We're not satisfied with just identifying the game's 10 best prospects as of now, which we've done at MLB Pipeline's Prospect Watch, where Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. sits atop our list.
Let's raise the degree of difficulty and look even deeper into the future. What will the Top 10 look like a year from now?
:: Complete prospect coverage ::
We've tackled this challenge at the end of the past two Minor League seasons, learning a few things in the process. Our research shows that nearly every player who finished one season among the Top 10 did so again 12 months later, provided he didn't graduate to the big leagues or get hurt. Prospects who ended the year ranked in the 11-25 range usually fill most of the Top 10 vacancies, a couple of players in the 26-50 range make a huge jump, and occasionally someone in the bottom half of the Top 100 or completely off the list will do the same.
Our prognostications from a year ago went slightly askew because Nationals outfielder Victor Robles, White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez, Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker and Reds infielder Nick Senzel didn't graduate as expected and repeated on the Top 10 list. But we still nailed Guerrero as the No. 1 prospect, predicted that Rockies infielder Brendan Rodgers would remain in the Top 10 and foresaw that Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and Astros right-hander Forrest Whitley would make moves into that lofty territory. We also just missed on Padres left-hander MacKenzie Gore (No. 11 on the current Top 100) and called a breakout for Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, who rocketed to the Majors.
Of the prospects currently in the Top 10 (none of whom should graduate by the end of this season), Guerrero, Tatis, Jimenez, Senzel, Robles, Rodgers, Tucker and Blue Jays infielder Bo Bichette all figure to be full-fledged big leaguers by the end of 2019. In case you are wondering about Michael Kopech, who is the highest-ranked prospect right now that you don't see below, he will retain his prospect status since he never reached 50 innings pitched, but it's hard to see him as a Top 10 prospect a year from since he will still be recovering from Tommy John surgery.
1. Royce Lewis, SS, Twins (No. 1)
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 Draft had no problems handling pitching at two Class A levels at age 19, may have more power than expected and looked better at shortstop than anticipated.
2. Jo Adell, OF, Angels (No. 16)
Adell may have the best all-around tools in the Minors and erased any concerns about his bat by racing to Double-A as a teenager.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Mobile's Adell goes deep - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2403392883
3. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins (No. 30)
After missing last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Kirilloff led the Minors with 44 doubles, 71 extra-base hits and 296 total bases while looking like the successor to Guerrero and Jimenez as the game's best all-around hitting prospect.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Kirilloff drives in a run - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2190557883
4. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros (No. 7)
Whitley can miss bats with four pitches and could graduate in 2019, though the Astros are deep on the mound and he has barely pitched this year because of a 50-game suspension and some minor injuries.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Whitley gets 7th strikeout - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2172703083
5. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Padres (No. 11)
Blister issues plagued Gore throughout his first full pro season, but he too has four bat-missing pitches, plus he pounds the strike zone and he's left-handed.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Gore fans 10th batter - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2274660483
6. Wander Franco, SS, Rays (No. 40)
The next international megaprospect, Franco is a switch-hitting slugger who broke into pro ball this summer by winning Appalachian League MVP honors and posting a 1.004 OPS as the Rookie circuit's second-youngest regular (age 17).
7. Taylor Trammell, OF, Reds (No. 19)
Trammell has potential plus tools across the board with the exception of his arm, and his makeup is off the charts as well.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Trammell wins Futures Game MVP - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2276196583
8. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Phillies (No. 18)
Elbow inflammation dogged Sanchez this season, but he's still the same guy that makes hitters look bad with his fastball, curveball and changeup, and he draws some Pedro Martinez comparisons.
9. Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers (No. 20)
Mize went No. 1 overall in the 2018 Draft because of his combination of stuff and command, which might already be the best in the Minors.
10. Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox (No. 44)
MLB Pipeline's Pitcher of the Year, Cease overmatched Double-A hitters with a devastating fastball/curveball combination.