Projecting each team's top prospect in '24
We’ve seen some of the top prospects in baseball ascend to the big leagues in 2022, with many organizations' No. 1 guys graduating and changing the prospect landscape. That is, after all, the objective, right? Getting prospects to the Major Leagues?
There should be more of that in 2023, of course, which led us to ponder what the start of the 2024 season could look like, predicting who we think the No. 1 prospect for each team will be here. How much turnover will there be? Just seven of these 30 are currently in the top spot for their organization.
It’s not like these are unknown prospects, though. A total of 20 prospects listed are already on our Top 100 list. And the 2022 Draft is a big contributing factor, with 14 recent draftees, all but one first-round picks, landing atop their team Top 30s in 2024.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Brandon Barriera, LHP (No. 4)
The Jays’ top three prospects are already in the upper Minors, and while Ricky Tiedemann would seem to be a candidate here, we won’t bet against him having another epic climb toward MLB graduation next year. Instead, the pick moves to another left-handed Draft pick in Barriera, whom Toronto selected 23rd overall last month. The 6-foot-2 southpaw already shows three above-average pitches and good control that should give him a foundation for success in the pros. Plus, the Jays have a blueprint on how to make promising arms break out in the lower levels, and they’ll look to recreate that path with Barriera.
Orioles: Jackson Holliday, SS (No. 3/MLB No. 14)
Only Gunnar Henderson and Grayson Rodriguez stand ahead of Holliday on the current O’s list, and both will graduate at some point in 2023, so it’s not surprising to project the No. 1 overall pick of the 2022 Draft to ascend to the top spot in the organization. He has five-tool potential and could be in the conversation for No. 1 overall prospect by the time 2024 rolls around.
Rays: Carson Williams, SS (No. 3/MLB No. 86)
Williams has already established a toolsy baseline in his first full season with 17 homers, 48 total extra-base hits and 28 steals in 105 games with Single-A Charleston. The Rays also rave about his defensive skills at the premium position of short. All of that has helped him edge his way into the Top 100 already. Next up: strengthening his contact rate. Williams has fanned 32.8 percent of the time this season. If he can maintain the pop while keeping the K’s down, he’s a candidate to see the Top 50 by 2024.
Red Sox: Marcelo Mayer, SS (No. 1/MLB No. 8)
No surprise here. At No. 4 overall last year, Mayer was Boston’s highest Draft pick since 1967, and barring some outstanding breakout next season (or a fall from grace), he should remain the organization’s top prospect entering 2024. The 19-year-old continues to be a strong defender at the six, and he got off to a good offensive start with a .286/.406/.504 line in 66 games with Single-A Salem. Don’t read too much into small-sample struggles at High-A to this point. Mayer has the goods to be an impressive all-around shortstop for the Sox.
Yankees: Jasson Domínguez, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 42)
There might be some prospect fatigue with Domínguez by the start of 2024 because of his post-signing hype, but that certainly won’t be his fault. The Dominican outfielder will still only be 21 years old by that point, and if all goes according to plan, he could be looking at Triple-A by then, putting him in line with players like Top 3 prospects Gunnar Henderson and Corbin Carroll, who saw the Minors’ top level at the same age. Domínguez’s five-tool potential remains intact now that he’s reached High-A.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: Chase DeLauter, OF (No. 7)
Cleveland’s Top 6 prospects are all in Double-A or Triple-A and likely to see the Majors next year, so the 2024 title falls to the 2022 first-rounder. DeLauter is a worthy candidate in his own right with above-average to plus tools across the board after coming off an injury-shortened 24-game season at James Madison in which he hit .437/.576/.828 with eight homers and a 21/28 K/BB ratio. Should he return in 2023 with anything close to that production in the Minors, DeLauter should join his Guardians brethren in the Top 100.
Royals: Gavin Cross, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 75)
No. 1 stays No. 1. This year’s 9th overall pick rose to the top of the Kansas City ranks shortly after signing and has brought his solid breadth of tools quickly to the pro ranks, hitting .273/.400/.584 with six homers in 21 games across the Arizona Complex League and Single-A Columbia. Some concerns about his contact rate, which were held over from the Draft, have continued in his first taste of full-season ball, but Cross’ power-speed combo and ability to play a quality center field should still keep him in KC’s top spot for the foreseeable future.
Tigers: Jackson Jobe, RHP (No. 1/MLB No. 41)
The Tigers bet big on Jobe in 2021, making him the third overall pick and signing him for $6.9 million, and they’ve been pleased by his trajectory in his first full season, despite a higher ERA than one might expect. The 20-year-old right-hander has a 4.32 mark in the category while fanning 74 in 66 2/3 innings between Single-A Lakeland and High-A West Michigan. Most importantly, the stuff still looks good, led by a low-80s, high-spin slider and 92-94 mph fastball. Jobe should get more innings under his belt in 2023 coming off this development year, and if his arsenal still holds in deeper outings, then his stock may even climb back up a tick or two in the next 12 months.
Twins: Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 97)
Rodriguez made a healthy jump from No. 18 on the Twins’ preseason top 30 up to No. 3, and that was based largely on just 47 games this season during his full-season debut this year, cut short by a torn meniscus. Imagine what the powerful outfielder might do with a healthy season in 2023 to catapult him up the list after posting a 1.043 OPS as a teenager in Fort Myers in 2022.
White Sox: Colson Montgomery, SS (No. 1/MLB No. 60)
It’s been a resurgent year for the Chicago system, and the organization’s 2021 top pick has led the charge. Montgomery hit .324/.424/.476 in 45 games with Single-A Kannapolis, prompting an in-season promotion to High-A Winston-Salem. He held his own with the Dash too and is now at Double-A at just 20 years old as part of Project Birmingham. The left-handed slugger should grow into even more power as he ages, and he has the arm and quick reactions to stay at short.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Edgar Quero, C (No. 3)
While some of the high upside offensive talent in the Angels system struggled this season, Quero has been fantastic both at and behind the plate during his first full season in full-season ball. He’s hit .316/.433/.534 while showing off solid catch-and-throw skills, all at age 19. Angels 2022 first-round pick Zach Neto, currently No. 2 on the Top 30, could provide some competition, but that’s a good problem for the Angels to have.
Astros: Drew Gilbert, OF (No. 2)
The Astros last had a first-round pick in 2019 and were thrilled to get Gilbert, who starred at the University of Tennessee, with their pick at No. 28 for a bonus a touch below slot a right around $2.5 million. He’s a fiery player, one who will have to learn to keep his emotions in check, but that energy also will help him maximize his all-around tools that include a plus arm, the ability to stay in center field and impressive contact skills.
A’s: Henry Bolte, OF (No. 6)
Working under the assumption that current top prospect Tyler Soderstrom will have graduated by 2024, it could come down to the A’s top 2 picks in 2022, first-rounder Daniel Susac and Bolte, their second-round selection. It’s a ceiling vs. floor discussion and right now, we’re going with ceiling and Bolte’s five-tool potential, assuming a refinement of approach helps him tap into those tools more consistently.
Mariners: Harry Ford, C (No. 1/MLB No. 68)
Ford elicited some Craig Biggio comps heading into the 2021 Draft because of his athleticism and speed while also being a catcher. He’s had a solid first full season, reaching double digits in home runs and swiping more than 20 bags. There’s no talk of moving him from behind the plate, where his arm plays, though he could easily handle a Biggio-esque move to second or the outfield if needed.
Rangers: Evan Carter, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 59)
This might go as one of the better scouting finds in recent memory if Carter keep trending in this decision. The Rangers surprised many by taking the Tennessee high school producing in the second round of the 2020 Draft when he hadn’t been seen that much by the scouting industry and was thus overlooked. He has the chance to have a very good power-speed combination, to go along with a feel to hit and outstanding defensive instincts, a big reason why he took a large leap into our Top 100 in our recent re-rank.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Owen Murphy, RHP (No. 5)
The Braves went aggressively after pitching in the 2022 Draft and it could be a strong competition to see who is their top prospect in 2024, with Murphy their first-rounder, JR Ritchie, taken No. 35 overall, and Cole Phillips, their second-round selection, all potentially vying for the honor. Phillips won’t pitch until later in 2023 coming off of Tommy John surgery, and we’ll give Murphy the slight edge for now, a two-way prospect who could really take off now that he’s focusing on pitching only.
Marlins: Jacob Berry, 3B/OF (No. 3/MLB No. 52)
Tommy John surgery might indeed make No. 46 overall prospect Max Meyer still prospect-eligible going into 2024, but we’re being optimistic that he could return to the Majors by the second half of next year and get the time he needs to graduate. On the other hand, you could also consider this a bet on Berry himself, perhaps the best college hitter in this year’s Draft class. The sixth overall pick hit .370/.464/.630 with more extra-base hits (24) than strikeouts (22) in 53 games for LSU in the spring. In a telling sign, he’s been third-base only so far in the Minors, but it’ll be the bat that drives his rise through the Miami ranks anyways.
Mets: Kevin Parada, C (No. 3/MLB No. 40)
Goodbye, one No. 1 catching prospect. Hello to another. With the full expectation that Francisco Álvarez will graduate next season, Parada should slide comfortably into the Mets’ top spot assuming all goes well. The Georgia Tech product was a bit of a coup at 11th overall considering he shows plus hit and power tools at the premium position of backstop. Like Álvarez, defense will likely be a focus in the Minors, but the bat should play quickly in his first full season of 2023.
Nationals: Elijah Green, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 29)
This could make for a fun debate in the Nats system by 2024. Green and No. 35 James Wood are close in our Top 100 right now as tooled-up, teenage outfielders, and there’s a chance that No. 23 Robert Hassell III, who just reached Double-A, doesn’t graduate by the end of next season either. Right now, we’ll pick the 2022 fifth overall pick, considering he has the highest ceiling of the group thanks to plus-plus speed, impressive power and promising defensive tools in center.
Phillies: Justin Crawford, OF (No. 3)
Andrew Painter and Mick Abel’s climb to Double-A this season puts them on a faster track, giving them a solid chance to graduate at some point next season, though they’d obviously be in the mix to be No. 1 on this list if they haven’t. Crawford, the club’s top pick in this year’s Draft, should be in the conversation either way. Phillies player development staff are already raving about how much his speed plays (10 steals in 15 games), with the chance for him to be a dynamic up-the-middle player.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Jackson Chourio, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 11)
Never mind the top prospect in the Milwaukee system. Could Chourio be our top overall prospect by the time 2024 rolls around? The only thing that could hold him back is his rapid ascent toward Milwaukee. The breakout star of the 2022 Minor League season has produced a .309/.363/.583 line with 19 homers in 85 games between Single-A and High-A as an 18-year-old this summer, all while skipping right over the Arizona Complex League. His plus-plus speed gives him another dynamic tool. With Chourio’s consistency, the Brewers might be constantly searching for a challenge for the teenager.
Cardinals: Tink Hence, RHP (No. 6/MLB No. 96)
On a pitch-by-pitch basis, Hence might already be a Top 75 prospect. His fastball, curveball and changeup have all gotten whiffs in the Florida State League, where he has a 1.49 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings. The issue is the Cardinals have been cautious with the 20-year-old right-hander, never letting him pitch more than four innings in an outing, so we don’t know how the stuff holds up over longer starts. Should he be given a longer green light in 2023 -- and if the likes of Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn, Matthew Liberatore and Alec Burleson graduate -- then Hence could waltz into St. Louis’ top spot.
Cubs: Cade Horton, RHP (No. 4)
Horton’s other-worldly postseason performance that helped fuel Oklahoma’s second-place finish at the College World Series this year has been well-documented and it’s why the Cubs took him No. 7 overall. His fastball-slider combination is downright nasty and if he can refine his changeup, he could be a No. 2 or 3 type starter. This could be a fun contest between Horton and outfielder Kevin Alcantara for the top spot.
Pirates: Termarr Johnson, 2B/SS (No. 2/MLB No. 30)
One of the best pure high school hitters scouts have seen in a long time, Johnson, the Pirates’ top pick in the 2022 Draft, seems a sure thing to replace Henry Davis, the Pirates’ top pick in 2021. The left-handed-hitting infielder got some 80 hit grades from amateur scouts and there’s plenty of pop despite his size. Even though he’s likely a second baseman, he’s going to produce enough to warrant this ranking.
Reds: Edwin Arroyo, SS (No. 3/MLB No. 55)
With the expectation that Elly De La Cruz will be launching bombs in the big leagues, this could come down to the two infielders the Reds got in the Luis Castillo deal, Arroyo and Marte, with 2022 first-rounder Cam Collier potentially making a claim. Arroyo’s ability to play shortstop for a long time to come, along with his arriving-sooner-than-expected power at the plate, gives him the edge.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Druw Jones, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 13)
There could be some healthy debate in The Valley come 2024. Do you prefer 2022 top pick Jones or 2021 top pick Jordan Lawlar? Even with the former’s shoulder injury, we still give Jones the edge right now because his ceiling remains one of the best five-tool talents in the game. His defense in center alone could likely play in the Majors in short order, and he has the above-average hit tool and plus raw power to bring plenty of offensive impact as well.
Dodgers: Jose Ramos, OF (No. 8)
Assuming current No. 1 prospect Diego Cartaya has graduated, Ramos appears to be the logical choice, an impressive climb for a guy who signed for just $30,000 back in 2018 and wasn’t even on the Dodgers’ Top 30 at the start of the season, was added at the beginning of August and now is in the Top 10. The power is legit, with 25 homers across two levels of A ball this year.
Giants: Aeverson Arteaga, SS (No. 5)
There are options here. There’s the possibility top prospect Marco Luciano is still around and No. 4 prospect Grant McRay has jumped on the map in a big way. But Arteaga’s upside as a sure-thing plus shortstop with thump at the plate is too hard to ignore and it’s not hard to dream on him making enough of a jump forward with his approach to land at No. 1, regardless of the other two’s status.
Padres: Jackson Merrill, SS (No. 1/MLB No. 88)
Wrist and hamstring injuries have been the only things keeping Merrill back in his first full season. The 2021 27th overall pick has hit .333/.386/.500 with five homers and 15 total extra-base hits in 36 games with Single-A Lake Elsinore this summer, showing off the above-average hit and power tools that made him a first-round selection in the first place. San Diego officials rave about working with Merrill and believe he just needs to be healthy on the field to develop into a potential star. Expect a breakout in 2023, should he play 100-plus games.
Rockies: Adael Amador, SS (No. 3/MLB No. 64)
There are some exciting things going on in the Rockies’ farm system, now ranked in our top 10. They’re super-young across many levels and though their top two prospects, Zac Veen and Ezequiel Tovar, are currently just 20 and 21, we expect them to be in Colorado. Amador is just 19 and is finishing off an excellent full-season debut, showing off an advanced approach at the plate (80 BB vs 62 K), developing more power than expected and enough usable speed for him to reach 25 stolen bases.