Ranking rookies: Who has most future value?

December 28th, 2020

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

They 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 were revelations after not making MLB Pipeline's preseason Top 100 Prospects list, while highly rated talents such as Carter Kieboom 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)
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 scuffled while trying to nail down a regular job, yet Lux is still a 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 got stronger each month and showed 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 showed improved plate discipline in 2020 on his way to winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award.

8. Carter Kieboom, 3B, Nationals (age 22)
While Kieboom didn't seamlessly replace Anthony Rendon at the hot corner for the 2019 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 performance in September (2.73 ERA in five starts) is 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)