These are the top tools on our Top 100 Prospects list

January 30th, 2023

The players we highlighted as having the best individual tools on our 2022 Top 100 Prospects list wasted no time displaying them at the big league level.

Julio Rodríguez (best hitter) slashed .284/.345/.509 and became the fastest player ever to reach 25 homers and 25 steals (125 games) en route to winning American League Rookie of the Year honors. Runner-up Adley Rutschman (best defense) ranked in the upper quartile of catchers in terms of throwing and framing.

Hunter Greene (best fastball) led all starters by averaging 98.9 mph with his heater and found success when he started commanding it better. Reid Detmers (best curveball) leaned on his bender as his most reliable pitch during a solid first full season that included a no-hitter. Among pitchers with 130 or more innings, George Kirby (best control) ranked sixth in K/BB ratio (6.1) and seventh in walks per nine innings (1.5).

Can this year's Top 100 prospects with the best tools make as immediate an impact? Most of the top players detailed below are projected to play in the Majors in 2023. Each of them is graded on the 20-80 scouting scale, with 50 representing big league average.

Best hitter: Sal Frelick, OF, Brewers (70)
Scouts thought Frelick had as much pure hitting ability as any collegian in the 2021 Draft, and he has batted .331 in 154 games since Milwaukee drafted him 15th overall, including .365 in 46 Triple-A contests last summer. His compact left-handed swing and his hand-eye coordination allow him to consistently barrel balls and his plus-plus speed helps him turn grounders into singles.

Also in the running: Termarr Johnson, 2B, Pirates; Curtis Mead, 3B/2B, Rays; Miguel Vargas, 3B/OF/1B, Dodgers.

Best power: Francisco Álvarez, C, Mets (70)
Álvarez generates top-of-the-scale raw power with elite bat speed, formidable strength and an aggressive right-handed stroke, and he has the hitting ability to translate that pop into production. He has 58 homers and a .526 slugging percentage in 253 Minor League games despite typically being four or more years younger than his competition. His 439-foot homer last October made him the youngest catcher (age 20) to homer in the Majors since Iván Rodriguez in 1992.

Also in the running: Gunnar Henderson, 3B/SS, Orioles; Marco Luciano, SS, Giants; Jordan Walker, OF/3B, Cardinals.

Fastest runner: Corbin Carroll, OF, D-backs (80)
Carroll posted the highest average sprint speed (30.7 ft/sec) and the second-best home-to-first time (4.05 seconds from the left side) of any big leaguer in 2022 after Arizona promoted him in August. He has swiped 54 bases in 62 attempts in 174 pro games, and his quickness also helps him beat out ground balls and gives him well above-average range in center field.

Also in the running: Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers; Elly De La Cruz, SS/3B, Reds; Elijah Green, OF, Nationals.

Best arm: Masyn Winn, SS, Cardinals (80)
Some teams preferred Winn as a pitcher after he pushed his fastball to 98 mph as a Texas high schooler, but the Cardinals made him a full-time shortstop shortly after selecting him in 2020's second round. He uses his elite arm strength to makes throws most shortstops can't and was clocked at 100.5 mph across the infield at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game last July.

Also in the running: Andy Pages, OF, Dodgers; Jordan Walker, OF/3B, Cardinals; Joey Wiemer, OF, Brewers.

Best defender: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs (80)
The consensus best defender in the Minors, Crow-Armstrong looks destined to be the first Cub to win a Gold Glove in center field since Bob Dernier in 1984. His combination of plus speed, precision reads and routes and advanced instincts allow him to cover a ton of ground. His solid arm is better than most at his position as well.

Also in the running: Druw Jones, OF, D-backs; Ceddanne Rafaela, OF/SS, Red Sox; Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Rockies.

Best fastball: Daniel Espino, RHP, Guardians (80)
Espino had the best fastball in the 2019 Draft and four years later, he owns the best heater in the Minors. It sits at 95-98 mph and reaches 103 with plenty of armside run, and the carry up in the strike zone has helped him average 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings as a pro.

Also in the running: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Nationals; Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers; Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles.

Best curveball: Hunter Brown, RHP, Astros (65)
Brown was known more for his slider than his curveball when he came out of NCAA Division II Wayne State (Mich.), but he refined his curve into a well above-average breaker during the pandemic layoff in 2020. It combines power and depth, arriving in the low-80s before falling off the table at the plate, and pairs nicely with his riding 95-100 mph fastball. His curve had a 33 percent swing-and-miss rate last season.

Also in the running: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Nationals; Tink Hence, RHP, Cardinals; Quinn Priester, RHP, Pirates.

Best slider: Daniel Espino, RHP, Guardians (70)
Espino's slider gives him a second devastating weapon, and he can manipulate it into a mid-80s offering with two-plane depth or a low-90s beast with more horizontal action. During an abbreviated four-start season in 2022, his slider generated a 54 percent swing-and-miss rate, compared to an also exceptional 40 percent by his fastball.

Also in the running: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Tigers; Max Meyer, RHP, Marlins; Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers.

Best changeup: Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles (70)
The lone repeater from our 2022 Top 100 best tools, Rodriguez owns a dastardly low-80s changeup with tremendous fade and depth and nice velocity separation from his 95-99 mph fastball. He uses his cambio against left-handers and right-handers and created a 45 percent swing-and-miss rate with it in 2022.

Also in the running: Dylan Lesko, RHP, Padres; Gavin Stone, RHP, Dodgers; Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Blue Jays.

Best control: Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies (65)
Painter ranks as the best pitching prospect in baseball thanks to his combination of stuff and command. He locates his four-pitch mix with stunning ease for a teenager, leading all Minor Leagues with at least 100 innings in K-BB percentage (32.4), while advancing to Double-A at age 19 last year.

Also in the running: Tanner Bibee, RHP, Guardians; Eury Pérez, RHP, Marlins; Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles.