MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list and all of its other rankings are about long-term potential. They are lined up based on who will be the best big leaguers five, 10 years down the road.
But for many on the list, that future is going to start right now, or at least at some point during the upcoming season. Just who is primed to make an impact in the big leagues in 2018? Here are six players from each league who could take the opportunity of playing time and run with it, perhaps all the way to a Rookie of the Year Award. Players on these lists are ranked according to their short-term potential, with their rank on Prospect Watch in parentheses.
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1. Shohei Ohtani, RHP/OF, Angels (1): He has to be atop any potential ROY list, right? The very nature of what he is trying to do, play both ways at the highest level, will impact the game in a big way.
2. Austin Hays, OF, Orioles (23): The 2016 third-round pick surprised many by playing his way from the Class A Advanced Carolina League up to the big leagues, with a .958 OPS in the Minors along the way. He will be given an opportunity to win a corner outfield spot this spring and his power will play in the big leagues.
3. Willy Adames, SS/2B, Rays (22): It might have been a little surprising Adames didn't get a September callup in 2017, but he was helping Durham win the Governor's Cup in the International League. He had a terrific second half and should get a long look for Tampa Bay's infield this spring.
4. Willie Calhoun, OF, Rangers (53): The hit and power tools are as legit as they come, with 69 homers in 333 Minor League games. A defensive home has always been the one question, but it looks like left field could be his for a long time. Wherever he plays, that bat is ready for the big leagues.
5. Brent Honeywell, RHP, Rays (12): Another upper-level Rays prospect who will impact the big league club in a big way in 2018. His combination of stuff, command and competitiveness on the mound points to a future near or at the top of a rotation. It's a question of when, not if, it starts to happen in 2018.
6. Gleyber Torres, INF, Yankees (5): Torres is only at the bottom of this list because he is coming back from Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow. He's going to get a chance to make the Opening Day roster and there are openings at second and third, potentially. Even if he goes to Triple-A to work off rust, he's going to see time on the Yankees infield this year.
1. Lewis Brinson, OF, Marlins (27): The key prospect in the trade that made Christian Yelich a Brewer, Brinson has some big league time under his belt. Don't draw any conclusions from that small sample size. He has an exciting power-speed combination and if he stays with his gameplan, he's going to take full advantage of his opportunity in Miami.
2. Jorge Alfaro, C, Phillies (No. 6 catcher): Like Brinson, Alfaro has a clear path to a regular big league job. He's always shown off glimpses of his power bat at the plate and arm behind it. If he can take a step forward in his overall approach as a hitter and with his receiving skills as a catcher, he will open a lot of eyes.
3. Luiz Gohara, LHP, Braves (49): Gohara went from the Class A Advanced Florida State League all the way to Atlanta in 2017 as he started to transform himself from a tantalizing hard-throwing lefty to a complete pitcher. He's still hitting the upper-90s with ease, but his secondary stuff all got better, as did his strike-throwing ability, putting him in line to step full-time into the Braves' rotation.
4. J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies (37): Alfaro isn't the only rookie worth watching in Philadelphia in 2018. Crawford got his first callup last year, but played a lot of third and some second. With Freddy Galvis gone, the everyday shortstop gig is his. He's had some ups and downs, but look for him to settle in as the next exciting young shortstop in the NL East.
5. Max Fried, LHP, Braves (83): Fried had an up-and-down 2017 season, but threw better during his time in the big leagues and was one of the best pitchers in the Arizona Fall League. His September callup and that AFL stint should act as springboards to putting it all together as he tries to find a full-time home in Atlanta's rotation.
6. Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves (2): In terms of total upside, no one on this list surpasses Acuna, who turned in one of the best Minor League seasons in recent memory in 2017, then capped it off with an MVP performance in the AFL. Even if he doesn't break into the big leagues right away, the five-tool talent will force his way up. If he does it sooner rather than later, it's easy to see him surpassing everyone on this list.