MLB Pipeline will reveal its 2020 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com, which will be broadcast on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 3 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release of the Top 100, we'll examine baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
While he's unlikely to go on a similar rampage with the White Sox this season, especially after Chicago re-signed José Abreu and added Edwin Encarnación, Andrew Vaughn is MLB Pipeline's second-highest-rated first baseman since 2011. Reigning National League MVP Cody Bellinger ranked 13th on our preseason Top 100 in 2017, and we'll reveal exactly where Vaughn ranks on Jan. 25.
First basemen usually occupy fewer spots on the Top 100 than any other position because they're less well-rounded players, and this year they tied second basemen for the least. The 2017 Draft featured four first basemen in the top 17 picks, signaling a potential resurgence at the position, yet only one of them (Evan White of the Mariners) ranks among our current top 10. Two-way star Brendan McKay (Rays) has become more of a pitcher/DH and Pavin Smith (Diamondbacks) and Nick Pratto (Royals) haven't produced as hoped.
The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Andrew Vaughn, White Sox (2021)
2. Evan White, Mariners (2020)
3. Triston Casas, Red Sox (2022)
4. Ryan Mountcastle, Orioles (2020)
5. Seth Beer, Diamondbacks (2020)
6. Lewin Diaz, Marlins (2020)
7. Bobby Bradley, Indians (2020)
8. Michael Toglia, Rockies (2022)
9. Grant Lavigne, Rockies (2022)
10. Tyler Nevin, Rockies (2020)
Complete list »
Hit: Vaughn (60)
One of the best hitting prospects to come out of college in years, Vaughn batted .374 in three seasons at California before the White Sox selected him third overall in the 2019 Draft. He has a pretty right-handed swing, a mature approach and no flaws in his offensive game.
Power: Vaughn, Casas, Bradley (60)
While his hitting ability may overshadow his power a bit, Vaughn has plenty of the latter as well. Casas packs plenty of strength and leverage in his 6-foot-4, 238-pound frame, and his bat speed and feel for hitting also are impressive. Bradley has won four home run titles in six seasons as a pro, including topping the Triple-A International League with 33 in 2019.
Run: White (60)
White is unusually athletic for a first baseman and possesses plus speed. He runs well enough that some clubs who scouted him in college toyed with the idea of trying him in center field.
Arm: Casas (60)
When Casas pitched in high school, he ran his fastball into the low 90s. The Red Sox didn't want to waste his arm strength and tried him at third base before deciding he was better fit across the diamond.
Field: White (70)
White's athleticism makes him an exceptional defender at first base, where he has soft hands, quick feet and even a solid arm. His prowess at first and ability to conceivably play all three outfield spots gives him a defensive profile similar to Bellinger's when the NL MVP was a prospect.
Highest ceiling: Vaughn
Not only is Vaughn the best all-around hitter among first-base prospects, he's also on the short list of the best all-around hitters in the Minors. He could produce a .300 batting average, 30 homers and 80 walks on an annual basis.
Highest floor: Vaughn
While most of Vaughn's value will come from his bat, it's a special bat. It will be an upset if he's not at least an average big league regular.
Rookie of the Year candidate: White
Though he hasn't played above Double-A, the Mariners signed White to a six-year, $24 million contract in November that also includes three club options that could push the total value to $55.5 million. That should pave the way for him to play in Seattle this season, perhaps as early as Opening Day on a club whose best option with big league experience is Austin Nola.
Highest riser: Diaz
A year ago, Diaz was coming off a disastrous Double-A season during which he slugged .344 in 79 games in high Class A before breaking his right thumb. He rediscovered his power in 2019, climbing to Double-A and slamming 27 homers, including eight in August after the Marlins acquired him as part of the Sergio Romo trade.
Humblest beginning: Bradley
Bradley's $912,500 bonus as a third-rounder in 2014 represented 69 percent more than his pick's assigned value but made him the only player on this list not to sign for seven figures. Six of the others were first-round choices, Lavigne and Nevin were supplemental first-rounders who got over-slot $2 million bonuses and Diaz landed $1.4 million coming out of the Dominican Republic.
Most to prove: Lavigne
Lavigne's feel for hitting and natural left-handed power were made for low Class A Asheville's McCormick Field, where it's 297 feet down the line in right field, but he batted just .236/.347/.327 in his first full pro season. He'll need to improve in 2020 or risk getting pushed down the depth chart in a system that also includes Toglia and Nevin.
Keep an eye on: Pavin Smith, Diamondbacks
The No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 Draft as a potential successor to Paul Goldschmidt in Arizona, Smith batted just .255/.343/.392 in the hitter-friendly high Class A California League in his first full year as a pro. After posting similar numbers in Double-A during the first three months of the 2019 season, he started driving more balls in the air and hit .350/.419/.589 in July and August.