When mapping out this year’s Top 100, I found myself getting caught up in the layout. I’ve tried a few different ways to skin this cat, and I think my favorite so far was my first: Top 25 Prospects for 2020 Fantasy Baseball.

It was simple, sleek, easy to see, easy to scroll, and it was built in tiers, which feels like a realistic lens through which to view these players. You can argue that Bobby Witt Jr. is definitively a better prospect than Julio Rodriguez if you want to, or vice versa, but if you get offered one for the other in a trade, you might freeze up like me pondering the layout of this article. The differences are real, certainly, but they’re more aesthetic and subjective than anything like objective truth. It’s a difference in type or style more than a difference of quality. 

I’ll try to stay concise in between the tiers here, but you can access a more in-depth consideration of each individual player by clicking on their names or skimming around in the 2022 Minor League Preview Index

Drumroll please and away we go!

 

1. OF Julio Rodriguez | Mariners | 21 | AA | 2022

2. SS Bobby Witt Jr. | Royals | 21 | AAA | 2022

Julio is baseball’s best minor league hitter, and he’s added speed the past few years. Starting to resemble a center fielder on defense and chisel away at Witt’s positional advantage, which some people use to break the tie.

 

3. SS Oneil Cruz | Pirates | 23 | MLB | 2021

I almost put Cruz in the top tier. He’s closer to that group than he is the next one, I think.

 

4. SS CJ Abrams | Padres | 20 | AA | 2023

5. 1B Spencer Torkelson | Tigers | 22 | AAA | 2022

6. OF Riley Greene | Tigers | 21 | AAA | 2022

7. SS Anthony Volpe | Yankees | 20 | A+ | 2023

8. OF Corbin Carroll | Diamondbacks | 21 | A+ | 2023 

Can’t go wrong here. The number one prospect in 2023 will likely come from this group. Carroll and Abrams could’ve played their way into the top tier if injuries didn’t cut their seasons short. 

 

9. RHP Shane Baz | Rays | 22 | MLB | 2021

10. RHP Grayson Rodriguez | Orioles | 22 | AA | 2022

Baz was the first pitcher I drafted in TGFBI at 115th overall. Risky strategy, I realize, but Baz feels as safe as any top pitching prospect we’ve seen in a long, long time. His dominant stuff, diverse arsenal, plus command and team context are all green lights for early big league success.

Oh, you prefer Grey’s large adult son? Fine by me. Baltimore bumping the left field fence back 30 feet this year is just a coincidence, wink wink, but I sure appreciate the timing of it. He’ll still be an Oriole, so that’s not ideal, but they’re on the way up, and he’s talented enough to bring the rising tide every fifth day. 

 

11. C Adley Rutschman | Orioles | 24 | AAA | 2022

12. OF Brennen Davis | Cubs | 22 | AAA | 2022

13. 2B Vidal Bruján | Rays | 24 | MLB | 2021

If Bruján got traded for Rutschman in your league, would someone complain?

I honestly have no idea. Almost bumped Bruján out of this tier because his perceived value has lagged, but the 50-steal upside with plus defense at several positions makes it hard for me to shake him. His 80th percentile outcome is rotisserie gold: something like .290 with 15 home runs and 40 steals. If he ever does get there, it’ll likely come with eligibility at multiple spots. 

 

14. 3B Jordan Walker | Cardinals | 19 | A+ | 2023 

15. 3B Jose Miranda | Twins | 23 | AAA | 2022

16. OF Luis Matos | Giants | 20 | A | 2023

Might be cutting it a little fine here, but I’m through the looking glass at this point. Been staring at this a long, long time, moving stuff around, grouping it together, ungrouping it. That’s part of the reason I like tiers for this. Just makes my process better, I think.

Walker almost landed in the group above. Miranda and Matos almost landed in the group below, meaning this group almost did not exist. Riveting stuff, I know. 

 

17. C Gabriel Moreno | Blue Jays | 22 | AAA | 2022

18. SS Noelvi Marte | Mariners | 20 | A+ | 2024

19. OF Zac Veen | Rockies | 20 | A | 2024

20. 3B Miguel Vargas | Dodgers | 22 | AA | 2022 

Kind of an upside sandwich here with high-probability big-league bats as the bread.

Vargas is the only surprise, I suppose, but I’ve seen him play a functional second base in AA, and I like everything about him in the batter’s box. Now I’m not saying he’ll be a major league second baseman, but he was playing there while Michael Busch was playing first at times late last year. They’d know better than most what he can do on defense. I’m now just rephrasing stuff I wrote this week in Prospect News: Top 10 Beneficiaries of the Universal DH, so it’s probably time to move along. I’ve run this one pretty snugly up against the deadline and yet here I am as the minutes tick down on a Saturday night rewriting sentences I’ve written before. Been a long week. Been simmering this thing to a boil for a long time. I’m excited. Jangly. Ready to close this thing out like Brad Lidge in extra innings. 

 

21. 3B Josh Jung | Rangers | 24 | AAA | 2022

22. C MJ Melendez | Royals | 23 | AAA | 2022

Weirdest tier of the night goes to this crowd, but that was always going to be the case with the Jung landing spot. Kind of lost on how to handle the injury news. I didn’t drop Carroll much for his shoulder last year, and I felt like that was the right call in hindsight, so that’s the play for Jung at the moment.

Melendez has a case to be above Rutschman. Don’t hurt me. I’m just sharing thoughts. We want home runs, and he hits ‘em. Plus, he has that Varsho-esque wild card status of a possible full-slate of at bats if he ever shifts positions, or shares positions. We’re getting a little racey with the language here on Up All Night, but that’s how people have always felt about people (and characters) named MJ. 

 

23. SS Marco Luciano | Giants | 20 | A+ | 2023

24. RHP Hunter Greene | Reds | 22 | AAA | 2022

25. 1B Triston Casas | Red Sox | 22 | AAA | 2022

Luciano was in the tier above this before I got down to really writing my way through the thickets, where it occurred to me that he’s teetering closer to a big drop in perceived value than anyone’s really talking about, not that I know what everyone’s talking about. Just ran out of qualifiers there, but seriously, say Luciano strikes out 30 percent of the time in High-A this year and doesn’t graduate the level so much as times out of it by the end of the season. Where’s he at on next year’s hundred? That’s a slippery slope of a strawman sentence, but it’s more plainly within the range of outcomes for Luciano than most of his list-mates.

I am trying to trade for Hunter Greene, where I believe this ranking leaves room for profit. 

I am not trying to trade for Triston Casas, who’s upside feels fully reflected in this ranking. 

Thanks for reading!

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Brandon
Brandon
6 months ago

Hi Itch,
New to keeper league baseball and joined an already formed 10 team H2H category league. They expanded to 12 team and I took over one of the two new teams. Took the approach of go young because the main teams got to protect 10 of their guys. Wondering how bad I am doing or if I have a solid base to grow on.

SS, 2B, OF Gavin Lux LAD
3B Jose Miranda Min
OF Jarred Kelenic Sea
C Adley Rutschman Bal
OF, 2B Vidal Brujan TB
SS Noelvi Marte Sea
OF Corbin Carroll Ari
OF Luis Matos SF
SP Logan Gilbert Sea
SP Brandon Woodruff Mil
C Sean Murphy Oak
1B Josh Bell Wsh
SS, OF Amed Rosario Cle
2B, 1B Owen Miller Cle
3B, 1B, 2B Wilmer Flores SF
OF, DH Austin Meadows Det
2B, OF Adam Frazier Sea
OF Taylor Ward LAA
SS, 2B Javier Baez Det
1B Brandon Belt SF
3B, SS Adalberto Mondesi KC
OF, DH Mitch Haniger Sea
OF Eddie Rosario Atl
SP Matt Brash Sea
SP Nick Lodolo Cin
SP Steven Matz Stl
RP Matt Bush Tex

Mustache Ride
Mustache Ride
8 months ago

Solid list — was Brett Baty close?

Justin Ralph
Justin Ralph
8 months ago

Minor league roster question. We have a three player minor league roster. You can bring them up as rookies or you can wait until they have exhausted their minimums and bring them up the following year. Either way they count as your last round pick in the draft (so very valuable).

My question is, would you bring Baz up for a last round pick this year, or would you try to wait until next year to bring him (again for a last round pick).

Jeff P
Jeff P
8 months ago

Keeper league, 5×5 OBP. Last keeper:
Adames 14rd, McClanahan 14rd, or Skubal 23rd?

Jeff P
Jeff P
Reply to  The Itch
8 months ago

12 teamer, but fairly deep, and pitching is a premium. I ended up keeping Skubal. Thanks.

Jrod
Jrod
8 months ago

I love this list! I have 10 of the top 25 on my h2h categories dynasty team. This year is gonna be rough, but a bright future!

I have two questions: first, would you consider shopping Marte? He’s ranked #3 to #8 on the other 4 sites I use to build composite rankings.

Second, that’s quite the jump for Cruz! I have him in this league, and I’m curious what you see that l moves him so far up.

Thanks!

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
8 months ago

Good stuff Itch! Always love reading what you have to say.

luvdarooks
8 months ago

I can only keep 10—–NL only. VERY DEEP because after 23 starters we have 15 reserves. 11 teams & 10 KEEPERs/year.( $260auction cap). SO OBVIOUS HIGH INFLATION.
-Minor players stay @ salary till activated while all others get a $5 yearly raise until the owner feels they are no longer worth keeping.
BIG POINT IS IF minors are KEPT THE SALARY DOES NOT COUNT TWOARDS THE 260 total allowed in the auction!
MY KEEPERS ARE (IF YOU AGREE LMK)
B Rodgers-11
T O’Neill-14
Soto-12
Tatis-1
F Peralta-13
Winker-15
—————–I also have——-
L Garcia 2B Was only 5(keep him drop who?)
Ranger Suarez 14 (visa issue)
Bryn DeLacruz 6
———minor keepers?——-(who do you think, I can only keep 10 players in total)
Cavalli-2
H Greene2
L Matos-5
Hedbert Perez-2
Gore-5
Which 10 to keep or SHOULD I trade say Winker and say Greene for a $32 Scherzer?

Kirakillers
Kirakillers
8 months ago

Alek Thomas has to be in the top 10. He ended at AAA, batted really well, probaly going to debut real soon in 2022.

citizen5
citizen5
8 months ago

12 team league, we can draft a MLB rookie in any round this year and keep them for three more seasons. They get drafted in the 12, 10 and 8 rounds going forward. Which player (minus J. Rod) would be your pick, and what round would take this year? Thanks in advance.

Bob
Bob
8 months ago

Any new thoughts on Wilman?

ny swallows
ny swallows
8 months ago

Great read Itch!

Last edited 8 months ago by ny swallows
junior56
junior56
8 months ago

Morning Itch! Thanks for the read. Great List! Rewriting sentences is a hobby of mine also.Hoping Brujan makes the team out of ST.

Vaughn Grissom is available on my waiver wire. Would you drop any of these 3 to grab him?

Austin Wells
Eddy Leonard
Bobby Miller

toolshed
toolshed
8 months ago

I am starting a draft for a dynasty team where we kept 30 players. I have no catcher on my roster. I will get someone to play the position this year. If you had to pick Moreno or Melendez, who would you choose? Do you think either of them stick at catcher? And which one do you think will be up first? Tor has a hole at 3b and several catchers on their roster now. Kc has perez who obviously is a block but dh is an option and Melendez can play other positions or at least played some last year. Thanks

Old School Brother
Old School Brother
8 months ago

Whenever I read about Vidal Brujan I always think about this bit from Ali G

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBX123HJVLc

Ray
Ray
8 months ago

Itch
Thank you for all the time and effort you have put into the team by team, positional and overall rankings.
All great reads and my main source for prospect analysis.
Love your top 25, as I own Cruz, Carroll, Matos and Vargas in my NL keeper.
Surprised Vargas made the top 25, but he has shown his bat will have value as he moves up the ladder. The power that was lacking showed up in 2021. Hoping we get to see him in Dodger blue in 2022.
How soon before we see Cruz in Pittsburgh this year? Mid-May potentially?

Ray

Philip
Philip
8 months ago

Good list, Itch. Will we get three more of these for a top 100?

I’m holding Volpe, MJ, and Brujan, but I’ve traded all other prospects to build a competitive team. It’s time to reload.

Just picked up Jhonkensy. Do you think he has Top 25 ability? I watched his highlight video and his power looks ridiculous.

The best available prospects are Mead, Leonard, Acosta, Wood, L. Peguero, Grissom, Rojas, Foscue, Sweeney.

Who has the best chance of becoming an impact player?

Thanks!