Numbers Game: Top 10 Power-Speed Prospects
The prospect graduations of the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. and the Phillies’ Scott Kingery combine with an injury-truncated year from the Nationals’ Victor Robles to shake up the top of this year’s ranking of power-speed prospects in the minor leagues.
A quartet of 2017 draft picks join the fold this year—all but the Angels’ Jo Adell selected after the first round.
As in past years, each player’s production and tools are considered for this ranking. However, because these prospects still are developing, high home run totals or high stolen base success rates are not a strict requirement. What’s more important from a performance perspective is a demonstrated ability to drive the ball for extra bases and a willingness to attempt stolen bases. Statistics are updated through June 24.
1. Jo Adell, OF, Angels
High Class A Inland Empire
Age: 19. HR: 15. ISO: .291. SB: 11-for-12.
The 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft has turned tantalizing tools into present production in his full-season debut this season at low Class A Burlington and Inland Empire. The sky is the limit for Adell, who can crush fastballs 450 feet and turn in plus or better run times to first base. His plate approach requires a bit of cleanup, but Adell is the most likely player on this list to contribute both home runs and stolen bases in ample quantities in the big leagues.
2. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres
Double-A San Antonio
Age: 19. HR: 12. ISO: .216. SB: 12-for-16.
Tatis overcame strep throat and a slow start at Double-A this spring to continue his upward trajectory as one of the top prospects in the game. Toning down his leg kick has helped him hit .323 with nine homers and all 12 of his steals since May 1.Tatis owns the plus power and plus speed to impact games in the major leagues.
3. Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros
Age: 21. HR: 10. ISO: .195. SB: 13-for-15.
The sweet-swinging lefthanded hitter has cruised through his first exposure to Triple-A, hitting .314 with power, speed and the versatility to play all three outfield spots. The Astros laud his plate approach and plate coverage, and it shouldn't be long before he is contributing to the major league team.
4. Corey Ray, OF, Brewers
Age: 23. HR: 9. ISO: .196. SB: 18-for-22.
The Brewers leaned on Ray's power-speed potential when they selected him fifth overall out of Louisville in 2016. He scuffled through a trying full-season debut last year but has shown a willingness to run to go with encouraging power production in a tough Southern League environment this season.
5. Drew Waters, OF, Braves
Low Class A Rome
Age: 19. HR: 6. ISO: .224. SB: 11-for-13.
A 2017 second-round pick out of high school in suburban Atlanta, Waters has been stationed close to home in Rome this season. That comfort level and a quieter hitting setup has led to a breakthrough in the South Atlantic League. The switch-hitter has slashed his strikeout rate compared to his pro debut, while also increasing his power production.
6. Monte Harrison, OF, Marlins
Age: 22. HR: 9. ISO: .157. SB: 16-for-19.
The super-athletic Harrison broke through with a healthy 2017 season in which he went 20-20 at two Class A levels in the Brewers' system. He can do anything on a baseball field but needs to rein in his strikeout rate to access his batting potential, which includes a chance to be an average hitter with plus power.
7. Kevin Smith, SS, Blue Jays
High Class A Dunedin
Age: 21. HR: 12. ISO: .252. SB: 13-for-15.
Smith showed intermittent power and speed at Maryland but hit just .268 as a junior in 2017, allowing the Blue Jays to snag him in the fourth round. That appears to be a wise investment after Smith closed a hole in his swing against high fastball and has gone on a power surge at low Class A Lansing and Dunedin this season.
8. Buddy Reed, OF, Padres
High Class A Lake Elsinore
Age: 23. HR: 10. ISO: .218. SB: 32-for-38.
The switch-hitting, athletic, 6-foot-4 center field has improved his focus this season and has begun to show tools capable of taking over games. Reed leads the California League in hitting (.328) and stolen bases while finding another gear with his power. As with many prospects here, strikeouts figure to cut into his ability to hit for average at higher levels, but he might be able to concentrate a large impact into a lower number of batted ball events.
9. Jared Oliva, OF, Pirates
High Class A Bradenton
Age: 22. HR: 9. ISO: .202. SB: 22-for-26.
A walk on at Arizona, Oliva showed gap power and above-average speed in college before the Pirates astutely nabbed him in the seventh round in 2017. He continued showing gap power and speed in the New York-Penn League last season before fully breaking through this year. Pushed to the Florida State League, Oliva has tapped into increased power and ranks among the circuit's leaders in batting average (.298), stolen bases and extra-base hits (26).
10. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF, White Sox
Age: 21. HR: 9. ISO: .219. SB: 7-for-15.
Basabe struggled in his first season in the White Sox organization in 2017 after coming over from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade, but he has found a new gear this season while repeating high Class A Winston-Salem. A plus runner, Basabe's enhanced physicality led to enhanced power production in the Carolina League, earning the switch-hitter a second-half promotion to Double-A.
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• Taylor Trammell, OF, Reds. He may be more of a quality all-around player than an explosive power-speed prospect, but Trammell is worth monitoring at high Class A Daytona based on his plus feel to hit and advanced plate approach.
• Esteury Ruiz, 2B, Padres. The 19-year-old gets overlooked in a stacked Padres' system, but he runs at will and has produced above-average power at low Class A Fort Wayne.
• Bubba Thompson, OF, Rangers. The 2017 first-rounder got a late start at low Class A Hickory but has aggressively piled up extra-base hits, stolen bases . . . and strikeouts. He has the athleticism to improve on that last count.
• Daz Cameron, OF, Tigers. A slow start in the Florida State League has been obscured by a hot start at Double-A Erie, where Cameron has amplified his power production, speed and plate patience.
• Jeren Kendall, OF, Dodgers. Though Kendall was hitting in the .220s at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga, he had attempted to steal second base roughly half the time the reaches first. He also had produced well above-average power on contact—it's just that making contact has been a major challenge.