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The Toolsiest MLB Prospects In The 2020 Top 100



By now, you know that we’ve crowned Rays shortstop Wander Franco as the No.1 talent on our preseason Top 100 Prospect list. The route to that decision wasn’t particularly difficult—he had a fantastic season as an 18-year-old at both Class A levels and was in the top spot on each of the six ballots submitted in the initial stages of compiling the list.

There’s a difference between the best prospect and the prospect with the loudest tools. Franco isn’t the most tooled-up player in the minor leagues, but you don’t have to go far down the list to find the player who fills that role.

The toolsiest player in the minor leagues is . . . White Sox outfielder Luis Robert, the No. 2 prospect on the list and the recent recipient of a major league contract that will get him to Chicago on Opening Day and pay him up to $88 million through the 2027 season.

The 22-year-old Cuban sensation boasts five above-average or better tools, including a 55-grade hit tool, 60-grade defense and 70-grade speed, throwing arm and power. Added together, Robert has an average tool grade of 65.

Here are the 10 "toolsiest" pitchers in the Top 100 Prospects, as determined by an average of their pitch and control grades.
Player Organization Pos Fastball Curveball Slider Changeup Control Average
Jesus Luzardo Athletics LHP 60 55   70 60 61.25
Sixto Sanchez Marlins RHP 70   55 60 60 61.25
Luis Medina Yankees RHP 80 70   55 40 61.25
Casey Mize Tigers RHP 60 55 60 70 55 60
A.J. Puk Athletics LHP 70   70 50 50 60
Grayson Rodriguez Orioles RHP 70 60 55 55 60 60
Brailyn Marquez Cubs LHP 80   60 50 50 60
Hunter Greene Reds RHP 80   60 50 50 60
MacKenzie Gore Padres LHP 60 55 60 60 60 59
Nate Pearson Blue Jays RHP 80 45 60 55 55 59
And here are the 10 "toolsiest" hitters in the Top 100 Prospects, as determined by an average of their five tools.
Player Organization Pos Hitting Power Run Field Arm Average
Luis Robert White Sox OF 55 70 70 60 70 65
Jasson Dominguez Yankees OF 60 70 70 60 60 64
Cristian Pache Braves OF 45 60 70 70 70 63
CJ Abrams Padres SS 70 55 70 60 55 62
Julio Rodriguez Mariners OF 70 70 45 50 70 61
Jo Adell Angels OF 60 70 60 55 60 61
Bobby Witt Jr. Royals SS 55 60 60 70 60 61
Adley Rutschman Orioles C 70 60 40 60 70 60
Wander Franco Rays SS 80 60 50 55 50 59
Jarred Kelenic Mariners OF 70 60 55 50 60 59

 

 

That formula gives Robert the top spot by a slight margin over outfielder Jasson Dominguez, whom the Yankees gave $5.1 million—the largest bonus in franchise history for an international free agent—in the most recent international signing period.

Tools-wise, the only difference between Robert and Dominguez is that Dominguez has a tick better hit tool (60 to 55) and Robert’s throwing arm is a full grade stronger than Dominguez’s (70 to 60).

Robert is also one of just three prospects with three tools on the card that grade as 70 or better. He is joined in that club by Braves outfielder Cristian Pache (70-grade speed, defense and throwing arm), Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez (70-grade hitting, power and throwing arm)

Franco is the only player among in the minors whose hit tool projects as a true 80, which stems from his combination of sublime bat-to-ball skills (swinging-strike rate of just 4.3 percent) and plate discipline (Franco was the only player in full-season ball with more than 50 walks and 35 or fewer strikeouts).

Overall, there were just eight positions whose tools grades averaged to 60 or better: Robert, Dominguez, Pache, Rodriguez, Angels outfielder Jo Adell, Padres shortstop C.J. Abrams, Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman.

Seven of those players can be found among the top 25 spots in the most recent Top 100. The only exception is Dominguez, who checked in at No. 38 before playing in an official game.

Mask Required Brian Westerholt Four Seam Images (1)

How Five Top 100 Prospects Coped With Lost Development Time In 2020

Examining the challenges facing five players from five different countries without a season of minor league games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On the mound, three pitchers are tied for the toolsiest repertoire: Athletics lefthander Jesus Luzardo, Marlins righty Sixto Sanchez and Yankees righty Luis Medina. Each pitcher’s repertoire and projected control average to 61.25. Medina is the only pitcher among that trio with two 70-grade or better pitches (80 fastball, 70 curveball) but his scattershot control has muted his mix for most of his career.

Luzardo, who was traded from the Nationals to the Athletics in 2017, made his big league debut in 2019 and proved so potent that the A’s carried him on their postseaon roster for the Wild Card Game. He struck out four in three shutout innings against the Rays, giving Oakland’s fans a glimpse of the future as their 2019 season was extinguished.

Besides Luzardo, Sanchez and Medina, seven more pitchers produced an average tools grade (pitches plus control) of 60 or better: Casey Mize (Tigers), Matthew Allan (Mets), A.J. Puk (Athletics), Luis Frias (D-backs), Brailyn Marquez (Cubs), Grayson Rodriguez (Orioles) and Hunter Greene (Reds).

Puk, who should team with Luzardo in Oakland to form one of the most potentially dominant one-two punches in the big leagues, is one of just three pitchers with two or more pitches that grade as 70 or better. He joins Rays fireballer Shane Baz (70 fastball and slider) the Phillies’ Francisco Morales (70 fastball and slider) in that select group. Of that trio, only Puk—who made his big league debut in 2019—has pitched above Class A.

The title of the most tooled-up system goes to the Mariners, whose system is led by two of the game’s best prospects: outfielders Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic. Of the 49 tools among their top 10 prospects, only one—Justin Dunn’s curveball—projects as lower than a 40-grade.

For an organization with the worst farm system in baseball two years ago, that represents extraordinarily rapid improvement and should give hope to the fan base of the team with the longest playoff drought in the big leagues.

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