August Top 100 Prospects List Risers And Fallers
With the release of the Top 100 Prospects list today, several players made significant moves up, down and off the list.
For some players, shifting by a few spots is more a function of others around them moving rather than an adjustment in their own value. For other players where there was a more substantial or noteworthy change, these were the notable risers and fallers, with the latest on their status.
1. Gunnar Henderson, SS/3B, Orioles
With a true five-tool skill set and some of the gaudiest numbers in the minor leagues, Henderson is a well-rounded talent who checks the production, projection and analytical boxes. His ability to make consistent hard contact, hit for plus power in games while also owning some of the best strike-zone discipline in the minor leagues has rocketed him to the top of the list. A strong candidate for minor league player of the year, Henderson was promoted to Triple-A by early June just weeks before his 21st birthday and has drawn praise from scouts and opposing coaches who called him the best player in both the International League and the Double-A Eastern League. Beyond his prowess at the plate, Henderson is an above-average defensive shortstop with a plus arm capable of making difficult throws. He has speed on the basepaths and plays a heads-up style of baseball. With few holes in his game and prodigious production, Henderson could be on the cusp of stardom.
2. Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers
The feedback on Chourio this year ranges from impressive to spectacular. Chourio is 18, so his peers are the 2022 high school draft picks just getting started in the Rookie-level complex leagues, but Chourio is already in High-A Wisconsin and hasn’t slowed down there after hitting .324/.373/.600 in 271 plate appearances for Low-A Carolina. Just getting to High-A at 18 is no guarantee of even becoming a big league regular—see Carlos Triunfel, Angel Villalona and Fernando Martinez, among others—but Chourio is on track to be in Double-A at 19 and potentially make his major league debut as a 20-year-old. He’s an explosive athlete with a chance to be an impact hitter with power, speed and potentially plus defense at a premium position in center field. The upside is a perennial all-star, franchise player.
10. Anthony Volpe, SS, Yankees
After a slow start to the season, Volpe has been on fire for most of the summer. Since June 1, the Yankees’ top prospect has an OPS of better than .970 and has some scouts convinced he can stick at shortstop in the long term. He is the only player in the minor leagues with 25 or more doubles, 15 or more home runs and 35 or more stolen bases.
34. Tyler Soderstrom, C, Athletics
Soderstrom battled the cold of High-A Lansing and a hand injury early in the season as he got off to an awful start in April. As the weather warmed up and he healed, he’s been once again one of the best young hitters in the minors. Soderstrom earned a promotion to Double-A Midland at the start of August and is once again catching roughly three games a week, after having to focus on first base and DH in May.
35. Noelvi Marte, SS, Reds
Scouts raised concerns about Marte’s ability to stay at shortstop long term. Those concerns will not be alleviated by a trade to the Reds, a team that now has shortstop prospects at nearly every stop in the minors. But Marte did have an exceptional July (.384/.455/.709) and has offered plenty of reminders as to why he’s one of the better young hitting prospects in the game.
38. Colson Montgomery, SS, White Sox
A first-round pick in 2021, Montgomery hit .324/.424/.477 in 205 plate appearances with Low-A Kannapolis before the White Sox bumped him to High-A Winston-Salem at the end of June. Montgomery continues to show the attributes conducive to hitting at the major league level, with a smooth lefthanded swing and the ability to track pitches well and stay within the strike zone to get on base at a high clip. He continues to add more conviction in his pure hitting ability, to go along with his impressive athleticism and the physical projection in his 6-foot-4 frame for more power to come as he gets into his prime.
39. James Wood, OF, Nationals
In high school, Wood excited scouts with his upside, but in 90 plate appearances he struck out 26 times (a 28.8% strikeout rate) in 2021 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. That swing-and-miss risk dropped the athletic 6-foot-7 slugger to the Padres in the second round in 2021, but in pro ball he has kept his strikeouts in check while showing off his massive power. Part of the Nationals’ trade return for Juan Soto, Wood was hitting .337/.453/.601 in 236 plate appearances with 37 walks and 42 strikeouts for a 17.8% strikeout rate in Low-A Lake Elsinore before the trade. Wood has the potential to be a dangerous slugger in the middle of a lineup, with the probability of him achieving that outcome looking greater now than it did coming into the year.
41. Hunter Brown, RHP, Astros
Pitching in the Pacific Coast League is no easy task, but Brown has stood out from the pack as he’s been affected by the boosted offensive environments. In fact, Brown is the only qualified starter in the PCL this season with an ERA under 3.00 and the only qualified starter with an ERA under 4.00. Even when you look at ERA estimators like FIP or xFIP he’s still a half run better than the next closest qualified PCL starter. Beyond the numbers Brown’s raw stuff is enough to overpower upper-level hitters. With a four-seam fastball that sits 96 mph, touching 100 mph at peak, a slider sitting 91-92 mph, touching 95, and a low-to-mid-80s curveball with tremendous depth, Brown is certainly not lacking in stuff.
63. Tink Hence, RHP, Cardinals
Few players have more helium than Hence as he’s continued to dominate Low-A Florida State League hitters over limited innings. Hence is flashing tremendous potential with big stuff, athleticism and pitchability that has made him one of the most exciting prospects in the lower minors. Hence sits 94-96 mph, touching 98 mph with a low release height that allows him to create a difficult approach angle for hitters to get on plane. His primary secondary is a high-70s curveball with moderate depth that he gets whiffs and chases against. Hence shows feel for the changeup and has shown the ability to get whiffs against the pitch. The biggest question Hence faces is his lack of a professional track record and limited exposure to a lineup the second time through the order.
75. Sal Frelick, OF, Brewers
Frelick jumps back into the Top 100 after a strong run through Double-A Biloxi. After opening the year in High-A Wisconsin, Frelick went to Double-A and hit .317/.380/.464 with five home runs in 253 plate appearances, posting an 8% walk rate and 13% strikeout rate. Frelick, 22, is now in Triple-A and should make his major league debut next season. His hand-eye coordination leads to excellent bat-to-ball skills in a hit-over-power profile, with the athleticism and plus-plus speed to defend well at a premium position in center field.
76. Brayan Rocchio, SS, Guardians
Rocchio reached Double-A in 2021 and performed well, then slumped upon returning to the level in 2022. The Guardians worked with him to adjust his bat path and have seen a return to form of late. He was particularly excellent in July, when the 21-year-old slashed .354/.436/.598 with five doubles and five home runs. Rocchio is in the upper echelon of Cleveland’s enviable collection of young middle infield prospects.
77. Jonathan Aranda, INF, Rays
Aranda is the type of prospect who has to perform at every level, because his value at the major league level will be almost entirely tied to his offensive production. He can play multiple infield spots, but he’s fringy defensively at any of them. But Aranda has shown he can hit wherever you play him. After hitting .330/.418/.543 in 2021 at stops at High-A and Double-A, he’s hit .314/.391/.521 at Triple-A Durham this year in addition to going 6-for-16 (.375) in a brief first stint in the majors. For a Rays lineup that has been gutted by injuries, a pure hitter like Aranda could provide a late-season boost.
78. Vaughn Grissom, SS, Braves
After hitting .312/.404/.487 over 74 games for High-A Rome, Grissom was promoted to Mississippi in mid-July and has continued to impress at the plate. Grissom has been one of the more difficult players to strike out this season, striking out in just 12% of his plate appearances. He’s shown glimpses of above-average raw power but his approach is heavily geared toward putting the ball in play. At 21 in Double-A with an advanced hit tool and physical projection remaining, Grissom has time to grow into his power over the coming years.
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32. Max Meyer, RHP, Marlins
Meyer had a boffo start to the year before a nerve issue in his right elbow sidelined him for roughly a month. He got back on track and made his big league debut on July 16, but lasted just two starts before the injury bug returned. He was scheduled to have Tommy John surgery on Aug. 8. The procedure will cost him all of this season and likely much of 2023 as well.
49. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs
Crow-Armstrong remains one of the best center field prospects in the game, but upon his promotion to High-A South Bend in 165 plate appearances (3.6%) he has six walks and 47 strikeouts (28.5%). Crow-Armstrong’s strike-zone discipline has generally been one of his strengths, and he is hitting for more power than some initial expectations, so it might be a matter of finding the right offensive balance. Defensively, there haven’t been any slumps, as Crow-Armstrong continues to excite with his instincts and range in center field.
67. Jack Leiter, RHP, Rangers
With the caveat that Leiter’s assignment to Double-A to begin his pro career was aggressive, the Rangers’ first-rounder from 2021 simply has not lived up to his reputation. Beyond the surface numbers, his fastball shape has taken several steps backward and his curveball has not been as effective as it was in college. The Rangers would like to see him emphasize his slider more as a result. He also needs to do a better job sequencing his pitches. Leiter still has plenty of talent, but there is plenty of development that needs to take place as well.
70. Nick Pratto, 1B, Royals
Pratto remains a Top 100 prospect, but he was running a 31% strikeout rate in Triple-A and has struggled with contact early on in his major league debut. The raw power is there for Pratto to hit 30-plus home runs if he can make enough contact, with additional value that he chips in on the defensive side, but his swing-and-miss tendencies remain a risk factor.
79. Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Cardinals
Liberatore impressed following an aggressive assignment to Triple-A last season, adjusting his arsenal throughout the year and showing the ability to command the zone. In 2022, Liberatore has backed up in several areas. His command hasn’t been quite as crisp and he’s struggled to keep the ball in the park. Still just 22 years old, Liberatore is still a Top 100 prospect, but the expectations for his long-term role have adjusted. Liberatore doesn’t have the No. 2 or 3 starter upside many had envisioned and might be more of a solid, back-of-the-rotation innings eater. On the bright side, Liberatore has missed more bats this season but it’s been at the expense of his overall execution.
86. Henry Davis, C, Pirates
Part of the problem with Davis’ season is that the 2021 No. 1 overall pick simply hasn’t stayed healthy. A pair of wrist injuries have limited Davis to just 39 non-rehab games, and also cost him a chance to play in the Futures Game. The Pirates have tried to get Davis to back off the plate just a bit in order to keep him from getting hit by so many pitches—he has 17 apiece of HBPs and extra-base hits—so he can stay on the field more often and continue to develop. Defensively, scouts do not see a player who is particularly mobile and are skeptical he can remain behind the plate. Even if he lives up to his offensive potential, Davis will have to work hard in a catching-rich system to remain Pittsburgh’s catcher of the future.
Nick Yorke, 2B, Red Sox (Dropped out)
The risk with bat-first prospects is if they simply don’t hit, what does the profile fall back on? Yorke has endured a season-long slump in High-A. In fact, the 2020 first-rounder doesn’t have a single month in 2022 with an OPS of .730 or above. Yorke’s numbers are down across the board this season including his average exit velocity, 90th percentile exit velocity, contact rate and zone contact rate. While Yorke is a solid second baseman, it’s not enough to carry the profile of even an average bat. Few prospects have fallen harder than Yorke this season. Despite this, Yorke should not be written off, but it’s hard to rate him as one of the 100 best prospects in baseball in his present state.
Josh Winder, RHP, Twins (Dropped out)
Winder has been excellent when he’s pitched, but the shoulder soreness that ended his 2021 season early has wiped away much of his 2022 season as well, and could cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Shoulder injuries, especially recurring ones, are always a cause for concern with pitchers.
Joey Wiemer, OF, Brewers (Dropped out)
Wiemer is still one of the top prospects in the Brewers system and a borderline Top 100 candidate. However, after a great first two months in Double-A Biloxi, Wiemer hit .229/.326/.361 in June, then in July hit .160/.229/.213, dropping him to .243/.321/.440 in 84 games before the Brewers promoted him to Triple-A Nashville. There’s still a lot to like with Wiemer, an impressive athlete and runner at 6-foot-5 with plus-plus raw power and an outstanding arm, but the 30% strikeout rate he ran as a 23-year-old in Double-A remains a red flag.
Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS, Rays (Dropped out)
Edwards’ contact rate remains impressive, but as he’s matured, many of the aspects of his game that were once quite alluring have disappeared. Once an everyday shortstop, he now plays more second and third base than shortstop. In his 2018 pro debut, he stole 22 bases in 23 attempts. He swiped another 34 in 45 attempts in 2019. This year he’s stolen two bases in six tries. The once plus-plus speed is now above-average at best. Edwards has a plus hit tool, but with modest power. The regression of his speed and defense combined with that makes him more of a fringe Top 100 prospect.