I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season, and best wishes to all of you for a happy 2019! As we get to the final MLB Pipeline Inbox of 2018, thanks to the readers for sending in thought-provoking questions every week ... :: Submit a question to the Pipeline Inbox ::
I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season, and best wishes to all of you for a happy 2019! As we get to the final MLB Pipeline Inbox of 2018, thanks to the readers for sending in thought-provoking questions every week ...
:: Submit a question to the Pipeline Inbox ::
We're going to have to wait a little while longer for the first big leaguer born in the 2000s. At this point, the youngest player to appear in the Majors is Juan Soto, whose birthdate is Oct. 25, 1998. It wasn't until last June that we had the first players from the 2000s ever drafted, starting with three first-rounders: Cardinals third baseman Nolan Gorman (May 10, 2000), Red Sox corner infielder Triston Casas (Jan. 15, 2000) and Indians catcher Bo Naylor (Feb. 21, 2000).
There are three players born this millennium on MLB Pipeline's current Top 100 Prospects list (which we'll update in late January): Rays shortstop Wander Franco (March 1, 2001) at No. 14, Gorman at No. 73 and Nationals shortstop Luis Garcia (May 16, 2000) at No. 81.
Though he's the youngest of the five players mentioned above, Franco is my pick. He's ridiculously talented as a hitter and tore up the Rookie-level Appalachian League at age 17 last summer just like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. did in 2016. I think he'll rocket through the Minors just like Guerrero has and arrive in Tampa Bay toward the end of the '20 season or in early '21.
For more on this question, check out the video at the top of this Inbox.
Guerrero and Eloy Jimenez are the most obvious choices, while catcher was the toughest position to fill. Here's your 2019 All-Debut Team, based on their performance and opportunity next season rather than over the course of their careers:
Sean Murphy, C, Athletics
Peter Alonso, 1B, Mets
Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres
Yusniel Diaz, OF, Orioles
Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox
Nick Senzel, OF, Reds
Brendan Rodgers, UT, Rockies
Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics
Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros
As I mentioned in our overview of the 2019 Draft, this year's crop tilts very heavily toward position players at the top. The first six prospects on MLB Pipeline's Draft Top 50 are hitters, and we have only three pitchers in the Top 10.
A lot will change in the six months before the Orioles exercise the No. 1 overall choice on June 3 but as of now, three seems like the best guess for me. There are obvious caveats with all of the top pitching prospects in the 2019 class, and personally I'd take seven bats (Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., California first baseman Andrew Vaughn, Georgia prep shortstop C.J. Abrams, Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers, Texas Tech third baseman Josh Jung, Florida high school outfielder Riley Greene and maybe an eighth (Missouri outfielder Kameron Misner) before I'd seriously consider an arm.
The last Draft with just three pitchers in the first 10 picks happened all the way back in ... 2018. The Tigers spent the top choice on right-hander Casey Mize, but the only other arms in the top 10 were Padres left-hander Ryan Weathers and Braves righty Carter Stewart (who didn't sign).
Given the praise I heaped on Franco in the first question, it should come as no surprise that he's my answer to this one as well. My early prognostication for the 10 best prospects in the 16-team, low Class A Midwest League next season:
1. Wander Franco, SS, Bowling Green (Rays)
- Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Bowling Green (Rays)
- Nolan Gorman, 3B, Peoria (Cardinals)
- Ryan Weathers, LHP, Fort Wayne (Padres)
- Brice Turang, SS, Wisconsin (Brewers)
- Xavier Edwards, SS, Fort Wayne (Padres)
- Eric Pardinho, RHP, Lansing (Blue Jays)
- Jordan Groshans, SS/3B, Lansing (Blue Jays)
- Bo Naylor, C, Lake County (Indians)
- Alek Thomas, OF, Kane County (Diamondbacks)
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.