MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2019 Top 100 Prospects list on Saturday with a one-hour show on MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
Ronald Acuña Jr. headlined MLB Pipeline's 2018 list of the Top 10 outfield prospects before making his big league debut last April and garnering National League Rookie of the Year honors at age 20. He edged then-19-year-old Juan Soto, No. 9 on last year's list, for the award, though both players established themselves as potential generational talents.
Top 10 Prospects by Position
In the American League, two-way star Shohei Ohtani captured the circuit's ROY award after checking in as MLB Pipeline's No. 4 outfielder prior to the season. Ohtani, of course, never actually appeared as an outfielder in a game and was limited by the Angels to designated-hitter duties. He still made an impact with his bat, slashing .285/.361/.564 with 22 home runs in 367 plate appearances.
It's very possible that we'll see another outfielder take home top-rookie honors in 2019, too.
Eloy Jiménez, who ranked second behind Acuna on last year's list, is MLB Pipeline's new top-ranked outfield prospect and is poised for success at the highest level. He and fellow White Sox prospect Luis Robert bookend a loaded Top 10 that's teeming with future All-Stars, all of whom could reach the Majors before the end of 2020.
The Top 10 (ETA)
- Eloy Jimenez, White Sox (2019)
- Victor Robles, Nationals (2019)
- Kyle Tucker, Astros (2019)
- Alex Kirilloff, Twins (2020)
- Jo Adell, Angels (2020)
- Taylor Trammell, Reds (2020)
- Alex Verdugo, Dodgers (2019)
- Cristian Pache, Braves (2020)
- Jesus Sanchez, Rays (2020)
- Luis Robert, White Sox (2020)
Complete list »
Best Hitter: Jimenez, Kirilloff (65)
Jimenez and Kirilloff confirmed in 2018 that they're both among the best hitters in the Minors. Jimenez torched upper-level pitching, hitting .337/.384/.577 (all career highs) between Double-A and Triple-A, and he owns a .327 average since reaching full-season ball in '16. After Tommy John surgery cost him all of 2017, Kirilloff returned to slash .348/.392/.578 and led the Minors in extra-base hits (71) and total bases (296) in his first full season.
Best Power: Jimenez (70)
Power has been Jimenez's calling card since he signed with the Cubs for $2.8 million in August 2013, and he got to it consistently in 2018, connecting on a career-high 22 home runs en route to a .577 slugging percentage that was sixth in the Minors among full-season outfielders. He applies his prodigious raw power from pole to pole, too, and does so without compromising his approach or feel to hit.
Fastest Runner: Robles (75)
Robles' sprint speed of 29.3 feet per second was second among Nats big leaguers last season, per Statcast™, and trailed only Trea Turner (30.1). Those wheels make him a burner on the basepaths -- he has 129 stolen bases in five Minor League seasons -- as well as a rangy defender in center field.
Best Arm: Robles, Verdugo, Pache (70)
All three players have plus-plus arm strength, and collectively they've recorded 130 outfield assists in the Minors. More than half belong to Verdugo, who has 59 career assists and hosed 24 baserunners back in 2015. Robles and Pache have 38 and 33 outfield assists, respectively, and each has had at least one season with 15-plus assists.
Best Defender: Robles, Pache (70)
In addition to having rocket arms, Robles and Pache are also Gold Glove-caliber defenders -- so much so that the duo comprise two-thirds of the outfield on MLB Pipeline's All-Defense Team. While there's little doubt that both will be anything but elite-level center fielders in the Majors, Pache is considered to be the better defender, perhaps even the best defensive prospect in the Minors.
Highest Ceiling: Jimenez
With pure hitting ability and massive power to all fields, Jimenez is the best offensive prospect in the Minors who isn't named Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He has MVP-type upside as a potential .300-plus hitter capable of hitting more than 30 home runs.
Highest Floor: Jimenez
That Jimenez has both the highest ceiling and highest floor speaks to the high probability of him becoming an impact hitter in the big leagues. Even if he doesn't reach his ceiling, Jimenez is a safe bet to be a middle-of-the-lineup force for a very long time.
Rookie of the Year Candidate: Jimenez
The White Sox kept Jimenez in the Minors for all of 2018 so that he could work on his defense, while also delaying the start of his service time, but it shouldn't be long until he finally arrives on the South Side. He'll immediately slot into the middle of the lineup when he does, and it might not be long until he's revered as one of baseball's elite young talents.
Highest Riser: Kirilloff
The Twins' first-round pick in 2016, Kirilloff won the Rookie-level Appalachian League MVP Award during his pro debut and appeared well on his way toward top-prospect status before Tommy John surgery ended his first full season before it began. Fully healthy in 2018, he established himself as an elite offensive prospect, finishing the year as MLB Pipeline's No. 10 overall prospect.
Humblest Beginning: Robles
The five Draft picks on the list were all selected within the top two rounds, and all but one of them received a nine-figure bonus. Among international players, Robles received the smallest bonus, signing for $225,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2013. He reached the Majors for the first time four years later at age 19.
Most to Prove: Robert
When the White Sox signed Robert for $26 million -- the second-highest ever for an amateur -- in May 2017, the expectation was that he would move quickly through the system. Instead, Robert's first two pro seasons were shortened by knee, ankle and thumb injuries. He made up for lost time and showcased his very loud tools during a successful Arizona Fall League campaign, perhaps setting up a breakout performance in 2019.
Keep An Eye On: Yordan Alvarez, Astros
The Dodgers signed Alvarez for $2 million in June 2016 and sent him to the Astros a month later -- before he had made his pro debut -- in a deadline deal for Josh Fields. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Alvarez has since developed into one of the game's best offensive prospects, hitting .299/.374/.507 with 32 homers in his first two full pro seasons while swiftly advancing to Triple-A.