6 prospect comparisons: Who would you take?

August 22nd, 2019

The Minors haven't seen a 30-30 player since Joc Pederson slammed 33 homers and stole 30 bases in 2014, though that should change any day now thanks to two of the best prospects in baseball. White Sox outfielder Luis Robert is just one home run short and Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker is just one stolen base away.

Robert turned 22 earlier this month and will be the youngest 30-30 player since 21-year-old Chin-Feng Chen accomplished the feat in 1999. Andruw Jones was just 19 when he did so in 1996 and punctuated that year by batting .400 with a pair of homers in the World Series.

I love answering these types of questions, so I asked you guys to bombard me with them this week and you did. Choosing between the last two No. 1 overall picks, Tigers right-hander Mize and Orioles catcher Rutschman, is difficult.

Mize, who was shut down for the remainder of the year yesterday, is the best pitching prospect in baseball because he has the best combination of stuff and polish, including uncanny command of a nearly unhittable splitter. He looks like a future No. 1 starter -- and yet I'd take Rutschman because it's harder to find a catcher that talented. The best catching prospect of the single-Draft era, he's a switch-hitter who combines the offensive upside of Mark Teixeira with Gold Glove potential.

White Sox outfielder vs. Angels outfielder:

This was the most popular question of the week, with five different readers posing it. These are the game's two best outfield prospects, with Adell ranking No. 4 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list and Robert right behind him at No. 5.

They're both center fielders with all-around tools, and they've destroyed Minor League pitching when healthy. I can't go wrong with either, and I'll take Adell because he's 20 months younger and controls the strike zone a little better.

Tigers outfielder vs. Mariners outfielder:

The top high school outfielders in the last two Drafts, Kelenic went No. 6 overall to the Mets in 2018 (and got shipped to the Mariners in the Edwin Diaz/Robinson Cano trade) while Greene went No. 5 overall to the Tigers this June. They're both left-handed hitters with similar builds and offensive profiles.

Scouts who saw them as amateurs projected Greene with more power potential at the same stage, though that's a wash now that Kelenic has slugged .530 while rushing to Double-A during his first full pro season. They'll be similar offensive performers, with Kelenic getting the edge here because he has more speed, defensive ability and arm strength.

Reds left-hander vs. Red Sox lefty & seven-time All-Star:

Lodolo was the best of a historically thin crop of college pitchers in the 2019 Draft, going seventh overall as the first arm selected. Sale has had the best career thus far of any player from the 2010 Draft, though he slid to the White Sox at No. 13 because of concerns about his low arm slot and his desire for a big league contract.

I was all-in on Sale in 2010, viewing him as the best player available after the clearly defined top three (Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon, Manny Machado), and in my mind he was clearly superior to Lodolo at the same stage of their careers. Sale dominated more in college (including ranking as the top prospect in the Cape Cod League the summer before he got drafted) and showed the potential for plus stuff across the board with control and command to match, while Lodolo earns more solid grades for his pitches and ability to locate them. Lodolo deserved to go where the Reds took him but Sale was one of the more underrated first-rounders of the last decade.

Angels shortstop vs. Cubs outfielder:

Both of these 2018 second-rounders have impressed this summer at age 19. Jackson homered three times last Thursday and has seven long balls in his last 10 games, boosting his line at Rookie-level Orem to .271/.341/.640 with a Pioneer League-best 21 home runs. Davis has batted .298/.371/.509 with seven homers in low Class A, playing in just 48 games while being sidelined by multiple finger injuries.

Jackson was more famous in the 2018 Draft and scouts considered him one of the best hitters in the high school crop, while Davis was a former basketball standout further away from his ceiling in baseball. He has proven more advanced than expected and I'll take him over Jackson because he's a more advanced hitter with similar power upside and more speed and long-term defensive value.

Projected 2020 No. 1 overall pick vs. 2018 No. 1 overall pick:

Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock tops our new 2020 Draft college prospect rankings and is the current favorite to go No. 1 overall. Like Mize, he's a Southeastern Conference right-hander who pounds the strike zone with quality stuff and was shut down for two starts during his sophomore season.

Hancock can reach 98 mph with his fastball, flashes a wipeout slider and a plus changeup, and he also throws an effective curveball. He might throw a tick harder than Mize did at the same stage, but Mize was a better prospect because he had that incomparable splitter, slightly better all-around stuff and better control and command.