11. Michael Kopech, RHP CWS
The 21 year old Kopech made 3 starts in AAA after dominating AA in 2017. He possesses three plus pitches including a 70 grade FB and 60 grade CH and SL. Kopech struck out 172 hitters in 134.1 IP across the 2 levels. His 65 walks though keep him from being a top 10 prospect. If Kopech improves his control, his stuff is so devastating, he will be a SP1 and an All Star for years.
12. Walker Buehler, RHP LAD
The Dodgers 2015 1st round pick out of Vanderbilt has flown through the system, reaching the big leagues in 2017. The 23 year old will compete for a spot in the rotation in 2018 but will likely start the season at AAA to work on his command. At times, Buehler has been lights out, posting a 4.27 K/BB ratio at AA. The Dodgers and AAA Oklahoma City used him primarily in relief in an effort to get him big leagues but Buehler lost his command and was ineffective in 9 MLB innings. His stuff and pedigree play up to a front of the rotation starter and he should see time in the Los Angeles rotation sooner rather than later.
13. Austin Hays, OF BAL
Speaking of flying through the minors, the 22 year old Hays exploded onto the scene in 2017. The former 2016 3rd rounder dominated AA/AAA before earning a big league call up. Hays slashed .329/.365/.593 with 32 HR and 32 2B in AA/AAA. If there is one knock on his game at this point, it is his low walk rate. A career .330 hitter in his 2 seasons, Hays is a guy that likes to hack and seems tough to walk. This was evident in 60 big league at bats when Hays drew 2 walks and hit .217. I don’t think Hays will be a .300 hitter at the MLB level, but he does have big time pop and is an excellent athlete.
14. Brent Honeywell, RHP TB
Honeywell started the 2017 Futures Game and was nothing short of electric, winning MVP honors. The soon to be 23 year old righty struck out 172 in 136.2 IP and boast 5 quality pitches. His curveball and cutter are currently his weakest but he his FB, CH, and Split are all 60 grade. Honeywell has better command than former Rays super prospect Blake Snell and should be a mainstay at the top of the rotation.
15. Kyle Tucker, OF HOU
Tucker, 21, is a tall and lanky left handed hitter that profiles a future 70 grade hitter according to fangraphs. He matched his career high in HR of 9 in just 48 games at Buies Creek before swatting another 16 at AA. Having seen him in the Arizona Fall League, I would grade his hit tool at 60. I think he will be a very good middle of the lineup bat but I don’t think he will ever hit .300. When I saw him in Arizona, Tucker popped up first pitch FBs on the infield with RISP in his first 2 at bats. Both swings seemed lazy. His approach improved as the game went on, eventually working a walk and pulling a groundball single. A realistic projection for him would be a .270/.340/.480 guy with 25+ HR.
16. Mitch Keller, RHP PIT
Keller, soon to be 22, was absolutely dominant in the Arizona Fall League. He has an efficient and effortless motion and the ball zips out of his hand. His FB consistently sat at 93-94, touching 97, and he can spot it anywhere in the zone. He also possesses plus CB and CH. His ability to get quick outs on the ground will allow him to pitch deep into games. My write up from his time in the AFL can be found here and includes video.
17. Lewis Brinson, OF MIA
Brinson, 24 in May, has been in the minors since 2012. The former 1st round pick has 60 grade power and speed and his recent trade to Miami for Christian Yelich ensures a clear path to the big leagues. Brinson has shown an ability to hit .330+ multiple seasons in the minors and could push for .300 average at the big league level. In 2017, Brinson showed improved patience at the plate which bodes well for MLB success. He could be a 20 HR 20 SB guy in Miami as soon as 2018 and will be a top candidate for NL Rookie of the Year honors.
18. Luiz Gohara, LHP ATL
After coming over from Seattle in a 2016 offseason trade, no pitcher or player for that matter made a bigger jump than the 21 year old lefty. Gohara started the season at High A Florida and breezed through the system, reaching Atlanta and making 5 starts. At times, Gohara is unhittable. He does lose command of his pitches at time but his plus stuff gets him out of jams. If there is one concern, his GB rate declined at each stop, starting at 56% in High A and plummeting to 35% in Atlanta. Gohara is at his best when he keeps the ball down and attacks hitters. He will compete for a spot in the wide open Atlanta rotation and is one of the major keys to the team’s future success.
19. Alex Reyes, RHP STL
The 23 year old righty made 5 starts for St. Louis and 7 relief appearances in 2016 and was dominant. He allowed a .201 average against, a 1.57 ERA, with 10.17 K/9. Reyes missed all of 2017 recovering from Tommy John and by all accounts, the rehab has progressed well. Reyes has started throwing off a mound and should be ready for opening day. I anticipate St. Louis to ease him back in. Before the injury, Reyes was walking around 4.5 hitters per 9. While all reports indicate his elbow feels great, control is the last thing to return when coming back from TJ. I have tempered expectations for Reyes in 2018 based on his lack of command and the innings limit he will be on. With that being said, his stuff is downright filthy and he will provide the St. Louis rotation with a much needed boost after the departure of Lance Lynn.
20. Triston McKenzie, RHP CLE
McKenzie is a tall and lanky righty. At 6’5 and 165 lbs. and 20 years old, there is still quite a bit of projection. However, McKenzie is already dominant and should get better. He has three 60 grade pitches: FB, CB, CH and 60 grade command. He dominated High A as a 19 year old posting 11.71 K/9 and 4.17 K/BB ratio. He pounds the zone and induces weak contact. It is scary to think that as he physically matures how good he can be.