Top 20 Outfield Prospects: #11-20: (Preseason 2018 Edition)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Last week we started our rankings of the Top 20 outfielder prospects (you can view #1-10 by clicking here), but who fills out the next ten spots?  Let’s take a look at the players who may not be among the elite at the position but certainly have some impressive upside:

 

11) Austin Hays – Baltimore Orioles
Grade – B+
ETA – Already Arrived
Orioles’ #1 Prospect

To call 2017 a breakout campaign for Hays would be an understatement, as he hit .329 with 32 HR and 95 RBI between High-A and Double-A.  That earned him a late season callup, though to an extent those 60 AB helped to expose the one true red flag hanging over him.  While the average was highly impressive in the minor leagues, it came courtesy of a .341 BABIP and he showed a propensity to swing and miss (12.1% SwStr%).  In his cup of coffee in the Majors he posted a 25.4% strikeout rate, courtesy of poor plate discipline:

  • SwStr% – 17.9%
  • O-Swing% – 40.3%

Obviously it’s an extremely small sample size, but given the minor league numbers it’s something we can’t ignore.  He was particularly bad against breaking balls (31.71% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (35.48% Whiff%), and that’s something that will likely continue as he learns and matures at the higher levels.  Until he proves otherwise, that risk is going to limit his potential.

 

12) Kyle Lewis – Seattle Mariners
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019
Mariners’ #1 Prospect

Lewis was selected 11th overall in 2016 and there were high expectations, though a serious knee injury sidelined him for nearly a year and left him limited upon his return in ’17.  In 187 AB between Rookie Ball and High-A he hit .257 with 7 HR and 3 SB, struggling to make consistent contact (16.4% SwStr%) and often burying the ball into the ground (53.3% groundball rate).  It’s easy to write off the issues, considering the missed time and need to get his timing back.

Further removed from the injury, 2018 will be key towards his development.  If he shows similar issues early in the season (and it’s possible that strikeouts remain a major concern) his value is going to diminish greatly.  The injury may have cost him any speed potential that he had, but his power is still there.  Watch him closely, as this “B+” could quickly become a “B” or “B-“.

 

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13) Dustin Fowler – Oakland A’s
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived
A’s #5 Prospect

Fowler appeared primed to make an impact for the Yankees last season, but suffered a significant knee injury in his first MLB game which promptly ended his season.  In 297 AB at Triple-A he hit .293 with 13 HR and 13 SB, and those numbers would’ve justified a “B+” grade.  However there are two significant issues that can’t be ignored:

  1. Will the knee injury cost him the speed aspect of his game?
  2. Will he be able to improve his plate discipline? (He posted a 13.0% SwStr% at Triple-A and could be exposed at the Major League level)

There’s ample upside, but we can’t ignore the risks.

 

14) Austin Meadows – Pittsburgh Pirates
Grade – B
ETA – 2018
Pirates’ #4 Prospect

There were injuries and suspensions, so the opportunity was there for Meadows to seize the moment.  However he failed miserably and finished 2017 hitting .250 with 4 HR and 11 SB.  His plate discipline isn’t bad (8.1% SwStr%), but will he be able to develop his power?  Is there enough speed to make an impact?  The skills indicate that there’s a potential 20/20 player, but at some point we need to see those skills translate to the field.  He’s never hit more than 12 HR or stolen more than 21 bases in a season, though he’s still just 22-years old (he’ll turn 23 in May of ’18).  Obviously we aren’t quite yet ready to lose all hope, but it’s impossible to view him in the same light that we once did.

 

15) Marcus Wilson – Outfielder
ETA – 2019
Grade – B
Diamondbacks’ #3 Prospect

There are many prospects like Wilson out there, as no one is going to question the power/speed potential.  Over 383 AB at Single-A he hit 9 HR with 15 SB, while also adding 21 doubles and 5 triples.  The thing is, while many others have questions about their approach, Wilson was a different story:

  • Strikeouts – 20.1%
  • Walks – 12.3%

Those numbers could regress as he advances, but a 9.1% SwStr% supports the performance (and potentially an improvement).  It’s a major step forward from 2016 (when he posted an 11.5% SwStr%), and if he can back it up you are going to see him start to fly up prospect rankings (in fact, he could move up to a B+ or A- by mid-year).

 

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16) Estevan Florial – New York Yankees
Grade – B
ETA – 2019
Yankees’ #4 Prospect

No one is going to argue against the upside of a player who brings the potential to hit for power and provide significant speed. As a 19-year old, splitting time between two levels of Single-A, he showed signs by hitting .298 with 13 HR (as well as 23 doubles and 7 triples) and 23 SB. That definitely has people rushing to anoint him the next big thing, but don’t overlook the key risks:

  • SwStr% – 15.5%
  • Groundball Rate – 54.1%
  • BABIP – .426

So there are going to be questions whether or not he can grow into his power, he benefited from significant luck and the strikeout rate (31.1%) could be further exposed against upper level pitching. That’s not a knock on his talent, it’s just a warning sign that you need to watch closely and see how he develops.

 

17) Daz Cameron – Detroit Tigers
ETA – 2019
Grade – B
Tigers’ #2 Prospect

Cameron only played three games for the Tigers after being acquired as part of the trade that sent Justin Verlander to Houston.  Obviously the Astros have no regrets about the deal, but don’t sleep on Cameron and the potential he brings.  Last season he hit .271 with 14 HR and 32 SB over 454 AB at Single-A, showing the potential for even more power (he added 29 doubles and 8 triples).  He also showed a good approach at the plate, with a 9.1% SwStr% leading us to believe that he could improve upon his 21.5% strikeout rate (or at least maintain it as he advances).

He has shown more swing and miss previously, but injuries have helped to slow his progress and likely played a role.  He clearly profiles as a player with 20/20 upside, and he has the bloodlines as he’s the son of former MLBer Mike Cameron.  He has the potential to be a breakout performer in ’18 and raise his grade to the B+ range (or better).

 

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18) Alex Verdugo – Los Angeles Dodgers
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – B
Dadgers’ #4 Prospect

No one is going to argue that Verdugo doesn’t bring an elite approach, with a 10.1% strikeout rate and 10.5% walk rate at Triple-A (courtesy of a 4.0% SwStr%).  That’s going to give him the upside of a strong average, but what else does he bring to the table?

There is the potential for him to tap into a little bit more power, and at 21-years old it’s fair to think it will happen.  However last season he managed 6 HR over 495 PA at Triple-A and failed to add a significant amount of extra base hits to supplement it (27 doubles, 4 triples).  He also doesn’t bring blazing speed, with 9 SB last season and never swiping more than 14 bases.  That’s not to say that he’s a bad player, just one that may have been over-hyped at times as he looks more like a .290ish/12/12 type player.  Maybe he proves us wrong and develops more power, but for now we haven’t seen enough signs of it.

 

19) Jo Adell – Los Angeles Angels
Grade – B
ETA – 2021
Angels’ #3 Prospect

Adell was the team’s first round pick in 2017, and there is no questioning his combination of power and speed.  Playing as an 18-year old for two different teams at Rookie Ball he combined for 5 HR and 8 SB over 222 PA (adding 11 doubles and 8 triples).  The obvious question is going to be his contact rate, given a 21.1% SwStr%, but he’s young and maturing so it’s easy to give him a pass for now (though a repeat performance in 2018 will cost him the benefit of the doubt).  He’s similar to the Giants’ Heliot Ramos (and many others), with the potential to develop but he also could ultimately be a bust.

 

20) Oscar Mercado – St. Louis Cardinals
Grade – B
ETA – 2018
Cardinals’ #4 Prospect

It’s going to surprise many that he is the highest rated outfielder in the system, but he’s coming off a highly impressive Double-A campaign and shouldn’t be overlooked:

.287, 13 HR, 46 RBI, 76 R, 38 SB

His speed is going to be his biggest asset, though the growth in his power can’t go overlooked.  Entering ’17 he had 8 career home runs, and while he may not be able to take another step forward it seems like he could settle into an 8-12 HR hitter moving forward.  When you couple that potential with an ability to hit the ball hard (22.8% line drive rate) and a solid approach at the plate (9.9% SwStr%) and there’s a lot to like.

There’s obviously work that needs to be done, as he didn’t draw many walks (6.1%) and you can argue that he put too many balls in the air (37.2%).  We’ll have to continue monitoring those, though the latter has been declining and correlating with an improvement in his line drive rate.  The arrow is pointing up at this point and he’s a name to keep on your radar.

 

Those Who Just Missed – Austin Beck (OAK), Heliot Ramos (SF), Adam Haseley (PHI)

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com

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 OUR 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE TODAY **
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.

2 comments

  1. zz says:

    Kyle Lewis is going to miss the first month after another knee scope. Change your opinion much?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Not much, though there’s obvious risk involved at this point. He needs to prove he can stay healthy and produce, or his stock will quickly plummet

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