Inbox: Why no Mancini on long-term rookie rankings?

Jim Callis answers fans' questions about baseball's future stars

September 21st, 2017

With the regular season winding down, I figured I'd check in on my big league predictions from April.

The good news: I projected the Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers as division winners, and it looks like I'll go 6-for-6. The bad news: I had the Rangers, Mariners, Giants and Mets as my Wild Card teams, and they all sport a losing record and have been eliminated from postseason contention. 

:: Submit a question to the Pipeline Inbox ::

Which second-round pick from the 2017 Draft will have the best chance to make the Top 100 Prospects list next year?

-- Asher L., Chicago

I always enjoy these sort of questions looking ahead to identify breakout players, and it's often difficult to narrow the answer down to just one. But in this case, I see an obvious answer: Rockies shortstop Ryan Vilade.

Vilade stood out before the Draft, winning the home run derby at the 2016 Under Armour All-America Game, starring with the U.S. 18-and-under national team later in the year and earning Gatorade's Oklahoma High School Player of the Year Award during the spring. After signing for $1,425,400, he was one of the youngest players (age 18) and top hitters (.308/.438/.496 with nearly as many walks as strikeouts) in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he missed the second half of August with back issues.

Vilade combines hitting ability, bat speed, strength and a solid approach, so he should hit for both average and power. While he may not have the quickness to stay at shortstop, he has a plus arm and will profile well offensively and defensively at third base. Vilade's makeup is off the charts.

Other 2017 second-rounders to watch, sorted by demographic: Athletics outfielder Greg Deichmann and White Sox first baseman Gavin Sheets (college hitters); Astros right-hander Corbin Martin (college pitcher); and Mariners righty Sam Carlson, Rangers righty Hans Crouse, Pirates righty Steven Jennings and Yankees righty Matt Sauer (high school arms).

Dennis refers to my long-term rookie rankings from last week. I excluded Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini, which created no small amount of furor on Twitter. I explain my reasoning in the video at the top of this story.

Unlike our first question, this one doesn't have an easy answer. The Braves already have , Mike Foltynewicz, , and in their big league rotation, all of whom have intriguing upside and none of whom is older than 26. In the Minors, they have as much quality pitching depth as anyone, starting with lefties Kolby Allard and Joey Wentz and righties Kyle Wright, Mike Soroka and Ian Anderson.

Though pitching prospects are volatile, and some certainly will fall by the wayside, I like the long-term future of the prospects more than those of the big leaguers. Teheran is under contract with a very affordable $12 million option in 2020, but he's also in the midst of his worst season and I wonder if he will get traded before then. To me, Foltynewicz, Newcomb, Sims and Gohara don't project as well as the Minor Leaguers. If the prospects stay healthy, I think they'll push that group to the bullpen or to different organizations via trade.

So my projected 2020 Braves rotation is Wright, Soroka, Allard, Wentz and Anderson, lining up in that order.

Will we see any under-20 prospects in the Arizona Fall League this year?

-- Tim K., Lena, Ill.

The youngest AFL player ever was Rangers shortstop Michael De Leon, who was 17 when he replaced an injured in 2014. Yankees shortstop famously became the youngest player ever to win the AFL batting title (.403) and AFL MVP Award when he did so last fall at age 19.

This year, three teenagers are on AFL Opening Day rosters. That group includes Top 100 Prospects and perhaps the two most exciting players in the league in 19-year-old outfielders Ronald Acuna (Peoria/Braves) and Estevan Florial (Scottsdale/Yankees). The third is lesser-known right-hander Andres Munoz (Peoria/Padres), who's just 18 but already can run his fastball into the triple digits.

There are eight 20-year-olds slated to play in the AFL, including three Top 100 Prospects in infielder Luis Urias (Peoria/Padres) and outfielders (Mesa/Nationals) and Kyle Tucker (Mesa/Astros). The others are first basemen Yordan Alvarez (Mesa/Astros) and (Peoria/Padres), third basemen Ryan Mountcastle (Salt River/Orioles) and Austin Riley (Peoria/Braves), and outfielder Cornelius Randolph (Glendale/Phillies).