In many ways, Sunday was the best day of the year in MLBPipeline-land. We spend so much time ranking, writing about and talking about prospects, so when seeing 50 of the best the game has to offer -- on the field at one time in the Futures Game -- there
In many ways, Sunday was the best day of the year in MLBPipeline-land. We spend so much time ranking, writing about and talking about prospects, so when seeing 50 of the best the game has to offer -- on the field at one time in the Futures Game -- there is no doubt we all feel like kids in a candy store.
Still basking in the Futures Game glow, this week's Inbox has a decided post-Futures theme. Keep in mind, there's still plenty to look forward to, starting with the re-ranking of all of our Prospect Watch lists (Top 100, Top 30 by team, Top 10 by position) before the July 31 Trade Deadline.
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As I mentioned on the Futures Game broadcast, I get more tweets from disgruntled Braves fans about Ronald Acuna and his ranking than just about any other topic. Which is just fine; it's why we do the lists, after all. And you can't say I've ignored you -- this is actually the third time I've discussed the toolsy center fielder in this space this year.
This seemed like a good time to talk about him one more time, between the Futures Game, where he started in center for the World Team, and our re-ranks. Yes, he's vey talented. Yes, he's 19 and performing very well in Double-A. Yes, we have him under-ranked at No. 86. While he didn't do anything that much of note in the boxscore, Statcast™ helped to show just how strong his arm is (throws of 95.2 and 96.7 mph) and what he can do with his bat (112 mph exit velocity). He also put on a show during batting practice. Added bonus: His 0-for-4 kept Matt Vasgergian from throwing out a Lion King reference.
As I've stated over and over, we do our original rankings in late January. Yes, we should've had him on the Top 100 to begin with, but the way we do things is we add new guys at the bottom and they only move up when there are graduations. The re-rank comes in a couple of weeks.
Now, I don't want to give much away, but obviously Acuna will make a huge jump up the Top 100, kind of like Victor Robles of the Nationals did a year ago. I'm assuming your call for him to be No. 1 refers to the Braves' Top 30. I'm not going to give anything away, but let's just say he's in the mix for that top spot.
We've covered some perceived snubs here in the past couple of weeks, but Hays certainly deserves a little Inbox love with the year he's having. I don't do the Orioles' Top 30, but I'll go out on a limb to say Hays, who is hitting a combined .328/.361/.573 with 19 homers between the Class A Advanced Carolina League and Double-A Eastern League in his first full season, will move up from his current No. 7 spot on the O's list.
As for being snubbed from a Futures Game invite, I'll reiterate some of the things that make it tough to include everyone. Sometimes there's an organizational preference (not sure if there was one in this instance). Sometimes there's depth at a position. That definitely came into play. Take a look at the U.S. outfield from Sunday's game and tell me who Hays should have replaced. Add in the lack of U.S. catching -- Chance Sisco was needed -- and how good Tanner Scott looked, and that's another roadblock for Hays.
Tatis Jr. did get a long look for this year's game, so it's an easy leap to make that he should be there in 2018. The 18-year-old is having a phenomenal year in the Midwest League and certainly belonged in consideration with the other young'uns who were at the Futures Game from that league, namely Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette of the Blue Jays. Assuming he continues to build off of this year of full-season ball in which he's hit .277/.373/.492 with 13 homers and 20 steals, a 2018 invite to the Futures Game in Washington D.C. seems like a no-brainer.
That, of course, got me to thinking about who else is in line for a Futures Game trip a year from now. Without going too nuts, and leaving out the 2017 Draft class, here are six guys -- three pitchers and three hitters -- who have never been to the game before who I think could make a case for next year's game:
Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners
Franklyn Kilome/Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Phillies (Yes, I cheated a bit here)
Adrian Morejon, LHP, Padres
Juan Soto, OF, Nationals
Leody Taveras, OF, Rangers
Yes, it's true that Alvarez, the Dodgers' No. 1 prospect, did struggle with his command during his Futures Game start. But let's keep in mind that this is the Cuban right-hander's first full season of pro ball and he was asked to be the first guy out on a big stage, so take the performance with a bit of a grain of salt.
I don't see it as a long-term issue. He projects to have at least Major League average command. He will have to continue to work on repeating his delivery to get there, but there's a lot of projection there. While his walk rate has been not awful (3.7 BB/9) in the California League, it looks like his command within the zone hasn't been great. With his stuff, he shouldn't be giving up as many hits as he has so far (9.1/9). On his Prospect Watch blurb, we have an ETA of 2019 for him, and that sounds about right. Give him a full year in Double-A, maybe with a promotion to Triple-A if things click near the end of the 2018 season, putting him in line for a 2019 debut.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.