(Editor's note: This piece was published before it was announced on February 15 that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Alex Reyes would have season-ending Tommy John surgery. Reyes was originally No. 3 on this list.)
When I published my ranking of the top 100 prospects in baseball, I was considering the long-term value of the players on the list and off of it. I was also considering how far away they were and the risk that they might not reach their ceilings and might fail to reach the majors at all.
Potential impact in 2017 was just a small consideration. Although there’s clear value in being confident that Player X is going to produce for you this year, few teams will give up big, long-term upside for the certainty of a player in the short term (except when Trea Turner is involved).
This list goes the other way: It looks at 2017, period. Full stop. -30-. I’m combining my evaluations of these players’ potential for production right now with what I freely admit are educated guesses on playing time.
I don’t think there are even 10 rookies today who clearly have everyday jobs or rotation spots in the big leagues for Opening Day, so half the list comprises players I expect to play three-quarters of the season or more but not break with a club on April 2.
I have ranked and written about the top 20 prospects for this year, and I have listed in a separate section at the end anyone else I think has a good shot of producing this year.
Editor's note: Age is the player's age as of July 1, 2017.
Top level: MLB
The favorite for AL Rookie of the Year, Benintendi will lose his prospect eligibility in 25 at-bats. He is set to be Boston’s everyday left fielder this year, and I think his triple-slash line from his big-league debut, .295/.359/.476, is a good projection for his 2017, with 20-homer upside if he has a full, healthy season.