The Prospect Watchlist: The 2023 All-Watchlist Team

A Look Back at the Best Hidden Gems in 2023

Another MiLB season is just about completed. And to celebrate, let’s look back at the prospects that have been highlighted the most by the Watchlist – here’s our 2023 All-Watchlist Team.

Like the Prospect Watchlist 1st Half All Stars, this team is a starting 9 (with honorable mentions at each position) that, in keeping with the intent of this column, highlights notable under-rostered prospects.

With that said, let’s get to this week’s prospects…


C Moises Ballesteros, CHC, Low A/High A


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 1 (including 1st Half All Star)

Ballesteros or Basallo? Basallo or Ballesteros? Both teenage catchers are finishing 2023 with arrows pointed way up regarding their prospect value.

For Ballesteros, there’s a slightly higher chance he remains at catcher, which is what ultimately gave him the nod on the list. But if you have either player, you’re benefiting from their ability to ascend through their individual org’s lower minors and enter the offseason ready to face more advanced competition.


Honorable Mention: C Samuel Basallo, BAL, Low A


Basallo is probably the third favorite Orioles prospect in the dynasty community right now after Holliday and Coby Mayo. The power hasn’t stopped and he continues to mature as an overall hitter which makes him that much more likely to climb up prospect rankings. The next step is showing out against more advanced secondaries than he’s previously faced.

If he can handle AA-level breakers and change-ups, the Orioles could have a 90s Dodgers-era lock on Rookie of the Year for the foreseeable future.


1B Nathan Martorella, SDP, High A


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 2 (including 1st Half All Star)

1B has been a revolving door on the Watchlist this year which points to the depth of talent and the fact that there will always be first basemen who click seemingly out of nowhere. Keep this in mind when drafting in FYPDs, later rounds of dynasty startups, and making trades!

That said, it shouldn’t undersell Martorella’s performance through multiple levels this year. The combination of plate discipline and all-field power seems like it should encounter a few obstacles as he ascends in San Diego.

If we cheat a little bit and look ahead to 2024, many will circle Angels 1st round draftee Nolan Schanuel as fitting into this current model but with his poor EVs, I’m hesitant to put him in the mix with Manzardo/Pasquantino/Martorella.


Honorable Mention: Pick ’em


A cop-out I know but honestly, you could throw a dart and come across pretty good value at 1B this year. If proximity is your thing, the aforementioned Schanuel is already locked in as the Angels’ starter.

Manzardo was dealt to a 1B-starved team and is looking to put a rollercoaster of a 2023 behind him.

You love classic thumpers? Ivan Melendez or Abimelec Ortiz are cut from that cloth. And the Watchlist never even highlighted industry darling Xavier Isaac. Cast your line, you’re almost certain to nab a first baseman worth your time.


2B Ryan Bliss, SEA, AAA


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 1 (including 1st Half All Star)

Bliss jumped on radars in the first half of the year, making the Futures Game in Seattle as a representative of the Diamondbacks. Coincidentally, he could be making his major league debut at T-Mobile Park as a Mariner. After being promoted to AAA, Bliss was traded to Seattle for Paul Sewald where he put the finishing touches on a 22HR/50SB season.

The batted ball data is still pretty wonky for Bliss. At the AAA level, he sported a .179 BA vs. 4S fastballs but slugged .436 as well as hitting 6 of his 10 AAA HRs off of four-seamers. Conversely, against 115 offspeed pitches, he hit .273 and slugged .467 but only hit 1 HR. Going further, he’s making contact (80%) but mostly on the ground (64% GB).

Bliss should get major league time as Seattle has yet to produce a compelling answer for second base, cycling through José Caballero, Dylan Moore, Kolten Wong, and now Josh Rojas. It’s possible Bliss is nothing more than a slightly more explosive version of Caballero but after being named to the 2023 Arizona Fall League, he’ll have more opportunity to raise his ceiling.


Honorable Mention: 2B Termarr Johnson, PIT, High A


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 1

No, Ryan Bliss is not currently a better player or more valuable overall prospect than Termarr Johnson. Johnson’s here, in part because there were few second basemen represented on the Watchlist this year, as well as the fact that his batting average continues to be much lower than expected.

Johnson’s batted ball data continues to be plus and his wRC+ is well above average at each level. The batting average is worth pointing out because it was a large part of his value proposition, especially in BA leagues. If Johnson is a .250-ish but high OBP hitter, it could provide a fascinating wrinkle in dynasty rankings.


3B Thomas Saggese, STL, AAA


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 3 (including 1st Half All Star)

Given Josh Jung’s stranglehold on the position and the Rangers’ newly opened contention window, Saggese is the exact type of prospect that gets sent out as Texas looks for reinforcements to secure their division.

On a weaker team with less talent ahead of him, Saggese could quickly find himself in the big leagues.

That was the quote from Saggese’s 1st half write up and whaddyaknow, he was sent to St. Louis a few weeks later in a deal for Jordan Montgomery. And he’s flourished.

Unfortunately, St. Louis even in a down year, seems solidified at 3B (that Arenado guy is pretty good), SS, and arguably even 2B. Tough break for Saggese but he’s doing everything he can to force the Cardinals to make a decision on his future.


Honorable Mention: 3B Justyn-Henry Malloy, DET, AAA


I’ve talked about him, Matt Heckman has had him on his Stash List since Week 7 of the season, what else is there to say? At this point, I’m fine if Malloy is terrible and never amounts to anything at the big-league level…I just want to see him get the playing time to find out.


SS Cole Young, SEA, Low A


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 1 (including 1st Half All Star)

You have two prospects, both SS, both finishing an age-20 season. This is a snapshot of their 2023 in High A.

Seems like a coin flip, right? Well, Player B is Cole Young. Finishing up an excellent second pro season, Young moved through both Single-A levels and definitively improved as he went. His wRC+ jumped almost 20 points from 128 to 142 and his profile as a patient hitter with pop and plus speed continued rounding into focus.

Not only did Young finish 2023 with 11 HRs but he also hit a combined 34 doubles. One imagines that some of those extra-base hits will translate into additional flyballs leaving the yard as he matures. Young seems destined as a very productive fantasy SS.

A 20/20 baseline puts him in Anthony Volpe territory but with far better plate skills. Oh and Player A? That’s the High A line for #1 overall prospect Jackson Holliday.


Honorable Mention: SS Ryan Ritter, COL, AA


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 2

Ritter finished his 2023 having played at 3 different levels along with being honored as the California League MVP. There are several caveats, however, which re-contextualize what seems like a breakout season for Ritter.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that the California League is known as a hitter’s league, based on the park factors of each affiliate. While it’s not to the extremes of the Pacific Coast League, it’s not uncommon to see a weaker bat profile as a power hitter in the Cal League.

Next, Ritter’s strikeouts ballooned at each level correlating to an aggressive approach that topped out at a 51% swing rate. Interestingly, Ritter’s power declined at High A but stolen bases actually increased. It’s still not completely clear what to make of Ritter as a prospect, hopefully, 2024 brings some clarity.


3B/RF Coby Mayo, BAL, AAA


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 1

There’s never a good time to get injured but Ryan Mountcastle’s shoulder injury suddenly brings even more intrigue to what the 2024 Orioles lineup will look like and beyond. With Mayo establishing himself as the Orioles’ best right-handed hitting prospect and 3B and right field both stacked, there has to be consideration by the Baltimore brass of where Mayo fits into things.

Maybe he gets dealt or maybe Mountcastle ends up getting “Wally Pip’d” at DH at some point next season. Regardless, Mayo is pushing for major league playing time somewhere, and his dynasty managers will benefit hugely from his potential.


3B/OF Sterlin Thompson, COL, AA


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 1

Thompson’s tear through High A was only hindered by an unspecified injury that kept him out for nearly a month. Otherwise, he set it ablaze with a 147 wRC+ and .197 ISO. That was good enough for promotion to AA, where he continued impressing, hitting 7 more homers with a .190 ISO.

The batting average is deceiving, Thompson’s .230 at Spokane is hampered by a low BABIP (.264) and an uptick in groundballs by almost 10%. Where he ends up defensively is still a question but the bat seems to be up to snuff, even for a Rockies prospect.


OF Jonatan Clase, SEA, AA


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 1

Let’s keep it simple, Clase put up a 201 wRC+ in 106 High A PAs. Even though his AA line has dropped significantly, the speed and power remain evident. Clase hit 13 HRs, 19 doubles, and stole 62 bases at AA Arkansas, continuing to show his ceiling as a spark plug.

There are swing & miss and pitch recognition skills that still need improvement but considering he’s only 21 years old, he can repeat the level to start next season without a major hit to his value.


Honorable Mention: OF Moisés Gómez, STL, AAA


You’re banking purely on power with Gomez, there’s not even an Adolis Garcia-esque breakout hiding underneath the low batting average and high strikeout rate. It’s the type of profile that a low-revenue team like Oakland is likely to take a gamble upon in a trade, perhaps that’s where Gomez will get his chance at the major league level.


SP Drew Thorpe, NYY, Double A


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 3

While Thorpe cooled down to finish his 2023, his summer was a heat wave of dominance through High A and AA.

If the Yankees are serious about turning the page to allow their highly touted prospects to start gaining playing time, Thorpe has pushed himself to the top of the list for 2024. There’s going to be trepidation because of his change-up heavy repertoire & low-velocity fastball and possible that combination leads to some ugly outcomes. But it’s exciting just to see him get the opportunity given the polish he’s shown so far in the minors.


Honorable Mentions:

SP Josh Stephan, TEX, AA


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 2

Stephan started off hot and finished his season on a high note but did suffer some down notes including injury in-between. While the lack of effectiveness from Owen White in his first big league season doesn’t bode well for Stephan who has some similar stuff and similar ascendancy through the Rangers pipeline, there’s still enough for dynasty managers to remain intrigued. 

Chase Hampton is probably the only pitcher who’s had a rise in value in such a short amount of time anywhere close to what Misiorowski has experienced. His SwStr and K-BB% at the High A level put him in an outlier territory this season that’s truly special.

Now that he’s at AA, some of those early gaudy numbers have stepped back towards being good, not great. That’s to be expected, the question is whether he can push himself into an SP2/3 ceiling.

If there’s more velocity to tease out, it’ll likely occur in the off-season but more than likely, Hampton’s profile will be decided by his refinement of his fastball command. We know the slider is deadly but can he throw enough strikes in the upper minors with an average fastball design without getting hit hard?


SP Cory Lewis, MIN, High A


Prospect Watchlist mentions: 2

Lewis’ one-man resurrection of the knuckle-ball continued as he was promoted from Low A to High A in June. As expected, his K rate adjusted while facing more talented and mature hitters, but he still generated over 40% in ground balls.

Lewis’s success is dependent on his ability to deceive hitters at every level into poor contact quality, so standard indicators like swinging strike rate or K-BB% are a bit less valuable in illustrating his performance. Watch how his 2024 begins, a fast start could point to a quick promotion to AA and a boost in prospect value in your league.

LaMar Gibson

A lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan that still hasn't forgiven Jeffrey Maier, Tony Fernandez, the 2014 Royals, or Edwin Encarnacion...and has no interest in doing so in the foreseeable future. You can read more of LaMar's thoughts by subscribing to his free monthly newsletter, Inside Fastball, for all things prospects.

2 responses to “The Prospect Watchlist: The 2023 All-Watchlist Team”

  1. Babbo B says:

    Probably only matters to me since I live there, but FWIW Sterlin Thompson hit .323 in High-A Spokane (an extreme hitters’ park), .238 in AA Modesto (an extreme pitchers’ park) :)

  2. Babbo B says:

    Oops, now I’m doing it too – make that AA Hartford

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