Top 10 Stars Under 25 to Start Your MLB Franchise With

Who are the best young superstars in the game today that teams would most want to start their MLB franchise with? We rank them all here.

Julio Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo home run with the trident prop during the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers.
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 28: Julio Rodriguez #44 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo home run with the trident prop during the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers at T-Mobile Park on September 28, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Imagine a world where Rob Manfred announces that Major League Baseball will be starting over and every player will be put in a big fantasy draft.

Some of the game’s great superstars would obviously go first, like the two reigning MVPs in Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna Jr., but as the draft would wear on, age would start to be taken at a premium, with the youngest stars being prioritized as players who teams would want to build their franchise around.

Right now, the game is full of young budding superstars, who are already leading their teams both on the field and as the face of the franchise for their fans. Look no further than Bobby Witt Jr., who just signed a massive 11-year, $288.77 million extension with the Kansas City Royals.

Witt is one of many stars in the game that is under 25 years old, who is being tasked with the duties of leading their franchise as their best player. Today, we are going to rank the top 10 players in baseball who will start the 2024 season under the age of 25.

Ad – content continues below

If all things go as planned, these are 10 players who will be featured prominently in the league for the better part of the next decade. But if you had to start your franchise with one of them tomorrow, which one would you take first? Let’s discuss.

Honorable Mention: Elly De La Cruz, SS

Age: 22

2023 Stats: 427 PA, .235/.300/.410, 13 HR, 44 RBI, 35 SB, 84 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: -5 DRS, 1 OAA

In a season where Elly De La Cruz got on base at just a .300 clip and struck out in 33.7% of this plate appearances, the 22-year-old phenom still found a way to nearly be a two-win player in 2023.

With game-changing speed and crazy raw power, the athleticism alone has the baseball fans salivating at the potential of the young shortstop. At the same time, De La Cruz finds himself at the bottom of this list because we have no evidence up to this point that his ceiling will be realized at the big league level.

If it is, we very well could see someone join Acuña’s elusive 40-70 club one day. If it’s not, there will be some people very disappointed about what could have been, as De La Cruz has been promised to become one of the game’s best young stars.

Ad – content continues below

10. Evan Carter, OF

Age: 21

2023 Stats: 75 PA, .306/.413/.645, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 3 SB, 180 wRC+, 1.3 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: 6 DRS, 1 OAA

A second round pick out of high school back in 2020, Evan Carter’s ascent to the big leagues has been quick and his impact has been immense. Carter made his debut on September 8th, 2023, 10 days after his 21st birthday.

Carter went on to hit over .300 in his 23 games, showcasing plenty of pop with five home runs, four doubles and a triple. His sweet left-handed swing continued to get the job done throughout the postseason for the Rangers, as played a vital role in them becoming World Series champions by hitting .300/.417/.500 in October.

While it would be unfair to expect Carter to keep up the same level of production we saw in a small sample size last year, a career .410 on-base percentage in the minor leagues is indicative of the type of player he can be moving forward.

Known for a great plate discipline and strong bat-to-ball skills, Carter is a very high floor player. Especially when you add in the fact that he is a very strong outfielder as well.

Ad – content continues below

9. Royce Lewis, 3B

Age: 24

2023 Stats: 239 PA, .309/.372/.548, 15 HR, 52 RBI, 6 SB, 155 wRC+, 2.4 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: 2 DRS, 2 OAA

A former No. 1 overall pick, who has seen his career derailed not once, but twice with ACL injuries. With all the said, Lewis made a statement when he got back on the field last season, putting up some gaudy numbers in his 58 games played.

Lewis smacked 15 home runs, and drove in 52 runs in a little over a third of a season. He also seems to have found a long-term positional fit over at third base, where he was worth 2 OAA and 2 DRS.

If Royce Lewis can stay healthy for a full 162 games this year, there is no telling how far up the ranks he could climb when it comes to being the best third baseman in the game. Prior to this season, we ranked him at No. 7 at his position based on what we saw last year.

8. Wyatt Langford, OF

Age: 22

Ad – content continues below

2023 Minor League Stats (RK, A+, AA, AAA):  200 PA, .360/.480/.677, 10 HR, 30 RBI, 12 SB

We have reached our first prospect on this list, although there is every chance that a graduation is coming in the not-too-distant future for Wyatt Langford.

Drafted fourth overall just last season, Langford enjoyed a meteoric rise through the Rangers farm system, touching base at four different levels and finishing the year a stop away from the big leagues in Triple-A. At each stop, Langford raked, posting a 1.157 OPS in 44 minor league games.

Arguably the most MLB-ready bat from last year’s draft, Langford could very well find himself in the Rangers starting lineup on Opening Day. A patient hitter, Langford has more walks than strikeouts dating back to his days at the University of Florida, and could legitimately become a 40-HR threat.

That combination of discipline and power is a rare commodity in the game today, and one that should have opposing teams very scared to face the Rangers in the future. Langford checked in at No. 4 in our latest top 100 update.

7. Junior Caminero, IF

Age: 20

Ad – content continues below

2023 Minor League Stats (A+, AA): 510 PA, .324/.384/.591, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 5 SB

Speaking of game-changing power, how about a top prospect who hit 31 home runs in 117 games last year?

Junior Caminero started last season at just 19 years old and found himself up in the big leagues at the end of the season. Caminero is one of the favorites to win AL Rookie of the Year this season, as he is expected to fill an everyday role in the Rays infield.

Caminero has the chance to be an elite run-producer in the heart of the Rays lineup for a very long time, and we should get our first glimpse of that in 2024. Caminero checked in at No. 2 in our last top 100 update.

6. Jackson Holliday, SS

Age: 20

2023 Minor League Stats (A, A+, AA, AAA): 581 PA, .323/.442/.499, 12 HR, 51 XBH, 75 RBI, 24 SB

Ad – content continues below

The top prospect in all of baseball, Jackson Holliday is a player that fans cannot wait to see make his MLB debut at some point this season. With the depth of talent the Orioles have on their MLB roster already, it makes sense to give Holliday some more seasoning in the minor leagues, but there is every chance his debut comes sooner rather than later in 2024.

In his first full season last year, Holliday went from opening the year in Low-A, to finishing the year in Triple-A at just 19 years old. Holliday has a fantastic approach at the plate that goes well beyond his years, which many evaluators believe is already big league ready.

Having gotten on-base at nearly a .450 clip last season, Holliday has a very high floor, with a ceiling to dream on if he can grow into his body and develop more power. Until then, Holliday could be called on to play a big league shortstop and not give any at-bats away for the Orioles right now.

5. Gunnar Henderson, SS

Age: 22

2023 Stats: 622 PA, .255/.325/.489, 28 HR, 82 RBI, 10 SB, 123 wRC+, 4.6 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: 10 DRS, 0 OAA

Coming one spot above Holliday is his future teammate Gunnar Henderson. We really could have gone either way with the two Orioles infielders, but Gunnar got the nod for already realizing his potential at the big league level.

Ad – content continues below

Henderson is coming of an AL Rookie of the Year campaign, which saw him get better and better as the year wore on. The 22-year-old split time between third base and shortstop last year, but eventually settled in at short and posted 10 DRS.

Combine his glove with enough power to consistently hit 30 bombs per year, and you have a player who can be an All-Star for years to come.

4. Michael Harris II, CF

Age: Will turn 23 on March 7th

2023 Stats: 539 PA, .293/.331/.477, 18 HR, 57 RBI, 20 SB, 115 wRC+, 4.0 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: 2 DRS, 6 OAA

Across his first two seasons, Michael Harris II has hit .295/.334/.494, with a 125 wRC+, and yet it still feels like his best baseball is ahead of him. Harris hit below the Mendoza line through the first two months of 2024, only to rebound by hitting .372 in June and .325 throughout the second half.

Harris won the Rookie of the Year in 2022 and should have Gold Gloves in his future for his outstanding work in center field.

Ad – content continues below

In his first few seasons, it feels like Harris has shown us what he floor is for the Braves, which is being a near 20-20 threat with great defense at a premium position. He followed up a 4.9 fWAR season in his rookie year with a 4.0 fWAR in 2023. Moving forward, expect Harris to at least be a four-win player, but there’s a ceiling beyond on that where he can be even better.

3. Corbin Carroll, OF

Age: 23

2023 Stats: 645 PA, .285/.362/.506, 25 HR, 76 RBI, 54 SB, 133 wRC+, 6.0 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: -3 DRS, 4 OAA

Fresh off an NL Rookie of the Year campaign and a World Series run, Corbin Carroll has quickly ascended to being one of the best players in all of baseball in his short time in the big leagues.

The 23-year-old finished top-five in MVP voting last year and has all the makings of a player who could win the award at some point in his career. Lightening-quick speed on the bases, with an exceptional approach at the plate, Carroll is sure to be among the league-leaders in runs scored for years to come.

2. Bobby Witt Jr., SS

Age: 23

Ad – content continues below

2023 Stats: 694 PA, .276/.319/.495, 30 HR, 96 RBI, 49 SB, 115 wRC+, 5.7 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: -6 DRS, 14 OAA

Bobby Witt Jr. showed us last year why we should never give up on a former top prospect after one lackluster season. While he did hit 20 home runs and steal 30 bases as a rookie, Witt left a lot to be desired on both sides of the ball.

He posted poor defensive metrics at both shortstop and third base, and finished the 2022 season with an on-base percentage below .300. Everything began to click for Witt in 2023 though, as he settled into playing shortstop everyday and put together a fantastic offensive season.

The 23-year-old cut his strikeout rate by four percent, going from a 21.4% to a 17.4% rate, and added over 20 points to his batting average and on-base percentage. Those extra opportunities on the basepath paid dividends as he swiped 49 bases.

While his season was great as a whole, Witt really turned it on in the second half. He hit .301/.343/.563, with 16 home runs and a 139 wRC+. All this, while posting 14 OAA at shortstop.

The Royals ensured that Witt would be their face of the franchise for a long time by inking him to a contract extension that spans more than a decade. Moving forward, expect Witt to be a perennial All-Star and to vie for MVP awards as soon as this season.

Ad – content continues below

1. Julio Rodriguez, CF

Age: 23

2023 Stats: 714 PA, .275/.333/.485, 32 HR, 103 RBI, 37 SB, 126 wRC+, 5.0 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: -5 DRS, 12 OAA

Who else could have gone in our top spot other than Julio Rodriguez?

J-Rod is the game’s best young five-tool player, who very well could go on to win the American League MVP this season. At 23 years old, with two five-win seasons already under his belt, we are looking at a player who could be the next Mike Trout.

Rodriguez just posted his first 30-30 season, with 32 home runs and 37 stolen bases, and there is every chance he can make the push for a 40-40 season this year. He plays a great defensive center field on top of all the skills he brings to the table offensively.

Moreover, Rodriguez embraces the attention that comes with being a star player in the game and could very well become the face of Major League Baseball before too long.

Ad – content continues below

There is nothing that Rodriguez can’t do on a baseball field and the scary part is that all of his best baseball is still ahead of him. If the league started over tomorrow and all 30 teams had a fantasy draft, there is every chance that J-Rod would go No. 1.

Just a Little Too Old

For the purpose of this exercise we wanted to look at players under the age of 25, but there are a few notable players to mention who would absolutely be atop any list of players to start your franchise with.

We begin with the aforementioned reigning NL MVP, Ronald Acuña Jr.

Acuña just played his age-25 season, as he turned 26 years old in December, and a real argument can be made that there is no player in baseball (not named Ohtani) who teams would rather start their franchise with. Acuña is coming off the first ever 40-70 season and is in a class of his own when it comes to his talent and ability to put up gaudy numbers.

Right there with Acuña you have Juan Soto, who also debuted in 2018 but remains remarkably young. Soto is entering his age-25 season now, and will hit free agency as a 26-year-old, where he will he cash in on a massive contract that should exceed half a billion dollars.

Beyond Acuña and Soto, Adley Rutschman is another young superstar that has already advanced past 25 years old, but would be selected very quickly as one of the top players to start your franchise with. Rutschman is only 26 years old entering his third big league season, yet he is already widely considered the best catcher in all of baseball.

Ad – content continues below

Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are a few more young stars who have recently advanced past their age-25 seasons.

Just Missed: Francisco Alvarez, Gabriel Moreno, Oneil Cruz, Matt McLain, Jackson Chourio