MLB rookies can come with a considerable amount of risk for fantasy but also have enormous potential in some cases. Identifying which ones are worth the investment and the “trouble” requires some time and skill.
These five rookie-eligible players all have prospect pedigree, recent star-level performance in the minors (or majors), and some category juice.
To the names:
MLB Rookies With Potential To Help You In 2023
Gunnar Henderson, Baltimore Orioles
Well, the Orioles’ infielder has already spent time in the majors, but we’ll cheat a bit here since he is, technically, still a rookie.
Henderson is the true definition of an MLB rookie who can make or break your season. His price tag is starting to get a bit uncomfortable, considering his relative lack of experience, so reaching for him is certainly a risk, especially in redraft leagues.
Still, it’s hard to ignore the potential. He more than held his own last year in his short MLB cameo with the O’s, with a .259/.348/.440 line, four homers, and a 125 wRC+ in 132 trips to the plate.
Henderson has power, speed, on-base ability, and loads of potential. Between three levels last year, he hit 23 home runs and stole 23 bases. He could have a similar season to the one Bobby Witt Jr. had in 2022, with more walks and fewer steals.
Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks
When it comes to MLB rookies, there might not be one with more tantalizing tools than Arizona Diamondbacks’ Corbin Carroll. Again, he is not technically a first-year player but is still eligible for the 2023 NL Rookie of the Year award.
Carroll has a bit of everything but a lot of speed. Look at the man go:
His raw power might not be game-changing, but he could max out as a 30-homer player in the majors at his peak. That’s not too shabby at all. In 2022, he went yard 28 times across four levels and stole 33 bases.
Carroll has some strikeout issues – his K% was 27 percent in 115 plate appearances in MLB and was always above 20 percent in the minors – but can very well be a .270/20/30 guy in the majors as soon as this campaign. You will want to pay for that.
Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees
Oswald Peraza is expected to be the Yankees’ starting shortstop on Opening Day, barring any surprises. He could be a value pick in his own right. However, the Bombers’ top prospect is Anthony Volpe, and if he forces his way to the majors at some point in the first two months, the team will find him some playing time, too.
Volpe changed his swing and physique during the pandemic and hasn’t stopped producing since. He had 27 homers and 33 steals in 2021 (two levels) and 21 and 50 this past season, also across two minor league stops.
If he is up (and even before then), fantasy managers should have their eye on Volpe. His category juice, and more specifically, his stolen bases potential, make him one of the top MLB rookies to watch this year.
He is having an amazing spring training performance (.941 OPS, a homer, and three steals). That, and his top-ten prospect pedigree, should help him get on the Yanks’ plans eventually.
High-Potential Rookie Pitchers
Grayson Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles
Grayson Rodriguez is ready for the majors. It’s a matter of when the Orioles will call him up, but it should be at some point in the first half if he doesn’t make the team out of camp.
All MLB rookies come with some risk, but the potential reward of investing in Rodriguez is just too enticing to pass. Last year, he posted an incredible 2.20 ERA in 69.2 Triple-A innings, striking out a whopping 97 hitters over that span.
He has already made his debut this spring and averaged 97.5 mph with his fastball. Yes, averaged. He topped out at 98.9 mph and says his stuff is better than ever. With great control and some excellent secondaries, Rodriguez is destined to succeed in MLB.
Will that happen this season?
Ricky Tiedemann, Toronto Blue Jays
We would have loved to find a way to include Philadelphia Phillies’ Andrew Painter in this exercise. However, questions surrounding his elbow prevent us from recommending him until we get some clarity.
Instead, we will give you a similarly talented pitcher with a comparable upside: Toronto Blue Jays’ Ricky Tiedemann.
A 2021 draftee, the 20-year-old lefty posted a sublime 2.17 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP, and a 117/29 K/BB ratio in 78.2 innings (18 starts) last season across three minor-league levels. He maxed out at Double-A.
His high-90s heat is going to be a problem for the league:
He is one of the most exciting pitching stashes when it comes to MLB rookies because he has the potential for incredibly low ratios and a boatload of strikeouts, even if he doesn’t pitch that many innings this season. He is the real deal.