Top 15 rookies for the 2023 MLB season: Corbin Carroll, Gunnar Henderson headline deep class
The 2023 Major League Baseball rookie class is one the deepest in recent memory. There is a good chance 75% of this year’s top prospects start the season in the majors.
Expected playing time has a huge role in determining which rookies make our preseason list. The top two prospects in baseball rank first and second. And while the Brewers’ Jackson Chourio is the third-best overall prospect, he doesn’t appear due to the likelihood he spends all of 2023 in the minor leagues.
Here are this year’s most impactful rookies, 11 of which made their MLB debuts late last season:
1. Corbin Carroll, OF, Diamondbacks
Carroll is one of the most explosive rookies to come around in the last half decade. A former first-round pick, the 22-year-old made his MLB debut last August, showcasing a feel for hard contact and blazing speed. Carroll, a patient hitter, will find lots of opportunities to get on base. His ability to hit for power and average while stealing bases should acclimate him to fantasy rosters well.
2. Gunnar Henderson, 3B, Orioles
Henderson ranks second on our list by the slightest of margins. The 21-year-old also debuted in the majors at the end of August, slashing .259/.349/.440 with four home runs in 116 at-bats. Henderson is noted for his ability to make hard contact. In his short MLB sample, his average exit velocity was 92 mph, four ticks higher than MLB average and identical to his minor league data. He’s patient and a plus runner with the potential for double-digit steals.
3. Miguel Vargas, INF, Dodgers
The 23-year-old Vargas is expected to be the Dodgers’ opening-day second baseman, a position where he’s made just 27 starts in his minor league career. Vargas has a career .313/.390/.488 minor league slash line. He doesn’t impact the ball like Carroll and Henderson. However, he makes contact, utilizes the entire field and can also steal double-digit bases. He has average over-the-fence power for now.
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4. Masataka Yoshida, OF, Red Sox
Yoshida is a 29-year-old outfield import from Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan who signed a five-year, $90 million contract this offseason with the Red Sox. Yoshida batted .336/.449/.559 last season in Japan thanks to a patient, spray approach at the plate. He’s apt at finding holes across the diamond. Most of his power (21 HR in 2022) comes from his pull side. As a left-handed hitter in Fenway Park, it’s likely his power totals will drop off from his numbers in Japan.
5. Josh Jung, 3B, Rangers
The 25-year-old Jung made his MLB debut last season after coming back from February labrum surgery. Jung struggled getting to consistent hard contact in the majors, slashing a meager .204/.235/.418. However, he did hit five home runs, and scouting contacts in Arizona believe Jung has rediscovered the explosion in his swing.
6. Triston Casas, 1B, Red Sox
Casas, a former first-round pick, struggled with consistent contact quality in his first taste of the majors. However, when he made hard contact, it was immense, slugging five home runs, including three to the opposite field, in 76 at-bats. The 23-year-old left-handed hitter has an above-average hitting foundation and produced high exit velocities in the minors, but the angles have not been there for him to display over-the-fence power yet.
7. Kodai Senga, RHP, Mets
The 30-year-old Senga is slated to slot in as the Mets’ No. 3 starter after a storied NPB career. Senga throws the kitchen sink at hitters. He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball. He’s famous for a mid-80s forkball, nicknamed the “Ghost Fork” because of how it drops late and disappears out of the zone. Senga also features a cutter, curveball and slider.
8. Brett Baty, 3B, Mets
The 23-year-old Baty made his MLB debut last season, slashing .184/.244/.342, despite hitting the ball with authority. No matter the competition, the book on Baty is his ability to get to hard contact with a flatter swing plane and an all-fields approach. Because he doesn’t pile up home runs now, the left-handed hitter has fallen under the radar a bit, but there is an interesting set of skills here.
9. Jordan Walker, 3B, Cardinals
Walker got off to a torrid start in spring training and has quickly moved up fantasy draft boards. Now a full-time outfielder, it’s power for days with a solid, underlying hit tool. He has 40-homer power potential and he could get to it sooner than later. Walker is incredibly aggressive and is likely to struggle with advanced spin. He is also a plus runner with 22 steals last year at Class AA.
10. Hunter Brown, RHP, Astros
Brown had an incredible MLB debut last season. He has a four-pitch mix with an overpowering four-seam fastball. A double-plus pitch, his high 90s fastball is a bat-missing machine, especially up with its flat-angled approach and late riding action. Both of his breaking balls project as near plus offerings.
11. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles
Rodriguez is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Three of his four offerings are rated plus-or-better by scouts. He has proved to be a strikeout machine in the minors. Coming off a lat strain last season, Baltimore is likely to limit Rodriguez’s innings in 2023.
12. Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Rockies
Tovar has above-average-or-better tools across the board. The 21-year-old appeared overmatched in 35 big-league plate appearances last year. His bat isn’t quite there but his defense will push him to the majors in 2023. His speed and power potential will be an asset to fantasy managers.
13. Will Brennan, OF, Guardians
Brennan played well for Cleveland down the stretch last season, earning starting reps in the playoffs. His profile is more hit over power, meaning batting average more than home runs will likely carry him in his rookie year. An above-average runner, there is a good chance he’ll net double-digit stolen bases with reasonable playing time.
14. Francisco Alvarez, C, Mets
Alvarez brings an impressive offensive skill set to the weakest fantasy position, though he may only qualify at DH to start the season. The 21-year-old was rushed a bit to the big leagues and, like Walker and Tovar, has work to do diagnosing spin. Alvarez already gets to his double-plus power in games and should hit 20-plus home runs with playing time.
15. Oswald Peraza, SS, Yankees
Flipping a coin, it’s Peraza over fellow Yankees prospect Anthony Volpe for our last slot on this list. Peraza, whose glove is more ready for the big leagues than Volpe’s at short, has an aggressive approach but solid bat-to-ball skills. He should be the Yankees’ opening-day shortstop.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Top MLB rookies for 2023 include Corbin Carroll, Gunnar Henderson