It might seem like the report date for pitchers and catchers will never get here. A sure sign that the 2019 season is just around the corner? The release of MLB Pipeline's new Top 100 Prospects list.
This year's rankings start, unsurprisingly, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who finished the 2018 season atop the Top 100 as one of the greatest hitting prospects in memory. Guerrero is one of many prospects on this list sure to make an impact in the big leagues in 2019, so pay close attention.
Those on the list must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or have accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club(s) during the 25-player-limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service. The rankings continue to follow the guidelines laid out by the Collective Bargaining Agreement in terms of who falls under the international pool money rules. Players who are at least 25 years old and have played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
:: Complete 2019 Top 100 Prospects coverage ::
The Top 100 is put together by myself, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, with input from industry sources, including scouts and front-office executives. It is based on analysis of players' upsides, tools and potential Major League impact.
The Top 10
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays
- Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres
- Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox
- Victor Robles, OF, Nationals
- Royce Lewis, SS, Twins
- Nick Senzel, 3B/2B/OF, Reds
- Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros
- Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros
- Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins
- Brendan Rodgers, IF, Rockies
Complete list »
Members of the 2018 Draft and international signing classes weren't professionals yet at this time a year ago, so they don't count as newcomers. But beyond that group, there are new faces compared to 2018.
There are 36 prospects on this year's list who didn't make it a year ago. Two of the newcomers are in the top 15. Twins outfielder Alex Kirilloff missed the 2017 season following Tommy John surgery, so he wasn't on the list at the start of last year. But after leading the Minors in total bases, while finishing third in batting average and seventh in RBIs, he has moved up to No. 9 on the list as one of the best pure hitters in the Minor Leagues.
Joining him is Rays shortstop Wander Franco at No. 13 overall. Franco signed in July 2017, but didn't make his pro debut until last summer, when he dominated the Appalachian League (.351/.418/.587). His full-season debut in 2019 is eagerly anticipated.
What about those who were in the Top 100 last year and made a huge jump up the list? That group is led by Nationals shortstop Carter Kieboom, who began the 2018 season ranked No. 90 overall and comes in at No. 25 this time around. Braves third baseman Austin Riley jumped from No. 97 to No. 38. Angels outfielder Jo Adell (No. 62 to No. 14), A's lefty Jesus Luzardo (No. 60 to No. 12) and White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease (No. 61 to No. 21) are the other prospects to move 40 or more spots.
Of course, not everyone stepped forward. There were 26 players from the 2018 preseason list who didn't make the cut this edition. Orioles outfielder Austin Hays fell the farthest, going from No. 23 to off the Top 100 after struggling in 2018, a year after a huge breakout first full season of pro ball. Rangers outfielder Leody Taveras, Padres right-hander Cal Quantrill, Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Alford and Braves lefty Luiz Gohara were all in the Top 50 a year ago, but find themselves beyond the Top 100 this year.
Among those who fell, but stayed in the Top 100, is Tigers right-hander Franklin Perez, who slipped from No. 39 to No. 78. Padres right-hander Michel Baez, Giants outfielder Heliot Ramos and Astros righty J.B. Bukauskas all slid more than 20 spots.
A total of 25 members of the 2018 preseason Top 100 list graduated to the big leagues last season. That includes three from the Top 10, and both Rookie of the Year Award winners in 2018. No. 1 prospect Shohei Ohtani won American League ROY honors, while No. 2 prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. did the same in the National League. Dodgers righty Walker Buehler (No. 13), Nationals outfielder Juan Soto (No. 29) and Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty (No. 38) all graduated and received NL ROY votes. Yankees teammates Gleyber Torres, who was No. 5 on the list, and Miguel Andujar (No. 65) got votes in the AL.
Pitching typically reigns supreme on the Top 100 list, and this year is no different. With 37 right-handers and 10 lefties, there are 47 pitchers on the list. That's one more than last year, and more than 2017 (42) and '16 (39), tied with 2015, but still shy of 2014's total of 49.
Outfielders are next, with 19 representatives, including four in the top 10. There are 12 shortstops and 11 third basemen, the highest number of those who man the hot corner to make the Top 100. Seven catchers, three second basemen and a first baseman round out the list.
Feeling the Draft
The 2018 Draft class is well represented, with 13 first-rounders making the list for the first time. The No. 1 pick, Tigers right-hander Casey Mize, is the highest ranked at No. 17, followed closely by the No. 2 overall pick, Giants catcher Joey Bart (No. 22). White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal (No. 47), the No. 4 pick last June, is the only other 2018 Draft selection to crack the Top 50. There are 68 former draftees on the Top 100 overall.
The 32 international signees on the list (Canadians count on the draftee list) represent 10 countries. The Dominican Republic leads the way with 13 Top 100 prospects, including the top four on the list. There are seven Cubans and four Venezuelans, with Colombia (two) being the only other country with multiple representatives. The Bahamas, Brazil, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama have one player each on the list.