This college star could be a Top 10 prospect in '20

January 31st, 2019

By now you've probably heard that MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list is out. We've sliced it and diced it every way you can imagine, from breaking down the list to looking at the top tools and team representation. We even have this snazzy infographic with all of the grades.
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In other words, there's plenty for any prospect fan to digest. And after doing our annual Twitter chat on Monday, we realized people had a lot more questions about the list. I'm sure there will be more to come as we roll out our Top 30 team lists in February, but you know where to find us when the time comes.

I always enjoy this type of question. I haven't really thought much about the Draft guys since we put out our Top 50 list back in December. But the college season is just around the corner with Rutschman's first game with Oregon State coming on Feb. 15. And he was No. 1 on that list and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, should be in the conversation to go No. 1 overall to the Orioles.
The quick answer is to look at where we put the top players from the 2018 Draft on this year's Top 100. Casey Mize, taken by the Tigers No. 1 overall, is at No. 17. Catcher Joey Bart, the Giants' choice at No. 2 overall, is at No. 22. Mize was ranked No. 1 on our Draft Top 200 last year, while Bart came in at No. 6. While No. 5 prospect Carter Stewart didn't sign, Nos. 2-4 are all on the Top 100: Brady Singer (No. 54), Nick Madrigal (No. 47) and Matt Liberatore (No. 55), listed in order of their Draft Top 200 ranking.
We can also take a look historically at what we've done in that first preseason list after a player has been drafted. Mize, at No. 17, is the highest preseason debut since was No. 8 and Brendan Rodgers was No. 12 on the 2016 list. In '15, was the No. 14 prospect on the Top 100. We do get excited about new draftees, but we try to temper our enthusiasm at least a little bit.

So where does that leave Rutschman? I would rank Rutschman ahead of Bart if we're comparing college catchers as apples to apples. So that means in the low 20s would be his floor. In retrospect, we jumped out of the gate on Swanson a bit too much, in my opinion, so No. 8 might be a stretch.
On this current list, I could see Rutschman slotting in somewhere in that Mize-to-Bart range, so let's put him at No. 17 and move Mize to 18. As for next year, if he replicates his monster sophomore season again as a junior, I could see him cementing himself as the No. 1 pick in June and debuting on our 2020 preseason list somewhere between where Swanson and Rodgers ranked in their debut. How does the end of the Top 10 sound?

I think we could (or anyone could) argue over who the next best hitters who didn't make the list might be. And stay tuned for our story on Friday that highlights one prospect from each team who would be the next on the Top 100.
While I like many on your list, I will tell you that not too many of them are currently on the "next up" group. I don't want to give away any of the players who will be the one example chosen for each organization on Friday, but personally, I really like Elehuris Montero from the Cardinals, from the Marlins (he's been on the Top 100 before), Evan White from the Mariners and Vidal Brujan from the Rays. That's not in any "official" order, mind you, just guys from your 10 who I could see joining the Top 100 when replacements are needed over the course of the 2019 season. White is on the Top 10 first basemen list and Brujan is on the second basemen list, not that their placement there is a guarantee of future Top 100 glory.

Santillan has been the most popular subject for the "Why didn't [insert player here] make the Top 100?" question since the list came out on Saturday. Greg gets to be the official spokesman for the "Give Tony respect" club for style points. Plus, he's a dairy farmer, and that's pretty cool.
Answering 'D' would make everyone happy, wouldn't it? But then I'd have to admit publicly we were wrong, and where's the fun in that? I will agree that an easy argument can be made for him to be included on the list after reaching Double-A at age 21 and pitching relatively well there. Yes, it's very encouraging that his control took a large step forward, but his hit rate jumped up and his strikeout rate went down. Neither of those things were alarming, but given that it's tough to pick only 100 guys, it figures into things to an extent.
In addition, while we don't run our list by every single scout or front-office executive, we do get feedback from a lot of people whose opinion we trust. Santillan was on a list of "others to consider" with the draft of our Top 100, and we did not get any feedback to add him to the list. I think that if he breaks out of the gate well in 2019, he's one who could get added to the list fairly quickly.