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.
2018 stats: 53 G, .408/.457/.667, 11 HR, 3 SB, 20 BB, 21 SO at Double-A New Hampshire.
It has now been four weeks since it was announced that Guerrero would would be reevaluated in four weeks. He took live batting practice on Friday, but there's still no word on when he'll return to the field. Operating under the assumption he's going to be cleared to play soon, we move him back to the top spot. His offensive upside beats any prospect -- by a large margin -- and there was talk of a promotion to Triple-A before the injury. Even if he doesn't come up until August, he deserves this top spot. Start thinking about stashing, if you haven't already.
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox
2018 stats: 65 G, .313/.371/.541, 12 HR, 0 SB, 23 BB, 44 SO at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.
Shortly after publication last week, Jimenez was placed on the disabled list with a left adductor strain. It’s expected to sideline the slugging prospect for only a couple of weeks, so it doesn’t hurt his status on this list. There have been some nagging injuries throughout his career, but the time off hasn’t hurt his development. He’s still expected to be a member of the White Sox around August, and he should provide power and average from his right-handed bat.
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3. Enyel De Los Santos, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
2018 stats: 17 G, 1.89 ERA, 95.1 IP, 10 HR, 31 BB, 87 SO at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Normally, I’m not a fan of putting a player high on this list just because we know a call-up is coming. In the case of De Los Santos, I’m making an exception. He’s going to make his MLB debut against the Mets on Tuesday, and he has a chance to pitch well in that matchup with a mid 90s fastball, strong change and improving curve. His control isn’t outstanding, but he should throw enough strikes to be effective against a mediocre New York lineup.
4. Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers
2018 stats: 86 G, .296/.341/.429, 7 HR, 4 SB, 19 BB, 39 SO at Triple-A Round Rock.
Another strong week for Calhoun that sees his average raise up nearly a dozen points, and he also homered and stole two bases. He now has four steals the past two weeks after having zero in the first 60-plus games, and while his below-average speed doesn’t make him a threat at the highest level, it’s nice to see. Calhoun’s bat is ready to go, and he should -- emphasis on should -- be up with Texas relatively soon.
5. Francisco Mejia, C, Cleveland Indians
2018 stats: 75 G, .279/.330/.431, 7 HR, 0 SB, 18 BB, 58 SO at Triple-A Columbus.
After tearing the cover off the ball in June, Mejia has slowed in July, hitting .185/.267/.232 through Sunday. We’ll just call it necessary regression after his ridiculous June that saw him hit for a 1.193 OPS over 24 games. There are positional issues here in the short-term, but Mejia has one of the best hit tools in the minors right now, and Cleveland could -- and should -- find a way to get his bat into the lineup.
6. Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox
2018 stats: 17 G, 82 1/3 IP, 4.70 ERA, 6 HR, 56 BB, 111 SO at Triple-A Charlotte.
Oh, the walks. Kopech once again had issues with his command on Thursday, walking four hitters in three innings and allowing four runs against Triple-A Durham. He did strike out six, however, and a scout told me his command improved as the start went on. That’s well and good, but this now makes six-of-seven starts that Kopech has walked four-plus hitters. That’s just not going to work. It’s a shame, because the stuff is clearly ready to go, as you can see from those strikeout totals.
7. Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2018 stats: 16 G, 3.71 ERA, 94.2 IP, 9 HR, 38 BB, 89 SO at Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.
Keller’s second start for Triple-A Indianapolis wasn’t great, but it was a vast improvement over his struggles in his Triple-A debut. He gave up five runs and walked four, but he also fanned 10 against the Louisville lineup. Expect Keller to pitch much better over the next few turns through the Indianapolis rotation, and expect to see the 22-year-old right-hander up with Pittsburgh before the end of the year.
2018 stats: 82 G, .291/.362/.518, 15 HR, 14 SB, 33 BB, 105 SO at Double-A San Antonio.
Tatis Jr. continues to see his average rise, even while piling up the strikeouts. You can do that when the ball jumps off the bat, and boy does the ball jump off the 19-year-old shortstop’s bat. He also homered and stole a base, and he’s a lock for a 25-25 season -- assuming he doesn’t get a promotion to “ruin” it. Again, Tatis Jr. isn’t a lock to receive a promotion, but the average, power and speed make him a must-add the moment he does receive a call-up. He’s a special prospect.
9. Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves
2018 stats: 56 G, .311/.378/.585, 11 HR, 1 SB, 21 BB, 70 SO at Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett.
Riley is back on a rehab assignment after missing a few weeks with a PCL strain in his right knee, so he earns a spot back in the top 10. The 21-year-old third baseman has shown plus power from the right side this year, and while there’s swing-and-miss in his profile, he makes enough hard contact to project at least an average hit tool. Riley isn’t a great defender, but his offense makes up for it, and he could be an asset that helps Atlanta before the end of the 2018 campaign.
10. Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2018 stats: 57 G, .350/.393/.513, 7 HR, 4 SB, 17 BB, 32 SO at Triple-A Oklahoma City; 9 G, .265/.306/.352, 0 HR, 0 SB, 2 BB, 6 SO at Los Angeles
Verdugo continues his torrid season at Triple-A, and he has hit a ridiculous .563/.588/.813 in the month of July. That comes after hitting .347 in June, and the 22-year-old outfielder is showing more pop than he did in 2017 as seen in his slugging percentage. Yasiel Puig is almost assuredly going to be placed on the disabled list soon, and there’s a good chance -- although not a lock -- that Verdugo could replace him. Be ready.