The Top 100 Prospects
Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna, Angels righthander Shohei Ohtani and Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. engaged in one of the most contested battles ever for the top spot on our Top 100 Prospects ranking.
All three elite prospects had their backers from BA’s staff of talent evaluators. Ben Badler and J.J. Cooper supported Ohtani for No. 1. Kyle Glaser and Josh Norris backed Acuna, while Matt Eddy sided with Guerrero. In the end, we chose Acuna, our reigning Minor League Player of the Year who starred at Triple-A and in the Arizona Fall League last year and stands poised to impact Atlanta in 2018.
Here we will make the case for each member of the trio.
Badler makes The case for Ohtani: The historical track record for 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 whose talent is 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.
Glaser makes The case for Acuna: History is pretty instructive in this debate: always take the position player over the pitcher. The ability to impact 162 games instead of 32 and the hugely different injury risks make for a much higher likelihood the hitter has the better, longer career. There are very few hitters I’d say were equal to a potential No. 1 starter, but Acuna is a 19-year-old center fielder who got better at every level, and whose output as a teenager compares favorably with Mike Trout and Alex Rodriguez.
Eddy makes The case for Guerrero: He is the rare prospect who is even better than advertised with the bat. Despite being one of the youngest players in full-season ball last season, he had a .425 on-base percentage. Guerrero earned the highest combined future grades in the Prospect Handbook for hitting (80) and power (70) on the 20-80 scouting scale, and if he reaches his ceiling, he would be one of the very best hitters in baseball—if not the best—which mitigates concerns about a possible move to first base.