Francisco Álvarez and MLB's 25 Best Prospects 20 Years Old or Younger in 2022
The future is bright for Major League Baseball.
This season has seen an impressive influx of young talent in the majors, led by Julio Rodríguez, Adley Rutschman, Spencer Strider, Michael Harris II, Jeremy Peña, Bobby Witt Jr. and George Kirby, who were all top prospects when the season began.
Even with that impressive crop of rookie talent, the minor league pipeline still promises to deliver more high-ceiling young talent in the coming years.
Ahead we've ranked the top 25 prospects who are 20 or younger, based on current production, future upside and long-term expectations.
RHP/DH Bubba Chandler, PIT
RHP Brock Porter, TEX
RHP Jackson Jobe, DET
RHP Dylan Lesko, SD
SS Luisangel Acuna, TEX
OF Kevin Alcantara, CHC
3B Cam Collier, CIN
C Harry Ford, SEA
SS Cristian Hernandez, CHC
SS Brady House, WAS
SS Orelvis Martinez, TOR
OF Luis Matos, SF
3B Coby Mayo, BAL
SS Jackson Merrill, SD
SS Colson Montgomery, CWS
C Edgar Quero, LAA
OF Alex Ramirez, NYM
OF Emmanuel Rodriguez, MIN
C Drew Romo, COL
SS Carson Williams, TB
SS Masyn Winn, STL
2B Nick Yorke, BOS
25. SS Adael Amador, Colorado Rockies (Age: 19)
Signed for $1.5 million as one of the top players on the 2019 international free-agent market, Amador is hitting .300/.421/.461 with 22 doubles, 14 home runs and 25 steals in 492 plate appearances at Single-A. The most impressive stat is his 78 walks against just 59 strikeouts, a level of discipline that belies his age.
24. OF Elijah Green, Washington Nationals (Age: 18)
With a 60-power, 70-speed profile, Green has some of the loudest raw tools of any prospect, and he was a candidate to go No. 1 overall in the 2022 draft before some swing-and-miss concerns caused him to slip to the Nats with the fifth pick. He has a .302/.404/.535 line in his first 12 rookie ball games, but he has also struck out 21 times at a 40.4 percent clip.
23. RHP Tink Hence, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 20)
The Cardinals went above-slot to sign Hence to a $1.115 million bonus as the No. 63 pick in the 2020 draft, and after pitching just eight innings last season, he has turned heads at Single-A Palm Beach with a 1.62 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and a 71-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 44.1 innings. He's a bit undersized, but his athleticism helps his electric stuff play up even more.
22. OF Jasson Dominguez, New York Yankees (Age: 19)
After an alarmingly slow start to the 2022 season, Dominguez is hitting .280/.403/.475 with 11 home runs and 29 steals in 88 games since the beginning of May. His 14.3 percent walk rate speaks to a player with a plan at the plate, and his numbers have actually improved since he was promoted to High-A Hudson Valley in late July.
21. OF James Wood, Washington Nationals (Age: 19)
A key piece of the Juan Soto blockbuster, Wood is an imposing 6'7", 240-pound slugger who has shown a more well-rounded approach at the plate than expected at the onset of his pro career. In 97 pro games, he's hitting .331/.436/.546 with 30 doubles, 15 home runs and 81 RBI, and it's only a matter of time before more of those doubles clear the wall.
20. C/1B Tyler Soderstrom, Oakland Athletics (Age: 20)
Soderstrom was viewed by many as the best pure hitter in the 2020 draft, and he is batting .262/.320/.491 with 20 doubles, 22 home runs and 82 RBI in 107 games this season. The A's appear to have him on the fast track as he's already playing at Double-A, and a full-time move to first base is likely with Sean Murphy and Shea Langeliers blocking him behind the plate.
19. SS Edwin Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 19)
One of the youngest players in the 2021 draft class, Arroyo just turned 19 a few days ago. Traded from Seattle to Cincinnati in the Luis Castillo blockbuster, he's hitting .294/.371/.486 with 46 extra-base hits and 26 steals in 107 games, and he also checks all the boxes to be a standout defensive shortstop.
18. OF Evan Carter, Texas Rangers (Age: 19)
One of the youngest players at the High-A level when the season began, Carter has built off an intriguing 2021 season by hitting .288/.388/.485 with 18 doubles, 10 triples, 11 home runs and 24 steals in 94 games. The 6'4" outfielder is one of the few true five-tool prospects in the game right now.
17. OF Pete Crow-Armstrong, Chicago Cubs (Age: 20)
Chosen No. 19 overall in the 2020 draft, Crow-Armstrong went the other way in the 2021 deadline deal that sent Javier Baez to the New York Mets. Viewed as an elite defensive outfielder with intriguing offensive tools when he was first drafted, he now looks like the total package. The Cubs' top prospect is hitting .315/.380/.536 with 42 extra-base hits and 29 steals in 89 games between Single-A and High-A.
16. 2B Termarr Johnson, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 18)
With one of the best hit tools to come out of the high school ranks in years and some serious raw power packed into his 5'7" frame, Johnson has as much offensive potential as any player from the 2022 draft class. His limited defensive profile was the only real knock against him, but if he hits as expected he could be one of the best second basemen in the game.
15. RHP Andrew Painter, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 19)
Over his last four starts, which includes his Double-A debut, Painter has rattled off 26 straight scoreless innings with a 33-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. All told, he has 1.11 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 126 strikeouts in 81.1 innings while limiting opposing hitters to a .157 opponents' batting average. The 6'7" right-hander looks the part of a future MLB ace.
14. OF Zac Veen, Colorado Rockies (Age: 20)
Along with hitting .266/.357/.415 with 21 doubles, 11 home runs and 64 RBI between High-A and Double-A, Veen has also stolen 53 bases in 59 attempts. With his aggressiveness on the bases, strong arm in the outfield and overall athleticism, he has the tools to impact the game well beyond just what he can do with his smooth left-handed swing.
13. SS Noelvi Marte, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 20)
Acquired by the Reds in the same trade that brought the No. 19 player in these rankings Edwin Arroyo to Cincinnati, Marte has impressed every step of the way in his pro career. He's hitting .274/.363/.458 with 22 doubles, 18 home runs, 62 RBI and 20 steals in 105 games at High-A this season, and his 60-grade power is his best present tool.
12. LHP Ricky Tiedemann, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 20)
There were 38 pitchers selected ahead of Tiedemann in the 2021 draft, and if the early returns are any indication, he has a chance to be better than all of them. The 6'4", 220-pound southpaw has been utterly dominant all season, posting a 2.26 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 115 strikeouts in 75.2 innings across three minor league levels while reaching Double-A in his pro debut.
11. OF Druw Jones, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 18)
A season-ending shoulder injury ended the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 draft's pro debut before it ever began. It's not a cause for long-term concern, but the delay in his development is enough to bump him down a few spots for the time being. The son of former MLB All-Star Andruw Jones, he possesses similarly elite defensive tools with plus speed and a good feel for hitting. The biggest question is how much power he'll develop as his 6"4", 180-pound frame matures.
10. RHP Eury Pérez, Miami Marlins
Signed for just $200,000 in 2019, Eury Pérez has grown four inches and gained 45 pounds since joining the Miami Marlins organization, according to MLB.com.
Not surprisingly, that growth spurt has led to a significant uptick in the quality of his stuff, and he now stands 6'8", 220 pounds with a fastball he can dial up to 98 mph, a terrific changeup and a quality curveball. He also does a good job keeping his big frame in sync and has smooth mechanics for a pitcher his size.
The Marlins sent him to Double-A this year after a breakout 2021 season and he has responded with a 4.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 102 strikeouts in 73 innings. Those numbers may not jump off the screen, but they're terrific for a pitcher his age at that level.
9. SS Jackson Holliday, Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles selected Jackson Holliday with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 draft after a ridiculous senior season at Stillwater High School where he hit .685/.749/1.392 with 89 hits in 41 games to break J.T. Realmuto's national high school record for hits in a season.
The son of seven-time MLB All-Star Matt Holliday, he was given an $8.19 million signing bonus, a record for a high school player, and the early returns are backing up that significant financial investment.
He hit .409/.576/.591 with 10 walks and just two strikeouts in eight rookie ball games before earning a quick promotion, and he went 1-for-4 with a double and a walk in his Single-A debut on Thursday.
This could look like a comically low ranking a year from now.
8. C Diego Cartaya, Los Angeles Dodgers
There is an exciting crop of young catching talent around baseball right now, with Adley Rutschman and Gabriel Moreno settling into life in the big leagues, and Francisco Álvarez knocking on the door for the New York Mets.
Diego Cartaya belongs in that same conversation, and he has the tools to be a two-way star behind the plate and in the batter's box.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have no reason to rush him with Will Smith firmly entrenched as the starting catcher, but he could force their hand before too long. In 84 games between Single-A and High-A, he's hitting an impressive .270/.405/.547 with 21 doubles, 22 home runs and 69 RBI.
7. SS Marcelo Mayer, Boston Red Sox
The No. 4 pick in the 2021 draft and a player some viewed as the best all-around talent in the draft class, Marcelo Mayer has a chance to be a perennial All-Star, whether he sticks at shortstop or outgrows the position and shifts to third base.
In 106 pro games since inking a $6.664 million signing bonus, he has hit .271/.386/.464 with 31 doubles, 14 home runs, 62 RBI and 23 steals in 24 attempts. He also has a 15.4 percent walk rate, and that offensive polish helped him earn a promotion to High-A earlier this month.
He could be in Boston by the second half of the 2024 season, and alongside Triston Casas, Nick Yorke and Ceddanne Rafaela he's a significant part of the future for a Red Sox team in transition.
6. OF Jackson Chourio, Milwaukee Brewers
No prospect has done more to boost his stock this season than Jackson Chourio.
Unranked on leaguewide top 100 prospect lists when the year began, he was the youngest player at the Single-A at the onset of the 2022 season, and he not only held his own but thrived.
He hit .324/.373/.600 with 40 extra-base hits in 62 games at Single-A to begin the year, earning an early promotion to High-A where he has posted a .797 OPS in 20 games. He does have a 26.4 percent strikeout rate on the year, but he is so far ahead of the developmental curve that it's easy to overlook what might be a minor red flag for an older prospect.
5. SS Marco Luciano, San Francisco Giants
A back injury has limited Marco Luciano to just 54 games this season, but he has still made the most of his time on the field, solidifying his standing as one of the best young sluggers in the minors.
He's hitting .293/.364/.518 with 10 doubles, nine home runs and 24 RBI in 46 games at High-A Eugene, and while he has a power-over-contact profile, he also makes consistent contact.
With a strong arm and fringy athleticism, a move to third base or right field is likely at some point in the future, but it's his tremendous raw power that gives him a chance to be a cornerstone piece of the Giants' long-term plans.
4. SS Elly De La Cruz, Cincinnati Reds
With a 6'5", 200-pound frame, electric bat speed and 60-grade raw power, Elly De La Cruz has a chance to be the best homegrown position player the Cincinnati Reds have developed since Joey Votto.
After a solid full-season debut in 2021, he has exploded for a .308/.362/.618 line that includes 26 doubles, 27 home runs, 77 RBI and 36 steals in 99 games between High-A and Double-A. His numbers have actually improved since he moved up a level, as he's hitting .321/.370/.642 in 26 games at Double-A Chattanooga.
He has the defensive tools to stay at shortstop despite his size, but he also has the power profile to fit at third base and the athleticism to handle center field. This is a perfect example of why a team can never have too many good shortstop prospects.
3. SS Jordan Lawlar, Arizona Diamondbacks
Jordan Lawlar is flying through the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system right now.
The No. 6 pick in the 2021 draft was recently promoted to Double-A where he's gone 3-for-9 with three runs scored in his first two games at the new level, and that after impressive stints at Single-A and High-A.
All told, he's hitting .329/.427/.546 with 18 doubles, seven triples, 12 home runs, 51 RBI, 83 runs scored and 37 steals in 42 attempts over 82 games.
With legitimate five-tool potential, he was often compared to Bobby Witt Jr. at the same stage in their development, and in an Arizona organization that has an intriguing collection of high-ceiling young talent he looks like the best of the bunch.
2. 3B Jordan Walker, St. Louis Cardinals
With a strong 6'5", 220-pound frame and light-tower power, it's hard to believe that Jordan Walker was playing high school baseball just a couple years ago.
A highly regarded prep prospect thanks to his tremendous over-the-fence pop, he has shown a far more well-rounded offensive game than expected, and he has been excellent as one of the younger players at the Double-A level this season.
In an even 100 games, he's hitting .309/.393/.527 with 28 doubles, 17 home runs, 58 RBI and 90 runs scored, and while he is still working to fully utilize his power in games, his advanced approach has allowed him to move quickly through the minors.
With Nolan Arenado blocking his path at third base, he could wind up in the outfield.
1. C Francisco Álvarez, New York Mets
Since the first Baseball America top 100 prospect list was released prior to the 1990 season, only two catchers have ever begun the year in the No. 1 overall spot—Joe Mauer (2004 and 2005) and Matt Wieters (2009).
Will Francisco Álvarez become the third in 2023?
The catcher of the future for the New York Mets has an .859 OPS with 20 doubles, 24 home runs and 68 RBI in 99 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season, and he has also thrown out 28 percent of base stealers.
There is still work to do refining his receiving skills, and he's batting just .180 in 141 plate appearances since he was promoted to Triple-A. But his plate discipline, raw power and age relative to competition all add up to an elite prospect.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through Thursday's games.