Top MLB Prospects: The 20 Hottest Spring Training Performers (Hot Sheet)


Image credit: (Photo by John E. Moore/Getty Images)

With spring training largely wrapped up, we’re rolling out a special edition of the Prospect Hot Sheet. Normally we highlight the hottest top MLB prospects over the past week, but for this special spring training edition, we’re looking at which prospects had the best springs.

A reminder, the Hot Sheet is not a re-ranking of our Top 100 Prospects. It’s a look at which prospects are performing the best right now. As this list below makes clear, this is a mixture of some of the top prospects in baseball, as well as some others who are not household names in any way.

We also encourage you to check out the Prospect Wire, presented by Louisville Slugger. The Prospect Wire is our new home for daily prospects updates, analysis and updated stats.

1. Wyatt Langford, OF, Rangers

What He Did: .350/.403/.683 (21-for-60), 13 R, 2 2B, 6 HR, 20 RBIs, 5 BB, 16 SO.

The Scoop: Langford flew through the minors last summer, leaving a trail of demoralized pitchers in his wake. His domination of Triple-A in a brief stint gave rise to the possibility he could jump into the Rangers’ Opening Day lineup despite just 200 pro plate appearances on his resume. What Langford did this spring made it an easy decision. Langford has been one of the best hitters in spring training, ranking among league leaders in most categories. His defense isn’t yet up to the level of his bat, but with this Rangers’ lineup, he’s likely to spend most of his time this year as a designated hitter.

2. James Wood, OF, Nationals

What He Did: .364/.509/.705 (16-for-44) 13 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 7 RBIs, 11 BB, 13 SO, 3 SB, 1 CS.

The Scoop: He didn’t make the Opening Day roster, but Wood offered a very clear glimpse of what’s to come. He has massive power potential and a patient batting eye that should allow him to post solid on-base percentages to go with that power. Wood hit three of his four homers during the first week of spring training in February. He has hit .300/.475/.500 since then, so his production hasn’t trailed off as pitchers stretched out. 

3. Colton Cowser, OF, Orioles

What He Did: .304/.418/.717 (14-for-46) 11 R, 1 2B, 6 HR, 13 RBIs, 7 BB, 17 SO, 1 SB.

The Scoop: Cowser earned a spot on the Orioles Opening Day roster by hitting balls out all spring. And probably even more importantly, he kept doing so against lefties. Cowser’s ability to handle same-side pitchers was a concern coming out of last year. This spring, three of his six home runs have come off of lefties, alleviating some of those worries.

4. Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers

What He Did: .323/.373/.403 (20-for-62), 13 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBIs, 5 BB, 14 SO, 2 SB, 1 CS.

The Scoop: Left out of those stats is Chourio’s right field robbery from earlier this week. Chourio played in 17 of the Brewers 31 games and saw time at all three outfield positions. He’ll make his MLB debut with just 24 Triple-A plate appearances under his belt, but Milwaukee gave him plenty of action this spring to ensure he’s relatively ready to go. (JJ)

5. Jared Jones, RHP, Pirates

What He Did: 1-0, 0.00, 6 G, 3 GS, 16.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 8 BB, 15 SO.

The Scoop: Jones took a step forward in 2023, but he’s managed to look even better in spring training this year. His fastball touched 101 mph this spring. He’s had outings where his slider has been a true out pitch as well. Jones has earned a spot in the Pirates’ rotation. He looks like the leading member of the Pirates’ youth moment on the mound.

6. Trey Lipscomb, 2B/3B, Nationals

What He Did: .400/.455/.540 (20-for-50), 5 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 5 BB, 7 SO, 1 SB, 2 CS.

The Scoop: Every year there’s talk about how players battle for big league roster spots in spring training. In reality, teams set most roster spots before the first spring training game is ever played. Even when there are open spots, spring training performances are less important than what players have done or are projected to do. It makes sense, as 60 plate appearances is just too small a sample to weigh too heavily. But in Lipscomb’s case, his exceptional spring is forcing the Nationals to give a long look at bringing him to D.C. Lipscomb was a star at Tennessee, but his lack of a clear defensive home made him a priority senior sign third rounder in 2022. He’s shown his versatility this spring, playing second, third and shortstop, and he could serve as a super-utilityman with a quality bat.

7. Chase DeLauter, OF, Guardians

What He Did: .520/.600/1.040 (13-for-25), 9 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, 5 BB, 4 SO.

The Scoop: It’s hard to figure out how DeLauter’s first big league spring training could have gone any better. He had more games as a mid-inning replacement than he had as a starter, but even when he got just one or two at-bats, he made them count. DeLauter walked more than he struck out, reached base in every game where he got more than one plate appearance and managed to finish second on the Guardians’ team in home runs and total bases this spring despite having just 30 plate appearances and none after March 19.

8. Luis Gil, RHP, Yankees

What He Did: 2-0, 2.87, 5 G, 3 GS, 15.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 HR, 6 BB, 23 SO.

The Scoop: Gil was one of the most impressive pitchers on the west coast of Florida this spring. As good as his slider and changeup can be, there were outings where he just blew hitters away with his 95-99 mph fastball. He got 10 swings and misses on that fastball in a 49-pitch outing against the Phillies. 

9. Ceddanne Rafaela, CF, Red Sox

What He Did: .274/.328/.516 (16-for-57), 8 R, 6 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 4 BB, 12 SO, 4 SB, 1 CS

The Scoop: Rafaela impressed the Red Sox front office this spring by showing solid power to go with his excellent defense and versatility. Rafaela is an excellent center fielder, but he can also play in the infield at second base or shortstop. His power and speed should make him a useful multi-role player for the Red Sox.

10. Lawrence Butler, OF/1B, Athletics

What He Did: .346/.407/.462 (18-for-52), 9 R, 6 2B, 6 RBIs, 6 BB, 7 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS.

The Scoop: For Butler, this is actually a letdown from last year’s .478/.556/.870 stint in A’s camp. He has done everything to lock down a spot on the roster as an outfielder/first baseman who should get regular at-bats. It’s a glimmer of long-term hope on a team that seems destined for another difficult season.

11. Max Meyer, RHP, Marlins

What He Did: 0-0, 0.00, 3 G, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO.

The Scoop: Meyer earned a spot in the Marlins rotation, which may not be a massive surprise considering he was pitching in the Miami rotation at the time he blew out his elbow in 2022. But a jump straight back to the majors after Tommy John surgery is a strong sign for the Marlins’ 2020 first-round pick.

12. Parker Meadows, OF, Tigers

What He Did: .373/.407/.706 (19-for-51), 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 BB, 11 SO, 3 SB.

The Scoop: If Meadows can produce offensively at a fraction of his spring production, the Tigers will be thrilled. Meadows is good enough defensively in center field that if he’s close to league-average offensively he’ll be an asset for the Tigers. If he shows anything close to this kind of power, he’s going to be the Tigers center fielders for years to come.

13. Jackson Holliday, 2B, Orioles

What He Did: .311/.354/.600 (14-for-45), 6 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 15 SO, 2 SB.

The Scoop: Plenty of baseball fans are either baffled or upset that Holliday isn’t on the Orioles’ Opening Day roster. That’s understandable when the best prospect in baseball posts a near 1.000 OPS in spring training. But dig a little deeper, and the idea that Holliday could use a little more time in the minors isn’t as outlandish as it sounds.

Holliday’s greatest strength at the plate is his preternatural ability to work counts, make contact and get on base. For his minor league career, he’s walked 126 times and struck out 130 times for an 18.8% walk rate and a 19.4% strikeout rate. His numbers in Triple-A (17.6% walk rate, 18.7% strikeout rate) were right in line with those overall numbers. This spring, Holliday has a 6.3% walk rate and a 31.2% strikeout rate. He did a lot when he made contact, but asking him to go back to Triple-A to work on adding a little more polish isn’t absurd when we’re talking about a 20-year-old with fewer than 700 pro plate appearances. (JJ)

14. Hunter Gaddis, RHP, Guardians

What He Did: 0-0, 1.54, 9 G, 11.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 17 SO.

The Scoop: Gaddis staked a strong claim to a spot in the Guardians’ bullpen. He has faced the minimum possible number of batters in each of his past five outings. In his last four outings, he struck out 10 of the 15 batters he’s faced, allowing no hits and one walk.

15. Coby Mayo, 3B, Orioles

What He Did: .360/.448/.560 (18-for-50), 7 R, 7 2B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 6 BB, 12 SO, 1 SB.

The Scoop: Mayo didn’t hit his way onto the O’s Opening Day roster, but that has much more to do with the team’s surplus of big league infielders than anything else. Mayo could use a little more time in Triple-A to work on his defense. This spring did offer an excellent sneak peek of why he should be in Baltimore at some point this summer.

16. Gavin Stone, RHP, Dodgers

What He Did: 3-1, 3.21, 5 G, 4 GS, 14 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: The Dodgers’ fifth starter job was a truly brutally competitive competition. Stone battled Kyle Hurt, Ryan Yarbrough, Michael Grove and Landon Knack this spring. Stone earned the job by dominating every time he took the mound. These stats don’t include the 3.1 hitless innings he threw against Team Korea during the club’s Korea trip, and they are blown up by a rough outing last night. Batters are hitting .188/.216/.271 against him this spring.

17. Walter Pennington, LHP, Royals

What He Did: 0-1, 1.23, 9 G, 7.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 16 SO.

The Scoop: Don’t feel too bad if Pennington’s name doesn’t immediately ring a bell. Pennington was an undrafted free agent signee of the Royals out of Colorado School of Mines in 2020. He managed to pitch his way to Triple-A last year as a sinker/slider lefty. But nothing on his resume offered hints that he’d post a 51.6% strikeout percentage this spring. Pennington dots corners with his slider, back-dooring righthanders and working in and out on lefties. Pennington doesn’t light up a radar gun, but he struck out the side three different times this spring and rarely gave up hard contact.

18. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Marlins

What He Did: 0-0, 0.00, 6 G, 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: If you’re looking for an excellent candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, it’s hard to think of a better candidate than Sanchez. Shoulder injuries have sidelined him for two full seasons, where he’s never even got on a mound in a minor league rehab appearance. Few pitchers ever bounce back after missing this much time. Not only has Sanchez been effective, he’s recaptured much of his pre-injury velocity. His fastball has touched 97 mph this spring.

19. Jackson Merrill, OF, Padres

What He Did: .350/.395/.575 (14-for-40), 8 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 BB, 3 SO, 2 SB.

The Scoop: Learning a new, entirely different position on the fly while also hitting for average, getting on base and hitting for power is pretty much all the Padres could have asked of Merrill. He’s now their center fielder of the present and future. Merrill has less than 50 games above Class A, and he didn’t set the Texas League on fire last summer, but he’s given the Padres plenty of indications this spring that he’s big league ready.

20. Ismael Munguia, OF, Giants

What He Did: .395/.465/.632 (15-for-38), 15 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 5 SO, 5 SB.

The Scoop: Munguia has entered six of his 20 games this spring as a pinch runner. He has taken a non-roster invite and turned it into an opportunity. On March 1, he entered the game as a pinch runner for Michael Conforto. He then got a pair of hits in his two at-bats afterward and stole three bases. Two days later, he entered as a late-inning replacement and went 2-for-2 with a home run. The lefthanded hitting left fielder originally signed with the Giants in 2015 out of Nicaragua. He’s never gotten 500 plate appearances in a season in the minors. But he can steal a base, and he can hit, as his career .295 batting average attests.

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