This list comprises players who have yet to reach the Big Leagues or guys who still qualify as rookies by MLB standards. Keep in mind this order is for redraft leagues only and for drafts that are happening fairly soon. Spring Training will bring about many changes, so think of this as a useful guide for now.
Only a handful of these guys will be drafted in standard leagues. But with so many fantasy managers branching out into much larger or restricted formats, many of these youngsters could hold value.
I moved some players around based on my projections and draft values, but I still included their ADP. Many of the evaluations are similar, but there are definitely a few discrepancies.
Also, keep in mind experts tend to draft relatively unknown sleepers a little earlier than the average fantasy player. If you’re not playing in a high-stakes league, you may be able to wait a bit longer to obtain their services.
My goal was to list 50 players for you guys, but five more made the list that I just couldn’t leave off.
There are some player notes to follow.
Top 55 First-Year Players/Rookies 2023 Redraft Leagues
ADP listed is from NFC drafts from 12-1-23 to 1-23-23
- Gunnar Henderson (SS/3B – BAL): ADP 89
- Corbin Carroll (OF – ARI): 73
- Grayson Rodriguez (SP – BAL): 194
- Kodai Senga (SP – NYM): 185
- Josh Jung (3B – TEX): 213
- Triston Casas (1B – BOS): 232
- Masataka Yoshida (OF – BOS): 229
- Logan O’Hoppe (C – LAA): 236
- Ezequiel Tovar (SS – COL): 252
- Hunter Brown (SP/RP – HOU): 254
- Kerry Carpenter (OF – DET): 373
- Gabriel Moreno (C – ARI): 243
- Jordan Walker (3B – STL): 264
- Matt Mervis (1B – CHC): 279
- Miguel Vargas (1B/3B – LAD): 278
- Esteury Ruiz (2B/OF – OAK): 286
- Oswald Peraza (2B/SS – NYY): 351
- Garrett Mitchell (OF – MIL): 291
- Bo Naylor (C – CLE): 297
- Oscar Colas (OF – CHW): 349
- Endy Rodriguez (C – PIT): 368
- Hayden Wesneski (SP – CHC): 332
- Drey Jameson (SP – ARZ): 340
- Brice Turang (SS/2B – MIL): 415
- Francisco Alvarez (C – NYM): 359
- Andrew Painter (SP – PHI): 377
- Brandon Pfaadt (SP – ARI): 372
- Anthony Volpe (SS – NYY): 391
- Ken Waldichuk (SP – OAK): 392
- Elly De La Cruz (SS – CIN): 430
- Luis Ortiz (SP – PIT): 412
- Cody Morris (SP/RP – CLE): 413
- Luis Campusano (C – SD): 400
- Cade Cavalli (SP – WAS): 457
- Spencer Steer (1B/3B/SS – CIN): 419
- Drew Waters (OF – KC): 459
- Brett Baty (3B – NYM): 447
- Royce Lewis (SS – MIN): 451
- Kyle Muller (SP – OAK): 461
- James Outman (OF – LAD): 455
- Jonathan Aranda (1B/2B/3B – TB): 481
- Gavin Stone (SP – LAD): 502
- Bobby Miller (SP – LAD): 486
- Taj Bradley (SP – TB): 542
- Kyle Stowers (OF – BAL): 487
- Kyle Harrison (SP – SF): 480
- Ryan Pepiot (SP – LA): 512
- Shintaro Fujinami (SP – OAK): 581
- Michael Busch (2B – LAD): 556
- Eury Perez (SP – MIA): 541
- Daniel Espino (SP – CLE): 598
- Conner Capel (OF – OAK): 635
- Stone Garrett (OF – WAS): 543
- Curtis Mead (2B/3B – TB): 563
- Gavin Williams (SP – CLE): 650
1. Gunnar Henderson
I like Henderson over Carroll because he’ll likely bat in the middle of the order, whereas Corbin will probably lead off. Both may struggle against lefties a bit, but I have them 1A. and 1B. I also like Henderson’s eligibility at 3B and SS, making him a great fit at MI or CI.
2. Corbin Carroll
If Carroll can make good on his projected 60-hit tool, then he should be a valuable asset hitting atop the underrated D’backs lineup. Also, if he can take full advantage of the new rules that benefit base-stealers, then his value should increase further. Steals likely won’t have the weight they’ve had in the past, but if he wants to be worthy of a top-100 pick, he will have to do better than the two steals he collected over his first 32 games. Obviously, it was a small sample size, and he was only 21 at the time, but managers that are investing early are going to be hoping for a 20/20, .300 season.
3. Grayson Rodriguez
If it weren’t for an innings limit, GRod could be first on this list. Rodriguez is your prototypical starter with multiple plus weapons with high velo at his disposal. He’s dominated at every level and would have arrived last season if not for an injury. He’ll be 100 percent to begin Spring Training and deserves a pick well before 200.
8. Logan O’Hoppe
O’Hoppe took a major step forward in 2022, putting up video game-like numbers in the Minor Leagues. Blocked by J.T. Realmuto in Philadelphia, the team traded him to the Angels for Brandon Marsh last summer. It won’t take long for O’Hoppe to take over as the starter in Anaheim if he’s not handed the job outright. He could finish as a top-12 catcher by the season’s end.
9. Ezequiel Tovar
Tovar is the front-runner to start from day one at shortstop. The Rockies’ top prospect has the potential to have a 20/15 season with a .270 to .280 average. Everything would have to go his way for that to happen, but Tovar has the ability and opportunity to do it.
10. Hunter Brown
Brown’s role is still up in the air, but even regulated to bullpen duty, the future ace still holds value. He could play the early role of Cristian Javier, where he jumped back and forth from spot starter to reliever while throwing multiple innings in both positions. While not all pitchers are cut out for it, Brown did pitch well in relief last year, and Javier was a beast at it. However, the ‘Stros may play it safe, not wanting to stunt his development, stashing him in the Minor Leagues until a starting spot opens up.
11. Kerry Carpenter
A 19th-round pick in 2019, Carpenter burst onto the scene last year with 36 combined home runs (six at the Major League level). With the shift no longer in play, expect Carpenters numbers to continue to climb (.252/.310/.485 in 114 PA). The power-hitting lefty could find himself in the middle of the order come Opening Day, where he could be a solid four-category contributor. No one’s paying attention to him because he’s on the offensively challenged Tigers, but being the savvy drafter that you are, you’re going to target him in the final few rounds and thank me later.
12. Gabriel Moreno
Moreno technically doesn’t qualify for this list because he spent too many days on a Big League roster despite playing in just 25 games. We’ll give him a pass, however, given his new role in Arizona, he could be vastly underrated.
Carson Kelly is still on the roster, but he was atrocious with the bat last season, hovering near the Mendoza line while only clubbing seven home runs despite racking up 354 plate appearances. Unfortunately for Morano owners, Kelly’s a decent glove behind the dish and Arizona’s manager, Torey Lovullo, tends to value defense over offense. But catchers can’t play every day, and once Morano makes his way into the lineup, it’ll be tough for Lovullo to take him back out. He’s worth a late-round pick.
13. Jordan Walker
I like Walker as much as anyone, but he won’t turn 21 until the end of May and doesn’t have a clear path to join the MLB roster just yet. He also hasn’t played above Double-A. I believe he’ll be a monster by 2024 or perhaps 2025, but it’s best to keep expectations in check for now.
14. Matt Mervis
I’m also a big Mervis fan, and his Minor League numbers speak for themselves – 40 home runs last year with a .309 average. He also hit six dingers in the AZFL this year. But with the team signing Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini, Mervis has to be downgraded a bit.
16. Esteury Ruiz
I love Ruiz at the end of the draft. No one was more aggressive on the bases paths in the Minor Leagues last year, and the A’s have nothing to lose by letting him run wild. Especially now, with the new rules in place, Ruiz could be a steal (pardon the obvious pun) this late in the draft.
17. Oswald Peraza
The 50th-ranked overall prospect in baseball got his feet wet last year by playing in 18 games for the Yanks. He registered an impressive 146 wRC+ (46% better than average) with nearly as many walks as strikeouts in the very small sample size. He looked extremely comfortable at the dish and even stole two bags (he swiped 33 in Triple-A). The Yankees seem content to roll out one of their youngsters this season at short, and Peraza will likely be given the first opportunity.
24. Brice Turang
Already with 175 Triple-A games under his belt, the 23-year-old former first-rounder could be the Brewers’ Opening Day second baseman. He possesses a ton of speed, a great eye, and some decent pop. FanGraphs has him penciled in to reach 450 plate appearances making him incredibly valuable so late in the draft.
25. Francisco Alvarez
With James McCann shipped off to the Orioles and Omar Narvaez coming off a forgettable season, not much stands in the way of Alvarez (MLB’s top-ranked prospect) taking over. He takes a wicked hack and is selective at the plate but whiffs often. His batting average will likely be in the lower tier of the league, but the homers and counting stats may just be worth it. You could try and wait until he’s called up, but for many of these guys, that’ll likely be too late.
26. Andrew Painter
Painter is still very young and is unlikely to crack the Major League roster early this season, but stranger things have happened. With five exceptional Double-A starts already under his belt and the Phillies hungry to recapture last year’s magic, the 6-foot-7 righty who turns 20 a week after Opening Day should be on your radar.
33. Luis Campusano
The Padres don’t exactly need the offense, but having a power-hitting catcher is a luxury any team would love to have. Campusano is just that, but he will back up Austin Nola to start the year. That may not last long, however. Nola’s offensive production wasn’t great, and he graded out on the negative side for most defensive metrics. One glaring stat (although many times runners steal off the pitcher and not the catcher) is the 56 stolen bases allowed with just eight caught. He didn’t fare much better in 2021 either, giving up 26 successful swipes on just 30 attempts. Nola does block the ball well, and Campusano isn’t exactly elite behind the dish, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them evenly splitting catching duties by mid-summer.
34. Cade Cavalli
Cavalli was a top pitching prospect entering last year and pitched relatively well in Triple-A. He came up for a single game in September and surrendered seven runs on six hits and two walks but allowed no home runs and struck out six. He was obviously wild, hitting three batters as well, but the .500 BABIP didn’t do him any favors. Because of the shellacking (and because he plays for the Nationals), he’s fallen in fantasy leagues, but he still deserves your attention in the deepest of leagues.
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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.