MLB Rookie Rankings: Yennier Cano Cannot Be Stopped

Led by top prospect Corbin Carroll, the 2023 MLB Rookie Class has been must-watch so far this season.

Welcome to the first edition of our 2023 MLB Rookie Ladder! At the end of each month, we will check in on the league’s best rookies and see where they stack up. While I think Corbin Carroll may clutch onto the top spot and never let go, there should be a ton of fluidity with the rest of this list, which should make it enjoyable to follow up on each month.

1. Corbin Carroll – OF – Diamondbacks

2023 stats: .284/.382/.507, 7 HR, 18 XBH, 13 SB, 140 wRC+, 1.6 fWAR

The easy preseason pick for National League Rookie of the Year and our top overall prospect heading into the season, Carroll has continued to look as advertised. The 22-year-old has pretty much picked up right where he left off in his 2022 cameo, showing off elite speed, frame-defying power, and an approach that is ahead of his years.

A strong defender in all three outfield spots, you’d be hard-pressed to find a hole in Carroll’s game. You’d be even harder-pressed to find someone who has the ability to leapfrog him for the top spot on the rookie ladder. It’s probably safe to say that Carroll won’t be slowing down any time soon.

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2. Yennier Cano – RP – Orioles

2023 stats: 23.2 IP, 0.38 ERA, 1.22 FIP, 35 K%, 0 BB%, 1.3 fWAR

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Forget rookies, Cano is enjoying one of the most impressive stretches we have seen from any reliever in some time. In terms of Win Probability Added (WPA), Cano is the top arm in baseball by a wide margin at 2.33. Shane McClanahan checks in at No. 2 with a 1.77 WPA.

His diabolical changeup and electric sinker have made life miserable for opponents who are 10-for-88 against him this year (.116). If he doesn’t strike you out, you’re probably hitting a weak ground ball. Cano has not handed out a single free pass, and he’s allowed only two extra base hits. Oh yeah, and he has only surrendered one earned run.

3. James Outman – OF – Dodgers

2023 stats: .256/.343/.519, 9 HR, 20 XBH, 5 SB, 134 wRC+, 1.5 fWAR

What a story Outman has been. His spectacular play in the upper levels of the minors gave the Dodgers no choice but to give him a shot, and he has taken the opportunity and ran with it. With exciting power, speed, and defensive ability, the 25-year-old impacts the game in several ways and has been a key cog in the Dodgers’ success thus far.

Outman has registered starts at all three outfield spots, but has predominantly played up the middle. Had we done these rankings a week or so ago, Outman could easily have claimed the top spot, but recent struggles have slid him just a couple positions.

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4. Bryce Miller – SP – Mariners

2023 stats: 4 GS, 25 IP, 1.42 ERA, 1.79 FIP, 0.51 WHIP, 25 K%, 2.3 BB%, 1.2 fWAR

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Our top rated fastball in the minor leagues has translated to the big leagues swimmingly. Miller has leaned on that 80 grade heater since being promoted, and has been nearly un-hittable. He has gone at least six innings in all four of his starts, allowing one run or less in all but one.

Miller’s ability to create weak contact with his upshot heater, paired with his confidence to pound the zone with it, has resulted in the lowest WHIP among starting pitchers with at least 20 innings under their belt. Our preseason No. 70 overall prospect may not sustain this torrid pace, but it is clear that he is an asset to the Mariners for this season and beyond.

5. Masataka Yoshida – OF – Red Sox

2023 stats: .303/.382/.493, 6 HR, 16 XBH, 138 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR

The Red Sox signed Yoshida to a five-year, $90 million deal from the NPB last offseason in order to immediately bolster their lineup, and the 29-year-old has done just that. A great feel to hit paired with above average power and a patient approach have helped Yoshida make a seamless transition to Major League Baseball. While his defense leaves a bit to be desired, his bat has been as good as any rookie.

6. Hunter Brown – SP – Astros

2023 stats: 50.2 IP, 3.10 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 1.26 WHIP, 27 K%, 8.1 BB%, 1.4 fWAR

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No rookie pitcher has had to shoulder as much responsibility as Brown. With the departure of Justin Verlander and injuries Lance McCullers Jr., Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy, the Astros needed Brown to step up, and he has done just that. Brown has blended an above average strikeout rate with a strong ground ball rate to churn out quality starts in the early going this year, including three different starts of seven shutout innings.

7. Esteury Ruiz – CF – Athletics

2023 stats: .286/.348/.381, 1 HR, 15 XBH, 24 SB, 112 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR

Last year’s stolen base champ in the minors (86 SB) has set the pace this year at the highest level by stealing 24 bags through 48 MLB games. Ruiz is on pace to flirt with last year’s swipe total, but the 24-year-old has proven to be more than just wheels. Ruiz keeps looking better with the stick, producing a 112 wRC+ thanks to added impact at the plate. While he may not hit many homers, Ruiz has tapped into gap-to-gap pop, which is really all he needs.

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8. Ryan Noda – 1B – Athletics

2023 stats: .221/.329/.425, 4 HR, 14 XBH, 140 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR

A Rule 5 draft pick cracks the list! The Dodgers did not have room for Noda on the 40 Man roster, and the Athletics saw an opportunity to take a flier on a bat that has produced at every single minor league level. It’s been more of the same for Noda in the big leagues thus far. He may whiff, but he hedges that with top notch plate discipline, impressive power and an ability to produce left-on-left. Plus, it’s impossible to argue against a .400 on base percentage.

9. Tanner Bibee – RHP – Guardians

2023 stats: 28.1 IP, 3.18 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, 22 K%, 7 BB%, 0.8 fWAR

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Bibee has enjoyed as rapid of an ascension as any pitching prospect in baseball, and now he’s a key piece of the Guardians rotation. The right-hander joined the Just Baseball Show shortly after his worst start as a big leaguer, explained the mechanical adjustment he knew he needed to make, and then proceeded to pitch 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Angels with seven strikeouts and no free passes.

Bibee is an extremely cerebral pitcher with a feel for four big league offerings, giving him No. 2 upside. Next time we check in, expect Bibee to be higher on this list.

10. Logan Allen – LHP – Guardians

2023 stats: 26.2 IP, 3.04 ERA, 3.00 FIP, 1.46 WHIP, 24.4 K%, 6.7 BB%, 0.7 fWAR

An athletic left-hander, Allen bounced back after a rough Triple-A stint last year by dominating his first three starts at the level this year. His performance earned him a promotion to the Guardians rotation, and Allen kept things rolling. While Allen may not wow with his stuff, he mixes four viable pitches along with some built-in deception. The southpaw has tossed at least five innings of two-run ball or better in four of his five starts.

While the whip and xERA are a bit higher than you’d like to see, Allen seems like the kind of pitchability lefty that will consistently beat the underlying numbers.

Honorable Mentions

Anthony Volpe – SS – Yankees: Volpe easily has been tasked with the most responsibility of any rookie, and has responded pretty well. His offensive output has left a bit to be desired as he gets acclimated, but he has played great defense and is a perfect 13-for-13 on stolen bases.

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Brett Baty – 3B – Mets: Baty has been fantastic since being called up. His 120 wRC+ and four homers through 29 games have him on track to be well inside of the top 10 rookies the next time we check in on this list. It’s simply a matter of sample size keeping the Mets top prospect off of the list.

Dominic Fletcher – OF – Diamondbacks: Another victim of sample size, Fletcher has been a force in his 19 MLB games to date. It’s hard to argue against a .343/.380/.537 slash line and if the 25-year-old maintains anything close to this, he will not only be inside of our rookie ladder, but also a Rookie of the Year contender.

Josh Jung – 3B – Rangers: Jung is tied for the rookie lead with nine homers, but is only getting on base at a .308 mark. The defense is solid at the hot corner, but he will need to get on base more to crack the top 10.

Taj Bradley – RHP – Rays: Bradley has been back and forth from Durham to Tampa this year, but he has churned out four starts of at least five innings and three or fewer runs to go with 27 strikeouts and four walks.