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Inbox: Prospects who could be All-Stars

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

We're getting closer and closer to prospect ranking season at MLB Pipeline. Can you feel the excitement building?

As I write this week's Inbox, we are putting the finishing touches on our Top 10 by position lists. The first one, for right-handed pitching, comes Tuesday, a day after Jim Callis unveils his all-defensive prospect team. Over the next two weeks, all of those lists -- RHP, LHP, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF -- will go live as a precursor to our new Top 100 list. That will come to you on Saturday, Jan. 27, in conjunction with the hour-long special on MLB Network (8 p.m. ET), also streamed right here on MLB.com.

We're getting closer and closer to prospect ranking season at MLB Pipeline. Can you feel the excitement building?

As I write this week's Inbox, we are putting the finishing touches on our Top 10 by position lists. The first one, for right-handed pitching, comes Tuesday, a day after Jim Callis unveils his all-defensive prospect team. Over the next two weeks, all of those lists -- RHP, LHP, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF -- will go live as a precursor to our new Top 100 list. That will come to you on Saturday, Jan. 27, in conjunction with the hour-long special on MLB Network (8 p.m. ET), also streamed right here on MLB.com.

So I definitely had lists and rankings on the brain as I picked out questions this week. Enjoy!

Tweet from @DrMikeTanner: if u had to plant your flag on one hitter & one pitcher outside the top 20 to be sn all/star, who would they be?

Check out the video for my answer to this one. I did have the benefit of having a sense of which prospects are making bigger leaps on the 2018 Top 100 list, so that definitely helped inform my decision to pick Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres as my hitter and the Astros' Forrest Whitley as my pitcher.

Tweet from @Ryan_Lee31: Who is the non top ten guy whose name everyone will know by the end of 2018. Kinda like Rhys Hoskins in 2017

Rhys Hoskins was No. 12 on the Phillies' preseason list a year ago and there have been many who have complained, quite loudly, that he's always been under-ranked. That's extremely possible. Looking at our current Top 30s (I'm not giving anything else away about our new lists), there are several prospects who are not in their team's top 10, but could make big leaps forward in 2018. I'm going to stay away from 2017 draftees because they're just starting out and I think this is more about established Minor Leaguers.

It's hard to pick just one, but I think I would have to go with Brewers outfielder Monte Harrison. He's currently No. 14 on the Brewers' Top 30 list and while the 2018 version of that list has yet to be compiled (I don't even do Milwaukee's list), there is no question he'll be making a big jump forward before the season even begins.

The immensely toolsy outfielder really started to put things together in 2017, putting injuries behind him and getting out of low-A ball while turning in a 20-20 season. Then he went to the Arizona Fall League and managed to hit five homers in just 53 at-bats and opened a ton of eyes even though he was only playing twice a week as a member of the taxi squad. Those of us who saw him in the AFL are already buzzing about him, and not just because of the mini-documentary we did with him and Corey Ray. The dude can play and I, for one, can't wait to see what he does for an encore this season.

Video: Ray, Harrison on their friendship, path to MLB

Tweet from @Ohiovoterbear: So even though the Reds have had a strong Farm they have never cracked the top five and barely the top 10. Is that just because their talent was so spread out? What they have been a top five Farm if the talent was closer together?

I didn't want this to just be about player rankings. While we don't rank all 30 farm systems, we do put out a top 10 every year (actually, twice a year; we'll do it again when we re-rank the prospects in the summer.). And it's true: The Reds have flirted with the top 10, typically at the back end of it.

I agree that they have had a very solid system over the last few years, especially as they flipped the switch and went into rebuild mode. And it's nothing to sneeze at being in the 8-12 range annually. I see two reasons for the Reds not ranking higher. The first is a lack of high-level impact talent over the years. It's been more a system of depth and very good players, and not so many All-Star caliber types, which can impact an organizational ranking. Now, that's starting to change, and the Nick Senzel-Hunter Greene-Taylor Trammell trifecta is very intriguing. I'd like to see Trammell work his way to the upper echelons of the Top 100 before saying that trio means the Reds deserve a bump up.

Video: Senzel discusses his development, looks ahead to '18

The other thing holding the Reds ranking back has been that as deep as the system has seemed -- and there is talent 1-30 and beyond -- some of those good/not great players haven't really panned out as well as hoped. Hitters like Eric Jagielo, even Phil Ervin, though he made it to the big leagues in 2017, come to mind. First-round pitchers like Nick Howard and Nick Travieso have gotten hurt or stalled because of control issues. Overall, the system is heading in a very good direction and will continue to funnel good players to Cincinnati. A year from now, if that big three takes another step forward and some of the depth comes through, then perhaps we can talk about them as a top five system.

Tweet from @LavergneRene: Do you see Fernando Romero of the Twins being someone like Severino of the Yanks?

Romero is a right-handed pitching prospect who I think is a touch under-appreciated. Sure he's on our current Top 100 at No. 71 overall, but you don't really hear his name mentioned much when top righties in the Minors are discussed.

I'm sure all Twins fans would love to see Romero be a Severino type in the near future, especially after Severino had an All-Star season and finished third in American League Cy Young voting. Both are 23 years old, but whether Romero can match Severino in other areas remains to be seen. Talking to evaluators who know both pitchers well, the comp isn't a terrible one. Romero's ceiling might be Severino-ish. But that's if everything completely clicks and there's some question over whether Romero has that high end to his stuff and his mound presence.

Video: Top Prospects: Fernando Romero, RHP, Twins

Don't get me wrong here. Romero has more than enough stuff to impact a big league rotation and while he faded in the final month of the 2017 season, it was a very good year considering it was his second full season post-Tommy John surgery. It's just that Severino's stuff is a bit more electric and he has an intimidation factor on the mound Romero might not quite possess. But hey, even if he comes close to what Severino looks like now, you wouldn't be upset with that, right?

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.