There's a shakeup in Rookie Power Rankings

May 31st, 2023

Welcome to the third edition of MLB Pipeline’s 2023 Rookie Power Rankings. Each month, the Pipeline staff votes on who we believe to be the likeliest Rookie of the Year winners at the end of the season.

That last part is critical, by the way: “at the end of the season.” We’re not voting on who would win if the awards were handed out today. We of course heavily consider performance to date, but we balance it with our expectations for the rest of the year. As the year goes on, current-season stats will weigh more heavily, and those projections will wash out of the rankings.

Though we have a repeat No. 1, the rankings beyond the top spot have shaken up quite a bit over the past month. Here’s how the votes came out.

1. Corbin Carroll, OF, D-backs (previous rank: 1)
What’s not to love about the man who started the season as Pipeline’s No. 2 overall prospect? Carroll has done a little bit of everything for the surprising D-backs, with a .282/.369/.503 line, a solid command of the strike zone, and 14 steals in 16 tries. He’s putting up counting stats as well as rate stats, and we expect him to keep it up. Frankly, a pretty easy choice at No. 1.

2. Francisco Alvarez, C, Mets (previously unranked)
Alvarez scuffled a bit upon being promoted, but he has found the tool that has been his calling card throughout his career: power. Alvarez is just mashing over the past few weeks, with seven homers in 15 games. That gives him eight on the season and a robust .558 slugging percentage. That’s pretty good for anybody, never mind a 21-year-old catcher.

3. Josh Jung, 3B, Rangers (previous rank: 5)
Steadily, steadily, Jung keeps hitting and keeps climbing the rankings. He’s now our leader among American League rookies thanks to his .283/.332/.505 line for a contending Rangers team. He’s already amassed 11 homers and 35 RBIs while also holding it down as an effective defensive third baseman. He doesn’t have the wow factor of some of the names on this list, but if you hit, you stay on the list.

4. Hunter Brown, RHP, Astros (previous rank: 3)
Though he started May with a couple of iffy outings, Brown has steadied the ship with 27 K's against three walks over his last three starts. He’s racking up innings, wins and strikeouts for one of the league’s best teams, he has the prospect pedigree, and we expect him to keep performing. He was very close behind Jung in the vote.

5. Masataka Yoshida, OF, Red Sox (previous rank: 6)
Another steady, effective producer, Yoshida is hitting for average, hitting for moderate power and thoroughly controlling the strike zone. He may be dinged a bit for playing a good amount of DH and not being the slickest fielder when he does play the outfield, but as long as he keeps hitting, he has a chance at some hardware at the end of the year.

6. Taj Bradley, RHP, Rays (previously unranked)
If there’s one theme for this month’s rankings, it’s highly rated rookie pitchers earning starting rotation spots. Three of the next four names fit that description. Bradley’s path was slightly different from the next two, since he came up, went back to the Minors briefly, and came back up again. But he’s been consistently excellent for Tampa Bay, with 42 strikeouts against just five walks in six starts. As Pipeline’s No. 16 overall prospect, we expect him to keep it up.

7. Bryce Miller, RHP, Mariners (previously unranked)
Miller’s numbers look a lot like Bradley’s, and we like him just about as much. Like Bradley, he’s throwing strikes – three walks in 36 innings. He’s not quite racking up the K's like Bradley, but he is pitching deeper into games, with a very solid 6.0 innings per start. He’s our No. 58 overall prospect, and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to produce.

8 (tie). Kodai Senga, RHP, Mets (previous rank: 7)
Senga, who of course broke camp in the Mets’ rotation, continues to be a bit up and down, but effective overall. He was brilliant in striking out 12 Rays on May 17, but that was sandwiched by a pair of much shakier starts. Unlike Bradley or Miller, his walk rate remains distressingly high, but like them he has a secure rotation spot on a postseason contender.

8 (tie). Eury Pérez, RHP, Marlins (previously unranked)
And here’s our last new entrant, and maybe the most exciting. Pérez is baseball’s top rated pitching prospect, at No. 6 in the most recent Pipeline Top 100 refresh. His ceiling is astronomical. He’s also barely 20 years old, and definitely a little less of a sure thing in the short term than Bradley or Miller. Still, he’s been effective if inefficient so far, allowing two or fewer runs in three of his four starts. We’d like to see him throw more strikes and pitch deeper into games, but his best is astonishing.

10. Gunnar Henderson, 3B, Orioles (previous rank: 2)
We have not given up on Henderson, who despite his .199 batting average is doing at least a few things right. He has 13 extra-base hits and 28 walks in 48 games, and that’s not nothing. Still, it would be good to start seeing him rap out a few more base hits and strike out a little less. We believe he will, but based on the numbers so far, he’s a bottom-half-of-the-top-10 guy rather than top half.