MLB’s Top Prospect Risers in 2024

Baseball season is quickly approaching the halfway point, which means we’ve now been given more than enough time to formulate substantial opinions on players across all levels of the game. The minor league season has in fact reached its halfway point as it runs a few weeks shorter than the MLB season, so prospects are starting to really shuffle among each level. Most baseball fans are aware of the game’s top prospects. Top names this year include Jackson Holliday, Paul Skenes, James Wood, and Junior Caminero.

While a lot of focus is on these high-caliber players to take over the future of the game, let’s highlight a few under-the-radar players who are making a name for themselves in 2024. I’ll discuss six different players – one for each level of pro ball, including MLB – all of which are not within MLB Pipeline’s top 50 prospects. These are all players that have recently received a promotion or should be due for one soon, and also appear to be on a trajectory towards the big leagues. With that being said, here are my six biggest prospect risers.

MLB’s Top Prospect Risers in 2024

Complex League: Abrahan Ramirez, NYY, INF

Abrahan Ramirez is a left-handed hitting infielder from Venezuela and was signed by the Yankees in January of 2022 at the age of 17. Now 19 years old, and having torn up the Dominican Summer League in back-to-back summers, Ramirez is making a strong case for a call-up to low-A Tampa. You can’t find him on the Yankees’ top 30 prospects list, but that should change soon. Over 112 plate appearances in his FCL debut, his 184 wRC+ is the highest mark of any player at the complex level. He’s managed a 1.100 OPS, which leads the FCL, and that’s without displaying any real power at the plate yet. He has been an on-base machine, sporting a .518 OBP thus far, and draws more walks than he strikes out (19.6 BB%, 13.4 K%). He’s also shown some speed on the bases, stealing five bags out of five attempts, and has shown defensive versatility as well, bouncing between second base, third base, and shortstop.

Low-A: Cristian Hernandez, CHC, SS

Another international signee, the Cubs signed Hernandez out of the Dominican Republic at the age of 17 in January of 2021. Hernandez was regarded as one of the top prospects to come out of the 2021 international signing class but had struggled up until 2024. He put up a solid performance in his DSL debut but didn’t manage a wRC+ north of 100 in either of his stops at the complex league nor low-A Myrtle Beach. However, the 20-year-old shortstop’s game has come to life in 2024. He’s sporting a .291/.410/.427 slash line, along with three home runs and 26 stolen bases. His .837 OPS ranks 18th among low-A hitters, while his 26 steals rank 6th. He is a plus defender with a solid arm which profiles him as a shortstop, but he can bounce around the infield as well. I would expect a call-up to high-A South Bend if he keeps it up. Hernandez currently ranks as Chicago’s #17 overall prospect.

High-A: George Klassen, PHI, RHP

George Klassen, the 22-year-old right-handed pitcher out of the University Of Minnesota, was drafted in the 6th round of last year’s draft by the Phillies. As the 193rd overall pick in the 2023 draft, Klassen didn’t enter Philadelphia’s system with super high expectations. He was coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2021 and didn’t pitch in 2023 after getting his name called, making 2024 his pro debut. However, Klassen came out as one of the top pitchers across all levels of the minors. Over nine starts and 38 innings at low-A Clearwater, Klassen threw to the tune of a 0.71 ERA which was the lowest ERA among starting pitchers at any level up until his call-up to high-A Jersey Shore. He also managed a 1.97 FIP which ranked 2nd among all minor league starters along with a 39.6 K%, 0.87 WHIP, and a .160 BAA. He recently got the call to Jersey Shore where he’s only logged one start thus far, so keep an eye on him to continue to rise up the minor league ranks.

Double-A: Nick Schnell, TB, OF

Moving up to double-A, we have Nick Schnell from the Rays’ system. Schnell is 24 years old and was a competitive balance round draft pick in 2018 out of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis. As the 32nd overall pick, Schnell came in with higher expectations but has had a hard time piecing together long-term success at each of his stops in the minors. He posted a 134 wRC+ in rookie ball in 2019 but had not put up a wRC+ higher than 106 between low-A and high-A. After a full season at high-A Bowling Green in 2023, the Rays went ahead and gave him the call to double-A Montgomery to start 2024. That has paid off for both Schnell and the Rays as he has hit to the tune of a .287/.364/.472 line along with seven home runs and seven stolen bases. Perhaps Schnell’s biggest improvement has been his approach to the plate, he has cut his K% from 34.5 in 2023 to 23.2 in 2024. If he keeps up this level of production, I would expect a call-up to triple-A Durham either later this year or early in 2025.

Triple A: Jhonkensy Noel, CLE, 1B/OF

Jhonkensy Noel, the 22-year-old slugger was an international signee at the age of 16 out of the Dominican Republic. Standing at 6’3″ and 250 pounds, Noel has all the makings of a big league hitter but had a down year in his age 21 season at triple-A Columbus in 2023. He was on a fairly steady trajectory up until that point, but the tools were still there. He hit 27 home runs over 585 plate appearances but managed just a .420 SLG. With another go at triple-A, the Guardians #26 overall prospect has brought his game to the next level. Over 266 plate appearances thus far, he has hit 17 home runs and is sporting a slash line of .299/.365/.581. He leads all Guardians prospects in home runs, RBIs, extra-base hits, and ISO at the moment. He possesses some of the best raw power in the minor leagues, the only question is if he will be able to keep the strikeout numbers down enough to keep up this level of production. He doesn’t provide much in the field or on the bases, so his bat will have to carry him to the big leagues. However, a big league call-up this year is not out of the question given the success he’s seen thus far.

MLB: Drew Thorpe, CHW, RHP

If you recognize this name, it’s likely because you’ve seen it featured in two different blockbuster trades dating back to last winter. Thorpe ended his 2023 campaign in the Yankees system before being traded to San Diego in the Padres‘ massive haul for Juan Soto. Thorpe’s tenure in San Diego’s system didn’t last long as he was then shipped over to Chicago in the Padres trade for Dylan Cease. All the movement is not to say that nobody wants him. Thorpe is the highest-ranked prospect of these six players, coming in at 54th overall and as the White Sox’s #3 ranked prospect. Thorpe was a 2nd round draft pick in 2022, and made his pro debut in 2023, skipping the FCL and low-A Tampa. He put together very solid numbers in 2023 at high-A Hudson Valley and double-A Somerset before eventually joining the White Sox. In 60 innings at double-A Birmingham, he posted a 1.35 ERA, along with a 2.99 FIP and a 0.87 WHIP. That was enough for the White Sox to give him the call to the big leagues, passing up triple-A. Thorpe has since made two big league starts for the White Sox. With the early call-up, it’s still to be decided whether or not he will stick around with the big league club, or be sent down to triple-A Charlotte for more time to develop.

Main Image: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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