Sunday was graduation day at Prospect University.
Any player who began the season with zero Major League experience and cracked an Opening Day roster exceeded the 45-day rookie standard on Sunday. That makes this as good a time as any to make some alterations to the MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospect rankings.
With Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe graduating already on at-bats and Cardinals outfielder Jordan Walker in Triple-A, we weren’t going to technically lose any Top 100 prospects this weekend, but after roughly six weeks of play across all levels, we have a slightly better understanding of who the top talents in the game are, and we want the Top 100 to reflect that.
To get there, we’ve revoted on the Top 15 spots, moved anyone who warranted a sizable jump or fall (i.e. 10 or more spots), dropped a few names and added some of 2023’s breakout prospects to the new-look list.
1. Jordan Walker, OF/3B, Cardinals
2. Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers
3. Jackson Holliday, SS, Orioles
4. Elly De La Cruz, SS/3B, Reds
5. Marcelo Mayer, SS, Red Sox
6. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles
7. Eury Pérez, RHP, Marlins
8. James Wood, OF, Nationals
9. Jordan Lawlar, SS, D-backs
10. Brett Baty, 3B, Mets
11. Evan Carter, OF, Rangers
12. Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies
13. Druw Jones, OF, D-backs
14. Diego Cartaya, C, Dodgers
15. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs
With Mets catcher Francisco Álvarez graduating on Friday, Walker took over the top spot, and even after an update and some bumps in the road, we weren’t going to take that away from him. He’s still only 20 years old with a long history of hitting and some of the best raw power in the Minor Leagues. He needs to continue working on his transition to the outfield, but there’s enough top-line speed to make him adequate there in time too. We aren’t worried. Neither should you be.
The next three are some of the most exciting prospects in the Minors. Jackson Chourio has a tremendous power-speed combo and is back at Double-A at just 19. Last year’s top pick Jackson Holliday has already climbed to High-A in his first full season and continues to balance hitting for average and power while playing an impressive shortstop. Elly De La Cruz has exceptional Statcast-measured exit velocities, sprint speeds and throws and only gets dinged for his strikeout rate.
Grayson Rodriguez takes over the top pitching crown from Andrew Painter, who still hasn’t pitched in a game after dealing with elbow trouble this spring, while Eury Pérez assumes the No. 2 arm slot days after debuting at just 20 years old in the Majors. Evan Carter was one of the highest climbers on the list as he’s shown one of the Minors’ sharpest eyes and has more than held his own at Double-A, where he’s 4 1/2 years younger than the average Texas Leaguer.
+36 Junior Caminero, 3B/2B, Rays (96 to 60)
+35 Zach Neto, SS, Angels (78 to 43)
+25 Bryce Miller, RHP, Mariners (86 to 61)
+25 Cole Young, SS, Mariners (95 to 70)
+22 Evan Carter, OF, Rangers (33 to 11)
+22 Dalton Rushing, C, Dodgers (91 to 69)
+21 Tanner Bibee, RHP, Guardians (55 to 34)
+21 Cade Horton, RHP, Cubs (89 to 68)
+16 Brandon Pfaadt, RHP, D-backs (49 to 33)
+16 Heston Kjerstad, OF, Orioles (69 to 53)
+15 Gavin Williams, RHP, Guardians (34 to 19)
+13 Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Rays (63 to 50)
+12 Jordan Westburg, INF, Orioles (64 to 52)
Junior Caminero took an aggressive assignment to High-A at just 19 and has had no issue with the level, hitting for average and power in ways that give even more hope to the belief he could be an elite MLB bat someday. Zach Neto has already become the first member of the 2022 Draft class to reach The Show, and his advanced hit tool has made him a leadoff batter in front of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani less than a year after he was playing for Campbell.
Similarly, Cole Young, Dalton Rushing and Cade Horton are 2022 picks who have already springboarded into bigger prospect prominence, and Bryce Miller, Tanner Bibee and Brandon Pfaadt are pitching meaningful big league innings after impressive starts in the Minors, so we wanted their proximity reflected in the rankings.
-50 Daniel Espino, RHP, Guardians (12 to 62)
-31 Cade Cavalli, RHP, Nationals (48 to 79)
-28 Chase DeLauter, OF, Guardians (71 to 99)
-28 Elijah Green, OF, Nationals (37 to 65)
-20 Gavin Cross, OF, Royals (52 to 72)
-20 Jacob Berry, 3B, Marlins (51 to 71)
-19 Robert Hassell III, OF, Nationals (28 to 47)
-17 Quinn Priester, RHP, Pirates (50 to 67)
-13 Jack Leiter, RHP, Rangers (67 to 80)
-12 Ceddanne Rafaela, OF/SS, Red Sox (75 to 87)
-11 Zac Veen, OF, Rockies (21 to 32)
-10 Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies (2 to 12)
Daniel Espino underwent shoulder surgery earlier this month and won’t return until 2024. By then, he’ll have only pitched 18 1/3 innings in the regular season since the start of 2022, and that limited time makes it less likely he’ll hit his ace ceiling. Cade Cavalli underwent Tommy John surgery in the spring following his attempt to get back to the Majors, and the Nationals starter won’t return until his age-25 season. Chase DeLauter (foot surgery) still hasn’t debuted in the Minors after going 16th overall last July and slides behind players with bigger recent resumes.
The next trio of Elijah Green, Gavin Cross and Jacob Berry represent three other 2022 picks who haven’t met expectations early on. Green, in particular, is full of potential with massive power and plus-plus speed but is again striking out 40-plus percent of the time with Single-A Fredericksburg after contact issues plagued his pro debut last summer. Moving down, Robert Hassell III, Quinn Priester, Jack Leiter, Ceddanne Rafaela and Zac Veen all need upper-level consistency to restore their statuses.
Jackson Jobe, RHP, Tigers (from 53)
Gordon Graceffo, RHP, Cardinals (from 68)
Drew Romo, C, Rockies (from 73)
Wilmer Flores, RHP, Tigers (from 83)
Brennen Davis, OF, Cubs (from 84)
Jackson Jobe underperformed at Single-A Lakeland last year and has battled a back issue this spring that could keep him out for much of 2023, thus losing a big year of development. Gordon Graceffo hasn’t quite missed bats as hoped at Triple-A Memphis and has lacked the special control he exhibited in a breakout 2022. Drew Romo may be a glove-first catcher but a severe lack of impact at Double-A this spring squeezed him out. Wilmer Flores is repeating Double-A and has proved a lot more hittable in his second go-around with Erie. After dealing with back issues for much of 2022, Brennen Davis has surpassed 300 plate appearances at Triple-A without showing the same levels of power he exhibited at the lower levels, causing his stock to slip.
95. Matt McLain, SS/2B, Reds
96. Drew Gilbert, OF, Astros
97. Ronny Mauricio, SS, Mets
98. Mason Miller, RHP, Athletics
100. Andrew Abbott, LHP, Reds
A first-round pick in 2021, Matt McLain dropped off some at Double-A in 2022 but has shown an improved approach with fewer strikeouts, more power and a high walk rate at Triple-A Louisville. In the same system, Andrew Abbott has consistently ranked at or near the top of the Minor League strikeout leaderboard, and while the pre-tacked Southern League ball may have played a role, he’s getting whiffs on his fastball and breaking stuff at the Minors’ highest level too.
Drew Gilbert, a first-rounder last year, has already climbed to Double-A in his first full season and is flashing a bit more pop than expected -- a positive sign for a player with 55 hit and run grades. Ronny Mauricio dropped out of the Top 100 in the past because of approach and on-base concerns, but after winning LIDOM MVP honors this winter, he’s still hitting the ball as hard as ever while striking out less. His move to second base portends a callup to Queens.
Finally, Mason Miller has been throwing triple-digit four-seamers alongside hard cutters and sliders to ascend to Oakland, and while he’s on the IL with right forearm tightness, the A’s say an MRI showed his elbow is “structurally clean,” giving us enough faith to slide him onto the Top 100 for the first time.