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Which Top 100 prospect makes jump next?

@JonathanMayo
August 8, 2019

The past week and a half has been a good one if you’re a fan of seeing Top 100 prospects get called up to the big leagues. And who isn’t? Bo Bichette’s been raking for the Blue Jays, Dustin May has now made two big league starts for the Dodgers

The past week and a half has been a good one if you’re a fan of seeing Top 100 prospects get called up to the big leagues. And who isn’t?

Bo Bichette’s been raking for the Blue Jays, Dustin May has now made two big league starts for the Dodgers and Marlins second baseman Isan Diaz homered off of Jacob deGrom for his first big league hit.

That makes me wonder: Which Top 100 prospect do you want to see get a shot next?

Sadly, no one submitted that question, but I’m going to answer it anyway. I’m not exactly going out on a limb here, but I’d really like to see the White Sox bring up Luis Robert. Our No. 5 overall prospect can do it all and already has a 20-30 season while posting an OPS over 1.000 across three Minor League levels. And he just turned 22! Who wouldn’t want to see that toolset let loose in Chicago as the White Sox continue to improve via their rebuilding effort?

The questions that did come in this week, even if they were not about Luis Robert, were very interesting to ponder:

The 2014 Astros went 70-92, finishing fourth in the NL West that year. But it was clear good times were on the way, and Houston was a Wild Card team the following season. That ’14 big league roster was full of 20-somethings, with a lineup led by a 24-year-old Jose Altuve, who won his first Silver Slugger that year, and rookie George Springer. A young rotation was topped by Dallas Keuchel, who would win the American League Cy Young Award in that Wild Card season.

Meanwhile, the farm system was topped by 2012 No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa and was ranked No. 8 in our Top 10 farm systems before the start of the 2015 season. It rose to as high as No. 3 on that list in our 2016 midseason ranking. Using that core in Houston and supplementing it with players called up from, and traded from, the farm system, allowed the Astros to win it all in 2017.

Let’s explore how the Blue Jays measure up.

Exciting young core at the big league? Check. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Danny Jansen and now Bo Bichette represent the future of this lineup, one that could wreak havoc in the AL East for a long time to come. The pitching isn’t quite the same as Houston’s in 2014, as there’s no Keuchel (maybe Sean Reid-Foley becomes that type, but not sure about that one). But there’s no question much of Toronto’s future offensively is up in the big leagues now.

Strong, up-and-coming farm system? Check. It came in at No. 10 on our recently revealed top 15 farm systems rankings and it ranked No. 5 in the 2018 midseason top 10 and 2019 preseason list. Even with Vlad Jr. graduating, there’s still talent. And while it can be argued they didn’t get enough in return from their trades, they did acquire top 10 organizational prospects in Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson to back up Nate Pearson, who is rapidly becoming one of the top pitching prospects in the game.

Obviously, the comparison will only hold up if Toronto can turn things around and reach the postseason, as Houston did. That might be a more daunting task in the AL East, but for now, I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Atkins was pretty on target.

I have an unofficial rule that if I get multiple questions about one player, I do my best to answer it that week. So here we are, discussing Tarik Skubal. And while much of the talk about Tigers pitching prospects centers around right-handers Casey Mize and Matt Manning, Skubal’s emergence in his first full season makes him a very worthy subject.

The Tigers rolled the dice a bit on Skubal when they drafted him, being that he missed much of 2016 and all of 2017 at Seattle University because of Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2018, but he was inconsistent. Still, the Tigers liked the upside and the left-handedness and went over pick value to sign him in the eighth round. His brief, but solid summer pro debut was a preview of what was to come and he has pitched his way to Double-A in his first full season. He’s been durable and dominant, striking out a combined 12.7 per nine while walking only 2.7. He has three at least above-average pitches and has shown impressive mound presence to boot.

In other words, he’s become one of the more intriguing left-handed pitching prospects in the game in a short amount of time. That’s why he made that No. 20-to-No. 4 jump on the Tigers’ Top 30, especially as he’s proven the elbow surgery is clearly in the rearview mirror. And Moe? Nothing is keeping him from being discussed as a Top 100 prospect. Trust me, he has been. Don’t be surprised if you see him sneak on there as we need replacements between now and the end of the 2019 season.

This is a tricky one to answer because I might pick a player who seems “under-discussed” on the national stage but in his team’s market, he might be all the rage. That’s why I won’t pick Padres catching prospect Luis Campusano for this one, though that’s also because he’s kind of already had a breakout this year and is in our Top 10 catching prospects list already.

So I’ll go in a different direction, though I am staying in California by picking Angels No. 10 prospect D’Shawn Knowles. He’s raw, he’s toolsy and he’s only 18 while currently playing in the rookie-level Pioneer League. He signed in July 2017 for $850,000 and kind of jumped on the map with a very strong pro (and United States) debut in 2018. He’s been a bit more uneven this year, but I still believe in the tools and upside. Plus, he’s Bahamian. It’s possible I have the Bahamas on the brain after interviewing new Marlins prospect Jazz Chisholm for this week’s Pipeline Podcast and watching the D-backs’ Kristian Robinson be the 2018 version of that under-discussed breakout player.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly MLB Pipeline Podcast.