Prospects! Beware the Ides of March!
Top 175 MLB Prospects for 2018
Here is my list of Top 175 Major League Baseball prospects for 2018. The mandatory caveats, explanations, and disclaimers:
****The rankings are based on a combination of sabermetrics, scouting reports (including publicly available reports and private reports from friends or contacts), video, in-person views when possible, and some measure of intuition.
****The list incorporates closeness to the majors and risk as well as pure upside. Every list has quirks, of course, reflecting the filters and biases of the analyst. Many of my rankings are in line with industry consensus, but some are not.
****I tend to be conservative about players with no track records and rank players with an eye both to long-term value and short-term performance. I try to find a balance between the two factors. A list based on pure upside with less regard for risk would look quite different.
****Ultimately these are my opinions and I take sole responsibility for them.
Thinking and analysis change constantly, so look at this as a snapshot of how things stand on March 15, 2018. I’ve made a few brief comments about guys who could be too low or too high.
Such lists can be tinkered with forever but at some point you have to press the “publish” button.
Once you get past the Top 100 especially, you should take a “neighborhood” tier approach rather than “this guy at 139 is clearly better than the guy at 142.”
1) Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves Grade A
2) Vladimir Guerrero, Jr, 3B, Blue Jays, Grade A
3) Shohei Ohtani, RHP, Angels, Grade A
4) Fernando Tatis, Jr, SS, Padres, Grade A
5) Bo Bichette, SS, Blue Jays, Grade A
COMMENT: I don’t think the top three are a big surprise. I may rate Tatis and Bichette a tad better than some people do, perhaps due to Midwest League observation bias, or subconscious liking for legacy players. I’m trying not to worry about Ohtani’s spring.
6) Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds, Grade A/A-
7) Gleyber Torres, INF, Yankees, Grade A/A-
8) Forrest Whitley, Astros, RHP, Grade A/A-
9) Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox, Grade A-/A
10) Victor Robles, OF, Nationals, Grade A-/A
COMMENT: I’m not worried about Whitley any more than any other young pitcher. I may prefer Senzel more than some people do.
11) Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros, Grade A-/A
12) Luiz Gohara, Braves, LHP, Grade A-/A
13) Walker Buehler, Dodgers, RHP, Grade A-
14) Michael Kopech, White Sox, RHP, Grade A-
15) Mitch Keller, Pirates, RHP, Grade A-
COMMENT: I think I like Gohara better than other analysts. Keller is a personal favorite as an Iowan.
16) Brendan Rodgers, Rockies, SS, Grade A-
17) Mackenzie Gore, Padres, LHP, Grade A-
18) Hunter Greene, Reds, RHP, Grade A-
19) Francisco Mejia, C-3B, Indians, Grade A-/B+
20) Franklin Barreto, Athletics, INF, Grade A-/B+
COMMENT: Barreto is an intuition call; normally I would be quite concerned about his plate discipline but for some reason I think he’ll figure it out. Gore and Greene are high school pitchers so they could leap up the list for 2019 or fall down it if they get hurt or are simply not as good as expected.
21) A.J. Puk, LHP, Athletics, Grade A-/B+
22) Royce Lewis, SS, Twins, Grade A-/B+
23) Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Phillies, Grade A-/B+
24) Triston McKenzie, RHP, Indians, Grade A-/B+
25) Scott Kingery, 2B, Phillies, Grade A-/B+
COMMENT: Kingery grade is aggressive compared to consensus. I considered backing it down a little but made another intuition call. We’ll see if it works out.
26) Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals, Grade A-/B+
27) Michel Baez, RHP, Padres, Grade A-/B+
28) Ryan McMahon, INF, Rockies, Grade B+/A-
29) Willie Calhoun, INF-OF, Rangers, Grade B+/A-
30) Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves, Grade B+/A-
COMMENT: I went back and forth on Reyes due to the injury.
31) Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves, Grade B+/A-
32) Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers, Grade B+/A-
33) Willy Adames, SS, Rays, Grade B+/A-
34) Austin Hays, OF, Orioles, Grade B+
35) Lewis Brinson, OF, Marlins, Grade B+
COMMENT: I think Hays is for real. Hiura is highly respected among analysts and scouts but seems to get less attention than he deserves from the prospect press in general.
36) Anthony Alford, OF, Grade B+
37) Luis Urias, 2B-SS, Padres, Grade B+
38) Franklin Perez, RHP, Tigers, Grade B+
39) Taylor Trammell, OF, Reds, Grade B+
40) Juan Soto, OF, Nationals, Grade B+
COMMENT: Alford, I think, will hit enough for his tools to matter. Soto could be in the Top Ten for 2019 with a healthy season.
41) Jo Adell, OF, Angels, Grade B+
42) Jorge Mateo, INF-OF, Athletics, Grade B+
43) Luis Robert, OF, White Sox, Grade B+
44) Matt Manning, RHP, Tigers, Grade B+
45) Jesus Sanchez, OF, Rays, Grade B+
COMMENT: Wild guess on Robert placement. Sanchez generated great buzz in the Midwest League and like Soto could move up quite far.
46) Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox, Grade B+
47) Estevan Florial, OF, Yankees, Grade B+
48) Alec Hansen, RHP, White Sox, Grade B+
49) Kolby Allard, LHP, Braves, Grade B+
50) Jack Flaherty, RHP, Cardinals, Grade B+
COMMENT: I don’t think Florial is Yankee hype.
51) J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies, Grade B+
52) Jon Duplantier, RHP, Diamondbacks, Grade B+
53) J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, Astros, Grade B+
54) Dane Dunning, RHP, White Sox, Grade B+
55) Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals, Grade B+
COMMENT: Am I too high on Kieboom?
56) Brent Honeywell, RHP, Grade B+
57) Heliot Ramos, OF, Giants, Grade B+
58) Yordan Alvarez, OF-1B, Astros, Grade B+
59) Brendan McKay, 1B-LHP, Rays, Grade B+
60) Nick Gordon, SS-2B, Twins, Grade B+
COMMENT: Honeywell is another difficult pitcher injury placement. I think Alvarez will break out in a big way. I am probably too high on Gordon, another legacy guy. Positive buzz on Gordon has declined over the last few months.
61) Adrian Morejon, LHP, Padres, Grade B+
62) Max Fried, LHP, Braves, Grade B+
63) Corbin Burnes, RHP, Brewers, Grade B+
64) Chance Adams, RHP, Yankees, Grade B+
65) Tyler Mahle, RHP, Reds, Grade B+
COMMENT: Burnes, Adams, and Mahle are the types of pitchers I tend to like a lot and rate aggressively. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not.
66) Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves, Grade B+
67) Justus Sheffield, LHP, Yankees, Grade B+
68) Jesse Winker, OF, Reds, Grade B+
69) Leody Taveras, OF, Rangers, Grade B+
70) Beau Burrows, RHP, Tigers, Grade B+
COMMENT: I think Winker gets to his power.
71) Carson Kelly, C, Cardinals, Grade B+/B
72) Alex Verdugo, OF, Dodgers, Grade B+/B
73) Austin Meadows, OF, Pirates, Grade B+/B
74) Austin Riley, 3B, Braves, Grade B+/B
75) Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers, Grade B+/B
COMMENT: Kelly probably has more value to a real team than a fantasy one in the short term. Deporting Meadows to Uzbekistan would lower US national health care expenditures by 4.7%.
76) Miguel Andujar, 3B, Yankees, Grade B+/B
77) Adonis Medina, RHP, Phillies, Grade B+/B
78) Joey Wentz, LHP, Braves, Grade B+/B
79) Bryse Wilson, RHP, Braves, Grade B+/B
80) Brent Rooker, OF-1B, Twins, Grade B/B+
COMMENT: All hail Brent Rooker. Wentz and Wilson are a rare type: Braves pitching prospects who may actually be under-rated.
81) Christian Arroyo, INF, Rays, Grade B/B+
82) Andres Gimenez, SS, Mets, Grade B/B+
83) Jorge Guzman, RHP, Marlins, Grade B/B+
84) Jake Bauers, 1B-OF, Rays, Grade B/B+
85) Andrew Knizner, C, Cardinals, Grade B/B+:
COMMENT: Would you rather have Arroyo or Bauers? I change my mind on that every day. Obviously I think Knizner is real.
86) Albert Abreu, RHP, Yankees, Grade B/B+
87) Ryan Mountcastle, INF, Orioles, Grade B/B+
88) Cal Quantrill, RHP, Padres, Grade B/B+
89) Alex Faedo, RHP, Tigers, Grade B/B+
90) Mitchell White, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B/B+
COMMENT: White seems like a breakthrough guy.
91) Dustin Fowler, OF, Athletics, Grade B/B+
92) Harrison Bader, OF, Cardinals, Grade B/B+
93) Willi Castro, SS, Indians, Grade B/B+
94) David Peterson, LHP, Mets, Grade B/B+
95) Stephen Gonsalves, Twins, LHP, B/B+
COMMENT: Castro and Gonsalves ratings may be aggressive.
96) Ryan Borucki, LHP, Blue Jays, Grade B/B+
97) Tyler O’Neill, OF, Cardinals, Grade B/B+
98) Shane Bieber, RHP, Indians, Grade B/B+
99) Adolis Garcia, OF, Cardinals, Grade B/B+
100) Jahmai Jones, OF, Angels, Grade B/B+
COMMENT: The Cardinals need to be investigated on anti-trust grounds for hoarding outfielders.
101) Nate Pearson, RHP, Blue Jays, Grade B/B+
102) Yairo Munoz, INF, Cardinals, Grade B/B+
103) Domingo Acevedo, RHP, Yankees, Grade B/B+
104) Dakota Hudson, RHP, Cardinals, Grade B/B+
105) Eric Fedde, RHP, Nationals, Grade B/B+
COMMENT: What do you guys think about Acevedo at this point?
106) Freicer Perez, RHP, Yankees, Grade B/B+
107) Rogelio Armenteros, Astros, RHP, Grade B
108) Chance Sisco, C, Orioles, Grade B
109) Brandon Woodruff, RHP, Brewers, Grade B
110) Monte Harrison, OF, Marlins, Grade B
COMMENT: He’s been hit this spring but I really like Armenteros as a sleeper. Sisco might be too low here.
111) Nick Solak, 2B, Rays, Grade B
112) Sheldon Neuse, 3B-SS, Athletics, Grade B
113) Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics, Grade B
114) Fernando Romero, RHP, Twins, Grade B
115) Colin Moran, 3B-1B-OF, Pirates, Grade B
COMMENT: I like Neuse. He could be too low here, as could Moran. Luzardo could be a top 30 guy in a year.
116) Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners, Grade B
117) Wander Javier, SS, Twins, Grade B
118) Peter Lambert, RHP, Rockies, Grade B
119) Logan Allen, LHP, Padres, Grade B
120) Jay Groome, LHP, Red Sox, Grade B
COMMENT: Groome still gets great scouting reports. This may seem too low in a year if he sharpens his command.
121) Joey Lucchesi, LHP, Padres, Grade B
122) Yadier Alvarez, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B
123) Colton Welker, 3B, Rockies, Grade B
124) Isan Diaz, 2B-SS, Marlins, Grade B
125) Yohander Mendez, LHP, Rangers, Grade B
COMMENT: Lucchesi may be too low. Let’s see how Welker does outside of Asheville.
126) Danny Jansen, C, Blue Jays, Grade B
127) Zack Collins, C, White Sox, Grade B
128) Ryan Vilade, SS, Rockies, Grade B
129) Jake Rogers, C, Tigers, Grade B
130) Michael Chavis, 3B, Red Sox, Grade B
COMMENT: Jansen and Rogers may be too low here in the long run. Same with Vilade.
131) David Paulino, RHP, Astros, Grade B
132) Randy Arozarena, OF, Cardinals, Grade B
133) Jhailyn Ortiz, OF, Phillies, Grade B
134) Adbert Alzolay, RHP, Cubs, Grade
135) Touki Toussaint, RHP, Braves, Grade B
COMMENT: Who knows with Touki? Ortiz must be watched closely as he moves up to full-season ball.
136) Arquimedes Gamboa, SS, Phillies, Grade B
137) Pavin Smith, 1B, Diamondbacks, Grade B
138) Luis Ortiz, RHP, Brewers, Grade B
139) Isaac Paredes, INF, Tigers, Grade B
140) Bobby Bradley, 1B, Indians, Grade B
COMMENT: Paredes is the one to watch here. I struggled with Bradley placement; I remain rather optimistic about him but can’t really explain why and ultimately could not justify a higher grade.
141) Nick Pratto, 1B, Royals, Grade B
142) Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Blue Jays, Grade B
143) Cionel Perez, LHP, Astros, Grade B
144) Taylor Clarke, RHP, Diamondbacks, Grade B
145) Aramis Ademan, SS, Cubs, Grade B:
COMMENT: Who is the real SRF, the 2016 version or the 2017?
146) Thairo Estrada, INF, Yankees, Grade B
147) Logan Warmoth, SS, Blue Jays, Grade B
148) Ryan Helsley, RHP, Cardinals, Grade B
149) Alex Lange, RHP, Cubs, Grade B
150) J.D. Davis, 3B, Astros, Grade B
COMMENT: Both Helsley and Lange could move up quickly.
151) Adam Haseley, OF, Phillies, Grade B
152) Eric Lauer, LHP, Padres, Grade B
153) Riley Adams, C, Blue Jays, Grade B
154) Austin Beck, OF, Athletics, Grade B
155) Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Tigers, Grade B
COMMENT: I considered Funkhouser as high as 80 but kept finding reasons to move him down or other people up, including worry about his health. I like Riley Adams a lot, don’t sleep on him.
156) Jose Albertos, RHP, Cubs, Grade B
157) Tanner Houck, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B
158) Evan White, 1B, Mariners, Grade B
159) Ronaldo Hernandez, C, Rays, Grade B
160) Victor Caratini, C-1B, Cubs, Grade B:
COMMENT: Hernandez is the long-term sleeper here.
161) Jordan Hicks, RHP, Cardinals, Grade B
162) Cristian Pache, OF, Braves, Grade B
163) JoJo Romero, LHP, Phillies, Grade B
164) Seth Romero, LHP, Nationals, Grade B
165) Freddy Peralta, RHP, Brewers, Grade B:
COMMENT: Pache is all projection guess. Hicks could move up rapidly. Watch to see if Peralta can lower walks while keeping strikeouts.
166) Bryan Mata, RHP, Red Sox, Grade B
167) T.J. Zeuch, RHP, Blue Jays, Grade B
168) Garrett Hampson, INF, Rockies, Grade B/B-
169) Brian Anderson, INF, Marlins, Grade B/B-
170) Yusniel Diaz, OF, Dodgers, Grade B/B-
COMMENT: Hampson could be much too low here. He is making a big impression this spring.
171) Brett Phillips, OF, Brewers, Grade B/B-
172) Chris Shaw, 1B-Of, Giants, Grade B/B-
173) Kyle Cody, RHP, Rangers, Grade B/B-
174) Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Marlins, Grade B/B-
175) Anderson Espinosa, RHP, Padres, Grade B/B-
COMMENT: Will Phillips make enough contact? Can Alcantara throw strikes? When will Espinosa pitch again?