The MLB Pipeline Top 100 was released last Friday night, and since then, we hope you’ve spent hours reading up on scouting reports, tool grades and ETAs for this year’s top prospects.
But there’s one question the list doesn’t answer -- who’s just on the outside looking in?
Earlier this week, we broke down 10 players who just missed the cut. Now, we present one player from each organization who represents the club’s best non-Top 100 prospect:
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Arjun Nimmala, SS
Nimmala was still only 17 when Toronto picked him 20th overall last July, highlighting how long of a development path he’ll have. Ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 11 prospect in the 2023 Draft class, the 6-foot-1 shortstop slipped some because of concerns around pitch selection, but his potential for plus raw power is undeniable from the right side. With good arm strength, he also has a solid shot of sticking at shortstop, upping his potential value.
Orioles: Connor Norby, 2B/OF (No. 7 2B)
Norby can play left field, too, but it’s his short right-handed swing that will get him to the big leagues. After hitting 29 homers across three levels in 2022, he spent the '23 season with Triple-A Norfolk, where he slashed .290/.359/.483 with 40 doubles and 21 homers. It’s crowded in Baltimore and the upper levels of its system, so it will be interesting to see how and if Norby can break through into the big league lineup.
Rays: Brayden Taylor, 3B
Taylor became TCU’s first-ever position player to go in the first round (19th overall) after he set school records for single-season (23) and career (48) home runs. The left-handed batter slugged above .570 in all three of his seasons with the Horned Frogs, but he isn’t all power either, with an ability to control the strike zone. He had enough athleticism to play a little middle infield in school but is an even better fit at third, especially with his arm strength. Then again, these are the Rays, so don’t be surprised if he does move around on his way to St. Petersburg.
Red Sox: Miguel Bleis, OF
Boston's best international prospect since Rafael Devers, Bleis signed for $1.5 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2021. He's a center fielder with 30-30 upside and the potential for at least solid tools across the board, but his 2023 full-season debut ended after he slashed .230/.282/.325 with 11 steals in 31 Single-A games. He subluxated his left shoulder on a swing in late May and required surgery.
Yankees: Everson Pereira, OF
Though he's overshadowed by fellow outfielders Jasson Domínguez and Spencer Jones in the Yankees' system, some evaluators believe Pereira will be the best big leaguer among the trio. Signed for $1.5 million out of Venezuela in 2017, he can play all three outfield spots and features solid power and speed. He batted .300/.373/.548 with 18 homers and 11 steals in 81 games between Double-A and Triple-A before making 26 starts for the Yankees in the season's final six weeks.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: Ralphy Velazquez, C/1B
Few players in the 2023 Draft offered a better combination of hitting ability and power than Velazquez, whom the Guardians scooped up with the 23rd overall selection. The California high school product went 8-for-23 with two homers in Rookie ball during his brief pro debut. He's a work in progress behind the plate, but his solid arm strength is an asset.
Royals: Cayden Wallace, 3B
Blake Mitchell was the only Kansas City prospect who came up in Top 100 discussions, and it’s a tough race behind him for No. 2 in the organization. Right now, we lean toward Wallace -- a potential 15-15 player with a good shot at being an everyday third baseman. His results dropped after a late-season promotion to Double-A, but he did cut his strikeout rate there and may have been the victim of bad luck (.265 BABIP) as he worked to improve his lift on contact.
Tigers: Kevin McGonigle, SS/2B
Detroit officials were already pleased to get McGonigle with the 37th overall pick last year, signing him for above slot at $2,847,500 to make sure he joined the organization, and they’ve been perhaps even more impressed by their early looks. McGonigle showed great knowledge of the strike zone, posting a 10/18 K/BB ratio over 21 games between the Florida Complex and State Leagues, and his ability to find the barrel should help him be a plus hitter even against more advanced arms.
Twins: David Festa, RHP
A native of Verona, N.J., the 6-foot-6 Festa attended nearby Seton Hall University and has already outperformed expectations that came with being a 13th-round pick in the 2021 Draft. He’s continued to throw harder as he’s made it to the top of the Twins' system, and the 2023 Futures Gamer is getting more misses with his heater and has two distinct breaking balls and a really good changeup.
White Sox: Edgar Quero, C (No. 9 C)
An offensive-minded catcher with a mature approach at the plate, Quero won the Single-A California League MVP Award after slashing .312/.435/.530 in 2022, then batted .255/.380/.351 in Double-A last year at age 20. Acquired from the Angels in a trade for Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López last July, he's working to improve his defense and has average arm strength.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Astros: Jacob Melton, OF
Though the Astros got shut out on our latest Top 100, Melton did receive support for making the list. A 2022 second-rounder from Oregon State, he slashed .245/.334/.467 with 23 homers and 46 steals in 99 games between High-A and Double-A during his first full pro season, and his underlying metrics were even better than his raw numbers. His best tool is his plus speed, and he could be solid or better across the board.
Angels: Nelson Rada, OF
The Angels challenged Rada with a jump from the Dominican Summer League in 2022 to full-season ball in '23, and the outfielder, who played most of the year at age 17, more than held his own (.276 average with a .396 OBP). He also stole 55 bases and can play center field for a long time. The one question remaining is just how much strength he can gain, which will hopefully lead to more impact.
A’s: Mason Miller, RHP
Miller has previously been on the Top 100, and he certainly has that kind of stuff. He’s shown his elite-level power repertoire can miss bats in the big leagues (10.3 K/9), with a fastball that hits triple digits and a nasty slider. The concern about Miller is his ability to stay healthy. The right-hander missed nearly all of 2022 with a scapula strain and then lost a large chunk of last year because of an elbow issue, leading some to wonder if the bullpen is a better fit for him long term.
Mariners: Lazaro Montes, OF
Signed for $2.5 million in January 2022, Montes made a strong first impression with an OPS north of 1.000 in the Dominican Summer League after signing, albeit with a hefty strikeout rate (33.2 percent). He came stateside in 2023 and played his way from the Complex League to full-season ball, finishing with a 1.001 OPS while cutting his strikeout rate and raising his walk rate. There were some who felt he was the best outfielder in the system even before the Mariners traded Gabriel Gonzalez to the Twins.
Rangers: Justin Foscue, 2B/3B (No. 5 2B)
The 14th overall pick in 2020 out of Mississippi State, Foscue combines power with patience. He ranked third in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in walks (85) and tied for fourth in doubles (31), while slashing .266/.394/.468. He has seen most of his action in pro ball at second and third base, but his best chances for playing time with the defending World Series champions will come at first base (where he began playing last summer) and DH.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Spencer Schwellenbach, RHP
The Braves have a pair of right-handers in the Top 100 (AJ Smith-Shawver and Hurston Waldrep) and there are more right-handed pitchers behind them who are really interesting. Schwellenbach was a shortstop in college who didn’t pitch for Nebraska until his junior year, when he won the John Olerud Award for best two-way player in college as a shortstop/closer. Atlanta didn’t get to see him pitch competitively until 2023 because he needed Tommy John surgery, but it was very encouraged by the Futures Gamer’s 65 innings of work and think there’s some upside to tap into here.
Marlins: Thomas White, LHP (No. 8 LHP)
Gatorade's Massachusetts High School Player of the Year as both a junior and senior, White went 35th overall in the 2023 Draft and signed for $4.1 million -- a record bonus for a New England draftee. While he needs to add polish, he could have three plus pitches once fully developed -- a mid-90s fastball with run and carry, a high-spin curveball that sits around 80 mph and a low-80s changeup with fade.
Mets: Christian Scott, RHP
In moving from a two-seam fastball to a mid-90s four-seamer, Scott showed remarkable gains in command last season and led Minor League pitchers (min. 80 IP) with a 2.33 FIP, 0.86 WHIP and 8.9 K/BB ratio. His slider and changeup are also at least average pitches, making him solid against batters from both sides. A former reliever at Florida, the 24-year-old still hasn’t thrown more than 90 innings in college or the pros, and that limited workload is maybe the only thing holding him back from a more famous profile.
Nationals: Cade Cavalli, RHP
The 2020 22nd overall pick may have become a bit forgotten in 2023 after Tommy John surgery kept him out all season. So here’s a refresher -- Cavalli sits 95-97 mph with his fastball and can touch triple-digits. His curveball, slider and changeup all earn above-average grades, and that helped him strike out 279 over 220 1/3 innings in the Minors. The 6-foot-4 righty did experience some command issues before going under the knife, so we’ll need to see that work continue in his rehab and return this summer. But for now, he easily remains Washington’s top prospect on the mound.
Phillies: Starlyn Caba, SS
To say the Phillies are excited about Caba, who signed in January 2023 for $3 million, would be an understatement. He hit .301 with a .423 OBP during his debut in the DSL last summer, showing off a knack for contact from both sides of the plate. While we’ll have to see how much strength and offensive impact he adds as he matures, he’s an elite-level defender at shortstop and can really run, pointing at least to a future as a table-setter in a big league lineup. He’s just 18 years old for the entirety of his U.S. debut this season.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Robert Gasser, LHP (No. 9 LHP)
The 24-year-old southpaw led all Triple-A pitchers and finished sixth in the Minor Leagues with 166 strikeouts over 135 1/3 innings for Nashville. His 3.79 ERA was also second-best among qualifiers at the Minors’ highest level. Gasser’s best pitch is a 79-82 mph slider that works well against batters from both sides, and he sports a pair of low-90s fastballs and an upper-80s cutter that keeps hitters guessing. He should get a look in Milwaukee’s rotation quickly in 2024 and has the ingredients of at least a backend starter.
Cardinals: Victor Scott II, OF
Speed kills. That statement is getting truer by the day, thanks to rule changes that have encouraged movement on the basepaths. No one uses their speed quite as well as Scott, a true 80-grade runner who tied for the Minor League lead with 94 steals in 2023. He’s also a plus-plus center fielder and would be a defensive asset in the Majors tomorrow if called upon. Though he batted .303 at High-A and Double-A, Scott still has some questions about overall power and ability against fellow lefties that keep him out of the Top 100 for now, but like everything else in his career, that could change quickly.
Cubs: Moises Ballesteros, C/1B (No. 8 C)
The Cubs' 2023 Minor League Player of the Year, Ballesteros slashed .285/.374/.449 with 14 homers while ending his age-19 season with a five-game cameo in Double-A. He draws some Alejandro Kirk comps for his hitting ability, soft hands and husky build, and he continues to make progress with his receiving and blocking.
Pirates: Thomas Harrington, RHP
The Pirates have four arms in the Top 100, but there’s a lot of pitching depth behind Paul Skenes, Jared Jones, Anthony Solometo and Bubba Chandler. The next tier starts with Harrington, the club’s Competitive Balance Round A (No. 36 overall) pick in 2022. He used his advanced feel of what can be a five-pitch mix to move from Single-A Bradenton to High-A Greensboro, where he spent most of the year. Along the way, he struck out 10.3 per nine and walked just 2.9, seeming ready for the upper levels.
Reds: Sal Stewart, 3B
Stewart loves to hit, and he’s pretty good at it. He earned a promotion from Single-A Daytona to High-A Dayton in his first full season and actually hit better up a level, finishing with an impressive .275/.396/.416 line with more walks than strikeouts. He’s big and strong -- with more power to come -- and a better athlete than people anticipated, giving him a good chance to stick at third while the Reds also give him some reps at second like they did last year.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Yu-Min Lin, LHP
The 5-foot-11 southpaw sticks out more for his secondary pitches than his 89-92 mph fastball, starting with a diving low-80s changeup that was his best swing-and-miss pitch at Double-A. Pitching in the Texas League in his age-19 season, Lin also got a promising whiff rate on his mid-70s curveball, and his low-80s slider and mid-80s cutter provided more looks. The D-backs have challenged Lin to add strength, and if that happens in his third year of pro ball, expect more K’s to come in the upper Minors.
Dodgers: Jackson Ferris, LHP (No. 7 LHP)
After receiving first-round money ($3,005,000) from the Cubs as a second-round pick out of a Florida high school in 2022, Ferris posted a 3.38 ERA, .179 opponents' average against and 77 strikeouts in 56 Single-A innings in his pro debut last summer. Part of the Michael Busch trade in January, he can miss bats with a mid-90s fastball with excellent carry, a pair of solid breaking pitches and a promising changeup with fade.
Giants: Rayner Arias, OF
Compared to a young Eloy Jiménez as a Dominican amateur, Arias signed in January 2023 for $2,697,500, the second-highest international bonus in Giants history. He's an advanced hitter whose high exit velocities portend plenty of future power, and he batted .414/.539/.793 with four homers and four steals during his 16-game pro debut in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League.
Padres: Leodalis De Vries, SS
After signing Ethan Salas as the top international prospect in 2023, the Padres went back to a similar strategy by signing this year’s No. 1 in De Vries. The 6-foot-2 shortstop is a switch-hitter with advanced pitch recognition and potential 20-plus-homer power. He’s also a plus runner out of the box and has enough arm strength to play anywhere on the dirt, should he need to move off shortstop later in his career. He’s off the Top 100 for now until his skills show up in pro games, but early indications are that he, like Salas before him, could be a quick riser in the rankings at just 17 years old.
Rockies: Sterlin Thompson, OF/2B
Thompson is the best pure hitter in the Rockies' system, though he missed a chunk of his first full season with a left elbow injury. He did return and made it to Double-A, where he didn’t hit as well, but he still finished with a .293/.376/.487 line before posting a .935 OPS in the Arizona Fall League. His best position is probably an outfield corner, but he’ll keep getting time at second, perhaps some third and even tinkering at first.