MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Inbox: Who will lead the 2018 Top 100 list?

Inbox: Who will lead the 2018 Top 100 list?

Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette has done nothing but hit since entering pro ball as a second-round pick last year. He batted .427/.451/.732 in 22 games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League during his debut, and he's raking at a .372/.433/.570 clip between two Class A stops in his first full season. Bichette is just 19, yet he leads the Minors in hitting, 15 points ahead of Yankees first baseman Garrett Cooper.

It has been 51 years since a teenager won the Minor League batting championship. The last one was Phillies outfielder Gil Torres, who hit .365 for a Class A Spartanburg club that went 91-35 and featured six future big leaguers, most notably Larry Bowa. Torres topped out in Double-A and batted just .254 in the remaining five years of his career.

Submit a question to the Pipeline Inbox

What would your prospect lineup (including a designated hitter and left-handed and right-handed pitchers) with the highest upside look like, if you could pick no more than one player from each system and could use each ranking slot just once? In other words, if you choose Nationals No. 1 prospect Victor Robles, you can't have Red Sox No. 1 prospect Rafael Devers.
-- Diego P., Gaithersburg, Md.

Diego asked for upside, so I'm going to focus for the most part on ceilings and not worry too much about how likely those ceilings are to be reached. This was an enjoyable challenge.

The Padres have our No. 3-ranked farm system, but I couldn't find a way to fit one of their prospects. I had outfielders Eloy Jimenez (White Sox No. 2) and Juan Soto (Nationals No. 2), first baseman Brendan McKay (Rays No. 3) and catcher Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers No. 7) in my lineup at various points, though I eventually had to go with other options for the sake of better balance.

Here's what I came up with:

C: Jake Rogers (Astros' No. 11)
1B: Peter Alonso (Mets' No. 10)
2B: Keston Hiura (Brewers' No. 5, MLB No. 92)
3B: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays' No. 1, MLB No. 6)
SS: Kevin Maitan (Braves' No. 6, MLB No. 44)
OF: Taylor Trammell (Reds' No. 3, MLB No. 77)
OF: Estevan Florial (Yankees' No. 4, MLB No. 88)
OF: Adam Haseley (Phillies' No. 7, MLB No. 98)
DH: Marcus Wilson (D-backs' No. 8)
LHP: A.J. Puk (Athletics' No. 2, MLB No. 39)
RHP: Alec Hansen (White Sox No. 9)

Who will be baseball's top prospect going into the 2018 season?
-- Dylan K., Holly Springs, N.C.

We're trying something new in the Pipeline Inbox this week. For the answer to this question, check out the video at the top of this story.

Greene was the top high school pitching prospect in the 2017 Draft, going No. 2 overall to the Reds, while Rocker and Hankins are the top prep arms for '18. All three threw in the mid-90s in the summer before their senior year, with Greene generating his velocity and commanding his fastball with more ease. He also was the most athletic and projectable of the three right-handers, and his fastball regularly sat in the upper 90s and touched 102 the following spring.

At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, Rocker is the most physical member of the group, and he also has the best breaking ball with a hard slider that projects as a future plus pitch. Hankins' improving curveball has a chance to become a solid offering, while Greene has not shown much feel for spin, but could have success with a hard slider once he refines it. None of three had much need for a changeup as a high schooler.

Greene wowed scouts with his athleticism and smooth delivery, which bode well for his future health and command. Rocker's mechanics are fine, while some evaluators worry about Hankins' arm action. Greene was the best prospect at the same stage of their careers, with Rocker ranking second and Hankins third.

A first-round pick (26th overall) in 2014, Chavis batted just .235/.301/.396 in his first three years as a pro before exploding in '17. He's hitting .296/.358/.595 between high Class A and Double-A in his age-21 season, ranking third in the Minors with 29 homers in 107 games. Chavis is doing a much better job of tapping into his power now that he's recognizing pitches better, using the whole field and not trying to do too much.

Devers is even more impressive and has had no trouble handling a jump from Double-A to Fenway Park at age 20, showing no signs of relinquishing the third-base job anytime soon. If Chavis keeps hitting like this, the Red Sox will find a way to get him into their lineup. He might be their long-term solution at first base, though he'd be short for the position at 5-foot-10.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.