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Keith Law's 2018 top 100 prospects: Nos. 100-51

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If you're not going for it in today's MLB environment, you're -- well, let's not use the T-word and just go with "developing." Teams that build from their farm system, through the draft, the international market and trades of veterans for prospects, keep reaching and winning the World Series.

The Royals had the No. 1 farm system in baseball in 2011 and won two pennants as a result, including a world championship in 2015. The Cubs hit the top five in 2013, ranked No. 1 in 2015, and won the World Series in 2016. The Astros had the No. 1 farm system in baseball in 2014 and won their first World Series in 2017.

I don't think any of this is a big coincidence: Teams can't buy championships. They can buy a player or two to finish off a good roster, but the bulk of a pennant-winning roster comes from within, either through cheaper players the team developed from its farm system or veterans acquired by trading such prospects.

This year's prospect rankings package begins today with the first half of my ranking of the top 100 prospects in the minors.

Editor's note: Age is the player's age as of July 1, 2018. Players with experience in foreign major leagues like Japan's NPB or Korea's KBO, such as Shohei Ohtani, are ineligible for these rankings.


51. Michel Baez, RHP, San Diego Padres

Age: 22 (1/21/1996)

Bats: R | Throws: R

6-foot-8 | 220 pounds

Top level: Class A | 2017 rank: Unranked

Baez signed for $3 million in the Padres' epic July 2 free-agent class, but I don't think anyone expected the kind of performance the the 6-foot-8 right-hander showed this summer in low-A Fort Wayne. Baez arrived in the Midwest League on July 4 for his first start outside of the Arizona Rookie League and punched out 34 percent of batters he faced while walking just eight men across 10 starts there.

He will hit 98 mph and pitch comfortably in the mid-90s with good angle thanks to his height, showing an above-average to plus changeup and a slurvy curveball that comes and goes start to start. His extension gets him a little extra hop on his fastball in the zone, which so far has allowed him to miss bats with the pitch.

The Padres were cautious about innings in his first pro season, but Baez, who just turned 22, needs to be challenged this year with better competition, as he has No. 2 upside but simply overpowered the younger low-A hitters he faced last year.


52. Yadier Alvarez, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Age: 22 (3/7/1996)

Bats: R | Throws: R

6-foot-3 |175 pounds

Top level: Double-A | 2017 rank: 46

On pure quality of pitches, Alvarez would be in the top 20, but man shall not live by stuff alone, and Alvarez remains a work in progress as a pitcher.

He has hit 100 mph and will work with an upper-90s fastball and upper-80s slider that can show plus. He'll show a curveball and changeup but can slow his arm enough on the latter to tip better hitters off that he's throwing it.

His arm is loose, and his high slot can make it tough for right-handers to see the ball. He doesn't repeat his delivery well yet, leading to below-average command and control, exacerbated by a pitching style that emphasizes throwing everything hard rather than locating pitches and changing speeds.

Alvarez got off to a late start in 2017 when he showed up to spring training out of shape, and his control issues may eventually force him to the bullpen. The Dodgers see the upside he'd have as a starter, with three or four pitches that can overpower hitters even if his command is average at best.