B/R's Top 50 MLB Prospects at 2019 Season's Quarter Mark
We have reached the quarter mark of the 2019 MLB season, and it is time for an updated look at the top 50 prospects in baseball.
These rankings were last updated April 4 when the minor league season was just beginning, so a lot has changed since we last checked in on baseball's next wave of elite talent.
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 those in the higher levels of the minors who are close to breaking into the big leagues, production and current talent level are the determining factors, as the players are viewed as more complete products.
- Eligibility: A player must maintain rookie eligibility to be considered for inclusion. That means fewer than 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 start with 50 players who fell just outside the rankings.
The Next 50
RHP: Michel Baez (SD), J.B. Bukauskas (HOU), Griffin Canning (LAA), Hans Crouse (TEX), Justin Dunn (SEA), Deivi Garcia (NYY), Luis Gil (NYY), Logan Gilbert (SEA), Spencer Howard (PHI), Corbin Martin (HOU), Triston McKenzie (CLE), Eric Pardinho (TOR), Luis Patino (SD), Grayson Rodriguez (BAL), Tony Santillan (CIN), Brady Singer (KC), Touki Toussaint (ATL), Mitchell White (LAD)
LHP: Logan Allen (SD), D.L. Hall (BAL), Matthew Liberatore (TB), Adrian Morejon (SD), A.J. Puk (OAK), Ryan Rolison (COL), Justus Sheffield (SEA), Ryan Weathers (SD)
C: William Contreras (ATL), Andrew Knizner (STL), MJ Melendez (KC), Keibert Ruiz (LAD), Will Smith (LAD)
1B: Nate Lowe (TB), Ryan Mountcastle (BAL)
2B: Cavan Biggio (TOR), Nick Madrigal (CWS)
SS: Jazz Chisholm (ARI), Oneil Cruz (PIT), Xavier Edwards (SD), Luis Garcia (WAS), Tyler Freeman (CLE), Jordan Groshans (TOR), Nico Hoerner (CHC)
3B: Colton Welker (COL)
OF: Estevan Florial (NYY), Khalil Lee (KC), Heliot Ramos (SF), Josh Naylor (SD), Bryan Reynolds (PIT), Travis Swaggerty (PIT), Drew Waters (ATL)
Graduated since Opening Day rankings
- 6. OF Victor Robles, Washington Nationals
- 9. RHP Chris Paddack, San Diego Padres
- 25. OF Alex Verdugo, Los Angeles Dodgers
- 26. C Francisco Mejia, San Diego Padres
- 50. 1B Pete Alonso, New York Mets
- Next 50: C Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays
- Next 50: RHP Josh James, Houston Astros
- Next 50: RHP Dakota Hudson, St. Louis Cardinals
- Next 50: 2B Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
50. RHP Brent Honeywell, Tampa Bay Rays (INJURED)
After missing the entire 2018 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Honeywell dealt with a sore elbow in April and was shut down again earlier this week with a nerve issue in his arm. Prior to the injury, his dynamic five-pitch mix and plus command made him one of baseball's top pitching prospects, and he was knocking on the door for a spot in the MLB rotation.
49. OF Jesus Sanchez, Tampa Bay Rays (AA)
With a career .305/.347/.473 batting line over five minor league seasons, Sanchez can flat-out hit, and he's continued to impress this season as a 21-year-old playing at the Double-A level. There's still untapped power potential in his 6'3", 230-pound frame, and he could develop into a prototypical middle-of-the-order run producer by the time he reaches the majors.
48. OF Kristian Robinson, Arizona Diamondbacks (ROK)
Robinson hit .279/.363/.428 with 19 extra-base hits and 12 steals in 57 rookie ball games last season, and he didn't turn 18 until December. While most guys his age were either playing high school ball or training in the Dominican Summer League, he was already starring in stateside pro ball. The precocious outfielder could fly up these rankings in 2019.
47. RHP Hunter Greene, Cincinnati Reds (INJURED)
After a shaky start to 2018, Greene settled in nicely with a 2.63 ERA, .195 BAA and 63 strikeouts in 51.1 innings over his final 11 appearances in Single-A. Unfortunately, his season ended prematurely with an arm injury in July. After trying the rest and rehab route, he underwent Tommy John surgery in April. His 80-grade fastball, potentially plus offspeed stuff and elite athleticism still give him as high a ceiling as any pitching prospect in the game.
46. SS Andres Gimenez, New York Mets (AA)
Gimenez doesn't turn 21 until September, and he's already playing at Double-A. That makes his less-than-stellar .258/.313/.392 line to open the season a little easier to overlook since he's one of the youngest players at the level. With a plus glove and a 60-grade hit tool, all signs indicate he'll join Amed Rosario up the middle in New York for years to come.
45. RHP Dustin May, Los Angeles Dodgers (AA)
May is now the consensus No. 1 pitching prospect in a Dodgers system that has done a nice job of developing top-tier arms over the years. The 6'6", 180-pound right-hander has four pitches that profile as average or better at the next level, including a heavy fastball that touches 97 mph and a hammer curveball. He has a 1.14 WHIP with 43 strikeouts in 37.2 innings at Double-A and could be ready for the big leagues by 2020.
44. OF Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners (A)
The Mariners added several intriguing young pieces to the farm system during the offseason, including Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn, who were among our "Next 50" prospects. That said, Kelenic looks like the best of the bunch. The 19-year-old went No. 6 overall in last year's draft. After an impressive debut, he has picked up right where he left off with a .314/.404/.550 line and 20 extra-base hits in 36 games at Single-A.
43. 3B Nolan Jones, Cleveland Indians (A+)
Plate discipline continues to be the calling card for Jones as he grows into his 6'4", 185-pound frame and works to tap into his raw power. The 21-year-old posted a .405 on-base percentage and a 17.1 percent walk rate last year, and he's getting on base at a .429 clip with an 18.4 percent walk rate this season at High-A. He slugged 19 home runs last season and has 25-homer upside at the next level.
42. RHP Jon Duplantier, Arizona Diamondbacks (AAA)
The Diamondbacks have called up Duplantier on two occasions already this season, and he's responded with a 2.25 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 12 strikeouts in 12 innings over five relief appearances. While multi-inning reliever has been his role to this point, his future is in the rotation. As long as he stays healthy, his polished four-pitch mix and ability to keep hitters off balance give him No. 2 starter upside.
41. C Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics (AAA)
After missing significant time last season with a broken right hamate bone, Murphy is on the shelf again, this time with a torn meniscus. He was hitting .324/.402/.459 with seven extra-base hits in 19 games at the time of the injury, and he is widely regarded as one of the best defensive catching prospects in baseball. If he can shake the injury bug, he checks all the boxes to be a franchise catcher in Oakland.
40. RHP Brusdar Graterol, Minnesota Twins (AA)
Graterol has laid waste to the opposition at Double-A this season with a 1.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and a .170 batting average against (BAA) over 42.2 innings. With a strong frame and an electric fastball-slider combination, it's easy to envision him as the co-ace to Jose Berrios in Minnesota. The further development of his changeup may determine how quickly he reaches the big leagues.
39. IF Michael Chavis, Boston Red Sox (MLB)
Chavis has burst onto the scene in Boston, hitting .296/.406/.580 with seven home runs and 21 RBI in 22 games. Nothing sends a prospect soaring up leaguewide rankings like success at the MLB level. His long-term defensive future remains something of a question mark, but as long as he keeps hitting, he'll find his way into the lineup.
38. LHP/1B Brendan McKay, Tampa Bay Rays (AA)
It might be time for McKay to turn his full attention to pitching. After hitting .214 last year and suffering an oblique injury swinging the bat, he's batting just .167/.253/.194 in 83 plate appearances this season. Meanwhile, he continues to dominate on the mound. The polished left-hander has a 1.82 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 29.2 innings in his first taste of Double-A action.
37. 3B Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies (A+)
Massive raw power made Bohm one of the top college hitters in the 2018 draft, and the Phillies grabbed him with the No. 3 overall pick. He has put a lackluster debut in the rearview with a strong start to the 2019 campaign, hitting .345/.401/.561 with 19 extra-base hits in 36 games between Single-A and High-A. On top of his offensive production, he has been better than advertised defensively at third base.
36. OF Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners (A)
After signing for $1.75 million as one of the top international prospects in the 2017 class, Rodriguez hit .315/.404/.525 with 27 extra-base hits and 10 steals in his pro debut last year in the Dominican Summer League. He made the jump to Single-A this season and was hitting .355/.444/.452 through nine games before suffering a hairline fracture in his left hand. Few teenage prospects have more offensive upside.
35. RHP Kyle Wright, Atlanta Braves (AAA)
With a strong 6'4" frame and four above-average pitches, Wright has the upside to emerge as the best of the bunch from a loaded crop of Atlanta pitching prospects. The 23-year-old has struggled in the early going this season with 39 hits and 30 earned runs allowed in 37.2 innings between Triple-A and the MLB rotation. He gets the benefit of the doubt for now but will need to pick it up soon.
34. 2B Luis Urias, San Diego Padres (AAA)
Promoted to the majors April 8 and expected to hold down a regular spot on the infield, Urias went just 2-for-24 with 11 strikeouts before he was returned to the minors. That's likely just a bump in the road for one of the best pure hitters in the minors. The 21-year-old is hitting .350/.430/.810 at Triple-A, and his 11 home runs have already exceeded the eight he hit last year in 533 plate appearances.
33. RHP Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates (AAA)
One of the biggest surprises of spring training was that Keller got absolutely shelled in Pirates camp. The 23-year-old allowed 10 hits and 10 earned runs in four innings of work, serving up three home runs and striking out just one. He's back to looking like one of baseball's best pitching prospects at Triple-A, using his advanced three-pitch mix to post a 3.83 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 40 innings. He should debut at some point in 2019.
32. RHP Sixto Sanchez, Miami Marlins (AA)
The prize of the offseason trade that sent J.T. Realmuto to Philadelphia, Sanchez has the stuff to be the future ace of the rebuilding Marlins staff. A 75-grade fastball and an above-average changeup-curveball combination, coupled with his undersized 6'0" frame, have led to some Pedro Martinez comparisons. That's extremely high praise.
31. SS Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals (AAA)
While Kieboom homered in his MLB debut April 26, he went just 5-for-39 with 16 strikeouts in 11 games before he was optioned back to Triple-A. Rest assured that he'll be back thanks to some of the most MLB-ready offensive tools of any prospect. The 21-year-old is hitting .341/.491/.598 with nearly as many walks (22) as strikeouts (23) at Triple-A, so he has nothing left to prove in the minors.
30. 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates (AAA)
Hayes turned heads this spring when he went 12-for-34 with four doubles, one triple and three home runs before being optioned to Triple-A. The 22-year-old has a 60-grade hit tool and is starting to grow into his power potential. Throw in his plus defensive skills at the hot corner, and he looks like a future franchise cornerstone in Pittsburgh.
29. 2B/SS Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers (AA)
After a lackluster full-season debut, Lux was one of the breakout prospects of 2018. The No. 20 pick in the 2016 draft hit .324/.399/.514 with 50 extra-base hits in 524 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A. He has played primarily shortstop as a pro, but his MLB future is at second base where he has a chance to solve what has been a revolving door for the Dodgers for several years.
28. RHP Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox (INJURED)
Arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball when he made his MLB debut Aug. 21 last season, Kopech made just four starts before his season abruptly ended with an arm injury that required Tommy John surgery. He'll spend 2019 watching from the sidelines, but assuming his high-octane stuff returns post-injury, he'll again be one of baseball's most promising young arms in 2020.
27. C Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants (A+)
Bart followed up a standout junior season at Georgia Tech by posting a .952 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 51 games in his pro debut after going No. 2 overall in the 2018 draft. The 22-year-old has standout skills on both sides of the ball and could develop into a perennial All-Star. After hitting .270/.341/.541 over his first 10 games this season, he suffered a fractured hand that will likely keep him sidelined through the end of May.
26. OF Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros (AAA)
While Tucker crushed Triple-A pitching last season, he hit just .141/.236/.203 in 72 plate appearances at the MLB level. He continues to show plus power with 11 home runs in 35 games back at Triple-A this season, but his strikeout rate has spiked from 18.1 to 23.8 percent and his OPS has dropped from .989 to .875, which has caused him to slide a bit in these rankings.
25. RHP Ian Anderson, Atlanta Braves (AA)
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Anderson reached Double-A last season as a 20-year-old and posted a combined 2.49 ERA with 142 strikeouts in 119.1 innings over two minor league levels. A case can be made that he has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in a stacked Braves system, but his command has been spotty in the early going this year, as his walk rate has spiked from 3.7 to 7.1 BB/9. Is that a blip on the radar or a sign of something bigger?
24. 3B Nolan Gorman, St. Louis Cardinals (A)
Roughly 11 months after Gorman went No. 19 overall to the Cardinals, there is only one prospect from the 2018 draft class slotted ahead of him in these rankings. His 60-grade power was on full display from the get-go as he posted a .949 OPS with 17 home runs in 63 games while earning an aggressive promotion to Single-A last year. He's going to strike out a decent amount, but he has enough of a hit tool to think he can develop into a middle-of-the-order force.
23. RHP Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox (AAA)
Cease was the other top prospect acquired along with Eloy Jimenez in the deal that sent Jose Quintana from the White Sox to the Cubs at the 2017 deadline. He has quickly emerged as one of the most promising young arms in baseball. After posting a 2.40 ERA with 160 strikeouts in 124 innings last season, he's throwing well at Triple-A and could be called on shortly to help an injury-plagued White Sox staff.
22. OF Taylor Trammell, Cincinnati Reds (AA)
The Reds went way above slot to sign Trammell for a $3.2 million bonus as the No. 35 overall pick in the 2016 draft, using the savings they gained signing Nick Senzel below slot at No. 2 overall. Trammell is as impressive an athlete as any prospect in baseball, and he's shown a far more polished approach than expected with a 12.3 percent walk rate and a .374 on-base percentage in the minors.
21. RHP Matt Manning, Detroit Tigers (AA)
Manning has developed faster than expected after splitting his time between baseball and basketball in high school. The 21-year-old who went No. 9 in the 2016 draft is already pitching at Double-A, where he has dominated with a 2.40 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, .161 BAA and 55 strikeouts in 41.1 innings. Cleaner mechanics and improved command have sent his stock soaring.
20. OF Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros (AAA)
No offensive prospect has been more impressive than Alvarez in 2019. The 21-year-old is hitting a ridiculous .403/.493/.860 with 14 doubles, 15 home runs and 47 RBI in 35 games at Triple-A. His 6'5", 225-pound frame always made for tantalizing power potential, and he seems to be fully tapping into that now. Adding him to an offense that is already the best in baseball is a scary proposition for the rest of the league.
19. 3B/OF Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves (MLB)
After hitting .299/.377/.681 with 15 home runs in 37 games at Triple-A, Riley made his MLB debut Wednesday and crushed a 438-foot bomb in his second at-bat. A third baseman by trade, he'll play left field for the time being with Josh Donaldson blocking his path after he signed a one-year deal during the offseason. It's clear his bat will play anywhere.
18. RHP Nate Pearson, Toronto Blue Jays (AA)
A late riser in the 2017 draft, Pearson ended up going No. 28 overall to the Blue Jays. His fastball touched 104 mph during the Arizona Fall League, and he has improved his command and further refined his curveball and changeup. The 6'6" right-hander has been virtually untouchable this season, posting a 0.64 ERA, 0.54 WHIP and .126 BAA with a 46-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 28 innings. That has sent him skyrocketing from "Next 50" to top 20.
17. OF Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox (AA)
Robert hit .453/.512/.920 with 16 extra-base hits in 19 games to start the season at High-A and earned a promotion to Double-A. The five-tool potential that convinced the White Sox to hand him a $26 million bonus that came with a matching tax penalty is still present, and he's moving quickly toward his superstar potential.
16. OF Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins (AA)
The No. 15 pick in the 2016 draft, Kirilloff returned from a 2017 season that was lost to Tommy John surgery to hit .348/.392/.578 with 44 doubles, 20 home runs and 101 RBI in his full-season debut. The 21-year-old is now considered one of the best offensive prospects in baseball, and he could be the next homegrown player to make a major impact in Minnesota.
15. OF Cristian Pache, Atlanta Braves (AA)
Pache is a Gold Glove-caliber defender in center field who MLB.com wrote "might be the best defensive outfielder in the minor leagues" at the start of the year. Now his offensive game is catching up to his glove, and that has sent his stock soaring. The 20-year-old is hitting .280/.338/.477 with 16 extra-base hits in 35 games in his Double-A debut, and he is just scratching the surface.
14. LHP Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics (INJURED)
After a dominant 2018 season during which he posted a 2.88 ERA with 129 strikeouts in 109.1 innings, Luzardo looked like a candidate to break camp with a spot in the Oakland rotation this spring after he posted a 0.93 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 9.2 innings. Instead, he suffered a left shoulder strain late in camp that has delayed the start of his 2019 campaign. Once he's back up to speed, he'll be on the fast track to the top of the MLB rotation.
13. SS Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays (AAA)
Bichette might never match the absurd .362/.423/.565 line he posted during his full-season debut between Single-A and High-A in 2017, and that's fine. He still has the offensive tools to be a star in Toronto. Even in a "down" year last year, he racked up 61 extra-base hits and 32 steals as a 20-year-old at Double-A. He's become a victim of his own success to a point, and he's currently dealing with a broken left hand, but his future remains incredibly bright.
12. IF Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies (MLB)
The Rockies' second base position was producing next to nothing at the MLB level, and Rodgers was hitting .356/.421/.644 with 20 extra-base hits in 35 games at Triple-A. It was only a matter of time before Colorado's top prospect got the call. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft will make his MLB debut Friday, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, and he can make an instant impact for the Rockies.
11. RHP Forrest Whitley, Houston Astros (AAA)
What's wrong with Forrest Whitley? The consensus top pitching prospect in baseball heading into the season has been shelled to the tune of a 10.80 ERA and .307 BAA through his first 18.1 innings at Triple-A. With an electric four-pitch repertoire and a 6'7" frame that makes it seem like he's releasing the ball on top of hitters, we'll still bet he'll figure it out.
10. IF/OF Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds (MLB)
If not for a fractured finger that required season-ending surgery in June, Senzel almost certainly would have made his MLB debut last season. The 23-year-old has a 65-grade hit tool and the complementary skills to be a well-rounded contributor offensively and defensively. An infielder by trade, he is stationed in center field for the time being and hitting .235/.316/.471 with three home runs in 58 plate appearances through 12 big league games.
9. 2B Keston Hiura, Milwaukee Brewers (MLB)
Hiura won Arizona Fall League MVP and then exploded out the gate in 2019 with a .333/.408/.698 line at Triple-A that included 12 doubles and 11 home runs in 37 games. He went 2-for-3 in his MLB debut Tuesday and could be up for good as the Brewers' everyday second baseman. With a 70-grade hit tool and 60-grade power, he immediately becomes one of the top offensive players at the position.
8. LHP MacKenzie Gore, San Diego Padres (A+)
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 draft after he won Gatorade Player of the Year honors as a high school senior, Gore is as polished as any prep pitcher in recent memory. The 20-year-old has four plus pitches and excellent command of his entire repertoire, and he has stifled the competition at High-A with a 1.22 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, .152 BAA and a 52-7 K/BB ratio in 37 innings. A 2020 debut is not out of the question.
7. SS Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins (A+)
With Hunter Greene and MacKenzie Gore on the board as potential No. 1 overall picks, the Twins instead selected Lewis at No. 1 in the 2017 draft. Two years later, he is one of baseball's top prospects. The 19-year-old hit .292/.352/.451 with 46 extra-base hits and 28 steals between Single-A and High-A last season to enter the upper echelon of prospects leaguewide. He's off to a slow start at High-A with a .234 average and .630 OPS, but he won't turn 20 until June 5, so he's still well ahead of the developmental curve.
6. OF Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels (INJURED)
Seemingly in the blink of an eye, Adell went from toolsy outfielder with intriguing raw talent to one of the most well-rounded prospects in baseball. The 20-year-old hit .290/.355/.543 with 32 doubles and 20 home runs last season while reaching Double-A, and he has all the makings of a five-tool outfielder. Unfortunately, hamstring and ankle injuries have delayed the start of his 2019 season, but that has done nothing to dim his prospect star.
5. RHP Casey Mize, Detroit Tigers (AA)
The No. 1 overall pick last June began his first full pro season by posting a 0.35 ERA with only seven hits and one walk allowed in 26 innings over his first four starts at High-A. That earned him an early promotion, and he tossed a no-hitter in his first Double-A start. He's looked slightly more human since but still has a 1.24 ERA, 0.53 WHIP and .130 BAA in 50.2 innings between High-A and Double-A this season. A 2020 debut has almost become a foregone conclusion.
4. SS Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays (A)
Who will take over as baseball's No. 1 prospect once the trio of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eloy Jimenez exhaust their prospect status? It may well be Franco, who is only a few months removed from his 18th birthday and is already playing at Single-A. Across 33 games, he's hit .305/.396/.525 with 15 extra-base hits. With a 70-grade hit tool and above-average skills across the board, he has a chance to be the best homegrown talent in Rays history.
3. OF Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox (MLB)
With 70-grade power and the hit tool to be far more than just an all-or-nothing slugger, Jimenez is the centerpiece of the White Sox's rebuilding efforts. After demolishing upper minors pitching last season, he signed a six-year, $43 million extension during spring training and broke camp on the MLB roster. He hit .241/.294/.380 with three home runs in 21 games before missing time with an ankle sprain and is currently on a rehab assignment at Triple-A.
2. SS Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres (MLB)
The Padres made the surprise decision to include Tatis on their Opening Day roster, and he looked like a star both offensively (.910 OPS, 5 2B, 6 HR) and defensively (3 DRS) in his first 27 games before a hamstring injury landed him on the injured list. He could return to action sometime next week and get back to building his case for NL Rookie of the Year honors.
1. 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (MLB)
No, a 6-for-41 start in the majors did not drop Guerrero from the No. 1 prospect spot. Not even close. He's gone 6-for-13 in his last four games, including a two-homer performance Tuesday, and he's just getting started. You don't hit .381/.437/.636 as a 19-year-old like he did across four levels last year by accident. He's a superstar in the making and a generational talent.