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.
There are a slew of shortstops who have aged out of these rankings over the past two years, including Francisco Lindor (26), Trevor Story (27), Trea Turner (26) and Xander Bogaerts (27), among others. Who does that leave for 2020 and beyond? Let’s take a look:
1) Gleyber Torres – New York Yankees
Age – 23
Torres had a breakout 2020 campaign, hitting .278 with 38 HR, 90 RBI, 96 R and 5 SB. The question comes down to how real his power is, and while his HR/FB did take a step up (17.9% to 21.5%) the rest of the underlying numbers were relatively flat with his rookie campaign. That indicates that it is a believable development, and the statcast numbers help to support it as he was above average across the board:
- Barrel% – 10.1% (Average = 6.3%)
- Exit Velocity – 89.0 mph (Average = 87.5 mph)
- Launch Angle – 17.4 (Average = 11.2)
The concern is whether or not he’s going to get too home run happy, and he showed signs down the stretch of 2019. His Oppo% in the second half was 19.7% and he also became flyball happy (47.1% and 46.3% over the final two months), and that could lead to a significant downturn in his average. It’s something to monitor, but not a huge red flag.
2) Fernando Tatis Jr. – San Diego Padres
Age – 21
Talk about making a splash in your rookie season, as Tatis hit .317 with 22 HR and 16 SB over 372 PA in 2019. There was never a question about his blend of power and speed, the question is whether or not he can maintain a strong average. As it is he benefited from a .410 BABIP, which alone is a red flag. Then there’s the risk of strikeouts, as he posted a 15.6% SwStr% in ’19 after a 16.5% mark at Double-A in ’18. The issue was against all types of pitches as well (Whiff%):
- Hard – 11.34%
- Breaking – 23.23%
- Offspeed – 24.52%
It shouldn’t be surprising to see the number of fastballs seen continue to diminish, and he will need to make an adjustment in order to succeed. That one adjustment would vault him to the top spot on these rankings, but until he gets there he falls short of Torres.
3) Bo Bichette – Toronto Blue Jays
Age – 22
Bichette joined Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to create an impressive infield full of second generation stars. Bichette may not get the most attention, but hitting .311 with 11 HR and 4 SB over 212 PA shows how high of a ceiling he possesses. The lone question surrounds his average, and specifically his strikeout rate (a 30.6% Oppo% and 33.6% flyball rate help to support an elevated BABIP, even though he likely won’t maintain his .368 in the Majors).
His strikeout rate rose to 23.6% in the Majors, and his 12.5% SwStr% and 38.6% O-Swing% support the questions. However, his Whiff% tells a little bit of a different story:
- Hard – 10.00%
- Breaking – 18.41%
- Offspeed – 8.00%
Throw in that he hit more home runs off sliders (4) than fastballs (3), as well as a 10.5% SwStr% at Triple-A, and it’s easy to see why the sky is the limit.
4) Corey Seager – Los Angeles Dodgers
Age – 25
Seager turned 26 in April, so he qualified for the list (but barely). Of course the results don’t justify his inclusion, though he wasn’t bad hitting .272 with 19 HR, 87 RBI and 82 R over 541 PA after injuries limited him to 26 games in 2018. When you really start diving into the metrics, though, you realize all of the upside that’s there.
- 44 doubles indicates that there’s more power to tap into
- 28.1% Oppo% and 42.3% Hard% should yield better than a .303 BABIP
He hit .291 with 7 HR in September, showing the upside. You could argue flipping him with Correa, though the underlying numbers are too strong not to believe in Seager.
5) Carlos Correa – Houston Astros
Age – 25
Injuries… Injuries… Injuries… There’s no questioning the talent Correa possesses, but he simply can’t stay on the field for a full season. Over the past three seasons he hasn’t topped 481 PA, and with that hanging over him how can we place him higher on this list? If he could routinely get 600+ PA you could argue him over any name on this list, and this excerpt from Rotoprofessor’s 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide helps to back it up:
He’s proven that he can produce against all types of pitches (even against sliders, which he hit .217 against last season with a .583 SLG). He has consistently shown a strong approach (10.2% SwStr%, 31.1% O-Swing% in ’19), hit the ball hard (44.9% Hard%) and has been willing to use the entire field (26.6% Oppo% in ’19, 28.7% for his career). All of that points towards better than a .303 BABIP, especially with his power (25.6% HR/FB in ’19).
Also Considered – Adalberto Mondesi (KC), Willy Adames (TB), Wander Franco (TB), Carter Kieboom (WAS)
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: