Top 100 Prospects Updated May 11
With the season roughly a month old, the staff of Baseball America presents an update of our Top 100 Prospects list to reflect the graduations of players who are no longer prospect-eligible and to tweak the rankings based on feedback we have received from scouts and coaches who have seen the prospects this year. Because this list comes after just a month of games, the tweaks are relatively minor. Expect to see more changes when our Midseason Top 100 update rolls out around the time of the Futures Game. To be eligible, players must have fewer than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues as of May 10.
Because it's so early in the season, the adjustments in the rankings are generally modest. More significant chances will take place in our Midseason Prospect Update in July. But some players have made cases to move up or move down with their performances so far.
ON THE RISE
Yoan Moncada, 2b, White Sox | New Rank: 1, Up one spot
The prize the White Sox acquired in their trade of Chris Sale to Boston, Moncada assumes the No. 1 spot after Andrew Benintendi's graduation. With Triple-A Charlotte, Moncada has continued to show the same standout offensive tool set as he has throughout his brief but decorated minor league career. Asked to move around the diamond with Boston, Moncada is focusing on second base only with the White Sox and is getting lessons on manning the position from Charlotte manager and former big league second baseman Mark Grudzielanek.
Kolby Allard, lhp, Braves | 28, Up 9 spots
Allard has put himself on the fast track. The lefthander was part of a trio of Braves pitching prospects-along with Max Fried and Mike Soroka-who were chosen to skip over high Class A Florida and go straight to Double-A Jacksonville. Allard is the youngest player in the Southern League and ranked second on the circuit with a 1.38 ERA. He has used his fastball-curveball-changeup combination to strike out 31 hitters against just nine walks.
Anthony Alford, of, Blue Jays | 34, Up 24 spots
It's all about good health to explain Alford's good start. Last year Alford missed time with a knee injury and concussion, but he hit a much better .257/.381/.449 in the second half after he's shaken off injuries and rust. His .309/.387/.436 start at Double-A New Hampshire reinforces that he's a speedy center fielder with a solid batting eye.
Franklin Perez, rhp, Astros | 39, Up 15 spots
Evaluators who've seen Perez have heaped lofty praise on the 19-year-old, noting plus command of three plus pitches-fastball, slider, changeup. The results have followed in kind. Over three appearance at high Class A Buies Creek, Perez allowed just three singles while striking out 14 and walking two. He was expected to return to the mound after a short bout of knee soreness, the only obstacle he's faced so far.
Luis Urias, 2b/ss, Padres | 57, was unranked
Urias emerged as one of the best pure hitters in the minors last season and has carried it forward. Urias has decimated opposing pitchers despite being the youngest player in the Texas League at 19. He is demonstrating improving power along with his consistent hard contact. Even better, Urias has done it all while playing a serviceable shortstop with smooth hands and an average arm. Though a second baseman naturally-and probably one in the majors-Urias' ability to play shortstop is no longer just theoretical and makes him an even more prized prospect.
Juan Soto, of, Nationals | 59, was unranked
Soto is one of the purest hitters in the minors. The Nationals pushed Soto to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last year and he won the MVP award. They sent him to the low Class A South Atlantic League this year as an 18-year-old, and he already looked like one of the league's best hitters, with a mature approach well beyond his years and a compact lefty stroke with excellent plate coverage. The only thing that's been able to slow Soto is an ankle injury, which could keep him out the next month or two.
Walker Buehler, rhp, Dodgers | 77, was unranked
Buehler entered the 2015 draft facing questions about the health of his pitching elbow to go with concerns about his slender build. He's still slender, but after 2015 Tommy John surgery, he's showing better stuff than he ever did pre-injury. Buehler has reached or surpassed 100 mph this spring and sits in the high 90s, making his already solid secondary offerings play up even more. Buehler didn't throw four innings in any of his first five starts this year as the Dodgers are being cautious. The durability questions remain, but Buehler's stuff is as good as virtually anyone in the minors.
Rhys Hoskins, 1b, Phillies | 88, was unranked
At some point, a player's track record speaks for itself. Hoskins has performed at a high offensive level throughout his minor league career. After hitting 38 home runs and drawing 71 walks in a .281/.377/.566 line in hitter-friendly Reading last year in Double-A, Hoskins has been one of the best hitters in the minors this year with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The offensive bar is a high one for first base prospects to clear, but Hoskins has the bat speed, plus power and plate patience to meet it.
Bo Bichette, ss, Blue Jays | 93, was unranked
A second-round pick last year, Bichette already has leapfrogged several players who went ahead of him in the first round. He has vicious bat speed from the right side of the plate and unleashed controlled violence in his swing, driving the ball for plus power with the ability to square up different types off pitches and control the strike zone well for a 19-year-old.
Jesus Sanchez, of, Rays | 96, was unranked
A good hitter with a gangly, underdeveloped frame when he signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, Sanchez has packed on muscle to become a strong, powerful and athletic outfielder with a well-rounded skill set. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Sanchez is a lefthanded hitter with plus raw power and the feel for hitting to show that extra-base pop in games. He's an aggressive hitter but shows pitch recognition skills and is also an above-average runner underway, though he isn't a big basestealer.
J.P. Crawford, ss, Phillies | 19, fell 7 spots
Crawford’s still young for the league. He’s still a promising shortstop who controls the strike zone, but most of the promising young shortstops (Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager and Carlos Correa to name three) in the majors got better and better as they climbed the minor league ladder. Crawford’s performance has gotten worse and worse since he’s reached Double-A, and most notably, he’s struggled to drive the ball with any consistency. Over the past full year from May 1, 2016, Crawford was hitting .228/.321/.309.
Lucas Giolito, rhp, White Sox | 40, fell 15 spots
Admittedly Giolito is working to improve his delivery and add deception and fastball command, so there are some explanations to his brutal start. But the longtime top prospect and key piece of the offseason Adam Eaton deal is sitting in the low-90s with shaky command, he hasn’t located his plus curveball consistently, and the addition of a slider hasn’t helped yet. At times Giolito looks good for an inning or two, but simply doesn’t locate consistently enough to sustain it. As of May 8, he had the second-worst ERA in the International League and opponents were hitting .288/.396/.541 against him this year.
Matt Manning, rhp, Tigers | 81, fell 20 spots
Manning, the Tigers’ first-round pick last season, has been held back in extended spring training, which isn’t shocking for a pitcher who has very little mound experience as a basketball/baseball star in high school. But in extended spring, Manning has been struggling to fully let loose his fastball as he’s gearing down to guide the ball into the zone.
Jorge Mateo, ss/cf, Yankees | unranked, was 85
Mateo’s breakout half-season in high Class A Tampa in 2015 keeps receding further and further into the background. Mateo is back in Tampa for a third year as he tries to master center field in addition to shortstop.
James Kaprielian, rhp, Yankees | unranked, was 87
Kaprielian’s stuff as a pro exceeded expectations as he showed more velocity and pure stuff than he did at UCLA. But he’s also struggled to get onto the mound. After throwing only 18 innings in 2016 (plus 27 more in the Arizona Fall League), Kaprielian will miss all of 2017 with Tommy John surgery. If he returns with the same stuff as he has pre-surgery, he is a potential front-of-the-rotation starter, but it’s going to be a long road back.
— Contributing Writers: Ben Badler, Kyle Glaser, Josh Norris