B/R's Updated Top 50 MLB Prospect Rankings at the Three-Quarter Mark
The 2019 MLB season is three-quarters of the way over, and the MiLB regular season will wrap up in less than three weeks.
With several top prospects moving on to the majors and this year's draft crop getting acclimated to life in pro ball, it seems like a good time for an updated look at the league's top 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 tools are often better indicators of what kind of player someone will be.
- Talent: For those in the higher levels of the minors who are close to breaking into the big leagues, production and talent level were the determining factors since 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 big league at-bats for position players, 50 innings 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.
RHP: Jordan Balazovic (MIN), Shane Baz (TB), Hans Crouse (TEX), Justin Dunn (SEA), Jon Duplantier (ARI), Luis Gil (NYY), Spencer Howard (PHI), Jackson Kowar (KC), Corbin Martin (ARI), Triston McKenzie (CLE), Eric Pardinho (TOR), Tony Santillan (CIN), Brady Singer (KC), Kyle Wright (ATL)
LHP: DL Hall (BAL), Anthony Kay (TOR), Matthew Liberatore (TB), Nick Lodolo (CIN), Daniel Lynch (KC), Adrian Morejon (SD), Kyle Muller (ATL), Ryan Rolison (COL), Ryan Weathers (SD)
C: Luis Campusano (SD), Sam Huff (TEX), Sean Murphy (OAK), Keibert Ruiz (LAD), Will Smith (LAD)
1B: Seth Beer (ARI), Nate Lowe (TB), Ryan Mountcastle (BAL), Andrew Vaughn (CWS)
2B: Isan Diaz (MIA), Nick Madrigal (CWS)
3B: Josh Jung (TEX)
SS: Jazz Chisholm (MIA), Oneil Cruz (PIT), Tyler Freeman (CLE), Luis Garcia (WAS), Andres Gimenez (NYM), Jordan Groshans (TOR), Nico Hoerner (CHC), Ronny Mauricio (NYM)
OF: JJ Bleday (MIA), Estevan Florial (NYY), Riley Greene (DET), Trevor Larnach (MIN), Julio Rodriguez (SEA), Jesus Sanchez (MIA), Alek Thomas (ARI)
Graduated since the last update:
- 6. 2B Keston Hiura (MIL)
- 13. LF Austin Riley, (ATL)
- 16. DH Yordan Alvarez, (HOU)
- Next 50: 2B Cavan Biggio (TOR)
- Next 50: LF Josh Naylor (SD)
50. SS Brice Turang, Milwaukee Brewers (A+)
Viewed as a candidate to go No. 1 overall in the 2018 draft heading into his senior season of high school, Turang slipped to No. 21 after an inconsistent spring. Now the top prospect in the Milwaukee system, he's showing an advanced hit tool and the defensive chops to stick at shortstop while facing older competition in his full-season debut.
49. SS CJ Abrams, San Diego Padres (A)
The No. 6 overall pick in this year's draft, Abrams has exploded out of the gate with a .393/.436/.647 line that includes 24 extra-base hits and 15 steals in 34 games. He won't turn 19 until Oct. 3, and he is already at Single-A. He's playing shortstop for now but could wind up at second base or in center field.
48. OF Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals (AA)
One of the breakout prospects of 2019, Carlson began the season as a fringe top-10 prospect in the St. Louis system. The 20-year-old was aggressively promoted to Double-A after posting middling numbers between Single-A and High-A in 2018, and he has responded by batting .283/.366/.523 with 24 doubles, 21 home runs and 18 steals while playing a respectable center field.
47. RHP Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners (AA)
Gilbert was one of the top college arms in the 2018 draft, and he was picked 14th overall by the Mariners after a stellar junior season at Stetson University. He has already reached Double-A in his first pro season, posting a 2.14 ERA with 138 strikeouts in 113.2 innings over three levels thanks to an advanced four-pitch mix and good command. He has No. 2 starter upside and a high floor.
46. RHP Grayson Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles (A)
Signed to a $4.3 million bonus as the No. 11 pick in the 2018 draft, Rodriguez had some of the best stuff from last year's crop of prep arms. His electric four-pitch mix is highlighted by a heavy mid-90s fastball and a plus slider, and his 6'5", 220-pound frame gives him a workhorse profile. In 80.1 innings at Single-A this year, he has racked up 111 strikeouts while posting a 2.69 ERA and a .179 opponents' batting average.
45. RHP Deivi Garcia, New York Yankees (AAA)
While an undersized 5'9", 163-pound frame raises questions about Garcia's ability to handle a starter's workload going forward, his stuff is impossible to ignore. The 20-year-old is pitching at Triple-A after starting the year at High-A. All told, he has a 4.29 ERA with a staggering 147 strikeouts in 98.2 innings. Regardless of his role, he has the stuff to make an impact.
44. 2B Vidal Brujan, Tampa Bay Rays (AA)
The Rays' willingness to trade Nick Solak in July speaks volumes about Brujan as a key cog in their long-term middle infield plans. Brujan, 21, looks like a prototypical lead-off hitter with a 60-grade hit tool and 70-grade speed. He's batting .280/.354/.394 with 23 extra-base hits and 45 steals between High-A and Double-A.
43. SS Marco Luciano, San Francisco Giants (A-)
One of the biggest prizes of the 2018 international free-agent class, Luciano signed with the Giants for $2.6 million. He hit an eye-popping .322/.438/.616 with 10 home runs and eight steals in 38 games in rookie ball before earning a promotion to short-season Salem-Keizer. Still just 17 years old, his lightning-quick bat speed and defensive profile could send him soaring up these rankings with a strong full-season debut in 2020.
42. RHP Hunter Greene, Cincinnati Reds (Injured)
With an 80-grade fastball and rare athleticism on the mound, Greene has a chance to be a generational talent. First, he'll need to get healthy after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April. He's the top prospect in the Cincinnati farm system after Taylor Trammell was traded to San Diego.
41. RHP Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox (Injured)
Another high-octane arm on the comeback trail, Kopech made four starts at the MLB level last season before he underwent Tommy John surgery in September. With a return to health, he could quickly join Lucas Giolito atop the White Sox rotation in 2020.
40. OF Kristian Robinson, Arizona Diamondbacks (A)
With loud offensive tools and a stellar rookie ball debut under his belt, Robinson looked like a prime candidate for a breakout performance heading into 2019. He has not disappointed. The 6'3", 190-pound teenager has huge raw power and plenty of room to pack on more muscle. He hit .319/.407/.558 with 20 extra-base hits in 44 games at Low-A to earn a promotion to Single-A, and he won't turn 19 until December.
39. LHP A.J. Puk, Oakland Athletics (AAA)
After piling up 184 strikeouts in 125 innings in 2017, Puk missed all of 2018 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The 6'7" lefty is still shaking off the rust, but there's a good chance he will join the MLB roster for the stretch run. With a 70-grade fastball and a wipeout slider, he would undoubtedly play up in a relief role, though his future is in the rotation. He has 35 strikeouts in 23.2 innings since returning to action and could get the call at any point.
38. OF Heliot Ramos, San Francisco Giants (AA)
Ramos followed up a torrid pro debut with a pedestrian 2018 season at Single-A, and his stock dipped a bit as a result. He's bounced back in a big way this year, hitting .306/.385/.500 with 18 doubles and 13 home runs in 77 games at High-A to earn an unexpected promotion to Double-A, where he is off to a 5-for-13 start. He's tapping into his plus raw power and showing a more disciplined approach in the process.
37. RHP Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)
With a 3.56 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 103.2 innings at Triple-A this season, Keller has little left to prove in the minors. With an advanced three-pitch arsenal and swing-and-miss stuff, he has shown frontline upside. However, he was knocked around in spring training and has a 7.94 ERA in four MLB starts this season. The 23-year-old needs to prove he can get over the hump.
36. 2B Xavier Edwards, San Diego Padres (A+)
Edwards wasted little time establishing himself as a prospect to watch. After he was picked 38th overall in the 2018 draft, he hit .346/.453/.409 with 22 steals in 45 games in his first pro season. It's been more of the same this season, as he boasts a .337/.391/.411 line with 30 steals in 107 games, and he hasn't missed a beat since earning a promotion to High-A. He'll never hit for much power, but he has the tools to be a high-average, table-setting middle infielder.
35. 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates (AAA)
Still just 22 years old, Hayes has shown the acumen to be a perennial .300 hitter at the next level, and he is still learning to tap into his power. His .251/.328/.404 line at Triple-A this season doesn't jump off the page, especially given the offensive outburst at the level, but he still checks all the necessary boxes to be a two-way standout at the hot corner.
34. SS Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals (Rookie Ball)
It cost the Royals $7.8 million—the third-largest bonus in draft history—to sign Witt, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft. With five-tool upside at a premium defensive position, a baseball bloodline and all the intangibles you would expect from someone who grew up around the game, he has the potential to be a franchise player.
33. RHP Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox (MLB)
After a breakout 2018 season where he posted a 2.40 ERA with 160 strikeouts in 124 innings between High-A and Double-A, Cease claimed a spot in the MLB rotation this season. While the 23-year-old has a 6.00 ERA through six starts, there is still plenty of reason for optimism. His four-pitch mix includes a mid-90s fastball and a hammer curve, and his smooth mechanics should help him have a long big league career.
32. RHP Brusdar Graterol, Minnesota Twins (AA)
Despite missing time to shoulder issues this season, Graterol has continued his emergence as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. The 20-year-old has a 1.82 ERA and .187 opponents' batting average with 49 strikeouts in 49.1 innings at Double-A this year thanks to a 70-grade fastball and wipeout slider, which headline an electric four-pitch mix. Don't be surprised if he reaches the big leagues before the season is over.
31. 2B Luis Urias, San Diego Padres (MLB)
With a 70-grade hit tool and a career .308/.397/.433 line in 2,401 minor league plate appearances, Urias has nothing left to prove in the minors. After a rocky start in the majors, he's hitting .308 with a .419 on-base percentage in 31 plate appearances this month, and the second base job appears to be his going forward. A high batting average and good on-base skills should make him a top-of-the-order threat.
30. RHP Forrest Whitley, Houston Astros (AA)
Viewed as a potential American League Rookie of the Year candidate and the consensus top pitching prospect in baseball at the start of the year, Whitley has been shelled to the tune of an 8.66 ERA with 10 home runs allowed in 44.2 innings this year. His command has regressed, and his stuff has been inconsistent, but when he's at his best, he's dominant. He'll have to chalk up 2019 as a lost season and try to make the necessary adjustments. Still just 21 years old, he has time to figure things out.
29. 3B Nolan Jones, Cleveland Indians (AA)
Jones might have the best on-base skills in minor league baseball with a career .409 on-base percentage and a 17.2 percent walk rate since he was the 55th overall pick in the 2016 draft. He's still working to tap into his solid raw power and honing his skills at third base after manning shortstop in high school. His advanced approach should lead him to the majors in 2020.
28. 3B Nolan Gorman, St. Louis Cardinals (A+)
Hyped as the best raw power prospect in the 2018 draft, Gorman has slugged 32 home runs in 174 games since he was selected 19th overall by the Cardinals. The 19-year-old has been overmatched since he was promoted to High-A, and he has to improve his plate discipline to help offset what will always be a good amount of swing-and-miss. He's undoubtedly one of the top power prospects in baseball.
27. OF Drew Waters, Atlanta Braves (AAA)
Overshadowed in a sea of high-ceiling pitching prospects in the Atlanta system, Waters has turned in a breakout season while reaching Triple-A at the age of 20. The toolsy outfielder is hitting .318/.364/.482 with 52 extra-base hits and 14 steals in 114 games in the upper levels of the minors, and he has shown the athleticism to stick in center field with the arm to man right.
26. RHP Luis Patino, San Diego Padres (AA)
Patino has built on a strong 2018 to emerge as the second-best pitching prospect in the loaded San Diego system, trailing only lefty MacKenzie Gore. Patino, 19, has spent the season at High-A, where he's posted a 2.69 ERA and .192 opponents' batting average with 113 strikeouts in 87 innings. His mechanics need to be smoothed out a bit, and his changeup remains a work in progress, but his power stuff and plus athleticism make for a high ceiling.
25. LHP/DH Brendan McKay, Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)
McKay has made six MLB starts, posting a 4.55 ERA and 3.93 FIP with a brilliant 33-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 29.2 innings. He had a dominant showing in the upper levels of the minors with a 1.15 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 70.2 innings. He'll get some chances to show off his two-way ability, but it's becoming increasingly clear his biggest impact will be made on the mound.
24. RHP Dustin May, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
Already viewed as one of the top pitching prospects in the Dodgers system at the start of the year, May has taken his game to another level in 2019. The 6'6" right-hander has a mid-90s fastball, hard-breaking curveball and a low-90s cutter—all plus pitches—and has also shown some feel for a changeup. The 21-year-old has a 3.18 ERA in two big league starts, and he could be a full-time member of the rotation in 2020.
23. RHP Ian Anderson, Atlanta Braves (AAA)
Now the top pitching prospect in the Atlanta system, Anderson has been aggressively promoted since he was picked third overall in the 2016 draft, and he has been up to the challenge every step of the way. After posting a 2.68 ERA with 147 strikeouts in 111 innings at Double-A to start the year, he was bumped up to Triple-A. A September debut is not out of the question after the Braves called up a number of young arms for the final month last season.
22. OF Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners (AA)
If the New York Mets had a mulligan, Kelenic would still be part of their farm system. The sixth overall pick in the 2018 draft was sent to Seattle in the Robinson Cano-Edwin Diaz blockbuster, and he has shot up prospect lists in his full-season debut. The 20-year-old is already playing at Double-A, and over three minor league levels, he's hitting .302/.375/.538 with 28 doubles, 17 home runs and 18 steals.
21. 3B Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies (AA)
After hitting just .252 with a .659 OPS and zero home runs in 158 plate appearances in his first pro season, Bohm entered 2019 with something to prove. The third pick in the 2018 draft has made those struggles a distant memory with a .308/.376/.532 line that includes 26 doubles and 19 home runs in 106 games over three levels. He's also been better than expected at third base and has a chance to stick there long-term.
20. C Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants (AA)
Bart had his first full season interrupted by a fractured hand in April, and it took him some time to shake off the rust. He's still put together a solid season, though, hitting .261 with a .770 OPS and 12 home runs in 61 games while earning a recent promotion to Double-A. The No. 2 overall pick in 2018 has a chance to be a two-way standout.
19. SS Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals (AAA)
Kieboom struggled in his first taste of MLB action earlier this year, going 5-for-39 with 16 strikeouts before returning to Triple-A. The 21-year-old has continued to rake in the minors, though, and is hitting .311/.413/.522 with 22 doubles, 16 home runs and 75 RBI in 95 games this season. With veteran Brian Dozier on a one-year deal, Kieboom is on track to take over as the starting second baseman next season.
18. RHP Matt Manning, Detroit Tigers (AA)
The Tigers picked Manning ninth overall in the 2016 draft, banking on his athleticism and projectability. The 6'6" right-hander has taken off since turning his full attention to baseball after also excelling on the basketball court in high school. He has a 2.57 ERA and .196 opponents' batting average with 134 strikeouts in 119 innings at Double-A this year, and he looks like the team's future No. 2 starter behind Casey Mize.
17. RHP Sixto Sanchez, Miami Marlins (AA)
The centerpiece of the J.T. Realmuto trade, Sanchez has returned to full health after an injury-plagued 2018 campaign, posting a 2.86 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 96 strikeouts in 104 innings. The undersized 6'0" right-hander has a 75-grade fastball and a pair of above-average off-speed pitches in his changeup and curveball. If he can prove durable, he has all the makings of an ace.
16. 2B/SS Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies (Injured)
Rodgers has raked every step of the way since he was picked third overall in the 2015 draft. The 23-year-old made his MLB debut in May and hit .224/.272/.250 with 27 strikeouts in 76 at-bats. His season ended abruptly with a torn labrum. He'll vie for an everyday role in spring training.
15. OF Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros (AAA)
Tucker fell flat in his first taste of MLB action last season, hitting .141 with 13 strikeouts and just three extra-base hits in 72 plate appearances. The 22-year-old has spent the entire 2019 season at Triple-A, hitting .269/.352/.580 with 24 doubles, 32 home runs and 91 RBI in 108 games. He could push Josh Reddick for the starting right field job next spring.
14. OF Taylor Trammell, San Diego Padres (AA)
The biggest prospect moved at this year's trade deadline, Trammell joins an already loaded San Diego farm system where he immediately becomes the center fielder of the future. The 21-year-old has struggled a bit making the jump to Double-A, hitting .228/.340/.325 with 18 extra-base hits and 19 steals in 105 games. He's still young, and his 14.0 percent walk rate shows he has a plan at the plate. Acquiring him could prove to be a brilliant buy-low move by the Padres.
13. OF Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins (AA)
After hitting .348/.392/.578 with 71 extra-base hits in his return from Tommy John surgery last year, Kirilloff entered the 2019 season as one of baseball's elite offensive prospects. The 21-year-old is batting just .268/.329/.397 with 23 extra-base hits in 76 games at Double-A this year, but his age and track record still give plenty of reason for long-term optimism.
12. C Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles (A-)
Rutschman is hitting just .209/.304/.284 with three extra-base hits in 19 games since signing for a record $8.1 million as the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft. Putting any stock in those numbers would be foolish. After hitting .411/.575/.751 with 17 home runs this spring at Oregon State, it's clear he has the offensive tools to be a star, and his defensive prowess and leadership abilities could make him a franchise cornerstone.
11. SS Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins (AA)
While a .237/.291/.379 line this season at Double-A has knocked Lewis down a few spots in these rankings since the start of the season, it's important to remember that he's still just 20 years old and playing at Double-A. The No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft has the glove to be a plus defender and the offensive skills and speed to be a table-setter for a high-powered Minnesota offense in the not-too-distant future.
10. LHP Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics (A+)
On the heels of a breakout 2017, Luzardo became one of the top pitching prospects in baseball last year with a 2.88 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 129 strikeouts in 109.1 innings. Expected to debut early in 2019, he instead missed significant time with a rotator cuff strain at the end of spring training and then a lat strain in July. In between, he had a 2.22 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 24.1 innings. There's still a chance he could debut in a limited role this season.
9. SS Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays (MLB)
Bichette made his MLB debut on July 29 and is hitting .394/.444/.742 with 11 doubles and four home runs for an MLB-record 15 extra-base hits in his first 15 big league games. He was hitting .288/.355/.485 with 28 extra-base hits in 60 games in the minors before he was promoted, and that might be a better indication of what to expect going forward. Still, thanks to his strong debut, there's an excellent chance he's up for good.
8. RHP Nate Pearson, Toronto Blue Jays (AA)
Still the No. 1 prospect in the Toronto system despite Bichette's torrid start, Pearson has one of the most overpowering arsenals in baseball. With a fastball that has touched 104 mph, a wipeout slider and a solid curveball and changeup, he has punched out 98 batters in 78 innings between High-A and Double-A—with a 0.87 WHIP and .172 BAA to boot. Throw in his solid 6'6", 245-pound frame, and he has all the makings of an ace-caliber workhorse.
7. 2B/SS Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers (AAA)
Statistically speaking, Lux might be having the best season of any top prospect. The 21-year-old is batting .356/.427/.627 with 22 doubles and 24 home runs on the year, and he has annihilated Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .432/.514/.811 line in 35 games. He fits best at second base long-term, and he has pretty clearly forced the team's hand into a call-up for the playoff push.
6. OF Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox (AAA)
After an abridged debut in 2017 and an injury-plagued 2018, we're finally getting a chance to see what all the fuss was about with Robert. Signed to a $26 million bonus with a matching tax penalty in 2017, Robert is hitting .333/.386/.612 with 27 doubles, 24 home runs and 35 steals over three minor league levels. The 22-year-old has a .948 OPS and eight long balls in 28 games at Triple-A, and he'll be among the AL Rookie of the Year favorites in 2020.
5. OF Cristian Pache, Atlanta Braves (AAA)
Already regarded as the best defensive outfielder in minor league baseball, Pache has taken his offensive game to another level. The 20-year-old was aggressively promoted to Double-A to start the year, and he responded by hitting .278/.340/.474 with 28 doubles, eight triples and 11 home runs in 104 games before moving on to Triple-A. Even with average offensive production, he could be a Kevin Kiermaier-type, but there's potential for a lot more.
4. LHP MacKenzie Gore, San Diego Padres (AA)
With a nasty four-pitch repertoire, excellent command and a deceptive delivery, Gore has moved quickly since being selected No. 3 overall in the 2017 draft. The southpaw posted a 1.02 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 79.1 innings over 15 starts at High-A before earning a promotion to Double-A where he has continued to hold his own. He won't turn 21 years old until February, and he could be in the majors by the second half of next season.
3. OF Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels (AAA)
Adell missed time with hamstring and ankle injuries during spring training and didn't make his 2019 debut until May 24. He hit .308/.390/.553 with 23 extra-base hits in 43 games at Double-A upon returning, and he's now playing at Triple-A Salt Lake, despite being just four months removed from his 20th birthday. Depending on what the Angels do with Kole Calhoun's club option and how they decide to handle the service time question, he could break camp with a starting job next spring.
2. RHP Casey Mize, Detroit Tigers (AA)
A shoulder injury in June cost Mize roughly a month, but it hasn't stopped him from emerging as baseball's top pitching prospect. The 22-year-old posted a 0.88 ERA with just 11 hits and five walks allowed in 30.2 innings at High-A to open the year and then threw a no-hitter in his Double-A debut. With a fastball-splitter-slider repertoire that grades out as plus across the board, he could ascend to the top of the Detroit staff by next season.
1. SS Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays (A+)
Franco signed for $3.8 million as part of the 2017 international crop and made his stateside debut last year when he hit .351/.418/.587 with 28 extra-base hits in 61 games to win Appalachian League MVP honors. After turning 18 in March, he made the jump to full-season ball to kick off 2019, and he's been up to the task with a .324/.395/.499 line between Single-A and High-A that includes 42 extra-base hits and more walks (50) than strikeouts (31) in 102 games. He's going to be a special player.