My MLB prospect rankings from the last few weeks, from the top 100 to the team-by-team top 20s, are all built around long-term value — what those players are likely to do in their careers, especially at their peaks, rather than what they’re likely to provide in the short term. This list takes a different approach as I shift the focus to just the players’ probable impact in 2023. This is determined not just by the prospect’s readiness, but by playing time.
Here’s my ranking of the top 20 prospects for 2023 impact, which strongly considers whether these players have jobs right now.
1. Corbin Carroll, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
He’s their center fielder, and they’re already talking about a long-term extension with him. I expect him to hit for power and add value on the bases and on defense, but won’t be shocked if he takes a year to adjust to better major-league pitching and not playing half his games in insanely good hitters’ parks.
2. Gunnar Henderson, SS/3B, Baltimore Orioles
Right now, it looks like Henderson will be the everyday third baseman in Baltimore to start the season, with Jorge Mateo and his .267 OBP over at shortstop. That’s probably the best way for Henderson to produce the most value, as he’s a plus-plus defender at the hot corner, while his bat would play anywhere, with more average/patience/doubles power now and more home-run power in a couple of years.
3. Triston Casas, 1B, Boston Red Sox
Casas is the first baseman in Boston, as the team released Eric Hosmer this winter, and that’s the right call. He’s likely to be among the team’s leaders in OBP this year — with Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez gone, Casas really could lead this team in walks in 2023 — and should at least get to a high doubles total this year, with more home-run power to come.
4. Brett Baty, 3B, New York Mets
Baty has a more tentative grip on an everyday job than the others in the top five, although his main competition is Eduardo Escobar, who is already 34 years old and is just a league-average hitter with below-average defense. Baty offers some upside with the stick, as he already hits the ball extremely hard — his exit velocity peaked at 113 mph in his cup of coffee in September — and just needs to get it in the air more, as he did in Double A last season. He’s the best bet after Carroll for NL Rookie of the Year.