Tatis or Vlad Jr.? Good problem to have …


There’s a definite dichotomy this year in the Minor League statistical leaders in the Triple Crown categories for hitters and pitchers.

Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., baseball’s best prospect, led the Minors in batting (.382). Mets first baseman Peter Alonso, the game’s top prospect at his position, won the home run (36) and RBI (119) titles, sharing the former with less heralded Reds DH/first baseman Ibandel Isabel.

There’s a definite dichotomy this year in the Minor League statistical leaders in the Triple Crown categories for hitters and pitchers.

Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., baseball’s best prospect, led the Minors in batting (.382). Mets first baseman Peter Alonso, the game’s top prospect at his position, won the home run (36) and RBI (119) titles, sharing the former with less heralded Reds DH/first baseman Ibandel Isabel.

The pitching leaders aren’t nearly as famous, with none ranking higher than the late teens on MLB Pipeline’s organization Top 30 Prospects lists.

Reds left-hander Scott Moss — one of eight potential big league starters on the 2016 Florida Gators — topped the Minors with 15 wins. Another finesse lefty from the Southeastern Conference, David Parkinson of the Phillies, took the ERA crown at 1.45 in his first full pro season. Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer, part of the Manny Machado trade with the Dodgers two months ago, had a Minor League-high 178 strikeouts a year after posting a 5.18 ERA in high Class A.

It has been 10 months since we went with an all-Prospect Showdown edition of the Pipeline Inbox, which is much too long. So let’s rectify that right now:

Tweet from @orioles910: Tatis Jr. or Vlad Jr.

Guerrero ranks No. 1 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, with Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. right behind him at No. 2. I agree with that order because Guerrero is the most devastating hitting prospect to come along in recent years and looks like the second coming of Miguel Cabrera. Tatis can make a strong case for No. 1, however, because he’s a potential 20-20 shortstop who’ll stay at the position and offers much more in the way of speed and defense.

For more on this question, check out the video at the top of this column.

Tweet from @slydanno70: Kopech or Whitley

Forrest Whitley (Astros) and Michael Kopech (White Sox) are the two best right-handed pitching prospects in baseball. Kopech has the best pure stuff of any mound prospect, with a running fastball that repeatedly reaches triple digits, a wipeout slider at times and a promising changeup. He got knocked around in his fourth big league start Wednesday, but before that he had surrendered one run over 11 innings in his first three.

I slightly prefer Whitley, however. While he’s not as overpowering, he can miss bats with four different pitches: a mid-90s fastball with life and plane, a power curveball, an even harder slider and a fading changeup. He has superior control and command, which ultimately will be the separator between him and Kopech, both of whom can become No. 1 starters.

Tweet from @MNTwinsfan44: Alex Kiriloff vs Alex Verdugo.

Alex Kirilloff (Twins) and Alex Verdugo (Dodgers) are similar players, extremely advanced hitters with roughly average speed who project best as right fielders. Verdugo has spent a good deal of time in center and definitely has the stronger arm, so he has more defensive value, but Kirilloff wins this showdown because he has more power potential.

After missing all of 2017 following Tommy John surgery, Kirilloff returned this year and led the Minors in doubles (44) and extra-base hits (71) as a 20-year-old with no previous full-season experience. He slammed 20 homers and has more loft and quickness in his lefty swing than Verdugo. In their Minor League careers, Kirilloff has an isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) of .206 compared to Verdugo’s .135.

Tweet from @MrCondetti: kyle wright vs touki toussaint. both have high ceilings. which would you rather anchor a rotation around if they reach those ceilings

The former first-round right-handers both have looked great in brief stints with the Braves late this summer. Toussaint became the fifth high schooler from the 2014 Draft to reach the Majors, while Wright was the first 2017 draftee to do so.

Toussaint may throw a tick harder than Wright and his curveball can be more devastating at its best. But Wright’s fastball and curveball rival Toussaint’s, and he also has a plus slider, flashes a plus changeup and commands his deeper arsenal better. Though Toussaint may be more spectacular at times, Wright should have the better big league career.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.



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