Last week, you released Top 50 MLB Odds List After making some tough decisions. This week, I’m highlighting 10 players position And 10 pitchers just missed the chance. Here are 10 intriguing shooters that I believe will achieve my top 50 rankings in 2023 and go on to succeed in the major tournaments.
The stats are updated through the games on August 31st. Players’ current minor league level is listed in parentheses. Jim Bowden’s exploratory scores are based on a 20-80 scale, with 20-30 significantly below average, 40 below average, 50 average, 60 above average, and 70-80 above Much than average. FB: Fastball; CB: Curveball; CH: change; SLI: slider; CTL: control; CMND: The command.
1. Dylan Lesko, RHP, Padres (rookie ball)
to rise: 6-2 Weight: 195
Scout grades: FB: 65 CB: 55 CH: 75 CTL: 55 CNIC: 55
Padres picked Dylan Lesko 15th in this year’s draft, and he landed arguably the best ready pitcher available. Lesko fell so far in the first round only because he had Tommy John’s surgery in April. The typical rehabilitation process from the procedure takes 12 to 18 months. After enlisting in July, Lesko estimated it was still “probably three or four months” from starting a throwing lead.
However, without a doubt, Lesko has one of the best changes of any high school pitcher in the past decade; Combine that with a mid-’90s fastball with massive movement and solid delivery and you have a #1 prospect in the future, should he recover from injury. He also throws an excellent spin-plus curve ball that only gets better. Padres was very fortunate that the teams that drafted above them passed on to Lesco.
See also: Padres kept the trend by crafting Lisco
2. Tink Hence, RHP, Cardinals (Low A)
to rise: 6-1 Weight: 175
Scout grades: FB: 65 CB: 60 CH: 55 CTL: 50 CNIC: 45
Hence the prediction boards will be raised after posting 1.49 ERA, 43.0 K% and 0.85 WHIP in 15 starts in the Low-A Florida State League this season. He has 77 strokes in 48 1/3 rounds. He throws a powerful 97- to 99-mph fastball, a knee bend ball and a change that feels like over-court often. A second-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, so his cap is as high as any prospect in baseball. I will be watching closely and expecting him to move up my rankings over the next year or so.
3. Kumar Rocker, RHP, Rangers (Rookie-ball)
to rise: 6-5 Weight: 245
Scout grades: FB: 60 CB: 60 SLI: 70 CH: 50 CTL: 50 CNIC: 50
The Mets will regret not signing Rocker, who picked him with the 10th overall pick in the 2021 draft before turning down an agreed-upon $6 million bonus over concerns about his physical exam results. A year later, the Rangers cashed in when they drafted the rocker into third place and signed him for a $5.2 million bounty. Rocker took off this spring in the Frontier League Independent, where a Rangers scout saw him hurl at up to 99 miles per hour, and the organization decided to take calculated risk.
Besides the electric speedball, the Rocker has a sweep slider and a plus curve ball and medium shift. He’s currently in the Rangers compound in Arizona and they plan to have him play in the Education League camp and the Arizona Fall League. If Rocker can stay healthy, he must evolve into a frontline player.
4. Gordon Graceffo, RHP, Cardinals (Double A)
to rise: 6-4 Weight: 210
Scout grades: FB: 60 CB: 50 SLI: 55 CH: 55 CTL: 60 CNIC: 55
As the Cardinals were negotiating with the Nationals to land Juan Soto on the trade deadline, Graceffo was one of the potential headlines Washington was hoping to get in the deal. Graceffo has a fastball that’s constantly living in the mid-’90s, plus latching and changing a dead fish. He is a thrower with an order above average that allows him to move forward with the count. In the 2021 fifth round of Villanova, Graceffo must improve the consistency of the tailgate curveball to take out left-hand hitters. He’s clocked 3.38 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 23 starts this season, but his ERA has ballooned from 0.99 in High A (eight starts) to 4.79 in Double A (15 starts). If he’s right, Graceffo should be on a fast track to big business and could arrive sometime in 2023.
5. Owen White, RHB, Rangers (Double A)
to rise: 6-3 Weight: 199
Scout grades: FB: 60 CB: 55 SLI: 60 CH: 55 CTL: 50 CNIC: 50
White has a fast 95-mph ball with a side-arm run and an 86-mph slide that’s a difference-maker. Both the curve and its change are considered in addition to the widths. He has the ability to take out left-handed hitters (.222 batting average) and right-handed hitters (.236). Athletic above average, the White has a solid delivery and consistent firing point. He’s gone 9-2 with 3.59 ERA and 104 strikes in 80 1/3 innings in High A and Double A this season, including 3-0 with 2.49 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in four starts for Double-A Frisco. White last came down in mid-July and is currently on the list of those injured due to forearm fatigue.
6. Wilmer Flores, RHP, Tigers (Double A)
to rise: 6-4 Weight: 225
Scout grades: FB: 60 CB: 60 CT: 40 CH: 45 CTL: 65 CNIC: 55
Flores is a big jug-tire monster, a fastball at 98mph and one of the highest curve ball spin rates in the minor leagues. He needs a third throw. There’s a lot of work to be done on the cutter and/or changeover before Flores, the younger brother of Giants Wilmer Flores, can reach his potential as a No. 2 or 3 starter in the big leagues. Flores has recorded a 2.36 ERA in 22 appearances (21 starts) this season in High A and Double A. He hit 114 and walked 18 in 91 1/3 innings. He has control. Now he needs to set it up. High ceiling jug.
7. Brandon Bvadt, RHP, Diamondbacks (Triple A)
to rise: 6-4 Weight: 220
Scout grades: FB: 60 CB: 40 SLI: 55 CH: 50 CTL: 60 CNIC: 55
In the fifth round of the Bellarmine University selection in 2020, it looks like Pfaadt could be one of the best value picks for that draft. He has reached a combined 3.96 ERA in 24 starters of the season in Double A and Triple A, with 176 strikes in 136 1/3 innings. In five starts with the Triple-A Reno, Pfaadt is 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA and 0.115 on average against hitting. His fast ball speed is mostly 95 to 97 mph with elite spin, and he’ll cut it often. His slider is probably his best secondary playing field, but his change is also powerful. He also has a high baseball IQ which will help his development.
8. Cade Horton, RHP, Cubs (rookie ball)
to rise: 6-1 Weight: 211
Scout grades: FB: 60 CB: 50 SLI: 60 CH: 40 CTL: 50 CNIC: 45
The Cubs picked Horton for seventh in this year’s draft outside of Oklahoma. He was a dual-sport athlete who tried to play quarterback with the Sooners, but when that didn’t work out, he switched to baseball full time. Horton underwent Tommy John surgery in 2021 but is back to throw a 53 2/3 college run this year. He throws a fast ball in the mid to 90-second range and has a sweep slider. Changing it and the curve ball needs work. Horton has been throwing cards at the Cubs in Arizona and will be taking part in an educational league camp this fall. It has the ability to evolve to a start from the top of the rotation.
9. Gabriel Hughes, RHP, The Rockies (Rookie-ball)
to rise: 6-4 Weight: 220
Scout grades: FB: 65 SLI: 55 CH: 50 CTL: 55 CNIC: 55
The Rockies have drafted really well lately and this year was no exception as they caught Hughes in 10th from Gonzaga. The right-handed has a sturdy frame and profiles as a working shaft. His Fastball hits 95 to 98 mph and is delivered free, clean, and easy. His slider is a sweep pitch when he’s running, and he has the same arm speed with the shift as he does with the fastball. It beats the strike zone and excels at changing eye levels and making hitters guess. He scores high for pitch sequences as well as intangibles like intellect and being a good teammate.
10. Tanner Baby, RHP, Guardians (Double A)
to rise: 6-2 Weight: 205
Scout grades: FB: 60 CB: 50 SLI: 55 CH: 50 CTL: 65 CNIC: 60
Bibee is having an exceptional season, posting 1.96 ERAs in 22 starts from High A and Double A. In the fifth round in 2021, Bibee has made significant progress since then, bumping his pace from low to mid-90s and changing his slider from slurve to hard, delayed fraction plus pitch. Changing it fades and bluffs late and is especially effective against left-handed two-stroke hitters. Bibee is one of those who overlook promotion odds and then before they know it, he’s won 10 to 12 games and offers 180 rounds a year in the major leagues.
(Tink hence: Mike Janes/Four Seam Images via Associated Press)