Who To Watch For in 2018
In today's game, prospects are finding their way to the big stage quicker than ever. Some might stumble upon it due to a lengthy list of injuries on the roster; while some are just flat out studs. A huge factor in improving skills in a club's minor league system is the player development department. Anyone from coaches to MiLB data analysts, and anyone in between, contribute to the success from these players. Every year, MLBPipeline issues a detailed list of prospects categorized by overall top-100, top-30 from each position, and top-30 from each club. Which prospect(s) will find success? We can only assume. However, here are my top-10 prospects that I believe will find success during the 2018 campaign.
1. Alex Verdugo/LAD/OF: The Dodgers have an inconsistent outfield and mediocre 2B (Forsythe); which could bode well for Verdugo in 2018. The club could move Taylor to 2B, or bench Puig/Hernandez/Kemp if either hits a long-term cold streak. Either way--the young outfielder is near-ready for the big league experience. He provides a very balanced bat in the lineup--sitting around 38% (pull) and 38% (opposite) production. It should also be noted that Verdugo has compiled a wRC+ over 100 in each professional season. I like his chances of giving the Dodgers over 300PA this season.
2. Miguel Andujar/NYY/3B: At 22-years-old, Andujar may find himself in the lineup come opening day. Considering the tight budget for the Yankees, they are unlikely to add another player this off-season. Even though he is young, I don't expect Andujar to completely botch his first full season. He doesn't walk or strikeout a ton and has shown little power in the minors. However, he has grown into a player who can get on-base. He's posted an over .300 wOBA in each professional season since 2012. Andujar should be a nice piece towards the bottom of the lineup.
3. Ryan McMahon/COL/INF: The Rockies are in an interesting situation with their 1B and OF depth. Last off-season they signed Desmond, who projected to start at 1B before finding his way to the DL. When he returned, he was moved to the OF due to veteran 1B Mark Reynolds having a "Comeback Player of the Year" start to the season. Now, with Reynolds hitting free agency, do the Rockies move Desmond back to 1B--or promote McMahon to their everyday 1B? I think McMahon's bat is too good to leave in AAA this season. He finished the 2017 season in AAA with a .433wOBA and 161wRC+ in 314PA. The Rockies may need to ease him into the everyday role, but 14HR at AAA may turn into 20+ at Coors Field.
4. Jake Bauers/TB/1B-OF:
5. Alex Reyes/STL/SP:
6. Christian Walker/ARI/1B:
7. Mike Tauchman/COL/OF:
8. Brent Honeywell/TB/SP:
9. Scott Kingery/PHI/2B:
10. Aaron Wilkerson/MIL/SP: