The temptation, it would seem, to bring Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to the big leagues might be too great for the Toronto Blue Jays to ignore.
Or, maybe not.
The kid has definitely got his Hall of Fame father’s genes and is tearing up the Eastern League with the New Hamphsire Fisher Cats, but the Jays are rumbling fairly nicely with Josh Donaldson and Yangervis Solarte at third base.
But, Donaldson, who has had injury problems this year, is a free agent at the end of the season and may be allowed to seek employment elsewhere. Solarte, while a pretty darned good hitter, is strictly average in the field.
Enter Guerrero Jr., who will probably see a call-up in September.
In 24 games with the Fisher Cats, he is leading the Eastern League with a lusty .398 average, as well as hits (37) and RBI (30). He is fielding his position well, too.
He is but one of a number of prospects making an impression at the minor league level. Here, then is each MLB’s teams most important prospect, from the American League to the National.
30. Boston Red Sox – 3B Michael Chavis
The Boston Red Sox can wait for no. 1 prospect Michael Chavis to mature in the minors. And the hot-hitting minor league third sacker has a lot of maturing — and soul-searching — to do. About a month ago the Marietta, GA native was suspended 80 games for violating the MLB’s drug prevention and treatment program. It could not have come at a worse time for the former first round pick (26th overall in 2014) who finally put it all together in A-AA ball last year after scuffling through his first three seasons in the system. He hit .282 in 126 combined games with Portland of the AA Eastern League and Salem of the Class A Carolina League, with 35 doubles, two triples, 31 homers and 94 RBI. The Red Sox currently employ the very capable Rafael Devers at third, so Chavis, once he gets playing again, can percolate for a while.
29. New York Yankees – OF Estevan Florial
For now, Yankees centerfielder Aaron Hicks is playing on borrowed time. While he is a serviceable outfielder, he’s 28 and doesn’t provide the “wow” factor of AL superstars at his position like Mike Trout, George Springer, Dee Gordon or even Kevin Pillar. That’s why 20-year-old Dominican Estevan Florial will usurp that position in the Bronx, sooner than later. The 42nd ranked prospect in all of baseball has progressed nicely through the Yanks system, starting with his rookie campaign in 2015 when he was just 17 years old. Last season, split between Charleston of the Low A South Atlantic League and Tampa of the high A Florida League, Florial hit .298 in 110 games, with 43 extra base hits, 57 RBI and 23 stolen bases. About the only knock on him is a propensity to be a free swinger, as he struck out 148 times last season, against just 50 walks. However, this season his plate discipline seems to be improving, as he has struck out 35 times in 26 games, but has also drawn 15 walks.
28. Toronto Blue Jays – 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
His sample size in spring training this year was small, but it sure was impressive. Guerrero Jr. got in four games with the Jays and banged out seven hits in 13 at bats, including a double, homer and two RBI. And that dinger wasn’t any ordinary slobber-knocker, no, it was a walk-off shot against St. Louis in his famous father’s former digs, Olympic Stadium in Montreal. He is, without a doubt, the most prized prospect the Jays have ever had — he’s no. 3 in all of baseball — and if he develops well, will be around for a long time to come. Not only is Guerrero Jr. a great hitter, but he also has a superb batting eye. Where minor league sluggers have a tendency to over-swing, Vladimir is as patient as they come. In 231 total minor league contests at all levels, he has worked pitchers for 128 walks, against only 122 strikeouts. As we said above, the big club is probably twitching in anticipation of his arrival.
27. Tampa Bay Rays – SP Brent Honeywell
Hard to believe that at age 29, Tampa starter Chris Archer is the “old man” of the staff. Such is the state of the Rays pitching as the team rebuilds on the arms of youngsters Blake Snell (25), Jacob Faria (24), Yonny Chirinos (24) and sometime starter Andrew Kittredge (28). With a fresh-faced crew in place, Tampa can be patient with top organizational prospect, righthander Brent Honeywell, who will miss the entire 2018 minor league season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Before he went down, the 23-year-old second round (2014) pick was expected to make a contribution with the big club, either right out of spring training, or sometime later this season. In 2017, after two good starts at AA ball, Honeywell was full value with Durham of the AAA International League. He started 24 games and logged a 4.00 ERA, 12-8 record, and 152 strikeouts in 123.2 innings of work.
26. Baltimore Orioles – OF Austin Hays
At 8-26 and tied for dead last in the major leagues, it’s going to be a long, painful season for the Orioles and their fans. That’s why we think 22-year-old phenom Austin Hays will get another extended preview in the outfield at some point this season. In 128 games at two levels of minor league ball in 2017, Hays clubbed 32 doubles, five triples, 32 home runs and drove in 95. Then, in 20 games with the O’s in September, he had three doubles, another homer and eight RBI. Not legendary stuff, but certainly something for the team’s executive and fans to remember him by. Hays is the 23rd ranked prospect in all of baseball and while he’s not off to a blistering start with Bowie of the AA Eastern League, he’s still ripping gap hits. He owns a .243 average through 27 games, with three doubles, two triples, five homers and 12 RBI. Baltimore is currently platooning rookie Anthony Santander and journeyman Craig Gentry in right field, neither of who are all that impressive so far. Hays will see action there again, probably sooner than September.
25. Cleveland Indians – C Francisco Mejia
It may take a little while before Francisco Mejia can take the spot of catchers Roberto Perez or Yan Gomes in the Tribe’s pecking order. The Indians prized prospect, ranked 11th in all of baseball, figures to be a better and more consistent hitter than Gomes or Perez and given time, just as good defensively. After hitting .297 with 37 extra base hits and 52 RBI in his first AA season at Akron last year, Mejia got off to a slow start with the AAA Columbus Clippers, but has picked it up recently. The 22-year-old Dominican is hitting .191 in 27 games, with four doubles, three homers and 14 RBI. He had a big weekend with Columbus, showing the promise he gave everyone a glimpse of in the Cactus League this spring. He was 8-for-19 in spring training, with two doubles, two homers in 11 games. Behind the plate, he has shown a pretty good arm, throwing out 28 percent of all would-be base stealers in 344 minor league games.
24. Detroit Tigers – SP Franklin Perez
The Tigers are another team, like Tampa Bay, with time to kill while waiting for a top pitching prospect to heal from an early season history. In the case of minor league starter Franklin Perez, he will be out another 4-5 weeks after going down with a lat strain in mid-March (his recovery was said to take 12 weeks from that point). The 20-year-old Venezualan is the 37th ranked prospect and was pretty good in 19 games between high A and AA in 2017. Of note, he was acquired in the Justin Verlander deal with Houston, so if he pans out, good on the Tigers. He was 6-3 in the Astros minor league system in 2017, with a 3.02 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 86.1 total innings pitched. Perez tossed one complete game and also came out of the bullpen to register three saves.
23. Minnesota Twins – SS Royce Lewis
As far as shortstops go in the Minnesota Twins system, they have an embarrassment of riches. At the big league level they have converted third baseman Eduardo Escobar filling in for suspended SS Jorge Polanco (80 games for violation of the drug policy). Then, in the minors they also have prospects Nick Gordon (AA Chattanooga, 79th ranked prospect), Wander Javier (Rookie Elizabethton, 100th ranked prospect) and top prospect Lewis (A Cedar Rapids, no. 20 on prospects list). Lewis, who is still just 18, was the first pick overall in the 2017 draft and so far has played like it. In 18 games with Cedar Rapids this spring Lewis is hitting .356, with a double, a homer, 11 RBI and nine stolen bases. He is a speedy shortstop with a plus bat and average arm (according to scouts) and has drawn comparisons to Austin Jackson (body) and Andrew McCutchen (bat).
22. Chicago White Sox – OF Eloy Jimenez
Right behind Vladimir Guerrero on the MLB top prospect list is White Sox 21-year-old outfielder Eloy Jimenez at no. 4. A natural right fielder, Jimenez is off to another fine start this spring at AA Birmingham of the Southern League, batting .319 in 17 games, along with six home runs and 19 RBI. Jimenez was part of the trade with the crosstown Chicago Cubs in July last year that saw pitcher Jose Quintana go the other way. It will remain to be seen what the fallout of that trade will be, but suffice to say Chisox management and fans are plenty jazzed about a big (6’4″, 205 lbs.) guy who has drawn comparisons to former White Sox Frank Thomas and Carlos Lee, at least where offence is concerned. Proving that point, a little was his 4-for-7 performance in four spring training games, with a triple, two homers and three RBI. His defence could use work, and as one pundit says he’ll have to work on it “to avoid a career as a designated hitter.”
21. Kansas City Royals – OF Khalil Lee
The Royals aren’t flush with high end prospects, as their own top prospect, OF Khalil Lee doesn’t even rank in the top 100. Lee, drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft, is a speedster who has played both center and right field. At three levels of baseball since being drafted, Lee is hitting a combined .246, with 25 homers and 105 RBI in 196 games. He has also stolen 34 bases and been caught 22 times — though he is 6-for-6 this year at high A Wilmington of the Carolina League. This season he is hitting .244, with four doubles, two triples, two homers and 15 RBI for Wilmington. He has cut down his walks to strikeouts gap to 22 bases on balls against 33 strikeouts, where he was an un-Godly 65-171 in 2017. Defensively, he’s been strong in center and a bit in right, making just two errors and logging four assists.
20. Los Angeles Angels – OF Jo Adell
Adell has been a pro baseball player for all of 62 games and already he has rocketed to no. 2 in the Angels prospect top 30, right behind Shohei Otani — and 60th overall. The 10th overall selection in 2017 turned 19 just a month ago and is performing quite well after being promoted from Rookie to A ball with Burlington of the Midwest League. A natural centerfielder who can play all three positions, Adell is batting .283 with five extra base hits and 16 RBI in 13 games so far in 2018. Described as the consummate “5-tool” player, he’s got a lot of time to marinate on the farm before he cracks the big league roster — especially since his preferred position is played by some guy named Trout. He’s got wheels, having stolen 11 bases in 13 total attempts since last year, but will have to cut down on the strikeouts if he hopes to stick, with 68 in his 62 pro games.
19. Houston Astros – SP Forrest Whitley
And the rich just keep getting richer. The Astros, blessed as they are with elite starters Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers Jr. and Dallas Keuchel, have another blue chipper on the way in Forrest Whitley. Taken 17th overall in 2016, Whitley has had a great rise through the low minor leagues. However, he too has seen his stock — he’s no. 9 on the overall prospect list — take a hit with a 50-game suspension for violating the minor league drug policy. Just what he did to earn a suspension isn’t being discussed, but he accepted responsibility and Houston’s management hopes he can move on from it. After a so-so debut season in rookie ball, he improved leaps and bounds last year between low A and AA with Corpus Christi. All together, the 20-year-old 6’7″ starter went 5-4 in 23 games, with a 2.83 ERA and an eye-popping 143 strikeouts in 92.1 innings.
18. Seattle Mariners – Kyle Lewis
It has been double setbacks for Mariners no. 1 prospect (69th overall) Kyle Lewis. Earlier this year it was reported that he would undergo a second surgery on a problematic right knee that has kept his minor league participation to a minimum since he was drafted 11th overall by Seattle in 2016. Lewis, of Snellville, GA, ripped up low A ball at Everett of the Northwest League in 2016, hitting .299 in 30 games, with 16 extra base hits and 26 RBI. His knee limited him to just 49 games between rookie and high A last year, but he still managed to bat .257, clubbing 14 extra base hits and driving in 31 runs. If and when he gets healthy, the centerfielder should some day supplant 30-year-old Dee Gordon, who is having a heck of a year with the Mariners. But, he will likely miss most of this year, pushing back his developmental timeline.
17. Oakland Athletics – SP A.J. Puk
It seems that there are several promising players on this list who have either been suspended for violating the minor league drug policy, or who have succumbed to injuries requiring lengthy time away from baseball. Count A’s blue chip lefty A.J. Puk among the latter. The fireballing ginger-haired southpaw was a having a good spring training with the A’s before biceps tightness put him on the DL. Upon further examination, from top arm authority Dr. James Andrews no less, it was determined he tore his UCL and had to undergo Tommy John surgery in April. That means he’s on the shelf for 12 to 18 months, which is a shame. With his long red hair and imposing 6’7″, 220 lb. frame, Puk mowed them down in 24 starts between high A and AA last season. He compiled a record of 6-10, with 184 strikeouts in 125 innings and a 4.46 ERA in his first long look in the minor leagues. Puk went 1-1 in spring training in three starts, logging a 3.37 ERA in 10.2 innings pitched and seven strikeouts.
16. Texas Rangers – OF Leody Taveras
Delino DeShields Jr. ought not get too comfortable patrolling center field for the Texas Rangers. If he wants to keep his job, ditto back-up Carlos Tocci, he needs to keep producing like he has, albeit in just a 16-game sample this season. Coming up from the minors is fellow speed demon and centerfielder Leody Taveras, who at just 19 (18 last year) has dominated at A and High A in the Rangers system. In 134 games with Hickory of the South Atlantic League last season, Taveras hit .249, with 35 extra base hits, 50 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 26 attempts. Promoted to High A with Down East of the Carolina League, the teenaged Dominican is hitting .250, while cracking out eight extra base hits and stealing six bases in 28 games. He’s also narrowed the gap on his walk to strikeout ratio, drawing 18 bases on balls to 26 Ks, where last year it was 47-92.
15. Atlanta Braves – SP Kyle Wright
It’s way too early to project what 2017 fifth overall pick Kyle Wright is going to do at the major league level, considering he’s just 15 starts into his fledgling pro career. Our view from here says he’ll be fine, if he can bring down his WHIP some. His first nine starts at Rookie (3) and High A (6) in 2017 were pretty impressive, as the 6’4″ native of Huntsville, AL registered a 0-1 record, 2.65 ERA and 18 Ks in 17 innings. It hasn’t been as smooth a ride at AA with Mississippi of the Southern League, but again, he’s had just six starts. Wright is 1-3, with a 5.33 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 25.1 innings. His WHIP is at 1.421, however, to his credit he has surrendered just one home run (none last year). There are some surrounding the organization who believe the former Vanderbilt star can be the next foundational pitcher. He has the mid-90s fastball and decent off-speed stuff to bear that out.
14. New York Mets – SS Andres Gimenez
The Mets farm system, according to minorleagueball.com, is ranked 28th in baseball. Little wonder, then, that like the Kansas City Royals, they don’t have a prospect in MLB’s top 100. At present, their no. 1 prospect is a middle infielder from Barquisimeto, Venezuala named Andres Gimenez. He’s just 19 and in his third season of pro ball after debuting as a 17-year-old in 2016 in Rookie ball. He hit well there (.350, 3 HR, 38 RBI) and earned a promotion to A ball with Columbia of the South Atlantic League in 2017. A natural shortstop, Gimenez hit .265 in 92 games, ringing up nine doubles, four triples, four homers, 31 RBI and 14 stolen bases. Thus far at High A St. Lucie of the Florida League, Gimenez has hit .271, with eight extra base hits, 11 RBI and nine stolen bases. He projects to be a good-hitting average shortstop who one evaluator said could remind some of Ruben Tejada.
13. Philadelphia Phillies – SP Sixto Sanchez
How’s this for major league heat? Teenaged Dominican prospect hurler Sixto Sanchez has already hit 102 MPH on the radar gun. That is ridiculous speed for a kid who’s just 6’0″ and 185 lbs. He is, as of today, the 26th ranked prospect in baseball and is progressing steadily through the Phillies minor league system. Yes, with his size and nationality, he has drawn obvious comparisons to Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, but before we all hop on the Sixto bandwagon, his stats tell us to be just a bit wary of anointing him the next great Dominican starter. In 2017, at just age 18, Sanchez went 5-7 in 18 starts, with two complete games (one a shutout) between A Lakewood and High A Clearwater of the Florida State League. He allowed just two homers and walked only 18, while striking out 84 in 95 innings. With heat like he has, the strikeout total says he could develop better off-speed out pitches. This year at Clearwater, it hasn’t been smooth sailing yet. Sanchez is 1-2 in four starts, with a 4.71 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 21 innings.
12. Washington Nationals – OF Victor Robles
If it weren’t for the glut of outfielders on the Nationals 40-man roster, Victor Robles might well be playing in D.C. as we speak. The no. 6 rated prospect in major league baseball has the speed, batting eye, power and defence to be a major leaguer, now he just has to prove it by laying waste to AAA competition. With Gold Glove candidate Michael Taylor ahead of him in the center field conversation, not to mention stars Bryce Harper and Adam Eaton in the corner outfield positions, every day work in the bigs might be a little while in the offing for Robles. Complicating his ascent to the Nats’ outfield is the fact he is currently on the long-term DL after hyper-extending his elbow. The 20-year-old Dominican is a career .302 hitter in 362 minor league games and has logged 137 extra base hits, 153 RBI and 119 stolen bases.
11. Miami Marlins – OF Monte Harrison
For speedy centerfielder and Marlins no. 1 prospect Monte Harrison, the timeline to the major leagues might just be a bit shortened after the big off-season purge. The team jettisoned 2017 starting CF Christian Yelich, as well as power-hitting left fielder Marcell Ozuna and superstar slugger and right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. This year’s outfield is suspect at best, with Lewis Brinson in center (he’s hitting .164), Cameron Maybin in right (.227, 0 HR) and Derek Dietrich (.233) in left. With all the big names gone for prospects in return, Harrison (along with Brinson) is one the Marlins got when they dealt Yelich to Milwaukee. After a decent campaign in A and High A in the Brewers system in 2017, Harrison is doing well in his first trip to AA, with Jacksonville of the Southern League. The solidly built (6’3″ 220 lbs.) Missouri native is batting .266 in 29 games, along with 14 extra base hits and seven RBI.
10. Milwaukee Brewers – 2B Keston Hiura
Even after shedding quite a few prospects in 2017 (i.e. the Yelich trade), the Brewers system is still well-stocked and ranked 14th overall. Among their up-and-comers is 2017 ninth overall pick Keston Hiura of Valencia, CA. The UC-Irvine product and 54th ranked overall prospect got in 42 games at Rookie and A ball last year, hitting .371 with 25 extra base hits and 33 RBI. The 21-year-old second baseman was promoted to High A Carolina of the Carolina League and is faring about the same, though his average is now .283. He was a dynamo in his first spring training with the Brew Crew this season, hitting .419 with a tater and seven RBI, while logging an OPS of .986 in 19 Cactus League contests. Some tenderness in his right elbow led to question marks about his defensive ability, but he did well at second, enough for Brewers brass to be impressed at his development at the position.
9. St. Louis Cardinals – SP Alex Reyes
In order for a young player to be ranked on the “prospect” list, they have to retain “rookie” status. St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Alex Reyes is a “rookie” in name only. Now 23, the 17th ranked prospect in baseball should have been a full-time member of the Cards rotation in 2017 and early this year (he’s on the 60-day DL), but Tommy John surgery has derailed that. In 2016, Reyes got called up from AAA Memphis and after initially being used as a long reliever, he made five starts and overall pitched very well. In 12 games (five starts), Reyes fashioned a 4-1 record, with 1.57 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 46 innings. In February 2017, Reyes felt a twinge in his throwing arm which led to surgery and after all this time, he is nearly ready to make his debut, the sequel. Long term, the Cardinals want to use him to anchor the rotation, but he is likely to come out of the bullpen, at least for a short period after his return.
8. Chicago Cubs – SP Adbert Alzolay
The overall state of the Cubs minor league system isn’t very good at all, though they don’t need a whole lot of depth for the time being. Such as it is, long-term minor league pitcher Alzolay is their no. 1 prospect, but no where near the MLB’s top 100. Since joining the Cubs minor league system at the tender age of 18 in 2013, the Venezualan has marinated a long time as a starter and sometime reliever from Rookie to AAA this season with Iowa. He’s pitched well enough so far in his first season in the Pacific Coast League, logging a 2-1 record in four starts, with a 2.91 ERA, 1.062 WHIP and 17 strikeouts in 21.2 innings. He’s made many modifications to his style of pitching and his repertoire over the years, the two most important being using his legs more to pitch and incorporating a better curve ball and a change up.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates – SP Mitch Keller
Just like the Cubs Adbert Alzolay above, Pittsburgh Pirates no. 1 prospect Mitch Keller has gotten to know the highways and byways of America real well riding the buses in the minors. Since being taken in the second round of the 2014 draft as an 18-year-old, Keller has seen action in 73 total minor league games with six different clubs from Rookie to AA ball this year. Keller, who is a lanky 6’3″ and 195 lbs. has been good at AA Altoona the last two seasons. He made six of his 23 starts in 2017 at Altoona and registered a 2-2 record with 3.12 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 34.2 innings pitched. He’s been better in 2018, going 3-1 in five starts, logging a 2.73 ERA and 29 Ks in 29.2 innings. According to MLB Pipeline, they rated Keller the sixth best righthanded pitching prospect in a list of 10.
6. Cincinnati Reds – 3B Nick Senzel
The Reds have the dubious distinction of having the worst record in the majors as of Tuesday at 8-27. Which means if they aren’t thinking of blowing it all up and hitting the reset button, well, they ought to get going. They have the 11th ranked minor league system and among their young prospects have a blue chip third baseman in Nick Senzel, who is rated seventh overall by MLB. At the big league level, the Reds have journeyman Cliff Pennington listed on their depth chart as the no. 1 third sacker, and he’s platooning with Eugenio Suarez. So there is room for Senzel to take over in the very near future. He is hitting well in his first season of AAA ball with Louisville, logging a .271 batting average in 22 games, with three doubles, two triples, three homers and seven RBI. He impressed in spring training too, hitting .286 in 15 games with two doubles and three RBI.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks – SP Jon Duplantier
If being the Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2017 means anything, it may not be long before the D-Backs top prospect Jon Duplantier is toeing the rubber for the big club. Taken in the third round of the 2016 draft, the Rice University product registered a superb 1.39 ERA in 24 starts between low A and high A ball last year, going 12-3 with 165 strikeouts in 136 innings. It was his first full season of pro ball and the 6’4″, 225 lb. hurler’s ERA was the second lowest in a full campaign, other than Justin Verlander’s 1.29 mark in 2005. He has since moved up to AA Jackson of the Southern League and early on has shown he can handle the workload. In three starts he is 2-1, along with a 3.14 ERA and 20 Ks in 14.1 innings. With one of the best pitching staffs in the majors, Arizona can let Duplantier develop at a nice leisurely pace. He’ll be a good one.
4. Colorado Rockies – SS/2B Brendan Rodgers
Unfortunately for Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers, the players ahead of him at the big league level who play his two positions are SS Trevor Story and 2B DJ LeMahieu, who is also a free agent at the end of the 2018 campaign. Throw in third-year man and bench player Pat Valaika and there is no room at the inn, so to speak. However, Rodgers, who’s not listed in the MLB top 100, has displayed good power at the plate and a decent glove in the middle infield and some recent time at third base with AA Hartford of the Eastern League. He had a 38-game call-up to Hartford last year and hit .260 with five doubles, six home runs and 17 RBI. So far this year with the Yard Goats he has the identical number of doubles and homers, as well as a .296 average and 22 RBI in 28 games. He was drafted in the first round, 3rd overall in 2015 out of Florida State University and is still just 21.
3. San Francisco Giants – OF Heliot Ramos
A changing of the guard in the San Francisco outfield will not be long in the offing. A look at the five outfielders they employ sees all of them on the wrong side of 30, including LF Hunter Pence (35), CF Austin Jackson (31), RF Andrew McCutchen (31), Gregor Blanco (34) and Gorkys Hernandez (30). All pretty outfielders at one time or another, however, the clock is ticking fast on their careers. Enter Giants top prospect, 18-year-old Puerto Rican five-tool phenom Heliot Ramos. Taken 19th overall in the 2017 draft, Ramos is already the no. 61 overall prospect in baseball and hopefully on a fast track to center field in the Bay Area. In 35 games with the Giants rookie team after being drafted, Ramos hit .348, with 11 doubles, six triples, six homers, 10 stolen bases and 27 RBI. His average has taken a bit of a dive to .214 in 26 games at A level Augusta of the South Atlantic League, but the power is still evident. Ramos has slugged four doubles, a triple and two dingers.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers – SP Walker Buehler
The Walker Buehler era in Los Angeles has already begun. The Dodgers top prospect and 12th ranked overall hurler out of Vanderbilt University had a short and successful stay at AAA Oklahoma City earlier this season and has since been called up, to stay. His was a meteoric rise through the minors after being selected 24th overall in 2015. In three Pacific Coast League starts this season, the lanky righthander was 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 13 innings. Buehler has been even better so far with the Dodgers, going 2-0 in three starts and recording a 1.13 ERA and striking out 19 in 16 innings. His last trip out was dominant, as Buehler tossed six hitless innings, with three walks and eight strikeouts in a 4-0 victory over San Diego on May 4. It was the better part of a combined no-hitter that saw four different pitchers combine for 13 total strikeouts.
1. San Diego Padres – SS Fernando Tatis Jr.
As bloodlines go, Padres top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr.’s father was no Vladimir Guerrero, but he was a good one. Fernando Sr. was good enough to hit 34 homers and drive in 107 runs in his best season as a major leaguer (1999 with St. Louis). He ended up in Montreal two seasons later and was future Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr.’s teammate for three years. It’s apt then, that both former Expos have highly touted sons blazing a trail to the big leagues. Tatis Jr., like his Dad, is from the baseball factory known as San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic and started his journey in the Padres system in 2016. In 2017, his first full year in the minors, Tatis hit .278, with 27 doubles, seven triples, 22 homers, 32 stolen bases and 75 RBI in 131 games between A and AA ball. This year he’s not off to a blazing start, average-wise, with San Antonio of the AA Texas League, hitting just .219 in 31 games. Yet, the 19-year-old budding star is still is powering the ball, racking up 16 extra base hits and driving in 17 runs. And, he has made just two errors in 101 chances in the field, an area he seems to have improved on over 2017 (30 errors in 467 chances).