You don’t need us to tell you that players to watch for the 2023 Major League Baseball season include Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Judge and the like. Those are names from the “Duh and/or Hello!” file.
So instead, how about some breakout candidates that should be on everyone’s radar?
We have one for every team, and we cast a wide net in looking for players to include. Young players who are ready for their close-ups? Check. Veterans who are set to play bigger roles? Also, check. Other veterans who can simply be better than they’ve already shown? Oh, you better believe that’s a check.
In any case, we’ll proceed in alphabetical order by city.
Arizona Diamondbacks: CF Corbin Carroll
- Age: 22
- 2022 Stats: 32 G, 115 PA, 4 HR, 2 SB, .260 AVG, .330 OBP, .500 SLG
Why did the Diamondbacks trade Daulton Varsho? Well, presumably in part because they really wanted Gabriel Moreno. It doesn’t hurt, though, that it’ll now be that much easier for them to find playing time for Corbin Carroll.
He batted .307/.425/.611 with 24 home runs and 31 stolen bases in the minors even before his strong debut with the Snakes. For anyone wondering which of his tools is his best, here’s a hint: at 30.7 feet per second, he clocked as the fastest runner in MLB last year.
That Carroll also averaged just 85.8 mph on his batted balls is more of a cause for skepticism. But if he hits up around .300, steals a ton of bases and plays good defense in center field, he’ll be a contender for the National League Rookie of the Year.
Atlanta: SS Vaughn Grissom
- Age: 22
- 2022 Stats: 41 G, 156 PA, 5 HR, 5 SB, .291 AVG, .353 OBP, .440 SLG
It should have been a major problem for Atlanta that injuries limited two-time All-Star second baseman Ozzie Albies to just 64 games. Part of the reason it wasn’t, however, was because of the play of Vaughn Grissom.
After torching the minors to the tune of a .324/.405/.494 batting line, Grissom homered in his very first game with Atlanta on Aug. 10. He went on to hit .347 over his first 26 games, though a late slump ultimately forced him from his starting job at second base.
Atlanta is nonetheless clearly confident in Grissom, as it otherwise wouldn’t have been so lackadaisical about retaining Dansby Swanson at shortstop. Especially if his offseason work with Ron Washington pays off, Grissom should seize yet another chance to make a strong first impression at his new position.
Baltimore Orioles: SS Gunnar Henderson
- Age: 21
- 2022 Stats: 34 G, 132 PA, 4 HR, 1 SB, .259 AVG, .348 OBP, .440 SLG
It was mostly The Adley Rutschman Show in Baltimore as the Orioles rose from the ash heap in 2022. Come September, though, it was The Adley Rutschman Show, featuring Gunnar Henderson.
Henderson absolutely raked in the minors last year, posting a .946 OPS with 19 home runs. He likewise raked in the majors, and even more so than his final results let on. After he made his debut on Aug. 31, he had the highest rate of hard contact in the entire league.
You can see why Henderson ended up at No. 2 on B/R’s rankings for MLB’s top 100 prospects for 2023. After Rutschman lost out to Julio Rodríguez in 2022, Henderson should make a run at becoming Baltimore’s first Rookie of the Year since Gregg Olson in 1989.