The flow of prospect talent never stops. Several of baseball's most phenomenal phenoms should make their big league debuts in 2022, including Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, Mariners outfielder Julio Rodríguez, Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and a pair of Tigers, first baseman Spencer Torkelson and outfielder Riley Greene.
A year from now, a slew of talented shortstops -- headlined by Marco Luciano (Giants), Noelvi Marte (Mariners) and Anthony Volpe (Yankees) -- should surface in the Majors, as should Mets catcher Francisco Álvarez. Many of the top high school players from last year's Draft are scheduled to arrive in 2024, such as shortstops Marcelo Mayer (Red Sox), Jordan Lawlar (Diamondbacks) and Kahlil Watson (Marlins).
All of those graduations will mean that fresh faces will need to replace them on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list. Below, we present a prospect from each organization who could ascend to the Top 100 in 2024.
Blue Jays: Gunnar Hoglund, RHP (No. 4)
Hoglund has twice been a top-40 Draft pick and could have gone in the top 10 last July, if not for Tommy John surgery in May. He’ll be limited in 2022, if he sees a Minor League mound at all, with a 2023 ramp-up more likely. That puts him in line for this discussion. Pre-surgery, he showed three above-average pitches in his fastball, slider and changeup as well as plus control. Once he shows that again, he could fly up prospect boards.
Orioles: Coby Mayo, 3B (No. 17)
The O’s signed Mayo in the fourth round of the 2020 Draft to an over-slot bonus of $1.75 million, but they had to wait until late June 2021 to see him in action as a knee injury shelved him. Once he got going, he showed off the offensive potential that made him a Draft prospect in the first place, finishing with a .981 OPS in 53 games between the Florida Complex League and Low-A Delmarva. The swing-and-miss wasn’t as bad as many feared and he drew walks at a healthy 13.4 percent clip.
Rays: Nick Bitsko, RHP (No. 12)
Having reclassified to join the 2020 Draft a year early, Bitsko had only just turned 18 when the Rays took him 24th overall. Tampa Bay knew it would be a long road with the 6-foot-4 right-hander, and that journey got longer when Bitsko underwent right shoulder surgery in December 2020. By 2024, he could be healthy and experienced enough to leap with a solid four-pitch mix and good strike-throwing ability. The Rays’ ability to help their pitchers make that jump (see Shane Baz, Taj Bradley) adds another layer here.
Red Sox: Blaze Jordan, 3B (No. 9)
Jordan won his first national home run derby at age 11 and crushed a pair of 500-foot bombs at another when he was 13, and that power landed him a $1.75 million bonus as a Mississippi high schooler selected in the third round after he reclassified to the 2020 Draft. His pop continued to stand out in his pro debut, when he batted .324/.368/.590 with six homers in 28 games between Rookie ball and Low-A.
Yankees: Roderick Arias, SS (No. 1 international prospect)
MLB Pipeline's top-rated prospect in the 2021-22 international class, Arias signed for $4 million out of the Dominican Republic in January. He's a five-tool switch-hitter who displays advanced ability at the plate and should stay at shortstop, where he shows off a plus-plus arm.
Guardians: Angel Martinez, INF (No. 8)
The son of former big league catcher Sandy Martinez, Angel signed for $500,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2018. A switch-hitter with an advanced approach, defensive versatility and a high baseball IQ, he batted .241/.319/.382 with seven homers and 13 steals in 97 Low-A games while making his full-season debut.
Royals: Ben Kudrna, RHP (No. 8)
Frank Mozzicato’s name is already on the lips of many Royals fans as a first-round pick, but second-rounder Kudrna (a $3 million signing himself) has a chance to be a household name in two years. A 92-95 mph fastball, sharp mid-80s slider and a low-80s, fading changeup give him a quality arsenal right now. That velocity was ticking up as 2021 wore along too, so Kudrna’s arrow should continue to point upward as he digs into pro ball.
Tigers: Cristian Santana, SS (No. 9)
A $2.95 million signing out of the Dominican Republic last January, Santana made an impression in his first season of the pros, hitting .269/.421/.520 with nine homers and 12 steals in 54 DSL games. Normally, we don’t put too much stock into complex statistics, but the numbers did back up Santana’s pre-signing reports of being a potential above-average hitter with a good mix of power and speed. By 2024, the current 18-year-old should be putting those tools on display in full-season ball, where prospects typically make the leap.
Twins: Chase Petty, RHP (No. 7)
It’s too soon to know exactly what Petty, the Twins’ first-round pick in this past Draft, will be down the road, but it’s pretty certain we’ll want to watch. He can throw 100-plus, with sink, and couples it with an upper-80s slider that has the chance to be a plus pitch. He has a changeup that can be firm, but he has some feel for it. Sure, there’s reliever risk, but he’s also still only 18.
White Sox: Colson Montgomery, SS (No. 1)
Montgomery set the career basketball scoring record at Southridge High (Huntington, Ind.) but has a brighter future on the diamond. He signed for $3,027,000 as the 22nd overall pick in the 2021 Draft. Because he's a 6-foot-4 shortstop who bats left-handed and has a huge offensive ceiling, he elicits comparisons to Corey Seager. He hit .287/.396/.362 in his 27-game pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League.
A’s: Pedro Pineda, SS (No. 6)
Pineda signed for $2.5 million in January 2021, at the start of the delayed 2020-21 international signing period. He quickly made his way from the DSL to the States and performed well in the ACL at age 17. There are tools aplenty, albeit raw ones, with the chance to hit for power, run well and show off a plus arm from the outfield.
Angels: Arol Vera, SS (No. 6)
The Angels gave Vera $2 million to sign in July 2019 then had to wait two years to watch him play as he was pretty much quarantined during the shutdown in 2020. He came to instructs that fall out of shape, but certainly looked fit when he hit .304/.370/.411 between the Arizona Complex League and Low-A during his debut. It’s unclear how much pop the switch-hitter will have, and he has to refine his approach, but there’s a lot to like here.
Astros: Alex Santos, RHP (No. 8)
The Astros' top pick (supplemental second round) in the 2020 Draft, Santos is one of the best high school arms to come out of New York City in the last decade. His 91-96 mph fastball and his hard curveball showed flashes of becoming plus pitches while he was posting a 3.46 ERA, .205 opponent average and 48 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings in his pro debut at Low-A Fayetteville.
Mariners: Harry Ford, C (No. 5)
The Mariners’ first-round pick in 2021, taken No. 12 overall, Ford can really hit, with plenty of power to come from the right side of the plate. And he can really run too, making him a Craig Biggio-esque unicorn behind the plate. The M’s think he can catch, but he’s athletic enough to handle second or center field, just like the Astros' Hall of Famer did.
Rangers: Evan Carter, OF (No. 9)
Carter flew under the radar of many clubs in the 2020 Draft, but the Rangers saw five-tool potential and loved his makeup, so they selected him in the second round from a Tennessee high school. A stress fracture ended his pro debut after 32 games in Low-A, though that was still enough time for him to impress scouts with his patience (34 walks, .438 on-base percentage) and solid upside across the board.
Braves: Diego Benitez, SS (No. 10 international prospect)
Perhaps this is a bit premature since Benitez is a 17-year-old who has yet to play a professional inning. But the No. 10 prospect on our international Top 50 represents the first big splash the Braves have been able to make since they were penalized for international signing infractions. Benitez got $2.5 million to sign and brings a Manny Machado comp with him to the organization.
Marlins: Jose Salas, SS (No. 10)
Salas grew up in Florida before moving to Venezuela and becoming the Marlins' primary target in the 2019 international class, which earned him a $2.8 million bonus. He's a switch-hitter with 20-20 potential and the tools to stay at shortstop, all of which were evident when he batted .305/.391/.405 with two homers and 14 steals in a 55-game pro debut between Rookie ball and Low-A.
Mets: Matt Allan, RHP (No. 4)
This could be cheating. Allan was one of the buzziest names in the 2019 Draft when he fell to the third round despite showing first-round stuff, and reports from the 2020 alternate training site indicated he made impressive gains behind closed doors. His fastball sat around 96 while his curveball and changeup both showed potential to be plus pitches. Then, he underwent Tommy John surgery before he could make a start in 2021. After returning in 2022 and getting another (hopefully) healthy summer under his belt in 2023, Allan could become one of the game’s top pitching prospects again by the time 2024 rolls around.
Nationals: Cristhian Vaquero, OF (No. 2 international prospect)
The Nationals just signed the Cuban outfielder for $4,925,000 as part of the 2022 international period. For reference, Washington only had a $5,179,700 pool from which to spend, so this represents a significant investment. Vaquero instantly becomes one of the most dynamic players in the Nats' system as a center fielder with good speed and plus power. He recently learned to switch-hit after batting exclusively from the left side, and if that sticks, he has the ceiling to be Washington’s top prospect in two years.
Phillies: Andrew Painter, RHP (No. 3)
The Phillies went big high school right-hander in back-to-back Drafts, taking Mick Abel in 2020 and Painter, the 6-foot-7 righty from Florida, last year. He has the chance to have four above-average offerings, led by a fastball that touches 98 mph now, and a good feel for how to use them already. If it clicks, he has frontline starter potential.
Brewers: Jackson Chourio, OF (No. 16)
With a $1.8 million bonus, Chourio was Milwaukee’s top international signing last January and took little time showing off why. The Venezuela native hit .296/.386/.447 with five homers in 45 games in the DSL. His overall hit tool projects to be above average at the least right now, and he shows the potential to be a plus runner in center field as well. Even if he grows into some power, he fits the mold of a top-of-the-lineup type, and that could be more evident when he moves stateside starting in 2022.
Cardinals: Joshua Baez, OF (No. 5)
This is a bet on raw tools. The Cardinals said the same thing when they took the Massachusetts native in the second round last year and signed him for $2.25 million (an equivalent bonus to a player taken 20 picks earlier). Baez is capable of light-tower power, as he exhibited on the showcase circuit, and can fire missiles from the outfield with a plus-plus arm. How much he hits remains the question. Jordan Walker faced similar issues coming into 2021 and is now a Top 100 prospect. Baez could follow in his footsteps.
Cubs: Cristian Hernandez, SS (No. 3)
Often compared to a young Alex Rodriguez and Manny Machado, Hernandez was considered the best prospect in the 2020-21 international crop by some clubs and signed for $3 million out of the Dominican Republic. He showed at least solid tools across the board while batting .285/.398/.424 with five homers and 21 steals during his 47-game pro debut in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League.
Pirates: Anthony Solometo, LHP (No. 7)
The Pirates were able to go after, and sign, three high-end high school players in the Draft after taking Henry Davis No. 1 overall, and there’s a good chance we’ll all be talking about Bubba Chandler, Anthony Solometo AND Lonnie White in two years. But we’ll give Solometo the nod because of his potential to have three at least above-average pitches and a good feel for them from the left side.
Reds: Elly De La Cruz, SS/3B (No. 8)
De La Cruz is poised to make a jump in the rankings this year after kind of coming out of nowhere in 2021. Signed for just $65,000 in July 2018, he made his U.S. debut in 2021 and took off, showing he was way too good for the ACL and continuing to show off impressive tools in full-season ball. He’ll have to refine his approach, but he has feel and passion for the game, with the chance to stick at short.
D-backs: A.J. Vukovich, 3B (No. 10)
It’s always telling when a team decides to promote a player in his first full season, so it was notable that the 2020 fourth-rounder played both Low-A and High-A last season, especially after a slow start in Visalia. Vukovich finished with 13 homers and a .766 OPS over 92 games in his first taste of the Minors, putting down the foundation for his plus-plus raw power to play. That pop gives him a ceiling of an everyday corner infielder if he can continue to improve his contact rate.
Dodgers: Wilman Diaz, SS (No. 10)
Diaz had one of the most advanced bats in the 2020-21 international class and also displayed the potential for at least solid tools across the board, prompting the Dodgers to sign him for $2,697,500 out of Venezuela. He broke into pro ball by batting .235/.309/.353 with one homer and eight steals in 24 games in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League.
Giants: Aeverson Arteaga, SS (No. 12)
The Giants gave Arteaga the largest bonus ($1 million) in their 2019 international class, primarily because of the Venezuelan's defensive prowess at shortstop. Yet his bat speed and ability to barrel balls has produced more power than expected, and he led the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League in RBI (43) while ranking third in homers (nine) and hitting .290/.362/.495 in 57 games while breaking into pro ball last summer.
Padres: James Wood, OF (No. 5)
The 6-foot-7 slugger was lauded for his raw power, above-average speed and plus arm strength ahead of going in the second round to San Diego last year. The only question was whether he could hit enough to reach that ceiling. He responded to those questions by hitting .372/.465/.535 over 101 plate appearances in the Arizona Complex League. The hit-tool questions remain -- Wood struck out 31.7 percent of the time and sported an absurd .569 BABIP -- but this is a promising starting block. If this trend continues into 2024, he could be hitting the upper levels as a star outfield prospect.
Rockies: Drew Romo, C (No. 8)
The track record for developing high school catchers out of the Draft might not be very strong, but a lot of people are very bullish about Romo, the switch-hitting backstop from the Texas prep ranks taken No. 35 overall by the Rockies in 2020. Some evaluators think he belongs in the Top 100 right now because he can really defend and he hit .314/.345/.439 during his debut in Low-A in 2021.