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 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.
Each of the top-three-ranked players on last year’s Top 10 third base prospects list graduated to the Major Leagues in 2019, though none arrived with as much hype as Blue Jays phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
After headlining this list, as well as MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, a year ago, Guerrero made his highly anticipated debut in late April and went on to slash .272/.339/.443 with 15 homers and 69 RBIs over 123 games to finish sixth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Cincinnati’s Nick Senzel, No. 2 on the 2019 list, also enjoyed a strong rookie campaign, albeit without playing a single game at the hot corner. Serving as the Reds’ everyday center fielder, he compiled a .256/.315/.427 line with 12 homers and 14 steals before requiring season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Austin Riley announced his arrival in Atlanta by homering nine times in his first 18 games in the Majors, including his big league debut, and finished his rookie season with 18 homers. Michael Chavis, who claimed the final spot on last year’s Top 10, had a similar impact on Boston’s offense, clubbing 18 homers in 95 games.
While the graduation of the aforementioned players has led to some turnover on this year’s list, there still are plenty of familiar faces.
Philadelphia’s Alec Bohm assumes Guerrero’s spot atop the list, up from No. 6 a year ago, after hitting his way up to Double-A in his first full season, while the Pirates’ Ke’Bryan Hayes is back for a fourth time in five years. Nolan Jones, Nolan Gorman and Jonathan India round out the rest of returnees.
Three first-round picks from the 2019 Draft (Josh Jung, Brett Baty and Kody Hoese) are among the newcomers this year, and, overall, all but two spots on the Top 10 belong to former first-rounders.
The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Alec Bohm, Phillies (2020)
2. Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates (2020)
3. Nolan Jones, Indians (2020)
4. Nolan Gorman, Cardinals (2022)
5. Josh Jung, Rangers (2021)
6. Brett Baty, Mets (2022)
7. Bobby Dalbec, Red Sox (2020)
8. Jonathan India, Reds (2021)
9. Abraham Toro, Astros (2020)
10. Kody Hoese, Dodgers (2022)
Complete list »
Hit: Bohm, Hayes, Jung (60)
Bohm, whom the Phillies took with the third-overall pick in 2018, has done nothing but hit as a pro. Climbing three levels up to Double-A in his first full season, he batted .305/.378/.518 with 21 homers and 30 doubles and then continued to hit well in the Arizona Fall League. Hayes regressed offensively in his first full Triple-A campaign, but the 22-year-old has a long track record of hitting in pro ball, with a .279 career average in 461 games. Jung was viewed by scouts as one of the more polished hitters in the 2019 Draft before the Rangers selected him eighth overall. The Texas Tech product spent most of his pro debut at Class A Hickory, batting .287 in 40 games. All three players are praised for their ability to control the strike zone and hit to all fields.
Power: Jones, Gorman, Dalbec (60)
Jones followed up his 19-homer full-season debut by hitting 15 homers in 2019, including eight in 49 games after a mid-season promotion to Double-A. His patient approach, bat speed and leveraged swing could translate into 30 homers per season at maturity. Gorman, whose power was among the best in the 2018 Draft class, has similar power potential and went deep 15 times in his first full season after a 17-homer pro debut. Dalbec is the most accomplished slugger in the group, having totaled 59 homers since the start of the 2018 season, and there’s little concern about his power translating in the big leagues.
Run: Hayes (55)
Hayes is one of two players on this year’s list who have at least average speed. Excellent instincts help him get the most from his above-average wheels on the basepaths, and he’s been successful in 78.6 percent (66 of 84) of steal attempts as a pro, posting double-digit steals in three straight years.
Arm: Dalbec (65)
Dalbec operated with a low-90s fastball and logged 194 2/3 innings in three seasons at the University of Arizona. That type of arm strength gives him a cannon from the hot corner, where he’s also viewed as a quality defender.
Field: Hayes (65)
The son of Charlie Hayes, Ke’Bryan was recently named to MLB Pipeline’s All-Defense Team for a second straight year after a 2019 season in which he made all but three plays en route to his third consecutive MiLB Rawlings Gold Glove Award. The second leading vote-getter in MLB Pipeline’s executive poll, Hayes has committed just 17 errors while recording a .974 fielding percentage in 331 professional games.
Bohm’s bat could be special. He’s hit for both average and power as a pro, producing a .293/.368/.474 line with 21 homers and 30 doubles over his first 125 games, and scouts believe he’ll tap into even more power as he faces better pitching and learns to turn on the ball more consistently. He already does a good job managing the strike zone and drives the ball with authority to the opposite field. Bohm’s glove comes with more question marks than his bat does, and there’s a decent chance he’ll end up a first baseman, but even then his lofty offensive profile should fit the position’s demands
Hayes' superb defense comes with built-in value and will make him an immediate Gold Glove Award contender when he finally reaches the Majors. His hitting ability has scaled up nicely as he’s climbed through the Minors, but also has left something more to be desired, especially with regards to his power potential. If it all clicks for him at the plate, Hayes could end up being much, much more than a defensively gifted player.
Rookie of the Year candidate: Dalbec
While half of the players on this year’s list are expected to debut in 2020, Dalbec, with his prodigious right-handed power and upper-level experience, has perhaps the clearest path to playing time. He’s expected to compete with Chavis for Boston’s first-base job during Spring Training.
Highest riser: Toro
Unranked on Houston’s Top 30 Prospects list heading into 2019, Toro finished the season ranked as the organization’s No. 5 prospect. The 23-year-old switch-hitter had a breakout campaign in the upper Minors, slashing .324/411/.527 with 52 extra-base hits between Double- and Triple-A, then had an OPS of .688 in 25 games with Houston after debuting late in August.
Humblest beginnings: Toro
One of two non-first-rounders on this year’s list, Toro signed for $250,000 in 2016 after the Astros selected him in the fifth round out of Seminole State JC in Florida.
Most to prove: India
The fifth-overall pick in the 2018 Draft, India posted respectable numbers and reached Double-A in his first full season, batting .259/.365/.402 with 11 homers across two levels. His overall consistency was lacking, though, and a rough showing in the Arizona Fall League didn’t exactly help his stock. But the Reds still very much believe in India’s upside at the plate and attribute some of his 2019 struggles to a nagging wrist issue. With a clean bill of health, the 23-year-old could start to put up the numbers expected from a top pick.
Keep an eye on: Mark Vientos, Mets
The 2017 second-round pick has big-time power potential with his blend of bat speed, physical strength and leverage from a 6-foot-4 frame that oozes projection. He clubbed 12 homers at Class A Columbia as a 19-year-old last season, overcoming a sluggish first half to hit .271/.315/.462 with seven homers over his final 52 games. Vientos’ defense at the hot corner is a work in progress, but he has the hands and plus arm strength -- not to mention the offensive profile -- required for the position.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.