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Prospect Roundup

Top 10 Prospects: April 30

by Christopher Crawford
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

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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. Nick Senzel, INF, Cincinnati Reds

2018 stats: 18 G, .264/.346/.431, 2 HR, 2 SB, 8 BB, 17 SO at Triple-A Louisville.

 

And we have a new No. 1. Senzel replaced Ronald Acuna, who is currently tearing the cover off the ball for the Braves. You're welcome. Senzel has crushed Triple-A pitching as of late, hitting .333/.429/.611 over his last five games. He did leave with what is being described as a shoulder injury, but it's considered precautionary and it shouldn't keep him out for long. Assuming that's accurate, Senzel should be back in the lineup soon, and he should continue to crush the International League before receiving a call-up in the middle of the month.

 

2. Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox

2018 stats: 4 G, 21 IP, 14 ERA, 0 HR, 7 BB, 29 SO at Triple-A Charlotte.

 

Kopech was outstanding on Wednesday against Triple-A Louisville; giving up just one hit while striking out eight. Most importantly, Kopech is throwing a ton of strikes; he's yet to have a start this year where he walked more than two hitters in an outing. Whey you can locate the swing-and-miss stuff that he has -- and he has a lot of it -- you have a chance to be a dominant hurler. The White Sox aren't going to rush a 22-year-old when they're not competitive, but it'd be an upset if he wasn't throwing pitches for them before the end of the summer. The fantasy upside here is worth salivating for.

 

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3. Walker Buehler, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

2018 stats: 3 G, 13 IP,2.08 ERA, 0 HR, 4 BB, 16 SO at Triple-A Oklahoma City; 2 G, 10 IP, 1.80 ERA, 0 HR, 4 BB, 11 SO at Los Angeles.

 

Buehler made two starts for the Dodgers this week, and he was impressive in both as you can tell from the numbers above. The Dodgers are going to manipulate the roster because that's what major league clubs do, but it's blatantly obvious that Buehler is ready for a rotation spot -- or at very least a spot in the bullpen. It's rare to have this kind of swing-and-miss arsenal and the ability to locate it as well as he does. Whenever he gets another shot, you should add him to the roster. It could be -- and should be -- soon.

 

4. Francisco Mejia, C/OF, Cleveland Indians

2018 stats: 20 G, .195/.239/.299, 2 HR, 0 SB, 5 BB, 21 SO at Triple-A Columbus.

 

Well this isn't the start we were hoping for. Mejia is not only struggling to make hard contact, he's struggling to make contact period. His strikeout total is almost halfway to his total from last year on April 30. Here's the good news: It's April 30. There's lots of time for Mejia to turn things around, and assuming they do, he's going to help Cleveland before the end of the year. Do not panic over a poor April.

 

5. Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers

2018 stats: 24 G, .237/.311/.376, 3 HR, 0 SB, 9 BB, 18 SO at Triple-A Round Rock.

 

Calhoun was also struggling with contact issues like Mejia, but he's been much better as of late, as he has a .278 average and .381 on-base percentage over his last week. Unfortunately, Calhoun isn't driving the ball like we're accustomed to seeing, as he's slugging just .333 in that time frame. Let's keep in mind that (seemingly) everyone is struggling to hit for power right now, and you should expect to see many more bombs over the next month or so. There's still a strong chance that you'll see those homers in Arlington, but Texas wants the former Dodgers prospect to get hot before they make the call.

 

6. Jack Flaherty, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

2018 stats: 3 G, 20 IP, 2.25 ERA, 0 HR, 3 BB, 22 SO at Triple-A Memphis; 2 G, 10 IP, 3.60 ERA, 5 BB, 11 SO at St. Louis.

 

Flaherty wasn't nearly as good in his second start with the Cardinals in 2018 as he was n the first one, as he didn't have command of his arsenal. It was far from a disaster, however, and you have to give the 22-year-old credit for keeping composure even as he was struggling to fill the strike zone. Flaherty will likely come back when St. Louis needs a fifth starter again, and he's worth keeping on your bench in redraft leagues. It will pay off in the long run.

 

7. Luiz Gohara, LHP, Atlanta Braves

2018 stats: 3 G, 11.1 IP, 4.76 ERA, 3 HR, 3 BB, 8 SO at Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett.

 

Gohara was rocked in his last start, giving up three homers in four innings against Triple-A Durham. It's important to remember that this is essentially spring training for the 21-year-old southpaw, as he missed the start of the season with an ankle injury. The Braves just recently activated him from the disabled list -- and immediately optioned him to Triple-A -- and reportedly want him to make a few more starts before calling him up.  If he shows the plus-plus fastball and plus slider at his disposal, he'll be back missing bats with the Braves in June.

 

8. Austin Hays, OF, Baltimore Orioles

2018 stats: 20 G, .222/.289/.370, 3 HR, 1 SB, 8 BB, 22 SO at Double-A Bowie.

 

Mr. Hays, if you're listening: You get one more week to turn around. It's not so much because he's struggling -- take a look around baseball, there are a lot of prospects that aren't performing to expectations in 2018 -- it's because you're struggling in Double-A. There's a potential plus hit-and-power tool in Hays' right-handed bat, and the long-term value is obviously not going to be ruined by a slow start. If there's any chance he's going to receive a call to Baltimore soon, he's going to have to start making more hard contact in the Eastern League.

 

9. Willy Adames, SS, Tampa Bay Rays

2018 stats: 20 G, .333/.430/.536, 2 HR, 2 SB, 13 BB, 16 SO at Triple-A Durham.

 

We have a newcomer. Adames has been sensational for the Bulls in 2018, and he's not doing it with smoke and mirrors. He has a smooth, line-drive swing, and he has excellent pitch-recognition skills that allow him to wait out off-speed pitches and make hard contact. There's also some power in his bat, and he should put up 12-to-15 homer seasons as a regular. He's also gotten better with the glove -- not that he was bad before -- and profiles as an above-average defender at shortstop. Expect to see Adames playing in the middle of the infielder for the Rays soon.

 

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

2018 stats: 19 G, .373/.433/.560, 2 HR, 0 SB, 9 BB, 8 SO at Double-A New Hampshire

 

I'm running out of superlatives for Guerrero, which isn't good, because he's just 19 and I feel like I'm going to have to talk about him a lot over the next few years. He's absolutely scorching the ball for the Fisher Cats, and he still has more extra-base hits (10) than he does strikeouts. Yes, it's only a month. No, Guerrero probably isn't going to come up anytime soon. But it's impossible to not be impressed by what Vladdy Jr. is doing right now. With Acuna up, he's now the best prospect in baseball.

 

Just missedVictor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals;  Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates; Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox; Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros; Franklin Barreto, SS, Oakland Athletics

Christopher Crawford

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