2019 Top 100 Prospects

Below is our list of the top-100 prospects in baseball. The scouting summaries were compiled with information provided by available data, industry sources, as well as from our own observations.

Note that prospects are ranked by number but also lie within tiers demarcated by their Future Value grades. The FV grade is more important than the ordinal rankings. For example, the gap between prospect No. 5 on this list, Victor Robles, and prospect No. 35, Sean Murphy, is 30 spots, and there’s a substantial difference in talent there. The gap between Travis Swaggerty (No. 56) and Adrian Morejon (No. 86), meanwhile, is also 30 numerical places, but the difference in talent is relatively small. You may have noticed that there are more than 100 prospects in the table below, and more than 100 scouting summaries. That’s because we have also included 50 FV prospects who didn’t make the 100; their reports appear below, under the “Other 50 FV Prospects” header. The same comparative principle applies to them.

As a quick explanation, variance means the range of possible outcomes in the big leagues, in terms of peak season. If we feel a prospect could reasonably have a best big league season of anywhere from one to five WAR, that would be “high” variance, whereas someone like Colin Moran, whose range is something like two to three WAR, would be “low” variance. High variance can be read as a good thing, since it allows for lots of ceiling, or a bad thing, since it allows for a lower floor. Your risk tolerance could lead you to sort by variance within a given FV tier if you feel strongly about it. Here is a primer explaining the connection between FV and WAR. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

You’ll also notice that this year, we’ve added probable FV outcome distribution graphs for each prospect on our list. This is our attempt to graphically represent how likely each FV outcome is for each prospect. Using the work of Craig Edwards, we found the base rates for each FV tier of prospect (separately for hitters and pitchers), and the likelihood of each FV of outcome. For example, based on Craig’s research, the average 60 FV hitter on a list becomes a perennial 5+ WAR player over his six controlled years 26% of the time, and a 27% chance of accumulating, at most, a couple WAR during his six controlled years. We started with these base rates for every player, then manually tweaked them to reflect how we think the player differs from the average player in that FV tier, since a player in rookie ball and a player in Triple-A with the same FV grade obviously don’t have exactly the same odds of success. So, these graphs are based on empirical findings, but with the subjectivity of our opinions included to more specifically reflect what we think the odds are of various outcomes. This is just a concept we’ve been kicking around for a while, one we hope to continue to refine to try to better communicate things about prospects.

We think arguments can be made as to how you line up the players in a given tier (and we had plenty of those arguments), but we arranged them as we did for a variety of reasons about which you can inquire in today’s chat, which begins at Noon ET.

2019 Top 100 Prospects
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR 19.9 AAA 3B 2019 70
2 Wander Franco TBR 18.0 R SS 2021 65
3 Fernando Tatis Jr. SDP 20.1 AA SS 2019 65
4 Forrest Whitley HOU 21.4 AA RHP 2019 65
5 Victor Robles WSN 21.7 MLB CF 2019 65
6 Royce Lewis MIN 19.7 A+ SS 2020 65
7 Nick Senzel CIN 23.6 AAA 3B 2019 60
8 Eloy Jimenez CHW 22.2 AAA RF 2019 60
9 Bo Bichette TOR 20.9 AA SS 2020 60
10 Kyle Tucker HOU 22.1 MLB RF 2019 60
11 Jo Adell LAA 19.8 AA RF 2021 60
12 Taylor Trammell CIN 21.4 A+ LF 2021 60
13 Keston Hiura MIL 22.5 AA 2B 2019 60
14 Brendan McKay TBR 23.2 A+ LHP/1B 2019 60
15 Keibert Ruiz LAD 20.6 AA C 2020 60
16 Alex Kirilloff MIN 21.3 A+ RF 2020 60
17 Sixto Sanchez MIA 20.5 A+ RHP 2020 60
18 Carter Kieboom WSN 21.4 AA SS 2020 60
19 Cristian Pache ATL 20.2 AA CF 2021 55
20 Ke’Bryan Hayes PIT 22.0 AA 3B 2020 55
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
21 Dustin May LAD 21.4 AA RHP 2020 55
22 MacKenzie Gore SDP 20.0 A LHP 2021 55
23 Gavin Lux LAD 21.2 AA 2B 2021 55
24 Luis Urias SDP 21.7 MLB 2B 2019 55
25 Brent Honeywell TBR 23.9 AAA RHP 2019 55
26 Vidal Brujan TBR 21.0 A+ 2B 2021 55
27 Jesus Luzardo OAK 21.4 AAA LHP 2019 55
28 Brendan Rodgers COL 22.5 AAA SS 2019 55
29 Michael Kopech CHW 22.8 MLB RHP 2019 55
30 Casey Mize DET 21.8 A+ RHP 2019 55
31 Jazz Chisholm ARI 21.0 A+ SS 2022 55
32 Nick Madrigal CHW 21.9 A+ 2B 2020 55
33 Austin Riley ATL 21.9 AAA 3B 2019 55
34 Chris Paddack SDP 23.1 AA RHP 2019 55
35 Sean Murphy OAK 24.3 AAA C 2019 55
36 Michael Soroka ATL 21.5 MLB RHP 2019 55
37 Mitch Keller PIT 22.9 AAA RHP 2019 55
38 Ian Anderson ATL 20.8 AA RHP 2020 55
39 Kyle Wright ATL 23.4 MLB RHP 2020 55
40 A.J. Puk OAK 23.8 AA LHP 2019 55
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
41 Joey Bart SFG 22.2 A- C 2020 55
42 Luis Patino SDP 19.3 A RHP 2023 55
43 Luis Robert CHW 21.5 A+ CF 2020 55
44 Adonis Medina PHI 22.2 A+ RHP 2020 55
45 Alex Reyes STL 24.5 MLB RHP 2019 55
46 Brandon Lowe TBR 24.6 MLB 2B 2019 50
47 Danny Jansen TOR 23.8 MLB C 2019 50
48 Peter Alonso NYM 24.2 AAA 1B 2019 50
49 Drew Waters ATL 20.1 A+ CF 2021 50
50 Corbin Martin HOU 23.1 AA RHP 2019 50
51 Hunter Greene CIN 19.5 A RHP 2021 50
52 Andres Gimenez NYM 20.4 AA SS 2020 50
53 Luis Garcia WSN 18.7 A+ SS 2021 50
54 Jesus Sanchez TBR 21.4 AA RF 2020 50
55 William Contreras ATL 21.1 A+ C 2021 50
56 Travis Swaggerty PIT 21.5 A CF 2021 50
57 Touki Toussaint ATL 22.6 MLB RHP 2019 50
58 Dylan Cease CHW 23.1 AA RHP 2019 50
59 Francisco Mejia SDP 23.3 MLB C 2019 50
60 Justus Sheffield SEA 22.8 MLB LHP 2019 50
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
61 Luiz Gohara ATL 22.5 MLB LHP 2019 50
62 Oneil Cruz PIT 20.4 A CF 2021 50
63 Nate Pearson TOR 22.5 A+ RHP 2020 50
64 Brusdar Graterol MIN 20.5 A+ RHP 2021 50
65 Nolan Jones CLE 20.8 A+ 3B 2021 50
66 Alec Bohm PHI 22.5 A- 3B 2021 50
67 Spencer Howard PHI 22.5 A RHP 2020 50
68 Ronny Mauricio NYM 17.9 R SS 2023 50
69 DL Hall BAL 20.4 A LHP 2020 50
70 Ronaldo Hernandez TBR 21.3 A C 2022 50
71 Matthew Liberatore TBR 19.3 R LHP 2022 50
72 Bryse Wilson ATL 21.1 MLB RHP 2020 50
73 Miguel Amaya CHC 19.9 A C 2022 50
74 Yusei Kikuchi SEA 27.7 MLB LHP 2019 50
75 Jonathan India CIN 22.2 A 3B 2020 50
76 Triston McKenzie CLE 21.5 AA RHP 2020 50
77 Daulton Varsho ARI 22.6 A+ C 2021 50
78 Cole Winn TEX 19.2 R RHP 2021 50
79 Jose Suarez LAA 21.1 AAA LHP 2019 50
80 Will Smith LAD 23.9 AAA C 2019 50
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
81 Yusniel Diaz BAL 22.4 AA RF 2019 50
82 Andrew Knizner STL 24.0 AAA C 2019 50
83 Cole Tucker PIT 22.6 AA SS 2020 50
84 Jarred Kelenic SEA 19.6 R CF 2021 50
85 Nolan Gorman STL 18.8 A 3B 2021 50
86 Adrian Morejon SDP 19.9 A+ LHP 2020 50
87 Jon Duplantier ARI 24.6 AA RHP 2019 50
88 J.B. Bukauskas HOU 22.3 AA RHP 2019 50
89 Justin Dunn SEA 23.4 AA RHP 2019 50
90 Evan White SEA 22.8 AAA 1B 2020 50
91 Brandon Marsh LAA 21.2 A+ CF 2020 50
92 Mark Vientos NYM 19.2 R 3B 2022 50
93 Logan Allen SDP 21.7 AAA LHP 2020 50
94 Leody Taveras TEX 20.4 A+ CF 2020 50
95 Tyler Stephenson CIN 22.5 A+ C 2020 50
96 Matt Manning DET 21.0 AA RHP 2021 50
97 Tristen Lutz MIL 20.5 A RF 2022 50
98 Joshua James HOU 25.9 MLB RHP 2019 50
99 Trevor Larnach MIN 22.0 A RF 2020 50
100 Cionel Perez HOU 22.8 MLB LHP 2019 50
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
101 Griffin Canning LAA 22.8 AAA RHP 2019 50
102 Taylor Widener ARI 24.3 AA RHP 2019 50
103 Yu Chang CLE 23.5 AAA SS 2019 50
104 Isan Diaz MIA 22.7 AAA 2B 2019 50
105 Nico Hoerner CHC 21.8 A 2B 2020 50
106 Estevan Florial NYY 21.2 A+ CF 2020 50
107 Daz Cameron DET 22.1 AAA CF 2020 50
108 Bubba Thompson TEX 20.7 A CF 2022 50
109 Kristian Robinson ARI 18.2 R CF 2023 50
110 Brayan Rocchio CLE 18.1 R SS 2022 50
111 Nick Solak TBR 24.1 AA 2B 2020 50
112 Garrett Hampson COL 24.3 MLB 2B 2019 50
113 George Valera CLE 18.3 R CF 2021 50
114 Anderson Espinoza SDP 20.9 A RHP 2021 50
115 Shane Baz TBR 19.7 R RHP 2022 50
116 Tirso Ornelas SDP 18.9 A LF 2021 50
117 Alex Verdugo LAD 22.7 MLB RF 2019 50
118 Isaac Paredes DET 20.0 AA 3B 2021 50
119 Aramis Ademan CHC 20.4 A+ SS 2020 50
120 Peter Lambert COL 21.8 AAA RHP 2019 50
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
121 Dane Dunning CHW 24.1 AA RHP 2019 50
122 Monte Harrison MIA 23.5 AA CF 2020 50
123 Corey Ray MIL 24.4 AA CF 2019 50
124 Josh Naylor SDP 21.6 AA 1B 2020 50
125 Yordan Alvarez HOU 21.6 AAA DH 2020 50
126 Hudson Potts SDP 20.3 AA 3B 2020 50
127 Sandy Alcantara MIA 23.4 MLB RHP 2019 50
128 Jahmai Jones LAA 21.5 AA 2B 2021 50
129 Michel Baez SDP 23.1 AA RHP 2020 50
130 Ryan Mountcastle BAL 22.0 AA LF 2019 50
131 Tony Santillan CIN 21.8 AA RHP 2020 50
132 Shed Long SEA 23.5 AA 2B 2019 50
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70 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 70
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
65/70 80/80 65/70 40/30 45/45 60/60

Guerrero has a messianic bat, and while he may have to move off of third base quite soon, he’ll probably hit enough to be a superstar anyway.

The best prospect in baseball, Guerrero hit a superhuman .381/.437/.636 across 95 games (mostly at Double and Triple-A) despite being about six years younger than the other athletes in the Eastern and International Leagues. The ball doesn’t just sound different off of his bat; when he really lays into one, you can feel a thump inside your chest as if someone set off a firework at home plate. It’s explosive, beautiful, and paradoxically violent considering that Vladimir is so childlike in his shape and demeanor. He plays with a vivacious enthusiasm, totally unashamed of his own at times bizarre mannerisms, as if the way he feels when playing elite pro baseball is how most of us did with a wiffle ball in our hands during adolescence. (Late during Fall League, he was cranky and petulant with umpires.)

But his is not a childlike stature. His listed 6-foot-1, 200 pounds is a farce, and on the few occasions that Guerrero and Peter Alonso (who is listed at 6-foot-3, 245) were standing near one another during Fall League, Vlad was clearly the larger human being. While he reaches an almost shocking top speed on the bases given his size, Guerrero does have lateral mobility issues that impact his range at third base. He is very likely to move to first base or DH at some point in his early 20s, but leaving him at third, even if he’s not very good there, might help motivate him to keep his weight in check for as long as possible, something that could be more important than the quality of his play in the field since Vlad had knee issues during the 2018 season.

Really though, it matters very little where he ends up playing. This is the best hitter in the minors and the stick will play anywhere. For at least two years now people around baseball, including the late Mel Didier, swore that Guerrero would be ready for and competing in the majors before he turned 20. Toronto’s desire to maintain control of his talent for as long as possible scuttled that notion late last summer when they chose not to promote him, and Vlad will turn 20 in March before this season even starts. He should be up early this year, and immediately become one of the game’s most exciting, productive hitters. He is the cornerstone of the Blue Jays franchise, and perhaps a cornerstone of our sport.

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65 FV Prospects

2. Wander Franco, SS, TBR
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 18.0 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / R FV 65
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/65 60/65 30/55 60/60 45/50 60/60

Franco is really close to a perfect prospect, as he’s plus at almost everything he tries, and has one of the best pro debuts we’ve ever seen.

Franco was identified as a top tier player in his age group as early as 12 or 13, and was seen regularly by scouts by age 14. Sometimes, precocious prospects are workout warriors or have early physical peaks, but Franco isn’t either of those. He essentially hasn’t failed on a baseball field in any meaningful way since puberty, with his success punctuated by a 2018 pro debut in which he outpaced the game’s most recent phenom, No. 1 overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., in just about every way, at the same level, at the same age. Franco signed for the largest bonus in the 2017 July 2nd class ($3.825 million) and was seen as the best player in the class by a good margin.

There were some questions about his occasionally disinterested style of play as an amateur, but he likely already had a deal done and didn’t have anything to play for in later workouts. He’s literally always been the best player on any field he’s been on, usually by a lot. The raw tools are accordingly loud, and match his stats: at least a plus hit tool with explosive bat speed, elite bat and body control, and an advanced sense of the zone to go along with plus raw power, plus speed, a plus arm, and a real chance to stick at shortstop. Franco is about as close as you’ll see to a perfect prospect at this point, with questions only arising if you really nitpick — the main one being that Franco isn’t tall — but he already has huge power, so it matters less that he isn’t physically projectable.

The Rays have indicated they will start Franco at Low-A in 2019 and, so long as he keeps performing, keep pushing him until he’s challenged so he can experience adversity before he reaches the big leagues. It wouldn’t surprise us to see Franco move across multiple levels, but we wouldn’t expect a Juan Soto-esque pace of promotion, and a 2019 MLB debut seems incredibly unlikely, given the Rays’ upper-level infield glut and the service time implications. Rays officials have likened their immediate impression of Franco, as a player and person, to Evan Longoria. Teammates respond to him, and there isn’t even a whiff of the makeup concern some scouts conjured up as an amateur. Franco seems to be the sole author of his potential at this point.

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Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (CHW)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 65
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 60/70 50/60 55/50 50/55 60/60

Tatis still has a chance to turn into some version of Manny Machado, but opinions differ on how much we should be concerned about his contact ability.

Though his numbers were mostly the same as they were during a very impressive 2018 at Double-A San Antonio (.286/.355/.507, 16 HR, 16 SB), Tatis appeared to come of age in the higher-stakes environment of the Dominican Winter League. Except for the sliver of our population who are both prospect hounds and savvy internet streamers, Tatis’ LIDOM brilliance was mostly obscured from American eyes, and may one day exist only as an oral history, the way John Lucas and Bernard King’s D.C. summer league cameos do for basketball fans today.

Nevertheless, MLB scouts and teams are well-aware of Tatis’ all-world physical gifts, but the Padres knew first. Scouted and snatched away from the Camelback Ranch backfields by A.J. Preller himself, Tatis had barely worn a White Sox uniform before he was flipped to San Diego for James Shields during 2016 Extended Spring. He wasn’t a highly-regarded amateur prospect when he signed the year before the trade, but he got better very quickly and essentially hasn’t stopped. He has Carlos Correa‘s frame, but is more agile and acrobatic a defender than Correa, and while there’s some risk that Tatis will eventually fill out beyond viability at shortstop, it probably won’t be for a while, and in the interim he’s going to be quite good there. He also has power that is rare for the big leagues generally, let alone for a middle infielder, and he has gotten to it in games thus far despite some issues with strikeouts. There’s a sizable gap between the low-end of Tatis’ possible outcomes (he moves to third quickly and always has contact issues) and the high end (he becomes a plus glove at short and has an offensive trajectory like George Springer‘s, whose contact issues suddenly went away) but right tail outcomes like this barely exist across baseball, and we may see Tatis in San Diego this year.

Strikeout-prone prospects often require some time to adjust and can take a little bit to perform, but we like Tatis’ chances to become a superstar, the crest of the Padres’ wave of young talent and a cornerstone of a burgeoning franchise.

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4. Forrest Whitley, RHP, HOU
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Alamo Heights HS (TX) (HOU)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 65
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
70/70 60/65 60/60 60/70 50/55 40/50 93-99 / 100

Whitley has five — count ’em five — excellent pitches, including one of the minors’ highest curveball spin rates and best changeups. He’s also a well-made 6-foot-7 and his upper-90s fastball motors toward the plate at an angle that’s tough for hitters to square.

Whitley was listed at 235 pounds on the 2015 Area Code Games roster but was tipping the scales at 260 not long before that. At that event, he was sitting in the 90-92 range with feel for locating a solid-average curveball. He looked like a mature-bodied pitchability prospect whose stuff might be done improving. During that fall and winter, though, Whitley began to reshape his physique. He dropped about 50 pounds and came out the following spring with much better stuff, his fastball creeping into the 93-95 range and touching 97.

Whitley and his stuff have continued to improve, though he had a somewhat chaotic 2018. He missed the season’s first 50 games due to a suspension for the use of an unknown stimulant, then had his season debut pushed back due to a lat strain. He finally toed the rubber at Double-A Corpus Christi in June and made five four-inning starts before he was removed in the first inning of his sixth outing and placed on the IL with an oblique strain. He missed a little over a month, then made two more starts in August before feeling lat discomfort warming up for what would have been a third. He was shut down as a precaution and sent to the Arizona Fall League to pick up innings.

His stuff was wholly intact in Arizona, as Whitley sat 93-97 and touched 99. His apparitional changeup haunts both left and right-handed hitters, disappearing beneath barrels as it approaches the plate. Whitley’s array of breaking stuff is well-designed. His power 12-6 curveball honors his Texas heritage but has been de-emphasized as an out pitch in deference to his tilting, mid-80s slider. He has the best collection of stuff in the minor leagues, and might have been in the big leagues last year if not for various setbacks. He may be on somewhat of an innings limit this year because he didn’t pitch all that much in 2018, but barring that, we expect he’ll help the Astros cause at some point in 2019.

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5. Victor Robles, CF, WSN
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (WSN)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 65
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
60/65 50/50 45/50 70/70 70/70 70/70

He lacks big raw power, but Robles has every other tool and they all play up because he has terrific feel and instincts. He should be a great defensive center fielder and baserunner who makes lots of quality gap-to-gap contact.

If not for a hyperextended elbow that shelved him for several months in 2018, Robles wouldn’t be on this list. (The injury to Robles was also part of why Washington pushed Juan Soto along quickly.) In the 2017 Fall League (he missed some time that season due to hamstring tightness), he looked both readier and nearly as talented as fellow Fall Leaguer Ronald Acuña, and it seemed certain that he’d be up for good at some point the following spring. But in April an awkward dive on a shallow fly ball that most center fielders wouldn’t even have sniffed at bent Robles’ elbow backward and based on the way he writhed around in pain, the injury appeared catastrophic. X-rays were negative and an MRI showed no structural damage, but Robles didn’t start swinging a bat for a month and a half and was out of game action for three. He spent July and August rehabbing before a great September in Washington, during which he slashed .288/.348/.525.

This is a do-everything center fielder who glides from gap to gap, has runner-halting arm strength, and plus-plus speed that is aided by seemingly sixth-sense instincts on the bases. Robles has middling bat speed and doesn’t generate huge exit velocity, but he has above-average hand-eye coordination, bat control, and pitch recognition, and a gap-to-gap approach that suits his speed. He’ll slug on paper by turning the line drives he slaps into the gaps in to extra bases. Robles has slightly below-average plate discipline, which may dilute his production for a bit, but he projects as a 3-plus WAR center fielder with a skillset akin to Lorenzo Cain‘s, and he’s big league ready right now.

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6. Royce Lewis, SS, MIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from JSerra HS (CA) (MIN)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr R / R FV 65
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/55 40/50 60/60 40/50 55/55

Lewis has drawn Derek Jeter comparisons for years and after a loud 2018, it’s hard to ignore that that’s a real possibility.

Lewis was on the scouting radar early in his high school career in southern California, starring for one of the top programs in the country and showing above average tools at an early stage. Toward the end of showcase season, scouts started throwing around Derek Jeter comparisons, saying that Lewis had a similar frame with chance for a 70 bat, 55 raw power, and the possibility to stick at shortstop with some work. Others saw closer to a 50 or 55 bat and a center fielder, and his draft spring was up-and-down, with scouts that charted all of his games reporting his hitting stats were not strong, though the tools were all still present.

The Twins took him first overall and cut a below slot deal, as Lewis was seen as one of five options in a top tier of talent without a clear top option. Things have gone even better than expected for Lewis in pro ball, hitting above league average at every stop and reaching High-A at age 19 while improving defensively at shortstop. Most scouts think he can stick there, which was not the case even a year ago, and one long-time scout even said Lewis is ahead of where Jeter was defensively at the same stage. We’ll call it a 60 bat with 50 game power and 50 defense, but there’s ceiling for more in here.

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60 FV Prospects

7. Nick Senzel, 3B, CIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Tennessee (CIN)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/70 55/55 40/55 55/55 45/55 55/55

Senzel has a contact and power combination that will profile anywhere on the diamond, and he’s a likely star if he ends up at his natural position (third base) or proves athletically capable of handling second base or center field.

Several freak injuries upended Senzel’s 2018. He missed most of May battling vertigo symptoms for the second time in nine months (they first started in late August ’17), then fractured a finger in late-June and missed the rest of the season. He was supposed to play in the Fall League, but a return of the left elbow pain he had played through during the year became severe enough that he needed an MRI, which revealed bone spurs. He had surgery and was shut down for the year. When Senzel did play, he was very good and slashed .310/.378/.509 in 44 games at Triple-A while playing second base for the first time in affiliated ball.

Senzel’s likely future defensive home is still to be determined. He wasn’t a very good defensive third baseman early in college but became one as a junior. The presence of Eugenio Suarez led to reps at second base, and Scooter Gennett‘s emergence, led to what was supposed to be reps in left and center field this fall before Senzel needed surgery. The departure of Billy Hamilton leaves an obvious hole that he could potentially fill, but he hasn’t been seen playing center enough to know for sure. At the very least, he has stumbled into defensive versatility.

Mostly though, Senzel hits. He doesn’t have monster raw power, nor does he seek to take max-effort swings by utilizing a big stride or leg kick. Instead, his power comes from precise, high-quality contact. He’s going to be a doubles machine with home runs coming opportunistically rather than playing core aspect of his approach, but he’ll still hit for power. He has the skills and polish of a near-ready star, and the injuries don’t seem like they’re going to be a chronic thing.

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8. Eloy Jimenez, RF, CHW
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 70/80 60/70 40/40 45/50 60/60

Jimenez’s body has gotten very big, very quickly, and he has had a myriad of injury issues, but he has also performed at every minor league level and has cartoonish all-fields power that plays in games because he also has good feel for contact.

Even before the White Sox acquired Jimenez from the Cubs in the Jose Quintana trade, he had dealt with a multitude of injuries. Hamstring and shoulder issues plagued him while he was still with the Cubs, and limited him to DH duty, or forced him to sit out for a few days at a time, or altogether kept rehabbing him on the Mesa backfields. He has continued to have various issues since the South Siders acquired him. In 2018 alone, Jimenez dealt with patella tendinitis during the early part of spring training, then was left back in extended due to a strained pec. He suffered a strained left adductor in July, and finally a quad strain this winter, which ended his Dominican Winter League season.

But while Eloy has missed considerable time with injuries and sometimes played through them, he has mashed like few other players in the minors. He split 2018 between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, slashing .337/.384/.577, his strikeout rate plummeting to 13% at the latter stop. Despite his limited speed and at-bats, he somehow managed to net 53 extra-base hits and seemed ready for a big league cup of coffee in September. The White Sox refused to brew him one, and Eloy’s agent threatened to file a grievance against the club. He’ll likely be up at some point this year, and while we think there’s a chance injury or a lack of mobility limit Eloy’s ceiling the way flaws have similarly limited some of Chicago’s other recent prospect graduates, we still think he’ll hit enough to be a star.

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9. Bo Bichette, SS, TOR
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Lakewood HS (FL) (TOR)
Age 20.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 60/60 40/55 45/45 45/50 60/60

Bichette had a solid 2018 and still has a shot to be a 60 hit/60 power middle infielder.

There’s some contextual disappointment surrounding Bichette’s 2018 stat-line because he didn’t recreate his video game numbers from the year before, but he still netted an incredible 61 extra-base hits as a 20-year-old at Double-A. We remain skeptical of his long term viability at shortstop, where he continues to see most of his reps, but his arm is plus and teams are growing increasingly willing to put players with limited lateral quickness at short if it means shoehorning a special offensive talent into the position, and Bichette is one.

Ultimately, it probably doesn’t matter where he ends up playing defense because his bat is likely to profile. He has scintillating bat speed, and Bichette’s hand-eye coordination and bat control are an effective foil for the garage band noisiness of his swing, which hasn’t negatively impacted his ability to make contact in pro ball. Bichette ditches his leg kick with two strikes, something we’re not certain is all that helpful based on visual evidence. Ideally, Bichette will start lifting the ball more often (he has a league-average ground ball rate right now) and turn some of these doubles into homers, but it’s hard to justify making a change when he has been wildly successful so far. Status quo Bo is still a doubles machine who probably stays on the infield, and is a likely All-Star.

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10. Kyle Tucker, RF, HOU
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Plant HS (FL) (HOU)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 60/60 50/60 40/40 40/50 55/55

Tucker’s short major league debut did not go well but most scouts still think there’s an above average everyday player in there, one with a shot at stardom if it all clicks.

A very divisive amateur prospect, some scouts were put off by Tucker’s unique swing, while it reminded others of Ted Williams‘. The Astros have parlayed his natural bat control into more power. Tucker has gotten stronger and more physically mature, his lower half is better incorporated into his swing than it was in high school, and in 2017, he began lifting the ball more as his ground ball rate dropped from 42% to 34%. With that additional lift has come in-game power and Tucker has slugged well over .500 during each of the last two seasons, and hit about 25 homers during each campaign. He had a horrendous 28-game big league debut but his long track record of hitting suggests that should be heavily discounted.

Though Tucker spent much of his minor league career in center field, he’s a below average runner who is ticketed for an outfield corner, probably in right. He’s an opportunistic base stealer but almost all of his value is tied to his bat, and we think he eventually ends up as a middle of the order bat with a dynamic hit/power combination.

There are still detractors who don’t like Tucker’s motor, or his swing, but on the low end he projects somewhere in the Max Kepler/Nomar Mazara area, and that still plays everyday.

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11. Jo Adell, RF, LAA
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Ballard HS (KY) (LAA)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 70/70 50/70 60/55 50/55 50/50

One of the most explosive athletes in the minors, Adell has made a surprisingly quick ascent to the upper levels and will be an elite big leaguer so long as his bat-to-ball skills continue to develop.

Adell played across three levels last year and reached Double-A at age 19. The swing and miss issues he exhibited in high school led many to assume his development might be slow, but after a month of vaporizing Low-A pitching at Burlington, he was quickly sent to the Cal League, where he’d spend most of the year. At Inland Empire, Adell continued to perform, and the Angels pushed him to Double-A Mobile in August, where he was finally forced to deal with some adversity, and struck out 31% of the time.

Several prospects of recent memory (Byron Buxton, Domonic Brown, and Brandon Wood to name a few) have possessed such titanic physical gifts that they essentially weren’t challenged until they reached the big leagues, and some people in baseball posit that it can be psychologically taxing to deal with growing pains in that bright of a spotlight, with the hopes of a franchise and its fans on one’s shoulders. Adell is that kind of physical talent. He has a rare blend of power and speed, speed that he has retained since high school even though he has added about 20 pounds. He’s now a better bet to stay in center field during his prime than he was in high school, when scouts assumed he’d slow down as he added weight. His feel for going back on balls in center is pretty good and some of the arm strength that Adell (who was once into the mid-90s on the mound) suddenly lost in high school has returned.

His breaking ball recognition and bat control will continue to be tested by upper-level pitching, and if they start to show improvement, it’s not only a sign that Adell is adjusting but that he has the capacity to do so in the future. At that point, we’re talking prime Andrew McCutchen and Grady Sizemore-type tools.

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12. Taylor Trammell, LF, CIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Mount Paran HS (GA) (CIN)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 55/55 40/55 70/70 55/70 40/40

Trammell has the explosive tools and football background of Carl Crawford, but has better feel for the game at the same stage of development.

Trammell has uncommon on-field self-awareness for a two-sport high school athlete who was only 20 last year. He has excellent plate discipline and an all-fields, gap-to-gap approach that suits his plus-plus speed; everything he slices down the line or sprays into the gap goes for extra-bases. Trammell also put on a shocking display during BP at the Futures Game and hit two absolute seeds during the game. He never did anything remotely like that in the Fall League (nor, frankly, did any of the other prospects who played in D.C. and then later in Arizona) and actually struggled to turn on balls there, but there’s a chance of huge, if dormant, in-game power here, too.

Though Trammell runs well enough to play center field (by a lot), his arm strength still might limit him to left field. That’s where we have him projected, where we think he’ll be a Carl Crawford or Brett Gardner type of defender. He projects as an excellent leadoff hitter with some pop, but there’s a chance he ends up hitting for more power at some point.

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13. Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from UC Irvine (MIL)
Age 22.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 60/60 45/60 45/45 45/50 45/45

Hiura has one of the best hit/power combos in the minor leagues, and it looks like he’ll be able to play a solid second base.

Hiura reached Double-A in his first full pro season, and then was clearly one of the top five or six talents in the Arizona Fall League, where he won League MVP. Most importantly, his arm strength is once again viable at second base. An elbow injury relegated Hiura to DH-only duty as a junior at UC Irvine, and he may have gone even earlier in the 2017 draft if not for concerns about the injury and how it might limit his defense. That’s no longer a concern, as Hiura has an average arm and plays an unspectacular second base.

This is an incredible hitter. He has lightning-quick hands that square up premium velocity and possesses a rare blend of power and bat control. Hiura’s footwork in the box is a little noisier than it has to be, and if any of his swing’s elements are ill-timed, it can throw off the rest of his cut. This, combined with an aggressive style of hitting, could cause him to be streaky. But ultimately he’s an exceptional hitting talent and he’s going to play a premium defensive position. We think he’s an All-Star second baseman.

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14. Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, TBR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Louisville (TBR)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 212 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 65/65 40/55 35/30 45/50 60/60
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 50/55 50/55 55/60 91-95 / 96

McKay is the best two-way prospect anyone has seen in a long time (if you ignore Shohei Ohtani) and is on a path to being a mid-rotation starter and solid DH.

McKay was a cold-weather, two-way high school prospect with average tools. As is the case with many Louisville commits, his asking price was high. He got to campus and took such an immediate step forward that he was invited to play for college Team USA after just his freshman year. His tools steadily progressed and entering his draft spring, McKay was showing effortless 65-grade raw power, and above-average raw stuff on the mound. On draft day, we think a slight majority of teams preferred McKay as a hitter (the two of us were split). But every MLB team had him as a first round talent both ways, so it seemed inevitable that he would be the rare player who would get a chance to do both in pro ball so his team could at least have time to determine which path was the right one if he couldn’t do both. That open-minded approach has driven how Tampa Bay has developed McKay.

In 2018, his offense was fine — he was unlucky by advanced and TrackMan metrics — while he really broke out as a pitcher, regularly showing all the best stuff that he had only flashed in college. McKay leaned on a low-to-mid-90s fastball and didn’t have trouble navigating lineups because of his above average to plus command of the pitch. A plus-flashing curveball is his best secondary offering, but his cutter and changeup are both above-average, giving him No. 2 or 3 starter upside, and he’s not a long way off from reaching it.

Shohei Ohtani’s usage is the only precedent for how McKay might be handled: a standout, playoff rotation-caliber starter and DH. Given how baseball is valuing first base/DH players, there appears to be much more value on the mound for McKay, but there’s still a real chance he turns into something like a 110 wRC+ hitter who could make a club just on the merits of his hitting and fielding ability as a first baseman, and scouts have always raved about his makeup and work ethic. The most exciting scenario would be if Tampa Bay paired him with a two-way righty (they currently have two in Matt Davidson and Tanner Dodson) and pull the gambit Joe Maddon has tried before: rotating righty and lefty pitchers between the mound and a spot in the field based on the matchups. It could be an effective strategy on its own while enabling roster flexibility in other areas, and it saves matchup relievers until later in the game. Of course, nobody wants the Rays to get too cute and spoil what might just be a traditional, mid-rotation profile.

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15. Keibert Ruiz, C, LAD
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (LAD)
Age 20.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr S / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/70 50/50 30/40 30/20 50/60 55/55

Elite arm accuracy, receiving, and feel for contact drive Ruiz’s profile, which is incomplete but still spectacular for a catcher.

Watching Ruiz catch is like watching video of Alan Shepard play golf on the moon. Things seem to be moving at a different pace for Keibert, especially on defense. He has a thick, unimpressive build and is a mediocre athlete, but almost all of his baseball skills are elite. He’s one of the better receivers in the minors and is a better ball blocker than one would expect given his lack of athleticism, as if he has wild pitch precognition. Despite average pure arm strength, Ruiz is going to snipe a lot of would-be base-stealers because his throws are almost always right on the bag.

The skills-over-tools coloration of Ruiz’s profile continues on offense, where his hand-eye coordination and bat control make him extraordinarily hard to strike out. He struck out in just 8% of his plate appearances last year as a 19/20-year-old at Double-A Tulsa. Because Ruiz can make contact with just about anything, he tries to, and his lack of selectivity will likely limit his big league power output and perhaps his ability to reach base. But he has a very rare skillset for a catcher and a good chance to be an All-Star.

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16. Alex Kirilloff, RF, MIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Plum HS (PA) (MIN)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 55/60 35/55 50/45 45/50 60/60

Kirilloff has advanced feel to hit and plus raw power, with something like a 1 in 6 chance he turns into Joey Votto.

Kirilloff comes from the Pittsburgh area, hardly a hotbed for talent, but he distinguished himself in the summer before his draft year despite a slightly quirky uppercut swing. By the end of the summer, scouts had seen enough from Kiriloff and Bo Bichette to convince them that these swings could work, and that Kirilloff and Bichette belonged in the top few rounds, with both continuing to beat expectations. Kirilloff went in the middle of the first round in 2016, and missed time immediately after playing his first 55 pro games with Tommy John surgery.

He came back for his first full season in 2018 and dominated both Low-A and High-A, hitting over .330 at both stops with 20 homers on the season and strikeout rates below league average. There’s some chance he is even more than just a 60 hitter with 55 or 60 power, which is what most scouts are projecting right now, with something like a 15-20% chance that Kirilloff turns into the next Joey Votto. There’s some disagreement about whether his 2018 season was him dominating pitching that didn’t challenge him, or if he has an approach that’s a little too aggressive and he just got away with it in 2018. Kirilloff is a fringy runner who’s an average defender in right field and has a plus arm, but he may bulk up and move to first base down the line, which would likely come with more power as well.

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17. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, MIA
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (PHI)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/65 45/50 55/60 50/60 45/55 94-98 / 101

Shoulder issues have limited Sanchez’s workload during each of the last two seasons, but he has a rare combination of present stuff and command, which is shocking considering he hasn’t been pitching for all that long.

Sanchez’s first 2019 start — during which he walked an uncharacteristically high four hitters and spent much of the outing rotating his head and neck about his shoulders, and stretching his arm and upper back — was perhaps a harbinger of things to come; his season would later end due to multiple injuries. After that rough first start, his stuff and command were as they usually are. He was generating upper-90s velocity with ease, his breaking balls were crisp, and his changeups were well-located and moving. He walked just seven hitters in his final seven starts of the year before succumbing to elbow inflammation, which ended his regular season in early-June. Sanchez rehabbed in Florida in anticipation of an Arizona Fall League assignment and threw some tune up innings early during the 2018 fall instructional league, his stuff intact and ready for Arizona. Then he awoke one morning with soreness in his collarbone. After an MRI it was determined that Sixto would have to shut things down for a bit and head to Arizona quite late, so he was just shelved for the year.

Sanchez has now missed time to injury in two consecutive seasons. In each year, he has often been given extended rest between starts and dealt with issues in his neck and collarbone area. That isn’t ideal and all else being equal, we’d rather have a pitching prospect without this kind of injury history. But all else isn’t equal when one lines up Sixto’s stuff and command, both of which are very advanced for a conversion arm so new to pitching, against the stuff and command of other minor league pitchers.

This is one of the most talented pitching prospects on Earth, one with top of the rotation potential. He’s still only 20 so the fact that injuries have diluted his innings output isn’t a huge issue yet. Hopefully he has a healthy, robust 2019 and gets back on track to debut in 2020.

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18. Carter Kieboom, SS, WSN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Walton HS (GA) (WSN)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 55/60 40/60 50/45 40/45 60/60

He’s unlikely to stay at shortstop, but Kieboom will stay somewhere on the infield and his early-career performance suggests he’s going to get to much of his plus raw power in games.

Kieboom entered 2018 with just 48 full-season games under his belt due to a nasty hamstring injury that cut short his promising 2017 campaign. He crushed Hi-A, hitting .298/.386/.494 and forcing a promotion to Double-A at age 20. Kieboom didn’t hit well during his two-month stay in Harrisburg and he didn’t look very good at shortstop in the Fall League, but he has performed much better than expected for a hitter who is the age of a college sophomore. He is going to stay on the infield, and has big, playable raw power, and we’re unconcerned about his late-season struggles.

Kieboom’s hands work in a tight, explosive circle, which generates all-fields thump and enables Kieboom to catch up to premium velocity. He’s a little heavy-footed on defense but his arm plays on the left side of the infield and his mediocre range might be able to be hidden by modern defensive positioning.

This is a complete player with a chance to hit in the middle of the order and also stay at shortstop, if not second or third base. That’s a potential All-Star.

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55 FV Prospects

19. Cristian Pache, CF, ATL
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (ATL)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 50/55 20/45 70/70 70/70 70/70

An elite defensive center field prospect like Pache needs to do very little with the bat to be a good everyday player, and while his statistics leave much to be desired, he has flashed feel for contact and in-game raw power, just never both for any real length of time.

If we told you a prospect seemed like an injury-independent lock to play elite outfield defense, how much offense would he have to provide to be a star-level player? The industry’s six-week look at Pache during the Arizona Fall League further cemented the belief that Pache has a great chance to be one of the, if not the, best defensive center fielders in baseball as soon as he arrives in Atlanta. He’s a plus to plus-plus runner with a great first step, and he has a knack for contorting his body in ways that enable him to make spectacular catches on flyballs that would otherwise fall in for tough-luck hits. He also has a 70-grade arm when he sets and throws properly, though at times he sacrifices velocity and accuracy in order to get rid of the ball more quickly, which isn’t always the right decision. Pache also has good bat-to-ball skills and solid average raw power, but the quality of his at-bats and his hitting mechanics both vary.

His upside is enormous if everything comes together, and Pache just turned 20 years old, but there’s risk that the bat plays down because of Pache’s approach. If that’s the case, he might exist in the Hamilton/Pillar area of WAR production, but even a one-dimensional offensive profile likely results in star level production and because Pache is still just the age of a college sophomore, we anticipate growth in this area.

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20. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Concordia Lutheran HS (TX) (PIT)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 45/50 30/45 60/55 55/70 60/60

Hayes is an elite third base defender with contact skills who has performed through Double-A. It’s unclear if power will come, but if it does, Hayes will be a true five-tool player.

The son of 13-year big leaguer Charlie Hayes, Ke’Bryan has a rare blend of skills that includes premium defense, plus speed, and an offensive profile structured much like his father’s. The younger Hayes was identified as a potential early-round pick pretty early in high school and eventually climbed to the back of the first round after a strong senior spring. He was drafted 32nd overall and signed for $1.8 million rather than head to Tennessee, where he and Nick Senzel would have played together for a year. Hayes has moved through the minors quickly and had a strong 2018 season at Double-A Altoona — .293/.375/.444 with an 11% BB%, 16.5% K%, 31 2Bs, 12 SB — in what would have been his draft year. He’s one of the best defensive third basemen in the minors and has progressed to become an above-average hitter, as well.

A flat-planed swing and conservative hitting footwork are stifling the in-game power production. For Hayes, that’s fine. He does everything else.

It’s possible the Pirates will try to coax more power of out him by tweaking either his footwork or by moving his hands, the latter of which feels riskier. Even without further offensive evolution, Hayes projects as an all-fields, league-average offensive threat with plus-plus defense.

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21. Dustin May, RHP, LAD
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Northwest HS (TX) (LAD)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/60 60/70 45/50 50/60 45/60 93-96 / 98

May has big time heat and a great breaking ball, both of which he commands. Other than changeup development, he’s a complete pitching prospect.

May’s flamboyant ginger curls and Bronson Arroyo-esque leg kick are maybe the third and fourth most visually captivating aspects of his on-mound presence once you’ve gotten a look at his stuff. His mid-90s fastball plays up due to great extension, and further incorporation of a running two-seamer has given May’s heater enough tail to miss bats in the strike zone. His vertically-breaking slider (May calls it a slider, but it has curveball shape) has one of the better spin rates in the minors and enough vertical depth to miss bats against both left and right-handed hitters. It’s May’s out pitch, but he also has a developing cutter and its movement is a great foil for his two-seamer. After trying several different changeup grips in 2017, it seems like May is still searching for a good cambio, but his fastball and breaking ball command should suffice against lefties for now.

The leg kick makes May slow to home and he may be vulnerable to the stolen base because of it, which forces him to vary his cadence home in an attempt to stymie runners. Now at Double-A, what was once a prospect with mid-rotation upside has become one with mid-rotation likelihood.

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22. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, SDP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Whiteville HS (NC) (SDP)
Age 20.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/50 50/55 50/60 45/60 91-95 / 97

Gore’s athleticism enables him to locate a bevy of good pitches despite a weird delivery that serves to disorient hitters.

Blisters and fingernail issues were a minor problem during Gore’s 2017 pro debut, and shelved him three separate times throughout 2018. His stuff was intact when he pitched, his fastball resting mostly in the 92-94 range and topping around 96 during most of his starts, though he has peaked at 98.

He is mechanically non-traditional, something Gore is able to maintain because he’s such a great athlete. As his front leg kicks up before he pedals toward the plate, so too does his glove and pitching hand, way up over his head, as if his mitt and knee are connected with an invisible wire. When Gore comes home, he drifts toward the first base side of the mound a bit, creating a unique angle on his pitches.

And those pitches are good. Though he doesn’t have great natural ability to spin the ball, Gore’s over-the-top arm slot enables him to get tumble on his curveball anyway, he has very advanced changeup feel, and his slider is firm. He’ll be able to locate what he wants, where he wants for as long as he retains his top-of-the-scale athleticism. He may be on a bit of an innings count this year just because he only threw 66 innings in 2018, but otherwise he’s quite advanced and could move through the minors fairly quickly.

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23. Gavin Lux, 2B, LAD
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Indian Trail Academy HS (WI) (LAD)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 55/60 40/55 55/55 50/55 45/45

Lux has suddenly grown into an enviable hit/power combination and has a middle infield defensive profile, though keep an eye on his throwing issues.

Lux has become almost the inverse of what he was in high school. Drafted as a glove-first shortstop, he has developed throwing issues that we believe will push him to second base. His early-season onslaught at Rancho Cucamonga could have been interpreted as a Cal League mirage, but Lux continued to hit and hit for power at Double-A Tulsa after promotion and scouts have future plus grades on his raw power.

Now much more physical and strong than he was when he was drafted, Lux is the latest Dodgers player to enjoy a beneficial swing change. His hands have become more active before they fire, and his swing has more lift now, resulting in a ground ball rate that fell from 52% in 2017 to 42% in 2018. His bat is quick enough to catch velocity up in the zone and Lux is strong enough to punish it. The changes haven’t had a negative impact on his feel for contact and he remains a selective hitter, as well. We’re somewhat concerned about the throwing issues but there’s middle infield speed and athletic ability here, and we hope those get ironed out because if they do, Lux could be an All-Star.

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24. Luis Urias, 2B, SDP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Mexico (SDP)
Age 21.7 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/65 20/35 40/45 50/50 50/55 50/50

Urias reached the majors last year amid some approach tweaks in an effort to coax more power from a profile that already has top-shelf feel for contact. He’s not likely an impact bat, but should be a well-rounded above-average regular at second base.

Urias walked more than he struck out in every year of his pro career until 2018, when his K% rose all the way to 20%. Though he has always utilized a long, slow leg kick, Urias used to cut it down when he got into two-strike counts, something he no longer did last year, probably in effort to hit for more power. He still managed to slash .296/.398/.447 as a 21-year-old in the hitter-friendly PCL and reached San Diego in September. Even with minor tweaks, Urias isn’t likely to hit for anything more than doubles power, but he should continue to be a plus bat who adds value on the bases and in the field à la Joey Wendle or Cesar Hernandez.

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25. Brent Honeywell, RHP, TBR
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Walters State JC (TN) (TBR)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 60/65 55/55 45/50 45/55 92-94 / 97

Honeywell is back from Tommy John surgery and his plus stuff, headlined by his wacky curveball and wackier personality, is ready for his big league debut.

Honeywell felt forearm tightness while throwing live batting practice to Wilson Ramos in late February, and five days later Dr. James Andrews was reconstructing his UCL. It was the first of several season-ending injuries Rays prospects would sustain early in the year, and it delayed Honeywell’s run at a potential Rookie of the Year award.

A creative sequencer, Honeywell’s deep, unique repertoire is unlike any other pitcher in the minors. Though his fastball touches 98, his stuff is so diverse that he never has to pitch off of it. He can lob his curveball in for strikes, induce weak contact early in counts by throwing a cutter when hitters are sitting fastball, and he’ll double and triple up on the changeup. What you see listed in Honeywell’s tool grades as a splitter is actually a screwball. It wobbles home in the 79-82 mph range, while his true changeup is usually a little harder than that. The screwgie is more than a gimmick and can miss bats, though it’s best in moderation because it’s a little easier to identify out of his hand, and hitters are able to recognize it after seeing it multiple times in the same at-bat.

Honeywell’s delivery is pretty violent and his TJ was not his first injury, but he’s ready and has No. 2 or 3 starter stuff if it comes back after the surgery. He has been throwing off a mound since early December and should be pitching in games before April is through.

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26. Vidal Brujan, 2B, TBR
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 21.0 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr S / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 45/50 30/45 65/65 50/60 55/55

Brujan is next in line behind Jose Altuve, Dustin Pedroia, and Ozzie Albies to fit the description of tiny, standout big league second baseman with shockingly loud tools. Indeed, of the current crop of similar prospects (Luis Urias and Nick Madrigal), Brujan’s tools are the loudest.

Five years ago, Brujan was illiterate and living in extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic. Now he’s fluent in multiple languages and has grown so much as an athlete and ballplayer that we think he’d be in the conversation for the 2019 draft’s first pick were he a college player. If you’re willing to look beyond Brujan’s diminutive stature, he leaves nothing to be desired. He is an elite athlete with acute baseball instincts, a dynamic up-the-middle defensive profile, and mature feel for the strike zone. He has always been physical enough to make quality contact and fast enough to make an impact on the bases, but really began driving the ball in 2018 as his frame started to physically mature. He slashed .313/.395/.427 at Low-A before an August promotion to Hi-A, where he slugged a shocking .582. Aside from his size, Brujan’s profile is flawless and he has a chance to be a star.

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27. Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Stoneman Douglas HS (FL) (WAS)
Age 21.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 209 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 50/60 45/55 92-95 / 98

Luzardo’s stuff spiked when he was a high school senior, then he broke, then the stuff came back, then he was traded and rocketed through the A’s system. He may end up with three plus pitches and plus command.

The summer before his senior year of high school, Luzardo looked like a relatively unprojectable pitchability lefty, albeit an advanced one. His fastball was only in the 88-92 range at Area Codes, though his changeup and curveball were each above-average. He did not throw during the fall and instead devoted more time to working out. The following spring, with a new physique, Luzardo’s stuff was way up across the board, his fastball now sitting comfortably in the mid-90s, touching 97. Four starts into his senior season, Luzardo tore his UCL and need Tommy John.

After most of the first three rounds of the 2016 draft had come and gone it seemed as though Luzardo might end up at the University of Miami. Four outings (including the one during which he broke) was not enough time for many teams to have high-level decision makers in to see him and take him early, but the Nationals (who have a history of drafting pitchers who have fallen due to injury) called his name and signed him for $1.4 million, a bonus equivalent to an early second rounder. Luzardo rehabbed as a National and continued to strengthen his body. When he returned the following summer, his stuff had completely returned. He made just three starts for the GCL Nats before he was traded to Oakland as part of the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson deal.

He has quickly climbed Oakland’s minor league ladder and reached Triple-A at age 20 in 2018. Those crafty pitchability traits from high school are still extant. Luzardo will vary the shape of his breaking ball — he can throw it for strikes to get ahead of hitters, he back foot it to righties — and he uses his changeup against lefties and righties. His delivery is a bit violent but it doesn’t inhibit his command, and Luzardo’s musculature seems better able to deal with the effort than it was when he was in high school. His fastball may not play like a mid-90s heater because he is undersized and a short-strider, but he locates it well enough to avoid getting hurt.

He has mid-rotation upside and is abnormally polished. We may see him in Oakland this year.

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28. Brendan Rodgers, SS, COL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Lake Mary HS (FL) (COL)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 60/60 45/55 50/45 40/50 55/55

Rodgers has a chance to be an above average hitter with above average power who can play a passable shortstop, and he may be ready late in 2019.

Rodgers stood out early in his high school career outside Orlando, FL as a regular on the showcase circuit who was often the best player on the field while also being the youngest player on the field at high profile events. He had mostly solid average tools and good feel through the middle of his prep career. Then in his senior year, the arm strength, raw power, and bat speed all became plus, and he was the odds on favorite to go first overall. But Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, Andrew Benintendi, and fellow Florida prep hitter Kyle Tucker all took steps forward in the spring, and the Rockies were able to get Rodgers third overall.

In pro ball, Rodgers has benefitted form the Rockies’ affiliates being extreme hitters’ environments, which has mostly obscured in the surface stats the fact that Rodgers pitch selection is below average. It improved a bit in his second taste of Double-A in 2018, then became an issue again in his late-season promotion to Triple-A. He’s fringy at shortstop and is a fringy runner, so most scouts see him sliding over to second base long-term, but he’s good enough to play shortstop everyday if a club doesn’t have better options and focuses on shifting and positioning around him. There’s enough here that it’s likely Rodgers is a solid everyday player of some sort in 2020, but he may not be the star that some have anticipated.

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29. Michael Kopech, RHP, CHW
Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Mt. Pleasant HS (TX) (BOS)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 50/60 45/55 40/45 94-98 / 101

After years of wildness, Kopech suddenly had control of his power fastball/slider duo, then promptly blew out his elbow. We’ll see him again in 2020.

Just as Kopech seemed to be harnessing his hellacious stuff, he blew out. In the seven minor league starts before his big league debut, Kopech walked just four batters, and he was similarly efficient in his first few big league outings. His velocity was down and the Tigers shelled him in his final start, and an MRI revealed Kopech would need Tommy John. The timing was particularly cruel, not just because things had started to click, but also because late-season TJs usually cost the pitcher all of next year; Kopech isn’t expected to be back until 2020.

His stuff is great, headlined by a mid-90s fastball that often crests 100 mph. The command inroads Kopech made late in 2018 are especially important for his ability to deal with lefties, because his changeup feel is not very good. He’ll need to mix his two breaking balls together to deal with them, and his slider feel is way ahead of the curveball. So long as Kopech’s stuff returns, he has No. 3 starter ceiling if the command comes with it, and high-leverage relief ability if the latter does not.

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30. Casey Mize, RHP, DET
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Auburn (DET)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 55/60 60/65 50/55 92-96 / 97

Mize has a non-zero chance of turning into a version of Aaron Nola, and he’ll likely be big league ready in 2019.

Mize was a midrange projection arm in high school and broke out on the Cape after his freshman year at Auburn. He looked like a mid-first rounder after his sophomore year and subsequent summer with collegiate Team USA, then took a giant leap forward in his draft spring, which led to Detroit taking him first overall. His command improved and he added an 87-90 mph cutter that quickly became a plus pitch, to pair with his mid-90’s fastball, above average slider, and plus splitter. After pitching for Team USA the summer before the draft, Mize got a PRP injection in his pitching elbow. Some teams had mild concerns about his shoulder in high school, and he also missed time a sophomore at Auburn with forearm tightness.

Mize has some violence to his delivery and isn’t the prototypical projectable plus athlete you normally see at the top of the draft. There’s also some anecdotal evidence suggesting heavy cutter usage leads to diminished velocity. These are all things to make you wonder how Mize projects, but right now he may be able to pitch in the big leagues, with some mentioning Aaron Nola as the type of pitcher he could become. He doesn’t really fit Detroit’s timeline for contention, and may not be as good in his sixth year of control as he’ll be in his second, so many have openly wondered if Mize becomes a trade chip once he succeeds in the big leagues. That’s a good problem to have for a big league club in need of top shelf talent; Mize may give them that as soon as 2019.

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31. Jazz Chisholm, SS, ARI
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Bahamas (ARI)
Age 21.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/55 40/55 55/55 50/55 55/55

Chisholm hit 25 homers and swiped 17 bags last year. His power/speed/position combination is rare, but his approach creates risk that he busts.

Few infielders in the minors have Jazz’s bat speed, and even fewer have his swagger and flare. Though his high-effort hacks detract from his ability to make contact, Chisholm has shocking power for someone his size. When he really cuts it loose (which is often), he rotates with violence and explosion reminiscent of Javier Baez and, like Baez, Chisholm is a high-risk prospect whose all-or-nothing style of hitting might ultimately be his undoing.

He has a one-note approach that mostly consists of him trying to ambush first-pitch fastballs. He’ll take some ugly swings when he’s cheating on a heater and instead gets something offspeed, though he has the bat control to put these balls in play if they’re near the zone. His strikeout rate (29% for his career) in undoubtedly a red flag, but because Chisholm is such a clean fit at shortstop (plus range, actions, and arm), he has some wiggle room on the offensive side, and shortstops with this kind of pop don’t exactly grow on trees. There’s star ceiling here, but also volcanic instability.

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32. Nick Madrigal, 2B, CHW
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Oregon State (CHW)
Age 21.9 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/70 45/45 40/45 70/70 55/60 50/50

Tiny Nick Madrigal looked like a star before a broken wrist injury last February. Now, we wait and see if post-draft concerns about his size, power, and durability were just due to the lingering effects of the injury or if they’re actual, long-term concerns.

When Madrigal fractured his wrist during Oregon State’s second series of the year, he was hitting .560 (14-for-25) with two doubles, two homers, and three steals in three attempts. For two long weekends in Arizona he did everything. He crushed balls in all parts of the strike zone, ran plus-plus times to first base, and made several highlight reel defensive plays at second base. The wrist fracture kept him out for the rest of February, all of March, and most of April. When he returned, Madrigal kept hitting, but not for power, which is consistent with what plagues hitters for several months after they’ve had a break in the hand/wrist area.

That trend continued through his first pro summer, which was interrupted by a hamstring issue, as Madrigal struggled to pull and/or lift the ball at all. He had a downward, slashing swing instead of the dynamic and athletic cut he’d had early in the year, when he could scoop and lift stuff at the bottom of the zone. But he kept making contact. It was a month before a pro pitcher was able to strikeout Madrigal, who only K’d in 3% of his pro plate appearances last year.

It’s fair to make a distinction between prospects who are small, and ones who are just short. Jose Altuve is short, but is built like a little tank. Madrigal is small, a diminutive 5-foot-7, 165 pounds, and this, combined with his total lack of post-draft power, has the pro side of scouting very concerned. He looked tired and sluggish during instructional league, though it wasn’t as if he’d played a whole year and was an obvious candidate to be run down, furthering concerns that his size will be an issue. We’re inclined to believe there’s a substantial bounce-back on the horizon. He was the best draft-eligible hitter we saw last year, a complete player with few, if any, flaws.

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33. Austin Riley, 3B, ATL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from DeSoto Central HS (MS) (ATL)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 70/70 45/60 45/40 45/50 65/65

Riley has big power, solid performance, and improved defense at the hot corner, so now is his chance to fight for a spot on the 2019 Braves.

Riley was a two-way high school player who many teams preferred as a pitcher, but the Braves preferred him as a hitter and liked him more than any other club, popping him rounds before most teams were prepared to draft him. That gamble has paid off. Braves personnel rave about Riley’s makeup and the strides he has made defensively, now projecting him as an average defender at third base after a lot of work on his footwork and keeping his strong frame nimble. He has an easy plus arm and plus plus raw power along with the contact skills to avoid being a huge strikeout type. What sort of hitter Riley becomes is more a matter of choice for him, but we think he’ll end up in the .250 average, with an average OBP and plus game power, meaning 25 homers or so annually.

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34. Chris Paddack, RHP, SDP
Drafted: 8th Round, 2015 from Cedar Park HS (TX) (MIA)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/50 60/70 50/60 92-96 / 98

Paddack wields arguably the best changeup in the minors and his fastball has big velo and tough plane, so it’s probably fine that his curveball is mediocre.

Amateur scouting heuristics would not have expected Paddack be here. He was a high school draftee who was 19 and a half on draft day (draft models like young players), and had no feel for spin (something modern pitching research has determined isn’t a malleable trait). The Marlins signed him for $400,000 as an eight rounder and traded him to San Diego just over a year later in exchange for Fernando Rodney. The six starts Paddack made leading up to the deal were incredible. He had a 48:2 strikeout to walk ratio during that span, and he has continued to miss bats while filling up the strike zone since the Padres acquired him. He’d probably have been in the majors last year had Tommy John surgery not robbed him of more than a year of development (Paddack blew out in his third ever start as a Padres prospect).

His stuff was fine when he returned last year, with his fastball up to 95 in his first extended spring training start back from injury, and he topped out at 98 this year. He’ll likely never have a great breaking ball, but as long as he locates it properly against righties, it will be enough. If there’s an 80 changeup in the minors, this is probably it, and plenty of starters have survived with heavy changeup use. Paddack’s fastball plays in the strike zone and he can make it sink if he wants to work down, so he shouldn’t run into any game theory-related issues due to a lack of repertoire depth because his stuff is just too good to hit when he locates it, even if you properly guess what’s coming. It’s rare for true aces to have such limited repertoires, and we think it’s more likely that Paddack develops into a 3-4 WAR starter than a demigod, the way his numbers might indicate.

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35. Sean Murphy, C, OAK
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Wright State (OAK)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 55/55 40/50 20/20 50/55 70/70

Murphy could be big league ready in the second half of 2019, has a 70 arm, and there’s a shot he could be an above-average hitter with above-average power and defense.

Once a walk-on at Wright State, Murphy has become one of the more well-rounded catching prospects in the minors. He has always had near elite arm strength but because he didn’t catch much pro-quality stuff in college, his receiving and ball-blocking were undercooked for a college prospect when he first entered pro ball. Those aspects of his defense have vastly improved, and he’s now an average defender with a chance to be above, and his arm douses opposing baserunners.

Murphy also has plus raw power, though he hasn’t typically hit for it in games for various reasons. In college, a broken hamate likely masked his power and was part of the reason he fell to the 2016 draft’s third round. In pro ball, his swing has been very compact, relying on Murphy’s raw strength rather than efficient biomechanical movement to deliver extra-bases. He broke his other hamate last year. Murphy’s nearly .500 SLG at Double-A Midland is above what we expect moving forward, and instead think Murphy will be a high-contact bat with doubles power, which would be an above-average regular behind the plate.

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36. Michael Soroka, RHP, ATL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Bishop Carroll HS (CAN) (ATL)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 50/55 45/55 90-93 / 95

Soroka had an unfortunate shoulder injury in the middle of a successful major league debut, but indications are that he’s ready to pick up where he left off.

Soroka is a former hockey defenseman who brings that mentality to the mound, attacking hitters with three above average pitches and command. He attacks the zone with a low-90s sinker down in the zone and is a pitch efficient starter who isn’t gunning for the strikeout. He’s also a shorter strider so his velocity plays down a bit, making his command and offspeed pitches even more important.

Soroka’s changeup went from rarely used to a pitch that flashes plus in the last year or so, and his high-spin hybrid breaking ball has always been a trusted secondary pitch. He missed much of 2018 with a muscular issue in his shoulder, but was ready to pitch in the big leagues in September, hitting the mid-90s in simulated games and only staying out of competitive contents because of the Braves’ cautious approach to his rehab.

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37. Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Xavier HS (IA) (PIT)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/50 50/60 93-97 / 100

Keller is a near-ready sinker/curveball righty who probably won’t miss as many bats as you’d expect from just looking at his pitch grades. He should still be a mid-rotation starter.

We think the slight uptick in Keller’s walk rate last year could just have been caused by an increased focus on changeup usage. His swinging strike rate took a dip when he reached Double-A despite having two clearly plus pitches: an upper-90s sinker and a curveball. It’s possible the two didn’t pair well together and that a better changeup, or a third pitch, will be needed in order to miss bats. Keller’s changeup did improve throughout 2018, but he walked more guys; we think that aspect of his profile will bounce back once development isn’t coloring his pitch usage.

Keller avoided the DL all year after dealing with various injuries during each of the last three seasons. He projects as an above-average big leaguer starter who misses an average number of bats.

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38. Ian Anderson, RHP, ATL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Shenendowa HS (NY) (ATL)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 50/60 45/55 91-94 / 96

In two seasons, Anderson has progressed from upstate New York prep standout to Double-A without many speed bumps, with above average stuff and pitchability helping him project as a likely No. 3 or 4 starter.

Anderson was a prep standout as an underclassman and despite some minor injuries in his draft year, was the third overall pick in 2016. The Braves got him for an under slot bonus that freed them up to grab Wentz, Muller, and Wilson for over slot bonuses; that group has worked out extremely well so far, especially considering how risky a subgroup prep pitching is. Anderson is the most advanced in terms of his combination of stuff now, command, and size, as evidenced by reaching Double-A at age 20 with excellent stats at every stop. He isn’t the sexiest prospect in terms of spin rates, so his command will need to continue to be a separator as the hitters he faces continue to get better. Anderson flashed a 60 curveball as an amateur but it’s more of a 55 now, while his changeup went from not being used much to flashing plus regularly, passing ahead of his curveball for some scouts.

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39. Kyle Wright, RHP, ATL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Vanderbilt (ATL)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 50/55 45/50 45/50 91-95 / 97

Wright starred at Vanderbilt, went fifth overall to Atlanta, and reached the big leagues a year later. He’s got all the elements you look for in a mid-rotation starter, and may be the type that throws his breaking ball close to 50% of the time, like Patrick Corbin does.

Wright passed up seven figures from the Braves out of an Alabama high school to go to Vanderbilt and got many times more than that three years later as the fifth overall pick. He’s a near ideal combination of frame, arm action, delivery, athleticism, broad repertoire, and feel for pitching. Wright’s fastball is solid, but not a standout swing-and-miss pitch, though his slider often is. He mixes in a curveball and changeup that are tertiary options and his lower slot matches the sinker/slider combo a bit better.

His best route to early big league success may be to lean on his breaking ball and throw it as often as his fastball, like Chris Archer or Patrick Corbin do. Given the Braves young pitching depth, there may not be a rotation spot for Wright, but his stuff and approach would definitely work in a multi-inning relief role until that spot is available.

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40. A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Florida (OAK)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 60/60 50/55 55/60 45/50 93-96 / 97

He was often frustrating at Florida, heavily reliant on velocity and a dominant slider while the rest lagged behind, but Puk seemed ready to ascend last year before he blew out his elbow.

It’s counterintuitive to call a lefty with a plus slider and mid-90s velocity a ‘breakout’ candidate, but that’s exactly what Puk looked like during 2018 Spring Training before he tore his UCL and needed Tommy John. Puk was soft-bodied and relatively unathletic as an amateur, but he arrived to Mesa in good shape and his landing leg was more stable throughout his delivery, leading to superior command than he had had at Florida. Additionally, Puk dusted off his high school curveball and reintroduced it to his repertoire. His feel for it returned very quickly, and it was comfortably average near the end of spring and gave him a fresh way of starting off at-bats the second and third time through a lineup. His changeup was also better than it had been in college, and looked like a potential plus pitch.

Scouts thought he had a chance to reach Oakland by year’s end, and a surprisingly competitive Oakland club would have been motivated to move him quickly. Puk has recently begun throwing bullpens and should be going full-tilt later in the spring. He appeared to have No. 2 or 3 starter upside before his injury.

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41. Joey Bart, C, SFG
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Georgia Tech (SFG)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 60/65 45/55 40/40 50/55 60/60

Bart was the second overall pick out of Georgia Tech, and is now the heir apparent to Buster Posey‘s job in San Francisco. He may get there quickly due to his plus power, arm strength, athleticism, makeup, and defense, with the only real question being about his contact skills.

Bart was a solid mid-tier prep prospect in the Atlanta suburbs who a couple of clubs really liked, but they ultimately couldn’t meet his price, pushing him to Georgia Tech. He made the leap between his sophomore and junior years, growing into his athleticism and developing plus raw power along with above average defensive tools and arm strength. The defensive tools are especially rare for a catcher of Bart’s size, as it’s much easier for a more compact-framed player to excel behind the plate. Bart has the rare ability to slow the game down defensively and scouts rave about his makeup, game calling, and game preparation.

At the plate, Bart has big power and gets to it pretty often in games, particularly to his pull side, where he hit a majestic shot that was never found over the facade of the football complex in left field at Georgia Tech’s stadium. But while he is exceptional behind the plate, Bart doesn’t have the same ability to slow the game at it, however, with elevated strikeout rates in his draft year and just okay pitch selection. The bat speed is good and he doesn’t have trouble against velocity, and some scouts point to his solid pro debut as evidence that Bart was just frustrated by being pitched around and developed some bad habits in college. Since literally everything else you could want except for contact is already present, most assume that Bart will figure out a way to get to a 40 to 50 bat with above average game power and above average defense, even if it’s on the job in the big leagues in 2020.

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42. Luis Patino, RHP, SDP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Colombia (SDP)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 50/60 40/55 40/50 93-97 / 99

A premium on-mound athlete with elite makeup, Patiño has blossomed into one of the more exciting teenage arms on the planet in a very short span of time.

Not long ago, Patiño was an undersized Colombian shortstop who would pitch once in a while. The Padres liked his athleticism enough to sign him and move him to the mound full-time. He’s added a full ten ticks to his fastball over the last two and a half years, and now is not only one of the best on-mound athletes in the minors, but a hard worker and team leader with infectious charisma. Patiño’s velocity came as he got in the weight room and added about 25 pounds. He was so dominant during his first few pro starts in the DSL that the Padres quickly pushed him stateside for the remainder of 2017, then to the Midwest League at age 18 the following year.

Not only does Patiño have premium arm strength, but he has natural feel for spin, and is a curious learner who quickly actualizes instruction on the mound. He has already begun to vary the cadence of his delivery to mess with hitters’ timing, and has mapped aspects of MacKenzie Gore’s delivery to his own, just to see if it works for him. He’s still a little too confident with his breaking ball in the zone, but it’s hard not to expect an athlete with work habits like these (Patiño has already learned and is fluent in English) to get better at everything. You can go nuts projecting on his secondaries and command the same way scouts did with Hunter Greene when he was in high school, and Patiño’s breaking stuff is further along than Greene’s was at the same age. He likely won’t grow into more velo because the frame for that isn’t here, but he’s already got plenty of heat. Conservatively, Patiño has mid-rotation upside, but how the changeup and breaking ball command develop matter because that’s where there’s room for significant growth.

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43. Luis Robert, CF, CHW
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Cuba (CHW)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 65/65 30/55 60/60 50/55 60/60

If we could trade bodies with one guy in the minors, it’d probably this guy. Robert is a toolshed who spent most of 2018 dealing with a thumb ligament issue, and much of his future is unclear due to issues with plate discipline and contact.

More than a full year removed from all that intrigue and we still know relatively little about Luis Robert, largely due to a thumb ligament sprain LouBob dealt with throughout 2018. His signing with Chicago marked the end of a more lucrative era for young international players who are now subject to more tight-fisted rules capping bonus amounts. Despite a limited market due to the timing of his deal, Robert signed for $26 million thanks to his all-world physical gifts. The raw power and top-end speed were obvious in workouts, but unless teams scouted him in Series Nacional or during the Cuban National team’s annual CanAm League tour, little was known about his ability to hit big league-quality pitching, or what his instincts were like in center field.

Because his thumb cost him April, May, and July (he re-aggravated it), it was hard to get extended looks during 2018 until Robert’s six-week stint in the Arizona Fall League (which was also interrupted by a hamstring issue). LouBob’s AFL stats were fine, but his swing path left him vulnerable to velocity on the inner half, and he too often expanded the zone. There’s doubt that he’ll get to all of his raw power in games, both due to the swing path and lack of plate discipline, but it isn’t as if he’s had time to make proper adjustments yet, and the pitching he saw in Arizona was the best he’s seen in his life. The ceiling is the same as it was purported to be before he signed: power, speed, offensive performance similar to Carlos Gomez‘s best years. There’s just more risk that Robert doesn’t get there.

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44. Adonis Medina, RHP, PHI
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (PHI)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/60 50/60 40/50 92-95 / 97

Medina will show you three plus pitches and easily has mid-rotation upside if he can do so consistently. He mixed several nuclear meltdown starts into what was otherwise an impressive 2018.

Medina is right there with Sanchez in the Phillies system when it comes to upside. He shows three plus pitches at times and may be a better athlete than Sanchez, so the elements of frontline starter potential are here. Medina works in the mid-90’s early in games with plus life and at his best, he’ll pair it with a changeup with similar action and a slider that can play even better than 60 when ideally used and located.

Like most young power arms, Medina’s command and velocity degrade in the middle innings as his focus and intensity wane and fatigue starts to set in. More advanced hitters can lay off his lively stuff when it’s more area-type control than MLB-level pitch execution. Scouts like Medina’s makeup, coachability, and athleticism (most prefer him to Sanchez in this regard) and expect him to continue to improve in these areas.

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45. Alex Reyes, RHP, STL
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (STL)
Age 24.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 45/50 60/70 55/60 40/50 93-97 / 101

Reyes’ elite stuff belongs in the 60 FV tier, but constant injury has increased the likelihood that he ends up a reliever, at least for a while.

We erroneously peeled Reyes off this list during the summer. When he departed his May 30 start after four innings, he had thrown exactly 50 career frames. The MLB rule for rookie eligibility states that it has been exceeded when a pitcher has thrown more than 50 innings, so he’s technically still eligible.

Reyes has developed amid constant setbacks. He had a shoulder injury in 2015, a marijuana suspension that spanned the 2015 Fall League and start of the 2016 season, underwent Tommy John later in 2016 and then suffered a right lat ligament detachment in his first big league start back from TJ in 2018. The surgery to reattach his ligament took place in early June, which, with a six month recovery, means Reyes should be ready for 2019. Healthy Reyes is one of the best arm talents on the planet. His fastball will sit 93-97 and hover near 100 out of the bullpen. He’ll also show you a plus changeup and curveball. His feel for each can be inconsistent, which is understandable given how little he has pitched over the last three years.

If fully realized, Reyes has top of the rotation stuff. It’s unclear how St. Louis will usher Reyes along next spring, both as far as his role and workload are concerned. He has the stuff to be a dominant multi-inning or high-leverage relief arm should the Cardinals think he’s more likely to stay healthy that way. His innings total will likely need to be manicured somehow, and perhaps that’s the way to go about building Reyes back up even if the org considers him a traditional starter long term.

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50 FV Prospects

46. Brandon Lowe, 2B, TBR
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2015 from Maryland (TBR)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 55/55 45/55 50/50 40/45 45/45

Lowe’s 2018 sample of big league at-bats was large enough to draw some real conclusions about his skillset. His power and feel for lift are both legit, and he’s due for some helpful BABIP regression.

Lowe (pronounced with a vowel sound like ‘plow’ or ‘allow’) was an under-the-radar, bat-first prospect at Maryland who the Rays picked in the third round. He has always been a second baseman but was never the pedigree type given his position and average at best speed, defense, and arm. He also tore his ACL as a freshman. His indicators were positive–plate discipline, contact skills, bat speed, enough power to profile–and we were high on Lowe entering the year, pegging him as a 45 FV. He went off in 2018, following a fine Double-A look in 2017 by demolishing the level in 2018, then performing even better at Triple-A, earning a big league look, where he put up almost 1.0 WAR in just 43 games.

The offense has taken off even more than those highest on him internally had expected, with some chance for 50 hit and 60 game power with passable defense at second, along with versatility to play left field and possibly first base if needed.

Lowe is now in the weird prospect spot where he isn’t the highly-drafted, tooled-up brand name type you typically find in the middle of a top 100, but he’s about as low risk of a bat as there is with prospect eligibility, and he can also play up the middle, so his six years of control have tons of value to a small market team like the Rays.

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47. Danny Jansen, C, TOR
Drafted: 16th Round, 2013 from West HS (WI) (TOR)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 55/55 40/45 30/30 45/50 40/40

Jansen’s 2018 was confirmation that his 2017 breakout was real, and he does enough to stay behind the plate. He’s at least a solid everyday catcher, perhaps a bit more.

A 2017 Jansen breakout coincided with good health and a pair of prescription lenses. He walked more than he struck out across three minor league levels, and rose to Triple-A and into our overall top 100. He had a similarly strong 2018, which included a Futures Game invite, a .390 OBP at Triple-A, and then a strong 30-game big league stint in August and September, all reinforcing that Jansen’s 2017 breakout was legitimate. A solid if unspectacular defender, Jansen’s pop times were depressed during his big league cameo, hovering between 2.05 and 2.10, both below average for a catcher. But he’s an average receiver and ball-blocker, and is a perfectly acceptable defensive catcher without a disqualifying shortcoming.

Where Jansen shines is in the batter’s box. His hands work in a tight loop, giving Jansen the capacity to catch velocity and still lift the baseball, and he’s strong enough to muscle out balls to his pull-side, though to this point his approach has yielded more doubles than homers. He is a pull-only plodder and he’ll likely always be a low BABIP guy, and it’s possible major league pitchers will find ways to attack him in ways that limit his power output, but he’s going to make a lot of contact and reach base, which, at catcher, could make him an All-Star.

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48. Peter Alonso, 1B, NYM
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Florida (NYM)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 80/80 55/70 30/30 40/40 50/50

Alonso has elite raw power and lead the minors in homers last year. He is not a good defensive first baseman and may be the primary beneficiary if the universal DH is instituted.

Alonso followed up a breakout 2017 with a minor league leading 36-home run 2018 campaign split between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A launching pad Las Vegas. In addition to clubbing the most home runs, Alonso hit some of 2018’s loudest individual blasts. He had the most prolific batting practice session at the Futures Game, then threatened a passing satellite with a titanic seventh-inning homer off of a grooved, 95 mph Adonis Medina fastball. He exceeded Mets Statcast-era records on a ball in play in the Arizona Fall League, out-hit Vlad Guerrero, Jr. during Fall Stars BP, then homered the opposite way off a 103 mph Nate Pearson fastball in the game.

This is what top-of-the-scale, strength-driven raw power looks like, and it drives an excellent version of a profile we’re typically quite bearish on: the heavy-bodied, right/right first baseman. Alonso is tough to beat with velocity because his swing is compact and even when he’s a little late, he’s capable of muscling mis-hit balls out the other way. After some adjustment, Fall League pitching chose to attack him beneath the knees, and well-located pitches down there were successful, but Alonso crushes mistake breaking balls that catch too much of the zone. We think a typical Alonso season will look like something between what C.J. Cron and Jesus Aguilar did last year, depending on whether the 2018 uptick in Alonso’s walk rate holds water or not. He makes some nice effort-based plays at first base, but as a feet and hands athlete, Alonso is well below average.

Perhaps more notable than what we anticipate will be several years of mashing in the heart of the Mets lineup, Alonso is a favorite to become the poster child for player compensation reform. Already near the center of public discourse regarding teams’ suppression of prospect promotion, Alonso is 24 years old and has a skillset and body type at heightened risk to enter physical decline relatively early. With his early-career earning power stifled by his parent club, Alonso might start to show signs of physical regression during his arbitration years and also struggle to find a lucrative market in free agency. His free agency is timed awkwardly between what will probably be the next two CBA negotiations, but otherwise the circumstances indicate his situation could one day be a focal point for change.

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49. Drew Waters, CF, ATL
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Etowah HS (GA) (ATL)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 183 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 55/60 30/50 60/55 45/50 60/60

Waters has a rare skillset, with 55 or 60 tools across the board. He reached Hi-A as a teenager with a breakout 2018 campaign.

Waters was the rare prep prospect who had present hit tool utility, top-of-the-line prep performance, and 55- or 60-grade supporting tools to give him both high certainty and some ceiling. He got lost in the shuffle a bit in his deep draft class and had a tough pro debut due to both fatigue and swing tinkering. His full season debut in 2018 was a smashing success; he demolished the Low-A Sally League and posted a 98 wRC+ in High-A as a teenager.

Waters’ raw power is a 55 that will likely be a 60 as he fills out, and his speed is a current 60 that likely becomes a 55. His center field instincts are above average, so he’s still got a solid chance to stick at the position and his arm is an easy plus. Waters’ carrying tool is his bat and he regained an approach that works for him in 2018. His exciting combination of physical projection, now ability, and ceiling will give him upward mobility in the Top 100 with a strong start to 2019.

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50. Corbin Martin, RHP, HOU
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Texas A&M (HOU)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 45/55 40/50 93-95 / 96

There was a lot of talk about relief risk while Martin was at Texas A&M but that has completely stopped, and he now projects as a No. 3 or 4 starter.

Martin was a solid two-way performer in high school who hadn’t quite grown into his frame yet when he got to Texas A&M. By the summer after his sophomore year, Martin was flashing three TrackMan-friendly plus pitches and starter traits in the Cape Cod League, but he only started 16 games in College Station due to a deep veteran staff and his own inconsistency. The Astros popped him in the second round in 2017, hoping to tease out the guy they saw on the Cape and in the last 18 months, they’ve done just that.

Martin sits in the mid-90s, mixes in a plus slider, with an above average changeup and average command. He still doesn’t post the strikeout rates that you’d assume from a possible No. 2 or 3 starter in the Astros farm system, which annually leads the minors in strikeouts in part because they know how to coach pitchers to make the most of their stuff. Sources with knowledge in this area indicate that Martin should see more K’s in 2019 if he can make a couple subtle adjustments to how he uses his pitches and fully unlock his potential, which could lead to a big league look at the end of 2019 if the vaunted Astros pitching staff has an open spot.

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51. Hunter Greene, RHP, CIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Notre Dame HS (CA) (CIN)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 197 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/80 50/55 40/45 45/55 40/60 95-98 / 103

Build a pitching prospect in a laboratory and the result is Greene, who has elite arm strength and athleticism. He was developing better secondary stuff, but his season ended prematurely due to an elbow sprain.

Greene is a generational on-mound athlete whose 2018 season ended with an elbow sprain. A strong two month run of starts in the early summer culminated in a 7-inning shutout start (2 H, 0 BB, 10 K, it took 69 pitches) on July 2 at Lake County followed by his feat of strength at the Futures Game. Eleven days later, Greene’s season was over. He had a PRP injection and rehabbed the sprained UCL in Arizona with broad plans to start throwing during the winter and so far, he seems on track for spring training.

Greene’s development was already pretty likely to be slow. He was able to throw strikes with that upper-90s fastball in high school, but his breaking ball was just okay, and he had no use for a changeup, so both of his secondary pitches were behind other pitchers in the class. Teams needed to project heavily on Greene’s stuff to buy him as a top five pick, but he’s such an exceptional athlete and success-oriented person that many of them did. Focusing solely on pitching for the first time, Greene’s slider improved in 2018. His ceiling will be dictated by the continued development of his secondary stuff.

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52. Andres Gimenez, SS, NYM
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (NYM)
Age 20.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 40/45 30/45 60/55 50/55 55/55

More skilled and polished than he is toolsy, Gimenez has been pushed up the minor league ladder aggressively and performed. He perceived ceiling is not that high.

While evaluations of his defense are universally strong, assessments of Gimenez’s bat vary significantly depending on when he was seen. He looked like a well-rounded, first-division player while he was hitting with pleasantly surprising power (.282/.343/.432 with 30 extra-base hits in 85 games) at Hi-A St. Lucie during the season’s first half, but like much less of one during a rough six weeks in the Arizona Fall League. In Fall League, Gimenez looked physically overmatched at the plate, likely due to exhaustion. He was still 19 when the Mets promoted him to Double-A for the season’s final six weeks, and his sophomoric body had endured a 122-game season against older, more physically developed athletes before he had even set foot in Arizona.

It’s fair to project Gimenez to add strength, but because his frame is small, it’ll probably be just the kind of strength that gives him season-long stamina, not huge raw power. But while big raw power is unlikely, if his feel for contact is refined in a way that prioritizes lift, it’s possible that Gimenez will end up hitting for more power than we project in the same way Ozzie Albies has. Gimenez has excellent natural bat control and can pull his hands in to get the barrel on pitches that would jam other hitters, and he has feel for fully extending on balls away from him and roping them into the opposite-field gap. If he does, he might end up hitting a ton of doubles and out-slug our projections without hitting a lot of home runs, or he may naturally start lifting the ball like Albies did.

In general, we like Gimenez as an above-average defensive middle infielder with advanced contact skills. We think he’ll be a solid-average everyday player, and while we think it’s unlikely, we can see a developmental path that leads to better production than that.

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53. Luis Garcia, SS, WSN
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (WSN)
Age 18.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/60 50/55 30/45 55/55 45/50 55/55

See Gimenez, Andres.

In the Nationals’ budget-busting 2016 international signing class, Garcia ($1.3 million) was the lesser-paid and, until close to signing day, lesser-regarded prospect when compared to Yasel Antuna ($3.9 million). Antuna looked like one of the top players in the class early, tailed off a bit, and then began improving in pro ball, whereas Garcia was a smaller kid with solid tools and advanced feel who slowly developed above average tools after Washington had locked him up at a lower price. Garcia has filled out some in the intervening time, and has sneaky raw power that may be above average at maturity. That, in combination with clearly above average bat control and enough patience that Garcia lays off pitcher’s pitches, is a rare combination for an 18-year-old middle infielder. You can see why Washington pushed him to Hi-A and why he continued performing.

Garcia is an above average runner and thrower but may not stick at shortstop, in which case he’ll be fine at second base. There’s a shot Garcia continues hitting this year, mixes in more game power, and becomes a top-50 prospect in the game, so he’ll be one to monitor closely early in 2019.

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54. Jesus Sanchez, RF, TBR
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 60/65 30/55 50/50 50/55 60/60

If bat speed is your thing, then you probably love Sanchez. If a well-manicured approach is your thing, you probably don’t.

Corner bats with 30-grade plate discipline are scary, but Sanchez has the talent to override his impatience and so far he has performed in spite of it. In possession of a picturesque swing and some of the most electric bat speed in the minors, Sanchez has a .306/.347/.478 career line over four pro seasons, and he’s been young for each of the levels to which he has been assigned. As awestruck as his swing leaves onlookers, it is imperfect and causes him to drive the ball into the ground about 50% of the time. He hits it so hard that it hasn’t mattered yet, and it may not be prudent to tweak Sanchez’s swing so long as he keeps performing, but the ceiling on his power output is huge if his bat path gets dialed in.

This is a pretty traditional right field profile, instability and all, and Sanchez has a chance to hit at the heart of a big league lineup. He got a taste of Double-A late last year and should return there in 2019.

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55. William Contreras, C, ATL
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (ATL)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 50/55 20/50 45/40 45/55 60/60

William is the younger brother of Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, but he’s a slightly different kind of catcher. William projects to be an above average defender who is hit over power right now, and multiple scouts we spoke with expect another breakout campaign in 2019.

Contreras’ older brother Willson is among the best catchers in baseball and was a late bloomer, breaking through at age 23 in Double-A. William had his breakout in 2018 as a 20-year-old, going from a trendy pick to breakout to a consensus Top 100 prospect by mid-season. He has been defensively advanced for years, both in his tools and his mental approach to the game, in part due to help from his brother. William projects as an above average defender with a plus arm. Contreras has also gotten stronger and is growing into his man strength after establishing a feel to hit, so he has a well-rounded approach now. He toned down his swing in 2018 and is slowly adding elements as he feels comfortable, rather than making a noisier swing work all at once.

Contreras stands out because there are not many 21-year-olds who project for average to above offense along with above average defense, and have the makeup/mental part of the game under control without any major red flags like injuries. The scouts who like Contreras really like him–rounding up on both the tool grades due to makeup and his overall value due to a high floor at a position that’s a wasteland in the majors right now.

Atlanta’s top 10 could be in almost any order, and Contreras may be the guy with the biggest variance as to where various baseball people rank him, which is a positive when his ranking peers are mostly MLB-ready, heavily-pedigreed prospects with much more track record.

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56. Travis Swaggerty, CF, PIT
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from South Alabama (PIT)
Age 21.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 60/60 30/50 65/65 45/55 60/60

Tools like Swaggerty’s are uncommon for college prospects, especially at small schools, and he has a chance to hit for power and stay in center field if the Pirates get his swing dialed in.

Swaggerty was a new name to most scouts last summer when he starred as the sparkplug for collegiate Team USA, playing center field and batting atop the lineup along with White Sox 2018 first round second baseman Nick Madrigal. Swaggerty showed bat control and gap power, and was a fringe first rounder for many off that first, extended look on Team USA, but he came out this spring looking like a different player. He had become more physical and changed his swing to incorporate his added strength, lifting the ball and evolving from a gap-to-gap speed player into a potential monster with plus raw power, arm strength and speed.

Swaggerty didn’t put up the gaudy numbers you’d expect for a guy with top level tools in a mid-major conference who had also hit with wood on the Cape, and it was because his new swing would get out of whack. His weight transfer was too aggressive at times, causing him to lose balance and be in a poor position to hit offspeed stuff. Swaggerty’s developmental issue is dialing in his swing mechanics and approach to something that best takes advantage of his explosive tools, which could be a multi-year process.

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57. Touki Toussaint, RHP, ATL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Coral Springs Christian HS (FL) (ARI)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 65/65 55/60 50/55 40/45 91-95 / 97

He’ll probably always be an inefficient strike-thrower, but Touki’s repertoire is probably too deep to stick him in the bullpen, and he projects as a No. 4 starter.

Toussaint was a heralded and famous prep pitcher, showing plus-plus stuff as a high school sophomore and eventually going in the middle of the first round in 2014. He was traded to Atlanta as the prize for taking on Bronson Arroyo’s contract, and has slowly made adjustments to develop his starter traits and harness his high octane stuff. When he’s at his best, Toussaint works 91-94 and will hit 97 mph a couple of times a game when he needs to, mixing in a 55 or 60 grade curveball and hard changeup, though he’ll break out the 70-grade hook once or twice a game. With his power approach and delivery, Toussaint still has some command issues at times, but when he dials his stuff down a bit, he’s learned to be more pitch efficient.

At the least, Toussaint is an ideal candidate to be a setup man or closer who can go multiple innings, but there’s a real chance he can be the no. 2 or 3 starter that teams work so hard, and go through so many arms, to find, and he’s ready to contribute now.

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58. Dylan Cease, RHP, CHW
Drafted: 6th Round, 2014 from Milton HS (GA) (CHC)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/60 45/50 40/45 95-98 / 101

A hard-throwing righty with a traditional 12-6 curveball, Cease still has control/command questions to answer before we’re all-in.

Cease burst onto the scouting scene in 2013 when, as a junior in high school, he hit 96 mph and flashed an above average curveball at the heavily-scouted NHSI tournament in Cary, NC. He mostly held serve in his senior year, occasionally touching a tick or two higher or flashing 60 with his curveball, but was still a stuff over command type. The Cubs went well overslot to get Cease in the sixth round with a $1 million bonus, below what his talent was worth, but appropriate since clubs knew he needed Tommy John surgery right after he signed.

He’s slowly made progress in terms of starter traits during his pro career, while his velocity has increased to where he sits 95-98 mph now. In 2018, he took the biggest step forward, dominating High-A and Double-A at age 22, and some scouts are now projecting him as a No. 2 or 3 starter. We still aren’t completely convinced, as Cease is still control over command, and may fit best in a multi-inning relief role, or as a starter who doesn’t face any hitters a third time.

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59. Francisco Mejia, C, SDP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (CLE)
Age 23.3 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 55/55 40/50 50/45 40/45 80/80

We love Mejia’s bat but he still hasn’t made much progress as a receiver, and if he has to move to an outfield corner, his hedonistic approach suddenly becomes scary.

Acquired from Cleveland for Brad Hand, Mejia is one of the more entertaining hitters to watch in the minors, but he has a few flaws that need to be corrected for him to reach his substantial ceiling, and possibly for him to profile at all. He has a very aggressive approach and a funky, high-effort swing from both sides of the plate, and they’re only sustainable because Mejia has elite hand-eye coordination and bat control. His swing-happy approach could limit his on-base ability quite a bit, and possibly his power output, too, which would be less of a problem if Mejia could definitely stick as a catcher. Mejia has an elite arm but is a below-average receiver currently.

Before they traded him, Cleveland had tried Mejia at third base and the outfield corners. San Diego seems inclined to just let him catch, but if Wil Myers‘ movement is any indication, they’re open to trying new things. There are probably certain types of pitchers that Mejia can catch without much issue, and it seems logical to pair him and Austin Hedges in a way that hides Mejia’s issues while he can work on them and still gets reps. If he does have to move to say right field, the lack of plate discipline becomes an issue because the offensive bar out there is much higher. The scouting report reads much like Jorge Alfaro‘s, except Mejia is a switch-hitter with better natural bat control.

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60. Justus Sheffield, LHP, SEA
Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Tullahoma HS (TN) (CLE)
Age 22.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 50/55 45/50 91-96 / 97

The movement profile of Sheffield’s fastball indicates it won’t miss as many at-bats as its velocity would otherwise indicate, but his secondary stuff is great and he’ll be a No. 3 or 4 starter if his command improves.

Sheffield has now been traded twice: once from Cleveland to New York for Andrew Miller, and then from New York to Seattle for James Paxton. Except for his 2017 Fall League excursion, during which Sheffield had the best stretch of command he’s ever had, he’s had issues throwing strikes. This, combined with some injuries (an oblique strain in 2017, shoulder stiffness in 2018) and the way Sheffield’s body has thickened, has led some scouts to conclude that Sheffield will eventually be a reliever, albeit a very good one due to the quality of his stuff. We don’t think his fastball is going to miss as many bats as you might expect given its velocity. It’s a mid-90s bowling ball sinker with well-below average spin rate. This should pair well with Sheffield’s changeup, but it may not effectively set up his slider, which on its own is excellent. He’s more likely to end up a league-average starter than a middle or top of the rotation type, and he might be a dynamic, multi-inning reliever.

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61. Luiz Gohara, LHP, ATL
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Brazil (SEA)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 60/60 45/50 45/50 93-96 / 98

Gohara dealt with off-field adversity in 2018, so scrap the stats and just look at the stuff: rare lefty starter velocity and a plus slider.

Gohara has had an up-and-down couple of years; he’s dealt with serious health issues and death in his immediate family, and living far away from home, along with some relatively less important professional matters, has also proven to be burdensome. A series of off-the-field issues and maturity concerns led the Mariners to sell low on him in the trade that brought him to Atlanta. He has a frame along the lines of a Prince Fielder or a CC Sabathia in that he looks unathletic when static, but you can see he’s deceptively athletic for his size. Gohara has reportedly recently lost a lot of weight and gotten into the best shape of his life (alarm sound).

He has high octane stuff with a plus fastball/slider combo and a changeup that’s come to be average, along with better control and command than you might expect from a young power pitcher. Gohara is very close to losing eligibility, but he may be the rare case of a player who actually demonstrates in March that the changes he’s made are real and moves up a list, since it’s hard to upgrade a guy based on verbal reports that he’s making progress in non-competitive environments.

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62. Oneil Cruz, CF, PIT
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (LAD)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 70/80 30/60 60/45 40/45 80/80

Prospectdom’s version of Giannis Antetokounmpo, there are any number of possible outcomes for Cruz, most of them involve him hitting for huge power.

A peerless physical freak, Cruz is a 6-foot-7 shortstop with elite raw arm strength and raw power projection. He body-comps more closely to someone like Harold Carmichael or Brandon Ingram than he does anyone in his own sport, and there are several vastly different ideas as to how his body and game will develop as he fills out. Despite his ectomorphic build, lever length, and physical immaturity, Cruz has performed and has handled aggressive assignments pretty well. The Dodgers sent him to Low-A Great Lakes when he was 18, where he ran into 20 extra-base hits in 90 games before being traded to Pittsburgh at the deadline for Tony Watson. He hit .286/.343/.488 in 2018 while repeating Low-A.

There’s real risk Cruz maxes out as a 40 bat, but as long as he’s getting to most of that power, he’ll likely profile just about anywhere on the defensive spectrum. So, where exactly on the defensive spectrum will that be? Shortstops this big don’t exist, but there’s some sentiment in the industry that Cruz will be able to stay there, especially as we enter the era of the lead-footed shortstop. Others consider Cruz’s speed viable in center field long term. Those who think he’ll thicken significantly have him projected to either right field or third base, and others think his size would make for a wonderful target at first. One source thinks Cruz should just be pitching, due to his arm strength and athleticism. Clearly this is one of the more bizarre prospects in baseball with countless possible career outcomes. Most of them are very positive or highly entertaining; several of them end in stardom.

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63. Nate Pearson, RHP, TOR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Central Florida JC (FL) (TOR)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/80 60/65 50/55 45/55 35/45 95-100 / 104

Pearson touched 104 and threw a 95 mph slider in the fall, but there’s a good chance he ends up in relief.

We still know very little about Pearson compared to most 22-year-old pitching prospects. He popped up seemingly out of nowhere as a sophomore at a lesser Florida junior college but quickly entered the first round discussion when JuCo ball kicked off in January of 2017. As the draft approached, Pearson was showing better secondary stuff in games and bumping 100 mph in bullpen sessions for scouts. He forced his way up draft boards even though teams had little history with him, and some were skeptical of the new velocity or concerned it would lead to injury.

Pearson made seven short but dominant appearances in the Northwest League during the summer and was poised to begin 2018 at Hi-A Dunedin (an aggressive assignment), but he suffered an intercostal strain and began the season on the DL. In his final extended spring rehab start, he was sitting 94-96 and touching 98 with the fastball. He finally toed a Florida State League rubber that week and lasted 1.2 innings before a comebacker struck his wrist and forearm and fractured his ulna. The injury ended his regular season after just five outs.

After rest and some rehab during instructs, Pearson went to Arizona for the Fall League. His stuff was electric there, his fastball always sitting 95-99 and cresting 100 mph often. He threw a 104 mph fastball and a 95 mph slider during the Fall Stars game, and he was able to dump his upper-70s curveball in for strikes throughout his six-week tenure, though he threw no changeups. Pearson was also horribly wild at times. It’s fair to conclude that rust was to blame for his occasional wildness but because the pro side of the industry has seen so little of Pearson, it’s impossible to know for sure.

There’s a strong possibility that he just ends up in the bullpen, but if he does and he breathes one-inning fire like he did during Fall Stars, he basically has Aroldis Chapman‘s stuff (though perhaps not the same extension or approach angle). Provided he stays healthy, Pearson’s future is bright, albeit unclear. He’s likely to be handled with care for a while in order to keep him healthy and manage his workload after what was essentially a lost 2018, but given the wide variance and top shelf stuff, there is still frontline starter potential.

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64. Brusdar Graterol, RHP, MIN
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (MIN)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 50/60 45/55 40/50 96-99 / 100

Another guy with upper-90s heat, Graterol’s fastball plays down a little due to poor extension, but he has great control of it for a 20-year-old who throws this hard and might shoot up this list next year.

Graterol signed for $150,000 in 2014 out of Venezuela, got Tommy John surgery within a year, then got on the scouting radar a couple years later, when he was hitting the high-90s on the backfields in Ft. Myers, eventually hitting 100 mph. Before 2018, he had only made a handful of appearances outside of the DSL and GCL. His 2018 included eight sterling starts in Low-A and 11 very solid starts in Hi-A, all as a teenager.

Graterol has the making of a frontline starter, sitting 96-99 and hitting 100 mph often, mixing in a plus-flashing slider and a changeup that’s above average at its best. He’s a short strider and a bit of a dart-thrower, which is unusual for a pitcher that hits 100, but it helps Graterol throw more strikes than you would assume from a teenager hitting this kind of heat with an arm surgery in his past. The poor extension makes his velocity play lower than the radar gun readings, but with some incremental improvements in pitch execution and command, Graterol could shoot up this list, as he does more things like Sixto Sanchez than anyone else here.

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65. Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Holy Ghost Prep HS (PA) (CLE)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/70 55/60 40/30 40/45 60/60

Jones swings and misses a lot and may need to move to right field, but he has hit for power each of the last two years and has some of the higher walk rates in the minors.

Scout opinions about where on the defensive spectrum Jones will end up are all over the map. He got quite big not long after he was drafted and seemed destined for first base, and while there’s still a chance he ends up there eventually, he looked learner last year and has a better chance of staying at third for a while. Some clubs think he’ll move to right field, and the contact issues Jones has had due to his lever length are problematic if he doesn’t stay at third.

We’re intrigued by the three-true outcomes possibilities here, as Jones already has huge power and might grow into more, and he’s also had some of the higher walk rates in all of the minor leagues. Opposing pitchers are going to have to be careful with him or risk paying a 400 foot price, so we expect Jones’ on base ability to hold water at the upper levels. He’ll likely begin the year at Hi-A and could reach Double-A Akron as a 21-year-old later in the year if he performs during the spring.

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66. Alec Bohm, 3B, PHI
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Wichita State (PHI)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 65/70 40/60 50/40 40/50 60/60

Bohm’s swing needs work but he has Kris Bryant‘s body and raw power and is similarly athletic, and probably stays at third base.

Bohm was under the scouting radar until a breakout campaign on Cape Cod, during which both he and teammate Greyson Jenista (a second round pick by the Braves) emerged as top tier bats in the 2018 draft. During the spring, Bohm steadily worked his way up from the late first round to the third overall pick by hitting more than scouts expected a long-limbed power threat to hit. Bohm pulls this off by keeping his arms tucked in during his swing and having a flatter plane; as a result he’s both quicker into the zone and in the zone longer than most power hitters. Ideally, hitters with Bohm’s plus-plus power have more loft in their swing plane and extend their arms to generate the most power, with Kris Bryant an example of a hitter with a similar frame and this more power-focused approach.

We’re projecting Bohm as a 50 bat with 60 game power and split the difference a bit–he could go even more extreme for power at the expense of contact–but there are a number of ways this offensive skillset could turn out, particularly with new and more progressive hitting instruction this year for the Phillies. Bohm’s defense also could go a few different ways, depending how much weight he adds to his lean frame and how his lateral quickness ages. Defensively, Bohm looks major league average at times and clearly below average at others, but he’ll get plenty of chances to make things work at third base.

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67. Spencer Howard, RHP, PHI
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Cal Poly (PHI)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 50/55 55/60 40/45 92-98 / 100

Howard’s stuff exploded late last year and he may end up with four plus pitches, though the fastball command is still on the low end of what’s acceptable for starters.

Teams were understandably late to identify Howard as an upper crust draft prospect. He redshirted, then only threw 36 innings the following spring as a redshirt freshman and began his draft year in the bullpen, a relative unknown. He moved to the rotation in March and crosscheckers started showing up to see him much later than is typical for a first look at a second round talent. In 2018, his first full season as a member of the rotation, Howard thrived and late in the year his stuff took off. After two dominant months to close his regular season, Howard threw a no hitter in the Sally League playoffs. During that stretch, he was sitting 94-98 for much of his starts and flashing three good secondary pitches, the best of which is a disappearing, low-80s changeup. Howard can also freeze hitters with a mid-70s curveball and use it to get ahead, and his mid-80s slider has enough length to miss bats away from righties.

Though he has below average fastball command, Howard’s ability to throw his breaking balls for strikes significantly improves his chances of starting. His inning count in 2018 (112) was about the same as it was if you combine his college and pro workload from 2017, and it’s fair to assume that even if Philly wants to him to throw more innings, an innings cap might impede a 2019 debut, even if Howard’s stuff is ready. He has considerable upside if he can retain his stuff while carrying a 160-plus inning burden.

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68. Ronny Mauricio, SS, NYM
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYM)
Age 17.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 166 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 45/55 20/50 45/50 40/50 55/60

This is what Fernando Tatis, Jr. looked like at age 17.

Much of scouting teenage prospects has to do with identifying good athletes and good frames, and like many of this century’s All-Star, power-hitting shortstops, Ronny Mauricio is both. A broad-shouldered but lean 6-foot-3, Mauricio looks like Manny Machado, and Hanley Ramirez, and Carlos Correa, and a host of other super talents all did at age 17: long-limbed, with surprising grace, flexibility, and coordination for someone this age and size, and possessed of physical gifts that might enable them to stay at shortstop while also growing into huge power. The Goldilocks Zone.

But Mauricio is also more than just a frame/athleticism/projection bet. He has relatively advanced feel to hit for a teenage switch-hitter, his timing is fine, and he hasn’t exhibited any confidence-altering, contact-related red flags, like lever length or poor plate discipline. He may outgrow shortstop but if he does, it means big power on a plus-gloved third baseman. We were surprised by Mauricio’s GCL assignment, and then surprised further by both his admirable statistical performance there and his late-season promotion to Kingsport. He might be ushered through the system more quickly than we anticipated when he signed. Regardless of where he’s playing, once Mauricio turns a physical corner, he’s likely to rocket up this list.

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69. DL Hall, LHP, BAL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Valdosta HS (GA) (BAL)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 50/55 40/50 92-96 / 97

A squat lefty who flashes three plus pitches, Hall has No. 3 starter upside if he stays healthy and refines his fastball command.

Though he’d flash three plus pitches and at times look like a top 10 pick, teams had the kind of pre-draft concerns about Hall that are typical of high school pitchers (holding stuff deep into starts, command), and some teams rounded down due to perceived off-field issues, concerns that have proven to be unfounded, or at least were quickly remedied, in pro ball. Hall has also made on-field progress throughout 2018. Early in the season, he was wild. As it wore on, some mechanical issues were ironed out, and his changeup feel turned a corner through increased use. He dominated for long stretches of games during the second half of the season, including a commanding July during which he allowed just 10 hits and struck out 39 in 26.2 innings.

The strike-throwing is still not great, but it has gotten better, and Hall’s stuff is really good. At around 6-feet even, Hall is short but he’s thick and strong, and scouts aren’t worried his durability. He has mid-rotation upside if his command continues to progress. He’s in the midst of answering every pre-draft question asked of him and has a chance to be an All-Star.

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70. Ronaldo Hernandez, C, TBR
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Colombia (TBR)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 55/60 30/50 35/30 40/50 70/70

A plus-plus arm and big raw power drive Hernandez’s high-ceiling profile.

Hernandez’s career got off to a slow start in part due to his conversion (he was originally a SS/3B who the Rays asked to catch) but also due to injury, which cost him much of his first pro season. He so dominated the DSL in his second go at it that the Rays had him skip the GCL and sent him right to Princeton the following year. The last two seasons, Hernandez has slugged .500 as a young-for-the-level regular, and he was one homer off the Midwest League lead in 2018. He has above average raw power and sufficient feel to hit that he’ll get to most of it, certainly enough to profile at catcher. While Hernandez is still a below average receiver and inconsistent ball-blocker, he shows enough aptitude for both to project that he’ll be an average defender at maturity, and he has run-stopping arm strength.

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71. Matthew Liberatore, LHP, TBR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Mountain Ridge HS (AZ) (TBR)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 45/50 55/70 50/55 40/55 92-95 / 97

Though he took an unexpected tumble on draft day, Libby’s velocity, curveball, and early-career pitching acumen give him front-end upside. He’s just several years from realizing it.

Oakland’s selection of Kyler Murray seems to have been the catalyst for Liberatore’s draft day slide. He was arguably the best high school pitcher in the class, evaluated heavily early on by the Giants (who picked second), before settling into the 7-13 range by June. When Murray was selected, teams picking behind Oakland suddenly had access to one more player than they had anticipated. It meant Travis Swaggerty was there for Pittsburgh at 10, which meant Grayson Rodriguez was there for Baltimore at 11, and so on. Other teams hadn’t considered the possibility that Libby would fall to them and either hadn’t done a lot of background work, or weren’t comfortable with how he might alter their bonus pool math.

When Liberatore is at his best, he throws strikes with 93-97 for the first several innings of his starts, show you a 70 curveball, a good change, and alter the timing of his delivery to toy with hitters. He added a slider part way through his junior year and instantly had nascent feel for it. At other times, he’d sit 88-92 with scattershot command and get too cute with Johnny Cueto shenanigans. But the frame, athleticism, arm strength, and ability to spin are all ideal, and there’s immense ceiling here.

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72. Bryse Wilson, RHP, ATL
Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Orange HS (NC) (ATL)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 224 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/55 50/55 50/55 91-95 / 98

A fastball-heavy, bulldog righty who goes right at hitters, Wilson is a safe No. 4 starter.

Wilson is a scout favorite, as an aggressive bulldog who relies on spotting his fastball in all quadrants of the zone, with the velocity, movement, and command all grading above average on his various fastballs. His slider will flash 55 in ideal situations, but plays closer to fringe average regularly, while his changeup also flashes 55 at times and is better than the slider most games. Wilson fits in today’s game because the concerns around him involve turning over the lineup and using his third pitch, but he normally has a plus fastball, above average command, plus plus makeup, and at least one average to above offspeed pitch, so he could be a great 2-3 inning reliever who works in various roles. There’s still a chance he could be a traditional starter, but the Braves’ pitching depth likely dictates a hybrid role in the short term.

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73. Miguel Amaya, C, CHC
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Panama (CHC)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 50/55 30/45 40/30 45/60 55/60

A mature defender with 55 raw power, Amaya had the statistical breakout last year that we promised he would, and is tracking like an above-average regular.

Even as he struggled early as a pro to perform on paper, Amaya drew trade interest from clubs hoping to leverage the Cubs’ championship aspirations to convince the club to part with him. The Cubs refused and have been rewarded, as the offensive potential promised by Amaya’s graceful swing and burgeoning physicality began to actualize in 2018. Amaya’s hands have life, and work in a tight little loop as he accelerates them to swing. He can pull and lift balls in various parts of the zone with regularity, and the impact of his contact is only limited by his average bat speed.

The physical grind of catching is likely to dilute his in-game offensive production a little bit, but unless the beating he takes back there starts to take away from his defensive abilities (which sometimes happens to young catchers), Amaya is a pretty good bet to have some kind of big league career, and, if the bat maxes out, he’ll be an above-average regular. He turns 20 in March and will likely head to Hi-A next year. How his advanced defensive ability and less-advanced bat develop could affect how quickly the Cubs push him: slowly if they want to wait for the latter or, depending on how much he hits early as a big leaguer, quickly if they don’t.

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74. Yusei Kikuchi, LHP, SEA
Age 27.7 Height Weight Bat / Thr / FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 60/60 55/55 55/55 45/45 91-95 / 96

Take the spin rates with a grain of salt because the American baseball is slightly different, but Kikuchi has a deep repertoire of quality pitches led by his curveball and split.

One could argue the 27-year-old Kickuchi doesn’t belong on a prospects list, but he’s not even the oldest player on The Board, and you’d probably like to know more about him, so here we go. MLB teams had interest in Kikuchi when he was a teenager and several of them courted him before he was drafted into NPB. Though minor ailments limited his early-career workload, he’s been one of the better starters in Japan for the last six years and has been especially good for the last two, before Saitama posted him. He started getting into pitch design after his parent club installed a TrackMan unit in 2016.

Like a lot of Japanese pitchers, Kikuchi has a kitchen sink repertoire that features a splitter and various breaking balls. Everything is above-average, except for Kikuchi’s fastball. Mechanically, Kikuchi is similar to MacKenzie Gore, although his stride direction is more direct to the plate and his delivery has a brief intermission as his landing leg descends (pause) then everything comes home. His arm action is efficient and Kikuchi’s slot is vertical, something it seems that more analytically inclined teams prefer. He sounds like a mid-rotation starter who, for our purposes, will enter his decline phase earlier than everyone else on this list because of his age.

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75. Jonathan India, 3B, CIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Florida (CIN)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 55/55 30/55 50/45 50/55 55/55

The 2018 draft’s biggest riser, India is a terrific all-around player who should be an average regular very soon.

India was a well-known prep prospect in South Florida, but the combination of a solid, but not spectacular, tool set and seven-figure asking price sent him to Florida. His first two years were about as expected; India got regular ABs but didn’t have any performative breakthroughs. In his draft year, India lost bad weight and added some strength, made some offensive adjustments, and exploded, torching the best conference in the country to the tune of a 1.21 OPS and 21 homers in 68 games. Scouts saw early in the spring that his tools had improved and the performance along with them, but it wasn’t until mid-way through the season that he seemed like a sure first round pick. He eventually looked like a consensus top 10 pick in the weeks leading up to the draft because the first round had so few college bats.

India has 55 raw power (60 for some scouts) and is a 55 defender with a 55 arm at third base. He played some shortstop at Florida and could be a limited-range fill-in there, with a chance to fit at second base if needed for longer stretches. We see India continuing to tap into his power, with something like a 50 hit tool and 55 power, with slightly more strikeouts than league average, but has the ability to be a hit-over-power type of player if he and the Reds choose that kind of approach.

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76. Triston McKenzie, RHP, CLE
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Royal Palm Beach HS (FL) (CLE)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/55 40/45 50/60 90-93 / 95

McKenzie made his first trip to the IL last year but his velocity was fine when he returned. His secondary stuff is not impressive in a vacuum, but his delivery is a weird look for hitters.

McKenzie was a high-profile prep pitcher in south Florida before the 2015 draft, and the main question about him focused on his rail-thin 6-foot-5, 160 pound frame. If you thought he would put on a good bit of weight, then you could see him adding velocity to his 88-92 mph heater. But would he have enough stuff and durability to start if he stayed about the same size? He’s filled out some since the Indians took him in the comp round in 2015, but it looks like he’s always going to be very thin.

His velocity has crept up a bit to 90-93, hitting 95 mph, but the life, plane, deception, extension, and command combine to make the fastball an above average pitch now. The additional arm speed has helped his breaker improve; it flashes plus at times. And he’s kept the positives attributes scouts originally noticed in his delivery and athleticism, so the command may also end up being plus. Some scouts think McKenzie grades out with 55s for those three grades, and his changeup is a 45, so his pitchability and deception are the carrying tools to turn him into a league average starter. McKenzie also had his first pro injury in 2018, and his strikeout rate was down in his first taste of Double-A. It’s still not clear exactly how this one turns out, but it’s probably either a No. 3 or 4 starter.

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77. Daulton Varsho, C, ARI
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Wisconsin-Milwaukee (ARI)
Age 22.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/50 40/45 55/55 40/45 45/45

Varsho is still not a great receiver but his arm plays because he gets out of his crouch so quickly, and he has rare contact ability and speed for a catcher.

The list of catchers with speed comparable to Varsho’s is pretty short. J.T. Realmuto and Jorge Alfaro are two current examples, but Varsho reaches a top speed faster than either of them, and is an actual threat to steal bases. He’s also a doubles machine with natural feel for gap-to-gap contact, and if soft liners trickle between outfielders, Varsho can turn those into hustle doubles.

He remains a below-average receiver and often has trouble firmly squeezing balls in his glove, at times struggling to block breaking stuff in the dirt. Because Varsho is an above-average athlete, most scouts think these aspects of catching will become viable in time and that Varsho may just be behind in this regard due to his cold weather, small school background. His fringe arm strength plays up on scouts’ stopwatches because he’s very quick out of his crouch, so Dbacks games won’t turn into track meets with him behind the plate. He has a good chance to be an offensive-minded, everyday catcher.

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78. Cole Winn, RHP, TEX
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Orange Lutheran HS (CA) (TEX)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 45/50 50/60 45/50 45/55 92-95 / 97

The most advanced high school arm in the 2018 draft, Winn already flashes three plus pitches and has command of each.

Before his senior year in high school, Winn moved from Colorado to Orange Lutheran, a powerhouse program in southern California. He steadily crept up boards in the spring as his stuff and command kept impressing, overriding concerns that he didn’t have much projection or plus athleticism.

Winn works 92-95, and hits 97 mph, with a flat-planed, rising fastball that fits well up in the strike zone and mixes in a plus-flashing curveball that pairs well with it down in the strike zone. He also has an average slider and changeup. His command projects to be above average, as he already uses his smooth delivery to deliver pitches to locations rather than areas of the plate. He was largely seen as the safest pick amongst the 2018 prep pitchers, a notoriously risky demographic. Texas has a deliberate approach to developing prep pitching with an onboarding process that includes a pro debut in instructional league, so Winn’s actual regular season pro debut will come in 2019.

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79. Jose Suarez, LHP, LAA
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (LAA)
Age 21.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/55 50/60 45/55 92-94 / 95

Suarez experienced a velocity spike last year and now has a strong three-pitch mix. He raced to Triple-A as a 20-year-old, and could contribute to the Angels’ big league club next year.

Squat little pitching prospects aren’t supposed to suddenly throw three ticks harder than they did the year before, but Suarez went from sitting 89-92 to sitting 92-94, and rose three levels last year. The feel Suarez developed for his changeup and curveball while he had a 40 fastball was necessary for his survival at that time. Now, they’re out pitches after he gets ahead of hitters with this new heat. There’s some risk that this fastball backs up, as upticks in velocity are sometimes fleeting and pitchers soon return to what they’ve been for most of their careers. So long as that doesn’t happen, Suarez projects as a good fourth starter and should help the big league club this year.

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80. Will Smith, C, LAD
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Louisville (LAD)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 192 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 55/55 40/55 55/50 50/55 60/60

A multi-positional prospect who can catch, Smith made a swing change in 2017 and unlocked dormant power, only to have a hole in his swing exposed last year.

In the 2016 draft, Smith was a scout’s favorite on a loaded Louisville club that had eventual top-10 overall picks Corey Ray and Brendan McKay as the headliners. At that point, he was a 55 runner with a 55 glove behind the plate and a plus arm, but didn’t offer much offensive impact due to a gap-to-gap approach. He made a late charge and rose from a third round pick to eventually being taken by the Dodgers in the compensation round.

In the pros, the Dodgers did with Smith what they’ve done with many other hitters, teaching him how to properly lift the ball and be aggressive in his swing mechanics. This agreed with Smith, unlocking dormant raw and game power while lifting the ball much more often. His contact rate was about the same until a late 2018 promotion to Triple-A, where he was exposed a bit. Scouts think there’s an exploitable hole in his swing and that he’s more of a .240-type hitter if he wants to keep hitting for power in games. He’s still the same runner, defender, and thrower, and can reasonably play almost any position on the field, so even .240 with 20 homers would be a very valuable piece to a contending team, even more so than Austin Barnes.

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81. Yusniel Diaz, RF, BAL
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Cuba (LAD)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 50/50 40/50 50/50 50/55 55/55

The Manny Machado trade centerpiece, Diaz is a well-rounded corner outfield prospect who should debut in 2019.

Diaz was a prominent and expensive part of the Dodgers ’15-’16 international spending spree that is now the subject of a Department of Justice investigation. He signed for a $15 million bonus — the Dodgers paid a dollar-for-dollar tax on his deal for exceeding their pool limit — during a CBA era that was more lucrative for international players. So advanced was Diaz that at age 19, the Dodgers saw fit to send him directly to Hi-A Rancho Cucamonga the following year, and he performed admirably for what amounted to a season and a half before enjoying a statistical breakout at Double-A Tulsa starting late in 2017. His stock and performance reached a pinnacle in 2018; Diaz slashed .314/.428/.477 with Tulsa, homered twice and won MVP at the Futures Game in July. Shortly thereafter he was traded to Baltimore as the headline prospect in the Manny Machado deal.

Diaz has a well-rounded collection of average tools that, in aggregate, promise to make him a valuable everyday big leaguer. He has slowly whittled down what was once a pretty big leg kick into something more simplistic, and it seems to have benefitted Diaz’s timing without subtracting from his power. He can open up and get the bat head on pitches in, and he has feel for opposite-field contact if he’s a little late on something away from him. We’d be surprised if Diaz became a 3-plus win annual WAR producer, but we think he’s a very stable everyday outfield prospect who’ll be big league ready in the next year and a half or so.

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82. Andrew Knizner, C, STL
Drafted: 7th Round, 2016 from North Carolina State (STL)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 50/50 40/45 30/30 40/45 45/45

Knizner is a well-rounded bat at a position where there aren’t many right now. He’s not a spectacular defender, but does enough to stay behind the plate.

Knizner backed up his breakout 2017 campaign with a .313/.368/.430 2018 season line, mostly at Double-A. His swing is compact and rhythmic, and he’s very difficult to beat with velocity because he can time just about everything. This, combined with an ability to guide the barrel around the zone, drives a promising, contact-first offensive package that would be quite valuable at catcher. Knizner moved from shortstop (in high school) to third base (as a college freshman) to catcher (as a sophomore) and has been behind the plate for four seasons now. He remains below-average in most aspects of catching, but isn’t so bad that he’ll surely have to move. Yadier Molina is signed through 2020, which creates the illusion of a catching logjam, but he’s somewhat fragile and Knizer experience at corner infield spots (Knizner has played some first base as a pro, but did not in 2018) offers additional versatility. If tasked with everyday duty, we think Knizner would produce like an average everyday player.

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83. Cole Tucker, SS, PIT
Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Mountain Pointe HS (AZ) (PIT)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 45/50 30/40 55/50 50/55 70/70

There’s a chance Tucker, who is a lock to stay at shortstop, fills out his 6-foot-4 frame late and suddenly also has a lot of power.

Tucker was the Arizona Fall League’s most elegant defender. Rangy and smooth, sure-handed and graceful, he has room to add a few pounds as he ages while still remaining above-average at short. A torn labrum in 2015 cast doubt on Tucker’s ability to stay there if his arm strength weren’t to return but, though it took quite a while, it is not only back but has improved, and he now has a 70 arm.

With such an excellent defensive foundation in place, it’s very likely that Tucker becomes an everyday player. What happens with his bat will determine how much of an impact he makes, and that forecast is blurry. Right now, Tucker has surprising contact skills for someone as lanky as he is and he’s adept at identifying balls and strikes. His size and current swing both have significant room for growth. Tucker’s bat path enters the hitting zone in such a way that it causes him to pound the ball into the ground. If that gets tweaked, and he also adds strength into his mid-20s, he might suddenly start hitting for power. This is a rare, high-variance prospect who also has a high floor. If the power comes, Tucker will be an All Star; if it doesn’t he’ll just be a solid everyday player.

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84. Jarred Kelenic, CF, SEA
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Waukesha West HS (WI) (NYM)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 196 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 55/55 20/50 55/50 45/50 60/60

The most polished high school bat in the 2018 class, Kelenic has a decent shot to stay in center field, and everyone thinks he’s going to hit.

Kelenic was one of four prep hitters in the 2018 class — along with Brice Turang, Alek Thomas and Mike Siani — who played together in the Team USA pipeline for years; all got top-two round money in the draft. Kelenic is the best of the group because he offers the best contact skills while also being tied for having the most raw power, speed, and defensive value. His well-rounded skillset enticed the Mets to take him sixth overall, but he was then traded by new GM Brodie Van Wagnen as the headliner to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.

Kelenic is an intense competitor who works tirelessly, to the point that some teammates and scouts think he should reel it back in a bit at times, though they point out they’d rather have a guy who’s too dedicated than one who’s not enough. He’s a plus straight-line runner but more of a 55 on the field, and thus isn’t a slam dunk to stick in center. But he has 55 raw power, so there’s enough thump to profile if he ends up sliding over to right field, where his plus arm would also fit.

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85. Nolan Gorman, 3B, STL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from O’Connor HS (AZ) (STL)
Age 18.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 70/70 30/60 40/40 40/45 50/50

A teenage third baseman with middle-of-the-order power, Gorman’s built like a pass-rushing outside linebacker and may eventually have to move off third base.

Gorman mashed good pitching as an underclassman and was universally regarded as one of the two safest high school hitters in the 2018 class until he suddenly started swinging over the top of mediocre high school breaking balls as a senior. In addition to those troublesome strikeouts, he looked less agile on defense than he had the previous summer. Teams generally thought these issues were correctable but they, and a few odd draft day dominoes, contributed to his slide back to the 19th overall pick.

After signing, Gorman paved over the Appalachian League (.350/.443/.664) and received a very aggressive promotion to Low-A, where he struggled to make contact. Gorman’s hand path is similar to Kyle Seager‘s and that loop creates power, but also some length, so there’s some hit-related risk here. But Gorman is a physical beast with a chance to stay at third and hit for huge, potentially middle-of-the-order power.

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86. Adrian Morejon, LHP, SDP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (SDP)
Age 19.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 50/60 40/55 93-96 / 97

Morejon will show you three plus pitches but he has had several injury setbacks since signing, and his fastball plays down a bit due to poor extension.

Morejon made three trips to the Injured List in 2018 and he’s had a few other issues that have caused the Padres to throttle down his activity during the spring and fall. He has plus velocity and will flash a plus changeup and breaking ball, and even when you factor in the loss of perceived velocity due to Morejon’s size and lack of extension, his stuff is pretty similar to Jesus Luzardo’s. He also has similar upside, realistically a No. 3 starter, but is several levels behind.

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87. Jon Duplantier, RHP, ARI
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Rice (ARI)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 50/50 45/55 50/55 91-96 / 97

Duplantier had injury issues in college and dealt with some in 2018 (hamstring, biceps tendinitis), but his stuff was fine in the fall when he was into the mid-90s with three good secondaries and a great idea of how to use them.

Duplantier had been injury free since college (when he dealt with shoulder problems), until 2018, when he had hamstring issues in the spring, and biceps tendinitis later in the summer. The lost innings resulted in an Arizona Fall League stint, during which Duplantier was arguably the best non-Whitley pitching prospect who was a lock to start. Despite the biceps issue, his velocity was fine in the fall. Duplantier sits 93-96 and makes heavy use of three good secondary pitches. The horizontal action on his slider only plays away from righties, but the curveball and changeup will help mitigate some of those issues, as well as the platoon issues that may arise from Duplantier’s lower arm slot. We should see Duplantier in the majors this year.

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88. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, HOU
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from North Carolina (HOU)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 196 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/70 55/60 55/55 45/50 92-97 / 98

Bukauskas is an undersized righty with electric stuff. Scouts were concerned about his durability in college, and he hasn’t pitched much as a pro due to a car accident, but he looked great in shorter appearances during the fall.

Bukauskas took time off from pitching and got in the weight room as a high school underclassman, and emerged the following spring with four or five more ticks on his fastball. He then reclassified and was suddenly on track to graduate and be draft eligible a year early, meaning every decision-making amateur evaluator in the country had to get in quickly to see a pitcher who had all this new velocity but with whom scouts had very little history. Then Bukauskas asked not to be drafted (he was, late, and didn’t sign) so he could go to North Carolina. After a middling freshman year, he was dominant as a sophomore and in the early part of his junior year before his stuff was depressed during North Carolina’s postseason games. It inflamed perviously held concerns that durability issues resulting from his size and a violent delivery might push Bukauskas to the bullpen.

After parts of two pro seasons, we still don’t have great feel for how Bukauskas will hold up under a pro workload. He hasn’t had any arm issues, but missed two months due to a slipped disk in his thoracic spine, an injury he suffered in a car accident. Bukauskas was electric when he returned and became increasingly dominant towards the end of the summer before his stuff was seen by the entire industry in the Arizona Fall League.

He’ll flash 70-grade changeups and sliders on occasion, bump 98, and has added a cutter. His stuff would lose some zip late in Fall League outings, and he may be more of a 120-inning starter than true workhorse, which would cap his value at around 2.5 annual WAR.

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89. Justin Dunn, RHP, SEA
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Boston College (NYM)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 45/50 50/55 45/50 92-95 / 97

Dunn’s changeup got better late last year and his slider command did, too. Once a college reliever, he’s now a good bet to be a No. 4 starter.

A college reliever until midway through his junior year at Boston College, Dunn’s repertoire has developed quickly and he now has four above-average pitches. Both of his breaking balls (a slider in the mid-80s and an upper-70s curve) work because he has terrific command of both, almost always locating them down and to his glove side in places that are enticing but unhittable. This wanes when he’s pitching from the stretch. His fastball command is below average but he throws hard enough to get away with mistakes, sitting 92-95 and touching 97. His changeup came on late in the year and will flash plus. It’s firm, 85-88mph, but some of them have a lot of arm side movement and will still miss bats. Dunn finished 2018 at Double-A and has a shot to debut next year, but more likely sees Safeco in 2020.

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90. Evan White, 1B, SEA
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Kentucky (SEA)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/50 40/50 60/55 60/70 55/55

White made a swing change in 2018 and started to lift the ball more. He still doesn’t have typical first base power, but does a lot of other stuff and could soon be Seattle’s starting first baseman.

We now have a full season of data to help us figure out whether Evan White’s weird profile is going to play. A plus-running, backwards guy (he bats right and throws left, a generally unfavorable combination due to the defensive limitations and platoon issues caused by both) who plays plus defense at first base, White was slugging .391 at the start of August, which is rather uninspiring for a college hitter in the Cal League. By the end of the month, however, White had 30 hits in 90 plate appearances and was slugging .763.

He has made subtle changes to his lower half, drawing his front knee back toward his rear hip more than he did at Kentucky, and taking a longer stride back toward the pitcher. White is more often finishing with a flexed front leg, which has helped him go down and lift balls in the bottom part of the strike zone by adjusting his lower half instead of his hands. White looked good during the Arizona Fall League, too, squelching some concern that he was just a polished college hitter beating up on Cal League pitching. He’s one of the more bizarre players in the minors.

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91. Brandon Marsh, CF, LAA
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Buford HS (GA) (LAA)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 55/60 40/50 60/55 40/50 60/60

Marsh didn’t have a good statistical 2018 but he remains a physical power/speed prospect with good ball and strike recognition.

A two-sport star in high school, Marsh’s pro baseball career was in doubt for a moment when the Angels discovered a stress fracture in his back during his physical after the draft. After the issue was resolved, Marsh took things slow for a while at the Angels complex in Tempe, limited to activities like BP while others played in actual games. The sound of the ball off his bat during those BP side sessions was very distracting. Marsh stayed in Arizona during the summer of 2017 and was often in the same outfield as Jo Adell. Both were much more physical than most of their AZL peers and Marsh had statistical success there and in the Midwest League the following spring, before finally scuffling at Hi-A.

Though he has above-average raw power, Marsh’s in-game cut is more contact-oriented, geared for contact to the opposite field and back up the middle. During instructional league, Marsh was awkwardly swinging without a stride, likely not a swing change, but perhaps an exercise that forces him to clear his hips and improve his ability to pull the ball with power. There’s a non-zero chance Marsh stays in center field but it’s more likely that he moves to a corner. He has the physical ability to profile as a regular there.

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92. Mark Vientos, 3B, NYM
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from American Heritage HS (FL) (NYM)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 60/70 40/55 40/35 35/45 55/60

Vientos is a third base, power projection bat who had a loud statistical 2018.

Vientos got on the national scouting stage as a prep underclassman when he flashed first round tools despite being very young for his draft class, which is pretty unusual. He didn’t hit as much as expected as a senior and some scouts questioned his defensive ability, competitiveness, and feel to hit, so he slipped to the second round despite flashing big power and being 17 on draft day, something that is generally really attractive to analytically-leaning clubs. Vientos performed fine in his pro debut, but broke out in his second year, crushing the Appalachian League at age 18 in 2018. He controlled the strike zone and hit for power while exhibiting very high exit velos for someone his age.

Vientos is advanced mechanically, making him a potential 6 bat/6 power combination at maturity if he continues at this trajectory. The competitiveness that some scouts questioned showed up in 2018 when Jarred Kelenic arrived in Kingsport and became the top prospect on the team, and Ronny Mauricio, Luis Santana, and Shervyen Newton were all top 10 prospects in the system in an infield time-share with him. If the makeup has turned a corner and the hitting continues to progress, the main issue will be defensive fit. Vientos is a well below average runner who one scout described as ‘athletic from the knees up,’ to the point where the lack of quickness will limit him to being average defensively, but he’s far from that right now. One Mets source drew a parallel to Nolan Arenado‘s makeup and defensive concerns, which quickly evaporated in the upper minors as he turned into the best third baseman in baseball, but that seems unlikely at this point.

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93. Logan Allen, LHP, SDP
Drafted: 8th Round, 2015 from IMG Academy HS (FL) (BOS)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/50 55/60 40/50 90-93 / 94

He doesn’t throw all that hard, but Allen has a plus changeup and, until his final few starts of the year, showed improved command. He’s a near-ready No. 4 starter.

Allen is a better athlete than one would likely surmise if they were just looking at him in the uniform. His fast-paced delivery is hard for hitters with a big leg kick to properly time the first time through the order, and once they’ve gotten a feel for his fastball, Allen pulls the string on his sinking, plus changeup. His strike-throwing has improved from slightly below-average to slightly above over the last 18 months or so, and Allen now comfortably projects as a No. 4 starter.

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94. Leody Taveras, CF, TEX
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TEX)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/55 30/40 60/60 45/55 55/55

Taveras still has not performed but his tools remain loud, especially the bat-to-ball skills.

He was drawing trade interest almost immediately as a pro, but Taveras still hasn’t put together a strong statistical campaign and scouts are getting antsy. When we first shuttled this list around to scouts and executives for feedback, Leody was one of the names we were almost always told to move down, while only one source has cautioned us from doing so. He was still very young relative to his level last year, and his contact rates remain impressive, as do his physical tools, but 2019 may be a make or break year for the way Taveras is perceived throughout the rest of baseball.

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95. Tyler Stephenson, C, CIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Kennesaw Mountain HS (GA) (CIN)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 30/50 35/30 40/50 70/70

After he was injured for much of his first few seasons, Stephenson had his healthiest year to date and hit pretty well in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. He may turn into a starting catcher who hits in the heart of a lineup.

Stephenson flew under the national radar during summer showcase season as a prep prospect because he didn’t go to all the big events, but Georgia area scouts knew to keep close tabs on him. He broke out in the spring, going from a top five round follow to the 11th overall pick. Multiple GMs showed up to many of his late playoff games since they didn’t have the same extensive history with him that they did with other top picks.

Stephenson has a rare toolbox for a catcher, with a 70-grade arm and surprisingly advanced defensive skills for a 6-foot-4 backstop, along with plus raw power. Stephenson isn’t a runner and his hit tool has been a little inconsistent, due to both his power-focused offensive approach and multiple injuries in pro ball (broken wrist, concussion). He performed well in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League in 2018 and caught the whole year, which has him on the upswing, primed for a taste of Double-A in 2019 and a future as a big league regular in view.

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96. Matt Manning, RHP, DET
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Sheldon HS (CA) (DET)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/50 40/45 93-97 / 98

Still largely a two-pitch beast, Manning’s two pitches are quite good. He generates huge down-mound extension but it may be hindering his command.

Manning entered his senior year of high school as a bit of a project, having size and arm speed, but inconsistent command, offspeed stuff, and east/west elements to his delivery. His superior athleticism shone through in the spring, along with improved direction to the plate, and the Tigers popped him ninth overall in 2016 with an eye toward Manning becoming a frontline starter.

Early in pro ball, Manning had some real trouble with strike-throwing, then slowly settled in. He has two easy plus pitches in his fastball and curveball, but his changeup is almost always below average, and his command comes and goes. His fastball plays up due to his excellent extension, but he gets so much extension that he overstrides and it reduces the amount of feel he has, both in his changeup and command. If Manning can dial down the aggression in his delivery a bit, the starter traits should come to the forefront and give the Tigers a No. 2 or 3 starter.

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97. Tristen Lutz, RF, MIL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Martin HS (TX) (MIL)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 70/70 40/60 50/45 40/45 60/60

After a rough start, Lutz had a solid 2018. He has to hit a ton to profile in an outfield corner, but he has more than enough raw power for that.

Lutz’s 2018 foray into full-season ball (.272/.348/.477 in May, June and July) was bookended by two awful months (he hit .180 in April, .215 in August) resulting in a .245/.321/.421 line. Already at physical maturity, Lutz’s huge power is the foundation of his profile. He’s capable of hitting long home runs to left and center, and he has the raw strength to drive out mis-hit balls the opposite way. Everything else he does is average. Adept at identifying breaking balls in mid air, Lutz’s moderate swing-and-miss issues stem from his mediocre bat control. This might limit his game power output, but the issues aren’t so bad that we’re worried about Lutz not hitting entirely. He has below-average range and instincts in right field, but his arm is plus.

Lutz will likely start next season, his age-20, at Hi-A. He projects as a middle-of-the-order power bat who provides little value on defense.

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98. Joshua James, RHP, HOU
Drafted: 34th Round, 2014 from Western Oklahoma JC (HOU)
Age 25.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/55 55/55 40/45 94-99 / 102

James’ velocity has climbed in each of the last few years and he carved up Triple-A before getting a big league look late last season. He may end up in relief, or in a 120-inning, Lance McCullers kind of role.

James’ fastball velocity has climbed each of the last three years and is now in the upper-90s. He struck out 171 hitters in 114 innings at Triple-A Fresno before the Astros brought him to the big leagues for six appearances (some out of the bullpen, some as a starter), and he struck out more than a batter per inning there, as well.

James’ secondaries can sometimes be easy to identify out of his hand, but purely based on movement, they’re both plus. His command may limit him to a relief role, or at least a starting role that carries fewer innings than is typical, but he has high-leverage big league stuff, and was perhaps 2018’s biggest prospect surprise.

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99. Trevor Larnach, RF, MIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Oregon State (MIN)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 65/65 35/60 45/45 40/45 55/55

The ease with which Larnach generates power in games is very impressive, and he’s been a strong statistical performer throughout his career.

Larnach hit several balls in excess of 110 mph during Oregon State’s opening weekend of the season and he ended up slugging .652 that year. We were all-in despite scout concerns about his lack of range in the outfield and fear that he might just be a DH. The gap between where we had Larnach on our pre-draft board (12) and where he went (20) was large enough that we wondered if we were too high. Then Larnach hit .303/.390/.500 in pro ball during the rest of the summer, and we could sleep again. He has huge raw power and doesn’t swing with violence or effort to generate it; it’s just there. We’re very optimistic about him hitting enough to profile in an outfield corner.

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100. Cionel Perez, LHP, HOU
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (HOU)
Age 22.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 55/60 40/45 40/45 92-96 / 98

Perez lacks changeup feel and is slight of build, but he has mid-90s heat and two plus breaking balls.

The Astros initially agreed to sign Perez for $5 million but found something they didn’t like during a physical, voided his deal, then renegotiated his bonus down to $2 million. Perez has traversed the minors injury-free and reached Houston last year in just his second pro season in the U.S. All of Perez’s pitches have great action on them, including the changeup, which Perez just doesn’t have feel for locating yet. For now, he relies heavily on mid-90s heat and two good breaking balls, the best of which is a hard, upper-80s slider.

He had weird usage patterns last year and it’s not clear if Houston is developing him a true starter or not, though lots of scouts see his skinny build and project him to the bullpen. He has multi-inning stuff if that move occurs.

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Other 50 FV Prospects

101. Griffin Canning, RHP, LAA
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from UCLA (LAA)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 50/50 45/55 45/55 92-96 / 97

Canning’s velocity ticked up last year and he’s now a strong No. 4 starter prospect who may see the big leagues this year if Angels pitching keeps getting hurt.

Canning was used very heavily at UCLA and would sometimes throw in excess of 120 pitches during his starts, even as an underclassman. The Angels shelved him for the rest of the summer after they drafted him, and it paid off. Canning came out the following spring throwing harder than he had in college, his fastball sitting 94-97 for most of his starts. He held that velo throughout 2018 and reached Triple-A in his first pro season. He’s a No. 4 starter on the cusp of debut.

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102. Taylor Widener, RHP, ARI
Drafted: 12th Round, 2016 from South Carolina (NYY)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 50/55 50/55 50/55 90-94 / 96

Widener has a bevy of average or better pitches, and a delivery that looks like Max Scherzer‘s. He’s likely to aid Arizona’s depleted rotation this year.

He doesn’t throw especially hard but the baseball appears to explode out of Widener’s hand, and it often gets on hitters much quicker than they’re expecting. Acquired in that massive, three-team, Steven Souza deal, Widener is a curvaceous 6-foot righty with several above-average pitches and average command. Much of the industry thought he was a reliever coming out of college, but the Yankees and Dbacks bought in on Widener as a starter, and they appear to have been correct.

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103. Yu Chang, SS, CLE
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Taiwan (CLE)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 55/55 45/50 45/45 45/50 50/50

Chang is a versatile infielder with power who may see lots of big league time this year now that Yandy Diaz has been traded.

Teams have likely already studied this, but during our in-person looks at Chang, which date back to 2014, he seems to generate top spin on batted balls with more regularity than is typical for hitters. This is not a good thing as, the same way a curveball does, it causes Chang’s fly balls to sink and die at a lesser distance than they should. We have no idea if the ability to hit balls with no spin (which is ideal) is a skill hitters have, but if it is, Chang probably isn’t one of them. He does have power though, and he’s a viable defensive third baseman who’d be capable of moonlighting at short or second base if Cleveland needs him to. We like him as a versatile, bat-first prospect who can play all over the place.

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104. Isan Diaz, 2B, MIA
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Springfield HS (MA) (ARI)
Age 22.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 60/60 45/50 40/40 45/50 55/55

We’re still unsure how Diaz’s hit/power combination will develop, but he’s a possible three true outcomes second baseman who slugs 25 homers.

In mid-May, already mired in a six-week slump during which he hit just .194, Diaz was struck in the helmet by a fastball and missed ten days with a concussion. He began to perform when he returned, slashing .288/.400/.488 over the next six weeks and earning a promotion to Triple-A New Orleans. We have eyeball reports that Diaz struggled to turn on pitches this year and has adopted more of a line drive approach, each of which is backed up by data, as his ground ball rate is up and his pull rate is down. These issues may have been timing-related, perhaps the lingering effects from the concussion, rather than the result of a mechanical change. Diaz still projects as a three-true-outcomes hitter who plays a premium defensive position. He has a 12% career walk rate as a pro and plus raw power we feel confident Diaz will get to in games given how readily he hit the ball in the air.

Diaz isn’t great at second base, but his mediocre range can be aided by proper defensive positioning, and his arm strength should enable him to make the longer throws demanded of second baseman by shifts. His arm would play at third base, too, though Diaz has never played there. There’s some risk he underperforms with the bat and is a mediocre defensive second baseman, but because of his power and patience, his floor seems to look like Yoan Moncada‘s 2018 season, which was good for 2 WAR. As such, it seems likely that Diaz will become a solid everyday player.

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105. Nico Hoerner, 2B, CHC
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Stanford (CHC)
Age 21.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/50 35/45 55/55 45/50 50/50

Hoener made some subtle swing changes after the draft that got him hitting for more power. He’s not a traditional-looking shortstop but makes routine plays and should either end up there or at second base.

Already, Hoerner’s swing has changed. He was making lots of hard, low-lying contact at Stanford, but since signing he has added a subtle little bat wrap that has made a substantial difference in how he impacts the ball. He hit for much more power than was anticipated in the summer and fall, and the identifiable mechanical tweak is evidence that the change is real and not small-sample noise. Hoerner makes routine plays at short and so long as scouts are okay with his funky throwing motion, he has a chance to stay there. There are scouts who have him projected to second base or to center field. Hoerner’s previous swing enabled a bit of a jailbreak out of the batter’s box, exaggerating his home-to-first speed. With the new swing, he’s a 55 runner. Hoener’s bat and likely up the middle defensive profile mean he’s likely to be at least an average regular, and he could move quickly.

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106. Estevan Florial, CF, NYY
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Haiti (NYY)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 30/55 60/60 45/50 80/80

We acknowledge Florial’s tools belong way higher on this list, perhaps as high as Luis Robert’s, but we don’t think his contact issues will be easily solved. He’s boom or bust.

Even those casually exposed to public facing prospect analysis become familiar with a few key concepts and player archetypes, and an early lesson often addresses the volatility of players like Florial, who have several elite tools that will lead to star-level performance if they hit enough, but who also carry significant risk that they will strike out too much to matter at all. Of course, the reason each individual player has strikeout issues can vary. Some hitters have feckless, over-aggressive approaches, while others can’t recognize breaking balls or have a problem with lever length and get tied up inside. Florial’s issues — his strikeout rate has fallen between 27% and 32% each of the last three years — appear to stem from his bat path and limited bat control. Stiff wrists cause his bat head to drag into the zone, which can cause him to be tardy on fastballs at the letters and, more frequently, flail at soft stuff dipping down and away from him. Yoan Moncada has similar issues that have yet to be remedied.

Florial does enough other stuff that, even if the strike outs remain an issue, he could still be a valuable big leaguer. He crushes anything down and in, has sufficient plate coverage to hit fastballs middle away, and has enough power to do damage to the opposite field. He also has good ball/strike recognition so, again like Moncada, there should be power, walks, and up-the-middle defense. We think Florial is likely to be an exciting but flawed everyday player, though it’s not audacious to think his relative youth (he was a 20-year-old at Hi-A in 2018) and inexperience (he also missed a year of reps due to a suspension for bad paperwork) leave more room for growth than we anticipate.

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107. Daz Cameron, CF, DET
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Eagle’s Landing Christian HS (GA) (HOU)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/50 40/45 50/55 50/55 50/50

Daz is the son of Mike Cameron, and has been on the scouting radar for a half dozen years. He’s proved doubters wrong and looks like a low-end, everyday center fielder now.

Cameron stood out as one of the top players in his class as early as a freshman in high school, and the fact that he’s the son of Mike Cameron didn’t hurt, either. Daz was an elite talent early on in his own right, but the rest of his draft class slowly caught up and by his draft year, he was one of the top dozen or so prep bats, rather than the clear top talent. The questions then are still largely the questions now: he’s a plus runner who can play a solid center field with average raw power, but scouts question how much offensive impact there will be. Cameron has already surpassed the expectations that pessimistic scouts had for him as an amateur, but even scouts that like him now say he’s a potential low-end regular, possibly in the Keon Broxton mold, or even a poor man’s version of his father. He just turned 22 and will likely spend 2019 in the upper levels with an eye toward sticking in the big leagues in 2020.

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108. Bubba Thompson, CF, TEX
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from McGill-Toolen HS (AL) (TEX)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/55 30/50 70/70 45/55 50/50

A two-sport high school star who chose baseball, the Rangers pushed Thompson to Hi-A and he had a strong year amid some strikeout issues.

Thompson played through some nagging lower body issues during his pro debut, which somewhat masked the physical tools that had so enamored amateur scouts during the spring. He got to camp early the following spring and was in attendance for some of those Trevor Larnach missiles mentioned above. It was assumed that Thompson, who was a pretty raw baseball player due to his two-sport background, would stay in Arizona during extended spring training, then head to an advanced rookie affiliate in the Northwest League. Instead, Texas sent him to Low-A and he had a surprisingly strong statistical year (.289/.344/.446) with an unsurprisingly high strikeout rate (29%).

Like many of the power/speed center fielders on this list, Thompson is a high-risk prospect with big upside if he hits enough. Unlike several of them, he has a good statistical season on his resume.

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109. Kristian Robinson, CF, ARI
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Bahamas (ARI)
Age 18.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 55/70 30/60 60/55 40/50 60/60

Robinson is a prototypical outfield, power projection bat whose swing has good foundation, but needs refinement.

The 2018 extended spring rehab group at Salt River Fields often included Jake Lamb and Steven Souza. Robinson, still 17 at the time, was just as big as both of them and about as fast as Souza, who is a 60 runner underway. Robinson is a Bahamian man-child, built like an SEC wide receiver and about as fast once he really gets going. He performed fairly well in his first pro season and was pushed to the Pioneer League late in the summer.

He has some swing and miss issues and his bat path needs some work to get to all the power that’s coming, but the foundation for a combination of contact and power is present. It’s unlikely that Robinson stays in center field forever, and he may even need to move to right while he’s still in the minors, but the power that comes with all that good weight could approach the top of the scale. He’s a high risk, high upside teenage power-hitting prospect.

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110. Brayan Rocchio, SS, CLE
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (CLE)
Age 18.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 40/45 20/45 60/60 45/55 50/50

Feel to hit and a near certain future on the middle infield are the cornerstones of Rocchio’s game.

After a month and a half of DSL games, Cleveland decided to push little Brayan Rocchio to the AZL for the season’s final month, and his numbers there were almost exactly the same. He was the most naturally-gifted hitter in the AZL last year, a switch-hitter with sublime bat control and more power than one would expect a 150-pound 17-year-old to possess. He’s going to stay up the middle, either at shortstop or second base, and while he’s not an obviously desirable teenage prospect like most big-framed, 6-foot-3 types with power, this is exactly the kind of profile we’re seeking to identify earlier in the process. This is what several of the little middle infielders in our top 50 looked like at this age; they hit and played good defense somewhere important, but were literally overlooked because they were small.

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111. Nick Solak, 2B, TBR
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Louisville (NYY)
Age 24.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 50/50 30/45 60/60 45/50 50/50

An elite makeup 2B/LF with a career .390 OBP, we like Solak’s chances of becoming a strong offensive contributor who plays a few different positions.

Solak was a college teammate of Brendan McKay’s at Louisville, and they’ve both drawn some of the most vociferous makeup raves from scouts of any of the players in the minors. There’s a story going around scouting circles that Solak actually broke one club’s makeup algorithm, scoring higher than they thought was possible. It’s probably not surprising to hear that he’s a grinder type of player who makes the most of his sneaky-good tools. Solak has a pretty level cut, but is an opportunistic enough hitter to know how to lift mistake pitches and use his deceptively-average raw power. He’s a plus runner who projects to play an average second base and be an everyday player, but he can play almost any other position on the field if needed, with an arm that’s just a bit shy of what’s preferred for shortstop.

He put up a 19 home run, 21 stolen base season in Double-A last year and would be penciled in as a top prospect about to be handed an everyday job for almost any other club, but the Rays are insanely well stocked with middle infielders, including arguably the best in the minor leagues in Wander Franco; Vidal Brujan is also ahead of Solak on the Rays’ list. The Rays like to have a versatile big league roster, but there’s likely a trade coming at some point to clear out spots, with Willy Adames, Joey Wendle, Brandon Lowe, Matt Duffy, Yandy Diaz, Daniel Robertson, and Christian Arroyo all seemingly ahead of Solak in the running for three starting spots since first base and designated hitter are also fully manned.

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112. Garrett Hampson, 2B, COL
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Long Beach State (COL)
Age 24.3 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 40/40 40/40 70/70 45/50 50/50

Another high-contact bat who can play a few up-the-middle positions, Hampson had a strong 24-game audition in Colorado last year.

Hampson was a star at Long Beach State and a mainstay on the Team USA collegiate national team. Scouts doubted he’d stay at shortstop and were worried he wouldn’t have enough power to play second base, which is largely why Hampson fell to the third round of his draft despite three years of strong performance.

He’s hit for more power in pro ball than he ever did in college, probably because Long Beach’s marine layer makes it more difficult to hit for power there, and also because the Rockies affiliates are all launching pads. It’s hard to conclude that Hampson’s minor league power output (.457 SLG, mostly via doubles and triples) won’t continue because his future home is going to be Coors Field. He has also stolen way more bases as a pro than he did in college, peaking with 51 steals in 2017, with 38 last year. Rockies prospects are encouraged to run, but Hampson is indeed a 70 runner and will add value on big league basepaths. Though it’s unclear what the Rockies will do about the Daniel MurphyIan DesmondRyan McMahon logjam that spills over into second base (and Brendan Rodgers is fast-approaching), Hampson seems like a good bet to be a solid everyday player for someone.

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113. George Valera, CF, CLE
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CLE)
Age 18.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 50/55 30/55 50/45 45/50 40/45

Valera’s instincts in center field might enable him to stay there despite lackluster speed, and he also has a chance to hit for contact and power.

Born and raised to the brink of adolescence in New York, Valera’s family moved to the Dominican Republic when he was 13. Injuries sustained in a car accident necessitated that metal rods be inserted in Valera’s father’s limbs, and the move was a way of providing him physical comfort in a warmer climate. It also meant Valera became an international prospect rather than an American high school draftee, and when he was eligible, he signed with Cleveland for $1.3 million. He is polished for his age, not only in the batter’s box but in center field, where he’s very comfortable going back on balls. His frame is not especially projectable but Valera’s swing has natural lift and he has good feel for contact. He’s likely to get to whatever raw power he ends up growing into as he matures, and he may stay in center field for a while. A broken hamate limited his reps last year, but he may be ready for the New York-Penn League this season anyway.

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114. Anderson Espinoza, RHP, SDP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 20.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/60 50/60 40/45 93-96 / 97

Espinoza hasn’t pitched for quite a while but he has three plus pitches and below-average control.

Acquired from Boston for Drew Pomeranz in July 2016, Espinoza has only thrown 32 innings of affiliated ball for the Padres since the deal. Espinoza was 94-97 and flashed a plus changeup and curveball during his final spring training start of 2017. Between that outing and his first regular season start for Hi-A Lake Elsinore, he felt discomfort in his elbow and was shut down. After several weeks of rest and rehab, it was decided that he needed Tommy John surgery, which he had early in August. The timing wasn’t great, and Espinoza missed all of 2018 working back from surgery. He has front-end stuff but even if it returns, he’ll have missed two years of reps that he desperately needed to polish his below-average control, increasing the likelihood that he’s a reliever or backend starter.

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115. Shane Baz, RHP, TBR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Concordia Lutheran HS (TX) (PIT)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 40/50 55/60 40/45 92-96 / 98

The PTBNL in the Chris Archer deal, Baz is a tightly-wound athlete with power stuff similar to Marcus Stroman, it’s just coming out of a 6-foot-3 frame.

Other than players who qualify under outdated rules about trading recent draftees, we can’t think of a Player to be Named Later who had a stronger evaluation at the time of trade than Baz, who was part of the Chris Archer deal. The tightly-wound Baz has a repertoire tailored like Marcus Stroman’s; it’s four or five pitches, everything is hard, and his best stuff has glove-side action. Pitchers can succeed without changeups provided their breaking balls give them the tools to deal with opposite-handed hitters. Often, that’s enabled by command. Baz’s delivery is explosive but violent, and he may never have average command, let alone the command necessary to succeed without a change of pace pitch, or something to bisect the plate to his arm side. There’s a chance he’s a reliever but with three plus pitches, he could be elite in that role. If the command and/or a changeup develop, he fits in the middle of a rotation.

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116. Tirso Ornelas, LF, SDP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Mexico (SDP)
Age 18.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 55/60 30/55 50/45 45/55 50/50

The most polished of San Diego’s enviable group of teenage prospects, Ornelas is a rare low-risk teenage corner bat due to his natural feel to hit and noteworthy makeup.

Ornelas was the most polished of the teenage prospects the Padres pushed to the Midwest League last year, and while his raw numbers were only impressive if viewed with his age in mind, his peripherals (11% walk rate, 19% strikeout rate) were marvelous. Quite soft-bodied as an amateur, Ornelas has reshaped his physique and is now a svelte 6-foot-3 and an average runner underway, and it plays a little better than that on the bases because he is a max-effort player. Most amateur scouts had him projected to first base, but he now has a chance to not just stick in a corner outfield spot, but perhaps be above-average there.

Really what Ornelas is best at is hitting. He has terrific timing and feel for contact, as well as a growing idea of which pitches to attack to hit for power. His ground ball rate was down last year and while there’s still room for growth in this area, the fact that Ornelas has already shown movement here is a sign more will come. Unless the hit and power tools grow beyond what we expect, it’s unlikely that Ornelas becomes a star, but we consider him a strong bet to be an everyday big leaguer, and his makeup and polish make him an unusually high-probability bet in our estimation.

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117. Alex Verdugo, RF, LAD
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Sahuaro HS (AZ) (LAD)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/60 55/55 40/45 45/40 50/50 60/60

Verdugo has undeniable feel for contact but we think he moves to a corner and may not have power that fits there. We’re also down on the makeup.

Verdugo has spent the bulk of each of the last two seasons at Triple-A, a victim of the Dodgers terrific outfield depth. So excellent is his natural feel to hit that it’s amazing many scouts preferred him on the mound while Verdugo was in high school. He’s a career 12% strikeout hitter, whose rates haven’t really moved even as the Dodgers have altered his swing to make it more explosive and try to get Verdugo to hit for more power. His stance is super wide open, the way Justin Turner‘s is, before Verdugo takes a long, slow stride toward the pitcher, leading with his heel, and then uncorks a max-effort hack that sometimes sends him reeling into the ground.

It’s incredible that Verdugo is athletic enough to make so much contact with this swing, but he still doesn’t lift the ball very much and probably maxes out with doubles power. We don’t think he fits in center field, and the lack of power is largely why he’s down here, though it also sounds like part of the reason teams have been asking for other Dodgers prospects in trades is due to Verdugo’s makeup.

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118. Isaac Paredes, 3B, DET
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Mexico (CHC)
Age 20.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 50/50 45/50 40/30 40/45 55/55

Paredes had a wonderful 2018 but his ultimate defensive home has come into question, as has his body’s projectability.

It’s hard to quibble with Paredes’ stellar 2018. He hit .278/.359/.456 across two levels, and reached and performed at Double-A Erie as a 19-year-old. He’s been drawing trade interest since the moment he set foot on the Cubs complex in 2016 due to his very mature feel to hit, which belies his age. Despite this, there are concerns about Paredes. He already has a catcherly build as a teenager and though he has spent the bulk of his pro innings at shortstop, he’s not going to stay there and probably won’t end up on the middle infield at all. He may eventually have to try to catch (which would slow his development, or the grind may dilute his offensive production) or move to first base, where he saw some reps in the Mexican League this offseason. The instability on defense is concerning even though everyone loves Paredes’ bat. We think he’ll be an average everyday player for a while but aren’t sure about his longevity.

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119. Aramis Ademan, SS, CHC
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 20.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 45/45 30/45 45/50 45/50 55/55

The Cubs pushed Ademan very aggressively last year and he had a rough season. We expect a bounce back in 2019.

We’re chalking up Ademan’s terrible 2018 stat-line to an overzealous assignment. At age 19, the Cubs sent him to Hi-A Myrtle Beach, where he barely hit above the Mendoza Line. He did look a little bit heavier than he had the year before, and his swing was more upright and less athletic than it has been, but all the physical tools to stay at short are still here (quick actions, sound footwork, plenty of arm) for now. Much of Ademan’s offensive woes can be explained away by his age relative to the level. He doesn’t project to be an impact bat, just one that is better than is usual at shortstop. Ideally he shows up to Mesa in the spring looking a little leaner and twitchier. He’ll likely repeat Myrtle Beach (at least for the season’s first half) and projects as an average everyday player.

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120. Peter Lambert, RHP, COL
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from San Dimas HS (CA) (COL)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/50 50/55 55/55 45/55 90-94 / 95

One of the safest arms on this list, Lambert has never been on the Injured List and barely walks anyone, though his stuff is mostly closer to average and he lacks the ceiling of many others noted here.

Like clockwork, Lambert has taken his turn in a Rockies minor league rotation every fifth (or sixth or seventh, depending on off days) day since he signed. He’s also a robotic strike-thrower and has walked just 5% of hitters he has faced as a pro. Lambert has basically been this way since high school, when he just too advanced, even for SoCal high schoolers. Nothing he throws is plus, though you could argue that the fastball is due to it’s odd approach angle. It sits in the mid-90s and lives in the top part of the strike zone, riding in on the hands of righties. His changeup is average, flashing above, and Lambert has long deployed it with veteran cunning, and he’ll run it back onto the glove-side corner of the plate for looking strikes.

He’s a hyper-efficient strike-thrower with a four-pitch mix, a high-probability fourth starter with little likely upside beyond that.

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121. Dane Dunning, RHP, CHW
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Florida (WAS)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/60 50/55 50/55 90-93 / 94

Dunning missed over half of 2018, but still flashes three 55- or 60-grade pitches and starter command, so there’s mid-rotation upside if he can stay healthy and put it all together.

Dunning was an intriguing projection arm in high school who flashed average stuff and some athleticism, then took a big step forward in his freshman year at Florida. At his best, Dunning has three pitches that flash plus at times and starter command, but most often has above average stuff and good control, but his stuff moves enough that the command is just okay rather than pinpoint. The Nationals took him in the late first round in 2016 despite Dunning being the utility knife on a loaded staff, often pitching in relief or starting midweek games. He was in the Adam Eaton deal in 2018 and missed the second half of 2018 with an elbow strain, but it sounds like he’s back to 100%, still with the same No. 3 or 4 starter upside that he flashed in Gainesville.

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122. Monte Harrison, CF, MIA
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Lee’s Summit West HS (MO) (MIL)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 65/65 45/55 60/60 50/60 70/70

Harrison’s feel to hit remains slow to develop and he started tinkering with new swings during Fall League, which helped him put the ball in play but not with power.

If ever there were an athletic contest in which players from across multiple leagues had to compete against one another in all of their respective sports, Harrison would be a top five pick. An athletic deity in high school, Harrison was a star in every sport. He was an acrobatic dunker and a dominant open-field runner, who was signed away from a football commitment to Nebraska for $1.8 million.

For much of his pro career, Harrison has either been hurt or underperformed. Aside from his .270/.350/.480 season in 2017, he has struggled to make contact, especially in 2018, when he struck out in 37% of his plate appearances, and a minor league leading 215 times. Despite this, Harrison nearly posted yet another 20/20 season and improved so much as a defensive player that he’s now considered plus in center. The Marlins sent him to the Arizona Fall League with a desire to see some kind of bat-to-ball improvement. Harrison responded by ditching his leg kick. His strikeout rate in Arizona was 25% — better than the summer, but still not great — and he hit for almost no power there. His issues with strikeouts weren’t, in our opinion, caused by excessive movement in his swing but rather by things like breaking ball recognition, bat path, and hand-eye coordination. Those aren’t things that can be remedied by mechanical changes, and we’d rather an athlete like this be moving a lot at the plate to help ensure he’s getting to as much of that power as possible, even if it means living with a lot of strikeouts.

There’s a wide range of outcomes possible for a talent like this, ranging from Carlos Gomez to Colby Rasmus to B.J. Upton to Drew Stubbs to Jake Marisnick. Harrison is a premium athlete with good makeup who should get plenty of opportunity to cure his own ills at the big league level. We think he’s likely to be frustrating, but reasonably valuable, and possibly have some star-level seasons in his late twenties.

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123. Corey Ray, CF, MIL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Louisville (MIL)
Age 24.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 45/50 70/70 40/45 40/40

Ray got to more power last year but the swing and miss stuff is still a concern.

Despite his notable 2018 statistical output — 66 extra base hits, including 27 home runs, and 37 steals on 44 attempts at Double-A Biloxi — we’re still somewhat apprehensive about Ray and have him graded out exactly as we did last offseason, when he was coming off a terrible statistical campaign.

Ray, long lauded for his makeup, made some adjustments to remedy the timing issues that plagued him in 2017. His front hip is clearing earlier, enabling him to catch some of the inside pitches that were tying him up last year. This has seemed to improve the quality of Ray’s contact, but it hasn’t remedied his strikeout issues. Ray struck out in 29.3% of his 2018 plate appearances and had a 17.5% swinging strike rate, the latter of which would rank as the 15th most frequent SwStr% in the majors last year. Ray swings through pitches in the zone fairly frequently and despite his prodigious physical abilities, his offensive profile feels unstable.

His up-the-middle defensive profile gives him some wiggle room on offense, but he’s not a very instinctive defender and is closer to average in center field than one might expect given his speed. Players can succeed despite heavy strikeouts; Chris Taylor’s skillset looks an awful lot like Ray’s (power, strikeouts, and a pedestrian defense at a premium position) and Taylor was a 3 WAR player last year. Ray’s peak could look like that. He’s also similar to players like Franchy Cordero, Brad Zimmer, late-career Colby Rasmus, and an even longer list of hitters who also have lean years when they don’t hit and produce closer to replacement level. We expect peaks and valleys over the course of a long career from Ray.

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124. Josh Naylor, 1B, SDP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from St. Joan of Arc HS (CAN) (MIA)
Age 21.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 250 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 70/70 45/60 20/20 40/45 55/55

Naylor is a husky slugger with a 55 hit tool, 70 raw power, and a strong Double-A campaign behind him. Now he just needs a universal DH or a trade, because Eric Hosmer is in front of him, and while he’s okay at first base, left field is not an option.

Naylor stood out as an underclassman on the Canadian Junior national teams that travel to Florida and Arizona each spring and fall, and was also a mainstay on the showcase circuit. It’s because of a sterling performance in his draft spring facing professional pitchers in spring training stadiums that clubs became confident he had a 50 or better bat to go with his easy plus raw power; the Marlins surprised many by taking him in the middle of the first round. His speed, defense, position, and thick frame have always been below average, but luckily Naylor’s bat has carried him this far and it appears it will carry him to a big league career of some consequence.

Miami traded Naylor to San Diego in the controversial Colin Rea deal, soon after also trading Chris Paddack to the Padres in a separate transaction. Naylor was involved in a bizarre accidental stabbing with teammate Stone Garrett just before the trade. San Diego has Eric Hosmer in his way, so you’d need to see a trade or the universal DH for Naylor to have a path to playing with his left field defense grading well below average. The MLB free agent market isn’t valuing Naylor-type players highly, but his first three seasons would interest any club with an opening for him.

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125. Yordan Alvarez, DH, HOU
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Cuba (LAD)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 65/65 30/55 50/45 40/50 45/45

A 6-foot-5 behemoth with all-fields power, Alvarez’s defensive limitations (he may just be a DH) will likely cap his overall value even if he ends up with a middle-of-the-order bat.

The Dodgers signed Alvarez for $2 million just before the clock struck midnight on the 2015-2016 International Free Agent signing period, then traded him to Houston for Josh Fields a few weeks later, before Alvarez had even played a pro game. Houston took things slow for the first year 10 months, and left Alvarez in the DSL in 2016 and in Extended Spring Training to start 2017, but he has moved very quickly since then, climbing to a new minor league level every half season. And he has performed. Alvarez is a career .301/.381/.507 hitter in the minors, has always been young relative to his level, and reached Triple-A last year shortly after he turned 21. He has big, all-fields raw power, and balls he mis-hits will often still find their way to the warning track. While Alvarez has good natural timing in the box and isn’t often fooled by breaking stuff, he does have limited bat control and we anticipate his batting averages will be lower in majors than they have been thus far.

Athletic for his size, Alvarez has mostly played left field as a pro and he’s a 40 runner underway, but he appeared to stiffen last year and most teams have him projected to first base or DH. That will limit his overall value and makes his lack of bat control a little scary, but we still think Alvarez will become an average regular, and possibly get an opportunity quite soon.

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126. Hudson Potts, 3B, SDP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Southlake Carroll (TX) (SDP)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/55 30/50 50/45 45/55 55/55

Potts has grown into huge power since high school, and the pop gives him a fairly high ceiling if he stays at third base, but he may not and may also be undercut by strikeout issues.

Potts keeps trickling down the defensive spectrum — he was pretty good defensive shortstop in high school but is a bigger-bodied third baseman now, and may have to move to an outfield corner eventually — but with that weight has come substantial raw power, and he now has two consecutive 20-homer seasons on his resume. In the event that he does have to move off of third base, Potts’ lack of plate discipline makes his profile very risky, though he seemed to take a step forward in that regard last year. he turned 20 during his Arizona Fall League stint and should spend all year at Double-A. His low-end outcome is in the Juan Francisco/Matt Davidson realm, while a middle of the road projection is that of a big power/low on-base corner outfielder, a skillset Padres fans are familiar with because that’s what Hunter Renfroe is. But if Potts stays at third and continues to refine his approach, he could be an above-average everyday player.

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127. Sandy Alcantara, RHP, MIA
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (STL)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/65 55/55 45/50 55/60 40/45 93-97 / 99

It’s become more likely that Alcantara, who has elite arm strength, will end up as a dominant two-pitch reliever due to issues with his command and breaking ball efficacy.

We’ve learned a lot about Alcantara’s stuff based on the data we have from his 2017 relief-only cup of coffee with St. Louis and from his larger, eight-start September 2018 carafe with Miami. The Marlins gave Alcantara his curveball back after it appeared that St. Louis had shelved it late last year, but there’s now release point data supporting the anecdotal evidence that the right-hander raises his arm slot when he throws it. It’s also clear that despite high-end velocity, Alcantara’s fastball isn’t going to miss that many bats. He’s created greater demarcation in the movement between his four and two-seamers, that latter of which pairs well with his improving changeup, which now projects to be Alcantara’s best secondary pitch. There’s a strong chance he either ends up in relief due to issues with his fastball efficacy stemming from limited command and movement, but even if that’s the case, he’s a four-pitch reliever with two plus offerings, and that probably plays at the back of a bullpen.

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128. Jahmai Jones, 2B, LAA
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Wesleyan HS (GA) (LAA)
Age 21.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 50/50 40/45 60/60 40/45 45/45

Jones’ swing was tweaked several times last year, and his position was also changed. Let’s call it a transition year for a player who ultimately profiles as an average everyday second baseman.

The Angels invited Jones to big league camp last spring, but he looked overmatched and a bit lost in center field, so he was sent back to minor league camp to begin a transition to second base. His footwork and actions around the bag can be clumsy (part of why Jones, who played some infield in high school, was initially put in the outfield as a pro), but he has plenty of lateral quickness and range, his hands are fine, and he has high-end makeup, which leads clubs to believe he’ll do the work necessary to be viable there. Mostly though, Jones is good because he makes lots of hard, line drive contact and is a plus runner. After struggling to lay off of breaking balls early in 2017, he has become more patient, and his walk rate was much higher last year. Even though he didn’t hit for much power in the Cal League, the Angels promoted him to Double-A for the last two months of the season, then gave him some run in the Arizona Fall League.

Jones’ general lack of performance last year should not yet concern readers, as he went through several swing changes, with the Angels constantly tweaking how and where his hands set up. He projects as a high-contact second baseman with doubles power unless one of these tweaks unlocks more in-game pop.

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129. Michel Baez, RHP, SDP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (SDP)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 8″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 55/65 40/50 92-95 / 97

Baez is an enigmatic righty whose stuff and command were much better in 2017 than in 2018, and he could move way up this list if it bounces back this year.

After he shook off some initial rust in 2017, Baez’s stuff and strike-throwing quickly flourished, enabling him to post a 10:1 strikeout to walk ratio at Low-A Fort Wayne. His fastball was in the 94-97 range, and his changeup was consistently plus or better all summer. A back issue put Baez behind during 2018 spring training, and while the Padres sent him to Hi-A in late-April, his stuff and command were just not as good as they were the year before. Instead of 94-97, Baez’s fastball was more 92-95, and his walk rate tripled. We’re in wait-and-see mode with Baez now. He had a mid-rotation look in 2017, but fourth starter stuff and fringe command last year. He’ll likely spend much of 2019 at Double-A and could move into the middle of this list if his stuff bounces back.

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130. Ryan Mountcastle, LF, BAL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Hagerty HS (FL) (BAL)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 60/60 35/50 45/40 30/40 30/30

Mountcastle has big power and bat control, but throwing issues may limit him to left field or DH, and his lack of patience makes him a high-risk prospect among that ilk.

Mountcastle was identified early in high school because he played at an Orlando-area powerhouse that had eight players drafted between 2011 and 2016, including a first rounder in Zach Eflin, and, over on the grid iron, current Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel. His high school coach, Jered Goodwin, now a FIU assistant, ran arguably the top travel program in Florida at the time, so Mountcastle had year-round reps in front of scouts for years. He’s still largely the same player he was in high school in terms of raw tools: plus bat control, plus raw power, with fringy speed and no clear defensive home because he has issues throwing. He’s played mostly shortstop and third base in pro ball but scouts keep comparing his profile to Nick Castellanos’ and think he ends up in left field.

There’s some optimism that his arm will improve with a throwing program, or that he could play second base (which is worth a try), but usually these situations end with the player at the lower end of the defensive spectrum. Like Castellanos, Mountcastle also is a little too aggressive at the plate but has the bat control to keep his strikeout rates from getting too high. The projection here is something like a 55 bat and 55 power, maybe a bit less if the approach doesn’t continue to improve, with below average speed and defensive value, wherever he ends up playing. We wish he were a little choosier at the dish — that’s a lower-risk, 2 WAR-type prospect. Mountcastle will start 2019 in Triple-A, so the wait shouldn’t be long.

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131. Tony Santillan, RHP, CIN
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Seguin HS (TX) (CIN)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/60 40/50 40/50 92-94 / 98

Santillan was a prep lottery ticket with huge arm strength when he was drafted, and he’s made significant progress as a strike-thrower, now projecting as a fourth starter.

Like Stephenson, Santillan wasn’t a summer showcase favorite, only appearing at one fall event where he showed low-90’s velocity and not much else. He emerged in the spring (this always seems to happen with at least one Texas prep arm), running his heater up to 98 mph and flashing a good breaking ball at times. But Santillan was still a work-in-progress strike-thrower and most teams considered him a reliever. Cincinnati took him 49th overall. He has progressed well in pro ball, with the Reds’ belief in his makeup and athleticism paying off, as he’s gotten more consistent across the board and is now a little more likely to be a starter than reliever. He still mostly has the big stuff he flashed as a prep, though his velo and spin rates are slightly down.

Santillan has mid-rotation upside, but his fallback options if the command/consistency doesn’t work in a starter role would be an above-average multi-inning or high leverage reliever, which is much more valuable now than it was in 2015. Santillan could open 2019 in Double- or Triple-A but the pitching-starved Reds seems likely to give him a big league look at some point next year.

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132. Shed Long, 2B, SEA
Drafted: 12th Round, 2013 from Jacksonville HS (AL) (CIN)
Age 23.5 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 55/55 40/50 55/55 40/45 50/50

A converted catcher, Shed’s sweet uppercut swing enables him to hit for power in games, but he still has work to do as a defender.

After a bad 42-game initial foray into Double-A in 2017, Long’s BABIP and overall statline rebounded in his 2018 full season campaign at Pensacola, where he hit .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and 19 steals. A converted catcher, with rare straightline speed for a backstop but the stereotypically excellent catcher makeup, Long is still not a very good second baseman and has below average hands and clunky footwork. He has now been playing there regularly for three and a half seasons, and his development has plateaued. We still have him projected as a 45 defender at second base but also think there’s an increased chance that he eventually moves to the outfield.

It would be much easier for Long to profile were he to stay at second base, where big leaguers slashed a collective .254/.317/.395 (good for a 93 wRC+) in 2018. The outfield corners are not so kind. Ultimately, Long has some power and his thunderous uppercut swing is going to enable him to get to it in games, even if his contact profile is fringey. That will play everyday at second base so long as he can.

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Trey Baughn
5 years ago

This is an incredible piece of work. Thank you

5 years ago
Reply to  Trey Baughn

I mean, yeah, but probably only if you like baseball or prospects. Or solid writing and analysis. Or if you’re into top-notch formatting, graphics, organization, presentation or long-term usefulness. But otherwise there’s probably not much to like.