I wasn't sure my love for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as a prospect could grow any further, yet it has. After going 4-for-5 with two doubles and a homer Thursday, he's now hitting .415/.459//696 in 34 games as a 19-year-old in Double-A and of course has more walks (14) than strikeouts
I wasn't sure my love for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as a prospect could grow any further, yet it has. After going 4-for-5 with two doubles and a homer Thursday, he's now hitting .415/.459//696 in 34 games as a 19-year-old in Double-A and of course has more walks (14) than strikeouts (13). I'm not sure what his long-term defensive home will be, but there's no doubt in my mind that he could more than hold his own against big league pitching right now.
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Last year, 11 draftees made our MLB Pipeline's midseason Top 100 Prospects list. How many will this year? For my best guess, check out the video at the top of this column.
I loved the question Jonathan Mayo got in the May 3 Inbox regarding a team of players with the highest ceilings in the 2018 Draft, and I love this one too. Here's my all-floor team, using our current Top 100 Draft Prospects list (which expands to 200 next week) to determine the candidates:
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Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech
Alec Bohm, 1B, Wichita State
Nick Madrigal, 2B, Oregon State
Jonathan India, 3B, Florida
Cadyn Grenier, SS, Oregon State
Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wis.) West HS
Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama
Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma
Kris Bubic, LHP, Stanford
Logan Gilbert, RHP, Stetson
Matt Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS (Glendale, Ariz.)
Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
For the position players, I targeted those who were safe bets to hit and remain at their current positions (and cheated a bit by moving Bohm from third base to first, where many scouts believe he'll wind up). For the pitchers, I focused on the ability to throw strikes with multiple quality pitches. Because there's less projection involved with college players, they dominated the team, though I did manage to put the best high school hitter (Kelenic) and most polished prep arm (Liberatore) on there.
Liberatore and Madrigal were the only players to make both the all-ceiling and all-floor teams, and neither will make it out of the top 10 picks.
Trades and graduations have severely thinned out the Red Sox system since we ranked it baseball's best in August 2015. Nevertheless, I don't think it would make sense to become the first team to blow past its bonus pool by more than 5 percent and start forfeiting draft picks. If Boston exceeded its $5,723,300 allotment for the first 10 rounds by more than 15 percent, it would lose two first-rounders and pay a 100 percent penalty tax on the overage.
While the Red Sox were the most aggressive large-revenue contending team in the Draft before the bonus-pool rules came into play in 2012, it's too risky to go all-in now because of the uncertainty as to which players they'd get. They don't pick until No. 26 overall and by the time they choose again at No. 64, the teams with the two biggest pools will have made several selections, the Royals with five and the Rays with four. There are other clubs with money to spend who will have picked four times before Boston gets its third-rounder at No. 100.
In the days before bonus pools, where clubs could spend what they want and the majority of them heeded MLB's unofficial (and below-market) slots, it was easy to drive a player down into lower rounds by having him throw out a huge asking price. That's a lot harder to do today.
Let's say the Red Sox were willing to spend like crazy and would pay $6 million to Georgia high school right-hander Ethan Hankins, who entered the year as MLB Pipeline's No. 2-rated prospect but battled a muscular issue in his shoulder, and $5 million to California prep shortstop Brice Turang, who also had aspirations to go near the top of the Draft before his stock slipped this spring. Before 2012, Hankins and Turang could throw out those lofty asking prices and likely would fall to where Boston could pick them. These days, it's more likely that other teams would beat the Red Sox to Hankins and Turang and sign them to bonuses below the sticker price.
Despite getting called up on Monday, Reyes still is tied for the Minor League home run lead after slamming 14 in 36 Triple-A games at hitter-friendly El Paso. His immense raw power earned him a $700,000 bonus when he signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, and the Padres outfielder led the Double-A Texas League with 25 homers last summer.
Reyes is 22 and his power is interesting, but the same 6-foot-5, 275-pound frame that gives him strength and leverage also comes with long arms and a naturally long right-handed swing that creates swing-and-miss concerns. He lacks speed and has a below-average arm, so all of his value has to come from his bat. I'm curious to see how his pop translates in a less hospitable environment at Petco Park, but I need more production before I jump on the bandwagon.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.