10 best young players in baseball
5. Dansby Swanson, 23, SS, Atlanta Braves
Another top prospect who was relatively well known before his late-season call-up in 2016, Dansby Swanson has already established himself as the Braves’ shortstop of the future.
The 23-year-old hit .302/.361/.442 with three home runs, 17 RBIs and three stolen bases in 38 games for the Braves last season, and that was more than enough evidence to prove he belonged. And while he may be struggling to start the 2017 season, it’s inevitable that Swanson ultimately turns it around and becomes a fixture in the NL.
Following his poor April in which he batted just .156, Swanson is batting .288 with an .863 OPS in May.
With loose hands and good bat speed, Swanson has all the markings of a contact hitter with a high average. As he continues to develop and gain strength, he’ll add a little pop at the plate as well. Swanson is also a solid defender who will get better over time.
His early-season slump aside, Swanson is an exciting young player who should be a mainstay for years to come.
4. Gary Sanchez, 24, C, New York Yankees
Although Gary Sanchez was long considered one of the Yankees’ best prospects, he wasn’t continuously in the conversation about the best young prospects in baseball. Then he got called up in 2016 and went on a tear that nearly won him the AL Rookie of the Year award.
After mashing 20 home runs and 42 RBIs to go along with a near .300 batting average, the Yankees were convinced it was time to usher in their next starting catcher. And although an early-season injury slowed him in 2017, Sanchez is back behind the plate and is slowly becoming a force in the lineup once again.
Through 19 games in 2017, Sanchez is batting .270 with four home runs. He has posted an .811 OPS while playing a premium position.
In addition to hitting for both average and power, Sanchez has proven to be a valuable asset behind the plate. He’s developed a solid rapport with all five members of the Yankees’ rotation and has, at times, displayed a rocket for an arm.
3. Tyler Glasnow, 23, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Like several others on this list, Tyler Glasnow was widely known before he even stepped foot on a Major League diamond. Considered one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, the clock had been anxiously ticking until his debut.
Unfortunately for the Pirates and Glasnow, injuries and a lack of control sullied his first series of games in 2016, but he returned this season with job security and a longer leash. And while the numbers have been far from remarkable — Glasnow is 2-3 with a 7.34 ERA in eight starts — there’s no denying his ceiling is arguably unlimited.
The 23-year-old Glasnow features a mid-90s fastball that bears down on hitters thanks to his 6-foot-8 frame, which only makes his sharp curveball that much harder to hit. When he’s able to throw strikes early in the count, he’s almost unhittable. But for the youngster, it’s all about control and poise, which will come with time.
2. Andrew Benintendi, 22, OF, Boston Red Sox
Andrew Benintendi was on the scene long before he made it to the majors, through his first 75 career games, it’s become clear that hype was completely warranted.
The Red Sox got a brief glimpse into the future a year ago when Benintendi was called up, but his play so far in 2017 has led to him being dubbed “Lil’ Papi” — an obvious and deliberate comparison to retired slugger David Ortiz. And while some say it’s entirely too early for such a nickname, it’s an indication of where things are headed for Benintendi.
Through the first month-plus of the season, the 22-year-old Benintendi is also considered among the favorites to win the AL Rookie of the Year and rightfully so.
Benintendi is hitting .280/.355/.422 with five home runs, 24 RBIs and five stolen bases. He posted similar numbers over 34 games last season, as he batted .295 with 11 doubles and two home runs. Between him and Mookie Betts, the Red Sox have some serious young studs in the outfield.
1. Aaron Judge, 25, RF, New York Yankees
Aaron Judge may not be the best prospect in baseball, but it’s easy to understand why he’s No. 1 on this list.
After a somewhat clunky start to the season, Judge caught fire and hasn’t let up since. He led the Yankees in the early absence of Gary Sanchez, moving all over the batting order based on matchups, and hitting with unlimited power. Judge improved his patience at the plate and has played surprisingly good (and sometimes fearless) defense.
Through 40 games this season, the slugger is batting .315 with five doubles, two triples and 15 big home runs. His 49 strikeouts are a concern, but if that’s the cost of a hitter slugging nearly .700, it’s worth it.
Judge has also seen his popularity skyrocket in much the same way as New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., even finding himself adorned on the cover of Sports Illustrated and drawing comparisons to The Captain, Derek Jeter. He’s been so popular that the Yankees already added a special fan section for him.
What makes Judge truly unique is his humble, team-first attitude. He refuses to discuss himself and genuinely enjoys being a Yankee, which will keep him popular in the Bronx for a long time to come.