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As we all prepare to turn the calendar from 2017 and look onward, we at MLB Pipeline are starting to wrap our head around who might be on our 2018 Top 100 Prospects list, due out in late January. We’re also working to figure out our team top 30 lists. As that effort continues, there are always players who jump out as breakout candidates. Some are coming off of injuries, some just haven’t put it together yet and some did reasonably well at lower levels but haven’t jumped onto the larger prospect radar as of yet.
Below is a list of an even dozen prospects — six hitters and six pitchers — who seem primed to have big 2018 seasons and who could, as a result, land on our Top 100 at some point.
Daz Cameron, OF, Tigers No. 5 prospect: Mike’s son had a slow start to his career with the Astros, struggling with full-season ball in 2016. It started to click a little for him back at that level in 2017, with 14 homers and 32 stolen bases. The Tigers, who got him in the Justin Verlander deal right at the end of the Minor League season, could be the beneficiaries of a huge leap forward in 2018.
Jasrado Chisholm, SS, D-backs No. 7 prospect: After a strong pro debut in the Pioneer League in 2016, the Bahamian-born Chisholm looked poised to break out in 2017. He started slowly in the Midwest League and was just heating up in May when a torn meniscus ended his season. He has the chance to hit and stay at shortstop long-term.
Wander Javier, SS, Twins No. 5 prospect: Signed for $4 million in July 2015, Javier was initially slowed by a hamstring injury, but had a strong United States debut in 2017 in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. He can hit for average and power and has a good chance to stay at short — seeing how that translates to full-season ball will be fun to watch.
Josh Lowe, OF, Rays No. 9 prospect: The Rays’ first-round pick in 2016, Lowe was an infielder at first, but has since moved to center field, where his speed and athleticism immediately played well. There’s some projection to his frame, so more power should start showing up soon.
Brandon Marsh, OF, Angels No. 7 prospect: The Angels had to wait a while to see their 2016 second-round pick in action as a back issue kept him from making his pro debut until 2017. His size and athleticism have reminded some of a Josh Hamilton type, with power and speed to spare.
Cristian Pache, OF, Braves No. 10 prospect: Ronald Acuna understandably gets most of the attention regarding center-field phenoms in the Braves’ system, but Pache’s plus defense could eventually push Acuna to a corner. He can hit for average and should be a major basestealing threat.
Albert Abreu, RHP, Yankees No. 7 prospect: Elbow issues sidelined Abreu for much of his first season with the Yankees after coming from the Astros in the Brian McCann deal, though he did strike out 61 in 53 1/3 innings. He was very impressive in the Arizona Fall League, though, with a fastball up to 98 mph to go along with a hard curve and solid changeup.
Jorge Guzman, RHP, Marlins No. 2 prospect: Guzman has been traded twice, once from the Astros to the Yankees in the aforementioned McCann deal, then again to the Marlins in the Giancarlo Stanton deal. He has a triple-digit fastball and a power slider and threw more strikes than anticipated last summer in the New York-Penn League.
Taylor Hearn, LHP, Pirates No. 11 prospect: Hearn is a little bit more of a roll of the dice because the command still has a ways to go, but the stuff is electric, with a fastball that touches the upper-90s with ease and a slider that flashes above-average. He missed time with an oblique injury, but looked very good at times in the AFL.
Jesus Luzardo, LHP, A’s No. 6 prospect: After Luzardo underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2016, the Nationals took him in the third round of that June’s Draft. He rehabbed and came back, throwing well and then getting dealt to the A’s in the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson trade. His stuff and command point to a career as a mid-rotation starter.
Adonis Medina, RHP, Phillies No. 8 prospect: Medina had a strong first season in full-season ball in 2017, missing a ton of bats (10 K/9) and keeping hitters at bay (.227 batting average against). A continuation of that up a level will move him up lists in a hurry.
T.J. Zeuch, RHP, Blue Jays No. 5 prospect: The 2016 first-round pick missed a good chunk of his first full season with injuries, but came back and threw very well in the AFL. His heavy-sinking fastball and repeatable delivery worked very well and he could move quickly to Toronto’s rotation.