Young players to watch in the 2023 MLB season 

From rookies to potential bounce-backs, here’s who to keep your eyes on this year



Julio Rodríguez has been nothing short of a superstar for the Seattle Mariners and singed what could be the most lucrative deal in American sports history in August.

BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor

The MLB is littered with young talent taking over as the faces of their respective teams. With so much young talent, five players stick out that fans absolutely should keep an eye on as the season gets into swing. 

Even though just five players will be highlighted, there is too much young talent not to at least give some honorable mentions for those looking to take a deeper dive into the MLB. 

Honorable Mentions: Jarred Kelenic (Mariners), Wander Franco (Rays), Jazz Chisholm Jr. (Marlins), Joe Ryan (Twins), Triston McKenzie (Guardians), Lars Nootbaar (Cardinals), Jeremy Peña (Astros) and Logan Gilbert (Mariners). 

Now, the top five can’t-miss players for 2023:

Corbin Carroll (Diamondbacks) 

The second-ranked prospect in the entire league, the fastest man in baseball and a true five-tool talent that started the year in the majors. In five years’ time he and another prospect and first-round pick, Druw Jones, are on pace to be the best outfield tandem behind the Mariners’ JulioRodríguez and Kelenic.

Through 14 2023 at-bats, Carroll has just three hits but already has three stolen bases. His 162-game pace for stolen bags is 122, which would be the fourth most all-time for a single season. 

Despite not getting the production he desires, he is still hitting the ball hard, sitting in the 65th percentile in max exit velocity in the small sample size of the first four games of 2023, according to Baseball Savant.

Julio Rodríguez (Mariners)

The 2022 American League Rookie of the Year and All-Star outfielder looks right back home through four 2023 games. In 18 at-bats, he has a .944 OPS and already has hit his first home run of the season.

Rodríguez has stolen one base and has been caught once, but he has the potential to finish with a high number of stolen bags with MLB’s new pickoff rules and bigger bases. 

If everything goes right and he develops like he looks like he will, 2023 may be a 40-40 (40 home runs, 40 stolen bases) season and MVP votes for the 22-year-old face of the franchise. 

Adley Rutschman (Orioles)

Despite being in just the second season of his career, Rutschman already looks like the best catcher in the entire league. Posting a 128 OPS+ in 2022, his OPS+ through three games is sitting at 181, according to Baseball Reference.

In the series against the Red Sox, he went 6-15 at the plate but had just one extra-base hit, a home run. 

The former first-overall pick hits the ball hard and has elite control of the plate with his bat speed and knowledge of the strike zone. 2023 will be a step forward for the Pac-12 (Oregon State) alum, and he should see his first All-Star appearance of his young career. 

Spencer Strider (Braves) 

Becoming a fan-favorite in 2022 due to his immaculate mustache, the man dubbed Strider-man is one of the best strikeout pitchers in the league. 

In 131.2, 2022 innings, he posted a 2.67 ERA with 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings, which would have been the third-highest single-season rate if he had pitched enough innings. He continued that dominance in his first appearance of the new year, striking out nine over six innings, a 13.5 rate. 

Strider is one of the best pitchers in the league already, and he is just 24. In 2022, he had a 96th percentile expected ERA, 97th percentile expected batting average against, 99th percentile strikeout percentage, 95th percentile whiff percentage and more high percentile rankings, according to Baseball Savant. 

MacKenzie Gore (Nationals) 

Being traded in a package to get an MVP candidate in Juan Soto shows the type of talent that Gore has. The former third-overall pick pitched 70 innings in 2022, but starting the season in the big leagues in 2023 will mean that he has a full season to get things going and get comfortable. 

In his first start of the season, he went 5.1 innings, struck out six, gave up just one earned run and looked good, despite it being early in the season.