MLB Pipeline will reveal its Top 100 Predictions for 2023 at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, January 26, with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com. Prior to the release of the Top 100 Players, we will examine the top 10 prospective baseball players at each position.
And now we turn our attention to some real weeds – first basemen.
Triston Casas was ranked No. 2 in the preseason list last year, finished 2022 atop the 1B rankings, and finds himself there again to start the 2023 campaign. Having played more games as a starter last year than he has at his position (catcher) At the end of the season, prospect Tyler Soderstrom joined the preseason roster for the first time and fell behind Casas in second place. Rays breakout star Kyle Manzardo jumped seven places off last year’s spring roster to join the 2023 edition of the Big Three in this category.
Depending on this arrangement, some clubs could have fun positional battles on their hands in the future. The Red Sox, A’s, Rays, and Rockies all have two first basemen each in the Top 10. Oakland’s pair of Soderstrom and Jordan Diaz, in particular, both have ETAs for the upcoming season.
top ten (eta)
1. Triston Casas, Red Sox (2023)
2. Tyler Soderstrom, Athletics (2023)
3. Kyle Manzardo, Rise (2023)
4. Matt Mervis, CAPS (2023)
5. Jordan Diaz, Athletics (2023)
6. Michael Tuglia, Rockies (2023)
7. Grant Lavigne, Rockies (2024)
8. Ivan Melendez, D-B (2025)
9. Xavier Isaac, Rays (2026)
10. Nico Cavadas, Red Sox (2024)
Hits: Manzardo (65)
327 average last season between High-A and Double-A in his first taste of full season play. Manzardo was already credited with impressive area knowledge and quality swing decisions during his time at Washington State, and those skills instantly translated to the pros. While he may lack the stellar exit velocities of others on this list, he’s able to find the barrel in other ways, leading to the belief that he could be a . 300 hitter over several seasons on The Show.
Energy: Casas (65)
Take a look at Casas’ 6-foot-4, 252-pound frame, and you can instantly tell where the power drop is coming from. Projection is still the perfect word because the left-handed bazaar was focused on developing an approach that hit all fields in the early stages of his career. That’s fine in the long run but it kept him from bogging down at the top. 500 for a full-season club. Now that he’s 23 and ready for the major league, Casas’ strength should show in Fenway this year, just in time for him to secure his place as Boston’s long-term starting cornerback. It is worth noting that five of his 11 songs with the big club left the scene last year.
Running: Diaz, Tuglia (45)
You won’t find many burners in this position, otherwise they would play somewhere else. Tuglia’s relatively quick feet made him a Gold Glove-caliber starting linebacker and made him look like the right field in last year’s Majors. Likewise, Diaz made the majority of his MLB starts at second base because Mark Kotsay and company wanted to see how his speed would translate into a more athletic position. Both still stand out better at first, but to their credit, they’re athletic enough to go around.
Arm: Casas, Mervis (60)
Drafted initially as a third baseman because of his strong arm, Casas threw in the low 90s during his days playing high school ball in Florida. Mirvis threw 59 innings during his four years at Duke while sporting a fireplace around the same filo and a low-80s slider. The pair may not be using their fullbacks as much as they used to, but any overly aggressive baserunner might want to heed this warning if they see any of the first basemen with the ball in their hands.
field: take away (65)
We named Toglia to the All-Defense Prospect Team last week, and it was a fairly easy call-up. Toglia reacts well to hard hitting balls towards the start and shows the soft hands needed to get rockets off the bat or throws from anywhere on the dirt. His star gauntlets give him proper grounding, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him bring some gold hardware to Denver within the next three years.
Roof top: Casas
Casas is the only member of this list with four gear that ranks at least above average, making him the most basic prospect in the game today. He must hit for both average and power, and even on days when he doesn’t, he can still impact a game defensively. All of which is why Boston pitched to make Casas their first baseman on Opening Day in March.
Highest floor: Manzardo
There is no doubt now that the Tampa Bay prospect will produce flat averages and percentages. Questions about his overall slugging ability temper expectations about his future value, but players with his skills will always find their way into the major league lineup. Anything close to a remake of the 2022 season, and it will be in St Petersburg by fall.
Rookie of the Year: Casas
Eric Hosmer is set to hire. Bobby Dalbeck’s days seem numbered as a start. Casas had 27 games in the Majors last year, and while his . 17 average at the time doesn’t stand out, he still drives the ball well into all fields in a sign his forward approach will play out in the seniors. The roof is there. Potential play time is there. Everything is lining up for Casas’ racing in ROY.
Higher and humbler start: Mervis
1B roster aside, Mervis wasn’t even ranked among the Cubs’ top 30 prospect at the end of the 2021 season. The former Blue Devil was signed by the Cubs for $20,000 as a non-drafted free agent in 2020 and then produced just .676 OPS in 69 games. single in his first full season a year later. Then, he explodes for 36 (tied for third in The Minors) across three levels in 2022 and heads into his 25-year-old season vying for a place at Wrigley. Talk about a quick turnaround.
Most proven: Isaac
The Rice shocked the industry by selecting North Carolina high school senior Isaac with the 29th overall pick this past July. Tampa Bay decision makers noted how much they loved Isaac’s ability to generate at-bat speed and high out velocities, but it still looked like the arrival of a player listed 113th in the MLB Pipeline Draft Rankings. It may be years before Isaac fulfills his parent club’s hopes from that draft slot, but his development in the meantime will be watched carefully by many.
Stay tuned: Robert Perez Jr., Mariners
Having previously hit 15 homers, Perez went off with a career-best 27 blasts in 127 games at Single-A and High-A last season. He was somehow more dominant away from the California League with a .342/.477/.583 streak in his 53 contests with High-A Everett. Seattle tested the 22-year-old again with a stint in the Arizona Fall League, and he responded there with a . 753 OPS in 19 games and a Home Run Derby crown at the track. His improvements to reach his above-average potential look real but will be tested again when he reaches the senior levels this summer.