Part of the All-Star game festivities will include the Futures Game, where the top prospects of the 30 MLB organizations will play in an exhibition game. Each organization sends at least one representative to the game. In previous years it used to be American prospects vs. international prospects, but now it’s just based on the league the organization is currently in.
Robinson, by most accounts, is the team’s top prospect entering the 2020 season. Even though he wasn’t sent to Kane County like Alek Thomas and Blaze Alexander, Robinson had a big year with Short Season Hillsboro. Overall, he posted a .319/.407/.558 slash with 14 HR and 17/22 in stolen base attempts. He’s currently manning center field, although most projections have him moving over to right field when he fills out from 190 to about 210-220.
Fangraphs currently measures his average exit velocity at 92 MPH with a maximum of 109, both of whom lead the organization’s prospect list. There is potential for more HR power down the road if Robinson can optimize his launch angle and get more lift under the ball. He’ll open up the year with Class A Kane County and potentially move up to Visalia if he has a strong start.
Thomas represented the team last year, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he is back in the game again. A former 2nd round pick, Thomas has hit his way to success and made it to Visalia in his first full season with the team. If he can optimize his launch angle, Thomas goes from 12-15 homers to 20+ despite his smaller frame (5’10” 175) while hitting for a quality average and posting solid on-base numbers.
Thomas will likely open up the year in Visalia, but could finish with AA Jackson with a strong year. The likely timeline for his arrival will be close to when Starling Marte reaches free agency, so he could be the guy who fills in there. He has the speed to play CF at a solid level, but could end up moving to LF when Corbin Carroll makes it.
Perdomo is still a very raw prospect despite doing well between Low A Kane County, High A Visalia, and the Fall League at 19. He’s still growing into a 6’3” frame, but already has a high floor as a player. At the plate, Perdomo has elite strike zone discipline, which will play a bigger factor when his raw power develops more down the road. Defensively he’s got the tools to stick at shortstop with a strong arm, quick and smooth action at the position, and a good internal alarm clock.
Perdomo might not show too much with the bat early on at the MLB level but could end up seeing his bat jumping to a new level at 24-25, similar to Ketel Marte, Didi Gregorius, Jose Ramirez, and Francisco Lindor. With the team recently extending Nick Ahmed to a 4-year deal, there is no rush to get Perdomo up to the majors to try to fill a hole at the shortstop position. I believe once he reaches his ideal playing weight, he will end up turning into an All-Star shortstop.
Of all the players in the system, the one player I’m the most bullish on developing into a star is Carroll. Despite being undersized at 5’10” 165, Carroll quickly was able to show his advanced hitting skills in Rookie and Short Season ball last year after sliding to the 16th overall pick. Overall, he posted a .299/.407/.487 slash at both levels, showing more power than anticipated due to strong forearms. Fangraphs had his average exit velocity at 90 and a max of 108, which is very impressive for his weight class. As he adds more muscle, we could see that number jump, leading to potentially above average to plus power in the future.
Carroll presents a player who has a very high ceiling due to the many ways he can impact the game. Not only does he have the potential to be an impact bat at the top of the order, Carroll has the tools to be an elite basestealer and gold glove caliber defense in center field. Between the top three outfield prospects, I give Carroll the best odds of staying in center field.
Walston was taken with the 26th pick in last year’s draft after the team failed to sign Matt McLain away from UCLA the previous year. Walston was more of a projectable lefty who would be slow to develop as he adds more muscle, which would improve his fastball velocity. He’s already gotten halfway between his listed draft weight of 172 and his likely playing weight in the majors (215) and could spend most of 2020 with Kane County.
Walston’s ceiling will depend on how much his fastball/curveball combo gains traction, although I could see him being able to play both pitches off each other. The development on a 3rd, maybe even a 4th, pitch will be critical for Walston’s abilities to stick in the rotation. As he climbs up the system, the ability to increase both velocity and spin of his top two pitches will likely determine his ceiling as a starter.