Who does ZiPS project to be the top 100 prospects of 2018?

Ronald Acuna is the No. 1 prospect, according to ZiPS, and it's really not close. Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

One of the yearly articles I have the most fun writing is the list of the top 100 ZiPS minor league prospects. Forecasting is inherently a future-driven activity, even if it uses the past as a guide, and it is always tantalizing to peer behind the veil and try to see a bit of the future. It is also the hardest forecasting challenge; they're called prospects, after all, and not guarantees. It isn't that hard to project Clayton Kershaw to be a Cy Young favorite or Joey Votto to be the crazy genius of hitting, but it's extremely hard to find the next versions of those players.

The ZiPS projection system is data-driven, so the names here will not necessarily match the names you see on a more scout-driven list. Which is fine, computers are great at sorting through large amounts of data, not scouting players, and what the data say provides a well-rounded look at a player in addition to the stats. You'll find a lot of agreement on a lot of players, this year's edition featuring nearly three-quarters of the same players as Keith Law's Top 100. It's the disagreements that tend to be the most interesting.

One note is that a projection system needs data, so there's one very notable omission here in Hunter Greene, drafted from high school and very little professional experience. For a player like him, I'm not sure a projection system has a lot to offer at this stage in his career. Projections are cool tools, but knowing how to use a tool also means knowing when not to use it. Hammers do what they do well, but you can't use them to fix a broken window. I think.