Top 20 MLB Rookies For 2024


Image credit: Evan Carter (Photo by Eddie Kelly / ProLook Photos)

Baseball America writers convened in mid February to rate our best rookie bets for 2024, accounting for both talent and opportunity.

The resulting ranking of top 20 rookies was developed before Cactus and Grapefruit league action began. The first revision was made on March 14 to reflect reflect injuries and spring training performance.

Rookies have taken on more prominence since the introduction of the Prospect Promotion Incentive in the 2022 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

2024 Top 100 Prospects

Players in the Top 100 Prospects list are ranked for their long-term MLB impact.

Gunnar Henderson and Corbin Carroll ranked No. 1 and 2 on our top 20 rookies list last year, and each won a Rookie of the Year award while meeting the service time requirement. Thus, each netted a PPI draft pick for his club after the first round of the 2024 draft.

The same was true of the Mariners and Julio Rodriguez, the No. 2 rookie on our ranking in 2022. Seattle used the resulting PPI draft pick to select high school outfielder Jonny Farmelo with the 29th pick in 2023, making him the first player ever drafted with a PPI pick.

1. Yoshinobu Yamamoto

RHP, Dodgers | Age: 25

After winning every award there was to win in Japan, Yamamoto signed the richest contract ever for a pitcher when he agreed with the Dodgers for 12 years and $325 million. He heads a revamped Los Angeles rotation that includes fellow imports Tyler Glasnow and James Paxton. Yamamoto has now stuff and command and is a heavy favorite to win National League Rookie of the Year, as Hideo Nomo did for the Dodgers nearly 30 years ago.

Key Number: 3
The number of consecutive Pacific League MVPs, Sawamura Awards and pitching Triple Crowns won by Yamamoto in Japan from 2021 to 2023.  

2. Evan Carter

LF, Rangers | Age: 21

Carter began last season leading off for Double-A Frisco and finished it batting third for the World Series champions. His hitting ability, speed and defense are separating tools, while his elite batting eye earned him the nickname “Full Count.” Carter’s postseason success has him primed for a big season as Texas’ everyday left fielder.

Key Number: 17
The number of postseason games—out of 17—in which Carter reached base last fall for the World Series–champion Rangers. 

3. Jackson Chourio

CF, Brewers | Age: 20

Chourio showcased his power-speed precociousness with a 22-homer, 43-steal season at Double-A. That made him just the fourth teenager in the modern minor league era to go 20-40. After Chourio signed a massive extension in December, the path is clear for him to play center field in Milwaukee for the next decade.

Key Number: $82 million
The money guaranteed Chourio over eight seasons, the largest contract extension ever signed by a player who had yet to make his MLB debut.

4. Jackson Holliday

2B, Orioles | Age: 20

Holliday handled every level of the minor leagues with ease in 2023, finishing the season with Triple-A–champion Norfolk only a year after being drafted. Now he is set to matriculate to Baltimore, possibly on Opening Day, where he will help form an epic up-the-middle core with catcher Adley Rutschman and shortstop Gunnar Henderson. 

Key Number: 101
The number of walks drawn by Holliday last year as he touched all four levels of the full-season minor leagues. 

5. Wyatt Langford

OF, Rangers | Age: 22

Drafted fourth overall out of Florida in July, Langford powered his way to Triple-A in September with elite offensive production and strong batted-ball data. The Rangers toyed with adding him to their World Series roster to replace the injured Adolis Garcia. They decided against adding Langford then, but there should be ample corner outfield and DH at-bats for him in Texas this season.

Key number: 1.157
Langford’s OPS last summer in his pro debut as he climbed to Triple-A. He topped a 1.000 OPS at each of the four full-season levels. 

6. Junior Caminero

3B, Rays | Age: 20

The Rays never call up position prospects from Double-A. At least not before Caminero came along. He got the call last Sept. 23 after a rash of injuries in Tampa Bay. Caminero delivered on his reputation for power to all fields with a home run the opposite way on the final day of the season. Expect many more in the years ahead.

Key Number: 31
The number of home runs hit by Caminero in the minor leagues last season, making him one of just 17 players in their age-19 seasons or younger to hit at least 30 in the modern era.

7. Jung-Hoo Lee

CF, Giants | Age: 25

The Giants committed six years and $113 million to Lee and will install him as leadoff hitter and center fielder. He is coming off one of his worst seasons in Korea, one sabotaged by a fractured ankle and season-ending surgery. But at his best, Lee is an on-base machine with plus bat-to-ball skills who topped out at 23 home runs in his MVP season of 2022. 

Key number: .407
Lee’s career on-base percentage in Korea, over nearly 4,000 plate appearances. He struck out just 7.7% of the time.

8. Colt Keith

2B, Tigers | Age: 22

Keith struggled to stay on the field in 2021 and 2022 but had a true breakthrough last season at Double-A and Triple-A. He hit .306/.380/.552 with 27 home runs and 38 doubles and in the offseason signed a six-year, $28.6 million guarantee in January that makes him the Tigers’ likely second baseman on Opening Day. 

Key number: 68
Keith’s total for extra-base hits last season, ranking him third in the minor leagues.

9. Shota Imanaga

LHP, Cubs | Age: 30

Imanaga started the title game of the World Baseball Classic for Japan last spring and then proceeded to turn in one of his best seasons for Yokohama, one that included a career-best walk rate of 1.5 per nine innings. Imanaga throws a low-90s fastball with extreme ride, while his above-average splitter will be novel for MLB hitters, who don’t see many lefthanders throw the pitch.

Key number: 174
Imanaga’s strikeout total last season that led all pitchers in the Japanese major leagues. 

10. Masyn Winn

SS, Cardinals | Age: 22

The Cardinals have paved the way for Winn to play shortstop every day after a full season at Triple-A last year and a late-season callup. Expectations for his offense are modest, but that’s OK. Winn can focus on fielding and locking down shortstop as a rookie while batting low in a deep Cardinals lineup.

Key number: 92.4
Winn’s average velocity in miles per hour on infield throws made in 2023, the third-fastest in MLB behind Elly De La Cruz and Casey Schmitt.

11. Jordan Lawlar

SS, D-backs | Age: 21

The D-backs called up Lawlar late last season and carried him through four rounds of the postseason. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to hand him shortstop this spring. Lawlar has to win the job from Geraldo Perdomo now that avenues to playing time at third base and DH were closed by the offseason acquisitions of Eugenio Suarez and Joc Pederson.

Key number: .975
Lawlar’s OPS in his final 67 minor league games prior to his Sept. 7 callup. His OPS was nearly 300 points lower in April and May. 

12. Coby Mayo

3B, Orioles | Age: 22

Mayo popped 29 home runs in the upper minors last season as a 21-year-old. The Orioles would benefit from righthanded power—they ranked 29th in home runs in that split last year—and the future of third base is unsettled in Baltimore. That could mean Mayo sees a large share of MLB playing time at third base, first base and DH.  

Key number: 77
Mayo’s minor league-leading total of extra-base hits last season, all at Double-A and Triple-A.

13. Nolan Schanuel

1B, Angels | Age: 22

Schanuel is a throwback first baseman in that he focuses on hitting for average, drawing walks and splitting the gaps rather than driving the ball over the wall. When this style works it yields value like Mark Grace or Sean Casey. When it doesn’t, Casey Kotchman or James Loney can be the outcome. Either way, the Angels don’t have to worry about getting OBP out of first base this season after Schanuel reached base at a 40% clip last season.

Key number: 29
The number of consecutive games in which Schanuel reached base to begin his MLB career—every one of them, in other words.

14. Michael Busch

1B, Cubs | Age: 26

Busch was boxed out of playing time in Los Angeles by stars on big contracts. The 26-year-old’s outlook in Chicago is much rosier following a January trade. The Cubs need help on both infield corners, providing ample runway for the Pacific Coast League MVP to prove his power-and-patience approach in MLB.

Key number: 1.049
Busch’s OPS last year, which ranked second in the full-season minor leagues.

15. Pete Crow-Armstrong

CF, Cubs | Age: 22

Crow-Armstrong spent only a month and a half at Triple-A last season and went 0-for-14 as a September callup, so a return to the International League could be in the cards for Opening Day. He has carrying tools in his speed and defense in center field, but the Cubs may want PCA to hit his way onto the roster because they will be starting rookie Michael Busch and have a weak bottom of the order. With Cody Bellinger back in tow, the playing time picture becomes even muddier.

Key number: 29.9
Pete Crow-Armstrong’s sprint speed, in feet per second, during his September callup. Just 12 MLB players were faster by this measure.

16. Kyle Harrison

LHP, Giants | Age: 22

Harrison is adept at missing bats with his low-slot fastball at 93-95 mph. That’s good, because he relies on the pitch like few other MLB pitchers rely on their fastballs. After getting his feet wet in MLB late last season, Harrison is ready to take on a larger workload, sharpen his secondary pitches and prove his control was no fluke.

Key number: 37.4%
Harrison’s minor league-leading strikeout rate—minimum 250 innings—since his pro debut season of 2021. 

17. Jackson Merrill

CF, Padres | Age: 21

Merrill’s run to a probable Opening Day roster spot is part desperation and part perspiration. The Padres traded Juan Soto and Trent Grisham in December, opening acreage in the Petco outfield that Merrill is tabbed to occupy. The twist? He is a natural shortstop with all of five games in the outfield in the minor leagues.

Key number: 8
The number of Padres projected regulars who have played shortstop in pro ball, including six who have played it in MLB.

18. Colton Cowser

OF, Orioles | Age: 24

Cowser struggled during his MLB debut last season, hitting .115 in 26 games. So when he returned to Triple-A in mid August, he focused on attacking hittable pitches rather than waiting for a perfect one. It paid off in spring training when Cowser was one of the hottest hitters and a candidate to play regularly in Baltimore.

Key number: .420
Cowser’s on-base percentage as a pro, the fifth-highest mark in the minor leagues since 2021 at 1,000 plate appearances.

19. Kyle Manzardo

1B, Guardians | Age: 23

No team is as starved for home runs as Cleveland, which ranked last in MLB with 124 last year and next-to-last in 2022. One obvious place to improve is first base, which makes Manzardo one of the Guardians’ X-factors. He may be up to the task after hitting 17 homers at Triple-A and showing well in the Arizona Fall League.

Key number: 6
The number of home runs Manzardo hit in 22 Arizona Fall League games to rank second in the league.

20. Paul Skenes

RHP, Pirates | Age: 22

Skenes had a season for the ages as a Louisiana State junior last year, winning the BA College Player of the Year award and going No. 1 overall to the Pirates in the draft. His elite velocity, sharp slider and quality changeup could make him an MLB factor this season—and sooner rather than later in a thin Pirates rotation.

Key number: 98
Skenes’ average velocity in miles per hour in both college and pro ball in 2023. He topped out at 103 mph for LSU.

More Names To Know 

Ten more rookie names to know. Players are listed in alphabetical order, with baseball age in parentheses.

Tyler Black, 3B, Brewers (23)
Black’s patient approach, lefthanded bat, plus speed and versatility could make him a multi-positional asset.

Dylan Crews, CF, Nationals (22)
The No. 2 pick in the draft zoomed to Double-A in his pro debut and has the hitting and on-base skill the Nationals’ lineup desperately needs.

Jasson Dominguez, CF, Yankees (21)
The switch-hitting center fielder will be delayed as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, but he could make noise in the second half with his power and speed. 

Jared Jones, RHP, Pirates (22)
Triple-digit heat and a nasty cutter got Jones noticed in spring training. It also gave him a legitimate chance to make the Opening Day roster following a strong season in the upper minors.

Heston Kjerstad, RF, Orioles (25)
Kjerstad’s big lefthanded power has to be enticing in Camden Yards, and he should mash his way into the Orioles’ right field and DH mix.

Brooks Lee, SS/3B, Twins (23)
Lee switch-hits, gets on base and can handle any infield position, making him the perfect insurance policy as he opens the season at Triple-A.

Marco Luciano, SS, Giants (22)
The Giants desperately need offensive production at shortstop, and Luciano could fit that bill in 2023 with his plus power potential.

Joey Ortiz, SS, Brewers (25)
A trade from Baltimore to Milwaukee opens all kinds of opportunities for the slick-fielding Ortiz, who has been quietly productive in the upper minors. 

Brayan Rocchio, SS, Guardians (23)
Rocchio is a well-rounded player with a high baseball IQ who may be the best of Cleveland’s recent wave of shortstop prospects.   

Thomas Saggese, 2B, Cardinals (22)
Saggese led the minors with 170 hits last season and was key to the Jordan Montgomery trade. This year, he is poised to work his way into the big league mix by playing all over the infield.

Austin Wells, C, Yankees (24)
The Yankees have prioritized defense over offense at catcher since parting with Gary Sanchez. Wells will help them reverse course with strong bat-to-ball skill and power. 

James Wood, RF, Nationals (22)
The powerful, 6-foot-6 Wood honed his strike zone in Grapefruit League games and regularly accessed his immense raw power, setting up a difficult roster decision for the Nationals.

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