The Young Player on Every MLB Roster with the Highest Ceiling

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2022

The Young Player on Every MLB Roster with the Highest Ceiling

0 of 6

    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Baseball is in good hands with a dynamic crop of young talent taking the sport by storm in recent seasons, and young superstars like Juan Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Ronald Acuna Jr., Wander Franco and Fernando Tatis Jr. are among the most recognizable names in the sport.

    However, they are not the only up-and-coming players who figure to play a prominent role in their team's success in the coming years.

    Ahead, we've highlighted the top young player on every MLB roster, and while the goal was to focus on players 25 years old or younger, a few exceptions were made for teams that do not have a clear option who fits into that age range.

    Only established MLB players or prospects currently on MLB rosters were considered for inclusion, so guys like Anthony Volpe, Adley Rutschman, Gabriel Moreno, Francisco Alvarez, Marco Luciano and Triston Casas will have to wait their turn for a spot on this list.

AL East

1 of 6

    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Mark Blinch/Getty Images

    Baltimore Orioles: 1B Ryan Mountcastle (Age: 25)

    Mountcastle showed in 2021 that his power will play in the big leagues when he launched 33 home runs and finished sixth in AL Rookie of the Year balloting. However, he needs to improve on a .309 on-base percentage and a 7.0 percent walk rate in order to take the next step offensively, and he's still young enough to make the necessary adjustments.


    Boston Red Sox: 3B Rafael Devers (Age: 25)

    It feels kind of odd to call Devers a young player when he's already in his sixth MLB season, but he'll be 25 years old for the entirety of the 2022 campaign. A move across the diamond to first base or into the DH role is likely coming at some point, but it's his offensive game that has made him a budding superstar, as he posted a 132 OPS+ with 37 doubles, 38 home runs and 113 RBI last season.


    New York Yankees: LHP Nestor Cortes (Age: 27)

    Second baseman Gleyber Torres has given no indication he's going to regain the form he showed early in his career, so we'll instead focus on Cortes, who has quickly become an indispensable member of the rotation. The crafty left-hander pitches like he's 40, but he is still just 27 and controllable through 2025. After posting a 2.90 ERA in 93 innings last year, he has 17 strikeouts in 9.1 scoreless innings to begin the new season.


    Tampa Bay Rays: SS Wander Franco (Age: 21)

    Franco played his entire rookie season at the age of 20 and hit .288/.347/.463 with 30 extra-base hits and 3.5 WAR in 70 games. He was rewarded with an 11-year, $182 million extension during the offseason, and he's hitting .392 with a 211 OPS+ through his first 12 games this season. Expect him to be one of the faces of the sport for the next decade.


    Toronto Blue Jays: 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Age: 23)

    There is an argument to be made that if Bo Bichette can take a step forward defensively while hitting like he did last year, he would be the more valuable all-around player. Until that happens, Guerrero is an easy choice coming off a season that would have won MVP honors almost any other year. Aside from his light-tower power, he also has an elite hit tool, and he should continue to produce at a similar level to what we saw from Miguel Cabrera in his prime.

AL Central

2 of 6

    Luis Robert
    Luis RobertQuinn Harris/Getty Images

    Chicago White Sox: CF Luis Robert (Age: 24)

    A true five-tool talent, Robert not only has the highest ceiling on the White Sox roster, but he might have the highest ceiling in all of baseball if everything clicks. While injuries limited him to 68 games last year, he still managed a 156 OPS+ with 36 extra-base hits in 296 plate appearances and 3.6 WAR. Despite a slow start to the new season, he remains one of baseball's most exciting young talents.


    Cleveland Guardians: RHP Emmanuel Clase (Age: 24)

    Rookie standout Steven Kwan ranks near the bottom of the league in average exit velocity (9th percentile) and hard-hit rate (11th percentile), and he has already crashed back to earth from his red-hot start. Instead, we'll go with Clase, who converted 24 of 29 save chances with a 1.29 ERA and 0.96 WHIP as a rookie last season. Armed with a cutter that regularly hits triple digits and a wipeout slider, he has the stuff to be baseball's next elite closer.


    Detroit Tigers: 1B Spencer Torkelson (Age: 22)

    After going No. 1 overall in the 2020 draft, Torkelson posted a .935 OPS with 29 doubles, 30 home runs and 91 RBI while reaching Triple-A in his pro debut. He won the starting first base job during spring training, and after an 0-for-10 start at the plate, he is hitting .286/.423/.619 with two home runs and five RBI in his last seven games. Expect him to be a perennial 30-homer, 100-RBI guy who is also capable of hitting .300.


    Kansas City Royals: 3B Bobby Witt Jr. (Age: 21)

    Witt is off to a sluggish start in his first taste of the big leagues with a .128/.150/.231 line and 13 strikeouts in 40 plate appearances. However, we watched Wander Franco deal with some similar struggles out of the gate last year before he hit his stride. With all the physical tools and intangibles to be a superstar, there is no reason to believe Witt won't figure things out in short order.


    Minnesota Twins: RHP Joe Ryan (Age: 25)

    Acquired from Tampa Bay in last year's Nelson Cruz trade, Ryan was pitching for Team USA in the Olympics at the time of the deal. He joined the MLB rotation once he returned and posted a 4.05 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 26.2 innings over five starts. The 6'2" right-hander wound up serving as Minnesota's Opening Day starter this year, and he has looked similarly sharp through his first two outings of 2022.

AL West

3 of 6

    Kyle Tucker
    Kyle TuckerChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Houston Astros: RF Kyle Tucker (Age: 25)

    Rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena is off to a terrific start this year, and Yordan Alvarez has put up some impressive numbers in his brief MLB career, but it's still Tucker who has the highest ceiling of any of Houston's young players. Not only does he have 30-homer power packed into his smooth left-handed swing, but he can also hit for average, stole 14 bases last year and plays terrific defense in right field.


    Los Angeles Angels: OF Brandon Marsh (Age: 24)

    While Jo Adell was long considered to be the outfielder with the higher ceiling, he continues to struggle with making enough contact to tap into his raw tools, and he's already struck out 20 times in 44 plate appearances this year. At this point, Marsh looks like a much better bet to be an impact player in the Angels outfield for years to come. He's hitting .323/.425/.516 with five walks and eight strikeouts in 40 trips to the plate this year.


    Oakland Athletics: 2B/SS Nick Allen (Age: 23)

    Unless you're a believer in Cristian Pache's offensive game, the Athletics roster is thin on young talent at the moment as they find themselves in a transition period in the wake of their offseason fire sale. Allen was recently promoted from Triple-A and is one to watch. The slick-fielding middle infielder with an undersized 5'8" frame has exceeded expectations offensively in the minors, and he gained some valuable experience playing shortstop for Team USA in the Olympics last year.


    Seattle Mariners: CF Julio Rodriguez (Age: 21)

    While right-hander Logan Gilbert is the most productive young player on the Mariners roster right now, it's impossible not to go with either Julio Rodriguez or Jarred Kelenic as the up-and-comer with the highest ceiling. Rodriguez played his way onto the Opening Day roster with an electric spring training, and he has hit every step of the way in the minors, so his slow start is easy to overlook. He has also been the victim of some awful work by the home plate umpires.


    Texas Rangers: LHP Brock Burke (Age: 25)

    Until we see guys like Jack Leiter, Josh Jung, Cole Winn and Dustin Harris in the majors, the Rangers are lacking in impactful young talent. Their pitching staff has been one of the worst in baseball in the early going, but Burke has been a bright spot, striking out 13 of the 27 batters he's faced out of the bullpen. He has pitched as a starter prior to this season and could still find his way into the rotation.

NL East

4 of 6

    Ronald Acuna Jr.
    Ronald Acuna Jr.Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Atlanta Braves: RF Ronald Acuna Jr. (Age: 24)

    Acuna is currently on a Triple-A rehab assignment and close to returning from the torn ACL that ended his season last summer. He was one of the leading NL MVP candidates when he went down last year with a 155 OPS+, 24 home runs, 17 steals and 3.6 WAR through 82 games. Will he return with the same explosiveness, or will it take some time to shake off the cobwebs?


    Miami Marlins: 2B Jazz Chisholm Jr. (Age: 24)

    Chisholm flashed his exciting offensive potential with an 18-homer, 23-steal rookie season. His .303 on-base percentage and 28.6 percent strikeout rate spoke to improvements that still needed to be made, but he has always had electric bat speed and top-of-the-scale wheels. A hot start has only further solidified his status as a building block on the Marlins roster.


    New York Mets: RHP Tylor Megill (Age: 26)

    The only players under the age of 27 on the Mets active roster are Megill (26), David Peterson (26), Dominic Smith (26) and Sean Reid-Foley (26), and Megill is far and away the most intriguing of the four. The 6'7" right-hander came out of nowhere last year to post a respectable 4.52 ERA over 18 starts, and he's gone 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 15 strikeouts in 16.1 innings in his first three starts this season.


    Philadelphia Phillies: 3B Alec Bohm (Age: 25)

    Bohm still has one of the highest offensive ceilings on the Phillies roster, with a legitimate 60-hit, 60-power offensive profile. His defensive struggles at third base have dominated the headlines this year, but he has also gone 10-for-21 with two doubles, one home run and seven RBI in 29 plate appearances. First baseman Rhys Hoskins is a free agent after the 2023 season, and perhaps the answer is letting him walk and shifting Bohm across the diamond.


    Washington Nationals: RF Juan Soto (Age: 23)

    The centerpieces of the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner tradecatcher Keibert Ruiz and right-hander Josiah Grayare now the most promising up-and-comers on the Nationals roster. They are also both older than Soto, who won't turn 24 years old until October. How much longer before Soto takes home his first NL MVP award, even playing for a non-contender?

NL Central

5 of 6

    Hunter Greene
    Hunter GreeneKevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Chicago Cubs: 2B Nick Madrigal (Age: 25)

    The No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 draft following a stellar collegiate career at Oregon State, Madrigal is a throwback player with an extreme contact-oriented approach. He has the hit tool to be a perennial batting title contender once he settles in at the MLB level, and he is still just scratching the surface with only 93 big league games under his belt.


    Cincinnati Reds: RHP Hunter Greene (Age: 22)

    With a 100.0 mph average fastball velocity on 113 fastballs through his first two MLB starts, Greene is showing the type of generational potential that made him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft. Fully healthy now after missing all of the 2019 and 2020 seasons following Tommy John surgery and the canceled minor league season, he has the stuff and athleticism to be a bona fide ace in the majors in the not-too-distant future.


    Milwaukee Brewers: LHP Aaron Ashby (Age: 23)

    The Brewers have done a terrific job developing pitching talent taken outside of the first round in recent years, including Corbin Burnes (fourth round), Brandon Woodruff (11th round) and Devin Williams (second round). Ashby is on his way to joining that group as a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft. Similar to Burnes and Woodruff, he is starting his MLB career in the bullpen, but he was developed as a starter and should get a shot at joining the rotation in the future.


    Pittsburgh Pirates: 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes (Age: 25)

    Hayes is still working to tap into his vast offensive potential, but the Pirates have already seen enough that they were willing to ink him to an eight-year, $70 million extension. Even if he is never more than an average player offensively, he's an elite defensive third baseman, and all signs point to him being a two-way standout and one of the faces of the franchise.


    St. Louis Cardinals: RF Dylan Carlson (Age: 23)

    The youngest of a promising trio of up-and-coming outfielders in St. Louis, Carlson hit .277/.343/.505 with 11 home runs and 34 RBI in 61 games after the All-Star break last year. A first-round pick in 2016 who looked like a reach at the time, he quickly developed into the team's top prospect, and he should be a staple in right field for years to come.

NL West

6 of 6

    Logan Webb
    Logan WebbDaniel Shirey/Getty Images

    Arizona Diamondbacks: DH Seth Beer (Age: 25)

    The title of most promising young player on the D-backs roster will belong to center fielder Alek Thomas once he inevitably debuts later this year. For now, Beer gets the nod as an MLB-ready power hitter who is finally getting a shot at regular playing time thanks to the implementation of the universal designated hitter. He hit a walk-off home run on Opening Day and has a .438/.486/.625 line through 35 plate appearances.


    Colorado Rockies: 2B Brendan Rodgers (Age: 25)

    The bulk of the Rockies roster falls into the 27-31 years old range, so the choices are few and far between for "young" talent with upside. That said, Rodgers is a relatively easy choice as a No. 3 overall pick with a top prospect pedigree who has shown flashes of being an impact offensive player. He hit .296/.325/.490 with 10 home runs and 31 RBI during the second half last season, and he'll be given a long leash to right the ship after a slow start this year.


    Los Angeles Dodgers: LHP Julio Urias (Age: 25)

    Urias made his MLB debut six seasons ago at the age of 19, and while it took him some time to carve out a regular role in the majors, he is now firmly entrenched in the Dodgers rotation. The left-hander went 20-3 with a 2.96 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 195 strikeouts in 185.2 innings last year, and he doesn't turn 26 years old until Aug. 12.


    San Diego Padres: SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (Age: 23)

    Is staying healthy going to be an ongoing issue for Tatis? He had a 42-homer, 25-steal season last year and finished third in NL MVP voting, but a nagging shoulder injury plagued him throughout the second half, and now he's sidelined with a fractured wrist he suffered during the offseason. Regardless, there is no excluding him from this conversation with his legitimate 40/40 potential.


    San Francisco Giants: RHP Logan Webb (Age: 25)

    The Giants had a tough time developing starting pitching for several years following the trio of Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, but they appear to have found their next homegrown ace. The 6'1" right-hander posted a 3.03 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 158 strikeouts in 148.1 innings in his first full season in the majors last year, capping things off with two terrific starts against the Dodgers in the NLDS.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through Wednesday's games.