It has become an annual tradition here at MLB Pipeline to gaze a year into the future and try to identify the top 10 prospects in baseball at the end of the next season. In all likelihood, Rays shortstop Wander Franco will rank No. 1 12 months from now, just
It has become an annual tradition here at MLB Pipeline to gaze a year into the future and try to identify the top 10 prospects in baseball at the end of the next season. In all likelihood, Rays shortstop Wander Franco will rank No. 1 12 months from now, just as he does today.
But there should be a lot of change behind him. Tigers right-hander Casey Mize, Padres left-hander MacKenzie Gore, Angels outfielder Jo Adell and White Sox outfielder Luis Robert follow Franco on our current Top 100 Prospects list, and all of them figure to graduate to the big leagues in 2020. So do Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux and Braves outfielder Cristian Pache, who round out the present Top 10.
Recent history tells us that nearly every prospect who ends a season in the Top 10 does so again the next as long as he doesn't establish himself in the Majors or get hurt. Prospects who finish a year in the 11-25 range fill most of the Top 10 vacancies, with a couple of players in the 26-50 range joining them. Occasionally, a player from the bottom half of the Top 100 or completely off the list will make a huge leap.
Looking back at our Top 10 forecast from a year ago, we correctly tabbed Franco, Mize, Gore and Adell and Twins shortstop Royce Lewis. Of the five we whiffed on, Twins outfielder Alex Kirilloff and Astros right-hander Forrest Whitley had physical issues, Padres outfielder Taylor Trammell had a down year, Marlins right-hander Sixto Sanchez performed well but didn't climb into the Top 10 and White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease graduated to Chicago.
Here's our projection for the top of the Top 100 a year from now:
1. Wander Franco, SS, Rays (No. 1)
He's taking the Vladimir Guerrero Jr. express route to the Majors, putting up better numbers at the same stage of their careers, and he's also a switch-hitter with plus speed who's capable of playing shortstop.
2. Adley Rutschman, C, Orioles (No. 6)
Combining Mark Teixeira-esque offensive upside with Gold Glove potential behind the plate makes him the best amateur catching prospect since MLB went to a single Draft in 1987.
3. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Royals (No. 8)
He's a five-tool player with baseball IQ and makeup that's just as impressive as his physical ability -- and some scouts say he's the Draft's best shortstop prospect since Alex Rodriguez.
4. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, White Sox (No. 21)
The best all-around hitter in the 2019 Draft went No. 3 overall and looks like a future .300 hitter who can provide 30 homers on an annual basis.
5. Royce Lewis, SS, Twins (No. 7)
Though the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 Draft saw his OPS dip from .803 in his first full pro season to .661 in his second, he's still an athletic shortstop who could have solid or better tools across the board.
6. Joey Bart, C, Giants (No. 19)
He has the plus power and arm strength teams desire in a catcher and his receiving continues to improve, though San Francisco having Buster Posey and Brandon Belt signed through 2021 may delay his ETA.
7. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners (No. 22)
Acquired in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade with the Mets, he posted a .904 OPS with 23 homers and 20 steals in his first full pro season while reaching Double-A a month after turning 20.
8. JJ Bleday, OF, Marlins (No. 29)
Considered more of a hit-over-power guy entering the spring, he topped NCAA Division I with 27 homers and 192 total bases, led Vanderbilt to the College World Series championship and went fourth overall in the Draft.
9. Julio Rodriguez, OF, Mariners (No. 51)
Sure, it was a small sample size, but he provided a glimpse of his lofty offensive ceiling when he raked at a .462/.514/.738 clip in 17 Class A Advanced games at age 18.
10. Luis Patino, RHP, Padres (No. 30)
Poised to succeed close friend Gore as baseball's best pitching prospect, he showcased his electric stuff with a dominant performance in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.