Projected Top-50 MLB Prospects in 2020
Last month I wrote a six-part series detailing breakout MLB prospects in each division that I thought could make a jump up the rankings this season. Why not take that one step further and project MLB’s top prospects in 2020? With the prospect landscape always changing, I thought this would be a fun little exercise to look towards the future at who could be in the top-50 next spring. As usual, hitters dominate this top-50, making up the entire top 10 and counting for 80% of this top-50. We even have a few members of the 2019 draft class that made this list as well.
Now before you start yelling about this prospect or that prospect not making the list, it’s likely because they are projected to graduate to the Majors and exhaust their prospect status.
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Projected Top-50 MLB Prospects in 2020
1. Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays | Current: 5
With the four prospects ahead of him projected to exhaust their prospect status this season, the golden boy should take over the top ranking next season. And frankly, this might’ve happened regardless. That’s how special of a talent Wander Franco is. He possesses the tools to hit for an average well above .300, 30+ homers, and double-digit speed. He received a bump up to the Single-A Midwest League to start 2019 and could make it all the way up to Double-A by season’s end.
Wander Franco's swing on his home run in game 1 last night. pic.twitter.com/PaGjBN455F
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) August 23, 2018
2. Jo Adell, OF, Los Angeles Angels | Current: 7
To put it simply, Jo Adell is the top power/speed threat in the minors. That was the case basically from the moment he was drafted and Adell’s hit tool and overall plate approach have improved as well. If you told me that only one current minor leaguer was going to have a 30/30 MLB season down the road, I’d bet a large amount of money on Adell. The knee injury stinks, but doesn’t damper his long-term upside one bit.
3. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins | Current: 8
While Adell might be the top power/speed threat in the minors, Alex Kirilloff is firmly in the running for the title of best pure hitter. With batting title upside and 30+ homer pop to go along with it, Kirilloff has one of the highest ceilings of all current prospects and one of the highest floors to go along with it.
4. Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins | Current: 6
The 2017 #1 overall pick is off to a slow start to the season for Double-A Chattanooga, but possesses a sexy offensive ceiling due to his plus hit tool, plus-plus speed, and 15-20 homer pop. Having him and Kirilloff in the same minor league lineup is unfair.
5. Nolan Gorman, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals | Current: 16
That’s right, Nolan Gorman in the top-5. The top slugger from the 2018 draft class is already in the discussion for top power threat in the minors and is mashing to begin the season for Single-A Peoria in the Midwest League. Gorman has 40+ homer upside and a better hit tool than he gets credit for. Stop fighting it and just embrace the upside. Nolan puts the MAN is Gorman.
6. Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays | Current: 14
There’s a chance that Bo Bichette graduates from prospect status by season’s end, but I’m anticipating Toronto playing the service time game with Bo. If he’s still a prospect next spring, expect him to be pushing top-5 overall status thanks to his plus hit tool, plus speed, and double-digit pop.
7. Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox | Current: 20
The raw tools have always been there. It’s just been a matter of staying healthy for Luis Robert to fully showcase those tantalizing tools. With above-average contact skills, plus speed, and blossoming raw power, Robert is an offensive monster in the making and pitchers in the Carolina League (A+) are witnessing this to start the 2019 season. At the time of writing this piece, Robert had a 1.537 OPS through his first 40 at-bats.
8. Kristian Robinson, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks | Current: 32
This might seem a little high for Kristian Robinson, but I’m a firm believer in his offensive tools. Mainly, his plus-plus raw power and solid hit tool. The plus speed he’s displayed will likely lose a tick as he matures and develops physically, but the end package could be a .280/35/15 middle of the order masher.
9. Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays | Current: 40
When you have the type of speed and contact skills that Vidal Brujan has, it’s hard not to get excited about what the future holds. The more video I watch of Brujan, the more impressed I am. There’s legit .300+/30+ upside here with double-digit pop as well. He’s an elite prospect in the making.
10. Taylor Trammell, OF, Cincinnati Reds | Current: 13
Taylor Trammell is about a safe of a bet as you can find in the outfield. His plus hit tool, plus speed, and advanced approach give him both a high ceiling and high floor. If his power continues to develop, watch out.
11. Casey Mize, RHP, Detroit Tigers | Current: 31
With the likes of Forrest Whitley and Jesus Luzardo projected to graduate from this list, Casey Mize and MacKenzie Gore vault up to take their spots as the top two pitching prospects in the game. Both men have incredibly high upside, but I’m giving the nod to Mize as he’s more advanced and more polished at the moment.
Casey Mize 4-pitch filthiness. FB 94-95 T96 w/ good run. SL 85-88 w/ tight spin and nasty bite. SLV 83-85 has 2 plane break. SPL is difference maker. Works low and darts out of zone at 85-87 #Tigers pic.twitter.com/M7VE54ErHF
— Kyler Peterson (@KPeterson813) April 15, 2019
12. Jonathan India, 3B, Cincinnati Reds | Current: 18
A lot of people have questioned why I’ve ranked Jonathan India as a top-20 prospect already. While he might not have one standout tool, the entire offensive profile is rock-solid with above-average tools across the board. India has a very high floor and the upside of a top-10 prospect that can hit close to .300 with some 20/20 seasons.
13. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Seattle Mariners | Current: 23
I’ve gushed plenty about Kelenic ever since he was drafted. A pretty swing, solid contact skills, plus speed, 20-homer pop. It’s all there and it’s all beautiful. If he can put together the type of season that I believe he can, don’t be surprised to see his name within my top-10 next spring.
14. Trevor Larnach, OF, Minnesota Twins | Current: 29
There’s not much to say about Larnach outside of he’s a really good hitter. Think of Alex Kirilloff, then temper the projections a little, and you’ll have Larnach. A plus hit tool and power gives him plenty of upside with a high floor as well.
15. Andres Gimenez, SS, New York Mets | Current: 21
With a plus hit tool, plus speed, and developing raw power, there’s a lot to like here with Gimenez. He might not be as sexy of a prospect name as Franco, Lewis, or Bichette, but make no mistake, Gimenez is an elite prospect and offensive star in the making.
16. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, San Diego Padres | Current: 30
If Mize isn’t the top prospect in baseball next spring, it’s because MacKenzie Gore has claimed that spot. Gore features four potential plus pitches and above-average control/command of his entire arsenal. He’s everything you could want from a future ace pitcher.
17. Nico Hoerner, SS, Chicago Cubs | Current: 56
Nico Hoerner deserves more respect. He’s one of the top pure hitters in the minors with 15+ homer pop and 30+ steal wheels to go along with it. It shouldn’t be long until he’s up with the Cubs, likely early on next season.
18. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, NCAA | Current: NR
Hey look, our first 2019 draftee on the list. Vaughn is a middle of the order masher that can hit for both a high average and plenty of power. He projects to be a top-10 pick on draft day this June and, in my opinion, has the highest upside in this year’s draft class.
19. Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox | Current: 19
If it wasn’t for Kopech undergoing Tommy John Surgery, he would’ve graduated from prospect status early in the 2019 season. When he’s able to keep his command and control in check, Kopech has ace upside and the potential to be one of the top strikeout pitchers in the Majors.
20. Mark Vientos, 3B, New York Mets | Current: 50
Vientos quickly put his AVG/Power upside on full display in rookie ball last season and received the bump up to the SIngle-A South Atlantic League this season. With plus contact skills and raw power, Vientos should continue to rise up the ranks this season.
21. Matt Manning, RHP, Detroit Tigers | Current: 54
To be honest, Matt Manning is one of my favorite pitchers in the minors. He throws hard, spins a hammer curve, and has made strides with his changeup and command/control. Further development of the latter should vault him into the elite territory.
22. Marco Luciano, SS, San Francisco Giants | Current: 74
Though he’s yet to make his professional debut, the upside with Marco Luciano is off the charts and should make him a quick riser up prospect rankings once he starts pummeling rookie ball pitching later this summer.
23. Kevin Smith, 3B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays | Current: 39
So underrated. With Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette stealing most of the attention, Kevin Smith has flown under the radar for a prospect with his upside. With Vlad, and potentially Bo, graduating to the Majors this season, Smith enters the limelight with his power/speed blend and ability to hit for a strong batting average.
24. Drew Waters, OF, Atlanta Braves | Current: 46
He threatened to do so after 2018, and now in 2019, Drew Waters rises to the top of the Atlanta Braves prospect list. A dynamic across the board threat, Waters has all-star outfielder written all over him.
25. Joey Bart, C, San Francisco Giants | Current: 41
While Bart has some competition coming in Adley Rutschman, he remains the unquestioned top catching prospect in the game and the only catching prospect that has this combination of power and hit tool.
26. Luis Patino, RHP, San Diego Padres | Current: 71
At every level he’s been at so far, Luis Patino has dominated. Don’t expect that to change any time soon either. With three plus pitches and a developing changeup, Patino has ace potential and is only a tick behind Gore for overall upside.
27. Xavier Edwards, SS, San Diego Padres | Current: 38
When you have two plus or better offensive tools, you’re bound to be very high on a list like this. Those tools for Edwards are his hit tool (plus) and speed (plus-plus). Any power he gives is just gravy.
28. Luis Garcia, 3B/SS, Washington Nationals | Current: 36
Garcia is another one that doesn’t necessarily have one sexy tool, but he does have an above-average to plus hit tool and speed with developing power. Still just 18, the projection and upside here are worth banking on.
29. Adley Rutschman, C, NCAA | Current: NR
You all know how high I’ve been on Joey Bart, so for Adley Rutschman to already be so close to Bart in these rankings just shows how high the upside is with the collegiate catcher. But what can I say, catchers that can hit for a high average and plenty of power don’t grow on trees.
30. Julio Rodriguez, OF, Seattle Mariners | Current: 105
From outside the top-100 to nearly cracking the top-25. When I was making my list for my top breakout prospects for 2019, the first name I wrote down was Julio Rodriguez. I love the mix of contact, power, and speed that J-Rod brings to the table and expect him to make a ton of noise this season.
31. Jesus Sanchez, OF, Tampa Bay Rays | Current: 35
Sanchez has been teasing us with his all-star upside at every level of the minors so far. he’s never hit below .282 in any season and his plus raw power has become more and more prominent in games, even though he hasn’t hit more than 15 homers in a season yet. The end product here could be a .300/30/10 middle of the order force.
32. George Valera, OF, Cleveland Indians | Current: 60
The quick way to describe Valera is raw with a ton of upside. Some have called him the next Juan Soto. That’s a lofty comparison, that I don’t fully endorse, but it just shows the type of potential Valera has.
33. Cristian Pache, OF, Atlanta Braves | Current: 43
The tools are raw with Pache, but very tantalizing at the same time. Now at Double-A, Pache is inching closer to a Major League debut and those loud tools of his are showing themselves more and more every day.
34. Grant Lavigne, 1B, Colorado Rockies | Current: 82
Lavigne is a prospect from the 2018 draft class that I’ve been higher on than most in the industry. But can you blame me? With his above-average contact skills, plus raw power, and double-digit speed potential (from a first baseman!), I expect Lavigne to fly up rankings and begin receiving more love from other prospect hounds.
35. Jazz Chisholm, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks | Current: 55
A 1/27 start with 14 K makes me want to puke, but then I remember the upside Chisholm possesses and I calm back down. The strikeouts will likely always keep his batting average in check, but he should still hit in the .270-.280 range with an intriguing power/speed blend as well.
36. Nate Pearson, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays | Current: 57
Just stay healthy, that’s all we ask. Pearson’s stuff is downright nasty, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the mound consistently since being drafted. If he can stay healthy and develop his changeup, the upside here is off the charts.
Nate Pearson is a Bad Man pic.twitter.com/8ZqmSyGjzd
— Prospects Live (@ProspectsLive) November 5, 2018
37. Estevan Florial, OF, New York Yankees | Current: 37
A left-hander with above-average raw power who will play half his games at Yankee stadium? Sounds good to me. There have been some questions about his hit tool, but Florial has shown enough to project as a .260-.270 hitter with the upside for more than 20 homers and steals.
38. Oneil Cruz, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates | Current: 67
Cruz is another prospect where the tools have been louder than the stats so far. But you have to remember that Cruz has been young for every level, including this season in the high Class-A Florida State League. The numbers will come.
39. Ronny Mauricio, SS, New York Mets | Current: 133
Out of all the prospects on this list, Mauricio is currently the lowest in my current top-250 list at #133. That should soon change. Mauricio has above-average contact skills, plus raw power, and double-digit speed which he showed glimpses of last year in rookie ball. If he continues to flash those tools in the Sally this season, Mauricio should skyrocket up prospect rankings.
40. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, High School | Current: NR
Here’s your annual top draft prospect with plus power and speed with a questionable hit tool. If he can make strides with his contact skills, Witt should quickly become a top prospect.
41. Cole Winn, RHP, Texas Rangers | Current: 93
From Witt to Winn. The Rangers first rounder in 2018 has yet to throw a professional pitch but the upside is worth putting him inside the top-50 already. Once he does get on the mound, Winn’s four above-average to plus pitches and solid command should allow him to cement himself as one of the top pitching prospects in the game.
42. Luis Garcia, SS, Philadelphia | Current: 94
43. Nick Madrigal, 2B, Chicago White Sox | Current: 53
While the upside might not be elite, you have to love the hit tool and the speed Madrigal brings to the table. He’s also likely going to move quickly through the White Sox system, with an early-2020 debut in the cards.
44. Jordyn Adams, OF, Los Angeles Angels | Current: 119
When it comes to raw tools, few can match the upside of Jordyn Adams and his 20/40 potential. But like I said, he’s very raw and still a work in progress at the plate. If he can progress with his approach and contact skills, the sky is the limit.
45. Ian Anderson, RHP, Atlanta Braves | Current: 61
Some say that Ian Anderson has the highest upside of all the talented Atlanta Braves arms. While that’s a tough call, that notion might be true. With the potential for three plus pitches, Anderson will just need to refine his command to reach his lofty ceiling as a #1 or #2 starter in the Majors.
46. Travis Swaggerty, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates | Current: 111
He’s not the flashiest prospect around, but there’s a beautiful blend of ceiling and floor here with Travis Swaggerty thanks to above-average grades on all of his offensive tools. Don’t sleep on him just because he doesn’t have huge power or speed upside.
47. Deivi Garcia, RHP, New York Yankees | Current: 77
Out of all the talented Yankees arms, Deivi Garcia is the most intriguing to me. With two plus or better pitches and a developing changeup, Garcia has dominated the low minors and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.
48. Malcom Nunez, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals | Current: 100
The numbers in the DSL last season were nothing short of phenomenal. Yes, it was just rookie ball, but the offensive upside here is enormous with plus contact skills and plus raw power. If he can continue to showcase those this season, this ranking might end up being too low.
49. Adonis Medina, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies | Current: 83
50. A.J. Puk, LHP, Oakland Athletics | Current: 42
I wanted to rank Puk higher on this list but couldn’t bring myself to do it.The upside is still very high with a plus fastball and slider, but the changeup needs refinement and it remains to be seen how he’ll return from Tommy John surgery. With his return to game action still a month or two away, I don’t anticipate Puk getting enough MLB innings to exhaust his prospect status.
Honorable Mention – Hitters
Jhon Torres, OF, STL | Alek Thomas, OF, ARI | Wander Javier, SS, MIN | Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE | Yusniel Diaz, OF, BAL | Victor Victor Mesa, OF, MIA | Brayan Rocchio, SS, CLE | Austin Beck, OF, OAK | Sherten Apostel, 3B, TEX | Geraldo Perdomo, SS, ARI | Jahmai Jones, 2B. LAA | Heliot Ramos, OF, SF | Colton Welker, 3B, COL | Daulton Varsho, C, ARI | Brandon Marsh, OF, LAA | Jordan Groshans, 3B, TOR | Alec Bohm, 3B, PHI | Khalil Lee, OF, KC | Esteury Ruiz, 2B, SD | Bobby Dalbec, 3B, BOS | Bubba Thompson, OF, TEX | Tristan Casas, 1B/3B, BOS | Hudson Potts, 3B, SD
Honorable Mention – Pitchers
Matthew Liberatore, LHP, TB | Eric Pardinho, RHP, TOR | Hunter Greene, RHP, CIN | Sixto Sanchez, RHP, MIA | Brusdar Graterol, RHP, MIN | Brendan McKay, LHP/DH, TB | Adrian Morejon, LHP, SD | Hans Crouse, RHP, TEX | Logan Gilbert, RHP, SEA | Triston McKenzie, RHP, CLE | DL Hall, LHP, BAL | Ethan Hankins, RHP, CLE | Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, BAL | Brady Singer, RHP, KC
Photo/Video Credit: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire, Keith Law, Matt Thompson, Kyler Peterson, Prospects Live.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and a contributor in the best-selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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