Every season, a number of MLB rookies find a way to not just impact their team, but also the landscape in fantasy baseball. That will inevitably the case in 2023, but which rookies are best equipped to do just that? Here’s a look at ten rookies that we think can make big waves in fantasy this season.
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We’ll start off this list with the top catching prospect in baseball, in Francisco Álvarez. Álvarez showed plenty of pop in the Minors, as he recorded back-to-back 20+ home run seasons in 2021-22. The young catcher also showed impressive plate discipline — he walked 70 times in 112 games.
We’ve seen young catchers like Adley Rutschman and Alejandro Kirk make impacts at the Major League level, and Álvarez could very well be the next one to do just that. However, it’s unclear as to whether the Mets plan to stick the 21-year-old back in AAA for a bit more time come the start of 2023. With Tomas Nido and Omar Narvaez in Queens, the Mets don’t have to rush Álvarez into a regular role just yet.
One of the best hitters that was available in 2019 MLB Draft, Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll morphed into one of the game’s top young stars since his selection that year. A five-tool prospect, Carroll batted .307/.425/.610 with 24 home runs and 31 stolen bases over two levels (AA and AAA) in 2022. After dominating the Minors, the D-Backs’ top prospect is set to get regular time in the desert this season.
Carroll did impress during a stint late in the season with the Diamondbacks. Across 104 at-bats with Arizona, Carroll batted .260/.330/.500 with four home runs, 14 RBIs, and 15 extra base hits. Just nine players last season hit the 20-20 plateau last season. With Carroll’s tools, the 22-year-old could just do that in his rookie season.
Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas is set to receive significant time in Boston for a different-looking group this season. Casas boasted some of the best power in the Minors, as he hit 32 extra base hits in 334 plate appearances between the GCL and Worcester (AAA). Not to mention, the former Red Sox first baseman consistently racked up strong OBP numbers thanks to above-average plate disclipline.
Casas saw his first taste of the Majors last season. The 23-year-old hit only .197 over 95 plate appearances, but did hit five home runs and walked 19 times.
Rockies shortstop Ezequiel Tovar is more well-known for his defense, but the young infielder did do well with the twig in the Minors. Across two levels (AA and AAA), Tovar hit .319 with 14 home runs and 17 stolen bases. The 21-year-old showed strong hitting ability in the Minors, but scouts suggest that Tovar will be an average power hitter in the Majors. However, that tool could play up a bit better in the hitter-friendly environment of Coors Field.
With Jose Iglesias out of the picture, Tovar — who made his MLB debut last season —could very well receive regular time in Colorado should the 21-year-old earn a spot on the Rockies out of camp. Should Tovar not crack the Opening Day roster, the infielder should be up to stay at some point in 2023.
No players in the Minors may have surprised more than Cubs infielder Matt Mervis. Mervis signed with the Cubs after he went undrafted in the abbreviated 2020 MLB Draft. After an unspectacular 2021 campaign. Mervis exploded for 36 home runs and 119 RBIs last season, and recorded a .309/.379/.605 slash line across three levels (A+, AA, and AAA). Mervis continued his rampage in the Arizona Fall League, as he drilled a league-leading six home runs.
Aside from one game each at third base and left field, Mervis has exclusively played first in the Minors. The Cubs did ink two first basemen in Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini this winter, but Mervis will work his way into Chicago’s lineup if the former Duke product can continue his rampage across the Minors in 2023.
The White Sox have a number of Cuban expats on its roster, and outfielder Oscar Colas could be poised to join those two this season. Colas signed with Chicago in January 2022, and excelled in his first season in the Minors. The 24-year-old popped 23 home runs and 51 extra base hits across three levels. Power is Colas’ calling card — the White Sox prospect possesses impressive strength that he showed off often last season.
It’s quite possible that Colas gets his first crack in the Majors this season, in a White Sox outfield that is set to include the aforementioned Robert and new addition Andrew Benintendi.
The Dodgers drafted Michael Busch out of the University of North Carolina in 2019, and it appears that the former first-round pick could make his debut in Los Angeles this season. Last season with Tulsa (AA) and Oklahoma City (AAA), Busch hit 32 home runs and posted a .274/.365/.516 slash line.
Primarily a second baseman in the Minors, Busch also has seen time at first and left. A versatile player who possesses above-average power and plate discipline, Busch should fit in nicely with the Dodgers when he’s ready.
It’s been nearly four years since Rangers third baseman Josh Jung was drafted by Texas with the ninth overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. The infielder’s numbers dipped from a strong 2021 campaign, as he hit just .266/.326/.540 across two levels last season in the Minors all while he battled injuries throughout most of the year. Still, the Texas tech product made his MLB debut in September.
Jung received his first taste of the Majors late in 2022, but it didn’t go too well. The 24-year-old hit just .204/.235/.418 over 102 plate appearances, and recorded the fourth-worst K% (38.2%) in baseball from September 9 — the date of Jung’s MLB debut — through the end of the season (min. 75 PA). The former first-round pick will look to settle in to the Majors in 2023.
Speaking of third basemen, we can’t have a conversation about rookies at the position without Brett Baty. The Mets infielder made his MLB debut last season, but hit just .184 in 42 plate appearances. The 23-year-old possesses both above-average hitting ability and power, as well as one of the best eyes in the Minors.
With Carlos Correa no longer in the picture, Baty could assume the hot corner in Queens on a regular basis this season. But with Eduardo Escobar around, Baty could also see time at left field and DH.
Arguably the top prospect in baseball, Orioles shortstop/third baseman Gunnar Henderson has risen rapidly in Baltimore’s organization over the past two years. Henderson played at five different levels since the start of 2021, and the 21-year-old earned his first callup to the Majors late last season. In the Minors last season, Henderson hit .297/.416/.531 with 19 home runs and 22 stolen bases.
Baltimore could afford to start Henderson in Norfolk (AAA) to start 2023, but the infielder proved that he can produce in the Majors. Henderson cracked four home runs, 12 extra base hits, and an impressive 12.1% BB% in 132 plate appearances.