30 prospects who could be stars by 2023

February 12th, 2021

There are plenty of prospects to be excited about for the upcoming 2021 season.

Can Randy Arozarena and Ke'Bryan Hayes continue their superlative play from the end of the season? When will Wander Franco, the game's consensus most phenomenal phenom, make his debut with the Rays? We can't wait for the answers to these and many more questions.

Next year, the Majors could see an influx of superstar shortstop talent with Bobby Witt Jr. (Royals), CJ Abrams (Padres) and Marco Luciano (Giants). Many of the top picks in the 2020 Draft could arrive in 2022 too, such as Spencer Torkelson (Tigers), Max Meyer (Marlins) and Austin Martin (Blue Jays).

There will be plenty of prospects to buzz about in 2023 as well. Below, we present one for each club:

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Orelvis Martinez, SS
Martinez commanded the second-largest bonus in the 2018-19 international class, signing with Toronto for $3.51 million out of the Dominican Republic in July 2018. The 19-year-old shortstop projects to hit for both average and power and showcased plenty of the latter during Toronto’s fall instructional camp. There are some questions about Martinez’s ability to remain at the premium position because his defense is currently below average, but he has the requisite plus arm strength and offensive profile needed to profile at third base if he’s forced down the defensive spectrum.

Orioles: Gunnar Henderson, SS
While he was the youngest player at the Orioles’ alternate site in 2020, Henderson caught up to the competition in a hurry and was one of the most exciting players in camp. He has a host of exciting tools, and he could stick at shortstop as a left-handed hitter with the chance to hit for average and power. Don’t be shocked if you see him on the Top 100 soon, and he could rise quickly from there.

Rays: JJ Goss, RHP
Goss’ stuff has taken a step forward since the Rays signed him for $2.1 million as a supplemental first-round pick in 2019, as the 20-year-old righty showed more velocity during fall instructional league, touching the mid-90s with his fastball and pairing it with a hard slider that could be a plus pitch. He’ll need to develop a consistent changeup, but Goss has the size, stuff and mechanics needed to become a big league starter.

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Red Sox: Gilberto Jimenez, OF
Signed for just $10,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, Jimenez offers an interesting assortment of tools. He's a center fielder who is the best defender in the Red Sox's system, rivals Jarren Duran as the fastest prospect in the organization and won the the short-season New York-Penn League batting title (.359) in his U.S. debut two years ago.

Yankees: Jasson Dominguez, OF
The most hyped international prospect in recent memory, Dominguez has yet to make his pro debut since signing for $5.1 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2019. That hasn't stopped some evaluators projecting that he could develop well-above-average tools across the board and comparing him to elite baseball athletes such as Bo Jackson, Mickey Mantle and Mike Trout.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Indians: George Valera, OF
Valera's offensive potential earned him a $1.3 million bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2017. A broken hamate in 2018 and the pandemic last year have limited his playing time to this point, but his sweet left-handed stroke and advanced hitting instincts are evident.

Royals: Erick Peña, OF
Peña’s left-handed bat and power potential landed him the highest bonus ($3,897,500) of any player in Kansas City’s 2019-20 international class. He hasn’t had a chance to showcase those loud tools in a Minor League game, but reports on his performance during the Royals’ fall instructional league in each of the last two years were glowing, and he reportedly held his own as a 17-year-old at Kansas City’s alternate site last summer.

Tigers: Dillon Dingler, C
The highest Ohio State position player drafted since Nick Swisher was an Athletics first-rounder in 2002, Dingler signed for $1,952,300 after the Tigers selected him in the second round. The 22-year-old backstop is a plus athlete with a suite of promising tools, including plus-plus arm strength, above-average speed and power potential from the right side of the plate. Dingler’s relative inexperience behind the plate for a college catcher speaks to his untapped potential in the role. If it all clicks, he could become a frontline catcher in the big leagues.

Twins: Keoni Cavaco, SS
The Twins’ first-round pick in 2019 didn’t exactly set the world on fire with his pro debut (.470 OPS in 92 plate appearances), but reports from instructs last year were very positive. He showed up in much better shape and that improved athleticism gives him a chance to stay at short. He also worked on his bat path and was making much more consistent contact during instructional league play.

White Sox: Jared Kelley, RHP
Though Kelley was a consensus first-round talent in the 2020 Draft, he surprisingly fell to the second round, where the White Sox pounced on the Texas prep product with a well-above-slot $3 million bonus. Gatorade's national baseball player of the year, he generates 93-98 mph fastballs with little effort and has an advanced changeup that fades and sinks.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

Astros: Alex Santos, RHP
The Astros' top pick (supplemental second round) in the 2020 Draft, Santos ranked with the Indians' Lenny Torres as the two best arms to come out of the New York City high school ranks in the last decade. He has a high-spin fastball that ranges from 90-96 mph, a swing-and-miss curveball and some feel for a changeup.

Angels: Kyren Paris, SS
The Angels were happy when Paris, who was coming up in first-round conversations as the 2019 Draft approached, was still available for them in the second round. He unfortunately didn’t get to play much because he broke a hamate that summer, but he used his rehab time and this past year to add weight and strength, an area of concern at the time of the Draft, and he was driving the ball well at the alternate site against much more advanced competition.

A’s: Tyler Soderstrom, C
One of the best pure high school hitters in the 2020 Draft class, Soderstrom slipped a bit to the end of the first round, but got an above-slot bonus to sign. Steve Soderstrom’s son then went to the A’s alternate site and showed his advanced left-handed bat was ready for the challenge as he more than held his own. He has work to do to stick behind the plate, but the A’s liked the strides he made last summer and fall and even if he has to move, his bat will profile anywhere.

Mariners: Noelvi Marte, SS
It’s hard to believe that Marte still hasn’t officially played a game in the United States. After posting an .883 OPS with 54 RBIs and 17 steals in 65 Dominican Summer League games in 2019, everyone was excited to see him come stateside in 2020. We all know what happened there, but Marte did get invaluable experience at the Mariners’ alternate site and could hit the ground running in 2021.

Rangers: Maximo Acosta, SS
A Venezuelan shortstop whose skills and tools prompt comparisons to Gleyber Torres, Acosta still awaits his first official at-bat in pro ball after signing for $1.65 million in 2019. He's a potential 20-20 shortstop with advance hitting ability, and he also has the quickness and arm strength to play a quality shortstop as well.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Jared Shuster, LHP
As a college lefty taken near the end of the first round of the 2020 Draft, there is a chance Shuster could have made it to the big leagues by 2023, but given some of the pitching depth, we guess he’ll be in “knocking on the door” territory. The Wake Forest product’s stuff had ticked up in his shortened junior year and that continued during his work at the Braves’ alternate site, when he showed what might now be the best changeup in the system.

Marlins: Dax Fulton, LHP
Considered the best prep left-hander in the 2020 Draft despite having Tommy John surgery the previous September, Fulton signed for an over-slot $2.4 million in the second round. The Oklahoma high schooler's best pitch is a wipeout curveball, and he also has a low-90s fastball that could sit in the mid 90s once he's physically mature.

Mets: Francisco Alvarez, C
Alvarez quickly has blossomed into one of the best catching prospects in baseball after signing with the Mets for $2.7 million at the outset of the 2018-19 international period. He flashed an electric bat during his pro debut, mashing his way up to the Rookie Appalachian League at age 17, then showcased even more power in 2020 between the Mets’ alternate training site and instructional camp. He already can get to his plus-plus raw power in games, showing an innate ability to drive the ball out of the park from line to line.

Nationals: Jeremy De La Rosa, OF
A $300,000 signee out of the Dominican Republic at age 16 in July 2018, De La Rosa has the look of becoming Washington’s next international success story. After playing 26 games in the 2019 Rookie Gulf Coast League, De La Rosa was anything but overmatched as the youngest player at the team’s alternate training site in 2020 and continued to improve during instructional camp. His across-the-board tools are led by a dynamic left-handed bat that has club officials believing he’ll hit for both average and power.

Phillies: Mick Abel, RHP
The top-ranked high school pitcher in the 2020 Draft class was also the first prep arm taken when the Phillies took him No. 15 overall. Abel has an exciting combination of size (6-foot-5), now stuff and projectability. His stuff stood out during his time at instructs, with a fastball that touched 98 mph, a slider that flashed plus and an ability to land four pitches for strikes.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Brewers: Hedbert Perez, OF
Perez received the second-largest bonus in Milwaukee’s 2018-19 international class, signing for $700,000 out of Venezuela on July 2. He opened eyes during instructional league in 2019 in his first taste of pro ball and continued to impress Brewers officials in 2020 as the alternate site’s youngest player. The 17-year-old outfielder has one of the higher ceilings in the system as a five-tool center fielder who projects to hit for both average and power from the left side of the plate. 

Cardinals: Jordan Walker, 3B
Walker showed some of the best power in the 2020 Draft before the Cardinals selected him 21st overall and signed him for $2.9 million. He should have no trouble getting to it in the pro ranks, thanks to his easy bat speed and the tremendous leverage and projectable strength in his 6-foot-5 frame.

Cubs: Cristian Hernandez, SS
Signed for $3 million out of the Dominican Republic on Jan. 15, Hernandez has more upside than perhaps any Cubs international signee ever -- even more than Eloy Jiménez or Gleyber Torres. He's built like a young Alex Rodriguez or Manny Machado and exudes five-tool potential with a high likelihood of staying at shortstop.

Pirates: Quinn Priester, RHP
Despite there being no real 2020 season, Priester’s efforts at the end of the Pirates’ alternate site work and then at instructs created a good amount of buzz. The 2019 first-rounder leapt into the middle of our Top 100 as a result, with strength gains fueling an uptick of stuff, a fastball that averaged a touch over 97 mph in 2020, a plus curve, a distinct slider and an improving changeup.

Reds: Austin Hendrick, OF
Hendrick has perhaps the most raw power of any hitter in the 2020 Draft class, especially from the left side. And he showed off premium bat speed, to go along with strength, both in his brief time at the Reds’ alternate site and even more so at instructs. He showed off plus makeup and work ethic in both spots as well.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-backs: Blake Walston, LHP
Arizona took Walston with its second first-round pick (No. 26 overall) in the 2019 Draft -- when the club had seven of the top 75 overall picks -- and signed him for $2,450,000. The 6-foot-5 left-hander’s stuff ticked up upon entering the pro ranks, and he was popping 96-97 mph with a plus curveball in his first taste of pro ball. Walston’s stuff wasn’t as consistent at Arizona’s alternate site in 2020, but it didn’t detract from his projection as an impact big league starter.

Dodgers: Diego Cartaya, C
The top-rated prospect in the 2018 international class, Cartaya elicits Salvador Perez comparisons and batted .296/.353/.437 while making his U.S. debut at age 17. Signed for $2.5 million out of Venezuela, he has feel to hit, solid raw power and receiving ability and plus arm strength.

Giants: Patrick Bailey, C
The Giants are stocking up on Atlantic Coast Conference catching stars, drafting Joey Bart No. 2 overall out of Georgia Tech in 2018 and Bailey No. 13 out of North Carolina State last June. He's a switch-hitter with power from both sides of the plate and the tools to be a solid to plus defender.

Padres: Robert Hassell, OF
San Diego landed perhaps the best high school hitter in the 2020 Draft in Hassell, signing the Tennessee prep outfielder for $4.3 million after selecting him with the No. 8 pick. Scouts like Hassell’s chances of surpassing his average power projection because he has an advanced approach and already uses the entire field well. His defense continues to improve and could allow him to remain in center field, and there’s enough impact potential in Hassell’s left-handed bat for him to profile at an outfield corner.

Rockies: Zac Veen, OF
The second high school bat taken in the 2020 Draft, Veen was the No. 9 overall selection in the first round, then got his feet wet at instructs last fall. Long and lean, he has drawn some Cody Bellinger comps in terms of his offensive upside, with a ton of raw power to tap into, especially as he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame.