1 Potential Breakout Prospect for Every MLB Organization in 2023December 30, 2022
1 Potential Breakout Prospect for Every MLB Organization in 2023
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Jackson Chourio went from under-the-radar low-level minor leaguer to one of the top prospects in baseball during a breakout 2022 season.
Ricky Tiedemann (TOR), Ceddanne Rafaela (BOS), Wilmer Flores (DET), Gavin Stone (LAD), Emmanuel Rodriguez (MIN), Gordon Graceffo (STL) and Mason Montgomery (TB) are just a few of the other prospects who emerged as potential future stars during the 2022 minor league season.
Ahead we've highlighted one prospect from each franchise who is well outside consideration for a spot on Top 100 prospect lists but could make that leap during the upcoming season.
It's a combination of recent draft picks, players returning from injury and low-level prospects who have just scratched the surface of their significant upside.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: RHP Carter Baumler (Age: 20)
Baumler made one appearance during his senior season of high school before COVID cut things short, but the Orioles saw enough upside to sign him to an above-slot $1.5 million deal as a fifth-round pick. Tommy John surgery and shoulder inflammation has limited him to four professional appearances since, but he has a 1.54 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 11.2 innings. The 6'2" right-hander has a polished three-pitch mix, good command, clean mechanics and plus athleticism that helped make him a two-sport standout in high school. He just needs to find a way to stay healthy.
Boston Red Sox: RHP Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz (Age: 19)
A projectable 6'3", 160-pound right-hander who was selected in the fourth round of the 2021 draft out of Puerto Rico, Rodriguez-Cruz made his pro debut last season and posted a 1.88 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 38.1 innings. He has four playable pitches and smooth mechanics; now the focus will be adding strength to his wiry frame. He has the upside to be the top pitching prospect in the Boston system by midseason.
New York Yankees: SS Roderick Arias (Age: 18)
The Yankees gave Arias a massive $4 million bonus as one of the top prospects in the 2022 international class, and he has five-tool potential if he develops as expected. While he hit just .194 in the Dominican Summer League, he backed it with a .379 on-base percentage and 11 extra-base hits in 31 games. His plus speed and elite defensive skills give him a high floor, even if he doesn't reach his peak offensively.
Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Evan Reifert (Age: 23)
Acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for Mike Brosseau, Reifert logged a 4.58 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 37.1 innings while reaching Double-A during the 2022 season. He followed that by winning AFL Reliever of the Year, when he rattled off 11.2 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and four walks against 25 strikeouts. He could be the latest diamond in the rough to make an impact out of the Tampa Bay bullpen.
Toronto Blue Jays: 2B Cade Doughty (Age: 21)
A three-year starter at LSU who played all over the infield, Doughty hit .301/.379/.541 with 30 home runs and 124 RBI in 133 games during his time on campus before going No. 78 in the 2022 draft. He was sent straight to Single-A for his pro debut where he posted an .865 OPS with 11 extra-base hits and 24 RBI in 26 games, and he could be one of the first hitters from the 2022 class to reach the majors.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox: RHP Peyton Pallette (Age: 21)
One of several top-tier college arms who dealt with injuries during the 2022 season, Pallette spent the entire spring on the sidelines recovering from Tommy John surgery in January. The White Sox rolled the dice on him with the No. 62 pick, signing him to an above-slot $1.5 million bonus. With a fastball that touches 99 mph and a curveball many considered to be the best in the 2022 class, he has first-round talent and could be one of the steals of the draft.
Cleveland Guardians: OF Jaison Chourio (Age: 17)
Chourio is the younger brother of Milwaukee Brewers breakout prospect Jackson Chourio, and he has the tools to make a similar move up a deep Cleveland system. Signed to a $1.2 million bonus in January, he hit .280 with a .446 on-base percentage, 11 extra-base hits and 14 steals in 40 games in the Dominican Summer League. His stateside debut is among the most anticipated of 2023.
Detroit Tigers: RHP Dylan Smith (Age: 22)
After a breakout junior season at Alabama where he posted a 3.84 ERA with 113 strikeouts in 98.1 innings, Smith was selected in the third round of the 2021 draft. The 6'2" right-hander has the potential for four above-average pitches, and he could move quickly through the Detroit system after logging a 3.77 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 88.1 innings between Single-A and High-A in 2022.
Kansas City Royals: C Carter Jensen (Age: 19)
It's unclear if Jensen will stick behind the plate, but he has one of the highest offensive ceilings in the Kansas City system with a smooth left-handed swing and easy plus power. He hit .227/.363/.382 with 24 doubles, 11 home runs, 50 RBI and 83 walks in 113 games at Single-A last season, showing an advanced approach that should help him maximize his offensive tools in the coming years.
Minnesota Twins: OF Yasser Mercedes (Age: 18)
The Twins gave Mercedes a $1.7 million bonus as one of the top prospects of the 2022 international class, and he hit .355/.421/.555 with 20 extra-base hits and 30 steals in 41 games in the Dominican Summer League. His 6'2", 175-pound frame offers plenty of physical projection, which coupled with his feel for hitting gives him the potential to be a well-rounded offensive MLB player.
American League West
Houston Astros: IF Will Wagner (Age: 24)
Wagner boosted his stock as much as anyone during the Arizona Fall League, hitting .346/.433/.712 with 11 extra-base hits in 60 plate appearances. An 18th-round pick in 2021 who was a senior out of Liberty, he has already played 72 games at Double-A, and he could quickly push his way into the MLB picture if he picks up where he left off in the AFL.
Los Angeles Angels: RHP Caden Dana (Age: 19)
With a projectable 6'4", 215-pound frame and an impressive fastball-curveball combination, Dana was given second-round money as an 11th-round pick in the 2022 draft, securing a $1.5 million bonus. He will need to develop his changeup into a playable third pitch, and his command is a work in progress, but the early returns in the lower levels of the minors could be eye-popping thanks to his swing-and-miss power stuff.
Oakland Athletics: RHP Gunnar Hoglund (Age: 23)
Hoglund was on his way to being a top-10 pick in the 2021 draft before Tommy John surgery brought his junior season to an abrupt halt. He ended up going No. 19 to the Toronto Blue Jays, who then traded him to Oakland in the Matt Chapman blockbuster last offseason. The 6'4" right-hander has a high floor thanks to his polished stuff and plus command, and he threw eight innings without allowing an earned run over three appearances once he made it back to the mound last summer.
Seattle Mariners: RHP Bryan Woo (Age: 22)
Woo returned from Tommy John surgery last season and logged a 4.11 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 57 innings over three minor league levels in his pro debut. The Mariners sent him to the Arizona Fall League to help make up for lost time, and he dazzled with a 0.84 ERA and a 16-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 10.2 innings. The organization's recent success with developing pitching prospects bodes well for his future.
Texas Rangers: SS Gleider Figuereo (Age: 18)
Signed for just $80,000 in 2021, Figuereo turned heads in his stateside debut this past season when he hit .280/.363/.616 with 19 extra-base hits in 35 games in rookie ball. He was promoted to Single-A just a few months after his 18th birthday and got his feet wet against older competition with five hits in six games. With plus bat speed and sneaky strength in his 6'0", 165-pound frame, he is just scratching the surface of his offensive upside.
National League East
Atlanta Braves: SS Ignacio Alvarez (Age: 19)
One of the top JUCO players in the nation last year, Alvarez was a fifth-round pick in the 2022 draft. He hit .287/.451/.394 with more walks (26) than strikeouts (15) between rookie ball and Single-A in his pro debut, and he could fly up the rankings in a thinned out Atlanta system in 2023.
Miami Marlins: RHP Karson Milbrandt (Age: 18)
The Marlins gave Milbrandt an above-slot $1.5 million bonus to sign him away from a Vanderbilt commitment in the third round of the 2022 draft. The 6'2" right-hander has electric stuff, but he's still raw on the mound after splitting his time between baseball and basketball in high school. He already has plus stuff and could take off once he turns his full attention to the diamond.
New York Mets: OF Simon Juan (Age: 17)
The prize of the 2022 international signing period for the Mets, Juan landed a $1.9 million bonus on the strength of his 50-hit, 55-power, 55-speed offensive profile. He hit just .219/.310/.323 in 53 games in the Dominican Summer League, but he has one of the highest ceilings in the Mets system and plenty of room to grow into his 6'2", 195-pound frame.
Philadelphia Phillies: OF Emaarion Boyd (Age: 19)
With elite 75-grade speed, Boyd was one of the best athletes in the 2022 draft, and the Phillies went above-slot to sign him to a $647,500 bonus in the 11th round. He hit .361/.477/.389 with 13 hits in 11 games between rookie ball and Single-A, and he swiped eight bases in 10 attempts. He could wreak havoc on the basepaths while also hitting for a high average in 2023.
Washington Nationals: OF Daylen Lile (Age: 20)
One of the better pure hitters in the 2021 draft class, Lile went No. 47 and signed an above-slot $1.75 million bonus. He played 19 games in rookie ball after signing but spent all of 2022 on the sidelines recovering from Tommy John surgery. With a left field profile defensively, he'll go as far as his bat carries him, but there's enough upside there to still think he can be an impact player.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs: IF James Triantos (Age: 19)
Triantos had some late helium leading up to the 2021 draft, and the Cubs gave him a massive $2.1 million bonus in the second round. The toolsy infielder has drawn comparisons to Alex Bregman and David Wright, and he hit a modest .272/.335/.386 with 32 extra-base hits and 20 steals in 113 games at Single-A in 2022. He still has not reached his full offensive ceiling.
Cincinnati Reds: 2B Carlos Jorge (Age: 19)
Signed for $495,000 in 2021, Jorge hit .346/.436/.579 in his pro debut, and he continued to impress in his first season stateside with a .935 OPS and 16 extra-base hits in 42 games in rookie ball. He packs a punch in his 5'10", 160-pound frame, and his stock could soar with similar results in his first taste of full-season ball.
Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Jacob Misiorowski (Age: 20)
With a towering 6'7" frame and a 70-grade fastball that touches 100 mph, Misiorowski was the top JUCO pitcher in the 2022 draft class. The Brewers gave him a $2.4 million bonus out of the second round, their largest of the draft cycle, and while he is far from a finished product, he should pile up strikeouts in the lower levels of the minors.
Pittsburgh Pirates: RHP Jared Jones (Age: 21)
One of the top two-way players in the 2020 draft, Jones was signed away from a strong commitment to the University of Texas with a $2.2 million bonus as the No. 44 pick. The 6'1" right-hander has racked up 245 strikeouts in 188.2 innings in the minors, albeit with a 4.63 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. The swing-and-miss ability is there for him to be an impact starter, and a step forward with his command could send his stock soaring.
St. Louis Cardinals: OF Joshua Baez (Age: 19)
With a powerful 6'4", 220-pound frame that belies his age, Baez was one of the top power-hitting prospects in the 2021 draft class, and the Cardinals went almost $1 million over slot value ($2.3 million) to sign him out of the second round. The question is his hit tool, but after he batted .267/.385/.485 in 32 games between rookie ball and Single-A, there is reason to believe he'll be able to get the most out of his power potential.
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks: SS Manuel Pena (Age: 19)
Pena reached Single-A last summer at age 18, hitting .265/.340/.383 with 18 extra-base hits in 68 games across two levels. It's unclear where he will wind up defensively once he fills out his 6'1", 170-pound frame, but his bat should play if he delivers on his 50-hit, 55-power offensive upside.
Colorado Rockies: IF Dyan Jorge (Age: 19)
Jorge received the largest international bonus in Rockies history when he signed for $2.8 million in January after defecting from Cuba. He hit .320/.402/.452 with 18 extra-base hits in 234 plate appearances in the Dominican Summer League, and he will make one of the most anticipated stateside debuts of 2023.
Los Angeles Dodgers: IF Rayne Doncon (Age: 19)
Doncon entered the Dodgers organization with little fanfare after signing a modest $497,500 bonus in 2021, but he has quickly emerged as a prospect on the rise. The middle infielder posted a .787 OPS with 16 doubles, 12 home runs and 46 RBI in 62 games between rookie ball and Single-A in 2022, and he has significant physical projection remaining in his 6'2", 176-pound frame.
San Diego Padres: RHP Adam Mazur (Age: 21)
Mazur won Big Ten Pitcher of the Year honors in 2022 when he went 7-3 with 3.07 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 98 strikeouts in 93.2 innings. With a fastball that touches 99 mph and a wipeout slider among his four-pitch repertoire, he is one of the safest bets from the 2022 draft class to stick as a starter. He will make his pro debut in 2023.
San Francisco Giants: LHP/DH Reggie Crawford (Age: 22)
Crawford struck out 30 of the 56 batters he faced in 2021 between UConn, Team USA and the Cape Cod League, but he was sidelined for all of 2022 recovering from Tommy John surgery. The 6'4", 235-pound left-hander also has significant power potential at the plate, tallying 13 home runs and 62 RBI in 51 games during his sophomore season. The Giants intend to use him both ways to start his pro career, but it's his electric fastball-slider combination that made him a boom-or-bust first-round selection.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference. Prospect tool ratings via MLB.com.