First basemen are a tricky lot. Every team covets having one who fits right in the middle of the lineup, hits a ton of home runs and drives in a bunch of runs. But they’re hard to find and hard to develop.
That’s why it’s relatively rare to see first basemen in the Top 100. In 2020, there were just four in the Top 100, and there hasn’t been more than five since 2009. That doesn’t mean this year’s crop doesn't have the ability to impact big league lineups in the future. Last year, Evan White was high on the list and he spent the year as the Mariners’ first baseman and there are several on this year’s Top 10 who will have the chance to at least contribute in 2021.
The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Andrew Vaughn, White Sox (2021)
2. Triston Casas, Red Sox (2022)
3. Aaron Sabato, Twins (2023)
4. Seth Beer, D-backs (2021)
5. Lewin Diaz, Marlins (2021)
6. Michael Toglia, Rockies (2022)
7. Bobby Bradley, Indians (2021)
8. Nick Pratto, Royals (2022)
9. Pavin Smith, D-backs (2022)
10. Mason Martin, Pirates (2022)
Complete list »
Hit: Vaughn (65)
After posting a .374/.495/.688 line in three years at California and .308 in the Cape Cod League, Vaughn was considered to be the best pure hitter in the 2019 Draft class, a big reason he went No. 3 overall. His advanced approach to go along with a knack for barreling up the baseball point to him hitting over .300 annually.
Power: Vaughn, Casas, Sabato, Bradley, Martin (60)
Vaughn hit 23 homers as a sophomore and 15 more as a junior at Cal and even added six more during his pro debut in 2019. The 6-foot-5 Casas has the perfect combination of strength, size, bat speed and leverage for plus power, with the advanced approach to get to it consistently. Sabato was one of the best power bats in the 2020 Draft class, with plus speed and loft in his swing. Bradley has been a bit of an all-or-nothing power hitter, with plenty of home runs, walks and strikeouts. Martin will have to curtail his swing-and-miss tendencies, but he hit 35 homers in 2019.
Run: Toglia, Pratto, Smith (45)
None of these guys are burners, but Toglia is athletic enough to play the outfield well, Pratto has excellent instincts on the basepaths to be an effective basestealer and Smith has also shown he moves well enough to man an outfield corner.
Arm: Casas, Pratto (60)
Both Casas and Pratto pitched as amateurs, and Casas played third, too. Casas was up to the low-90s off the mound and Pratto was a lefty with upper-80s velocity, allowing them to do more with their arms than most at the position.
Field: Pratto (70)
The combination of his agility, athleticism and hands makes him a plus-plus defender. Pratto's arm only makes him an even better defensive player at first.
Highest ceiling: Vaughn
If it all comes together, we’re looking at a very special middle-of-the-order bat here, one who could hit over .300 with 30-plus homers and a ton of walks annually.
Highest floor: Vaughn
Even if it doesn’t all click, Vaughn’s advanced approach should at the very least make him a capable run producer in the big leagues.
Rookie of the Year candidate: Vaughn
With Jose Abreu at first base, this could get a little complicated, especially given that Vaughn doesn’t have a ton of big league experience under his belt. But he was at Chicago’s alternate camp all last summer and his bat should be good enough land a DH spot and/or share time at first.
Highest riser: Sabato
Sabato wasn’t recruited or scouted as a high schooler in Connecticut, not really putting himself on the map until he set a freshman home run record for North Carolina in 2019. He was ranked No. 41 on our Draft Top 200, but the Twins liked his power potential enough to take him in the first round of the 2020 Draft.
Humblest beginning: Martin
While Martin did get $350,000 to sign in 2017 out of the high school ranks in the Pacific Northwest, he wasn’t particularly well-known and the Pirates didn’t draft him until the 17th round. A strong debut was followed by a rough first full season, but he broke out in 2019 by hitting 35 homers and driving in 129 runs across two levels of A ball.
Most to prove: Pratto
A first-round pick (No. 14 overall) in 2017, Pratto entered pro ball with a reputation as an excellent pure hitter. While he hit .280/.343/.443 in his first full season, his 27.9 percent strikeout rate concerned some, worries that were exacerbated when he hit .191/.278/.310 with a 34.7 percent strikeout rate in a 2019 move to the Carolina League.
Keep an eye on: Bryce Ball, Braves
Ball might be a college version of Mason Martin -- a late-round pick (24th round) who got above pick value to sign and has shown off serious power potential. The 2019 draftee slugged his way to full-season ball in his debut, hitting 17 homers and slugging .628 in the process.