It seems like every year the topic of rookies gets more and more talk time in fantasy baseball. And why shouldn’t it? Year after year the rookie classes add more and more value to fantasy baseball rosters and drafts. The 2023 MLB rookie class will be no different. Below are the top 10 fantasy baseball rookies for 2023 and this was a hard list to pare down. Before we dive into the list though, let’s set some expectations.

Even with last year’s incredibly deep rookie class, that doesn’t mean all of them were fantasy baseball-relevant players. Starting with the hitters, there are 69 hitters that lost their rookie status due to either 130 at-bats or 40 days on the active roster. Of those though, only 29 had at least 300 plate appearances or roughly half a season's worth. Of that subset, only 13 hit better than .250 regardless of counting stats and 14 were better than league average in OBP (.312). We all care about counting stats like homers and steals but you also don’t want a hitter to tank your slash lines either. As for the homer totals, if we take all of the rookie qualifiers into account, all 69, only 23, or one-third, reached double-digit homers and only 12 reached double-digit steals. So what’s the conclusion? If you’re in a 12-team league, there’s basically only one rookie, at most, per team who is fantasy baseball relevant.

Looking at pitchers, there were 124 pitchers that logged at least 50 innings while still having rookie status last year. That’s a lot. However, not all of them were fantasy baseball relevant options. Forty-four of those were starters with at least 50 innings. Of those starters, 13 had sub-4.00 ERAs with the final one at 3.98 (Andre Pallante). However, only six of those had K/9 rates over 9.0. Of the 80 or so qualifying rookie relievers, just nine posted at least eight saves, and five cracking double-digits. There were plenty of relievers with good ratios and K-rates but with only a smattering of innings, wins, and SOLDS, they weren’t of much use for fantasy baseball managers. So, just like with the hitters, there are a lot of shiny names but not all of them are useful for fantasy purposes.


Corbin Carroll, OF Arizona Diamondbacks

We got a taste of Carroll’s skillset last year when he came up for a 32-game stint late in the season. Oh, what a taste we got. He hit .260/.330/.500 with four home runs, 14 RBI, 13 runs, and two steals along with nine doubles and two triples. Over the whole of the season last year between Double-A, Triple-A, and MLB, Carroll slashed .294/.403/.580 with 27 HR, 100 R, 75 RBI, 33 SB in 123 games. That slash line supports why he’s the top prospect in my top 400. What can he do this year though? Well, he’s slated to be the leadoff hitter for the Diamondbacks which will give him a ton of at-bats and chances to steal. Carroll could easily hit his .260 mark again while being a threat for a 20-20 year with 80 runs and 60 RBI. If Carroll eases into the role and cuts his K-rate down from 27-percent down to say 24-25-percent has a slash line will tick up a tad too.

Gunnar Henderson, SS Baltimore Orioles

Henderson is all the rage this offseason and has been shooting up draft boards. He should be. Henderson has all the skills to be a five-tool player for the Orioles. But not quite yet perhaps. The lefty-hitting shortstop jumped through three levels in 2022 going from Double-A to MLB and amassing a .289/.402/.511 slash line with 23 HR, 113 R, 94 RBI, and 23 SB. To be honest, we’re splitting hairs between Henderson and Corbin Carroll as the top rookie and it comes down to which suits you more essentially. Henderson should be hitting in the middle of the Orioles lineup likely between Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander which should give him pitches to hit on a consistent basis. One thing to pay attention to is his position eligibility in your league though. While he played SS in the minors and was drafted as such, he played mostly at 3B for Baltimore once he came up. In leagues that give a player a position for just five games played, Henderson will fit at both 3B and SS coming into 2023. The main difference between him and Carroll as the top rookie for drafts is whether you want an infielder or outfielder and whether you want a touch more power or more speed. Henderson has a touch more power and Carroll has more steals upside.

Josh Jung, 3B Texas Rangers

Jung was originally on my top rookie list last year before the shoulder injury. That injury robbed him of nearly all of the 2022 season. It also deflated his stats as well…to a degree. Over the 57 games he played between a rookie baseball rehab assignment, Triple-A, and MLB Jung slashed .239/.287/.486 with 14 homers, 43 RBI, 28 runs, and three steals. That doesn’t sound great but keep in mind that the shoulder injury kept him from reaching some pitches he normally does and sapped some of the bat speed. That being said though if you extrapolate his numbers to a full 162-game season, that’s 40 HR, 122 RBI, 80 R, and nine steals. Now, extrapolating isn’t the best way to look at stats, by far, but it does give you an idea of what he’s capable of. The power with Jung has been his calling card for a while and he should be in the 25-home run range in his rookie campaign with a .250 average as the strikeout rate should drop now that the shoulder is fully healthy. We’d prefer him to hit fifth in the Rangers’ lineup rather than the anticipated sixth spot coming into the season. If he produces a 25-70-75-5 season he’s a top-12 third baseman.

Triston Casas, 1B Boston Red Sox

It seems like it’s been a long time since we’ve been expecting Casas’ arrival to the Major Leagues. He’s been a top prospect for Red Sox since he was drafted and finally got a taste of things toward the end of 2022. It was not a great trial run, to say the least. He hit just .197 with a .208 BABIP and posted a 24.2-percent K-rate, which is a career-high for a stretch that long. There were some good things though. Five home runs and a 20-percent BB rate led to a .358 OBP and a .408 SLG. Posting a .766 OPS despite a sub-.200 AVG is impressive. He’s slated to be the starting first baseman for Boston from the jump this year which should give him basically a full year of games to show what he can do, which is a lot. Casas has a ton of power that will play well not only in Fenway but also across the AL East. Expect him to play in the 20-25 home run range with a .245-.250 average. That’s enough to make him a valuable fantasy asset at a shallow position like first base.

Jordan Walker, OF St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis brain trust hasn’t been cooling down any of the Walker hype we have this offseason. In fact, they basically said that as long as he has a good spring, he’s got a great shot of breaking camp with the team. That’s high praise for a player who’s still just 20 years old. The trick for Walker, and the reason why he’s not slightly higher on the list, is that there’s no clear spot for him on the Cardinals right now. Walker was drafted as a third baseman but has had to shift to the outfield with Nolan Arenado firmly in his way to the majors. In 2022, at Double-A, he played mainly in right field, when in the outfield, and racked up nine outfield assists in the 25 games played. When he comes up, he’s likely to play in left field at first with Lars Nootbar being an outstanding defensive right fielder. Defense is great but it doesn’t help fantasy, right? So what’s his offensive upside looking like? The power is real — like 75-grade raw power — and the speed is MLB-average. That’s an intriguing mix from a guy who’s 6’5” and 220 pounds. Walker’s projection will strictly come from how many games we expect him to play. If it’s less than 100 games we’re looking at 12-15 homers with a handful of steals and just under a .260 average. If it’s more like 120-130 games he could be in the 18-23 homer range and 8-10 steals.

Francisco Álvarez, C New York Mets

Is there a hotter prospect being talked about right now, perhaps other than Gunnar Henderson? I think not and rightfully so. Over the course of 117 games in 2022, across three levels (though just a handful in MLB), he left the park 28 times with 79 RBI and 77 R all while slashing .258/.371/.510 with a .882 OPS. For any position that would be an impressive line but especially for catchers. We all know how thin that position is in fantasy baseball so adding another premium bat to the position brings some serious value. The question is, just how much will we see of Alvarez in 2023 in New York? The Mets are going into the season with Omar Narváez and Tomás Nido at catcher which should be more than enough to let Alvarez continue to mature at Triple-A. Remember, catchers often take longer to finish developing because of the intricacies of the position and their role in calling games as well as in the offense. The expectation for Alvarez is to come up mid-season in all likelihood and that limits his upside for 2023 unfortunately. He should play enough games to hit 7-10 home runs with some counting stats as well though he’s not a steals threat like some of the other young catchers are.

Grayson Rodriguez, SP Baltimore Orioles

If it wasn’t for an injury causing him to be shut down in the second half of the season last year, we’d have seen Rodriguez in Baltimore. With that being said, G-Rod as he’s referred to is an ace in the making. That doesn’t mean he’s going to be an ace this year. He has a five-pitch mix of an arsenal with all five pitches being at least above average. Rodriguez mixes the pitches well to keep hitters off-balance and in 14 starts last year at Triple-A Norfolk he posted a 12.53 K/9 (35.8-percent K-rate) and 7.7-percent BB rate over nearly 70 innings. The ratios were great too with a 2.20 ERA, 2.04 FIP, 2.90 xFIP, and 0.93 WHIP as well as a .177 BAA. All of those are elite for sure. Rodriguez should compete for a starting spot in the rotation in spring training but it’s likely to be in the back half of the rotation for 2023. Baltimore was very close to the playoffs last year and figures to be again this year which should mean we see Rodriguez up for 22-25 starts, assuming health. That should give him ample innings to have a solid ERA in the 3.75 range while striking out a batter an inning. That figures to make him an SP5 or SP6 option in fantasy baseball for 2023.

Kodai Senga, SP New York Mets

There were a lot of teams rumored to be in on Senga’s services but ultimately the Mets came away with him on a $75-million deal. The numbers he put up in the NPB over his career were very impressive with a career ERA mark of 2.42 including the postseason and a 10.0 K/9 over 11 seasons. That being said, MLB is different and most Japanese pitchers need an adjustment period when they come stateside. The main reasons for this are the five-day pitching cycle rather than the six-day schedule in Japan, the heavier and larger MLB ball, as well as the travel schedule. Senga is slated to be the number three starter for the Mets this year fitting behind Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. That should benefit him somewhat, however, we should still expect an ERA in the 3.65-3.80 range and about 9.5 K/9. However, don’t be surprised if they skip in him in the rotation a few times to keep his arm fresh during the transition to the MLB-style of play.

Masataka Yoshida, OF Boston Red Sox

One of the two big-name Japanese imports on this list, Yoshida signed with Boston. No matter where he signed he’d have been a starting option for his team but with Boston, there are plenty of at-bats to go around for a rebuilding roster. The outfielder who’s 29, hit 21 or more home runs in four of his last five seasons in Japan while also hitting for at least a .321 AVG. That’s what’s been most intriguing about him — his combination of solid pop and contact skills. The Red Sox are hoping that will really play at Fenway Park as well as the rest of the AL East. I’m not so sure he’ll make such a smooth transition though. Let’s harken back to Seiya Suzuki last year for the Cubs and his growing pains. Granted there was an injury involved too, but when healthy, there was an adjustment needed to the quality of pitching in the Majors. The same will likely be true with Yoshida. The Japanese import should be in line for a .280-.285 average with 15-18 homers. Boston is anticipating him to be the leadoff hitter which hurts his RBI total but helps the runs scored total.

Curtis Mead, 3B/2B Tampa Bay Rays

Talent and skill-wise, Mead is right there with Josh Jung and Jordan Walker. So why is he further down on the list than those two? He plays for Tampa Bay. While Tampa is a well-respected organization for developing players, they are also more patient with their future stars than other teams. Hence the reason for bumping Mead down some. There’s simply less likely a chance he’s up before the other two third basemen in this piece. In 76 games split between Double- and Triple-A last year, Mead slashed .298/.389/.532 with 13 home runs, 50 RBI, 43 runs, and seven steals. In a full season that’s a 28 home run, 107 RBI, 92 R, 15 steal pace just for reference. Like most of their players, Tampa has been adding versatility to Mead’s profile in the minors having him play a few different positions with 46 games at 3B, 20 games at 1B, eight at DH, and a few at 1B. That will help with his timeline to come up for sure but it’s likely that the 22-year-old is destined for a call-up in the July range this year.