Who is the top young talent to build around for the next 10 years? There are many choices throughout the major and minor leagues as baseball has become a young man’s game. In 2019 we witnessed Juan Soto win the World Series in his second year, Ronald Acuna Jr nearly join the 40/40 club in his sophomore year and we watched as Pete Alonso slug 53 homeruns in his inaugural season. Fernando Tatis Jr. became an overnight sensation when he slugged 22 homeruns and stole 16 bases in just over half a season of play. Vladimir Guerrero Jr was the top prospect in baseball heading into last season and Jo Adell, Eloy Jimmenez, Luis Robert Gavin Lux, Rafael Devers and Bo Bichete are all sensational young players with prospect pedigree galore.
So, who is the best? Ronald Acuna Jr. is a 5-tool centerfielder who has a bit of a strikeout problem. His strikeout percentage was 25.3 his rookie year and went up to 26.3 last year. However, he also was three steals away from a 40-home run 40 stolen base season. He should continue putting up close to 40/40 numbers until he loses some speed due to age. If he cuts his strikeout rate down to below 20% nothing will stop him. Juan Soto has posted two seasons of a .400 OBP in his year 19 and 20 season. That is almost unheard of. He has the discipline of a 10-year veteran and increased his power from 22 homeruns his rookie year to 34 last year and helped the Nationals win the world series. He even added 12 steals last year despite speed not being a big part of his game. He is limited to left field defensively and was only average out there after being even worse his rookie season. If Soto can be above average defensively and keep the double-digit steals and Acuna doesn’t get better plate discipline he will be the best choice. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. came in with more hype than anyone since Bryce Harper. Many people consider his rookie season a big disappointment as he was just above average offensively using OPS+ and his negative 9 defensive runs saved was even worse. He did put on s how in the homerun derby where he showed off his lightning quick bat speed. If he improves like many expect him to in his second season and moving forward he could be the best hitter in this draft. No matter what position he plays he will probably never be more than an e=average fielder and that’s assuming he doesn’t get too big. While he will never provide the all-around value of Acuna it is his bat that will tell his story. Luis Robert hasn’t even taken an at bat at the big-league level and the white sox have already inked him to a 50-million-dollar contract that runs through2025. This is because he is a 5-tool outfielder who hit .328 with a 1.001 OPS. With no MLB experience and a minor league strikeout rate that has some people concerned we cannot crown him the best player in baseball just yet. A better question might be, is he better than Jo Adell right now? Jo Adell battled injuries in 2019but still posted a respectable .289 average and .834 OPS with 10 homeruns in only 76 games played. He is another 5-tool outfielder with a very similar skill set to Robert. I believe he has even more potential as I was watching him in the futures game and he made baseball look easy the way Robinson Cano des. They look like they can go 85% and still get better results than everyone else going 100%. Now he also has not played an MLB game and when that will change is unknown but him and Robert could be battling for the top outfield spot once Trout’s reign is over (if it ever is). Eloy Jimenez is Luis Robert’s teammate and was the top White Sox prospect heading into 2019. He didn’t have the greatest rookie year but did slug .513 with 31 home runs. If he can improve n his .315 on base he could be one of the most dangerous hitter for the next ten years but unless he cleans up his defense he will not join the top tier of young players. Bo Bichete came up at the end of 2019 to play 46 games and posted a .930 OPS. The future shortstop of the blue jays hit 11 home runs and with a 70-grade hit tool has a high offensive ceiling. Should he be able to stick at short if he is able to contribute positively on the base paths he will be competing for the top player on this list. He could already be the best young shortstop in this game if the ability to stay on the field is included (pointing at you Tatis Jr.). Gavin Lux had one of the biggest jumps on prospect lists in 2019 after a banner year that saw him tear up the higher levels of the minor leagues to the tune of a .347 average with 26 homeruns and a 1.028 OPS. While he only has a.705 OPS in the majors last year he is the favorite to win the NL rookie of the year in 2020. While he improved last season at shortstop and has quieted some critics who worry about his throwing accuracy it remains to be seen if Lux ultimately ends up at shortstop or second base long term. If he can be a solid defensive shortstop with his potential to hit .300 and 25+ homeruns a season he could be near the top of this list. We end on two major leaguers one who could be competing for batting titles for years to come at Fenway park and one who could be competing for homeruns crowns in Flushing. Rafael Devers had a great 58 game debut in 2017 but then struggled mightily in 2018. He seemed to make positive adjustments in 2019 and hit .311 and led the American League with 54 doubles. While Devers struggles a lot on defense he still managed to put up a 5.9 War season in 2019. While defense may always hold him back from being elite he could be battling his division rival Guerrero Jr for years to see who the best third base bat is for the next ten years. My money is on Vlad Jr. however, but Devers should not be slept on. Lastly, we have the National league rookie of the year for 2019 Pete Alonso. If he wasn’t already 25 and didn’t play only first base he might have had a shot at the top spot. As it is he is the best power hitter on this list and the best future first baseman by miles.
So, my final analysis of the players are as follows Acuna will follow Mike Trout as the next number one baseball player in the MLBSoto may end up being a better hitter than Acuna but not a better overall playerPete Alonso will one day be the best first baseman in the majors and maybe even the best slugger overall.
Fernando Tatis Jr. needs more time and to stay healthy but if he can do that while playing shortstop could be better than Soto but will probably end up being slightly below his level.Vlad Jr. may be the best hitter overall of this group and should bring Toronto to its feet every at bat, but he is not a complete enough player to be number one with this group of players comingJo Adell or Luis Robert could be the next Acuna but will have to prove it in the majors first.Gavin lux could be the best second baseman in baseball but if he moved to short could have even more value overall. He probably will not top Tatis but could be secondBo Bichette could be number two at shortstop if Lux isn’t.Rafael Devers will fight Vlad Jr. for top third base honors for the next decade but topping him will be tough if they both stay at third.