You’ve read the entire Top 100, right? Well, now here’s how the players stack up against one another as I go through and name the prospects with the best tools in the system.
To be eligible for this list, a player has to be prospect-eligible in 2018. He doesn’t necessarily have to be in the Top 100.
Previous installments of “Best Tools”:
To be eligible, the player must be prospect eligible for 2018.
Best Hitter For Average
This accounts for bat-to-ball ability, as well as the ability to work the count and walk.
Matt Beaty (.326 AVG, .378 OBP, 45/50 Present/Future)
Yusniel Diaz (.292 AVG, .354 OBP, 45/60 Present/Future)
Keibert Ruiz (.316 AVG/.361 OBP, 50/60 Present/Future)
Alex Verdugo (.314 AVG/.389 OBP, 50/60 Present/Future)
Beaty is more of a mercy inclusion, as the other three players are easily the ones with the best hit tools in the system. Verdugo is probably the best bat-to-ball guy, Ruiz has the best eye and Diaz is a combination of both. In the end, though, I’ll go with the switch-hitting catcher with a great eye at the plate.
Best Hitter: Ruiz
Best Hitter For Power
Graduating Cody Bellinger left a big hole here.
Ibandel Isabel (28 HR, .230 ISO, 70/70 Present/Future)
DJ Peters (27 HR, .238 ISO, 50/60 Present/Future)
Carlos Rincon (21 HR, .208 ISO, 50/65 Present/Future)
Edwin Rios (27 HR, .224 ISO, 50/60 Present/Future)
Cristian Santana (10 HR, .200 ISO, 40/55 Present/Future)
If you’re talking pure raw power, Isabel wins this hands down. But this takes into account the ability to get to the power in-game, and Isabel may never play above A-ball at this rate. Rincon showed impressive power potential in the Midwest League, but he still struggles with the hit tool. Santana is a big sleeper in this category, but he’s not quite ready for the big time. This comes down to Peters and Rios, both of whom showed off their power in spring training. Rios hit two balls over the batter’s eye, while Peters put on power shows in batting practice. I’m going with Rios, but if you ask me tomorrow, I might say Peters.
Best Hitter For Power: Rios
Best Strike Zone Discipline
This isn’t just about walks but the ability to recognize pitches and work counts.
Note: MLB average in 2017 on BB/K rate was 0.39.
Matt Beaty (0.65 BB/K, .378 OBP)
Gavin Lux (0.64 BB/K, .331 OBP)
Keibert Ruiz (0.47 BB/K, .361 OBP)
Will Smith (0.51 BB/K, .351 OBP)
Breyvic Valera (1.12 BB/K, .368 OBP)
Alex Verdugo (1.04 BB/K, .389 OBP)
Beaty does a good job of controlling the strike zone and added a little pop to make pitchers respect him a bit more. Lux takes a lot of pitches — sometimes too many. Ruiz has a great feel for hitting and when pitchers start pitching around him, he’ll should be able use his plate discipline to make pitchers pay. Smith has added more pop and more whiffs to his offensive profile, but he still has a solid eye. Valera is the only real challenger to Verdugo, but no one is better than Verdugo in this category. He walked more than he struck out last season and his on-base percentage isn’t batting average-dependent. He should be able to get himself into good hitter’s counts at the next level.
Best Strike Zone Discipline: Verdugo
Go Speed Racer, go!
Donovan Casey (6 SB, 2 CS, 60/60 Present/Future)
Jeren Kendall (9 SB, 8 CS, 70/70 Present/Future)
Drew Jackson (21 SB, 8 CS, 65/65 Present/Future)
Saige Jenco (12 SB, 8 CS, 60/60 Present/Future)
Tim Locastro (34 SB, 7 CS, 60/60 Present/Future)
Breyvic Valera (11 SB, 11 CS, 60/60 Present/Future)
Casey is almost a premium athlete, but his speed is best utilized in the field. Jackson is one of the most athletic players in the system, as you’ll see below. Jenco isn’t a pure burner, but he can scoot. Locastro might be the best pure base-stealer in the organization. Valera has good speed that he has brought over from St. Louis. Kendall, however, is a premium athlete with legitimate double-plus speed that he uses on the field and base paths. It hasn’t translated to stolen bases yet, but he has plenty of speed.
Best Speed: Kendall
A lot of similar names as the speed category, but this one is more about raw speed. It’s about the entire package. Casey is close, but he’s not quite there. Jenco, Kendall and Lux are all smaller, quick, athletic players, but their ceilings are a bit limited. Morales is a legitimate center field prospect, but he doesn’t possess the best athleticism. It’s interesting to see a 6’6, 225-pound guy on this list, but Peters is definitely a premium athlete. Valera is almost as athletic as they come, but no one tops Jackson’s pure, raw athleticism. It may never translate to the game, but it’s never a bad thing to bet on elite athletes.
Best Athlete: Jackson
Best SP Fastball
“Forget about the curveball. Give ’em the heater, Ricky.” – Lou Brown (RIP)
Candidates (Sitting Velo; Top Velo)
Yadier Alvarez (92-97 MPH; 101 MPH)
Walker Buehler (94-98 MPH; 100 MPH)
Melvin Jimenez (93-96 MPH; 98 MPH)
Dennis Santana (93-95 MPH; 98 MPH)
Jordan Sheffield (93-96 MPH; 98 MPH)
Mitchell White (93-96 MPH; 97 MPH)
If you’re going on pure velocity, Alvarez is unmatched among starting pitchers. But, command/control matter. Jimenez has a really good heater, but he’s not a physical pitcher, so he might be maxed out now. Santana’s sinker is nasty, but it isn’t the best fastball in the system. Sheffield has a chance to challenge for this title, but his command/control is still rough. White’s fastball might be the most consistent of the lot, but it’s max velo isn’t the best. It’s hard to argue with Buehler here, as he routinely sits in the mid-to-high-90s and touched 100 MPH in his MLB debut.
Best SP Fastball: Buehler
Best RP Fastball
Candidates (Sitting Velo; Top Velo)
Chargois was more of a 96-97 guy with the Twins, but he’s been more of a 93-94 MPH guy with the Dodgers. Gonsolin was pushing 100 MPH by the end of last season, but he’s being tried as a starting pitcher (at least to begin the 2018 season). Sierra has some movement on his fastball that gives it a little extra edge. Pop throws quite hard, but it comes up just short. This comes down to Baker and Zabala. Baker’s more consistently in the mid-90s, while Zabala lights up the radar guy, routinely touching triple digits. Baker has more command/control, while Zabala has more pure velo. Zabala wins out, just barely.
Best RP Fastball: Zabala
Uncle Charlie. The Deuce. No. 2. Public Enemy No. 1.
Walker Buehler (81-84 MPH, 11-5 Break)
Morgan Cooper (76-79 MPH, 12-6 Break)
Caleb Ferguson (75-78 MPH, 12-6 Break)
Melvin Jimenez (79-82 MPH, 12-6 Break)
Mitchell White (77-81 MPH, 12-6 Break)
Cooper’s curve could be reminiscent of Ross Stripling‘s, but he has yet to throw a professional pitch. Ferguson is the best left-handed pitching prospect in the org, and just happens to have one of the better curves. Jimenez’s curve is promising, but he’s still so young. White has an absolute hammer, but it falls just short of Buehler’s sledgehammer curve. It has the potential to be plus-plus.
Best Curveball: Buehler
Four starters and a reliever.
Yadier Alvarez (84-86 MPH, 11-5 Break)
Dustin May (81-84 MPH, 11-5 Break)
Dennis Santana (82-85 MPH, 10-4 Break)
Yaisel Sierra (83-86 MPH, 11-5 Break)
Mitchell White (85-90 MPH, 10-4/9-3 Break)
When Alvarez’s slider is on, it’s filthy. Problem is, he’s inconsistent with it, but it has the most potential of any of these guys. Santana’s slider improved throughout the year and may top this list next year. Sierra’s slider is nasty out of the bullpen, but its upside is limited because, well, he’s a reliever. White’s slider is a hybrid slider/cutter that’s definitely a swing-and-miss offering, but it isn’t your traditional slider. May’s slider is the best of the bunch, and could get even better as he matures as a pitcher.
Best Slider: May
The most underrated pitch in baseball.
I just saw Abdullah in person, and the changeup wasn’t very impressive. Crawford has a decent changeup from the left side, but it isn’t the best. This comes down to Sheffield and Smeltzer. Both changeups have the potential to be plus-pitches, and they’ll likely both come out of the bullpen. I’ll go with Sheffield’s because it has more velocity and more whiff potential.
Best Changeup: Sheffield
All guys without premium stuff — not surprising.
Font showed really good control as a starter in the Pacific Coast League. It hasn’t yet translated to the majors. Vargas is a sleeper in this system and could maintain a low walk rate as he progresses. But this goes to May for doing it against competition older than him and in a full-season league.
Best Command/Control: May
Best Defensive Catcher
Who’s the next Yasmani Grandal?
Farmer’s transition to catcher has gone relatively well, but he’s been playing a lot more third base of late. Ruiz, for being 18, is pretty advanced and athletic behind the plate. Smith is athletic, advanced at handling pitching staffs and is a good framer. He’s the best here.
Best Defensive Catcher: Smith
Best Defensive Infielder
Almost all shortstops.
Bannon can really pick it at third base, and he’s trying to add second base to his repertoire. Brito could be the heir apparent at shortstop — at least defensively — to Corey Seager. We’ll see. Lux is a solid defender at both shortstop and second base. Jackson has an incredible arm and can play all over. But Robinson is the best combination of pure defender and thrower, and he’s more likely than any shortstop prospect in the system to stick at the position.
Best Defensive Infielder: Robinson
Best Infield Arm
Pedro Baez once was clocked at 94 MPH on a throw from third-to-first base.
Brito has a strong arm, but it isn’t the strongest. Rios’ arm is plus, but it’s wasted at first base. Jackson has a legitimate double-plus arm that should help him stick at shortstop.
Best Infield Arm: Jackson
Best Defensive Outfielder
The options here were, surprisingly, lacking.
Casey is still a bit raw, but he’s athletic and competent enough to, maybe, one day earn this title. Peters has fared well in center field so far, but he’s probably ticketed for right field. Kendall is a premium defender in center field, which gives him the edge.
Best Defensive Outfielder: Kendall
Best Outfield Arm
Who has the best outfield hose?
While there are some decent outfield throwers in the system, like last year, this is a 2-man race. Peters is a profile right fielder, while Verdugo was viewed as a pitcher by some coming out of high school. Both have strong arms, but Verdugo’s is not only a bit stronger, it’s also more accurate.
Best Outfield Arm: Verdugo
Best 5-Tool Prospect
Well, maybe not all five tools.
All four of these guys have a flaw when it comes to the five tools. Diaz and Verdugo lack pure power, but are capable everywhere else. Kendall and Peters have questionable hit tools, but check all the other boxes. In this case, I’m going to take a chance on the big man.
Best 5-Tool Prospect: Peters
|Best Hitter For Average||Keibert Ruiz|
|Best Power Hitter||Edwin Rios|
|Best Strike Zone Discipline||Alex Verdugo|
|Fastest Baserunner||Jeren Kendall|
|Best Athlete||Drew Jackson|
|Best SP Fastball||Walker Buehler|
|Best RP Fastball||Aneurys Zabala|
|Best Curveball||Walker Buehler|
|Best Slider||Dustin May|
|Best Changeup||Jordan Sheffield|
|Best Command/Control||Dustin May|
|Best Defensive Catcher||Will Smith|
|Best Defensive Infielder||Errol Robinson|
|Best Infield Arm||Drew Jackson|
|Best Defensive Outfielder||Jeren Kendall|
|Best Outfield Arm||Alex Verdugo|
|Best 5-Tool Prospect||DJ Peters|