Christopher Crawford

Prospect Roundup

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Top 10 Prospects: June 11

Monday, June 11, 2018

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A reminder that this is strictly a list for 2018. Several of these prospects are among the best in baseball, but for the purpose of this series, it’s just measuring potential impact for the coming season. You can view my top 100 prospects for 2018 and my top prospects by position in our Rotoworld MLB Season Pass.


Without further ado, here’s the top 10 fantasy prospects for the 2018 season.


1. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox

2018 stats: 47 G, .321/.373/.576, 10 HR, 0 SB, 16 BB, 35 SO at Double-A Birmingham.


This was tough. I thought Vlad Guerrero Jr. would remain the top prospect until he was promoted, but for reasons we'll explain when we get to Guerrero's writeup -- yes, he's still in the top 10, spoiler alert -- we have to move him down. Jimenez actually saw his average drop 10 points with a rough week, but he still earns the top spot because of his ability to hit for average and power, and his approach continues to get better. The upside if he gets called up is just too high for him to not be in the top spot right now.


2. Nick Senzel, INF, Cincinnati Reds

2018 stats: 33 G, .276/.361/.441, 3 HR, 7 SB, 17 BB, 30 SO at Triple-A Louisville.


A very strong week for Senzel, who is now hitting .355/.432/.484 in the month of June. Senzel is also drawing walks, and he's stolen four bases since his return from Vertigo, so he's obviously feeling better, if not quite at 100 percent just yet. The second pick of the 2016 MLB Draft can really hit, and he's going to get a call at some point in 2018 as long as he's healthy. It's just a matter of when, and when should be soon considering how out of contention Cincinnati is.


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3. Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox

2018 stats: 12 G, 59 1/3 IP, 4.70 ERA, 4 HR, 34 BB, 80 SO at Triple-A Charlotte.


Kopech's last start featured a lot of good and a little bit of bad. The good: Kopech went six innings, allowed just two runs, and he struck out 10 hitters against Lehigh Valley. The bad: Kopech walked five, and he's now walked nine total hitters in his last two starts and 15 in his last four. Kopech's stuff is electric, but he has to throw strikes if he's going to be featured at the highest level in 2018. He's very close to ready -- and he's a must-get if/when it happens -- but it's understandable that Chicago wants more consistency from Kopech in terms of filling the strike zone.


4. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros

2018 stats: 57 G, .277/.355/.481, 9 HR, 8 SB, 29 BB, 53 SO at Triple-A Fresno.


I considered moving Tucker up to the number one spot this week. I think once he gets the call to Houston he has a chance to be an outstanding contributor, and I think he has a great chance of reaching the Astros soon. The issue that gives me just enough pause to not put him in the top spot -- or the top three -- is concerns about the playing time. When the three names above Tucker get up, they're going to play. Tucker is probably going to have to compete for some playing time in 2018. That being said, he's certainly worth a speculative add at this point in the year, and the Astros aren't going to call up Tucker and just have him rot on the bench, either. There's just a little more volatility here, in my humble estimation.


5. Willy Adames, SS, Tampa Bay Rays

2018 stats: 54 G, .286/.356/.424, 4 HR, 3 SB, 24 BB, 58 SO at Triple-A Durham.


Another tough week for Adames, but it's not enough to keep him out of the top five. Unless Adames completely collapses -- something that's not likely to happen given his talent -- he's going to remain around this range, and for good reason. He can hit for average, he draws walks, and there's sneaky power in his right-handed bat. The Rays are already making moves to prepare for their rebuild, and that rebuild should see Adames playing shortstop everyday soon.

6. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros

2018 stats: 1 G, 0.00 ERA, 4 IP, 0 HR, 1 BB, 5 SO at Double-A Corpus Christi.


Welcome to the list, Mr. Whitley. We've been expecting you, even though we think your stay might be short. He's back at it after missing 50 games for violating the minor league drug policy, and he's ready to miss some bats. Whitley has the best pure stuff of any pitcher in minor league baseball -- including Mr. Kopech -- with two plus-plus pitches in his fastball and curve, and two above-average ones in his slider and change. He throws all four pitches for strikes, and while the command is behind the control, it's not bad enough to think he can't start. The reason Whitley ranks this "low" is because it's highly unlikely he starts with Houston's rotation being what it is. Even in relief, however, he has a chance to make a big-time impact because of his strikeouts and low WHIP potential. 

7. Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

2018 stats: 11 G, 3.27 ERA, 66 IP, 0 HR, 25 BB, 63 SO at Double-A Altoona.


Keller is the second new pitcher on this list, and like Whitley he has a chance to make a big impact when he gets the call to the big leagues. A second-round pick in 2014, Keller has one of the best sinking fastballs in the minors, and while it doesn't have huge velocity (93-96) the aforementioned sink makes it a swing-and-miss pitch that's very hard to square up. He complements that pitch with a plus curve, and he shows an average change that he locates for strikes for good measure. He pounds the strike zone with all of his arsenal, and if there's a weakness here, it's that he sometimes pitches to contact too often. He's high floor because of the control, but he's high ceiling because of that swing-and-miss fastball/curve combo.


8. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays

2018 stats: 53 G, .408/.457/.667, 11 HR, 3 SB, 20 BB, 21 SO at Double-A New Hampshire. 


Figuring out where to place Guerrero was more difficult than figuring out who should be the top prospect that replaces him, and that's saying something, because that was difficult. Here's the situation if you missed it: Guerrero Jr. is unquestionably the best prospects in baseball, and you just need to look at those stupid numbers above to understand why. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with a strained patellar tendon, and he's going to be out for four weeks. If he was just going to miss a month, Vlad Jr. would stay near the top. But he's going to be reevaluated in four weeks. There's no guarantee he gets on the field again this year. I keep him in my top 10 for now because I'm an optimist, and because if he did get promoted to Toronto, the fantasy potential is palpable. There's a better chance than not that we don't see him in Toronto in 2018, and that's so disappointing that I don't want to talk about it anymore.


9. Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers

2018 stats: 56 G, .266/.317/.394, 5 HR, 0 SB, 16 BB, 31 SO at Triple-A Round Rock.


An excellent week from Calhoun, and the hope is he's getting hot at the right time.  He had a pair of multi-hit games this week, and he also hit his fifth homer of the season on Wednesday. It's still a bit of a mystery why Calhoun isn't putting up the same power numbers he did in 2017 (31 homers), but if he starts hitting for pop for the remainder of the summer, it really won't matter. Calhoun still owns a plus hit and power tool based on what we've seen in the past. It should be showing up for Texas soon.


10. Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves

2018 stats: 53 G, .308/.369/.552, 10 HR, 0 SB, 18 BB, 66 SO at Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett.


Riley is another player who is tough to place right now -- this might have been the most difficult week of formulating this list, if you were interested -- as he's going to miss at least two weeks with a knee sprain. Reports are that it's not serious, but we've heard a lot of "it's not serious" reports, so, take that for what it's worth. Assuming it's accurate, Riley has the ability to hit for power with a solid-average hit tool that makes him fantasy relevant when he gets a chance to play everyday. Just keep in mind that there's a ton of risk because of the swing-and-miss and now the injury.

Just missed: Franklin Barreto, SS, Oakland Athletics; Kolby Allard, LHP, Atlanta Braves; Nick Gordon, SS, Minnesota Twins; Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers

Christopher Crawford is a baseball and college football writer for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter @Crawford_MILB.
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