Looking at 2018's Top 100 prospects five years later

January 24th, 2023

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We'll reveal MLB Pipeline's 2023 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. As we await that unveiling, I thought it might be fun and instructive to look back at our Top 100 from five years ago.

Here's how the first 10 prospects shook out in 2018:

1. Shohei Ohtani, RHP/OF, Angels
2. Ronald Acuña Jr., OF, Braves
3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays
4. Eloy Jiménez, OF, White Sox
5. Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS, Yankees
6. Victor Robles, OF, Nationals
7. Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds
8. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres
9. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros
10. Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox

In terms of formidable trios at the top, the 2018 crop stands out as one of the best, already combining for an MVP Award, two Rookie of the Year awards and seven All-Star Game selections. Ohtani quickly has become the greatest two-way player in baseball history. Our writeup noted that "the scouting reports on Ohtani as a pitcher almost seem too good to be true" and "while the consensus among scouts is that Ohtani has more upside as a pitcher, he also has the tools to be a star as a hitter."

Tatis is a fourth superstar from that top 10, while Torres is a two-time All-Star and Jiménez has won a Silver Slugger. Robles played a key role in the Nationals' 2019 World Series win but his bat has regressed significantly since then, and Senzel has failed to launch amid injuries and position changes.

Kopech has posted back-to-back solid seasons for the White Sox since recovering from 2018 Tommy John surgery, though he has yet to become a frontline starter as once projected. Whitley hasn't even reached the big leagues as his career has been short-circuited by injuries and command issues, culminating with Tommy John surgery in 2021.

In terms of sheer number of prospects and their position on the Top 100, the three strongest systems were the Padres (seven, six in the top 50), Braves (eight, six in the top 58) and White Sox (seven, five in the top 61). All three teams have experienced turnarounds since.

San Diego is riding a streak of three consecutive winning seasons, the longest in franchise history, and went to the 2022 National League Championship Series. Atlanta has made the playoffs for five straight years and won the 2021 World Series. Chicago advanced to the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time ever in 2020 and 2021.