Opening Day Rosters Analysis
Numbers in parentheses indicate players’ ranks in their organizations’ Top 10 Prospects.
Most Talented Team: High Class A Visalia received an influx of 2017 draftees for their infield, including 1B Pavin Smith (2), C Daulton Varsho (4) and 3B Drew Ellis (8). The trio joins OFs Marcus Wilson (5) and Anfernee Grier, the D-backs’ 2016 top pick, in what should be an interesting lineup.
Most Notable Assignment: OF Eduardo Diaz (6) hit .312 with an .867 OPS at Rookie-level Missoula last year, but the D-backs chose to play it slow and start him in extended spring training rather than send him to low Class A Kane County.
Who Is Missing: Diaz and RHP Matt Tabor (9) will start at extended spring training before heading out to full-season affiliates for the first time. OF Kristian Robinson (10) begins his first year as a professional in extended.
Big League Rookies: RHP Yoshihisa Hirano.
Most Talented Team: Triple-A Gwinnett is only borrowing No. 1 prospect OF Ronald Acuna (1) for a couple of weeks before he joins the big league team, but Acuna adds star power in the lineup to one of the best pitching staffs in the minors. RHP Mike Soroka (3) and LHP Kolby Allard (7) give Gwinnett one of the youngest rotations at Triple-A—and also the best.
Most Notable Assignment: The Braves sent LHP Max Fried (8) back to Double-A Mississippi after he spent time in Triple-A and the majors last season. Fried’s drop to a lower level is largely because of the Braves’ pitching logjam at the upper levels. In addition to Soroka and Allard, the Gwinnett rotation features RHPs Aaron Blair, Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims.
Who Is Missing: LHP Luiz Gohara (2) is expected to miss the first month of the season with an ankle injury.
Most Talented Team: Double-A Bowie starts strong and will get stronger as the year progresses. RHP Hunter Harvey (4) provides a mix of talent and intrigue, and he’s joined by OF Austin Hays (1), who made a big league cameo last September. The Baysox also boast OF Cedric Mullins (9).
Most Notable Assignment: Harvey heading to Double-A gets the nod here. It’s been a long journey back for Harvey, who, despite being a 2013 first-round pick, has yet to pitch above low Class A. The Orioles will limit him to three innings per start in the early going because of the cold Eastern League weather. When he gets the reigns taken off, however, he’s a candidate to shoot through the system and possibly land a job in the big league bullpen.
Who Is Missing: 3B Ryan Mountcastle (2) will miss a chunk of time after a breaking a bone in his right hand in spring training. LHP Chris Lee (10) is also dealing with a strained oblique in his right side.
BOSTON RED SOX
Most Notable Assignment: Relievers Bobby Poyner and Marcus Walden each broke camp with the big league club. For Walden, the callup represents the payoff for 10 seasons spent in the minor leagues with three organizations as well as a stop in the independent Atlantic League.
Who Is Missing: LHP Jay Groome (1) will start on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his left elbow, and 3B Michael Chavis (2) is out with a strained oblique. A hamstring strain will delay 1B Josh Ockimey’s (12) season, and RHP Travis Lakins is still rehabbing a stress fracture in his elbow.
Most Talented Team: High Class A Myrtle Beach features the Cubs’ top prospect SS Aramis Ademan (1) as well as 2017 first-round pick RHP Alex Lange (5), OF D.J. Wilson (11), LHP Bryan Hudson (13) and RHP Keegan Thompson (14).
Most Notable Assignment: The Cubs were aggressive with a pair of pitching assignments. Lange skipped low Class A, but that’s not surprising for a first-rounder with plenty of Southeastern Conference experience. RHP Thomas Hatch (8) is skipping Double-A to jump to Triple-A Iowa.
Who Is Missing: RHP Adbert Alzolay (2) was held back in extended spring training to manage his workload. He should join an affiliate by late April. OF Nelson Velazquez (10) will stay in extended spring training as planned. The 19-year-old played in the Rookie-level Arizona League last year.
Big League Rookies: C Victor Caratini (4).
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Most Talented Team: Eventually when everyone is healthy, Double-A Birmingham will be even better, but to start the season, high Class A Winston-Salem’s roster stands out thanks to RHP Dane Dunning (5), OF Blake Rutherford (8), 1B Gavin Sheets (9), RHP Dylan Cease (10), OF Micker Adolfo (17) and OF Luis Alexander Basabe (18).
Most Notable Assignment: The White Sox sent Dunning back to Winston-Salem after he spent almost all of 2017 with the Dash. With 118 effective innings in high Class A under his belt, expect to see Dunning promoted if he’s efficient.
Who Is Missing: It’s a long list. OF Eloy Jimenez (1) is being held back by a strained pectoral muscle. RHP Alec Hansen (3) is out with a sore arm. OF Luis Robert (4) has a thumb injury. 3B Jake Burger (7) will miss the season with an Achilles injury.
Big League Rookies: None.
Most Talented Team: High Class A Daytona will have a fun outfield to watch thanks to Taylor Trammell (3) and T.J. Friedl (17) as well as RHP Tony Santillan (6) and C Tyler Stephenson (10). The Reds’ top prospects are fairly evenly spread among the four full-season affiliates.
Most Notable Assignment: Teams are often skittish about sending top arms to the low Class A Midwest League in April, preferring to let the snow disappear before assigning young pitchers there. But the Reds are letting RHP Hunter Greene (2) pitch at Dayton from Opening Day.
Most Talented Team: Double-A Akron will have a pair of pitchers who battle for the title of best control in the minors. RHP Shane Bieber (5) and RHP Aaron Civale (14) will ensure that walks are kept to a minimum. 1B Bobby Bradley (3) is one of the better power hitters in the minors and SS Willi Castro (7) will be one of the youngest players in the Eastern League.
Most Notable Assignment: Bradley was sent back to repeat Double-A after spending all of 2017 there. He needs to reduce his strikeout rate, but he did hit 23 home runs for Akron last season.
Who IS Missing: RHP Triston McKenzie (2) is on the disabled list with a sore arm.
Big League Rookies: SS Erik Gonzalez (11).
Most Talented Team: The Rockies sent a tantalizing group to Double-A Hartford, including SS Brendan Rodgers (1) and 2B Garrett Hampson (8), RHPs Peter Lambert (5) and Ryan Castellani (6), 1B Brian Mundell (13), OF Sam Hilliard (14) and OF Yonathan Daza (24) and reigning minor league steals champ Wes Rogers, who swiped 70 bags last year.
Most Notable Assignment: RHP Riley Pint (3) will repeat low Class A Asheville after going 2-11, 5.42 last year. The flame-throwing righty has struggled mightily with control (82 walks, 34 wild pitches and 14 hit batters in 130 career innings), and moving him to a launching pad at high Class A Lancaster was not an appealing option.
Who Is Missing: No one. The Rockies broke camp in good health.
Big League Rookies: 1B Ryan McMahon (2), OF Mike Tauchman.
Most Talented Team: RHP Alex Faedo (2) will make his pro debut as a member of high Class A Lakeland's rotation. He’ll be joined by OF Daz Cameron (6), SS Isaac Paredes (7), LHP Gregory Soto (10) and OF Derek Hill (28). Cameron and Hill should give the Flying Tigers one of the best defensive outfields in the Florida State League.
Most Notable Assignment: After throwing just 100 innings in the past two seasons and only 31 at high Class A, the Tigers are sending RHP Kyle Funkhouser (11) to Double-A Erie to begin the season. If he can stay healthy, he should be capable of handling the challenge.
Who Is Missing: RHP Franklin Perez (1) will miss April and likely May with a lat strain. RHP Matt Manning (3) is sidelined by an oblique strain.
Most Talented Team: Double-A Corpus Christi will have plenty of depth in the lineup and on the pitching staff. 1B/OF Yordan Alvarez (3) and OF Myles Straw (17) are the stars of the lineup, while the pitching staff will include LHP Cionel Perez (13), LHP Framber Valdez (14) and RHP Riley Ferrell (27). Once RHP Forrest Whitley (1) comes off the restricted list, the Hooks’ rotation will get even better.
Most Notable Assignment: OF Kyle Tucker (2) jumped to Triple-A Fresno after spending just half a season at Double-A last year. He had a strong spring training, and his ever-growing power should make him one of the most-feared hitters in the Pacific Coast League.
Who Is Missing: Whitley is suspended for the first 50 games of the season after testing positive for an unspecified drug.
Big League Rookies: 3B/1B J.D. Davis (11).
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Most Talented Team: Low Class A Lexington will be a focal point for Royals fans thanks to the presence of the organization’s top four draft picks from 2017: 1B Nick Pratto (1), C M.J. Melendez (3), LHP Daniel Tillo (19) and OF Michael Gigliotti (20). They join promising international signees OF Seuly Matias (3), Carlos Hernandez (17) and C Sebastian Rivero.
Most Notable Assignment: RHP Bryan Brickhouse is worth watching as he returns after missing most of 2015 and all of 2016 and 2017 with Tommy John surgery and a brief retirement. He pitched at 95-97 mph coming out of the bullpen during spring training, and he made the high Class A Wilmington roster.
Who Is Missing: The Royals enter the year in good health with no significant injuries.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Most Talented Team: Low Class A Burlington boasts maybe the most athletic outfield in the minors, featuring No. 1 prospect Jo Adell and former baseball/football standouts Brandon Marsh (5) and Torii Hunter Jr. (30). SS Leonardo Rivas (11) anchors the infield.
Most Notable Assignment: It’s not the level that’s notable for Jahmai Jones (2), but his position. He is moving from center field to second base, which he has never played before, at high Class A Inland Empire. Jones drew solid-average reviews in center from scouts, but with the dearth of middle infielders in their system, the Angels made the switch.
Who Is Missing: 3B Kevin Maitan (4) remains in extended spring training to get into better physical shape after his weight continued to balloon. RHP Chris Rodriguez (7) had a stress reaction in his back and does not have a timetable for his return.
Big League Rookies: RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani (1), RHP Luke Bard.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Most Talented Team: Five of the Dodgers’ Top 10 Prospects will start at Double-A Tulsa. Cs Keibert Ruiz (3) and Will Smith (9), RHPs Yadier Alvarez (5) and Dennis Santana (10) and OF DJ Peters (8) lead a star-studded group that also includes a pair of sleepers in LHP Caleb Ferguson (20) and OF Luke Raley (26).
Who Is Missing: RHP Mitchell White (4) and OF Yusniel Diaz (6) both battled general soreness in camp and are ramping back up in extended spring training. Both will be sent to Double-A by the end of April.
Most Talented Team: Double-A Jacksonville begins the year with five of the system’s Top 10 Prospects: RHP Sandy Alcantara (2), OF Monte Harrison (3), RHP Nick Neidert (7), OF Magneuris Sierra (9) and 2B Isan Diaz (10).
Most Notable Assignment: Sending RHP Jorge Guzman (4), the hardest-throwing starter in the minors last year, to high Class A Jupiter shows how much he has impressed the Marlins. He finished last year at short-season Staten Island in the Yankees’ system before joining Miami in the Giancarlo Stanton trade.
Who Is Missing: LHP Braxton Garrett (6) is recovering from Tommy John surgery. 3B James Nelson is down with a minor knee injury. RHP Jordan Holloway also is working his way back from Tommy John surgery.
Most Talented Team: Much of last year’s star-studded high Class A Carolina team moves up to Double-A Biloxi. The lineup should be potent thanks to 3B Lucas Erceg (8), OF Corey Ray (10), 1B Jake Gatewood (14) and OF Trent Grisham (15), while the pitching staff should be one of the league’s best thanks to RHP Luis Ortiz (6), RHP Cody Ponce (18), LHP Kodi Medeiros (21) and RHP Adrian Houser.
Most Notable Assignment: The Brewers will see if RHP Freddy Peralta (12) and his "invisible” fastball will play at Triple-A Colorado Springs. He spent just 64 innings at Double-A last season. Peralta led the minors with a .178 opponent average last season. Additionally, former big league 2B Nick Franklin is on the Biloxi roster as he tries to become a catcher.
Big League Rookies: RHP Brandon Woodruff (2).
Most Talented Team: Low Class A Cedar Rapids receives the Twins past two first-round picks in SS Royce Lewis (1) and OF Alex Kirilloff (3). Kirilloff missed all of 2017 recovering from Tommy John surgery. The team has eight Top 30 Prospects overall with RHP Blayne Enlow (9), OF Akil Baddoo (11), LHP Tyler Watson (20), 2B Jose Miranda (24), 3B Andrew Bechtold (25) and C David Banuelos (28) joining the first-round picks.
Most Notable Assignment: OF Brent Rooker (7) joined Double-A Chattanooga to begin his first full season. The 2017 supplemental first-rounder hit 18 home runs between Rookie-level Elizabethton and high Class A Fort Myers last season in just 62 games, so he’s earned this assignment.
Who Is Missing: The Twins held back SS Wander Javier (2) and RHP Brusdar Graterol (5) in extended spring training, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see them at Cedar Rapids once the weather warms up.
Big League Rookies: C Mitch Garver (23), LHP Gabriel Moya.
NEW YORK METS
Most Talented Team: High Class A St. Lucie features 19-year-old SS Andres Gimenez (1), one of the youngest players in the Florida State League, in addition to RHP Justin Dunn (3) in the rotation and OF Desmond Lindsay (8) in center field.
Most Notable Assignment: A pair of 40-man rosters players, RHP Marcos Molina (7) and C Tomas Nido (12), are back at Double-A Binghamton after finishing there last year.
Who Is Missing: The Mets’ top two picks in the 2017 draft opened in extended spring training. First-round LHP David Peterson (2) didn’t throw enough this spring to be ready, while second-round SS Mark Vientos (6), one of the youngest players in his draft class, eyes an assignment with a short-season club in June.
Big League Rookies: RHP Jacob Rhame (23), 3B Phillip Evans.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Most Talented Team: The Yankees divided their wealth of talent fairly evenly between rosters, but Double-A Trenton’s trio of talented arms—LHP Justus Sheffield (3) and RHPs Domingo Acevedo (9) and Dillon Tate (10)—should make most games fun to watch.
Most Notable Assignment: Sheffield is back in Double-A after logging 93 innings there last year and pitching well in the Arizona Fall League. He teams with Acevedo, who also dominated at Trenton in 2017.
Who Is Missing: RHP Albert Abreu (6) had his appendix removed and will start on the disabled list. SS Thairo Estrada suffered a gunshot wound in his native Venezuela and will miss the start of the year. 3B Dermis Garcia begins in extended spring training while dealing with a nagging injury. He will be joined there by RHPs Luis Medina (9), Matt Sauer (11) and Deivi Garcia (24).
Big League Rookies: None.
Most Talented Team: Triple-A Nashville has three of the Athletics’ top five prospects in SS Franklin Barreto (2), SS Jorge Mateo (3) and OF Dustin Fowler (4). 3B Sheldon Neuse (14) is another potential impact player in the Sounds’ lineup who could help in the majors this year.
Most Notable Assignment: LHP Jesus Luzardo (5) pitched in short-season ball last year but was so impressive this spring that the A’s skipped him straight to high Class A Stockton. This will be the first full season for the 20-year-old since he had Tommy John surgery in high school.
Who Is Missing: LHP A.J. Puk (1) will miss the season after having Tommy John surgery. RHP James Kaprielian (8) is continuing his Tommy John rehab and is expected to return as early as mid-May. OF Lazaro Armenteros (9) is starting his second year in the U.S. in extended spring training.
Big Leagues Rookies: OF Boog Powell.
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Most Talented Team: High Class A Clearwater’s roster stands out even in a deep farm system. The Phillies’ two best pitching prospects—RHP Sixto Sanchez (2) and RHP Adonis Medina (4)—will both be there. So will OFs Adam Haseley (5) and Mickey Moniak (9), a pair of first-round center fielders who have something to prove after uneven performances in 2017.
Most Notable Assignment: The Phillies could have split up Moniak and Haseley, but instead aggressively pushed both to the Florida State League. Haseley got very little time at low Class A—understandable for a hitter with his college track record—while Moniak could have justifiably repeated at low Class A Lakewood after hitting .236/.284/.341 there last year.
Who Is Missing: The Phillies enter Opening Day in prime health, with no significant disabled list assignments.
Most Talented Team: Double-A Altoona opens with a pack of promising prospects, including RHP Mitch Keller (1), who should make every fifth day an event. He’s joined by talented 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes (4) and SS Cole Tucker (7) as well as trade acquisition OF Bryan Reynolds (5).
Most Notable Assignment: OF LoLo Sanchez (11) impressed the Pirates enough in spring training to earn a spot at low Class A West Virginia. He stuck out in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and could rocket up the rankings in 2018.
Who is Missing: RHP Shane Baz (3) will stay back in extended spring training to start the year.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Most Talented Team: Triple-A Memphis won the Pacific Coast League title last year and is loaded again, with 10 of the Cardinals’ top 19 prospects. RHP Jack Flaherty (2)—who is on Memphis’ Opening Day roster after beginning the year in the majors—C Carson Kelly (3), OF Tyler O’Neill (4), RHP Dakota Hudson (7), and OF Jose Adolis Garcia (9) headline what may be the most talented team in the PCL.
Most Notable Assignment: RHP Jordan Hicks (5) had never pitched above high Class A, but the Cardinals saw his 101 mph fastball and brought him straight into the big league bullpen, skipping him over both Double-A and Triple-A.
Who Is Missing: RHP Alex Reyes (1) is mostly recovered from his Tommy John surgery and will be sent on a rehab assignment at the end of April.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Most Talented Team: Double-A San Antonio opens with SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (1) in the middle of the order, RHP Cal Quantrill (4) and LHP Logan Allen (8) anchoring the rotation and 1B Josh Naylor (14), OF Michael Gettys (27) and C Austin Allen (29) adding thump to the lineup.
Most Notable Assignment: The Padres sent 19-year-old LHP Adrian Morejon (5) to high Class A Lake Elsinore after just six starts at low Class A last year. Morejon excited in spring training and instructional league stints, but his velocity and command both withered in actual games. Putting him in the hitter-friendly California League as a teenager with so little previous experience—and obvious shortcomings in terms of durability and consistency—was highly aggressive.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Most Talented Team: Triple-A Sacramento has more Giants Top 10 Prospects than low Class A Augusta, thanks to OF Chris Shaw (2), RHP Tyler Beede (3) and OF Steven Duggar (8), but OF Heliot Ramos (1), the team’s lone Top 100 Prospect, and 3B Jacob Gonzalez (12) give the GreenJackets more star power. Ramos will be one of the most interesting prospects in the South Atlantic League as he tries to follow up his outstanding pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
Most Notable Assignment: LHP Garrett Williams (7) jumps to Double-A Richmond after a brief six-outing cameo at high Class A San Jose at the end of 2017. Williams continues to refine his control, but he has some of the best stuff in the system, and the pitcher-friendly Eastern League should ease his transition to Double-A.
Who Is Missing: The Giants enter the year in good health.
Most Talented Team: High Class A Modesto features a group of infielders picked highly in the 2016 draft in 3B Joe Rizzo (9), SS Donnie Walton (23) and 2B Bryson Brigman (27), as well as pitchers taken in the 2017 draft in RHPs Wyatt Mills (11) and Seth Elledge (17).
Who Is Missing: OF Kyle Lewis (1) had arthroscopic knee surgery in February and is expected back by the end of April. 1B Evan White (2) began on the disabled list with a groin strain but is expected back by mid-April. RHP Matt Festa (7) arrived at camp with a hip/sciatic issue and is out indefinitely. RHP Sam Carlson (3), OF Julio Rodriguez (4) and SS Juan Querecuto (10) will begin in extended spring training.
Big League Rookies: 1B Dan Vogelbach (12), C Mike Marjama.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Most Talented Team: Aside from injured RHP Brent Honeywell (1), Triple-A Durham will start with a roster that looks a lot like last year. SS Willy Adames (2) and 1B Jake Bauers (4) are back in the fold, this time joined by 3B Christian Arroyo (7) and OF Justin Williams (9).
Most Notable Assignment: After spending all of last year at Triple-A, Adames and Bauers are back at Durham to begin 2018. The Rays have a history of moving their best prospects along slowly, and that tradition continued this year.
Who IS Missing: Honeywell is out for the season after having Tommy John surgery, and OF Garrett Whitley (9) will also miss the year after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. C Nick Ciuffo (21) will miss the first 50 games after testing positive for a drug of abuse.
Most Notable Assignment: C Matt Whatley (12), a third-round pick out of Oral Roberts in 2017, skips low Class A Hickory to start at high Class A Down East.
Who Is Missing: Cuban OF Julio Pablo Martinez signed for $2.8 million in March, but he’s still getting acclimated to pro baseball and competitive game environments. He will likely debut in the Dominican Summer League before coming over to join a Class A affiliate. RHP Hans Crouse (3), OF Bubba Thompson (9) and SS Chris Seise (10) are all in Arizona for extended spring training. LHP Cole Ragans (4) is out for the year following Tommy John surgery, while RHP Kyle Cody (6) is on the disabled list with an elbow issue.
Big League Rookies: OF Carlos Tocci (13), RHP Nick Gardewine.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Most Talented Team: Double-A New Hampshire is one of the most talented teams in the minors, with 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1), SS Bo Bichette (2) and 2B Lourdes Gurriel (5). Gurriel will play all over the field. If the big league team struggles, Blue Jays fans could be paying more attention to the progress of Vlad Jr. and Bo than to what’s happening in Toronto.
Most Notable Assignment: Both of the Blue Jays’ 2017 first-round picks—RHP Nate Pearson (4) and SS Logan Warmoth (8)—skip low Class A Lansing for assignments at high Class A Dunedin. Pearson could overpower hitters and quickly move to Double-A.
Who Is Missing: RHP Eric Pardinho (6) is still 17, so he’s in extended spring training and should make his pro debut this summer in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League
Big League Rookies: SS Gift Ngoepe.
Most Talented Team: Low Class A Hagerstown boasts three Top 10 Prospects who are young for the level. After missing most of last year with an ankle injury, OF Juan Soto (2) returns to the Suns, and is joined by talented SSs Luis Garcia (6) and Yasel Antuna (10).
Most Notable Assignment: After showing command of four pitches, RHP Wil Crowe (7), the 2017 second-rounder, begins at high Class A Potomac. The Nationals also aggressively moved 18-year-old infielders Garcia and Antuna to the South Atlantic League.
Who’s Missing: LHP Seth Romero (5) was sent home from spring training for disciplinary reasons and will start the year in extended spring training. C Raudy Read (9) tested positive for steroids and will miss the first 80 games.
Big League Rookies: C Pedro Severino (14).