Who are the next wave of superstars in Major League Baseball? That’s what we are about to dive into, as we go position-by-position, looking for the best players who are 25-years old or younger (as of April 1, 2020). Obviously, things will be slightly skewed to those who have already reached the Majors and produced, but minor leaguers and their upside will not be ignored.
1) Ozzie Albies – Atlanta Braves
Age – 23
The switch-hitter proved that 2018 was no fluke, posting a nearly identical stat line in 2019:
- 2018 – .261, 24 HR, 72 RBI, 105 R, 14 SB
- 2019 – .295, 24 HR, 86 RBI, 102 R, 15 SB
Considering his .302 AVG in the second half and realistic BABIP (.325 overall), what’s not to like? He is slightly pull heavy for a player who isn’t a 40 HR slugger (20.7% Oppo%), but that’s splitting hairs. He’s proven to be one of the best at the position, bringing a blend of power and speed.
2) Keston Hiura – Milwaukee Brewers
Age – 23
Has Hiura truly already emerged as the best young second baseman in the game? It’s an easy argument to make, after Travis Shaw’s ineptitude led to an opportunity, as Hiura hit .303 with 19 HR and 9 SB over 348 PA in the Majors. There’s no questioning the power, though it’s fair to wonder how far the average is going to regress.
While he did hit the ball hard (44.2% Hard%) and used the entire field (29.3% Oppo%), he also benefited from an unsustainable .402 BABIP. That alone casts some doubt, even before you start looking at his SwStr% at each level:
- Triple-A – 13.9%
- Majors – 17.5%
That tells you that strikeouts are going to remain an issue, especially as he struggled against both breaking balls (24.73% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (24.75% Whiff%). Hiura could still be a 30/15 type player, but he needs to improve his approach or it will come with a .250ish average (if he can get there).
3) Gavin Lux – Los Angeles Dodgers
Age – 22
Lux has the potential to emerge as the best player on this list in short order. While he didn’t produce much in the Majors last season (.240 with 2 HR over 82 PA), he showed in the minors that he could be an impressive, across the board producer.
Splitting time between Double-A (291 PA) and Triple-A (232 PA), he showed power (25 doubles, 8 triples, 26 HR), speed (10-for-16 on SB attempts) and an ability to consistently make contact (8.5% SwStr%). Even during his brief time in the Majors he showed a strong approach (20.9% O-Swing%) and the ability to hit the ball extremely hard (52.9% Hard%).
The Dodgers have a history of developing players, and Lux appears to be the next in line. He has Top 5 overall written all over him, and by this time next year it’s easy to envision him emerging as the top option on this list (he falls short, due to the experience of those above him).
4) Cavan Biggio – Toronto Blue Jays
Age – 24
The second generation star turned 25-years old in April. While he hit .234 in the Majors in ’19 over 430 PA he showed that he could bring both power (16 HR, 35 total extra base hits) and speed (14 SB) to the table. The question solely lies in his average, and while his approach was solid (8.7% SwStr%, 15.8% O-Swing%), the underlying metrics could ultimately cap him in the .250ish range:
- Strikeout Rate – 28.6%
- Fly Ball Rate – 47.0%
- Oppo% – 18.0%
It’s clear he’s swinging for the fences (20.1 launch angle, compared to the league average of 11.2) and his exit velocity isn’t going to blow you away (88.7 mph). There’s obviously a lot to like, but there’s also a lot of downside risk. If he can adjust he has superstar potential (currently he’s a better fit for those in OBP formats).
5) Isan Diaz – Miami Marlins
Age – 24
With two potentially top prospects rising quickly, how does Diaz beat them out for this spot on the rankings? Considering he hit .173 over 201 PA in the Majors last season, the decision becomes that much more curious. However the experience and struggles could prove invaluable, as the underlying metrics all scream of better days ahead:
- SwStr% – 10.0%
- O-Swing% – 25.9%
- Hard% – 38.8%
- Oppo% – 28.1%
While you can argue that there were a few too many fly balls, the numbers don’t justify his .224 BABIP or 29.4% strikeout rate. With power and a little bit of speed (he stole 14 bases in ’18), there’s a lot to like. The ceiling of the just missed prospects is higher than Diaz’, but there are bright days ahead for the Marlins young 2B.
Others Considered – Vidal Brujan (TB), Brendan Rodgers (COL)
Note – Gleyber Torres was left off these rankings, as he’ll be appearing on our Top 5 Shortstop rankings
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: