Ten Prospects Who Could Use A Healthy 2023

Image credit: Daniel Espino (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

Every season brings the hope for movement in the prospect world. Those who scratched their potential in the previous year upped the ante and ran up the board. Players who looked like the next big thing take steps back and have their weaknesses exposed by higher calibers of competition. Then there are the players who get injured and lose valuable developmental reps. 

The following 10 players—and many more—fell into that third category in 2022. Some, like Padres shortstop Jackson Merrill and Guardians fireballer Daniel Espino, managed to make names for themselves in small samples. Others, like Giants shortstop Marco Luciano and Rockies catcher Drew Romo, lost chances to build on excellent prior seasons.

While we obviously hope for as few injuries as possible across the sport, these 10 players would have their stock either improved or reinforced by fully healthy years in 2023.

Marco Luciano, SS, Giants

In 2021, Luciano showed hints of his promise by laying waste to the Low-A California League as a 19-year-old. He struggled after a promotion to High-A Eugene and then did so again in 2022, when a back injury limited him to just 57 non-rehab games. Still, he cut his strikeouts and swatted 10 home runs during his limited action and was healthy enough to head to Double-A Richmond in time for the Eastern League playoffs. A full, healthy season would go a long way toward helping Luciano continue to build on the gains he made last year and could put him on the cusp of the big leagues. 

Drew Romo, C, Rockies
The high school catching demographic is fraught with volatility, but Romo’s early career looked like the Rockies had scored big-time. He stood out in 2021 at Low-A Fresno but scuffled somewhat at High-A in 2022. Some of that was due to a pair of injuries to his right hand, which affected both his offense and defense. He was limited to DH duties after July 16. From Opening Day through June 30, Romo hit .299/.354/.544. In the 31 games afterward, those numbers dipped to .181/.280/.259. Fully healed, Romo’s stock could rebound.

Jackson Merrill, SS, Padres

Even in limited action, Merrill managed to raise his stock tremendously. After a very loud showing on the Arizona backfields, Merrill, San Diego’s 2021 first-rounder, exploded in the Low-A California League. Injuries limited him to just 45 games, however, before he re-emerged with an intriguing showing in the Arizona Fall League. If Merrill stays healthy for a full season, he could reinforce what he showed in a limited sample in 2022.  

Jordan Lawlar, SS, D-backs
Lawlar has already suffered two severe injuries in his short pro career. He had shoulder surgery shortly after turning pro in 2021, then required a second shoulder surgery after getting hit by a pitch in the Arizona Fall League. Nonetheless, Lawlar has been impressive while on the field. The shortstop raced from Low-A to Double-A in 2022 and should return to the Texas League in 2023, when he’ll have a grand opportunity to take advantage of extraordinarily favorable hitting conditions in Amarillo. 

Daniel Espino, RHP, Guardians
Espino made arguably the most noise of any prospect-eligible pitcher during spring training. His work on the backfields carried into the first month of the season at Double-A Akron, where he struck out 35 hitters in 18.1 innings before succumbing to injuries to his shoulder and hamstring that wound up ending his season. Even so, he still showed enough in that brief sample to remain near the class of the game’s most elite pitching prospects.


Druw Jones, OF, D-backs
Much like Jordan Lawlar a year prior, Jones is a D-backs first-round pick who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury shortly after signing. Jones’ next pro game will be his first but his potential was clear throughout his amateur career in Georgia. He’s the son of all-star outfielder Andruw Jones and earned raves for playing lockdown defense like his father, with the potential for plus hittability and above-average power as well. His debut should come fairly early in the season and will be highly anticipated.

Curtis Mead, 3B, Rays
In a few short years, Mead has gone from the return in a minor trade to one of the most impressive offensive prospects in the game. He bashed his way through the minors in 2021 and was doing so again in 2022 before an elbow injury ended his season after just 20 games in Triple-A. If he can return to health in 2023, he might play his way to Tampa Bay.

Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Twins
Rodriguez is one of the most popular picks for a breakout prospect if he can stay healthy. The 19-year-old showed patience and power as part of an array of average or better tools across the board. His hittability, power and throwing arm each project as future pluses. Despite a small sample because of a knee injury, Rodriguez could become a truly elite talent with a return to health.

Henry Davis, C, Pirates
Davis has had a devil of a time staying healthy, including an oblique injury in 2021 and two wrist injuries in 2022. All of the time on the shelf limited him to just 53 games outside of the Florida Complex in 2022, but scouts still buy his bat as the kind that tends to play in the middle of the order. He’s not a lock to stick behind the plate—a question that has become louder with the emergence of Endy Rodriguez—but his offensive game would fit just fine in a corner. He’ll need to stay healthy to reinforce that belief.

Everson Pereira, OF, Yankees
Despite signing in 2017, Pereira has just 826 career at-bats, a fact which can be attributed to injuries and the pandemic. In fact, 2022 was not only the first time Pereira had played more than 100 games in a season, it was the first time he’d played more than 50 games in a season. Even in that limited sample, he’s earned a spot on the 40-man roster and placement on this year’s Top 100 Prospects. If he stays healthy, he has the potential to be the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect by season’s end.

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