Who Will Be No. 1 On The 2024 Top 100 Prospects List?
As soon as we roll out our 2023 Top 100 Prospects list, we start asking the question: Who will be No. 1 a year from now?
The answer is likely easier to discern than you may believe.
The player who will top next year’s Top 100 is almost assuredly on the current Top 100 list. It’s been 13 years and 14 Top 100s since Bryce Harper became the last player to top a Top 100 without being on the previous year’s list.
A player has jumped directly to No. 1 just six times among the 34 Top 100s. And in all six cases, the player wasn’t eligible for the Top 100 the year before.
- Harper was the first pick in the 2010 draft and ranked No. 1 heading into 2011.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka came over from Japan in 2007.
- The 1997 No. 2 pick J.D. Drew had not signed before the 1998 Top 100 rolled out. Ultimately, he re-entered the 1998 draft and went No. 5 overall to the Cardinals. He ranked No. 1 on the Top 100 in 1999.
- High school pitchers Todd Van Poppel and Brien Taylor jumped straight from being drafted to topping the lists in 1991 and 1992, and Steve Avery was the first ever No. 1 in 1990, so there was no list for him to appear on in 1989.
It’s highly unlikely that any 2023 draftee or foreign signee will jump straight to No. 1. Of the other 28 No. 1 prospects on the Top 100, all 28 ranked in the previous year’s Top 100. Gunnar Henderson, this year’s No. 1, climbed from No. 60 last year to reach the top spot.
Ronald Acuña Jr. holds the record for the largest climb. He ranked 67th in 2017 before ranking No. 1 in 2018.
Other than those two, the other 26 all ranked in the top 25. Andruw Jones ranked a very aggressive 21st coming out of the Appalachian League in 1995 before ranking No. 1 in back-to-back years in 1996 and 1997.
Besides those three, the other 25 all ranked in the top 20. And 20 of the 28 ranked among the top 10 the year before they ascended to No. 1. More than half (15) ranked in the top five.
So if you are looking for next year’s No. 1, take a close look at this year’s Top 25. A year ago, we tried to gaze into the crystal ball to predict our 2023 No. 1 prospect. We failed, but we didn’t miss by much.
We predicted Anthony Volpe, Jordan Walker, Elly De La Cruz, Corbin Carroll or Marcelo Mayer were most likely to rank No. 1 on this year’s list. Henderson ranks No. 1, so we failed to meet our goal, but four of the five players we listed made this year’s Top 10, including two of the top four and the lowest ranked of the five (Volpe) ranks 14th on this year’s list.
So with that in mind, we’re going to try again. Here’s our look at the most likely prospects to top the 2024 Top 100.
1. Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers
Chourio has to be considered the favorite to be next year’s No. 1 prospect as he’s the highest-ranked prospect who has a good chance to still be prospect eligible at this time next year.
Chourio lept to prominence with an exceptional 2022 season where he showed power, speed, defense and the ability to consistently make adjustments. If he does the same in 2023 at Double-A and maybe Triple-A, he would check every box to be the No. 1 prospect in 2024. There is a risk he could graduate with a sensational 2023, but this year’s No. 3 prospect is in the pole position to lead next year’s list.
2. Jackson Holliday, SS, Orioles
No team has ever topped the Top 100 list three years in a row, but if Holliday leads this list a year from now, the Orioles will have gone three-for-three with Adley Rutschman (2021), Henderson (2022) and Holliday.
The No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft rocketed into top-of-the-draft consideration thanks to an outstanding senior season. He was just as impressive in a brief stint in the Florida Complex League, where he showed exceptional bat speed and a beautiful swing to go with his athleticism and promising glove.
In our attempts to gather feedback to shape this current Top 100, we got consistent feedback to move Holliday up, and received plenty of whispers that suggest he could be the No. 1 prospect in baseball a year from now with a strong 2023.
3. Marcelo Mayer, SS, Red Sox.
Mayer is the highest ranked player on the current Top 100 who has yet to play in Double-A. As such, he’s set up in a perfect position to climb further up this list as players ahead of him graduate, especially if he continues to demonstrate his well-rounded skill set.
4. James Wood, OF, Nationals
Wood is a potential future home run champ. He hits the ball exceptionally hard, makes good swing decisions and has shown the ability to make adjustments. And since he’s yet to play above Low-A, he is the highest ranked prospect on this year’s Top 100 who has yet to play above that level. That makes him a sure-fire bet to still be eligible for this list a year from now.
5. Jordan Lawlar, SS, D-backs
Lawlar finished the season with 20 games at Double-A. If you’re debating him vs. Mayer for next year’s No. 1 that’s actually a point against him for this exercise. While it’s hard to envision a scenario where Mayer graduates this year (other than the Red Sox current lack of a viable shortstop), there are more examples of shortstops on Lawlar’s trajectory who have graduated.
6. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Twins
Rodriguez is the prediction that could look very good or very bad a year from now. He’s a Top 50 prospect now, but one with a very limited track record. He hits the ball extremely hard, and he has an exceptional batting eye. If a key part of hitting is swinging only at strikes and hitting them hard, Rodriguez is showing he is mastering that skill.
But his knee injury that cost him much of last season is a clear concern, and his lack of significant pro experience is a cause for caution.
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7. Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies
It’s exceptionally hard for a pitcher to be the No. 1 prospect. No pitcher has ranked No. 1 on the Baseball America Top 100 in the past 17 seasons and two-way player Shohei Ohtani is the only pitcher to rank in the top three in the past decade.
But if Painter is still eligible a year from now, he could be the player who bucks that trend as a pitcher with a dominating assortment of pitches, upper-level minor league experience and potentially by next year, even some impressive MLB performances to go with it.
8. Druw Jones, OF, D-backs
It’s easy to forget about Jones a little bit since his pro debut was derailed by a shoulder injury, a malady that seems to strike D-backs top prospects with regularity (Jordan Lawlar and Corbin Carroll have also battled shoulder injuries).
If Jones has a sensational 2023, it’s possible to see him becoming part of the first-ever father-son duo to top the list. To match his father Andruw, he’ll need to lead this list in each of the next two years. His dad already has a little bit of bragging rights. Andruw ranked 21st before he made his full-season MiLB debut. Druw ranks 24th.