We’re almost two months into the 2023 MLB season, and several of the best prospects from my offseason top 100 list have now graduated from eligibility, which makes it a perfect time for an updated look at the best young players currently starring in the minors.

Because the top four players in my last rankings are among that group now playing in the majors, this top 50 will look dramatically different right from the start.

Here’s what you need to know before we get into the list:

MLB rookie eligibility rules (130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched or 45 days on the active roster) apply here, but there are also a few players who are days away from graduating as I write this (Zach Neto, Brett Baty, Grayson Rodriguez), They’ve also been excluded to allow this list to be a reference for the next few months before our next version after the draft and trade deadlines.

This is also coming a little earlier than my previous midseason prospect updates, which have been either around the Futures Game in July or after the trade deadline in August. Because we are looking at a smaller sample of the season this time, we have some hot and cold starts to consider and a bevy of graduated prospects, but also no recent draftees to include. To account for that, I’ve slotted in where the top 2023 MLB draft prospects figure to slot in upon signing this summer.

Those factors, combined with some aggressive promotions to the big leagues due to the incentives in the collective bargaining agreement, has left the minor league crop down a bit right now — with no player rising to the 65 FV tier where Corbin Carroll and Gunnar Henderson started this season. Generally, there’s at least one player at that tier every offseason, and I’d bet we’ll have at least one player who gets there by the end of this season.

Now on to my top 50 prospects in baseball, along with some of the toughest cuts from the list and a group of rising prospects worth watching closely for the rest of the 2023 season.

Jump to …: Top 50 | Just missed | Risers

60 FV Tier

The top four players from my offseason list (Gunnar Henderson, Corbin Carroll, Anthony Volpe, Gabriel Moreno) all graduated, which will now likely be customary given the new CBA rules incentivizing starting top prospects in the majors.

Two other players who are currently in the majors made slight moves in opposite directions among this top tier: Eury Perez jumped six spots as the game’s clear top pitching prospect, while the Mets Francisco Alvarez slipped two spots from his offseason rank after being jumped by rising hitters De La Cruz, Mayer and Holliday.

There’s a distinct chance that Holliday, Mayer, Chourio and Wood are the players we’re debating between for the honor of top prospect in the game this offseason, although with anyone in the first dozen spots on this list that won’t graduate has a chance to be a part of that mix if they catch fire the rest of the season.

De La Cruz has continued to improve his polish at the plate while also continuing to show eye-popping 70- and 80-grade tools all over the field, but the entire top four to six players here look like they could become 65 FV prospects by year. Alvarez and Walker will likely graduate from prospect status by the time either could make a similar jump.

The clear No. 1 prospect in this summer’s MLB draft, Crews slots in just behind Williams for me right now — but the LSU star could rank even higher by season’s end if he goes straight to High-A and rakes in his pro debut. You could quibble by a few spots on exactly where he belongs, as you could with most of the players at the top of the list at a time when we have incomplete early-season information and not a lot separating any two players ranked consecutively here. If Painter gets back on the mound soon and is healthy the rest of the season at the same level he showed last year, he’ll jump into the top 10 of my offseason rankings.

55 FV Tier

Harrison is having some trouble throwing strikes, but he has potential frontline-starter stuff from the left side and is already at Triple-A. Skenes is one of three 2023 MLB draft prospects who slot into this tier for me once they are drafted. He is the best pitching prospect in a dozen years and doesn’t have the strike-zone command issues that have plagued Harrison, but he has faced what amounts to sub-Low-A competition this spring, he has less than a year of this level of performance and his third/fourth pitches are behind Harrison. If Skenes signs and puts up gaudy numbers while pitching at Double-A in shorter stints (which is what I’d recommend and what many scouts have said they would do with the LSU ace) coupled with a promotion or two after that, he could pass Harrison by the end of the season.

Jones has had multiple injuries and a very short pro debut with mixed results since being drafted last summer, so he has been difficult to evaluate. He mostly stays where he has been on my list since before the 2022 draft, but he won’t get the benefit of the doubt forever if his performance doesn’t soon match his ranking. Soderstrom (22) is close to big league ready but could be toeing the line of a player who mostly fits at first base while showing 50-hit/60-power. He becomes much less valuable if he falls below that, but I have him up here because I think he’ll clear it.

Langford is comparable in age to some upper-minors prospects while facing competition that’s below a full-season pro level in the SEC, but his tools belong even higher than this, so he could rise with a strong pro summer debut.

The main reason I point this out is to show the tiny margins that separate these top draft prospects and how easily they could flip by even this summer, like Holiday and Jones did. Crews might be the consensus favorite to go No. 1 overall and he has earned that, but Druw Jones was also ahead of Holliday a year ago at this time. And that’s before getting into recent trends with top pitchers.

A few slots down, McLain has made a swing adjustment that lets his offensive tools play. He is now in the big leagues, as is a thriving Bradley. Jenkins slots in just behind them. He possesses the best prep hit/power combo since Bobby Witt Jr. but fits well in this tier’s group of power bats with a flaw or two who are 1-2 years away.

Salas is still just 16 years old and hasn’t played an official pro game, but you’d need a steak knife to cut through the buzz in the air around the Padres catching prospect. He has four above-average tools and is already showing a precocious aptitude behind the plate at the age of a high school underclassman. I think he’ll be playing in Low-A sooner than later. Hop on the hype train while it still has room.

The final 2023 draft prospect who should slot into this tier upon signing is Max Clark, who is an up-the-middle type with speed and power that puts him just ahead of some standout hitters who are slumping now and offer less defensively in Mead and Johnson. With a strong pro debut this summer, Clark will likely be in the 20s by the offseason edition of this list.

50 FV tier

Young, Rushing and Anthony are among the biggest arrow-up prospects from the 2022 draft. Young and Rushing have both shown hitting aptitude and in-game power that is a notch better than what was expected at draft time. Anthony, meanwhile, was a classic polarizing prospect whose stock dipped a bit after a couple bad summer events (which teams heavily value because of the wood bats and strong competition) followed by a strong high school spring against decent competition in south Florida. He has one of the lowest chase and swing rates in the minors to go with the best age-adjusted exit velos in the minors, a strong bat-to-ball foundation and the athleticism to be a solid right fielder. He could stand to be a bit more aggressive and lift the ball more, but those are relatively easy adjustments.

If Mason Miller (the last of the unrelated trio of Bryce, Bobby and Mason Miller on this list) can get back on the mound and stay healthy, he will also zoom up this list — but that has been the concern since he turned pro.

Late cuts

Risers: 50 FV now, 45 FV or lower preseason

Risers: Jumped two FV grades or more

(i.e., from 40, over 40+ to 45)

Source by [author_name]

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *