Every January when we update MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects rankings, we also analyze which players have the best individual tools on the list. Several of the phenoms who earned accolades seven months ago have shown off their talents as rookies.
Francisco Alvarez (best power) ranks first among all rookies in home run percentage (7.5 percent) and second in homers (21). Corbin Carroll (fastest runner) is using his quickness to make an impact in all phases of the game. Hunter Brown (best curveball) and Grayson Rodriguez (best changeup) are getting more chases with their signature pitches than any of their others.
We just revamped the Top 100 again last week, so let's take another look at standouts on the new list. Counting the honorable mentions, eight of the game's 13 best prospects are represented -- which also indicates just how exclusive the top tools club is. Grades in parentheses are based on the 20-80 scouting scale, with 50 representing big league average.
Best Hitter: Jackson Holliday, SS/2B, Orioles (70)
Holliday sits atop the updated Top 100 and his hitting ability is the biggest reason why. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 Draft already reached Double-A at age 19 midway through his first full pro season, and he's a career .335/.466/.519 hitter to this point with more walks (98) than strikeouts (94) while facing mostly significantly older pitching. He makes consistent loud contact with a simple left-handed swing and advanced approach.
Also in the running: Dylan Crews, OF, Nationals; Sal Frelick, OF, Brewers; Jackson Merrill, SS, Padres
January Best Hitter: Frelick.
Best Power: Owen Caissie, OF, Cubs (65)
The best prospect that the Cubs received in the Yu Darvish trade in December 2020, Caissie creates huge raw power with bat speed and leverage in his left-handed stroke. He's doing a better job of turning on pitches and driving them in the air this summer, challenging for the Double-A Southern League triple crown while batting .293/.394/.554 with 21 homers in 95 games. His exit velocities are exceptional for a 20-year-old and would rank among the best in the Majors.
Also in the running: Marco Luciano, SS, Giants; Wyatt Langford, OF, Rangers; James Wood, OF, Nationals
January Best Power: Francisco Alvarez, C, Mets
Fastest Runner: Justin Crawford, OF, Phillies (70)
The son of former All-Star Carl Crawford, who won four American League stolen base titles in his first five full seasons in the big leagues, Justin has inherited his father's quickness. Repeatedly clocked at under 6.2 seconds in 60-yard dashes on the high school showcase circuit, he has swiped 40 bases in 47 attempts this season and also has used his speed to beat out several infield hits en route to leading the Single-A Florida State League in hitting at .344.
Also in the running: Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers; Max Clark, OF, Tigers; Druw Jones, OF, Diamondbacks
January Fastest Runner: Corbin Carroll, OF, Diamondbacks
Best Arm: Masyn Winn, SS/2B, Cardinals (80)
Winn starred as both a shortstop and a right-handed pitcher as a Texas high schooler and some clubs liked him more as a pitcher after seeing his fastball touch 98 mph. The Cardinals let him have one professional pitching appearance before making him a full-time shortstop and have had no reason to regret that decision. His elite arm allows him to make throws many shortstops can't and, he famously recorded a 100.5 mph dart at the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. He also hit 102 mph on a relay in a Triple-A game this July.
Also in the running: Coby Mayo, 3B/1B, Orioles; Sebastian Walcott, SS, Rangers; Carson Williams, SS, Rays
January Best Arm: Winn
Best Defender: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs (80)
Crow-Armstrong has been acclaimed as the best defender in the Minors since coming to Chicago in a 2021 deal that sent Javier Báez and Trevor Williams to the Mets. He covers both gaps with a combination of speed, instincts and fearlessness, and his solid arm also enhances his defensive profile. He certainly has the potential to become the first Cub to win a Gold Glove in center field since Bob Dernier in 1984.
Also in the running: Druw Jones, OF, Diamondbacks; Joey Ortiz, INF, Orioles; Ceddanne Rafaela, OF/SS, Red Sox
January Best Defender: Crow-Armstrong
Best Fastball: Paul Skenes, RHP, Pirates (80)
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 Draft, Skenes won the College World Series with Louisiana State while leading NCAA Division I in strikeouts (209), strikeouts per nine innings (15.3) and WHIP (0.75) and ranking second in wins (12), ERA (1.69) and opponents' average (.165). He averaged 98.6 mph with his fastball all spring and topped out at 102 mph. Besides sheer velocity, his heater also stands out with a flat approach angle and good carry.
Also in the running: Daniel Espino, RHP, Guardians; Nick Frasso, RHP, Dodgers; Kyle Harrison, LHP, Giants
January Best Fastball: Espino
Best Curveball: Ben Brown, RHP, Cubs (60)
Yet another savvy trade acquisition by the Cubs, Brown arrived from the Phillies in a July 2022 deal for David Robertson. His outpitch is a breaking ball that he calls a slider but features much more downward than lateral movement and takes the path of a traditional curveball. He throws it with power in the mid-80s and gets swings and misses within the strike zone and chases outside of it. His 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings would rank fourth in the Minors if he weren't a few innings shy of qualifying.
Also in the running: Tink Hence, RHP, Cardinals; Dylan Lesko, RHP, Padres; Quinn Priester, RHP, Pirates
January Best Curveball: Hunter Brown, RHP, Astros
Best Slider: Paul Skenes, RHP, Pirates (70)
Skenes rivals Stephen Strasburg as the best pitching prospect in Draft history, thanks primarily to his fastball/slider combination. His slide piece is an 85-90 mph monster with plenty of horizontal and vertical action, yet he manages to command it well. It generated an absurd 62 percent swing-and-miss rate during the college season, as well as a 32 percent chase rate.
Also in the running: Daniel Espino, RHP, Guardians; Jackson Jobe, RHP, Tigers; Jacob Misiorowski, RHP, Brewers
January Best Slider: Espino
Best Changeup: Dylan Lesko, RHP, Padres (70)
Lesko not only had the best changeup in the 2022 Draft but some veteran scouts also graded it as the best high school cambio they had ever seen. It sits in the low 80s, veers sideways and also has some sink when it arrives at the plate. His advanced feel for pitching led the Padres to select him 15th overall even though he had Tommy John surgery three months beforehand, and he quickly regained his aptitude with his changeup when he returned to the mound this summer.
Also in the running: Gavin Stone, RHP, Dodgers; Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Blue Jays; Carson Whisenhunt, LHP, Giants
January Best Changeup: Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles
Best Control: Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies (65)
Coming off a 2022 season during which he reached Double-A at age 19 and led all Minor League pitchers with at least 100 innings in K-BB percentage (32.4), Painter ranked as baseball's top pitching prospect. He combines a quality four-pitch mix with the ability to locate his offerings wherever he wants, but unfortunately never took the mound in an official game this year. He injured his elbow during Spring Training and had Tommy John surgery in July.
Also in the running: Rhett Lowder, RHP, Reds; Paul Skenes, RHP, Pirates; Robby Snelling, LHP, Padres
January Best Control: Painter