Wander Franco will have plenty to celebrate in the future. (Brian Westerholt, Four Seam Images)
Like clockwork, we’re back to release our 16th annual Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects list. As per usual, it’s slightly larger this season (now 95), and — as always — this list is our take on how these prospects rank prior to Opening Day.
This season, we’re again at 41 returnees from our 2019 rankings (matching the total from last year), while the number of players graduating to the bigs from last year’s Top 90 prospects is up to 26 (an increase of four from last year). The number of prospects dropping off the list this year (22) was exactly equal to last season, which tells us that even with the list expanding, we did a better job of identifying talent that was going to reach the next level — or at least continue to excel in the minors.
As a result, we rose to 54 newcomers (five more), which seems about right considering we the increased size of this year’s list by five.
Graduating from last year’s top 90 list (last year’s rankings in parentheses): Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (1); Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox (2); Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres (3); Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays (5); Nick Senzel, 3B/OF, Cincinnati Reds (9); Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros (11); Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals (12); Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers (15); Alex Reyes, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (18); Yordan Alvarez, OF, Houston Astros (21); Peter Alonso, 1B, New York Mets (23); Chris Paddack, SP, San Diego Padres (28); Mike Soroka, SP, Atlanta Braves (29); Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS, Colorado Rockies (31); Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves (38); Dylan Cease, SP, Chicago White Sox (40); Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays (43); Jonathan Loaisiga, SP, New York Yankees (54); Luis Urias, 2B, San Diego Padres (63); Michael Chavis, 3B/2B/1B, Boston Red Sox (68); Francisco Mejia, C, San Diego Padres (75); Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, San Diego Padres (76); Josh James, SP/RP, Houston Astros (78); Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (82); Touki Toussaint, SP Atlanta Braves (84); and Christin Stewart, OF, Detroit Tigers (87).
Dropping off the list this season: Kyle Wright, SP, Atlanta Braves (33); Triston McKenzie, SP, Cleveland Indians (37); Andres Gimenez, SS, New York Mets (44); Travis Swaggerty, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (45); Jon Duplantier, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (48); Yusniel Diaz, OF, Baltimore Orioles (50); Kevin Smith, SS/3B, Toronto Blue Jays (52); Luiz Gohara, SP, Atlanta Braves/ Los Angeles Angels (53); Jahmai Jones, 2B, Los Angeles Angels (55); Michel Baez, SP, San Diego Padres (56); Brandon Marsh, OF, Los Angeles Angels (57); Brent Rooker, 1B/OF, Minnesota Twins (64); Adrian Morejon, SP, San Diego Padres (65); Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, Texas Rangers (66); Brady Singer, SP, Kansas City Royals (67); Seuly Matias, OF, Kansas City Royals (69); Corbin Martin, SP, Houston Astros/Arizona Diamondbacks (73); Khalil Lee, OF, Kansas City Royals (74); Estevan Florial, OF, New York Yankees (77); Dane Dunning, SP, Chicago White Sox (83); Keibert Ruiz, C, Los Angeles Dodgers (86); and Justus Sheffield, SP, Seattle Mariners (90).
Now go pour yourself a super jumbo coffee and sit down to enjoy our tome of prospects.
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (16): There are a hell of lot of shortstops — particularly in the American League — that dynasty owners need to be aware of, but none is more important and could have the potential impact of Franco, who can absolutely rake (see video below). This is a future superstar, plain and simple.
2. Gavin Lux, SS/2B, Los Angeles Dodgers (NR): Lux should be among the most exciting rookies of 2020 after piling up the counting cats at Double-A and then making a mockery of Triple-A before holding his own in a 75 at-bat look with the Dodgers at the end of 2019. This kid can make things happen and is capable of spraying the ball all around the yard.
3. Jo Adell, OF, Los Angeles Angels (6): With his speed, Adell is going to score a hell of a lot of runs in a suddenly powerful Angel lineup, and he’ll bring plenty of power to the table himself. The only downside is his contact skills, which aren’t horrible, but will likely limit his BA upside for the time being. Adell is also going to provide the Halos’ lineup with much-needed balance as a right-handed bat.
4. Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox (25): Despite the fact he hasn’t see any MLB action yet, Robert earned a US$50 million extension in January, proof positive of how much the ChiSox love this kid. The Cuban born flyhawk has tools to die for, and while he’s been massively hyped now (perhaps overly, so don’t go crazy with your 2020 expectations), we absolutely love his future potential.
5. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Seattle Mariners (32): Seattle’s top prospect is now one of the game’s finest minor leaguers, nearly ready for prime time even though he won’t be 21 until July. Okay, so he’s only played 21 games above High-A, but it’s becoming more and more clear that the Mets may rue the day they dealt Kelenic to Em City. The MVP of the 2016 Pan American Games will soon be competing for awards at the major league level.
6. Mackenzie Gore, SP, San Diego Padres (17): San Diego’s first round pick in 2017 continues to rise in the rankings and is now the top pitching prospect in baseball. Last year, the 21-year-old southpaw put up video game numbers in 15 starts at High-A before moving on to Double-A, where he held his own over the final month. Gore will likely see his first MLB action by mid-season, and if last year’s 20 starts were any indication of what’s in store, it’s going to be a joy to see what he’ll do to MLB hitters.
7. Julio Rodriguez, OF, Seattle Mariners (NR): Rodriguez piled up a ton of runs at Class-A, earning a promotion to High-A where he was 30-for-65 to end the season. Seriously? How good is the Mariners’ outfield going to be soon? Rodriguez has been re-assigned to minor league camp, but if he keeps tearing it up at the higher levels of the minors, he’ll force his way up to the bigs by next year.
8. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Chicago White Sox (NR): This prospect can hit the ball a long way. Vaughn will likely start the season in the minors, but the way he raked this spring, it’s clear he could conceivably be a useful part of the Pale Hose down the stretch should the team be in contention for a playoff spot.
9. Carter Kieboom, SS/3B, Washington Nationals (34): Kieboom struggled to begin Spring Training, but his bat rounded into form before the stoppage. A bigger question is how long it will take for him to adjust defensively to third base. He didn’t hit well in his first cup of coffee in the bigs last year, but no one doubts his bat over the long haul. At this stage, Kieboom’s glove could delay his arrival as an everyday player.
10. Kristian Robinson, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (89): After barely making our list a year ago, Robinson is now a consensus top 15 prospect, and just slides into our top 10. He simply murdered the Rookie-level Northwest League last year, showing a serious power-speed combination that’s so enticing to Fantasy owners. Robinson is now clearly Arizona’s top prospect.
11. Marco Luciano, SS, San Francisco Giants (NR): Luciano had a fantastic season in the Rookie-level Arizona League last year, taking home MILB.com Organization All-Star and Baseball America Rookie All-Star honours, while being named a league post season All-Star. Oh, and he dominated this level at age 17, a debut that let the world know this kid has future All-Star written all over him. The Giants are suddenly looking like big players on the International front, and Luciano is front and centre of this resurgence.
12. Dylan Carlson, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (NR): The Cardinals top prospect is oh so close to being a major league, and his hitting this spring proved as much. In fact, he should be recalled early enough to put himself in the NL Rookie of the Year discussion.
13. Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays (NR): This recently turned 22-year-old switch hitter is already a top 20 dynasty league option at the keystone corner even though he’s yet to play above Double-A. Looking forward, Brujan has a chance to be one of the top hitters in the game.
14. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins (19): This kid can rake, so he keeps rising in our rankings, and given what he’s shown both in the upper levels of the minors and during Spring Training, Kirilloff is ready to be an above average hitter in the bigs right now, should he get the PT. Many experts prefer Royce Lewis among Twins prospects, and while we believe it’s super close, we give the edge to Kirilloff at this stage.
15. Royce Lewis, SS/OF, Minnesota Twins (7): Lewis has suffered from a bit of prospect burnout, probably because he has yet to make the bigs even though he went first overall in 2017. Of course, that’s completely unfair, but understandable. We liked him a lot more when we thought he was going to be a shortstop, and while that still may happen, the conversion to outfield began last year. Still, he played short in Spring Training and looked damn fine, also flashing some nice power at the plate.
16. Adley Rutschman, C, Baltimore Orioles (NR): There are some that have Rutschman as a top five prospect already, but we’re being a bit more cautious here because we’ve just seen catcher prospects stall a few too many times over the years. Still, he got a taste of big league action this spring, and it might not be long until he’s tearing it up in the bigs — assuming all goes right with his development.
17. Brendan McKay, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (22): After whipping through the minors, McKay made it to the bigs last year but took his lumps. Still, he has future All-Star written all over him, so it’s hard to see the Rays being able to afford him within a few years.
18. C.J. Abrams, SS, San Diego Padres (NR): Some consider Abrams the top prospect in the Padre organization, but we’re going to wait to see what he does at full-season ball before fully jumping on his train. Still, San Diego is loaded with prospects, and with Fernando Tatis Jr. manning short in the bigs, the team has an embarrassment of riches at this position. Abrams is a fantastic long-term building block for Fantasy teams.
19. Casey Mize, SP, Detroit Tigers (24): Mize is expected to join the Tiger rotation at some point this season. Detroit has rebuilt its pitching much quicker than its hitting, so keep an eye on the rotation at Triple-A this season as it features a ton of future MLB talent.
20. Jesus Luzardo, SP, Oakland Athletics (10): There are some that believe Luzardo is the second best pitching prospect in the game, but we’ve dropped him a bit this year after his injury woes in 2019. Considered by some as possibly the next Johan Santana or Francisco Liriano, Luzardo actually becomes a more attractive option should the MLB season be shortened given that he wasn’t likely to top 25 starts this year, either way.
21. Drew Waters, OF, Atlanta Braves (35): Waters is nearly MLB-ready now, and we tend to like him more than most, as many believe he’s only the second-best Brave prospect. A true homegrown talent (he played high school baseball in Georgia), the 2017 second rounder reached Triple-A by age 20 after being named the MVP of the Double-A Southern League.
22. Nate Pearson, SP, Toronto Blue Jays (NR): We like Pearson enough that we recommended him as a waiver wire pick up in July. And judging by how other worldly he looked most of Spring Training, it looks like we nailed this one.
23. Matt Manning, SP, Detroit Tigers (88): We may be a wee more bullish on Manning than some, but we’re believers after he went 11-5 with 2.56 ERA at Double-A last season. Did we mention how amazing the rotation will be at Triple-A for the Tigers?
24. Forrest Whitley, SP, Houston Astros (4): Whitley slipped significantly in the rankings this year after a rather rough, injury shortened season in the minors in 2019. It didn’t help that he was pounded pretty hard in Spring Training, but we still believe he has fantastic upside… we’ll just have to remain more patient for that to manifest itself.
25. Dustin May, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (80): Here’s a pitcher headed in the opposite direction of Whitley. May made his MLB debut last year, pitching mostly out of the bullpen, but with a few starts sprinkled in, and he showed phenomenal control while limiting opponents to a decent .250 BA. In another organization, he could be a No. 3 starter this year, but on the pitching rich Dodgers, he’ll have to wait his turn to ascend to the big league rotation. Still, expect May to make some serious noise at some point this season.
26. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Kansas City Royals (NR): This is a kid we’ve coveted since picking him up in our dynasty league when he 16 years old. Yes, we’re hardcore. Taken second overall in 2019, Witt should be arriving in KC just about the time the Royals are ready to compete again… in about two or three years.
27. Brennen Davis, OF, Chicago Cubs (NR): The Cubs’ 2018 second rounder hit the list after a very productive season at Low-A. Considered an elite athlete, Davis has 30-30 potential if everything breaks right and his skills can translate into performance. He’s a long-term project, but could well be worth the wait if your format allows you to stash prospects for a couple of years.
28. Jasson Dominguez, OF, New York Yankees (NR): Dominguez just turned 17 last month, yet is already the owner of a US$5.1 million signing bonus given to him in July by the Yankees. He’s considered very advanced for his age, so has a chance to reach the bigs much earlier than his peers.
29. A.J. Puk, SP, Oakland Athletics (26): Puk looked fantastic this spring, but injuries again reared their head as a shoulder woe caused him to be shut down. Fortunately, it seemed minor as he’s back throwing now, but all these health woes have caused him to slip slightly in our rankings this year. Mostly a fastball pitcher (his best offering), Puk made his MLB debut last year, pitching well in 10 relief appearances.
30. Cristian Pache, OF, Atlanta Braves (59): An elite outfield prospect, Pache’s best tools are his fielding and throwing, with in-game power the area he needs the most improvement on. He’ll likely see his first big league action this season.
31. Oneil Cruz, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates (NR): Injuries stalled Cruz’s progress last year, and his walk rate wasn’t as good at High-A. But once he reached Double-A, his elite walk rate returned. A 6’7″ shortstop/third baseman, Cruz is raw, but has a crazy high upside.
32. Xavier Edwards, 2B, San Diego Padres/Tampa Bay Rays (60): While his extra-base pop is still a work in progress, Edwards racked up the hits at Class-A and then High-A last year. Need steals? This dude looks like someone that will be among the league leaders for years to come.
33. Jazz Chisholm, SS, Miami Marlins (NR): Chisolm began 2019 at Double-A in the Diamondbacks organization, but was struggling to reach base consistently. Traded to the Marlins at the deadline, he remained at Double-A, but looked like a different player, dramatically improving his contact rate. We seem more bullish on him than most, but Chisholm had a real nice showing in Spring Training and is poised to take a big step forward this year.
34. Alec Bohm, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (49): Bohm spent time at three levels last year, ascending to Double-A and showing a batted ball profile that was kind of all over the map and made it a bit tough to get a read on him. At Class-A, he reduced his infield fly rate, at High-A, he hit a lot more ground balls and then at Double-A, his infield fly rate spiked. In time, Bohm will hit for a fine BA with intriguing raw power and a fine throwing arm from third. Speed won’t likely be his thang, however. We’ll know a lot more about Bohm as he attempts to adjust to the higher levels of the minors this year.
35. Luis Patino, SP, San Diego (NR): Judging by the number of infield fly balls Patino induced last year, he really knows how to force batters to miss the fat part of the bat. Part of a enviable collection of young prospects that are on the rise in San Diego, he’s capable of racking up a ton of Ks.
36. Trevor Larnach, OF, Minnesota Twins (46): In addition to being a decent fielder (with a strong arm), Larnach can flat out rake. During Spring Training he proved he’s virtually MLB ready by posting a whopping 1075 OPS, a superbly impressive showing that should have him in consideration for promotion to Minnesota should the opportunity arise this season.
37. Nick Madrigal, 2B, Chicago White Sox (41): Once camp finally ends, could Madrigal break camp with the Pale Hose? Yes, it’s quite possible (although it sounds unlikely). This is one hell of a contact hitter and many experts think he’s a top 15 prospect. We like him, but feel like his ceiling is lower.
38. Nico Hoerner, SS, Chicago Cubs (NR): Hoerner could be one of the NL’s top rookies this season after enjoying a solid half season at Double-A and then holding his own in 20 games in the bigs. If nothing else, you’ve gotta love this kid’s sense of humour (assuming this is actually him):
and this is what nico hoerner has resorted to during the sports shut down: pic.twitter.com/bbMdaLQbJf
— lyssa 🙂 (@lyyssachi) March 17, 2020
39. Corbin Carroll, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (NR): Arizona’s first round pick last year, Carroll showed some power at Rookie ball before a promotion to Low-A, where he continued to be an on-base machine. It was definitely a productive pro debut for this speedster, who is likely to be a major asset in steals once he reaches the bigs.
40. Jeter Downs, SS, Boston Red Sox (NR): A supplemental first round pick by the Reds, Downs now finds himself with his third organization after being dealt to Boston in the Mookie Betts trade. Gifted with a smooth swing, Downs was highly productive at High-A last year, earning a promotion to Double-A, where he continued to display fine power.
41. Nick Solak, 2B, Texas Rangers (NR): The Yankees’ second round pick in 2016, Solak has already been dealt twice in his career. He had a shot to earn PT in left field to begin this season, but with the campaign delayed, Willie Calhoun will likely be back before Solak gets his chance. Still, after gaining plenty of experience at Triple-A last year and then showing nice power potential in his first taste of the Show, Solak looks as MLB-ready as it gets. Now, he just needs a job.
42. Joey Bart, C, San Francisco Giants (36): There are many that believe Bart is a top 15 prospect, but we’re not quite as bullish as we’ve been fooled too many times by catchers. Still, he had a phenomenal Spring Training, recording an 875 OPS before being reassigned to minor league camp. The second overall pick from 2018 likely has a very bright future, but we do expect some growing pains as backstops nearly always have to make adjustments when they reach the bigs.
43. Heliot Ramos, OF, San Francisco Giants (85): Ramos dealt with a mild injury this spring, but nothing will hold him back once play resumes. Part of a revitalized Giant farm system, he hit well at High-A before gaining some late-season experience at Double-A. Ramos will still be among the youngest players at Double-A this season, so time is on his side.
44. Spencer Howard, SP, Philadelphia Phillies (NR): Howard has a great opportunity enjoy a breakout season for the Phillies with plenty of questions in their rotation. Last year, injuries limited him to 15 starts across four levels, but he really stepped up when healthy, putting up a sparkling ERA and showing potential as a pitcher capable of winning games. Let’s just hope for the Phils’ sake they are not forced to part with Howard in a deal to try to win now.
45. J.J. Bleday, OF, Miami Marlins (NR): Bleday, the fourth pick in the 2019 draft, was reassigned to minor league camp in mid-March and is expected to begin this season at Double-A. The power he showed in college has yet to been on display as a pro, but it’s coming.
46. George Valera, OF, Cleveland Indians (NR): Valera was highly touted in the 2017 International signing period and he’ll begin the season at extended Spring Training while he waits for the short-season schedule to begin. He’s a few years away from reaching the bigs, but even at the mere age of 18, he’s tremendously advanced, so don’t be shocked if he makes a rapid ascension through the Tribe’s system.
47. Sixto Sanchez, SP, Miami Marlins (14): The key component the Marlins received in the J.T. Realmuto trade, Sanchez was healthier last year, but saw his ERA rise a quarter of a run from 2018. This is a very important year for the 21-year-old Dominican as we’ll get a clearer idea of his ceiling.
48. Michael Kopech, SP, Chicago White Sox (13): Kopech dropped on our list this year after undergoing TJS in 2018. The righty has been very impressive this spring, and while he’s been farmed out to Triple-A to begin the season as he completes his recovery, by the time the season begins he could be ready to hit the Show. When Kopech does arrive, he’ll really add depth the ChiSox rotation.
49. Nolan Gorman, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals (39): Contact issues have caused us to lower Gorman a bit in this year’s rankings. He’s young enough to figure it out, and he did gain some valuable experience in full-season ball last year. This season will be huge for Gorman’s future prospects. There’s power and real potential here.
50. Riley Greene, OF, Detroit Tigers (NR): Greene put on a nice show in Spring Training, but he’s very unlikely to provide any value this season. Detroit’s first round pick from last year really opened some eyes this spring, so it will be very interesting to see how aggressive the Tigers are with his minor league assignment this season. Greene looks like a future All-Star.
51. Alek Thomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (NR): Arizona is kind of loaded with outfield prospects, meaning that Thomas could wind up as a trade chip. But a season after hitting very well at Class-A before experiencing a bit of growing pains with his extra-base pop at High-A, he’s put himself on the map in a big way.
52. Sean Murphy, C, Oakland Athletics (NR): Murphy was recalled to make his MLB debut last year because the A’s thought he could actually help them get into the playoffs. He gained some valuable experience which should stead him well as he enters his rookie campaign in 2020.
53. Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies (8): Rodgers was one hot commodity a year ago, but he’s plummeted in the rankings now after an injury plagued season that included struggles in his first taste of the bigs. The good news is he gained more experience at Triple-A; the bad news is that a shoulder woe has him sidelined again, but Rodgers will benefit from the delayed start, so he should be ready to go once action resumes.
54. Grayson Rodriguez, SP, Baltimore Orioles (NR): The Orioles finally seem they have some exciting pieces for the future, and Rodriguez is front and centre among them. Just 20, the former Texas high school star won’t be an immediate part of this team, but after being a big winner in his first try at full-season ball, he is someone to track closely this year.
55. Taylor Trammell, OF, Cincinnati Reds/San Diego Padres (62): There are those that believe Trammell is not even a top 100 prospect, but we disagree, and have even bumped him up the list a bit this year. He was invited to Padres’ training camp and put on a hell of a show, making us think he’s closer to the bigs than his pedestrian 2019 numbers suggest. We’re expecting a highly productive season from Trammell in 2020. The Reds may regret dealing this kid.
56. Ryan Mountcastle, 1B, Baltimore Orioles (61): This dude has some serious power, but unfortunately it didn’t show much during a meh spring showing. Still, after gaining experience in a fantastic year at Triple-A at 2019, he’s sure to make his MLB debut at some point this season, although will begin the season back at Triple-A.
57. Josiah Gray, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (NR): The Dodgers’ No. 3 prospect, Gray is a very good looking 22-year-old righty that was taken in the second round in 2018. He’s athletic and can bring the heat and really the only worry here is his smallish size, which makes you wonder if he’ll wind up in the bullpen. Gray has an outside shot to make his MLB debut this year and looks poised to provide a great return considering he was acquired in the Homer Bailey deal.
58. Jordan Groshans, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (NR): Despite missing most of last season with a foot injury, Groshans jumped onto the list after simply killing it in the Midwest League before he got hurt. He’s reportedly fully healthy now, and if he can continue to rack up the total bases, he should advance up the ladder quickly. Expect Groshans to arrive in the bigs for 2022.
59. Tarik Skubal, SP, Detroit Tigers (NR): We did mention that Detroit is suddenly loaded with young pitching prospects, right? Skubal will begin the season at Triple-A after he was moved up from High-A despite a lackluster record. At Double-A, he again struggled to put together a good record, yet he whiffed 17.4/9. No, that’s not a typo.
60. Jorge Mateo, SS, Oakland Athletics (NR): After falling off the prospect map after 2018, Mateo re-established himself by piling up the runs at Triple-A. He’s now put himself in the mix at second base in Oakland, and given that he’s out of options, he seems a very strong bet to make his MLB debut this year — finally!
61. Jordyn Adams, OF, Los Angeles Angels (NR): The Halos’ first rounder in 2018, Adams is considered by many to be the team’s No. 3 prospect, but for our money, only Adell is more intriguing. Last year, Adams showed developing extra-base power at Class-A before gaining some late-season experience at High-A. He’s one of those raw, two-sport athletes with the speed to be a serious menace when he gets on base. We love his upside.
62. Hunter Bishop, OF, San Francisco Giants (NR): One of several advanced hitting prospects the Giants have horded, even though he just made his pro debut last year, Bishop could see his first MLB action this year or in 2021. The 10th overall pick in last year’s draft is clearly on the fast track.
63. Daulton Varsho, C, Arizona Diamondbacks (71): The consensus No. 4 prospect in the Arizona system, Varsho moved up from No. 71 on our Top 90 Fantasy Baseball Prospects a year ago, when we said he was part of the next wave of catching prospects. The problem is, he may not be behind the plate much longer. The good news is, he has the potential to hit for a very nice BA and be a 20-20 dude in time. So even if Varsho moves to the outfield (which, admittedly, will soon be getting crowded in Arizona), we love his future.
64. Logan Gilbert, SP, Seattle Mariners (NR): Gilbert is a tall (6’6″), 22-year-old righty who remained at Spring Training before shutdown, so still has a shot at breaking camp with the team (although he’s probably going to begin the season in the minors). Last year, he looked untouchable in five starts at Class-A, racked up the wins at High-A and then continued to look strong in gaining 50 innings of experience at Double-A. If this trend continues, expect to see Seattle’s top pitching prospect in Em City by season’s end.
65. Brent Honeywell, SP, Tampa Bay (20): Incessant injury issues have caused Honeywell’s stock to drop, but he remains a solid prospect. The righty is finally on the comeback trail, and is likely helped by the stoppage in play as he’s currently ramping up to two bullpen sessions per week. The Rays have a nice looking rotation right now, but Honeywell is definitely in the mix to join it at some point this season.
66. Monte Harrison, OF, Miami Marlins (79): Injuries slowed Harrison last year, but he still managed to move up to Triple-A for the first time and looked pretty damn good in gaining experience at the minor’s highest level. Many are not nearly as high on him as we are, but the fact he’s still in camp and has a legitimate shot at making the team excites us. Even if Harrison starts back at Triple-A, it won’t be for long, as he’s likely the first outfielder called up when injury strikes. At this stage, defensively, he’s ready, but the bat? It still needs some seasoning.
67. Brusdar Graterol, SP, Minnesota Twins/Los Angeles Dodgers (51): A portly (6’1″, 265 pounds) righty, Graterol was almost sent to the BoSox as part of the Betts trade, but wound up with the Dodgers instead as Boston was concerned with his medical history. Graterol made his MLB debut last year, pitching solely in relief, and the fact that this may be his future in the bigs has caused him to dip in our rankings a tad. Still, the MLB experience he got last year should stead him well, and he could very well have the stuff to close in time.
68. Nolan Jones, 3B, Cleveland Indians (NR): There a lot of teams that would kill to get a third base prospect like Jones. He’s quickly become a very important building block for the Tribe, and while we don’t agree with many that have him already in the top 50, he has shown tremendous on-base skills through 340 minor league games so far. Still, his performance in this — his first Spring Training with the big boys — proves he still needs seasoning. We do love Jones’ advanced approach at the plate, and think he’s going to be a real stud in OBP leagues perhaps as early as 2021.
69. Gilberto Jimenez, OF, Boston Red Sox (NR): Burner Jimenez rates out as an 80 on the scouting scale for his speed, but power? That’s another story. Jimenez delivered plenty of extra-base knocks at Rookie-ball, but mostly driven by his speed to leg out double and triples. Last year, he moved up to Low-A and continued to pile up the runs, but was limited by injury. It will be very interesting to see how Jimenez fares at full-season ball in 2020. This will dictate how far he moves up on this list… or if he even stays on it for 2021.
70. Seth Beer, OF, Houston Astros/Arizona Diamondbacks (72): As if Arizona wasn’t loaded enough with outfield prospects, it landed Beer at the trade deadline in the Zack Greinke deal. We like Beer more than most, and have slightly bumped him up the list this year even though he struggled in Spring Training and was sent down to minor league camp. The fact remains, however, that if he stays in the Arizona system, he’s kind of blocked at both first and outfield (and he’s not exactly a great gloveman). If Beer is going to reach his potential, he’ll have to make a commitment to his fitness and mobility.
71. Austin Hays, OF, Baltimore Orioles (81): Hays is another flyhawk that moved up the list this year and now he’s ready to take over as the everyday centrefielder for the O’s. Last year, he earned another 75 plate appearances in Baltimore, this time with much better results. Hays’ biggest strengths are his raw power and arm, while his hit tool and in-game power should improve in time. Talk that he may hit leadoff buoys our hopes for a breakout.
72. Jake Fraley, OF, Seattle Mariners (NR): Fraley piled up the runs at Double-A before seeing his walk rate dip at Triple-A. He earned a brief look with the Mariners, but was unable to flash any power in his MLB debut. Still, Fraley has a real shot to break camp with the team and take over the starting LF job this year, so he definitely bears consideration.
73. Jesus Sanchez, OF, Tampa Bay Rays/Miami Marlins (42): Acquired by the Marlins at the trade deadline in the Trevor Richards deal, Sanchez had a season of mixed results causing him to dip in our rankings. Sanchez showed decent speed at Double-A, but was highly unproductive after a promotion to Triple-A. After the trade, he remained at Triple-A, and while he hit a bit better, the speed went AWOL. Sanchez is young enough to rebound, but he’ll need to adjust to Triple-A before he gets a sniff of the bigs.
74. Deivi Garcia, SP, New York Yankees (NR): Garcia was a candidate for the final rotation spot on the Yankees this season, but the season delay may change those plans. Still, the way he shot through the Yanks’ system last year was impressive, although his 5.40 ERA at Triple-A definitely suggests he’d benefit from a bit more time in the minors. With this in mind, Garcia is scheduled to begin the campaign at Double-A.
75. DL Hall, SP, Baltimore Orioles (NR): Despite a massive boost in K/9, Hall’s command weakened at High-A last year. The young southpaw was asked to work on all his pitches, so take his 2019 results with a grain of salt, as it was done with the bigger picture in mind. Expect to see a much more confident and polished Hall this season.
76. Jonathan India, 3B, Cincinnati Reds (47): After putting up some nice counting cats at High-A and then gaining some reps at Double-A, India is likely within a year of contributing in the majors (although given his pedestrian showing this spring, he’s not exactly forcing the issue). At High-A he drove the ball the other way more, but that number went way down at Double-A, where his flyball rate also dropped lower than usual.
77. Triston Casas, 1B, Boston Red Sox (NR): Some consider Casas to be Boston’s top prospect, but we’re a little less bullish on him. He’s a massive dude (6’5″, 240 pounds) with power, but he was prone to infield flies at Class-A before correcting that issue at High-A (albeit, in a tiny sample size). Still, big 19-year-old kids that bash 20 homers need to be tracked.
78. Brailyn Marquez, SP, Chicago Cubs (NR): Okay, so he’s not much a fielder, but man, the way Marquez emerged as a pitcher last year, he didn’t really need much fielding help. He was a big winner at Class-A and then was untouchable in a five-start stint at High-A. Marquez is now likely on the fast track to Wrigley Field and is highly likely to soar up this list by 2021.
79. Ian Anderson, SP, Atlanta Braves (70): Anderson is part of a group of young Brave hurlers that has pretty much paid its dues in the minors and is now awaiting a shot in the bigs. We dropped him on our list this year (perhaps because of prospect burnout), but you could easily make the argument that he should be even higher after enjoying a nice record at Double-A before earning his first taste of Triple-A.
80. Jordan Balazovic, SP, Minnesota Twins (NR): There are those that are higher on Balazovic than us, but we’re withholding full judgment until he reaches Double-A. Much like most of the Twinkies’ top pitching prospects, this Mississauga, Ont.-born kid was drafted out of high school. Balazovic improved his ERA at Class-A last year, earning a promotion to High-A, where his winning percentage continued to be strong.
81. Greg Jones, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (NR): Some experts have Jones close to the top 50, but we’re waiting to see more. Still, Tampa Bay’s first rounder last year had an impressive pro debut at Low-A. Jones looks like a future everyday player with great speed, but we have our doubts about how productive he’ll be.
82. Evan White, 1B, Seattle Mariners (NR): White could be a decent Fantasy backup as a rookie, and the fact that Seattle already gave him a big contract suggests he’ll have plenty of rope with this job. The Kentucky product will be 24 next month after being taken in the first round by Seattle back in 2017. White’s put in his time at Double-A and is ready to show what he can do in the bigs.
83. Matthew Liberatore, SP, Tampa Bay Rays/St. Louis Cardinals (58): A year after being taken in the first round by the Rays, Liberatore was shipped to the Cards in the Jose Martinez trade. Libertore had a solid full-season ball debut last year, posting a strong ERA that led some to believe he’s a top 30 prospect. But leaving the Rays is never a good thing for a pitching prospect, so we’re going to wait to see what the southpaw does in the St. Louis system.
84. Ronny Mauricio, SS, New York Mets (NR): Mauricio is another prospect most are higher on than us. Still, he’s only 18 (turning 19 early next month), so he’s got a long way to go. After gaining valuable experience in full season ball, Mauricio is likely to be driven very hard by the Mets this year. Still, the team has a few solid middle prospects, so he’ll need to fight his way to the bigs.
85. Brett Baty, 3B, New York Mets (NR): The Mets’ first rounder last year, Baty destroyed the GCL to the tune of a .350 BA in games, earning a quick promotion to the Rookie-level Appy League. We tend to be higher on him than most, but we love that 115 wRC+ he put up in his first pro season. Baty was a tad older (and much bigger) than the competition in high school, so he’ll need to prove himself at full-season ball to truly stamp his status as a top prospect. He’ll likely begin the season at Low-A, but the plan is to fast-track him, so we’ll know a lot more very soon.
86. Alexander Canario, OF, San Francisco Giants (NR): Canario is another prospect that some list closer to the top 50 than we do, but we’re waiting to see how he performs at full-season ball before fully buying in. Still, after just 10 games of Rookie-ball (and a .395 BA), it was clear he was ready for a higher level, so the Giants bumped him up to Low-A, where he was extremely productive. Canario looks ready for another big jump this year.
87. Sam Hilliard, OF, Colorado Rockies (NR): Hilliard is in the mix for playing time in left field in Colorado this season after a strong debut last year in which he put up some solid numbers and showed good base running instincts. He’s not young, so the upside is limited, but a potential power bat in Coors? Sign us up. Hilliard could prove very productive.
88. Luis Garcia, SS, Washington Nationals (NR): Garcia didn’t exactly tear up Double-A last year, but he was gaining higher level minor league experience at the age of 19. The consensus No. 2 prospect for Washington reportedly showed up at camp this year at lot larger, so he may be ready to turn his potential into results this season.
89. Luis Matos, OF, San Francisco Giants (NR): Man, the Giants sure are headed in the right direction with their development. Matos is another prospect many put closer to the top 50, but given that he just enjoyed his first professional experience at two Rookie-ball levels last year, we want to see more. Still, this 18-year-old Venezuelan is a central figure in San Franciso’s superb 2018 class of international signings.
90. Mitch Keller, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (27): Keller is still viewed by some as a top 35 or 40 prospect, but after he had a pretty lousy MLB debut (despite a nice K rate), he’s clinging to his spot on our list. Still, he pitched much better than his ERA suggested, so makes for a very intriguing post-hype sleeper. Keller may yet be a future All-Star, perhaps sooner than you think.
91. Tyler Freeman, SS, Cleveland Indians (NR): At the tender age of 20, Freeman is already a top 50 dynasty option at shortstop, although he’s another prospect we’re not quite as high on as some. A competitive balance pick in 2017, he led all Indian farmhands in base knocks last year, but we’re waiting to see what he’s capable of once advancing past A-ball. Freeman will likely begin this season at High-A, so it’s very possible he’ll reach Double-A before season’s end, and if he continues to excel, he’ll make a push towards the top half of this list. As for the bigs, he’s someone to think about for 2021 or later.
92. Hunter Greene, SP, Cincinnati Reds (30): Greene plummeted on the list thanks to Tommy John surgery he underwent in early April last year. However, he’s recovered now to the point he’s throwing bullpen sessions and is definitely one of those players that will benefit from the delayed start of the season. Despite the tumble, Greene still ranks as the No. 2 prospect for the Reds, and is expected to begin his campaign at High-A.
93. Sherten Apostel, 3B, Texas Rangers (NR): Acquired from the Pirates in the Keone Kela deal two years ago, Apostel opened a lot of eyes with his play this spring. Last year, Apostel gained over a half season worth of experience at Class-A before getting promoted to High-A, where he was unable to put up the same level of production. Still, it was an impressive season of progression for the just turned 21-year-old, so perhaps he’ll soon be ready for Double-A.
94. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates (NR): Hayes, a former Texas high school star (and participant in the Under Armour 2014 All America Baseball game), looks ready to make some kind of Fantasy impact in the bigs this year after gaining his first Triple-A experience last season. He has intriguing power-speed upside which makes us wonder if he has All-Star potential.
95. Noelvi Marte, SS, Seattle Mariners (NR): Here’s a kid that just squeaked onto our list this year, but could easily soar up the charts 12 months from now. At the age of 17, he gained valuable experience in the Dominican Summer League, putting up some very impressive numbers. There are some that have Marte way up the list, but we’re always a tad cautious at overblowing DSL performance. The other issue here is, unless his glovework improves, he’s unlikely to remain at shortstop. Still, Seattle found a good one in this kid in the 2018 international signing period.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
American girl group The Shirelles were active from 1957 to 1982. The band’s debut album, Tonight’s the Night, was released in 1960, and the big hit from this was “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” co-penned by the great Carole King.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below what you think of our list this year. Who’s too high? Too low? Missing or undeserving?