56 top prospects make Opening Day rosters

April 1st, 2021

With the 2021 season underway, opportunity knocks for many of the game's future stars.

Seventeen Top 100 prospects, including six of the top 20, dot Opening Day rosters. Pirates third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes (No. 9) is the highest-ranked prospect to break camp with his big league club, followed by Tigers right-hander Casey Mize (No. 11), Braves outfielder Cristian Pache (No. 12), Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson (No. 13), White Sox infielder/outfielder Andrew Vaughn (No. 14) and Braves right-hander Ian Anderson (No. 18).

Here's our look at all prospects on team Top 30 lists who made Opening Day rosters:

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

BLUE JAYS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Alejandro Kirk, C (No. 5); Julian Merryweather, RHP (No. 21); T.J. Zeuch, RHP (No. 28)

Coming off his Major League debut last summer, Kirk gets tapped as the Blue Jays' backup catcher behind Danny Jansen. The club loves his high-contact bat, which he showcased at camp, posting a .917 OPS. Merryweather pitched eight games for the Jays, including five out of the bullpen during the truncated 2020 season, striking out nine in eight innings of relief work. He'll head back to that role to open the new campaign for Toronto. With a 3.52 ERA in his 66 Minor League games (65 starts), Zeuch will join the rotation to kick off the season. The 6-foot-7 hurler pitched 11 1/3 innings at the big league level last year and utilized his downward plane to generate 2.44 outs on the ground for every one in the air.

Injured list: Nate Pearson, RHP (No. 1; No. 10 overall)

ORIOLES (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Ryan Mountcastle, OF (No. 5, No. 77 overall); Dean Kremer, RHP (No. 8)

After turning heads during his big league debut season last year with a .333/.386/.492 slash line, Mountcastle will lead the way in Baltimore's rebuilt outfield to start the year. Kremer will make the rotation to start the year after making his Major League debut in 2020.

RAYS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Randy Arozarena, OF (No. 3, No. 34 overall)

Last year's breakout postseason star Arozarena -- who set MLB playoff records for most hits, home runs and total bases -- will unsurprisingly start the year in the Rays' lineup.

RED SOX (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Bobby Dalbec, 1B (No. 3, No. 93 overall); Tanner Houck RHP (No. 7); Garrett Whitlock RHP (No. 30)

After posting an OPS of .959 in 23 games with the Red Sox last year that included a .600 slugging percentage and eight homers, Dalbec gets the nod at first base for Boston. The young slugger hammered seven homers in Spring Training and looks comfortable at first base despite third base being his natural position. Houck finished last season with a 3-0 record and 0.53 ERA in his final three outings for the Red Sox and will fill a rotation spot. Whitlock is a Rule 5 selection two years removed from Tommy John surgery and locked up a spot in Boston's bullpen.

Injured list: Clarke Schmidt, RHP (No. 2; MLB No 88)

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

INDIANS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Triston McKenzie, RHP (No. 2, No. 51 overall); Emmanuel Clase, RHP (No. 17)

McKenzie will open the season as part of of Cleveland's pitching staff with a fluid role. The Tribe plans on opening the campaign with a four-man rotation while utilizing an opener model that could include McKenzie, according to Cleveland president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti. Clase, traded from Texas to Cleveland in 2019 after debuting for the Rangers that year, will work out of the bullpen. In 21 outings for the Rangers two years ago, Clase put up a 2.31 ERA.

ROYALS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Kyle Isbel, OF (No. 5); Carlos Hernández RHP (No. 11)

Royals manager Mike Matheny announced Wednesday that Isbel, who spent time at the alternate training site last year, will be the starting right fielder on Opening Day. Hernández made his Major League debut in 2020, then struck out 10 batters in 9 1/3 innings at big league camp this spring.

TIGERS (Roster | Top 30 prospects)
Casey Mize, RHP (No. 2, No. 11 overall); Tarik Skubal, LHP (No. 4, No. 24 overall); Akil Baddoo, OF (No. 24)

Detroit's wealth of prospect arms is producing rotation members. Mize didn't put up impressive numbers in the Grapefruit League, posting a 7.23 ERA, but finished on a good note with six strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings in his final Spring Training outing. Skubal was stellar, registering a 1.59 ERA in five outings (three starts) and striking out 18 in 17 innings. Baddoo impressed in Spring Training at the plate with a .325/.460/.750 slash line, including five homers.

TWINS (Roster | Top 30 prospects)
Ryan Jeffers, C (No. 6)

Jeffers forms one half of the Twins' catching platoon. The 23-year-old, who made his big league debut last season, is set to split time behind the plate with Mitch Garver in 2021. Jeffers impressed last year in his 26 big league games, batting .273/.355/.436 with three homers among his 15 hits in 55 at-bats.

WHITE SOX (Roster | Top 30 prospects)
Andrew Vaughn, 1B (No. 1, No. 14 overall); Michael Kopech, RHP (No. 2, No. 39 overall); Nick Madrigal, 2B (No. 3, No. 40 overall); Garrett Crochet, LHP (No. 4, No. 56 overall); Yermin Mercedes, C (No. 22)

The South Siders open the season with their top four prospects -- all in the Top 100 -- on their Opening Day squad and five from their Top 30. Vaughn will make his Major League debut and will likely primarily see action as designated hitter with José Abreu entrenched at first base, Vaughn's natural position. After opting out of the 2020 season, Kopech will return to a big league mound this year as a member of the White Sox bullpen. He'll be joined there by Crochet, who dazzled last season, just months after being drafted out of Tennessee. Madrigal utilized his elite bat-to-ball skills last season, debuting with a .340/.379/.369 slash line in 29 games, and captured the starting second-base job for 2021. Mercedes will work as a third catcher out of the gate.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

ANGELS (Roster | Top 30 prospects)
Chris Rodriguez, RHP (No. 4)

After overcoming spinal injuries and back surgery that held him to 77 2/3 innings in four pro seasons, Rodriguez cracks his first Major League roster. The 22-year-old hurler has not pitched above High-A, but he did get a taste of the upper levels last summer at the Angels' alternate training site. Although he's spent his career thus far as a starter, Rodriguez will transition to the bullpen in Anaheim.

ASTROS (Roster | Top 30 prospects)
Luis Garcia, RHP (No. 6); Bryan Abreu, RHP (No. 14); Chas McCormick, OF (No. 19)

It looks like Garcia will get the final spot in Houston's rotation to begin the year. The 24-year-old struck out 168 batters over 108 2/3 innings during his 2019 season in the Minors, then posted a 2.92 ERA in five big league appearances last season. Abreu, with 11 relief outings at the Major League level over the last two seasons, will work out of the Houston bullpen to begin the year. McCormick was on the Astros' roster for the first two rounds of last year's postseason but didn't appear in a game. He'll get another shot as his team's fourth outfielder to start 2021.

A'S (Roster | Top 30 prospects)
No Top 30 prospects on the Opening Day roster.

MARINERS (Roster | Top 30 prospects)
Taylor Trammell, OF (No. 6, No. 100 overall); Jake Fraley, OF (No. 21); Joey Gerber, LHP (No. 30)

Trammell starred early on in Spring Training to vault himself into the Mariners' outfield conversation. Fraley worked his way onto the roster when Kyle Lewis was placed on the injured list prior to Opening Day. The Mariners are high on Gerber's velocity and stuff and have found him a spot to work out of the bullpen.

RANGERS (Roster | Top 30 prospects)
Dane Dunning, RHP (No. 3, No. 91 overall); Leody Taveras, OF (No. 4); Kyle Cody, RHP (No. 22); Jonah Heim, C (No. 28)

Now in his third organization, Dunning will figure into Texas' rotation to begin the year after being dealt to the Rangers in December 2020. The 26-year-old posted a 2-0 record and 3.97 ERA in seven outings for the White Sox last season. Heim will serve as catching depth behind starter Jose Trevino. Taveras was the favorite to start in center at the beginning of camp, and while Eli White gave him competition, Taveras held on. Cody made a strong first impression on the Rangers, notching a 1.59 ERA in 22 2/3 innings last summer.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

BRAVES (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Cristian Pache, OF (No. 1, No. 12 overall); Ian Anderson, RHP (No. 2, No. 18 overall); Alex Jackson, C (No. 16)

Pache got his first taste of the Major Leagues late in the 2020 season, but this time around he'll open the season as the Braves' starting center fielder. Anderson was lights out during Atlanta's 2020 playoff run and is expected to be a key cog in the rotation this season. Jackson appeared in 13 games last season and while he does have power, he struggles to make consistent contact. He'll open the season in a backup role.

MARLINS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Jazz Chisholm, 2B (No. 4, No. 66 overall); Trevor Rogers, RHP (No. 7); Paul Campbell, RHP (No. 29)

Chisholm locked up the Marlins' starting second-base job and is likely the heir to Miami's shortstop position down the road. While top prospect Sixto Sánchez will start the season at the alternate site, Rogers' stellar Spring Training showing put him in the rotation to begin the year.

Injured list: Jesus Sanchez, OF (No. 8)

METS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
No Top 30 prospects on the Opening Day roster.

NATIONALS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
The Nationals' roster is not yet finalized due to COVID-19 protocols.

PHILLIES (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Connor Brogdon, RHP (No. 22)

Brogdon will be part of the Phils' bullpen mix to start the 2021 season. The 2017 10th-rounder out of Lewis-Clark State in Idaho climbed through the Minor Leagues quickly, pitching at Class A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A in 2019 and posting a combined 2.61 ERA in 51 games, striking out 106 against 24 walks in 76 total innings.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

BREWERS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
No Top 30 prospects on the Opening Day roster.

Injured list: Justin Topa, RHP (No. 28)

CARDINALS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Dylan Carlson, OF (No. 1, No. 13 overall); Edmundo Sosa, INF (No. 18); Justin Williams, OF (No. 19)

After his strong finish to the 2020 regular season and strong showing in the playoffs, all eyes will be on Carlson as the 2021 season gets underway. The 22-year-old outfielder is a big piece of the Cardinals' future and could be a star for years to come. Both Sosa and Williams bring Major League experience to the roster. Sosa's versatility allows him to play all over the infield and Williams is a toolsy outfielder with plenty of raw power.

CUBS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Adbert Alzolay, RHP (No. 7)

Alzolay, who made his big league debut in 2019, was impressive for the Cubs last season, posting a 2.95 ERA in six appearances.

PIRATES (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B (No. 1, MLB No. 9); Wil Crowe, RHP (No. 23)

The front-runner for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, Hayes is coming off a strong showing in Spring Training and will open the 2021 campaign as the Pirates every day third baseman. Crowe makes the bullpen following a stingy spring in which he notched an 0.77 ERA in 11 2/3 innings. The right-hander made three starts last summer for his Major League debut.

Injured list: José Soriano, RHP (No. 25)

REDS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Tyler Stephenson, C (No. 4, MLB No. 95); Jonathan India, 3B (No. 5)

Stephenson didn't exactly light the Cactus League on fire this spring, but the backup catcher job is his. India has impressed in Spring Training, and after a standout performance at the Reds' alternate training site in 2020, he was added to the Opening Day roster.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-BACKS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Pavin Smith, OF (No. 15)

With Kole Calhoun starting the year on the injured list, the D-backs had an opening in the outfield and Smith's versatility helped him land the role. Not only can the 25-year-old play all three outfield spots, but he can also play first base.

DODGERS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Zach McKinstry, INF/OF (No. 15) 

McKinstry's ability to play all over the diamond provides a valuable resource off the bench.

GIANTS (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
No Top 30 prospects on the Opening Day roster.

PADRES (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Luis Campusano, C (No. 3, No. 45 overall); Tucupita Marcano, INF (No. 6); Ryan Weathers, LHP (No. 5)

With Austin Nola injured, Campusano begins the season as the Padres' backup catcher. Marcano wasn't expected to make the roster when camp opened, but he raked throughout Spring Training and is capable of playing all over the field. The Padres haven't yet determined a role for Weathers, but the bullpen doesn't have many lefties and he's able to pitch in both short and long stints.

ROCKIES (Roster | Top 30 Prospects)
Ben Bowden, LHP (No. 15); Yonathan Daza, OF (No. 16); Jordan Sheffield, RHP (No. 30)

Bowden has pitched well this spring and is a solid left option out of the Rockies' bullpen. Daza, who enters the season with 20 big league hits, joins Rule-5 pick Sheffield, who needed to make the Rockies' roster or be offered back to the Dodgers, on the big league club.