We kicked off this six-part series last week with the American League West Top 10 Prospect Lists. Today, we take a look at the National League West, which includes a couple of really intriguing systems with the Colorado Rockies and, especially, the San Diego Padres (and the Dodgers aren’t bad either).
American League West Top 10s
The Giants seem to develop prospects with a philosophy of quality over quantity. The organization never has the deepest system but it always manages to develop big leaguers — many of who have significant impacts in The Show. Years of strong performances at the big league level (2017 being an exception) also kept the club from having high draft picks.
3. Austin Slater | OF | 2018 Level: AAA
4. Aramis Garcia | C | 2018 Level: AA
5. Chris Shaw | 1B/LF | 2018 Level: AAA
7. Andrew Suarez | SP | 2018 Level: AAA
8. Tyler Beede | SP | 2018 Level: AAA
2. Shaun Anderson | SP | 2018 Level: AA
10. Steven Duggar | OF | 2018 Level: AAA
6. Garrett Williams | SP | 2018 Level: A+
As you can see, the organization’s top talent is located mostly in triple-A. And even those players are more of the complementary style, or perhaps decent (but unspectacular) regulars. Of the upper level guys, Shaun Anderson may have the best chance to be an impact player. The best arm, though, belongs to Garrett Williams — if he can iron out his delivery. I see No. 3 starter potential. Worst case, he becomes a high-leverage lefty in the bullpen, who would be capable of working two or three innings. Teams were scrambling to find a way to acquire Heliot Ramos during the offseason and it’s easy to see why. He showed an advanced bat for a teenager and will play the entire 2018 season at the age of just 18.
The organization isn’t going to see much impact from the upper levels for the next year or two but there are some interesting things brewing at the A-ball level.
1. Jon DuPlantier | SP | 2018 Level: AA
2020 and Beyond:
2. Pavin Smith | 1B | 2018 Level: A+
3. Marcus Wilson | CF | 2018 Level: A+
4. Daulton Varsho | C | 2018 Level: A+
5. Jasrado Chisholm | SS | 2018 Level: A
8. Gabriel Maciel | CF | 2018 Level: A
9. Andy Yerzy | C/1B | 2018 Level: A
10. Drew Ellis | 3B | 2018 Level: A
The Diamondbacks organization hasn’t done itself any favors by trading off some interesting players and by making questionable decisions with the international free agent market but the club had an outstanding 2017 amateur draft. The club took advanced college products with the first three selections. Pavin Smith should hit for average and get on base but I’m not convinced he’ll produce more than fringe-average pop for a first baseman (unless he makes some swing adjustments). Daulton Varsho is my favorite pick and should hit for both a decent average and power. There are questions about his defensive prowess behind the plate but he’s athletic and could move to the outfield. That would also allow him to move more quickly. Andy Yerzy is another interesting catching prospect who might have to move off the position because — much like Varsho — the bat is far more advanced than the defensive skills. I’ve been a big fan of Marcus Wilson for a few years now and is still just scratching the surface on his raw, toolsy potential.
The Rockies can’t compete with the Padres for overall depth of talent in the system but they are probably deeper than people think. The only real downside to the organization is that it’s light on the pitching — but the club also recently graduated a lot of young arms onto the big league staff.
Man, I love the Rockies’ infield prospects. Ryan McMahon is probably going to be a star in Colorado, as long as he keeps the ball in the air. Brendan Rodgers also has a chance to be an impact player at shortstop for the organization but he might fall short of Troy Tulowitzki in his prime. And I wouldn’t be shocked if Ryan Vilade or Colton Welker end up being more impactful. Welker puts the bat to ball so effectively that he hasn’t shown the patience (ie. more walks, less reliance on the hit tool) that could make him elite. Vilade is more patient but not quite the natural hitter Welker is. Still, he has the outstanding make-up to become an above-average player by enhancing his raw abilities. Garrett Hampson is one of my favorite prospects. He can play a few positions, is a great base runner and can really hit. He may not be a star at the MLB level but he can be a very good player.
The Dodgers organization has a nice, balanced system that features impactful talent at all levels, which should arrive in waves over the next few years. Los Angeles is one of the best at mining the international market and there is a lot of raw potential hidden away in the lowest levels.
4. Mitchell White | SP | 2018 Level: AA
6. Yadier Alvarez | RP | 2018 Level: AA
7. Will Smith | C | 2018 Level: AA
9. Dennis Santana | SP | 2018 Level: AA
3. Keibert Ruiz | C | 2018 Level: A+
I’ve been beating the drum in the Keibert Ruiz parade for a few years now and he’s finally getting love on other Top 10 prospect lists. He should be at least an average defender and could be ‘Gary Sanchez lite’ with the bat. I also like Yusniel Diaz, who could help the Dodgers in 2018 and be more of a consistent performer than fellow countryman Yasiel Puig. Mitchell White zoomed through the minors in 2017 and could be an option for the Dodgers late this year but he probably won’t pitch many meaningful innings until 2019. He has No. 3 starter upside. Yadier Alvarez has a great arm but he’s miscast as a starter. His electric two pitch repertoire and lack of consistent command/control scream reliever. With some polish, he could eventually supplant Kenley Jansen. I don’t know if Walker Buehler will ever stay healthy enough to realize his full potential but, if he does, he has the arm to pitch at the top of the rotation.
The Padres organization is absolutely stacked — and is perhaps the best in the majors. Add in the fact that they now employ some guy named Dave Cameron and they could be unbeatable for years to come. Well… as soon as some of these talented players reach The Show (the big league product is a little limp still).
You know how rich people in cartoons are shown rolling around in piles of money? I envision the Padres front office members do a similar thing with their prospects. OK, maybe that’s a little too weird. Either way, the club is absolutely filthy rich when it comes to prospects and the Top 10 list only scratches the surface. Even the “Beyond the Top 10 for Help in 2018” could include a number of other names such as hard-throwing reliever Trey Wingenter. Eric Lauer, who could be a solid innings-eating No. 4 starter, would break most team’s Top 10 list. Not in San Diego, though. I kind of wish Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., both 19 and likely playing in double-A in 2018, played in the same league so we could watch them face each other for years and years. Tatis Jr. is the more athletic player where as Guerrero Jr. is a better hitter. They both have excellent power but I’d give the edge to the Padres prospect. Both should be stars. Mackenzie Gore might be my favorite pitching prospect in baseball. If he can stay healthy, he has a chance to be Madison Bumgarner good (I was a huge Bumgarner fan and had him as the best arm available in the 2007 draft back when I wrote at the now-defunct Baseball Analysts site). Gore has a chance to have four better-than-average offerings and the drive to be one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.