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Inbox: Which non-Top 10 prospect could jump to No. 1?

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

Astros first baseman A.J. Reed surged to the Minor League home run crown, going deep 10 times in July and 11 times in August (plus once in September) to finish with 34, two more than Austin Hays (Orioles), Renato Nunez (Athletics) and Christian Walker (D-backs). It's the second home run title for Reed, who also topped the Minors with 34 in his first full pro season in 2015.

Reed, who once ranked as the best first-base prospect in baseball, didn't take advantage of an opportunity to win a starting job in Houston last year and no longer qualifies as a rookie or a prospect. Though it's unclear when he'll get another chance, the Astros may have an opening at designated hitter in 2018.

Astros first baseman A.J. Reed surged to the Minor League home run crown, going deep 10 times in July and 11 times in August (plus once in September) to finish with 34, two more than Austin Hays (Orioles), Renato Nunez (Athletics) and Christian Walker (D-backs). It's the second home run title for Reed, who also topped the Minors with 34 in his first full pro season in 2015.

Reed, who once ranked as the best first-base prospect in baseball, didn't take advantage of an opportunity to win a starting job in Houston last year and no longer qualifies as a rookie or a prospect. Though it's unclear when he'll get another chance, the Astros may have an opening at designated hitter in 2018.

Reed's power and on-base skills are intriguing, though history isn't on his side. The last player to lead the Minors in homers more than once was Phil Hiatt, with 42 in 1996 and 44 in 2001. Hiatt's big league career consisted of a .216/.278/.367 line with 13 homers in 463 plate appearances. 

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Tweet from @Athonymgent: Which player(s) outside the top 10 has a chance to be the #1 prospect in baseball before they get called up?

I meant to tackle Anthony's question from early July after we completed revamping all of MLBPipeline.com's prospect lists later that month, but I forgot about it until now. The most obvious candidates are young, advanced players who will have time to ascend to No. 1.

Looking at current iteration of our Top 100, I came up with three pitchers (Reds right-hander Hunter Greene at No. 20, Padres left-hander MacKenzie Gore at No. 28, Astros righty Forrest Whitley at No. 39) and four position players (Blue Jays middle infielder Bo Bichette at No. 29, Nationals outfielder Juan Soto at No. 41, Braves shortstop Kevin Maitan at No. 43, Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. at No. 57). While some of those rankings may seem low, note that the list is from mid-July and several of those players will rocket up the list when we overhaul it again during the offseason.

In general, hitters are better bets than pitchers, so it's more likely one of them would rank as No. 1. In the 14 years since MLB.com started publishing preseason prospect lists in 2004, David Price ('09) and Matt Moore ('12) are the only pitchers to claim the top spot. My best bet to jump from outside the current top 10 to No. 1 in the future would be Soto, because he offers the best combination of hitting ability and power of the four I listed.

Video: Top Prospects: Juan Soto, OF, Nationals

Tweet from @chris_d_davies: With the Indians trying Mejia at 3B in AZ, do you think he has a long-term future at C? Would a bad showing at 3B hurt his prospect status?

While Francisco Mejia will play third base in the Arizona Fall League, that's more an exploration of ways to expedite his bat into the Indians' big league lineup than an indictment of his catching ability. He needs to continue to improve his receiving, blocking and game-calling, but he has a cannon arm and should be able to develop into an average defender behind the plate.

Video: CLE@CWS: Mejia collects first MLB hit with RBI single

Keeping Mejia as a catcher would require at least another year of development and also would detract from his considerable offensive potential. After setting a modern Minor League record with a 50-game hitting streak in 2016, he batted .297/.346/.490 as a 21-year-old in Double-A but also seemed worn down and tailed off in the second half. Mejia will hit more if he doesn't have to deal with the rigors of catching, and his other position options would be third base (currently occupied by All-Star Jose Ramirez in Cleveland) and first base (where the Indians use former offensive-minded catcher Carlos Santana).

Tweet from @obsgiantscompul: Is Kyle Crick the biggest prospect surprise on Giants this season? Or Chris Stratton? Or Slater? Can they continue to do well in majors?

This question comes from a Giants blogger, and I answer it in the video at the top of this story.

What are your thoughts on Brewers right-hander Corbin Burnes? What is his upside? He has been great this year in the Minors.
-- Gary C., Appomattox, Va.

My first thought on Burnes is that a lot of clubs probably rue letting him last 111 picks in the 2016 Draft before the Brewers grabbed him in the fourth round and signed him at slot value for $536,400. He had generated some supplemental first-round buzz after starring in the Cape Cod League and at St. Mary's, and he didn't figure to last past the second round.

Since turning pro, Burnes has gone 11-3 with a 1.74 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 181 1/3 innings. He ranked third in the Minors in ERA (1.67) and WHIP (0.95) in 2017, reaching Double-A two months into his first full season. At this rate, Burnes will surface in Milwaukee's rotation at some point next year.

A potential No. 3 starter, Burnes doesn't overpower hitters but he has a solid four-pitch repertoire. He usually sits around 92-94 mph and maxes out at 97 with his fastball, doing a good job of pounding the bottom of the strike zone and eliciting ground balls. There's some debate as to whether Burnes' slider or his splitter/changeup is his best secondary offering, and he also uses a curveball.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

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