Christopher Crawford

Prospect Roundup

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Top 10 Prospects: June 25

Monday, June 25, 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. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros

2018 stats: 69 G, .314/.382/.509, 10 HR, 13 SB, 33 BB, 63 SO at Triple-A Fresno.

 

This spot would have gone to Nick Senzel again, but unfortunately, Senzel will miss the rest of the year with a fracture in his hand. He has a worthy successor in Tucker. You can't swing the bat much better -- if at all -- than he is right now. In the month of June, the left-handed hitting outfielder has an OPS of 1.060 from a line of .405/.441/.619, and he's seven-for-seven in stolen base attempts in that time frame. Tucker can flat out hit, and his smarts on the bases make up for a lack of "elite" speed. The Astros have said that Tucker has a chance to contribute for them this summer, and he should. Kyle Tucker is the new number one prospect for 2018 in fantasy baseball.

 

2. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox

2018 stats: 57 G, .317/.373/.555, 11 HR, 0 SB, 21 BB, 41 SO at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.

 

It was difficult to choose between Tucker and Jimenez as the top prospect for 2018, and that decision became even more difficult when Jimenez was promoted to Triple-A. So far, the 21-year-old outfielder has handled the promotion well -- albeit in a very small sample size -- with an OPS of .976 over four games. The reason Tucker ranks ahead is that he's slightly more likely to get called up, and he also has the ability to impact the game with his wheels. It's very close -- and you can't go wrong with either -- but I have Tucker with a slight lead for 2018.

 

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3. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros

2018 stats: 4 G, 3.66 ERA, 16.1 IP, 1 HR, 6 BB, 24 SO at Double-A Corpus Christi.

 

Whitley struggled for the first time since returning from a suspension, giving up seven earned runs and three walks in 4 1/3 innings. He did strike out six, and considering he's 20-years-old and it was just his fourth start of the year, it's tough to complain too much. There's no word on when -- or even if -- Whitley will receive a call, but with his ability to miss bats, it would take a lot more starts like the one he had Sunday to not call him the best pitching prospect for the remainder of 2018.

 

4. Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers

2018 stats: 72 G, .274/.319/.406, 6 HR, 0 SB, 17 BB, 36 SO at Triple-A Round Rock.

 

These numbers may not look elite, but they're not indicative of how well Calhoun has played over the past few weeks. He's making hard contact -- and just as importantly, he's making more contact -- and we're starting to see the plus power he showed in 2017 show up in 2018 as well. There are defensive issues that don't necessarily have much to do with his fantasy value on the surface, and yet they are important because he needs to be at least a competent defender to play everyday at the next level. Calhoun's bat should carry him, however, and it should see him in Arlington soon enough. 

 

5. Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

2018 stats: 13 G, 3.00 ERA, 78 IP, 7 HR, 30 BB, 70 SO at Double-A Altoona.

 

Keller was outstanding in his start last week, hurling six scoreless innings while allowing just four hits with four strikeouts. While he doesn't have the same type of swing-and-miss stuff that some of the other hurlers on this list have, he certainly misses a decent amount, and he initiates a ton of weak contact in the process. The Pirates are going in the wrong direction in their bid for a playoff spot, and they should give their top prospect a chance to finish the season in the majors. A promotion to Triple-A -- while not necessary -- could be coming soon for Keller.

 

6. Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox

2018 stats: 14 G, 67 1/3 IP, 5.08 ERA, 5 HR, 46 BB, 88 SO at Triple-A Charlotte.

 

The good news is that Kopech had okay results in his last start, allowing two runs over five innings while striking out six against Colorado Springs. The bad news is that once again, Kopech struggled with walks, walking four in the start. That gives him 21 walks in his last four starts, and 27 in his previous six. You can see from the strikeout totals that Kopech can miss bats with the best of them, but until he throws his arsenal for strikes on a more consistent basis, he's going to stay in Charlotte.

 

7. 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. 

 

We're getting closer to Guerrero's evaluation day, which means we're getting closer to finding out if we're going to see the top prospect in baseball play again in 2018. There's plenty of time for Guerrero to make an impact if he gets the thumbs up to return, but let's remember that this is a 19-year-old, and Toronto has every reason to take precaution with him. If we see him back on the field, he'll jump back to the top of the list, but there are no guarantees that'll happen.

 

8. Francisco Mejia, C, Cleveland Indians

2018 stats: 61 G, .256/.304/.399, 6 HR, 0 SB, 13 BB, 52 SO at Triple-A Columbus. 

 

Mejia continues to swing the bat well, and has his average above .250 for the first time since April. That may not sound impressive, but considering he struggled so badly out of the gate, it's impressive that the numbers have bounced back to this level. Let's also remember that this was a catcher that showed one of the best -- and most advanced -- hit tools in baseball in 2017, so there's reason to believe that this is the "real" version of Mejia. Be it as a DH, backstop or some combination of both, Mejia is talented enough to help the Indians in 2018, and can help your fantasy team in return.

 

9. Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

2018 stats: 49 G, .340/.384/.505, 6 HR, 4 SB, 15 B, 26 SO at Triple-A Oklahoma City; 9 G, .265/.306/.352, 0 HR, 0 SB, 2 BB, 6 SO at Los Angeles

 

Verdugo is scorching hot with the bat, and unlike like last season, he's showing the ability to drive the baseball while still hitting for an impressive average. He held his own in a cup of coffee earlier this year, and at some point, he should get another chance to improve on his MLB numbers above. The issue with Verdugo for 2018 -- and potentially long-term -- is that there are a lot of mouths to feed in the Los Angeles outfield. Still, if there was an injury or trade, Verdugo should be a more than competent replacement.

 

10. Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers

2018 stats: 70 G, .332/.389/.530, 8 HR, 9 SB, 17 BB, 62 SO at High-A Carolina and Double-A Biloxi.


There are three Double-A hitters I considered with this final spot: Hiura, Colorado Rockies shortstop Brendan Rodgers and San Diego Padres SS Fernando Tatis Jr. While I think the long-term futures for Rodgers and Tatis are ahead of Hiura's -- with all due respect, of course -- I think Hiura is the more ready prospect right now because of his advanced offensive skill set. The only prospect on this list with a better project hit tool is Guerrero, and as you can see from the numbers above, he isn't just a singles hitter. He's far from a lock to make a trip to Milwaukee in 2018, but if the Brewers do give him the chance, he could excel. At the very least, all three of the names mentioned are worth monitoring.

 

Just missed: Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies; Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres; Luiz Gohara, LHP, Atlanta Braves; Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves



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



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