Looking for a sign that a new baseball season is coming and that Spring Training is right around the corner? Look no further: The new MLB Pipeline Top 100 Prospects list is here!
As always, there were a number of variables we considered when putting together the 2023 Top 100, from graduations to performance (good and bad), to considering new talent just entering the pro game. The top of the list in particular has a very new look.
Henderson is not alone in climbing the rankings, though. There are only three holdovers from last year’s Top 10 who appear in this year’s version: Francisco Álvarez of the Mets, Anthony Volpe of the Yankees and the Orioles’ Grayson Rodriguez. That makes Baltimore the only team with two players in the Top 10 (three in the top 12 if you add in 2022 draftee Jackson Holliday).
The Top 10
1. Gunnar Henderson, 3B/SS, Orioles
2. Corbin Carroll, OF, D-backs
3. Francisco Álvarez, C, Mets
4. Jordan Walker, OF, Cardinals
5. Anthony Volpe, SS, Yankees
6. Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies
7. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles
8. Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers
9. Marcelo Mayer, SS, Red Sox
10. Elly De La Cruz, SS/3B, Reds
Complete Top 100 »
There are 42 new names on this year’s list compared to last year’s preseason Top 100. And that doesn’t even count the 14 debutants from the 2022 Draft, since they were still amateur players and weren’t eligible for this list last year (which came out in March because of the lockout). Some of those newbies are debuting really high on the list -- in the Top 10. Neither Andrew Painter of the Phillies nor Jackson Chourio of the Brewers was on the Top 100 at the start of the 2022 season. James Wood (WSH), Jackson Merrill (SD) and Ezequiel Tovar (COL) all have gone from off the list into the Top 25 on this current edition.
Not every leaper came from off the list, obviously. There are 44 players who were on the 2022 version who are here again. None of them has made a larger jump than Reds infielder Elly De La Cruz, who debuted on the list a year ago at No. 76 and has moved 66 spots to No. 10 overall. Our new No. 1 prospect, Henderson, isn’t far behind, jumping 63 spots to top the list. They are two of five total prospects who have moved 50 or more spots, joined by Giants lefty Kyle Harrison (+57), Dodgers infielder Miguel Vargas (+57) and Rays right-hander Taj Bradley (+54). Mariners catcher Harry Ford (+44) and Brewers outfielder Sal Frelick (+40) are also among the biggest risers on the list.
The Cardinals’ Jordan Walker took a healthy jump (from No. 30 to No. 4) into the Top 10. Others who made big jumps into the Top 25 are Marlins right-hander Eury Perez (+28), Guardians righty Daniel Espino (+37) and Dodgers RHP Bobby Miller (+33).
A total of 23 players from last year’s Top 100 have fallen off the list, though they are still considered prospects. The Pirates’ Nick Gonzales took the biggest tumble, going from No. 20 to off the Top 100. Fellow infielder Kahlil Watson of the Marlins is next, falling off from No. 25. Other members of the 2022 Top 50 not on this year’s Top 100 are the Blue Jays’ Orelvis Martinez (No. 38), the Cardinals’ Matthew Liberatore (No. 43), the Rangers’ Cole Winn (No. 48) and Brady House (No. 49) of the Nationals.
Of the members of last year’s Top 100 who stayed on the list but saw their prospect stock drop the most, the Cubs’ Brennen Davis lost 77 spots, going from No. 15 a year ago to No. 92. He’s joined by the Rangers’ Jack Leiter (-61), the Pirates’ Henry Davis (-33), and Marlins right-hander Max Meyer (-32) on the list of prospects who dropped 30 or more positions.
There were 33 players on last year’s Top 100 who have graduated from prospect status, with 2022 Rookies of the Year, Julio Rodríguez in the AL (who was No. 3 on the Top 100) and Michael Harris II in the NL, who was No. 65 on the 2022 list, leading the way. There was a ton of turnover at the top of the list, too, with the top five, top six of seven and seven in the Top 10 all getting enough big league time to graduate. Bobby Witt Jr. and Adley Rutschman, who were Nos. 1 and 2, both got ROY votes, with Rutschman finishing second behind Rodríguez and Witt coming in fourth in AL voting. The Tigers’ Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, the D-backs’ Gabriel Moreno (formerly with TOR) and CJ Abrams, now with the Nationals, are the other Top 10 prospects to come off the list. The Mariners’ George Kirby (No. 32) in the AL and Oneil Cruz (No. 26) of the Pirates and Nick Lodolo (No. 42) of the Reds in the NL are the other graduates who got Rookie of the Year votes last season.
It can be very tough to evaluate pitching prospects. So much can go wrong in their development, and it can be argued with the changing of roles -- starters often only going five innings, for example -- that position players are more highly valued. That’s been the case in the Top 100 of late, though the number has held steady from last year to now. Still, 29 percent of the list are pitchers, with 25 right-handers and just four lefties on the Top 100. Back in 2011, that percentage was 50 percent and it hovered in that area (47 percent) in 2018-19. It’s been 30 percent or lower over our last four lists.
And while the 29 arms mean pitcher is still the top single position, the lead is very narrow. There are 27 outfielders on this year’s Top 100 and 22 shortstops. After that leaderboard, catchers are next with nine, while there are seven third basemen and three first basemen and second basemen apiece.
Feeling the Draft and international flavor
With the Draft now in July, it’s a pretty quick turnaround from that event to when we re-rank our list every summer, but we do always add a fair amount of top talent from that year’s Draft class to the Top 100. Then we get to see them play, talk to scouts about how they look and see how they perform to help inform how or why we move them up and down the list. This preseason edition features 14 members of the 2022 Draft class, all of them first-rounders. That group is topped by No. 1 overall pick Jackson Holliday (No. 12) and No. 2 pick Druw Jones (No. 15). Termarr Johnson (No. 26), Brooks Lee (No. 31), Kevin Parada (No. 36) and Elijah Green (No. 46) are in the top 50 and, not surprisingly, all of them were taken in the top half of the first round.
There are 75 players who initially entered pro ball via the Draft, with 25 international signees. And there’s a little crossover, too. Daniel Espino was born in Panama, but he was Cleveland’s first-round pick out of the Georgia high school ranks in 2019. Conversely, George Valera was born in the States, but moved to the Dominican at age 13 and was an international signee (coincidentally, also by the Guardians). That puts the number of players born in the U.S. at 73.
Canada and Puerto Rico are part of the Draft, and each has one rep (Bo Naylor from Canada and Edwin Arroyo from PR) on the list. The Dominican Republic has 11 players on the list, edging out Venezuela (eight). There are three players from Cuba and one each from Australia and Curacao.