By David Yarger
Co-Host The Chase
What’s up baseball enthusiasts, the season is almost halfway through. As we round third and head home (aka the All Star Break), it’s important for collectors to keep an eye out for young guys that will be making their way to the big leagues in the near future.
While guys like Cincinnati Reds prospect Elly De La Cruz have come up and electrified crowds with his speed and power, more young guns are on the move. Recently, the Pittsburgh Pirates called up former No. 1 pick, catcher Henry Davis to take over the backstop duties in the 412.
The addition of Davis to the Pirates roster, as well as De La Cruz to the Reds, have given some fans hope that not only will they give their squads the extra push they need to make a run towards October, but also reason to believe they can be hobby poster children for baseball prospectors.
Everyone knows that De La Cruz’s first bowmans out of 2022 Bowman Baseball have been huge sellers, while the market is still catching up to all the Davis hype.
Moving forward, there are going to be more prospects coming up that also have a ton of hype, but some that may also be under the radar.
Here are five prospects that I expect to see in the majors in the next year and what products you can find them in.
5. Andrew Painter, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Painter is an interesting prospect, because pitchers don’t always get a ton of hobby love. For Painter, he is the 10th rated prospect in the game according to the MLB pipeline, in addition to the second rated pitching prospect behind Eury Perez, who has come up and succeeded for the Miami Marlins.
Painter is a tall righty with a fastball that hits triple-digits, with a mix of three high-quality off speed pitches.
The only thing holding Painter back is that he began 2023 with an injury. Before that, he went 6-2 with a 1.56 ERA and 155 K’s in 22 games in the minors.
While Painter will have to work back from an arm injury, if he can get back to his normal self, I see no issue with him being in the Phillies rotation to begin the 2024 MLB season.
4. James Wood, OF, Washington Nationals
Wood is at the top of a loaded class of Nationals prospects. I went back and forth between placing Robert Hassell III and him on the list, but Wood’s power numbers standout.
Wood towers at 6-foot-7-inches and despite his large frame, he is an incredible runner with 38 stolen bases in three minor league seasons.
The 20-year-old was part of the trade that sent all star Juan Soto to the Padres in return for Wood, Hassell, Mackenzie Gore and many more prospects.
Between Single-A and AA ball this season, Wood is batting .277 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs.
It could be a stretch, but it’s not out of the realm to think that Wood could be playing the outfield for Washington by next season. Nevertheless, the outfield future looks promising in Washington with Wood, Hassell and Elijah Green.
3. Noelvi Marte, 3B/SS, Cincinnati Reds
Marte is one of my favorite prospects on this list, all because of how underrated he is. The 21-year-old just hits everywhere he goes.
He was traded from Seattle to Cincinnati last season in the Luis Castillo deal. The deal set up a possible lockdown left side of the infield between him and De La Cruz, with both being able to play shortstop and third base.
Currently in AA Charlotte, Marte is batting .293 with 8 home runs and 25 RBIs in 47 games.
It’s entirely possible that he moves through the minors quicker than most just based off his ability with the bat, but his ability to transition to a third baseman defensively will, in my opinion, be the only thing that could possibly hold him back from a quicker trek to the bigs.
Be sure to look for Marte’s first bowmans in 2019 hobby boxes.
With all the hype leaning on De La Cruz in Cincy, I feel Marte is a quality investment for collectors looking for an under the radar type of player.
2. Jackson Chourio, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
The next two names are widely known in the hobby and should be no surprise to anybody. Chourio is the number one prospect in Milwaukee’s organization and many are expecting to see him manning centerfield for the Brew Crew sooner rather than later.
Chourio’s speed is unmatched, amounting 19 stolen bases so far this season in AA, and also prompting a move from shortstop to center. Throw in nine home runs and 40 RBIs and you got one heck of a prospect.
While Chourio is one of the more expensive prospects in the hobby, you can find his first bowmans in 2022 hobby and megas.
At the young age of 19, Chourio’s best baseball is still ahead of him, so the Brewers could let him get season a bit longer in the minors while they lead the NL Central. At the same time, you could make an argument that Chourio may head to Milwaukee within the next year to get production at a position that hasn’t been great for the Brewers.
1. Jackson Holliday, SS, Baltimore Orioles
I have never had such a stronger opinion than this one.
Jackson Holliday will be the Orioles starting shortstop by opening day next season.
I said what I said. He will only be 20 by the time spring training rolls around next year, but judging by his production at the plate, the Orioles would be hard pressed not to add him to an already impressive offense.
Currently, this season, between two minor league teams, Holliday is batting .322 with seven home runs and 42 RBIs.
Did I mention that he is Matt Holliday’s son? Yes, the Matt Holliday who spent 15 seasons in the majors, amassing over 2,000 hits.
Collectors have been in on the Holliday hype for sometime now, but his first bowmans can be found in 2022 products.
Holliday is one of the rare prospects that I’m not a “sell immediately” guy once they reach the big leagues. I truly believe that this will be a hold as long as possible type deal for collectors, because the kid is the real deal.
The future is bright in Baltimore.