Top 10 Graduating National League Prospects In The Class Of 2023


Image credit: Corbin Carroll (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

November marks the beginning of prospect season at Baseball America.

But before looking ahead to the top prospects in each National League organization for 2024, let’s reassess the graduating NL prospect class of 2023 by ranking the top 10 based on projected future potential. 

Players are ranked in order of their updated end-of-season BA Grades, which gauge each player’s realistic upside on the 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is average. Risk is also assessed on a scale of Low, Medium and High.

In the vast majority of cases, these graduated prospects were also 2023 rookies—but not always. Players retain rookie status as long as they don’t exceed 130 at-bats, 50 innings or 45 days on an active MLB roster in a season or seasons. But in some cases, players with more than 45 days of service count as prospects for BA rankings.

D-backs catcher Gabriel Moreno is one such example. He was eligible as a prospect for BA heading into 2023, but was not rookie eligible because he accrued too much MLB service in 2022. 

This ranking was developed by the BA editorial team.

1. Corbin Carroll

RF | D-backs

2024 Age: 23

Preseason: 65/Medium

Updated: 70/Medium

Carroll emphatically answered any questions about his impact potential with one of the finest rookie seasons of the 21st century. He hit .285/.362/.506 with 25 home runs and 54 stolen bases, becoming the first 20-50 rookie in history. He totaled 6 fWAR to become just the seventh rookie position player to reach that threshold since the 1994 strike. We already knew Carroll was one of the fastest players in baseball; now we know his power was not an Amarillo or Reno mirage. UPSIDE ROLE: Franchise OF

2. Elly De La Cruz

SS | Reds

2024 Age: 22

Preseason: 70/High

Updated: 70/High

Few players have as many electrifying raw tools as De La Cruz, who already represents the MLB  standard for running speed and arm strength. Those are certified 80 tools, according to scouts and managers polled for Best Tools. “Raw” also describes De La Cruz’s plate approach after he hit .235/.300/.410 with 13 home runs, 35 stolen bases and a strikeout rate bordering on 34%. The encouraging signs for De La Cruz are that he played a quality shortstop and adapted his swing decisions with experience, chasing 29% of the time in September after running an atrocious 37% rate up to that point. UPSIDE ROLE: Franchise SS

3. Eury Perez

RHP | Marlins

2024 Age: 21

Preseason: 70/High

Updated: 70/High

Celebrate Perez for what he is: one of the greatest 20-year-old major league pitchers of the last quarter century. In that time, the only pitchers that young to accrue more than his 2.5 bWAR are Jose Fernandez (2013), Zack Greinke (2004), Rick Ankiel (2000), CC Sabathia (2001) and Felix Hernandez (2005). Right behind Perez are Madison Bumgarner (2010) and Rick Porcello (2009). All were 20 years old, save for King Felix, who was 19. Armed with one of the best sliders in baseball, Perez recorded a 3.15 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 91.1 innings, striking out 29% of batters. His 20.6 K-BB% ranked first among rookie starters with at least 50 innings. UPSIDE ROLE: No. 2 starter

4. Bobby Miller

RHP | Dodgers

2024 Age: 25

Preseason: 65/High

Updated: 65/Medium

Miller’s stuff has always been undeniable. The Dodgers helped him become more deceptive after drafting him 29th overall in 2020, and now he’s one of the best young pitchers in baseball. Miller had good but not outstanding minor league results, but he had more than enough for MLB hitters, led by a 99 mph fastball that was fastest among starting pitchers. His slider and changeup also grade as at least plus, and he used all three in concert to put up a 3.76 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 124.1 innings. Miller struck out 24% of batters, walked 6% and allowed 12 home runs in 22 starts, helping him lead all rookie starters with at least 50 innings with a 3.51 FIP. UPSIDE ROLE: No. 2 or 3 starter

5. Kodai Senga

RHP | Mets

2024 Age: 31

Preseason: 55/Medium

Updated: 60/Low

At 30 years old, Senga was no fresh-faced pitching prospect. He had logged more than 1,000 innings in the Japanese major leagues and had experience on the international stage at the Olympics and World Baseball Classic. And yet Senga became just the 18th rookie in MLB history to notch 200 strikeouts, joining countrymen Hideo Nomo, Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the list. Senga had just enough command of his mid-90s fastball and cutter to set up his signature pitch, the “ghost fork.” Few individual pitch types had a higher whiff rate—60%—than Senga’s forkball, against which opponents hit .111 when putting the pitch in play and managed only one home run. He logged a 2.98 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 166.1 innings, though his 11% walk rate was one of the higher marks among rookie starters. UPSIDE ROLE: No. 3 starter

6. Gabriel Moreno

C | D-backs

2024 Age: 24

Preseason: 65/Medium

Updated: 60/Medium

Acquired from the Blue Jays for Daulton Varsho last December, Moreno quickly seized the role of D-backs primary catcher and started 94 games behind the plate for the wild card winners. He leaned into his strengths in his first full MLB season, showing off his bat-to-ball skills by hitting .284/.339/.408 with seven home runs and 20% strikeouts. Moreno has below-average framing metrics but one of the best catcher arms in baseball, with an elite average pop time of 1.9 seconds and an MLB-best 39% rate of baserunners caught stealing. UPSIDE ROLE: All-star C

7. Francisco Alvarez

C | Mets

2024 Age: 22

Preseason: 65/Medium

Updated: 60/Medium

No 21-year-old catcher had batted even 200 times in a season in nearly 20 years. Alvarez more than doubled that total to become the first catcher that young with at least 400 plate appearances since Ivan Rodriguez in 1993. Alvarez showed off huge power with 25 homers and 12.8 barrel rate, but hit just .209/.284/.437 with 26% strikeouts as the second-youngest MLB regular. The Cardinals’ Jordan Walker is six months younger. Alvarez has elite framing skills behind the plate but ordinary pop times and throwing accuracy. While he showed a knack for coming through in big moments, Alvarez’s offensive production cratered in the second half, and improving his endurance will be key for 2024. UPSIDE ROLE: All-star C

8. Jordan Walker

RF | Cardinals

2024 Age: 22

Preseason: 70/High

Updated: 65/High

Walker hit his way into the Cardinals’ Opening Day lineup with a loud spring training and held up his end of the bargain offensively. He batted .276/.342/.445 with 16 home runs and 22% strikeouts in 117 games as the youngest regular player in MLB. Walker’s park-adjusted 114 OPS+ places him squarely in the top 20 of the Wild Card Era among 21-and-younger hitters who batted at least 400 times. Finding a defensive home will be a bigger challenge for the natural third baseman. Walker’s elite arm fits well in right field, but few outfielders were less rangy or efficient, no matter the defensive metric. UPSIDE ROLE: All-star bat

9. Matt McLain

2B | Reds

2024 Age: 24

Preseason: 45/Medium

Updated: 55/Medium

The rare two-time first-round pick, McLain brushed aside a mediocre 2022 season at Double-A to dominate Triple-A and receive a mid-May callup to Cincinnati. Small in stature at 5-foot-8, McLain has strength to impact the ball and hit .290/.357/.507 with 16 home runs and 14 stolen bases in 89 big league games. Swing-and-miss is a concern after he struck out nearly 29% of the time, but he offers more than enough offense plus defense to start at second base for a contender. UPSIDE ROLE: First-division 2B

10. Nolan Jones

LF | Rockies

2024 Age: 26

Preseason: 40/Medium

Updated: 55/Medium

The Rockies added their best player in a minor trade with the Guardians last November. Cleveland viewed Jones as expendable following a couple of flat, injury-shortened seasons at Triple-A, the second of which saw him move from third base to right field. The Guardians traded him to Colorado for second baseman Juan Brito, who had a fine season at Double-A in 2023. But Jones, drafted as an athletic prep shortstop just outside the top 50 picks in 2016, provided a spark for the Rockies when called up at the end of May, providing power, plate discipline and an elite outfield arm. He hit .297/.389/.542 with 20 homers, 20 steals and 53 walks in 106 games. The most notable aspect of Jones’ breakout was his production away from Coors Field. His .935 road OPS is one of the highest in Rockies franchise history. UPSIDE ROLE: First-division RF

55/Medium Risk

Brandon Pfaadt, RHP, D-backs

Emmet Sheehan, RHP, Dodgers

Luis Campusano, C, Padres

Ryan Pepiot, RHP, Dodgers

55/High Risk

Miguel Vargas, 2B, Dodgers

Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 1B, Reds

Endy Rodriguez, C, Pirates

Henry Davis, RF, Pirates

50/Medium Risk

Sal Frelick, CF, Brewers

Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Rockies

Andrew Abbott, LHP, Reds

Brett Baty, 3B, Mets

Patrick Bailey, C, Giants

Spencer Steer, 3B/OF, Reds

James Outman, CF, Dodgers

Johan Rojas, CF, Phillies

50/High Risk

Luis Matos, CF, Giants

Brandon Williamson, LHP, Reds

Joey Wiemer, RF, Brewers

45/Medium Risk

Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Cardinals

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone