Welcome to our preseason Stash List, the hitter edition!
The Stash List will be a regular occurring article each week of the season as we bring you the top prospects who can make an impact this season.
- The Stash List focuses only on 2023 redraft leagues and prospects that can help you win in 2023.
- Only current prospect-eligible players will be discussed (players with less than 130 AB/50 IP).
- ADP will be provided from NFBC data.
Hitters That Will Likely Be on Opening Day Rosters
1. Gunnar Henderson, 3B/SS, BAL
Gunnar Henderson made his much anticipated MLB debut on August 31 last year and finished the season out in Baltimore. Across 132 plate appearances, he posted a .259/.348/.440 slash with four home runs and a stolen base. It capped a strong season that led Henderson to rise to the top of prospect rankings.
Across 503 MiLB plate appearances, Henderson blistered baseballs to a 107.2 mph 90th percentile exit velocity. For reference, MLB average last year was 103.7. He also hit the ball consistently hard, with a 92.2 mph average and a 52.7 percent hard-hit rate.
Some are concerned by the high ground ball rate we saw from Henderson in both the majors (59.8%) and in Triple-A (50.3%). I am here to tell you not to be worried about those numbers. A swing change before 2022 led to more contact and despite the high ground ball rate, Henderson still managed 23 home runs. He should be a solid source of batting average and power with some sneaky stolen base numbers.
2. Corbin Carroll, OF, ARI
Much like Henderson, Corbin Carroll also made his debut in late August. He posted a slash of .260/.330./500 with four home runs and two stolen bases. Between the Minors and Majors, Carroll hit 27 home runs and stole 33 bases. Some question the power due to hitter-friendly Double and Triple-A environments, but Carroll hit the ball quite hard. His 106.2 mph 90th percentile exit velocity and 89.9 mph average are both impressive for someone who is 5’10/165 lb. A 47% hard-hit rate topped off a solid performance in the minors.
Carroll has game-changing speed and was clocked as the fastest player in baseball last season. He makes strong contact and does not chase pitches out of the zone often. Carroll’s upside is tremendous with the power and speed he brings to the table.
3. Jordan Walker, 3B/OF, STL
Jordan Walker is a monster at the plate. He hits the ball insanely hard and despite being 6’5″/220 lb, Walker moves very well. His sprint speed was clocked at 29.9 feet per second in the Arizona Fall League which for reference would have been tied for the 12th-fastest player in baseball last season.
4. Miguel Vargas, 3B/1B, LAD
The word on the street is Miguel Vargas is going to get a chance at everyday playing time this year in Los Angeles. Vargas got a small cup of tea with the Dodgers last year, but with a full season, we should see the true Vargas. He struggled out of the gate in Triple-A last year but still managed a .304/.404/.511 slash with 17 home runs. He may never be a fantasy standout like the first three prospects listed, but Vargas should be a strong performer in a strong lineup in LA.
5. Josh Jung, 3B, TEX
Josh Jung likely would have exhausted prospect eligibility already if not for a torn labrum that set him back most of the 2022 season. His debut had to wait until September after Jung returned for rehab in the Minors in late July. Despite the injury, which usually limits power upon return, Jung hit 14 home runs in 239 plate appearances between MiLB and MLB. He is a strong buy in redraft leagues as he fills a weak position and is in a strong lineup.
6. Triston Casas, 1B, BOS
Triston Casas‘ debut took longer than Red Sox fans wanted, but outside of power, his September in Boston was far from memorable. His .197 batting average was sub-par, but he did hit five home runs and displayed strong OBP skills. Casas hits the ball hard and has better contact skills than his average in Boston suggests. He does struggle against left-handed pitching which is a bit concerning, but there is still 30-home run upside.
7. Ezequiel Tovar, SS, COL
Ezequiel Tovar broke out in a big way in 2022 and the Rockies aggressively pushed him. He began the year in Double-A as a 20-year-old. Before going down with a groin injury in late June, he had 13 home runs and 17 stolen bases to pair with a .320/.390/.552 slash. When he returned from injury in September, his rehab assignment was in Triple-A. After five games, he was promoted for nine games in the Majors to end the season. Tovar should be the everyday shortstop in Colorado and that ballpark will only help his already strong batting averages.
8. Oswald Peraza, SS, NYY
Oswald Peraza flew under the radar after a slow start to the season last year. After missing a bit of time in mid-June, he returned and finished his final 50 games in Triple-A with a .301/.372/.541 slash, 13 home runs, and 19 stolen bases. Peraza debuted with the Yankees and posted strong numbers in September. He is slated to be the team’s everyday shortstop and will have every chance to keep the job. There are strong contact skills with intriguing power and speed here.
9. Oscar Colas, OF, CHW
When you consider the fact that Oscar Colas was out of games for over two years?! Colas moved from High-A to Triple-A and combined to slash .314/.371/.524 with 23 home runs. He has massive raw power and legitimate 30-home run upside. He posted a 106 mph 90th-percentile exit velocity with a respectable 81% zone-contact rate. There are some chase rate issues, which could get exploited at the Major League level, so don’t expect Colas to be a .300 hitter. There could be some struggles in his initial debut, but Colas is still a very exciting prospect who could play the entire 2023 season with the White Sox.
10. Esteury Ruiz, OF, OAK
Looking on the surface at Esteury Ruiz’s MiLB slash of .332/.447/.526 last season, you may wonder why he is not higher on the prospect list. Tack on the fact he hit 16 home runs and stole 85 bases and now you really are looking at a top prospect. Ruiz has speed for days and could be a game-changer when it comes to stolen bases. The power is in question, however. His exit velocities all year were well below average. If you are looking for an extreme source of stolen bases, consider Ruiz in your drafts.
11. Logan O’Hoppe, C, LAA
A trade that sent Brandon Marsh to Philadelphia saw Logan O’Hoppe head to Los Angeles to be the Angels catcher of the future. O’Hoppe mashed 26 home runs in 360 Double-A at-bats while posting a .283/.416/.544 slash. He got a small cup of coffee in Los Angeles to end the season. All signs point to O’Hoppe being the Angels’ everyday guy behind the dish in 2023. He brings strong power and high OBP upside. He is worth drafting in all leagues where 15 or more catchers are rostered.
12. Will Brennan, OF, CLE
Will Brennan brings strong contact skills and plenty of batting average upside to the table. The power came along last year as he hit 14 home runs between the Minors and a small MLB sample. In addition, Brennan has speed and stole 22 bases. Brennan isn’t listed as a starter according to Roster Resource, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take Myles Straw’s spot before long.
13. Spencer Steer, INF, CIN
Spencer Steer played all over the diamond last season, playing every infield spot. He is expected to get a chance to win the third base job in Spring Training. Steer does not have stand-out tools but could be average or better across the board with a chance for his power to play up in Great American Ballpark.
14. Nolan Jones, OF, COL
Nolan Jones in Coors Field feels like a match made in heaven. Jones had always had big power, but his passiveness at the plate has always hurt him. When Jones swings the bat and connects his quality of contact is good. The Rockies are prone to sign Geraldo Perdomo to block him, but Jones is an intriguing late-round target in drafts.
15. Alec Burleson, OF, STL
Alec Burleson‘s Triple-A performance suggests he is more than ready for a big-league role with the Cardinals. Unfortunately, he may be destined to begin the year on the bench considering the depth the Cardinals have across the board. Burleson brings strong contact skills and good power. An injury could land Burleson regular playing time in St. Louis.
Hitters Who Could Get the Call by Mid Season
16. Anthony Volpe, SS, NYY
Anthony Volpe stands a chance to get a mid-season callup or earlier if Oswald Peraza struggles out of the gate. Some are down on him after a 2022 season when he posted just a .249 batting average. Volpe has high-end speed with solid power. He hit 21 home runs and stole 50 bases last year. Volpe’s contact numbers suggest a much higher batting average than we saw last season. Many Yankees fans believe he could be their shortstop of the future. Considering he got just 99 Triple-A plate appearances last season, he should begin the season there and be in line for a mid-season call-up to the Yankees if all goes well.
17. Colton Cowser, OF, BAL
Many doubted that Colton Cowser’s strong college performance was legit and questioned the fifth overall selection by the Orioles. But Cowser has proved that what he did at Sam Houston State was no fluke. He had a solid initial showing after the draft in 2021, but his stock soared this year thanks to solid performances from Low-A up to Triple-A. Maybe you are a bit underwhelmed by his Triple-A numbers, but it was a small sample, and we still saw plenty of good despite a .219 batting average. His profile is not flashy, but he is a real threat to be a consistent 20/20 bat with good batting averages and elite OBPs.
18. Curtis Mead, 2B/3B, TB
I still think Curtis Mead is one of the more underrated prospects in baseball. The Aussie went home during the pandemic, played in the Australian Professional League, and returned a different player. Injuries limited Mead to just 331 plate appearances between Double and Triple-A in 2022, but he still managed to post 13 home runs and seven steals with a .298/.390/.532 slash. Mead has an elite combo of exit velocities and contact skills. The biggest question regarding his profile is how the Rays manage him.
19. Brett Baty, 3B, NYM
Brett Baty got his cup of coffee with the Mets and was a bit underwhelming. But that came on the heels of a very strong performance in Double and Triple-A. Baty posts strong exit velocities and makes good contact. The Mets have loaded up on talent, but the voiding of the Carlos Correa deal opens an opportunity for Baty if Eduardo Escobar struggles.
20. Endy Rodriguez, C, PIT
The rise of Endy Rodriguez has been nothing short of impressive. Known for being one of the hardest workers and a clubhouse leader, Rodriguez moved from High-A to Triple-A with a stop in Double-A in between. He improved at every level, depending on what statistics you look at. The 6’0 versatile catcher also showed the ability to play second base. Between all three MiLB levels, he slashed an impressive .323/.407/.590 with 25 home runs, 95 RBI, and 92 runs scored. Pittsburgh needs this kind of bat in their lineup sooner than later.
21. Sal Frelick, OF, MIL
Sal Frelick is one of the best pure hitters in all of baseball. He makes elite contact and brings good speed to the table. Frelick is on the fast track to the Majors after being drafted in the first round of 2021. He spent 46 games to end his 2022 season in Triple-A and there’s a strong chance he could land in Milwaukee sooner than later.
22. Bo Naylor, C, CLE
Bo Naylor made his debut last season and seemed primed to be a regular in Cleveland this year behind the plate. Cleveland’s signing of Mike Zunino signified they may not be ready to run with Naylor as an everyday guy at catcher. There is a chance there could be a platoon situation as Naylor bats from the left side. I see the team beginning the season with Naylor in Triple-A, but Zunino should not block Naylor for long.
23. Connor Norby, 2B, BAL
Connor Norby enjoyed a successful breakout season in 2022. Norby had a good debut after the draft in 2021 but really took off once he moved to Double-A in 2022. Norby combined to hit 29 home runs and steal 16 bases across three levels. Norby profiles for a strong hit tool, but probably not that kind of power. With the Orioles having Adam Frazier locked in at second for now, don’t be surprised if Norby takes over the position by mid-season.
24. Brennen Davis, OF, CHC
Brennen Davis was a top-ten overall prospect in baseball after a massive 2021, but all that changed quickly. Injuries compounded, and Davis had back surgery in May, which set him back several months. He returned in mid-August but was not the same player, as you can tell by his stats. He made his way to the Arizona Fall League but played five games after dealing with more soreness. As a player, his profile has plenty of upside if he can get healthy. Davis is highly athletic with a frame of 6’4/200 lb. Power comes easy to him, and Davis is still a plus runner capable of stealing 10 to 15 bases annually.
25. Matt Mervis, 1B, CHC
Matt Mervis was one of baseball’s biggest breakout prospects in 2022. The former Duke Blue Devil went undrafted in the shortened 2020 draft, but that only pushed Mervis to work even harder to prove his worth. He hit 36 home runs over the course of three levels while also hitting .300. He continued to mash in the Arizona Fall League, adding six more home runs. Some may be quick to point to Mervis’ age, but the nature of signing in 2020 had a large part. Mervis spent the majority of 2022 in Double and Triple-A, where he was younger than the league average age. The signings of Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini limit the chances Mervis gets playing time early on, but his talent and skills with the bat should enable him to earn a spot by midseason.
For an in-depth breakdown of Matt Mervis, check out my article on Pitcher List.
Chase Field: Unsplash | Jimmy Conover
Gunnar Henderson: Baltimore Orioles vs Cleveland Guardians on August 31, 2022, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)
Corbin Carroll: Arizona Diamondbacks vs Los Angeles Dodgers on September 21, 2022 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
Ezequiel Tovar: Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers on October 3, 2022 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller @kurt_player02 on Instagram / @KUwasemiller on Twitter