Top 20 Outfield Prospects: #1-10: (Preseason 2018 Edition)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Some of the elite prospects in the game reside in the outfield, and many of them are primed to make an impact in 2018.  Who has the highest upside?  Who are the outfield prospects that deserve our attention most?  Are there any surprising names towards the top of these rankings?  Let’s take a look:


1) Ronald Acuna – Atlanta Braves
Grade – A
ETA – 2018
Braves’ #1 Prospect

It was a meteoric rise for Acuna, as he nearly forced a promotion to the Majors as a 19-year old.  Playing across three levels of the minors he thrived at each one:

  • High-A – .287 (33-115), 3 HR, 19 RBI, 21 R, 14 SB
  • Double-A – .326 (72-221), 9 HR, 30 RBI, 29 R, 19 SB
  • Triple-A – .344 (76-221), 9 HR, 33 RBI, 38 R, 11 SB

Couple the 21 HR with 31 doubles and 8 triples, and it’s clear that the power is there and likely to continue growing.  He also improved his strikeout rate as he advanced, something that may be far more impressive considering his age and level he ended at (31.7% to 23.0% to 19.8%).  There are some concerns that the strikeout rate regresses (12.8% SwStr% at Triple-A, 12.3% overall in the minors), but that’s splitting hairs.

Acuna is among the elite prospect in the game, bringing both power and speed to the table.  While he didn’t get his opportunity in ’17, there’s little doubt that it’ll come in ’18 (and it wouldn’t be completely shocking if he won a job on Opening Day).


2) Victor Robles – Washington Nationals
Grade – A
ETA – Already Arrived
Nationals’ #1 Prospect

Seeing Robles arrive in the Majors straight from Double-A late in ’17 was a bit of a surprise, but it paves the way for him to open the season with a starting role on Opening Day ’18.  That’s hardly a guarantee, with 139 AB at Double-A (and he saw only 24 AB in Majors), so we aren’t going to read into the numbers he produced there.  He thrived in his first taste of Double-A, though:

  • Line Drive Rate – 28.6%
  • SwStr% – 9.0% (leading to a 13.9% strikeout rate)

We need to be cautious, as the SwStr% overall in the minors this season was 12.3% (and ballooned to 13.7% in the Majors).  It’s a small red flag, and he needs to prove that he can maintain the improved mark against upper level pitching.  The power is still developing, as he hit 10 HR but complimented it with 38 doubles and 10 triples including his time in the Majors (454 AB), but it’s going to be there.  He also has ample speed, and no one is going to question the upside potential.

There easily could be some growing pains, most notably in the batting average, but there’s little question that he’s among the elite prospects in the game.


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3) Eloy Jimenez – Chicago White Sox
Grade – A
ETA – 2018
White Sox’ #1 Prospect

Acquired from the Chicago Cubs as the centerpiece of the Jose Quintana trade, Jimenez split time between two High-A teams and ultimately reached Double-A amassing impressive numbers along the way:

.312 (104-333), 19 HR, 65 RBI, 54 R

The power is already evident (he also added 22 doubles and 3 triples) and it should continue to develop as he matures.  Standing at 6’4” he looks the part of a 30+ HR hitter, and that’s exactly what he should become.  The question is going to be his ability to make consistent contact, with an 11.9% SwStr% overall last season (21.9% strikeout rate over 73 PA at Double-A).  It’s something to monitor, but it’s a typical problem for a player with his skills.  As long as he keeps the strikeouts in the 25-28% range, with it being possible for him to reach 40 HR in any given season, there is little reason to be concerned.


4) Kyle Tucker – Houston Astros’
ETA – 2018
Grade – A
Astros’ #1 Prospect

Splitting time between High-A and Double-A Tucker hit .274 with 25 HR and 21 SB.  He backed up the power with 33 doubles and 5 triples, showing that there’s potentially more upside (he could pop a 30 HR season at any time) and there’s little reason to think that the speed will completely disappear.  Maybe he doesn’t steal 20+ bases annually, but he has 10+ SB potential.

There is a bit of swing and miss to his game, with a 13.2% SwStr% overall last season.  He improved the mark upon reaching Double-A though, at 12.6%, which is extremely promising and led to a 20.1% strikeout rate.  That shows the potential to improve, and even if he simply keeps it in the 25-26% range when coupled with his power and speed there’s no reason to think he won’t post a solid average (in other words, there isn’t the risk of a sub-.250 hitter).


5) Lewis Brinson – Miami Marlins
Grade – A-
ETA – Already Arrived
Marlins’ #1 Prospect

The biggest question facing Brinson as he’s developed is his ability to command the strike zone and make consistent contact.  That took a step forward at Triple-A in ’17, with an 18.2% strikeout rate and 9.4% walk rate over 340 PA.  Those marks came courtesy of a respectable 10.2% SwStr%, a significant improvement over his 13.6% from ’16.  Considering the level it speaks volumes, and while he did struggle in the Majors (17.4% SwStr%, 40.2% O-Swing%) it was a short sample and we need to afford him time to adjust.

There’s no questioning the power, with 13 HR (as well as 22 doubles and 4 triples) while at Triple-A, nor is there questioning his speed, he had 11 SB.  He brings 30/20 potential, assuming he can maintain the approved plate discipline and continue to improve.  At 23-years old the time is now and with the trade he may get the opportunity on Opening Day (or not long after).


Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.


6) Juan Soto – Washington Nationals
Grade – A-
ETA – 2020
Nationals’ #2 Prospect

There was a lot of hype surrounding Soto entering 2017, but he missed significant time due to an ankle injury (he played just 23-games at Single-A).  It’s a speed bump in his development, though he didn’t turn 19 until after the season ended and has plenty of time to continue to grow and mature.  The fact that he posted an impressive 7.4% SwStr%, at 18-years old, speaks volume to his approach and ability to handle the bat.  Just to hammer that point home, he actually walked (10) more than he struck out (8).

The other skills haven’t shown up yet (3 HR, 1 SB), though they are coming and could begin to present themselves as soon as ’18.  There are obviously questions, but the development could come quickly.


7) Taylor Trammell – Cincinnati Reds
Grade – A-
ETA – 2020
Reds’ #3 Prospect

He played most of the year as a 19-year old at Single-A, showing an impressive line hitting .281 with 13 HR and 41 SB (while also adding 24 doubles and 10 triples).  The obvious red flag is his 123 strikeouts, but the question isn’t in his plate discipline as he posted a 12.4% walk rate.  He does need to cut down on the swings and misses (14.6% SwStr%), but that should come with more experience.  Even if it doesn’t he’s already proven that he can consistently get on base, whether it’s via walk or using his elite speed, but any type of further growth just improves him that much more dramatically.

Taylor has the potential to evolve into one of the elite leadoff hitters in the game, and even if nothing changes he should be a good one (.260/10 HR/30 SB type).


Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.


8) Leody Taveras – Texas Rangers
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020
Rangers’ #1 Prospect

His numbers from last season won’t blow you away, having hit .249 with 8 HR and 20 SB over 522 AB at Single-A.  Remember that he played the year as an 18-year old (he turned 19 in September) and it’s easy to put the numbers into perspective.  As it is, considering his age the plate discipline is impressive:

  • Strikeout Rate – 15.9%
  • Walk Rate – 8.1%
  • SwStr% – 9.0%

You couple the approach with future power (he should mature and develop) and impact speed and the switch-hitter has the upside of an across the board performer.  Let others look at the numbers and lose some hope, but he remains among the best prospects in the game.  Taveras will likely open the year at High-A, and a rebound season should be in the cards.  Don’t be surprised to see him as an “A-“ grade by year’s end.


9) Anthony Alford – Toronto Blue Jays
Grade – B+
ETA – Already Arrived
Blue Jays’ #4 Prospect

There has long been hype hovering over Alford, and we’ve said that with his focus finally solely being on baseball (he also played football in college) we needed to give him time to develop.  Splitting time across three levels (he spent the bulk of his time at Double-A) and he also got a cup of coffee in the Majors, Alford showed off his speed (19 SB) while hitting .299 with 5 HR.  An 11.7% SwStr% does show a bit of a risk, as his average came courtesy of a .355 BABIP, and there’s risk that the 17.0% strikeout rate rises significantly.

That said he has the speed to carry an elevated BABIP, he should start to tap into his power a bit more and he showed strong plate discipline with an 11.0% walk rate.  He needs to avoid injury, but the potential is there to develop into a 15/30 type player at the top of the order.  Considering the other talent that is developing in the system, that’s a perfect fit.


10) Luis Robert – Chicago White Sox
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019
White Sox’ #3 Prospect

Robert is going to draw comparisons to Yoan Moncada, especially as they now play for the same organization (Moncada, remember, was originally signed by Boston and ultimately traded to Chicago).  In his first taste of professional baseball (Rookie Ball) Robert produced some strong numbers, hitting .310 with 3 HR and 12 SB over 114 PA.  The obvious red flag is going to be his ability to make consistent contact, and while it was a small sample size posting a 28.5% SwStr% at this level is an eye-popping number.  The hope will be that he can develop and improve with more experience, but we’ve seen a similar problem for Moncada help to derail his initial impact in the Majors (and should continue to do so).

There are also conflicting reports about Robert’s speed, and it will be interesting to see if he can continue to amass big stolen base numbers (when he isn’t striking out).  No one is going to question the overall talent, but there needs to be some development for him to fully be able to tap into it.

Sources – Fangraphs,,

Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.


  1. Tuco says:

    Which of these players make the majors by mid 2018?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Acuna / Robles / Brinson should all be up by the All-Star Break. Alford has an outside shot as well, with Jimenez & Tucker more likely to be August/September callups

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