These are the best tools on our Top 100 Prospects list

January 30th, 2024

It didn't take long for the players with the best tools among MLB Pipeline's 2023 preseason Top 100 Prospects to wield them with authority in the Majors.

Francisco Alvarez (best power) became just the sixth catcher to slam 25 homers as a rookie. Corbin Carroll (fastest runner) was the first rookie ever to combine 25 homers and 50 steals, finishing second in the National League with 54 swipes.

Masyn Winn (strongest arm) ranked second among big league shortstops with at least 100 plays by averaging 92.4 mph on his throws from the position. Pete Crow-Armstrong (best defender) only started three games during a September callup but provided web gems in two of them. Grayson Rodriguez's (best changeup) cambio ranked as the 14th-most effective among the 127 pitchers who worked 100 innings in 2023.

The players earning superlatives on our new 2024 Top 100 have the chance to make an immediate impact as well. Most of the prospects highlighted below should play in the Majors this season. Their tools are grades on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, with 50 representing big league average.

Best hitter: Jackson Holliday, SS/2B, Orioles (70)

Holliday ranks atop our latest Top 100 first and foremost because of his hitting ability. He broke J.T. Realmuto's national prep record for hits in a season (89 in 41 games) in 2022 before going No. 1 overall in the Draft that July, and he hasn't stopped raking since. He has batted .320 since turning pro, zooming from Single-A to Triple-A in his first full season at age 19. With a quick, compact left-handed stroke and an advanced approach, he hits the ball with authority to all fields.

Also in the running: Evan Carter, OF, Rangers; Dylan Crews, OF, Nationals; Jackson Merrill, SS, Padres.

Best power: Junior Caminero, 3B/SS, Rays (70)

Though he's just 20 years old, Caminero hits the ball harder than almost anyone in baseball -- including the big leagues. His combination of bat speed, strength and hitting ability helped him lead all teenagers in homers (31, fifth overall in the Minors) and slugging (.591, sixth overall) a year ago. Once he makes the adjustment to launch balls in the air more consistently, he could produce 40 homers on an annual basis.

Also in the running: Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers; Wyatt Langford, OF, Rangers; James Wood, OF, Nationals

Fastest runner: Justin Crawford, OF, Phillies (75)

Carl Crawford won four American League stolen-base titles from 2003-07, and his son has the speed to sit atop the swipe leaderboards one day. Justin recorded 60-yard dash times under 6.2 seconds on the high school showcase circuit and used his quickness to steal 47 bases in 55 attempts and to turn enough grounders into singles to rank seventh in the Minors in batting (.332) during his first full pro season.

Also in the running: Evan Carter, OF, Rangers; Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers; Jordan Lawlar, SS, Diamondbacks.

Strongest arm: Masyn Winn, SS/2B, Cardinals (80)

Winn not only ranked second in average velocity among big league shortstops last summer, he also recorded three of the six hardest throws (98.4, 98.0 and 97.3 mph) at the position despite not arriving in St. Louis until mid-August. He was scouted heavily as a pitcher in high school, when he ran his fastball up to 98 mph. He famously unleashed a 100.5 mph laser at the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, and he also hit 102 mph on a relay in Triple-A last July.

Also in the running: Roderick Arias, SS, Yankees; Coby Mayo, 3B/1B Orioles; Blake Mitchell, C, Royals.

Best defender: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs (80)

Winn and Crow-Armstrong are the lone repeaters from the pre-2023 superlatives, and both were easy choices. With plus-plus speed, outstanding instincts and total fearlessness, Crow-Armstrong is the best defensive outfield prospect in years. He can turn nearly impossible plays into outs and make difficult plays look routine.

Also in the running: Druw Jones, OF, Diamondbacks; Jeferson Quero, C, Brewers; Ceddanne Rafaela, OF/SS, Red Sox.

Best fastball: Paul Skenes, RHP, Pirates (80)

Skenes rode his fastball to great heights in 2023, winning a national championship, College World Series most outstanding player and Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year honors and leading NCAA Division I in strikeouts (209), strikeouts per nine innings (15.3) and WHIP (0.75) before going No. 1 overall in the Draft and signing for a record $9.3 million. He averaged 98 mph and touched 102 while starring at Louisiana State, and his fastball plays up thanks to his flat approach angle, command and carry. Some analysts quibble with the shape of his heater, but hitters aren't able to catch up to it.

Also in the running: Daniel Espino, RHP, Guardians; Kyle Harrison, LHP, Giants; Jacob Misiorowski, RHP, Brewers.

Best curveball: Tekoah Roby, RHP, Cardinals (60)

Though the Rangers have no regrets about trading for Jordan Montgomery last July, they did have to part with the best curveball on the Top 100 to get him. Roby's best pitch is a high-spin curve in the upper 70s that features true downer break. He's able to both land it for strikes or use it as a chase pitch, and it plays well off his 93-96 mph fastball with good carry up in the zone.

Also in the running: Mick Abel, RHP, Phillies; Chase Hampton, RHP, Yankees; Robby Snelling, LHP, Padres

Best slider: Paul Skenes, RHP, Pirates (70)

Skenes' slider improved tremendously at LSU under the tutelage of pitching coach Wes Johnson. His slide piece went from a tight breaker that sat at 83-85 mph to an 85-89 beast with huge sweep that elicited a 62 percent swing-and-miss rate against college hitters in 2023. Despite its movement, he's able to command it well.

Also in the running: Cade Horton, RHP, Cubs; Jackson Jobe, RHP, Tigers; Jacob Misiorowski, RHP, Brewers.

Best changeup: Dylan Lesko, RHP, Padres (70)

The most advanced high school pitcher in the 2022 Draft, Lesko also featured the best changeup in the entire class. His cambio parks in the low-80s with significant fade and some sink as a bonus. He sells it with the same arm speed with which he delivers 93-98 mph fastballs and has complete faith in his changeup. It's a major reason why he dominated left-handers in his 2023 pro debut, holding them to a .186 average with a 39 percent strikeout rate.

Also in the running: Brock Porter, RHP, Rangers; Drew Thorpe, RHP, Padres; Carson Whisenhunt, LHP, Giants.

Best other pitch: Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Braves (65 splitter)

Waldrep placed third in Division I in strikeouts (156) and fourth in strikeout rate (13.8 per nine innings) while helping Florida to the College World Series finals last spring, relying heavily on one of the more unhittable pitches in the 2023 Draft. His upper-80s splitter climbs as high as 94 mph before falling off the table when it arrives at home plate, producing exceptionally high swing-and-miss (63 percent) and chase (45 percent) rates in college last year. He enjoyed similar success with the pitch during his brief time in Double-A and Triple-A in his pro debut.

Also in the running: Chase Hampton, RHP, Yankees (cutter); Jackson Jobe, RHP, Tigers (cutter); Jacob Misiorowski, Brewers (cutter).

Best control: Rhett Lowder, RHP, Reds (65)

Four college pitchers went in the first round of the 2023 Draft, and three of them (Skenes, Lowder, Waldrep) combined to grab four of the six pitching superlatives. A two-time Atlantic Coast Conference pitcher of the year who topped Division I with 15 wins while ranking fourth in ERA (1.87) and strikeouts (a Wake Forest-record 143) last spring, he pounds the zone with three pitches while repeating his easy delivery. He walked just 24 in 120 1/3 innings while throwing 70 percent of his pitches for strikes as a junior, and his polish could land him in Cincinnati's rotation by midseason.

Also in the running: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Tigers; Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies; Paul Skenes, RHP, Pirates.