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Ranking rookies: Who has most future value?

September 29, 2020

We've updated the original version of this story from last week after MLB updated its rookie guidelines on the last day of the regular season. With no roster expansion for the final month of the 2020 season, MLB decided that September service time would count toward the rookie limit of

We've updated the original version of this story from last week after MLB updated its rookie guidelines on the last day of the regular season. With no roster expansion for the final month of the 2020 season, MLB decided that September service time would count toward the rookie limit of 45 days. The change meant that four Top 100 Prospects (Angels outfielder Jo Adell, Diamondbacks catcher Daulton Varsho, Dodgers right-hander Brusdar Graterol, Mets shortstop Andrés Giménez) suddenly graduated. A fifth (Nationals second baseman Luis García) exceeded the 130 at-bat limit after we hadn't projected him to do so.

Though 2020 will be remembered as one of the shortest and most unusual seasons ever, it also has featured several talented rookies.

They've had varying degrees of success, with one preseason Rookie of the Year favorite (Luis Robert) making an immediate impact and the other (Gavin Lux) proving not quite ready as expected. Kyle Lewis and Jake Cronenworth have been revelations after not making MLB Pipeline's preseason Top 100 Prospects list, while highly rated talents such as Carter Kieboom have scuffled.

In our annual rankings of the year's graduates from prospect status, based on their long-term value, present production matters as do past track record and future projection. Age is an important consideration (which is why we've included each player's seasonal age as of July 1), and it's no coincidence that the first four players on our Top 30 are all 22 or younger.

Only players who exceeded the prospect/rookie limits of 130 at-bats, 50 innings or 45 days of active service time in the Majors (in 2020 or before September in previous years) were considered. That's why elite prospects such as Cristian Pache, Joey Bart and Sixto Sánchez won't be found below.

1. Luis Robert, OF, White Sox (age 22)
Though he's slumping in September, Robert's power and speed have been as jaw dropping as advertised and he immediately has become one of the best center-field defenders in baseball.

2. Gavin Lux, 2B, Dodgers (age 22)
He didn't make the Opening Day roster and has scuffled while trying to nail down a regular job, yet Lux is still a 22-year-old middle infielder with the ability to hit for average and power, not to mention plus speed and a high baseball IQ.

3. Jo Adell, OF, Angels (age 21)
Adell may have looked overmatched at times during his debut, but on this list only Robert has comparable tools and only García is younger.

4. Jesús Luzardo, LHP, Athletics (age 22)
Slowed by a positive coronavirus test at the beginning of July, Luzardo has gotten stronger each month and shown the makings of a future ace with three plus pitches and control to match.

5. Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers (age 22)
Few pitchers can equal the velocity and movement on May's two-seam fastball or the spin on his curveball, and he already commands both offerings well.

6. Alec Bohm, 3B, Phillies (age 23)
Bohm has lived up to his billing as the best college bat in the 2018 Draft, where he went third overall, and could make a case for moving up this list if he can smooth out his defensive deficiencies at the hot corner.

7. Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners (age 24)
A serious knee injury during his 2016 pro debut set Lewis back for nearly three years, but he arrived with six homers last September and has shown improved plate discipline and defense this summer.

8. Carter Kieboom, 3B, Nationals (age 22)
While Kieboom didn't seamlessly replace Anthony Rendon at the hot corner for the defending World Series champs, he still profiles as a plus hitter with similar raw power and a quality glove.

9. Sean Murphy, C, Athletics (age 25)
Either his offense (home runs with plenty of walks) or defense (potential Gold Glover with a cannon arm) alone would make him a starting backstop.

10. Brady Singer, RHP, Royals (age 23)
His lively fastball, nasty slider and mean streak will make him Kansas City's No. 1 starter in the not-too-distant future, if his last two starts (14 shutout innings, 16 strikeouts) are any indication.

11. Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Dodgers (age 26)
Signed for just $2,500 as a ninth-rounder in 2016, Gonsolin has blossomed from a college two-way player into a big league starter who pounds the zone with a mid-90s fastball, a pair of power breaking pitches and an at-times devastating splitter.

12. Nico Hoerner, 2B, Cubs (age 23)
Hoerner's pure hitting ability landed him in Chicago after just 337 at-bats in the Minors and he has the tools to have an Ian Kinsler-esque career.

13. Brendan Rodgers, 2B, Rockies (age 23)
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 Draft offers a solid all-around bat (.296/.352/.503 against much older competition in the Minors) and defensive versatility, though he'll have to do a better job of staying healthy to reach his ceiling.

14. Evan White, 1B, Mariners (age 24)
A renowned defender at first base who's capable of playing center field, White projects to hit for average with 20-homer power, but his strikeout rate has doubled from the Minors (20 percent) to the Majors (40 percent).

15. Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates (age 24)
Keller's control isn't as pinpoint as it was earlier in his career, though he still could pitch in the front half of a rotation if he can develop an effective changeup to go with his plus fastball and breaking pitches.

The next 15:
16. Daulton Varsho, OF, C, Diamondbacks (age 23)
17. Andrés Giménez, INF, Mets (age 21)
18. Luis García, 2B, Nationials (age 20)
19. Jake Cronenworth, INF, Padres (age 26)
20. Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves (age 24)
21. Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Dodgers (age 21)
22. Nick Solak, OF/2B, Rangers (age 25)
23. Austin Hays, OF, Orioles (age 24)
24. Willi Castro, SS/3B, Tigers (age 23)
25. Kris Bubic, LHP, Royals (age 22)
26. Cristian Javier, RHP, Astros (age 23)
27. Justus Sheffield, LHP, Mariners (age 24)
28. Jose Urquidy, RHP, Astros (age 25)
29. Devin Williams, RHP, Brewers (age 25)
30. James Karinchak, RHP, Indians (age 24)

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