20 Up-Arrow MLB Prospects Who Could Solidify Their Stock At Spring Breakout


Image credit: Toronto Blue Jays prospect Arjun Nimmala (Photo/Tom DiPace)

On March 14, MLB will begin its first Spring Breakout series, a four-day event that should serve as a Michelin star-level meal sure to whet the appetite of prospect watchers around the country.

Each team’s rosters are dotted with their system’s best prospects, and seven of Baseball America’s Top 10 prospects—including Jackson Holliday, Jackson Chourio, Ethan Salas and Paul Skenes—are slated to participate.

There’s plenty of firepower beyond the game’s most famous names, however. The following 20 prospects raised their stock in 2023 and could jump-start their follow-up campaigns during Spring Breakout.

Luis Baez, OF, Astros — Baez was the Astros’ biggest standout in the Florida Complex League, hitting seven home runs in 17 games before earning a promotion to Low-A Fayetteville. Baez has the look of a classic corner-outfield masher and has the 60-grade throwing arm to fit nicely in right field one day. 

Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Orioles — Bradfield is the only player in the 2024 Baseball America Prospect Handbook with a pair of 80-grade tools, one apiece for his speed and defense. Those gifts alone give an easy floor of a backup big leaguer. He makes a ton of contact as well, and he’s now a part of a player development system that has spun gold out of nearly every prospect it’s touched over the last few years. He could easily find himself atop a lineup in Baltimore in a few years that includes Gunnar Henderson, Jackson Holliday and Adley Rutschman at its core. 

Austin Charles, SS, Royals The Royals bet on Charles’ upside in the 20th round of the 2022 draft and were rewarded quickly when he proved advanced enough to move from the Arizona Complex League after just two games and spent the rest of the year at Low-A Columbia. His time in the Carolina League was mixed, but at his best he showed potentially plus power as a part of an overall offensive package that will have to adapt to Charles’ long-levered frame to reach its peak. He’s an excellent athlete as well and has a fighting chance to stick at shortstop, where his plus arm strength will fit nicely. 

Tsung-Che Cheng, SS, Pirates — In a system dominated by pitching, Cheng ranks as one of the more intriguing offensive players. He’s a twitchy athlete who fits nicely at shortstop and slash and dash his way to offensive value with hints of power along the way. He got a hint of time at Double-A to end 2023 and should return there to begin this season. With a strong season, he could make his big league debut by year’s end.

Alexander Clemmey, LHP, Guardians — When Cleveland took Clemmey in the second round of the 2023 draft, it was the earliest they’d popped a prep arm since taking Daniel Espino in the first round in 2019. The southpaw sports a 70-grade fastball and a 60-grade curveball at the front of a three-pitch mix. Clemmey needs to improve his changeup and overall control but his combination of present stuff, remaining projection and the wonders Cleveland works with pitchers could lead to big things down the road. 

Zach Dezenzo, 3B, Astros — Dezenzo was a revelation in 2023, when he swatted 18 home runs between High-A Asheville and Double-A Corpus Christi. The Ohio State alum doesn’t come by his power cheaply, either. He hits thunderous blasts and makes loud contact that helped him produce a 90th percentile exit velocity of 108 mph a season ago. He’s not a standout at third base but has the arm strength for the position. 

Jackson Ferris, LHP, Dodgers — Ferris came to the Dodgers in the trade that sent Michael Busch to the Cubs. The lefthander earned plenty of buzz in 2023 thanks to an arsenal with plenty of upside, especially with a few delivery tweaks. Ferris’ fastball in particular drew raves for its combination of velocity and late, angry movement away from hitters’ barrels. 

Dillon Head, OF, Padres — San Diego’s farm system eats, sleeps and breathes upside, and Head has it in spades. The 2023 first-rounder boasts a potential five-tool skill set and made a quick mark in pro ball by reaching Low-A in his debut season. He’s a plus defender in center field with double-plus speed and a 55-grade hit tool. Depending on how his body fills out, he could find enough power to crunch 15-20 homers per year, too. That’s a pretty exciting player who fits right into a Padres system that always has someone who will turn heads. 

Darell Hernaiz, 2B, Athletics — Hernaiz came to the A’s in the trade that sent Cole Irvin and Kyle Virbitsky to Baltimore. He spent last summer hitting quite well between Double-A and Triple-A and does a good job putting the barrel on the ball, even if he doesn’t get it in the air as much as one would like. The 22-year-old has room for improvement but also could one day fit in Oakland as an offensive-minded second baseman. He’s likely to make his big league debut in 2024. 

Luke Keaschall, 2B, Twins — Keaschall transferred from San Francisco to Arizona State in his draft year and made the move pay off by slamming 18 home runs in 55 games. He added three more longballs after turning pro, including two at High-A Cedar Rapids. He has the look of an offensive-minded middle infielder who could quickly turn into one of the better prospects in an excellent Minnesota system.

Luis Lara, OF, Brewers — Lara skipped the Arizona Complex League and instead split his first full season as a pro between the Class A levels. He’s a line-drive hitter with little home run power but plenty of speed to take extra bases. He could be a perfect leadoff hitter for this event and has the potential to provide highlight plays on both sides of the ball. 

Thayron Liranzo, C, Dodgers — If power-hitting catchers are your thing, look no further. Liranzo can lose baseballs from both sides of the dish and led the Low-A California League in home runs despite playing in just 94 games. He finished the year with 50 extra-base hits. There’s plenty of work to do for Liranzo to stick behind the plate—especially in a system that also houses catching prospects Diego Cartaya and Dalton Rushing, but his bat should play anywhere on the diamond. 

Tyler Locklear, 1B, Mariners — Locklear fits firmly in the phylum of Dudes Who Rake. The Virginia Commonwealth alum can crush fastballs with ease and swatted 13 home runs in a 2023 season spent between High-A Everett and Double-A Arkansas. He added three more longballs in a strong Arizona Fall League campaign. Locklear’s profile is power over hit but with a strong turn in the upper levels in 2024 he could get to Seattle by year’s end.

Trevor McDonald, RHP, Giants — McDonald’s career has been a bit of a slow burn after he was selected in the 11th round of the 2019 draft, but a breakout year at High-A Eugene in 2023 helped him earn a spot on San Francisco’s 40-man roster. His two main weapons are a nearly double-plus fastball and a plus curveball. If he can bring forward a third pitch, he could be a rotation piece.

Braden Nett, RHP, Padres — Nett entered the Arizona Fall League well under the radar and emerged from the six-week sojourn as one of the desert’s buzziest names. The righthander showed huge raw stuff in the fall, including a fastball that touched 99 mph at the front of a pitch mix that also included a cutter, sweeper and changeup. There’s a lot of polish still to be applied, but his is the type of raw stuff that can turn heads. 

Arjun Nimmala, SS, Blue Jays — Nimmala was one of the youngest players in the 2023 draft class and caught scouts’ attention in his brief pro sample. The former cricketer converted to baseball and quickly earned plaudits as one of the best prep players in Florida. He’s got high-end bat speed now and plenty of projection remaining that should allow him to reach his ceiling of 55-grade power. He’s a smooth defender, too, and could settle in as an above-average shortstop with an above-average arm. 

Bryan Ramos, 3B, White Sox — Ramos has shown his potential in fits and starts while working through injuries and overall inconsistency. At his best he has thunderous power that would easily profile at the hot corner. To make that power play to its fullest, he’ll need to tighten his command of the strike zone and become more resistant to breaking balls, especially those that spin down and away from his barrel. 

Jefferson Rojas, SS, Cubs — In a system stacked with interesting prospects, Rojas has one of the most eye-popping upsides. The Cubs tipped their hand a little bit when they bumped him to Low-A Myrtle Beach after just one game in the Arizona Complex League. He showed off big-time potential in the Carolina League, where he popped 22 extra-base hits—including seven home runs—as an 18-year-old. Simply put, Rojas has the potential to be a star. 

Sean Sullivan, LHP, Rockies — Sullivan was part of a 10-player contingent of Wake Forest alums who were drafted in 2023. The lefthander doesn’t have overwhelming stuff on paper, but his fastball in particular drew whiffs by the bushel thanks to strong outlier characteristics created by his unorthodox delivery. His changeup grades as a potentially above-average pitch, but he needs a third pitch to come forth to help him fit into a rotation.

Thomas White, LHP, Marlins — White was the best prep lefthander in the 2023 draft class and was the second half of the high school daily double the Marlins scored when they landed both him and Noble Meyer in their class. White needs to throw more strikes, but there is no question about his raw stuff, which includes two potential plus pitches in his fastball and curveball. He should be the beneficiary of Miami’s strong pitching development program. 

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