2018 Top 100 KATOH Prospects

Below is KATOH’s 2018 top-100 prospect list. If you’re a regular FanGraphs reader, you likely know the drill by now. But in case you need a refresher, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for a player’s first six major-league seasons. It incorporates age, offensive performance, defensive performance, and other characteristics from the past two seasons. There are certainly drawbacks to scouting the stat line, but due to their objectivity, the projections can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated.

I have made a few updates this time around. KATOH now features:

  1. The batted-ball data (for both hitters and pitchers) available on our awesome leaderboards. Among other things, this helps KATOH differentiate between fluky and un-fluky high- and low-BABIP hitters.
  2. A greater reliance on recent data for the construction of the model and less dependence on data points from 10-plus years ago.
  3. Numbers from the Dominican Summer League, which was previously outside of KATOH’s scope

Astute readers might notice that this article does not include a top-100 for KATOH+, the version of KATOH that incorporates scouting grades in addition to the stats. Since Kiley and Eric are still working their way through the organizational lists, I don’t have up-to-date FV grades for every prospect. Rather than plugging in FV grades from a year ago (or more), I am holding off on KATOH+ for now.

Below is a top-100 list that considers all prospects who recorded at least 200 minor-league plate appearances or batters faced last year. Below that is a short list of players with 100-199 PA/BF whose small-sample performances yielded a top-100 projection. Enjoy!

KATOH’s 2018 Top 100 List
Rank Name Team Position WAR*
1 Ronald Acuna ATL CF 13.3
2 Carson Kelly STL C 12.1
3 Michael Kopech CHW RHS 11.8
4 Kyle Tucker HOU CF 11.3
5 Fernando Tatis Jr. SD SS 10.6
6 Zack Granite MIN CF 10.4
7 Bo Bichette TOR SS 10.3
8 Trent Grisham MIL RF 10.1
9 Jake Bauers TB LF 10.1
10 J.P. Crawford PHI SS 9.7
11 Lewis Brinson MIA CF 9.3
12 Triston McKenzie CLE RHS 9.3
13 Willy Adames TB SS 9.1
14 Gleyber Torres NYY SS 8.9
15 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR 3B 8.8
16 Daz Cameron DET CF 8.3
17 Jake Rogers DET C 8.2
18 Ke’Bryan Hayes PIT 3B 8.0
19 Cole Tucker PIT SS 7.9
20 Luis Urias SD SS 7.7
21 Willi Castro CLE SS 7.7
22 Alex Verdugo LA CF 7.7
23 Royce Lewis MIN SS 7.6
24 Nick Senzel CIN 3B 7.6
25 Forrest Whitley HOU RHS 7.3
Rank Name Team Position WAR*
26 Tyler Wade NYY SS 7.3
27 Austin Meadows PIT CF 7.2
28 Wes Rogers COL LF 7.2
29 A.J. Puk OAK LHS 7.2
30 Harrison Bader STL CF 7.0
31 Yordan Alvarez HOU LF 6.9
32 Mitch Garver MIN C 6.7
33 Alexander Canario SF RF 6.7
34 Francisco Mejia CLE C 6.7
35 Victor Caratini CHC C 6.7
36 Brent Honeywell TB RHS 6.5
37 Franklin Barreto OAK SS 6.5
38 Dustin Fowler OAK CF 6.4
39 Victor Robles WAS CF 6.3
40 LaMonte Wade MIN LF 5.7
41 Franchy Cordero SD CF 5.7
42 Mike Soroka ATL RHS 5.6
43 Alec Hansen CHW RHS 5.6
44 Scott Kingery PHI 2B 5.6
45 Jack Flaherty STL RHS 5.6
46 Mitch Keller PIT RHS 5.5
47 Anthony Alford TOR CF 5.5
48 Cole Ragans TEX LHS 5.2
49 Mike Tauchman COL CF 5.1
50 Anthony Banda ARI LHS 5.1
Rank Name Team Position WAR*
51 Danny Jansen TOR C 5.1
52 Blake Perkins WAS CF 5.1
53 Leody Taveras TEX CF 5.0
54 Josh Lowe TB CF 5.0
55 Walker Buehler LA RHS 5.0
56 D.J. Stewart BAL LF 5.0
57 Jacob Stallings PIT C 5.0
58 Garrett Hampson COL 2B 5.0
59 Kyle Young PHI LHS 5.0
60 Tanner Scott BAL LHR 5.0
61 Charcer Burks CHC LF 5.0
62 Chance Adams NYY RHS 5.0
63 Ryan Castellani COL RHS 4.9
64 Michel Baez SD RHS 4.8
65 Chris Flexen NYM RHS 4.7
66 Stephen Gonsalves MIN LHS 4.7
67 Bryse Wilson ATL RHS 4.7
68 Luiz Gohara ATL LHS 4.7
69 Jay Groome BOS LHS 4.7
70 Dylan Cozens PHI RF 4.6
71 Yu-Cheng Chang CLE SS 4.6
72 Oscar Mercado STL CF 4.5
73 Lolo Sanchez PIT CF 4.4
74 Austin Hays BAL CF 4.4
75 Daulton Varsho ARI C 4.4
Rank Name Team Position WAR*
76 Cristian Pache ATL CF 4.4
77 Corbin Burnes MIL RHS 4.4
78 Zac Lowther BAL LHS 4.4
79 Eloy Jimenez CHW RF 4.4
80 Brett Sullivan TB C 4.4
81 Yairo Munoz STL SS 4.4
82 Jose Siri CIN CF 4.3
83 Brandon Woodruff MIL RHS 4.3
84 Tyler Mahle CIN RHS 4.3
85 Chance Sisco BAL C 4.3
86 Will Smith LA C 4.3
87 Jon Duplantier ARI RHS 4.3
88 Taylor Trammell CIN LF 4.2
89 Colin Moran PIT 3B 4.2
90 Eric Skoglund KC LHS 4.2
91 Ryan McMahon COL 1B 4.2
92 Joey Wentz ATL LHS 4.2
93 Jordan Humphreys NYM RHS 4.1
94 Ian Anderson ATL RHS 4.1
95 Freddy Peralta MIL RHS 4.1
96 Zack Littell MIN RHS 4.1
97 Pedro Avila SD RHS 4.1
98 Andy Yerzy ARI C 4.1
99 Mitchell White LA RHS 4.0
100 Mauricio Dubon MIL SS 4.0
*WAR projection for player’s first six major-league seasons.


Small-Sample KATOH Darlings
Name Team Position WAR*
Heliot Ramos SF CF 9.1
Eddy Diaz COL SS 5.5
Kevin Merrell OAK SS 5.3
Christian Arroyo TB SS 5.3
Mason Martin PIT 1B 4.9
Reese McGuire TOR C 4.3
Danny Drullard TEX RF 4.2
Yasel Antuna WAS SS 4.1
*WAR projection for player’s first six major-league seasons.

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. He's also on the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell None of the views expressed in his articles reflect those of his daytime employer.

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6 years ago

Willie Calhoun? Is he not eligible for this list since he had some big league at bats?

6 years ago
Reply to  raygu

Granite has more PA so too many at bats is definitely not the reason. Apparently, Katoh doesn’t believe in Calhoun

6 years ago
Reply to  raygu

I’m guessing that even if you peg him as a DH that hits a 115 WRC+, it’s still REALLY hard to put up more than one win as a DH.

6 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mitchell

will he be ranked in KATOH+? He was ranked in the midseason KATOH+ list.

6 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mitchell

I appreciate the work you put into this, but at the point where height and a defensive position that he probably won’t play knock him off the list, you may need some tweaks.

6 years ago
Reply to  RonnieDobbs

and he will DH and play LF this year. It is well documented that he can’t play 2B…..but the bat….

6 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mitchell

It is not accurate that he doesn’t walk. He has posted decent walk rates in the minors – hes not Tim Anderson. 30 AAA HR is probably close to 40 in MLB given the environment. I am totally fine with you being down on him – I am not certain that he will be anything myself. Just saying that height and bottom of the defensive spectrum value are looking over-weighted.

6 years ago
Reply to  RonnieDobbs

I mean, part of the reason they knock him off is because they are predictive. The guy can’t play the field either way and because short guys have less of a track record of success.

All that said, I think scouts probably take into account on the height thing even more than KATOH does (to the point of over-correction). you almost never see little guys on prospect lists, and Calhoun was on last year’s list.

6 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Everyone is free to value players as they like. I don’t make any bones about this method being my least favorite. I am just trying to help improve the process. I don’t know that there are a bunch of short players that don’t succeed because of their height – I can think of a bunch of them – Albies, Altuve, Betts, Stroman, etc. Many of the best players of all time are under 6 feet, including Willie Ways and Jackie Robinson. It is more that short players don’t get drafted in the first place, than that they fail because of the height issue. Scouting doesn’t get easier than looking at the program or team website. There could be a height side of prospecting that I don’t know about… but I don’t know about it.

6 years ago
Reply to  RonnieDobbs

I don’t disagree with you overall that height is seriously overrated, at least for hitters.

But I don’t think you understand how KATOH works. It is a quantitative model, and it shows there is a positive association between height and success at the major league level. Moreover, KATOH penalizes hitters less for their height than traditional prospect evaluation (guys like Albies and Betts do well in this system).

In short, you’re picking on the wrong system for this, and to the extent you are picking on the system it is unjustified.

Socrates Johnson
6 years ago
Reply to  RonnieDobbs

Because KATOH is really going to love a DH only prospect lol.

6 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mitchell

er…maybe you haven’t followed Calhoun. He played LF for the Rangers after they traded for him. And the plan if for him to compete for the LF job this spring. There’s no talk of him at 2B, so not clear why that’s relevant to his ranking.

In re height…I get why for a younger prospect you’d that into account. In general terms there is a correlation between height and eventual success. But how many short players with Calhoun’s level of offensive production through the AAA level don’t perform as well as taller players with the same level of production? You’d really have to show your work (or Katoh’s work) to convince anyone that that’s a legit ding with a guy who can flat-out hit at his height.

That said, after that negativity, I have to add that really love what Katoh brings to the table and the way you seem to tweak it continuously. I really believe it illuminates some players in interests ways. In re continuing tweaks, though…you might want to look at the height variable.

6 years ago
Reply to  anthonydw

The height variable has been looked at, which is why it’s in the model, positively correlated with success.

The author is not projecting Calhoun to play 2B, but rather explaining that one of the inputs into the model (defending) is very poor in Calhoun’s body of work because of some very poor defending at 2B.

6 years ago
Reply to  ThomServo

the full quote from the author is: “his defense at 2B is poop.”

It is is what it is: you can make stuff up or you can address the points I made or the points the author made. You can’t pretend though….

6 years ago
Reply to  anthonydw

I don’t think you get it. Left field is a full win lower on the defensive spectrum over a full season. An average corner-outfieler is as valuable on defense as a poopy second baseman. It’s not like he gained value by moving down the defensive spectrum.