2020 Top 100 Prospects

Below is my 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 my 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 ranking. For example, the gap between prospect No. 3 on this list, MacKenzie Gore, and prospect No. 33, Jazz Chisholm, is 30 spots, and there’s a substantial difference in talent there. The gap between Evan White (No. 64) and Matthew Liberatore (No. 94), 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 1 to 5 WAR, that would be “high” variance, whereas someone like Sean Murphy, whose range is something like 2 to 3 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 also 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, please read this. (If you would like to read a book-length treatment on the subject, you can pre-order my forthcoming book, Future Value, co-written with erstwhile FanGraphs analyst Kiley McDaniel.)

You’ll also notice that there is a FV outcome distribution graph for each prospect on the list. This is our attempt to graphically represent how likely each FV outcome is for each prospect. Using the work of Craig Edwards, I 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 has a 27% chance of accumulating, at most, a couple WAR during his six controlled years. I started with these base rates for every player, then manually tweaked them for the first few FV tiers to reflect how I 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. As such, these graphs are based on empirical findings, but come with the subjectivity of my opinions included to more specifically reflect what I think the odds are of various outcomes.

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

2020 Top 100 Prospects
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Wander Franco TBR 18.9 A+ SS 2021 80
2 Gavin Lux LAD 22.2 MLB 2B 2020 70
3 MacKenzie Gore SDP 21.0 AA LHP 2021 70
4 Jo Adell LAA 20.8 AAA LF 2021 65
5 Adley Rutschman BAL 22.0 A C 2021 60
6 Jesus Luzardo OAK 22.4 MLB LHP 2020 60
7 Luis Robert CHW 22.5 AAA CF 2020 60
8 Nate Pearson TOR 23.5 AAA RHP 2020 60
9 Julio Rodriguez SEA 19.1 A+ RF 2022 60
10 Joey Bart SFG 22.9 AA C 2021 60
11 Jarred Kelenic SEA 20.6 AA CF 2021 60
12 Matt Manning DET 22.0 AA RHP 2021 60
13 Royce Lewis MIN 20.7 AA CF 2022 60
14 Dustin May LAD 22.4 MLB RHP 2020 60
15 Forrest Whitley HOU 22.4 AAA RHP 2020 60
16 Casey Mize DET 22.8 AA RHP 2020 60
17 Brendan McKay TBR 24.1 MLB LHP 2020 60
18 Luis Patiño SDP 20.3 AA RHP 2020 60
19 Michael Kopech CHW 23.8 MLB RHP 2020 60
20 Cristian Pache ATL 21.2 AAA CF 2021 60
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
21 Carter Kieboom WSN 22.4 MLB SS 2020 60
22 CJ Abrams SDP 19.4 A CF 2023 55
23 Bobby Witt Jr. KCR 19.7 R SS 2023 55
24 Marco Luciano SFG 18.1 A- SS 2023 55
25 A.J. Puk OAK 24.8 MLB LHP 2020 55
26 Spencer Howard PHI 23.5 AA RHP 2020 55
27 Vidal Brujan TBR 22.0 AA 2B 2021 55
28 Kristian Robinson ARI 19.2 A CF 2022 55
29 Grayson Rodriguez BAL 20.2 A RHP 2023 55
30 Ke’Bryan Hayes PIT 23.0 AAA 3B 2020 55
31 Brendan Rodgers COL 23.5 MLB 2B 2020 55
32 Oneil Cruz PIT 21.4 AA SS 2021 55
33 Jazz Chisholm MIA 22.0 AA SS 2021 55
34 Mitch Keller PIT 23.9 MLB RHP 2020 55
35 Ronny Mauricio NYM 18.9 A SS 2023 55
36 Brandon Marsh LAA 22.1 AA CF 2020 55
37 Andrew Vaughn CHW 21.9 A+ 1B 2021 55
38 Nolan Gorman STL 19.8 A+ 3B 2021 55
39 Dylan Carlson STL 21.3 AAA LF 2020 55
40 Luis Campusano SDP 21.4 A+ C 2022 55
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
41 Nick Madrigal CHW 22.9 AAA 2B 2020 55
42 Deivi Garcia NYY 20.7 AAA RHP 2020 55
43 Drew Waters ATL 21.1 AAA CF 2021 55
44 Ian Anderson ATL 21.7 AAA RHP 2020 55
45 Logan Gilbert SEA 22.8 AA RHP 2021 55
46 Nico Hoerner CHC 22.7 MLB 2B 2020 50
47 Jeter Downs BOS 21.5 AA 2B 2022 50
48 Sixto Sanchez MIA 21.5 AA RHP 2020 50
49 Jasson Dominguez NYY 17.0 R CF 2025 50
50 Brennen Davis CHC 20.3 A CF 2023 50
51 JJ Bleday MIA 22.3 A+ RF 2021 50
52 Riley Greene DET 19.4 A RF 2022 50
53 Tarik Skubal DET 23.2 AA LHP 2021 50
54 Nolan Jones CLE 21.8 AA 3B 2021 50
55 Trevor Larnach MIN 23.0 AA RF 2021 50
56 Alec Bohm PHI 23.5 AA 3B 2020 50
57 Triston Casas BOS 20.1 A+ 1B 2023 50
58 Alex Kirilloff MIN 22.3 AA 1B 2021 50
59 Daulton Varsho ARI 23.6 AA C 2021 50
60 Josh Lowe TBR 22.0 AA CF 2021 50
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
61 Travis Swaggerty PIT 22.5 A+ CF 2022 50
62 Sean Murphy OAK 25.3 MLB C 2020 50
63 Jhoan Duran MIN 22.1 AA RHP 2020 50
64 Evan White SEA 23.8 AAA 1B 2020 50
65 Miguel Amaya CHC 20.9 A+ C 2021 50
66 Edward Cabrera MIA 21.8 AA RHP 2020 50
67 Josiah Gray LAD 22.1 AA RHP 2022 50
68 Heliot Ramos SFG 20.2 AA RF 2022 50
69 Taylor Trammell SDP 22.4 AA LF 2021 50
70 Alek Thomas ARI 19.8 A+ CF 2022 50
71 Brent Honeywell Jr. TBR 24.9 AAA RHP 2020 50
72 Daniel Lynch KCR 23.2 A+ LHP 2022 50
73 Tyler Stephenson CIN 23.5 AA C 2020 50
74 Jordan Balazovic MIN 21.4 A+ RHP 2021 50
75 Xavier Edwards TBR 20.5 A+ 2B 2023 50
76 Simeon Woods Richardson TOR 19.4 A+ RHP 2023 50
77 Hunter Greene CIN 20.5 A RHP 2022 50
78 Tahnaj Thomas PIT 20.7 R RHP 2022 50
79 Jordyn Adams LAA 20.3 A+ CF 2023 50
80 Jordan Groshans TOR 20.3 A 3B 2023 50
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
81 Kevin Alcantara NYY 17.6 R CF 2023 50
82 Jose Garcia CIN 21.9 A+ SS 2021 50
83 Tony Gonsolin LAD 25.7 MLB RHP 2020 50
84 George Valera CLE 19.2 A CF 2022 50
85 Ezequiel Duran NYY 20.7 A- 2B 2022 50
86 DL Hall BAL 21.4 A+ LHP 2022 50
87 Luis Garcia WSN 19.7 AA 2B 2021 50
88 Keibert Ruiz LAD 21.6 AAA C 2020 50
89 Orelvis Martinez TOR 18.2 R SS 2023 50
90 Alexander Vargas NYY 18.3 R SS 2023 50
91 Geraldo Perdomo ARI 20.3 A+ SS 2021 50
92 Nick Lodolo CIN 22.0 A LHP 2022 50
93 Tyler Freeman CLE 20.7 A+ SS 2022 50
94 Matthew Liberatore STL 20.3 A LHP 2022 50
95 Kyle Wright ATL 24.3 MLB RHP 2020 50
96 Jesús Sánchez MIA 22.3 AAA RF 2020 50
97 Yerry Rodriguez TEX 22.3 A RHP 2021 50
98 Liover Peguero PIT 19.1 A- SS 2022 50
99 Corbin Carroll ARI 19.5 A- CF 2023 50
100 Bryse Wilson ATL 22.1 MLB RHP 2020 50
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
101 Jose Urquidy HOU 24.8 MLB RHP 2020 50
102 Monte Harrison MIA 24.5 AAA CF 2020 50
103 Andrés Giménez NYM 21.4 AA SS 2020 50
104 Brice Turang MIL 20.2 A+ SS 2023 50
105 Ivan Herrera STL 19.7 AA C 2023 50
106 Mark Vientos NYM 20.2 A 3B 2022 50
107 Randy Arozarena TBR 24.9 MLB CF 2020 50
108 Ryan Mountcastle BAL 23.0 AAA LF 2020 50
109 Nick Solak TEX 25.1 MLB 2B 2020 50
110 Kris Bubic KCR 22.5 A+ LHP 2022 50
111 Ryan Rolison COL 22.6 A+ LHP 2022 50
112 Brayan Rocchio CLE 19.1 A- SS 2022 50
113 Brusdar Graterol LAD 21.5 MLB RHP 2020 50
114 Brailyn Marquez CHC 21.0 A+ LHP 2021 50
115 James Karinchak CLE 24.4 MLB RHP 2020 50
116 Shane Baz TBR 20.7 A RHP 2022 50
117 Heriberto Hernandez TEX 20.2 A- RF 2023 50
118 William Contreras ATL 22.1 AA C 2021 50
119 Lewin Diaz MIA 23.2 AA 1B 2021 50
120 Isaac Paredes DET 21.0 AA 3B 2021 50
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80 FV Prospects

1. Wander Franco, SS, TBR
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 18.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / R FV 80
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
60/80 55/60 45/60 60/60 50/55 60/60

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

This is the first 80 FV prospect of the Future Value era at FanGraphs, the best prospect on the planet, and the best I’ve evaluated during my tenure here. What does it take to draw such significant expectations? Let’s first examine the statistical case. Franco has played 175 career games, all at levels well above what is typical for a player his age (he doesn’t turn 19 until March). During those games, he’s hit .336/.405/.523 with 71 extra-base hits, 20 steals, and more walks than strikeouts. In fact, across two levels in 2019, Low- and Hi-A, Franco not only walked more than he struck out, but walked about twice as much. He has one of the lowest swinging strike rates in the entire minor leagues, and it’s possible the power hasn’t fully actualized yet because Franco still hits the ball on the ground a lot (48% last year). How about the TrackMan data? Franco’s exit velos and hard hit rate are both above big league average, which, again, is ridiculous for a teenager who’s playing against competition four and a half years older than he is in the Florida State League.

Of course, the visual baseball evaluation is also incredible. Franco had one of the best BP sessions at the Futures Game (his was better than Jo Adell, Nolan Jones, and everyone not named Royce Lewis) and the best infield. His hands are a powder keg, accelerating to the point where he can do huge damage, and he doesn’t need mechanical length to get there. This is true from both sides of the plate; Franco can’t be thwarted by turning him around and forcing him to hit from a weaker side. He might not ever produce big home run totals without a swing change, but it’d be ridiculous to alter this guy’s swing considering how elite his performance has been. A scouting director once told me, “Elite players are elite all the time,” and that has been true of Franco since he was a young teen. He’s been a force of nature offensively, he plays a premium defensive position very well, and my degree of confidence in his ability to do both in perpetuity is high because that’s all Franco has ever done.

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70 FV Prospects

2. Gavin Lux, 2B, LAD
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Indian Trail Academy HS (WI) (LAD)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 70
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
60/70 65/65 60/70 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.

A highly entertaining example of the timeless “you can’t predict baseball” maxim, in three years Lux has transformed from a glove-first high school shortstop (there’s a version of reality in which Lux, Bo Bichette, Hunter Bishop, and Spencer Torkelson are all on the same college team, though sadly, it’s not this one) into a superstar offensive talent. If you want a visual example of “twitch,” watch Lux swing. His feet work slowly, and his right knee draws back toward his left hip like the string of a bow (different than his high school swing’s footwork, which was more Sammy Sosa-ish, with ground contact in both directions) while he remains balanced and poised to strike. Then he strides forward, his hips clear, and his hands, which are looser and freer than they were as an amateur, ignite. Once Lux’s hands get going, everything is over very quickly. He’s tough to beat with even premium velocity but also identifies pitch types while they’re in flight and can punish secondary stuff that catches too much of the zone. The other swing changes aside, Lux’s bat path is relatively similar to what it was when he was a skinnier, gap-to-gap hitter with doubles power, except now he’s very strong and balls are leaving the yard. He has pole-to-pole power and is going to get to it in games even though he’s still a relatively low-launch angle hitter (nine degrees in the minors, 13 degrees in a small big league sample).

What happens with Lux defensively is somewhat immaterial. He’s publicly admitted to having the yips, which impacts the accuracy of his throws. Pure arm strength is not really an issue, but if he keeps one-hopping easy throws to first base, he might need to move off the infield. I have the arm graded as a 45 because of the accuracy issues and think there’s some risk Lux needs to move to the outfield, but even if that’s the case, I feel better about him hitting than all but one other prospect in all of the minors.

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3. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, SDP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Whiteville HS (NC) (SDP)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 70
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 50/55 50/60 50/60 91-95 / 97

An ultra-athletic and competitive lefty with a deep, dynamic repertoire that is elevated by Gore’s deceptive mechanics.

The blisters that disrupted Gore’s first full season in pro ball were not an issue in 2019, and he reached Double-A after 15 dominant starts in the hitter-friendly Cal League, during which he surrendered just nine measly runs. Gore pitches the same way a great horror movie villain lurks and ambushes from the shadows. The strange, balletic way he hoists his leading leg and hands as high as he can before he peddles home builds fear of the unknown, and dread anticipation the same way eerie music portends someone’s cinematic demise. Then Gore lunges home with a huge stride, one that takes him slightly down the first base line, and gets right on top of hitters, creating more discomfort. Then, suddenly, the jump scare. The ball explodes out from behind Gore’s head and blows past flailing hitters at the letters, banishing them to the dugout until their sequel at-bat a few innings later.

Gore generated a 16% swinging strike rate overall last year and a 15% swinging strike rate on his fastball, which is amazing for a heater that only averaged 93 mph. Several other traits — Gore generates nearly perfect backspin and seam uniformity on his fastballs, which you can see in the video that corresponds to this player capsule, and the flat approach angle of his stuff contributes, too — help the fastball play up, including Gore’s command which projects, at least, to plus. Spin efficiency also enables his curveball to be good even though it lacks big raw spin, he has glove-side command of his slider, and his changeups, though they’re of mixed quality, are typically well-located. You can go wild projecting on Gore’s secondary stuff, especially the changeup, and his command because he is such an exceptional athlete, and the fact that he can repeat and maintain such an odd and explosive delivery is clear evidence of that.

The 2018 blister problems created some short-term workload issues that San Diego’s dev group tried to solve by shutting Gore down for most of August. He threw side sessions for most of the month before returning for one last in-game outing before the Texas League playoffs, which he didn’t pitch in. He had a 40-inning increase from 2018 to 2019, when he threw 100 frames. It puts him on pace to throw 120-140 innings this year, though it only makes sense for San Diego to push him if they’re contending for the playoffs. Based on how they handled Paddack and Tatis last year, such an approach seems possible.

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65 FV Prospects

4. Jo Adell, LF, LAA
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Ballard HS (KY) (LAA)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 65
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 70/70 50/70 60/50 45/50 40/40

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.

The baseball-loving world held its collective breath last year when Adell went down with two freak leg injuries on the same Spring Training play (while going from first to third, he strained his left hamstring, and sprained his right ankle trying to stop himself when he felt the pull) and was shelved for a couple of months. While his gait appeared compromised during Extended Spring rehab outings, Adell was asymptomatic throughout the summer and during the Arizona Fall League. After a brief jaunt in the Cal League, the Angels sent him to Double-A Mobile, where he had a strikeout-laden cup of coffee the year before. He adjusted, cut the strikeout rate down to a very livable 22%, and hit .308/.390/.553 over two months before he was sent to Triple-A in August. Again, Adell struck out a lot when he was challenged, and there are people in baseball who worry about how often he K’s, but he was just 20 years old and has had success amid many swing changes since he signed, a common theme among Angels prospects.

Adell’s leg kick has been altered and he now raises it even with his waist at apex, and the height at which his hands load (as well as the angle of his bat when they do) was quite nomadic throughout last year. By the time Adell was done with Fall League and had joined Team USA’s Premier12 Olympic qualifying efforts, he had a Gary Sheffield-style bat wrap. Adell is one of the best athletes in the minors (there’s video of him box jumping 66 inches online) and the fact that’s he’s been able to manifest these adjustments on the field at will is incredible. Even if something mechanical isn’t working in the future, chances are he’ll be able to fix it. I’ve settled on projecting Adell in left field. The arm strength he showed as an amateur, when he was into the mid-90s as a pitcher, never totally returned after it mysteriously evaporated during his senior year of high school. He has a 40 arm and is such a hulking dude that he’s just going to be a corner defender at maturity. Strikeouts may limit Adell’s productivity when he’s initially brought up, but I think eventually he’ll be a middle-of-the-order force who hits 35-plus homers.

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60 FV Prospects

5. Adley Rutschman, C, BAL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Oregon State (BAL)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 216 Bat / Thr S / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 60/60 40/55 40/35 60/70 60/60

A superlative defender at a premium position, Rutschman is also a fairly polished switch-hitter with power and an intense, charismatic team leader.

Rutschman is the total package, a physical monster who also has superlative baseball acumen and leadership qualities. From his sophomore season onward (and arguably starting in the fall before that) Rutschman went wire-to-wire as the top draft prospect in his class, a complete player and the best draft prospect in half a decade. His entire profile is ideal. It’s rare for ambidextrous swingers to have polished swings from both sides of the plate, even more so to have two nearly identical, rhythmic swings that produce power.

It’s more atypical still for that type of hitter to be a great defender at a premium position. Rutschman has a pickpocket’s sleight of hand and absolutely cons umpires into calling strikes on the edge of the zone. Resolute umpires end up hearing it from biased fans who are easier marks. Aside from two instances, all of my Rustchman pop times over three years of looks are between 1.86 and 1.95 seconds, comfortably plus timed throws often right on the bag. Rutschman has the physical tools to become the best catcher in baseball, provided he stays healthy (he had some shoulder/back stuff in college). He’s also an ultra-competitive, attentive, and vocal team leader who shepherds pitchers with measured, but intense encouragement. It fires up his teammates and feels like it comes from a real place, not something he’s forcing. Aside from the questions that arose as teams scrutinized Rutschman’s medicals with a magnifying class before the draft (described to me as “stuff consistent with catching and playing football”) he’s a perfect prospect subject only to the risk and attrition that all catchers are.

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6. Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Stoneman Douglas HS (FL) (WAS)
Age 22.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 209 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 65/70 55/55 50/55 94-98 / 99

Luzardo has upper-90s gas, perhaps the best slider in the minors, and impressive command for someone with such a high-effort delivery. He’s a front-end arm with heightened injury risk.

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, and touching 97. Four starts into his senior season, Luzardo tore his UCL and needed 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) wasn’t enough for many teams to have high-level decision makers get in to see him and want to 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 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.

After a dominant first full year in Oakland’s system, Luzardo appeared poised to seize a rotation spot early in 2019, when suddenly, the very contagious injury bug that has bedeviled Oakland pitching prospects for the last several years infected his shoulder and, later during rehab, his lat. He was confined to early-morning sim games on the Mesa backfields until June, when he was sent to rehab at Hi-A Stockton and then to Triple-A Nashville, where Luzardo’s pitch count climbed back to typical starter norms. Oakland ‘penned him for September, a multi-inning weapon for the stretch and playoff run. He was sitting 94-96 and touched 99 as a starter in the minors, the same as he was out of the big league bullpen. It’s a sinker, but it has barrel-shattering tail and pairs nicely with both of Luzardo’s secondaries, which live at the bottom of the zone and beneath it. He’ll add and subtract from his breaking ball to give it a curveball shape that bends into the zone for strikes, or add power to it and coax hitters into waiving at pitches that finish well out of the zone. His changeup is firm but has late bottom and should also miss bats. The violence in Luzardo’s delivery combined with his injury history is slightly worrisome, but he was clearly operating at full speed late last year and has top-of-the-rotation stuff and pitchability, so his 60 FV has that risk baked in.

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7. Luis Robert, CF, CHW
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (CHW)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 65/65 50/60 70/70 60/70 60/60

The Virtruvian Outfield Prospect in all facets save for his approach, Robert’s 2019 ascent was a culmination of health, long-awaited reps, and good player dev. He’s a power/speed threat who may become one of baseball’s most exciting players if he isn’t already.

Not only was Robert finally healthy throughout 2019 (thumb and hamstring issues cost him most of 2018), but he and the White Sox made successful changes to his swing and his power production skyrocketed. The changes, based on my notes, are subtle. A narrower base, a little bit deeper load to the hands, and a front side that stays closed a little longer. These are relatively small tweaks to a swing that is comically simple, but the results — his 2018 groundball rate was between 44-50% depending on the level, while his 2019 rates were 26-32% — were astounding. It’s terrifying that Robert can generate the kind of power he does with such a conservative stride back toward the pitcher, and it juxtaposes with many of the movement-heavy swings that have been pervasive throughout baseball since Josh Donaldson and José Bautista broke out. Robert does have plate discipline issues. He chases a lot of breaking balls out of the zone and it took a lot of convincing from industry folks to move him this high on the list even though Robert has the surface-level traits that tend to make me irrationally excited. He has one of the best physiques in pro sports, he’s a plus-plus runner, and his instincts in center field are terrific. The power production and OBP may be somewhat limited by the approach, very similarly to how Starling Marte’s have been, but Marte is a 60, so here we are.

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8. Nate Pearson, RHP, TOR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Central Florida JC (FL) (TOR)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
80/80 60/60 50/55 55/60 45/50 95-100 / 102

Pearson averaged 97.5 mph with the fastball last year and, through a healthy year of starts, showed his secondary stuff is also electric.

Finally, a healthy season from Pearson who had yet to throw more than 20 pro innings in a season until 2019, when he threw 101 across 25 starts. I wasn’t worried about Pearson being a true injury risk because his maladies (an intercostal strain, a fractured ulna due to a comebacker) have been unrelated to the typically concerning elbow and shoulder stuff. Instead, I wanted to see if he could hold his elite velo under the strain of a full-season workload, and what his secondary stuff would be like when he was forced to pitch through lineups multiple times. Not only did the velo hold water but Pearson’s repertoire is very deep. Yes, he’ll chuck 101 past you, but he’ll also pull the string on a good changeup that runs away from lefty hitters, dump a curveball in for strikes to get ahead of you before gassing you with two strikes, and tilt in one of the harder sliders on the planet, a pitch I’ve personally seen him throw at 95 mph and that regularly sits in the low-90s. Does he need to throw well above 100 innings to be a true front-end arm? Yes, but that he was able to retain his stuff amid a huge innings increase in 2019 is a sign he’ll be able to do so with even more innings folded in. A source with offseason intel tells me Pearson also remade his body and has gotten a little leaner. We won’t truly know until he reports to camp, but if that’s true, it bolsters my confidence in him sustaining this level of stuff for several years.

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9. Julio Rodriguez, RF, SEA
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 19.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 60/65 25/60 40/40 45/50 55/55

Rodriguez is a precocious corner power bat with elite makeup.

Like most Millenials, I share account passwords with friends and family to create a Megazord collection of streaming services while only actually paying for one or two. One of these shared logins is for a DAZN account I procured in order to enjoy the platform’s boxing archive, only to discover it had several classic MLB games as well. Among these is footage of Miguel Cabrera’s big league debut, which I put on one fall night as I prepared to cut up Fall League video of Julio Rodriguez taken earlier in the day. As I split my attention between a fresh-faced Miggy and a young Julio, I noticed a rare similarity: front foot variation. Some hitters are capable of altering their stride direction based on pitch location, perhaps best exemplified by a famous GIF of Cabrera hitting home runs on pitches in six very different parts of the strike zone. In that GIF you can faintly make out how Cabrera’s footwork varies on several of those swings, and though he doesn’t do it consistently yet, Julio shows glimpses of this same seemingly innate aptitude, especially his ability to open up, clear his hips, and wreck pitches on the inner half. He can be fooled by sweeping breaking balls that make him want to open up and pull the ball, and he’ll swing at inside sliders that finish away from him, but other than those consistent issues, Rodriguez is a very mature hitter, with a mature personality and body to match. He excelled despite Seattle’s very aggressive full-season assignment, a move I was skeptical of, and had an impressive Fall League as an 18-year-old. He’s already a 40 runner (I had him timed in the 4.4s throughout Fall League), which means he is ticketed for right field rather than center, but the bat is real. I have plus hit and power projection here and I know scouts who have a 70 on the bat, though his approach and the way his head was flying out during some of his AFL at-bats stopped me from going that heavy with my hit tool grade. I think he’s going to come up quickly and be an All-Star outfielder and the affable face of the franchise.

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10. Joey Bart, C, SFG
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Georgia Tech (SFG)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 60/60 50/60 35/30 65/70 55/55

A very physical but agile catcher, Bart has power that will play in games.

Bart’s first full pro season was interrupted by a fractured left hand, which sidelined him for about six weeks, and is the likely reason his 2019 power production was unremarkable until a torrid final week of the season buoyed his stat line. Sent to the Arizona Fall League for extra reps, Bart was the league’s star pupil before he was hit by two pitches in the same game, the second of which fractured his right thumb. That ended his season but in that narrow window of health we saw glimpses of Bart’s power with physically fit phalanges. And we had plenty of looks at his power, particularly to his pull side, in college, including a titanic blast that cleared the facade of Georgia Tech’s football complex in left field and was never found.

The defensive tools are the foundation of Bart’s skillset, the cornerstone of a certain big league future. He’s Mike Alstott’s size but with the lateral quickness and ground game of a small-framed catcher. He’s quick out of his crouch and throws accurate lasers to second base. He also has field general qualities: he’s a rousing, vocal leader at times, a calming presence at others. We still have some questions about the hit tool — we posited Bart was just frustrated by being pitched around in college and developed some bad habits, but he was swing-happy again in 2019. Still, we think he’ll get to much or all of his power, play all-world defense, and be an All-Star catcher, a proper heir apparent to Buster Posey.

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11. Jarred Kelenic, CF, SEA
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Waukesha West HS (WI) (NYM)
Age 20.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 196 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 60/60 45/55 55/50 45/45 60/60

Kelenic is a bat-first center field prospect who has been raking since he was a high school underclassman.

It was an injury-laden year for Kelenic (a wrist and ankle during the summer), who was supposed to pick up Fall League reps until those was delayed by wisdom tooth extraction and then ultimately squashed by back tightness. Despite that, and especially in spite of the wrist injury, the beefcake Wisconsinite hit .291/.364/.540 with 23 dingers and 20 steals across three levels, and reached Double-A as a young 20-year-old. Kelenic is absolutely jacked but it hasn’t detracted from his twitch, nor has his size borrowed from his range in center field, which is suitable if unspectacular for the position.

The carrying tool here is the bat, which has been the case since Kelenic was 15. Like most elite prospects he’s been one of the — if not the — best hitters his age from the time scouts began to see him, and Kelenic hit elite prep pitching all throughout high school. He is short to the ball with power, and can just turn his hands over and catch heaters up, in, or both, which bodes well for him against a pitching population that is working up there with increasing frequency. The .540 SLG% from 2019 is a bit above what’s realistic going forward, largely because there’s just no more room for mass on the body. As is the case with most hitters evaluated in this stratosphere, reports of Kelenic’s competitiveness and work ethic are strong, and have been since he was in high school. In fact, one scout on the amateur side thought he was too intense at times, sort of in the Jimmy Butler realm of teammate interaction, but I haven’t heard anything like that lately. He’s much more stick than glove, but Kelenic looks like an All-Star center fielder who’s rapidly approaching Seattle.

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12. Matt Manning, RHP, DET
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Sheldon HS (CA) (DET)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 50/55 45/55 93-96 / 98

A prototypical frame, remarkable athleticism, and a well-designed pitch mix give Manning a shot to be a front end arm.

If you get déjà vu reading this report it’s because Manning has become the dream. All of the physical components that many front-end arms have while they’re in high school were there when he was an amateur — shooting guard frame, premium arm strength and athleticism, a breaking ball — the stuff that enables your imagination to run wild. And Manning succeeded while devoting time to two sports, which caused him to get a late start during his draft spring because the hoops team was in the middle of a deep playoff run (Manning threw late into the prior summer, so this may have actually been good for limiting innings).

After some initial strike-throwing issues and a change in stride direction, the REM cycle arrived. The walks came down, Manning’s changeup got better, and he started working with two different fastballs and was clearly manipulating the shape of his spike curveball depending on the hitter and situation. He’s never had arm issues (his 2018 IL stint was due to an oblique injury), and he has rare on-mound athleticism coupled with an understanding of how to pitch. He’s going to have three out-pitches thanks to adjustments he’s already made, and it’s fair to assume he’ll be able to make more. Manning is tracking like an All-Star starter and a potential top-of-the-rotation arm.

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13. Royce Lewis, CF, MIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from JSerra HS (CA) (MIN)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 60/65 40/60 60/50 40/45 50/50

The swing is noisy and needs refining, but Lewis has the physical ability for superstardom.

One of the top-billed high schoolers during a superlative year for talent in Southern California, Lewis began garnering Derek Jeter comparisons while he was still an amateur. To a degree, those remain reasonable, though they’re no longer applicable across nearly as much as Lewis’ skillset as they once were. Initially, those comps came from Lewis’ penchant for on-field leadership, some elements of his swing and frame, and, less positively, his future as a defensive shortstop. The Twins took him first overall and cut a below slot deal, as Lewis was seen as one of five options in a tightly-packed top tier of talent.

Throughout his first 18 months as a pro, Lewis had statistical success while being promoted aggressively before a developmental hiccup in 2019. His overall production has slowly come down at each subsequent level, and during a 2019 season split 3-to-1 at Hi- and Double-A, he had a .290 OBP. Don’t let the robust .353/.411/.565 Arizona Fall League line (he went to pick up reps after an oblique strain during the year) and MVP award fool you — Lewis still clearly had issues. His swing is cacophonous — the big leg kick, the messy, excessive movement in his hands — and it negatively impacts Lewis’ timing. He needs to start several elements of the swing early just to catch fastballs, and he’s often late anyway. This also causes him to lunge at breaking balls, which Lewis doesn’t seem to recognize very well, and after the advanced hit tool was a huge driver of his amateur profile, Lewis now looks like a guess hitter. His mannerisms — Nomar-level batting glove tinkering, deep, heavy, deliberate breaths between pitches, constant uniform adjustment — are manic, and they seem to pull focus away from the task at hand rather than grounding him in a ritualistic way, and the game often seems too fast for him.

So why are we still so high on him? We’re betting big on Lewis’ makeup and physical talent. His BP’s were the best in the entire Fall League. He is an exceptional teammate, leader, and worker, who did more early infield work than anyone else Eric saw in the AFL, willing himself to become a viable left side infield defender even though he lacks the traditional grace and fluidity for those positions. We don’t think the swing works as currently constituted — it’s a mechanical departure from when Lewis was successful in high school — but we think it’ll get dialed in eventually because of his athleticism and work habits. Even if some of the pitch recognition stuff proves to be a long-term issue, we still think Lewis will be a versatile defender who plays several premium positions (we have him listed in center field because if we had to pick one spot where we think he’ll eventually be best, that’s it) and hits for considerable power. There may be an adjustment period similar to the one Javier Báez experienced early in his career because of the approach issues, but the star-level talent will eventually shine through.

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14. Dustin May, RHP, LAD
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Northwest HS (TX) (LAD)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
65/65 60/60 45/50 55/60 50/60 93-96 / 98

His repertoire is still developing, especially against lefties, but May has the tools to be a 3-4 WAR starter.

Once you’ve gotten a look at his stuff, May’s flamboyant ginger curls and Bronson Arroyo-esque leg kick might be the third and fourth most visually captivating aspects of his on-mound presence. His fastballs, both the two and four-seam variants, are parked in the 93-97 range and peak at 99 mph. His low-ish arm slot gives his heater sinker shape, which means it’s more likely to induce weak groundballs than it is to miss a lot of bats, though May occasionally uncorks two-seamers that run off the hips of left-handed hitters and back into the zone like vintage Bartolo Colon. Based on how he worked in the big leagues last year, May’s out-pitch is going to be his low-90s cutter, which he commands to his glove side (he has great east/west command of everything). This is despite the fact that 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. He’s shown an ability to backdoor it to lefties and it was a finishing pitch for him in some of my minor league viewings, but it was de-emphasized in the big leagues, perhaps because it doesn’t pair well with his fastballs. 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, though I’d like to see more backfoot breaking balls against them this year.

This is nitpicky, but May’s leg kick can make him slow to home and he can be vulnerable to stolen bases as a result, which forces him to vary his cadence home in an attempt to stymie runners. Regardless, he projects as an All-Star, mid-rotation starter.

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15. Forrest Whitley, RHP, HOU
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Alamo Heights HS (TX) (HOU)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/55 60/60 60/60 55/55 35/45 93-97 / 99

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.

Two consecutive tumultuous seasons — a 2018 stimulant suspension, lat and oblique issues, then 2019 shoulder fatigue, control problems, and what looked like a conditioning regression — have us a little down on Whitley, but not too much, because his stuff is still quite good. He wields one of the deepest repertoires in all of the minors and, though the elite-looking changeup he showed during the 2018 Fall League was not present in 2019, all of his stuff is still above-average or better, both visually and on paper.

The strike-throwing hiccup isn’t great, but Whitley clearly knows where his stuff plays best (fastballs up, the cutter and slider to his glove side, and the curveball beneath the zone — a well-designed mix nearly ubiquitous in this system) and he works in those locations pretty loosely. Inefficiency might limit Whitley’s inning totals, but it’s unlikely to prevent him from starting. Ideally, Whitley shows up to camp in better shape than he appeared to be in during the Fall League; he underwent a much more drastic athletic metamorphosis in high school (which coincided with his pre-draft velo spike), so it seems very possible. The top of a rotation ceiling that seemed possible a year ago would now require a bit of a bounce back in stuff and a quantum control/command leap. That seems unlikely, but a mid-rotation/All-Star ceiling still exists.

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16. Casey Mize, RHP, DET
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Auburn (DET)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 60/60 55/60 70/70 55/60 92-95 / 97

Mize’s stuff is ready for prime time but his injury track record is concerning.

We would not have guessed that, at this stage, the two-sport prep pitching prospect in this system would have lower perceived variance than the dominant SEC arm who went first in his draft class, but here we are. Mize has hellacious stuff. His four-pitch mix has actually gotten better since college because he and the Tigers successfully added greater demarcation between his cutter and slider, the latter of which now has more two-plane sweep. His entire repertoire is capable of missing bats, like Manning’s, but Mize’s split is superior to Manning’s change and he has an additional weapon, the cutter, that Manning does not.

So why ever-so-slightly prefer Manning? Mize’s injury track record is as scary as his stuff. Some teams had concerns about his shoulder when he was a draft-eligible high schooler, he had elbow issues as a sophomore at Auburn, he had a PRP injection after he pitched for Team USA the summer before his draft year, and in 2019, he missed a month with a shoulder injury. After Mize returned, he had some outings where his fastball was in the 90-92 range, he used his splitter less frequently, and when he did use it, it had more spin than usual. It’s speculation, but perhaps he was tinkering with changeup grips after the injury. That’s an awful lot of smoke. Purely on quality of stuff, Mize is arguably the top pitching prospect in all of baseball. We still love him and think it’s perfectly reasonable to consider him the top youngster in this system and one of the best on the planet, but what Manning has become, what he might continue to develop into based on his athleticism and now-evident ability to make adjustments, combined with his much, much cleaner bill of health, shades him ahead of Mize, in our (mostly Eric’s) opinion, within the same FV tier.

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17. Brendan McKay, LHP, TBR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Louisville (TBR)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 212 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 50/55 50/55 55/70 91-95 / 96

A command-oriented lefty with a quality four-pitch mix, McKay is a workhorse mid-rotation starter.

McKay was 1.1 innings shy of graduating off of prospect lists entirely this year, which means there is as much hard data on him as it’s possible to have when deciding how to evaluate him before he exits my scope. He was unusually homer-prone during his big league stretch, something that has never been an issue before even with middling velocity, because McKay’s command is so good. I think it’s a small sample blip that will regress over more innings, though I did have folks from analytically-inclined teams suggest that I slide McKay down on my overall rankings when I circulated the list for feedback.

His fastball only sits 90-94 and touches 96, which is pretty average, but McKay keeps it away from the middle of the zone where it can really be hammered and often ties hitters up with it because he locates so well; his swinging strike rate on the heater was close to 17% in the minors, so I think it’ll play. His cutter command is arguably even better, and he peppers the glove side of the plate with it at will. Changeup usage was scarce in his big league sample but I think it will be one of the focal points of his repertoire, perhaps usurping the curveball, which has a stronger visual evaluation than it does if you look at the spin data. It’s a repertoire/command profile similar to a lot of good lefties (Hyun-Jin Ryu, Mike Minor, Cole Hamels), though most of them are more reliant on the cambio than McKay has been to this point. He may not have the rate stats of the other arms in the 60 FV tier, but I expect he’ll make up for all of that with volume because of how efficiently he works.

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18. Luis Patiño, RHP, SDP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Colombia (SDP)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 192 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/65 55/60 45/55 45/60 93-97 / 99

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

If not for Sam Huff’s game-tying two-run shot in the bottom of the seventh inning, we would not have gotten to see Patiño chuck heaters past Royce Lewis and Jo Adell at the 2019 Futures Game. It was a coronation of sorts, an indication that the then-teenager would be ready for the bright lights of Petco Park when the Padres call on him, which might happen in 2020, even if it’s out of the bullpen at first. (There are some executives who think that will be Patiño’s ultimate role.) He’s smaller, and his changeup and command are not very good yet. But this is one of the best on-mound athletes in the minors, one who hasn’t been pitching all that long, and has had premium velocity for an even shorter span of time. It’d be unreasonable to expect a 20-year-old to be fully realized when he’s only been pitching for about four years. Patiño’s velocity came on in a huge way as he got on a pro strength program and he’s added 40 pounds of good weight and about 10 ticks of velo since he signed. He’s a charismatic autodidact who has taken a similarly proactive approach to learning a new language (he became fluent in English very quickly, totally of his own volition) as he has to incorporating little tricks and twists into his delivery (he’s borrowed from Mac Gore) to mess with hitters.

Were this a college prospect, he’d be in the conversation for the draft’s top pick, and I’m very comfortable projecting on the command and changeup because of the athleticism/makeup combination. I expect Patiño will reach the big leagues this year in a bullpen capacity and compete for a rotation spot in 2021.

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19. Michael Kopech, RHP, CHW
Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Mt. Pleasant HS (TX) (BOS)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 50/60 50/55 40/45 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, he walked just four batters, and was similarly efficient in his first few big league outings. But in his final start, the Tigers shelled him and his velocity was down, and an MRI revealed he 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 the following year; Kopech didn’t throw in a game environment until the 2019 instructional league. His first fastball in the fall? Ninety-nine mph, and he sat 94-99 on the Camelback Ranch backfields.

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 it does not.

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20. Cristian Pache, CF, ATL
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (ATL)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 50/55 30/45 65/65 70/70 70/70

Pache is an elite defensive center fielder who has offensive tools that haven’t quite been refined yet.

Even though he hit .278/.340/.474 as a 20-year-old at Double-A Mississippi, there are still some level-headed, long-term questions about Pache’s offensive ability. He had a 17% swinging strike rate last year (if we 20-80’d swinging strike rates, that’d be a 30), and you might quibble with elements of the swing, most notably that the bat path only allows for power in certain parts of the zone, and Pache has a passive, shorter move forward. The hand speed and rotational ability to hit for power is there, and he’s athletic enough to make adjustments in order to get to that power (selectivity might also be an issue), which, coupled with some of the flashiest, most acrobatic defense in pro baseball, gives Pache a cathedral ceiling.

Even though he’s already started to slow down a little bit, Pache’s reads in center, his contortionistic ability to slide and dive at odd angles to make tough catches, and his arm strength combine to make him a premium defensive center fielder — he’s a likely Gold Glover barring unexpected, precipitous physical regression. Even if he’s not posting All-Star offensive statlines, we think he’ll provide All-Star value overall because of the glove.

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21. Carter Kieboom, SS, WSN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Walton HS (GA) (WSN)
Age 22.4 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 45/55 40/40 40/45 60/60

Not everyone think he’s a shortstop, but Kieboom has all-fields, 30-homer power and will be a fine second or third baseman if he isn’t.

If you’ve enjoyed watching Keston Hiura hit for the last year or so, you’ll enjoy Kieboom, whose hands work similarly in the box. The efficient loop they create as they accelerate through the hitting zone enables Kieboom to hook and lift stuff on the inner half, including breaking balls, and he’s especially adept at driving stuff away from him out to right. This is a special hitting talent who has performed up through Triple-A as a college-aged shortstop, and Anthony Rendon‘s departure opens the door for at-bats right away.

We don’t really like Kieboom at shortstop. He’s a little heavy-footed and his hands are below average. He’s arguably better-suited for second or third base, but one could argue he’s at least as good as Trea Turner is there right now (Kieboom has worse range but can make more throws), so the short- and long-term fit here may be different. Regardless of the defensive home, Kieboom projects as a middle of the order bat with All-Star talent.

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55 FV Prospects

22. CJ Abrams, CF, SDP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Blessed Trinity HS (GA) (SDP)
Age 19.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 182 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/70 50/60 20/45 80/70 40/45 50/50

An 80 runner with feel to hit who is going to play up the middle, possibly at shortstop (though it depends who you ask), Abrams grew into more raw power this spring and has projection remaining.

The .401/.442/.662 line Abrams posted after signing isn’t sustainable, buoyed as it was by the interaction that players as fast as he is have with defenses at the lowest levels of the minors (he had a .425 BABIP), but Abrams can absolutely rake. He had no trouble with the leap from amateur to pro velocity, though some of the top high school pitching he saw the summer before his draft year was probably better than what he faced in the 2019 AZL. He has a knack for impacting the baseball in a way that creates hard contact even though his swing is currently pretty flat, and he can do this all over the strike zone. Of the trio of elite AZL prospects (Abrams, Bobby Witt, and Marco Luciano), Abrams has the most polished hit tool and the most room left on his frame. Even without a swing change, he’s going to grow into more power just through maturity, which is pretty scary considering his exit velos are already above big league average (though, again, AZL pitching wasn’t good last year).

I don’t think he’s a shortstop. When he has time to step and throw, Abrams has enough arm for the left side of the infield, but ask him to contort his body and make tough throws on balls he has to go get and the results are mixed. Most players with this issue end up in center field, where Abrams could be a plus defender because of his speed, assuming his instincts there aren’t terrible. He has top-of-the-order traits right now and is a virtual lock to play somewhere up the middle, even if it isn’t at short.

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23. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, KCR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Coleyville Heritage HS (TX) (KCR)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 60/65 25/60 60/60 50/60 60/60

Witt has plus power, speed, and glove. The bat-to-ball skills are suspect but he quelled some concerns about the hit tool late in 2018, then had a loud senior spring.

He swung and missed a lot during his showcase summer but Witt’s subsequent fall and spring were strong enough to make him second overall pick of the 2019 draft class. His skillset compares quite closely to Trevor Story’s. There are going to be some strikeouts but Witt is a big, athletic specimen who is very likely to not only stay at shortstop but be quite good there. He also has a swing geared for pullside lift (he can bend at the waist to go down and yank balls away from him, too) and the power to hit balls out even when he swings a little flat-footed. He is the son of a former big leaguer and carries himself like one, which has endeared him to scouts and coaches during the course of a high-profile amateur career laden with very high expectations. His debut statline lacked power on the surface, but the batted ball data suggests we shouldn’t worry.

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24. Marco Luciano, SS, SFG
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (SFG)
Age 18.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 60/70 25/70 50/45 40/45 50/55

His defensive home is TBD, but Luciano has elite bat speed and power potential.

The Giants dusty, tightly-confined backfields abut a gym with the sort of athleisure-wearing clientele you’d expect in Scottsdale. Last January, when most baseball facilities across the country were dark, just feet away from oblivious Peloton riders and tennis-playing retirees, a lucky few scouts and media folks had a religious experience watching the sweetest-swinging teenager on Earth absolutely roast balls fed to his barrel by a high-speed pitching machine. Because of how close you can sit next to the field there, you can feel the sonic force of bat-to-ball impact radiate into your body. When Marco Luciano connects, you feel it to your core. He is not normal. To find bat speed comps you need to look toward Javier Baez, Eric Davis, whatever the top of your mental catalog might be. And while he already generates plenty of it, Luciano’s square-shouldered frame indicates more power might be coming. The length created by Luciano’s natural, uppercut swing is offset by the explosiveness in his hands; he’s not particularly strikeout-prone and he doesn’t take out-of-control hacks. Unless something unforeseen about Luciano’s approach is exposed as he moves through the minors, all of this power seems likely to actualize. His AZL walk rate is encouraging early evidence that he’s unlikely to be so exposed.

As an athlete and infielder, Luciano is only fair. He might play a passable shortstop one day because his hands and actions are fine most of the time, but he can’t presently make strong, accurate throws from multiple platforms. It looks increasingly likely that he’ll move to the outfield, enough so that some scouts have him projected there, but it’s too early to cut bait and move him. He has elite hitting talent, he’s produced on paper, and he already has average exit velos and a hard-hit rate that grade as 65 on the scale. If he continues to perform, especially if the Giants send him right to Augusta and he hits his way to San Jose, then this time next year we’ll be talking about Marco Luciano as one of the best prospects in baseball, and if he does so while improving his infield defense, perhaps the best.

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25. A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Florida (OAK)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/65 60/60 50/55 55/60 45/50 94-97 / 99

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 before he blew out his elbow. He’s back and poised to compete for a rotation spot.

Puk looked like he had leveled up during 2018 Spring Training. His delivery was more balanced and repeatable, and he rebooted his old high school curveball, which he hadn’t used in college, and quickly reclaimed the feel for locating it; his changeup was also plus at times, much better than it was when he was an amateur. Then he tore his UCL and needed Tommy John, which kept him out for all of 2018 and most of 2019. Throughout the spring of 2019, you could just show up to Fitch Park in Mesa and run into one of Luzardo, Puk, James Kaprielian, or any of several other high-profile A’s rehabbers. Puk got into game action in April and May, throwing as many as four innings in an outing (that I’m aware of, anyway) before he was finally sent to an affiliate in June, but only in a two-inning start or bullpen capacity. He never threw more than 47 pitches in an outing and was limited to 20 or 30 bullets when the A’s finally called him up in September. He threw fewer curveballs in that role than he theoretically will as a starter, making that pitch tough to evaluate when he returned, but all the other weapons are intact, and Puk should contribute to Oakland’s rotation in 2020. He projects as an above-average big league starter.

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26. Spencer Howard, RHP, PHI
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Cal Poly (PHI)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/50 55/60 55/60 45/50 93-97 / 98

So long as he proves he has acceptable present control against upper-level hitting, we should see Howard and his four-pitch mix in Philadelphia this year.

Teams were understandably late to identify Howard as an upper-crust draft prospect. He redshirted, then only threw 36 innings the following spring 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. He was sitting 94-98 and working with three nasty secondary pitches. That carried over to his first four starts of 2019 but was interrupted by shoulder soreness that benched him for two months. After he returned, the Phillies moved him pretty quickly to Double-A for six starts, then had him finish in the Fall League. His stuff was great in Arizona. He touched 99, sat mostly 93-97, his curveball and changeup were both plus, and his slider’s two-plane tilt gives Howard a second viable breaker, capable of garnering whiffs when it’s located away from righties. He barely pitched at Double-A last year and is likely to start 2020 there, but if he’s good for a month, especially in hitter-friendly Reading, then a promotion to Lehigh Valley makes sense. If at any point the competitive Phillies think he’s one of their five best arms, he needs to be in the big leagues.

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27. Vidal Brujan, 2B, TBR
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 22.0 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr S / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/65 45/50 30/45 65/65 55/70 50/50

Brujan is next in line behind José 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 Urías and Nick Madrigal), Brujan’s tools are the loudest.

This is my favorite player in the minors, a top-of-the-scale athlete who is sneaky strong despite his height and one of the most electric, in-the-box rotators in all of the minor leagues. He split 2019 between Hi- and Double-A and his walk rate took a bit of a hit at those levels, but otherwise, his on-paper performance was strong, well above league averages (.277/.346/.389 with 48 bags in 61 attempts, and 28 extra-base hits in 100 games). His exit velo data is not great, but it was instructive to watch Brujan in the Fall League next to several other players with similar statistical and defensive profiles who aren’t nearly as athletic or as physically projectable as he is. There were lots of other narrowly built infielders of similar age who simply don’t have Brujan’s musculature (you can see his lats through his jersey) or explosiveness. I think there’s room for mass even though Brujan is short, and that he’ll continue to harness his hellacious cut, which, based on his contact rates, he already has abnormal control over. I watched Brujan swing so hard that he’d corkscrew himself to the ground, only to pop back up like a Russian folk dancer. There are scouts who think he can play shortstop, but I think the arm is a little light for that and that instead, he’ll be a plus-plus defender at second base or perhaps play a multi-positional, up-the-middle role. You have to bet on him growing into more pop to get there, but I think Brujan’s going to be a star.

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28. Kristian Robinson, CF, ARI
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Bahamas (ARI)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 60/70 45/60 60/55 45/50 60/60

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

Robinson’s physical composition and athleticism drove club interest and netted him the fourth largest bonus in the 2017 international free agent class. Even as a 17-year-old on Arizona’s backfields, he stood apart physically from rehabbing big leaguers several years his senior, and instantly attracted evaluators’ attention, like the gravitational pull of a very dense star. And star is apt because that’s the kind of projection Robinson’s tools allow for. Big, fast, and prone to generating thunderous contact, he’s more physically alike to young SEC pass catchers than most of the baseball-playing universe. But the background — a giant, Bahamian man-child without the showcase track record of most of his Dominican peers — meant the industry knew even less about how Robinson would handle pro pitching than it did the average J2 prospect. After some initial inconsistencies, Robinson has not only quelled those concerns but also surpassed expectations, and in 2019 he clubbed his way from the Northwest League to full-season ball as an 18-year-old.

Robinson’s bat path lacks the lift necessary to produce in-game power on par with his raw, but the foundation of his swing is sound, with nothing too complicated despite Robinson’s size. He’s already hitting 50% of his balls in play with an exit velo of 95 mph or more, which is up in Joey Gallo/Nelson Cruz territory, it’s just often low-lying contact. Robinson’s fast enough to continue being developed in center field, but there’s a good chance he ends up on a big league roster with a superior defender who kicks him to right. His ceiling, that of a 35 homer force who can play a passable center, hasn’t changed since he first began appearing on the electronic pages of FanGraphs; his progress is just evidence that such a future is becoming more likely.

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29. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, BAL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Central Heights HS (TX) (BAL)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 55/60 45/55 50/55 40/50 90-95 / 97

Put a traditional velo/breaking ball prospect in an org that suddenly understands pitch design and you have Rodriguez, an exciting young arm who’s rapidly learning new tricks.

Rodriguez is a Forrest Whitley sequel currently in production. Like Whitley, Rodriguez was once a hefty Texas high schooler with average stuff. A physical transformation coincided with a senior spring breakthrough, which was then bettered by cogent repertoire work in pro ball. Rodriguez’s changeup, which was an afterthought back in high school, has screwball action and has become very good, very quickly. He’s now tracking to have a four-pitch mix full of above-average pitches: a mid-90s fastball, a lateral, mid-80s slider, a two-plane upper-70s curveball, and the low-80s change. His delivery isn’t great (there’s a little bit of head whack, and Rodriguez has a tightly-wound lower half) but he’s never been injured and has thrown an acceptable rate of strikes to this point. Among the highly-drafted 2018 prep arms, only Rodriguez and Simeon Woods-Richardson are trending above their pre-draft grades. Rodriguez has a No. 2/3 starter ceiling.

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30. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Concordia Lutheran HS (TX) (PIT)
Age 23.0 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 50/50 35/40 60/55 60/70 60/60

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.

Hayes is perhaps still a swing change away from really breaking out, as he continued to hit the ball hard at Triple-A last year, but often into the ground. He remains a very intriguing prospect not just because the quality of the contact is good but because he’s a plus-plus third base defender with rare speed for the position. It’s possible to attribute what appear to be some plateauing traits to the previous Pirates regime’s issues with player development and perhaps what is in essence a fresh start will unlock something that’s currently lying dormant. At age 23, it’s looking a little less likely now than at this time last year when we 60’d Hayes, with the currently sky-high offensive bar at third base contributing to that sentiment.

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31. Brendan Rodgers, 2B, COL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Lake Mary HS (FL) (COL)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/60 55/55 50/60 45/45 45/50 55/55

Rodgers may end up a shift-aided second baseman long-term, but he has hit consistently for almost a decade now.

If you google “Brendan Rodgers,” the first several results are for Leicester City’s soccer coach, who has been managing Premier League teams since 2008. Baseball’s Brendan Rodgers has been known to scouts for about that long, and has been hitting the entire time. Even as an underclassman, Rodgers was often the best player on the field at well-attended showcase events; when he was a high school junior, scouts thought that if you were to drop him in the draft a year early, he’d still go somewhere in the first round. By his pre-draft summer, Rodgers clearly had the best hit and power combination among his peers, and looked likely to stay on the middle infield. He was the early favorite to go first overall in 2015 until Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, and Andrew Benintendi took a leap the following spring, allowing the Rockies to get him third overall.

One axiom to which we try to adhere is “good hitters hit all the time” and that is indeed what Rodgers has done for the last eight years. He’s a career .293/.348/.491 hitter in the minors, and while most of Colorado’s affiliates play in hitter-friendly parks — this fact has masked some of Rodgers’ mediocre pitch recognition — we anticipate he’ll continue to be a plus hitter in the big leagues. His initial major league trial — a rough 25-game jaunt in the early summer — was not especially encouraging. Rodgers hit .224, swung and missed twice as often as he had in Triple-A (8% swinging strike rate in the minors, 15% in the majors), and generally appeared overwhelmed. But an 80 plate appearance sample doesn’t usurp Rodgers’ lengthy track record of hitting. In November, Rodgers told the Denver Post that he had been dealing with “nagging” shoulder issues since 2018 before deciding to have labrum surgery in June of 2019. As of mid-November, he had yet to begin throwing and hitting. Because he’s only a fringe runner and athlete, Rodgers’ conditioning during rehab is pretty important. A heavy, lumbering Rodgers who needs to play third base is swimming upstream against a 105 wRC+ at the position, while a Rodgers capable of playing second has a 94 wRC+ bar to clear.

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32. Oneil Cruz, SS, PIT
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (LAD)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
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 which involve him hitting for huge power.

Somehow, over the past year, the ratio of scouts who believe the 6-foot-7 Cruz might actually stay at shortstop has grown. It’s more within the realm of possibility for those who think a lot of issues with lateral agility can be masked through some combination of arm strength (Cruz has a freaking hose) and good defensive positioning. What if this guy, who I’ll once again body-comp to Harold Carmichael and Brandon Ingram before I search for a less instructive baseball avatar, actually stays there and grows into 80-grade raw power? How bad would the contact issues need to be for him not to be a great player if that’s the case?

Indeed there are folks in baseball who are skeptical of Cruz’s hit tool because of his lever length, and those concerns are exacerbated by how often he likes to swing. There are several vastly different ideas as to how his body and game will develop as he fills out, and scouts who think Cruz is destined to slow down and move to right field or first base, and who also have concerns about the contact, don’t even think he belongs on this list. But consider this: At this age Aaron Judge, who is as close as we’re going to get to a physical peer for Cruz, was striking out 21% of the time at Fresno State. Split between Hi- and Double-A, against competition way better than Mountain West Conference pitching, Cruz whiffed 25% of the time. That’s not bad for someone this age and this size. I will concede that the approach is bad and that the swing needs polish if Cruz is going to get to his power in games. I’ll also concede that the Fall League look was bad (he missed several weeks with a foot fracture), and his LIDOM performance was, too. This is one of the — if not the — highest-variance players in the minors, but there aren’t many who have a chance to be what this guy might. Even the outcomes more toward the middle of what is likely — a center fielder with a hit tool in the 35-40 range with huge power, a right fielder or third baseman with the same, a gigantic target at first — are still fine. I’m way, way in on Cruz even though he has clear issues that make him one of baseball’s riskier players.

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33. Jazz Chisholm, SS, MIA
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Bahamas (ARI)
Age 22.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/55 45/55 55/55 50/55 55/55

Chisholm is a high-variance shortstop who needs to see more pitches, but has star potential.

The Marlins seem to have a taste for divisive, polarizing prospects who much of the industry perceives as risky, such as Lewis Brinson, Sandy Alcantara, Magneuris Sierra, and many more of the names currently on this list. That includes Jazz, who was acquired in exchange for Zac Gallen before the trade deadline. The swap meant Miami gave up six years of what looks like a mid-rotation starter for six-ish years of Chisholm, who might be a superstar or strikeout too much to be anything at all.

Chisholm has whiffed in 30% of his career plate appearances, partially a product of a sophomoric approach to hitting and otherwise due to him arguably being too explosive for his own good. But that twitch, the violence, Jazz’s awesome ability to uncoil his body from the ground up and rotate with incredible speed, the natural lift in his swing — many of the things that make him whiff-prone also make him exciting, and give him a chance to be an impact offensive player who also plays a premium defensive position. His skillset is somewhere on the Chris Taylor/Javier Báez continuum of strikeout/power offensive profiles at a premium defensive position. We want to see another year of plus walk rates (Chisholm walked 11% of the time in 2019, up from a career 8%) before we declare that to be a true part of the skillset, but the power is real (a 91.4 mph average exit velo would put him in the top 40 of the majors, while 48% of his balls in play being over 95 mph would be in the top 30), the lift is there (he has a career groundball rate in the low 30% range and a 17 degree average launch angle according to a source), and we think he has a chance to be an above-average defensive shortstop, though for the first time we had one dissenting source on the glove. He also performed statistically as a 21-year-old at Double-A. One of several radionuclides in this system, Chisholm has its highest ceiling.

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34. Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Xavier HS (IA) (PIT)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 60/60 55/55 40/45 55/60 94-96 / 98

After stalling at the upper levels as a sinker/curveball guy, Keller added a slider and recaptured some of his previous prospect shine.

We’ve all been waiting around for Keller and the Pirates to figure things out, and it seems they’ve gotten much closer with the addition of a slider, which has become Keller’s primary out-pitch. (His fastball still has a little less life than would best pair with his curveball, but I don’t have him on the high speed camera yet to see if he’s pronating behind the baseball.) Keller quickly got comfortable locating that slider, which has an awful lot of sweep for a pitch in the upper-80s, to his glove side. He can throw competitively-located changeups against left-handed hitters, but in big spots a well-placed slider is just a nastier option. Aside from the little bit of carry that might be added to his heater, Keller is now a four-pitch strike-thrower with a state-of-the-art repertoire.

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35. Ronny Mauricio, SS, NYM
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYM)
Age 18.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 166 Bat / Thr S / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 45/55 20/50 50/50 45/50 55/60

A “What They Look Like” teenage shortstop whose frame portends big power.

Similar to the way Andrés Giménez skipped over short season ball (though, he also skipped over the GCL), the Mets pushed Mauricio to Low-A after he had spent just a year on the complex. He was three and a half years younger than the average Sally League player and was still hitting an impressive .283/.323/.381 before he had a lousy August. The exciting physical characteristics — a lanky, projectable frame, the sort you typically see on the mound, the hands, actions, feet, and arm strength for short, precocious feel to hit — shared by Mauricio’s franchise-altering shortstop predecessors, the stuff that had us deliriously excited about him before he even signed, are still present.

The explosiveness and physicality of cornerstone, power-hitting shortstops still percolates beneath the surface, which is fine because Mauricio will be 18 until April and it isn’t reasonable to expect that he’d already have grown into impact power. When most players his age are either in the midst of their freshman season of college or getting ready to start Extended Spring Training, he might be in the Florida State League. Because he’ll be so young and in a pitcher-friendly league, it’s very likely that a year from now, we’ll be ignoring a pretty lousy statline for contextual reasons. With another full year of data to consider, we now know Mauricio is a little swing-happy and that, even if that explosion arrives, he either needs to develop feel for lift or tweak the swing if all the power is to actualize. Hopefully we’re not living in the timeline where Mauricio outgrows shortstop and those two things remain issues. Switch-hitting shortstops with power, uh, don’t really exist. That Mauricio has a chance to be one means he may one day be the top overall prospect in baseball, and several outcomes short of that ideal are still very, very good.

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36. Brandon Marsh, CF, LAA
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Buford HS (GA) (LAA)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 55/60 40/50 60/55 50/50 60/60

Marsh is a well-rounded center fielder with newfound game power.

It’s possible the wait is over and that Marsh’s swing is now in a place that will enable him to hit for power that’s more in line with the thump he shows in batting practice, but his in-season slugging performance (.428 in 2019, up from .385 the year before) is not the evidence. Marsh still hit the ball on the ground a lot during the regular season and only averaged about five degrees of launch angle, but by his Fall League stint things clearly looked different. Like Jo Adell showed late in the fall, Marsh’s hands loaded a little further out away from his body and he had what some scouts called a “wrap” or “power tip,” where the bat head angled toward the mound a bit, setting up more of a loop than a direct path to the ball. I thought he lifted the ball better during that six week stretch and did so without compromising his strong feel for contact. Marsh is a better outfield defender that Adell and projects as a clean fit in center field, which, so long as this development holds, should enable him to be an above-average everday player.

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37. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CHW
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Cal (CHW)
Age 21.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/65 45/60 65/65 30/30 40/45 45/45

He’s the dreaded R/R first baseman without physical projection, but Vaughn had a cartoonish sophomore year (.400/.530/.820) before he was pitched around a lot (but still raked) as a junior. The best present hit/power combo in the 2019 draft, the industry is very confident he’ll hit.

So polished and consistent was Vaughn that even though he provides little defensive value and had a “down” junior year (yes, .374/.539/.704 was well below Vaughn’s .402/.531/.819 Golden Spikes sophomore campaign), the entire amateur side of the industry loved him. Vaughn started seeing a lot of breaking balls once conference play began, about 15% fewer fastballs to be more exact. He was pitched around and unable to make as much impact contact, but all the tools were still there. Vaughn has a very selective approach, letting strikes he can’t drive pass him by unless he has to put a ball in play, a skill I compared before the draft to Paul Konerko‘s (I mentioned this to a Special Assistant who scoffed and said he thought Vaughn was way better). He has a very athletic swing despite being decidedly unathletic in every other way, enabling all fields power and high rates of contact.

There’s no margin for error for right-handed hitting first baseman, but if there’s one prospect to be confident in hitting as much as is necessary to profile at first, it’s someone with this combination of visual evaluation and statistical track record. Vaughn’s post-draft TrackMan data is also supportive, and suggests he could be a .300/.400/.500 hitter. How fast he comes up and where he plays when he arrives (it’s 1B/DH but José Abreu exists, Edwin Encarnación is on a one-year deal, Eloy Jiménez might have a DH body soon, Micker Adolfo already does, and Nomar Mazara was added this winter) will be dictated by those around him.

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38. Nolan Gorman, 3B, STL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from O’Connor HS (AZ) (STL)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 65/70 25/60 40/40 40/45 50/50

Gorman has some strikeout issues but he’s made adjustments in pro ball and has 35-homer power.

By torching the Appy League during his first pro summer, Gorman laid to rest any concerns that his whiff-prone pre-draft spring was anything more than a hiccup caused by the whiplash of going from facing elite, showcase high schoolers (who he crushed) to soft-tossing, Arizona varsity pitchers. He struck out a lot (again) during the 2018 stretch run, when St. Louis pushed him to Low-A Peoria because he wasn’t being challenged in Johnson City. Sent back to Peoria for the first half of 2019, Gorman adjusted to full-season pitching and roasted the Midwest League to the tune of a .241/.344/.448 line, cutting his strikeout rate by eight percentage points. He was promoted to the Florida State League for the second half, and while his walk rate halved and his strikeout rate crept above 30% again, Gorman still managed to post an above-average line for that league as a 19-year-old. The strikeout issues will only become a real concern once Gorman stops showing an ability to adjust over a long period of time.

His huge power, derived from his imposing physicality and explosive hand speed, is likely to play in games because of the lift in Gorman’s swing and his feel for impacting the ball in the air. Because we’re talking about a teenager of considerable size, there’s a chance Gorman has to move off of third base at some point, but for now we’re cautiously optimistic about him staying there for the early part of his big league tenure. There are apt body comps to be made to either of the Seager brothers, while the offensive profile looks more like Miguel Sanó’s.

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39. Dylan Carlson, LF, STL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Elk Grove HS (CA) (STL)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr S / L FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 50/55 40/55 50/40 50/55 40/40

Carlson is a switch-hitting left fielder with some pop from both sides of the plate.

A year ago, on the Cardinals list and in our Picks to Click article, we tabbed Carlson as one of the prospects in this org likely to break out. But even we didn’t expect he’d nearly go 20/20 and slug .518 at Double-A Springfield. Judging by the fervor this performance created among our more fantasy-focused readers, they may be wondering why we were ahead of the curve a year ago, but aren’t hitting the gas on Carlson’s evaluation now after the year he had. We certainly like him — Carlson is balanced and coordinated while hitting from both sides of the plate, his left-handed swing has gorgeous lift and finish, he has advanced bat control for a switch-hitter this age, he’s athletic and moves well for his size, and he has high-end makeup. But we have some questions about the ultimate ceiling.

Carlson is an average runner and a large dude for a 20-year-old. His instincts in center field are okay, but not good enough to overcome long speed that typically falls short at the position. Because of where we have his arm strength graded, we think he fits in left field or at first base. The TrackMan data we sourced also indicates that his 2019 line is a bit of a caricature. His average exit velo (about 88 mph) and rate of balls in play at 95 mph or higher (about 34%) are both right around the big league average, rather than exceptional. The in-office types we talk to about this kind of thing are in love with Carlson because he’s only 20, and they anticipate these things will improve, but visual evaluation of his build don’t suggest as much physical projection as is typical of someone this young, because he’s already a big guy. As a result, he was on the 50/55 FV line for us during the process of compiling this list. The league-average offensive production in left field has been lower than you might expect (it’s 100 wRC+ over the last five years) and Carlson might also be able to play a situational center field when the Cards are behind and need offense, as well as some first base. That versatility is valuable, so he tipped into the 55 FV range. But we think he’s closer to the line than one might conclude if they were just looking at his surface stats.

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40. Luis Campusano, C, SDP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Cross Creek HS (GA) (SDP)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 55/60 30/50 40/40 40/45 60/60

A 2020 breakout catcher with big power and contact ability, a defensive improvement from Campusano is still required, but seems likely.

Campusano was a bad-bodied catcher on the summer showcase circuit, but then he completely remade his body for his senior spring. He showed above-average power, some bat control, and improved agility behind the plate, boosting his stock to the late first/early second round of the draft. He didn’t catch much velocity in high school and struggled receiving pro arms at first, but that has improved to a place of acceptability. More importantly, he’s continued to hit. Though his Hi-A statline was aided by the Cal League’s hitting environment, Campusano’s 11% strikeout rate was the second best rate among qualified, full-season backstops in 2019 (Yohel Pozo was first) and his exit velos (89 mph on average) are great for a 20-year-old. He is rumored to have been the centerpiece of San Digeo’s Mookie Betts negotiations with Boston and while young catching has a tendency to take a beating and fall short of expectations on offense because of it, right now Campusano looks like a potential star offensive catcher.

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41. Nick Madrigal, 2B, CHW
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Oregon State (CHW)
Age 22.9 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
60/70 45/45 30/30 70/60 60/60 50/50

Madrigal is a contact and glove-oriented second baseman without much power.

Madrigal had the lowest swinging strike rate in the minors last year at a minuscule 2.2% — only Luis Arraez (2.8%) came close to that in the big leagues in 2019. Short players have short swings and Madrigal is no exception. He pulled and lifted the ball more last season than he did the year before, but unless the big league baseball is particularly kind to about a dozen of Magic Man’s wall-scraping fly balls, he doesn’t project to hit for more than doubles power. That’s fine, though. Second base has the lowest league-wide wRC+ of all the non-catching positions right now and several punchless contact hitters have had good careers (Arraez was a 2 WAR player in 90 games, Joe Panik was a 50 FV, etc.), and most all of them are nowhere near the runner or defender that Madrigal is — he has some of the fastest hands I’ve seen around the bag, and he’s going to steal outs because of how quickly he turns feeds from Tim Anderson around to first base. He doesn’t have a high ceiling because of the lack of power but I consider Madrigal a low-variance, above-average regular at second.

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42. Deivi Garcia, RHP, NYY
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 20.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 163 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 70/70 45/50 40/50 91-95 / 97

Garcia is a diminutive firecracker righty with a beautiful curveball who needs to answer questions about load management.

There are workload worries surrounding Garcia because he’s 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, and, more relevantly, saw his walk rates spike last year. But one could argue there’s a selection bias for height in the pitching population, perhaps one that’ll melt away as we keep learning about approach angle, and, because part of the formula for torque (which could theoretically be used as a measure of stress on the elbow) is the distance from the fulcrum, that longer-armed, usually taller pitchers might actually be more of an injury risk than a little guy like Deivi. It’s unusual to project heavily on the command of a Triple-A pitcher but it isn’t strange to do so on that of a 20-year-old, so even if there are some growing pains related to Garcia’s fastball command it’s good to remember he’s the age of most college pitchers in this year’s draft.

Garcia has big stuff. He works 91-95, mostly at the top of the zone when he’s locating, and backs up that pitch with a knee-buckling, old school 12-to-6 curveball that has big depth and bite. He sells his changeup by mimicking his fastball’s arm speed but doesn’t create great movement on that pitch right now. A better third offering during the early part of his career will probably be his mid-80s slider, though that will be more dependent on command to play. It’s possible for a starter to be a 55 when they only throw 120 or fewer innings (Brandon Woodruff and Blake Snell did it last year) but it’s much easier if you inch closer to 140. We may find out about Garcia’s ability to do that in 2020 if the Yankees increase his innings as they have the last two years, or the big club may need to stick him in a lower-volume role immediately.

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43. Drew Waters, CF, ATL
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Etowah HS (GA) (ATL)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 183 Bat / Thr S / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/60 55/60 40/50 60/60 45/50 60/60

Waters is tooled-up center fielder with a horrendous approach.

Waters’ initial rise to top 50 prospect status was surprising to some, coming as it did by the end of his first full season. He’s got 55-to-60 grade tools across the board and always hit in high school. Some teams were and remain turned off by his loud personality, while others just see him as a colorful guy. The other concern is his aggressive approach at the plate, which didn’t give him any trouble until his taste of Triple-A late in 2019, and some scouts and analysts think it could be a problem in the big leagues.

That’s the soft part of the profile, but the indicators both to the eye (scouts rave about the swing, bat speed, and feel at the plate) and in the stats point to elite ability to manipulate the bat. One club told us his percentage of balls hit with 95 mph-plus exit velo and a launch angle between 10 and 30 degrees (i.e. hard hit line drives and fly balls) was in the top 3% of the entire minor leagues. And that comes as a 20-year-old in the upper minors who has plus speed and a plus arm, and who profiles in center field, with other variables that could allow you to keep rounding up from there. The happy version of this story is Starling Marte, and as soon as the middle of 2020; the sad version includes multiple years stuck in neutral at the big league level, trying to argue that the upside and defense makes up for the big strikeout rate. We’re leaning more to Marte at this point.

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44. Ian Anderson, RHP, ATL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Shenendowa HS (NY) (ATL)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/55 55/60 45/55 91-94 / 96

Don’t sweat the low spin rates, as Anderson’s over-the-top delivery creates plenty of tumble on his curveball, and the other components (changeup, fastball carry) are clearly present.

Anderson is tracking like a mid-rotation starter, even though he hasn’t added velocity since high school, because his secondary stuff is excellent. The pitch with the most obvious beauty is his shapely curveball, which has enough depth (despite its paltry spin rate) to miss bats in the zone, and also pairs well with his fastball’s approach angle. His change has tail and fade, and either it or the curve can finish hitters. The Braves amateur department really stuck out their necks in 2016 by cutting an underslot deal with Anderson, and then using the savings to sign Kyle Muller and Bryse Wilson, who are both key near-term pitching staff stalwarts, and Joey Wentz, who was traded. That’s an impressive class, especially considering how risky a subgroup prep pitching is.

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45. Logan Gilbert, RHP, SEA
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Stetson (SEA)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 50/55 45/50 50/60 91-94 / 96

Gilbert is a well-proportioned righty who fills the zone with stuff that is average and above.

Last year I wrote about the possibility that Gilbert would experience a velo rebound in pro ball because I thought he had been overtaxed at Stetson. He was sitting 92-96 as a rising sophomore on the Cape, but often sat 90-94, and sometimes 88-91, throughout his starts the following spring. Last year he was again up to 96 but sat 91-94, about the halfway mark between his peak and nadir as an amateur. Considering how readily pitchers lose velo in pro ball, that’s still a win for Seattle. While all of Gilbert’s secondary pitches are average and flash above, I think his command will enable them to play above their raw grades, which, combined with what the innings count could be because of his frame and how efficiently he works, will still make him an above-average WAR generating starter.

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50 FV Prospects

46. Nico Hoerner, 2B, CHC
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Stanford (CHC)
Age 22.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 50/50 35/45 55/55 45/50 50/50

Hoerner made some subtle swing changes after the draft that got him hitting for more power, and then he started branching out defensively in his second year. His dip in 2019 power output is likely injury-related.

When Hoerner was at Stanford, it seemed reasonable to hope that he could pass as a shortstop by simply making all the routine plays, plus a few based on his level of effort. It also seemed reasonable to project him in center field because of his plus-plus speed. The Cubs have decided to have it both ways; beginning in July of last year, after he returned from a wrist fracture, they began playing him at all three up-the-middle positions. Barring a rep-based leap in center field, he projects to be a 45 defender at all three spots, but the versatility is valuable on its own. This wasn’t the first developmental alteration the Cubs made. Hoerner’s swing changed not long after he was drafted. 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 after he signed and may not have repeated the SLG in 2019 because of the wrist injury. He’s a lock regular for me and has some hidden value because of the defensive flexibility he provides, assuming he proves capable of handling both short and center.

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47. Jeter Downs, 2B, BOS
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Monsignor Pace HS (FL) (CIN)
Age 21.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 50/50 40/50 45/40 40/45 50/50

There’s not much agreement about which side of the bag Downs will play on, but he’s going to hit and play a middle infield spot. He’s a high-probability regular.

Downs has been a polished, advanced hitter for his age dating way back to high school. He’s not a shortstop for me and, in my opinion, his thicker lower half means his likely future home is as a shift-aided second baseman at maturity. He’s short back to the ball with some pop, his swing is bottom-hand heavy, which leaves him somewhat vulnerable to velo in on his hands, but he’s selective enough to swing at pitches he can damage. Despite the patience and bat control, I think he ends up with closer to average contact ability but fully actualized power production, a well-rounded offensive package that cleanly profiles at second base. His average exit velo was 88 mph last year, and there’s not a lot of room on the body, so that might be all.

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48. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, MIA
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (PHI)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 60/70 50/55 95-99 / 101

Sixto’s fastball plays beneath its velocity right now because it has sub-optimal underlying components, but his secondary stuff and command are excellent. He’d be higher on the list if not for his injury history.

Miami had Sixto throw in Extended Spring Training (he threw bullpens until mid-April, then got into games) to control his season-long workload coming off an injury-plagued 2018 (he had visible discomfort in his neck and shoulder early in the year, elbow soreness later on, and skipped Fall League due to collarbone soreness) before sending him to Double-A for the bulk of the summer. There is a gap between how many bats his fastball misses (he has 8% swinging strike rate on the heater, where the big league average on all pitches is 11%) and what you might expect at this velocity (Sixto averages 97, touches 101) because it has sinking/tailing movement rather than ride. Whether Miami player dev can adjust that without compromising Sanchez’s control and health remains to be seen.

His changeup, which is one of the better ones in the minors, will be his primary out pitch unless or until that happens. The cambio has bat-missing, screwball action, so much that it dips beneath the barrel of right-handed hitters as well as away from lefties. Sanchez can also run it back over the corner of the glove side of the plate, freezing perplexed hitters. Though his slider has plus spin, it’s horizontal wipe means it needs to be located off the plate to work, but Sixto, especially considering how little he’s pitched in his life and how far backwards his build has gone on him to this point, commands it pretty well. The same arm slot/hand position change that might add more ride to the fastball could add more depth to the breaking ball, but you could argue that such a change is an unnecessary risk considering Sixto’s injury history and how well everything already works.

Knowledge of the fastball efficacy gap combined with the injury history has us down on Sixto a little bit. He still has top-of-the rotation upside, there’s just more developmental work to do to get there than we thought there was a year ago.

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49. Jasson Dominguez, CF, NYY
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 17.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 194 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/55 60/65 25/60 70/70 45/55 60/60

What’s in the box?!

There’s as much industry intrigue surrounding Dominguez as there is interest in a Yankee-obsessed public because so few scouts have seen him at all, and even fewer have seen him against live pitching. One director told me Dominguez is impossible to evaluate for a list like this, while a former GM told me he was too low. The Yankees spent almost all but $300k of their initial $5.4 million international pool on Dominguez. He is a hyper-sculpted, switch-hitting athlete who could fit at a number of defensive positions, probably either second base or center field. He has plus tools across the board, including power from both sides of the plate. Dominguez has also largely been seen in workouts and not against live, high-quality pitching, so we don’t know much about his feel to hit, but the swing elements are there. There’s perhaps some Mike Mamula risk here, and Dominguez is physically mature for a recent J2, but I don’t know of another 16-year-old on the planet with tools this loud, and struggle to think of a historical example.

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50. Brennen Davis, CF, CHC
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Basha HS (AZ) (CHC)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 55/60 35/55 60/55 45/55 55/60

Davis is a big-framed athlete who took quite nicely to an early-career swing change while also filling out and adding raw strength.

Davis made an incredible leap throughout his first year in pro ball. Some area scouts thought he was so raw as a hitter, and that his stock had fallen enough due to a pre-draft hamstring issue, that he might be better off going to school. The Cubs took him in the second round, tweaked his swing, and skipped him over a level; he responded by hitting .305/.381/.525 at South Bend, and he may just be scratching the surface.

Davis was his conference’s Defensive POY on a 2016 state championship basketball team and didn’t fully commit to baseball until his senior year of high school. He has a big, projectable frame which he’s already added a lot of muscle to over the last year and a half, and amateur scouts raved about Davis’ maturity as a student and a worker (often citing the odd hours he keeps taking care of a goat and the llamas at his family home), and all thought he’d be able to cope with likely early-career contact struggles and would work to improve his ability to hit. Watch out for the injuries here. In addition to the hamstring issue in high school, Davis was on the IL twice last year for hand ailments. We only have a 50-game sample of stats, but it’s just evidence supporting the athletic/makeup foundation and reinforcing that the swing change worked. This is a risk/reward power/speed outfield prospect.

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51. JJ Bleday, RF, MIA
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Vanderbilt (MIA)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 55/55 45/55 45/40 50/60 60/60

Bleday put a sophomore oblique issue behind him and had an incredible junior year at Vanderbilt. He’s a middle of the order right field prospect.

Part of Bleday’s 2019 breakout at Vanderbilt — he hit four homers as a sophomore and slugged .511, then hit 26 as a junior and slugged .717 — was because his 2018 power was hindered by a severe oblique injury that caused him to miss half of the season. Healthy Bleday was not only one of the more polished hitters in his draft class but one of the most physically gifted as well. In addition to having a superlative feel for the strike zone, Bleday is also short to the ball but still creates lift. He murders offspeed stuff, has all-fields ability, and can mishit balls with power — he’s a complete offensive package. He’s also pretty fast, and his instincts in the outfield could make him a plus corner defender. We expect him to move pretty quickly and be an above-average everyday player.

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52. Riley Greene, RF, DET
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Hagerty HS (FL) (DET)
Age 19.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 50/55 25/55 50/45 45/50 55/55

While I’m skeptical of Greene’s ability to play center field, his hit/power combination should be fine in a corner.

Advanced high school hitters are common on Florida’s diamonds, and while Greene constantly squared up top high school pitching as well as any of his peers, he also underwent a bit of a physical transformation that made at least some scouts more optimistic that he’ll be able to play an instincts-driven center field long term. During his pre-draft summer, Greene was a little soft-bodied, his running gait was odd, and he seemed destined to play little more than an average outfield corner. The player scouts watched the following spring had a better physical composition, was more explosive and a better runner, and had as ripe a high school hit tool as was available in the draft. This was similar to how Jarred Kelenic’s skills were colored as he came out of high school.

Greene’s swing, curated by his father from an early age, is beautiful. He can clear his hips and turn on just about anything on the inner half, drop the bat head and lift balls with power, strike balls the other way with authority, and he tracked and whacked many high school benders. The bend and flexion in Greene’s front knee as his swing clears the point of impact is reminiscent of several Dodger hitters. Though there are many examples of Greene having certain types of athleticism (he is a tremendous leaper, for instance), he’s not a runner and we don’t have him in center field. But we think he’ll hit enough that it doesn’t matter.

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53. Tarik Skubal, LHP, DET
Drafted: 9th Round, 2018 from Seattle (DET)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/65 50/55 45/45 45/50 40/45 90-94 / 96

Your milage may vary depending on how fastball-dependent you think starting pitchers can be in today’s game. If you think the pitch can carry two thirds of the load, Skubal is too low on this list.

Skubal was rehabbing from Tommy John during his junior year at Seattle University and only managed to throw a few bullpen sessions in front of scouts before the 2017 draft. Scouts liked what they saw, but not enough to meet a price tag that was up around $1 million according to sources. Skubal went back to school and was horrendous early in the year before he slowly began to throw more and more strikes. Now 29 teams and their evaluators are cursing themselves for either failing to notice that upward trend throughout the 2018 spring, or for noticing but lacking conviction in the draft room.

There are some folks in baseball who have Skubal right up in the same tier with Mize and Manning. He has a dominant fastball, equal parts velocity, ride, and tough-to-square angle. So unhittable is Skubal’s heater that he’s struck out 37% of hitters during his pro career (48% over the final few weeks over Double-A play last year) while throwing the pitch roughly 70% of the time. No current big leaguer with a fastball that plays at the top of the zone throws their fastball that much; anyone close to 70% is a sinkerballer. An occasionally good changeup and slider aside, Skubal’s secondaries are not all that great in a vacuum, but luckily they too benefit from the funky angle created by Skubal’s cross-bodied, high-slot delivery. His overall swinging strike rate (18%) was higher than the rate on his fastball alone (15%), which means the secondaries were a net positive for him, but we’re unsure of what big league hitters will do if they know a fastball aimed at the letters is coming most of the time. So while he’s had nothing but goofy strikeout rates for two years, we think Skubal ends up more toward the middle of a rotation rather than the front.

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54. Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Holy Ghost Prep HS (PA) (CLE)
Age 21.8 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 70/70 55/60 30/30 40/45 70/70

Jones is a giant corner infielder with among the best eyes for the strike zone in the minors and some of the most impressive raw power, as well.

Jones has light tower power and has kept his sizable frame in check enough to have retained at least short-term projection at third base. His surface-level stats are strong, especially the OBP (he boasts a career .409 mark) because Jones walks at a career 17% clip. His splits against lefties are very troubling, enough that some of my sources thought it would limit Jones’ role enough to move him toward the back of the list. I think the plate discipline will offset it enough that he’s a corner infield regular with among the highest three true outcomes percentages in the big leagues.

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55. Trevor Larnach, RF, MIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Oregon State (MIN)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 223 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 65/65 50/60 40/40 40/45 55/55

He’s a bit of a sluggish defender but Larnach generates big power with relatively little effort and he knows which pitches to hunt.

Larnach hit several balls in excess of 110 mph during Oregon State’s opening weekend of his draft season, and he ended up slugging .652 that year while falling to the back of the first round amid concerns about his defensive ability. Larnach remains a sluggish, diffident outfielder, but he’s very likely to get to much of his titanic raw power in games thanks to the ease with which he generates the pop — Larnach doesn’t swing with violence or effort; it’s just there — and a refined approach. We think he’s a 30-plus homer, high-OBP corner outfielder.

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56. Alec Bohm, 3B, PHI
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Wichita State (PHI)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 60/60 45/55 40/30 40/40 60/60

Lumbering footwork may move Bohm to first base, but the offensive ability, driven by a surprisingly strong contact component, should profile there.

Most of the industry expected Bohm’s swing to be altered at least a little bit after he was selected third overall in 2018, but I can’t imagine anyone expected this. Bohm’s swing now more closely resembles Michael Brantley’s, not some strikeout-heavy slugger’s uppercut hack. His hands start high and stay tucked before he simply guides them down to wherever the ball is. If anything, this swing is less noisy than his college iteration, and somehow a 6-foot-5, long-levered guy with big power managed to have just a 14% strikeout rate at Double-A last year. Bohm has enough raw power to hit balls hard even with a low-effort cut, and he’s been able to hit balls all over the zone because of how direct his swing is. Can he play third base? I came away from my extended Fall League look more optimistic than almost every scout I talked to. I have him projected as a 40 defender there in part because Philly is likely very motivated to leave him at third as long as Rhys Hoskins is around.

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57. Triston Casas, 1B, BOS
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from American Heritage HS (FL) (BOS)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 238 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 65/70 35/60 30/20 45/55 60/60

Casas is built like an in-line tight end and profiles as a mashing first baseman with all-fields power.

Casas was one of the more heavily scouted underclassman high school prospects in recent memory, and stood out while hitting in the heart of the lineup for South Florida-powerhouse American Heritage, various Team USA squads, and at travel showcases and tournaments. Some of that success was probably because he was one of the oldest prospects in the 2019 graduating class, which prompted him to accelerate his schooling in 2017 and reclassify for the 2018 draft. Moving up a year made him age-appropriate for a high schooler in their draft year; at 18.4, he was basically average for a prep player. With that early-career acclaim came a change in the way opposing pitchers approached Casas. They began to pitch around him, and scouts often left his games having seen him swing just once or twice because he walked constantly. Luckily Casas had a long track record of hitting in games, had participated in multiple home run derbies during his amateur summers, and posted gaudy exit velocities during team pre-draft workouts, so clubs knew what his offensive potential was.

He has good hands and a plus arm that helped him pitch into the low-90’s on the mound, but is a well-below average runner with poor lateral mobility. He played third base after signing, though mostly during instructs, as Casas injured his thumb sliding for a ground ball in June, needed surgery, and barely played during the summer. But expectations are that he’ll move across the diamond to first base in 2019 or 2020, where we think he’ll be quite good. Casas’ calling card is his bat and there’s potential for a 60 hit, 70 game power, 80 raw power kind of package. The margin for error for teenage, first base-only types is very small, but we’re also very high on Casas’ bat.

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58. Alex Kirilloff, 1B, MIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Plum HS (PA) (MIN)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 60/60 45/55 30/30 45/50 60/60

Kirilloff has power and bat control, but I’m wary of corner guys with expansive approaches, and AK is trending toward first base.

Kirilloff’s numbers weren’t as nutty as they were two seasons ago — .283/.342/.413 down from .348/.392/.578 — but that’s partly because he was on the IL twice with wrist issues. His power output was way down for the first few weeks after he returned from both, which is typical of wrist injuries, but that the issue recurred is somewhat concerning on its own. Healthy Kirilloff is going to hit and hit for power. He can turn on balls most hitters are jammed by because of the way he strides open and clears his hips, but he still has the plate coverage and swing path to lift contact the other way when pitchers work away from him. A thickening build has slowed Kirilloff down, and he’s now begun seeing a lot of time at first base. This, combined with a pretty aggressive approach, makes him somewhat risky from some teams’ perspectives, who see a first baseman with below-average plate discipline, but we think he’s a safe bet to be a .340 to .360 wOBA guy even with how swing-happy he can be.

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59. Daulton Varsho, C, ARI
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Wisconsin-Milwaukee (ARI)
Age 23.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 50/50 40/45 60/60 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. He’s also shagging been balls in the outfield and might play a multi-positional role.

Varsho presents us, and other evaluators with anticipatory tendencies, with a bit of a conundrum. While we expect that future changes to the way balls and strikes are called (i.e. an electronic strike zones) will make it so below-average receivers like Varsho can catch quite comfortably, it’s also going to raise the offensive bar at the position in a way that alters how we think about catchers generally. Once framing became quantifiable, the average wRC+ at catcher went from about 93 down into the mid-80s. If that skill becomes moot, catcher offense will certainly rise.

Varsho’s case is unique, as is his skillset for the position. He’s a plus runner who might steal 30 bases at peak, a contact-oriented, gap-to-gap hitter with catalytic qualities found in old school one and two-hole hitters. How much of that spark erodes if Varsho is asked to take a beating behind the dish one hundred times a summer? Probably some, and when paired with his defensive shortcomings — he has a fringe arm, trouble catching balls cleanly, especially toward the bottom of the zone, and at times struggles to block breaking stuff in the dirt — there are suddenly several reasons to limit his catching reps and deploy him in left field, or perhaps try to hide him at second base. Varsho seems motivated to catch and he’s both quite athletic and highly competitive, two things that often help prospects carve paths to unlikely big league outcomes. So while we think it’s becoming less likely that he will be an everyday catcher, we’re still in on his offensive ability, makeup, and rare collection of skills, and remain intrigued by the proposition (and growing likelihood) that he’ll be a dynamic, multi-positional player who catches once in a while.

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60. Josh Lowe, CF, TBR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Pope HS (GA) (TBR)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 40/45 60/60 40/45 60/60

He’s been powerful and fleet-footed since high school, and Lowe finally began performing like an impact big leaguer in 2019.

Things may finally be starting to gel for Lowe, who has had tantalizing tools since high school. He was a power/speed prep bat without a clear position, but most of the amateur half of the industry assumed he’d be able to play center field if not shortstop or third base, where he played in high school. He quickly moved to the outfield and has played almost exclusively in center since 2017. He isn’t great there, but most of Lowe’s other abilities have been slow to develop, so it’s possible the feel for the position will come eventually. For instance, Lowe has power but has been strikeout prone since his prep days. But once he started playing pro games and generating data, it became clear that, despite the whiffs, he had a great idea of the strike zone. The raw power didn’t really show up in games until Lowe’s batted ball profile began to shift in 2018. His groundball rates were in the mid-40% range until that year but slowly began shifting downward, then Lowe had a breakout statistical 2019 as a 21-year-old at Double-A.

He’s always going to strike out, but he’s also probably going to keep walking a lot, especially now that the power is a real threat. It’s pretty important that he stay in center field to take some pressure off of the hit tool. If he can do that, he’ll be an everyday player.

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61. Travis Swaggerty, CF, PIT
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from South Alabama (PIT)
Age 22.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 60/60 30/50 65/65 55/60 60/60

Even if the swing never gets to a place where Swaggerty is hitting for as much power as seemed possible in college, he’s a plus center field defender with contact skills.

Swaggerty is a good defensive player whose offensive performance, specifically his power output, continues to fall a little short of what someone with his physical talent could be doing. Are you noticing a common theme surrounding Pirates hitters on this list? Even if Swaggerty never dials in his swing and actualizes his power, his secondary skills (mostly the defense) should help lift the profile to that of a regular anyway.

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62. Sean Murphy, C, OAK
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Wright State (OAK)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 232 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 60/60 40/45 20/20 55/55 70/70

Murphy is a contact-oriented catcher with a big arm and a lengthy injury history.

Murphy’s surgeries are starting to pile up. He’s had them for broken hamates in both hands, then was cut again in October because of his meniscus. Purely on tools, he’s a 55 FV prospect and it’s amazing that he’s gone from a walk-on at Wright State to one of the more well-rounded catching prospects in the minors. But the injuries, Murphy’s age (some of the sixish years I’m projecting here include Murphy’s early 30s now), and the fact that some of his skills (he’s become a good receiver) may soon be less important caused me to round down.

Now if he starts hitting for more power in games, that’s a horse of a different color. He has plus raw power, though he hasn’t typically hit for it in games for various reasons. In college, his first broken hamate likely masked his thump and was part of the reason he fell to the 2016 draft’s third round. He had the second hamate break in pro ball and his swing is also very compact, relying on Murphy’s raw strength rather than efficient biomechanical movement to deliver extra-bases. He could be an above-average regular early on but I think there will be a little attrition over time, so I slid him back behind some players who I think have a higher long-term ceiling.

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63. Jhoan Duran, RHP, MIN
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (ARI)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/60 50/60 45/50 95-99 / 101

A scouting and dev success story, the Twins traded for and improved Duran, who now might be a mid-rotation force.

Duran seemingly drew lots of trade interest while with Arizona. Loose, lean, and wielding premium stuff, his name was rumored to be on some PTBNL lists before he was ultimately traded to Minnesota as part of the Eduardo Escobar deal in 2018. During his first few pro seasons, Duran’s velocity yo-yo’d a bit; at times, he was in the upper-90s, while he was more 91-95 at others. He was also demoted from the Northwest League back to the AZL in 2017 for reasons apparently unrelated to performance. The following spring, not only was Duran’s velocity more stable — in the 93-96 range — but he was throwing strikes and had more consistent secondary stuff.

Duran continued to fill out into 2019 and his velocity kept climbing, settling in the upper-90s and cresting 100. He worked with better angle after the Twins acquired him last summer, a change that improved the playability of his breaking ball without detracting from his changeup’s movement, though that pitch has been de-emphasized based on our sources’ looks. He’s tracking like a mid-rotation starter.

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64. Evan White, 1B, SEA
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Kentucky (SEA)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 55/55 45/50 60/55 60/70 55/55

White bats right and throws left (which is rare), and he’s a plus runner who also plays an exceptional first base.

White’s pre-draft skillset was tough for some teams to wrangle. All of the window dressing — plus-plus first base defense, plus speed, a backwards hit/throw profile — was nice but ultimately, some teams saw a first baseman without sufficient power. After they drafted him, the Mariners 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 now, 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. The power output improved and is supported by the measurable underlying data. Now that he’s signed a pre-debut deal, it’s very likely that White breaks camp with the big club, and he projects as a solid everyday first baseman.

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65. Miguel Amaya, C, CHC
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Panama (CHC)
Age 20.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/55 30/45 40/30 45/60 55/60

Amaya is a polished defender with above-average raw power, though it’s looking less likely that he gets to it in games.

Amaya continues to track as a good everyday catcher. He remains a polished defender with leadership qualities befitting an everyday catcher, and his body is built to withstand the rigors of the dog days. Like most catchers, Amaya’s offensive tools play down a bit in games because the position wreaks havoc on the body. For two years now he’s caught about 90 games, reached base at a .350 clip, and hit a dozen dingers. He’s now on the 40-man and on pace to play at Double-A this year, though his big league timeline might accelerate if Willson Contreras is traded.

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66. Edward Cabrera, RHP, MIA
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (MIA)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 45/55 40/45 93-97 / 99

Once an arm strength-only sort of prospect, some clubs now prefer Cabrera to fellow Marlin Sixto Sanchez.

Every year there are a few dozen teenage righties who look like Cabrera did two years ago: big, prototypical frame, mid-90s heat, an occasionally good breaking ball, and command you can dream on if you like the delivery/athleticism. Every once in a while, everything comes together and we end up with a top 100 prospect, and that is exactly what is happening with Cabrera. A slight velo bump and an arm slot change enabled a 2019 ascension (he had strikeout rates around 20% in ’17 and ’18, and roughly 30% in ’19) as Cabrera’s breaking ball now has more downward action. There are clubs who have Cabrera ahead of Sixto on their Marlins org pref list because they prefer Cabrera’s breaking ball and the movement profile on his fastball. His stuff, build, and likely No. 4 starter profile compare pretty closely to the college pitchers who typically go in the top 10 picks of any given draft, and Cabrera has now shown he’s capable of making relevant adjustments without experiencing hiccups in performance, which portends success in future trials.

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67. Josiah Gray, RHP, LAD
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from LeMoyne (CIN)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 40/50 50/60 92-95 / 96

An athletic conversion arm acquired from the Reds, Gray has a strong three-pitch mix and burgeoning command.

Gray is an athletic, undersized conversion arm with big time arm-acceleration. His arm action is a little stiff, but it’s fast, and generates a fastball in the 92-96 mph range (mostly 3s and 4s) with riding life. Gray’s size and the drop and drive nature of his delivery combine to create flat plane that plays well up in the zone. He’ll miss bats at the letters with his heater. Thanks to his athleticism, Gray repeats, and throws more strikes than is typical for someone fairly new to pitching who has this kind of stuff, with a notable proclivity for locating his fastball to his arm side.

The slider can slurve out and even get kind of short and cuttery at times, but when it’s well-located and Gray is on top of the ball, it’s a plus pitch. His changeup, which he seldom uses at the moment, is easy to identify out of the hand due to arm deceleration, and is comfortably below average.

Because the strike throwing, fastball efficacy, and ability to spin the breaking ball give him a good shot to play a big league role, I’ve moved Gray up beyond where Kiley and I had him pre-draft. The athleticism, small school pedigree, and position player conversion aspect of the profile indicates there’s significant potential for growth as Gray gets on-mound experience. He projects as a No. 4 starter, with a chance to be more because of his late-bloomer qualities.

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68. Heliot Ramos, RF, SFG
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Leadership Christian HS (PR) (SFG)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 55/55 45/55 55/50 45/50 60/60

He’s slid down the defensive spectrum, but Ramos still has notable power and speed.

Ramos’ feel for opposite field contact developed out of necessity when his physical tools dipped in 2018. That turned out to be valuable when they returned last year, and half of his 16 homers were hit to the right of center field. Ramos’ bat head drags into the zone, which would cause most hitters to be late, but Ramos’ swing just scoops fly balls to right field, and his strength pushes them toward the heavens. Some of the strikeout issues (25% at Hi-A, 30% at Double-A) become less concerning when you remember Ramos was 19-years-old all year, but they become a bit troubling again when you realize he’s destined for a corner.

Built like a boulder stacked on two Iberico hams, Ramos is already slowing down, and he was an average runner in the Fall League. It’s not great if he is suddenly a corner guy with whiff/discipline issues, though his plate discipline was much more palatable last year. Retaining that will be important or we’re just talking about a Randal Grichuk sequel.

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69. Taylor Trammell, LF, SDP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Mount Paran HS (GA) (CIN)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 55/55 40/45 70/70 60/70 35/35

It’s not a sexy left field profile because of the lack of power, but Trammell is in the Brett Gardner mold: OBP and defense.

Trammell sees a lot of pitches, he has gap power, and he can really run, which helps him run down more balls than a lot of left fielders. He’s very competitive, and is similar in many ways to Brett Gardner.

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70. Alek Thomas, CF, ARI
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Mount Carmel HS (IL) (ARI)
Age 19.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 50/50 40/50 60/60 50/55 40/40

On the surface, Thomas looks like a table-setting outfielder. But his Futures Game BP was surprisingly loud.

All of the left-handed hitters at the 2019 Futures Game had some help from the wind blowing out toward Progressive Field’s right field bleachers, but even with that aid, Thomas’ batting practice in Cleveland was surprising. He was about a year removed from falling to the 2018 draft’s second round in part because his stature didn’t allow for traditional, frame-based power projection, but he’s very strong for his size (Thomas’ dad is the White Sox strength and conditioning coach) and already has average raw at age 19. He’s well-conditioned, but short, built narrowly, and likely to max out with a frame (and skill set) similar to Brett Gardner’s.

He lets balls travel deep into the hitting zone and sprays hard contact all over the field — about half of his extra-base hits were stuck to the opposite field last year, many of them doubles sliced into the left field corner. An unchanged approach to contact would likely result in limited over-the-fence power, but Thomas is fleet of foot and either projects in center field or, due to arm strength, as a plus-plus left fielder, which takes some pressure off the offense. There’s some tweener/fourth outfielder risk here but Thomas now has a four-year track record of hitting against pitching that is often older than he is, beginning with his performance on the showcase circuit as an underclassman and ending with an aggressive promotion to Hi-A toward the end of 2019. It’s pretty amazing that an undersized, young-for-the-class hitter from a cold-weather location has moved this quickly without a hiccup, and we’re inclined to believe Thomas will keep hitting and eventually become an everyday big leaguer.

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71. Brent Honeywell Jr., RHP, TBR
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Walters State JC (TN) (TBR)
Age 24.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
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

It’s tough to say where Honeywell’s stuff will be when he returns, but it was 60 FV stuff before injuries derailed his career.

Honeywell has had a myriad of injury issues over the last couple of years. He had a TJ, then a nerve issue during rehab, then fractured his elbow in the bullpen just after last year’s draft. The sequence of events that has befallen Honeywell is relatively unprecedented, and while he was a 55 or 60 FV arm at peak, his future is now in doubt. And that’s a bummer, because he’s a lot of fun to watch pitch.

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.

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72. Daniel Lynch, LHP, KCR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Virginia (KCR)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 50/50 45/50 45/50 45/55 91-95 / 97

Lefties up to 97 don’t grow on trees and Lynch has several viable offerings to mix in with the heater.

On the Cape and in the first half of his junior spring, Lynch looked like a solid third round prospect, a pitchability lefty sitting 88-92 mph with mostly average stuff, and above-average feel and command. In the month or so leading up to the draft, Lynch’s velo ticked up, and down the stretch he sat 92-94, touching 95 mph deep into starts, with an assortment of offspeed pitches that all flashed above-average. The track record of Virginia arms is concerning, but Lynch seemed less beholden to the issues traditionally associated with their prospects, with some scouts considering him endearingly rebellious.

He throws a cutter, slider, curveball, and changeup that all flash above-average, with the slider occasionally flashing plus. He was 93-95 last year, and while Lynch missed a month and a half with an arm injury last summer, all of that velo and more was back in the fall, so the velo uptick has held for nearly a year now. He’s a No. 4 starter.

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73. Tyler Stephenson, C, CIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Kennesaw Mountain HS (GA) (CIN)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 65/65 40/45 30/30 40/45 70/70

Stephenson has big raw power but his in-game approach prioritizes contact.

Stephenson puts on quite show during batting practice but has a more contact-oriented approach in games. Per a source, he has one of the better in-zone contact rates in the minors, which is quite the opposite of how most of the amateur side of the industry thought Stephenson would develop as a pro. He’s still a fringy receiver with a big arm, but that may become less of a problem soon. Barring a tweak that brings more of the raw power to the party, Stephenson looks like a solid everyday catcher and he’d be one of the few prep catching draftees to actually pan out.

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74. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, MIN
Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from St. Martin HS (CAN) (MIN)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 55/55 40/45 45/55 91-94 / 96

Pitchers with sneaky fastballs are all the rage, and Balazovic has a bat-missing curve to go with his.

After a breakout 2018, Balazovic spent most of 2019 dominating the Florida State League as a 20-year-old. Perhaps the most important takeaway was that he retained his stuff amid an innings increase, and while he hasn’t yet worked a major league starter’s regimen, he’ll be on pace to do so if he can add 20-30 frames over each of the next two years.

He throws strikes with four pitches, several of which either project to miss bats or do so right now. Chief among them is his fastball, which is tough for hitters to pick up out of Balazovic’s hand as they’re misdirected by his limbs flying all over the place during the delivery. Even with a somewhat lower arm slot, Balazovic’s heater plays at the top of the zone. He can vary the shape of his breaking balls — the slider is the out pitch, the curveball gets dropped in for strikes — and both play up against righties because of the mechanics. And while Balazovic’s glove-side slider command should be enough for him to deal with lefties eventually anyway, his change improved in 2019. He throws an unusually high number of strikes for such a young, lanky, cold-weather arm with a somewhat violent delivery, and he’s had no health or control issues thus far. He pretty firmly projects as a No. 4 starter right now.

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75. Xavier Edwards, 2B, TBR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from North Broward Prep HS (FL) (SDP)
Age 20.5 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 40/40 20/30 80/80 50/55 45/45

His exit velos are weaker than Blake Snell’s jawline but X can hit and play all over the diamond.

The Rays plan to deploy Edwards as a multi-positional catalyst, a speedy, Chone Figgins-style player. His exit velos are arguably concerningly low. But his contact rates and track record of hitting (X was a staple on the travel ball circuit for several years and might have been the most game-ready high schooler in his draft year) combined with his ability to play lots of different positions, including the ones in the middle of the diamond, make him a relatively high-probability big league contributor. Even sources from very analytically-inclined teams thought he deserved strong placement on this list, a sign that exit velo stuff is less meaningful right now than some fear.

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Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Kempner HS (TX) (NYM)
Age 19.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 45/55 45/55 40/55 92-94 / 97

He’s not nearly as projectable as most teenage arms, but Woods Richardson already throws hard and his secondary stuff is tough to identify out of his hand.

An athletic, outwardly competitive two-way high schooler, Woods Richardson would also have been a prospect as a power-hitting third baseman were he not so good on the mound. His vertically oriented release point makes it hard for him to work his fastball east and west, and several teams had him evaluated as a future reliever before the draft because they saw a lack of fastball command. But this vertical release also enables him to effectively change hitters’ eye level by pairing fastballs up with breaking balls down, and he has a plus breaking ball.

Woods Richardson works so quickly that it often makes hitters uncomfortable, though scouts love it. He’s developed a better changeup in pro ball, pronating really hard to turn the thing over and create tailing movement. Though he was one of the 2018 draft’s youngest prospects, his frame is pretty mature, so this is a player who might look a little too good on a pro scouting model.

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77. Hunter Greene, RHP, CIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Notre Dame HS (CA) (CIN)
Age 20.5 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 before he broke.

Greene is a generational on-mound athlete whose 2018 season ended with an elbow sprain that eventually led to Tommy John. A strong two-month run of starts in the early summer culminated in a seven-inning shutout start (2 H, 0 BB, 10 K, and all in just 69 pitches) on July 2 at Lake County, and a Futures Game appearance. 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, but he ended up having surgery and did not pitch in 2019. His pre-injury report was heavy on velo and secondary projection, and it was (and is) especially important for him to find a better breaking ball, which he seemed to be doing before the injury.

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78. Tahnaj Thomas, RHP, PIT
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Bahamas (CLE)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/70 50/60 40/50 45/55 93-98 / 100

Build a pitching prospect in a laboratory and the other result is Thomas, who also has elite arm strength and athleticism. He’s a low-mileage conversion arm who’s just scratching the surface.

An athletic conversion arm with a big, broad-shouldered, projectable frame and almost no miles on his arm because of the conversion, Thomas has been pitching in relative obscurity to this point because he’s been on backfields and in the Appy League. He may be the most anonymous 100 mph arm in baseball. He snaps off some promising breaking balls and has pretty significant command projection because of his athleticism. There aren’t many young, high-variance arms on this list, but Thomas’ frame, his fresh arm, his elite velo, and how enthused I am about the breaking ball, changeup, and command projection because of how athletic he is gives him a chance to attain some nutty right tail outcomes.

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79. Jordyn Adams, CF, LAA
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Green Hope HS (NC) (LAA)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 50/60 20/50 80/80 45/60 45/50

Adams has athletic gifts that have yet to be fully realized on the baseball field. He’s only played ball for a little while and still held his own in the Midwest League last year.

Adams was seen as a football-first prospect until late March 2018. He played at a couple of showcase events in the summer of 2017 and had some raw tools, but wasn’t yet under consideration for the top few rounds of the baseball draft. He was, however, a top 100 football recruit, set to head to North Carolina to play wide receiver, where his father was on the coaching staff. Then in March, Adams had a coming out party at the heavily-scouted NHSI tournament near his high school. Multiple scouts from all 30 teams watched him against strong competition for a few days, and he looked very, very good, much more comfortable than expected given his level of experience. Scouts were hesitant at first, worried they might be overreacting, but eventually they came to think that Adams’ only athletic peer in recent draft history was Byron Buxton. Teams assessed his signability and the Angels were comfortable using their first rounder on him.

He didn’t play much during that first pro summer, but the Angels surprisingly skipped him over the Pioneer League and sent him right to full-season ball, even though he’d only been solely focused on baseball for a year. Adams had a slightly above-average statline there, which is incredible for someone who only just picked up a bat. He is built like you probably expect a D-I wide receiver recruit to be built, he’s also an 80 runner, and while the swing foundation isn’t great, the Angels are one of the most proactive, swing-changing orgs. Adams’ rare physical gifts make him a potential star, though Hi-A pitching will probably be a real challenge for him this year.

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80. Jordan Groshans, 3B, TOR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Magnolia HS (TX) (TOR)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 60/65 30/55 55/50 45/50 60/60

Groshans looked good while he was healthy last year but the severity of his injury concerns some teams.

Groshans immediately stood out to scouts on the showcase circuit, looking like a Josh Donaldson starter kit with similar swing mechanics, plus raw power projection, a plus arm, and a third base defensive fit. He comported himself well during a 23-game jaunt in the Midwest League (.337/.427/.482) before he was shut down with a left foot injury that kept him away from baseball activity until just after the New Year. The mystery and severity of the injury, combined with Lansing’s tendency to cariacature hitter’s stats, has much of the industry in wait-and-see mode here, though the power is for real.

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81. Kevin Alcantara, CF, NYY
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 17.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 50/60 20/55 60/55 45/55 55/55

He’s eons away from the big leagues but Alcantara has a chance to stay in center field and grow into plus power.

Athletic 6-foot-6 outfielders who can rotate like Alcantara can are rare, and this young man might grow into elite power at maturity. He is loose and fluid in the box but does have some swing and miss issues, though it’s not because lever length is causing him to be late — it’s more of a barrel accuracy issue right now. This is one of the higher ceiling teenagers in the minors, but of course Alcantara might either take forever to develop or never develop at all.

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82. Jose Garcia, SS, CIN
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (CIN)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 35/50 60/60 60/60 70/70

Though likely to swing and miss a bunch, Garcia is a plus defensive shortstop with above-average power.

Between his lack of reps during the ’16-’17 Series Nacional in Cuba and the arduous process of defecting, followed by slowly working out for teams, then waiting for the 2018 season to start, Garcia played very little baseball for the several months leading up to last season and it showed when he finally put on a uniform. Then he had a breakout 2019 in the Florida State League (.280/.343/.436) and was watched closely by the whole industry throughout an Arizona Fall League assignment. If Garcia’s tools were installed in a 21-year-old college shortstop, he’d be very famous. Power, speed, arm strength, and flashy defense are all here, and Garcia has a chance to be a star if his approach isn’t his undoing.

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83. Tony Gonsolin, RHP, LAD
Drafted: 9th Round, 2016 from St. Mary’s (LAD)
Age 25.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/45 50/50 55/55 45/45 91-95 / 98

Gonsolin has a great changeup and his delivery is very deceptive. He also looks like Frank Zappa from afar.

A two-way college player, Gonsolin was a ninth round senior sign whose velocity spiked in pro ball when he focused on pitching, moved to the bullpen (he has since moved back into the rotation, after he was yo-yo’d back and forth in college), and was touched by the Dodgers’ excellent player dev group. At times his fastball has been in the upper-90s, cresting 100, but last year he was 91-96 from a very deceptive vertical slot.

Gonsolin’s four-pitch mix looks like it was designed in a lab and considering the way his stuff works together, it may have been. He’s an extreme overhand, backspinning four-seam guy, and he works up at the letters with it. It’s complemented by a deep-diving, 12-6 curveball. He’ll also work an upper-80s slider to his glove side and it has shocking, horizontal length considering Gonsonlin’s arm slot. But the headline offering here is the changeup, a split-action cambio that bottoms out as it reaches the plate. Gonsolin uses it against both left and right-handed hitters and it’s one of the best changeups in the minors. It’s a non-traditional style of pitching for a starter, so some eyeball scouts think he ends up in the bullpen. If so, it’s probably in a valuable multi-inning role.

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84. George Valera, CF, CLE
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CLE)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 55/60 25/55 50/45 45/50 55/55

Valera’s instincts in center field might enable him to stay there despite lackluster speed. Even if he can’t, he has the power to profile in a corner so long as the strikeout issues form 2020 were due to his age relative to the level.

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.

As they’ve done with their advanced complex-level hitters in recent years, the Indians sent Valera to the Penn League, which is full of college pitching. He thrived for a month and then started to strike out a lot, whiffing in 28% of plate appearances overall. He has a sweet lefty swing with natural lift and he has considerable present power, but most of the industry sees him as a corner guy who has had strikeout issues the little he’s played away from Goodyear. I like his instincts in center field and think he has a shot to stay there, but teenagers built like this typically do not.

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85. Ezequiel Duran, 2B, NYY
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 20.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 35/55 40/35 40/45 45/45

Duran mashed in the Penn League and projects as a shift-aided infielder with uncommon power for someone who can stand at second base.

Duran bounced back after his horrendous 2018 and hit for power in the Penn League as a 20-year-old. He’s a stocky guy who only really fits at second base, and as he continues to age he’ll likely only be able to stay there with the aid of good defensive positioning. But boy, does he have power. Whether his contact and approach issues will hinder his ability to get to it in games is debatable. If he overcomes them, he has everday ability.

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86. DL Hall, LHP, BAL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Valdosta HS (GA) (BAL)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/55 50/55 35/45 93-96 / 98

The control numbers backed up last year but Hall has three plus pitches.

Ultra-competitive, athletic southpaws with this kind of stuff are very rare. Here’s the list of lefty big league starters who throw harder than Hall, who averaged 94.9 mph on his fastball in 2019: Blake Snell. That’s it.

Because Hall’s release is inconsistent, not only did his walk rate regress in 2019, but the quality of his secondary stuff was also less consistent than it was during his very dominant mid-summer stretch in 2018, when Hall’s changeup clearly took a leap. Both of his secondaries are often plus; Hall simply has a higher misfire rate than most big league starters. He’s still just 21 and has All-Star upside if he starts locating better, which may not come until after he has a couple big league seasons under his belt.

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87. Luis Garcia, 2B, WSN
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (WSN)
Age 19.7 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 40/40 45/50 55/55

Garcia has terrific feel for contact but is too swing happy to get to his average power in games, since he often swings at pitcher’s pitches.

Garcia didn’t have a great statistical 2019, but he was a teenager at Double-A so we’re not weighing that heavily. We care most about Garcia’s ability to hit, and that remains strong. His swing and feel for contact are both very similar to Juan Soto’s, though of course Garcia lacks that kind of raw thump or plate discipline. Garcia’s a proactive swinger but so far his advanced feel for the barrel has allowed it to work. Most of his extra-base damage is going to come via doubles slashed down the left field line and to the opposite field gap, but there’s a 20 home run ceiling here if he learns to attack the right pitches.

A little thicker and slower than most shortstops, Garcia’s hands and actions are good and he’s probably a better fit at second base. We have him projected as an average everyday player there.

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88. Keibert Ruiz, C, LAD
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (LAD)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/70 50/50 30/35 20/20 50/50 50/50

His peripherals are still very promising but Ruiz’s lost 2019 season has scared off some clubs, and some of his important skills may not be as valuable soon.

This was one of the tougher calls on this entire list. Ruiz is a skills-over-tools catcher, an acquired taste some scouts like and others do not. The hand-eye coordination and bat-to-ball skills are very strong, but the contact quality is not. Reviews of his defense — in my looks he’s been a good receiver, the game appears slow and comfortable for him, and all of his throws have been right on the bag — have become more mixed over the last year. Catchers with any sort of offensive ability, especially high-end contact skills, are rare, but athletic longevity may be an issue because of Ruiz’s build.

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89. Orelvis Martinez, SS, TOR
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 18.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 50/60 20/50 45/40 30/45 50/55

Were Martinez a little more physically projectable, he’d be higher on this list. He has plus bat speed and should stay at shortstop.

Martinez was one of the most explosive talents in the 2018 July 2nd class, getting the second highest bonus at $3.5 million, behind only 22-year-old Marlins center fielder Victor Victor Mesa. We ranked him behind a number of players in his class because of concerns about his contact skills, and those remain due to wild variation in the way Martinez’s lower half works during his swing. His footwork is all over the place and he takes a lot of ugly hacks. But the bat speed, Martinez’s ability to rotate, is huge. He projects for at least 60 raw power, and he should stick somewhere in the infield, but this is a kid with a high-variance hit tool.

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90. Alexander Vargas, SS, NYY
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Cuba (NYY)
Age 18.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 35/50 20/40 60/60 45/60 50/55

An electric, switch-hitting shortstop, Vargas has a chance to be a plus defender with a well-rounded offensive profile.

Most teams had multi-million dollar evaluations on Vargas while he was an amateur based on how he looked in workouts. He ran a 6.4 60-yard dash, had electric infield actions and a plus arm, as well as surprising ability to hit despite his stature, at the time weighing just 143 pounds. He was twitchy, projectable, looked fantastic at shortstop, and was old enough to sign immediately. The Reds were interested but needed Vargas to wait until the following signing period to get the deal done, so the Yankees swooped in with comparable money and got it done sooner.

Vargas’ name was often the first one out of the mouths of scouts who saw New York’s talented group in the DSL, and he was one of several the Yankees promoted stateside in the summer. He’s a potential impact defender at short who also has uncommon bat control for such a young switch-hitter.

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91. Geraldo Perdomo, SS, ARI
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (ARI)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 184 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 45/50 30/45 55/55 45/55 55/55

His exit-velos climbed as the season dragged on, a sign Perdomo might be much more than a light-hitting shortstop who walks a lot.

At the lowest levels of the minors, it’s hard to tell if a ball/strike recognition prodigy is real or not because the opposing pitchers are often just incompetent strike-throwers. Perdomo’s 2019 exposure to full-season pitching put to rest concerns that we were previously overrating his diagnostic abilities, as he continued to grind out tough at-bats against sentient pitching, and walk at a 14.5% clip at Low-A Kane County before his August promotion to Hi-A. So confident is Perdomo in his notion of the strike zone that, after taking a looking strike three during Fall League, he flipped off the TrackMan unit calling balls at Salt River Fields.

That skill combined with Perdomo’s bat-to-ball ability from the left side (his right-handed swing is bad) and his elegant shortstop defense, gave him a promising foundation of skills as a teenager on the backfields. Then, the juice started to come. Perdomo’s exit velos climbed throughout 2019. He averaged about 80 mph off the bat at Low-A, then about 82 mph after his promotion to Hi-A, and finally averaged 87 mph during a limited Fall League sample. His body has become more mature, and his left-handed swing has become more explosive and now features an overhead, helicopter finish similar to Miguel Andújar’s. There’s still some room for improvement as it relates to the lower half usage in the swing, and it’s possible Perdomo scraps hitting right-handed altogether at some point. The skills/instincts foundation here is solid enough to project Perdomo as a low-end regular, and the burgeoning physical ability means he’s begun to look like quite a bit more than that.

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92. Nick Lodolo, LHP, CIN
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from TCU (CIN)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/60 50/55 45/55 91-94 / 96

At times Lodolo’s shown above-average velo and a good changeup, while at others he’s had to fight just to get by with his trademark breaking ball. My sources really like him but I remain somewhat skeptical.

Drafted and unsigned by the Pirates as a 2016 first rounder, Lodolo took a bit of a circuitous route to the top of the 2019 class. He had iffy freshman and sophomore years but flashed a tantalizing blend of stuff and feel at times, keeping him in the first round mix despite inconsistent performance. Everything clicked for him during an early-season college tournament in Houston, where Lodolo worked in the mid-90s with a plus breaking ball and changeup. He’s more apt to throw his curveball for strikes than bury it in the dirt for swings and misses, but he showed better grasp of the latter late in the year. While Lodolo will sometimes go entire outings without throwing many changeups, there have been stretches where it’s his best pitch. His frame is ideal, his delivery elegant and repeatable. The stuff isn’t dominant, but some teams are still projecting on it because of how big and lean Lodolo’s frame is, and they think it might be eventually.

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93. Tyler Freeman, SS, CLE
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Etiwanda HS (CA) (CLE)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 40/45 20/30 55/50 45/50 45/45

Freeman is a mess of 45s and he’s a very aggressive swinger, but he has among the best contact ability in the minors and a good shot to stay on the middle infield.

A young, polished, but relatively unexplosive high schooler, Freeman was a bit of a surprise second rounder in 2017 but has quickly became more interesting as he started generating pro statistics. One trait that runs thick in Cleveland’s system is high-end bat-to-ball skills and Freeman has perhaps the best of all of them. He had the 16th-lowest swinging strike rate in the minors last year, one of four Cleveland hitters hovering around the 4% mark. The rest of the profile is very vanilla, but elite contact on a middle infielder has been enough to profile before.

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94. Matthew Liberatore, LHP, STL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Mountain Ridge HS (AZ) (TBR)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/55 60/65 50/55 40/55 92-95 / 97

Libby’s fastball shape is going to force him to be a pitchability guy rather than a power arm.

With January’s trade with Tampa Bay, the Cardinals rolled some of their seemingly unending, upper-level outfield depth into Libby, That means that between him and childhood friend Nolan Gorman, the Cardinals, who picked 19th in the 2018 draft, now have two of the players most teams had in the top five to seven spots on their pre-draft boards in the system.

Because Liberatore’s fastball has sinker movement, the growth of his changeup is going to be the most important aspect of his development, since those two pitches have similar movement, and will theoretically tunnel better. The results produced by his knockout curveball, which has all-world depth, may suffer because he doesn’t have an up-in-the-zone four-seamer to pair with it, but should Liberatore decide to get ahead of hitters by dumping that curveball into the zone, good luck to them. It’s the type of pitch that’s hard to hit even if you know it’s coming, but might be easy to lay off of, in the dirt, because its Loch Ness Monster hump is easy to identify out of the hand. All of the advanced pitchability stuff — Libby started learning a slider during his senior year of high school, he varies his timing home, and he’s likely to pitch backwards with the breaking balls — is here, too, and that’ll be important given the lack of a bat-missing fastball. The total package should result in an above-average big league starter.

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95. Kyle Wright, RHP, ATL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Vanderbilt (ATL)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 50/55 45/50 45/50 94-97 / 99

Wright’s fastball movement causes the pitch to play below its velocity, and it’s unclear if that’s fixable.

Wright has now had two frustrating cups of coffee with the big league club, and some of his underlying issues (chiefly, a fastball that doesn’t produce results anywhere close to what you’d expect given how hard he throws) mimic those of the Aaron Sanchez type of pitching prospects who Look Right but don’t quite pan out.

We’re betting that Wright, who is very athletic and has the frame and mechanical ease to eat innings, and who has also developed a very deep repertoire, will find a way to be at least a league-average starter eventually. Whether that’s through further changes to his fastballs’ movement (he throws a four- and two-seamer right now, but both are sink/tail pitches rather than the ride/vertical life breed) or a heavy mix of his various secondary offerings, Wright has promising outs. If he and the Braves ever find a way to make the fastball play better than that, his ceiling is substantial, so there’s rare variance for a 24-year-old here.

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96. Jesús Sánchez, RF, MIA
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 230 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

Sánchez has big physical tools undermined by his approach.

Two of the trades Tampa Bay made last summer — swapping Nick Solak for Peter Fairbanks and Jesús Sánchez for Nick Anderson — made us wonder if we were undervaluing long-tethered, potential late-inning relievers, or at least underestimating their value to immediate contenders or perhaps the impact of 40-man crunch on trade leverage.

It also made us worry we were too high on Sánchez himself. We, and much of the industry, are scared of corner-only prospects who clearly lack plate discipline, and Sánchez is one of these (6.5% career walk rate). That, plus Sánchez’s swing still not being fully actualized for power (a seven degree launch angle in 2019, a groundball rate around 50%), means he’s fighting an uphill battle to get to his huge raw power in games, since he’s either swinging at pitches he can’t do anything with or failing to lift a lot of the ones he can. However, Sánchez has some of the most thrilling bat speed in the minors and despite his issues, his talent has enabled him to perform statistically so far. He hits balls very hard (50% of his 2019 balls in play were hit 95 mph or above) and has feel for contact, just not for contact in the air. We think it’ll be enough for Sánchez to be an average everyday hitter, and the Marlins have two option years to try to tinker with the swing and coax out more power if they want to. There’s All-Star ceiling here if they can do it.

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97. Yerry Rodriguez, RHP, TEX
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TEX)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/55 55/60 45/60 92-96 / 98

He ended the year on the IL, but Rodriguez has two plus pitches and plus command projection.

Rodriguez was shut down with an elbow issue in July and didn’t pitch for the rest of the summer. While healthy, his stuff and command were both pretty easily worthy of a 50 FV grade. He commands a tailing, mid-90s fastball that presents hitters with a weird angle to deal with, his changeup is often plus, and his curveball has plus raw spin but isn’t yet consistent. I think it’s pretty safe to project that Rodriguez’s arm slot and curveball spin will enable some kind of righty-thwarting pitch eventually, and he already has the changeup and command to deal with lefties. I’d be more comfortable with this ranking were he healthy, but Yerry projects as a No. 4 starter.

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98. Liover Peguero, SS, PIT
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (ARI)
Age 19.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 45/50 35/40 60/55 45/55 55/55

One of the prospects acquired in the Starling Marte deal, Peguero looks like a Jean Segura starter kit on his best days.

Aside from the semi-frequent body comps we issue to give readers a better idea of what a player looks like physically, we tend to shy away from making overall comparisons between prospects and current or former big leaguers unless it’s very apt. We have one here in Liover Peguero, who is a Jean Segura starter kit. His sloped shoulders, short torso, and the high, thick butt and thighs map to a slightly taller version of Segura. More significantly, like Segura, Peguero is remarkably short back to the baseball; his barrel enters the hitting zone in the blink of an eye, giving him an extra beat to decide whether or not to swing. It also makes it hard for pitchers to beat him with velocity, since he’s rarely late on anything and has quick enough hands to get on top of pitches near the top of the strike zone. He’s also remarkably strong in the hands and wrists for a teenager and is already producing average exit velos above the big league average, though Peguero cuts down at the ball and is currently groundball prone. His swing may get longer as his attack angle changes.

Perhaps the place where the Segura and Peguero Venn Diagram does not overlap is on the defensive end of things. Peguero is a plus athlete with above-average hands and arm strength, which could make him an above-average defender at short in time. If his lower half thickens and Peguero slows down, he’ll look more like Segura does now on defense.

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99. Corbin Carroll, CF, ARI
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Lakeside HS (WA) (ARI)
Age 19.5 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 45/50 30/50 70/70 50/60 55/55

One of the most polished high schoolers from the 2019 class, Carroll has surprising pop for someone his size and is a lock to stay in center field.

Carroll was electric during his showcase summer, displaying consistent, high-quality, all-fields contact and, at times, surprising power. From a skills and present baseball acumen standpoint, he was perhaps the most polished high schooler in the whole class, but his sleight, narrow build slid him back behind more traditional-looking athletes, like Bobby Witt and CJ Abrams. Though he doesn’t seem inclined to turn on pitches and lift them with power, Carroll loudly squashed concerns about lacking physicality by hitting lasers all summer, first in the AZL, then later in the Northwest League. In addition to having plus pure speed, which will enable him to stay in center field and perhaps be an impact defender there, Carroll is also a sly, instinctive baserunner who presses action. The two unknown variables at this point are a) how Carroll’s lilliputian frame withstands the rigors of a long, full season and b) if the Diamondbacks will try to tweak his swing or approach to produce more power, since his measurable exit velos indicate he has a chance to hit for some.

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100. Bryse Wilson, RHP, ATL
Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Orange HS (NC) (ATL)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 224 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/50 50/55 50/55 92-96 / 98

He’s had hiccups, but Wilson still projects as a bulldog fourth starter.

Wilson is a scout favorite. He’s an aggressive bulldog with a football background 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 (he has a distinct four-seamer, two-seamer, and cutter). He’s a solid athlete with strong command and a solid average changeup, and everyone raves about his work ethic and makeup.

The issue, which will dictate his value in the bullpen or rotation, is his breaking ball. He’s been working on the slider all offseason and the team is optimistic that all his other strong qualities will manifest themselves in its development. Wilson will be limited to one time through the order if he can’t live up to that optimism, though it’s not as if there isn’t value in that, and Wilson’s mentality might arguably be better suited for it.

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Other 50 FV Prospects

101. Jose Urquidy, RHP, HOU
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Mexico (HOU)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/50 50/50 60/60 60/60 92-95 / 97

A velo bump and some breaking ball refinement enabled Urquidy’s breakout 2019.

Urquidy made last year’s Astros list as an Other of Note, projecting as a spot starter because of his plus changeup and command. He sat 89-93 in 2018, then found a few more ticks of velo and a second breaking ball in 2019, all while retaining the command and change. Both breaking balls will play because of where Urquidy locates them (the slider, especially, needs to miss away from hitters), and his changeup action works against both handed hitters, so he’s a promising rotation piece who we project as a 2.5 WAR-ish starter.

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102. Monte Harrison, CF, MIA
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Lee’s Summit West HS (MO) (MIL)
Age 24.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 65/65 40/45 60/60 60/60 70/70

Harrison hits balls hard despite what has become a very conservative approach and he plays a good center field.

Harrison reduced some of the movement in his swing following his move to the Marlins org as part of the Christian Yelich deal, seemingly as a way to find the barrel more often, since good things happen when he does. In his first full season with more of a contact-oriented approach, he cut his strikeout rate from 37% to 30% amid a move to Triple-A, and posted an average statline for the PCL. He hits the baseball very hard — a 93.4 mph average exit velo, per a source, with 52% of his balls in play at or above 95 mph — but not often in the air. We expect what comes from this newfound approach to contact, as well as Harrison’s defensive ability, to result in an average everyday player in aggregate, but the swing-and-miss tendencies, as well as the possibility that Harrison has some huge seasons if he ever hits for power, mean he’s a high-variance player.

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103. Andrés Giménez, SS, NYM
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (NYM)
Age 21.4 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 30/40 60/55 50/55 55/55

He can play shortstop well, but can Gimenez make enough contact to be an impact regular?

We now have what you could say is a softer 50 on Gimenez. Defensively, at either short or second, Gimenez’s wide array of skills, especially his range (it’s less important than it used to be because of improved positioning, but Gimenez can really go get it) is going to make him a strong middle infield defender.

On offense, even though Gimenez spent 2019 all the way up at Double-A Binghamton, things are less clear. He looked physically overmatched against Double-A pitching, which is fine because he was only 20, but he was also chasing a lot and seemed doomed if he fell behind in counts because of it. The all-fields spray (lots of oppo doubles) that comes when Gimenez targets more hittable pitches is very promising. We’re not optimistic that any kind of impact power will ever come (he’ll golf one out to his pull side once in a while), but the hit tool and doubles would be plenty to profile everyday on the middle infield if Gimenez learns to be more selective.

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104. Brice Turang, SS, MIL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Santiago HS (CA) (MIL)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 45/50 30/40 55/55 50/60 55/55

See: Gimenez, Andres

Turang has two profile-carrying attributes in his ball/strike recognition and defense, while the rest of the profile struggles because he doesn’t square balls up very well. He has a chance to be a plus defender who reaches base a lot, which is basically what J.P. Crawford’s skill base was, even when he was struggling. It’s possible that upper-level pitching challenges Turang with impunity and his walk rates tank, at which point I’ll move off him. If his frame, which is broad-shouldered and quite projectable, fills out and suddenly there’s relevant pop, he’s an everday player.

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105. Ivan Herrera, C, STL
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Panama (STL)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 50/55 25/40 30/30 45/55 50/50

Herrera is an advanced teenage catcher with surprising top-end power.

When we began sourcing data on the Cardinals system, we weren’t aware of a max exit velocity for a teenager in excess of 109 mph (Kristian Robinson, Marco Luciano, Luis Toribio) — until we learned of Herrera’s. It was surprising considering Herrera is physically quite modest, and looked sluggish at times during the Fall league, but by that point he had played in three times as many games as he had the year before, and was likely exhausted. Regular season Herrera was a little leaner, twitchy, and athletic, and was an advanced defender with a mature approach at the plate. He also hit .286/.381/.423 as a 19-year-old catcher in the Midwest League. This guy checks all the proverbial boxes and looks like a well-rounded everyday catching prospect.

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106. Mark Vientos, 3B, NYM
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from American Heritage HS (FL) (NYM)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 60/70 35/60 40/35 35/45 55/60

Vientos is a corner power bat without a clear future position.

The way Vientos’ strikeout/walk rates trended in 2019 combined with continued skepticism regarding his ability to stay at third base led some of our sources to express trepidation about where we had him on our 2019 summer top 100 update. But he also put up an above-average statline in full-season ball as a teenager and he has some of the most exciting, frame-based power projection in all the minors. He’s tied for the highest average exit velo among hitters on this list and he has room for another 20 pounds on the frame, which is likely to come since Vientos was one of the younger prospects in his draft class and is younger than 2019 first rounder, Brett Baty. Because we’re talking about a corner bat with strikeout/walk rate yellow flags, Vientos is a high-risk bat but the power gives him middle-of-the-order potential.

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107. Randy Arozarena, CF, TBR
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (STL)
Age 24.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 45/45 35/40 55/60 60/55 55/55

Arozarena is a high-effort, well-rounded outfielder with speed and doubles pop.

Kiley and I were sourcing the Cardinals list as the Libby/Arozarena/Martínez deal went down, and everyone we spoke with has him on either side of the 45/50 FV line. He does have some tweener traits and it’s possible his role in Tampa Bay, where everyone is in some sort of timeshare but is also put in positions where they can succeed, will impact whether or not 50’ing him is the correct call.

His quality of contact is very good, he’s a plus corner outfielder who can pass in center field, and he’s a great baserunner, as well as an intense, high-effort player who pro scouts love watching — Arozarena once turned a routine pop-up into a triple because he sprinted full-tilt out of the box while the infielders miscommunicated.

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108. Ryan Mountcastle, LF, BAL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Hagerty HS (FL) (BAL)
Age 23.0 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 45/55 45/40 35/40 30/30

Mountcastle is the best DH-only prospect in baseball.

Beware the swing-happy hitter with no position. Mountcastle’s long-awaited slide down the defensive spectrum accelerated last year. He was a woebegone, full-time shortstop until 2018 when he began playing third base, then last year he spent an overwhelming majority of his time at first base, while playing a bit at third and closing the year with a month in left field. The eerie shadow of the LF/DH projection (he’s had issues throwing to first base) has loomed around Mountcastle’s profile for a while now, but he keeps hitting enough for me to like him anyway.

Mountcastle’s timing is sublime, and he has one of the more picturesque righty swings in all of pro baseball, featuring a big, slow leg kick that eventually ignites his deft, explosive hands. He has great plate coverage and hits with power to all fields. Mountcastle swings a lot: He has a 4.5% career walk rate, and it’s rare for DH/LF sorts to walk that little and be star-level performers. DH types with OBPs in the .310-.320 range typically max out in the 2-3 WAR range, which is where I expect Mountcastle to peak. But his contact quality is quite good, and the visual evaluation of the hit tool and on-paper performance have been strong for several years, so the degree of confidence that Mountcastle will hit is relatively high for a prospect with plate discipline issues.

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109. Nick Solak, 2B, TEX
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Louisville (NYY)
Age 25.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/55 50/50 45/50 50/50 35/35 50/50

An elite makeup 2B/LF with a career .390 OBP, I like Solak’s chances of becoming a strong offensive contributor who plays a few different positions but not very well.

It’ll be interesting to see where the Rangers end up deploying Solak on defense given that they’re already rostering a few DH-types like Willie Calhoun and Shin-Soo Choo. Solak is a high-effort player but effort alone won’t solve his defensive issues, which have been apparent wherever he’s played. He can really hit, though, and the lowest single-season batting average he has posted since his freshman season at Louisville is .282. He’ll likely hit for pretty average power, but if Texas can hide him day-to-day wherever opponents are least likely to put balls in play, he’ll essentially be a multi-positional player with a plus stick.

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110. Kris Bubic, LHP, KCR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Stanford (KCR)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/55 55/60 50/55 90-93 / 95

After it went AWOL during his draft year, Bubic’s command is back and he looks like a good rotation piece.

A dominant junior year would have had Bubic in the late first round mix, but his control backed up, especially late in the year. He ended up being a great buy-low value pick for Kansas City as not only did the strikes return, but Bubic was throwing a little harder, too.

He’s far more likely to hang around the 50/45 FV membrane during the rest of his time in the minors than he is to move way up the list, because even though my notes have Bubic up to 95 last year, he still lives in the low-90s and succeeds because of deception and his terrific secondary stuff. I prefer his changeup and curveball to the bat-missing weapons of other arms in Kansas City’s system (Jackson Kowar has a great change and throws a heavy sinker that doesn’t miss bats, while Brady Singer is a sinker/command guy) and think Bubic will be a No. 4.

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111. Ryan Rolison, LHP, COL
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Ole Miss (COL)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 50/55 45/50 89-94 / 96

Much like Bubic but without as good a changeup, Rolison put some rocky amateur strike-throwing issues behind him in 2019.

Whether Rolison’s 2019 ascent was the result of real improvement or simply washed away our recency bias is immaterial. As a draft-eligible sophomore, he came out of the chute blazing hot and had top-10 pick buzz for the first month of the season before his year descended into chaos. He became wild and predictable, and yes, you read that right. Rolison couldn’t throw strikes with his fastball and leaned heavily on his curveball, which opposing hitters anticipated and crushed. It led to some bad outings, including one at South Carolina where he allowed 11 runs.

But 2019 was different. Rolison not only threw a greater percentage of strikes (65%) but he located his four-seam fastball where it plays best — at the top of the zone. After holding his college velo early in the year, it dipped late in the season but still competes for swings and misses because of its ride. There’s also more coherent pitch usage and a better pitch mix now; Rolison has a two-seamer, threw more changeups last year, and was just generally more mechanically consistent. He still throws across his body a bit and it can be hard for him to locate his breaking ball to his glove side, but the raw material for a lefty with three above-average pitches and starter control/command is clearly here and coming fast, so this is a back of the 50 FV tier prospect.

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112. Brayan Rocchio, SS, CLE
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (CLE)
Age 19.1 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.

Rocchio’s 2019 triple slash line (.250/.310/.373) is not all that impressive at first glance, but it was enough for a 107 wRC+ at the level, and remember Rocchio was just 18. The physical development that might lead to a real breakout (and his ascension up this list) has not yet materialized, and because Rocchio is a smaller-framed young man, it may never come. But even if it doesn’t, switch-hitting shortstops with bat-to-ball chops have a shot to profile everyday as long as the bat isn’t getting knocked out of their hands.

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113. Brusdar Graterol, RHP, LAD
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (MIN)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 265 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 60/60 45/50 40/45 96-99 / 102

Well, we all know about the medical now. A group of late-inning power relievers begins here with Graterol.

Graterol signed for $150,000 in 2014 out of Venezuela and had Tommy John surgery within a year. He popped up on the radar a few seasons later when he was throwing upper-90s gas in Fort Myers during instructs, and only began making noise in full-season ball in 2018 when he pitched well as a teenager at Hi-A.

At that time, it appeared Brusdar had a frontline starter future. He was sitting 96-99, touching 100, his slider was already very good and he had started to develop changeup feel. Graterol thickened considerably during this stretch and is now listed at 265 pounds after he signed at 170. This, combined with some release point variance and injury hiccups (three IL stints in the last year and a half, including some shoulder stuff), lead to relief risk in the eyes of some clubs. Indeed the Twins put Brusdar in the bullpen late in the year and had publicly declared their intent to put him there again this season before they traded him to the Dodgers (after initially sending him to the Red Sox) as part of the Mookie Betts musical chairs deal. He de-emphasized the changeup during his 2019 relief stretch, but of course he may be subject to more tweaks with his new org. I think the slider command gives him a puncher’s chance to start even with a limited repertoire, but I think he winds up in high-leverage relief.

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114. Brailyn Marquez, LHP, CHC
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
70/80 50/55 40/45 45/50 35/40 93-97 / 99

Marquez has some of the best velo in the minors and it comes from the left side, but starters aren’t typically built like this at age 21.

Marquez is tied with Blake Snell for the title of Hardest-Throwing Lefty Starter on the Planet right now, as both averaged 95.6 mph on their heaters last year. He walked 13% of Low-A hitters over 17 starts but was promoted to Hi-A anyway because he was just bullying hitters with heat and not really refining anything. Marquez does unleash the occasionally nasty slider, his changeup sometimes has bat-missing tail and location, and, though it’s unclear if it’s purposeful or not, his throws what looks like a cutter. The consistency of his command, the quality of his secondary stuff, and the way his body has developed before he has even turned 21 are all signs pointing toward a high-leverage relief role.

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115. James Karinchak, RHP, CLE
Drafted: 9th Round, 2017 from Bryant (CLE)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
80/80 55/55 40/40 40/45 96-98 / 99

Karinchak has had injuries, but he should open the year in Cleveland’s bullpen and blow his fastball past everyone.

Karinchak is a plug-and-play impact reliever right now. He’s the sort of backend bullpen arm some teams are willing to pay a premium for. His fastball (96-98 with plenty of spin, and a near perfect backspinning axis that creates elite vertical movement) generated a nearly 27% swinging strike rate in the minors last year.

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116. Shane Baz, RHP, TBR
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Concordia Lutheran HS (TX) (PIT)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/70 55/60 40/50 55/60 40/45 92-96 / 100

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

It’s highly likely that Baz moves to the bullpen, where his unusually deep pitch mix could enable him to pitch multiple innings, though it’s also possible the pitch mix gets whittled down and he works in single-inning relief. He pitched as a starter during the regular season but was bumping 100 out of the bullpen in the Fall League. The future fastball grade reflects the anticipated move.

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117. Heriberto Hernandez, RF, TEX
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TEX)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 55/65 35/60 30/30 30/45 55/55

Other than maybe C.J. Abrams, Heriberto had the most impressive summer/fall among the complex-level prospects in Arizona.

Some of this ranking is speculation that future rules alterations might enable Hernandez to catch (as of now, he cannot), some of it is data-driven, and some of it is because I watched Hernandez hit lasers all last summer and I have a higher degree of confidence in his contact/power combination than most all AZL players I’ve scouted since I moved here in 2014. This guy rakes, and the TrackMan data viewable on The Board is among the best in the minors. He may end up a DH (which is why on the overall list, he’s near the back with a lot of DH types) but I think he’ll hit enough to profile.

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118. William Contreras, C, ATL
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (ATL)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 50/55 35/50 45/40 45/55 60/60

Contreras is an enigmatic catching prospect with impressive physical talent.

Stay on Contreras despite the relatively vanilla offensive performance. The Braves pushed him quickly — half a year at Hi-A, half at Double-A at age 21 — and the developmental priority seems to be defense for now. Contreras also has quite a bit more raw power than his 2019 output would suggest. His swing is a lot like Pache’s right now, which is indicative of some of his issues but also how athletic Contreras is for a catcher. He can drop the bat head and yank balls out to his pull side at times, then lunge at breaking stuff away from him at others. It’s rare physical talent for a catcher who projects as Atlanta’s everyday backstop.

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119. Lewin Diaz, 1B, MIA
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (MIN)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 60/60 50/55 45/40 55/60 50/50

Diaz is a slick-fielding first baseman whose power returned a year after he lost a bunch of weight.

The Twins asked Diaz to shed some weight heading into the 2018 season and he lost so much that the following year, much of the strength that had made him an interesting prospect in the first place had been sapped away. Over time, he was able to add muscle and not only recapture the power he had early in his pro career — resulting in a 2019 offensive renaissance — but to do so while retaining the slick defensive ability he flashed as an amateur before he got big.

Diaz is a plus athlete, which is incredible for someone his size, and his infield feet, hands, and actions are all plus. He has a low hand load and a bat path geared for hitting pitches down, so we wonder if big league arms will be able to get him out at the top of the strike zone, but Diaz generally has good feel to hit, he can adjust to breaking balls mid-flight, and he impacts the ball in the air to all-fields. We think he’s a .340 xwOBA guy who also plays plus defense at first, and while ideally he’d be a little more selective, we still think he ends up as a good everyday first baseman.

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120. Isaac Paredes, 3B, DET
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Mexico (CHC)
Age 21.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/60 50/50 40/45 30/20 40/45 55/55

Paredes has all the statistical markers of an impact regular but his lack of athleticism clouds his long-term projection.

Paredes has a .291/.376/.425 line in 166 Double-A games. He’s quite comfortable in the box, and shows balance throughout his swing and incredible hand-eye coordination. A lack of in-game power and/or defensive excellence, combined with the abnormally high bar to clear at third base right now, may overshadow Paredes’ short-term impact in a league-wide context. Body-related concerns about his athletic longevity pinch what we think he’ll do in his late 20s. Paredes should hit enough to be an average everday player, like Luis Arraez except on a corner.

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Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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4 years ago

Now that Kiley is gone, the weight of your list’s omissions falls directly on your shoulders, Eric. It’s with that I’m here to remind you and everyone else that Wander Javier’s will is stronger than your doubt!

4 years ago
Reply to  DustyColorado

How are you still riding this wave Hasslehoff

4 years ago
Reply to  hombremomento

retirement is boring, and this is free?

4 years ago
Reply to  DustyColorado

Somebody has to say it:

Yohendrick Pinango >>>>> Wander Javier

4 years ago
Reply to  SenorGato

I had to look up to make sure that wasn’t one of Dan Z’s portmanteaus that he slips in the ZiPs projection articles.