Best MLB players under 25 in 2023: Top young baseball players
More than ever before, baseball is a young man’s game, which is why some of the best MLB players under 25 in 2023 will also be among the best players in MLB this season of any age.
Of course, it’s still too early to say for sure that some of the top young baseball players right now will end up being among the greatest baseball players of all time. But a few of these players are definitely on that path.
Best MLB players under 25 in 2023
There is such a great collection of young talent in the game today that we came up with a list of the 25 best MLB players under 25 in 2023. Even then, there are probably some players left off our list of the best young players in MLB who will have stand-out seasons this year.
Figuring out how to rank the best MLB players under 25 in 2023 was another challenge because these are truly some of the best players in the game today. With that in mind, here is our ranking of the 25 best young players in MLB who will be 24 or younger on opening day in 2023.
25. Shane Baz
In Tampa, talented young pitchers almost grow on trees, and Shane Baz looks to be the next in line. Still just 23, Baz made his MLB debut in 2021, which was the same year he won an Olympic silver medal.
Unfortunately, elbow trouble plagued him throughout the 2022 season, eventually forcing him to get Tommy John surgery. While it’s unlikely he’ll pitch in 2023, on the off chance that he does and in recognition of his great potential, we wanted to include Baz on our list of the top players under 25.
24. Alek Thomas
Despite spending most of 2022 in the majors, Alek Thomas didn’t make a huge impact for the D’Backs, hitting .231 with an OPS of .619.
But the Diamondbacks know they have a young outfielder with impressive tools and a lot of promise. After playing for Mexico in the WBC, he’ll have a chance to establish himself as Arizona’s primary center fielder in 2023.
23. Riley Greene
Drafted fifth overall in 2019, Riley Greene made his MLB debut last season, and the Tigers are hoping 2023 can be his breakout season. He got close to 400 at-bats under his belt last year, although his .683 OPS doesn’t stand out.
A year ago, he was among the top prospects in all of baseball, so the Tigers believe the talent is there and the 22-year-old just needs time to develop. He’ll get a chance to do so in 2023 as Detroit’s primary center fielder.
22. Jo Adell
The Angels have long had high hopes for Jo Adell and probably rushed him to the big leagues, calling him up in 2020 at the age of 21. He hasn’t quite taken off, batting .215 with an OPS of .615 over his first 161 games in the majors.
Essentially, he’s played one full season and has struggled to find consistency thus far. But he’s had plenty of moments to make the Angels think he can reach his potential. Obviously, he doesn’t need to be a prominent part of the lineup for the Angels. However, with Taylor Ward and Hunter Renfroe, Adell is going to have to fight for playing time in 2023 despite having immense talent and upside.
21. Akil Baddoo
Since he plays for the Tigers, it’s a little easier to overlook Akil Baddoo. But he’s definitely a young player to watch closely.
The problem is that he failed to follow up on a promising rookie season in 2021. Last year, Baddoo batted just .204 with an OPS of .558, forcing a demotion to triple-A at one point. But growing pains should be expected from young players, even if Baddoo was one of the best rookies in the American League in 2021.
He’s still young enough to put everything together and should have no problem getting more opportunities as an everyday player for the rebuilding Tigers this season.
20. Jarred Kelenic
Perhaps the Mariners rushed Jarred Kelenic a little bit when they called him up in 2021. He has exactly 500 at-bats in the big leagues over the last two seasons and is batting .168 with an OPS of .534.
Despite hitting 21 home runs during that span, which amounts to one full season, Kelenic has been largely overmatched.
However, he’s only 23 and still has raw tools that are as good as almost every other big leaguer under 25. Conventional wisdom says that he’ll break out at some point, especially since he has just crushed triple-A pitching, so 2023 could be the year Kelenic puts everything together.
19. Nolan Gorman
Still just 22 years old, Nolan Gorman flashed plenty of promise during his rookie season in 2022.
While bouncing between St. Louis and triple-A, he found time to hit 14 homers and 13 doubles in 89 games. This year, he’ll have a chance to carve out a prominent role as the primary DH for the Cardinals.
18. Andrew Vaughn
With his 25th birthday coming on April 3, Andrew Vaughn barely qualifies among the top players under 25 heading into the 2023 season. Nevertheless, he has a chance to be one of the best if he can continue to build off last year’s campaign.
Defensively, he’s not necessarily an asset, which hurts him. But after posting an OPS of .750 with 17 home runs, the White Sox are starting to see the player they thought he was getting when they took him third overall in the 2019 draft.
He figures to be Chicago’s primary first baseman this season, and if he can continue to improve his power numbers, Vaughn can become a key part of what the White Sox hope to accomplish this year.
17. Corbin Carroll
The Diamondbacks called up Corbin Carroll last August and he started to show why he was once a first-round pick. He immediately became one of the fastest players in the big leagues and stole over 30 bases in the minors last season to prove it.
In just 32 games, Carroll accumulated 15 extra-base hits, posting an OPS of .830, creating a lot of excitement for what he can bring to Arizona in 2023 when Carroll will have a chance to be the team’s everyday right fielder.
16. Gunnar Henderson
For a player with just 116 at-bats in the big leagues, there is an incredible amount of hype surrounding Gunnar Henderson. He rose quickly through the minors and played 34 games for the Orioles last year, batting .259 with an OPS of .788.
The guy was crushing it in the minors last season and also stole 22 bases before going to the show. His brief audition last season was enough to make him the frontrunner to be Baltimore’s everyday third baseman this year and have a breakout season.
15. Andres Munoz
The Mariners are thrilled to have a young flamethrower like Andres Munoz serving as a key part of their bullpen. Munoz was so good last year that Seattle gave him a four-year, $7.5 million extension.
He struck out 96 batters in 65 innings of work while pitching to a 2.49 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. In 2023, Munoz will have a chance to become Seattle’s full-time closer and continue to establish himself as one of the best receivers in baseball.
14. Oneil Cruz
The hype train on Oneil Cruz has been moving full steam ahead for several years. That’s what happens with 6’7’’ shortstops with enormous potential, especially for a perennial basement dweller like the Pirates.
The immediate reviews have been a little mixed for Cruz thus far after he hit just .233 with 126 strikeouts in 87 games for Pittsburgh last season. But it’s not hard to see the massive potential and upside with him.
He also had 34 extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases in those 87 games, producing an OPS of .744. Cruz will continue to be an everyday shortstop in 2023, and the Pirates will be hoping he can take a big step forward in his development. Also, with the new shift rules in place, we’ll see if the 6’7’’ Cruz truly does have the athleticism to play shortstop at the highest level.
13. Dylan Carlson
After spending three full seasons in the majors, it’s hard to believe that Dylan Carlson is still under 25. But he won’t turn 25 until this October, which means the Cardinals shouldn’t worry too much about his up-and-down performance over the last three seasons.
He was a finalist for Rookie of the Year in 2021, showing a glimpse of the player he could become. While he seemed to hit a wall last season, Carlson still finished the season with 30 doubles for the second straight season. At some point, he figures to settle in and become a more consistent player, which the Cards hope he can do in 2023.
12. Keibert Ruiz
Once among the top prospects in baseball, the future is still bright for Keibert Ruiz. He didn’t shine offensively last year, batting just .251 with an OPS of .673. But he was starting to heat up down the stretch before missing the last chunk of the season with an injury.
That’s good news for the Nationals, who can afford to be patient with Ruiz and let him develop. The tools that made him the focal piece of the Max Scherzer trade to the Dodgers two years ago are still there, so look for significant improvement from Ruiz in 2023.
11. MacKenzie Gore
There has to be some part of MacKenzie Gore who was disappointed to be traded to the Nationals last summer. However, it’s high praise for the lefty to be included in the Juan Soto trade.
Thanks to an elbow injury, we didn’t get to see the best that Gore has to offer last season, although he got off to a fast start after being called up in mid-April. As the third overall pick in the draft in 2017, he brings serious upside to the Washington rotation if he can return to full health in 2023.
10. Bobby Witt Jr.
As an MLB legacy, the future figures to be bright for Bobby Witt Jr. The Royals used the second overall pick in the 2019 draft on him and are only starting to reap the rewards. His .722 OPS last season doesn’t look like anything spectacular.
However, Witt had 20 home runs, 31 doubles, six triples, and 30 stolen bases. A 20-20 season from a rookie is nothing to scoff at. If some of those doubles turn into home runs, Witt has serious 30-30 potential. Plus, he’s only 22 and has just one year in the majors under his belt, so his best days are still ahead of him.
9. Alejandro Kirk
It’s not easy making it in the majors as a young catcher, which is what makes what Alejandro Kirk accomplished last season all the more impressive. He made the All-Star Team after a strong first half and then won the Silver Slugger Award, out-hitting the other catchers in the American League with his .285 average and .787 OPS.
Even if he still has some work to do defensively, Kirk has established himself as an integral part of Toronto’s lineup and should have a bright future ahead of him in 2023 and beyond.
8. Wander Franco
With a year and a half in the majors under his belt, Wander Franco is already a known commodity. But he’s still just 22 and poised to be one of the best MLB players under 25 in 2023. Despite not being anywhere close to his ceiling, Franco has hit .282 with an OPS of .776 in the majors, and that’s before his 22nd birthday.
A wrist injury ate up a big chunk of his 2022 season. But Franco came on strong late in the season after coming back from the injury. That should make the Rays feel confident about the direction he’s heading with the hope that Franco can take another big step forward in 2023.
7. Ian Anderson
When the Braves won the World Series in 2021, Ian Anderson was an integral part. He made four postseason starts, going 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA, including a start when he tossed five no-hit innings.
However, he followed that up with an erratic season in 2022. Despite winning 10 games in 22 starts, Anderson posted an ERA of 5.00 and a WHIP of 1.51. When Atlanta demoted him to triple-A in August, Anderson led the league in walks issued.
The Braves were expecting him to take a big step forward and lead their rotation, but that’s not what happened. The good news is that Anderson is still just 24 and still has time to turn things around, giving him a high ceiling and making him one of the most intriguing young pitchers heading into 2023.
6. Andres Gimenez
After being the centerpiece of the Francisco Lindor trade, the Guardians had high hopes for Andres Gimenez. Well, it didn’t take him long to deliver. In his first full season in the majors last year, Gimenez hit .297 with an OPS of .837 with 17 home runs, 26 doubles, and 20 stolen bases.
Not only did he become an all-star for the first time but the 24-year-old also won Gold Glove honors. As a natural shortstop, Gimenez has a chance to be an elite defensive second baseman.
He also showed a little more power than expected last season, showing the potential to be a 20-20 player. But even if he doesn’t get to that level, his 2022 campaign is a sign that Gimenez could be one of the best second basemen in baseball for a long time to come.
5. Michael Harris II
As the reigning Rookie of the Year in the National League, Michael Harris II is set up to be even better in 2023. The Braves didn’t call him up until late May but Harris still had time to rack up 19 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
In other words, he was one home run away from joining the 20-20 club as a rookie in roughly two-thirds of a season. Harris also hit .297 in the majors after coming up straight from double-A. He’s only 22 and has had incredible success despite not facing a lot of elite pitching, which means the sky is the limit for him.
4. Fernando Tatis Jr.
It’s a little tricky how to rank Fernando Tatis Jr. among the best MLB players under 25 in 2023. He’s going to miss the first 21 games of the season and still figures to have some rust to shake off after sitting out all of 2022.
The Padres also spent a fortune on Xander Bogaerts this offseason, forcing Tatis to move to the outfield, so he’ll have to adjust to a new position. That being said, the last time we saw Tatis, he led the majors with 42 home runs in 2021. Over his first three seasons in the majors, he’s batting .292 with an OPS of .965. Even if the 24-year-old doesn’t live up to those numbers in his return from a full season away, Tatis should still be considered among the top young baseball players right now.
3. Julio Rodriguez
Julio Rodriguez had a spectacular rookie season in 2022. He was named an all-star and Rookie of the Year while also winning the Silver Slugger Award and making the All-MLB Second Team.
The Mariners have to be excited about what he’ll do for an encore with Rodriguez set to be one of the best MLB players under 25 in 2023. Not every player is able to turn the tools and athleticism that Rodriguez has into production the way the young Dominican did last year, much less do it at such a young age.
After hitting .284 with 28 homers and 25 stolen bases last season, Rodriguez has a chance to hit .300 and be a 30-30 player if he can take another step forward.
2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Just a few years into his career, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is already on his way toward surpassing his father, who’s in the Hall of Fame. Everyone knows that Guerrero has immense power but he’s also started to round out his game. Even if he didn’t put up the same type of power numbers in 2022 as he did the previous season, Guerrero won a Gold Glove and stole eight bases, two elements of his game few realized that he had.
Plus, his .311 average and 1.002 OPS from 2021 may not even be where Guerrero’s ceiling is, which is a scary thought for such a young player.
1. Juan Soto
As hard as it is to believe, Juan Soto won’t turn 25 until October. It only seems like he’s older because he’s been in the big leagues since 2018. Soto was a star almost right away, helping the Nats win the World Series in 2019 and then winning a batting title and Silver Slugger award in 2020.
Oddly enough, Soto endured one of the worst stretches of his career during the second half of 2022 after he was traded to the Padres. However, there’s no reason to think that Soto won’t bounce back in 2023, especially since he’ll be a free agent next year and will be surrounded by other great hitters in a stacked San Diego lineup.
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