Ten Exciting Prospects Making Their Full-Season Debuts In 2023

Image credit: Cade Horton (Photo by Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/Getty Images)

Every year, prospects begin to arrive in extended spring training and at the complex leagues in Arizona and Florida. That’s where they begin to announce their potential to the world. The following year, when they hit full-season ball, is when they begin to prove it. 

In advance of the 2023 season, we’ve selected 10 prospects who made noise at the lowest domestic levels (there’s a forthcoming piece identifying prospects who are coming stateside this season) or didn’t play at all after lengthy amateur seasons who will get a chance to amplify or reinforce their prospect status.

There are plenty more out there, but this group of 10 stands out as players who could raise eyebrows all spring and summer. 

Miguel Bleis, OF, Red Sox

Bleis is one of the most exciting young prospects in the minor leagues. His stateside debut in 2022 drew raves for his well-rounded tool set and earned him the No. 88 spot on BA’s initial Top 100 ranking in advance of the 2023 season. He might have gotten a late-season cameo at Low-A Salem were it not for a back injury, but he’s sure to be one of the most fascinating players in the Carolina League this spring thanks to power, defense, speed and a throwing arm that each rank as potential pluses or better. His hit tool might only be average, but he’s still one of the highest-upside prospects in the Red Sox’s ranks. 

Cristian Hernandez, SS, Cubs

Hernandez was one of the Cubs’ most ballyhooed young prospects in recent years and showed flashes of his talent this past summer in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. His biggest issue right now is plate discipline, and he struck out a little more than 30% of the time in his stateside debut. Hernandez’s power is prodigious and easy and would be amplified a bit more with a more refined hit tool. He’s got a decent chance to stick at shortstop depending on the way his body develops, but his power and plus arm would easily allow him to stick at third base if such a move were necessary. 

Samuel Basallo, C, Orioles

The Orioles have a pretty darn good player behind the plate in Baltimore right now, but they’ve got an excellent prospect coming behind him as well. Basallo, who played most of last season in the Florida Complex League as a 17-year-old, hits the ball tremendously hard and has the potential for at least plus power if he can improve his swing decisions a bit and lay off tough breaking balls. His offensive profile is more power than hit, but he also has some of the defensive tools required to stick behind the plate, where the threshold for offense isn’t particularly high. His overall defensive skills could be average, while his throwing arm could get to plus. 

Luis Serna, RHP, Yankees

Serna’s name started bubbling before last season and really took off during the Florida Complex League, when he befuddled hitters and impressed scouts with advanced command of a four-pitch mix led by the best changeup in the system. He’s not the most physical pitcher in the world but already has gotten his fastball into the low 90s, with a peak of 94 mph. Both of Serna’s breaking balls could reach average, which would give him weapons to round out his mix and give hitters more pitches to watch for besides his changeup, which could be a true double-plus weapon. His 56 strikeouts tied him with Orioles righthander Juan Nuñez for the FCL lead. 


Cam Collier, 3B, Reds

Collier is one of the highest-upside prospects headed to full-season ball in 2023. He impressed pro scouts in his brief time in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League, where he played as a 17-year-old. He’ll be 18 in all of his first full season as a pro, and he already draws raves for an extremely advanced approach that should help him produce both average and power that each grade at least above-average. The biggest question looming over Collier revolves around the way his body will develop and what it will mean for his ultimate defensive home. If he can stay lean as he ages, he should be able to hack it at third base—especially considering he boasts a throwing arm that is nearly double-plus. If not, he might have to slide to first base, where the pressure on his bat to live up to its billing would grow. 

Reggie Crawford, LHP/1B, Giants

The top of the Giants’ 2022 draft class was the definition of high-risk, high-reward. Neither of the team’s first two picks—Crawford (injury) and lefthander Carson Whisenhunt (suspension)—pitched during the regular college season. The pick of Crawford was interesting also because he has so little pitching experience; between two seasons with the Huskies and two summer college stints, he’s thrown just eight innings. Still, the Giants believe his mix of stuff and makeup could make him a steal down the road. 

Cade Horton, RHP, Cubs

After a lengthy college season, Horton didn’t throw at all as a pro. That was true for both the regular season and instructional league. His overall body of work includes just one collegiate season—53.2 innings in 2022 with Oklahoma—but he shined in the postseason thanks to a pitch mix that includes a double-plus fastball and wipeout slider at the front of a four-pitch mix. Despite the small sample size, feedback from executives and evaluators during our Top 100 Prospects process placed him as a contender for a spot on the list. 

Anthony Gutierrez, OF, Rangers

Gutierrez was talked up all season long by Rangers officials, who were effusive in their praise of a player who might one day be the system’s top prospect. They further showed their confidence by moving Gutierrez from the DSL to the Arizona Complex League in the middle of his debut season as a pro. Such a move is usually a sign of strong belief in a player. The center fielder has gifts on both sides of the ball and should be at the center of a very fun squad at Low-A Down East in 2023. 


Elijah Green, OF, Nationals

Green was one of the most tooled-up players in the 2022 draft and earned a spot on the Top 10 Florida Complex League Prospects for his loud performance, particularly in terms of power. The Nationals’ first-rounder has the potential for double-plus grades for both his power and speed as well as a 60-grade throwing arm. The big alarm bell here was a strikeout rate slightly north of 40% in his small sample in the FCL. He’ll need to improve his strike-zone discipline by a great deal in order to achieve his lofty ceiling. 

Drew Thorpe, RHP, Yankees

Thorpe didn’t throw particularly hard at Cal Poly, which made him an unlikely choice for a team that covets velocity. Given the Yankees’ work in recent years, it’s a safe bet that their scouts and analysts saw something in Thorpe’s delivery and movement patterns that suggested there was a great deal more potential to be extracted with the right training. Thorpe didn’t pitch as a pro after signing. The Yankees instead set him on a similar instructional league tract as they employed with Will Warren, their biggest breakout arm from 2022. When Thorpe is unveiled in 2023, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a big uptick in stuff. 


Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone