Travis Sherer’s Top 25 Players Under 25

Travis Sherer concludes his series by evaluating the top 25 players younger than 25 years old.


We all know that at any given time, there are some players in the minor leagues who are better than many major leaguers, so why don’t lists act accordingly? I spent considerable time doing the mental gymnastics to get as close as I could to my own version of “the snap.” I endeavored to rank the top overall baseball players at every age from 21-25. Essentially, these would be the best players at their age or younger if they were all playing the same game together.


Top 25 Under 25


This post concludes the Top 25 Under 25 series for now. I will revisit this series again in roughly six monthswhen a handful of the players below will age out. We might even get some others bumped by some new talent. As should be expected, the top 25 players younger than 25 years list is 90% major leaguers. There are only a few players who haven’t made their debuts yet with the skills to compete alongside this list of pros. One of them is likely to be called up by the end of the season, the other is not so lucky.

Let’s finish this:


25. Roberto Osuna, RHP, HOU, Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB


It just wouldn’t be a list by me if I didn’t include at least one reliever. Who better than to include a guy who is younger than 25 and in his fifth year as a closer? Yes, Roberto Osuna has been the picture of consistency since taking over the closer job in Toronto as a 20-year-old. He has ridden elite velocity with a high-end slider all the way to 140 saves already. Osuna is good for three things: a 0.90 WHIP, 35 saves, and a 2.75 ERA.


24. Brendan McKay, LHP, TB, Age: 23
Highest Level: MLB


What surprises me about Brendan McKay is how quickly the Rays brought him up. Generally a conservative organization when it comes to the promotion of players, McKay pitched just 150 innings in the minors before getting the call. When put in that context, it becomes more obvious why he’s a little up and down in The Show. Eventually, his stuff will win out on a more consistent basis. Probably not his bat though.

To read more about McKay, go to the Top 24 Under 24.


23. Alex Verdugo, RF/CF, LAD, Age: 23
Highest Level: MLB


Is Alex Verdugo the second coming of Andre Ethier? You be the judge:


Rookie Season G AVG OBP SLG HR BB/9 K/9
Alex Verdugo (2019) 103 .295 .344 .479 12 7.10 12.57
Andre Ethier (2006) 126 .308 .365 .477 11 7.71 17.46


OK. OK. So they aren’t exactly the same, but they are pretty close. As one of my favorite players, I’d be happy if there was another Ethier around. He always had a good approach and when healthy, decent power. To read more about Ethier 2.0, go to the Top 24 Under 24.


22. Julio Urias, LHP, LAD, Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB


Every time Julio Urias steps onto the mound, I say a little prayer to the baseball gods. I just want to see what this guy can do when the Dodgers let him work as a starter full time. That time should be 2020. It would be a real waste to make him a reliever without seeing what he can do for six innings at a time first. He has the four-pitch mix to be effective the second and maybe third time around a lineup already.  To read more about Urias, go to the Top 24 Under 24 and Top 23 Under 23.


21. Luis Arraez, 2B/3B/OF, MIN, Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB


It takes a special 22-year-old to come into the league and post a positive BB:K ratio. Most players don’t ever achieve that for even a 40-game stretch. Luis Arraez has done that in his first 42 games with 18 walks and 13 strikeouts. He’s actually already developing a reputation as one of the harder hitters to strike out with an insane 8.13 strikeout rate. This isn’t a fluke. This kid’s approach might not be quite this good, but it’s close enough. I wouldn’t be surprised if he continued the positive BB:K ratio the rest of the season.

To read more about Arraez, go to the Top 24 Under 24 and Top 23 Under 23.


20. Adalberto Mondesi, SS, KC, Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB


The funny thing is, Adalberto Mondesi might have just barely made this list on his fielding alone. When you factor in his blazing speed and power potential, he’s a shoo-in. Some interesting stats about Mondesi: 31 steals in 82 games with an OBP of .294. That means he doesn’t get on base often, but when he does … he’s run-ning!

Mondesi also has more triples (nine) than home runs (seven). For a guy hitting .266/.294/.433 and early in the lineup, Mondesi would be on pace for almost 100 RBI if he played 162 games. Don’t expect that to continue going forward, but this season he has made the most of his opportunities.


19. Yoan Moncada, 2B, CWS, Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB


If I had done this list for the past five years, this might be the second time he makes it. For the record, I think this about Yoan Moncada’s ceiling. He’s made a change in his approach to both walk and strike out less. Right now, he’s slashing .301/.358/.535 with a pace of almost 30 home runs. I believe he’s more of a .275/.335/.490 hitter who gets about 25 homers. His speed suggests he could approach 40 doubles one day, but he has to make more contact in general. Right now, he’s just missed the 70% threshold. To really get to where I think he can be, that needs to be more like 75%, otherwise, that decrease in strikeout rate might only be temporary.


18. Nick Senzel, CF, CIN, Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB


For as anticipated as his debut seemed to be before he got hurt this past spring, Nick Senzel’s success has gone relatively uncelebrated. I don’t think anyone could have reasonably asked for more from Senzel, who is also learning a new position on the flyand doing it well. Offensively, he’s been the picture of quiet competence, slashing .285/.346/.475 with eight home runs and nine stolen bases in just 70 games. In the future, Senzel’s walk ratenow 8.3%is likely to rise past 10, but it’s good for a rookie.


17. Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL, Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB


Why is Keston Hiura lower than G-Lux or Vladito? While he has certainly done more with his time in the majors than Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and has more experience than Gavin Lux, there are warning signs. He swings too often outside the zone (37.1%) and doesn’t make contact when he does (47.7%). So far, his aggressiveness has worked (.317/.384/.605) with 11 home runs and 24 extra-base hits in just 45 games.

To read more about Hiura, go to the Top 24 Under 24.


16. Gavin Lux, 2B/SS, LAD, Age: 21
Highest Level: AAA


G-Lux is one of only two minor leaguers left on the list. Why is that? It’s not just the extra-base hit for every game he’s been in Triple-A, although that kind of production is rare at any level. It’s also his advanced approach. Lux has seemed to take it up a notch in Triple-A, posting a crazy 14.63% walk rate and 17.89% strikeout rate to go along with his 1.413 OPS.

To read more about Lux, go to the Top 24 Under 24, Top 23 Under 23, and Top 22 Under 22.


15. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, TOR, Age: 20
Highest Level: MLB


I’m running out of things to say about Vladito. That’s what happens when you write about a 20-year-old with 78 games of MLB experience. I want to reiterate that this list is to judge the players on the skills they have demonstrated to have right now, not in the future. That said, Guerrero has been decent for a rookie but not great. He’s shown an ability to work the count and moments of big power.

To read more about Guerrero, go to the Top 24 Under 24, Top 23 Under 23, Top 22 Under 22, and Top 21 Under 21.


14. Shane Bieber, RHP, CLE, Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB


Can Shane Bieber’s breakout be trusted? I think so. He’s not getting lucky. Bieber has changed his sequencing and usage to include more sliders and fewer fastballs. This choice has made both pitches more effective. The results are clear: going from a 9.26% strikeout rate in 2018 to an 11.16% in 2019. Also, he’s dropped more than three hits per nine innings to a very good 7.18 mark. All of these spell the ingredients of a pitcher who knows how to both limit baserunners and strike guys out. Not a common combo for a 24-year-old.


13. Chris Paddack, RHP, SD, Age: 23
Highest Level: MLB


Chris Paddack is here to stay. Is regression likely? Sure. But where? Probably his 6.01 hit/9 rate. That is very low and could go up by a full point. At the same time, there is a possibility that his strikeout rate increases from 9.33 to almost 10that changeup is just too good. To read more about Paddack, go to the Top 24 Under 24.


12. Yordan Alvarez, 1B, HOU, Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB


Do I think Yordan Alvarez will maintain his hard-contact rate of 50.5% and soft-contact rate of 9.7%? No. But to be fair, Mike Trout’s rates are 44.9% and 12.4%, respectively. So there will be regression. Who cares? When you can beat Trout for almost a third of a season, you’ve got talent. He’s not a fielder, but it’s a good thing the AL has the designated hitter. To read more about Alvarez, go to the Top 24 Under 24 and Top 23 Under 23.


11. Mike Soroka, RHP, ATL, Age: 21
Highest Level: MLB


With a longer track record of comparable success, Mike Soroka gets the nod over fellow pitchers Bieber and Paddack. He’s also younger. He’s the youngest pitcher on this list and has the second-most experience. Soroka also might have the best control, although there’s a little more debate. Still, it’s good enough to keep his free passes to about two per nine innings. That alone is almost good enough to be on the under 22 list. The rest is what keeps him here: a plus fastball, plus slider, and plus creativity. To read more about Soroka, go to the Top 24 Under 24, Top 23 Under 23, and Top 22 Under 22.


10. Ozzie Albies, 2B, ATL, Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB


This could be as high as Albies gets on this list if he isn’t able to either bring up his contact rate to above 80% (it’s at 78% now) or better tap into his elite speed. Twelve steals in a season doesn’t cut it when you’ve got the speed and OBP to get you 30. What he can do is impressive, but it’s not quite elite. Hiura and G-Lux are gunning to take his spot. To read more about Albies, go to the Top 24 Under 24 and Top 23 Under 23.


9. Peter Alonso, 1B, NYM, Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB


I’ll admit that I wasn’t sold on Peter Alonso. Often, first base-only prospects get pigeon-holed into power-only guys with questionable approaches. While Alonso will never win a batting title, his approach (11.45% walk rate, 25.33% strikeout rate) is sustainable at the highest level. When you combine it with his power34 home runs in 106 gamesthat is one potent piece of any offense. If he can raise that walk rate over the years, he could become an elite option, even if he only ends up hitting .265.


8. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SD, Age: 20
Highest Level: MLB


I just want to point out something: Fernando Tatis Jr. is hitting .340 at Petco Park. That is insane. That might be partly because of his strikeout rate being 25.8% at home as opposed to 33.5% on the road. Hopefully, that stat doesn’t increase more despite it being it’s highest during July. If that trend continues, it would defy logic that he could finish 2019 with a batting average above .300. Still, the talent is here to be one of the better players in the league with a few tweaks. To read more about Tatis, go to Top 24 Under 24, Top 23 Under 23, Top 22 Under 22, and Top 21 Under 21.


7. Carlos Correa, SS, HOU, Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB


It is hard to remember just how good Carlos Correa is. Even in a season such as 2019, where he is slashing .284/.345/.545, he’s missed significant time for the third straight year. Those injuries have either taken their toll on his speed or made him squeamish because his stolen bases are almost nonexistent now despite Correa not yet entering his physical prime. On the flip side of that coin, his power is at an all-time high, averaging 16.83 HR/AB and an extra-base percentage of 46.6, both career highs.


6. Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS, NYY, Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB


There is something to be said for being all-around good. That is what Gleyber Torres is. He’s good at making hard contact (39.8%), he’s good at laying off pitches outside the zone (33.9% O-Swing), and he’s a good fielder capable of playing two spots up the middle. Only being 22, there is a lot of room to grow. He gets the nod over Correa because of health and Tatis because of experience.

To read more about Torres, go to the Top 24 Under 24 and Top 23 Under 23.


5. Walker Buehler, RHP, LAD, Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB


It seems like Walker Buehler is a victim of consistency. Even with being on the high-profile Dodgers organization, Buehler doesn’t get the credit for being the best young pitcher in the league. It seems like Paddack has gotten more attention this season than Buehler has in both of his two seasons combined. Paddack is a fine pitcher, but Walker has put up a 3.14 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP, and a 10.08 K/9 in 268 MLB innings. Buehler is the rare kind of pitcher who can be both a power pitcher and a finesse guy. He’s got elite velocity, plus secondary stuff, plus control, and the brightest future of any pitcher younger than 25.


4. Rafael Devers, 3B, BOS, Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB


Rafael Devers is pulling the ball more than ever, and the results are positive. You know, if you like a .950 OPS. He’s already tied his career-high of 21 home runs, and he’s doing it all by striking out less. Everything is trending in the right direction for the talented third baseman. He is leading the league in contact of 95-plus mph by a generous amount (176, 18 more than No. 2 Mookie Betts). He is even getting better in the field and could stay at third base for a few more years.

To read more about Devers, go to the Top 24 Under 24 and Top 23 Under 23.


3. Juan Soto, LF, WAS, Age: 20
Highest Level: MLB


While Torres might be good at everything, Juan Soto is elite at two things: pitch selection and contact. At only 20, he’s likely to be a career .300 hitter, a career OBP of .400, and career OPS of .900. He’s already putting the finishing touches on the second season of said production (not counting the batting average). There is a possibility for a batting title or two here in the future, but he’s so good now that he gets the No. 3 spot.

To read more about Soto, go to Top 24 Under 24, Top 23 Under 23, Top 22 Under 22, and Top 21 Under 21.


2. Ronald Acuna Jr., CF, ATL, Age: 21
Highest Level: MLB


The king is dead!

You hate to see them go so young. I guess we’ll just have to take solace in watching Ronald Acuna Jr. play some of the best baseball in the league. What else can I say about Acuna that I didn’t say in the Top 24 Under 24, Top 23 Under 23 and Top 22 Under 22?

Something that has surprised me about Acuna is his approach is changing. The phenom is not pulling the ball nearly as much as he used to. In fact, he is almost using the entire field equally, pulling the ball 38.9% and going opposite field 29.3%. If this is more than a trend, I like where he’s going. With his speed, pulling the ball could be counterproductive, especially because he’s decreased his pull rate 5% this year and increased his hard-hit percentage. Basically, he’s still making hard contact as he goes the other way.


1. Cody Bellinger, 1B/CF, LAD, Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB


Long live the king!

Can we pause just for a second and act as if we didn’t know Cody Bellinger was going to be atop this list. The guy is on pace to hit 50 home runs and steal 15 basesall while walking 100 times. He’s essentially become the next best thing to Trout. He’s cut his strikeout rate by 9 points (from 23.89% to 15.40%) while bumping his walk rate up 4 points (from 10.92% to 14.73%) where they are almost even. He’s becoming one of the most efficient hitters in the leagueand he doesn’t turn 25 until halfway through 2020.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@FreshMeatComm on Twitter)

Travis Sherer

All Seattle Mariners fans have learned the future is all we have because the present is always too painful. I am Western Washington University alum, a local sportswriter, an official NCAA basketball statistician, a freelance radio and television production statistician, and a minor league standup comedian. Follow me @ShererTravis on Twitter.

2 responses to “Travis Sherer’s Top 25 Players Under 25”

  1. Zach says:

    You said that Gleyber “gets the nod over Carlos Correa because of health,” but then ranked him below Correa – just a heads up.

    Also, how do I interpret BB/9 and K/9 stats for hitters, e.g., in your Verdugo comp (and why did you choose this over BB% and K%)?

  2. TheKraken says:

    Why is lux on the list? Those other guys that he is ranked above were far better prospects.

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