Which prospects could climb or enter Top 100?

April 11th, 2019

The 2019 Draft is just 53 days away and will occupy much of our focus at MLB Pipeline between now and June 3. We'll expand our Draft Top 50 Prospects list to a Top 100 two weeks from now and to a Top 200 in May. Several mock drafts and Draft-related features are on tap as well.

In my 30 years of covering the Draft, this is the weakest group of college pitching prospects I can remember. The college position players are deeper than usual, and while the high school crop is more balanced, it's not out of the question that the first 10 or so selections could be hitters.

The Cardinals got a steal in Gorman, who was the best power prospect in the 2018 Draft but dropped to the 19th pick because of some questions about his hitting and defense. The third baseman led all 2018 Draftees with 17 homers in 63 games last summer, and he's batting .393/.455/.786 with two homers at low Class A Peoria though the first week of this season.

Traditionally, the No. 1 guy on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list has either had multiple well above-average offensive tools (Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) or a broad base of plus attributes (Byron Buxton). Gorman doesn't quite fit that profile, because his prodigious power and solid arm are his only tools that grade as better than average.

While Gorman may not quite rise to the top of the Top 100, he very well may rank as the best power prospect by the end of the season. He has all the ingredients -- bat speed, strength, loft -- and at age 18, he already understands that he doesn't need to swing for the fences to hit home runs.

A right-hander selected 11th overall in last year's Draft by the Orioles, Rodriguez opened his 2019 season by striking out 10 in five scoreless innings to earn his first professional victory at low Class A Delmarva. He works at 92-94 mph and has reached 98 with his heavy fastball, has the makings of a plus slider and a curveball with similar promise and is making progress with his changeup.

Rodriguez's stuff is similar to that of Padres right-hander Luis Patino, who went from unranked on the Top 100 list at the start of 2018 to No. 49 at the beginning of 2019 following a stellar first year in full-season ball. If Rodriguez can dominate while adding some polish, he could make the same sort of jump.

Have you heard anything about Dodgers right-hander Michael Grove's pro debut in terms of stuff and velocity? I've seen surprisingly little and, unfortunately, high Class A Visalia doesn't stream its home games.

-- Josh T., Los Angeles

The biggest surprise on the first day of the 2018 Draft, Grove went in the second round despite missing his junior season at West Virginia while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers didn't have him make his pro debut until Monday -- though they did jump him all the way to high Class A -- and he allowed just one hit while striking out three in four scoreless innings.

Grove's fastball ranged from 90-95 mph, his high-spin-rate slider looked nasty at 82-83 mph and he even got a couple of swings and misses with his nascent changeup. He threw 27 of his 46 pitches for strikes, and though it was just one short outing, he looked like a potential No. 3 starter.

The son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio and a fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2016, Biggio broke out last year by winning MVP honors in the Eastern League and leading the Double-A circuit in home runs (26), walks (100), slugging (.499) and OPS (.887). He's off to a fast start in 2019, hitting .400/.520/.800 with two homers in his first six games at Triple-A Buffalo.

Biggio is a definite big leaguer, but he's probably more of a utility guy than a first-division regular. His power is his lone above-average tool and though he has played all four infield spots and both outfield corners as a pro, he's more versatile than an asset at any of those positions. To make the Top 100, he'd have to have a strong encore at the plate, make more consistent contact and develop into a solid second baseman.