Baseball’s best prospects gave us a glimpse of what’s possible in the majors. And it was an evocative glance.
They all made their big league debuts late last season…and they all shone high-end talent. Let’s take a look at each player.
Here’s why we’re excited about each of the top three overall MLB prospects.
1. Gunnar Henderson, 3B/SS, Orioles — hard contact and plate discipline
Henderson was called up to the O’s on August 31 to join superstar contender Adley Rutschman in the big leagues. The 21-year-old looked like a potential future star, posting his 123 OPS+ in 34 games.
Henderson displayed a great combination of skills as a hitter. He makes his contact hard and doesn’t swing on bad pitches.
More than half of Henderson’s batted balls were hit at 95 mph or more, giving him a top 10 slugging percentage across all of baseball in 2022 in a limited sample size.
Highest Hard Hit Rate in 2022
Just one look at the name of the leaderboard you hit and you know it’s the list you want to be near the top of.
But Henderson’s other skill is impressive for a hitter his age and new to his major league experience. He was very disciplined and hit five pitches out of his zone he had less than one.
Since the day of his MLB debut, Henderson had one of the lowest pursuit rates in the league.
Minimum Tracking Rate, August 31st to End of Season
minimum. 250 out-of-zone pitches were seen
1. Juan Soto: 15.0%
2. JP Crawford: 15.1%
3rd place (tie) Gunnar Henderson: 17.9%
3. (Tie) Matt Chapman: 17.9%
5. Brendan Donovan: 18.7%
He’s far less hitters than Aaron Judge (19.5%), Mike Trout (20.9%), Alex Bregman (21.7%), Brandon Nimo (22.0%) and Mookie Betts (22.6%). I chased the number of balls.
Sometimes that means the hitter isn’t swinging the bat. He swung his two-thirds of the balls in his zone to strike, just about his league average in the majors. As such, his approach at bat, coupled with his hard-hitting ability, bode well for Henderson moving forward.
2. Corbyn Carroll, OF, D-backs — elite speed and defense
Carroll’s call was on August 29, two days before Henderson’s. By the end of the season, 22-year-old Carroll had established himself as the fastest player in the majors in his league.
Carroll topped the 2022 sprint speed leaderboard with an average elite speed of 30.7 feet per second. He was faster than players like Bobby Witt Jr. and Trea Turner.
Average fastest player. Sprint speed, 2022
1. Corbin Carroll: 30.7 feet per second
2. (Tie) Bobby Witt Jr.: 30.4 ft/sec
2. (Tie) Jose Siri: 30.4 feet per second
2. (Tie) Bubba Thompson: 30.4 feet per second
5. Trea Turner: 30.3 feet per second
MLB Average: 27 ft/s Elite: 30+ ft/s
In 60% of Carroll’s competition runs (31 out of 51), he reached elite speed. He was the only 22 player in the MLB to have more than 30 runs in an entire season at a sprint speed of 30 feet per second or more.
That elite speed means a lot of exciting plays on base, and on Oct. 3, Carroll recorded the fastest triple of an MLB season, finishing third in just 10.75 seconds.
That elite speed translates to elite range in the outfield as well. Carroll was worth five outs above average in a very small batch of outfield opportunities. That was actually enough to make him the top left fielder in the National League by the OAA for the entire season.
Based on catch-all-chance odds, Carroll was expected to catch 79% of the balls he hit in the outfield. Instead, he caught his 90% of them. The +11% success rate added was the best outfielder in his league in 2022 in the majors.
2022, Highest Catch Rate Exceeded Expected
minimum. 25 opportunities
1. Corbin Carroll: +11%
2. Jake Marisnick: +9%
3. Jonathan Davis: +8%
4. (Tie) Dalton Versho: +7%
4. (Tie) Brett Phillips: +7%
If he can do in a full season in 2023 what he did in one month in 2022, he will be considered a Gold Glove-winning outfielder.
3. Francisco Alvarez, C, Mets — Potential big butt
Alvarez got a much smaller preview than Henderson and Carroll, as the Mets only called him up on Sept. 30, the final day of the season.
But one thing we’ve seen is that Alvarez isn’t fooled by the plate and can hit the ball far.
Three of the eight balls Alvarez hit were barrels. 107.8 mph, 356-foot double from the wall of Citi Field. The 100.2 mph, 376-foot flyout to dead center in Atlanta is the wrong part of the ballpark. And, of course, his first career home run in New York on October 4, a 108.9 mph, 439-foot blast to New York’s left center.
A barrel is a ball that is hit with both an ideal exit velocity and an ideal launch angle, the type of contact that is most likely to lead to extra-base hits and home runs. 654 projected slugging percentage in big league first action.
And Alvarez’s attack method on the ball could drive more barrels in the future, creating a lot of slugging out of the catcher’s position.
When he entered the Mets lineup, he was very aggressive, swinging on more than half of the pitches he saw, and swinging on the first pitch in 10 of his 14 plate appearances. Majors pitchers in his league are starting to see him better, so maybe there’s less need to go after him a little bit, but Alvarez’s Lucien Seeing his hacks makes him want to unleash that powerful swing. No wonder you think.