We had a very interesting debate as we settled on who would be the No. 1 prospect on this year's Top 100 Prospects list, largely because a very good case could be made for any one of three prospects: Ronald Acuna, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Shohei Ohtani. This is a year with a bounty of qualified candidates. With that in mind, our second Around The Office discussion looks at the case for each of the top three prospects.
JJ Cooper: Ben, you were the leader of the Ohtani faction (which I was a part of as well), why do you think Ohtani could be No. 1?
Ben Badler: Typically, the top of my prospect rankings are heavy on position players. The historical track record on hitters who rank in the top 10-25 prospects in baseball is outstanding. You're usually looking at players with a great combination of relatively lower risk and high reward. I don't think we're that smart, it's just that their talent is so obvious. It would take an unusual, special pitcher to be the No. 1 prospect in baseball.
Well, that's Ohtani. He's a mutant. He has the talent to be a No. 1 starter--right now. And he's a two-way player who has a chance to add value with his bat. I'm not sure how much impact he's going to have as a hitter--I know scouts who think he can be an everyday guy as a hitter, others who are more skeptical--but we can't just evaluate him him as a traditional, elite pitching prospect because the upside here goes even beyond that.
I love Vladimir Guerrero Jr. I think he's going to be a star and be in MVP conversations one day. But he's also 18 years old. And I've been on Ronald Acuna since his days in the Gulf Coast League, but I think there's even a good chance Victor Robles ends up having a better career than Acuna. If I owned a team and you told me I could pick one of those players, all with the same service time left, I would pick Ohtani.