MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Inbox: Talking Top 100, Dodgers' Buehler, more

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

Inbox: Talking Top 100, Dodgers' Buehler, more

Jonathan Mayo enjoyed his lead question from last week's MLBPipeline Inbox so much that he wanted me to take a swing at it as well. So here goes ...

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Jonathan and I approached this differently. While we both looked for high-ceiling guys who didn't quite rank at the top of their positional lists, he went for the best players at the weaker positions while I decided not to sweat catcher and second base at the expense of potential studs elsewhere. Here's my lineup, along with their positional ranks:

Jose Trevino, C, Rangers (9)
Cody Bellinger, 1B, Dodgers (1)
Travis Demeritte, 2B, Braves (5)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays (3)
Kevin Maitan, SS, Braves (7)
Victor Robles, OF, Nationals (2)
Manuel Margot, OF, Padres (8)
Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners (10)
Kolby Allard, LHP, Braves (4)
Anderson Espinoza, RHP, Padres (6)

Mayo's Team

Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, White Sox (10)
Amir Garrett, LHP, Reds (6)
Carson Kelly, C, Cardinals (1)
Bobby Bradley, 1B, Indians (4)
Ozzie Albies, 2B, Braves (2)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays (3)
Kevin Maitan, SS, Braves (7)
Lewis Brinson, OF, Brewers (5)
Manuel Margot, OF, Padres (8)
Clint Frazier, OF, Yankees (9)

I also toyed with going with Mickey Moniak (Phillies, 6) in the outfield, Francis Martes (Astros, 5) as my right-hander and Luis Urias (Padres, 8) at second base. Jonathan and I wound up sharing just three prospects: Guerrero, Maitan and Margot. I'll let him figure out how we'll determine who came up with the better lineup.

If the Dodgers are going to limit right-hander Walker Buehler's innings this year as part of his recovery from Tommy John recovery, wouldn't it make more sense for him to throw 60 innings out of the bullpen in Los Angeles? That would be following the Carlos Martinez or Adam Wainwright path.
-- Brandon J., Atladena, Calif.

Buehler has seen just five innings of game action since having his elbow reconstructed shortly after signing as a first-round pick in 2014, so the Dodgers aren't immediately going to hand him a spot in their bullpen. But it's not at all out of the question that he could make it to Los Angeles at some point in 2017.

When Buehler returned to the mound last summer, a fastball that topped out at 96 mph at Vanderbilt began sitting in the mid-90s and peaking at 99. He may not maintain that velocity when he logs starter innings again, but it's a definite plus fastball to go with a pair of potential plus breaking balls, a promising changeup and impressive control and command. He could rank as one of the game's very best pitching prospects by midseason and tempt the Dodgers to add him to their relief corps in the second half.

From an offensive perspective, which high school outfielder taken in the first round of the 2016 Draft is better: Alex Kirilloff (Twins) or Blake Rutherford (Yankees)? I hear Kirilloff has more power and I believe there's an underlying reason why the Twins selected him over Rutherford at No. 15. However, Rutherford in Yankee Stadium seems very appealing. Thoughts?
-- William K., Lakeland, Fla.

Rutherford has more offensive upside than Kirilloff. While they're comparable in terms of pure hitting ability, Rutherford actually has more power potential (though Kirilloff is no slouch in that department). They're similar athletes as well, both likely to wind up on outfield corners with average speed and arm strength.

The industry consensus heading into the Draft was that Rutherford was a better prospect than Kirilloff, and heading into the year, Rutherford ranked ahead of eventual No. 1 overall pick Moniak. Rutherford wound up going lower than his talent merited because there were concerns about his age relative to the high school class (he turned 19 in May) and his signability. He signed for $3,282,000 with the Yankees, while Kirilloff got $2,817,100 from the Twins.

That wouldn't be too soon at all for the Padres left-hander, and I'll even admit to a bit of remorse that we didn't find room for Morejon on the fresh new MLBPipeline Top 100 Prospects list. The best pitching prospect on the 2016-17 international market, he signed for $11 million and cost San Diego a matching tax penalty for exceeding its bonus pool. Because he's a 6-foot southpaw with quality stuff and polish, he naturally draws comparisons to Julio Urias.

Morejon's fastball sits at 93-95 mph and all of his secondary pitches show plus potential: a hard curveball and two versions of a changeup. He has a sound delivery, repeats it well and has highly advanced command for someone who won't turn 18 until the end of the month. The Padres will try not to rush him, but as with Urias, that may be easier said than done.

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.