Predicting MLB Arrival Date for Top Prospects in 2018 All-Star Futures Game

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2018

Predicting MLB Arrival Date for Top Prospects in 2018 All-Star Futures Game

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    The Home Run Derby and All-Star Game are still the main attractions at the MLB All-Star facilities, but the Futures Game continues to grow in popularity.

    The annual prospect showcase gives fans a chance to see some of the sport's future stars on the big stage when minor league representatives from all 30 MLB teams square off in a Team World vs. Team USA format.

    This year's game will be played Sunday at 7 p.m. ET at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

    Ahead, we've taken a crack at predicting the MLB arrival dates for each of the top prospects in this year's game, with any player who appears on the Baseball America Top 100 list included.

    The path to playing time in the majors and current level of development were the driving factors behind each player's projected arrival date.


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    Keibert Ruiz
    Keibert RuizJamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

    U.S. Team

    Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays (BA Prospect Rank: 74)

    Jansen, 23, announced himself as the catcher of the future for the Blue Jays with a breakout 2017 season, and he's backed it up by hitting .288/.411/.474 with seven home runs and 44 RBI at Triple-A this year.

    Russell Martin is still owed a whopping $20 million next season, but the Blue Jays are headed for a retooling, and that could mean the veteran finds himself in a part-time role in the final year of his contract.

    Meanwhile, a late-season debut would position Jansen nicely for a chance to win the starting job next spring, and he'd no doubt benefit from bending Martin's ear on a daily basis.

    ETA: September


    World Team

    Francisco Mejia, Cleveland Indians (BA Prospect Rank: 23)

    There's no question Mejia can hit.

    The 22-year-old sports a .291/.346/.445 line over parts of six minor league seasons, and he made national headlines with a 50-game hitting streak during the 2016 season—the longest streak at the MiLB level in 62 years.

    The question is where he fits defensively. He has a cannon for an arm, but his receiving skills are still rough around the edges, and the Indians have given him regular time in the outfield as a means of expediting his bat to the majors.

    He saw 11 games of action in Cleveland last season and earned a brief call-up earlier this year. It's only a matter of time before he's up for good.

    ETA: August


    Keibert Ruiz, Los Angeles Dodgers (BA Prospect Rank26)

    The Dodgers have an embarrassment of riches at the catcher position.

    Yasmani Grandal is having a strong season with a 116 OPS+ and 12 home runs, while the versatile Austin Barnes posted a 2.6 WAR over just 262 plate appearances last season in a utility role.

    They also count three catching prospects among the organization's top 15, according to MLB.comRuiz (2), Will Smith (9), Connor Wong (14).

    Ruiz might be the best catching prospect in baseball, and he's already playing at the Double-A level in his age-19 season. The impending free agency of Grandal will have a direct impact on his future, but he should be ready for his first MLB action by the second half of next season.

    ETA: 2019, second half

Corner Infielders

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    Ryan Mountcastle
    Ryan MountcastleJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    U.S. Team

    1B Peter Alonso, New York Mets (BA Prospect Rank: 73)

    College players with a first base-only profile often wind up slipping on draft day, and that was the case with Alonso, who went No. 64 overall to the Mets in 2016.

    He's continued to rake since beginning his pro career, though, posting a 1.012 OPS with 15 home runs and 52 RBI in 65 games at Double-A this season to earn an early promotion to Triple-A.

    He's scuffled since moving up with a .171/.330/.368 line in 21 games, but his hit tool and power give him a chance to be an everyday first baseman at the highest level.

    Dominic Smith will likely get the rest of the season to prove himself since the Mets have already fallen out of contention, and he has a top prospect pedigree. But if he continues to struggle, Alonso could be the guy in 2019 and beyond.

    ETA: 2019, second half


    3B Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles (BA Prospect Rank: 63)

    Whether he's traded before the deadline or walks in free agency, Manny Machado won't be playing for the Orioles in 2019.

    With that in mind, the O's could opt to move Tim Beckham back to shortstop next season to open up the everyday third base job for Mountcastle.

    While the 21-year-old didn't have the arm for shortstop, he might be able to hit enough to make it at the hot corner if his .316/.366/.509 line so far this season at Double-A is any indication.

    He's the one position-player prospect in the Baltimore system who looks like a potential everyday player, and he should have little left to prove in the minors by the time the season is over.

    ETA: 2019, first half


    World Team

    1B Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros (BA Prospect Rank: 34)

    Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley are always the first two prospects mentioned when it comes to the Houston system, but Alvarez has quickly emerged as a third elite-level prospect.

    With a strong 6'5", 225-pound frame, it's easy to dream on his middle-of-the-order potential, and he's already putting up strong numbers in the upper levels of the minors.

    The 21-year-old hit .325/.389/.615 with 13 doubles, 12 home runs and 46 RBI in 43 games at Double-A to earn a promotion to Triple-A, and he could join the aforementioned Tucker in Houston before the season is over.

    Yuli Gurriel is entrenched as the everyday first baseman, but Alvarez is also capable of playing both corner outfield spots, so he's not necessarily blocked.

    ETA: September

Middle Infielders

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    Fernando Tatis Jr.
    Fernando Tatis Jr.Andy Hayt/Getty Images

    U.S. Team

    SS Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays (BA Prospect Rank: 5)

    A .362/.423/.565 line and 59 extra-base hits last year as a 19-year-old elevated Bichette to uber-prospect status heading into the 2018 season.

    It also makes his .267/.326/.430 line so far this season at Double-A somewhat disappointing by comparison. There's also a question of where he'll land on the defensive spectrum once he arrives in the majors, though there's still at least some hope he can stick at shortstop.

    Regardless, it's his offensive game that gives him a chance to be a future superstar, and even with his so-so numbers, this year he remains on the fast track. No one is going to block his path once the front office deems him ready for the majors.

    ETA: 2019, second half


    2B Keston Hiura, Milwaukee Brewers (BA Prospect Rank: 33)

    Hiura was billed as having the best hit tool in the 2017 draft class, and he's backed that up by hitting .329/.385/.534 so far over 538 plate appearances as a pro.

    His hit tool would play in the big leagues right now, and he has a chance to be a perennial .300 hitter from the get-go.

    There's the matter of deciding if he slots at second base or in left field, and he's still working to tap into some sneaky raw power, but he left UC Irvine as essentially a finished product.

    With the Brewers contending for a playoff spot and the second base position producing a pedestrian .248/.299/.376 line to date, we'll get bold and say he gets a surprise call-up in the middle of a pennant race.

    ETA: August


    SS Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals (BA Prospect Rank: 56)

    Kieboom has rapidly risen the ranks since going No. 28 overall in the 2016 draft.

    The 20-year-old is already playing at the Double-A level after a quick promotion this season, and he's more than holding his own with a .338/.395/.486 line in his first 18 games.

    The trouble is figuring out where he fits at the big league level.

    Trea Turner is entrenched at shortstop and under control through the 2021 season, while the front office is expected to make every effort to re-sign third baseman Anthony Rendon once he reaches free agency after 2019.

    All of that could mean Kieboom spends more time in the minors than his current trajectory indicates.

    ETA: 2020


    SS Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies (BA Prospect Rank: 14)

    Rodgers hit .336/.373/.567 with 26 doubles and 18 home runs last season while splitting the year between High-A and Double-A.

    Back at the Double-A level to begin the year, he's showing even more over-the-fence power with 17 home runs in his first 349 plate appearances, and all signs point to him being a potential superstar.

    That said, shortstop Trevor Story is enjoying an All-Star season, and second baseman DJ LeMahieu has expressed interest in re-signing in free agency this coming offseason, so there's a bit of a middle infield logjam.

    If the Rockies decide to use Rodgers as a trade chip, he could be in the majors before the season is over. Otherwise, his path to playing time is directly tied to LeMahieu's free agency.

    ETA: 2019, first half


    World Team

    SS Andres Gimenez, New York Mets (BA Prospect Rank: 66)

    Gimenez hit .350/.469/.523 in rookie ball during the 2016 season after landing a $1.2 million bonus as part of the 2015 international free-agent crop.

    He held his own in his full-season debut last year, and he's been even better this year with a .281/.349/.434 line and 28 extra-base hits in 330 plate appearances at High-A.

    With the glove to stick at shortstop and the offensive potential to be a top-of-the-order catalyst, Gimenez could one day be a cornerstone piece for the Mets. For now, it's a matter of patience.

    ETA: 2020


    SS Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres (BA Prospect Rank: 2)

    Freddy Galvis is a free agent at season's end, and it was clear from the moment he was acquired that he was simply keeping the shortstop position warm for Tatis.

    Arguably the biggest breakout prospect of 2017, he hit .278/.379/.498 with 27 doubles, 22 home runs, 75 RBI and 32 stolen bases while reaching Double-A in his age-18 season.

    It's been more of the same back at Double-A, as he sports a .291/.362/.518 line with 22 doubles and 15 home runs in 370 plate appearances.

    Deciding when to start his arbitration clock will be a major factor for the San Diego front office, but he should stake his claim to the starting shortstop job before the All-Star break next season.

    ETA: 2019, first half


    2B Luis Urias, San Diego Padres (BA Prospect Rank: 32)

    With a 70-grade hit tool and nearly as many walks (207) as strikeouts (213) over his 1,906 pro plate appearances, Urias has one of the highest floors of any middle infield prospect.

    Jose Pirela (84 OPS+, 0.3 WAR) and Carlos Asuaje (62 OPS+, -0.1 WAR) are not going to stand in his way once the Padres decide he's ready for the big leagues.

    A second-half audition and an everyday job in 2019 seems like a reasonable expectation.

    ETA: August


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    Alex Kirilloff
    Alex KirilloffBrace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    U.S. Team

    Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels (BA Prospect Rank: 11)

    Adell hit .325/.376/.532 with 24 extra-base hits in 222 plate appearances in rookie ball after going No. 10 overall in the 2017 draft.

    That performance has seemingly put him on the fast track, and he's quickly proved he belongs with a .317/.368/.598 line with 22 doubles, 17 home runs and 64 RBI in 69 games between Single-A and High-A.

    Despite his rapid ascent through the Angels' system, Adell still has some swing-and-miss to his game, and he could have some adjustments to make once he runs into upper-level pitching.

    While a 2020 debut for the 19-year-old seems well within the realm of possibility, it's more likely we won't see him until 2021.

    ETA: 2021


    Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins (BA Prospect Rank: 35)

    The No. 15 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Kirilloff missed the entire 2017 season following Tommy John surgery.

    The 20-year-old is back healthy now, and he's showing why he was such a highly regarded prospect with a .323/.374/.556 line that includes 23 doubles, 14 home runs and 69 RBI in 84 games between Single-A and High-A.

    Despite the time he missed, he hasn't fallen behind the developmental curve.

    The Twins' current outfield of Byron Buxton (2021), Eddie Rosario (2021) and Max Kepler (2021) are under control for the foreseeable future, so there's not a clear path to playing time for Kirilloff.

    That said, the Twins will find a way to get his bat into the lineup once he's ready, whether it's through the use of the DH or by moving someone—likely either Kirilloff or Kepler—to first base.

    ETA: 2020


    Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners (BA Prospect Rank: 55)

    Lewis signed two days after going No. 11 overall in the 2016 draft, but he played just 30 games before suffering a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee in a home-plate collision.

    That injury wound up limiting him to just 49 games last season, and after coming out of college, he's fallen behind the developmental curve a bit as a result.

    That said, the 6'4", 210-pound slugger still has tremendous offensive potential and a prototypical right field profile with a strong arm and plenty of over-the-fence power.

    He's hitting a less-than-stellar .261/.304/.428 with five home runs at High-A Modesto, but as he gets further away from the injury, he could take off at any point.

    ETA: 2020


    Taylor Trammell, Cincinnati Reds (BA Prospect Rank: 20)

    The Reds are a team on the rise, but they're still a few years away from contending.

    As such, they have no reason to rush any of their top prospects to the majors. That includes Trammell, who is starring at the High-A level after a breakout 2017 season.

    The 20-year-old is hitting .301/.397/.430 with 19 extra-base hits and 16 stolen bases, and he may be just scratching the surface of his five-tool potential.

    His baseball acumen has been better than expected after he split his time between baseball and football in high school, so he's not a project by any means, but Cincinnati will likely still bring him along slowly.

    ETA: 2020


    World Team

    Yusniel Diaz, Los Angeles Dodgers (BA Prospect Rank: 51)

    Diaz cost the Dodgers a $15.5 million bonus and matching tax penalty in 2015, and he's starting to show the considerable upside that made him such a touted international prospect.

    The 21-year-old hit .292/.354/.433 with 37 extra-base hits between High-A and Double-A, and he's made significant strides in both his strikeout rate (20.7 to 14.9 percent) and walk rate (9.1 to 14.9 percent) this season.

    While improved plate discipline against upper-level pitching has him knocking on the door, he's behind Alex Verdugo as the next man up for an everyday gig in the Los Angeles outfield. Still, he should be ready for his first taste of the majors at some point next season.

    ETA: 2019, second half


    Jesus Sanchez, Tampa Bay Rays (BA Prospect Rank29)

    After two stellar rookie-ball seasons, Sanchez cemented his place as a top prospect when he hit .305/.348/.478 with 29 doubles, 15 home runs and 82 RBI in a full season at Single-A last year.

    He's picked up right where he left off at High-A Charlotte with a .298/.325/.462 line and 30 extra-base hits in 314 plate appearances, and he's just starting to tap into his raw power.

    There's still room to add strength to his 6'3", 210-pound frame, and he already possesses elite contact skills and solid plate discipline. It'll be a few years before we get a better sense of what the finished product will look like, but the future is incredibly bright for the 20-year-old.

    ETA: 2020


    Leody Taveras, Texas Rangers (BA Prospect Rank: 43)

    Taveras has been the No. 1 prospect in the Texas system the past few seasons based more on his long-term upside than anything he's produced on the field.

    With a 60-grade hit tool, plus speed and the defensive chops to be a standout center fielder, it's easy to see why scouts are so high on the 19-year-old.

    He's hitting a modest .245/.318/.328 with 17 extra-base hits and 12 stolen bases at High-A, and those numbers are remarkably similar to what he posted last year at Single-A.

    Taveras is the type of prospect who could take off abruptly once all of the pieces fall into place. There's a good deal of room between his floor and ceiling, and he's still at least a couple of years away, but he has star potential.

    ETA: 2021

Right-Handed Pitchers

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    Dylan Cease
    Dylan CeaseRon Vesely/Getty Images

    U.S. Team

    Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox (BA Prospect Rank: 94)

    Cease has an elite fastball/curveball combination, and now that he's fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, he's starting to show the upside to be one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.

    The 22-year-old is 10-2 with a 2.95 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 105 strikeouts in 88.1 innings between High-A and Double-A while holding opposing hitters to a .209 average.

    Fellow prospects Michael Kopech, Jordan Stephens and Spencer Adams are also knocking on the door, while young starters Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are already part of the MLB rotation.

    The long-term rotation is still coming together, but Cease should be ready for his shot by this time next year.

    ETA: 2019, second half


    Hunter Greene, Cincinnati Reds (BA Prospect Rank: 31)

    Simply put, Greene has a chance to be a generational talent.

    The 18-year-old is an elite athlete, and he already boasts an 80-grade fastball that he backs with a curveball/changeup pairing that has a chance to be plus as well. There's also still projection remaining in his 6'4", 215-pound frame, so his already plus-plus raw stuff could get even better.

    He got off to a brutal start this season, going 0-3 with a 10.06 ERA and 2.35 WHIP in his first seven starts at Single-A. He's turned a corner, though, with a 2.72 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 10.5 K/9 in his last nine starts.

    The Reds have no reason to rush him, and he'll likely be treated with kid gloves for the next few years.

    ETA: 2021


    Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates (BA Prospect Rank: 12)

    Keller is as polished as any pitching prospect in the game with a three-pitch mix, plus command and the on-field results to back up his long-term potential.

    The 22-year-old dealt with injuries early in his pro career, and he also missed time last season with a back injury, so staying healthy will be the key for him to live up to expectations.

    A strong start to the season at Double-Ahe went 9-2 with a 2.72 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 76 strikeouts in 86 innings—earned him a bump up to Triple-A. The Pirates have no reason to stretch his innings this year, but he should get an opportunity to win a rotation spot next spring.

    ETA: 2019, first half


    Matt Manning, Detroit Tigers (BA Prospect Rank: 53)

    A two-sport standout who could have played collegiate basketball, Manning was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2016 draft as a high-ceiling arm who was lacking polish.

    The 20-year-old has progressed faster than expected since turning his full attention to the diamond, and a dominant start to the season at Single-A earned him a promotion to High-A, where he struck out nine over five scoreless innings in his debut.

    The 6'6", 190-pound right-hander is still working to develop his changeup into a consistent third offering, and he'll need to trim his walk rate (4.5 BB/9), so there's work to be done. But he has the highest ceiling in a Detroit system that features a number of quality arms.

    ETA: 2020


    Kyle Wright, Atlanta Braves (BA Prospect Rank: 37)

    A candidate to go No. 1 overall in the 2017 draft, Wright instead slipped to No. 5 overall, where the Braves added him to an already impressive stable of pitching prospects with an above-slot bonus of $7 million.

    The 22-year-old is already pitching at the Double-A level, where he's gone 5-7 with a 4.10 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 94.1 innings. wrote: "His combination of size, stuff and projectability point to a future frontline starter, one who should move up the Braves' ladder quickly."

    He should get his chance at some point next season.

    ETA: 2019, first half


    World Team

    Jorge Guzman, Miami Marlins (BA Prospect Rank: 85)

    Guzman has a fastball that stacks up to any pitching prospect, as it routinely sits in the triple digits and has been clocked as high as 103 mph.

    The 22-year-old also features a power slider that can be a plus pitch at times, but his overall command is an issue (5.4 BB/9), and his changeup is a below-average third pitch.

    He could put himself on the fast track with a full-time move to the bullpen, where he has closer upside. The rebuilding Marlins will give him every chance to start, though, and that will mean more time in the minors honing his craft.

    ETA: 2019, second half

Left-Handed Pitchers

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    Jesus Luzardo
    Jesus LuzardoChris Carlson/Associated Press

    U.S. Team

    Justus Sheffield, New York Yankees (BA Prospect Rank: 21)

    If there's one notable weakness for the Yankees, it's the starting rotation behind ace Luis Severino and veteran CC Sabathia.

    While they will no doubt kick the tires on some outside additions leading up to the deadline, they also have a number of intriguing arms currently pitching at the Triple-A level, including Sheffield.

    The left-hander is a bit undersized at 6'0", and he has yet to top the 130-inning mark, but he has the strong frame and advanced three-pitch mix to be an impact starter.

    After a stellar showing in the Arizona Fall League (20.1 IP, 3.10 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 22 K), he's pitched to a 2.44 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 95 strikeouts in 85 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. It's only a matter of time before he gets the call.

    ETA: August


    World Team

    Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics (BA Prospect Rank: 19)

    Luzardo has emerged as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball since the Nationals traded him to the A's last summer in the deal that brought Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington.

    The 20-year-old has gone 8-4 with a 2.30 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 99 strikeouts in 78.1 innings between High-A and Double-A, and with three above-average offerings and 60-grade control, he has No. 1 starter upside.

    With Tommy John surgery already on his resume, the A's will likely continue to bring him along slowly. Still, he's expedited his arrival in the big leagues with a breakout performance this year, and a second-half debut next year is not out of the question.

    ETA: 2019, second half


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted, and accurate through July 10.


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