Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Blue Jays News

The hottest young stars right now, ranked

@_dadler
August 14, 2020

Remember "Let the kids play?" The kids are playing. And they're must-see baseball. MLB has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to young superstars. They're all over the league. And these are the ones who are taking over the game right now. Welcome to the Young Stars Power Rankings.

Remember "Let the kids play?" The kids are playing. And they're must-see baseball.

MLB has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to young superstars. They're all over the league. And these are the ones who are taking over the game right now.

Welcome to the Young Stars Power Rankings.

We asked a panel of MLB.com experts to vote on the top 10 young stars in the game right now -- all players who have not yet reached their age-25 season (determined by how old they are on June 30). Then we ranked those under-25 players based on the results, with the most points awarded for a first-place vote and the fewest for a 10th-place vote.

These kids have the talent, the stats and the "It" factor. The rankings are a mix of overall ability and track record, with an emphasis on recent performance. So when we asked our voters, the question boiled down to: "Right now, who is the hottest young star?"

Here's the first Young Stars Power Rankings of 2020. (All stats are entering play Thursday.)

1) Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres (age-21 season)
Tatis might be the most fun player to watch in baseball, period. He is electric. Tatis is leading the National League in homers (eight) and slugging percentage (.711) and the Major Leagues in steals (five); his scorching start just earned him NL Player of the Week honors. He's the first player in history with 30 homers and 20 steals through 100 career games. He could be the third player ever to lead MLB in homers at age 21. Tatis makes every Padres game must-see TV.

2) Juan Soto, LF, Nationals (age-21)
What can't Soto do? At age 19, he was a rookie sensation. At age 20, he led the Nationals to their first World Series championship, collecting huge hit after huge hit in the postseason. Now, at age 21, he looks like he's going to be one of the best players in baseball for years to come. There's no better visual evidence than the pair of career-long, 460-plus-foot monster home runs Soto crushed against the Mets this week -- including a 466-foot blast to the very top of the right-field upper deck, the likes of which Citi Field had never seen before.

3) Luis Robert, CF, White Sox (age-22)
Robert is taking the big leagues by storm. The White Sox phenom just turned 23, he's been in the big leagues for only three weeks and he's already a sensation. Robert has five-tool superstar potential. His first MLB hit was a 115.8 mph single -- the hardest first career hit of any player to debut since Statcast started tracking. He's crushed a pair of home runs. He has elite speed and is leading the AL with four steals. He glides around center field. And you wonder why Eloy Jiménez calls Robert the next Mike Trout.

4) Ronald Acuña Jr., RF, Braves (age-22)
Acuña has the star power to challenge Trout for the title of baseball's best player, and he and Soto could be dueling faces of the game for a long time. After his Rookie of the Year-winning 2018 season and 41-homer, 37-steal '19 campaign, Acuña was just starting to heat up in 2020 -- he crushed three home runs in one 14-inning doubleheader on Sunday -- when he was sidelined with wrist soreness. But Acuña will be back and better than ever.

5) Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers (age-22)
The Dodgers rookie right-hander has electric stuff -- a two-seamer that can touch 100 mph with wicked movement, a curveball with elite spin and a wipeout mid-90s cutter. In a flash, May went from not being on the Dodgers' Opening Day roster to being named their Opening Day starter in place of an injured Clayton Kershaw to having a 2.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in four starts as a regular member of the rotation. He can be a nightmare to face -- just ask Manny Machado.

6) Kyle Lewis, CF, Mariners (age-24)
After homering in each of his first three big league games in his 2019 debut, Lewis has kept raking in 2020. The Mariners rookie ranks fourth in the AL batting race with a .338 average, and he's mashed four home runs. Lewis is fast proving himself a player to watch on the West Coast.

7) Bo Bichette, SS, Blue Jays (age-22)
Bichette has more than lived up to his hype as a member of the Blue Jays' legacy trio. In fact, Bo has outshined Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with his performance on the field. Bichette is second in the AL batting race right now at .352, and he has four home runs, four steals and a 1.034 OPS. He hasn't stopped hitting since he arrived in the big leagues last year. His 5-for-5 game Wednesday, when he reached base six times, homered and stole two bases, was historic -- Bichette is the first shortstop in the Modern Era to put together such a stat line.

8) Cody Bellinger, CF, Dodgers (age-24)
OK, we know Bellinger is stuck in a slump right now. This is still the reigning NL MVP we're talking about, and the season is young. Belli has only a pair of homers, but he's a superstar in L.A. and he could get red-hot at any moment. Remember when he was hitting .400 for a month and a half last season?

9) Chris Paddack, RHP, Padres (age-24)
Here's another great reason to watch the Padres besides just Tatis. Paddack is dominant when he's at his best and he has the swagger of an ace. The sophomore right-hander had a 3.18 ERA and 21 strikeouts through his first four starts of the season, which included his Opening Day nod.

10) Jesús Luzardo, LHP, A's (age-22)
Oakland's top prospect has simply overpowering stuff -- a 99 mph fastball from the left side and an absolutely nasty slider. We were waiting what felt like forever for Luzardo to jump into the Oakland starting rotation. Now, he's there and he's dealing, with a 1.69 ERA and 10 strikeouts in his first two starts of the year (including his first career win) and a 2.60 ERA and 17 strikeouts on the season overall.

Others receiving votes

Jack Flaherty, RHP, Cardinals (age-24)
Eloy Jiménez, LF, White Sox (age-23)
Gleyber Torres, SS, Yankees (age-23)
Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox (age-23)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Blue Jays (age-21)
Andres Giménez, SS, Mets (age-21)
Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves (age-22)
Justus Sheffield, LHP, Mariners (age-24)
Trent Grisham, CF, Padres (age-23)
James Karinchak, RHP, Indians (age-24)
Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers (age-23)
Nate Pearson, RHP, Blue Jays (age-23)
Julio Urías, LHP, Dodgers (age-23)
Ozzie Albies, 2B, Braves (age-23)
Zac Gallen, RHP, D-backs (age-24)

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.