially with that frame. The 28.5 K% strikeout rate last season will drop once Valera becomes less passive at the plate; even then, a 55-hit, 60-raw power, minimal speed output outfield prospect (and that’s an aggressive outlook) simply doesn’t have the juice to give Valera the viability needed to eventually become the best prospect in baseball.
- Riley Greene falls into the same bucket as Ronny Mauricio, but from a less-premium defensive position. The consensus here is 60-future hit, 55-future raw power. Even if he eventually develops plus raw power, that 60/60 combo—with no speed threat—simply isn’t enough to be the #1 overall prospect in baseball. Don’t worry, possessing top-10 potential certainly isn’t a knock to ANY teenage prospect in the sport.
- One of the loudest clamors within the replies was for Erick Pena, who I hope the dynasty world continues to overdraft so Robert Puason (discussed above in, ya know, the actual list) slides to me. I won’t deny Pena’s floor (read: present feel to hit and polish) currently makes him a bit safer than the long-limbed Puason, but I’m not sure the upsides are comparable. From a fantasy standpoint, we should want Pena to move away from center field; though it would lower his real life floor, it would mean he’s likely nearing or arrived at his power potential. Again, even if you want to project a future plus hit tool and future plus raw power, the assumed lack of speed output makes the plus-but-not-elite projections with the bat are simply disqualifiers on this list. A common theme you’re likely noticing? Speed viability lowers the floor for the other fantasy-relevant tools. I know there will be some angst amongst readers that I didn’t include Pena in the actual list; know I’ll gladly admit I’m wrong if we arrive at that point.
- Watch some video of Orelvis Martinez from last summer, then come back and tell me how you feel about folks wanting him to be included on this list. The bat speed and ability to turn on pitches allows me to believe he may reach 70-grade raw power, likely from third base. But I can’t watch video of his swing mechanics (the inconsistent timing, varying leg kicks regardless of count and affinity to take massive hacks at just about anything and everything) and read the reports I’ve been sent and confidently wrap my head around the notion he develops anything better than an average hit tool. And that might be pushing the envelope. With no speed output to speak of, I think he’ll be lucky to someday be a top-20 prospect on fantasy lists. I’ll gladly eat crow if I’m wrong.
- Now here’s an interesting one. I think Luis Rodriguez was only mentioned once or twice in the stand-up comedy routine that were the replies to the tweeted list, but I have no choice but to admit he could make the above list wrong someday. I’ve spoken at length about the lack of information we have regarding Rodriguez in comparison to the other prominent prospects from last summer’s J2 class (Jasson Dominguez, Robert Puason and Erick Pena), and with a significantly altered minor league season likely ahead (Rodriguez will likely be kept at the Dodgers’ minor league complex this summer), I’m not sure when that issue will be remedied. But between the awesome things I’ve been told so far and the fact he’ll be developed in the Dodgers Developmental Machine, there’s always an outside chance he over-performs his early projections and becomes the best overall prospect in all of baseball. It should be noted several plugged-in outlets ranked Rodriguez over Erick Pena prior to (and after) July 2nd last year.
- Lastly, Hudson Head was a prospect who I went back and forth on as to whether to include him on the tweeted list. In the end, I simply decided that—while I cede he has potential to be a very good prospect—I can’t rationally project the loudness within this profile that would be needed for Head to become the top overall prospect. Even if he outperformed his projected, future hit tool and raw power by an entire grade, a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 60-speed centerfielder likely lands in the #5-10 range on a fantasy focused prospect list. And that is likely a 98th-percentile outcome for Head.
Approximately 57 People Thought Dylan Carlson Should Have Been Included
I assume—like most other prospect-related gripes I receive from followers and readers—the screams for Carlson to be included on this list were stat-fueled. He was never seriously considered. Quite frankly, I would be the laughing stock of the prospect industry for the next month had I included Carlson on this list. For one, he’s going to exhaust prospect eligibility long before he has the opportunity to overtake Wander freakin’ Franco (amongst others) on prospect lists. That alone was a disqualifier. But more importantly, Carlson simply doesn’t possess the skillset—nor potential—to warrant much serious consideration for a list like the one above. Chance to be a great MLB player? Absolutely. In a different year, is he a top-10 prospect? Definitely. But here’s the flawed logic amongst those who leaned on the stats to claim he belonged amongst the prospects who have potential to someday be the #1 overall prospect: even if your sole evaluation of Carlson is his statistical output from last season (.292 BA/.372 OBP/26 HR/20 SB), those numbers basically make him a two-years-older version of Jarred Kelenic, who Carlson would have to compete against to become the top-overall prospect. There’s just no logical route. Factor in the notion Carlson will almost certainly exhaust his prospect status well before current top prospect Wander Franco graduates? C’mon, man.
“Ya this makes no sense leaving Robert off. Why rank him so high but not as a potential top 1? To exclude him but include that long of a list is ignorant. Robert has become a popular fade amongst the fantasy elite, just because it’s trendy and gets clicks and arguments.”
Verbatim, that’s a reply to the tweeted list I received from a follower. Thanks for the kind words, friend. Had I made a list like this one prior to last season (or during last season), Robert would have been included. Now, he’s currently my 5th-ranked prospect and locked-in as the every day centerfielder in Chicago. When exactly is he going to have the opportunity to become the top-ranked prospect in baseball? He will be amongst the very first prospects from my 2020 list to exhaust their eligibility; his graduation will come so quickly that, if I published a midseason prospect list this year, he almost certainly wouldn’t be eligible. It’s not at all an issue with the raw tools or potential (though, obviously, I didn’t feel as though he warranted the top spot on my latest prospect list), it’s simply an entire lack of opportunity.
The problem with including Adley Rutschman, Andrew Vaughn, Triston Casas or any pitching prospect
According to Baseball America, the last catcher prospect to be ranked #1 overall on a prospect list was Matt Wieters in 2009. Before that, it was Joe Mauer in 2004 and 2005. The last first base prospect to ever accomplish the feat was Cliff Floyd in 1994 (it should be noted that Mark Teixeira was widely considered a future first baseman when he was ranked as the top overall prospect—as a third baseman—in 2003); Floyd would have surrendered first base eligibility in the fantasy world after the 1996 season. The last true pitching prospect to become the BA’s top-ranked prospect in the sport was Josh Beckett in 2002. I emphasized the word true because Daisuke Matsuzaka was the top-ranked prospect in 2007 on outlets that included him (he never played in the minor leagues stateside before debuting in the big leagues, so he would be ineligible for prospect lists on P365). Before Beckett, it was Rick Ankiel, who stood atop prospect lists in 2000.
Now, it should certainly be noted that Baseball America publishes and releases real-life prospect lists. Accounting for suppressed value amongst catchers on fantasy lists, it’s at least possible (if not likely) Mauer and Wieters would have not ranked #1 overall on fantasy focused lists that were published the same seasons. Last December, RotoWire’s James Anderson published an article outlining the best pitching prospects throughout the last decade. To my knowledge, only Matt Moore and Alex Reyes ranked as the top-overall prospect in baseball (Moore in 2012, Baseball Prospectus. Reyes in 2017, Baseball Prospectus). What round did you grab those guys in your drafts this preseason? None of the other pitchers mentioned in the article—from Stephen Strasburg to Jose Fernandez to Julio Urías—ever ranked first overall on prospect lists, regardless of the scope.
MacKenzie Gore is the only pitching prospect who has any semblance of a claim to be listed in this article. If I was projecting real-world value (I’m not) and assuming Wander Franco basically stops running and moves away from shortstop, maybe Gore’s 80th percentile outcome means accruing more WAR than Franco long-term? And remember, that’s a real-life hypothetical and Gore is the top pitching prospect in the sport. Don’t even get me started on the folks who mentioned Luis Patiño, Sixto Sanchez, Brailyn Marquez and others in the replies. In fantasy, the Gore and Franco aren’t comparable, especially since I fully expect the former to lose prospect eligibility before the latter. Seeing as I’ve never ranked a pitcher as highly as I currently rank Gore, I simply can’t see a scenario in which I’d ever rank a pitcher #1 overall on a fantasy-centered prospect list.
For some reason, several people think Nolan Gorman or Triston Casas have the potential to someday be the top-ranked prospect in baseball. Seeing as Andrew Vaughn has a 0% chance of ever being the #1 overall prospect in the sport, I’m not even sure how to categorize Gorman and Casas’ chances. -100%?
Adley Rutschman is the best catching prospect I’ve evaluated since launching Prospects 365 in 2017. I firmly believe he’ll be the best catcher—both in real life and in the fantasy world—in baseball sooner rather than later. But let’s add some context. You’d be hard-pressed to make a legitimate argument that J.T. Realmuto is not currently the best catcher in baseball. His career-high batting average is .303 (2016). His career-high in home runs is 25 (2019). We know Realmuto adds a speed component, but Rutschman won’t, so that output isn’t pertinent here. Now, let’s say—at his peak—Rutschman meets Realmuto’s career highs in the middle and posts a .300 BA/30 HR season, which would be historically-good from the catcher position. Even if you’d like to bake-in positional scarcity from a fantasy standpoint, those numbers—especially with no stolen base output—aren’t worthy of much consideration from a ‘top overall prospect’ standpoint (and .300 is likely a stretch for Rutschman at the big league level). An amazing real life and fantasy catcher? Absolutely. A redraft ADP in two catcher leagues that likely exceeds Realmuto’s 2020 price tag (48.90)? Almost certainly. Worthy of consideration as one of the very best prospects in baseball? You betcha. Worth consideration as the very best prospect in all of baseball when I can think of five prospects at other positions off the top of my head who possess a realistic upside of a .280/25 HR/20 SB player at their MLB peak? Of course not. And that’s not to mention we can’t in good conscious project that type of peak season—a campaign that would be go down as one of the best in offensive catcher history—while Rutschman remains a prospect.
Quite honestly, I’m not too sure of what this article evolved into. More than 5000 words of prospect list ideology and methodology, most of which his hidden behind the veil of attempting to predict the minor league players who already possess or will someday possess the qualities of a top overall prospect. The finer points of baseball’s finest prospects, if you will. I hope I was able to answer any questions or concerns you had about the list I originally tweeted a few days ago. I also hope you enjoyed this article half as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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