The fine print: Our midseason list update does not include 2018 draftees, 2018 J2 signings, or any prospect-eligible player currently in the majors. This is going to change again in two months, so it’s a little fuzzier than our offseason lists. If you are looking for Brent Honeywell or A.J. Puk, there’s a note on them at the bottom. —Jeffrey Paternostro
Why he’ll succeed: Tools play, the old scouting adage goes, and Vladito has generational hitting tools. His combination of barrel control, approach, and power have drawn comps to the best right-handed hitters of recent vintage. Like his fellows at the top of the 2018 preseason list, Guerrero could come up and have immediate impact as a 19-year-old. He shouldn’t even still be eligible for this list, really.
Why he might fail: A knee injury in June has sidelined Vladito and may accelerate his move to the right side of the infield (or off the diamond entirely). He’s a large human and might be a DH in his early-20s rather than his late-20s. The bat will play there of course, but the higher offensive bar might make him “only” an occasional all-star.
Why he’ll succeed: At 19 Tatis is a premium athlete with explosive strength and quickness on a long and lean frame. He posses better than plus raw power and still has significant room to put on more muscle without losing flexibility or twitchy athleticism. “Tatito” has an instinctual feel for getting the barrel on the ball regardless of location and knows how to tap into his power to all fields. Defensively Tatis Jr. has soft hands and a plus arm that should currently play at short even if his future might be as a plus defender at third base.
Why he might fail: Jr. has one significant weakness in his offensive profile in his pitch recognition. He regularly struggles to pick up and adjust to average or better breaking stuff and his swinging strike rate is high as a result. It’s possible that he will fail to make those adjustments and will get exposed at the MLB level. As Tatis Jr. is only 19 in Double-A, he has time to work and adjust.
- Jo Adell, OF, Los Angeles Angels
Why he’ll succeed: He has one of the loudest collections of well-rounded tools in the minor leagues, with elite athleticism and an impressive ability to make rapid adjustments. The bat speed is top-shelf, and while he’s decidedly aggressive in the box he shows an advanced ability to stay in the zone and generate loud contact in all four quadrants of the zone. He’s got the speed and acumen to develop into an asset in center field.
Why he might fail: The California League can do strange things to a man, including convincing said man that over-aggressiveness in approach won’t ever develop into a liability. And while he’s got the tools and talent to one day generate value-added with the glove up the middle, it’s possible the defense never quite comes together, he fills out a little farther than we expect him to, and he shifts over to a corner. If both those things happen, and he winds up a corner guy with approach issues, he might just be one of those guys who tantalizes but never quite gets all the way there.
Why he’ll succeed: Jimenez has 80-raw power and he’s gotten more and more of it into games each year as a pro. He’s not just a one-tool pony either, as he’s a potential plus hitter as well, and should get on base plenty.
Why he might fail: The bat is going to have to carry the profile as Jimenez has shifted from right field to left field, and may end up at first base in a few years. If the swing-and-miss jumps as he tries to get the power into games against major league arms, he might just be a solid, but unspectacular corner bat.
Why he’ll succeed: The best hitter in the 2017 draft, Hiura dropped all the way to the ninth pick due to concerns about an arm injury that prevented him from playing the field his junior year. He’s back to full-time at the keystone in Double-A this year, and has hit .300 with medium pop between the Carolina and Southern League. He’s basically major-league-ready, and if this list were a week later, he might be up and ineligible. Hiura could very quickly be a .300-hitting second baseman that should have some 20-home-run seasons.
Why he might fail: There’s been a little more swing-and-miss at those levels than you’d expect. If the hit and power tools fall a little short, he’s a .280-hitting 15-home-run second baseman, which is like, uh, Whit Merrifield? A nice player, but not a star.
Why he’ll succeed: Prospect writers can often suffer from rapid-onset cases of “out of sight, out of mind-itis,” but Robles is back on the field now, is essentially major league ready, didn’t look overmatched in his brief cameo in our nation’s capital last year, and—as we’ve been writing for years—has three potential plus-plus tools in his shed.
Why he might fail: Robles has been out of sight since April due to a fairly traumatic elbow injury. While it’s not the kind of thing you worry about having long-term impact, we’d like to see him healthy and producing in Syracuse again before we rubber stamp last year’s 8/7 back on the profile.
Why he’ll succeed: Senzel came into the season as one of the “safest” high-end prospects in baseball, and then proceeded to hit .310/.378/.509 in the International League. There’s no real weakness in his profile, and whatever spot the Reds drop him on the dirt, the above-average hit/power combo should play.
Why he might fail: Despite the near .900 OPS for Senzel, it’s been a bit of a lost season. He missed a month with vertigo symptoms and then tore a tendon in his finger shortly after his return. He’ll miss the rest of 2018, and while there’s few long term concerns—and it’s the only reason he is even still eligible for this list—we’ll exercise a bit of caution.
Why he’ll succeed: Rumors of his prospect demise after an admittedly putrid April/May were greatly exaggerated. He raked in June, showing off the same 7 hit/5 power combo we saw last year. That’s quite the offensive package in a catcher which he still uh, mostly is?
Why he might fail: While it’s possible we are a bit higher than the industry on Mejia’s bat, that kind of stuff happens and doesn’t really concern us. However, we might also be higher than Cleveland on his glove. That’s a bit bigger concern. Wrong or right, the frame might not hold up to a full catching schedule, and the bat isn’t as exciting as a half-time corner outfielder.
Why he’ll succeed: Forrest Whitley checks physical boxes everywhere. The 6-foot-7, 200-pounder has quality athleticism and a clean arm on top of something very few pitchers can boast; five major-league quality offerings. Whitley throws two distinct breaking balls that both flash plus, a plus changeup, a fastball that sits 96, and an average cutter. He uses his pitch mix effectively to keep hitters off balances with a plethora of different looks.
Why he might fail: 20-year-olds generally don’t have the kinks ironed out with body control and command. While Whitley should have a nice floor due to his pitch mix, whether or not he meets his projection likely will be up to how much he is able to improve his locations, especially with the fastball.
Why he’ll succeed: They aren’t swing mechanics you’d teach, but you can’t teach his bat speed either. He’s a passable shortstop at present, would be plus at second, and the plus hit/power combo plays at either spot.
Why he might fail: Bichette thinks he can pull just about anything. He’s not totally wrong at present, but major-league arms might expose his grip-it-and-rip-it approach and make him more of an average regular.
Why he’ll succeed: 70 fastball, 70 curve, plus command, next.
Why he might fail: I’ve been told from various sources that there is a potentially average changeup here, but there’s about as much footage of it as The Man from La Mancha. It might not matter anyway.
Why he’ll succeed: Sixto touches 102, sits high-90s, can manipulate his fastball well, flashes two plus-plus secondaries. It’s the best raw stuff in the minors, and he pairs it with advanced pitchability and premium athleticism. If he was 6-foot-3 he’d be the best pitching prospect in baseball, possibly the best overall prospect (and we’d finally let Jarrett Seidler write him as an OFP 80).
Why he might fail: He’s a short right-hander that has had some durability questions and is currently on the shelf with “elbow inflammation.” Remember Anderson Espinoza?
Why he’ll succeed: Luzardo is probably the most polished pitcher in the minor leagues. He understands how to use and locate a fastball that sits 94 with wiggle, his plus breaking ball, and his plus changeup. Luzardo has a clean delivery and premium athleticism that allows him to have current above average command and could improve further as he continues to mature.
Why he might fail: Relatively speaking, Luzardo’s risk of not hitting his projection due to lack of ability seems low due to his polish. The biggest concern for him not thriving in the middle of a rotation for years is that he’s a pitcher with an injury history.
Why he’ll succeed: He’s pretty good at just about everything. Above-average hit and power outcomes seem highly probable, and while he’s not flashy he should remain a shortstop for at least a few years.
Why he might fail: Basically, we don’t think he will. He’s the only guy in our offseason Top 10s who got a 60 OFP/60 Likely. Still, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to look like it did over his first ~100 PA. Elevated swing and miss causing the hit tool to play down, and you could see a slide to third base in time.
Why he’ll succeed: Explosive, bat-missing stuff, starting with a potentially elite fastball, and continuing with a power slider, all in the frame of a starter who could log heavy innings.
Why he might fail: The frame can log heavy innings but the control profile doesn’t seem to be willing to cooperate. He’s walking six per nine at the moment and averaging under five innings per start. Production like that often leads to the bullpen.
Why he’ll succeed: Incredibly athletic, Lewis has potential for five future plus tools. The speed is 70-grade and he has become an efficient base stealer this year at Cedar Rapids. He has also begun to show some of the pop that scouts projected when he was taken no. 1 overall in 2017.
Why he might fail: There is a very high floor to Lewis’ profile, given the speed and advanced bat. However, he is just 19 and physical maturity might necessitate a move away from shortstop. A shift away from the six spot will put additional pressure for continued development of the bat.
Why he’ll succeed: He is a good man-manager who also has structural and financial advantages over the rest of the squads in the SPL that cover for his tactical defi…wait, wrong Brendan Rodgers. The second most famous Brendan Rodgers in sports offers potential 25-home-run power at the 6, and he’s improved enough to make you think he can stick on the left side of the infield.
Why he might fail: Double-A has revealed larger concerns about how Rodgers swing plays against better velocity and breakers, and he’s hit just .250/.295/.450 away from the bandbox in downtown Hartford. A below-average hit tool means less of the plus raw gets into games and he’s just an average regular up-the-middle.
Why he’ll succeed: Only 19, Gore has the build of a classic starting pitcher and electric stuff to match. A heavy four-seamer that is complemented by an arsenal of secondaries that all have the potential to be plus offerings. Finally over the blister issue that shelved him twice this spring, he is striking out over a batter per inning and has only walked 9 in 31 innings.
Why he might fail: He’s only a handful of starts into his professional career and has already had two stints on the DL due to blisters. A potential nagging injury compounded with his youth give a high risk to his profile.
Why he’ll succeed: Hitters gonna hit. An elite natural feel for the barrel goes a long way in this business, and long, successful careers have been built on much less. The defensive versatility the comes for any outfielder with solid speed and a firehose of a left arm doesn’t hurt the chances, either.
Why he might fail: He might not be able to hang in center, and if the balls are indeed finished lapping up all that tasty juice his pedestrian power may push him towards more of a tweener profile. There are long-standing makeup concerns that further cloud the picture.
Why he’ll succeed: The bat could be a difference-maker in the middle infield thanks to an impressive approach at the plate, plate coverage, and the bat speed to do damage on balls in the zone. Being able to hit and hit for power is a foundation on which stars are made.
Why he might fail: As he continues to fill out his athletic frame, a shift to third is possible due to more limited range. Added weight doesn’t have a 1:1 correlation to added power, and a shift down the defensive spectrum would heighten expectations on the bat.
Why he’ll succeed: Premium athleticism, plus-plus speed, and an advanced approach that helps the hit tool play up. There’s more pop here than initially expected, too.
Why he might fail: For all his athleticism, he might end up in left field rather than center, increasing the offensive expectations of the profile. His arm won’t be an asset in either position.
Why he’ll succeed: McKay has multiple paths to major league contribution. If he was just a pitcher, he might be in the majors already. Throw in the bat, and he could be a mid-rotation lefty that also is two-day-a-week Eric Hosmer at DH. That’s a nifty use of a roster spot, and probably one undervalued by just adding up the WARPs.
Why he might fail: We don’t really know how good an arm he is yet? Because of the multifaceted development needs, he’s been pitching levels below where he should be in 2018. There isn’t really top-of-the-rotation stuff in the profile either, and the offensive tools aren’t loud for a 1B/DH. If he’s “just” a league average starter, he belongs 50 spots lower than this.
Why he’ll succeed: An easy, loose swing that generates plus power, especially to the gaps. Riley boasts an advanced approach with good awareness of the strike zone and a willingness to use the whole field.
Why he might fail: Well, defense, mostly. He’s slimmed down to gain athleticism but the actions still aren’t fluid. Fringe-average defense would be a nice result at the hot corner, and it could well be worse than that. A move to the outfield wouldn’t alleviate the defensive concerns either.
Why he’ll succeed: It’s important here to reiterate again that hitters gonna hit. And there might not be a better pure hitter in minor-league baseball than Urias. He’s worked hard to turn himself into a potential above-average glove in the middle of the infield, too, with utility at short and borderline plus defensive potential at the keystone.
Why he might fail: While we can project a bit of power, particularly of the gap-splitting variety, he’s not likely to ever develop into a regular fence-clearer, and in today’s game that can be a big drag on any player’s aggregate value. So there’s still a chance that the offensive profile is more of an empty average kind of scene.
Why he’ll succeed: At 19 the switch-hitting Ruiz is a solid average catcher with athleticism, a quality build, elite coordination, and is polished enough to hold his own in Double-A. Ruiz has excellent feel for barrel and is capable of making contact on pitchers all around the zone. Due to that coordination he may be able to tap into his average raw power and solidify himself as a solid starter at catcher for an major-league team.
Why he might fail: Ruiz struggles with recognizing breaking balls and off speed that is magnified due to an aggressive approach at the plate. Without improvement here Ruiz’s future starts to look much more like a backup catcher than an everyday starter. His age gives him quite some time to figure that aspect out and he’s showing some signs of adjustment in Double-A.
Why he’ll succeed: His hands are really good at the plate. He can wait back on his pitch and even if he commits early, he can get the barrel on the ball. Potential plus hit/plus power combination.
Why he might fail: The best thing about his defense is that he’s a really good hitter. He’s probably not long for the infield and his arm can be a liability in the outfield. That could mean first base or DH eventually and if the bat isn’t exactly as good as we think (or better), well…
Why he’ll succeed: Quality athleticism despite being a large bodied individual at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. Alvarez has plus coordination, generates plus bat speed due to explosive wrists and hips, and creates hard contact due to double-plus raw power. Alvarez has a quality approach at the plate and a natural patience that plays well with his skillset. Massive bat should carry a defensive profile that will likely find him full time at first before too long.
Why he might fail: Many players with Alvarez’s build struggle at the MLB level due to top quality advanced scouting and plans of attack. If Alvarez doesn’t adjust to MLB quality breaking stuff and consistent double plus velocity, he may get continually exposed against elite talent. Alvarez’s defensive profile doesn’t play well if he’s not hitting at a high level..
Why he’ll succeed: Sanchez just keeps on keeping on, doing the things he’d need to do to be a good major league corner outfielder. He has a projectable frame with above-average hit and power in the profile, and he’s performed in difficult offensive environments.
Why he might fail: There’s nothing standout in the profile yet, and while Sanchez may grow into enough power to carry a right field profile. There will be a lot of pressure on the bat to do the heavy lifting here.
Why he’ll succeed: One of Jack’s magic beanstalks come to life, McKenzie’s length helps his pedestrian (88-92 mph) velocity play up, as his extension enables the ball to get on hitters before they’re ready. He compliments the heater with a curveball that elicits swings and misses, and displays above-average command of both offerings.
Why he might fail: Anthropomorphized fairy tales don’t have the best success rate in the majors. If he can’t add weight to his frame, it could prevent him from logging significant innings, and he was already sidelined with forearm soreness earlier this year.
Why he’ll succeed: He touches 100 with ol’ number one, and regularly hits the high-90s. Cease’s fastball isn’t straight or easy to hit, and he’s developed command as he’s went along. Number two provides a second true out-pitch, a curveball that can function as both a swing-and-miss and freeze pitch. How many starting pitchers really have two high-end out pitches?
Why he might fail: His injury track record is checkered; at 22 and in his fifth pro season, he’s just now reaching Double-A. His next hundred inning season—which might be 2018–will be his first. There’s still some violence in the delivery. The change isn’t all the way there yet. He can occasionally struggle to throw strikes. These things all point to significant reliever or even flameout risk.
Why he’ll succeed: Diaz has a two-pronged combo of physical traits that every baseball player wants; quickness and coordination. He generates plus bat speed and has the natural hand-eye to direct it and adjust his swing fluidly to location. To go along with the quality hit tool, Diaz has an advanced approach and excels at getting on base. Even without tapping into his average raw power he is able to be a huge plus on the offensive side of the ball.
Why he might fail: Diaz’s most likely home on the field is in right field. His range probably won’t play in center, but is good enough to make him an average or better defender in right to go along with an above-average arm. Right fielders are held to a higher standard offensively and without tapping into more power than he currently does, it might be hard to find a long term spot for him there.
Why he’ll succeed: Few players in the minors are this tooled up. When on the field since signing, the reports have held up to the hype, and he’s hit well.
Why he might fail: There’s still a lot of mystery here. A year after we first copped out on ranking him, he’s still yet to play significant ball at an appropriate pro level, and we’ve still yet to see him enough to move his stock way up or way down. 2018 is going to end up being largely lost for him as a result of recurring thumb issues.
Why he’ll succeed: He’s got a broad base of tools to fall back on, and has showed an impressive ability to adjust to his level over time. His plus arm should help him stick at the six.
Why he might fail: Sometimes a step back in any particular tool from the guys who have a broad base can wreck the profile. If the hit tool doesn’t play to its capacity, he could find it hard to be an everyday guy, even with his up-the-middle defensive profile.
Why he’ll succeed: It’s a pretty devastating one-two punch at the top of his arsenal, with a north-south heater that plays all around the zone with strong command and plane. He pairs it with an outstanding cambio, while also flashing an average hook to round out the mix. Excellent coordination and body control allow him to repeat his delivery very effectively despite still ostensibly knocking off post-TJ rust.
Why he might fail: He’s a pitcher with TJ on his tab, so there’s that. The spin’s a step behind the rest of it, too, so it’s possible that never quite develops up to par. Otherwise it’s a pretty solid profile on the merits.
Why he’ll succeed: He’s a precocious talent pitching very well in High A as a 19-year-old. The fastball has multiple looks and he’ll run it up into the high-90s already, and he shows an advanced ability to manipulate his hook and command it both into and out of the zone. The delivery’s pretty simple and repeatable, lending optimism for a strong command profile on top of the Very Good Stuff.
Why he might fail: The body’s on the higher-maintenance side, and he’ll still remind you how young he is sometimes when he falls out of rhythm and starts to force his delivery. Speaking of which, he’s a 19-year-old pitching prospect and, well, 19-year-old pitching prospects tend to fail.
Why he’ll succeed: He’s a tools-laden center fielder who has shown patience at the plate and the bat speed to do damage when he connects. There’s no question that he can stick in center and he’s got a big arm for the position, too.
Why he might fail: Despite the bat speed, Taveras just hasn’t hit the ball hard enough thus far. That could be because he’s been aggressively young for his level every year, or it could be because he’s not going to grow into his physicality. We’re betting that he will grow into that pop but if we’re wrong, his glove can’t carry him to an everyday spot in the lineup.
Why he’ll succeed: The Gingergaard got a late start to his 2018 season due to an undisclosed injury, but has looked every bit like a future front-of-the-rotation starter in the difficult environs of Rancho Cucamonga. He’s striking out a batter an inning and the projectable frame is starting to project, as the fastball has ticked up into the mid-90s and the curve has tightened up into a future plus offering. And the two-seamer is a high-spin bat breaker if that’s your thing.
Why he might fail: The changeup here is mostly theoretical, which may become an issue in the upper minors. There’s a chance he gets traded to the Orioles at the deadline where pitching prospects have a shorter lifespan than on Rura Penthe.
Why he’ll succeed: Starter’s frame, mid-90s velocity with some tail and three secondaries, including a slider that flashes plus and a change with a chance to be above-average. He generates a bunch of ground balls thanks to his fastball and is polished at Double-A, already.
Why he might fail: There’s effort in the mechanics and the consistency on his landing spot can waver. While the break on his slider can earn whiffs, the pitch also shows itself early at times. He doesn’t miss bats with the fastball despite the velo and movement, so is going to have to rely on his bevy of secondaries to turn over the lineup consistently.
Why he’ll succeed: Allard has cruised through the upper minors before he can even legally drink. He’s a polished, three-pitch lefty that throws strikes while showing plus command and pitchability. That could be enough to get major league hitters out on its own, and he shown better velocity and a plus curve in the still recent past.
Why he might fail: The fastball velocity can sit in the upper-80s and Allard has never shown a consistent bat-missing secondary in the minors. That could be a problem against the best bats in the world.
Why he’ll succeed: Mid-90s velocity from the left side with a shot for two above-average (or better) secondaries are some good portents for success.
Why he might fail: Health, command, consistency, height. When he’s not healthy the stuff can flag, and the inconsistency of his control and command mean that even when he is healthy, the quality of the pitches can play down. All of this could result in a relief profile when it’s all said and done.
Why he’ll succeed: We generally turn a jaundiced eye towards MLEs, but I’d be curious to see how Davenport translations handles a potential 50-home-run season from Matias in the Sally League. He’s a potentially above-average right fielder with enough underlying athleticism to bet on hit tool improvements. You are here for the pop though and the raw power is top-of-the-scale and the 19-year-old has plenty of time to figure the rest out.
Why he might fail: Well, there’s gonna be a lot of figuring to do, because he’s striking out 37 percent of the time and posting a sub-.300 OBP. There’s extreme swing-and-miss here as well, and while you can be an effective major leaguer with a 30 percent-plus K-rate nowadays, those guys didn’t usually strike out this much in A-ball.
Why he’ll succeed: Perhaps because he was on a budget deal and perceived as less than a third-overall talent, Anderson feels weirdly underrated for such a high pick that’s stomping through the minors right on schedule. He continues on his boring march up the chain, striking out a bunch of dudes at High-A with a strong three-pitch mix while continuing to fill out a projectable frame.
Why he might fail: Owing to his upstate New York background, Anderson’s just a touch rawer and more inconsistent than you might hope for. Mostly, the risks here are those of any lanky, projectable kid that just turned 20: injury and bullpen are still real possibilities.
Why he’ll succeed: The kid can flat out hit. He’s hit with power at every level during his brief career and has shown no rust coming back from Tommy John. He’s athletic enough and the arm is more than capable of handling right field.
Why he might fail: There is a ton of pressure for corner outfielders to hit for power. As he begins to see better secondaries and advanced sequencing of the upper minors, Kirilloff will need to continue to hit with authority.
Why he’ll succeed: Canning saw a velo jump and now regularly sits 95 with his fastball, which jumped his projection up a few tiers. The added arm speed also seemed to help the spin rates as his breaking ball flashes plus fairly regularly. Canning’s changeup still flashes above-average with some arm-side fade, but can be firm at times. With three above-average-to-plus offerings it’s not hard to see a potential middle of the rotation arm.
Why he might fail: Canning’s fastball is fairly flat even with the deception that his delivery brings. His arm is strong and he has plus arm speed, but the arm action itself is concerning. It’s hard to put a much better future grade on his below average command due to that arm action. It’s possible that his future lies in a bullpen despite his quality repertoire, especially considering his health woes throughout his career.
Why he’ll succeed: It’s hard to argue with an arsenal as electric as the one Greene brings to the table. An eye-popping fastball is obviously the highlight here, and he shows signs that his command will surpass that of many fireballers. Not only is he able to blow the the ball by guys, his slider elicits swings and misses. He’s built well, and there isn’t any obvious reason he won’t be able to start games for a few more seasons at least.
Why he might fail: As a two-way player in high school and for a brief time after turning pro, there’s a lot more work to do with Greene than many prospects of his caliber. He needs to find a repeatable delivery that maximizes on his command potential—advanced hitters will punish a poorly located fastball, no matter how explosive. Not only that, he needs to show hitters a better changeup to keep them off the heater.
Why he’ll succeed: An upper-90s fastball will grab anyone’s attention. Throw in two distinct breaking balls and well, baby, you got a stew going. The slider is the better of the two, and has flashed plus, and his changeup has even earned above-average marks at times. That’s a lot of good pitches.
Why he might fail: At 6-foot-1, he’s not the tallest guy in the world, and sometimes high-octane arms that lack plane end up in the bullpen. Also, he’s a pitcher.
Why he’ll succeed: Gimenez offers polish, a broad base of skills on both sides of the ball, and a good shot to stick at the six. He’s held his own as one of the youngest player in both his stateside stops so far. He’s never going to be a heady stat line scout, but he’s added a bit of pop this year, leaving no real holes in his game. He has a very advanced hit tool and approach for a 19-year-old, and if he adds strength in his early-20s, he could end up doing some real damage with the bat in the upper minors and this will look low.
Why he might fail: There’s no carrying tool here as of yet, and he’s not a lock to stick at shortstop. A polished Latin middle infielder with age-relative-to-league impressiveness but no standout skill? It might remind Met fans a little too much of Ruben Tejada for comfort.
Why he’ll succeed: Baez a big man with a big arm and big plane on the fastball. He’s flashed a good changeup and has enough athleticism to keep all the levers in line.
Why he might fail: He still doesn’t have a good enough breaking ball and has struggled with some back issues in 2018. Pop-up guys don’t always stick in year two.
Why he’ll succeed: Lee’s plate discipline and overall approach impresses, and mix that with plus bat speed and above-average raw power, and you’ve got reasons for sliding him in near the end of this list. He showed off enough to make one believe he could be at least an average center fielder defensively with above-average range. The swing itself can become a bit long at times, but he’s a natural when it comes to pulling the ball for gap power.
Why he might fail: He’s kind of the guy you wish showed a bit more when it came to the speed department. If there’s a concern long-term, it’s that perhaps he’s just an average runner. And if the raw power doesn’t translate to game action, and he ends up struggling to handle center, then he’s maybe a high OBP Juan Pierre type with a better arm and worse speed.
Why he’ll succeed: Willie rakes… generally. Calhoun’s less than ideal body profile hasn’t stopped him from tapping into his elite coordination and plus quickness to put plus bat speed on to ball at a consistent rate. Beyond that, he generates plus raw power and historically many of those have left the yard. Calhoun still has one of the best hit/power tool combos in the minor leagues despite a disappointing 2018.
Why he might fail: Calhoun should most likely spend his time at DH and he’s a well below-average defender in left, so he will need to mash to even provide enough value to be an major-league regular. Unfortunately that’s not quite a sure thing due to his aggressive approach at the plate. If major league pitchers attack places that he’s weaker and he doesn’t tone down his swing rates, he could become a low OBP ground ball machine.
N.B. Brent Honeywell and A.J. Puk are both technically eligible for this list as they are both currently on the minor league disabled list after having Tommy John surgery. I’m going to have to deal with them (and Alex Reyes, somehow) on the 2019 101, but at this point in time it’s difficult to rank them without knowing how their recovery from TJ is going. Assuming mostly normal recovery and rehab, Honeywell would slot in somewhere between Gore and McKay, and Puk between Cease and May. Reyes is on the major league DL and not technically eligible, but he’d be in the Sixto to Kopech tier.
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