Chris Clegg's Top-500 Fantasy Prospects
Chris Clegg Ranks his Top-500 Prospects for Fantasy Baseball
Prospects are a significant part of playing in Dynasty Fantasy Baseball leagues. The more you play in dynasty leagues, the more likely you are to become addicted to prospects, or at least that’s how it worked for me. Many players develop prospect obsessions that they hold onto, hoping for them to excel at the big league level. Whether you draft prospects to build a great farm system or use them as trade chips, they are extremely valuable pieces for your dynasty league.
I often get asked what goes into my prospect rankings. My process begins with evaluating prospects on a team-by-team basis. I want to get my eyes on every player possible. It is a long process, but it is essential when ranking prospects. Live looks give you a different perspective than just watching games on MILB.TV, but you can gather plenty from watching film. I spend ample time watching every prospect I rank.
After evaluating players team by team, I then work on positional rankings. After working through the rankings positionally, I place the prospects on the overall list. The rankings are how I perceive their future value will turn out for dynasty league purposes. It is also how I would draft these players if I were in a prospect-only draft.
I recently was fortunate to gain access to MILB statcast and advanced metrics for every player. It has undoubtedly helped solidify what the eye test shows in many circumstances. It has also helped me identify some sleeper prospects who could be in for big 2023 seasons. I also can see which players struggle with high velocity or breaking balls. Do they chase too much? Yes, you can see that on film, but I also have the data to back that now. It’s helped shape the rankings for specific players.
Well, that’s enough about the rankings. You came here to get rankings, so let’s do it! Here are my top-500 prospect rankings for fantasy baseball.
Top-500 Prospect Rankings For Fantasy Baseball
Gunnar Henderson, Baltimore Orioles, 3B/SS, 21.5
There is not much questioning the top two prospects in baseball at this point. Gunnar Henderson and Corbin Carroll are the consensus top two, but it varies on how people have them ranked. I land on Gunnar for the number one spot, but it is splitting hairs.
Henderson put on an impressive showing in the Minors and his small sample in the Majors last year. Across 503 MILB plate appearances, Henderson blistered baseballs to a 107.2 mph 90th percentile exit velocity. For reference, MLB average last year was 103.7. He also hit the ball consistently hard, with a 92.2 mph average and a 52.7 percent hard-hit rate.
Henderson displayed great plate discipline as well. He had just a 17.8 percent chase rate in the minors. That number stayed impressive in his 132 plate appearance MLB sample.
The biggest question of Henderson is his ground ball rate. It was a bit high at 59.8 percent in the Majors. It was not much better in Triple-A at 50.3 percent. But that is not who he has been throughout his career.
Henderson made a swing adjustment before 2022 to make better contact on high fastballs. If that caused the rise in ground balls, it was an okay trade-off. Henderson hit 23 home runs last year as a 20 years old for part of the season. If he corrects the ground ball rate, there is a 30 home run bat with sneaky speed.
Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks, OF, 22.4
As I stated, you are splitting hairs between Gunnar and Corbin Carroll. I think right off the bat, some people question Carroll’s power and believe that his home run totals were inflated by him playing in hitter-friendly environments. While there is some truth to that, Carroll still posted high-end exit velocities. His 106.2 mph 90th percentile exit velocity and 89.9 mph average are both impressive for someone who is 5’10/165 lb. A 47 percent hard-hit rate shows that Carroll can get to power.
In the past, Carroll has been billed as a double-plus hitter. I am not quite there, but there is tremendous plate discipline like Henderson. In the Minors last season, Carroll posted an 80.7 percent zone-contact rate and a 75 percent overall contact percentage. His chase rate was also below 20 percent, like Henderson.
Where Carroll is a game-changer is with his speed. He is the fastest player in baseball. He topped out at 30.7 feet per second, topping Bobby Witt Jr.’s 30.4 ft/sec.
Henderson may have a power advantage, but Carroll is a safe bet to steal 30 bases and maybe even more in the new environment. You can’t go wrong with Gunnar Henderson or Corbin Carroll on your dynasty teams.
Jordan Walker, St. Louis Cardinals, 3B/OF, 20.6
Jordan Walker continued his success in 2021 and took things up a notch in 2022. He spent the full season in Double-A, where he slashed .306/.388/.510 with 19 home runs and 22 stolen bases. There are a couple of surprising things here; his low home run output and high stolen base total.
Walker hits the ball harder than nearly every prospect in baseball. He posted a 107.9 mph 90th percentile exit velocity for the regular season with a 45 percent hard-hit rate. Walker had a 111.1 mph 90th percentile exit velocity in the Arizona Fall League.
The speed is surprising, but Walker was clocked at 29.9 feet per second in the AFL. Despite the bigger frame, Walker can steal 10-15 stolen bases early in his career.
For a more detailed write-up on Walker, check out my article on Pitcher List.
Elly De La Cruz, Cincinnati Reds, SS/3B, 21
Elly De La Cruz is an enigma of a profile. Few hitters can post a 65 percent contact rate and still slash .304/.359/.586. A high BABIP fueled this, but Elly hits the ball hard(107.7 mph 90th) and has excellent sprint speed.
He managed 28 home runs and 47 stolen bases across 513 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A. Elly’s further development will largely depend on his contact skills. The power and speed are undeniable. Even if he is a .250 hitter in the majors, 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases are a real possibility.
Jackson Chourio, Milwaukee Brewers, OF, 18.6
Jackson Chourio did things as an 18-year-old that we have not seen a prospect do in a long time. His 160 wRC+ in Low-A was the highest by an 18-year-old since Giancarlo Stanton.
Chourio made it to Double-A at the end of the season, where he struggled. Over 439 plate appearances, Chourio hit 20 home runs and slashed .288/.342/.538 over three levels. He didn’t post elite exit velocities, but a 102.5 90th is still impressive, considering his age. There are some chase rate concerns, but overall, Chourio is a fun profile that could be baseball’s top prospect at some point.
Jordan Lawlar, Arizona Diamondbacks, SS, 20.5
Jordan Lawlar’s pro debut in 2021 was cut short due to a shoulder injury, but that did not hold him back from a strong 2022. He played across four levels making it to Double-A, posting a .303/.401/.509 slash with 16 home runs and 39 stolen bases.
Lawlar did not post high-end exit velocities, but he still managed to get to power. He showed good poise to not chase pitches out of the zone and got to his power to the pull side. Even if he is only a 20-home-run bat, Lawlar has his high-end speed to fall back on. The tools are there, however, for a high-end fantasy contributor that could rise top the number-one spot in 2023.
Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees, SS, 21.7
Surprisingly, as a Yankee, Anthony Volpe does not get more love. Even if you consider his season disappointing, the former first-rounder still hit 21 home runs and stole 50 bases. His .249 batting average was a bit underwhelming, but it came with an 82.7 percent zone-contact rate and a 22.9 percent chase rate. Volpe profiles to have a higher batting average than we saw in 2022 with great power and speed.
James Wood, Washington Nationals, OF, 20.3
James Wood is a massive human, listed at 6’7/240 lb. With the size comes enormous power which should not be surprising. What is impressive is his elite plate discipline considering his long levers. Only a couple of hitters had higher 90th-percentile exit velocities than Wood’s(109.2), and those players don’t provide the same contact skills. Wood posted an 84.4 percent zone-contact rate and a 22.8 percent chase rate. He also chipped in 20 stolen bases in 76 games. There is effortless 30 home run power with a solid feel to hit and even some speed in the profile.
Andrew Painter, Philadelphia Phillies, P, 19.7
Andrew Painter leaped to become the top pitching prospect in baseball for me. In 104 innings, he struck out 155 batters with a 1.56 ERA while making his way up Double-A. The 6’7 righty pounds the strike zone with a fastball that topped out at 101 and averaged 96 mph. He features a plus slider, a plus changeup, and a curveball. It is a true four-pitch mix with a solid command of all pitches. There is talk of Painter cracking the Phillies’ Opening Day rotation which shows his talent level, considering he will be just 19.
Grayson Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles, P, 23.1
If it were not for injury, it is possible that Grayson Rodriguez would have already graduated from prospect lists. Much like Henderson and Carroll, it is splitting hairs picking between Painter and Rodriguez. You could argue that Rodriguez’s slider is one of the better pitches in the minors. His fastball sits in the upper 90s, and he consistently locates it at the top of the zone. He also features a plus changeup, a cutter, and a curve. You should be thrilled to have either Painter or Rodriguez on your dynasty team.
Kyle Manzardo, Tampa Bay Rays, 1B, 22.5
All Kyle Manzardo has done throughout his career is hit. He hit every year at Washington State, and he is hitting the ground running professionally. Manzardo fell to the Rays in the second round of the 2021 draft and got a small taste of pro ball at the complex. This season he spent time between High-A and Double-A, posting an overall line of .327/.426/.617 with 22 home runs in 397 plate appearances.
Manzardo brings a high-end hit tool to the table with excellent plate discipline. He posted an 87 percent zone-contact rate last year with just a 21 percent chase rate. His contact rate was 80 percent, paired with a 43 percent hard-hit rate.
While he has no speed, the fact that he hits the ball hard with elite contact makes for an excellent fantasy asset.
Miguel Vargas, Los Angeles Dodgers, 3B, 23.1
2023 will be the year that Miguel Vargas will shine in the Majors, as Justin Turner is no longer in Los Angeles. Vargas got a small cup of tea with the Dodgers last year, but with a full season, we should see the true Vargas. He struggled out of the gate in Triple-A last year but still managed a .304/.404/.511 slash with 17 home runs.
Vargas does not have a flashy profile, but he will likely be a solid performer. He has good contact rates, low chase rates, and respectable hard-hit and exit velocity numbers. He is a great buy in redraft leagues.
Druw Jones, Arizona Diamondbacks, OF, 19.1
Shoulder injuries have been a common trend with Diamondbacks’ top prospects, and it also happened to Jones. But Jones brings five-tool potential to the DBacks as he plays an elite centerfield but also has plenty to offer with his bat.
Jones already has quick bat speed and 70-grade run times. He could add more weight to his frame, which could affect his speed, but Jones is an excellent athlete. If you are looking for a player who could be a plus player across the board, it is Druw Jones. A strong 2023 could vault him to the top of this list by midseason.
Eury Perez, Miami Marlins, P, 19.7
Perez may be ranked a few spots behind Painter and Rodriguez, but he is still in the first tier of pitching prospects. Like Painter, he has a massive frame at 6’8/220 lb. He made his debut at 17 in Low-A, where he dominated and jumped on radars.
Maybe you are a bit underwhelmed by his 3.97 ERA in 2022, but it is important to note his circumstances. After a dominant first half where he posted a 3.05 ERA in Double-A with 87 strikeouts in 62 innings. Perez did not officially hit the IL until after his August 5 starts, but something was off as he posted 13 earned runs in 11 innings in the three starts before the IL stint.
From an arsenal standpoint, Perez features a dominant mid-90s fastball that can reach 100 mph. His three secondaries could all grade out as plus pitches as well. His changeup gets unreal run away from lefties, and reaches 90 mph. His slider is highly effective against right-handed hitters. Factor in his curveball that he locates exceptionally well and you have an impressive arsenal of pitches and an ace in the making.
Ricky Tiedemann, Toronto Blue Jays, P, 20.3
Ricky Tiedemann was said to be a name to watch in 2022 after being selected in the third round last summer. There were clips of bullpens suggesting his stuff, and velo had ticked up. That all became evident early in 2022.
Tiedemann did not spend long in Low-A before eventually moving to High-A and Double-A. He posted a 2.17 ERA in 78.2 innings and 117 strikeouts between the three levels. More impressive than his 38.9 percent strikeout rate was the fact he allowed just three home runs all season, suitable for a 0.3 HR/9.
Tiedemann features a three-pitch mix; a mid-90s four-seam fastball, a low-80s slider, and a mid-80s changeup. Each pitch has shown dominance this season and are all three plus. He does a great job sequencing the pitches and gets plenty of whiffs on each pitch.
Jasson Dominguez, New York Yankees, OF, 19.9
Some have jumped off the Jasson Dominguez train, but I would argue his 2022 season was largely successful. After being deemed the second coming of Mike Trout, Micky Mantle, and Bo Jackson all combined into one player, the expectations were just too high. No player could ever step in those shoes and impress.
The pandemic set his pro debut back a year, and his 2021 season was a bit underwhelming. People jumped off board and have stayed off despite a solid showing this year. Dominguez spent time in Low and High-A before getting a short stint in Double-A to end the year. He finished the year with a slash of .273/.376/.461. He added 16 home runs and 37 stolen bases. Eleven of his 16 home runs came after June 1.
Dominguez posted an impressive 106 mph 90th percentile EV and showed respectable contact skills. He had a 41.6 percent hard-hit rate, which jumped to 53 percent to the pull side. A 79 percent zone-contact rate was respectable for a player in his first full pro season. You should buy low on Dominguez in dynasty if you can.
Evan Carter, Texas Rangers, OF, 20.3
Evan Carter is probably the most impressive player I saw play this year in High-A. Not only does Carter play an excellent center field, but he also brings an impressive hit tool with blossoming power. He steals bases with ease.
Carter spent most of the season in High-A and posted an overall slash line of .295/.397/.489 with 12 home runs, 43 extra-base hits, and 28 stolen bases. His swing is geared to spray line drives to all fields, but he can also get to the home run power.
Carter posted an impressive 18 percent chase rate which also helped lead to a 17 percent strikeout and 14 percent walk rate. He showed the capabilities to get to power with a 103.1 mph 90th percentile exit velocity. He spent most of the season at 19 years old and has plenty of room for growth, but he currently looks like a plus hitter with average game power and plus speed.
Curtis Mead, Tampa Bay Rays, 2B/3B, 22.2
I still think Curtis Mead is one of the more underrated prospects in baseball. The Aussie went home during the pandemic, played in the Australian Professional League, and returned a different player. Injuries limited Mead to just 331 plate appearances between Double and Triple-A in 2022, but he still managed to post 13 home runs and seven steals with a .298/.390/.532 slash.
Mead’s exit velocities are high-end(106.3 90th/91 avg), and he posted a 52.8 percent hard-hit rate. Pair that with solid plate discipline(80% Z-Contact/24% chase), and you have the makings of an excellent hitter. He hits the ball to all fields well but can also get home runs power. His defense is the question of how he fits in the Rays’ plans, but regardless the bat will play.
Josh Jung, Texas Rangers, 3B, 24.9
A torn labrum set Josh Jung back months in 2022, as some thought he could break camp with the team. His debut had to wait until September after Jung returned for rehab in the Minors in late July. Despite the injury, which usually limits power upon return, Jung hit 14 home runs in 239 plate appearances between MILB and MLB.
Jung has a solid feel to hit with above-average power. The nice thing about Jung is that you know you will get everyday contributions at the big league level in 2023. Not to mention that the Rangers lineup should be very solid. I am buying in redraft and dynasty in 2023.
Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox, 1B, 23
Like Jung, Casas made his MLB debut in 2022. It took longer than fans wanted, thanks to an ankle injury and some stubbornness from the Red Sox. Casas came up in September and mashed five home runs, but it came with an unimpressive .197 batting average. In the small sample, Casas showed good OBP skills.
I would not put too much stock in the MLB performance, though. Casas posted average contact rates with big-time power metrics in the minors. His 107.7 mph 90th and 92 mph average EVs were both highly impressive. He does need to improve against lefties (.216 average/32% k rate) as he struggled last year in the minors. Casas can be a 30-home-run bat in Boston.
Jackson Holliday, Baltimore Orioles, SS, 19.1
Jackson Holliday shot up boards as he blossomed during his senior year of high school. Though he looks 12 years old, his performance resembles a mature player. Holliday gets to his power with ease but has a simple swing. He knows the strike zone well and has a knack for finding the barrel. Holliday has a well-rounded skillset, and if all develops right, he could be plus across the board with his bat and make this ranking look silly.
Elijah Green, Washington Nationals, OF, 19.1
Elijah Green might be the biggest wild card in the top 25. He is one of the most hyped prep prospects in recent years, for good reasons, given his crazy tools. He has elite athleticism with effortless plus power and speed. The biggest questions come down to Green’s contact skills. We have seen Green struggle with swing and miss on the prep circuit but eventually work through it and improve. The same can happen at the professional level. If you are looking for elite upside in your dynasty farm system, take a chance on Elijah Green in FYPDs.
Ezequiel Tovar, Colorado Rockies, SS, 21.4
You will likely find Ezequiel Tovar higher on other lists, but that does not mean I don’t like him. Tovar broke out in a big way in 2022, and the Rockies aggressively pushed him. He began the year in Double-A as a 20-year-old. Before going down with a groin injury in late June, he had 13 home runs and 17 stolen bases to pair with a .320/.390/.552 slash. When he returned from injury in September, his rehab assignment was in Triple-A. After five games, he was promoted for nine games in the Majors to end the season.
Everything looks like the making of a top-10 prospect. So what are my concerns? It begins with a high-chase rate and the lack of hard-hit balls. In the Minors, Tovar posted a 36 percent chase rate and a 28.9 percent hard-hit rate. His 90th percentile exit velocity checked in at 101.5 mph to pair with an 84.8 mph average. All this to say, I think there is still room for growth in the power department for Tovar. I am not out on the 21-year-old by any means, but I have hesitations about him being a top-10 prospect.
Francisco Alvarez, New York Mets, C, 21.1
Checking in at number 25 is Francisco Alvarez, who is the Mets catcher of the future. The power hitter was called up by the Mets and made his debut at just 20 years old. Between Double and Triple-A last year, Alvarez slashed .260/.374/.511 with 27 home runs. There is no denying the power as shown by a 107.5 90th percentile exit velocity.
If Alvarez improves his contact skills, there is a chance he can be one of the best fantasy catchers in the game. He likely settles in as a .260 type hitter, which will certainly play from a fantasy perspective. There could be bumps along the way in 2023, but long term, Alvarez should be a solid middle-of-the-order bat for the Mets.
Colton Cowser, Baltimore Orioles, OF, 22.8
Many doubted that Colton Cowser’s strong college performance was legit and questioned the fifth overall selection by the Orioles. But Cowser has proved that what he did at Sam Houston State was no fluke. He had a solid initial showing after the draft in 2021, but his stock soared this year thanks to solid performances from Low-A up to Triple-A. Maybe you are a bit underwhelmed by his Triple-A numbers, but it was a small sample, and we still saw plenty of good despite a .219 batting average.
Cowser’s batted ball profile features solid hard-hit data plus good contact skills. He also brings elite zone recognition, shown by low chase rates. His profile is not flashy, he is a real threat to be a consistent 20/20 bat with good batting averages and elite OBPs.
Thanks for reading the writeups on each of the top 25 prospects for Fantasy Baseball. If you enjoyed it and want to see more, feel free to hit the subscribe button to see the complete top 500. You will get a sortable spreadsheet, an upload sheet for Fantrax, plus access to my sheet that will show you top available prospects and dynasty players in your Fantrax league.
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