Major League Baseball is always thinking about its future and if the MLB top prospects are a sign of what’s to come, America’s Pastime will be in great hands for years.
Few things get baseball fans more excited than potential talent. Whether a team is rebuilding, plans to be sellers at the MLB trade deadline or hopes to be a dynasty in the making, everyone loves prospects.
The devotion is even stronger thanks to players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (No. 1 prospect in 2018), Fernando Tatís Jr. (No. 2 prospect in 2018), Shohei Ohtani (No. 1 prospect in 2018) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (No. 6 prospect in 2017) making the transition from top prospect to MLB star.
It’s incredibly rare for a catcher to be atop MLB top prospects rankings. Adley Rutschman is just different. The Baltimore Orioles catcher offers the potential to be the best power hitter at his position and it could be paired with a high triple-slash line. Best of all, he’ll compete for the Gold Glove Award every year. All of that value from behind the plate, commanding a pitching staff, makes him the top prospect in MLB.
The son of long-time pitcher Bobby Witt, Kansas City Royals prospect Bobby Witt Jr. is arguably the most exciting prospect in baseball. Just two years removed from being selected No. 2 overall in the 2019 MLB Draft, combined for 33 home runs, 29 stolen bases and a .936 OPS in 2021. A combo of elite speed and power could lead to 30-30 MLB seasons in his prime and he might join the Royals’ infield early in 2022.
Julio Rodriguez is easily the best outfield prospect in MLB. Signed out of the 2017-’18 international class, the 6-foot-3 slugger is blossoming into a star. Credited with massive power and a swing that could one day lead to 40-homer seasons, he is Seattle’s future star. He’ll likely shift to the corner outfield, a slight knock on his overall value, but he can be an MVP candidate at his peak.
The Detroit Tigers knew who they’d select No. 1 overall in the 2020 MLB Draft long before they were on the clock. First baseman are rarely among the 100 MLB top prospects these days, but Torkelson is different. The 7-foot-1 slugger can compete in the MLB Home Run Derby almost immediately upon his call-up. The upside is a perennial All-Star who hits 35-homers with 100-plus RBIs in the Tigers’ lineup by 2024. Best of all, his MLB debut is imminent.
For a few years, the Detroit Tigers top prospects were dominated by pitchers. With Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning now in the majors, impact bats lead the way on the farm. Riley Greene, a 6-foot-3 outfielder with a 60-grade hit tool, offers the potential to hit .280 with 25-plus home runs. It’s fair to say he and Torkelson will do some damage together in Detroit.
While there is some debate over who is the top pitching prospect in MLB, the right answer is Grayson Rodriguez. Even in a Baltimore Orioles organization that has lost some credibility regarding its ability to develop talent, ruining the 7-foot-5 righty would take a lot. He struck out 40.5% of batters faced in 2021 and walked only 6.8 of batters faced. Take a great frame, impressive command and a fantastic four-pitch mix, you’ve got the ace of the Orioles rotation.
Grayson Rodriguez call-up ETA: June 2022
7. Anthony Volpe, shortstop, New York Yankees
ANTHONY VOLPE STATS:
April 28, 2001 (20)
2021 stats (A, A+)
Anthony Volpe didn’t come close to making the MLB top prospects lists entering 2021. He wasn’t even the New York Yankees prospect everyone got excited about (Jasson Dominguez). But the 5-foot-11 infielder exploded this past season, recording 27 home runs, 33 steals and 121 hits across 412 at-bats. If the Yankees don’t add a top shortstop in free agency, it’s because they are that confident Volpe will make an impact before long.
The Seattle Mariners exercise patience with their international free-agent signings and it typically pays off. Noelvi Marte, signed in 2018, made his full debut in 2021 and thrived (17 home runs, 24 steals). He’s still very young and the raw power is years away from being MLB-ready, but the upside is an All-Star shortstop.
A two-sport star (baseball, basketball) in high school, the Chicago Cubs snagged Brennen Davis in Round 2 of the 2018 MLB Draft. Fast forward to 2022 and he’s one of the MLB top prospects on the verge of his big-league debut. He’ll generate plenty of whiffs, but the power, OBP skills and athleticism could make him a future 30/10 player.
Acquired along with Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows in the Chris Archer trade, it took some time before Shane Baz put it all together. In 2021, the No. 12 pick in the 2017 MLB Draft mastered his command. The 6-foot-2 boasts an electrifying fastball that reaches triple digits and his arm speed matches it. He’ll be a fixture on the Rays’ pitching staff in 2022.
Drawing some comparisons to Cody Bellinger, Colorado drafted Veen with the No. 5 pick in 2020. MLB.com graded him at a 60-hit tool with 55-power and that could climb even higher with some added muscle to his 6-foot-4 frame. He showed all of that in his first pro season (15 home runs, 36 steals) and the sky is his ceiling.
Signed for $2.6 million in 2018, the San Francisco Giants saw an infielder with the swing and frame for a lot more power. It’s starting to come to fruition, with Luciano hitting 19 home runs in 453 plate appearances. There are issues in his swing (.217 BA at A+), but the 70-grade raw power and a quick bat could make him a perennial All-Star infielder.
If not for a fractured left tibia and sprained MCL, CJ Abrams is a lot higher in our MLB top prospects rankings. He’ll be healthy in 2022 and San Diego’s expectations are understandably high. Elite speed with the potential to hit .3000 and tack on 15-plus home runs, he can be another star in the Padres’ lineup.
San Diego drafted Hassell with the No. 8 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, identifying a player widely viewed as the best high school hitter in the class. The 6-foot-2 outfielder is already showing great bat-to-ball skills and pairs it with a nice eye at the plate. He profiles as a corner outfielder and the Padres are counting down the days until he is ready.
The Boston Red Sox were hoping Jack Leiter fell to them with the No. 4 pick, he didn’t. While they might have lost out on a front-line pitcher, No. 4 pick Marcelo Mayer could be a star in the making. MLB Pipeline projects his future hit, field and arm at a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He’s drawn comparisons to Corey Seager and could be a future star at Fenway.
The Toronto Blue Jays signed Gabriel Moreno in 2016 and, after a few years of development, he emerged as one of the MLB top prospects last season. Moreno rocks a cannon behind the plate and has made strides keeping pitches in front of him. After slashing .373/.441/.651 at Double-A in 2021, success in Triple-A could lead to an early MLB debut this season.
George Kirby, the No. 20 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, quickly ascended into one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. The 6-foot-4 righty flashes pinpoint command in a majority of his starts (15 walks allowed across 274 batters faced) thanks to a sharp four-pitch mix. He doesn’t profile to be a surefire No. 1 starter who racks up strikeouts, but his future is being a front-line starter in Seattle.
Corbin Carroll doesn’t offer the typical size for an MLB outfielder (5-foot-11), but the tools can’t be denied. Many believe he’ll develop into a 60-grade hit tool and it will pair very nicely with that 70-grade speed. After missing a majority of the 2021 season with a shoulder injury, we’re excited to see if a healthy Carroll returns this spring with more power.
Francisco Álvarez, signed out of Venezuela, could be the best catching prospect in MLB a year from now. He started the year in A-Ball and wreaked havoc, quickly earning a promotion to Brooklyn. It’s going to take time for the 19-year-old to adjust, but his bat profiles incredibly well for his position and the power is breathtaking.
Jack Leiter, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, surpassed Kumar Rocker thanks to a brilliant season at Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-1 righty throws a 70-grade fastball, one that generates plenty of whiffs. He comes with a deep repertoire, including a 60-grade curveball and 55-grade slider and changeup. There are concerns about the number of home runs allowed in college, but all the tools are here to be an ace for the Texas Rangers.