Top 50 MLB Prospects for 2020

Just a teenager, Wander Franco is baseball's No. 1 prospect and could be in Tampa Bay before the season is over

Minor league players are getting more hype than ever, and many of last year's top prospects lived up to the hype. Fernando Tatis Jr. was a superstar from Opening Day, while Pete Alonso smashed the rookie home run record. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez both got off to slow starts but still combined for 46 homers.

 

So who might be this year's Alonso, Tatis, Guerrero, or Jimenez? Here are our top 50 prospects for the 2020 season, courtesy of Baseball America's JJ Cooper:

 

1. Wander Franco, SS, Rays

S/R • 5-10 • 189 • Age: 19

Acquired: Signed out of Dominican Republic, 2017

Baseball’s best prospect is a remarkable combination of top-of-the-scale hitting ability and rare maturity. Maybe Franco can stick at shortstop, maybe he can’t. No one should really care, because he should be batting third in the Rays lineup in the not-to-distant future, possibly before he turns 20.

 

2. Luis Robert, OF, White Sox

R/R • 6-3 • 185 • Age: 22

Acquired: Signed out of Cuba, 2017

Robert made everyone forget a difficult 2018 stateside debut by hitting his way from high High-A Winston-Salem to Triple-A Charlotte, smacking 32 home runs between three levels. Robert has plus speed, plus power and plus defense. It’s quite the package. He does strike out a lot, but he is a better two-strike hitter than most, giving hope for steady improvement.

 

3. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Padres

L/L • 6-3 • 195 • Age: 21

Acquired: First-round pick, 2017

When Gore was coming out of high school, scouts fell in love with his athleticism. Few pitching prospects have his loose arm, four pitches — all of which may end up as plus — and his well-above-average control. With the Padres shifting into win-now mode, Gore isn’t far away from joining the rotation.

 

4. Jo Adell, OF, Angels

R/R • 6-3 • 215 • Age: 20

Acquired: First-round pick, 2017

Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. Anthony Rendon is one of the biggest free agent signees of the offseason. Shohei Ohtani is the best two-way player in baseball. Now, Adell should give Los Angeles an outfield running-mate for Trout with power, speed and athleticism — and he’s one of the few players who makes Trout look normal-sized.

 

5. Gavin Lux, SS, Dodgers

L/R • 6-2 • 190 • Age: 22

Acquired: First-round pick, 2016

The Dodgers’ player development system keeps churning out productive player after productive player. Baseball America's 2019 Minor League Player of the Year hits enough for Los Angeles to figure out a way to fit him into the lineup even though Corey Seager is firmly entrenched at his primary position. Long term, Lux gives the Dodgers options at multiple infield spots.

 

6. Adley Rutschman, C, Orioles

S/R • 6-2 • 216 • Age: 22

Acquired: First-round pick, 2019

The best prospect in the 2019 draft, Rutschman had a national championship and a College Player of the Year award on his résumé in his three years at Oregon State. He is a good enough hitter to be a solid prospect as a designated hitter only. As an athletic catcher who is also an excellent defender, he’s the cornerstone of what should be a relatively lengthy Orioles rebuild.

 

7. Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics

L/L • 6-0 • 209 • Age: 22

Acquired: Trade; third-round pick, 2016

Tommy John surgery slowed Luzardo’s path to the A’s rotation, but he showed Oakland what it was waiting for with an impressive September call-up. Luzardo’s 95-98 mph four-seam fastball, hard sinker, big curve and deceptive changeup give both lefties and righties plenty to worry about when he’s on the mound.

 

8. Nate Pearson, RHP, Blue Jays

R/R • 6-6 • 245 • Age: 23

Acquired: First-round pick, 2017

There are few pitching prospects who can come close to matching Pearson’s combination of elite, top-of-the-scale velocity (he can touch 102 mph), pair of breaking balls and surprisingly advanced feel for pitching. He should be part of the Blue Jays rotation at some point in 2020.

 

9. Cristian Pache, OF, Braves

R/R • 6-2 • 185 • Age: 21

Acquired: Signed out of Dominican Republic, 2015

In 2017, Ozzie Albies arrived with a splash for the Braves. In 2018, Ronald Acuna Jr. was even better. In 2019, Mike Soroka was exceptional as a rookie. In 2020, Pache is the logical successor in what has been a steady stream of exceptional prospects. He should quickly develop into one of the better defensive outfielders in baseball, adding yet another standout to a star-studded Atlanta lineup.

 

10. Dylan Carlson, OF, Cardinals

S/L • 6-3 • 205 • Age: 21

Acquired: First-round pick, 2016

Few prospects came further in 2019 than Carlson. The Cardinals challenged him with an aggressive Opening Day assignment to Double-A. Not only did he handle it, but he eventually earned a promotion to Triple-A in August. A very well-rounded prospect with few clear weaknesses, Carlson should play for St. Louis in 2020.

 

11. Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers

R/R • 6-6 • 180 • Age: 22

Acquired: Third-round pick, 2016

The Dodgers have produced Walker Buehler and now May to help bolster the rotation. Most everything May throws is hard — he can succeed throwing his mid-90s sinker pitch after pitch, but he also throws a hard four seamer and a cutter.

 

12. Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers

R/R • 6-3 • 220 • Age: 22

Acquired: First-round pick, 2018

The No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, Mize dazzled in the first half of the ’19 season, highlighted by a no-hitter in his Double-A debut. He dominated with his fastball and splitter, but his season fell apart after that. He was shut down with shoulder soreness and struggled when he came back. If healthy, Mize is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, but that’s a big if.

 

13. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners

L/L • 6-0 • 196 • Age: 20

Acquired: Trade; first-round pick, 2018

A year after sending Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz to the Mets, the Mariners have every reason to be thrilled with how this trade is working out. Kelenic is one of the most advanced young hitters in the minors. He’s a five-tool prospect who leapt from Low-A to Double-A in one season.

 

14. Julio Rodriguez, OF, Mariners

R/R • 6-4 • 225 • Age: 19

Acquired: Signed out of Dominican Republic, 2017

The Mariners’ future rests in a significant way on a pair of preternatural outfielders. As talented as Kelenic is, Rodriguez may end up surpassing him. He reached the California League as an 18-year-old, just like Ken Griffey Jr. did 32 years before. In addition to his exceptional physical tools, Rodriguez has leadership skills and a joy to his game that is fun to watch.

 

15. Carter Kieboom, SS/2B, Nationals

R/R • 6-2 • 190 • Age: 22

Acquired: First-round pick, 2016

Kieboom has seen pretty much any path to an MLB job blocked by the Nationals’ talented infield. But with Anthony Rendon gone to the Angels, Kieboom should get a better shot in 2020. The versatile infielder can play almost anywhere. At the plate, he’s more of a hitter than a slugger, but he should hit for average and draw plenty of walks.

 

16. Joey Bart, C, Giants

R/R • 6-3 • 235 • Age: 23

Acquired: First-round pick, 2018

Buster Posey will turn 33 one day after the 2020 season begins, and he’s entering the second-to-last year of his current deal (there is a team option for 2022). The next in Georgia Tech’s long line of impressive catchers, Bart will likely begin his MLB career as Posey’s backup in 2021, but he’s the club’s catcher of the not-too-distant future.

 

17. Matt Manning, RHP, Tigers

R/R • 6-6 • 215 • Age: 22

Acquired: First-round pick, 2016

Casey Mize ranks higher than Manning, but if they both unlock every bit of their talent, Manning may end up being just a little better than Mize. He has further to go to get there, but Manning’s mid-90s fastball is special, and he also has a 12-to-6 curveball. A high school basketball star, he should be in Detroit in late 2020 or early 2021.

 

18. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros

R/R • 6-7 • 195 • Age: 22

Acquired: First-round pick, 2016

Whitley took a big step backward in 2019. He lost his fastball command and some of his confidence as well. But he started to show some of his old stuff during an impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League, and there are few pitchers who could have five plus pitches.

 

19. Spencer Howard, RHP, Phillies

R/R • 6-2 • 205 • Age: 23

Acquired: Second-round pick, 2017

Howard has come extremely far, extremely fast. A walk-on who threw 83-85 as a freshman at Cal Poly, he now can touch 100 mph with a plus-plus fastball, and his changeup has significantly improved as well. He missed some time in 2019 with a shoulder injury, but he showed no ill effects once he returned.

 

20. Brendan Rodgers, SS, Rockies

R/R • 6-0 • 180 • Age: 23

Acquired: First-round pick, 2015

Rodgers has a long history of doing much better in his second exposure to a level. The Rockies hope that pattern plays out in his return to Colorado. Rodgers has a chance to be a plus hitter with above-average power, but his over-aggressiveness means he sometimes gets himself out.

 

21. Alec Bohm, 3B, Phillies

R/R • 6-5 • 225 • Age: 23

Acquired: First-round pick, 2018

For a tall, long-limbed third baseman, Bohm shows excellent plate coverage thanks to a very solid plan. He gets leverage in his swing and can drive the ball to all fields. There are more questions about whether he can stay at third base, but his bat should be able to handle a move to the outfield or first base if that day ever arrives.

 

22. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Royals

R/R • 6-1 • 190 • Age: 19

Acquired: First-round pick, 2019

The son of long-time MLB pitcher Bobby Witt, the younger Witt is a speedy, athletic shortstop. His closest equivalent current major leaguer may be Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, although Witt may be more selective at the plate than his potential future teammate, which could help hit for a higher average.

 

23. CJ Abrams, SS, Padres

L/R • 6-2 • 185 • Age: 19

Acquired: First-round pick, 2019

Coming into the draft, Witt was clearly a notch ahead of Abrams on most teams’ draft boards. Six months into their pro careers, that gap has narrowed significantly. Abrams showed even-better-than-expected hitting ability in his outstanding Arizona League debut (.401).

 

24. Marco Luciano, SS, Giants

R/R • 6-2 • 185 • Age:18

Acquired: Signed out of Dominican Republic, 2018

Luciano is drawing very lofty comparisons for a player with a grand total of nine games above the Arizona Rookie League. Get in on the ground floor while you can. Luciano will likely slide off of shortstop one day, but if he’s got a chance to contend for batting titles while hitting for power if everything comes together.

 

25. Drew Waters, OF, Braves

S/R • 6-2 • 178 • Age: 21

Acquired: Second-round pick, 2017

The Nationals are World Series champs. The Phillies are spending big in free agency year after year. But the Braves should enter 2020 with a solid shot at a third straight NL East crown thanks to a farm system that keeps producing stars. The switch-hitting Waters doesn’t have Cristian Pache’s defensive skills (few do), but he is a plus bat with power and a still solid glove.

 

26. Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves

R/R • 6-3 • 170 • Age: 21

Acquired: First-round pick, 2016

Anderson is a somewhat tricky pitching prospect in that he doesn’t throw as hard or spin a breaking ball as well as some of the pitchers below him on this list. But his three-pitch combo works extremely well together, and his ability to spot his fastball to both sides of the plate makes him extremely effective.

 

27. A.J. Puk, LHP, Athletics

L/L • 6-7 • 238 • Age: 24

Acquired: First-round pick, 2016

Puk’s path to the majors has been slowed by injuries, but now that he’s recovered from Tommy John surgery, he’s ready to join the A’s rotation. Puk has always been hard to hit, which isn’t surprising considering he’s a 6'7" lefty with a 95 mph fastball and a devastating slider.

 

28. Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Rays

L/L • 6-2 • 212 • Age: 24

Acquired: First-round pick, 2017

The Rays have continued to work with McKay’s bat as well, using him as a sporadic DH/pinch hitter in his MLB debut. On the mound is where he’s going to make his mark, however. He showed flashes of what he can do with the Rays in the second half of the season. When he’s locating, his command allows his average/above-average stuff to be effective, but he sometimes does struggle to finish off hitters.

 

29. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, White Sox

R/R • 6-0 • 214 • Age: 21

Acquired: First-round pick, 2019

One of the best bats in the 2019 draft, Vaughn has a long résumé of hitting for average and power. That is important, because he’s a first baseman who will provide little else defensively or on the bases. Vaughn had a modest debut, but he has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order bat who posts high on-base percentages and 30-plus home run seasons.

 

30. Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Cardinals

L/L • 6-5 • 200 • Age: 21

Acquired: Trade; first-round pick, 2018

It’s very possible when we recount the 2018 MLB Draft years from now, one of the biggest questions will be, “Why did Matthew Liberatore slide to the 16th pick?” That surprising slide worked out wonderfully for the Rays. Liberatore is one of the better young pitching prospects in the game, just like he appeared to be coming out of high school.

 

31. Jordan Groshans, SS, Blue Jays

R/R • 6-3 • 205 • Age: 20

Acquired: First-round pick, 2018

It’s easy to forget about Groshans because he missed all but the first month of the season thanks to a foot injury. But in 2020, when he gets back on the field regularly, don’t be surprised to see him quickly remind everyone that he’s one of the better young hitters in the minors. He also will get to work to try to prove skeptics wrong about his defense at shortstop.

 

32. Nolan Gorman, 3B, Cardinals

L/R • 6-1 • 210 • Age: 19

Acquired: First-round pick, 2018

At the start of 2019, Gorman was the hot young hitting prospect gaining notice. Dylan Carlson leapfrogged him during the season, but Gorman remains a slugging third baseman with a bright future. His power numbers took a hit in the Florida State League but should bounce back in Class AA.

 

33. Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox

R/R • 6-3 • 205 • Age: 23

Acquired: Trade; first-round pick, 2014

White Sox fans have had to be patient with Kopech, as he missed all of 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery. But he should return to action in 2020, and if his fastball is 95 percent of what it was pre-surgery, he’ll still be throwing 95 mph. He could be a very useful addition to an improving White Sox rotation this season.

 

34. Jasson Dominguez, OF, Yankees

S/R • 5-10 • 190 • Age: 17

Acquired: Signed out of Dominican Republic, 2019

In recent years, several top international prospects have flown through the minors. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Juan Soto are now being followed by Wander Franco. Dominguez should be the next to move quickly. While Guerrero, Soto and Franco were hitters first, Dominguez can hit, but it is his power that stands out.

 

35. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Marlins

R/R • 6-0 • 185 • Age: 21

Acquired: Trade; signed out of Dominican Republic, 2015

Sanchez should make his long-awaited MLB debut in 2020, and he should do so somewhere around his 22nd birthday in July, which will make him one of the youngest pitchers in the majors. He’s never generated as many strikeouts as would be expected for a starter with a 95-100 mph fastball, but he also has far better control and command than most young fireballers — he’s walked 1.7 batters per nine innings for his career.

 

36. Luis Patino, RHP, Padres

R/R • 6-0 • 192 • Age: 20

Acquired: Signed out of Colombia, 2016

Patino was only 150 pounds when the Padres saw and signed him in 2016. He’s gained nearly 40 pounds and 10 mph on his fastball since then. He now has a chance to simply overwhelm hitters thanks to his fastball and equally dominating slider.

 

37. DL Hall, LHP, Orioles

L/L • 6-2 • 195 • Age: 21

Acquired: First-round pick, 2017

An athletic lefty, Hall embraced the Orioles’ new pitching approach in 2019. That explains why his walk rate skyrocketed while his strikeout rate did too. He has the stuff to generate plenty of swings and misses; now he needs to get into more advantageous counts on a more regular basis. His mid-90s fastball and curve give him a path to being a mid-rotation starter.

 

38. Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Dodgers

R/R • 6-1 • 265 • Age: 21

Acquired: Trade; signed out of Venezuela, 2014

Graterol’s high-80s slider is now thrown just as hard as his fastball was when he was first signed. Graterol dominated Double-A thanks to a 97-102 mph fastball until the Twins moved him to the bullpen to prep him for what proved to be an up-and-down September call-up.

 

39. Nolan Jones, 3B, Indians

L/R • 6-2 • 185 • Age: 21

Acquired: Second-round pick, 2016

A thumb injury ended Jones’ 2019 season early, but before he went down he had once again proved to be an advanced hitter who can drive the ball to all fields while racking up enough walks to consistently post high on-base percentages. Some scouts worry that Jones’ approach is getting overaggressive, but it’s worked so far.

 

40. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles

L/R • 6-5 • 220 • Age: 20

Acquired: First-round, 2018

Rodriguez has a chance to eventually have four plus pitches. His fastball is already there, and his slider and curveball have both shown they can torment hitters. Now Rodriguez’s changeup is catching up to the other three pitches, giving hitters yet one more thing to worry about.

 

41. Nico Hoerner, SS, Cubs

R/R • 5-11 • 200 • Age: 22

Acquired: First-round pick, 2018

Hoerner fractured his wrist in May during his first season at Class AA Tennessee, but the Cubs didn’t hesitate to call him up to the majors in September, even though he had fewer than 350 minor league at-bats. The former first-round pick out of Stanford projects as an offensively oriented middle infielder.

 

42. Adrian Morejon, LHP, Padres

L/L • 6-0 • 175 • Age: 21

Acquired: Signed out of Cuba, 2016

Morejon didn’t pitch well, but he did pitch better in his MLB debut than his 10.13 ERA would indicate. One of the more polished lefthanders in the minors, Morejon’s mid-90s fastball and plus curveball give him a chance to contribute to the Padres rotation in 2019 — although with several other MLB-ready pitchers, he’ll have competition.

 

43. Oneil Cruz, SS, Pirates

L/R • 6-7 • 175 • Age: 21

Acquired: Trade; signed out of Dominican Republic, 2015

Cruz is a 6'7" shortstop, which are words that have never gone together in a sentence. He probably will move off of shortstop eventually, but he’s a small forward playing baseball. His athleticism and power should make up for the strikeouts that will come from his massive size.

 

44. Riley Greene, OF, Tigers

L/L • 6-3 • 200 • Age: 19

Acquired: First-round pick, 2019

The Tigers have assembled an impressive crop of pitching prospects. The group of hitting prospects isn’t nearly as deep, but Greene, the club’s 2019 first-round pick, is starting to change that. Greene has a sweet swing to go with future power potential, and he has a chance to stick in center field in the long term.

 

45. Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves

R/R • 6-4 • 200 • Age: 24

Acquired: First-round pick, 2017

It may seem like time is starting to run out for Wright to establish himself — he’s struggled in short stints in Atlanta in 2018 and 2019. But then you have to remember that no first-round pitcher from the 2017 draft has fully settled in as an MLB starter. Wright’s normally solid control has deserted him in his limited MLB time, but he’ll get another shot in 2020.

 

46. Nick Madrigal, 2B, White Sox

R/R • 5-7 • 165 • Age: 23

Acquired: First-round pick, 2018

A star at Oregon State (where he teamed with Orioles prospect Adley Rutschman), Madrigal has very little power, but he is nearly impossible to strike out. That approach may limit his impact, but it also makes him one of the safer prospects on this list because he should hit for average and play solid defense at second base.

 

47. Tarik Skubal, LHP, Tigers

L/L • 6-3 • 215 • Age: 23

Acquired: Ninth-round pick, 2018

Few pitchers have come further in a year than Skubal. Skubal struggled as a junior at Seattle University because of control troubles. Just a year later, Skubal surprisingly established himself as one of the best lefthanders in the minors in 2019. Skubal’s 94-97 mph fastball, plus slider and above-average curveball give him a shot to be a mid-rotation starter for Detroit before too long.

 

48. Brailyn Marquez, LHP, Cubs

L/L • 6-4 • 185 • Age: 21

Acquired: Signed out of Dominican Republic, 2015

Marquez has one of the liveliest left arms in the game. He reached 100 mph early and often for Low-A South Bend and High-A Myrtle Beach. His hard slider pairs well with the fastball, but his changeup has a lot further to go to catch up.

 

48. Vidal Brujan, 2B/SS, Rays

S/R • 5-9 • 155 • Age: 22

Acquired: Signed out of Dominican Republic, 2014

Brujan and his new teammate Xavier Edwards are iconoclasts in an age when everyone hits home runs. Brujan’s value is in his athleticism, speed and his ability to string together tough at-bats. He avoids strikeouts, hits for average and has a chance to be the Rays table-setter in a year or two. With near top-of-the-scale speed, he also could play some center field.

 

50. Brandon Marsh, OF, Angels

L/R • 6-4 • 215 • Age: 23

Acquired: Second-round pick, 2016

The Angels love strong, athletic outfielders. They have the gold standard of the type with Mike Trout in center, and they have Jo Adell and Marsh who are not far away. Marsh has shown his speed and hitting ability more than power so far, but there’s a strong belief that he will be able to provide power as he develops.

 

— Compiled by JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) for Athlon's 2020 MLB Preview. At 224 pages, it's the largest on the newsstand and the most complete preview available today. Click here to get your copy.

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