These 10 prospects could make an impact soon
Astros' Tucker, Brewers' Hiura in line to help fantasy teams this season
Four of the first five guys on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list are sidelined with injuries. That group starts with the No. 1 prospect in baseball, Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who has missed the past four weeks with a strained patellar tendon in his left knee.
White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez (No. 2) went down on Sunday with a strained left adductor muscle that will keep him out for a couple of weeks. Reds third baseman Nick Senzel (No. 4) is done for the year after surgery last week to correct a fracture in his right index finger. And Nationals outfielder Victor Robles (No. 5) hasn't played since hyperextending his left elbow in the fourth game of the Minor League season.
But even with their injuries, two of those injured phenoms still managed to make our updated rankings of the Top 10 fantasy prospects currently in the Minors. As always, they're evaluated based on expected 2018 fantasy production in the Majors, while our Top 100 list reflects long-term value in all phases of the game.
1. Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros (Previous rank: 1)
The defending World Series champions are chasing the best record in baseball but still could improve their lineup with the 21-year-old Tucker, who's hitting for power and average in Triple-A. He could bat .275 with double-digit homers and steals in the second half of the big league season if he played regularly.
2. Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers (Previous rank: 8)
Hiura is living up to his reputation as the best pure hitter in the 2017 Draft and would be an upgrade over Jonathan Villar as the Brewers seek their first playoff appearance since 2011.
3. Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox (Previous rank: 2)
Jimenez also missed the start of the season with a strained left pectoral muscle but has raked when healthy. Though the White Sox aren't playing to win, there's no doubt he belongs in their lineup once he's healthy.
4. Francisco Mejia, C/OF, Indians (Previous rank: unranked)
After an uncharacteristically slow start, Mejia batted .455/.476/.717 in June. His receiving skills still aren't ready for prime time, but he's ready to contribute offensively as a catcher/outfielder/DH.
5. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays (Previous rank: 3)
Guerrero has begun taking batting practice again and will start infield drills soon, so he could get back on the field next week. Before he got hurt, he looked Miguel Cabrera-esque while batting .407/.457/.667 in Double-A at age 19.
6. Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates (Previous rank: unranked)
The Pirates' mediocre rotation is the main reason why they've dropped back in the National League Wild Card race. Despite getting shelled in his Triple-A debut last Saturday, Keller has the stuff and pitchability to make a difference.
7. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros (Previous rank: 5)
The game's best pitching prospect (No. 9 overall in the Top 100), Whitley began 2018 by serving a 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League drug program. He didn't allow a run in his first three Double-A starts after returning in June, and with his ability to miss bats with four pitches, he could help Astros starters save some innings for the postseason.
8. Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox (Previous rank: 4)
Kopech made impressive strides with his control in April but has regressed since. He still bears watching because he might have the best pure stuff of any starting pitcher in the Minors and has more upside than anyone in the White Sox rotation.
9. Willie Calhoun, OF, Rangers (Previous rank: 9)
While Calhoun isn't stinging the ball like he did in his first three pro seasons, he still combines power and patience and the last-place Rangers might as well start finding out what he can do in the Majors.
10. Alex Verdugo, OF, Dodgers (Previous rank: unranked)
Verdugo would rank higher if the Dodgers didn't already have more outfielders than spots to play them. He's making a run at the Triple-A Pacific Coast League batting title and showing more power than ever before, and he's one of Los Angeles' most attractive trade chips.
Dropped out: Justus Sheffield, LHP, Yankees (Previous rank: 6); Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres (Previous rank: 7); Peter Alonso, 1B, Mets (Previous rank: 10).