Preseason Rookie Power Rankings

March 29th, 2023

Welcome to the preseason edition of MLB Pipeline’s 2023 Rookie Power Rankings. Once per month over the course of the season, our team of prospect experts will vote on who we believe to be the likeliest Rookie of the Year winners at year’s end.

That means we’re not weighing in on long-term value. It’s just, who’s most likely to take home the hardware this fall? We’ll check back once per month, as prospect pedigree wanes in importance and the actual numbers make up a bigger and bigger part of the picture.

1. , OF, D-backs (MLB No. 2, ARI No. 1)
What's not to like about Carroll's candidacy? He's an advanced, well-rounded player who rocketed up the Minor League ladder and performed well in a brief debut in ’22. He has a secure job in what should be a pretty good lineup in a generally friendly ballpark (even post-humidor). The NL has a deeper pool of top candidates than the AL, which makes the path to a trophy a little harder, but Carroll has pretty much everything you'd want.

2. , 3B, Orioles (MLB No. 1, BAL No. 1)
Henderson received the most first-place votes in the poll, which tells you two main things. One, he’s very good and very polished and likely to have a big year for the O’s. Two, the American League race appears less wide open than the battle in the NL. Henderson is an advanced hitter who more than held his own in a 2022 debut, and he has a starting job secured.

3. , OF, Cardinals (MLB No. 4, STL No. 1)
Walker, meanwhile, was the only player in our poll who placed at least third on every single ballot – not even Carroll can say that. Everyone is confident he’s going to have a big year, and why not? He has all the tools, from hitting to power to speed to his throwing arm. And the Cardinals have every reason to turn him loose and let him cook, not to mention plenty of faith in the person as well as the player.

4. , RHP, Mets (not ranked as a prospect)
Senga, 30, established himself as a star in Japan, and arrives in the States as presumably a finished product. Check those three NPB all-star selections. And as a starting pitcher with what appears to be a set rotation spot on a very good team, he’s a safe bet to be in the conversation for as long as he pitches well. There is some question of workload, considering Senga hasn’t pitched more than 150 innings since 2019 and has only topped that number once since 2016.

5. , OF, Red Sox (not ranked)
Like Senga, Yoshida arrives from NPB as an established star on the other side of the Pacific, a reliable offensive weapon well past the development phase. He was a multifaceted threat in Japan, hitting better than .320 in each of the past five seasons while also regularly getting into the 20s in home runs. Yoshida is neither very big nor a speed demon, so it will be interesting to see how his offensive profile translates to the Major Leagues.

6. , SS, Yankees (MLB No. 5, NYY No. 1)
Call it a hunch, but this ranking may draw a bit of criticism. Stick with us, though: we absolutely love Volpe. His speed, bat-to-ball ability, power, and makeup all mark him as a future star. But as for this year, he might be a little riskier than some of the other names on this list. He got off to a slow start last year and a bit of a slow one in 2021. It won’t be shocking if there’s an adjustment period at the start of his big league career. Long term, though? He looks like a star.

7. , 1B, Red Sox (MLB No. 23, BOS No. 2)
Casas’ performance was a bit of a mixed bag in his debut last year, but you can’t say he was overmatched. Though he batted .197, he drew his walks and hit for power, two very encouraging signs. He may not have the ceiling of some of the players above him on this list, but he could put up very nice numbers right away, and that’s the kind of thing that can win you a Rookie of the Year Award.

8. , 3B, Rangers (MLB No. 34, TEX No. 1)
Jung is yet another player who got a bit more than a cup of coffee in 2022, posting a .204/.235/.418 line in 26 games with Texas. That followed a grand total of 153 Minor League games, so it’s probably a more impressive performance than it might first seem. Jung steps into this year as the Rangers third baseman and a player who’s hit pretty much everywhere, so his chances to stay on this list seem pretty strong.

9. , 2B, Dodgers (MLB No. 37, LAD No. 3)
Hey, look, it’s another player who got a few weeks’ worth of at-bats in the Majors last year. Vargas’ offensive numbers from ’22 look great, but he had an extra degree of difficulty: he was playing three different positions. Entering this year, he’s the Dodgers’ second baseman. He has a history of putting bat to ball wherever he’s gone, and it seems a safe bet he’ll resume that form this year.

10. , SS, Rockies (MLB No. 25, COL No. 1)
If you’re looking for a formula to win a Rookie of the Year Award, “play 81 games in Denver” is a good start. Tovar has a regular job and he has Coors Field as his home ballpark. He has the tools to stick at shortstop and a developing offensive game. He’s a long shot, but if he keeps improving at the plate, he could stay in the picture all year.