Before I even got this posted Alex Reyes exhausted his rookie eligibility (needed a single out to do so and pitched an inning on Friday) so I updated my top 150 before it went live. Reyes was at 22 but is now removed making room for Ryan Weathers, giving the Padres two more than any other team with 12 players making the top 150. 15 players on the list open the season in the big leagues, with 14 of those in the top 80 and the Padres and Mariners both starting with two players in the big leagues.
Quick Report: The Twins raised a few eyebrows when they selected Royce Lewis number one overall in 2017 ahead of the likes of Hunter Greene, MacKenzie Gore, Brendan McKay, and Kyle Wright, but no Twins fans are complaining about the selection these days. He possesses near top of the scale speed and has looked ok at shortstop thus far. There are still some that feel he is best suited to move to center, but there is growing belief he will stick at short and, possibly, even grow into an above average fielder there. At the plate, he has a leg kick at times, but mellows it with two strikes. The bat is quick to and through the zone, allowing him to make solid contact where his bat plays as plus. There is good power, potential plus for an up-the-middle player, but will always be more of a doubles guy than a home run hitter.
Quick Report: A fastball that sits a high as 98 to go with a power slider, solid curve, and decent change gives Graterol a legit big league arsenal. He is not the tallest of pitchers, but a strong core and lower half suggest he can eat innings despite requiring Tommy John surgery before making his stateside debut. There is some arm bend and inconsistencies in his 3/4 slot delivery, but he manages to pound the strike zone just fine. If he can clean up some of the inconsistent arm slot and head whip, he could be a guy that holds down the number two or three spot of a rotation.
Quick Report: Like the two players ahead of him on this list, Kiriloff started the year in Low A before being promoted to Fort Myers and helping the club win the Florida State League title. Him ranking third in the system is no slight to him, he could easily be ranked second, as Kiriloff is one of the better pure hitters in all the minors. His left-handed swing is quick to the zone and he makes consistent contact with good balance. He hit 20 home runs and 44 doubles in 130 games last season, showing he has plenty of power to be a guy who hits in the middle of the order. He missed all of 2017 due to TJ, but he still has plenty of arm to play right field. Now that he has had a healthy off-season and comes into the year fully healthy, expect to see Kiriloff get fast tracked and possibly even start the year at AA with a late season bump to AAA.
Quick Report: Oregon State’s lineup a year ago was ridiculous, with Nick Madrigal of the White Sox and Cadyn Grenier of the Orioles at the top of the order, then they had presumed number one pick this coming draft Adley Rutschman and the Twins number four prospect Trevor Larnach in the middle of the order. Larnach has plenty of arm to play right but is not the greatest of defenders and could eventually land in left or even first. He has a great feel at the plate, allowing him to show off a plus bat, but has flashed impressive power, although that is inconsistent. In time, I expect more power and less contact from Larnach, turning into a guy who hits .265-.270 and hits 28-30 home runs annually.
Quick Report: A two-time selection of the Twins, Rooker has a big bat with plus power, although the contact rates were lower than many hoped for a season ago. That said, it was his first full pro season, and he spent it at AA and the AFL. Where Rooker will play will go a long way into determining his ultimate value, as he has been slapped with the DH tag by many already. He has seen time in left and at first, although he is not exactly great at either one. He has an upright stance but creates plenty of loft in his swing allowing him to really drive the ball where he will continue to improve his game power into a true plus too.
Quick Report: Duran has a curve that can flash plus but is inconsistent and a change that may eventually be an average offering to go with his plus fastball. At first, this may not seem like a big repertoire, but when you dive deeper and realize his fastball is actually two pitches, an upper-90s four-seam and a cutting, sinking two-seamer that gets into the mid-90s, his arsenal looks a whole lot better. He has a high leg kick with a lot of drive off the back leg before getting to his high 3/4 slot that does have some effort as he falls to the first base side. If the change becomes a pitch he can rely on, he can be a mid-rotation guy, but if it doesn’t he still has the potential to be a closer-type reliever.
Quick Report: I went back and forth on who to place at seven and who to place at eight, but ultimately decided to take floor over ceiling in this one. Gordon is lean just like his dad, Tom Gordon, and half-brother Dee Gordon, but doesn’t have any singular standout tool like those had/have. Nick is more the all-around player who can run a little, hit for a good average (although he really struggled at AAA last year) and play an above average shortstop. Many have questioned if Gordon has the strength to withstand a full season as a regular at the big-league level, which could lead him to be stuck as a utility guy. I saw a good amount of him in the 2016 AFL and love his swing. I feel he has the potential to get off to a hot start this year and earn an early call up to Minnesota where he can earn himself a long-term gig in the middle infield.
Quick Report: Javier has no shortage of tools, but he has just on impressive short season stint in the Appy League to his stateside resume. He missed all of 2018 with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, so there is a wide range of outcomes for Javier. When on the field, he has a solid glove and a very strong arm making him sticking at short a pretty sure thing, although I wouldn’t rule out a move to third or right being a possibility in time. He is lean, but has a strong enough lower half I could see him developing into at least average power to pair with a quick bat that should allow him to hit for a solid average.
Quick Report: Much of Baddoo’s future is going to be tied to his defense, as he is a guy that should be able to play a solid center field his whole career. At the plate, his 2018 numbers would lead you to believe he is more power than hit, although he is really the reverse. The bat can be long, but the plane allows him to hit line drives all over the field. He will be able to put up average-to-better power but shortening the bat just a bit will allow him to become a guy who could hit at the top of an order.
Quick Report: There might not have been an Australian to have as much as Thorpe did early in his pro career, but Tommy John cost him the 2015 season and mono wiped out the 2016 season. He bounced back in 2017, making it up to AA in what was still his age 21 season. Last year he continued his advancement, making it to AAA and is now knocking on the door to be a part of the Twins rotation. He has a good fastball that sits low-90s and touches mid-90s with some run. He has a good curve, decent change, and struggles with a slider. His mechanics are controlled and repeatable, allowing him to pound the zone with good command with all his pitches. 2018 was the first time he pitched more than 100 innings, getting one out from 130, 47 more than any other season. His upside isn’t what we once thought it may be, but he could be a guy at the back of the rotation that eats innings for a decade.
There might not be a better 2-3-4 section of a lineup in college baseball than when Oregon State rolls out Cadyn Grenier, Nick Madrigal, and Trevor Larnach. Let’s work backwards:
Trevor Larnach: The left handed hitting outfielder has sneaky good power. He has great strength in his wrists allowing him to drive the ball out even on pitches he gets beat on. I saw him get jammed inside but muscle the ball out to the opposite field. He hit just three home runs in 2017 but already has four in his first 31 at bats of 2018. He has also walked more than he has struck out early in the year. The strikeouts are going to be something he struggles with in his career but the power will only continue to improve. He could develop 60 grade power but probably stick to 45-50 hit tool. I see him more of a left fielder than right where he has played mostly for Oregon State.
Nick Madrigal: The Dustin Pedroia and Jose Altuve comparisons are going to fly when Madrigal is discussed, but Madrigal is going to make a name for himself. Madrigal is looking to buck two trends, the 5’7” player playing short at the next level, and the college second baseman moving to short at the next level. He has as natural a hit tool as anyone in the draft this year with gap power that may turn into 10-15 home run power in time. The Beavers have given him some time at short this season and he looks every bit as smooth and natural there as he does when he plays a plus second base. His arm is easily enough to stick at short and he has the fluid actions to stick there as well. In the end, he is a true 55 overall prospect with a 60 hit, 45 power, 60 run, 50 arm, and 60 field that may get bumped down to a 55 in time.
Cadyn Grenier: Who is the player keeping Madrigal from being a regular at short? It is Cadyn Grenier. Arguably the best defensive shortstop in this year’s draft, he is an easy 60 fielder at short and is seeing time at third where his 55 arm is holding up just fine. His big questions are at the plate where he his hit tool is a bit of a question. He hit under .300 in 2017 and I have seen him go through some real slumps. His mild leg kick can throw his timing at times and he has a swing that is just a tick long. He will still have a 50 grade hit tool and 50 power and has a shot to become a big league starter, but higher likelihood is that of an excellent utility infielder.