Fans will soon get a look at three of the more exciting and hyped prospects in baseball when Fernando Tatis Jr. (No. 2 overall), Eloy Jimenez (No. 3) and Pete Alonso (No. 51) all make their debuts on Opening Day.
While the addition of Jimenez to the White Sox active roster was expected in the wake of his recent extension, the Padres’ decision to break camp with Tatis was a total surprise. Set to make the jump from Double-A to the Majors as San Diego’s everyday shortstop, Tatis will become the eighth-youngest position player to start on Opening Day in the last 50 seasons when he makes his big league debut. Alonso slugged his way onto the Mets' roster this spring after finishing tied for the Minor League home run lead a year ago.
With Tatis, Jimenez and Nationals top prospect Victor Robles (No. 4 overall) all beginning the season in the Majors, this year is the first time in 25 years in which three of baseball's top four prospects have made an Opening Day roster. The only time it's happened since Baseball America started putting out a Top 100 list in 1990 was in '94, when Cliff Floyd (No. 1, Expos), Jeffrey Hammonds (No. 3, BAL) and Alex Gonzalez (No. 4, TOR) all started the season in the bigs.
Overall, 12 players ranked in MLB Pipeline’s list of the Top 100 prospects and 44 players (including six who are starting the season on the injured list) on team Top 30 Prospects lists made an Opening Day roster this year. The 12 Top 100 prospects matches the number from last season, while there were 13 in '17 and only four in '16. The number of team Top 30 prospects is down from 49 last year and 68 in 2017.
Here's a list of every prospect from a team Top 30 list who made his club's Opening Day roster.
* On injured list
Arizona (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Yoan Lopez, RHP (No. 14)
Lopez made the jump from Double-A to the Major Leagues last September and showed potential in a late-inning role, allowing two runs with 11 strikeouts in nine innings. The 26-year-old right-hander has swing-and-miss stuff, as he’ll pitch with an explosive upper-90s fastball that he pairs with a wipeout slider in the mid-80s.
Atlanta (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Kyle Wright, RHP (No. 2, No. 30 overall), Bryse Wilson, RHP (No. 7, No. 81 overall), Chad Sobotka, RHP (No. 21)
The Braves are filling out their Opening Day rotation with a pair of Top 100 prospects in Wright and Wilson, both of whom experienced the big leagues for the first time late last season. While injuries have helped make it possible, the right-handers both pitched well this spring, with Wright racking up 20 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings and Wilson posting a 3.29 ERA over 13 2/3 frames. Sobotka, a hard-throwing reliever, scuffled this spring but has power stuff that served him well last year in Majors.
Baltimore (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Richie Martin, SS (No. 15); Drew Jackson, IF/OF (No. 25)
The first pick in the Rule 5 Draft (from the A’s system), Martin, a 2015 first-rounder, will be making the jump straight from Double-A when he takes the field as the Orioles’ Opening Day shortstop. After a hot start this spring, the 2015 first-rounder finished with a .224/.296/.327 line in 18 games. Jackson, the team’s other Rule 5 selection (via Dodgers), showcased his defensive versatility and posted a .316/.355/.386 line with a team-best 18 hits to secure a spot on the O’s roster as a super-utility player.
Boston (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Colton Brewer, RHP (No. 23)
Acquired from San Diego last fall after making 11 relief appearances during the regular season, Brewer’s calling card is a mid-90s cutter that nets him whiffs as well as weak, ground-ball contact. He impressed the Red Sox with his performance this spring, recording a 3.48 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings.
Chicago (AL) (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Eloy Jimenez, OF (No. 1, No. 3 overall), Ian Hamilton, RHP* (No. 14), Caleb Frare, LHP (No. 25), Ryan Burr, RHP (No. 30)
Jimenez’s six-year extension laid to rest questions about whether he would start the season in the big leagues, and the White Sox officially added him to their active roster on Tuesday. With his ability to hit for both average and power, Jimenez is a popular preseason pick for AL Rookie of the Year. Frare and Burr were September callups last year, and the latter was a camp standout this spring, posting a 2.38 ERA with a 17/0 K/BB over 11 1/3 frames. Hamilton will begin the season on the injured list as he continues to recover from a right shoulder injury he sustained in a car accident.
Chicago (NL) (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - None
Cincinnati (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - None
Cleveland (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - None
Colorado (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS (No. 3)
Hampson reached the Majors last year in his second full season and ultimately produced a .275/.396/.400 line across 24 games. He led the team this spring in home runs (tied, four) and steals (seven) and is set to open 2019 in a timeshare at second base along with Ryan McMahon.
Detroit (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Christin Stewart, OF (No. 8), Spencer Turnbull, RHP (No. 19), Dustin Peterson, OF (No. 29)
After hitting at least 27 home runs in each of his first three full seasons -- including two in one game last year as a September callup -- Stewart is poised to showcase his massive power on a regular basis either as a left fielder or designated hitter. Peterson earned a spot on the roster after hitting .310 with 11 RBIs this spring, while Turnbull will break camp as the Tigers’ No. 3 starter after finishing camp with a 1.80 ERA and 15/2 K/BB in 15 innings.
Houston (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Josh James, RHP (No. 4, No. 62 overall), Framber Valdez, LHP (No. 11)
After bouncing between the rotation and bullpen last year, James and Valdez will assume relief roles at the outset of 2019. The former is a candidate to return to the rotation as the season unfolds whereas Valdez is better suited to remain in the bullpen. Both hurlers have swing-and-miss stuff, especially James, and both have the ability to work multiple frames.
Kansas City (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - None
Los Angeles (AL) (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Ty Buttrey, RHP (No. 14), Michael Hermosillo, OF* (No. 16)
Acquired in last summer’s Ian Kinsler trade, Buttrey made his big league debut a few weeks later and quickly carved out a role at the back of the Angels’ bullpen en route to a 3.31 ERA with four saves in 16 appearances. He’ll serve as the team’s setup man to start the season, bridging the gap to free-agent signee Cody Allen. Hermosillo, who made his big league debut in 2018, is starting the season on the injured list.
Los Angeles (NL) (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Alex Verdugo, OF (No. 1, No. 35 overall)
Verdugo is set to make his first Opening Day roster after finishing each of the last two years in the big leagues. The 22-year-old may be the Dodgers’ fourth outfielder on paper, but his pure hitting ability -- he’s a .309 hitter in 512 Minor League games -- could help him assume an everyday role.
Miami (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Sandy Alcantara, RHP (No. 5), Riley Ferrell, RHP* (No. 20)
The hard-throwing Alcantara cracked Miami’s rotation after a solid, if somewhat inconsistent spring in which he recorded a 4.70 ERA and 21/11 K/BB over 15 1/3 innings (five starts). He made six starts down the stretch for the Marlins last year, finishing with a 3.44 ERA and 30/23 K/BB in 34 frames. Ferrell, a Rule 5 Draft selection out of Houston’s system, is beginning the season on the injured list with biceps tendinitis.
Milwaukee (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - None
Minnesota (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - None
New York (AL) (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - None
New York (NL) (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Pete Alonso, 1B (No. 1, No. 51 overall), Tomas Nido, C (No. 18)
The Mets announcement on Thursday that Alonso had made the Opening Day roster officially put to end any thought that he might be headed back to Triple-A. The 24-year-old slugger tied for the Minor League home run lead (36) in 2018 and added four more this spring while hitting .352/.387/.620 over 22 games. Nido is breaking as the Mets’ No. 2 catcher, serving as Wilson Ramos’ backup while Travis d’Arnaud continues to recover from Tommy John surgery.
Oakland (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - None
Philadelphia (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - None
Pittsburgh (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Kevin Newman, 2B/SS (No. 9), Pablo Reyes, UTIL (No. 18), Nick Burdi, RHP (No. 24)
Each of the three prospects to break camp saw time in the big leagues late last season, with Reyes faring the best of the group. He and Newman give the Pirates positional depth, while Burdi represents another potential power arm at the back end of the bullpen.
San Diego (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Fernando Tatis Jr., SS (No. 1, No. 2 overall), Francisco Mejia, C (No. 4, No. 26 overall), Chris Paddack, RHP (No. 5, No. 34 overall)
At 20 years, 85 days old, Tatis is set to become the youngest player since Adrian Beltre in 1999 (at 19 years, 363 days old) to play on Opening Day. He’ll line up at shortstop alongside third baseman Manny Machado on the left side of the infield. Paddack put forth a dominant spring, using his three-pitch mix to post a 1.76 ERA in five Cactus League starts en route to a spot in the rotation. He’ll make his big league debut against the Giants on Sunday. Mejia also had a big spring, hitting .354 with three homers, four doubles and 14 RBIs in 19 games.
San Francisco (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Travis Bergen, LHP (No. 30)
A Rule 5 Draft selection out of the Blue Jays’ system, Bergen did not allow a run until his final Cactus League outing and finished the spring with a 1.69 ERA, .128 BAA and 13 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings (nine appearances).
Seattle (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Matt Festa, RHP (No. 17), Gerson Bautista* (No. 27)
Festa tossed two scoreless frames against the A’s in Japan to help him secure a spot on the Mariners’ 25-man roster. He pitched in eight big league games last year, six of which came in September. Bautista, acquired from the Mets in the offseason Edwin Diaz-Robinson Cano deal, will start the season on the injured list due to a strained pectoral suffered in early March.
St. Louis (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Alex Reyes, RHP (No. 1, No. 33 overall), Dakota Hudson, RHP (No. 4), Justin Williams, OF* (No. 15)
The Cardinals will roster their two best pitching prospects to begin the season, with Reyes serving as a weapon out of the bullpen and Hudson as a member of the starting rotation. The latter was a standout in Grapefruit League play this spring, finishing with a 1.25 ERA, .192 BAA and 20/6 K/BB in 21 2/3 innings. Williams suffered a broken hand during the offseason and will begin the season on the injured list.
Tampa Bay (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Brandon Lowe, 2B/OF (No. 9)
The Rays made Lowe a part of their long-term future last week when they extended him with a six-year, $24 million deal. He was the club’s top hitter this spring, producing a .377/.411/.698 line with three homers, eight doubles and 17 RBIs. He’ll make his first Opening Day start as the Rays’ designated hitter but likely will see time across first base, second and the outfield.
Texas: (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Yohander Mendez, LHP* (No. 26)
The southpaw is beginning 2019 on the injured list after being diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament that won’t require Tommy John surgery.
Toronto (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Danny Jansen, C (No. 3, No. 65 overall), Billy McKinney, OF (No. 14), Trent Thornton, RHP (No. 15), Rowdy Tellez, 1B (No. 21), Elvis Luciano, RHP (No. 28)
After reaching the Majors late last season, Jansen gets the nod as the Blue Jays’ Opening Day catcher this year after he hit .268/.302/.341 and threw out three of nine attempted basestealers. McKinney, a .252/.320/.470 hitters in the Majors last season, likely will be utilized in a platoon role against right-handed pitching. Thornton, acquired from the Astros in the November, is set to make his big league debut after cracking Toronto’s rotation, while Tellez, who made his big league debut last season, slashed .280/.308/.600 in Spring Training this year. Rule 5 Draft selection Elvis Luciano will become the first Major Leaguer born in the 21st century when he ultimately debuts.
Washington (Roster | Top 30 Prospects) - Victor Robles, OF (No. 1, No. 4 overall)
Robles likely would have established himself as a regular in the Nats' outfield last year had he not suffered a hyperextended left elbow that ultimately cost him three months, effectively wiping out his entire first half. He still performed well as a September callup, his second in as many years, and was one of the team’s top hitters this spring, producing a .321/.431/.509 line and leading the team in hits (17), runs (13) and steals (7). He’s set to take over as the Nats’ center fielder at age 21.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.