Time is on their side. Yes, it is. And so is a whole lot else.
Age may be just a number to the rest of us, but in baseball, it can be an important data point. A 24-year-old hitting .330 at Double-A isn’t quite like a 19-year-old putting up the same number. Those who can perform and stand out at a younger age give rocket fuel to their own prospect profiles. They are the future of Top 100 lists and the game as a whole.
With that in mind, these are the youngest position players ranked among each organization’s Top 30 prospects:
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Manuel Beltre, SS (17 years old) (No. 10)
Born in June 2004, Beltre signed for $2.35 million out of the Dominican Republic last January on the strength of his international playing experience and above-average hit and run tools. He showed a good approach in his first taste of pro ball with a .391 OBP and 33/42 K/BB ratio over 53 games. The emphasis will pivot toward turning some of those walks into hits -- he finished with a .225 average -- and generating a little more power as he matures and heads stateside.
Orioles: Samuel Basallo, C (17 years old) (No. 24)
After years of being largely absent from the international market, the Orioles have worked their way back in and invested more on the start of the international signing period in Jan. 2021 than at any point in franchise history. At the top of the acquisition list was Basallo, who already exhibits high exit velocities and plus raw power from the left side of the plate at age 17. He has the arm to stick behind the plate, but could outgrow the position physically.
Rays: Carlos Colmenarez, SS (18 years old) (No. 7)
Tampa Bay signed Colmenarez for $3 million on Jan. 15, 2021, exactly two months after the left-handed hitter turned 17. Hamate surgery kept him from debuting until mid-August, and he didn’t quite come flying out of the gate when healthy, finishing with a .247/.319/.289 line and only three extra-base hits in 26 games. The 2022 season will be a better judgment of who Colmenarez can be in a deep Tampa Bay system, and there is hope he will round into the next great Rays shortstop with five 55-grade tools.
Red Sox: Blaze Jordan, 3B (18 years old) (No. 9)
Jordan's power-hitting exploits were legendary well before the Red Sox signed him for $1.75 million out of a Mississippi high school in the third round of the 2020 Draft, and he added to them in his pro debut. He batted .324/.368/.590 in 28 games between Rookie ball and Low-A and looked better at third base than expected, though he still may wind up at first base.
Yankees: Fidel Montero, OF (17 years old) (No. 28)
The best prospect in the Yankees' 2020-21 international class, Montero signed for $450,000 out of the Dominican Republic. He hit .193/.387/.339 with four homers and 19 steals in 52 games in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, and while he struggled, he did display plus raw power and speed along with well above-average arm strength.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: Petey Halpin, OF (19 years old) (No. 19)
The Guardians target up-the-middle players with advanced bats, and they added Halpin to their collection as a third-round pick in 2020. He combines good feel for the barrel, some sneaky power, plus speed and solid center-field skills and arm strength. He batted .294/.363/.425 with one homer and 11 steals in 54 Low-A games in his pro debut.
Royals: Daniel Vazquez, SS (17 years old) (No. 19)
Vazquez turns 18 on Dec. 15, a little less than one year after he signed a $1,497,500 bonus. It’s all about projection for the 6-foot, 150-pound shortstop. Vazquez earns his best grades for his defensive instincts and hands at the six, and there’s hope he’ll grow into power and more offensive production as he ages. The Dominican Republic native hit just .186 with one homer in 32 games in the DSL, an indication of how long he has to go to earn previous comps to Fernando Tatis Jr.
Tigers: Cristian Santana, SS (18 years old) (No. 9)
Santana, who recently turned 18 on Nov. 25, may be one of the best early performers on this list. The Dominican Republic native signed for $2.95 million last January and proceeded to hit .269/.421/.520 with nine homers and 12 stolen bases in 54 games. His .942 OPS placed fifth among qualifiers in the DSL and ranked ninth among all Rookie-level hitters. His above-average bat speed should play the higher he climbs, and he has the potential to grow into more pop in time.
Twins: Danny De Andrade, SS (17 years old) (No. 24)
Thought to be one of the top shortstops in the international signing class, De Andrade got $2.2 million to sign with the Twins last January. He had a solid debut in the Dominican Summer League as a 17-year-old, exhibiting good bat speed and ability to drive the ball from the right side of the plate. He has good actions for shortstop, but could end up at third once he’s done physically maturing.
White Sox: Wes Kath, 3B (19 years old) (No. 4)
Kath was in the mix for their 2021 first-round pick, so the White Sox were thrilled when the Arizona high schooler was available in the second round. An advanced hitter with at least 20-homer potential and a strong arm, he batted .212/.287/.337 with three homers in 28 games in Rookie ball.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Kristin Munroe, 3B/SS (17 years old) (No. 25)
Baseball in the Bahamas continues to grow, with more and more prospects coming from the island. Munroe is the latest, getting $400,000 from the Angels to sign in May and then make his debut in the DSL. He’s a premium athlete with outstanding speed and a line-drive approach at the plate with developing power.
Astros: Dauri Lorenzo, SS (19 years old) (No. 25)
One of the better bats among middle infielders in the 2019 international class, Lorenzo also has good instincts and a solid arm at shortstop. Signed for $1.8 million out of the Dominican Republic, he hit .248/.316/.312 with one homer in 41 games in Rookie ball in his pro debut.
A’s: Pedro Pineda, OF (18 years old) (No. 6)
Pineda turned 18 in September and is brimming with raw tools. Signed for $2.5 million when the international signing period opened in mid-January, Pineda has quick hands and outstanding bat speed, which point to the ability to hit, and with power, in the future. He probably settles in as a super-athletic corner outfielder when all is said and done.
Mariners: Luis Bolivar, OF (17 years old) (No. 29)
When the delayed 2020-21 international signing period opened in Jan. 2021, the Mariners handed out seven-figure bonuses to shortstop Starlin Aguilar and outfielder Gabriel Gonzalez, and they gave $700,000 to sign Bolivar in February. He has close to top-of-the-scale speed that should make him exciting to watch on the basepaths and that, along with outstanding instincts, will help him become a plus defender in center field for a long time to come. Added strength will help him reach his offensive ceiling.
Rangers: Yeison Morrobel, OF (18 years old) (No. 14)
The Rangers love Morrobel's quick left-handed swing and mature approach, which combined with his chance for at least average tools across the board enticed them to sign him for $1.8 million out of the Dominican Republic in January. He batted .270/.395/.411 with one homer in 51 games in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, drawing more walks (30) than strikeouts (25).
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Ambioris Tavarez, SS (18 years old) (No. 25)
The final year of sanctions on international spending levied against the Braves meant they could spend 50 percent of their pool in the 2020-21 signing period. They used most of it to sign Tavarez for $1.5 million and while the shortstop has yet to play an official game yet, he’s shown off a plus arm (that would work from third or a corner outfield spot if he outgrows short) to go along with an intriguing combination of strength and bat speed with at least plus raw power to tap into.
Marlins: Jose Salas, SS (18 years old) (No. 10)
The Marlins' primary target in the 2019 international class, Salas signed for $2.8 million and hit .305/.391/.405 with two homers and 14 steals in a 55-game pro debut split between Rookie ball and Low-A. He's a switch-hitter with 20-20 upside and he has the actions, athleticism and arm strength to stick at shortstop.
Mets: Alex Ramirez, OF (18 years old) (No. 7)
Signed for $2.05 million on July 2, 2019, the Dominican Republic native, who turns 19 on Jan. 13, missed out on a 2020 debut and jumped straight to full-season ball this summer at Low-A St. Lucie. He held his own with a .258/.326/.384 line, five homers and 16 steals in 76 games. Ramirez was one of only three Low-A players to receive at least 300 plate appearances at the level in their age-18 seasons in 2021. He remains plenty projectable at 6-foot-3 with good speed of both the bat and foot variety. Assuming he can iron out swing issues caused by his long levers, Ramirez could take off at a more age-appropriate level in the future.
Nationals: Armando Cruz, SS (17 years old) (No. 5)
The Washington system was remade in a few ways this past year, and one could argue its first big addition was Cruz, who signed for $3.9 million last January, right around his 17th birthday. Cruz was considered arguably the best defender of the international class, and he might battle Jackson Cluff for the title of best defensive shortstop in the Nats pipeline at present. Cruz hit .232/.292/.305 over 48 games in the DSL, an indication of how far he still needs to go with the bat.
Phillies: Rickardo Perez, C (18 years old) (No. 12)
Perez was in the top 10 of our Top 30 international prospects list when he signed with the Phillies for $1 million. The left-handed-hitting backstop got his professional feet wet in the DSL where he showed off an advanced approach by walking more than he struck out, which will help him tap into his power, all while showing off better-than-average defensive skills behind the dish.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Jackson Chourio, OF/2B (17 years old) (No. 16)
Chourio signed for $1.8 million last January and quickly backed up the investment by hitting .296/.386/.446 with five homers, eight steals and a 28/23 K/BB ratio over 45 games in the DSL. The 17-year-old could continue to be an above-average hitter with a plus run tool in the future. Questions remain about where he’ll end up. The Brewers had thoughts on playing him at short but gave him most of his DSL reps in center with some second base sprinkled in. His athleticism should help him stick up the middle, thus increasing his value.
Cardinals: Luis Pino, OF (17 years old) (No. 25)
Born in April 2004, Pino joined the Cardinals last April, later than most members of his international signing class. The 17-year-old signed for $800,000 and had previously stood out to St. Louis during his experiences with the Cuban Junior National Team. His best asset right now is his ability to drive the ball into gaps, and he was solid in the DSL where he hit .247/.362/.418 with six homers in 42 games. Currently a center fielder, Pino seems destined to move to a corner as he ages.
Cubs: Cristian Hernandez, SS (17 years old) (No. 3)
Some scouts considered Hernandez the best prospect in the 2020-21 international class, and he drew repeated physical comparisons to a young Alex Rodriguez and Manny Machado before signing for $3 million out of the Dominican Republic in January. Gifted with at least solid tools across the board, he batted .285/.398/.424 with five homers and 21 steals in 47 games in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League.
Pirates: Lonnie White, OF (18 years old) (No. 11)
One of the few draftees on this list, the Pirates kept White from heading to Penn State to play both football and baseball by going over slot in the Competitive Balance Round B and signing him for $1.5 million. He played briefly in the Florida Complex League, homering twice in nine games, and the Pirates can’t wait to see how all five of his tools flourish now that he’s focusing on one sport.
Reds: Ariel Almonte, OF (18 years old) (No. 18)
Signed for $1.85 million back in January, Almonte has some serious offensive tools, some of which were on display in the DSL this past summer. The left-handed hitter has a loose swing and can backspin the ball, with the ability to drive the ball to all fields and an advanced approach at the plate. That, along with a future plus arm, should help him fit the outfield corner profile well.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Jordan Lawlar, SS (19 years old) (No. 1, MLB No. 13)
When Lawlar was available at the No. 6 pick this July, the D-backs had to jump on the five-tool shortstop and add his tremendous ceiling to their rebuild. The 19-year-old is known for being an already polished hitter, and many believe he’ll be a solid power hitter in time as well. His strongest grades come for his running and throwing abilities, and he seems like a good bet to stick at short. Lawlar’s debut season was limited to only two games by a shoulder injury, but Arizona is hopeful big things are still to come from its top prospect.
Dodgers: Jesus Galiz, C (17 years old) (No. 20)
Galiz had an agreement to sign with the Yankees for $1.5 million before they backed out, and the top catching prospect in the 2020-21 international class wound up joining the Dodgers for $812,500 in January. A Venezuelan who's more athletic than most backstops and has the potential to hit for average and power, he batted .218/.286/.287 in 31 games in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League.
Giants: Aeverson Arteaga, SS (18 years old) (No. 12)
Arteaga landed the highest bonus ($1 million) in the Giants' 2019 international class, in large part because of his defensive ability at shortstop. But he also barrels balls and has more power than expected, debuting by hitting .294/.367/.503 in 56 games in the Arizona Complex League, where he ranked first in RBI (43) and third in homers (nine).
Padres: Samuel Zavala, OF (17 years old) (No. 17)
Zavala moved into the Padres system for $1.2 million six months past his 16th birthday, making him one of the younger players to sign last January. He didn’t perform like much of a youngster in his first taste of pro ball. The left-handed slugger hit .297/.400/.487 with three homers and 11 steals in 55 games in the DSL. The Padres like how smooth Zavala’s swing looks already, and while he mostly plays center now, his above-average arm should work in right if/when he needs to slide over.
Rockies: Adael Amador, SS (18 years old) (No. 17)
Amador signed back in July 2019 for $1.5 million as one of the top shortstops in that signing class, but didn’t make his pro debut until 2021 because of the pandemic. He didn’t disappoint, hitting .299/.394/.445 in 47 DSL games last summer. The switch-hitter has tools aplenty and aptitude that belies his age, with the chance to be an outstanding hitter from both sides of the plate with extra-base pop and the ability to play anywhere on the infield.