MLB Prospect Watch: These 15 Players Could See The Major Leagues In the Near Future

Jackson Merrill of the San Diego Padres takes the field during a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at Peoria Stadium on February 24, 2023 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

There have been many rookies across Major League Baseball in 2023 that have made positive contributions for their team. Players such as Texas Rangers third baseman Josh Jung, and Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Yennier Cano have been huge additions to two teams that are hot streaks leading into the summer. 

Elly Da La Cruz, the No. 4 ranked Major League Baseball prospect according to MLB.com, was called up by the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday and immediately put into the cleanup spot in the Reds lineup. His promotion is just the first of many in the coming months as the MLB season inches closer towards the dog days of summer. 

Nearing the halfway point of the 2023 MLB season, let’s take a look at some of the best young talent in Minor League Baseball who are moving towards an MLB call up. 

15. James Wood, OF, Washington Nationals 

Just 20 years old, Wood is Washington’s No.1 ranked prospect, and the No. 7 ranked prospect according to MLB.com. Standing 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, Wood is able to use his long strides to make up ground in center field. He was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres, showcasing how confident the Nationals are in his abilities. Wood is currently with Double-A Harrisburg, where he has a .937 OPS in 28 plate appearances. 

14. Kyle Harrison, LHP, San Francisco Giants 

Harrison is the No. 1 prospect for the San Francisco Giants, and the No. 15 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. He has shot up to Triple-A Sacramento quickly, after starting the 2023 season with High-A Eugene. Harrison was first among all minor league pitchers in 2022 in swings and misses per nine innings with 14.8. His fastball sits between 92-95 mph, but it is his low-80s slider that generates many swings and misses that has him on a fast track to San Francisco. 

13. Curtis Mead, 3B/2B, Tampa Bay Rays 

Mead is the No. 2 ranked prospect in the Tampa Bay organization, and the No. 25 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. The 22-year-old was held back by a right elbow strain at the end of last season, but still left an imprint with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham in 2022, hitting a combined 13 home runs. Mead has struggled out of the gate this year with Triple-A Durham, hitting .221 with a .646 OPS, but he still expected to make his MLB debut sometime in 2023. 

12. Noelvi Marte, OF, Cincinnati Reds 

The prospects keep on coming for the Cincinnati Reds, even after their recent call up of top prospect Elly Da La Cruz. Marte signed with the Mariners in the 2018-19 international signing period, but was traded to the Reds in a deal that sent starting pitcher Luis Castillo to Seattle. The outfielder possesses great power, hitting eight home runs in 47 games with Double-A Chattanooga. Marte is the No. 2 ranked prospect for the Cincinnati Reds, and the No. 21 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. 

11. Gavin Williams, RHP, Cleveland Guardians 

Williams is the No. 1 ranked prospect for the Cleveland Guardians, and the No. 17 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. The right-handed pitcher topped out at 100 mph on his fastball as a freshman at East Carolina, and has developed a mid-80s slider. He has a 2.43 ERA in seven starts with Triple-A Columbus this season. Williams could make his MLB debut as early as this year. 

10. Evan Carter, OF, Texas Rangers 

Carter is the No. 1 ranked prospect for the Texas Rangers, and the No. 9 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. The left-handed hitter advanced to Double-A Frisco before reaching the age of 20, and is currently batting .276 with four home runs in 41 games with the Frisco RoughRiders. His arm strength is graded a 50 out of 70 out in center field by MLB scouts. Carter was named the Rangers’ 2022 Minor League player of the year. 

9. Diego Cartaya, C, Los Angeles Dodgers

Carter is the No. 1 ranked prospect for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the No. 12 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. Cartaya is on a waiting list of catchers looking to take the starting job from Dodger’s catcher Will Smith, a tall task. He was promoted to Double-A Tulsa at the beginning of the 2023 season after hitting nine home runs in 33 games with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2022. Cartaya’s arm is graded a 60 out of 70. 

8. Marco Luciano, SS, San Francisco Giants 

Luciano is the No. 2 ranked prospect for the San Francisco Giants, and the No. 18 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. He signed for $2.6 million in 2018 out of the Dominican Republic, and has been highly coveted by the Giants since. Luciano is slated to replace Brandon Crawford, who is on the wrong side of 35 years of age. He has had his troubles with Double-A Richmond this season, with just 15 hits in 114 plate appearances. 

7. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Chicago Cubs 

Crow-Armstrong is the No. 1 ranked prospect for the Chicago Cubs, and the No. 13 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. He was the top-rated high school prospect in 2019, and signed with the New York Mets for $3,359,000 that same year. The 21-year-old is known for his speed, and has stolen 46 bases in 64 attempts across all Minor League levels. Crow-Armstrong has hit seven home runs this year with Double-A Tennessee and is expected to make his MLB debut in 2024. 

6. Sal Frelick, OF, Milwaukee Brewers 

Frelick is the No. 2 ranked prospect for the Milwaukee Brewers, and the No. 22 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. Scouts grade the outfielder’s hitting at 70, and for good reason. In 2022 with Triple-A Nashville, Frelick had a .365 batting average and an OPS of .943 in 46 games. The Boston College product only struck out 7.4 percent of the time during the 46-game stint. 

5. Jordan Lawlar, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks 

Lawlar is the No. 1 ranked prospect for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the No. 8 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. He signed with Arizona for $6,713,300 after being drafted sixth overall in 2021. Lawlar has had his fair share of injuries, including problems with his shoulder and a fractured left scapula, but he has still managed to be a top minor league player. So far in 2023 with Double-A Amarillo, Lawlar has a .209 batting average and .720 OPS. 

4. Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays 

Tiedemann is the No. 1 ranked prospect for the Toronto Blue Jays, and the No. 24 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. Toronto has drafted a few solid pitchers in the recent past such as Alek Manoah and Nate Pearson, but Tiedemann’s arrival to Toronto should be more exciting for the organization. As a left-handed pitcher, Tiedemann is very deceptive on the mound, resulting in high strikeout rates. In 30 innings pitched in 2022 with Single-A Dunedin, he struck out 49 hitters. 

3. Marcelo Mayer, SS, Boston Red Sox

Mayer is the No.1 ranked prospect for the Boston Red Sox, and the No.5 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. Mayer was Boston’s highest draft pick in 54 years after taking him fourth overall in 2021. He signed for a franchise record $6,664,000, and has earned that bonus on the field. Mayer was most recently called up to Double-A Portland after hitting .290 with seven home runs with Single-A Greenville at the start of 2023. 

2. Andrew Painter, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies 

Painter is the No. 1 ranked prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies, and the No. 10 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. Painter is slim at 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds, but MLB scouts still give his fastball a 70 grade nonetheless. He excelled with Double-A Reading in 2022, striking out 37 in 28.1 innings pitched. Painter is currently on the 60-day MiLB injured list with a UCL sprain in his throwing arm. 

1. Jackson Merrill, SS, San Diego Padres 

Merrill is the No. 1 ranked prospect for the San Diego Padres, and the No. 14 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. Although he is with High-A Fort Wayne, Merrill’s talent is expected to skyrocket him straight to Petco Park. The left-handed hitter showcased his skills in Single-A Lake Elsinore, posting a slash line of .325/.387/.482. The shortstop’s arm is graded a 60 out of 70 by MLB scouts, indicating he may have no problem switching to another infield position if current San Diego Padres’ shortstop Xander Bogaerts stands in his way. 

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