The 2018 season has been over for less than 24 hours, but we’re prospect folks, and us prospect folks never stop looking towards the future.
Here’s the top 10 prospects for the 2019 season. Keep in mind that these are not the best overall prospects, but like our weekly lists this past season, it covers the 10 prospects who have the best chance of making an impact in 2019, so things like proximity to the majors and position eligibility -- among other things -- matter here as well.
Without further ado, here’s the top 10:
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays-- This was not a difficult decision. Guerrero Jr. had a sensational season at the Double and Triple-A levels, and he should have made his big league debut in 2018 after nearly hitting .400 and hitting 20 homers in 95 games. Guerrero has one of the best hit tools I've ever scouted, and the power is easily plus as well. He also will draw walks, and he's that rare power hitter that doesn't strike out. This is a special talent, and he should be hitting every day for the Blue Jays sooner than later.
2. Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals -- I went back and forth on whether or not I should put Robles or Eloy Jimenez in this spot. I think JImenez is the better fantasy prospect, but this is just for 2019, and I think Robles has the better chance to make an immediate impact. Even though Robles missed most of the year with a gruesome shoulder injury, he still showed the plus hit tool, plus-plus speed, and ocassionally the solid power that made him the top prospect in baseball in many people's eyes not that long ago. He should hit at or near the top of the Nationals' lineup for the majority of the 2019 season.
3. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox -- Jimenez is another player that should have already made his debut, but, C.R.E.A.T. (Cash Rules Everything Around Teams). He was excellent in 2018 -- particularly after his promotion to Triple-A -- and he has a chance to hit for both average and power at the next level for a long time. The White Sox are going to play the service-time card again to start the year -- all of these players will potentially be impacted by that -- but once he's up, he should be up for good. There's a lot to like.
4.Nick Senzel, IF, Cincinnati Reds -- It's another prospect we expected to make his debut in 2018, but Senzel's non-promotion didn't have anything to do with money. He was shut down for the year after he tore a tendon in his right index finger. When healthy, Senzel showed a set of tools that projects above-average across the board, including a 70-grade hit tool thanks to his ability to make hard contact to any part of the park. The only question about Senzel is where he's going to play -- there are rumors he could be headed to the outfield -- but wherever it is, Senzel has a chance to be a star.
5. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astro-- Tucker did make his MLB debut in 2018. Unfortunately, it didn't go very well, as he hit .141 in 28 games. That sample size is too small to take seriously, and the 2015 first-round pick still profiles as one of the best outfield prospects in baseball. He can hit for average, hit for power, and despite not being the fleetest of foot, his instincts on the bases make him a major stolen-base threat. Tucker should get a chance to play early for the Astros in 2019, and it would be a big surprise if he didn't put up much, much better numbers.
6. Mike Soroka, RHP, Atlanta Braves -- You didn't think we forgot about the pitchers, did you? There are a lot of quality pitching prospects, but unfortunately, a few of them are going to miss most if not all of the season because of Tommy John, or they're assigned the the lower levels and unlikely to contribute in 2019. Soroka is an exception to that, and he's not just the best of a bad situation. He himself battled injuries that caused him to miss a large portion of 2018, but reports are that he's feeling healthy now, and his combination of swing-and-miss stuff with the ability to command it make him an excellent fantasy option for the 2019 season.
7. Francisco Mejia, C, San Diego Padres-- Mejia had a mixed year at the plate for a large portion of the 2018 campaign, and he was traded to the Padres in the deal that sent Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to the Indians. There were certainly enough flashes here to remain optimistic, however, and Mejia's ability to hit for average from both sides of the plate while playing a premium position with developing power makes him a tantalizing -- and somehow underrated -- fantasy prospect. He should play a lot for the Padres in the 2019 year.
8. Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers -- This is a bit of a risky ranking -- if there's such thing as "risk" involving the ranking of prospects for a season that doesn't start for six months -- because of the Dodgers' current outfield situation. I'm banking on some sort of move; be it Verdugo being traded or one of the Los Angeles outfielders being shipped out, to create a roster spot for him to play everyday. His talent is obvious, as he has one of the best hit tools of any prospect in baseball. If he's still with the Dodgers and has the same players ahead of him this may not work out, but Verdugo is just too talented to not make this list.
9. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros -- Whitley ended up missing the first two months of the season because of a suspension for violating the minor league drug policy, and he was shut down with a lat injury as well. When he was on the mound, he showed the talent that makes him arguably the best pitching prospect in baseball. He can get his fastball into the high 90s, and he has three other pitches that can miss bats that he throws for strikes. The Astros' rotation is loaded, but Whitley should find a chance to start -- or possibly pitch in relief -- for Houston before next year finishes.
10. Luis Urias, 2B, San Diego Padres -- Urias also earned a cup of coffee with the Padres, and while the results weren't great (.208 average in 12 games), his overall body of work was very strong in 2018. His quick, line-drive stroke gives him a great chance to hit for average, and despite his small stature (5'9/185) he's got a chance to hit for some power as well. Urias should be the starting second baseman for the Padres, and if he performs well in spring training, it could be right out of the gate.
Also considered: Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres; Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies; Kyle Wright, RHP, Atlanta Braves; Peter Alonso, 1B, New York Mets; Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Oakland Athletics; Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates