Top 100 MLB prospects 2023: Keith Law’s rankings, with Corbin Carroll at No. 1

Welcome to this year’s ranking of the top 100 prospects in baseball. I’ve been compiling and writing such rankings for 16 years now, and those of you who’ve read them before will find the format here similar to those from the recent past. My arm reports covering at least 20 prospects in each team’s system, and notes on prospects who might appear in the majors this year, or who might be breakout prospects for the 2024 rankings, will appear the week of Feb. 6.

This year’s list is, to be blunt, not great — we had so many graduations in 2022, including seven of my top 10 and more than 30 of my top 100, that the best 50 or 100 or 150 prospects in the minors are now, in bulk, not up to the level of talent that it usually is. That might be pandemic-related, because so many players lost a year or more of development. It might also have to do with MLB’s decision to eliminate all short-season leagues between the complexes and Low A, a move that especially hurts teenaged players who aren’t quite ready for full-season ball after they’ve finished a summer in the Arizona or Florida Complex Leagues. A draft class in 2022 that was generally seen as mediocre, with very little college pitching, didn’t help matters either. That said, there are a lot of potential superstars at the top of the list, and as you move through it, you’ll see a lot of players with the upside to be stars (I’m thinking 5+ WAR, roughly), but who might have a lower probability of reaching those ceilings.

I tend to favor upside in prospects more than certainty, but there is value in both. A player who is all ceiling and no floor isn’t as valuable, in the trade market now or in considering his expected value in the long term, as one who has a somewhat lower ceiling but a much higher floor. I want players who might be stars, and after that I want players who might be above-average big leaguers — but I also try to keep in mind that many of these prospects won’t reach their ceilings, and to consider what other scenarios exist for their futures.

I refer to grades throughout the prospect rankings on the 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is major-league average, 80 is the highest possible score, and 20 is the lowest. I’ll also use similar language, referring to tools that are above (a grade of 55) or below average (45 or less), or referring to plus (60) or plus-plus (70) or maybe you should try another line of work (35). I try to discuss players’ tools, their frames, their level of athleticism and other physical attributes, as well as their skills, their aptitude, and other mental or intellectual attributes as well. This is comparable to how major-league teams evaluate players, although they will always have the advantage of access to more and better data than those of us on the outside can get. The least I can do is try to reflect how the industry thinks about players, and give you the most accurate possible picture of the prospects in these rankings through both the lens of my own evaluations and those of the people within the industry whom I most trust.

To be eligible for these rankings, a player must still be eligible for the Rookie of the Year award in 2023, which means they may not have more than 130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days on an active major-league roster heading into this season. Days on the roster in September now count against the rookie threshold, whereas days on the active roster in any September prior to 2020 do not count, a change MLB made to the rookie eligibility rules in 2020. Thus new Arizona catcher Gabriel Moreno, who had 61 days on the Blue Jays’ active roster last year, no longer qualifies. I also exclude players who have come here as free agents from Japan’s NPB or Korea’s KBO, because while they are rookies (and I would vote for them if I have a Rookie of the Year ballot), they are not prospects by my definition.

Note: All ages are seasonal ages, which refers to a player’s age at the midpoint of the year, so July 1, 2023.

1. Corbin Carroll, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

Age: 23 (as of 7/1/2023) | 5-10 | 165 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
Drafted: No. 16 in 2019

Last year’s ranking: 16

Carroll came into 2022 with just 18 career games outside of the complex league, and finished the year with 1.2 rWAR in 32 games in the big leagues, capping off a year where he hit 28 homers, stole 33 bases, drew 75 walks, and, most importantly of all, stayed healthy. Carroll was the 16th pick in the 2019 draft out of a private high school in Seattle and had a tremendous pro debut that summer, but missed 2020 due to the pandemic, and then dislocated his shoulder a week into his 2021 campaign, ending his season. He’s an 80 runner by Sprint Speed, and a true center fielder who gets great reads and has the closing speed to go get the ball in the gaps. Despite his stature, he makes solid contact and has shown plus power everywhere he’s played, including his stint in the majors, along with very advanced plate discipline for someone with his limited playing experience. He did struggle with high-end velocity in his month in the majors, so he has at least one clear area for improvement heading into his first full major-league season, but didn’t have the same trouble with velocity in the minors. For a player to miss this much time and perform at the level Carroll did, jumping right to Double A and hitting .303/.422/.495 between that level and Triple A (in two hitter-friendly ballparks), speaks to both his pure athleticism and his incredible feel for the game. The Diamondbacks are building a tremendous core of young players, and Carroll will be one of their centerpieces for a long time.

2. Gunnar Henderson, SS/3B, Baltimore Orioles

Age: 22 | 6-2 | 210 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 42 in 2019

Last year’s ranking: 73

Henderson has made incredible strides as a player even just in the past two years, from swing adjustments to physical development to going from a raw athlete on defense to a potentially elite glove at third base who can stay at shortstop too. The Orioles’ second-round pick in 2019, signed to a first-round bonus, Henderson performed better in High A than he did in Low A in 2021, moved up to Double A and hit better there than he had in High A, only slowing down when he reached Triple A last year at 21, hitting a measly .288/.390/.504 in half a season there. He’s simplified his swing since he was drafted, ditching the toe-tap and using his lower half more to generate power, resulting in a more fluid swing and better adjustments to different pitch types. He’s at least an average defender at short, more than good enough to stay at the position, but is at least a 70 defender at third, and could have a Scott Rolen-like upside if he ends up at the hot corner. Henderson has been much better against right-handed pitching, with a .208/.316/.354 line against lefties at all levels last year, although that’s not unusual for a young left-handed-hitting prospect, and there’s no reason to think he won’t improve with experience. Rolen’s a Hall of Famer, so I don’t throw that comparison around lightly, but Henderson looks like a 25+ homer, high OBP guy who spends fifteen years on the left side of an infield.

3. Jackson Chourio, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Age: 19 | 6-1 | 165 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Chourio won’t even turn 19 until March, but he was the second-best hitter in the Low-A Carolina League thanks to a .600 slugging percentage there that ranked second only to a 23-year-old college product. The Brewers bumped him up to High A, where he continued to hit and show power, so much so that they gave him a brief cup of coffee in Double A to end the year, which probably means he’ll start there in 2023 as a true 19-year-old. He’s a plus-plus runner who still hasn’t grown into his lanky 6-foot-1 frame yet, which is scary considering the impact he’s already showing with the bat. A former shortstop, he’s taken off on both sides of the ball since the Brewers moved him to center field coming out of the pandemic, adjusting very quickly to the outfield to the point where he projects as a plus defender in center. He’s had on-and-off elbow issues going back to when he signed, and missed a week and a half with a sore elbow this August, although he returned to hit three homers in his first three games and four in his first five. Chourio is very aggressive at the plate, walking only 7.3 percent of the time last year and striking out 26.8 percent of the time, and he really struggled in that brief time in Double A as pitchers could exploit that lack of discipline — but he was also the youngest player to get a single at-bat in Double A in 2022. He’s the same age as many high school seniors who’ll be drafted this June, and he already has a 20-homer pro season under his belt. With his tools and ability to provide value on defense up the middle, he has as much upside as any player on this list.

4. Elly de la Cruz, SS, Cincinnati Reds

Age: 21 | 6-5 | 200 pounds
Bats: Switch | Throws: Right
International signing in 2018

Last year’s ranking: 69

With the possible exception of Chourio, de la Cruz is probably the highest-upside prospect on the top 100 — it’s 80 power, 80 speed, and at least a 70 arm, with crazy bat speed and quick-twitch actions all over the place. De la Cruz hit 28 homers between High A and Double A last year, with a .304/.359/.586 composite line, along with 47 steals (89 percent), but a 30.7 percent strikeout rate that speaks to his overaggressiveness. He has the bat speed and coverage to make good contact with pitches out of the strike zone, but also has issues with pitches in the zone, especially fastballs in the upper half. That’s not unusual for a very young hitter who’s learned from experience that he can mash against almost anything, but it’s also not the ideal formula for major-league success, so he will have to tighten up his pitch selection going forward. He’s got the actions, speed, and arm for shortstop, although at 6-5 he’s at the upper end of the size spectrum for the position, and there’s a good chance he’ll outgrow it and end up at third or in center. Nobody listed at 6-5 or taller has played shortstop regularly in the majors, and only seven guys at least that tall have played it at all, notably Troy Glaus. That’s not a guarantee, but it’s the base rate here, and shows the bar de la Cruz has to clear to stay at the position. However, this kind of bat speed, power, and foot speed also means he could be a star at pretty much any position where he plays, as it’s easy 30-35 home run power and the potential for high BABIPs even if he strikes out a quarter of the time. And if at some point he makes a big move in his pitch selection and recognition, he might end up the best player in baseball.

5. Jordan Walker, OF/3B, St. Louis Cardinals

Age: 21 | 6-5 | 220 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 21 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: 30

Walker has shown an advanced approach at the plate from the moment he made his debut to start 2021, moving to Double A last year in his age-20 season and finishing third in the Texas League in slugging and seventh in OBP despite being the league’s youngest everyday player on Opening Day and one of only two 20-year-olds to qualify in that league (along with teammate Masyn Winn). Walker is a big man, 6-5, listed at 220 pounds but stronger than that already, and already makes above-average quality contact, with more power projected as he continues filling out and catches up to the age of his leagues. His swing is very easy and simple, so while he doesn’t have elite bat speed, he gets the bat to the zone quickly enough to hit better velocity. He’s primarily a fastball hitter still, struggling more with soft stuff down and away, relatively speaking, although his zone awareness is ahead of most 20-year-old hitters’, and it’s hard to beat him anywhere on the inner half. He’s a below-average runner who was already challenged at third base, and since the Cardinals have Brooks Robinson over there, they’ve moved Walker to right field. After Aug. 1, he played just two games at third base, and all his AFL time came in right. He’s a good enough athlete that he should be at least a 55 defender out there, if not more. He might be a 30-homer guy, although it’s more likely he’s a 20-25 homer guy who posts high averages and OBPs, maybe the sort of player who gets underrated because he’s not exceptionally fast or toolsy but offers consistently stellar production over a long period.

6. Diego Cartaya, C, Los Angeles Dodgers

Age: 21 | 6-3 | 219 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2018

Last year’s ranking: 13

Cartaya played just a month in 2021 before an injury ended his season, so while that month was impressive (he hit .298/.409/.614 in Low A at age 19, in just 31 games), there was a “prove-it” sentiment among some scouts and other clubs. Well, Cartaya went back to Low A, hit .260/.405/.550, then moved up to High A and hit .251/.379/.476 there, finishing the year with 22 homers and 63 walks in 95 games, all while continuing to improve behind the plate. Cartaya hammers fastballs and offspeed, posting high exit velocities and often out-muscling pitchers with his pure strength, while already showing a good feel for the strike zone even before he turned 21 in September. He’s already better on defense than he was a year ago, but he can catch the ball too close to his body, limiting him probably to fringe-average receiving at his peak, and has had some trouble throwing out runners despite plus arm strength. None of that will matter if he continues to hit for power and get on base like he has so far, and there’s every reason in tools and performance to date to say that he will.

7. Francisco Álvarez, C, New York Mets

Age: 21 | 5-10 | 233 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2018

Last year’s ranking: 8

Álvarez is the highest-ranked player from last year’s list who didn’t lose his eligibility through playing too much in the majors in 2022, although he did make his debut at the very end of the season and hit his first homer. He had a tremendous start to his year in Double A, hitting .277/.368/.553 with 18 homers in just 67 games for Binghamton, but ran into some bad luck in Triple A — he continued to make consistent, hard contact, but his BABIP dropped 30 points and his strikeout rate rose just a bit to 26 percent, resulting in a .234/.382/.443 line for Syracuse. He has a tremendous swing for generating that hard contact, with great balance throughout, excellent hand acceleration, and good use of his lower half to drive the ball. Scouts were more bearish on his defense when he moved to Triple A and had to catch better stuff, although the consensus is still that he can stay there, even just as a bat-first catcher who could stand to clean up some of his blocking and receiving. I think he can handle it, even if he’s only a soft 45 on defense, because the bat will make up for any of those deficiencies. Despite the drop in his average in Triple A, his swing and history of hard contact point to stronger batting averages as well as OBPs with 25-30 homer power at his peak.

8. Anthony Volpe, SS, New York Yankees

Age: 22 | 5-11 | 180 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 30 in 2019

Last year’s ranking: 10

Volpe got off to a terrible start in 2022, hitting .203/.312/.373 through the end of May — and that’s with a four-hit game on May 28. He’d been working through some swing changes in those two months, but in late May/early June he decided to go back to his old swing, and it showed, as the 2019 first-rounder hit .279/.369/.528 the rest of the way for Double-A Somerset, earning a September promotion to Triple A to finish the year. Volpe has a beautiful right-handed swing — I don’t know why anyone would try to mess with it — that produces a lot of quality contact and keeps the ball in the air for extra-base power, although I think he’ll settle in as more of a high-doubles guy who might hit 20 homers than a 30-homer guy. He’s a 55-60 runner but it plays up on the bases because he has great instincts both for reading pitchers and reading situations. While at shortstop, he’s got great hands and gets himself into the right position to make plays more than most shortstops I see. I caught a lot of Volpe last year, and he was playing a different game than his teammates. We talk about how the game speeds up for some players as they move up the ladder; Volpe plays like the game is too slow and he’s waiting for it to catch up. I don’t know for a fact that the Yankees have sat out the free-agent shortstop market because they think Volpe’s a star, but I think Volpe’s a star, so I can hardly blame them.

9. Jordan Lawlar, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks

Age: 20 | 6-2 | 190 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 6 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: 31

Lawlar’s 2021 pro debut ended after two games when he injured his shoulder and had season-ending surgery, making his 2022 season even more remarkable. As a 19-year-old with all of six professional plate appearances before this year, he hit .351/.447/.603 in Low A, then hit .288/.385/.478 in High A before finally struggling in 20 games in Double A, where he was one of only three teenagers in the Texas League all season. Lawlar has a very advanced approach for his age and experience level, and even in Double A he didn’t get overly aggressive or wild, struggling a little with pitchers who changed speeds more effectively against him. He gets into a good position to start his swing and has excellent hand acceleration, with good loft for line-drive power. He’s a true shortstop with the hands and arm to stay there, needing work on his footwork and making routine plays consistently, while his instincts and game clock are above-average and let him succeed even when he isn’t in the right position to start a play. It’s easy to see why there was talk early in 2021 that he might be the first pick, as he projects to hit for a high average and get on base, with maybe 50-55 power, while playing above-average to plus defense at shortstop. Once he gets more reps in Double A and sees more changeups, he should adjust quickly, given how fast he adjusted last year just to better velocity and seeing more sliders. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him debut in 2023.

10. Eury Pérez, RHP, Miami Marlins

Age: 20 | 6-8 | 220 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2019

Last year’s ranking: 64

Pérez won’t even turn 20 until April, but the Marlins’ top prospect — and the top pitching prospect in all of baseball — is certainly all grown up, as he’s 6-8, pushing 6-9, and has already conquered Double A. Pérez already sits in the upper 90s, reaching 99 mph in the Futures Game last summer, coming from a low slot that mitigates some of the benefit he might get from his height but that makes it nearly impossible for right-handed batters to see the ball out of his hand. He pairs it with a plus changeup that has hard tumbling action and looks just like the fastball out of his hand, leaving him with no platoon split at all in 2022, while he also has a mid-80s slider that has a short, mostly vertical break, enough to keep right-handers from sitting on the heater. He’s a strike-thrower who walked two or fewer batters in 14 of his first 15 starts last year, although his command is probably a full grade below his control right now. Pitchers this tall do not have a great track record of health, and Pérez himself has missed time in the last two years, getting shut down for about five weeks in August and September last year due to “arm fatigue,” so there is real risk here around his durability. If he just stays healthy, though, he has No. 1 starter upside. There is no one in the minors with this kind of stuff, deception, and ability to throw strikes.

Boston’s Marcelo Mayer practicing at Fenway Park in 2021. (John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

11. Marcelo Mayer, SS, Boston Red Sox

Age: 20 | 6-3 | 188 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 4 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: 18

Mayer had a tough full-season debut in 2022, as he missed a month with a sprained wrist in the first half and struggled to drive the ball for four or five weeks after he returned, and then fought through some back tightness in July that may also have hurt his power. (I saw him twice, once when he first tried to come back from the wrist sprain and wasn’t ready, and the other in the game when his back tightened up on him. Perhaps I should never try to see him again.) The good news is despite the injury troubles, he still showed an extremely advanced approach at the plate, even when he wasn’t at full strength, and finished strongly in Low A and after an early August promotion to High A, hitting .287/.435/.492 from July 1 through the end of the season. Mayer has a smooth left-handed swing that should get him to plus power when he fills out, with loft in his finish and evident hand strength already. I haven’t seen great bat speed from him, bearing in mind I am putting a rare Sicilian curse on him any time I’m in the ballpark, and he might be a high-OBP, 25+ homer guy who doesn’t hit for high averages if that’s the case. He’s a no-doubt shortstop with great actions and quick hands — at least, when I haven’t graced him with my presence and caused his vestigial organs to turn necrotic mid-play — and a plus arm. I know I haven’t seen his best, and I take responsibility for my actions. I still think he’s going to be a star.

12. Kyle Harrison, LHP, San Francisco

Age: 21 | 6-2 | 200 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Left
Drafted: No. 85 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: 82

Harrison ranked second in minor-league baseball in strikeouts in 2022, a year after he finished ninth while throwing just 98 innings on the season, and he does it with huge stuff and deception and pretty good feel. He’s 92-94 mph, touching 97, with a plus slider at 80-82, showing good shape to the pitch, with the depth of a curveball but the sharpness of a power slider. He has a changeup that flashes average with good bottom, but uses his slider in changeup counts even to right-handers. Harrison has a very deceptive delivery, with a low three-quarter slot and an arm action that keeps the ball behind his body for a long time, although he struggles with timing and his arm can be late relative to his front leg, a potential red flag for future injuries. If he stays healthy, which he has so far in pro ball, this is No. 1 starter stuff, and while it’s not Chris Sale’s body or arm swing, there are definitely enough similarities to think that’s Harrison’s ceiling.

13. Andrew Painter, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

Age: 20| 6-7 | 215 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 13 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

The Phillies took a high school pitcher with their first-round pick in 2021, the second time in a row they’d done so, and so far both of those prospects look very promising. Painter was the second of those two picks and he’s quickly become their best prospect, dominating at three levels as a 19-year-old last year with two plus pitches and a good chance he’ll end up with a third. He’s huge, 6-7, listed at 215 but probably 10-15 pounds stronger than that already, and could just bully hitters with his fastball in Low A, where he started 2022. He’s already working at 94-97 mph over full starts and can reach 99, coming from a high three-quarter slot that makes his two-plane curveball at 76-81 even more devastating. He also throws both pitches for strikes, even improving his control as he moved up the ladder — he walked just two of 109 hitters he faced in Double A, his lowest walk rate at any of the three levels where he pitched. He does have a changeup that projects to a 55 but he barely uses it, while he has a slider that is behind the curveball in effectiveness and isn’t as hard as it should be given his fastball velocity. Painter won’t even turn 20 until April, so he has a lot of time to continue developing, but also a lot of time to get hurt, unfortunately. His delivery is good and he repeats it well, but we’ve seen way too many guys like him get hurt on their way to the majors to ignore the possibility here. If your crystal ball says he’ll stay healthy, he’s a top-10 prospect in baseball, and might have a case to be in the top 6.

14. Druw Jones, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

Age: 19 | 6-4 | 180 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 2 in 2022

Last year’s ranking: Ineligible

Jones was the No. 1 prospect in the 2022 draft class and went second to the Diamondbacks, one pick behind Jackson Holliday, who went No. 1 to the Orioles. Jones, like his father Andruw, is a superb defensive center fielder with plus power; unfortunately, like the two Arizona prospects ahead of him on this list, he hurt his shoulder on a swing and needed season-ending surgery, in this case before he even got his first professional at-bat. Jones is already taller than his father at 6-4 and has begun to fill out his frame, so while there are similarities, he’s going to be a different player. He’s a plus defender now and could end up a 70 or 80 with experience, while at the plate, he has shown plus-plus raw and game power, although he’s more power than hit right now, and will have to show a different approach in pro ball than he did in high school, where he could more easily wait for a pitch he could destroy. He’s a plus runner now but may slide toward average as he matures physically. He has an enormous ceiling as an elite defensive center fielder who hits 30 homers a year and maybe steals 20 bags with a solid OBP, with a reasonable floor as a regular even if he doesn’t hit for much average. He could easily be the No. 1 prospect in baseball at this time next year.

15. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

Age: 23| 6-5 | 220 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 11 in 2018

Last year’s ranking: 14

Rodriguez really should have seen the majors last year, but he strained his right latissimus dorsi (“lat”) muscle — an injury that is notorious for how long it takes to heal — in June, after which the Orioles shut him down for three months. He did return to pitch in September but Baltimore chose not to call him up for his debut, which I assume will come this April instead. When he did pitch, he was his usual self, sitting 95-96 mph, touching 99, with a plus changeup, two distinct breaking balls that are both average or slightly above, and even a cutter he threw a few times a game. The changeup is so good that it’s even his best pitch against right-handed batters, making up for the slider, which is his worst offering, with just average spin and break and not much velocity separation from the curveball. He could improve the slider given his incredible arm strength, but he also may not need the fourth pitch. I’ve heard more from scouts who view Rodriguez not as a No. 1 starter, but as a good No. 2 for a long time, especially since he has no history of arm trouble. It’s also possible that the fastball/change combo is so good that he ends up an ace even without a plus breaking pitch to go with them.

16. James Wood, OF, Washington Nationals

Age: 20 | 6-7 | 240 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 62 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Wood has done nothing but hit in pro ball since the Padres took him in the second round in 2021 and paid him a high first-round bonus to draw him away from Mississippi State. He’s since gone to the Nationals in the Juan Soto trade, playing 21 games for Low-A Fredericksburg before an injury ended his season, but his total pro line between the Arizona Complex League and two Low-A teams sits at .326/.430/.536 with a 14 percent walk rate and 24 percent strikeout rate. Wood is an exceptional athlete, a plus-plus runner even at 240-plus pounds who glides to catch balls in center field, and he can show 70 raw power, although that hasn’t manifested as much yet in games. He’s also shown a much better approach in pro ball than he did as an amateur, which of course is part of why he went in the second round despite several 70s on his scouting report. He does have some swing and miss in his game and his swing can get long, which is hardly surprising for a 6-7 hitter — I’ve written in a few places about the high risk of position players that tall. I do think he’s going to struggle more with contact as he moves up the ladder, but he has the power, speed, and defense to succeed even with a strikeout rate over 25 percent, and with the patience he’s already shown he may find a way to keep his contact rate up and become a 30/30 guy with a .350 OBP.

17. Cam Collier, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

Age: 18 | 6-2 | 210 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 18 in 2022

Last year’s ranking: Ineligible

Collier was the No. 2 player on my draft board this year, as the 17-year-old graduated from high school two years early and played the spring at two-year Chipola College, outhitting most of his older teammates while facing pitchers two to four years older than he was. The Reds got him at the 18th pick, paying him an over-slot $5 million bonus, and naturally I think they got a steal. The son of former Pirates outfielder Lou Collier, Cam projects to hit for average and for power thanks to a beautiful left-handed swing and exceptional bat speed. He’s short to the ball, with loose hands and plenty of wrist and hand strength to drive the ball to all fields. He has plus raw power now but doesn’t always get to it in games because he can drift forward over his front side, which fortunately isn’t that difficult to fix. He’s a former shortstop with a plus arm and should be no worse than an average defender at third, although some scouts voiced concerns in the spring that he’d end up too big for the position. I don’t think that’s likely, and he’s athletic enough to stay on the dirt. The bat is the carrying tool; with some modest adjustments, he should hit for high averages and power, and the fact that he’ll play all of next year at 18 also gives him more time to develop than anyone else on this list.

18. Termarr Johnson, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates

Age: 19 | 5-7 | 175 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 4 in 2022

Last year’s ranking: Ineligible

Johnson was the best pure hitter in the high school ranks in the 2022 draft class, although he had some competition from players like Holliday. Johnson, who went fourth to the Pirates, played against awful competition for his Atlanta high school, often dealing with pitchers who’d pitch around him, but hit when he got the chance while also working like an extra coach, encouraging teammates, giving them tips at the plate while he was on base, and more. It’s one thing to talk about a player having great makeup, but you could see Johnson’s great makeup in tangible ways. He has a small hitch in his swing, but has exceptional hand-eye coordination and great bat speed to overcome it, and in a small sample in pro ball he showed he could hit good velocity and deal with better pitch shapes than he’d ever seen in his life. He has great hands to stay on the dirt, but he’s not a shortstop, and his footwork there makes me think he’ll end up at second base. He’s still growing, and might end up a little bit taller — he’s already a baller — and a lot stronger, with 20 homers within reach given his hit tool. With the way he carries himself on the field, I’m happy to bet on him reaching his ceiling.

19. Jackson Holliday, SS, Baltimore Orioles

Age: 19 | 6-1 | 175 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 1 in 2022

Last year’s ranking: Ineligible

Holliday is the son of longtime outfielder Matt Holliday, and entered the spring of 2022 as someone who might go in the back of the first round. He worked hard that offseason on gaining strength and adjusting his swing to drive the ball more, and after a big showing on his school’s trip to Arizona over spring break — it never hurts to travel where half the GMs in baseball are hanging out — he vaulted up into the top echelon of prospects, eventually going first to the Orioles. Holliday has a pretty left-handed swing that produces hard line-drive contact, and he’s shown advanced feel for the strike zone at a young age. It’s a tiny sample, but he walked more than he struck out in his pro debut — 10 walks to two whiffs in the complex league, then 15 walks and 10 strikeouts in Low A, even though he was still 18 and just three months out of high school. He has more doubles/gap power now, but as he fills out he’s going to put more balls over the fence, probably becoming a 20-25 homer guy at his peak. He’s a plus runner who shows plenty of range at shortstop with enough arm for the left side of the infield, but if he outgrows short or ends up lacking the footwork for it, he could move to center field. I caught Holliday at the end of 2022 when the Orioles promoted him to Low-A Delmarva, and the worst thing I can say about him is that he tried to do too much — I’m sure he’s so used to being the best player on the field that he tried to make plays when he should have deferred to other fielders. That’s barely a flaw, just a testament to how good he is at such a young age. I can see why the O’s wanted him with the first pick, and I won’t be surprised at all if we see him in High-A Aberdeen by the middle of this year.

20. Jackson Merrill, SS, San Diego Padres

Age: 20 | 6-3 | 195 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 27 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Merrill was the Padres’ first-rounder in 2021 out of a Maryland high school, then spent the following offseason working on strength and conditioning, returning a completely different hitter. He’s got an advanced approach at the plate, including a real-life two-strike approach — I thought those were extinct! He also stays back on the ball well, producing gap power now that should end up as double-digit home run power when he fills out. He’s a plus runner with above-average range at shortstop, moving better to his right, and has a 55 arm, so while there was talk of him moving off the position when he was an amateur, I think he stays there long-term. Merrill fractured his wrist on a freak play in April, missing almost three months with the injury, but actually hit better after his return, and then held his own despite being one of the youngest players in the Arizona Fall League. Merrill’s ultimate ceiling probably comes down to how good the hit tool is. Right now it looks like he’ll have a future 60, if not better, hit tool, which would give him a chance to be an impact bat even with 8-12 homers a year. If not, though, I see a high floor here, where he’s got a very good chance to at least be a solid regular at short who plays 55 defense and gets on base at an above-average clip.

The Giants’ Marco Luciano played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 2021 AFL. (Chris Bernacchi / Diamond Images via Getty Images)

21. Marco Luciano, SS, San Francisco Giants

Age: 21 | 6-2 | 178 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: International signing in 2018

Last year’s ranking: 15

Luciano’s 2022 season in High A was a disappointment, as a lower back strain cost him about half of the year, and when he came back in mid-August he wasn’t the same hitter. He was off to a good start before the injury, hitting .288/.360/.507 before he hit the injured list, so there’s reason to remain optimistic about his long-term upside, where he projects to a plus hit tool with plus power if it all comes together. He even showed a solid approach and continued to keep his contact rate up, even after the injury. Luciano is a physical kid, listed at 6-2 and a laughable 178 pounds, even though he’s a lot bigger and stronger than that now, and he hits the ball extremely hard when he squares it up, giving him that elite offensive upside where he could hit .300 and still get to 30 homers. He’s still playing shortstop but that’s always been unlikely, and I think it’s becoming even less so as he moves up the ladder; he should move to third base or first, but there’s a decent chance he’s a corner outfielder. The bat will still play there, or anywhere, although the positional question creates a wide range in his expected outcomes. At third, he might be a top 5-10 player in baseball. In the outfield, he might just be a star.

22. Brayan Rocchio, SS, Cleveland Guardians

Age: 22 | 5-10 | 170 pounds
Bats: Switch | Throws: Right
Drafted: International signing in 2017

Last year’s ranking: 22

Rocchio got off to a slow start in Double A last year, although he was one of the youngest players in the Eastern League at age 21, but improved as the season went on, hitting .316/.383/.539 in his last 50 games (of 99) before he was promoted to Triple A for the last five weeks of the season. He’s a smaller guy but makes hard contact, hitting 15 homers in 2021 and 18 last year, although he puts the ball on the ground a little too often for this type of hitter. He’s always had a compact, direct swing, and over the past few years he’s learned to stay back on the ball, with great balance through contact. He hits well from both sides but his swing is slightly better right-handed. He’s an above-average defender at shortstop with good hands and 55 speed, although once again, he was bad at the whole basestealing thing, going 14-for-23 (61 percent) to bring his career success rate down to 64 percent. I guess it’s a good thing he can field, hit, and hit for power. He could stand to walk a little more, although some of his impatience may stem from him always being young for his levels, and he needs to continue to put the ball in the air. I still see All-Star upside here, a shortstop who saves a few runs a year with his glove and adds a ton more with .280-.300 averages, adequate walk rates, and 15-20 homers a year.

23. Miguel Vargas, 3B/2B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Age: 23 | 6-3 | 205 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2017

Last year’s ranking: 62

Vargas was arguably the best hitter in the PCL last year, and certainly the best one under the age of 26, hitting .304/.404/.511 with just a 14.6 percent strikeout rate for Oklahoma City while playing four different positions, putting him in line to be the Dodgers’ second baseman this year if Gavin Lux slides over to short. Vargas has always been able to hit, but his body has improved substantially since he first broke out in 2019, when scouts questioned whether he’d get too heavy or slow-footed for third base; now he’s a plus runner underway and there’s no doubt he could stay at third or handle second. We didn’t see his best bolts in the majors but he’s topped 110 mph off the bat in the minors and hits a ton of line drives, with a swing that might make him more of a 40 doubles/20 homers guy than a 30 homer guy, although either way he’s likely to post OBPs in the upper .300s. I think he’ll be the former, a high-OBP hitter who smashes a ton of doubles, maybe getting to 50 or so in his peak years, with solid-average defense at second or third, but maybe has years where he hits “only” 15-18 homers and is quietly excellent instead.

24. Curtis Mead, 3B/2B, Tampa Bay Rays

Age: 22 | 6-2 | 171 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: International signing in 2018

Last year’s ranking: 94

Mead was off to a great start in 2022 when his elbow started to bark, limiting him to just four games after July 23, although he did not have surgery on the joint. The Australian infielder, acquired from the Phillies for Cristopher Sánchez, hit .305/.394/.548 as a 21-year-old in his first go-round in Double A, then hit .278/.377/.486 in 20 games in Triple A before the injury shut him down. His best position is in the batter’s box, where he’s a high-contact doubles machine who hammers fastballs but can do damage against offspeed too. He’s extremely strong, driving the ball to all fields, even with a swing that always keeps his hands well out from his body. It’s a simple swing with big hand acceleration and a short but firm stride that gets him some additional power from his legs. He’s playable at third base and has dabbled at second, although he’ll likely just be a 45 defender at any skill position. His bat is his ticket, though; he should hit for average, and might be a 35-40 doubles guy in his first few years, while he could find another half-grade of power and convert some of those to homers in his peak.

25. Colson Montgomery, SS, Chicago White Sox

Age: 21 | 6-4 | 205 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 22 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Montgomery was a risky pick in the first round in 2021 — he was 19 at the draft and came from a high school in rural Indiana where he didn’t face much good pitching. He’s panned out so far, reaching Double A last year after very strong performances as a 20-year-old in Low A and High A where he showed advanced plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills. Before fading in August as he got tired, he was hitting .309/.420/.462 between the two levels, and then struggled after the White Sox promoted him, along all of their key prospects, to Double A to finish the year. He’s 6-4 with long limbs, and his swing can get long when he’s going for pitches on the outer edge or beyond, but he’s disciplined enough that he hasn’t chased much at the lower levels. The consensus among scouts is that he’ll move off shortstop, and he may very well outgrow it, but he gets very good reads and comes in well on balls, with plenty of arm for the left side of the infield. With his strong hit/OBP skills, Montgomery’s ceiling comes down to power; right now it’s below-average, but as he fills out he should get at least to average, which would make him a solid regular at third or an above-average regular at short.

26. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Chicago Cubs

Age: 21 | 6-0 | 184 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
Drafted: No. 19 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Crow-Armstrong underwent shoulder surgery after just six pro games in 2021, his debut season after the Mets took him in the first round in the pandemic-shortened 2020 draft, and then found himself heading to Chicago as the return for Javier Báez at the 2021 deadline. Coming out of high school, he was a premium defensive center fielder with good feel to hit but not much potential for power, but he’s adjusted his swing and transformed his body so that he’s a double-digit homer guy who will put enough balls in the gaps to make him a potential star. He’s still a plus-plus defender in center and shows exceptional bat-to-ball skills, with just an 18 percent strikeout rate in Low A to start last year, and projects as a throwback sort of hitter who doesn’t walk or strike out a ton. He’s a plus runner who has exploited bad minor-league defenses to gain extra bases, helping him hit 10 triples in 101 games, tied for fourth in the minors. Crow-Armstrong will need to tighten up his approach to stay a 10-15 homer guy going forward, as his aggressiveness won’t let him get to pitches he can drive as he moves up the ladder, but he has that sort of power in him. Combined with his ability to hit for average and premium defense at a position up the middle, he has a very high floor that should let him be a regular for a long time, with the chance to make some All-Star teams if he gets to his power upside.

27. George Valera, OF, Cleveland Guardians

Age: 22 | 6-0 | 195 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
Drafted: International signing in 2017

Last year’s ranking: 29

Valera and Rocchio have been on nearly parallel tracks the last two years, moving up from High A to Double A and then Double A to Triple A within two weeks of each other. Rocchio is the safer bet with the higher floor, but Valera offers more upside, especially with the bat, where he could be a high-OBP, 30-homer guy if he can keep his contact rate intact. Valera works the count extremely well, rarely chasing fastballs out of the zone, and is comfortable hitting with two strikes, only expanding slightly in those counts. He has very easy power to pull and the other way, with 30 homers a realistic projection for him, especially as he continues to learn which pitches to take and which to attack. After barely facing southpaws in 2021, he showed only a small platoon split in 2022, hitting better against right-handers but making almost as much contact against lefties. He’s a “flashy” player, but I say that as a compliment, as I think the game needs more guys who play with flair and energy. With average defense in right, he could be a huge impact bat who has OBPs near .400 with the aforementioned power, as long as he can hold or reduce his strikeout rate (25.6 percent last year) as he moves up the ladder.

28. Bobby Miller, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Age: 24 | 6-5 | 220 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 29 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: 50

For pure stuff, Miller has few peers, if any, among minor-league starter prospects. He can sit 96-100 mph and has touched 102 in shorter outings, working with a four-pitch mix where everything is above-average. His changeup has unusual power to it — it shouldn’t be that surprising, if Miller were to throw in the towel, he’d do it harder than anyone else — but also is very deceptive out of his hand, generating swings and misses about half the time he throws it. His slider is 85-91 with sharp downward break, and he’s got a power breaking ball — again, he has power stuff, in case you didn’t catch that earlier — that’s pretty close to 12-6, and I’d probably put it a half-grade over the slider if I didn’t know that the slider was slightly more effective at getting whiffs and chases this year. The one flaw in Miller’s game is that he’s worse with runners on base, in results but also in stuff, losing about a half a mile an hour on his pitches and missing fewer bats when he’s working from the stretch. With the bases empty, hitters hit .188/.263/.259 off Miller, but with men on base they hit .278/.335/.451, including eight of the 12 homers Miller allowed on the season. It’s enough that Miller is going to have to make an adjustment at some point to reach his ceiling. It’s No. 1 starter stuff, with close to average command. If he can hold it better when he works from the stretch, he’ll be a top-10 pitcher in baseball.

29. Kevin Alcántara, OF, Chicago Cubs

Age: 20 | 6-6 | 188 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: International signing in 2018

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Alcántara was the main part of the return for Anthony Rizzo when the Cubs traded the fan favorite to the Bronx in 2021, and since then he’s emerged as one of the highest-upside prospects in the minors. Alcántara debuted in the GCL at age 16 back in 2019, when he was gangly and uncoordinated but also oozed projection. After the pandemic, he came back a different guy, adding probably 20 pounds of muscle and gaining coordination, hitting .345/.423/.588 in 34 games in the two complex leagues. In 2022, he moved to full-season ball at 19, hitting .273/.360/.451 for Myrtle Beach, historically a bad place for power hitters, finishing eighth in the Carolina League in slugging and 16th in OBP. (He hit .306/.368/.508 on the road, which would have led the league in slugging and put him 10th in OBP.) Alcántara has loose hands and a great swing with a strong first move toward the ball, after which he lets his legs do some of the work. He already recognizes spin well for his age and drives the ball to the opposite field, while he’s a plus runner who could stay in center even though he’s likely to add another 20-25 pounds of muscle. He carries some risk, as he’s 6-6 and has long levers, striking out 24.8 percent of the time last year. If he can hold that down, though, he could be a top-5 prospect in baseball in a year or two, a potential superstar with plus-plus power and speed in a solid or better center fielder.

30. Henry Davis, C, Pittsburgh Pirates

Age: 23 | 6-2 | 210 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 1 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: 20

Davis had a really rough go in his first full pro season, as he played in just 59 regular-season games around two IL stints due to a wrist injury. He was hit by a pitch 20 times in those 59 games, and then seven more times in 17 Arizona Fall League games, with one of those HBPs causing a non-displaced fracture in his left wrist that he tried to play through, returned after a one-month trip to the injured list, then went back to the IL in early July and missed more than seven more weeks due to soreness in the same wrist. He still hit .264/.380/.472 during the regular season and .260/.435/.440 in the AFL, losing some power after all the wrist trouble and seeing an OBP boost because he thinks he’s Don Baylor at the plate. Davis is a very athletic catcher with a plus-plus arm and plus power, already showing the ability to hit even high-end velocity. He doesn’t have the same results against offspeed stuff — with lower contact quality he’ll need to improve. He’s an extremely hard worker, bringing that reputation from his time at Louisville, and has already made progress as a receiver, but you can still find many scouts who think he can’t catch and/or want to move him to another position, such as third base or right field. I’m in the camp that thinks he’ll stick behind the plate, and that his on-base and power skills will make him an occasional All-Star — but he has to stay healthy and get a lot more reps to get to that point, too.

Brett Baty appeared in 11 games for the Mets last season. (Gregory Fisher / USA Today)

31. Brett Baty, 3B, New York Mets

Age: 23 | 6-3 | 210 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 12 in 2019

Last year’s ranking: 41

Baty was nearly out of a job a few weeks ago, so I imagine he was the one person in the Mets organization happy when the Carlos Correa signing fell through. Baty is a strong hitter, topping out at 113 mph in his major-league stint last year and averaging over 91 mph on 30 batted balls (so yes, small sample size caveats apply). He returned to Double A to start 2022 after spending 40 games there to finish the prior year, and demolished the level, hitting .312/.406/.544 and cutting his ground-ball rate from 61 percent there in 2021 to 42.6 percent last year. He did backslide a little in the majors, so there’s some swing maintenance for the Mets to do so he stays rotational enough to get the ball in the air. Baty is big for third baseman but a solid athlete who’s worked hard on his defense, which is more than just playable there, but I don’t know if he’d be as good in an outfield corner, so staying at third is by far his best chance to be an above-average regular. The Mets should just give him 500 at bats this year, as there’s nothing left for him to learn in the minors, and he’s by far their best option there. He has the raw power for 30 homers, but I think he’ll be more 40 doubles/20 homers with OBPs well above .350.

32. Jasson Domínguez, OF, New York Yankees

Age: 19 | 5-10 | 190 pounds
Bats: Switch  | Throws: Right
Drafted: International signing in 2019

Last year’s ranking: 78

Is there a bigger example of a “post-hype prospect” than Domínguez? Touted as the next Mickey Mantle as the Yankees gave him their entire international bonus pool when he was 16, he didn’t get to play in a minor-league game until he turned 18 because of the pandemic. He hit a very credible .258/.346/.398 in full-season ball, for Low-A Tampa, in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League in 2021, as one of only three 18-year-olds to get at least 200 plate appearances in the league (along with Alex Ramírez, also on this list). He returned to Tampa this year as a 19-year-old, still young for the level, improved to .265/.373/.440, moved up to High-A Hudson Valley, hit .306/.397/.510 there, and finished with a week in Double-A Somerset. I’ll recap: He started 2022 with 57 games of pro experience, total, and that’s all he had had since signing in July of 2019. He ended up hitting well enough in High A that he would have finished in the top 10 in the Sally League in OBP and slugging if he’d qualified. Why do I get the sense people think he’s a disappointment? And it’s not like he lacks tools — he has electric bat speed, 70 raw power, 70 run, probably 70 defend in center. He does have work to do as a hitter, and during that one week in Double A you could see he needs to learn to adjust to pitchers who can change speeds on him and locate their secondary stuff more than anything he’s seen before. The body is maxed out, but there’s also no need for him to get stronger or develop more power. I see a guy with three plus-plus tools who is the age of a college sophomore and has earned his way to Double A. What’s not to like?

33. Daniel Espino, RHP, Cleveland Guardians

Age: 22 | 6-2 | 225 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 24 in 2019

Last year’s ranking: 51

Espino looked incredible in spring training and in April, when he made four starts for Akron and punched out 35 of the 68 hitters he faced — not literally, that would be battery — for a strikeout rate of 51.4 percent. Then he suffered patellar tendinitis in his knee, going on the injured list in May … and never returned, as his shoulder came up sore while he was trying to return from the knee injury in late June and early July. When healthy, he shows a four-seamer in the mid- to upper-90s, touching 100, that he works with up in the zone, and then works down with a plus slider with fierce vertical break. He has a curveball that he’s largely dismissed in favor of the slider, and a changeup that’s still a work in progress but was mostly solid-average in late 2021. He also came out throwing strikes in 2022, which was the main area left for him to improve after his incredible season the year before. Now it’s down to health; he’s supposed to be ready for spring training, and if we had a crystal ball that said he was going to hold up all year, he’d be the Guardians’ top pitching prospect — which is really saying something.

34. Endy Rodriguez, C, Pittsburgh Pirates

Age: 23 | 6-0 | 170 pounds
Bats: Switch | Throws: Right
Drafted: International signing in 2018

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

The Mets traded Rodriguez to Pittsburgh to get Joey Lucchesi as part of the three-team trade that sent Joe Musgrove to San Diego; Lucchesi threw 38 innings for the Mets in 2021 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, while Rodriguez has become one of the best catching prospects in baseball. Rodriguez can really hit, and he’s shown he can play multiple positions, including catcher. Early in the season, he was splitting time with Henry Davis, but after Rodriguez became a full-time catcher on July 2, his bat really took off: he hit .379/.461/.731 the rest of the way, despite two promotions in that span that landed him in Triple A to end the year. It’s not elite bat speed or exit velocity, but the ball carries well off his bat, even more so after he reduced his leg kick and initial hand movement partway through the season. He’s improved substantially behind the plate with experience, blocking better, receiving more smoothly, backpicking runners, and nailing 45 percent of would-be basestealers while he was in Double A. He’s also excellent at first base, showed this year he could play second base in a pinch and has some experience in the outfield, where he’s average in a corner. He might not be a star, but I’m not ruling it out, and he seems very, very likely to be an average regular, whether it’s as someone’s full-time catcher or a sort of unicorn who catches and also plays several other positions.

35. Elijah Green, OF, Washington Nationals

Age: 19 | 6-3 | 225 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 5 in 2022

Last year’s ranking: Ineligible

Green was the fifth pick in the 2022 draft out of IMG Academy, which also produced fellow Nats farmhand James Wood (further up this list). Green and Wood are both very toolsy, athletic outfielders with unusual strength and size for their ages, although Green isn’t as tall as Wood and has more of a football body — unsurprising, since his dad, Eric Green, was a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers and played 10 years in the NFL. Elijah has plus power already that projects to grade 70, with tremendous hand acceleration and loud contact when he gets his arms extended. As a result, his power comes on pitches middle and away, while he shows lower-impact contact on pitches on the inner third. He does have some swing and miss even in the zone on fastballs in the upper half and he’ll chase breaking stuff down and away. He’s a 70 runner and plus defender in center with a very strong arm, and might have gotten more attention for his range and reads if he hadn’t had the misfortune to be in the same draft class as the son of Andruw Jones. There’s risk here in the bat, but it’s an unusual power/speed combo in a center fielder … so unusual that the Nats have two prospects who fit that description.

36. Tanner Bibee, RHP, Cleveland Guardians

Age: 24 | 6-2 | 205 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 156 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Bibee is yet another command right-hander taken by Cleveland from a California college whose last name starts with B who has entered their system and seen his velocity jump from fringy to plus. The other guy was a fourth rounder, and Bibee was a fifth rounder, so the symmetry isn’t quite perfect, but work with me here. Bibee saw his velocity increase across most of the season, to the point where he hit 99 mph a few times in July and August, and was still sitting 93-97 when I saw him at the start of September. His fastball has some ride to it, but it’s probably his third-best pitch. He has a wipeout changeup at 82-84 with late, biting fade to it, and it’s so effective that hitters whiff on it more than half of the time they swing. (Maybe they should stop swinging?) He also has an above-average slider in the mid-80s, up to 88, with solid tilt, that he uses almost exclusively to right-handers, and a show-me curveball that looks pretty but that he probably shouldn’t use more than a few times a game. Even with the big jump in velo, he’s still a strike-thrower, with a walk rate of just 5.2 percent, thanks to a repeatable delivery that keeps him online to the plate, with added deception from his high three-quarters slot. He looks like a potential No. 2 starter, especially if he goes heavy changeup/slider and doesn’t rely too much on the fastball.

37. Ceddanne Rafaela, CF/SS, Boston Red Sox

Age: 22 | 5-8 | 152 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: International signing in 2017

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Rafaela is one of the smallest players on this ranking, listed at 5-8, 152 pounds, and that’s not that far off from reality, but he was the big breakout guy in Boston’s system this year after he started driving the ball a lot more often and emerged as a potential 70 or 80 defender in center. Rafaela, who was born in Curaçao, swings first and asks questions later, with a very fast bat and excellent bat control that helps him make contact even on pitches out of the zone, although it also leads to a lot of weaker contact on those same pitches. He doesn’t miss fastballs and actually hangs in there (pun intended) well on curveballs, but given how high he starts his hands, he doesn’t always have time to adjust on other pitches, and he’s going to have to start to pick them up sooner out of pitchers’ hands. His defense is elite and he’s a 70 runner as well, so he doesn’t have to hit that much to be a solid big leaguer, and he could be an above-average regular as a low-OBP, 20+ homer guy. The hope is that he improves the choices he’s making as a hitter and that he recognizes pitch types sooner with experience and reduces some of that chase to give himself a chance to be a high-average hitter and potential star on both sides of the ball.

38. Brandon Pfaadt, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Age: 24 | 6-4 | 220 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 149 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: 87

Pfaadt was the Diamondbacks’ last pick in the five-round 2020 draft, 12 picks from the end of the round, and signed for well under slot as a junior out of Division II Bellarmine. He has since become their best pitching prospect after two years of striking out everyone in sight, including a minor-league-leading 218 punchouts last year. Pfaadt does a lot of it just with his fastball, touching 97-98 mph and sitting 92-94, filling up the strike zone with a four-pitch mix, using the slider as his primary out pitch against right-handers and both changeup and slider to lefties, with nearly 70 percent of his pitches going for strikes last year. He’s built like a workhorse starter, 6-4 and listed at 220 pounds, with a good delivery he repeats very well. As is, he’s at least a mid-rotation starter, but there could still be some further upside if either of those two main offspeed pitches improves.

39. Gavin Stone, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Age: 24 | 6-1 | 175 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 159 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Stone was the Dodgers’ fifth-round pick in 2020, a money-saver out of Central Arkansas who had only just become a full-time starter for the Bears that spring. (His bonus of $97,500 was the fourth-lowest in the entire fifth round, and one of the dozen lowest in the whole draft.) He’s since emerged as the Dodgers’ second-best pitching prospect and isn’t that far behind their top guy, Bobby Miller, who was their first-rounder in the same year. Stone is a very athletic right-hander who works at 94-96 mph with a plus-plus changeup that hitters can’t touch — the whiff rate on the pitch was over 50 percent last year and it’s effective against left- and right-handed hitters, a major reason why he had as close to zero platoon split. His slider is solid-average, mid-80s with short, downward break, good enough to get right-handers to swing and miss but not a pitch he’ll use much against lefties. Stone pitched at three levels last year, from High A to Triple A, and his highest ERA at any of those stops was 1.60; he finished the year with 168 strikeouts in 121 2/3 innings (33.8 percent of batters faced) and a hilarious 1.48 ERA. His command and control are the only things keeping him from a major-league rotation right now, as they’re no better than grade 45, but he’s also not that far away, and he repeats his delivery well enough that I expect him to get to average or better soon and end up at least a No. 3 starter.

40. Triston Casas, 1B, Boston Red Sox

Age: 23 | 6-4 | 252 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 26 in 2018

Last year’s ranking: 56

Casas is a boring prospect, but not in a bad way; he projects as an above-average or better regular at first base and he’s ready to take over in Fenway right now, but he doesn’t have a huge tool, no 80 power or elite defense and definitely not big speed. He’s patient, disciplined, and has very good feel to hit, with hard contact that so far has produced a ton of doubles although there’s no real reason to think he can’t put more of those balls over the fence. Casas is big and very strong; his swing makes excellent use of his upper and lower half as he rotates his hips to get more power from his legs. Boston tried him at third base but let’s just pretend that never happened. He’s a first baseman who rakes, and should be the traditional slugger for that position, hitting for some average with a ton of walks and either 40-odd doubles or 25-plus homers.

41. Sal Frelick, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Age: 23 | 5-10 | 180 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 15 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: 88

Frelick was the Brewers’ first-round pick in 2021, a surprise selection given the top-10 buzz he’d had all spring, although the lack of home run power and his smaller size may have steered some teams away from him. He went out right away that summer and played 35 games, finishing in High A, which set him up well for 2022, where he was in Double A in less than a month and ended the year banging on the doors of Miller Park, hitting .365/.435/.508 in 46 games for Triple-A Nashville. Frelick is a plus defender in center and plus-plus runner who hits the ball harder than you’d expect for a 5-10 guy of medium build, although I think Alex Bregman should probably have made us all get over any biases on that front. He puts the ball on the ground quite a bit, which isn’t the worst thing when you can run like he does, but he could be a high doubles/triples guy if he can swap out some groundballs for more hits in the air. His short swing has always made him tough to strike out, and he punched out just 11 percent of the time last year, dropping below 10 percent in that stint with Nashville, where he hit like the next line drive was going to carry him all the way to Milwaukee. There’s a lower ceiling on a player like Frelick even with the performance, between his lack of power and the batted-ball profile, but he will be an everyday center fielder for a long time, and even if he’s “just” an average regular, that’s a very valuable guy.

42. Gavin Williams, RHP, Cleveland Guardians

Age: 23 | 6-6 | 255 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 23 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Williams fell to the 23rd pick in the 2021 draft despite having clear top-10 stuff and results because some teams were concerned about the health of his back at the time. Cleveland has a history of taking pitchers with medical concerns in the first round, hitting on some (Danny Espino) and whiffing on others (Brady Aiken, Ethan Hankins). Williams might be another hit, as his elite fastball helped him tear through High A and Double A in his full-season debut last year, with strikeout rates of 40 percent and 29 percent at the two levels and an ERA on the season of just 1.96. His fastball is up to 98 mph and he’ll sit 95 with big-time vertical break, while his power slider is an above-average pitch at 86-89 and he’ll show an average curveball with good shape and tight spin. His changeup is a below-average pitch, lacking much deception or action, even though he has a good idea of when and how to use it. Lefties hit for 100 more points of OBP and 200 more points of slugging against him last year, yet he still struck a third of them out on the season, so there’s reason to think he can close that platoon split at least part of the way. The fastball/slider and his above-average control point to a No. 2 starter ceiling if he does.

43. Robert Hassell, OF, Washington Nationals

Age: 21 | 6-2 | 195 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
Drafted: No. 8 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: 24

Hassell was part of the return for Juan Soto, which included three prospects from last year’s top 100 (Hassell, C.J. Abrams, and Mackenzie Gore) and two on this year’s (Hassell again, and James Wood). Hassell was the outlier out of the five — right-hander Jarlin Susana, who can hit 102 mph as a starter, was the fifth — in that he’s a high-floor, lower-ceiling guy, without superstar upside but with a very good chance to be a solid regular for a long time. Hassell, who was the Padres’ first-round pick in the 2020 draft, is a hitter first who might come into average power down the road, working with a short swing and excellent hand acceleration. He lets the ball travel on him so he has more time to recognize pitches, and if he gains some strength he could be a 30-doubles, 15-homers guy, although contact and getting on base will always be his predominant skills as a hitter. He’s an above-average runner who’s been a high-percentage base stealer in his two years in the minors (87 percent) and plays 55 defense in center. He reached Double A after the trade at age 20, and there’s physical development still ahead of him. If he makes somewhat harder contact as he gets stronger, he’ll be a solid regular thanks to high averages and his secondary skills on the bases and in center. I’m not sure there’s a real path for him to be a star, though, given his frame and the quality of the contact he’s making now.

44. Kevin Parada, C, New York Mets

Age: 21 | 6-1 | 197 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 11 in 2022

Last year’s ranking: Ineligible

Parada was one of the best college hitters in the 2022 draft class, hitting .361/.453/.709 for Georgia Tech and striking out in just 10.4 percent of his plate appearances, and he continued to get on base in his 13 games in pro ball after signing. He’s a bat-first catcher who has an unusual setup at the plate, holding the bat over his back shoulder like it’s a golf bag, but he gets the bat head to the zone on time, even against better stuff. I wouldn’t rule out someone trying to change that eventually, but for now, it works for him. He made a lot of hard, loud contact, including 26 homers, tying him for sixth among all Division I players even though he faced good quality pitching in the ACC. Behind the plate he’s a bit rough, with some scouts questioning whether he’d stay at the position. He has a 55 arm and he’s fine blocking, but has trouble framing and some issues receiving better stuff. He’s a sneaky good athlete who has already improved substantially on defense since high school, and doesn’t have that much farther to go to be average-ish with the glove. His bat is the carrying tool, with high contact rates and the potential for 20-25 homers a year.

45. Jeferson Quero, C, Milwaukee Brewers

Age: 20 | 5-10 | 165 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: International signing in 2019

Last year’s ranking: Sleeper

Quero was snakebit in 2021, suffering a concussion, a hamstring injury, and a dislocated shoulder, enough that he might as well have been one of those Unlucky Andersons. I guess he put some butter on it, since he played 95 games in 2022 plus a stint in the AFL at just 19 years old, hitting .286/.342/.439 between Low A and High A with just a 19 percent strikeout rate. He’s an above-average to plus defender with an easy plus arm, throwing out 30 percent of runners during the regular season and 46 percent in the AFL, so the bar for him to clear to just project as a backup is pretty low. He has a short, slashing swing that produces a lot of contact, with some sneaky pop, hitting 10 homers in 2022, and he might get to 45 power at his peak. He’s at the smaller end of the range for catchers, and the 80 games he caught last year (including the fall) were obviously his career high, so durability is the main variable when considering his future. I see a high floor here, with a good chance for an above-average regular who hits for average with some doubles power and even steals a few bags.

The Cardinals’ Masyn Winn bats in the AFL Fall Stars Game last November. (Chris Bernacchi / Diamond Images via Getty Images)

46. Masyn Winn, SS, St. Louis Cardinals

Age: 21 | 5-11 | 180 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 54 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Winn has the best shortstop arm in the minors, probably the best infield arm in the minors, and one of the best arms attached to any human being, anywhere; he uncorked a throw in the Futures Game that was the hardest ever recorded by Statcast from an infielder at 100.5 mph. He also has electric bat speed, the kind where you worry it might be in and out of the zone too quickly. He’s killed fastballs so far and has a very good feel for the strike zone; he has the most trouble right now with pitchers changing speeds on him. He’s a plus runner who has stolen 75 bags in two years with an 88 percent success rate, more tangible evidence of how good his instincts and feel for the game are. Even as is, he should be a plus defender who hits for average and slaps the ball around the field, but with his bat speed, he might surprise with his power when he fills out. You can really dream on Winn’s tools and see a better ceiling than even teammate Jordan Walker, especially since Winn plays up the middle, but with more volatility in his potential outcomes.

47. Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays

Age: 20 | 6-4 | 220 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
Drafted: No. 91 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Tiedemann went undrafted out of high school in 2020, then went to junior college and ended up a third-round pick of the Jays in 2021. His velocity started to creep up as soon as instructional league. He topped out at 97-98 mph in 2022, although he tapered off over the course of the season and was sitting 93-94 when I saw him in September at Double-A Somerset, when the Jays had him on a strict three-inning limit to manage his workload. When fully healthy, he’s got power stuff, with big horizontal break to the slider that makes it a weapon against left- and right-handed batters, and an above-average changeup that he will need more as he gets to Triple A and the majors. He has a tough delivery to repeat, starting on the extreme first-base end of the rubber and never quite getting online, so locating to his glove side is a challenge. If he can develop his command and control — which might mean getting him more online to the plate — he has front-line starter potential. There’s also reliever risk here, although in that role he’d probably be an elite, 35-40 percent strikeout rate pitcher.

48. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Minnesota Twins

Age: 20 | 5-10 | 210 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
International signing in 2019

Last year’s ranking: Sleeper

The Twins gave Rodriguez $2.75 million to sign him in 2019, then had to wait until 2021 for him to debut, skipping him over the DSL and sending him right to the complex in Fort Myers, where he hit .214/.346/.524, showing big power but in-zone whiffs. Rodriguez went to Low A to start 2022 and showed enormous progress in his approach, hitting breaking stuff far more often and laying off more pitches out of the zone, drawing 57 walks in 47 games and hitting .272/.493/.552 before tearing the meniscus in his right knee on a slide in June. The surgery ended his season, but he still finished seventh in the Florida State League in walks and tied for 20th in homers even though he played in fewer than half of his team’s games before having season-ending surgery. It is huge raw power with an explosive swing, but at the same time, he’s very under control, which is unusual for lots of power hitters — except for some of the elite ones. He’s playing center now but the odds are strong he’ll end up in right. He needs more reps, and if he had a weakness last year, it was against changeups, but he might be a top-10 prospect in baseball by midseason if what we saw last spring holds up.

49. Noelvi Marte, SS, Cincinnati

Age: 21 | 6-1 | 181 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2018

Last year’s ranking: 11

Marte was one of the key players going to the Reds in the trade that sent Luis Castillo to the Mariners at the 2022 trade deadline, both a testament to the value of his bat and to the Mariners’ questions about his long-term position. Signed for $1.55 million back in 2018, Marte didn’t make his U.S. debut until 2021 due to the pandemic, but he’s hit .275/.369/.459 in the past two seasons at both levels of A-ball, all before he turned 21. He has an easy, powerful swing that has produced 36 homers the past two years, and has excellent bat control, which has kept his strikeout rate down even though he can be aggressive early in counts. He’s still playing shortstop, but there’s no chance he’s staying there long term as he’s already gotten too big for the position and his footwork isn’t quick enough for it, but he has a plus arm and could end up an average defender at third if he maintains his conditioning. Marte filling out so much at age 20 does raise the concern he’s going to end up a corner outfielder, or that he’ll end up slowing down in his mid-20s, but his continued offensive performance also makes it much more likely he’s at least a valuable bench player — more floor, less ceiling, at least compared to a year ago. If he works on conditioning and moves to third base now to begin learning the position, he could still be an above-average regular with high OBPs and 20-ish homers a year.

50. Brennen Davis, OF, Chicago Cubs

Age: 23| 6-4 | 210 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 62 in 2018
Last year’s ranking: 28

Davis’ year was a washout, as he had a stress reaction in his back, underwent surgery early in the year, and wasn’t quite the same when he returned ahead of schedule; he had to leave a scheduled stint in the AFL earlier than planned. When on the field, Davis hit .192/.322/.319 in 43 games in Triple A, although he did swing it better in the fall league, going 5-for-18 with a pair of homers and just one strikeout. He’s an excellent athlete who starred in basketball in high school, and while he’d always shown a solid eye at the plate, his power projection started to come through in 2021, with a good, balanced swing that lets him drive the ball to all fields. He’s played center but has lost some speed as he’s filled out, and might end up in right instead. It all depends on the health of his back, though, as stress reactions can be a harbinger of more chronic problems.

51. Brooks Lee, SS, Minnesota Twins

Age: 22 | 6-2 | 205 pounds
Bats: Switch | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 8 in 2022

Last year’s ranking: Ineligible

Lee was the best college player in this year’s draft class and would have been a worthy pick at No. 1, coming off two years of stellar performance playing for his dad at Cal Poly. He has exceptional hand-eye coordination and seldom misses fastballs in the zone, striking out just under 10 percent of the time last spring and only 16 percent of the time in his pro debut in High A. It’s an unorthodox swing with visible effort, which has meant he has a lot of medium-quality contact, and probably projects to just average power unless something significant changes. On defense, he has outstanding hands and instincts, but he’s a below-average runner and doesn’t have the agility for shortstop, while he should be above-average at third or second. He’ll get the most out of his skills because he grew up around the game and seems to have an exceptional idea of the strike zone, so while he doesn’t have superstar ceiling, he could be a high-average/high-OBP regular at third or second who hits 10-15 homers a year.

52. Taj Bradley, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Age: 22 | 6-2 | 190 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 150 in 2018

Last year’s ranking: 58

Bradley was the Rays’ fifth-round pick back in 2018 as a projectable but unpolished athlete out of a Georgia high school, and the projection started to come through in 2021 as his velocity jumped to the mid-90s and his cutter/slider became a real out pitch for him. He carved up Double A to start 2022, striking out 31 percent of batters faced and posting a 1.70 ERA, and continued to miss bats and avoid walks in Triple A but became a bit homer-prone for the first time in his career as lefties teed off on his four-seamer. The pitch has plus vertical break and above-average spin, but he throws it too often to left-handed batters and needs to use his developing changeup, which has good tumble, more in those situations. He has a very good delivery he repeats well to be this kind of strike-thrower, coming from a high three-quarters slot with a short arm stroke, all of which gives him extra deception. He still projects as an above-average starter, but the hiccup in Triple A underscores the need for him to be more than just a fastball/cutter guy.

53. Evan Carter, OF, Texas Rangers

Age: 20 | 6-4 | 190 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 50 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Carter struggled with contact as an amateur, but the Rangers have worked with him on making better swing decisions, and so far he’s avoided the swing-and-miss issues while showing the power/speed combination that led Texas to take him in the second round in the pandemic draft. Carter is an excellent athlete and plus runner who’s already added some strength since signing, with 20-25 homer upside if he continues on this path, while he’s already a plus defender in center with strong instincts and closing speed. He can be too passive at the plate, taking fastballs in hitter’s counts. That tendency is a focus for the Rangers in his development; he should be trying to drive those pitches, rather than taking them. He has as much upside as anyone in their system, with the power and speed to be a 25/25 guy while providing plus defense in center, which would make him an All-Star — if he becomes more aggressive at the plate and avoids becoming another Jeremy Hermida, a talented player who never got over his passivity to get to his power.

54. Zac Veen, OF, Colorado Rockies

Age: 21 | 6-4 | 190 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 9 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: 23

Veen was the Rockies’ first-round pick in 2020 out of a Florida high school, where his main selling points were his projectable body and big power. So far in pro ball, he’s only shown flashes of that power, but instead has been an incredible basestealer and strong defensive right fielder who runs deep counts, with solid walk rates but some swing and miss as well. Veen moved up from Low-A Fresno, a very good hitting environment, in 2021 to High-A Spokane to start 2022, cutting his strikeout rate in the process but, unsurprisingly, failing to sustain the .396 BABIP he had the year before. His .269/.368/.439 line for Spokane was respectable enough for a 20-year-old, but he also swiped 50 bags in 54 attempts (92.5 percent). The Rockies bumped Veen to Double A, where he struggled to make contact against all kinds of offspeed stuff, as his swing got long, even giving him trouble on pitches in the zone. That would be fine if we were seeing more game power from Veen, who can show it in BP but hasn’t had the hard contact in games you’d like to see even given his age — he had just 38 extra-base hits in 2022, and his exit velocities are just fair. The upside is still there, but at some point we’ll need to see more of the power potential become reality.

55. Bo Naylor, C, Cleveland Guardians

Age: 23 | 6-0 | 205 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 29 in 2018

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Naylor returns to the top 100 after a year off the list — he was No. 42 going into 2021, but had such a disastrous year at the plate, hitting .189/.280/.332 in Double A after the off year and a two-level jump from Low A, that I couldn’t include him last year no matter how much I liked the player. Naylor returned to Double A to start 2022, hit well enough to earn a promotion to Triple A, then hit well enough there (.257/.366/.514) to get a brief call-up to the majors in September. Naylor is still quite young, turning 23 in late February, and shows a broad mix of skills as well as the athleticism to continue improving. He’s a disciplined hitter who doesn’t chase much and has fared better against breaking stuff than most hitters his age at the higher levels. He doesn’t miss many fastballs or changeups, and the power he showed in the minors last year (21 homers) is backed up by his solid contact quality and tendency to put the ball in the air, although he can get too pull-happy. He’s become a solid defender with work and time, but there is still skepticism around whether he stays there long-term. I think he’s a solid regular as a catcher who could also move to some other positions if needed, with mediocre batting averages but strong walk rates and 20-odd homers a year.

Josh Jung batting against the Yankees in a game in Arlington at the end of a rough 2022 season. (Ben Ludeman / Texas Rangers / Getty Images)

56. Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Rangers

Age: 25 | 6-2 | 214 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 8 in 2019

Last year’s ranking: 32

So, that wasn’t great. Jung’s major-league debut saw him punch out in 38 percent of his 102 plate appearances, with all of four walks, a .204/.235/.418 line, and without that much hard contact when he did put the bat on the ball. It is a small sample, and Jung missed the first half of the year due to injury, getting into just 23 games in Triple A before he reached the big leagues, and he didn’t look ready there, either. So all of this might be a combination of rust and perhaps the lingering effects of the torn labrum that cost him almost four months. Prior to 2022, Jung’s whole history was making a lot of contact, much of it hard contact, projecting as probably a 55 hit/55 power guy with the chance for either of those to end up at 60 (plus). He’s adequate at third base, but the bat is the thing. In 2022 he suddenly became a swing-first guy, which isn’t his game. I don’t see any reason he would stay that way, especially after failing in his first cup of coffee, but I don’t want to just ignore the 2022 performance because I don’t like what it says. There’s some risk here that wasn’t present a year ago. He could still be an above-average regular at third if he stays healthy and gets back to the approach that made him successful before last season.

57. Gavin Cross, OF, Kansas City Royals

Age: 22 | 6-3 | 210 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
Drafted: No. 9 in 2022

Last year’s ranking: Ineligible

Cross was one of the best hitters in Division I last year, part of a loaded Virginia Tech lineup that had four guys drafted in the top five rounds, and then absolutely went off in his pro debut, with seven homers and 22 walks in 26 games for Low-A Columbia. He looked more like a polished hitter who might have some power in the spring, showing a strong approach and generally good feel for the barrel, but over the summer he showed better bat speed and more impact when he squared it up, so his power ceiling might be closer to 30 homers than the 20-ish expected of him when he was an amateur. He’s a center fielder now but more likely to end up in a corner, with good reads but probably not the speed or first-step quickness to stay up the middle. It’s a tiny sample from after the draft, but if that power spike is sustainable, you could play him at left tackle and it wouldn’t matter. The Royals needed to get some quick impact from the 2022 draft, and the very, very early returns say they might have done it.

58. Edwin Arroyo, SS, Cincinnati

Age: 19 | 6-0 | 175 pounds
Bats: Switch | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 48 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Arroyo was one of the youngest players in the 2021 draft class, so he played at 18 in his first full year in pro ball, during which he also found himself part of the trade that sent Luis Castillo to Seattle. He was the youngest regular in the Cal League before the trade and hit .316/.385/.514 there, struggling after he moved to the Reds’ system as he wore down at the end of the summer. He’s an above-average defender at shortstop, almost a lock to stay there even as he fills out, while he’s got short swings from both sides of the plate — showing zero platoon split last year — and has started to grow into some doubles power, even hitting a surprising 14 homers, 13 of them for Modesto before he was traded. He’s the age of a college freshman and will go to High A to start the year. If his late-season fade was just fatigue, and he can add some strength to sustain his performance through an entire season, he’ll establish a clear floor for himself as a good utility player, with the upside still of a sometime All-Star who hits for high averages and saves 5-10 runs a year on defense at short.

59. Zach Neto, SS, Los Angeles Angels

Age: 22 | 6-0 | 185 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 13 in 2022

Last year’s ranking: Ineligible

Neto bashed his way to the top half of the first round last spring, as the Campbell Camels shortstop hit .407/.514/.769 with 15 homers and 19 steals, leading the Angels to take him with the 13th pick and run him almost directly to Double A. He seemed unfazed by the aggressive promotion, hitting .320/.382/.492 in 30 games for Rocket City with just a 21 percent strikeout rate — amazing for any 21-year-old, but even more so for someone who was just two months out of the Big South. Neto is a definite shortstop who projects to be a plus defender, while at the plate he’s got some extra movement before he gets his swing going but then is very short to the ball. He makes above-average contact, but doesn’t post elite exit velocities, getting to his power so far by consistently hitting the ball on a line, getting good carry for line-drive homers rather than big flies. That might turn into a lot more doubles and fewer homers as he moves up and faces better pitching. Because of his high contact rates to date and ability to play short at a high level, even that would make him a strong regular. If the homers do last, he might be even more.

60. Tyler Soderstrom, 1B/C, Oakland A’s

Age: 21 | 6-2 | 200 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 26 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: 35

Soderstrom got off to a miserable start last year, hitting .159/.232/.318 for High-A Lansing in April, but as the weather warmed up, so did he, with a .283/.337/.527 line the rest of the way, through promotions to Double A and then Triple A to finish the year. He injured his thumb while catching in April, so he started more games at first base (51) than catcher (36) the rest of the way, which makes sense given that he’s still well below-average on defense and has to move to another position anyway — and that’ll help him avoid some of the injuries he’s had in his two years in pro ball so far. Soderstrom is a hitter first, aggressive without overly expanding the zone, and he continued to make hard contact even after the thumb injury. He has excellent bat speed and stays very steady through contact, with easy power already even though he hasn’t filled out physically. I can’t find anyone outside the A’s organization who thinks Soderstrom can catch — most scouts I ask believe he doesn’t want to catch anyway — and between his injuries from catching and the fact that he hit a lot better last year when he started playing more first base, it’s time to just give up on that experiment. Let him go play first and hit 30 bombs a year with a solid batting average and maybe a fringy OBP.

61. Logan O’Hoppe, C, Los Angeles Angels

Age: 23 | 6-2 | 185 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 677 in 2018

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

O’Hoppe started 2022 as the starting catcher for Double-A Reading, and ended it catching for the Angels in the big leagues after he headed west in the trade that brought Brandon Marsh’s beard to Philly. O’Hoppe’s year was one of the best of any hitter in the minors, as he hit .283/.416/.544, with 26 homers, 70 walks, and 74 strikeouts in 104 games between Reading and Double-A Rocket City, and unlike a lot of hitters who go off in Reading, he did way more damage on the road. It’s good but not elite contact quality, boosted by his tendency to hit the ball in the air and get under pitches rather than on top. He’s a solid-average receiver with average-ish arm strength, enough that he won’t get exploited by runners but won’t shut down the run game either. His value is in what his bat brings in a true catcher, with 20-plus homers a year and strong walk rates that make him an above-average regular who might have an All-Star season or two.

62. Dalton Rushing, C, Los Angeles Dodgers

Age: 22 | 6-1 | 220 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 40 in 2022

Last year’s rank: Ineligible

Rushing was Henry Davis’s backup at Louisville until 2022, when Davis was in pro ball after becoming the No. 1 pick the previous year. Rushing exploded as a hitter once he was able to play full-time, hitting .310/.470/.686 for those Cardinals. The Dodgers took him with their first pick at No. 40, and he hit .424/.539/.778 in 28 games in Low A. He’s a very disciplined hitter who doesn’t chase much, and he has plus power that is showing up in games already. He slid to the second round because he didn’t hit well against good velocity, showing just fair bat speed, and he was only a part-time catcher in the spring who threw out 15 percent of runners. He’s an adequate receiver now, and he has a solid-average arm, so it’s possible any deficiencies on defense are a function of his inexperience, not inability. It looks like he can really hit, with pro scouts impressed by what they’ve seen from him so far. If he stays behind the plate, maybe the poor Dodgers finally caught a break with a prospect.

63. Tink Hence, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

Age: 20 | 6-1 | 175 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 63 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

That Cardinals draft in 2020 might be an all-timer even though it was just five rounds long (and seven picks for the Cards). They landed Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn, both of whom are on this list; Alec Burleson, who reached the majors last year; and Hence, who was one of the youngest players in the class and only threw eight innings in 2021, but now is the team’s best pitching prospect after a proper debut in 2022. Hence is uber-athletic and has a very quick arm, sitting 95-96 mph in his one-inning outings in the AFL and more 92-96 as a three-inning starter this year, showing a plus changeup and an average curveball, with room to improve across the board. In longer outings earlier in the year, he’d show the same or better velocity, up to 98 with life at the top of hte zone, and the curveball would be plus, while he’d also flash an average slider. He’s on the smaller side for a starter, listed at a generous 6-1, filling out some since the draft but still on the lean side, and he had some shoulder tenderness that limited him in 2021. If he stays healthy, he has No. 1-2  starter potential, with three pitches that could all be 55s or better, a delivery that works and the athleticism to keep adjusting and improving.

Quinn Priester is close to ready for the majors, and has No. 2 starter potential. (Chris Bernacchi / Diamond Images via Getty Images)

64. Quinn Priester, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Age: 22 | 6-3 | 210 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 18 in 2019

Last year’s ranking: 57

Priester missed the first half of the year with an oblique injury, but the Pirates used his time off the mound to tweak his delivery, improving his back hip rotation to get him greater range of motion and allowing him to get more of his power from his lower half. He’s a better pitcher for it, working now with a four-pitch mix — he’ll probably have to emphasize his offspeed stuff over his 92-96 mph fastball, which plays down from its velocity. His curve and changeup are both above-average pitches, with the curve showing above-average depth and good spin rates, while the changeup has some tumble to it and helps keep lefties off his fastball. He’ll mix in an average slider, and can even show a two-seamer with sink. His command keeps improving and he’ll probably end up with 55 or better, which he’ll need given the fastball’s lack of strong secondary characteristics. He’s close to ready, though, and has a high floor as a back-end starter, with mid-rotation likely and a chance he can be a No. 2 if any of those offspeed pitches becomes a true swing-and-miss offering.

65. Harry Ford, C, Seattle Mariners

Age: 20 | 5-10 | 200 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 12 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: 49

Ford was the Mariners’ first-round pick in 2021, the first time they went for a high school player with their first pick in eight years (only to have them do it again in 2022 with Cole Young). He’s a very athletic catcher who is probably not going to stay behind the plate, but has shown enough in the box to project as an above-average regular at some other position. His full-season debut saw him post the 11th-best OBP of any player in full-season ball (min. 300 plate appearances), with a line of .274/.425/.438 and a 23 percent strikeout rate. He makes good decisions at the plate, which has allowed him to get away with an unorthodox swing that’s very rotational and aimed at impacting the ball as hard as he can. He has way more work to do behind the plate, where he’s below-average at framing and receiving and only slightly better at throwing, even with some arm strength. He’s a plus runner, though, and could probably move to center field, which would also free him up to get more at-bats over a full season. For now, the Mariners seem committed to him staying at catcher, which may slow down his development a little bit. His approach and 20/20 potential would give him a chance to be an above-average or better regular if he can find a position up the middle where he can stick.

66. Gordon Graceffo, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

Age: 23 | 6-4 | 210 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 151 in 2021

Last year’s rank: Unranked

Graceffo showed up last spring throwing harder than ever before, working 93-98, and held it all season while the rest of his arsenal ticked up in tandem, taking him from a back-end starter without much ceiling to a potential No. 3 or better. He gets on top of the ball well with a compact delivery, getting ahead with the fastball but throwing offspeed stuff for the majority of his pitches, with the slider the best offering but the curve and changeup both solid-average or better pitches. He was an elite strike-thrower at Villanova and carried that into pro ball, walking just four men in 45 2/3 innings (2.4 percent) in High A before his promotion to Double A, where he walked all of 6 percent of batters faced. He might have four grade-50 to 55 pitches, but nothing is clearly plus, either, which is why he projects as a mid-rotation starter even with all of these superlatives. I can’t rule out further improvement given how far he’s already come, though.

67. Andy Pages, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Age: 22 | 6-1 | 212 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2018

Last year’s ranking: 76

Pages moved up to Double A last year and took a modest step backward at the plate, although the power still showed up and he hammered left-handed pitching. Pages has plus-plus power and a cannon of an arm, and has generally shown a solid approach at the plate, both in ball-strike recognition and swing decisions. In Double A, he really struggled when right-handers threw him offspeed stuff out of the zone — they’d get ahead with the fastball and expand the zone with the slider, leading him to chase and either miss or make weaker contact. He can catch up to good velocity, and even at age 21 is making major-league quality contact when he squares one up. He’s a fringe-average runner who can play at least solid defense in right, boosted by the arm strength, and could be a soft regular even with his power and good walk rates. There’s significant upside here if he tightens up that approach, though, and can be more of a .260-.270 hitter with 30 homers and similar walk rates.

68. Alex Ramirez, OF, New York Mets

Age: 20 | 6-3 | 196 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2019

Last year’s ranking: 100

Ramirez is as tooled-up as any outfielder in the minors, and has already had success in High A at age 19 after playing 54 games there to finish 2022, hitting .278/.329/.427 with a 22 percent strikeout rate. He’s a plus runner with elite instincts in center field, gliding to the ball rather than running it down with pure speed. He has excellent bat speed and hit 48 extra-base hits between both A-ball levels last year, including 30 doubles and 7 triples, with strong exit velocities already, and he has room to add at least another 20 pounds of muscle as he gets into his 20s. He could end up a five-tool talent if he can improve his control of the strike zone, where he’s overly aggressive but doesn’t swing and miss as much as you’d expect from a teenager with less than two full years of pro experience. His bat path can also vary too much with the swing plane getting flatter, which would limit his power upside if it stays that way even as he fills out. Multiple scouts also questioned his maturity and on-field effort, which has to improve as he gets older. The Mets have been very aggressive with some of their teenage prospects before, such as Ronny Mauricio, but they have a conundrum with Ramirez, who’s too talented for High A at this point. He’s a potential power/speed superstar in center if he improves his approach.

69. Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Colorado Rockies

Age: 21 | 6-0 | 162 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: International signing in 2017

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Tovar was awful in a month in High A to close out 2021, but the Rockies promoted the then 20-year-old to Double A to start 2022 and he responded, hitting .318/.386/.546 in 66 games there and ending the year in the big leagues. He’s a very likely shortstop even after filling out during the pandemic, when he had to stay in Scottsdale rather than return to his native Venezuela, although if he loses any speed he might end up moving to third or second. He has a simple swing where he starts in a slight crouch and straightens out as he swings, with a very consistent path to the ball and solid line-drive contact, hitting for above-average power in Double A even though he doesn’t show elite exit velocities. He has good bat speed and hasn’t had trouble with plus velocity, but as the season went on, he expanded the zone and began chasing offspeed stuff more than he had in the early going, leaving him vulnerable to fastballs at the top of the zone and sliders down and away. Tovar missed over two months with a bone bruise in his hip, so he still has just 318 career PA above A-ball, meaning a return to Triple A might be the best move for his development. He’ll need to continue to get stronger, and to cut down on those areas of chase, but has everyday upside as a shortstop who hits for a high average with at least a whole ton of doubles.

70. Owen White, RHP, Texas Rangers

Age: 23 | 6-3 | 199 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 55 in 2018

Last year’s ranking: Just missed

White was the Rangers’ second-round pick in 2018 but underwent Tommy John surgery before appearing in a game, and after the pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor-league season, he didn’t make his debut until mid-2021. In 24 appearances over the last two years, he’s struck out 34 percent of batters he’s faced, with 160 strikeouts and 35 walks in 115 2/3 innings from the complex league up to Double A. He works with a true four-pitch mix, with a fastball at 93-96 mph that gets misses in the upper half of the zone, an action changeup that’s up to 89 but gets whiffs because it moves so much, an above-average slider and a curveball that can flash above-average as well but is less consistent. He made every start until mid-July when the Rangers shut him down, as he was approaching his innings limit and felt some elbow fatigue, ending his year at 80 1/3 innings in the midst of his hottest run — he walked just seven men in his last seven starts, with a 2.21 ERA in that stretch. His 2022 was still progress given how little he’d pitched before, while he also held his stuff until his year ended. It’s at least mid-rotation stuff and command, probably more, if he can continue building up his workload and stay healthy for a full season.

71. Cade Cavalli, RHP, Washington Nationals

Age: 24 | 6-4 | 240 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 22 pick in 2020

Last year’s ranking: 48

Cavalli has a lot of things you like — he is big and strong, pretty athletic for his size, and he has a great arm, like, a Great Arm, with easy plus velocity and a full complement of pitches — and some you don’t, like his location and pitch sequencing. The Nats’ first-rounder out of the University of Oklahoma in 2020, Cavalli out-stuffed hitters all the way up to Triple A in his first full pro season, then returned to that level in 2021 and made some real improvements. He deemphasized the fastball in favor of all three offspeed pitches, especially the curveball, which is the one pitch with spin-based direction that differs from the other three, and used the changeup more as a weapon against left-handed batters. His slider has power to it but its break is short in both directions, so it can look more like a big cutter. He had that one unfortunate big-league start where he had trouble with the curve — he just couldn’t land it as well as usual, and he missed up with his fastball a few times, leading to some hard contact. Right before his second scheduled start, his shoulder barked and he went on the IL with inflammation, ending his season, although he’s supposed to be ready to go for spring training. It has always been about command with Cavalli, and now it’s even a little bit about control, as he still walked nearly 10 percent of batters in Triple A last year. You can be a big-league starter with a couple of 60s in your arsenal and 45 command and control, but it’s not really the career path I recommend.

72. Miguel Bleis, OF, Boston Red Sox

Age: 19 | 6-3 | 170 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Bleis is still growing into his frame, but shows exceptional ability to handle the bat, with the potential for huge power and lots of hard contact, and has a chance for every tool to end up above-average. He’s an outstanding athlete who could stay in center depending on how he fills out and whether he stays an above-average runner. Right now he’ll show big raw power, less in games, but it’s clearly coming once he gets stronger and perhaps if he cuts down on some of the extra hand movement he has before he gets the barrel moving towards the zone. He needs to be more selective at the plate, with a little more swing and miss and a little less ball/strike recognition than you’d like, but it also comes with the enormous upside. He actually would be a perfect guy for short-season ball this year if that still existed, and I won’t be shocked or too dismayed if he struggles early in Low A as an inexperienced 19-year-old. The high-average/25 homer upside is still there.

73. Jordan Westburg, IF, Baltimore Orioles

Age: 24 | 6-3 | 203 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 30 in 2020

Last year’s rank: Just missed

Westburg had about as quiet a season as you can have with 69 extra-base hits, moving through shortstop, second, and third base, drawing 70 walks, and hitting .265/.355/.496 between Double A and Triple A. He doesn’t have a clear plus tool, but makes plenty of hard contact and plays above-average defense at second or third, giving him a bunch of 55s on his scouting report that adds up to a solid to above-average regular because of where he plays. His power is probably his best tool, with the ability to drive the ball out to right-center and to his pull side, but he can over-rotate to get to it, which makes him less of a hitter and contributes to some of his inconsistency at the plate over a long season. He could be a 30-homer guy with a lower batting average, but will probably be most valuable as a .280-ish hitter with 20-25 homers, solid OBPs, and above-average defense at third or average defense at shortstop.

74. Michael Busch, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers

Age: 25 | 6-1 | 210 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 31 in 2019

Last year’s ranking: 53

Busch was a hard-hitting first baseman at UNC when the Dodgers drafted him at the end of the first round in 2019, but they converted him soon immediately to second base, betting that he would be athletic enough to handle the shift. He has, enough to stay there all the way up through Triple A and potentially start there in the big leagues this spring, where his bat should play enough to make him a solid regular with some upside if he tightens up the contact. Busch struggled with swing and miss when he first got to Triple-A Oklahoma City in May, but cut the strikeout rate as the season progressed. In his first 56 games there — splitting his Triple A time in half — he punched out in 30.5 percent of his plate appearances, but in his last 55 games, he cut that to 21.4 percent. Even with higher whiff rates, he still makes very hard contact and has 30-homer power, although he may end up more in the 20-25 homer range depending on how well he adjusts to major-league stuff. He hits lefties reasonably well, and has become a good enough defender that the Dodgers didn’t even play him at first in Triple A, which gives him a high floor as a soft regular at second with a chance to be an average to above-average one depending on his bat.

75. Bryce Miller, RHP, Seattle Mariners

Age: 24 | 6-2 | 180 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 113 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Miller was an erratic mostly-starter at Texas A&M who showed power stuff but a long arm swing and 35 command and control, walking 14 percent of batters he faced in his draft year, but the Mariners took a bet on his athleticism that is already paying off. He’s now a three-pitch starter who has close to average control and continued to improve even as the season progressed, including promotions to High A and then Double A over the summer. Miller sits 94-97 mph now and has bumped 100, with a high spin rate on the pitch that allows him to pitch primarily with his fastball. He pairs it with a plus slider that gets right-handed hitters to whiff and serves as a usable chase pitch for lefties. His changeup is clearly his third pitch right now, although it’s serviceable and already better than it was in college, which I realize makes it sound like his changeup was actually a student but maybe failed organic chemistry. It’s a matter of consistency, as the pitch is effective when he stays on top of it and lands it below the middle of the zone, but he leaves it up too often and loses the deception that makes it work. His arm action is still on the long side but it’s more fluid and he’s repeating it better. He’s so athletic and already has become so much more of a complete pitcher, rather than a thrower, that I’m willing to bet on further upside. He could be a No. 2 starter, and while there’s reliever risk, he’d be a high-end weapon out of the bullpen if that comes to pass.

Oswald Peraza is the Yankees’ best defensive prospect, and still could become a more complete hitter. (Thomas Shea / USA Today)

76. Oswald Peraza, SS, New York Yankees

Age: 23 | 6-0 | 200 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2016

Last year’s ranking: 95

The Yankees have an enviable problem in their upper minors: Their shortstop of the future, Anthony Volpe, isn’t actually their best defensive shortstop prospect, who is also a very promising player in his own right. Peraza is a plus defender at short right now, and a plus runner, with enough power that he could be someone’s starter right now in the big leagues. He’s power over hit, however, as he jumps early in the count and needs to be more selective. He only saw about 3.6 pitches per plate appearance in Triple A, and his approach is too pull-oriented; if he tries to use the whole field more, which he can do effectively because he covers the outer third pretty well, he has a chance to be a more complete hitter without sacrificing that much power. He’s got a pretty high floor even if he’s a .290 OBP hitter, because he might be worth 8-10 runs with his glove and hit 15-20 homers. There’s a better player in here, though, if he becomes more selective and less pull-centric.

77. Mick Abel, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

Age: 21 | 6-5 | 190 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 15 in 2020

Last year’s ranking: 91

Abel built up to 108 1/3 innings last year after throwing just 44 2/3 the year prior, cutting his walk rate even through a midseason promotion to Double A. He’s a big, strong righthander, 6-5 and probably 210-215 pounds, built like a workhorse starter, and extends well over his front side. He’s 93-98 mph, sitting more 94-95, with a slurvy slider that’s an above-average pitch with good tilt, up to 85, although it could be plus if he can get more power to it. He has an upper 80s changeup that I didn’t love when I saw it, although it was moderately effective for him this year; he had a small platoon split, mostly in terms of power, giving up seven of the 11 homers he allowed this year to lefties. It’s going to come down to command more than anything, which is a little surprising as he’s always had a good delivery, even as a high school underclassman. He could be a good No. 3 starter if that improves and he gets a little more separation on the changeup.

78. Dax Fulton, LHP, Miami Marlins

Age: 21 | 6-7 | 225 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
Drafted: No. 40 in 2020

Last year’s rank: Unranked

Fulton had Tommy John surgery during his senior year in high school, taking him from a likely first-round selection to an over-slot bonus in the second round from the Marlins. He’s a huge kid, 6-7 and listed at 225 pounds, who starts on the first base side of the rubber and can show both a plus slider and plus changeup. The Marlins’ minor-league pitching coordinator Scott Aldred worked with Fulton to get a more comfortable arm slot and clean up what had been a pretty rough delivery, so while it’s not completely clean now, it’s far more fluid than it used to be and gives him a better chance to throw strikes and command his fastball. The heater is his worst pitch, as his velocity has fluctuated some post-surgery and hitters square the pitch up more than you’d like, which might limit his ceiling. He’s shown plus velocity in pro ball and might still get there consistently, so even without a lot of life or movement it could be enough to let him get to the two secondaries, with that slider, which is sharp and late with biting tilt and a ton of horizontal movement, a real lefty-killer. I like him as a back-end starter as he is, with clear upside as he continues to add strength and get further away from the surgery.

79. Benny Montgomery, OF, Colorado Rockies

Age: 20 | 6-4 | 200 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 8 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Just missed

Montgomery’s full-season debut could only have gone better if he’d stayed healthy. In 56 games for Low-A Fresno, he hit .313/.394/.502, and would have ranked in the top 10 in the league in all three categories if he’d played enough to qualify. He missed almost two months due to a quad injury he tried to play through initially, although when he returned, he picked up where he left off, playing just slightly better in the second half that he did before the injured list stint. He’s an outstanding athlete and a 70 runner who projects to be a plus defender in center and should add value on the bases, although he only attempted 10 steals last year due to the quad issue (and was successful on nine of them). He’s had a hitch in his swing since high school, although it looked somewhat reduced in 2022, still showing some extraneous movement but with the hand acceleration to overcome it. He destroyed left-handed pitching last year and was just above-average against righties, which you’d expect from a right-handed hitter with that kind of swing. It’s star-level upside with plus raw power and the speed/defense, although he will have to cut down on the swing and miss, likely by working with coaches to minimize that hand movement, and maybe not get hit by so many pitches (10 last year in those 56 games) to keep himself off the IL.

80. Hunter Brown, RHP, Houston Astros

Age: 24 | 6-2 | 212 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 166 in 2019

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Brown pitched for Division II Wayne State as an amateur, where he showed big arm strength but below-average command and control, walking 11 percent of batters as a junior even though he was facing lesser competition. His control issues have persisted up through Triple A, as he walked 10.6 percent of batters he faced for Sugar Land, but his stuff has improved since college to the point where he could remain a starter if he can throw enough strikes. Brown is strong and powers through his delivery even with an inconsistent arm stroke, working 94-100 mph with his four-seamer and getting good extension out front to add some deception. He works with both slider and curveball, with ridiculous velocity on the slider but not much spin or break, while his curveball has just average spin but huge vertical break, coming out of his hand with diametrically opposed spin-based direction to his fastball. He barely uses his changeup, but has managed to avoid a platoon split so far just with the fastball and both breaking balls, getting a lot of chases on the latter two pitches. He could be a No. 2 starter if the command and control ever improve, or a workhorse starter who walks 80-plus batters a year, or he might be relegated to the bullpen if he can’t throw enough strikes.

81. Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays

Age: 22 | 6-1 | 205 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 63 in 2021

Last year’s rank: Sleeper

Manzardo had an incredible full-season debut for the Rays, hitting .327/.426/.617 between High A and Double A just a year out of the draft, with 22 homers and almost as many walks (59) as strikeouts (65) — and that’s despite missing a month early in the season with mononucleosis. He’s a very disciplined hitter who posts strong exit velocities without a huge swing, so his power is more line drive than big fly and he may be a 40-50 doubles guy rather than a 30 homer guy, using the whole field to keep that contact rate up. He’s also shown himself to be more than a capable defender at first. I suppose someone could try to alter his launch angle for more home-run power, but Manzardo is plenty valuable as he is — someone who might hit .300-.320 with walks and doubles while playing above-average defense at first. Those guys don’t make the Hall of Fame but they are an endangered species in our all-or-nothing baseball era.

82. Ryne Nelson, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Age: 25 | 6-3 | 184
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 56 in 2019

Last year’s ranking: 74

Nelson survived the trial by fire of a year starting for Reno, which is like pitching on the surface of the moon and also means lots of road starts at equally hitter-friendly venues like Las Vegas (where Nelson allowed four homers in one outing), Albuquerque, and Salt Lake. It’s an especially bad fit for someone who relies quite a bit on fastball life, as his 93-97 mph four-seamer has huge vertical movement. His slider and splitter both flash plus, with the slider better in his major-league time, showing above-average movement in both directions while his splitter didn’t have its usual depth. Nelson was a two-way player at Oregon who struggled to throw strikes in his draft year, when he was both starter and reliever, but switching to full-time pitching has seen him develop solid-average or better control, even with a no-windup delivery that looks like it should be harder to repeat. He could be a No. 2-3 starter now that he’s out of Reno, if either the slider or splitter becomes a true out pitch for him, with a high floor as a back-end starter or high-leverage reliever.

83. Jackson Jobe, RHP, Detroit Tigers

Age: 21 | 6-2 | 190 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 3 in 2021

Last year’s rank: Unranked

I got more variance among reports from scouts who saw Jobe in 2022 than on any other player, from guys thinking it’s an out-pitch slider and he’ll be a No. 2 starter, to guys wondering if he’ll end up in the bullpen. The third pick in the 2021 draft out of an Oklahoma high school, Jobe is an excellent athlete with a good build and projection left. His velocity backed up in his first year in pro ball, which happens to some guys, as he was more 92-96 mph and his slider had backed up in the earlier part of the season. Later in the year, though, he was showing a 70 slider with bite and high spin and better feel for the changeup, with somewhat better command as well. It wasn’t a great performance on the whole — nobody with this kind of stuff should give up 12 homers in 61.2 innings in the Florida State League, just one off the league lead. Yet there’s still a lot of potential here, especially if he continues to fill out and gain some durability to hold his stuff through an entire season. If he does that in 2023, his ceiling will be more a question of the development of the changeup than about his velocity.

84. DL Hall, LHP, Baltimore Orioles

Age: 24 | 6-2 | 195 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
Drafted: No. 21 in 2017

Last year’s ranking: 81

This is Hall’s fifth year on the top 100, and probably his last — either he breaks through and plays long enough in the majors to graduate, or he fails to make any progress in command and control and spends most of the year repeating Triple A. His stuff is too good to ignore, though. Hall is a hyper-athletic lefty who can show several plus pitches, with a fastball that topped out at 98.6 mph in the majors this year, a power curveball he rarely used in the big leagues, a hard slider with big horizontal break, and a straight change that’s very deceptive because it looks so much like his fastball out of his hand. His delivery is good and he could repeat it, but he doesn’t throw as many strikes as he should, or really as he could. When he’s ahead in the count, he works out of the strike zone way too often given the quality of his stuff. Between his huge extension out front, the way his breaking stuff and his fastball/change break out of his hand, and the genetic fortune of being left-handed, he should be a front-line starter who misses a ton of bats and holds down hard contact. It’s all about location for him now, and while he’s made some progress since he was drafted, this year will determine quite a bit about his future career path.

85. Brady House, SS, Washington Nationals

Age: 20 | 6-4 | 215 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 11 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: 46

House got off to a roaring start in 2022, hitting .326/.408/.449 with a 25 percent strikeout rate as a 19-year-old in Low A, even though he had just 19 pro games under his belt before the season, but then his back started to give him trouble and he went on the injured list for the first time. He came back for a month but wasn’t the same hitter, as he struck out 33 times with two walks and just four extra-base hits in 100 PA, after which his season ended, on June 11, due to the back injury. House only played shortstop in his limited time on the field in 2022, although it remains extremely unlikely he’ll stay at the position as he’s already too big for it and will need work over at third base to stay on the dirt. When healthy, House posts extremely high exit velocities and has 35-40 homer upside, but already showed swing-and-miss tendencies. He did return for instructs and is expected to be ready to go for spring training, but at this point we don’t know a whole lot more than we did a year ago. He has enormous upside, probably not at shortstop, but needs reps to develop as a hitter and to find a position.

86. Everson Pereira, OF, New York Yankees

Age: 22 | 6-0 | 191 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2017

Last year’s ranking: Sleeper

Pereira signed for $1.5 million back in 2017, but due to a number of injuries and the pandemic, he entered 2022 with only 108 pro games and fewer than 500 career plate appearances. He finally got a full season in 2022 and showed why the Yanks invested in his future, with some power, some speed, some defense, and some crudeness at the plate that you might expect from a 21-year-old with such limited experience. He’s still a very good athlete who shows excellent bat speed and good carry off the bat, with above-average game power right now that’s trending toward plus; with his contact quality at age 21, he’s got a good chance to end up a 25-30 homer guy at his peak. His approach is still raw, with a strikeout rate of 27 percent in High A and 30 percent after a midseason promotion to Double A, but he also swings at too many pitcher’s pitches and expanding the zone down or away. He’s at least a major-league average defender in center right now, also trending the right way, although whether he ends up plus there depends on how much he fills out physically. He’s still a high-variance prospect who could never make enough contact to be a regular, but just by virtue of staying healthy for 102 games last year, he showed that he at least has the potential to be an impact hitter who hits for average and power while providing value on defense.

87. Ronny Mauricio, SS, New York Mets

Age: 22 | 6-3 | 222 pounds
Bats: Switch | Throws: Right
International signing in 2017

Last year’s ranking: 40

Mauricio had 54 extra-base hits for Double-A Binghamton last year as one of the youngest regulars in the Eastern League despite an approach that you could euphemistically call “aggressive.” He’s a hacker, really, but his wrists are so quick and strong that he still managed to hit 26 homers and 26 doubles (and, if you’re too lazy to do the math, two triples). He reminds me a ton of young Alfonso Soriano, who also wasn’t the most discriminating hitter, and wasn’t even as good of an athlete as Mauricio is, but who had lightning-quick wrists and surprising strength in his forearms to hit 412 homers in 16 MLB seasons, peaking at 46 in 2006. Scouts really vary on whether he can stay at shortstop, although that only happens if he works harder on his defense; I’m in the camp that says he should move off the position, not because the Mets have a guy there, but because while I don’t think Mauricio has the footwork for it, he could be a 55-60 defender at third. He won the MVP in the Dominican Winter League this year, even though his pitch selection and swing decisions still weren’t good, and the Mets are going to have to make a choice at some point to hold him back until he shows real improvement in that area. It’s easy 30-homer power, though, and he doesn’t even have to walk much more to have real value if he ends up at third or second. Just making better choices to get to that power consistently against better pitching will be enough.

88. Jace Jung, 2B, Detroit Tigers

Age: 22 | 6-0 | 205 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 12 in 2022

Last year’s rank: Ineligible

Jung is Josh Jung’s younger brother, and also went to Texas Tech, but they’re very different players. Jace is a second baseman whose best position is at bat, hitting left-handed with a bizarre setup that has him start out with the bat above his back shoulder and pointed up at the press box like sundial, but he mashed for the Red Raiders, hitting .335/.481/.612 in his draft year with plenty of hard contact. His pro debut was less impressive, albeit in just a 30-game sample, as he hit .231/.373/.333 in Low A with a 21 percent strikeout rate, which might be contributing to teams souring slightly on him since early in the spring. It seems reactionary given his track record of hitting, and perhaps it’s also a reaction to his peculiar setup, even though it doesn’t prevent him from getting the bat head to the ball on time. I’m still bullish on him as a hitter for a high average with medium power, even though he may have to move to the outfield without significant work at second base.

James Outman is one of the best athletes in the Dodgers’ stacked system. (Isaiah J. Downing / USA Today)

89. James Outman, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Age: 26 | 6-3 | 215 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 224 in 2018

Last year’s rank: Unranked

Outman has made some real swing changes since the Dodgers took him off an unremarkable couple of years at Sacramento State, and he’s performed better and better even as they’ve moved him up aggressively due to his age. He’s one of the best athletes in their entire system who might have four pluses on the scouting report, definitely a plus run, plus arm, plus power guy who might be a plus defender in center as well. There’s too much swing and miss in the zone here to say he’ll be more than an average hitter, but with his other tools, that makes him a potential star, especially if he can do more against lefties than just hit for power. He’s older than any hitter on this list, but doesn’t have as much baseball experience as the typical 25-year-old. Don’t be surprised if he ends up the Dodgers’ primary center fielder this year.

90. Warming Bernabel, 3B, Colorado Rockies

Age: 21 | 6-0 | 180 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2018

Last year’s rank: Unranked

Bernabel broke out in his return to Low A last year after spending 21 games there to finish off the 2021 season, hitting .317/.390/.504 for Fresno with just a 13 percent strikeout rate. But just 26 games after his promotion to High A, his regular season ended due to injury. He can hit even good fastballs and shows above-average power already, with superb hand-eye coordination, resulting in an aggressive approach that doesn’t see him running a lot of deep counts. His offspeed recognition isn’t quite at that level yet, which showed a little bit after his move to High-A Spokane, although he’s young enough to improve in that area. He’s a former shortstop who has the hands and arm for third base, needing work on timing and consistency that he should get with more reps. His season ended in mid-August when he collided with another player whose elbow hit his head hard enough to cause a concussion, and when Bernabel returned for the Arizona Fall League he didn’t appear to be 100 percent. He could end up a hitter for average with 15-20 homers a year, or more of a power hitter with less average if he doesn’t progress enough in pitch recognition, but either version would be at least a solid regular at third.

91. Joey Wiemer, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Age: 24 | 6-5 | 25 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: R
Drafted: 121 in 2020

Last year’s rank: Unranked

Wiemer is a high-variance guy for a college product, but has significant upside even though he’ll be 24 in February, because he has some huge tools and should be valuable even if he doesn’t hit for much average. He’s a super-athletic outfielder who’s a plus defender in center, with 60 speed and a 70 or better arm. He has ridiculous power – I had a scout refer to it as “stupid power,” and he meant that as a compliment – that should lead to 25-30 homers a year in the majors. The question is all around the hit tool. He’s not a hacker, but he swings hard, and there’s both some chase and some in-zone miss. He might only hit .220-.230, but the rest of the tools would still give him enough value to be a regular, with power, baserunning, and plus defense up the middle. If he does hit, cutting down on the whiffs on strikes, then he could be an All-Star — and one the fans love for his aggressive style of play, too.

92. Jack Leiter, RHP, Texas Rangers

Age: 23 | 6-1 | 205 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 2 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: 26

The Rangers were aggressive with Leiter, the second pick in 2021 out of Vanderbilt, after he didn’t pitch in any games at all after the draft, starting his pro career in Double A last April. He had surprising trouble with command and control, throwing just 59 percent of his pitches for strikes, although his stuff was intact. Leiter can work 92-96 mph when at his best, and a mid-80s slider with a short downward break is his most effective offspeed pitch. He barely threw his changeup, although he has a solid-average one, and as a result he had huge trouble with left-handed batters, who hit .267/.385/.460 off him, including eight of the 11 homers he allowed.

93. Edgar Quero, C, Los Angeles Angels

Age: 20 | 5-11 | 170 pounds
Bats: Both | Throws: Right
International signing in 2021

Last year’s rank: Unranked

Quero took a big step forward last year, showing an advanced feel to hit that gives him a high probability of a big-league career because of his position. He’s a switch-hitter with a strong approach from both sides of the plate, showing plate discipline unusual for his age and experience, with more medium contact quality than hard contact. That means that even with 17 homers last year in the Cal League (a good place to hit), he might be more of a high-average/OBP guy with 10-15 homers a year at his peak. He has the skills to be an above-average defensive catcher, but he’s not that consistent behind the plate yet. He’s from Cuba and signed shortly before his 18th birthday because of the pandemic, so he entered 2022 with just 39 games of pro experience, meaning there’s a lot of room for him to continue to improve behind the plate. He doesn’t look like he’ll get a lot stronger, but that’s the only thing keeping him from projecting as a star.

94. Sammy Zavala, OF, San Diego Padres

Age: 18 | 6-1 | 175 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
International signing in 2021

Last year’s rank: Unranked

The Padres signed Zavala in January of 2021 for $1.2 million, part of the delayed signing period due to the pandemic. He went out and posted a .400 OBP that summer as a 16-year-old in the DSL, one of only four regulars that young in the league and the only one to top even a .340 OBP. He started last year in extended spring training, blasted through the Arizona League in 10 games (.345/.412/.621), then hit .254/.355/.508 in six weeks in Low A. He was the only 17-year-old to get 100 plate appearances in full-season ball last year, but posted a median OBP for the level and was in the top 15 percent of all hitters there in slugging (same minimum of 100 PA). He has absurd bat speed, rifling the bat through the zone with big hip rotation for hard contact and power, while he’s already shown unusual plate discipline for his age, especially when it comes to laying off pitches out of the zone. As a defender, he shows good instincts and routes, playing center so far more than right, but the odds are he’ll move to the corner in the long term. His combination of high-quality contact and excellent decisions at the plate point to a huge long-term upside, with the risk inherent in any 17-year-old with only 411 career plate appearances to his name.

95. Joey Ortiz, SS, Baltimore Orioles

Age: 24 | 5-11 | 175 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 108 in 2019

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Ortiz remade his swing and body during the pandemic year, came back a different hitter in 2021, but hurt his shoulder after just 35 very productive games in High A. He returned for Opening Day 2022 but struggled out of the gate, hitting .214/.275/.328 in the first half of his season (69 games), striking out three times as often as he walked. His second half was much more in line with the player we saw before his injury: he hit .355/.422/.627 in his last 68 games, the final 26 of them in Triple A, with just a 13.5 percent strikeout rate. He’s a 60 defender at short, with great actions and soft hands, possibly the best defender of the Orioles’ many, many shortstop prospects. At the plate, he’s short to the ball and hits a lot of line drives, although he puts the ball on the ground often enough that he’s much more likely to keep hitting for average than he is to hit 19 homers (his 2022 total) in the majors. He rarely whiffs, making contact on about five of every six swings, and doesn’t run a ton of deep counts because he can put enough pitches in play to avoid them. The second-half performance might point to an elite upside; I think the power won’t quite hold up, but he’ll hit for a high average with 30-40 doubles and 10 homers, which makes him a very good regular with that defense.

96. Tyler Black, 2B/3B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Age: 22 | 6-2 | 190 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 33 in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Black was the Brewers’ second selection in 2021, taken with a competitive balance pick near the end of the first round out of Wright State University, making him the next-highest drafted player in that school’s history after left-handed pitcher Brian Anderson. Black is an on-base machine, hitting .281/.406/.424 with more walks than strikeouts in High A before he fractured his scapula making a diving catch in center field, returning to play for about three weeks in the Arizona Fall League before he broke his thumb. He plays hard all the time, including in his at-bats, where he follows pitches all the way into the mitt and has excellent pitch selection, especially in those critical 1-1 counts. He’s a solid-average runner who will probably fare better than that on the bases because of his aggressiveness, while his lack of plus speed and a fringy arm make second base his best position, although he can play the outfield if needed. He may not have the power to be more than a strong regular, but he has a very high floor as a super-utility player who has value because of his ability to hit and get on base.

97. Jake Eder, LHP, Miami Marlins

Age: 24 | 6-4 | 215 pounds
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
Drafted: No. 104 in 2020

Last year’s rank: Unranked

Eder was cruising toward a spot on the middle of the top 100 in 2021 when his elbow shrieked; Tommy John surgery that July took him out for all of 2022. He returned in the Marlins’ early camp this offseason to show his previous stuff, working 94-97 mph with an out pitch in his slider, that had him striking out 34 percent of batters he faced in Double A before he blew out. Eder has a great build for a durable starter — yes, I see the irony there — with a delivery he repeats well that should point to future 55 or better command and control, although before the injury he was around average in both. His changeup had really come on since he signed and looked like it had a chance to be an average pitch, although his delivery and slider will probably always give him some platoon split because he dominates lefties — they hit .095/.183/.191 against him in 2021, with a 46 percent strikeout rate in 71 plate appearances. We’ll have to see how his first full year back on the mound goes, but if he can stay healthy for a full-ish season, he’s got No. 2 starter upside and actually might not be that far away from contributing.

98. Adael Amador, SS, Colorado Rockies

Age: 20 | 6-0 | 160 pounds
Bats: Switch | Throws: Right
International signing in 2019

Last year’s rank: Unranked

Amador hit .292/.415/.445 in Low A this year as a 19-year-old, with 87 walks and just 67 strikeouts in 555 plate appearances, giving him the best BB/K ratio of any hitter in the minors with at least 350 PA. He does have an exceptional eye at the plate, which will be his carrying tool and gives him a high floor as at least a utility infielder who has real on-base skills. He’s a true switch-hitter who has some sneaky pop when he barrels the ball up, but overall he’s a strong groundball guy, with the second-highest groundball rate of any qualifying hitter, behind only the Angels’ Arol Vera. It’s part swing and part approach, as he can get the bat on the ball anywhere in the zone but often does so at the expense of contact quality. He’s going to have to work to stay at shortstop, with second base the most likely position for him. He could be that good utility guy, a strong regular at second with 10-15 homers a year, or maybe a shortstop who’s a borderline star because of his on-base skills. He’s also just 20 this year, so there’s time to work on the swing a little more to get him to put more pitches in the air rather than on the ground.

99. Junior Caminero, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays

Age: 19 | 5-11 | 157 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
International signing in 2018

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

The Rays acquired Caminero in a November 2021 trade that sent Tobias Myers to Cleveland, and, well, sorry Guardians fans, but I think this one might sting. (The Guardians designated Myers for assignment in July.) Caminero can really hit with exceptional hand-eye and bat-to-ball skills to match, posting a 15.9 percent strikeout rate between the complex league and Low A last year. He swings with intent to do damage, too, hitting 11 homers in 62 regular-season games plus 14 more in 39 games so far in the Australian Baseball League, putting him second only to a 29-year-old. There are a lot of moving parts to his swing, with busy hands before he gets his swing going, so he has to work on staying balanced and may at some point need to quiet things down to ensure he’s on time against better pitching. He’s not a runner and is already moving off shortstop, playing a little more at third in 2022 than his old position, but he’ll stay on the dirt and could be a 55 defender at third or second. There’s real power upside in here along with that natural feel to hit, enough that he’d profile as an above-average regular or even a star, with the typical variance in any 18-year-old hitter who’s barely played above the complex leagues.

100. Bubba Chandler, RHP/DH, Pittsburgh Pirates

Age: 20 | 6-2 | 200 pounds
Bats: Switch | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 72  in 2021

Last year’s ranking: Unranked

Chandler was a well over slot signing by the Pirates in the 2021 haul where they took Henry Davis at 1-1 and signed him to a deal $3 million under slot so they could sign Chandler, Anthony Solometo, and Lonnie White, three high school kids with first-round interest from other clubs. Chandler took a step forward this year, coming into spring training throwing harder and also taller than he’d been, then developing further over the year to where he was hitting 99 mph with huge induced vertical break and landing his breaking ball better than ever. He’s still hitting a little bit, as he was a two-way prospect in high school with power, but his future is clearly on the mound, and he needs to focus just on pitching as he’s far from a finished product — he walked 18 men in 26 innings after a promotion to Low A, a level where he could still blow guys away with pure stuff if he’s close to the zone. He’s a tremendous athlete with a great delivery and easy velocity. You can dream on this package, even though he’s a long way from the majors.

(Top Image: Eamonn Dalton / The Athletic; Photos: Wally Skalij; Todd Kirkland,; Kevork Djansezian; Carmen Mandato / Getty Images)

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