Top Prospects Who Are MLB's Future 5-Tool Superstars

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2018

Top Prospects Who Are MLB's Future 5-Tool Superstars

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    Ron Vesely/Getty Images

    A five-tool player is someone with above-average ability in all five MLB tool categories: hit, power, speed, arm and defense.

    In today's game, that's generally someone who can bat around .300 while hitting 20-plus home runs and stealing 20-plus bases while also grading out from a metrics standpoint as an above-average defender. 

    Mike Trout and Mookie Betts are the best current examples at the MLB level, while someone like Paul Goldschmidt also qualifies despite not being the prototypical toolsy athlete.

    Ahead, we take a look at seven top prospects who have the potential for a similarly elite collection of tools.

    Since the focus here will be on players who are close to reaching the big leagues, prospects who have yet to reach their 20th birthday were not included.

    With that out of the way, let's take a closer look at some of the best all-around athletes in the upper levels of the minors.

Honorable Mentions

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    Monte Harrison
    Monte HarrisonStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

    First off, here are a few honorable mentions who also have legitimate five-tool potential:

    • Harrison Bader (STL)
    • Monte Harrison (MIA)
    • Daniel Johnson (WAS)
    • Jahmai Jones (LAA)
    • Jesus Sanchez (TB)
    • Jose Siri (CIN)
    • Leody Taveras (TEX)
    • Marcus Wilson (ARI)

           

    And since we excluded teenage prospects from the conversation, here are a few worth keeping an eye on:

    • Jo Adell (LAA)
    • Yasel Antuna (WAS)
    • Austin Beck (OAK)
    • Wander Javier (MIN)
    • Khalil Lee (KC)
    • Royce Lewis (MIN)
    • Freudis Nova (HOU)
    • Heliot Ramos (SF)
    • Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD)
    • Bubba Thompson (TEX)
    • Conner Uselton (PIT)

Anthony Alford, Toronto Blue Jays

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    G Fiume/Getty Images

    DOB: July 20, 1994 (23 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 215 lbs

    Acquired: 2012 draft, third round (112th overall)

         

    Expert Take (MLB.com)

    "Alford generates good bat speed and makes a lot of hard contact from the right side of the plate. ... He has the strength and swing plane to drive the ball out of the park, shows good raw power to center field and could clear more fences as he continues to refine his approach.

    Alford's knee injury diminished his speed last season, but he's still a plus, if not better runner capable of impacting games on the bases as well as in center field."

         

    Outlook

    The Blue Jays selected Anthony Alford in the 2012 draft, but he didn't turn his full attention to the diamond until 2015 after he wrapped up Division I collegiate football career, which included some play at defensive back for Ole Miss.

    He hit .298/.398/.421 with 36 extra-base hits and a 13.8 percent walk rate between Single-A and High-A that season, showing a more advanced feel for the sport than anyone expected.

    Unfortunately, he's had a hard time staying healthy since. A knee injury and a concussion limited him to 92 games in 2016, and he suffered a broken hamate bone shortly after making his MLB debut last season.

    If he can put those injury woes in the rearview, Alford has all the makings of a dynamic leadoff hitter and rangy center fielderone currently with 50-grade power and the potential for more.

Estevan Florial, New York Yankees

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    Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

    DOB: Nov. 25, 1997 (20 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 185 lbs

    Acquired: 2015 international free agent, Dominican Republic

         

    Expert Take (MLB.com

    "He's as raw on the bases as he is at the plate, but his double-plus speed could make him a 30-30 player if he adds the necessary polish. While he's still learning in center field as well, he should be able to stick there and his arm is a weapon anywhere in the outfield."

         

    Outlook

    Estevan Florial was one of the biggest breakout prospects of 2017.

    In his full-season debut, he hit .298/.372/.479 with 13 home runs and 23 stolen bases and reached High-A before his 20th birthday.

    There is some significant swing-and-miss to his game, as he struck out 148 times at a 31.1 percent clip last season.

    However, his .298 batting average and 10.5 percent walk rate speak to a player with good contact skills and a plan at the plate, so he should be able to make the necessary adjustments.

Taylor Trammell, Cincinnati Reds

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    DOB: Sept. 13, 1997 (20 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 195 lbs

    Acquired: 2015 draft, first round (35th overall)

         

    Expert Take (MLB.com)

    "Everyone knew Trammell's athleticism would help make him an exciting prospect, but his feel for the game has exceeded many expectations. While there is some swing and miss he'll continue to work on, Trammell's strikeout rate went down and his walk rate went up in the second half of his first full season.

    "His ability to draw walks allows him to use his speed to be a basestealing threat on a more regular basis. He has shown the ability to drive the ball with extra-base pop, and there should be more over-the-fence power to come as he matures. His speed works well in the outfield and most feel he could stick in center field."

         

    Outlook

    Taylor Trammell was a two-sport star in high school who could have played baseball and football at Georgia Tech. Instead, he looks like one of the early steals of the 2015 draft class, with the Cincinnati Reds scooping him up at No. 35 overall.

    Trammell hit .303/.374/.421 with two home runs and 24 stolen bases in 61 games in rookie ball after signing in 2016, and that production carried over into his full-season debut.

    At Single-A Dayton, he hit .281/.368/.450 with 24 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs and 41 stolen bases.

    His on-base skills will make him an even bigger weapon on the bases, and he's only starting to tap into his intriguing raw power. While he might not arrive in Cincinnati until 2020, all signs point to him being the center fielder of the future and a big piece of the team's long-term plans.

Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox

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    Ron Vesely/Getty Images

    DOB: Aug. 3, 1997 (20 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 185 lbs

    Acquired: 2017 international free agent, Cuba

         

    Expert Take (MLB.com

    "A right-handed hitter, he has a lightning-fast bat with well above-average raw power and speed to match. He also comes with some swing-and-miss concerns, though he mitigates them somewhat with his willingness to take walks. ... He could remain in center field and has the solid arm strength to profile in right field if he has to move to a corner."

         

    Outlook

    The Chicago White Sox paid $26 million and a matching tax penalty to sign Luis Robert last May, and his stateside debut will be among the most anticipated in recent memory.

    In 28 games in the Dominican Summer League, he hit .310/.491/.536 with 12 extra-base hits, 12 stolen bases and almost as many walks (22) as strikeouts (23).

    That level of production is nothing new.

    As an 18-year-old playing in Cuba's top league, he hit .401/.526/.687 with 12 home runs in 232 plate appearances.

    The 20-year-old is still raw, but he has as high a ceiling as any prospect in baseball.

Lewis Brinson, Miami Marlins

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    DOB: May 8, 1994 (23 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 195 lbs

    Acquired: 2018 trade, via Milwaukee Brewers

         

    Expert Take (MLB.com

    "Brinson's offensive ceiling is tantalizing, as he projects for an average bat with at least above-average power that could make him an annual 20-plus-homer threat at the highest level. He made considerable strides in his approach in 2017, as better plate discipline and pitch recognition resulted in improved on-base skills and fewer strikeouts.

    "Brinson's speed represents yet another plus tool and translates on the basepaths as well as in the outfield, where he's spent the bulk of his time in center. He's likely better suited for right field long term, where his above-average arm strength is a clean fit."

         

    Outlook

    Lewis Brinson has already been traded twice in his young career, and it looks like he's finally found a home in Miami.

    While others in the organization have been clamoring for a trade, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native is thrilled to have an opportunity to play for his hometown team.

    "I can't wait to bring this organization back to where it once was," Brinson told reporters after coming to the Marlins in the trade that sent Christian Yelich to Milwaukee. "I'm really excited to be a part of that in the future, and I think our future is pretty bright."

    Brinson hit just .106 over 55 plate appearances in his first taste of the majors, but his Triple-A numbers paint a better picture of his tremendous upside.

    Over 340 plate appearances, he hit .331/.400/.562 with 13 home runs and 11 stolen bases, and there's legitimate 30/30 potential once he settles in at the majors.

Victor Robles, Washington Nationals

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    DOB: May 19, 1997 (20 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 190 lbs

    Acquired: 2013 international free agent, Dominican Republic

         

    Expert Take (MLB.com

    "Robles possesses off-the-charts athleticism as well as five standout tools that he showcases on a daily basis. He has the makings of plus hitter from the right side of the plate, with a compact but explosive swing and a present feel for using the whole field. His power played consistently in 2017 thanks to a more leveraged swing and better pitch selection.

    "A plus-plus runner, Robles impacts games with his wheels on the bases as well as in center field, where he has exceptional range and instincts as well as arm strength that's among the best in the Minors at the position."

         

    Outlook

    Victor Robles exploded onto the top-prospect scene in 2015, when he hit .352/.445/.507 with 20 extra-base hits and 24 stolen bases as an 18-year-old in his stateside debut.

    He still has a good deal of physical maturing to do, but he's been up to the challenge every step of the way while climbing through the Washington Nationals' minor league ranks.

    Another full season in the minors is probably in his best interest, despite a .300/.382/.493 line between High-A and Double-A last year that culminated in a 6-for-24 showing in the majors and a spot on the team's postseason roster.

    That said, an injury could open the door for him to play a significant role this season.

    If he continues to develop as expected, Robles could go a long way toward easing the sting of potentially losing Bryce Harper in free agency.

Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves

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    Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

    DOB: Dec. 18, 1997 (20 years old)

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 180 lbs

    Acquired: 2014 international free agent, Dominican Republic

         

    Expert Take (MLB.com

    "It's hard to find a flaw in Acuna's game. He has a buggy whip of a swing and ultra-fast hands that allow him to make hard contact to all fields. His power started showing up, and then some, in 2017. ...

    "He can flat-out fly, allowing him to make 40-plus steals an annual projection, especially as he gets better at reading pitchers and cutting down his caught stealing rate. That speed works for him in the outfield as well, where he has the range for center and the arm for right field."

          

    Outlook

    Ronald Acuna was already featured on our list of "Future 500-Foot Home Run Sluggers" and he appears here again among the game's top five-tool prospects.

    There's a reason people in Atlanta and around the baseball world are so jazzed about Baseball America's reigning Minor League Player of the Year.

    A .325/.374/.522 line with 31 doubles, 21 home runs and 44 stolen bases speaks for itself, especially when it's split over three minor league levels and produced by a 19-year-old.

    Acuna does still have room to improve.

    He was caught stealing 20 times for a 68.8 success rate and he still only has 486 plate appearances above the High-A level, so he hasn't had a ton of exposure to high-level pitching.

    Still, all signs point to impending superstardom.

          

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.