MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2020 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
If you’re looking for potential Rookie of the Year candidates, the top 10 outfield list might be the place to start. Two years ago, the list included the Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr., who won National League Rookie of the Year honors, Nationals phenom Juan Soto, who was runner-up to Acuña, and the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, the AL Rookie of the Year.
The 2019 list was no different. White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez was at the top of the list and finished fourth in AL voting last year. The Nats’ Victor Robles was right behind him and he got an NL ROY vote. Those two are joined by Kyle Tucker of the Astros and the Dodgers’ Alex Verdugo as graduates.
That’s allowed a White Sox outfielder to ascend to the top spot for the second straight year. Luis Robert, who was No. 10 a year ago, vaults to the top after a huge 2019 season and, who knows, may win a Rookie of the Year Award in 2020?
The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Luis Robert, White Sox (2020)
2. Jo Adell, Angels (2020)
3. Jarred Kelenic, Mariners (2021)
4. Cristian Pache, Braves (2020)
5. Dylan Carlson, Cardinals (2020)
6. Julio Rodriguez, Mariners (2022)
7. Drew Waters, Braves (2020)
8. JJ Bleday, Marlins (2021)
9. Riley Greene, Tigers (2022)
10. Alex Kirilloff, Twins (2020)
Complete list »
Hit: Kelenic, Greene, Kirilloff (60)
All three were considered the best pure high school hitters in their Draft class: Greene last year; Kelenic in 2018 and Kirilloff back in 2016. All three are left-handed bats who consistently barrel up the baseball, have excellent approaches at the plate and keep their strikeouts down.
Power: Adell (65)
He showed he could get to his prodigious raw power right out of the gate, slugging 20 homers in his first full season. It didn’t show up quite as much in his injury-shortened 2019 season, but he gets a bit of a mulligan just because he missed so much time. He does carry a .518 slugging percentage into 2020 and there’s much, much more to come.
Run: Pache (70)
Pache has yet to use his nearly top-of-the-scale speed to be an effective basestealer (58 steals, but caught 38 times), but he definitely uses it in center field where he catches just about anything in his relative vicinity.
Arm: Pache (70)
Not that he’ll need to move, but his arm would be perfect for right field. It’s an absolute rocket, one that let him rack up 17 outfield assists back in his 2017 full-season debut. Now runners know better than to try and run on him, though he did have nine assists last year.
Field: Pache (70)
He’s been our top defensive prospect for two years in a row now for a reason. His plus range to go along with his instincts, reads and routes makes him a Gold Glove caliber center fielder right now.
Highest ceiling: Robert
No one has louder tools on this list than Robert, perhaps with Adell running a very close second in this race. Robert showed exactly what he’s capable of with his 30-30 season across three levels in 2019. If he can refine his approach just a little bit, 30-30 in the big leagues might be just the tip of the iceberg.
Highest floor: Kelenic
Kelenic does everything well, showing an advanced approach at the plate that belies his age (He’s still only 20.). With his excellent tools to go along with his innate feel to hit and outstanding defense, he’s a big league regular at the very least, one who won’t take too much longer to be ready.
Rookie of the Year candidate: Robert
Not only does he have the highest ceiling, he has a clear path to the center-field job in Chicago. He can do so many things well, that even if it takes him a while to really get his bat going, he’s going to be a rookie to watch. Here’s hoping the Angels call up Adell quickly so there can be some real competition.
Highest riser: Rodriguez
The Mariners’ phenom wasn’t in our Top 100 when the 2019 season began. He was at No. 25 at the end of it, with an up arrow next to his name, and his strong performance in the Arizona Fall League certainly didn’t hurt. Oh, and he’s only 19!
Humblest beginning: Carlson
He’s one of the top outfield prospects now, one who put in a 20-20 season and reached Triple-A at age 20 in 2019. But when the Cardinals took him in the first round of the 2016 Draft, it was seen as a bit of a stretch, one who signed for nearly $600K below pick value. Consider this a tip of the cap to the Cardinals’ scouting department.
Most to prove: Kirilloff
Compared to his ridiculous 2018 season, Krilloff’s 2019 was subpar, as he lost more than 200 points of OPS. Much of that is because of wrist issues that forced him off the field for a chunk of the season and sapped him of his ability to swing the bat well when he tried to play through it. It also contributed to him not going to the AFL. A healthy Kirilloff should be able to show that was the exception, not the rule, in 2020.
Keep an eye on: Kristian Robinson, D-backs
It’s hard not to get excited about this big, strong Bahamian prospect. He reached full-season ball last year after setting the Northwest League on fire and he’ll be just 19 for all of the 2020 season. He’s starting to learn how to tap into his ridiculous raw power, so Minor League pitchers better watch out.