MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Inbox: Breaking down top prospect rankings

Jim Callis answers fans' questions about baseball's future stars

Inbox: Breaking down top prospect rankings

The positional Top 10 Prospects lists we've unveiled for the last two weeks in Prospect Watch are a prelude to our big reveal on Saturday. We'll release our overall Top 100 Prospects on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET via a one-hour show on MLB Network that will be simulcast on MLB.com. The list will also feature detailed reports, scouting grades and videos for all 100 prospects.

Live stream: Top 100 Prospects show, Sat., 8 p.m. ET

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The Dodgers' Cody Bellinger was an easy choice as baseball's best first-base prospect. He's the top power-hitting prospect in the game and also one of the best defenders at any position in the Minor Leagues. With Adrian Gonzalez signed for two more years in Los Angeles, Bellinger indeed may have to break into the big leagues in the outfield, though the Dodgers have a logjam there as well.

If we considered Bellinger for our Top 10 Outfielders list, I'd put him at No. 2 behind Andrew Benintendi (Red Sox). Victor Robles (Nationals) may have the best all-around tools in the Minors, but I'd still give Bellinger the edge because he's going to make a major impact with his bat and would be a solid left fielder.

This is a prescient question because Maitan likely will end up at third base. The Braves have three elite shortstop prospects in Dansby Swanson (who has taken over the starting job in Atlanta), Ozzie Albies (who would make a fine shortstop, but has moved to second base so he can team up with Swanson) and Maitan.

Scouts considered Maitan the top prospect on the international market this summer, and the best to come out of Venezuela since Miguel Cabrera. He's a switch-hitter with pure hitting ability and big raw power, not to mention a very strong arm.

No. 7 on our shortstop list, Maitan would place fourth in our third-base rankings. I'd put him behind Rafael Devers (Red Sox), Nick Senzel (Reds) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays). Ask me this question again a year from now, and I might put Maitan at the head of that list.

Top Prospects: Maitan, ATL

There's no question that if we were to rank the top 10 pure hitters in the Minor Leagues, Newman would make that list. He's the only player ever to win consecutive Cape Cod League batting titles, and he hit .320 while reaching Double-A in his first full pro season in Class A Advanced.

While Newman ranks fairly high on our overall Top 100, he came in just 11th among shortstops. His bat is his lone plus tool and his only other above-average tool is his speed, a 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He hits for little power and doesn't draw a ton of walks, mitigating his ultimate offensive impact, and he's an ordinary defender at shortstop.

That said, Newman has a history of playing above his tools and being worth more than the sum of his parts. We rate prospects at their primary current position, but if we considered him at second base -- where he could wind up with the Pirates -- he would have ranked fourth behind Yoan Moncada (White Sox), Albies and Ian Happ (Cubs).

The safest bet would be to take a college reliever. There are several candidates who reached low Class A during their pro debuts last summer: Ben Bowden (Rockies, second round), Mark Ecker (Tigers, fifth), Ryan Hendrix (Reds, fifth), Thomas Hackimer (Twins, fourth) and Stephen Nogosek (Red Sox, sixth). Bowden is the best prospect among that group, while Ecker had the strongest debut.

Logan Shore (Athletics, second) and A.J. Puckett (Royals, second) are very polished college starters who should move fast. College position players to consider include third baseman Lucas Erceg (Brewers, second), first baseman Peter Alonso (Mets, second) and outfielder Jameson Fisher (White Sox, fourth). But I'll still stick with the relievers, giving Bowden the nod over Ecker.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.