Inbox: Which prospects will have an Acuna-like rise?

March 2nd, 2018

For the past several weeks, we here at MLB Pipeline have been all about the lists. It's a labor of love, but as Jim Callis, Mike Rosenbaum and I each write 300 player reports, it can get to you.
We're thinking about forming a support group, so if there are other prospect writers out there who do a lot of list-making and writing, let us know.
The best remedy, of course, is to see real baseball up close. And that's one of the greatest things about the timing of when we release our Top 30 lists by team. Right after, we get to go to Spring Training. Whether it's guys getting a chance in big league camp, playing a 'B' Game on the Minor League side or even just throwing a bullpen, it is thrilling to be outside and to see and talk to the players we've had our heads down writing about during the long days of winter.
This week's Inbox comes as I arrive in Arizona to visit different camps all week, right after Jim was here. All three of us will be in Florida at different stops. So if you're looking for us, we'll be the ones smiling widely.
And now on to this week's questions.

It's a tall order to expect anyone to replicate what Acuna and Tatis Jr. did in 2017. The teenagers were not on the Top 100 to start the year, much to the chagrin of some, though they did get added not far into the season. Acuna, as we all know, played across three levels, including Triple-A, and dominated, then was the best player in the Arizona Fall League. Tatis Jr. double-jumped from Class A to Double-A and didn't miss a beat. Acuna went 20-40, Tatis Jr. turned in a 20-30 season.
So as long as we know that expecting that kind of production is unfair, I've got a hitter and a pitcher for you. I'm keeping a very close eye on Twins shortstop prospect Wander Javier. He's No. 5 on their Top 30 list, and kind of like Acuna and Tatis Jr. a year ago, was in the Top 100 conversation (Full disclosure: I had him at 102 in my very first draft of my own Top 100). He has some serious offensive tools and can play shortstop (though he'll have the offensive profile to move to third if needed). Tools + premium position + expected step forward = leap up the Top 100. He's one of the young players I point to when I say the Twins will have one of the game's best farm systems by next year, like I did at the bottom of the last Inbox I wrote.
On the pitching side, we'll go with Nate Pearson, the second of the Blue Jays' first-round picks from 2017. He's No. 4 on a pretty deep list. (They are a top 10 farm system.) Again, he was in my 101-110 group, so he's not so far off. He was absolutely ridiculous in his pro debut. Yes, it was brief, but it was hard not to notice. Seeing what he does when he is let loose in a full-season league is going to be a ton of fun. And if he does what he's capable of given his stuff, he could quickly become one of the better right-handed pitching prospects in baseball.

Speaking of Pearson… The Blue jays 1-2 punch of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are as good as any combination in any farm system and there certainly aren't another two hitters from the same organization ranked as high. provides a third hitter in the top 50. That trio plus the depth in the system are enough to get the Jays into the top 10. Now it's up to the arms to catapult the organization into the upper half.
It starts with the aforementioned Pearson, who should get there soon. And I think T.J. Zeuch, the Jays' first-rounder from 2016, could very well take a step forward and be Top 100-worthy. (Since I've been in full disclosure mode in this Inbox, I'll tell you he was at the tail end of my first Top 100 draft.) And he's just No. 9 on the Jays' list. Now I'm not saying I fully expect Logan Warmoth, Eric Pardinho and to jump on the Top 100 as well (I say graduates), though Pardinho is another exciting arm from the international class who could get there in the future. Even if Zeuch leapfrogs over those guys and they just take steps forward, it's already a stronger system. Picking No. 12 in this June's Draft won't hurt, either.

Let this question be a model for everyone. Politeness in today's social media discourse is all but dead. Thank you, Jason, for showing it's not completely gone yet. It's why I'm answering his question.
OK, it's a good question. We do a regular look at prospects from a fantasy perspective (2018 preview coming soon!) and we often answer questions about Rookie of the Year candidates, which has a similar "immediate impact" quality to it. But I like this one because he wants to know about now AND the long-term future.
That's why I'm not picking . Honestly, as much fun as he's going to be to watch, I probably wouldn't pick him as a top fantasy pick anyway, given his dual focus. A ton of the young guys at the top of the Top 100 are going to have very productive big league careers and make many a fantasy owner happy to have them on their squads. But in terms of someone who is going to impact the big leagues now, provide fantasy value, and then keep doing it for years to come? I have to go with . That power-speed combination is always in high demand come fantasy draft time, right? And those skills aren't going anywhere. Even if he slows down and stops stealing as many bases, he's going to hit, and hit for power, for a very long time.

It really depends on what you're hoping to get out of it. Florida gets a bad rap because the facilities are so much farther apart. But if you're a fan of one team and your plan is to head to Spring Training to watch your team get ready, a great time can be had in either place.
Now, I will say this. For those of us covering the sport, and for those who are just baseball fans who like to bounce around and see a bunch of different teams, the convenience of Arizona is hard to beat. I guess if you want to follow your favorite team when it's on the road, it's much easier here in the desert as well. Most of the facilities are newer in Arizona, so if that's your thing, then that gets an edge, too. I must admit I like the charm of some of the old cozy ballparks still in use in Florida and I haven't seen the new digs for the Astros and Nationals.
In the end, like I said above: You can't go wrong. Live baseball is being played, you know?