B/R's Top 100 MLB Prospects at the Start of the 2020 Season
With the 2020 MLB season finally set to begin, it's time to establish our top 100 prospects for the year, even with no minor league baseball on the horizon.
Many of these names are part of their team's 60-player roster pool, and several could see the majors before 2020 comes to a close. For others, they'll have to wait until 2021 to continue on the developmental path.
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 no more 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: Matthew Allan (NYM), Justin Dunn (SEA), Tony Gonsolin (LAD), Jared Kelley (CWS), George Kirby (SEA), Bryan Mata (BOS), Max Meyer (MIA), Francisco Morales (PHI), Tahnaj Thomas (PIT), Logan Webb (SF), Bryse Wilson (ATL)
LHP: Garrett Crochet (CWS), Tucker Davidson (ATL), Reid Detmers (LAA), Brailyn Marquez (CHC), Adrian Morejon (SD), Ryan Rolison (COL)
C: Francisco Alvarez (NYM), Miguel Amaya (CHC), William Contreras (ATL), Ivan Herrera (STL), Shea Langeliers (ATL), Tyler Stephenson (CIN)
1B: Seth Beer (ARI), Ryan Mountcastle (BAL)
2B: Nick Solak (TEX)
3B: Brett Baty (NYM), Bobby Dalbec (BOS), Kody Hoese (LAD), Jonathan India (CIN), Isaac Paredes (DET)
SS: Jose Garcia (CIN), Ed Howard (CHC), Greg Jones (TB), Orelvis Martinez (TOR), Robert Puason (OAK), Liover Peguero (PIT), Brice Turang (MIL)
OF: Jordyn Adams (LAA), Alexander Canario (SF), Corbin Carroll (ARI), Brennen Davis (CHC), Monte Harrison (MIA), Robert Hassell lll (SD), Austin Hendrick (CIN), Kyle Lewis (SEA), Josh Lowe (TB), Garrett Mitchell (MIL), Leody Taveras (TEX), George Valera (CLE)
91. RHP Brady Singer, KC
92. RHP Jhoan Duran, MIN
93. SS Tyler Freeman, CLE
94. C Sam Huff, TEX
95. RHP Jackson Kowar, KC
96. RHP Alek Manoah, TOR
97. OF Brandon Marsh, LAA
98. RHP Edward Cabrera, MIA
99. OF Heston Kjerstad, BAL
100. SS Geraldo Perdomo, ARI
The Kansas City Royals added both Brady Singer (No. 18) and Jackson Kowar (No. 33) in the 2018 draft, and they are two of the headliners of a stacked crop of pitching talent in their farm system.
Catcher Sam Huff (.845 OPS, 28 HR, 72 RBI at A/A+), right-hander Jhoan Duran (3.76 ERA, 136 K, 115 IP at A+/AA) and right-hander Edward Cabrera (2.23 ERA, 116 K, 96.2 IP at A+/AA) were among the biggest breakout prospects of 2019, while Alek Manoah shot up draft boards with a strong spring to go No. 11 overall in the 2019 draft.
Brandon Marsh has developed in the shadow of Jo Adell, and Tyler Freeman has developed in the shadow of Nolan Jones, but both have a chance to be an impact player in his own right. Freeman looks like the future replacement for Francisco Lindor at shortstop.
The Orioles surprised more than a few people when they took Heston Kjerstad with the No. 2 overall pick in June. His raw power stacks up against anyone in the 2020 draft, but will he outperform guys like Austin Martin and Asa Lacy?
The D-backs felt comfortable trading Jazz Chisholm thanks in large part to the emergence of Geraldo Perdomo, who hit .275 with a .397 on-base percentage as a 19-year-old in his full-season debut.
81. LHP Kyle Muller, ATL
82. SS Jordan Groshans, TOR
83. C Luis Campusano, SD
84. 3B Josh Jung, TEX
85. SS Ronny Mauricio, NYM
86. RHP Joe Ryan, TB
87. 1B Triston Casas, BOS
88. SS Nick Gonzales, PIT
89. RHP Clarke Schmidt, NYY
90. RHP Simeon Woods Richardson, TOR
Kyle Muller will need to improve on a 5.5 BB/9 walk rate to climb any higher in these rankings. Jordan Groshans also has something to prove after a foot injury limited him to just 23 games in a Single-A debut that saw him post a .909 OPS in 96 plate appearances.
As if the San Diego Padres farm system wasn't already stacked, Luis Campusano vaulted himself into the top prospect picture by hitting .325/.396/.509 with 31 doubles, 15 home runs and 81 RBI at High-A.
Josh Jung (No. 8 pick in 2019) and Nick Gonzales (No. 7 pick in 2020) were both highly productive college players with the overall polish to move quickly through the minors. Expect them to be among the first players to reach the majors from their respective classes.
Ronny Mauricio held his own last year as an 18-year-old at Single-A. The Mets like to aggressively push their top prospects, and he has the best package of tools in the system.
Right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson was a member of the Mets farm system until he was included in last summer's blockbuster trade for Marcus Stroman. The 19-year-old has already shown flashes of delivering on his extremely projectable upside.
Right-hander Joe Ryan might have been the biggest out-of-nowhere breakout prospect of 2019. A seventh-round pick in 2018, he posted a 1.96 ERA and 0.84 WHIP with 183 strikeouts in 123.2 innings over three minor league levels, closing out the year at Double-A.
Triston Casas and Clarke Schmidt have a chance to be significant members of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in the years to come. Casas had an .830 OPS with 20 home runs and 81 RBI in his first full pro season, while Schmidt is now fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and showing the frontline stuff that convinced the Yankees to roll the dice on him at No. 16 overall in 2017.
71. 2B Jeter Downs, BOS
72. 2B Xavier Edwards, TB
73. 1B Evan White, SEA
74. LHP Daniel Lynch, KC
75. RHP Emerson Hancock, SEA
76. RHP Deivi Garcia, NYY
77. C Keibert Ruiz, LAD
78. RHP Shane Baz, TB
79. SS Noelvi Marte, SEA
80. OF Trevor Larnach, MIN
Jeter Downs (LAD to BOS) and Xavier Edwards (SD to TB) were both traded during the offseason. Downs looks like the future at second base in Boston, while Edwards went from one crowded middle infield situation to another. With Will Smith looking like the catcher of the present and future for the Dodgers, could Keibert Ruiz also be on the move soon?
The Mariners inked Evan White to a six-year, $24 million extension in November, despite the fact that he has yet to make his MLB debut. With a polished bat and a high floor, it looks like a solid investment for the rebuilding club. Trevor Larnach has a similar profile as a polished college standout who has little left to prove in the minors—he just doesn't have a clear path to playing time in Minnesota.
Daniel Lynch has the highest ceiling among the Royals' haul of pitching prospects from the 2018 draft. The 6'6" left-hander had a 2.99 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 96.1 innings last season while reaching High-A.
Emerson Hancock has as much upside as any pitcher in the 2020 draft, Deivi Garcia has electric stuff regardless of whether he sticks as a starter or winds up in the bullpen, and Shane Baz could eventually make the Chris Archer-to-Pittsburgh trade look even worse for the Pirates.
Among the current crop of teenage prospects, Noelvi Marte has announced himself as one to watch after hitting .309/.371/.511 with 31 extra-base hits and 17 steals in 65 games in his pro debut last year.
61. 2B Nick Madrigal, CWS
62. RHP Kyle Wright, ATL
63. SS Jazz Chisholm, MIA
64. RHP Hunter Greene, CIN
65. 2B Vidal Brujan, TB
66. RHP Josiah Gray, LAD
67. OF Zac Veen, COL
68. LHP Shane McClanahan, TB
69. RHP Jordan Balazovic, MIN
70. SS Oneil Cruz, PIT
Nick Madrigal and Kyle Wright both have a chance to make a significant impact for their clubs in 2020. Madrigal was essentially an MLB-ready second baseman from the moment he was drafted, and Wright is squarely in the mix for a spot in the Atlanta rotation.
A healthy Hunter Greene could quickly regain his status as one of the game's most dynamic pitching prospects. The 20-year-old missed the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Josiah Gray (2.28 ERA, 147 K, 130 IP at A/A+/AA), Shane McClanahan (3.36 ERA, 154 K, 120.2 IP) and Jordan Balazovic (2.69 ERA, 129 K, 93.2 IP) all enjoyed breakout 2019 seasons and could continue to move up these rankings with strong follow-up performances.
Second baseman Vidal Brujan has one of the best hit tools in the minors and the 70-grade speed to be an impact table-setter. On the other hand, Jazz Chisholm has a questionable hit tool, but loud raw power and the defensive skills to be an above-average shortstop.
Zac Veen was the best five-tool talent in the 2020 draft and a potential steal at No. 9 overall.
Despite his 6'7" frame, Oneil Cruz has managed to stick at shortstop to this point in his pro career, and he has huge offensive upside. The 21-year-old posted an .832 OPS with 27 extra-base hits in 73 games last season while playing his way to Double-A.
51. OF Jasson Dominguez, NYY
52. LHP DL Hall, BAL
53. RHP Jose Urquidy, HOU
54. C/OF Daulton Varsho, ARI
55. RHP Mitch Keller, PIT
56. OF Jesus Sanchez, MIA
57. 2B Nico Hoerner, CHC
58. 3B Nolan Gorman, STL
59. RHP Brusdar Graterol, LAD
60. LHP Nick Lodolo, CIN
It's hard to rank Jasson Dominguez inside the top 50 when he is still just 17 years old and has yet to play a professional game. That said, there's a reason he's drawn comparisons to Bo Jackson, Mickey Mantle and Mike Trout, according to MLB.com.
Jose Urquidy, Mitch Keller, Nico Hoerner and Brusdar Graterol all received a taste of MLB action in 2019, and all four players could make an impact in 2020. Urquidy and Keller are solid bets to win rotation spots, Hoerner is in the mix for the starting second base job, and the hard-throwing Graterol could serve as a multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen while he awaits an opportunity in the rotation.
Left-hander DL Hall looked like a steal at the time when he slipped to No. 21 overall in the 2017 draft, and thanks to an uptick in velocity and improvement in his secondary stuff, he's well on his way to outperforming his draft position. Likewise, slugger Nolan Gorman fell to No. 19 in the 2018 draft, and his 60-grade power has made him an elite prospect.
Nick Lodolo posted a 2.45 ERA with 30 strikeouts and zero walks in 18.1 innings in his pro debut last year after going No. 7 overall as the first pitcher selected in the 2019 draft. He should move quickly.
Catcher Daulton Varsho has the athleticism to move to second base or center field if the D-backs are locked into Carson Kelly as the long-term catcher, and his bat will play out of the crouch.
Jesus Sanchez has seemingly been part of the top prospect conversation forever, but he's still just 22 years old. The trade that sent him from Tampa Bay to Miami last summer should help expedite his arrival in the majors.
41. RHP Logan Gilbert, SEA
42. RHP Spencer Howard, PHI
43. C Sean Murphy, OAK
44. 3B Nolan Jones, CLE
45. SS Marco Luciano, SF
46. OF Riley Greene, DET
47. OF JJ Bleday, MIA
48. LHP Tarik Skubal, DET
49. OF Alek Thomas, ARI
50. LHP Asa Lacy, KC
Logan Gilbert looks like the future ace of the Seattle staff after a dominant 2019 season in which he went 10-5 with a 2.13 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 165 strikeouts in 135 innings over three levels. He closed out the season at Double-A and could be knocking on the door in 2021.
Spencer Howard is also close to MLB-ready after piling up 94 strikeouts in 71 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .173 batting average last year. The 23-year-old ended the year with six starts at Double-A.
Outfielders Riley Greene (No. 5 pick in 2019) and JJ Bleday (No. 4 pick in 2019) have very different offensive profiles. Greene is a polished prep hitter with an advanced hit tool and gap power, while Bleday was a college standout with a power-centric game. For now, they are linked by their proximity in the 2019 draft order.
Tarik Skubal went from off the top prospect radar entirely to top-50 prospect status with a breakout 2019. A ninth-round pick in 2018, he showed four plus pitches while tallying 179 strikeouts in 122.2 innings between High-A and Double-A.
The Athletics have effectively handed starting catcher duties over to Sean Murphy after his strong debut last year, Nolan Jones is an on-base machine with a .409 OBP and 17.3 percent walk rate in his minor league career, and Alek Thomas looks like a future leadoff hitter and standout center fielder in Arizona.
Big left-handed pitchers with power stuff and starting pitcher profiles don't grow on trees, making Asa Lacy one of the 2020 draft's elite prospects. James Paxton is a reasonable comparison in terms of size and stuff.
Marco Luciano has a chance to be one of the top prospects in all of baseball in a few years if he can continue on his current developmental path. He made his pro debut stateside last year and hit .302/.417/.564 with 13 doubles and 10 home runs in 47 games.
31. RHP Michael Kopech, CWS
32. 3B Carter Kieboom, WAS
33. SS CJ Abrams, SD
34. 1B Andrew Vaughn, CWS
35. OF Heliot Ramos, SF
36. RHP Grayson Rodriguez, BAL
37. OF Taylor Trammell, SD
38. SS/OF Austin Martin, TOR
39. 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes, PIT
40. LHP Matthew Liberatore, STL
Michael Kopech was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball when he made his MLB debut on Aug. 21, 2018. He lasted four starts before an arm injury forced him to the sidelines and eventually required Tommy John surgery. Now, he needs to prove healthy before ranking any higher.
CJ Abrams hit .393/.436/.647 with 24 extra-base hits and 15 steals after going No. 6 overall in the 2019 draft, while Andrew Vaughn posted an .832 OPS with 23 extra-base hits in 55 games while reaching High-A as the No. 3 overall pick. Vaughn could be the White Sox starting first baseman in 2021.
With Anthony Rendon departing in free agency and Trea Turner locked in at shortstop, it looks like Carter Kieboom is set to shift to the hot corner and serve as the Nationals' starting third baseman in 2020. Ke'Bryan Hayes also has a chance to supplant Colin Moran as the starter at the hot corner in Pittsburgh, thanks to his 60-grade hit tool and Gold Glove-caliber defense.
Heliot Ramos and Taylor Trammell are two of the "toolsiest" outfielders in the minors right now. Both players have a good chance of sticking in center field defensively. Ramos profiles more as a future middle-of-the-order run producer, while Trammell has the power-speed combination to be a 20-20 guy at the top of the order.
Grayson Rodriguez (No. 11 pick) and Matthew Liberatore (No. 16 pick) are two early standouts from a stellar 2018 draft class for pitchers that also included Casey Mize, Logan Gilbert, Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, Simeon Woods Richardson, Josiah Gray and Tarik Skubal.
The Blue Jays will give Austin Martin a chance to prove he can handle shortstop after he played primarily third base and center field at Vanderbilt. The No. 5 pick was the best pure hitter in the 2020 draft, and his bat will play wherever he lands defensively.
21. 2B Brendan Rodgers, COL
22. RHP Sixto Sanchez, MIA
23. OF Drew Waters, ATL
24. RHP Luis Patino, SD
25. SS Bobby Witt Jr., KC
26. OF Kristian Robinson, ARI
27. LHP A.J. Puk, OAK
28. RHP Ian Anderson, ATL
29. RHP Forrest Whitley, HOU
30. 1B/OF Alex Kirilloff, MIN
Can Forrest Whitley return to form? After an ineffective and injury-plagued 2019 campaign, he provided some reason for optimism with a 2.88 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 25 innings in the Arizona Fall League.
Alex Kirilloff also has something to prove after a down season relative to his monster 2018 numbers. With a crowded outfield situation in Minnesota, he could break into the majors at first base, with Miguel Sano replacing Nelson Cruz in the DH role.
A.J. Puk is finally healthy and penciled into a spot on the Oakland staff, while Ian Anderson could reach the majors in short order after finishing last season at Triple-A. Both pitchers have top-of-the-rotation potential and extremely high floors. Drew Waters also closed out 2019 at Triple-A for the Braves and could be ready for an everyday spot in the Atlanta outfield in 2021.
Infielder Brendan Rodgers has done nothing but hit throughout his time in the minors, but he struggled to a 29 OPS+ in 81 plate appearances in his MLB debut before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
Sixto Sanchez was the prize of the J.T. Realmuto blockbuster, and his stock is trending up once again after a healthy season. Luis Patino would be the No. 1 pitching prospect in most systems, but he plays second fiddle to MacKenzie Gore in San Diego.
Bobby Witt Jr. (KC) and Kristian Robinson (ARI) have the dynamic tools and vast upside to be the future face of their respective franchises. Both players could climb into the top 10 in these rankings in short order once they return to action.
11. OF Jarred Kelenic, SEA
12. 3B Alec Bohm, PHI
13. OF Julio Rodriguez, SEA
14. LHP/DH Brendan McKay, TB
15. SS Royce Lewis, MIN
16. 3B Spencer Torkelson, DET
17. RHP Dustin May, LAD
18. RHP Matt Manning, DET
19. C Joey Bart, SF
20. OF Dylan Carlson, STL
If the Mariners are going to snap a playoff drought that stretches back to 2001, there's a good chance Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez will be centerpieces of that next contending team. Kelenic has more speed and a better defensive profile, but Rodriguez looks like a future star in his own right.
The Phillies' decision to non-tender Maikel Franco was no doubt directly tied to the belief that Alec Bohm will be ready to take over at third base before the 2020 season is over. The No. 3 pick in the 2018 draft hit .305/.378/.518 with 21 home runs and 80 RBI while reaching Double-A last year.
Dustin May (34.2 IP, 2.90 FIP) and Brendan McKay (49.0 IP, 4.03 FIP) both saw MLB action last year and figure to exhaust their prospect status in short order once the 2020 season begins. Outfielder Dylan Carlson could also be a factor in 2020 as he pushes for the starting left field job on the heels of a breakout season.
Right-hander Matt Manning and 2020 No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson have a chance to be foundational pieces for the Detroit rebuild. Both players could see the majors before 2021 is over, with Manning slotting in behind Casey Mize in the rotation long-term and Torkelson likely to land at first base and see his name penciled into the middle of the lineup.
With the Buster Posey era winding to a close, Joey Bart is the future for the Giants behind the plate, and he has a chance to be a perennial All-Star and two-way standout.
The presence of Jorge Polanco in Minnesota could mean that Royce Lewis winds up moving to second base or center field in the majors, but first he'll need to rebound from a lackluster 2019 campaign.
1. SS Wander Franco, TB
2. OF Luis Robert, CWS
3. OF Jo Adell, LAA
4. 2B Gavin Lux, LAD
5. LHP MacKenzie Gore, SD
6. RHP Casey Mize, DET
7. OF Cristian Pache, ATL
8. RHP Nate Pearson, TOR
9. LHP Jesus Luzardo, OAK
10. C Adley Rutschman, BAL
Anyone who doesn't understand why Wander Franco is the No. 1 prospect in baseball has not been paying attention.
He hit .327/.398/.487 with 43 extra-base hits and more walks (56) than strikeouts (35) as an 18-year-old playing full-season ball last year. His average competition at High-A was 4.4 years older than him, and he still hit .339 with 26 walks and 15 strikeouts in 52 games. Guys his age just don't have that type of polish and discipline at the plate, and he's just scratching the surface of his power potential.
Luis Robert, Gavin Lux and Jesus Luzardo will all begin the 2020 season in prominent roles for teams with legitimate playoff aspirations. Robert and Lux are the odds-on favorites to win Rookie of the Year honors, and Robert has the highest ceiling of any prospect not named Wander Franco.
Jo Adell could also make an impact in 2020, and the Angels' decision to decline their option on Kole Calhoun is a strong indication they think the five-tool standout will be ready to assume the starting right field job in short order.
MacKenzie Gore, Casey Mize and Nate Pearson are the cream of the pitching prospect crop right now, along with Luzardo. The Tigers have no reason to rush Mize to the majors, but it will be interesting to see if Gore and Pearson get a crack at the majors this year if the Padres and Blue Jays can hang around in the postseason hunt.
Defensive standout Cristian Pache saw his prospect stock skyrocket thanks to an offensive breakout in 2019 in which he hit .277/.340/.462 with 57 extra-base hits. The 21-year-old is a good enough defender in center field that anything he provides offensively is icing on the cake.
Adley Rutschman has a chance to be a generational talent behind the plate and the face of the Baltimore rebuild. Switch-hitting catchers with plus power, an advanced hit tool and Gold Glove-caliber defensive skills don't come along very often.