Every Major League Baseball (MLB) team will add and subtract players from their roster this offseason. Some will make moves via trade or free agency with the team’s top prospects in mind, either trading young players for established talent or getting rid of tenured players to open up opportunities for these prospects. The following six players, who represent some of the best talent in the minor leagues, all have a chance of helping the MLB team that drafted them win games in 2024.
Six Minor League Prospects to Look Out for in 2024
The consensus top minor league talent in the sport, 19-year-old shortstop Jackson Holliday, advanced through four rungs of the Baltimore Orioles minor league system in his first professional season. The son of former MLB slugger Matt Holliday, he vastly exceeded expectations, living up to his number one overall draft pick billing and hastening his major league arrival.
After dominating at Single-A and Double-A, Holliday ended the season appearing in 18 Triple-A games, hitting .267 for a Norfolk Tides club that won the International League and then beat the Pacific Coast League champion Oklahoma City Dodgers (an LA Dodgers affiliate) for the Triple-A Championship. Holliday performed so well that rumors began swirling regarding the possibility of the 2023 American League East Division champs promoting him to help the club down the stretch of the season and in the playoffs.
However, they decided to keep him in the minors and got eliminated by the eventual champion Texas Rangers in the Division Series. Baltimore split shortstop duties this year between the speedy Jorge Mateo and the 2023 AL Rookie of the Year Gunnar Henderson. At some point next year, Baltimore will likely call up Holliday, shift Henderson to primarily third base, and transition Mateo to a utility role if he is still on the team. If Holliday can translate his minor-league numbers to the Major Leagues, he can take this young, talented Orioles team to the next level. Baltimore has such a loaded farm system that they can make him untouchable and still give another team multiple highly-touted prospects if they make a trade to improve their pitching staff.
MLB Pipeline’s second-best prospect, Venezuelan outfielder Jackson Chourio, has a good chance of seeing major league playing time as the Milwaukee Brewers enter a period of transition. Next year, they will have a new manager for the first time since 2015 following Craig Counsell’s shocking decision to take the same job with the Chicago Cubs. Ace pitcher Corbin Burnes enters the offseason as the top starting pitcher on the trade block, and the team’s co-ace, Brandon Woodruff, will miss 2024 following shoulder surgery. Chourio, who finished the season with a cup of coffee at Triple-A, can be this team’s next superstar and a needed offensive complement to fellow outfielder Christian Yelich.
Paul Skenes, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first overall pick in 2023, was the best pitcher in college baseball last year, thanks to his 100 mph fastball and nasty slider at LSU. After being drafted, the 21-year-old flamethrower got his feet wet at the Double-A level and should start there next year with the ability to reach Pittsburgh in a hurry, health permitting.
Skenes has the talent and potential to be one of the best pitchers in baseball and the Pirates’ best-starting pitcher since Gerrit Cole. The Pirates drafted Cole first overall in 2011, and he is now on the precipice of winning his first Cy Young Award as a New York Yankee. The Pirates probably envision Skenes teaming with 2023 breakout starting pitcher Mitch Keller to help them return to playoff contention.
Dylan Crews/Wyatt Langford
The Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers aggressively promoted their first-rounders–Dylan Crews and Wyatt Langford, respectively–to the upper minors. Crews performed well at Single-A but struggled at Double-A, while Langford rocketed up the Rangers’ minor league levels, ending 2023 with seven hits in 19 at-bats at Triple-A.
If Crews performs well next year, the rebuilding Nationals likely won’t hesitate to promote him. On the other hand, Langford may initially face a more difficult task receiving everyday playing time on the world champion Rangers, especially in the aftermath of fellow young outfielder Evan Carter breaking out as the starting left-fielder on their first-ever championship squad.
2023 showcased the San Francisco Giants’ need for another starting pitcher to emerge as a complement to ace Logan Webb and dependable Alex Cobb, who will miss the start of 2024 recovering from hip surgery. The Giants are already involved in the free-agent pitching market, having scouted Japanese stud Yoshinbu Yammanoto. They also seem like a logical trade destination for Milwaukee pitcher Corbin Burnes. The other option is to hope that top prospect Kyle Harrison takes a step forward in his first MLB campaign. Harrison, seen by many as the club’s top pitching prospect since Madison Bumgarner, made seven MLB starts over the last couple months of this season, going 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA and 35 strikeouts.
Given that these players are young prospects, the jury is still out. Some of them may enjoy long, prosperous careers, while others won’t be the first to flame out in the Majors after having success in the Minors. Regardless, these players are exciting to watch, and it will be soon that they attempt to leave their mark on the game’s highest stage.
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