Yesterday was Juan Soto Day, the Washington Nationals promoting their hot prospect outfielder to the major leagues directly from Double-A. Soto has come up in conversation very frequently around here lately, with the general consensus that he had moved into the Top Five overall prospects. I had some thoughts on this when Soto was promoted to Double-A back on May 10th, concluding that he would rank second or third on a revised top prospect list that did not include guys currently in the majors.
My main analytical focus for the next few weeks is the 2018 MLB draft but I have been doing some tinkering with the Top MLB Prospects list, with the Top 175 last updated on March 22nd. Normally I wouldn’t even look at this until well after the draft for reasons of workload, time constraints, and sample size, plus to give rookies currently on MLB rosters time to move past playing limits and open up more spots on the list. However, with Soto moving up yesterday I decided to do a quick revision of the Top 30.
CAVEAT: “quick revision” is a key phrase here. The next version of this list will come out some time in July, will run through the Top 100, and will likely look quite different from this one. Several players will graduate by then, plus we’ll have several more weeks of statistical data and scouting information to analyze.
1) Ronald Acuña, Jr, OF, Atlanta Braves (previously number one)
2) Shohei Ohtani, RHP-DH, Los Angeles Angels (2)
3) Vladimir Guerrero Jr, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (3)
4) Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals (40)
5) Fernando Tatis, JR, SS, San Diego Padres (4)
COMMENT: The top two will move past rookie limits before the next list revision. If you remove them now, I see Vlad Jr, Soto, and Tatis Jr as the Top Three prospects in the game.
6) Gleyber Torres, INf, New York Yankees (7)
7) Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox (9)
8) Walker Buehler, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (13)
9) Alex Reyes, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (26)
10) Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays (5)
COMMENT: Torres will graduate this summer, as will Buehler. Reyes looks excellent coming back from Tommy John surgery and has surged back to the top of the pitching charts now that we know his stuff and command are intact.
11) Nick Senzel, 3B, Cincinnati Reds (6)
12) Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox (14)
13) Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (15)
14) Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros (11)
15) Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies (16)
COMMENT: None of these guys have really lost ground on their own merits, it’s just others have moved ahead.
16) Jack Flaherty, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (50)
17) Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros (8)
18) Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals (10)
19) Willy Adames, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (33)
20) Mike Soroka, RHP, Atlanta Braves (31)
COMMENT: Robles is hurt and Whitley is suspended so they move down more due to lack of current information than anything. Adames and Soroka move up on merit, as does Flaherty. He’s completely legit in my view, a proven talent, and you can make a good sabermetric case that he belongs ahead of Kopech and Keller.
21) Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins (22)
22) Luiz Gohara, LHP, Atlanta Braves (12)
23) Brendan McKay, LHP-1B, Tampa Bay Rays (59)
24) Mackenzie Gore, San Diego Padres, LHP (17)
25) Hunter Greene, Cincinnati Reds, RHP (18)
COMMENT: I still like Gohara. Gore and Greene are hard to rate at this point; their physical potentials remain outstanding but both have been getting hit hard in the Midwest League so far. I am perfectly content to punt on ranking at the moment and see where they stand in July.
26) Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Oakland Athletics (113)
27) Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (23)
28) Taylor Trammell, OF, Cincinnati Reds (39)
29) Jesus Sanchez, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (45)
30) Francisco Mejia, C-OF, Cleveland Indians (19)
COMMENT: Trammell and Jesus Sanchez would be getting more attention nationally if not for Soto’s stunning achievements. Mejia has been struggling in Triple-A and is being handled rather oddly by the Indians but I still believe in him overall. Luzardo is holding his own in Double-A at age 20 with excellent scouting reports and has shown he’s fully healthy again.
As noted in the caveat above, this was a rapid revision with most attention focused at the top, but feel free to ask about anyone else.