MLB's 100 Names You Need To Know For 2023: Orioles' Gunnar Henderson tops the list
An invigorating dose of new blood will accompany a season of unprecedented change in Major League Baseball.
With a pitch clock and a shift ban heralding a new and potentially action-infused era in the game, the rookies and first-year players leaving a mark on the season will have grown up with these rules in the minor leagues, where game experimentation has been the norm for a decade.
Now, those players are ready for prime time - and ready for a major impact. That's reflected in USA TODAY Sports' list of 100 Names You Need To Know for 2023.
This collection of talent from all 30 teams reflects not necessarily the top prospects, but rather those you will almost certainly see bubble up from the bushes this year. The players are ranked by both prospect pedigree and path to find a significant role this season.
Players are eligible if their 2022 minor league plate appearances or innings pitched exceed their career major league total entering this season. A top prospect buried deep in this list may be heading it up in 2024.
Players are ranked in order of their anticipated impact this season:
1. SS/3B Gunnar Henderson, Orioles: Expectations are high for the favorite to win American League Rookie of the Year. The 2019 second round draft pick had a strong showing (.264 with a .788 OPS) in 34 games last season and even homered in his second major-league at-bat on Aug. 31. Henderson, 21, who has power and speed, is positioned to play a significant role this season, likely splitting time on the left side of the infield.
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2. OF Corbin Carroll, Diamondbacks: Carroll enjoyed a 42-game debut three years after he was a first-round pick. After the pandemic wiped out his 2020, he played in only seven games in 2021 due to a shoulder injury. Finally healthy, he rode his power stroke to USA TODAY’s 2022 Minor League Player of the Year. Carroll, 22, hit .307 with a 1.036 OPS with 24 homers, 62 RBI, 31 steals and 89 runs scored in 93 games, mostly across Classes AA and AAA, prompting the Diamondbacks to sign him to a precedent-shattering $111 million contract and slot him in left field from Day 1.
3. RHP Grayson Rodriguez, Orioles: The 6-5 right-hander's lat injury delayed his major league debut, but he went on to a have a brilliant minor league season, posting a 6-2 record with a 2.62 ERA over 75 ⅔ innings. Armed with a fastball that can reach triple-digits, the organization envisions the 23-year-old as a potential ace and could debut in the big league rotation.
4. 1B Joey Meneses, Nationals: The 30-year-old journeyman became a cult hero in Mexico during the WBC. Meneses led Mexico to an 11-5 rout over Team USA with two home runs and a bat flip for the ages. He had never played a single major-league game until last August, when the Juan Soto trade prompted a call-up. He spent 12 years in the minor leagues, with three clubs giving up on him. He hit a home run in his major-league debut and batted .324 with 13 homers in 56 games and now, will hit in the middle of the Nationals almost every day, splitting time at first base, DH and left field.
5. 1B Vinnie Pasquantino, Royals: After posting a .383 OBP and .832 OPS in a 72-game debut, Pasquantino, 25, should be the Royals’ everyday first baseman (and qualifies as a Name to Know by just 15 plate appearances). Batting cleanup behind Salvador Perez should yield significant RBI opportunities and the Royals are intrigued to see his power play out over a full season.
6. 1B Triston Casas, Red Sox: Casas, 23, showed his patented power through his first MLB stint last season with five home runs in his first 75 at-bats. He did, however, strike out in 23 of those plate appearances. He still has the ability to reach base consistently, and skipper Alex Cora has even floated the idea of batting him in the leadoff spot. At 6-foot-4, Casas plays a solid first base.
7. SP Hunter Brown, Astros: Brown, 25, made a flashy debut over three starts (1-1, 1.47 ERA, 16 strikeouts in 18 ⅓ innings). The 2019 second-round pick out of Oregon could stick at the back of the rotation or in the bullpen this season. He is a 6-3 right-hander who throws hard and has a strong mix of pitches, striking out 10.5 batters with 3.2 walks per nine innings The departure of Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers’s forearm injury that will keep him out for a while gives Brown, 24, a chance to assert himself in the rotation. The right-hander powered through the Pacific Coast League last season (9-4, 2.55 ERA) with 134 strikeouts in 106 innings.
8. SS Ezequiel Tovar, Rockies: Tovar, 21, played in the Dominican Summer League when he was 16 and steadily rose to a brief major league debut (nine games) in 2022. He can hit (.284 in 283 minor league games), run (41 steals in 50 attempts over the last two seasons) and play elite defense. The power is also developing (29 homers over the last two seasons). His .927 OPS in 2022, which he mostly spent in Class AA, was a career high. The job on a team that likely won’t contend is his to lose.
9. SS Oswald Peraza, Yankees: Peraza batted .306 with a .404 on-base percentage during his first callup last September and claimed a spot on the AL Championship Series roster. His play down the stretch has him in the driver’s seat to claim New York's starting shortstop job in 2023, though a significant utility role awaits if and when prospect Anthony Volpe beats him out. The Venezuela-born Peraza, 22, has swiped 73 bases over the last two seasons in the minors.
10. 3B Josh Jung, Rangers: Jung, the eighth overall pick in 2019 out of Texas Tech, has reached the majors with his bat (.311-30-118 in 153 career minor league games). Jung, 25, hasn’t proven he can hit at the big-league level yet. If that trend continues while the Rangers stay in the race for a few months, they might bump him for a veteran acquisition. Until then, the third base job appears to be his.
11. 2B Miguel Vargas, Dodgers: A .313 career hitter in the minors, the 23-year-old is Los Angeles’ presumed second baseman entering the season despite limited experience at the keystone. He suffered a fractured pinky that prevented him from swinging the bat early in spring training games – but the Dodgers felt confident enough about Vargas that they let him play anyway to get reps in the field.
12. C Logan O'Hoppe, Angels: Acquired from the Phillies for Brandon Marsh last summer, O'Hoppe had a big 2022, hitting 26 homers with a .961 OPS in Class AA, earning himself five games in the majors. “As far as what we’ve seen here, his preparation, the way he handles the pitchers, I think he’s ready to play here,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that.” O’Hoppe is certainly the team’s catcher of the future but he’s only played 11 games above Class AA and could start the year in the minors.
13. INF Vaughn Grissom, Braves: Grissom, along with teammate Braden Shewmake, is being groomed to replace Dansby Swanson at shortstop. But roster mechanics prompted the Braves to option both to the minors and give veteran Orlando Arcia the job. However, it shouldn't take long for Grissom to return. The Braves organization has shown a willingness to be aggressive with their young stars. Grissom made the rise from High-A Rome to the big leagues last year and hit .291 with five homers in 41 games for Atlanta, playing mostly at second base.
14. OF Jordan Walker, Cardinals: The Cards converted their top prospect to an outfielder because he was never going to supplant Nolan Arenado at third base. With an impressive spring, Walker, 20, could go directly from Class AA to the opening day roster. Possessing elite power and plus speed, he hit .304 with 19 homers and 22 steals last season in the minors.
15. OF Oscar Colas, White Sox: The time might be now for Colas to inherit right field on the Southside, after producing an .895 OPS across three levels, culminating at Class AAA. Signed out of Cuba in 2020, Colas, 24, will have the luxury of batting deep in the White Sox lineup as he tries to tap into his 30-homer potential.
16. C Gabriel Moreno, Diamondbacks: Veteran Carson Kelly’s broken right forearm should keep him out for several months, opening the door for Moreno to be the primary catcher. Moreno, 23, was the key player received from the Blue Jays in the December deal for outfielder Daulton Varsho. Moreno is a solid defender with a strong arm and good receiving skills who can also make an impact at the plate. Moreno has shown some power in the minor leagues (.479 slugging percentage) but he flashed the potential for more in spring training.
17. INF David Hensley, Astros: Hensley, 27, should gain the most playing time with second baseman Jose Altuve out at least two months with a broken thumb. Hensley’s versatility (he has played every field position except catcher in college, the minors or majors) makes him a good bet for filling in elsewhere, too. He has hit .271 with a .733 OPS in the minor leagues and .345/1.027 in a 16-game major league sample.
18. SS Anthony Volpe, Yankees: Volpe, the Yankees' vaunted 21-year-old prospect, has a chance to start at shortstop on Opening Day after a strong spring. He struck out 118 times in 511 at-bats between Class AA and Class AAA in 2022, but he also has 48 home runs over the last two seasons. Volpe overcame a slow start last season to still put together a 20-homer, 50-steal campaign.
19. OF Kyle Stowers, Orioles: The 25-year-old slashed .253/.306/.418 with three home runs in a 34-game debut. He's competing for a corner outfield spot, but could also platoon at DH. If the lefty can come close to his minor league numbers (.897 OPS in 2021 and .884 OPS in 2022), he could become a solid run producer.
20. SP Ryan Pepiot, Dodgers: The 25-year-old made his big-league debut last season and Tony Gonsolin’s injury opened up a rotation spot that Pepiot could seize on the opening day roster. Pepiot pitched 36 ⅓ innings with a 3.47 ERA and 42 strikeouts in the majors and looked sharp in spring training, striking out 19 in his first 13 ⅔ innings. Even if the right-hander doesn’t start the year in the rotation, he’s proven he can handle big-league pitching and should get ample opportunity in 2023
21. OF Garrett Mitchell, Brewers: A first-round pick (20th overall) in 2020, Mitchell doesn’t pack a lot of punch, but was 34-for-37 on stolen base attempts over two minor league seasons. The speedster got a taste of the majors at the end of last season, hitting .311, swiping eight bases and recording the fastest home-to-first time in the majors, according to Statcast. He’s in line to be the Brewers’ opening day center fielder.
22. 3B Spencer Steer, Reds: Acquired from Minnesota in the Tyler Mahle trade, Steer posted an .879 OPS with 23 home runs in 492 plate appearances over two minor league levels. The 25-year-old can play any infield position but should spend most of his time at third base. The Reds have penciled him in as the starter there, even though he hit just .211 in his 28-game MLB debut.
23. C Francisco Alvarez, Mets: One of the most prolific home-run hitters the past two seasons in the minors, Álvarez cracked 51 between 2021-22 and made a 12-at-bat debut last year. Álvarez will start the season in Class AAA, but it should not be long until he returns to Queens. Defensive concerns could keep him in a mostly designated-hitter role.
24. SP Jared Shuster, Braves: Shuster, 24, is the top prospect in the organization and in competition with Dylan Dodd for the fifth spot in the rotation. Shuster and Dodd, both lefties, have matched each other every step of the way; in 2022, Shuster posted a 3.29 ERA with a 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings between Class AA and AAA.
25. SP Ken Waldichuk, Athletics: The 6-4 lefty came over from the Yankees in the Frankie Montas trade last summer and made seven starts for Oakland. With a fastball sitting in the upper-90s, Waldichuck has improved his slider and should be a regular in the back end of the Athletics’ rotation this season.
26. OF James Outman, Dodgers: Outman will make the Dodgers’ opening day roster and should get plenty of strong-side platoon opportunities, having hit 31 home runs in the minors last year. Manager Dave Roberts said earlier in March that Outman is "big league ready", but he’ll be competing for outfield at-bats with veterans David Peralta, Trayce Thompson and Jason Heyward.
27. INF Elehuris Montero, Rockies: His power has played in the minors (43 homers over his last 185 games) and has potential to be monstrous at Coors Field. He got 53 games’ worth in 2022, moving between third and first bases and hitting six homers with a .702 OPS. The home split (five homers, .856 OPS in 23 games) is worth watching. The 6-3, 235-pound Montero, acquired in the Nolan Arenado trade, has been mashing in spring training and figures to slide into at least a semi-regular role at third.
28. OF Will Benson, Reds: Following a trans-Ohio trade from the Guardians, Benson, 24, now has a much clearer path to playing time. Nick Senzel is still recovering from offseason toe surgery, so Benson has the inside track to be the Reds’ center fielder on opening day. The 14th overall pick in the 2016 draft has displayed both power and speed in the minors, but he hit just .182 with no homers or steals in 28 games with Cleveland.
29. 3B Curtis Mead, Rays: A native of Australia, Mead, 22, could have made his debut last season if not for an elbow injury. He doesn’t hit much for power but batted .321 in 2021 and posted a .298/.390/.532 slash line at Class AA and Class AAA. Mead started most games at third in 2022 but his arm might make him better-suited for second or first.
30. OF Kerry Carpenter, Tigers: It’s been a steady climb for a 19th-round pick out of Virginia Tech in 2019, and now Carpenter, 25, could find himself in the middle of Detroit’s lineup at points this season. He hit six homers in his 113 at-bat debut, posting a 128 adjusted OPS, and will at least be a lefty DH this year.
31. SP Ryne Nelson, Diamondbacks: Nelson, 25, made a flashy 2022 debut over three starts (1-1, 1.47 ERA, 16 strikeouts in 18 ⅓ innings). The 2019 second-round pick out of Oregon could stick at the back of the rotation or in the bullpen. He is a 6-3 right-hander who throws hard and has a strong mix of pitches, striking out 10.5 batters and walking 3.2 per nine innings in the minor leagues.
32. SP Hayden Wesneski, Cubs: Acquired from the Yankees at last year’s trade deadline, the 25-year-old earned a promotion to the majors and pitched well enough (3-2, 0.94 WHIP in 33 IP) to earn a shot at making this year’s Cubs rotation. He sports a five-pitch mix, headlined by a big-breaking slider.
33. SS Brice Turang, Brewers: After an underwhelming 2021 season, Turang re-established his prospect pedigree by hitting .286/.360/.412 last year at Class AAA Nashville with a career-best 13 homers and 34 steals. Added to Milwaukee’s 40-man roster over the winter, the 23-year-old is a solid defender who can play both middle infield positions.
34. OF Esteury Ruiz, Athletics: Ruiz was traded from Milwaukee to San Diego to Oakland in 2022 and is competing for the Athletics’ center field job. A former second baseman, the 24-year-old hit .332 with a .973 OPS and 85 steals in the minors last season and has team officials confident he can handle center field on a daily basis.
35. 1B Darick Hall, Phillies: Hall slugged nine homers with an .804 OPS in a 42-game debut and should start this season as the club's primary DH as Bryce Harper recovers from Tommy John surgery. Hall also may access more at-bats after first baseman Rhys Hoskins' knee injury. At 27, Hall may not have much ceiling left, but the man did slug 37 homers between Class AAA and Philadelphia last year, and has a long runway to do damage as the Phillies' wounded sluggers mend.
36. SP Dylan Dodd, Braves: Dodd, also a left-hander like Shuster, is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation after Ian Anderson and Bryce Elder were optioned to Class AAA Gwinnett. Dodd, who was taken as a fifth-year senior out of Southeast Missouri State in 2021's third round, is known for his ability to generate swings and misses with his fastball, which regularly touches the mid-90s.
37. C/OF Blake Sabol, Giants: A converted outfielder, Sabol hit .284 with an .859 OPS in Classes AA and AAA for the Pirates organization last season and has to stay on the Giants’ 26-man roster all season as a Rule 5 pick.. San Francisco’s backstop situation is unclear with Sabol, Roberto Pérez, Joey Bart and Austin Wynns competing for roster spots, but Sabol’s versatility should earn him a fair share of at-bats this season. “Guys have been raving about throwing to him,” Giants starter Alex Cobb said. “His setup, his demeanor and confidence as a catcher – I’ve been really impressed with him.”
38. SP Chase Silseth, Angels: The right-hander was knocked around in the majors (6.59 ERA in seven starts) upon his promotion from Class AA and won’t start 2023 in the majors – but had a 2.28 ERA in 15 minor-league starts last year. He’ll get some time under his belt in Class AAA and will be back up at some point this season.
39. 3B Brett Baty, Mets: At one point this offseason destined for the outfield, Baty’s future remains at the hot corner with the Mets’ pursuit of Carlos Correa falling through. Baty batted .315 between Class AA and Class AAA with a .943 OPS and his defense at third base has looked much-improved during spring training.
40. RP DL Hall, Orioles: Hall could start the season in the O's bullpen or in Class AAA Norfolk’s rotation. He made his MLB debut in a start last Aug. 11, but when he returned as a September callup, he made all 10 of his appearances out of the bullpen. He posted a 5.93 ERA over 13 ⅔ innings in 11 games.
41. C Yainer Diaz, Astros: Diaz, 24, has shown steady improvement offensively and defensively since the Guardians signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. He has hit .321 with an .868 OPS in 340 minor league games and batted .306-25-96 in 105 games between Classes AA and AAA in 2022. The latter performance came after the Astros acquired him in the 2021 deal that sent outfielder Myles Straw to Cleveland. He is likely the Astros’ catcher of the future who could share time with Martin Maldonado, 36, while also getting DH at-bats.
42. OF Heliot Ramos, Giants: The former top prospect is still only 23 but time may be running out on his window with San Francisco. Ramos was an early roster cut in spring training after hitting .227 in Class AAA last year and is going to start 2023 in the minors. Expect to see him in the majors when the Giants need an outfielder.
43. SP Bobby Miller, Dodgers: The right-hander had shoulder soreness during spring training but should be good to go for the start of the minor-league season. A first-round pick in 2020, Miller had 145 strikeouts in 112 ⅓ innings across two levels, making four starts in Class AAA later in the year. “You can’t debate the stuff. But the breaking ball, the fastball command, all that stuff is things that he’s going to continue to tighten up,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Seeing him debut this year is not far-fetched at all.”
44. RP Scott McGough, Diamondbacks: The right-hander has closing experience from his time in Japan — and he might find himself getting a chance to close in Arizona, at least given how he's thrown this spring. Not only does McGough, 33, have two good secondary offerings, he can throw both his splitter and slider out of the zone to elicit chase or land them in the zone for strikes. And while he doesn’t overpower with his 92-94 mph fastball, the pitch seems to get on hitters in a hurry. McGough, though, has only six games of major league experience and right-handers Miguel Castro, Kevin Ginkel and Jeurys Familia have all had solid springs.
45. SP Andrew Painter, Phillies: He'd be much higher were it not for an elbow injury in spring training that prevented one of baseball's most imposing young arms from grabbing a spot in the defending NL champs' rotation. The Phillies will try to treat his elbow with rest and injections. If he avoids Tommy John surgery, Painter could impact this club sometime in the first half. If not, see you late in 2024.
46. 2B Michael Massey, Royals: After a fair 52-game debut, Massey, 25, may break camp at least as the Royals’ platoon second baseman. He has little to prove in the minors, what with a .356 career OBP and .862 OPS. As for his major league upside? Massey will have the platform to show how high his ceiling may be.
47. INF Ji Hwan Bae, Pirates: Bae stole three bases in a 10-game September debut and was bidding to earn the starting second base job in Pittsburgh. A slow spring means he'll likely back up both Rodolfo Castro and shortstop Oneil Cruz, but things are always fluid in Pittsburgh and Bae, 23, may get a solid shot at second at somee point.
48. C Luis Campusano, Padres: Campusano, 24, will get a chance to deliver behind Austin Nola. He may get the nod for Opening Day depending on the health of Nola, who was hit in the face by a pitch earlier this spring. But it's been a rough start to his MLB career. He homered in his only game in 2020 before an injury. Since then, he hasn't shown much at the big league level the past two seasons, batting .188 with 24 strikeouts in 92 career plate appearances.
49. OF Will Brennan, Guardians: A pop-up surprise last year, Brennan, 25, powered his way onto Cleveland’s postseason roster and notched 15 hits in 42 at-bats after his September debut. He smacked 40 doubles with an .850 OPS across Class AA and AAA, should make the opening-day roster and may force the Guardians to wonder if his bat or Myles Straw’s defense are the greater priority in center field.
50. INF Braden Shewmake, Braves: Like Grissom, Shewmake's rise to the big leagues shouldn't take long. He defense is graded much stronger than his bat, which is the opposite of Grissom. The 25-year-old spent all of last season in Class AAA Gwinnett, batting .259 with a .715 OPS. “I’m looking at the process. The process is sustaining, and consistency,” Braves veteran coach Ron Washington said about Grissom and Shewmake. “That’s what it is. And they’re in the process right now. And they’ve got a very, very, very bright future. It just didn’t happen this spring.”
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51. INF/OF Royce Lewis, Twins: The decidedly non-linear path of this first overall pick took several more unpredictable turns, starting with a torn ACL just weeks after his major league debut in May. Star shortstop Carlos Correa then departed in free agency only to bounce back, again, blocking Lewis’s most desirable position. But the 23-year-old is almost healthy again and prepared to fill in anywhere on the diamond, with plenty of time to reestablish himself as an impact player – regardless of position.
52. INF Jordan Groshans, Marlins: Acquired from the Blue Jays for Anthony Bass last summer, Groshans played 17 games at third base in the majors for Miami. He got some action at first base during spring training and gets on base at a high clip (.366 OBP career in minors) but with only three home runs in 103 games last season, you'd like to see the power come along more. He’ll start in Class AAA, but should be back getting some at-bats across the infield early in the season.
53. SP Michael Grove, Dodgers: Grove was on the shuttle throughout 2022, getting promoted to the majors five times to reinforce the Los Angeles staff, pitching 29 ⅓ innings across seven appearances.He’s on the 40-man roster, giving him an leg up on fellow youngsters Bobby Miller and Gavine Stone. Like other Dodgers before him, Grove is accustomed to the swingman role and will likely be deployed as a starter and reliever this year.
54. INF/OF Nate Eaton, Royals: He can play almost any position – even emergency catcher, the job for which he was drafted – but Eaton, 26, may have his best shot as the Royals’ starting third baseman. Defense will keep him in the lineup somewhat regularly, but Eaton could profile as a slightly better than league-average hitter with gap power.
55. SP/RP Michael Plassmeyer, Phillies: Plassmeyer made two relief appearances for Philadelphia and now could break camp in their rotation thanks to injuries to Ranger Suarez and Andrew Painter. Acquired from the Giants in June 2022, Plassmeyer, 26, has a career 1.15 minor league WHIP and, while he might not last in the rotation once Suarez returns, could stick as a lefty out of the bullpen.
56. SP Bryce Miller, Mariners: Miller, 24, won’t start the season in the major leagues but was strong in spring training and across three levels in 2022, when he ended up in Class AA. The right-hander from Texas A&M (a fourth-round pick in 2021) throws hard with high spin, according to MLB.com, and has struck out 11.2 hitters per nine innings in the minor leagues.
57. SP Eury Perez, Marlins: Turning 20 in April, Miami’s top pitching prospect is a good bet to make his big-league debut before he can buy beer. Perez had 110 strikeouts in 77 innings last year, missing some time with an injury. The right-hander can touch 100 and his secondary stuff misses bats, but Perez hasn’t pitched above Class AA and could use some more time in the minors.
58. OF Travis Swaggerty, Pirates: Another Pirate with a brief September cameo to his name - this one five games and nine at-bats - Swaggerty, 25, should claim a bench spot as an extra outfielder. Not a slugger, but a stat of note: He stole 23 and 20 bases his last two full minor league seasons, with an 81% success rate.
59. 3B Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Reds: One of the top power bats in the minors, Encarnacion-Strand hit 32 homers and drove in 114 runs at Class-A and AA. He picked up where he left off this spring, with a .571 average and four home runs before being assigned to minor league camp. If he continues to rake at Class AAA, the 23-year-old could see the majors this summer.
60. SP Kyle Muller, Athletics: Acquired from Atlanta in the Sean Murphy trade, the 25-year-old gets a fresh start after making 11 starts in the majors over the past two seasons. The lefty was competing for Oakland’s fifth starter spot in spring training, but he has nothing left to prove in Class AAA and could be a rotation regular by the summer for a team expected to push 100 losses.
61. SP Yosver Zulueta, Blue Jays: Bad luck hampered Zulueta, 25, when he missed the entire 2020 campaign due to Tommy John surgery and by tearing his ACL covering a base during his first outing of 2021. He came back last year as a traditional starter, but at Class AA and Class AAA, the Jays used him in more of a relief role. Zulueta signed for $1 million out of Cuba in 2019 and “Zulu” could bring his explosive velocity north of the border this year.
62. C Bo Naylor, Guardians: Naylor, 23, is Cleveland’s catcher of the future – perhaps the very near future. The Guardians brought him up at the end of last year to get his major league feet wet, but with just 210 games of experience above Class A, will start him at Class AAA. Naylor, Josh Naylor’s younger brother, had 21 homers and an .889 minor-league OPS in 2022, caught for Team Canada this spring and could be paired soon with Mike Zunino in Cleveland.
63. INF Michael Busch, Dodgers: Gavin Lux’s season-ending injury may have opened a pathway to playing time for Busch, who hit 32 home runs with 108 RBI in the minors last season. He is set to start the season in Class AAA, but the Dodgers’ day-to-day lineup will be fluid and Busch could get an extended look early in the season if others are failing to produce.
64. C Tyler Soderstrom, Athletics: Soderstrom got the majority of his playing time at first base in 2022, but was primarily behind the plate for Oakland during spring training.The 21-year-old hit 29 homers with 105 RBI across three levels last season and will get some more Triple-A playing time before likely making a summer debut.
65. SP Gavin Stone, Dodgers: The 24-year-old was one of the best pitchers in the minors last season, posting a 1.48 ERA in 121 ⅔ innings across three levels – including a 1.16 mark in six Class AAA starts. Stone isn’t on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster so he’ll start the year in the minors waiting to get the call.
66. SP Luis Ortiz, Pirates: Ortiz made a four-start debut in September and will be in the middle of Pittsburgh's rotation sooner than later. His fastball can touch 100 mph - he struck out 138 in 124 ⅓ minor-league innings this season - and posted a respectable 1.14 WHIP. But he yielded 20 homers and needs to refine his command to stick in Pittsburgh.
67. SP Brandon Pfaadt, Diamondbacks: Pfaadt, 24, entered camp with the reputation as the club’s top pitching prospect. But with other young starters having already reached the big leagues — and having pitched well at that level late last season — Pfaadt also was viewed as something of a dark horse candidate to win a rotation spot. He has been the most impressive of the bunch. “He can throw any pitch in any count,” said manager Torey Lovullo, who added his fastball is “not just 94-95 (mph); it’s got good finish to it.” The right-hander was sent to the minor leagues but has already made 10 Class AAA starts and is likely to be in the majors soon.
68. SP Kyle Harrison, Giants: San Francisco's top pitching prospect had 186 strikeouts in 113 minor-league innings last year, but could use some time in Class AAA. The 21-year-old lefty held opponents to a .196 average and has drawn comparisons to Madison Bumgarner from former teammate Ryan Vogelsong, now an instructor in the GIants’ organization. If Harrison’s command improves, he has the stuff to be a good starter for a long time.
69. 1B Matt Mervis, Cubs: Mervis didn’t have his name called in the abbreviated 2020 pandemic draft, but the Duke alum, 24, made up for lost time after signing with the Cubs. He posted a .984 OPS with 36 homers and led the entire minor leagues last year with 119 RBI over three levels. His path to the majors got a bit more complicated, however, with the Cubs signing free agents Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer over the winter.
70. RP Jeremiah Estrada, Cubs: The hard-throwing right-hander has already been sent down to start the season, but he’ll likely be back in short order. In 48 ⅓ minor league innings last year, he posted a 1.30 ERA with 78 strikeouts (14.5 K/9) and nine saves. With no obvious closer on the big-league roster, Estrada could be a candidate for the job if he shows he can close consistently at Class AAA.
71. OF Matt Wallner, Twins: Wallner, 25, slugged 29 homers last year, 27 at Class AAA and the final two in an 18-game audition with Minnesota. Yet he also struck out 195 times, the only blemish on a resume that includes a shutdown outfield arm. Smoothing out those contact issues early in the season will ensure a far longer look next time he’s up.
72. OF Zac Veen, Rockies: Veen, 21, is one of the Rockies’ top prospects but hasn’t played above Class AA. He got an invitation to spring training, where he held his own after a standout stint in the Arizona Fall League as a 20-year-old. He’ll get a little more seasoning in the minor leagues and should be ripe for a callup. The left-handed hitter, a first-round pick in 2020, has developing power and speed (.806 career OPS with 91 steals in 232 minor league games).
73. OF Drew Waters, Royals: Once a top Braves prospect, Waters’ stock was invigorated by a trade to Kansas City and a subsequent deal that sent Michael A. Taylor to Minnesota, potentially opening up center field for the 24-year-old. But an oblique injury suffered this month will shelve Waters into the start of the season. Waters’ athleticism may enable him to seize the job when healthy. Keeping it will depend on curtailing a strikeout total that reached 164, 142 and 141 the past three full seasons, including 40 whiffs in a 32-game Royals debut last year.
74. SS Lenyn Sosa, White Sox: So he’s not about to supplant Tim Anderson up the middle, but Sosa, 23, will figure into the White Sox’s infield plans at some point this season. He debuted last June and got 35 at-bats, and the 23 homers he hit across multiple levels are very encouraging. With 35-year-old Elvis Andrus holding down second base, Sosa may be there before long.
75. SS Ryan Kreidler, Tigers: He’s lived up to his billing as a reliable defender since the Tigers drafted Kreidler, 25, in the fourth round out of UCLA in 2019. Now, after an encouraging monthlong debut in 2022, Kreidler may find himself hard-pressed to crack the roster after the club traded for Nick Maton. But Kreidler's ability to play any infield position and baseball IQ will earn him a more extended big league look sometime this season.
76. SP Matthew Liberatore, Cardinals: The 6-4 left-hander acquired from Tampa Bay for Randy Arozarena has yet to pay dividends on the major league level, although he did make his Cardinals debut in 2022. Control issues fueled a 5.97 ERA in 34 ⅔ innings, so he’ll begin his age-23 season at Class AAA Memphis.
77. SS Elly De La Cruz, Reds: One of the highest-ceiling prospects in the game, De La Cruz combines power and speed as a 6-5, 200-pound, switch-hitting shortstop. Just 21, he hit .304 with 28 homers and 47 stolen bases at High-A and Double-A, but struck out in more than 30% of his plate appearances. He could reach the majors this summer with a strong start at Class AAA Louisville.
78. INF Tyler Freeman Guardians: Freeman, 23, a second-round pick in 2017, touched Cleveland last year and may return this year as a bench piece. He brings a strong five-year minor-league sample – a .311/.376/.428 line – along with a 79% stolen-base success rate (48 for 61) and just 140 strikeouts in 1,300 at-bats.
79. OF Sal Frelick Brewers: The leadoff hitter for Team Italy in the recently completed World Baseball Classic, Frelick, 22, could soon fill that role in Milwaukee. The first-round pick in 2021 (15th overall) has consistently posted on-base percentages over .400 throughout his college and pro career, and had a .331/.403/.480 slash line over three minor league levels in 2022.
80. SP Bryan Mata, Red Sox: Following the lost pandemic year and Tommy John surgery in 2021, Mata returned to the mound last June and ended the season at Class AAA Worcester. Over four levels and 83 innings, Mata posted a 2.49 ERA and he fanned 105.
81. SP Taj Bradley, Rays: Bradley, 22, was the AL starting pitcher at the Futures Game and in 2021 led the minors iwth a 1.83 ERA at two Class A levels. Bradley built upon that with a 2.57 ERA and 141 strikeouts over 133 ⅓ innings at Class AA and Class AAA in 2022 and was added to the 40-man roster in November. Bradley's fastball touches 98 mph.
82. SP Mick Abel, Phillies: With Andrew Painter's elbow uncertainty, Abel, 21, slides into the role of Philly's highest-ceiling, closest-to-majors prospect. He's expected to start at Class AA, where he made five starts after a season at high Class A, but Abel's dominance (196 strikeouts in 153 innings) could prompt the win-now Phillies to summon him relatively quickly if his command questions (1. 33 WHIP in 2022) are answered.
83. INF Addison Barger, Blue Jays: Last year was a breakout season for the 2018 sixth-round pick whose development ramped up with 26 homers and a .555 slugging percentage as he went from Class A Advanced to Class AAA. Barger, 23, also hit .308 and can play multiple positions on the infield.
84. C Endy Rodriguez, Pirates: The switch-hitting Rodriguez, 22, rocketed up prospect lists after excelling at three different levels of the minors in 2022. He slashed a combined .323/.407/.590 with 25 homers, while showing some versatility by playing first base, second base and the outfield. It seems only a matter of time (and maybe money) before the Pirates put him on the major league roster.
85. INF Gabriel Arias, Guardians: Arias, 23, is a gifted defender who could play all over the infield in Cleveland, although his offensive metrics declined during a near full season at Class AAA last year. Still, he has a little bit of power, appeared for a 15-game debut last year and may snag a roster spot out of camp this year.
86. SP Emerson Hancock, Mariners: The sixth overall pick in 2020 out of Georgia has risen to Class AA. The right-hander is still just 23 and will sit in a minor league stable that includes Bryce Miller and await the chance for a callup. Hancock is proving he is past the shoulder issues he had early in his minor league career. When he is at his best, he throws in the mid-90s with solid secondary offerings. His 3.5 walks per nine innings are something to monitor.
87. 3B Coby Mayo, Orioles: Mayo is a promising high school fourth rounder in the 2020 draft. He reached Class AA ball last season, where he posted a .745 OPS over 149 plate appearances, and will likely return there to begin the 2023 season. The upside is that the right-handed hitter has plus power and has a chance to be a 30-plus homer hitter.
88. OF Brennen Davis, Cubs: A five-tool prospect, Davis, 23, may be best known for hitting two home runs and winning MVP honors at the 2021 Futures Game. However, a back injury that required surgery last summer led to a lost season in which he hit just .180 in 53 games. At 6-4, he has the speed and range to play center field, but he’ll need to show he’s fully recovered first.
89. OF George Valera, Guardians: The future is bright for Valera, even if it’s not imminent. The power-hitting, lefty-swinging outfielder, 22, reached Class AAA for 42 games in 2022, capping a year in which he banged out 52 extra-base hits and a .353 OBP. The Guardians are hoping he’s a long-term foundation piece, but in the more immediate picture, he could share outfield at-bats with Oscar Gonzalez.
90. INF Zack Gelof, Athletics: A second-round pick in 2021, Gelof played for Israel in the World Baseball Classic and is considered one of Oakland’s top prospects. Gelof has been seeing most of his time at second base and will start the season in Class AAA, but his bat should get him into the conversation this year having posted an .861 OPS in his two pro seasons.
91. OF Alec Burleson, Cardinals: An impressive year at Class AAA (.332/.373/.534 with 20 homers in 469 plate appearances) earned Burleson, 24, a September call-up. The results weren’t great in his first first taste of the majors, but the lefty hitter was able to maintain the high contact rate he showed in the minors. He could make the roster as a backup outfielder.
92. INF Edouard Julien, Twins: A power bat but an unproven glove provide an interesting profile for Julien, who starred in the Arizona Fall League and played for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. His .441 OBP and 17 homers at Class AA showed a glimpse of what Julien can offer and the departures of Miguel Sano and Luis Arraez may nudge Julien closer to Target Field.
93. INF Maikel Garcia, Royals: We can’t quite call him the Royals’ shortstop of the future – not when Bobby Witt Jr. is entering just his second year – but Garcia, 23, has made steady progress through the Royals system, culminating in a nine-game big league cameo last year. A return trip is in the offing this year and, in the long term, Garcia’s skills should translate to plus defense and capable offense wherever he might land alongside Witt on the infield.
94. SP Caleb Kilian, Cubs: The key piece in the 2021 Kris Bryant trade, Kilian went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, tossing six perfect innings in the AFL championship game. However, control issues plagued him last season as he walked five batters per nine innings and pitched to a 4.22 ERA at Class AAA Iowa. He made three starts with the Cubs (10.32 ERA), but will return to Iowa to start 2023.
95. INF/OF Samad Taylor, Royals: Acquired in August from Toronto in a trade for Whit Merrifield, Taylor, 24, is yet another multi-position Royal who may surface in a reserve role. He stole 30 bases in 70 games at Class AAA Buffalo last year, and a career-best 44 at Class A in 2018 and may benefit from new rules and bases encouraging steal attempts.
96. RP Nick Avila, White Sox: A Rule 5 draftee from San Francisco who might stick in Chicago’s bullpen, Avila, 25, struck out 58 batters in 55 ⅓ innings, with a 0.98 WHIP, across high-A and AA in the Giants system last year.
97. SS Ronny Mauricio, Mets: Once the Mets' top prospect, Mauricio’s hype has dwindled over the years. The arrival and permanence of Francisco Lindor did not help matters. But Mauricio blasted a career-best 26 home runs at Class AA last season and drove in 89 runs.
98. SP Ethan Small, Brewers: Small, 26, made a pair of spot starts for the Brewers last year, but spent the bulk of his time at Class AAA, where he struck out 114 batters in 103 innings. However, control can be an issue for the crafty left-hander (4.6 BB/9 in three minor league seasons). Fun fact: Small closed out an 8-3 NL victory in the 2021 Futures Game by striking out Jasson Dominguez and Julio Rodriguez.
99. OF Jake Alu, Nationals: Opportunity is abundant in Washington and Alu, who turns 26 on April 6, is an intriguing option to seize it. The Boston College product upped his power production to 20 homers between Class AA-AAA last season and has a career OBP (.343) and OPS (.804) that merit a look.
100. INF Luisangel Acuña, Rangers: The younger brother of the Braves’ Ronald Acuña should be on everyone’s radar soon. He reached the 2022 Arizona Fall League and major league spring training before he turned 21 and flashed his speed-power combo in 14 games this spring. Acuña has played second base and shortstop in the minors, but with Marcus Semien and Corey Seager as star incumbents, may profile as an outfielder in Texas.
Contributing: Nick Piecoro
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB's 100 Names You Need To Know For 2023: Top prospects to watch