Checking out MLB’s top 10 prospects and their journey to the major leagues

Jordan Walker is expected to be promoted to St. Louis this season.  (AP Photo/Scott Kane)
Jordan Walker is expected to be promoted to St. Louis this season. (AP Photo/Scott Kane)

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Five of MLB’s best young players have already graduated from prospect status this year, with Gunnar Henderson, Corbin Carroll, Francisco Álvarez, Grayson Rodriguez and Anthony Volpe reaching the majors, but there’s still plenty of talent below the big leagues. .

Here’s how baseball’s top 10 prospects fared in the first two months of the season and where they seem to be headed for the rest of the year, with a few already on the doorstep of MLB.

The following rankings come from MLB Pipeline as of Tuesday. All stats come into play on Tuesday.

MLB: .274/.321/.397 in 78 plate appearances, Triple-A: .238/.352/.381 in 125 plate appearances

For Walker, it’s not a question of when he makes it to the majors. It’s more like when he comes back.

The athletic slugger made the Cardinals’ opening day roster as a 20-year-old and held firm at home plate, but his defense was another story. A third baseman by trade, Walker was moved to the outfield due to the Cardinals’ employment of All-Star Nolan Arenado and struggled mightily – to the point where the Cardinals sent him back to Triple-A. Memphis towards the end of April.

The Cardinals are using the timeout to work on Walker’s hitting mechanics as well, due to a 60% foul rate in his first stint with the team, and the results were reportedly encouraging. Walker expects to be back in St. Louis this season.

Double-A: .259/.310/.424 in 187 plate appearances

One of last year’s biggest prospectors gets his first taste of the Double-A ball this year, usually the biggest leap a prospect takes before being called up to the majors. So far, it has been a tough task for the 19-year-old playing a top position and adjusting to a higher level of breaking shots.

The youngest player in this article, Chourio signed with the Brewers for $1.8 million in 2021 and boasts elite speed, plus a slick glove and a promising bat. He still has plenty of time to develop.

High-A: 0.371/0.487/0.639 in 119 plaque occurrences, Single-A: 0.392/0.523/0.667 in 65 plaque occurrences

Last year’s No. 1 draft pick plays like that. The son of former MLB All-Star Matt Holliday demolished pitchers in his first full season of affiliate pitch, entering Tuesday with a comedic .378/.500/.649 line with six home runs and 11 interceptions in 40 games. between Single-A and High-A. Holliday was already High-A’s youngest player, and he could have promotion to Double-A ahead of him by the end of this year.

The Orioles have had Baseball America’s best prospect for the past two years, with catcher Adley Rutschman and third baseman Gunnar Henderson. Holliday is on track to make it three in a row next year, and the majors might not be far in the future for him.

Triple-A: .304/.395/.644 in 157 plate appearances

The hitter with monster tools entered this season knocking on the doors of the majors, and all he did for two months was hit harder. The biggest concern with De La Cruz’s profile has always been his strikeout rate – he was hit in 30.8% of the board appearances at lower levels last year – but there may be some progress.

The other problem for the Reds is where to place him. Cincinnati has a promising shortstop in Matt McLain, who was hitting .380 in 57 plate appearances on Tuesday, but that might be De La Cruz’s best position going forward. Nick Senzel currently holds third base and could be the odd man out when De La Cruz makes his seemingly inevitable debut later this season.

High-A: .290/.366/.524 in 164 plate appearances

Mayer was arguably the top talent in the 2021 MLB Draft, but he fell to Boston at No. 4 for reasons he’s made seem silly so far in his career. The Red Sox clearly liked what they saw, as they promoted Mayer to Double-A Portland on Tuesday.

The Red Sox have had a Xander Bogaerts-sized hole in their infield since the longtime shortstop left for the San Diego Padres in free agency last offseason, and Mayer could provide the answer there more sooner than expected, with a likely ETA of 2024.

MLB: 2.84 ERA, 19 strikeouts in 19 innings, Triple-A: 2.32 ERA, 42 strikeouts in 31 innings

Pérez probably isn’t long for this list, as he nears the end of his eligibility after being called up earlier this month at a historically young age. So far in his MLB career, he’s looked like a major leaguer, with high ’90s heat and nasty breakup stuff.

Consider it one of the reasons the Marlins sit second in Newfoundland and Labrador East, at 28-26.

Double-A: .250/.250/.250 in four plate looks, High-A: .293/.392/.580 in 181 plate looks

Wood was the real price of Juan Soto’s blockbuster trade from the Nationals to the Padres last season, and he appears to be the team’s best chance at finding another star to build around.

A huge player, at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, Wood has rare athleticism for his size and has so far avoided typical player swing and misfire issues with his frame. He reached his next big test after being promoted to Double-A this week.

Double-A: .190/.315/.350 in 165 plate appearances

It was a tough start for Lawlar, who was given a big bonus by the D-backs after drafting him sixth overall in 2021. A strikeout rate of 27.9% reflects the difficulty of the Double-A adjustment , but he has plenty of time to figure things out.

Double-A: .283/.414/.395 in 186 plate appearances

Carter’s most impressive trait thus far has been his discipline at the plate, as evidenced by a 16.7 percent walk rate compared to a 19.9 percent strikeout rate this season. The Double-A fit didn’t get him hacked like some other players.

Carter’s tools are quite respectable, although his power has so far lagged where he was in High-A last year, with .476 strike percentage, 18 doubles and 11 circuits. So far this season, 35 of Carter’s 43 hits have been singles.

Did not pitch this season

Painter is here primarily as a warning that you shouldn’t fall in love with a pitching prospect, but it’s also a testament to his talent that he’s still a top 10 prospect despite his injury issues.

The 13th pick in the 2021 MLB Draft and only 19 years old, Painter was rightfully competing for the Phillies’ opening day roster this season after reaching Double-A last season while posting a combined ERA of 1. .56, but fell with a UCL sprain in March and hasn’t pitched since. Recent reports indicate that Painter is launching again and is on track for a mid-summer comeback.

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