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Luis Robert
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Prospect Roundup

Top 10 Prospects: 2020

by Christopher Crawford
Updated On: October 1, 2019, 8:06 pm ET

This is always fun to write, and always very difficult. We have no idea what kind of moves teams will make, what kind of development will happen between now and April, and what teams are actually willing to give prospects a shot to perform early in the year.

That won't stop me from speculating, however.

Here's a look at the top 10 prospects for the 2020 season and the 2020 season only.

1. Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox -- Robert really should have made his debut in 2019, but, he didn't for reasons that have nothing to do with his abilities as a baseball player. The outfielder posted a 1.001 OPS over three levels and added 32 homers and 36 steals. There are no real defensive questions here, so that's not going to keep him from making his debut. He may not start the year with Chicago unless he signs an extension like Eloy Jimenez did, but it'd be an upset if he didn't spend the majority of the season with the White Sox. 

2. Gavin Lux, INF, Los Angeles Dodgers -- Lux wasn't nearly as good with the Dodgers in September as he was in the minors, but 1. that shouldn't surprise anyone, baseball is hard and 2. there were certainly enough flashes to remain very excited about the 21-year-old's future. Every tool projects at least above-average, and there's nothing to suggest he won't be playing up the middle for Los Angeles next year; most likely second base. Lux can flat-out play, and he should be very fantasy relevant in 2019.

3. Jo Adell, OF, Los Angeles Angels -- Adell battled injuries in 2019, but was still able to post a .289/.359/.475 line with 10 homers and seven steals in 76 games while reaching Triple-A as a 20-year-old. Simply put, no one has better pure tools on this list, and it's very impressive that he's been able to apply those tools so quickly. There's a chance the Angels could play the service-time game Adell, but because he's able to do everything, I think he belongs in the top three.


4. Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Oakland Athletics -- Like Adell, Luzardo battled injuries, and one of the reasons he ranks this "low" is because he still hasn't shown the ability to stay healthy. That being said, anyone who saw him pitch this year with the A's or in the minors can understand the reason for excitement. His pitches -- particularly his fastball -- have ridiculous amounts of movement, and his ability to command his swing-and-miss arsenal is thick, delicious icing on the cake. Luzardo is working out of the bullpen -- and the A's may have him pitch in a similar role if there are any more injury concerns -- but the stuff and command are good enough to start, and I think that's the role he'll have in 2020. 

5. Carter Kieboom, INF, Washington Nationals -- Kieboom really struggled in his small sample with the Nationals this year, but it was just that; and it would be insane to give up on the infielder based on 11 games. He's a middle-infielder who can hit for both average and power, and a couple of handful of stolen bases seem likely. Kieboom could play either or second or third for the Nationals next year, and the bat projects to play at either position; though second base would obviously be prefered. 

6. Brendan Rodgers, INF, Colorado Rockies -- Remember when we talked about speculation? Here's one we have to speculate on. Rodgers had shoulder surgery this summer, and while it seems likely that the 23-year-old will be ready to roll this spring, it is something to keep an eye out for. He also struggled in his 25 games with the Rockies, but this is one of the best prospects in baseball with a chance to hit for both average and power in the right side. He also will get a chance to play his home games in Coors Field, which doesn't hurt. I will readily admit I'm taking a risk putting Rodgers this high, but I'm taking the risk here. There's star potential. 

7. Nate Pearson, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays -- Pearson didn't make any of my Top 10 lists last year -- thanks for reading last year, by the way, hope I helped, because there was no shot he was going to get a promotion to Toronto in 2019. There's more than a good chance he'll pitch for the Blue Jays this year; there's a real chance he'll be in the rotation for most of the season. The 23-year-old has electric stuff (119 strikeouts in 101 2/3 innings), and the 2017 first-round pick has really improved his command. There's also obviously openings in the Toronto rotation, and assuming Pearson is healthy and pitching well this spring, he should be a part of it.

8. Nick Solak, INF/OF, Texas Rangers -- I very much considered Nick Madrigal for one of these spots, and I have no doubt that Madrigal will provide some fantasy relevance with his ability to steal bases and hit for average. I also have some concern about the power, which is why I am rolling with Solak for this spot. He hit an impressive .293/.393/.491 with the Rangers in 116 at-bats, and he's just as likely to hit for average as Madrigal with much more power from the right side. There are some positional questions here, but the 24-year-old can really swing the bat, and he should be a regular for the Rangers all year. 

9. Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates -- You are going to look at Keller's 7.13 ERA in 48 innings and wonder what the heck I'm talking about. Don't do that. First of all, 48 inning is a very small sample, but also, take a look at the 65 strikeouts he had in that time frame and the ridiculously unlucky .478 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Keller is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, and despite a few clunkers, I'm ever-so-optimistic that the 23-year-old has a bright future. He's going to be just fine.

10. Sean Murphy C, Oakland Athletics -- Murphy's place on this list has a lot to do with the fact that he's a catcher, but this is not just positional value. He posted an .899 OPS with the A's in 53 at-bats, and the 24-year-old hit .308/.386/.625  in his time at Triple-A Las Vegas. He's just tapping into his above-average power, and his excellent defense is going to keep him behind the plate. He may not have the upside of some prospects above -- and some of the prospects listed below -- but a high-floor matters, folks. Murphy is definitely a catcher to target, in my eyes.

Also considered: Nick Madrigal, 2B, Chicago White Sox; Kyle Lewis, OF, Seattle Mariners;  Ryan Mountcastle, 1B, Baltimore Orioles; Dustin May, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers; Dylan Carlson, OF, St. Louis Cardinals 


Christopher Crawford

Christopher Crawford is a baseball and college football writer for NBC Sports Edge. Follow him on Twitter @Crawford_MILB.