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Top 10 MLB Outfielder Prospects Rankings For Fantasy Baseball

Corbin Carroll - MLB Prospects Rankings, Fantasy Baseball Rookies Sleepers

If you've completed any fantasy baseball drafts (mock or real), you may have noticed there is a lack of depth at the outfield position, and filling out a four-man or five-man outfield isn't as easy as it once was. The good news is, there are outfield prospects who can help in your chase for upside to lead you to a fantasy championship. But before we begin, a bit of housekeeping.

This list is solely for 2023 redraft leagues. There are plenty of prospects who are set to be fantasy stars but will have an extremely limited (or zero) impact this year. I'm only including players with less than 130 MLB at-bats in their career (as per MLB rookie-eligibility rules). This is a prospects list, not rookies (hence omitting Masataka Yoshida, who would be number two on this list). And only outfield-eligible players at the start of the season are included before you start wondering where Jordan Walker is.

There are a ton of articles on the site to get you set for your drafts and in-season management so make sure you head over to RotoBaller.com for all your prep and assistance. Without further ado, let's take a look at this top-10 list.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Top 10 Outfield Prospects For Redraft

10. Drew Waters, Kansas City Royals

If it wasn't for an oblique injury that's set to see Waters start the season on the IL, he may well have featured higher in this list. We should still see Waters in April and the Royals don't have much in the way of competition that should stop Waters from claiming a starting outfield role when healthy.

Waters did feature for the Royals last season following his trade from the Braves and hit five homers in 109 plate appearances. Given he hit 12 homers in 353 plate appearances with 18 stolen bases at Triple-A between both organizations last year, it's fair to dream of a possible 20/20 outfielder. The one issue Waters has is putting the ball in play.

In his Minor League career, Waters had a 27.5% K%, and in his 32 games for the Royals, a 36.7% K%. He should get a long enough run to work on that at the Major League level but it could also prove to be his undoing, especially on a team that has historically valued putting the ball in play over other facets of hitting.

 

9. Nolan Jones, Colorado Rockies

Like Waters, Jones was set to feature higher in this list until the Rockies signed free agent Jurickson Profar, who is set to harm Jones' playing time this year. Given Kris Bryant's health issues in 2022, Charlie Blackmon's age, and Randal Grichuk's current injury, there is still a route for Jones to be a regular in the Rockies' outfield. The injury to Brendan Rodgers also frees up the possibility of Jones seeing time at third base.

If Jones is able to be a regular in the Rockies' lineup, his power is his biggest asset, and playing half your games at Coors Field only helps. Ankle surgery limited Jones to 82 games across Triple-A and the MLB last year but he managed to hit 11 homers in that span, and his first-ever home run in the Majors was a 457-foot blast that gave us a glimpse of what we could expect more of in the future.

Jones has had strikeout issues throughout his career, with a 27.2% K% in the Minors before putting up a 33.0% K% in his 94 MLB plate appearances. He was also limited to just five plate appearances against left-handed pitching (LHP) by the Guardians, leading to concerns about being a platoon-only player.

That has yet to be proven and while Jones does strike out a lot, he also walks a lot with a 16.2% BB% in the Minors. If Jones does manage to find regular at-bats in Colorado, he can certainly be a viable fantasy outfielder in 2023.

 

8. Ji Hwan Bae, Pittsburgh Pirates

Bae entered spring in a competition for the Pirates' second base job along with Tucupita Marcano and Rodolfo Castro. The bad news is Bae has only hit .185/.267/.222 in 12 games this spring, but the good news is the competition hasn't fared much better with Marcano hitting .167/.310/.208 (12 games) and Castro hitting .211/.211/.316.

Bae's biggest fantasy asset is in his legs with 91 stolen bases in 312 Minor League games before tallying three steals in 10 games for the Pirates following his September call-up. But rather than being a batting average liability like many speedsters are in fantasy, Bae can also help in that regard. He went 11-for-33 with the Pirates and had a .294/.373/.419 slash line through the Minor Leagues.

The Pirates' offense won't help with runs and RBI and Bae has limited power, hitting 15 homers over the last two seasons across Double-A and Triple-A (191 games). But if he does secure himself the starting second base job (or even a utility role), double-digit homers with 25+ steals and a decent batting average are all in play, making Bae an intriguing fantasy option in 2023 and beyond.

 

7. Kyle Stowers, Baltimore Orioles

Stowers gave Orioles fans a glimpse of his potential last season when, in 34 games, he hit .253/.306/.418 with three homers, 11 RBI, 11 runs, and no steals. Stowers really came to prominence in 2021 when he worked his way up from Single-A to Triple-A and hit 27 homers in 124 games across three levels. He followed that up by hitting 19 homers in 95 games at Triple-A last year, leading to his promotion to the Orioles.

As with any Orioles hitter nowadays, their home left field dimensions and wall are significant downers but Stowers being a left-hand hitter (LHH) shouldn't be impacted as much by that. Like so many on this list, the one issue Stowers has is finding regular playing time. With Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, and Austin Hays all pretty secure in their roles, Stowers seems to be the odd man out.

But the Orioles don't have a regular fixture in their DH spot, so he (or Santander) could move around in the outfield and DH spot, which should see everyone have enough at-bats. Stowers has had significantly less fanfare than other Orioles prospects and will still need to hold off Colton Cowser from taking his spot on the Opening Day roster, but Stowers shouldn't be overlooked and makes an interesting fantasy option.

 

6. Will Brennan, Cleveland Guardians

Brennan's impressive Minor League campaign saw him called up to the Guardians late in the season and he carried his form into the Majors. In 11 games with Cleveland, Brennan hit .357/.400/.500 with one homer, eight RBI, six runs, and two steals. Such a small sample doesn't usually warrant much attention but given he hit .314/.371/.479 with 13 homers, 107 RBI, 69 runs, and 20 stolen bases in the Minors prior to his call-up (129 games across Double-A and Triple-A), it's positive to know his skill set translated into the Majors immediately.

And Brennan is having a productive spring, hitting .273/.306/.515 in 13 games. What has really stood out is six of his nine hits have been for extra bases and given the Guardians included Brennan on their playoff roster last year (in which he had 11 plate appearances in five games), they seem set to include him on their Opening Day roster. There's every chance he could be a regular starter in the outfield.

With Steven Kwan and Oscar Gonzalez almost locked into their roles, Brennan will likely need to supplant Myles Straw from the Guardians' outfield to get regular at-bats. Given Straw hit just .221/.291/.273 last year yet still started 144 games, it's clear the Guardians value his defense in center field. But if Brennan can force his way into the everyday lineup, his batting average stands out and he could be a solid five-category contributor.

 

5. Sal Frelick, Milwaukee Brewers

The first of two Brewers outfielders on the list, Frelick is the first entrant yet to have a Major League at-bat so far in his fledgling career. I doubt he starts the year in the Majors; otherwise, he'd have cracked the top three, but there's too much to like about Frelick to not have lofty expectations this year and beyond. And I do expect he gets his first taste of the Majors early in the season.

Having only been drafted in 2021, Frelick started last year in High-A but ended the season at Triple-A and put up better numbers after each promotion. Across all three levels, Frelick hit .331/.403/.480 with 11 homers, 59 RBI, 90 runs, and 24 stolen bases (119 games). On the 20-80 scouting scale, most reports have Frelick's power ranked at 45, meaning it's slightly below average, but he makes up for it with his hit tool and speed.

Frelick is the archetypal leadoff hitter and displayed that potential in his 46 Triple-A games last year with 19 walks compared to 16 strikeouts. The Brewers are set to start the season with Brian Anderson in the outfield so it shouldn't be a surprise if Frelick gets his MLB debut early in the season and he has every chance of sticking. In a hitter-friendly ballpark, double-digit homers with 20+ steals and a ~.300 batting average are all in play. If he does hit atop the order, the sky is the limit.

 

4. Esteury Ruiz, Oakland Athletics

I'm probably higher on Ruiz than most people, but I genuinely believe he can lead the league in stolen bases for years to come. Being traded twice in less than five months might not be ideal but it's clear teams want Ruiz and given he was the headline return for the A's when they traded Sean Murphy, they should be more inclined to try and maximize the return. And it's not like they have much else going for them right now.

Elite speed is useless if you're never on base to utilize it (*cough* Billy Hamilton *cough*) but Ruiz hit .332/.447/.526 across Double-A and Triple-A last year (114 games), which helped him to steal 85 bases. Oh, and he also happened to hit 16 homers as well. Ruiz had a solid 17.4% K% in the Minors last year and a 12.2% BB%. If that all translates into the Majors, you might wonder why Ruiz isn't atop this list. But there are legitimate doubts he can hit as well as he did in the Minors last year.

10 homers and a ~.260 average might be more of a realistic ceiling, especially this year. But the speed is for real and he's having himself a solid enough spring, hitting .250/.349/.417 while being 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts. That should be enough for Ruiz to find his way on the A's Opening Day roster and he could be a category winner for you in fantasy. The A's are going to need to manufacture runs somehow, so letting Ruiz go nuts on the bases might be their best option to do so.

3. Garrett Mitchell, Milwaukee Brewers

With three homers in seven games to start spring, Mitchell was reminding many why he was so highly thought of and was set to secure the Brewers' Opening Day starting center fielder job. Unfortunately, a hamstring injury halted that progress, but he's returned to full workouts and was back in the lineup on Monday, so he should be ready for Opening Day assuming he suffers no setbacks.

After being drafted in 2020, a call-up to the Brewers last year let Mitchell demonstrate why he's so highly thought of. In 28 games, he hit .311/.373/.459 with two homers, nine RBI, nine runs, and eight stolen bases. And if we thought Ruiz had immense speed, Mitchell's 30.2 ft/sec average sprint speed ranked sixth amongst all MLB players in 2022 (Ruiz's 29.8 ft/sec ranked tied-13th). Mitchell also recorded the fastest "home to first" time last year at 4.01 seconds.

The one thing Mitchell needs to improve upon is hitting the ball in the air more. He had a 59.5% ground ball rate in the Minors last year, but improved that to 39.4% in the Majors, albeit a small sample size. He also had an average exit velocity of 92.9 mph with the Brewers, so if he can make an adjustment that sees him limit the number of grass-cutters he hits, Mitchell could have himself a special year in 2023.

 

2. Oscar Colas, Chicago White Sox

After a contractual dispute in Japan, Colas ended up signing with the White Sox organization in 2022 and he impressed at every stop of the Minor Leagues last year. Working his way up from High-A to Triple-A, Colas hit .314/.371/.524 with 23 homers, 79 RBI, 81 runs, and three stolen bases (117 games). Before leaving Cuba, Colas also pitched and registered a 95 mph fastball but is set to stay as a hitter only for the White Sox.

And with Eloy Jimenez expected to be the White Sox's everyday DH, that opens up a spot in right field for Colas to be a regular in the lineup. Colas spent most of last year in center field but lacks the speed to stick there. His arm should ensure he's a solid defender in right field and shouldn't lose any playing time as a result of his defense. While it doesn't matter from a statistical standpoint in fantasy, it does offer a higher floor than some others in the list in regard to playing time.

Colas should have no problem topping 20 homers this year, and if he is a regular fixture in the White Sox lineup, 25-30 homers aren't beyond the realms of possibility. He might struggle to break into the top of the order, which will limit his runs and RBI potential, but if he hits anything as he did in the Minors last year, that should change sooner rather than later, leaving Colas as a possible top-30 outfielder in 2023.

 

1. Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks

Carroll coming in at number one should be no surprise at all. He is the frontrunner for the NL Rookie of the Year award and is being drafted as a top-20 outfielder. Prior to his August call-up, Carroll played in 93 Minor League games last year, hitting .307/.425/.611 with 24 homers, 62 RBI, 89 runs, and 31 steals. With the Diamondbacks, Carroll hit .260/.330/.500 with four homers, 14 RBI, 13 runs, and two steals (32 games).

Carroll's speed is his biggest tool and he registered the fastest average sprint speed in the Majors last year (30.7 ft/sec). But he's displayed above-average power and was a .310 hitter throughout his Minor League career. He had a 23.6% K% and 15.5% BB% in the Minors and everything about his approach should translate into Carroll being an elite hitter for years to come. This spring, Carroll is hitting .344/.475/.594 (11 games) with six of his 11 hits going for extra bases and being 2-for-2 in stolen base attempts.

Whether he can put up good power numbers this year isn't a sure thing as he continues to develop and get used to MLB pitching. But his speed and approach offer a nice floor, and even if he hits 12-15 homers with ~30 stolen bases this year, he should still finish up as a top-20 outfielder in fantasy, especially as he's set to hit atop the Diamondbacks lineup. But the upside is a 20/40 season and that is something that could make Carroll a first-rounder next year.



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