Who doesn’t like a good prospect debate! I love talking prospects and like many of you I get sucked into the potential these guys could have. There are numerous high quality prospects for 2018, and I believe you could make an argument for several of these to be #1. While many prospects do not pan out, there is strong reason to believe the ten below will.
10. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH LAA – The new kid in the pipeline, Shohei Ohtani is an interesting one to rank. With is dual eligibility I could see many ranker’s putting him near the top of the list, if not first. However, I see Ohtani as the riskiest player on this list. His dual eligibility is unique and he, without question, has some strong tools but I think he’ll pitch less and bat less because of it. We’ll probably see a six man rotation and only 2-3 games of hitting per week. And, let’s not forget that fact that he has never played pro ball in the US. Most view the Japanese leagues he came from as comparable to AAA, but it still remains to be seen how well he’ll translate over to tougher competition.
9. Brendan Rodgers, SS/2B COL – (89 Games, 18 HR, .336 AVG in 2017)
Brendan Rodgers possesses some great tools, and reached AA at only 20 years old. Rodgers showed he can continue to perform at the upper minors and should see time in AAA this year. He doesn’t walk much and I fear we will see an increased strikeout rate, although still very manageable. He can play a premium defensive position and will play in Coors Field where he can expect his offensive numbers to be inflated. A worthy candidate, but he lands at #9 for me.
8. Michael Kopech, SP CWS – (134.1 Innings, 2.88 ERA, 172 K, 65 BB in 2017)
I personally struggle to rank pitchers high, but Kopech can throw harder than nearly any pitcher we’ve seen. He regularly strikes out more than a batter per inning and has had an ERA of 3.00 or lower at nearly ever minor league stop. Has hit 105 MPH on the radar gun and is viewed as one of the hardest, if not the hardest, starting pitcher in all minor league levels. He showed he can pitch deeper into games this past season, but he has struggled with walks. He needs to continue to refine his command, but is easily the top ranked pitcher.
7. Fernando Tatis Jr, SS SD – (131 Games , 22 HR, 32 SB, .278 AVG in 2017)
A rare power speed combo, Tatis Jr had an impressive stat line in A ball. He has the potential to be a truly rare talent with 30 HR/30 SB potential. Strikeout rate may be a concern and will bring a little risk, but even if his strikeout rate does remain high, you can’t deny the potential here. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares as he moves through tougher competition. May go down as one of the worst trades in White Sox history…. although it’ll be tough to match shipping Sammy Sosa across town to the Cubs.
6. Nick Senzel, 3B CIN – (119 Games, 14 HR, 14 SB, .321 AVG in 2017)
Senzel tore up AA in 2017 as a 22 year old. He is one of the better all around hitters bringing some pop, speed, and the ability to hit for a high average. He may be one of the safer bets to achieve stardom, but his ceiling isn’t as high as the prospects above him. Good chance we see what he can do in the bigs in 2018.
5. Victor Robles, OF WAS – (114 Games , 10 HR, 27 SB, .300 AVG in 2017)
I debated here but put Robles over Senzel primarily due to being about two years younger. He has elite stolen base potential as a high contact hitter. He has already got a cup of coffee and will most likely gain a little power in the coming years. Could easily peak as a 20 HR/40 SB/.300 AVG lead off hitter. Will still be 20 years old when the 2018 season begins.
4. Gleyber Torres, SS/3B NYY – (55 Games, 7 HR, 7 SB, .287 AVG in 2017)
Torres had Tommy John surgery last season, but his elite tools are still there. Still only 21 years old, he should make his debut this season, but it’ll most likely be after a couple months in AAA. Like Senzel, he should be an elite all around hitter with a great eye at the plate. He only played 23 games in AAA last season, but he held a 13.5% walk rate with a strong .309 batting average.
3. Eloy Jimenez, OF CWS – (89 Games, 19 HR, .312 AVG in 2017)
Has the most power potential of the elite prospects and should hit for a nice average. We’ve only seen limited action in AA, but he has cruised through every level he’s seen thus far. He should be a heart of the order slugger that could easily swat 40 home runs in a season while maintaining a high average. A special talent.
2. Vladimir Guerrero, 3B TOR – (119 Games, 13 HR, 8 SB, 14 BB%, 12 SO%, .323 AVG in 2017)
I know he is young, but this guy could be crazy good and walks more than he strikes out. In today’s game there are not many players who can maintain an elite strikeout to walk ratio. He had a 17.2% walk rate and 13.4% strikeout rate in A+. Guerrero could be a once in a generation type of talent because of his strong plate discipline to go along with a strong power grade and the ability to run the bases well. He still has to prove it against tougher competition, but that’s the only reason he’s not #1.
1. Ronald Acuna, OF ATL – (139 Games, 21 HR, 44 SB, .325 AVG in 2017 with 111 games at AA/AAA)
Acuna at #1 probably comes as no surprise. This guy has proven he can already do it in the upper minor levels with video game type stats. He hits for pop and can steal bases with very good strikeout rate at AAA, and he just turned 20. Acuna truly has the potential to join one of the most elite clubs in MLB history, the 40 HR/40 SB club which currently contains only four members. This guy is that good.