Prospect Promotion Incentive: Taking Stock Of Year One & Looking Ahead To 2023

Image credit: Francisco Alvarez (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

March 27 update: Royce Lewis and Max Meyer have been removed from the list of potential PPI eligibles. Their time on the MLB injured list last season puts them over the limit of 60 service days.

March 28 update: The list of players with continuing PPI eligibility was confirmed to include Bryson Stott and exclude Julio Rodriguez, Reid Detmers and MacKenzie Gore.

The Mariners added the 29th pick in the 2023 draft—and roughly $2.5 million in bonus pool money—simply by rostering their 26 best players on Opening Day last year.  

Here’s how they did it: Seattle skipped Julio Rodriguez from Double-A, where he finished 2021, to the big leagues to open 2022 after he shined at spring training. The 21-year-old center fielder went on to win the American League Rookie of the Year award, netting the Mariners a Prospect Promotion Incentive draft pick this year.

The PPI program was introduced last season as part of the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement. Its aim was to discourage service time manipulation, which had increased steadily over the years, and incentivize teams to carry top prospects on Opening Day rosters. 

The program worked in Year One.

Teams opened the 2022 season carrying more Top 100 Prospects who had not yet debuted in MLB than they had in any season since 1995. In the past, those prospects would have been prime candidates to open the season at Triple-A, more for clock management purposes than for skill refinement.

Players receive one year of MLB service every season they spend 172 days on the active roster. One year of service pushes the player one year closer to free agency and one year closer to arbitration. So prior to the introduction of PPI, teams would frequently make sure rookies stayed under 172 days in order to stretch terms of club control from six seasons to seven.

But with PPI on the books, the risk versus reward consideration has been altered. While players who make Opening Day rosters likely will qualify for free agency a year earlier, they also have the potential to outfit their clubs with draft picks after the first round in any season in which they factor for major awards. More on that in a bit.

While teams disagree on the value of players, they all agree on the value of draft picks.

Baseball America has confirmed that eight other 2022 rookies will qualify their clubs for future PPI draft picks if they finish top three in MVP or Cy Young Award voting in 2023 or 2024. Rodriguez is no longer eligible for future PPI draft picks.

The position players with continuing PPI eligibility are Astros shortstop Jeremy Peña, D-backs shortstop Geraldo Perdomo, Phillies shortstop Bryson Stott and Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.

The four qualifying pitchers are righthanders Shane Baz of the Rays, Hunter Greene of the Reds and Joe Ryan of the Twins and lefthander Nick Lodolo of the Reds.

Angels lefthander Reid Detmers and Giants catcher Joey Bart were ineligible because they entered 2022 with 60 or more days of MLB service. Nationals lefthander MacKenzie Gore had his PPI eligibility negated by his trade from the Padres in the Juan Soto blockbuster. Any player traded subsequent to his promotion is ineligible for PPI draft picks.

The process by which players can qualify their clubs for PPI draft picks looks like this:

(1) The player must appear on a preseason Top 100 Prospects ranking by at least two of Baseball America, ESPN or MLB Pipeline.

(2) The player must be rookie-eligible and must have fewer than 60 days of prior MLB service.

(3) Any player who meets the requirements above must accrue at least one year of MLB service as a rookie. Because one year of service requires 172 days on an active roster, that means the player must break camp with the team or be called up within two weeks of Opening Day.

Players who meet all three of the criteria above and then win a Rookie of the Year award or finish top three in MVP or Cy Young Award balloting prior to qualifying for arbitration will net their clubs a PPI draft pick after the first round. This year, the Mariners’ PPI draft pick is slotted at No. 29 overall.

There is a limit of one PPI pick per organization per year, and players may trigger PPI picks for their clubs only once. If a player is traded after promotion, that also eliminates their eligibility for a PPI pick.

We don’t know exactly which prospects will make Opening Day rosters this season, but we do know the identity of players who would qualify for a PPI pick based on their prospect standing, rookie status and service time. 

Here we present lists of potential PPI-qualifying prospects who appeared on at least two of the necessary Top 100s and are rookie eligible, sorted by peak level in 2022. To trigger a PPI draft pick for their club, these players must accrue one year of service in 2023 and win ROY that season or place top three in MVP or CYA voting in 2024 or 2025.

Players are sorted below by BA Top 100 Prospects ranking.


Potential PPI players with MLB experience

Gunnar Henderson, 3B, Orioles
Corbin Carroll, OF, D-backs
Francisco Alvarez, C, Mets
Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Rockies
Hunter Brown, RHP, Astros
Triston Casas, 1B, Red Sox
Miguel Vargas, 2B, Dodgers
Brett Baty, 3B, Mets
Logan O’Hoppe, C, Angels
Ryan Pepiot, RHP, Dodgers
Josh Jung, 3B, Rangers
Cade Cavalli, RHP, Nationals (injured list)
Oswald Peraza, SS, Yankees
Bo Naylor, C, Guardians
DL Hall, LHP, Orioles
Ken Waldichuk, LHP, Athletics

Note that D-backs catcher Gabriel Moreno ranks on two of three Top 100s but is disqualified by not being rookie eligible. 

Despite meeting the prospect standing and rookie status requirements, Royce Lewis and Max Meyer are ineligible for PPI draft picks because they have more than 60 days of MLB service, most of which was accrued on the injured list in 2022.

Players classified as “foreign professionals” by MLB are ineligible for PPI draft picks. This year, Mets righthander Kodai Senga and Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida are classified as foreign professionals by MLB. Neither would have qualified for a PPI draft pick anyway, because they appeared only on the BA Top 100.

Potential PPI players who have reached Double-A or Triple-A

Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers
Jordan Walker, OF, Cardinals
Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies
Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles
Eury Perez, RHP, Marlins
Elly De La Cruz, SS, Reds
Jordan Lawlar, SS, D-backs
Anthony Volpe, SS, Yankees
Daniel Espino, RHP, Guardians
Gavin Williams, RHP, Guardians
Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers
Endy Rodriguez, C, Pirates
Evan Carter, OF, Rangers
Brandon Pfaadt, RHP, D-backs
Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Blue Jays
Sal Frelick, OF, Brewers
Tyler Soderstrom, C, Athletics
Curtis Mead, 3B, Rays
Kyle Harrison, LHP, Giants
Colson Montgomery, SS, White Sox
Mick Abel, RHP, Phillies
Colton Cowser, OF, Orioles
Taj Bradley, RHP, Rays
Brooks Lee, SS, Twins
Masyn Winn, SS, Cardinals
Zac Veen, OF, Rockies
Zach Neto, SS, Angels
Michael Busch, 2B, Dodgers
Gavin Stone, RHP, Dodgers
Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Rays
Owen White, RHP, Rangers
Jasson Dominguez, OF, Yankees
Ceddanne Rafaela, OF, Red Sox
George Valera, OF, Guardians
Henry Davis, C, Pirates
Jordan Westburg, 3B, Orioles
Brayan Rocchio, SS, Guardians
Brennen Davis, OF, Cubs
Logan T. Allen, LHP, Guardians
Tanner Bibee, RHP, Guardians
Oscar Colas, OF, White Sox
Connor Norby, 2B, Orioles
Austin Wells, C, Yankees
Joey Ortiz, SS, Orioles
Bryce Miller, RHP, Mariners
Gordon Graceffo, RHP, Cardinals
Wilmer Flores, RHP, Tigers

Potential PPI players who have not yet reached Double-A

Marcelo Mayer, SS, Red Sox
James Wood, OF, Nationals
Jackson Holliday, SS, Orioles
Diego Cartaya, C, Dodgers
Jackson Merrill, SS, Padres
Druw Jones, OF, D-backs
Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs
Marco Luciano, SS, Giants
Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Twins
Tink Hence, RHP, Cardinals
Termarr Johnson, 2B, Pirates
Kevin Parada, C, Mets
Carson Williams, SS, Rays
Robert Hassell III, OF, Nationals
Elijah Green, OF, Nationals
Noelvi Marte, 3B, Reds
Harry Ford, C, Mariners
Edwin Arroyo, SS, Reds
Dylan Lesko, RHP, Padres
Cam Collier, 3B, Reds
Drew Romo, C, Rockies
Adael Amador, SS, Rockies
Jackson Jobe, RHP, Tigers
Miguel Bleis, OF, Red Sox
Kevin Alcantara, OF, Cubs
Alex Ramirez, OF, Mets
Gavin Cross, OF, Royals

Logistically, there can be a maximum of two PPI draft picks awarded for ROY wins in any given season and as many as 12 awarded for placing top three in MVP or CYA races. In practice, the number of PPI picks awarded for MVP or CYA finish will be much lower, because players with one, two or three years of service do not often compete for those awards.

Editor’s Note: Thank you for Ethan Hullihen for raising several useful questions that improved the accuracy of this story.

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