Can Minor League Data Predict A Successful 2024 MLB Rookie Class?


Image credit: Junior Caminero (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The 2023 MLB rookie class was historic. As noted in our All-Rookie team, rookie position players compiled 68 WAR in 2023, according to, a total topped only in 2015 in the past 123 years.

Some of the success was easily anticipated. Both rookie of the year winnersDiamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll and Orioles infielder Gunnar Hendersondebuted the previous season and showed impressive ability almost immediately. Beyond Carroll and Henderson, the major leagues were littered with standout first-year positional players like Nolan Jones (Rockies), Matt McLain (Reds) and James Outman (Dogers), plus several others.

Prospect pedigree and statistical production tend to provide a solid baseline for each type of hitter. What could each star rookie’s minor league Statcast data tell us about their future success?

We’ve already lined up the top prospects entering 2024. We also have consistent Statcast data going back to 2021. This allows us to look back at the two previous rookie classes (2022 and 2023) with greater foresight.

Below, I lined up players into three groups based on their rookie season, including a look at Top 100 prospects who have a reasonable chance of surpassing their rookie limits in 2024. Heres’ what we learned.

2022 Rookie Class 

PlayerContact%Chase%IZmiss%90% EVAvg EV
Julio Rodriguez73.3%25%17%108.691.1
Michael Harris II76.6%37%17%106.288.8
Steven Kwan92.0%16%6%98.886.6
Adley Rutschman81.7%18%12%104.586.6
Jake McCarthy68.5%23%24%106.190.4
Brendan Donovan81.3%24%10%99.787.2
Joey Meneses79.0%32%15%106.391.4
Vinnie Pasquantino81.8%23%13%104.490.1
Oscar Gonzalez69.3%43%22%106.989.9
Bobby Witt Jr.70.2%31%26%106.989.8
Jeremy Pena68.5%30%18%106.492
  • When looking at the 2022 class, the dividing line in production is pretty clearly balance. Players who were productive in their sophomore seasons (Julio Rodriguez, Bobby Witt Jr. and Adley Rutschman) all clear the 70% contact, 31% chase rate and 104.5 mph 90th percentile exit velocity bar. 
  • Major league stars are the outliers of the outliers, and Steven Kwan proves this. While his power is well below major league average, his bat-to-ball skills and approach clearly put him in rare company in terms of plate skills. His hit tool was just advanced enough to overcome a severe lack of power. 
  • Plate skills are a good predictor of unpredictability. The three players on the list with sub-70% contact rates (Jake McCarthy, Oscar Gonzalez and Jeremy Peña) all saw their wRC+ drop below the dividing line of 100 in 2023. Gonzalez and Pena not only lacked the needed bat-to-ball skills, they also chased at a higher rate. This is a bad combination that leads to less consistency from at-bat to at-bat, and limits each player’s ability to access their standout power tool. 
  • The average of the group sets a good baseline of the type of broad skills that define success. Funny enough, no player on the list meets or exceeds all five benchmarks, the closest is Adley Rutschman. When we remove the true outliers from the group (Kwan’s plate skills and Rodriguez’s power) the benchmarks get easier to meet, but still no single player meets the averages of the group. This shows it’s more about combining two or three outlier skills to overcome certain weaknesses than anything. 

2023 Rookie Class

PlayerContact%Chase%Z-miss%90th%AVg Ev
Corbin Carroll74.80%18%21%106.589.8
Gunnar Henderson74.70%15%20%107.492.7
James Outman69.60%21%22%107.289.7
Nolan Jones70.70%13%19%105.191.9
Matt McLain64.50%24%28%103.687.4
Zack Gelof68.90%28%24%103.187.4
Edouard Julien74.30%13%19%104.189.2
Spencer Steer75.70%20%17%104.189.4
Triston Casas68%31%23%10992.9
Matt Wallner58.30%23%35%107.894.3
  • Unlike the 2022 class, one player met or exceeded the benchmark averages across all five metrics, the Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson. Corbin Carroll just barely misses qualifying by .5 mph of average exit velocity. 
  • When looking at the differences between the 2022 and 2023 class averages, it’s clear that the 2022 class had better plate skills but lacked the impact of the 2023 class overall. Only Zack Gelof and Matt McLain failed to exceed 104 mph on their 90th percentile exit velocity. 
  • McLain is an interesting case study, as he dealt with injury in 2022 and his underlying metrics failed to meet a clear standard of contact and power. McLain’s offseason work heading into 2023 clearly paid dividends, as his pre-callup data from his time in Triple-A to begin 2023 meets and exceeds the 104 mph 90th percentile EV and his 72.7% contact rate displays a clear jump in skills to go along with his improved power. 
  • Gelof in a similar fashion showed improved raw power in 2023 prior to his callup, meeting the 104 mph 90th percentile exit velocity. However, his 65.1% contact rate in MiLB in 2023 and 67.9% contact rate in MLB add some uncertainty to Gelof’s ability to repeat his strong rookie campaign. 

2024 Rookie Class

PlayerContact%Chase%Z-miss%90th%AVg Ev
Junior Caminero72.80%29.00%19.00%110.491.5
Jackson Holliday76%19.40%17.50%102.391.1
Jackson Chourio76.70%32.30%16.40%105.891.3
Evan Carter73.90%18.70%17.30%102.585.5
Wyatt Langford81.30%16.80%12.80%106.890.2
Jordan Lawlar73.60%21.30%18.60%102.488.7
Pete Crow-Armstrong68.40%33.80%26.00%104.388.3
Noelvi Marte73.60%29.80%16.50%106.888.8
Colt Keith75.20%24.20%16.60%104.790.3
Colton Cowser70.40%20.80%19.70%105.191.4
Masyn Winn81.50%28.20%12.10%101.987.9
Michael Busch79.50%21.10%12.50%104.791.4
Everson Pereira63.60%25.40%26.20%10993.8
Tyler Black77.40%18.60%16.50%102.887.6
Thomas Saggese74.90%31.70%16.60%102.787.2
Nolan Schanuel87.40%16.50%7.10%96.783.8
Orelvis Martinez66.40%28.80%19.30%105.489.7
Ceddanne Rafaela68.70%40.20%19.40%104.289.1
Brayan Rocchio78.80%27.60%12.90%101.987
  • A few names stand out immediately when looking at 2024 rookie candidates: Junior Caminero, Wyatt Langford, Noelvi Marte, Colt Keith and Michael Busch. Busch has the advantage of age, while Langford likely benefits to an extent from a smaller sample size against more advanced competition. Regardless, this group clearly shows a balance of contact (all above 72%), approach (chase rate below 30%) and power (90th percentile above 104.5 mph). This is in-line with the standouts of the previous two classes and the players who are/were most likely to repeat their production in their sophomore campaigns. 
  • Colton Cowser just misses the above group based on contact rate, but is not far off from the appropriate benchmark. Cowser underwhelmed in his big league debut, but enters 2024 with an opportunity to erase those memories by letting his underlying skills do the talking over a larger sample size. Let this be a warning to not write Cowser off. 
  • Nolan Schanuel compares to Kwan as a hitter despite the very clear difference in defensive value and physical composition. Schanuel will likely find more power, as Kwan did, with their outlier plate skills already present to more than tread water in the major leagues. 
  • Orelvis Martinez and Everson Pereira fall into the category of players from previous rookie classes with the appropriate power and approach but a lack of consistent bat-to-ball ability. They comp well to Matt Wallner and to a lesser extent Gelof, but each display greater impact than the latter. 
  • When looking at Jackson Chourio, it’s easy to draw some comparisons to Witt. What we saw from Witt in his rookie season was simply a young uber-talented prospect still developing at the major league level. Chourio shows better plate skills than Witt, but will likely still be susceptible to expanding the zone early in his career. Like Witt, Chourio is a prodigious talent with twitch and improving impact, though it may never quite be on par with Witt. 

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone