Which prospects will hit most HRs in 2021?

March 4th, 2021

Before you ask, MLB Pipeline's totally revamped organization Top 30 Prospects lists will start running on March 8. We’ll begin with the American League West systems that don't rank among the 10 best overall, which means we'll be dropping four lists on Monday. I'll let you figure out which team you'll have to wait for, though it should be pretty obvious.

Now let's tackle your other questions...

I have asked this question for the past 2 years now but last year there wasn't a Minor League season. Who do you guys think will hit the most home runs at each Minor League level in 2021?
-- @supersoxfan79

Thanks to Andrew for one of my favorite annual questions. I almost got Rockies outfielder Casey Golden correct in 2019 when I predicted he would lead Class A Advanced and he finished second. My choices a year ago for the season that didn't get played were Dodgers outfielder Andy Pages (Class A), Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas (Class A Advanced), Golden (Double-A) and Reds first baseman/outfielder Ibandel Isabel (Triple-A).

My picks for 2021...

Low-A: Austin Hendrick, OF, Reds: He had the most usable power of any high school player in the 2020 Draft -- where Cincinnati took him 12th overall -- and Daytona was one of the best home run parks in what used to be the Florida State League.

High-A: Marco Luciano, SS, Giants: The talented teenager has incredible bat speed and the ball flies at Eugene, where he's headed.

Double-A: Triston Casas, 1B, Red Sox: I'll double down on Casas, who offers huge raw power from the left side of the plate and has the advanced hitting ability and approach to make the most of it.

Triple-A: D.J. Peters, OF, Dodgers: He led the Double-A Texas League with 29 homers in 2018 and hit 12 in 57 games in 2019 for Oklahoma City, where he'll return this year in a reconfigured "Triple-A West" circuit that has a lot of ballparks that favor hitters. And the Dodgers are so loaded at the big league level that it will be difficult for Peters to crack their roster.

How soon will Quinn Priester be with the big league club and is he the front-of-the-rotation guy the Pirates need?

-- @tommygames1312

No pitcher generated more buzz at any instructional league camp last fall than Priester, a 2019 first-rounder from an Illinois high school. The right-hander impressed with his athleticism, a mid-90s fastball and a curveball that may be better than his heater. He could have a solid slider and changeup too once he's fully formed, and he has no issues throwing strikes.

One scout told me that Priester could be the best pitching prospect in baseball by the end of 2021. So, yes, he has front-of-the-rotation upside. He has pitched just 36 2/3 innings as a pro to this point and the Pirates won't have any need to rush him because they won't contend anytime soon, so his big league ETA is 2023.

Do you think Boston College's Sal Frelick will be drafted as an infielder or outfielder? Could he handle shortstop? It seems like his Draft stock wouldn’t be too far behind UCLA shortstop Matt McLain (No. 3 on MLB Pipeline's preseason Draft Top 100) if he could play up the middle on the dirt.

-- Kyle C., Portland

I think Frelick gets drafted as an outfielder and goes in the middle of the first round. He already had a reputation of being one of the best pure hitters in this year's crop, and he has batted .469/.500/.688 in Boston College's first seven games. After playing mostly right field in his first two seasons, Gatorade's 2017 Massachusetts high school football player of the year has looked terrific in center field while also displaying at least plus-plus speed.

Could Frelick play the infield? He did in high school and saw some time there in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League last summer. But he has the type of bat that could take him to the big leagues quickly and is an asset in center, so I don't foresee a team messing with that and trying to develop him on the dirt.

Can you guys discuss Evan Carter and his five-tool potential?
-- @Nvita37

A surprise second-round pick by the Rangers last June, Carter flew under the radar for a lot of clubs because he didn't attend many showcase events and played in the out-of-the-way northeast corner of Tennessee. But led by area scout Derrick Tucker, Texas scouted him heavily and believes he would have established himself as a potential five-tool talent if the coronavirus hadn't ended his season at Elizabethon (Tenn.) High after three games.

Carter has yet to make his pro debut, though he did excite the Rangers with his performance in instructional league. They're bullish about his ability to hit for average and power, control the strike zone and play center field. He needs to get stronger and polish several aspects of his game, but he could develop solid tools across the board.