Each MLB Team's Most MLB-Ready Prospect Entering 2023

Joel ReuterJanuary 14, 2023

Each MLB Team's Most MLB-Ready Prospect Entering 2023

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    Gunnar Henderson
    Gunnar HendersonG Fiume/Getty Images

    Every new MLB season brings a fresh wave of young contributors making the leap from prospect to rookie, and the 2022 season saw one of the best crops of young talent in years with Julio Rodríguez, Adley Rutschman, Michael Harris II, Spencer Strider, Jeremy Peña, Steven Kwan and others all making an immediate impact.

    So who's next?

    Ahead we've highlighted the most MLB-ready prospect in every MLB organization, and while some of these players have already seen big league action, they all maintain prospect status entering the 2023 season.

    Players were chosen based on their performance in the upper levels of the minors and their path to a spot on the MLB roster.

    In case you missed it: 1 Potential Breakout Prospect for Every MLB Organization in 2023

American League East

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    Triston Casas
    Triston CasasG Fiume/Getty Images

    Baltimore Orioles: SS/3B Gunnar Henderson

    Expect to see plenty of Grayson Rodriguez, DL Hall and Jordan Westburg in Baltimore this coming season, but Henderson proved he's the most MLB-ready prospect in the organization when he logged a 123 OPS+ in 132 plate appearances as a late-season call-up. The 21-year-old is a lock for a starting job somewhere on the left side of the infield, and he will open the year as one of the AL Rookie of the Year front-runners.

    Boston Red Sox: 1B Triston Casas

    After taking a star turn for Team USA in the 2020 Olympics and raking in the upper levels of the minors, Casas has nothing left to prove down on the farm. Cutting ties with Eric Hosmer cleared a path for him to win the starting first base job this spring. Right-hander Bryan Mata and versatile Emmanuel Valdez who was picked up at the deadline from the Houston Astros could also be part of the Opening Day roster.

    New York Yankees: SS Oswald Peraza

    It's hard to know what to make of the Yankees' infield plans with Gleyber Torres and Isiah Kiner-Falefa both still in the mix for playing time up the middle, but the double-play combination of the future is Peraza and Anthony Volpe. Peraza, 22, hit .306/.404/.429 in 57 plate appearances as a September call-up, and he could push Kiner-Falefa into a utility role from the get-go.

    Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Evan Reifert

    Top prospects Taj Bradley (No. 14 on B/R Top 100) and Curtis Mead (No. 29 on B/R Top 100) are both expected to debut in 2023. However, Reifert is the most MLB-ready prospect on the roster after a dominant 2022 season. The 23-year-old capped things off 11.2 scoreless innings in the Arizona Fall League, allowing just one hit and four walks with 25 strikeouts, and he could be the next out-of-nowhere bullpen ace to emerge in Tampa Bay.

    Toronto Blue Jays: 1B/OF Spencer Horwitz

    With a right-handed heavy roster, even after adding Daulton Varsho, Brandon Belt and Kevin Kiermaier, there's a chance Horwitz could play his way onto the Opening Day roster. The 25-year-old hit .275/.391/.452 with 46 extra-base hits and a 15.1 percent walk rate in 114 games in the upper levels of the minors last season. Infielder Addison Barger and right-hander Hayden Juenger are also worth keeping an eye on.

American League Central

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    Simeon Woods Richardson
    Simeon Woods RichardsonBrace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

    Chicago White Sox: OF Oscar Colás

    Colás is on the fast track to the big leagues after hitting .314/.371/.524 with 24 doubles and 23 home runs in 117 games while reaching Triple-A in his pro debut. The 24-year-old will need to overtake Gavin Sheets to join Luis Robert and newcomer Andrew Benintendi in the outfield, and it's not out of the question to think he could do that with a strong spring.

    Cleveland Guardians: C Bo Naylor

    The Guardians signed veteran Mike Zunino to a one-year, $6 million deal, but it's only a matter of time before Naylor takes over the starting catcher job. Slow to develop after going No. 29 overall in the 2018 draft, he enjoyed a breakout 2022 season when he posted an .889 OPS with 26 doubles, 21 home runs and 20 steals in 118 games between Double-A and Triple-A. The only question now is if his defensive game is ready.

    Detroit Tigers: IF Ryan Kreidler

    The Tigers non-tendered Jeimer Candelario at the start of the offseason, and they have yet to add an experienced replacement at the hot corner. If no one is acquired in the coming weeks, Kreidler will compete with utility players Tyler Nevin and Nick Maton for the job this spring after he received his first taste of MLB action as a September call-up.

    Kansas City Royals: OF Drew Waters

    Once viewed as part of a dynamic outfield of the future in Atlanta alongside Ronald Acuna Jr. and Cristian Pache, Waters' prospect stock take a hit when he posted a 30.3 percent strikeout rate in 209 games at Triple-A. He was traded to the Royals at the 2022 deadline and went on to post a 124 OPS+ with 12 extra-base hits in 109 plate appearances in his MLB debut. The 24-year-old will have every opportunity to be part of the Opening Day lineup.

    Minnesota Twins: RHP Simeon Woods Richardson

    Outfielder Matt Wallner does not have a clear path to playing time in a crowded outfield and Arizona Fall League standout Edouard Julien could also have a tough time breaking camp with a roster spot, so we'll instead focus on the pitching side of things. Woods Richardson had a 2.77 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 115 strikeouts in 107.1 innings in the upper levels of the minors last season, and he made his MLB debut on Oct. 2 with five solid innings.

American League West

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    Josh Jung
    Josh JungBrian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Houston Astros: RHP Hunter Brown

    Brown had a 0.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 9.7 K/9 in 20.1 innings as a September call-up, then tossed 3.2 scoreless innings in the postseason. Armed with a fastball that sits in the upper 90s and a swing-and-miss curveball, he will likely be used as a multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen to start the year, but he'll be the next man up if there's an injury in the starting rotation.

    Los Angeles Angels: C Logan O'Hoppe

    Catcher has been a revolving door for the Angels over the past decade. That led to them flipping young outfielder Brandon Marsh to the Philadelphia Phillies at the deadline in exchange for O'Hoppe, who was MLB-ready but blocked by J.T. Realmuto on the depth chart. The 22-year-old hit .283/.416/.544 with 26 home runs at Double-A last year before going 4-for-14 in five games as a September call-up.

    Oakland Athletics: LHP Ken Waldichuk

    This one is a toss-up between Waldichuk and fellow left-hander Kyle Muller who was the prospect centerpiece of the Sean Murphy trade. Both guys will get a long look for a spot in the Oakland rotation this spring, and both have already made their MLB debuts with mixed results. Waldichuk, 25, had a 4.93 ERA and 4.29 FIP in 34.2 innings in the majors in 2022 after dominating in the upper levels of the minors.

    Seattle Mariners: RHP Isaiah Campbell

    The Mariners have a trio of starting pitching prospects in Taylor Dollard, Emerson Hancock and Bryce Miller who closed out the 2022 season at Double-A, but they could all be beat to the big leagues by Campbell. The 25-year-old had a 1.57 ERA, 11.5 K/9 and 11 saves in 33 appearances between High-A and Double-A last year, and his fastball-slider combo gives him late-inning upside.

    Texas Rangers: 3B Josh Jung

    Jung has played just 179 professional games since going No. 8 overall in the 2019 draft, with a stress fracture in his foot and a torn labrum in his shoulder costing him significant time. The 24-year-old finally made his MLB debut as a September call-up, tallying 10 extra-base hits in 26 games, and he is the front-runner for the starting third base job. Right-hander Owen White is also one to watch on the pitching side of things.

National League East

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    Brett Baty
    Brett BatyJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Atlanta Braves: IF Braden Shewmake

    The Braves added Shewmake to the 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, and the uncertainty at the shortstop position following Dansby Swanson's departure could create a role for him in 2023. The 25-year-old hit a modest .259/.316/.399 with 23 extra-base hits in 76 games at Triple-A last year, but he's a plus defender up the middle with an advanced hit tool.

    Miami Marlins: RHP Nic Enright

    Chosen in the 2022 Rule 5 draft, Enright logged a 2.88 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and a terrific 87-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 65.2 innings in the upper levels of the Cleveland organization last year. The 26-year-old has the potential to be this year's version of Garrett Whitlock in a swingman role out of the Miami bullpen, and he'll have to stay on the MLB roster all season or be returned to Cleveland.

    New York Mets: 3B/OF Brett Baty

    There is a good chance Francisco Álvarez will start the 2023 season in the minors as he continues to work on the defensive side of his game, with Omar Narváez and Tomás Nido holding down the fort behind the plate. However, now that the Carlos Correa deal has officially fallen through, Baty could push Eduardo Escobar for the starting job at third base this spring after demolishing minor-league pitching in 2022.

    Philadelphia Phillies: OF Johan Rojas

    Rojas could have a role in the Philadelphia outfield mix after Matt Vierling was traded to Detroit in the Gregory Soto deal. The 22-year-old hit .310/.423/.452 in 52 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League, and he would provide a right-handed-hitting platoon option for Brandon Marsh in center field. It could still be another year before we see Andrew Painter, Mick Abel or Griff McGarry in the big leagues.

    Washington Nationals: RHP Cade Cavalli

    Cavalli became the top pitching prospect in the Washington farm system the moment he was taken No. 22 overall in the 2020 draft, and he was terrific at the Triple-A level last year with a 3.71 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 104 strikeouts in 97 innings. The 24-year-old is among the favorites to fill a spot at the back of the rotation behind Josiah Gray, Patrick Corbin and free-agent signing Trevor Williams.

National League Central

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    Luis Ortiz
    Luis OrtizDylan Buell/Getty Images

    Chicago Cubs: 1B Matt Mervis

    Mervis hit .309/.379/.606 with 40 doubles, 36 home runs and 119 RBI in 137 games across the minor-league levels last season, and he continued to rake in the AFL with a .914 OPS+ and six long balls in 17 games. The addition of Eric Hosmer won't block his path if the Cubs think he's ready, and he could also see at-bats as the team's primary designated hitter.

    Cincinnati Reds: IF Spencer Steer

    Acquired in the Tyler Mahle deal with the Minnesota Twins, Steer hit .274/.364/.515 with 30 doubles, 23 home runs and 75 RBI in 106 games between Double-A and Triple-A last year to emerge as a top-tier prospect. The decision to release veteran Mike Moustakas should give him first dibs at the starting third base job this spring, and he has also seen significant time at second base in the minors.

    Milwaukee Brewers: OF Garrett Mitchell

    Mitchell hit .312/.373/.459 with five extra-base hits and eight steals in 28 games after making his MLB debut on Aug. 27. The offseason trade of Hunter Renfroe gives him a clear path to start alongside Christian Yelich and Tyrone Taylor in the Milwaukee outfield, and he has all the tools to be a solid everyday center fielder.

    Pittsburgh Pirates: RHP Luis Ortiz

    Ortiz began the 2022 season as the No. 22 prospect in the Pittsburgh farm system, but he has emerged as one of the club's most promising young arms over the past year. The 23-year-old had 138 strikeouts in 124.1 innings in the upper levels of the minors last year, and he made four starts down the stretch as a September call-up. Infielder Ji-Hwan Bae could also find his way onto the Opening Day roster.

    St. Louis Cardinals: OF Alec Burleson

    The Cardinals have a number of options to fill the designated hitter role, and Burleson is squarely among them after he hit .331/.372/.532 with 25 doubles, 20 home runs and 87 RBI in 109 games at Triple-A last year. The 24-year-old went just 9-for-48 with two extra-base hits as a September call-up, but he can flat-out rake with a 60-hit, 50-power offensive profile.

National League West

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    Corbin Carroll
    Corbin CarrollBrian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Arizona Diamondbacks: OF Corbin Carroll

    Carroll emerged as one of baseball's top prospects last year when he hit .307/.425/.611 with 54 extra-base hits in 93 games in the minors. The 22-year-old continued to impress in the big leagues with a 133 OPS+ and 1.2 WAR in 32 games, and he should be the starting center fielder and potential leadoff hitter on Opening Day. On the pitching side, Drey Jameson and Ryne Nelson will battle for the No. 5 starter job this spring.

    Colorado Rockies: SS Ezequiel Tovar

    Unless they bring back José Iglesias or make a play for Elvis Andrus, it looks like the Rockies are ready to turn the starting shortstop job over to Tovar in 2023. The 21-year-old hit .319/.387/.540 with 32 extra-base hits and 17 steals in 71 games in the upper minors before making his MLB debut in September, and he is also widely regarded as one of the best defensive shortstops in the minors.

    Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP Ryan Pepiot

    There are plenty of options for the Dodgers, including Miguel Vargas and James Outman, who saw some big-league action in 2022, and Michael Busch and Bobby Miller, who are knocking on the door in the upper levels of the minors. Pepiot, 24, had a 3.47 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 36.1 innings in the majors last year, and his fastball-changeup combination could play up in a multi-inning bullpen role.

    San Diego Padres: IF Eguy Rosario

    Rosario hit .288/.368/.508 with 34 doubles, 22 home runs, 81 RBI and 21 steals in 124 games at Triple-A, and in a system headlined by a number of teenage prospects in the lower levels of the minors, he stands out as someone who could contribute in the majors in 2023. He can play all over the infield and could win an Opening Day job as a utility infielder.

    San Francisco Giants: RHP Cole Waites

    It might still be another year before guys like Marco Luciano, Kyle Harrison, Luis Matos and Grant McCray see the big leagues. However, Waites could fill a major role in the 2023 bullpen after posting a 1.94 ERA and 1.13 WHIP while striking out 76 of the 172 batters he faced for a staggering 16.4 K/9 in 38 appearances. The 24-year-old made seven appearances as a September call-up, so he already has a place on the 40-man roster.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.