Top 50 Fantasy Prospects For The 2023 Season
We know the value of prospects in a dynasty league. Being able to back-fill one’s roster with young prospects ready to add value to your team is one of the most important elements for a successful dynasty player.
But having a grasp of the prospect pool for redrafts—whether for high stakes NFBC leagues or even your casual home league—can also be a source of hidden value. We all saw how George Kirby and Vaughn Grissom—and especially Julio Rodriguez and Spencer Strider—contributed immensely to teams in 2022.
Being on a major league roster for a significant portion of time in 2023 is obviously the most important factor in determining 2023 value. And, the fact that Gunnar Henderson and Corbin Carroll are at the top of the list should not surprise anyone, as both players are expected to be on the major league roster on Opening Day and contribute immediately. But for the lower-tier prospects, factors such as opportunity, playing time—i.e. when will a player be expected to be a stalwart member of a pitching rotation or lineup—and the state of the player pool into which they will be joining needs to be considered. If two players are expected to have identical hitting lines—but one is a catcher and that production is much better than the same line for a third baseman, that needs to be evaluated.
The list below considers all of the above and does not significantly factor in what the market suggests a player’s cost should be. In other words, having Miguel Vargas ahead of Grayson Rodriguez suggests that one should be drafting Vargas earlier (or paying more for him in auction) than Rodriguez—it is not suggesting that Vargas is a better value at his ADP than Rodriguez is.
One final note, to serve as an exemplar into the process, is that Vargas is currently first base eligible only right now (in NFBC leagues). However, he is expected to gain second base eligibility a few weeks into the season. This multi-eligibility is factored into his (and all other players') ranking based on projected usage and role.
1. Corbin Carroll, OF, ARI
2. Gunnar Henderson, 3B/SS, BAL
Power, speed, and regular playing time … five category contributors.
3. Jordan Walker, 3B/OF, STL
Power, some speed … but perhaps not regular playing time due to the abundance of Cardinals riches … hence Walker finds himself below Carroll and Henderson.
4. Miguel Vargas, 1B/2B, LAD
Vargas will gain second base eligibility early (giving him valuable eligibility at both corner and middle infield). Expect above-average BA or OBP and average power and speed numbers. For example: .270 AVG, .330 OBP, 15 HR, 10 SB.
5. Anthony Volpe, 2B/SS, NYY
It was announced on Sunday that Volpe would be starting with the big league club on Opening Day and that alone made him jump 10 spots from when his role was in flux. He’s a potential 20/20 bat but with a few more hit tool questions than the hitters above him on this list. There’s a chance he might be exploited by major league pitching in the early going—though likely not for long.
6. Masataka Yoshida, OF, BOS
Yoshida will be hitting cleanup in the Red Sox lineup behind Rafael Devers. Don’t expect speed, but do count on .280/.350 average/on-base percentage with home run totals anywhere from 10 to 20. Vargas’ multi-positional eligibility and Volpe’s power/speed combination give them the nod ahead of Yoshida.
7. Kodai Senga, SP, NYM
Despite the pedigree, Senga’s command hasn’t been sharp in spring training as he gets used to ghost forking an MLB ball. Still, it’s easy 99 mph gas with a devastating splitter. Aggregating projections have him at a level of performance similar to Tyler Mahle but with disagreement amongst them. The optimistic projections see him posting similar numbers to Luis Severino or Zack Wheeler. The less rosy prognostications see him posting Nick Pivetta numbers.
8. Ezequiel Tovar, SS, COL
Tovar is the presumptive starting shortstop for the Rockies … though he’ll likely hit at the bottom of the lineup until he gets his footing. How often major league pitchers get him to chase will determine his production. Because of Coors Field, his line will look similar to Vargas but with lower OBP: .270/.310 12 to 15 HR, 12 to 15 SB.
9. Grayson Rodriguez, SP, BAL
On a per appearance basis, expect production similar to Senga. But because of the expected 120 innings cap (which Senga will presumably not have), the Baltimore pitcher’s ceiling is capped.
10. Hunter Brown, SP, HOU
Recent back stiffness has clouded the forthcoming 2023 season for the Astros swingman. Whether he pitches in the rotation or in the bullpen, expect something on the order of 100 to 110 innings (though that number could be drastically lower depending on the severity of the current injury). The double-digit walk rate makes his WHIP worse than the pitchers above him—but the strikeouts (and holds and wins) raise his floor, regardless of his role.
11. Gabriel Moreno, C, ARI
With Carson Kelly fracturing his forearm, Moreno has been given the keys to the pitching staff and will now get more playing time than originally expected (and right out of the gate). Expect a period of adjustment before he gets comfortable, but we still expect .270/.320 with around 10 home runs. Because of the batting average, that line is still good for around the 15th to 20th most productive catcher, despite the lack of power.
12. Triston Casas, 1B, BOS
As it seems more and more likely that Casas not only breaks camp with the Red Sox but may even hit leadoff against righthanded pitchers, we’ve moved him ahead of Jung, especially because the first baseman should have a much higher OBP than the Rangers slugger.
13. Josh Jung, 3B, TEX
Last year, Jung struggled, likely due to nagging injuries. With Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Nate Lowe, and Adolis Garcia on the team, there won’t be any pressure on him to carry the offense, even as the regular third baseman, which should give him time to settle in. For 2023, expect a league average bat with 20 home runs, but there is certainly the potential for more.
14. Esteury Ruiz, OF, OAK
The speedster has made the team out of spring training, and should be a guarantee for 30 stolen bases or more. The question is what else accompanies it. Looking only at his exit velocities, double-digit home runs don’t seem likely—but in 2022, Ruiz had a knack for pairing up his best contact with his best launch angles, leading to more barrels than you’d expect from his bat speed numbers. Regardless of how the power looks, the stolen base totals (and solid defense) create a very high, productive floor.
15. Hayden Wesneski, SP, CHC
The slider has always been nasty, but now the Cubs righthander is touching 97 mph (so far in spring training). With a spot in the rotation, Wesneski's projections are more than likely underestimating his 2023 performance—especially the projections that don’t incorporate Stuff+ numbers. This ranking will likely look too low in retrospect.
16. Oswald Peraza, SS, NYY
Peraza and Volpe had been the topic of conversation for most of spring training as they were essentially competing with each other for the starting shortstop role. With Volpe coming on strong, and eventually getting the gig, Peraza is in a bit of a limbo now (down in Triple-A), especially with Gleyber Torres still on the team. On a per plate appearance basis, the two have very similar power/speed profiles, with Peraza getting the slight advantage on defense. Peraza is already on the 40-man roster—and will be in the big leagues eventually … the question is when.
17. Garrett Mitchell, OF, MIL
Mitchell has a very similar expected profile in 2023 as Ruiz: questionable batting average with below-average game power—but with a high floor due to stolen bases (though not as many as Ruiz is expected to get). Mitchell admittedly has a higher power ceiling than Ruiz—but is likelier on a shorter rope than the A’s outfielder because the Brewers will likely be in a playoff race and can’t afford to give away substandard at-bats.
18. Brandon Pfaadt, SP, ARI
On a per appearance basis, Pfaadt should outperform Wesneski—the issue is that Pfaadt has already been sent down and will not break camp on the D-backs roster. His eye-opening performance in spring training portends a call-up to the big league club in early 2023. If we had assurances that he would accrue at least 100 innings, he would probably be in the same ranking conversation as Grayson Rodriguez.
19. Logan O’Hoppe, C, LAA
20. Francisco Alvarez, C/UT, NYM
O’Hoppe isn’t guaranteed to be the primary catcher for the Angels in 2023, which is hurting his ranking. We already know that Alvarez isn’t the primary catcher for the Mets, having already been optioned from major league camp. By the end of 2023, we expect that both will be the “catcher” on their respective clubs getting the most plate appearances in the last month of the season.
21. Ken Waldichuk, SP, OAK
Mentioned as a target in the pitcher positional ranks, Waldichuk brings the multi-pitch mix of a mid-rotation starter. Although he's expected to be in the Athletics rotation all season, don’t expect a lot of wins. He should, however, post solid ratios and strikeouts that should still bring value to your fantasy staff this year.
22. Brice Turang, 2B/SS, MIL
Turang made the club and is likely to primarily play second base (gaining eligibility there) in a platoon with Mike Brosseau or Owen Miller down at the bottom of the order (in 2023). With 450 plate appearances or so, he will likely make up 75% of Garrett Mitchell’s power and speed combination. There’s a chance that he comes out of the gate hot—and even moves up in the batting order—but we’re taking the conservative approach here for now.
23. Brett Baty, 3B, NYM
Baty has already been optioned by the Mets, though we expect that he will get around 300 plate appearances. Baty has a per plate appearance projection similar to Josh Jung, so keep that production proximity in mind when Baty gets promoted.
24. Elly De La Cruz, SS, CIN
We can’t wait for De La Cruz to be called up to the Reds, and expect similar fanfare to what we saw from Oneil Cruz in Pittsburgh. The issue isn’t with the production (or the hype), it’s the path to full playing time with Cincinnati.
25. Sal Frelick, OF, MIL
A poor man’s Steven Kwan (or, as you’ll read later, a rich man’s Will Brennan), Frelick’s defense gives him a long leash to find his footing on the Brewers when he ultimately gets promoted. We like Frelick a lot—but the playing time isn’t expected to be high enough to warrant a higher ranking.
26. Ryne Nelson, SP, ARI
Nelson was announced as making the rotation for the D-backs (with Drey Jameson beginning the season in the bullpen). There isn't too much separating the two Arizona pitchers except the fact that Nelson will be in the rotation, giving him the boost.
27. Endy Rodriguez, C/OF, PIT
28. Bo Naylor, C, CLE
This is another set of catchers who are not expected to get 300 plate appearances in MLB this year, as both Rodriguez and Naylor will be in Triple-A to begin the year. When they get called up, expect high bids for both. Rodriguez will have the better batting average but Naylor will provide stolen bases (approaching a double-digit total over a full season).
29. Gavin Stone, SP, LAD
Despite striking out 14 while only walking two in 6.2 innings in spring training, the Dodgers reassigned Stone to minor league camp. Still, the stuff and production were eye-opening.
30. Drey Jameson, P, ARI
31. Luis Ortiz, SP, PIT
Jameson and Ortiz are both likely to pitch 100 or so innings in the rotation of their respective clubs over the season (despite the fact that Jameson will be in the bullpen to start the year). Stuff+ models are higher on them than the projections are for both pitchers—and Jameson has seen his fastball velocity increase to 97 mph in spring training this year—meaning there is a bit of a leap of faith that they will take a step forward from what their previous performance has implied.
32. Will Brennan, OF, CLE
Brennan has an extremely similar offensive profile as Frelick—but without the great defense of Frelick, Brennan has extra pressure on his bat for regular playing time to pay off positively for the major league club. Still, expect Santiago Espinal-type production from Brennan, making him a solid replacement.
Friday MLB Notes: D-backs 2019 Draft Bonanza Paying Big Dividends
Teams with previous bonanzas rarely hit on more than 2-3 of their picks. The D-backs, at this early stage, appear to have hit on nearly all of theirs.
33. Royce Lewis, SS/OF, MIN
Another highly ranked member of the Fantasy Top 100 who is injured heading into 2023, Lewis will miss significant time at the beginning of the year. In fact, he will probably get fewer than 300 plate appearances—which essentially is like a prorated Will Brennan—but you'll need to use a stash spot for him, which lowers his value further.
34. Spencer Steer, SS/3B, CIN
Although Steer may get more plate appearances than Baty, his per plate appearance production will likely not be as potent. There is a reasonable chance that at the end of the season, we will see that we have under-ranked Steer, as he could have a similar season to Brandon Drury’s 2022 campaign.
35. Andrew Painter, SP, PHI
With the potential for Tommy John surgery looming over Painter (which would make Painter essentially worthless in 2023), we can’t put him any higher than this. Also, even if Painter escapes as unscathed as he can, the Phillies will treat him with kid gloves to ensure that they minimize the chances of further injury as best they can.
36. Matt Mervis, 1B, CHC
The expectation in the fantasy community is that the Cubs will walk away from the Eric Hosmer league minimum salary contract at some point in the season and that Mervis will inherit the first base position for the foreseeable future. The per plate appearance production looks not unlike Steer’s, but with only a portion of the plate appearances.
37. Will Benson, OF, CIN
After being traded by the Guardians, the athletic Benson will make the Reds roster out of spring training. A power/speed threat who is much more viable in OBP leagues, the center fielder has a wide range of outcomes. We split the difference here and ranked him accordingly.
38. Bobby Miller, P, LAD
Whether you prefer Stone or Miller, it may not matter all that much: both will get some innings for the Dodgers in 2023—we just don’t know in what capacity. The Stuff+ type models prefer Miller; the projections prefer Stone. We think that Stone gets the slight edge based on his dominant spring training performance.
39. James Outman, OF, LAD
Very much like Benson, Outman provides a nice power/speed combination (but with fewer walks than Benson). The Dodgers have stated they don’t have Outman on the club to sit on the bench, so it sounds like he will get semi-regular playing time. We are taking a conservative approach and not assuming he becomes yet another in a long line of Dodgers prospects who come up and become valuable producers.
40. Kyle Muller, SP, OAK
The Opening Day starter for the Athletics, Muller has always been more highly regarded on prospect data models compared to where he's ranked on prospect lists. He won’t get that many wins with the Athletics, but he could easily achieve league average ratios if he can harness his command a bit better.
41. Ryan Pepiot, SP, LAD
Pepiot is the Dodgers fifth starter to start the season. He will need to lower his double-digit walk rate if he wants to sustain his position in the rotation.
42. Jared Shuster, SP, ATL
43. Dylan Dodd, SP, ATL
Both Shuster and Dodd have been announced as making the Braves rotation (with Kyle Wright starting the first few weeks of the season on the injured list). Dodd and Shuster both have more of a starter’s profile than Pepiot, but with fewer strikeouts (which caps their ceiling).
44. D.L. Hall, P, BAL
45. Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B, CIN
46. Jordan Westburg, 2B/SS/3B, BAL
47. Jonathan Aranda, 1B/2B, TBR
48. Curtis Mead, 1B/2B/3B, TBR
49. Kyle Harrison, SP, SFG
50. David Hensley, 2B/DH, HOU