Inbox: Who will be MLB's youngest player this year?

February 8th, 2018

The MLB Pipeline crew is working furiously to get all 30 team Top 30 Prospects lists ready. The order of the Top 100 overall rankings inform those lists, obviously, but soon enough, Prospect Watch will be brimming with 900 total reports.

It will all start with the American League East teams that don't have a top 10 farm system on Monday, Feb. 19, and will end with the unveiling of the No. 1 overall system on Friday, March 2 (you can see the entire rollout schedule here).

But we always have time to answer your questions, and I got a lot of really good ones this week. In this edition of the Pipeline Inbox, we'll look at young guys ready to hit the highest level, as well as those just starting out, a projection of farm systems and a fun exercise of forming a pitching prospect dream team, of sorts.

There are so many exciting options to answer this question, with a number of guys 20 or younger who could impact the big leagues in 2018. Check out the video above for my answer to this question.

The easiest place to start is the 2017 Draft class. No. 1 pick Royce Lewis already made it to full-season ball, so I'll leave him out of the answer even though I'm excited to see what he does over the course of a full year. I think I'd probably pick a pair of high school arms from the class, MacKenzie Gore and Hunter Greene, who are ranked No. 19 and 21 on our Top 100 Prospects list. Gore was quite impressive during his brief summer debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League, and I can see his combination of stuff and feel for pitching allowing him to move kind of quickly. Greene didn't pitch much last summer and this is his first time serving as a pitcher only after being a very talented two-way player in high school (Gore could hit in high school, too, but he wasn't considered a Draft prospect as a position player). I'm not exactly sure when Greene will get to Dayton and the Midwest League, but it will be an outstanding storyline to follow once he does.

I'd be remiss not to look at some international prospects as well. , who comes in at No. 28, played in the Dominican Summer League for the White Sox in 2017. He'll be stateside and could easily head all the way to the Class A Advanced Carolina League to start 2018. Watching how quickly Robert can move will be fun, for sure.

On the non-Top 100 front, I'll pick a few players from teams I do the Top 30s for who could make jumps onto the Top 100 with a strong full-season debut. On the mound, keep an eye out for right-hander Brusdar Graterol of the Twins, who has electric stuff. His organization-mate, shortstop Wander Javier, should also be making the jump to the Midwest League, and I expect him to be a Top 100 guy sooner rather than later. Finally, toolsy outfielder Brandon Marsh of the Angels, who had to shake off some early injuries but had a very good summer in 2017, should join those two in the Midwest League.

Obviously, some of this will be dependent on graduations, performances and additions via trade, the Draft and/or international signings. But interestingly enough, I think some of the teams considered at or near the top of farm system rankings will still be there a year from now based on how much depth they have and how young some of the talent is.

I don't want to give away too much of our top 10 farm system rankings, which will start to come on Tuesday, Feb. 27. But we haven't been shy about saying the Braves, White Sox and Padres (not in any order) seem to stand out more than other systems at present. All three could be there a year from now. For the White Sox, maybe graduates? Perhaps makes it up to Chicago, but he could still be a prospect heading into 2019. Beyond those two, the other five Top 100 guys will still be prospects and there's good depth behind them. The Braves and Padres are still young, even if Atlanta's top guys are reaching the upper levels. Losing , and might mean the Braves drop a few spots, but if and are still prospects, given they have some others who could climb onto the Top 100 this season, I think they'll be OK. I don't think the Padres will lose anyone to graduation, with the outside exception possibly being . And they are so, so deep.

In terms of new teams to watch, I'd keep an eye on the Twins. I mentioned Javier and Graterol as future Top 100 guys above. Alex Kirilloff could join them as well. It's interesting, with a ton of upside, behind those guys, with prospects who might be far away, but could take huge steps forward. Finally, I can't believe I'm saying this, but watch out for the Angels. For a while now, they've had one of the worst systems in baseball, but they are on the rise for sure. I'm not quite sure they'll be ready for top 10 status a year from now, but they could be close, even with Shohei Ohtani graduating off the list.

I'm taking this as a kind of fantasy draft for pitching prospects, looking only at 2018 impact. Pitching is so deep, I think I can stick to the Top 100 only. I think my rotation looks like this, keeping opportunity on Opening Day as a key element.

1. Shohei Ohtani, RHP, Angels

2. Luiz Gohara, LHP, Braves

3. , RHP, Rays

4. , RHP, Dodgers

5. , RHP, Cardinals

There are so many other options to consider, too. of the Reds and of the Yankees are the more high floor than high ceiling types, with Mahle probably having a better shot at getting an early opportunity. Reyes is just coming back from Tommy John surgery, so might be a safer bet. In Atlanta, I fully expect Fried to get a good amount of starts; same with in Milwaukee.