B/R's Updated Top 50 MLB Prospect Rankings, Post-Draft EditionJune 20, 2018
With the 2018 MLB draft in the rearview mirror, it's time for an updated look at MLB's top 50 prospects.
The following factors helped determine where each player fell in these rankings:
- Potential: Potential trumps production a lot of the time, especially in the lower levels of the minors and with recent draft picks. Skill set and overall tools are often a better indication of what kind of player a guy will be in the future.
- Talent: For guys in the higher levels of the minors who are close to breaking through at the big league level, production and current talent level are the determining factors, as these players are viewed as more complete products.
- Eligibility: A player must maintain rookie eligibility to be considered for inclusion. That means 130 at-bats for position players, 50 innings pitched for pitchers or 45 days on the active roster prior to roster expansion in September.
Let's get to it.
1. LF Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves (Previous: 1)
Acuna is hitting .265/.325/.453 with seven doubles and five home runs in 117 at-bats at the big league level this season, so he's nearly exhausted his prospect eligibility. However, he's been sidelined since May 27 with a left knee injury. The 20-year-old is just scratching the surface of his vast five-tool potential, and he figures to be a central figure of the Braves' push for a playoff spot.
2. 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (Previous: 2)
With a .407/.457/.667 line that includes 18 doubles, 11 home runs and 55 RBI in 53 games at Double-A, Guerrero looks the part of a generational talent. His 80-grade hit tool has been on full display as a 19-year-old against upper-level pitching. He too is battling a knee injury, and a second-half debut could be waiting once he returns.
3. LF Juan Soto, Washington Nationals (Previous: 8)
Soto had never played above Single-A entering the season, but a red-hot start this season in the minors led to a surprise call-up after just eight Double-A games. Still only 19, he's hitting .325/.411/.602 with six home runs and 14 RBI in 95 plate appearances and now looks to be in the majors for good. As a result, he's leapfrogged fellow outfielder Victor Robles as the top prospect in the Washington system.
4. OF Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox (Previous: 3)
Jimenez continued his rapid ascent with a .947 OPS and 19 home runs between High-A and Double-A last season, establishing himself as the top power-hitting prospect in the game. The 21-year-old is back at Double-A this year, where he's hitting .317/.368/.556 with 15 doubles, 10 home runs and 42 RBI in 53 games and setting himself up nicely for a 2018 debut.
5. CF Victor Robles, Washington Nationals (Previous: 4)
MLB.com wrote: "Robles possesses off-the-charts athleticism as well as five standout tools that he showcases on a daily basis." He played just four games this season before suffering a significant elbow injury, and while it didn't require surgery, he's expected to be sidelined for several months. His considerable five-tool potential is enough to keep him in the top five in these rankings.
6. SS Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres (Previous: 7)
Tatis joined the upper echelon of prospects last season when he hit .278/.379/.498 with 27 doubles, 22 home runs and 32 stolen bases while reaching Double-A at the age of 18. Back at Double-A this season, he's picked up where he left off with an .835 OPS, 19 doubles, 11 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 70 games. With the glove to stick at shortstop and 30-homer potential, he has MVP upside.
7. 2B Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds (Previous: 6)
After a slow start to the season, Senzel is hitting .381/.429/.556 with eight multihit games in June. With second baseman Scooter Gennett continuing to rake and Eugenio Suarez locked in at the hot corner, it remains to be seen when the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft will get his shot in Cincinnati. He has little left to prove in the minors.
8. SS Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays (Previous: 9)
Bichette hit a robust .362/.423/.565 with 59 extra-base hits in 499 plate appearances last season to become a top-10 prospect leaguewide. He's had no problems making the leap to Double-A with a .282/.351/.440 line and 27 extra-base hits in 66 games. His value increases if he proves he can stick at shortstop, but his bat will play anywhere.
9. RHP Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox (Previous: 10)
Armed with a true 80-grade fastball, a filthy wipeout slider and an improved changeup, Kopech looks the part of a future ace. He punched out 172 batters in 134.1 innings last season, and he's raised his strikeout rate this season with 82 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. However, his walk rate has also climbed from 4.4 to 6.1 per nine innings, and he'll need to reign in his command to reach his lofty ceiling.
10. RHP Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates (Previous: 12)
After pitching 47 innings total in his first two pro seasons, Keller emerged as one of the top pitching prospects in the game in 2016. The 22-year-old has an electric three-pitch mix and top-of-the-rotation upside. He went 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA in six starts in the Arizona Fall League, proving he's capable of dominating high-level talent.
11. IF Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies (Previous: 13)
Rodgers hit .336/.373/.567 with 47 extra-base hits in 400 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A last season, and he's had no trouble adjusting to upper-level pitching. The 21-year-old has as much offensive upside as any middle infield prospect in the game. With an .892 OPS that includes 17 doubles and 14 home runs at Double-A this season, he's knocking on the door.
12. RHP Forrest Whitley, Houston Astros (Previous: 14)
Whitley has been lights out since returning from a 50-game suspension for violating the MiLB drug program. Over three starts at Double-A, he's allowed just five hits and three walks while striking out 18 over 12 scoreless innings. With a projectable 6'7", 195-pound frame and electric stuff, the sky is the limit. He could claim the title of top pitching prospect in baseball now that he's back in action.
13. OF Jesus Sanchez, Tampa Bay Rays (Previous: 17)
Sanchez backed up an intriguing rookie league showing by hitting .305/.348/.478 with 48 extra-base hits at Single-A last season. The precocious 20-year-old has continued to hit at High-A Charlotte, posting a .327/.345/.513 line with 16 doubles and eight home runs in 235 plate appearances. He's now the No. 1 prospect in the Tampa Bay system.
14. OF Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros (Previous: 16)
Many viewed Tucker as the best pure hitter in the 2015 draft when he went No. 5 overall. He's backed that up by hitting .294/.365/.485 in his first taste of Triple-A action this season. The 6'4", 190-pound outfielder is still growing into his plus raw power after he saw his home run total spike from nine in 2016 to 25 last season.
15. RHP Triston McKenzie, Cleveland Indians (Previous: 19)
One of the youngest players in the 2015 draft, McKenzie won't turn 21 until August, yet he's already pitching at the Double-A level. The lanky 6'5", 165-pound right-hander offers significant physical projection. After going 12-6 with a 3.46 ERA and 186 strikeouts in 143 innings last season, the quality of his stuff is obvious.
16. OF Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels (Previous: 29)
The consensus best athlete in the 2017 draft, Adell went No. 10 overall, and he's risen to the top of the prospect rankings among players from his draft class. The 19-year-old earned a quick promotion to High-A this year, and he's hitting .318/.373/.617 with 14 doubles, 14 home runs and 11 stolen bases. He has true five-tool potential and has been significantly more polished than expected.
17. SS Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins (Previous: 21)
Lewis went No. 1 overall last June, and he has all the makings of an impact up-the-middle talent. After a strong pro debut last season, he's been even better while making the jump to Single-A, hitting .302/.344/.455 with 16 doubles, six home runs and 16 stolen bases. The Twins system is loaded with high-ceiling talent, and he's the clear headliner.
18. C/OF Francisco Mejia, Cleveland Indians (Previous: 15)
After a rocky start at Triple-A, Mejia is hitting .435 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 11 games this month. He's done that while continuing to expand his defensive profile, splitting his time between catching and playing left field. Ideally, he'd continue to improve his receiving skills and establish himself as the long-term answer behind the plate. Either way, his 60-grade hit tool and improving power production will play.
19. LHP MacKenzie Gore, San Diego Padres (Previous: 18)
Gore has been knocked around to the tune of 6.23 ERA in five Single-A starts this season. However, an 18-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 13 innings gives some reason for optimism. With four plus pitches and an athletic 6'3", 191-pound frame, he has frontline upside. With five scoreless innings in his last two appearances, it looks like things might be starting to click.
20. RHP Hunter Greene, Cincinnati Reds (Previous: 22)
An elite athlete with an 80-grade fastball, plus slider and projectable 6'4", 215-pound frame, Greene has a chance to be a generational talent for the Reds. After some early bumps in the road, he's posted a 2.90 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 31 innings over his last seven starts. It's going to take some patience, but his ceiling is as high as any pitching prospect in recent memory.
21. SS Willy Adames, Tampa Bay Rays (Previous: 25)
Adames hit .286/.356/.424 with 15 extra-base hits in 54 games at Triple-A before making his MLB debut May 22. He's taken over as the everyday shortstop in Tampa Bay, going 8-for-40 with one double and one home run in 11 games. It might take the 22-year-old some time to reach his ceiling as a potential All-Star shortstop, but there's a reason he was the centerpiece of the David Price deal in 2014.
22. LHP Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics (Previous: 41)
With A.J. Puk sidelined for the season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Luzardo has taken over as the No. 1 prospect in the Oakland system after a hot start to 2018. Acquired from the Washington Nationals last summer in the Ryan Madson/Sean Doolittle trade, the 20-year-old has gone 6-4 with a 2.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 80 strikeouts in 62.1 innings between High-A and Double-A as he continues to move quickly.
23. OF Taylor Trammell, Cincinnati Reds (Previous: 33)
A multisport star in high school and the best athlete in the 2016 draft, Trammell hit .281/.368/.450 with 24 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs and 41 stolen bases in his full-season debut. The 6'2", 195-pound outfielder is just starting to tap into his intriguing raw power. With a plus hit tool and 70-grade speed, he has a chance to be a dynamic two-way center fielder.
24. SS Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals (Previous: HM)
Kieboom got off to a red-hot start in 2017, only to be sidelined with a hamstring injury that limited him to 61 games. Back healthy this season, he's picked up where he left off, hitting .298/.386/.494 with 15 doubles, 11 home runs and 46 RBI in 61 games at High-A. It remains to be seen if he can stick at shortstop or will need to move to third base, but it's his bat that will carry him to the majors.
25. RHP Brent Honeywell, Tampa Bay Rays (Previous: 23)
Honeywell is sidelined for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the spring. That's enough to drop him below Jesus Sanchez and Willy Adames in the Tampa Bay system, but he's still one of the game's most promising pitching prospects. The 23-year-old went 13-9 with a 3.49 ERA and 172 strikeouts in 136.2 innings last year at Double-A and Triple-A, and he features a dynamic five-pitch repertoire and excellent command.
26. RHP Sixto Sanchez, Philadelphia Phillies (Previous: 24)
Sanchez emerged as a top-tier pitching prospect last season after signing for just $35,000 in 2015. He has frontline stuff with an electric 70-grade fastball and two plus off-speed offerings: a sweeping curveball and changeup that he has a good feel for. He needs to prove he can handle a starter's workload with an undersized 6'0", 185-pound frame.
27. LHP Justus Sheffield, New York Yankees (Previous: 30)
Sheffield turned heads in the Arizona Fall League when he posted a 3.10 ERA and 22-3 K/BB ratio in 20.1 innings while flashing a triple-digit fastball and wipeout slider. He's continued to impress in the upper levels this season, holding opposing hitters to a .185 average while pitching to a 2.67 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 60.2 innings. The 22-year-old could provide a huge in-house boost to the MLB rotation in the second half.
28. 3B Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves (Previous: 31)
Riley is the future at third base for the Braves, and that future could come soon as he's hitting .308/.369/.552 with 13 doubles, 10 home runs and 38 RBI in 53 games between Double-A and Triple-A. He's currently sidelined with a knee sprain but could join the MLB roster in short order once he returns. Improved defense at the hot corner gives him a chance to be a cornerstone piece in Atlanta.
29. OF Estevan Florial, New York Yankees (Previous: 27)
Perhaps the biggest breakout prospect of 2017, Florial hit .298/.372/.479 with 43 extra-base hits and 23 stolen bases in his full-season debut. His 148 strikeouts and 31.1 percent strikeout rate raised some red flags, but he also walked at a 10.5 percent clip. There will be some growing pains, but his upside is tough to ignore.
30. LHP/1B Brendan McKay, Tampa Bay Rays (Previous: 32)
McKay continues to get work as a two-way player, and he's shown significant upside both as a first baseman and a left-handed pitcher.
- Hitter: 152 PA, .230/.428/.319, 4 2B, 2 HR, 25 RBI, 36 BB, 27 K
- Pitcher: 11 G, 9 GS, 4-2, 2.81 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 6 BB, 69 K, 48 IP
A full-time move to pitching could come at some point, but for now, there's no reason to mess with what's working.
31. OF Alex Verdugo, Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous: 36)
With a 60-grade hit tool and a cannon arm, Verdugo has a chance to be an impact right fielder, even if he never hits for a ton of power. The 22-year-old is hitting .350/.392/.522 with 13 doubles and six home runs in Triple-A and has little left to prove in the minors. He just needs an everyday spot to open up in the Dodgers outfield.
32. RHP Franklin Perez, Detroit Tigers (Previous: 26)
Perez has yet to make his 2018 debut as he continues to nurse a lat strain, and he's still three weeks away from returning to action, according to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News. The 20-year-old was the prize of last year's Justin Verlander trade. With four plus offerings and advanced pitchability, he looks like a significant long-term piece for the rebuilding Tigers.
33. OF Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox (Previous: 28)
The White Sox gave Robert a $26 million bonus last May that came with a matching tax penalty, adding an elite international talent to a farm system on the rise. He hit .401/.526/.687 over 232 plate appearances as an 18-year-old in Cuba's top league and has a chance to be a true five-tool superstar. Still just 20, he began the 2018 season in Single-A but could move quickly toward the majors.
34. RHP Casey Mize, Detroit Tigers (2018 draft pick)
Armed with a mid-90s fastball, plus slider and devastating split-changeup, Casey Mize was the consensus top talent in the 2018 draft class, and the Tigers scooped him up with the No. 1 overall pick. He has the polish to move quickly and the upside to be the future ace of the Detroit staff. Mize went 10-6 with a 3.30 ERA and a brilliant 156-16 K/BB ratio over 114.2 innings during his junior season at Auburn.
35. 2B Keston Hiura, Milwaukee Brewers (Previous: 38)
The best pure hitter in the 2017 draft class, Hiura went No. 9 overall and hit .371/.422/.611 over 187 appearances after signing. He'll be limited to second base or left field defensively, and he's an average athlete, but his 65-grade hit tool could make him a perennial batting title contender. The 21-year-old has a .335/.392/.534 line on the year with 23 doubles and eight home runs, and he's already reached Double-A.
36. OF Austin Meadows, Pittsburgh Pirates (Previous: HM)
A top prospect since he went No. 9 overall in 2013, Meadows has seen his development slowed by injuries and inconsistent performance in the upper levels of the minors. A strong start in Triple-A this year earned him his first big league promotion, and he's hitting .326/.351/.598 with 13 extra-base hits in 97 plate appearances since debuting May 18.
37. RHP Mike Soroka, Atlanta Braves (Previous: 37)
Still just 20 years old, Soroka has rocketed through the Atlanta system since going No. 28 overall in the 2015 draft. He made his MLB debut May 1 and has gone 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in 21 innings over his first four big league starts. He profiles more as a middle-of-the-rotation innings eater than a future ace, but his floor is as high as any pitcher in the Atlanta system.
38. 2B/SS Luis Urias, San Diego Padres (Previous: 45)
Urias might have the best hit tool this side of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. among prospects. The 21-year-old is a .303/.394/.393 hitter with more walks (193) than strikeouts (190) over parts of five minor league seasons. If he can prove capable of playing shortstop at the highest level, it only increases his value. For now, he's still playing primarily second base and could arrive in San Diego soon.
39. C Keibert Ruiz, Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous: 46)
With ongoing questions about the eventual defensive landing spot of Francisco Mejia, a case can be made that Ruiz is the best catching prospect in baseball. The 19-year-old earned a place in that conversation last season when he hit .316/.361/.452 with 33 extra-base hits between Single-A and High-A. He's a good athlete for the position and a strong receiver, but his catch-and-throw skills still need work.
40. OF Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins (Previous: NR)
Kirilloff turned in a strong pro debut after going No. 15 overall in the 2016 draft but missed the 2017 season because of Tommy John surgery. Healthy once again, he's solidified his place as an elite prospect with a monster showing at Single-A Cedar Rapids. The 20-year-old is hitting .333/.391/.607 with 20 doubles, 13 home runs and 56 RBI in 65 games.
41. RHP Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox (Previous: HM)
Acquired along with Eloy Jimenez in the deal that sent Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs last summer, Cease is not far behind Michael Kopech for the title of top pitching prospect in a loaded White Sox system. His fastball/curveball combination stacks up to any prospect in the games. He's gone 9-2 with a 2.89 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 71.2 innings at High-A. The continued development of his changeup will be key.
42. OF Leody Taveras, Texas Rangers (Previous: 39)
Taveras signed for a $2.1 million bonus in 2015 and has emerged as the top prospect in the Texas system. The front office has continued to push him aggressively through the system, sending him to High-A as a 19-year-old to begin the 2018 campaign. It might take some time for his on-field performance to match his place in these rankings, but his upside is enough to make him a top-50 prospect.
43. LHP Kolby Allard, Atlanta Braves (Previous: 44)
Allard is another fast-moving Braves pitching prospect who earns his spot largely due to a middle-of-the-rotation floor. The 20-year-old lefty was the first high school pitcher taken in the 2015 draft at No. 14 overall. He's already reached Triple-A, going 5-2 with a 2.28 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 75 innings this season.
44. RHP Jon Duplantier, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous: HM)
Duplantier slipped to the third round of the 2016 draft as a result of his past injury history and the spotty track record of Rice University pitchers in pro ball. Two years later, he looks like an absolute steal. After going 12-3 with a 1.39 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 165 strikeouts in 136 innings between Single-A and High-A last year, the 23-year-old has continued to dominate against Double-A competition.
45. 3B Colton Welker, Colorado Rockies (Previous: HM)
Signed to an above-slot bonus as a fourth-round pick in 2016, Welker is proving to be worth the money. The 20-year-old is a career .326/.379/.478 hitter in parts of three minor league seasons, and he's showing more power production this year with an .811 OPS, 15 doubles and seven home runs at High-A Lancaster. If nothing else, he could be a valuable trade chip for the Rockies.
46. C Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants (2018 draft pick)
Bart was the most hyped collegiate catching prospect since Mike Zunino (No. 3 overall in 2012) and perhaps the best all-around college catcher since Buster Posey starred at Florida State. Now he becomes the heir to Posey in San Francisco after going No. 2 overall in this year's draft. Bart hit .359/.471/.632 with 12 doubles, 16 home runs and 38 RBI as a junior at Georgia Tech.
47. RHP Brusdar Graterol, Minnesota Twins (Previous: NR)
The fastest-rising prospect on this list, Graterol has gone 2-2 with a 2.48 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and a 42-6 K/BB ratio over 36.1 innings in his full-season debut at Single-A. The 19-year-old has the makings of three plus pitches, including a triple-digit fastball, and he's shown improved command this year.
MLB.com wrote: "The Twins are very encouraged with the strike-throwing strides he made in 2017 and feel he could climb the ranks as one of the better pitching prospects in baseball as he ascends through the organization"
48. C Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics (Previous: HM)
Finding a franchise catcher is never easy, but it looks like Oakland might have done just that in the third round of the 2016 draft. Known more for his defensive skills in college—especially his 70-grade throwing arm—Murphy has turned heads at the plate this season. The 23-year-old is hitting .307/.355/.526 with 22 doubles and seven home runs at Double-A and could be the everyday guy in Oakland next season.
49. RHP Matt Manning, Detroit Tigers (Previous: HM)
Few, if any, pitchers in the 2016 draft offered more projection than the 6'6" Manning, who was also a standout on the basketball court. Like many two-sport stars, he's made significant strides since turning his full attention to the diamond. While he still has a ways to go, there's no ignoring his 68 strikeouts in 48.2 innings of work at Single-A this year.
50. RHP Dane Dunning, Chicago White Sox (Previous: HM)
Dunning was the clear No. 3 piece in the deal that also sent Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez from the Nationals to the White Sox in exchange for outfielder Adam Eaton. Now it's looking like he could wind up being the best of the bunch. The 23-year-old is 6-3 with a 2.72 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 96 strikeouts in 82.2 innings this season between High-A and Double-A. He might have the highest floor of any pitching prospect in the White Sox system.
The Next 50
- Albert Abreu (NYY)
- Chance Adams (NYY)
- Sandy Alcantara (MIA)
- Ian Anderson (ATL)
- Michel Baez (SD)
- Shane Baz (PIT)
- Shane Bieber (CLE)
- Corbin Burnes (MIL)
- Beau Burrows (DET)
- Alex Faedo (DET)
- Luiz Gohara (ATL)
- Matthew Liberatore (TB)—2018 draft pick
- Adonis Medina (PHI)
- Adrian Morejon (SD)
- Nate Pearson (TOR)
- A.J. Puk (OAK)
- Cal Quantrill (SD)
- Tony Santillan (CIN)
- Brady Singer (KC)—2018 draft pick
- Carter Stewart (ATL)—2018 draft pick
- Mitchell White (LAD)
- Kyle Wright (ATL)
- 1B Peter Alonso (NYM)
- IF Franklin Barreto (OAK)
- 1B Jake Bauers (TB)
- 2B Cavan Biggio (TOR)
- 3B Alec Bohm (PHI)—2018 draft pick
- 3B Michael Chavis (BOS)
- IF Nick Gordon (MIN)
- 3B Nolan Gorman (STL)—2018 draft pick
- C Danny Jansen (TOR)
- 2B Jahmai Jones (LAA)
- C Andrew Knizner (STL)
- 2B Nick Madrigal (CWS)—2018 draft pick
- 3B Ryan Mountcastle (BAL)
- 1B Josh Naylor (SD)
- 1B Pavin Smith (ARI)
- Anthony Alford (TOR)
- Yordan Alvarez (HOU)
- Willie Calhoun (TEX)
- Yusniel Diaz (LAD)
- Monte Harrison (MIA)
- Jarred Kelenic (NYM)—2018 draft pick
- Kyle Lewis (SEA)
- Julio Pablo Martinez (TEX)
- Seuly Matias (KC)
- Tyler O'Neill (STL)
- Jhailyn Ortiz (PHI)
- Heliot Ramos (SF)
- Blake Rutherford (CWS)
Graduated Since Quarter-Mark Rankings
- 4. 2B Gleyber Torres (NYY)
- 11. RHP Walker Buehler (LAD)
- 20. RHP Alex Reyes (STL)
- 35. RHP Jack Flaherty (STL)
- 40. RHP Fernando Romero (MIN)
- Next 50: 1B Ryan McMahon (COL)
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted, and accurate through June 18.