B/R's MLB 20 for '20: Projecting Top 20 Outfielders in 2020

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2018

B/R's MLB 20 for '20: Projecting Top 20 Outfielders in 2020

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    Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    Baseball is a tough sport to predict day in and day out, and it becomes exponentially more difficult to project when looking years into the future. But that's exactly what we're going to be doing here.

    Back in the summer of 2015, I wrote a series dubbed B/R's MLB 20 for '20, wherein I predicted who the top 20 players would be at each position when the 2020 season rolled around.

    Three years later, it's time for an update.

    In this edition, we look at the outfielders, with a more condensed approach relative to the last time we did this.

    Previously, players were separated into center fielders and corner outfielders, but it's tricky to predict where younger players will ultimately settle in. So, we're lumping them all into one article this time around.

    Can anyone unseat Mike Trout as the No. 1 player on this list two years from now? Mookie Betts and Bryce Harper will be joined by rising stars Aaron Judge, Andrew Benintendi, Ronald Acuna, Eloy Jimenez, Victor Robles and a host of others.

    Before we dive into the top 20, we'll take a look back at that original list with the benefit of hindsight and also shine a light on a few prospects who could be making waves two years from now.



    Previous 20 for '20 series entries: Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen, Shortstops, Third Basemen

The Original Lists (Published July 20 & 21, 2015)

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    Dalton Pompey
    Dalton PompeyRob Leiter/Getty Images

    Original Top 20 Center Fielders List

    1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
    2. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
    3. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
    4. Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers
    5. Clint Frazier, Cleveland Indians
    6. A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks
    7. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
    8. Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland Indians
    9. Michael Taylor, Washington Nationals
    10. Manuel Margot, Boston Red Sox
    11. Austin Meadows, Pittsburgh Pirates
    12. Dalton Pompey, Toronto Blue Jays
    13. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
    14. Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals
    15. Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
    16. Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers
    17. Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets
    18. Wil Myers, San Diego Padres
    19. Brett Phillips, Houston Astros
    20. Roman Quinn, Philadelphia Phillies


    Original Top 20 Corner Outfielders List

    1. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
    2. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
    3. George Springer, Houston Astros
    4. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
    5. Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates
    6. Jorge Soler, Chicago Cubs
    7. Jason Heyward, St. Louis Cardinals
    8. Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers
    9. Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins
    10. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates
    11. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
    12. Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres
    13. Steven Souza Jr., Tampa Bay Rays
    14. Justin Upton, San Diego Padres
    15. Yasmany Tomas, Arizona Diamondbacks
    16. Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
    17. J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers
    18. Nick Williams, Texas Rangers
    19. Michael Conforto, New York Mets
    20. Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds


    Hindsight Breakdown

    There's a lot to digest here since we're combining two lists into one, so let's keep this short and sweet.

    Predicting that Mike TroutBryce Harper and Mookie Betts would be three of the best outfielders in the game didn't exactly take a master's degree in prognostication.

    I'm proud to say I was still bullish on Aaron Judge, despite middling numbers in the upper levels of the minors when this was first written in 2015. Obviously, I wasn't quite as high on him as warranted, but he wasn't overlooked.

    Guys like Joc Pederson, Clint FrazierJorge Soler and Hunter Renfroe have all had their moments at the MLB level, but they're each still far from established. I'll admit, I was still expecting Byron Buxton to be a five-tool star when this was first written. Ranking him ahead of Betts did not age well.

    Further down the list, Dalton Pompey might be the biggest whiff on either list.

    The speedy outfielder hit .317/.392/.469 with 40 extra-base hits and 43 stolen bases over three minor league levels in 2014 and had as much helium as any prospect in the game heading into the 2015 season. Injuries derailed his development, though, and he looks more like a fourth outfielder and pinch runner these days.

    All in all, this look back was a mixed bag, although it has a chance to look a bit better if a few young players take another step forward. 

Projected Top 10 Outfield Prospects for 2020

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    Luis Robert
    Luis RobertRon Vesely/Getty Images

    Before we get into predicting the top 20 outfielders at the MLB level in 2020, let's take a look at who might be topping the position's prospect lists two years from now:


    1. Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels (2020 Age: 21)

    Best collection of raw tools in the 2017 draft. Hit .325/.376/.532 with 24 extra-base hits in 49 games in pro debut and hasn't missed a beat making the jump to Single-A this year. Some swing-and-miss to his game, and will need to show the ability to make adjustments. Could be a perennial All-Star.


    2. Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox (2020 Age: 22)

    Given a hefty $26 million bonus last May after leaving Cuba. Hit .401/.526/.687 in 232 plate appearances as an 18-year-old in Cuba's top league. Exceptional athlete with a chiseled 6'3", 185-pound frame and significant five-tool upside. Could move quickly.


    3. Taylor Trammell, Cincinnati Reds (2020 Age: 22)

    Best athlete in the 2016 draft already looks like a steal as the No. 35 overall pick. Two-sport standout has been more polished than expected on the diamond. His 70-grade speed is best present tool, but has some legitimate power potential and could be a 30/30 threat if everything clicks.


    4. Jesus Sanchez, Tampa Bay Rays (2020 Age: 22)

    Proved standout rookie ball performance was for real with .305/.348/.478 line and 48 extra-base hits at Single-A. Continuing to hit this year with a .350 average, .906 OPS and 17 extra-base hits in 162 plate appearances at High-A. Plate discipline needs refining, but loud offensive tools demand attention.


    5. Estevan Florial, New York Yankees (2020 Age: 22)

    Toolsy outfielder hit .298/.372/.479 with 43 extra-base hits and 23 stolen bases in a breakout season between Single-A and High-A as a teenager. Some concern over 31.1 percent strikeout rate, but present on-base skills give hope he can refine his approach. Hit tool will determine ceiling


    6. Yusniel Diaz, Los Angeles Dodgers (2020 Age: 23)

    Secured a massive $15.5 million bonus as part of 2015 international spending spree. Leadoff type with plus hit tool and speed, though he'll likely top out at 15 home runs. Good enough athlete to play center field, but fits better in right field. Hitting .308/.419/.513 with nine extra-base hits and five steals in 20 games at Double-A this year.


    7. Leody Taveras, Texas Rangers (2020 Age: 21)

    Signed for $2.1 million as one of the headliners of the 2015 international free-agent crop. Held his own as an 18-year-old in full-season ball last year. Off to a strong start at High-A with a .281/.368/.413 line and eight stolen bases. Profiles as a future leadoff hitter and standout defender in center field.


    8. Heliot Ramos, San Francisco Giants (2020 Age: 20)

    One of the more polarizing prospects in the 2017 class went No. 19 overall. Immediately became the top prospect in a thin Giants system. Loud tools with the potential for 60-grade power and speed. Hit tool lags behind with significant swing-and-miss. Will be 18 for the entire 2018 season.


    9. Travis Swaggerty, 2018 Draft (2020 Age: 22)

    Advanced hitter with a top-of-the-order profile offensively. Has a .456 on-base percentage and 17.4 percent walk rate in three seasons at South Alabama. Some sneaky raw power to his game and the potential to develop into a 20-homer threat in the majors. MLB.com aptly compares him to Brett Gardner.


    10. Seuly Matias, Kansas City Royals (2020 Age: 21)

    Boom-or-bust prospect. Has 12 home runs and a 36.8 percent strikeout rate in 32 games in Single-A debut. MLB.com wrote: "With his combination of tools and physical presence, he draws comparisons to Yoenis Cespedes and Andre Dawson." That's all you should need to know about his upside.


    Note: Some of the above scouting reports originally appeared in my Top 50 prospects and Mock Draft articles.


    Honorable Mentions

    • Yordan Alvarez, HOU
    • Lazaro Armenteros, OAK
    • Luis Alexander Basabe, CWS
    • Daz Cameron, DET
    • Sandro Fabian, SF
    • Monte Harrison, MIA
    • Adam Haseley, PHI
    • Jarred Kelenic, 2018 Draft
    • Jeren Kendall, LAD
    • Alex Kirilloff, MIN
    • Trevor Larnach, 2018 Draft
    • Khalil Lee, KC
    • Kyle Lewis, SEA
    • Brandon Marsh, LAA
    • Julio Pablo Martinez, TEX
    • Cal Mitchell, PIT
    • Mickey Moniak, PHI
    • Jhailyn Ortiz, PHI
    • Cristian Pache, ATL
    • D.J. Peters, LAD
    • Brent Rooker, MIN
    • Blake Rutherford, CWS
    • Connor Scott, 2018 Draft
    • Bubba Thompson, TEX
    • Nelson Velazquez, CHC
    • Steele Walker, 2018 Draft
    • Marcus Wilson, ARI

Honorable Mentions and Notable Veteran Omissions

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    Tyler O'Neill
    Tyler O'NeillMike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Next 15

    Anthony Alford, TOR
    Albert Almora Jr., CHC
    Lewis Brinson, MIA
    Nicholas Castellanos, DET
    Ender Inciarte, ATL
    Kevin Kiermaier, TB
    Manuel Margot, SD
    Starling Marte, PIT
    Nomar Mazara, TEX
    Wil Myers, SD
    Tyler O'Neill, STL
    Gregory Polanco, PIT
    Eddie Rosario, MIN
    Kyle Schwarber, CHC
    Bradley Zimmer, CLE


    Excluded Due to Age and Expected Regression

    Jackie Bradley Jr., BOS
    Michael Brantley, CLE
    Jay Bruce, NYM
    Lorenzo Cain, MIL
    Kole Calhoun, LAA
    Yoenis Cespedes, NYM
    Nelson Cruz, SEA
    Corey Dickerson, PIT
    Adam Eaton, WAS
    Dexter Fowler, STL
    Brett Gardner, NYY
    Aaron Hicks, NYY
    Adam Jones, BAL
    Nick Markakis, ATL
    Andrew McCutchen, SF
    Tommy Pham, STL
    Kevin Pillar, TOR
    A.J. Pollock, ARI
    Josh Reddick, HOU
    Chris Taylor, LAD
    Justin Upton, LAA

    J.D. Martinez and Giancarlo Stanton were also excluded, as they have made the move to designated hitter.

20. Willie Calhoun, Texas Rangers

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2020 Age: 25

    No one has ever questioned Willie Calhoun's ability to hit.

    A fourth-round pick in 2015 out of JUCO powerhouse Yavapai College in Arizona, Calhoun has posted a .284/.346/.504 line to date in parts of four minor league seasons.

    That includes a .927 OPS with 31 home runs at the Triple-A level last season, a campaign in which he was traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Texas Rangers at the deadline in the Yu Darvish deal.

    The question for Calhoun is his glove.

    Originally a second baseman, his limited defensive ability has since pushed him to left field, where he remains a work in progress. The Rangers appear to be headed for a rebuilding period of sorts, so there's no reason to rush his development in the grass.

    Worst-case scenario, he's forced to become a full-time DH, where his bat still will undoubtedly play.

19. Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 29

    Remember the Taijuan Walker for Jean Segura trade between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners prior to the start of the 2017 season? It might not be long before we instead refer to that as the "Mitch Haniger trade." 

    The young outfielder is currently in the midst of a breakout season, as he sports a 160 OPS+ with 11 home runs and 36 RBI in 47 games.

    The No. 38 overall pick back in 2012, Haniger hit .321/.419/.581 with 34 doubles and 25 home runs in the upper levels of the Arizona system in 2016, before he was packaged alongside Segura in the aforementioned deal.

    The Mariners handed him the starting right field job out of camp last season, and he hit .282/.352/.491 with 25 doubles, 16 home runs and 47 RBI in 410 plate appearances. Those numbers would have looked even better if not for a strained oblique, and he's now taken his game to even greater heights.

18. Michael Conforto, New York Mets

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    Michael Thomas/Getty Images

    2020 Age: 27

    Michael Conforto was on the doorstep of stardom last season when injury struck.

    The 2014 first-round pick posted a 145 OPS+ with 27 home runs in 440 plate appearances, but his season ended abruptly on Aug. 24 when he suffered a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery.

    He then missed the first week of the 2018 season as his recovery continued, and he's struggled to a .227/.340/.361 line since returning to action.

    Shaking off the rust after shoulder surgery and getting back to where he was prior to the injury will take some time, but there's no reason to think he can't return to his 2017 level of production.

    At the same time, his limited track record makes it difficult to rank him any higher.

17. Alex Verdugo, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    2020 Age: 24

    Alex Verdugo is a career .305/.361/.439 hitter over parts of five minor league seasons and one of the best pure hitters among the prospect ranks.

    It looks like his ceiling at the MLB level will be 20 home runs, but he's capable of being a perennial .300 hitter with strong on-base skills and a rocket for an arm in right field.

    With Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig both regressing significantly from their 2017 performance and Joc Pederson looking more and more like a bust, a long-term spot in the Los Angeles Dodgers outfield should present itself to Verdugo in the near future.

    Nick Markakis looks like an apt comparison for Verdugo, and the Dodgers would undoubtedly welcome a similar career path for their top position-player prospect.

16. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins

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    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    2020 Age: 26

    Injuries and inconsistent offensive performance at the MLB level had Byron Buxton looking more and more like a bust heading into last season. After all, expectations were understandably high for a player who was once the consensus No. 1 prospect in all of baseball.

    While he was technically still a below-average offensive contributor last season with a 95 OPS+, Buxton was a 5.2 WAR player on the strength of his standout defense and elite speed. 

    The 2012 No. 2 overall pick took home his first Gold Glove with an impressive 24 DRS and an 11.5 UZR/150, and he also swiped 29 bases in 30 attempts.

    Unfortunately, he's been plagued by migraine issues this year, limiting him to a dismal .167/.200/.208 batting line over 76 plate appearances.

    Last season provided enough excitement that it's impossible to leave him off of these rankings, but there's still a wide range between his floor and ceiling.

15. Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    2020 Age: 34

    The oldest player to earn a spot on our top-20 list, Charlie Blackmon will turn 34 on July 1 of the 2020 season.

    He filled up the stat sheet last year, leading the NL in batting average (.331), hits (213), runs scored (137), triples (14) and total bases (387). He also added 35 doubles, 37 home runs and 104 RBI for a 6.0 WAR.

    That performance was enough to earn him a four-year, $77 million extension this offseason that could be worth as much as $108 million over six years if a pair of player options are exercised, potentially keeping him in Colorado through the 2023 season.

    While speed is a part of his game, Blackmon is a complete enough player offensively that he should age well and still be producing at a high level in his mid-30s.

14. Marcell Ozuna, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    2020 Age: 29

    The 2017 season was a career year for Marcell Ozuna, and the rebuilding Miami Marlins decided to sell high.

    In his fourth full season in the majors, Ozuna hit .312/.376/.548 with 30 doubles, 37 home runs and 124 RBI for a 5.8 WAR. After whiffing on acquiring Giancarlo Stanton, the St. Louis Cardinals turned their attention to Ozuna and acquired him for a package of four prospects headlined by Sandy Alcantara and Magneuris Sierra.

    An All-Star the past two seasons, he's off to a relatively slow start this year, hitting .253/.295/.331 with just three home runs in his first 43 games in a Cardinals uniform.

    There was nothing in his 2017 peripherals to suggest his performance was anything but legit, and he'll still be in the prime of his career when the 2020 season rolls around, so he gets the benefit of the doubt.

13. Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 28

    Plenty of Rule 5 picks have carved out MLB roles and enjoyed lengthy, productive careers after finally getting a shot.

    Few compare to Odubel Herrera, though.

    The Philadelphia Phillies plucked him from the Texas Rangers organization in 2014, and he hit .297/.344/.418 with 41 extra-base hits and 16 stolen bases for a 4.0 WAR as the everyday center fielder for a 99-loss team in 2015.

    Not many Rule 5 selections are afforded that volume of playing time, but he earned every bit of it, and he's only gotten better in the years since.

    An All-Star in 2016, he currently leads the NL with a .345 batting average to go along with a .410 on-base percentage and 18 extra-base hits in 188 plate appearances.

    The Phillies wisely locked him up with a five-year, $30.5 million extension prior to last season, and it could keep him in Philadelphia through 2023 if a pair of option years are exercised. He's a cornerstone piece for a team on the rise.

12. Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    2020 Age: 23

    Kyle Tucker might already be in the majors if not for a loaded lineup at the MLB level for the Houston Astros.

    The No. 5 pick in the 2015 draft was the most polished prep hitter in his class, and his raw power has turned into over-the-fence production. His home run total jumped from nine to 25 last season.

    That power surge was accompanied by a .274/.346/.528 line, 33 doubles and 21 stolen bases in 30 attempts. His instincts and athleticism serve him well on the bases and in the outfield.

    With a .290/.359/.444 line and 18 extra-base hits in 193 plate appearances in his first taste of Triple-A action this year, he's knocking on the door. He could soon join Carlos Correa, George Springer and Alex Bregman as recent homegrown stars to rise the ranks and make an impact at the highest level.

11. Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 28

    The Milwaukee Brewers acquired Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins this offseason for a package of four prospects headlined by outfielders Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison.

    Yelich hit .290/.373/.460 while averaging 37 doubles, 20 home runs, 90 RBI, 89 runs scored and 4.7 WAR the past two seasons. That level of production, coupled with his team-friendly contract, makes him a valuable asset.

    Yelich is more than a rental. Three years and $36.25 million remain on his deal after this season, and a $15 million option could keep him in Milwaukee through 2022.

    He may never post gaudy, MVP-caliber numbers, but he does everything well and will be just 28 years old when the 2020 season arrives.

10. Juan Soto, Washington Nationals

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 21

    Juan Soto has kicked off his MLB career with a bang.

    Just 19, he went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI in his first career start Monday. He flashed his plate discipline by going 1-for-1 with three walks in Tuesday's game.

    Heading into the 2018 season, Soto had yet to play above the Single-A level, but his tremendous upside was on full display last year. He hit .351/.415/.505 with 10 extra-base hits in 123 plate appearances between rookie ball and Single-A.

    While he started the 2018 season back at Single-A, a torrid .362/.462/.757 line with 10 doubles, 14 home runs and 52 RBI over three minor league levels moved up his timeline considerably. He was then called on to help an injury-plagued Washington Nationals outfield.

    He doesn't get the same hype as fellow Nats prospect Victor Robles, but his ceiling is every bit as high. This could wind up being too low a spot in these rankings.

9. Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 25

    Andrew Benintendi put together a rookie season in 2017 that would have won Rookie of the Year honors in a lot of other years, hitting .271/.352/.424 with 26 doubles, 20 home runs, 90 RBI, 20 stolen bases and 2.6 WAR.

    With that, he joined Ellis Burks (1987) and Nomar Garciaparra (1997) as the only rookies in Boston Red Sox history to post a 20/20 season.

    Unfortunately, that came in the same year Aaron Judge took the league by storm.

    He's upped his OPS+ (101 to 119) so far this season while continuing to show a good mix of power (20 XBH) and speed (8/8 SB), continuing his emergence as a long-term piece in Boston.

    With Jackie Bradley Jr. slumping badly and potentially falling out of favor, Benintendi could man center field in 2020. He has the defensive chops to not only handle the position, but to also be a standout.

8. Victor Robles, Washington Nationals

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    2020 Age: 23

    There are few, if any, prospects in the game today who have a higher ceiling than Victor Robles.

    As MLB.com wrote: "Robles possesses off-the-charts athleticism as well as five standout tools that he showcases on a daily basis."

    Originally signed to a modest $225,000 bonus, Robles has taken off since making his way stateside, hitting .300/.382/.493 with 37 doubles, 10 home runs and 27 stolen bases between High-A and Double-A last year.

    Speed and defense are his best present tools, but he has a chance to be a legitimate .300 hitter with 30-homer power once he matures physically.

    The best is likely still to come from Robles by the time the 2020 season rolls around, and it's possible he could eventually push for the No. 1 spot on this list.

7. George Springer, Houston Astros

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    Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 30

    George Springer has posted back-to-back 5-WAR seasons serving as a table-setter atop the Houston Astros loaded lineup.

    The 2011 first-round pick set career highs in batting average (.283), slugging (.522), OPS+ (143), home runs (34) and RBI (85) last year, while scoring 110-plus runs for the second straight season and earning his first trip to the All-Star Game.

    Springer also hit .379/.471/1.000 with three doubles and five home runs to win World Series MVP honors, helping the Astros to the first title in franchise history.

    A right fielder when he arrived in the majors, Springer now splits his defensive duties between right field and center field, where he's become a passable defender.

    A 45-steal player at one point in the minors, Springer is no longer a major threat on the bases, but he's an excellent athlete and a true catalyst for one of the best offenses in the game.

6. Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox

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    Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

    2020 Age: 23

    No prospect has more raw power than Eloy Jimenez.

    The imposing 6'4", 205-pound slugger was the headliner of a talented 2013 international free-agent class, signing with the Chicago Cubs for a $2.8 million bonus.

    After a slow start to his pro career, at least relative to expectations, he took off in 2016, and the Cubs used him as the centerpiece to acquire controllable starter Jose Quintana from the crosstown Chicago White Sox last summer.

    Aside from his 70-grade power, Jimenez also has a 60-grade hit tool and looks like the complete package offensively.

    His speed and arm strength have declined as he's filled out physically, and he now looks like a better fit in left field than right field. Regardless of where he lines up defensively, he has a chance to be one of the game's brightest offensive stars.

5. Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 22

    It's tough to rank Ronald Acuna ahead of the four players above him on this list in the early stages of his MLB career.

    That said, there's little doubt he has the potential to challenge for the No. 1 spot in these rankings, and that day could come sooner than later if his rapid ascent is any indication.

    Few teenagers in the history of the game have enjoyed a more productive season than Acuna did in the Atlanta Braves system last year.

    Despite entering the season with just 40 games to his credit above the rookie ball level, he hit a robust .325/.374/.522 with 31 doubles, 21 home runs and 44 stolen bases while reaching Triple-A, all before his 20th birthday.

    Now he's arrived in the majors, and he looks right at home manning left field for the upstart Braves despite being the second-youngest player to appear in an MLB game this season—trailing only the aforementioned Juan Soto.

    We could be looking at a generational talent.

4. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    2020 Age: 28

    Brutal start to the second half last season aside, Aaron Judge has enjoyed an otherworldly rise to stardom for the New York Yankees.

    After hitting a gaudy .329/.448/.691 with 30 home runs and 66 RBI before the All-Star Game, Judge stumbled after the break with a .179/.346/.344 line and a 67-38 strikeout-to-walk rate in 44 games heading into September.

    The was the first real test of adversity in his MLB career. He wound up passing with flying colors, rebounding to hit .311/.463/.889 with 15 home runs and 32 RBI in September to help the Yankees clinch a playoff spot.

    It's been more of the same this year. His elite mix of power and on-base ability has made him one of the game's biggest stars.

3. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

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    Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    2020 Age: 27

    Old-school stat lovers will point to a .238 batting average and say Bryce Harper is having a bad season.

    That's why old-school stat lovers are finding it increasingly difficult to get jobs in MLB front offices.

    That batting average is accompanied by a .394 on-base percentage thanks to a staggering 43 walks in 47 games. Harper also leads the NL with 15 home runs despite the obvious indication that pitchers are doing everything in their power to work around him.

    In the big leagues since he was 19 years old, Harper will be a free agent for the first time this coming offseason, and a record payday could be waiting.

    There's no reason to think his 80-grade power and elite plate discipline will have changed as he enters his prime in 2020 at the age of 27. In any given year he's capable of putting together a performance similar to his 2015 NL MVP season and staking his claim to the No. 1 spot.

2. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    2020 Age: 27

    Mookie Betts posted a 107 OPS+ with 46 doubles, 24 home runs, 102 RBI, 101 runs scored and 26 stolen bases for a 6.4 WAR last season.

    A career year for the vast majority of big leaguers.

    A down season for the Boston Red Sox star.

    The previous season saw him register a 133 OPS+ with 42 doubles, 31 home runs, 113 RBI, 122 runs scored and 26 stolen bases for a 9.7 WAR and a runner-up finish in AL MVP voting.

    So which Betts can we expect to see in 2020?

    If his start this season is any indication, those gaudy 2016 numbers might just have been an appetizer.

    Betts leads the AL in batting average (.368), on-base percentage (.439), slugging (.772), OPS (1.211), hits (63), doubles (19), home runs (16) and runs scored (49).

    We haven't even talked about his elite defense in right field.

    He's your AL MVP if the season ended today.

1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 28

    Tip of the cap to Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper and the rest of the field, but who else did you expect to see in the No. 1 spot in these rankings?

    How good has Mike Trout been in his young career?

    If he retired tomorrow, his 58.1 career WAR would be tied for 206th in MLB history, ahead of a staggering 69 different Hall of Fame position players—including Willie Stargell, Jim Rice, Tony Perez, Ralph Kiner, Hank Greenberg, Bill Dickey and a host of others.

    And by normal baseball standards, he's just entering his prime.

    Injuries are the only thing that will keep Trout from being one of the best to ever play the game by the time he calls it a career. Aside from a freak thumb injury last season, he's been plenty durable to this point.

    His 4.0 WAR so far this season has him on pace for the highest single-season mark in baseball history. That distinction currently belongs to Babe Ruth's 1923 season, which checked in at 14.1.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted, and accurate through May 22's games. A player's 2020 age refers to how old he will be on July 1 of that year—roughly the midway point in the season.