The American League West kicks off my look at the Top 10 prospect lists around Major League Baseball. The lists include the level where players are likely to open the 2018 season, as well as an ETA for when they might make an impact in fantasy baseball.
The Angels system is much improved when compared to two or three years ago. The system has a collection of intriguing, toolsy outfielders. However, the system is still very bottom heavy with most of the impact players in the low minors. And it continues to lack arms.
*Shohei Ohtani was not considered a rookie due to his time spent as a pro in Japan.
7. Michael Hermosillo | OF | 2018 Level: AAA
2020 and Beyond:
2. Jo Adell | CF | 2018 Level: A
3. Brandon Marsh | CF | 2018 Level: A
4. Kevin Maitan | SS | 2018 Level: A
6. Chris Rodriguez | SP | 2018 Level: A
8. Leonardo Rivas | MIF | 2018 Level: A
9. Stiward Aquino | SP | 2018 Level: Rookie
10. Jose Soriano | SP | 2018 Level: A
Other Names to Know:
Sleeper: Griffin Canning, RHP
Beyond the Top 10 Help in 2018: Eduardo Paredes, RHP
Jahmai Jones, for me, has star potential. He’s athletic, has an intriguing power/speed combo and great make-up, which should help him squeeze all available potential out of his skill-set. Like Jones, Jo Adell has an enviable power-speed combination and the ability to play an excellent center field. With less pro experience under his belt, though, it remains to be seen what type of approach he’ll have at the plate once we escape the small sample size performances. Brandon Marsh, a former two-sport star, didn’t play after signing in 2016 so he spent ’17 in rookie ball. He could play in the majors on his defence/speed alone but there is raw all-star potential if his hitting and power both continue to develop.
The Athletics system is the opposite of the Angels; there are lots of upper-level players looking to break through into The Show while the lower minors is mostly void of any high-ceiling athletes.
A.J. Puk should be the saviour of the A’s rotation, which currently lacks any semblance of a No. 1 or 2 starter. As a tall pitcher with lots of moving parts, Puk might struggle with his control for a while but he has the raw stuff to dominant more times than not. Franklin Barreto’s ultimate defensive home remains up in the air (the natural shortstop is a bit of a stretch there) but he could eventually be the cheap solution (and we all know how thrifty Oakland is) to replace Jed Lowrie. He could really surprise with the bat this year; I like him better — long-term — than Matt Chapman or Matt Olson. Selected 33rd overall in the 2017 draft, Kevin Merrell is a polished college player with impact speed — who will make a great lead-off hitter. I’d start him in high-A ball, which could get him to Oakland in the second half of 2019 or early 2020 at the latest. Look for the sidearming Nolan Blackwood to surprise some people.
The Rangers club is another organization that is very bottom heavy — due to both an aggressive promotion timetable for its prospects and from the trades that occurred to try and win it all at the big league level.
10. A.J. Alexy | SP | 2018 Level: A+
2020 and Beyond:
2. Leody Taveras | CF | 2018 Level: A+
3. Hans Crouse | SP | 2018 Level: A-
4. Pedro Gonzalez | CF | 2018 Level: A
6. Bubba Thompson | RF | 2018 Level: A
7. Cole Ragans | SP | 2018 Level: A
8. Kyle Cody | SP | 2018 Level: A+
9. Chris Seise | SS | 2018 Level: A
Willie Calhoun should step right into the majors in 2018 as a solid offensive force. However, his overall value is diminished by his inability to play any defensive position on an even average basis. I’m a big fan of Hans Crouse. He has an excellent two-pitch repertoire and great pitcher’s frame but I have enough concerns about his delivery and lack of a third pitch to envision him moving to a high-leverage role in the bullpen. I’m quite possibly the high man on Pedro Gonzalez but I think he has a chance to be an impact corner outfielder. He’s a tall player so there are going to be some holes in his swing but once he starts tapping into his raw power more people are going to start talking about him.
The Mariners system is probably one of the worst in baseball. The Top 10 list is littered with fourth outfielders and relievers — although a couple of them should be very interesting at the big league level. Only Evan White and Kyle Lewis (and maybe Julio Rodriguez) look like truly impactful players.
Other Names to Know:
Sleeper: Juan Querecuto, SS
Beyond the Top 10 Help in 2018: Dan Vogelbach, 1B
I’m a huge Evan White fan and believe he’s going to be an above-average regular on both sides of the ball. Former first-round pick Kyle Lewis faces a big season. He needs to show that he can stay healthy over the course of a full season and start to tap into his raw potential. After getting hurt in his debut season, he should take off in 2018 and move quickly. Matt Festa could develop into a solid multi-inning reliever for the Mariners if the organization resists the temptation to try him in the starting rotation.
The Astros organization doesn’t have the depth in the system that it once boasted — but that’s because the players were in the majors winning a World Series. Still, this is a very nicely balanced system with impact players expected to arrive each season over the new few, at least.
The organization boasts a nice collection of hard-throwing (but still fairly raw) arms throughout all levels of the minors. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Corbin Martin develop into a more successful starting pitcher than 2017 first-round selection J.B. Bukauskas. David Paulino could be another multi-inning reliever for Houston to utilize along with Brad Peacock. Both Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley should be well-above-average big leaguers but the missed development time for Whitley (due to a suspension) sucks. J.D. Davis can be a very useful part for the Astros as a part-timer who can play third base, first base (and maybe even pitch a little?). I’d also try him in the corner outfield as a potential multi-position replacement for Marwin Gonzalez, if the veteran leaves via free agency after the 2018 season. And I definitely believe Rogelio Armenteros can be a useful pitcher for Houston.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.