Top 25 Impact Prospects for Redraft Leagues (2023)
Nothing gets baseball fans quite as giddy with excitement as prospects do. The stars of tomorrow represent their club’s future and the hope for a brighter road ahead. Unfortunately, only about one in every ten prospects actually reach their potential, but the ones that do keep us pining for more.
Dating back 30 years ago, player development generally lasted a few years. Players toiled through the Minor Leagues in their early 20’s, not often reaching the Bigs until at least 25. Nowadays, especially with the new rules in place discouraging service-time manipulation, it’s a different story. Players are often fast-tracked to the League and find themselves in a major role just beyond their teenage years. MLB has gotten a lot younger recently, and most of that can be attributed to how hard these kids work starting at such a young age.
Regardless of how they got here, for us fantasy freaks, we want to know who’s going to help us win a championship and how soon they’ll start contributing. For this report, I’ve broken down the top 25 impact prospects for this year only (redraft leagues, not dynasty). To qualify, players must have accumulated less than 130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched, and fewer than 45 days on an active roster. I put together a similar list last year, and only two players didn’t pan out. I’m expecting similar results this year, if not perfection! One can dream, right?
Without further ado, here are your top 25 prospects for the 2023 fantasy season with player notes to follow.
ADP listed is from NFC drafts over the last two months.
Top 25 Impact Prospects for Redraft Leagues
1. Gunnar Henderson (SS/3B – BAL): ADP 89
2. Corbin Carroll (OF – ARI): 73
3. Kodai Senga (SP – NYM): 185
4. Grayson Rodriguez (SP – BAL): 194
5. Josh Jung (3B – TEX): 213
6. Triston Casas (1B – BOS): 232
7. Masataka Yoshida (OF – BOS): 229
8. Logan O’Hoppe (C – LAA): 236
9. Ezequiel Tovar (SS – COL): 252
10. Hunter Brown (SP/RP – HOU): 254
11. Kerry Carpenter (OF – DET): 373
12. Gabriel Moreno (C – ARI): 243
13. Jordan Walker (3B – STL): 264
14. Matt Mervis (1B – CHC): 279
15. Miguel Vargas (1B/3B – LAD): 278
16. Esteury Ruiz (2B/OF – OAK): 286
17. Ken Waldichuk (SP – OAK): 392
18. Garrett Mitchell (OF – MIL): 291
19. Oscar Colas (OF – CHW): 349
20. Oswald Peraza (2B/SS – NYY): 351
21. Endy Rodriguez (C – PIT): 368
22. Bo Naylor (C – CLE): 297
23. Drey Jameson (SP – ARZ): 340
24. Brice Turang (SS/2B – MIL): 415
25. Anthony Volpe (SS – NYY): 391
1. Gunnar Henderson
Henderson and Carroll are 1A and 1B to me. So if you drafted infielders early, I’d go with Carroll, and if you’re outfield heavy, I’d grab Henderson. Carroll is going earlier in drafts, but in a vacuum, I’d take Henderson by the slightest margin. He’ll likely bat third, making him a solid five-category contributor.
2. Corbin Carroll
Carroll will need to increase his steal attempts to make him worthy of a top-100 draft pick but make no mistake, this kid is on the verge of stardom. He does everything well and could be the Diamondbacks’ best offensive player since Paul Goldschmidt for years to come.
3. Kodai Senga
I originally liked Rodriguez here, but after the Orioles traded for Cole Irvin, I’d rather go with Senga, who’s guaranteed a rotation spot. Also, Senga won’t have an innings limit and plays for a better team. And his fastball can reach triple digits. Japanese pitchers tend to fair better when making the transition than hitters do, so I’m expecting a nice season.
4. Grayson Rodriguez
Rodriguez could outperform this entire list if he stays healthy and is allowed to start nearly 30 games. He has dominated at every level and is your prototypical power pitcher with a deep arsenal. I’m overpaying in all my leagues.
5. Josh Jung
Jung was expected to earn the starting 3B job out of Spring Training last year but missed most of the season due to a torn labrum. After a quick turn in the Minors, where he demolished Triple-A pitching, Jung earned an early September call-up and played in nearly every remaining game (26). He struck out too much but did club 10 XBHs, including five home runs. Jung will probably bat sixth in the lineup, where you can expect around 20-25 home runs and a modest RBI total but with a low batting average.
6. Triston Casas
Casas is in a similar boat as Jung when it comes to production. The ceiling may be a bit higher, but possibly with a lower floor. The home runs should come in bunches, but his average could drag you down. In OBP leagues, he gains a ton of value – he walks a lot!
7. Masataka Yoshida
No one knows how Asian players will translate once they make the trip overseas. We’ve seen big hype guys like Shogo Akiyama, Yoshi Tsutsugo, and even Ha-Seong Kim fail to live up to expectations in recent years, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work. Yoshida is a fantastic hitter with modest power and little to no speed. He’ll hit atop the BoSox lineup and could help your runs and batting average totals while adding in a few home runs.
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 on Opening Day 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’ll likely earn a handful of starts while filling in as a multi-inning reliever. He’ll be the first to join the rotation if a starter goes down, however, earning you quality ratios until that happens. His stuff alone makes him worth a mid-200s selection.
11. Kerry Carpenter
No one’s paying attention to Carpenter because he’s on the offensively-challenged Tigers. Also, by the time he came up, Detroit was an afterthought. 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 and Comerica Park’s fences moved in, expect Carpenter’s numbers to continue to climb – he bats left-handed (.252/.310/.485 in 114 PA last year).
Unlike a lot of the prospects going before him in drafts, Carpenter’s pretty much assured a roster spot. He’ll likely be hitting somewhere near the middle of the order from day one and could be a solid four-category contributor. He could easily outperform Josh Jung and Triston Casas but is going 150 picks later. Target him 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, because he’s just so dang close.
He won’t act as the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day catcher, but he should earn an even split early on. Arizona didn’t trade for him to sit on the bench, and if he makes the roster out of Spring Training (which is very likely), then he will play. Regarded as one of the top-catching prospects in baseball over the last couple of years, Moreno deserves a roster spot in nearly all leagues.
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. He also hasn’t played above Double-A. I believe he’ll be a monster by 2024 and even better in 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.
15. Miguel Vargas
Vargas is going to play for the Dodgers, but at which position and how often remains in question. He could platoon or even be sent back down, but my money’s on him starting at second base. Chris Taylor will likely play a super-utility role, and Max Muncy just doesn’t have the lateral quickness to play second without the shift. Vargas may not either, but he’s done it in the Minors and has youth on his side.
What I like most about his profile (besides offering both power and speed) is his nearly 1/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over a full year in Triple-A. Guys who show that type of eye on the farm usually translate well to the Show. He’s far from a sure thing and didn’t hit well in very limited duty last year, but he has the makeup to be a star.
16. Esteury Ruiz
I love Ruiz at the end of the draft. No one was more aggressive on the bases paths in the Minor’s last year (85 stolen bases!), and the A’s have nothing to lose by letting him run wild. Especially now, with the new rules in place that benefit base runners, Ruiz could be a steal (pardon the obvious pun) this late in the draft.
17. Ken Waldichuk
I had Waldichuk at 30th overall two weeks ago, but with Cole Irvin traded away, the path is clear for the 25-year-old former Yankee. The 6-foot-4 southpaw is the A’s best starter in the entire organization, and now that he’s not blocked, he’s worthy of a late-round pick.
18. Garrett Mitchell
Mitchell doesn’t have the highest ceiling, but he’ll likely start from day one against right-handed pitching. He’ll steal a good amount of bases while adding in a few homers. His average will likely be just that, but he did well in his cup of coffee last year, so it could be on the rise. He’s a decent player without a ton of mystery. If he continues to develop and cuts down on the K’s, he’ll end up with better numbers than Esteury Ruiz. Ruiz isn’t projected to platoon, however, so he is the better choice right now.
19. Oscar Colas
This might be jumping the gun a bit, but if Colas makes an early appearance, he could be extremely valuable. The 24-year-old Cuban raked at every level last year with above-average pop, albeit with a high strikeout total. He still managed an impressive .315 average, thanks in part to an astronomical BABIP. If he starts 100 games, which is in the neighborhood of most projections, he could collect nearly 20 homers while contributing handily in RBIs and runs scored. The White Sox GM is on record saying Colas will be given every opportunity to earn a starting job this year, and if he runs away with it, he’ll be a massive boon for fantasy managers.
20. Oswald Peraza
The 50th-ranked overall prospect in baseball got his feet wet last year by playing in 18 games for the Yankees. 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 Yanks seem content to roll out one of their youngsters this season at short, and Peraza will likely be given the first opportunity.
21. Endy Rodriguez
Bo Naylor’s all but guaranteed a roster spot out of Spring Training, but I like Rodriguez better. His numbers in the Minors were optimal, and he performed better than Naylor at every level last year. He also plays multiple positions, including 1B, 2B, and OF. Suppose the Pirates decide to stick with Austin Hedges throughout the season because of his defense and his ability to help young pitchers. In that case, Rodriguez could find himself playing all over the diamond. If he goes undrafted, keep an eye on his development and scoop him up by early May.
22. Bo Naylor
Naylor should be the starter before long in Cleveland with just Mike Zunino standing in his was. The younger brother of his teammate Josh, Bo shows great patience at the plate while hitting for power. He also, unlike his brother, possesses a great deal of speed and could be a candidate to steal 8 – 10 bases. 15 homers and 10 steals are likely his ceiling, but for a catcher that you can get for next to nothing, he’s not a bad play.
23. Drey Jameson
Projectors have Ryne Nelson earning the fifth rotation spot out of Spring, but it’s Jameson who is the more talented of the two. The freshly turned 25-year-old has a much higher ground-ball rate than Nelson and throws with higher velocity. His slider also has a sharper break. Both pitchers could be valuable this season, but I’d be wary of Nelson, whose BABIP was .156 over his three starts with a LOB rate of 90.2%.
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 exhibits great speed on the base paths, has a great eye at the plate, and hits for decent pop. FanGraphs has him penciled in to reach 450 plate appearances making him a solid sleeper no one is talking about.
25. Anthony Volpe
I had trouble deciding between Elly De La Cruz, Francisco Alvarez, and Volpe for the final spot. But with the clearest path for Volpe and his second-half bonanza, I went with him. I do think Peraza will earn the Opening Day nod, but as the season progresses, Volpe could easily force their hand. His speed is off the charts, and the power is valid. You’ll likely have to stash him for a couple of months, similar to the other two mentioned (Cruz and Alvarez), but he could be worth it.
Francisco Alvarez (C – NYM): 359
Elly De La Cruz (SS – CIN): 430
Hayden Wesneski (SP – CHC): 332
Andrew Painter (SP – PHI): 377
Brandon Pfaadt (SP – ARI): 372
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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.