MLB spring training gets underway this week, and that means everyone is thinking about the future. In most cities, that means the upcoming season; in some, though, it means the bigger picture, the next three to five years. You're either selling wins or you're selling hope, the old saying goes. We here at CBS Sports like to provide as much hope as we can around this time of the winter by evaluating each team's farm system.
Of course, that doesn't mean every team has an equally good farm system -- some, as you'll find out throughout this process, are lacking in that respect. It does mean, nevertheless, that CBS Sports will be spending the next few weeks examining the top three prospects in each organization. We define "prospects" as retaining their rookie eligibility for the 2023 season, so if a young player is missing that's likely why.
These lists and evaluations are formed following conversations with scouts, analysts, and player development types. There's also firsthand evaluation and bias thrown into the mix. Keep in mind that player evaluation is a hard task, and it's fine if you disagree with the rankings. These are opinions, and they have no real bearing on the future..
With that in mind, let's get to it by dissecting the Arizona Diamondbacks.
1. Corbin Carroll, OF, No. 2 on top 20 (2023 seasonal age: 22)
Carroll was limited by injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic to 142 minor-league games ahead of his debut in Arizona last August. The lack of repetitions didn't prevent him from batting .260/.330/.500 (133 OPS+) with four home runs and two steals in 32 games. Carroll continued to exhibit swing-and-miss tendencies within the zone, ranking in the 27th percentile in that respect. That flaw won't sink him (Paul Goldschmidt and the aforementioned Gunnar Henderson were just two recognizable names around him on the leaderboard), but it may result in a higher strikeout rate than he was expected to post in the past. Still, Carroll is a well-rounded center fielder with top-of-the-scale speed who ought to provide oodles of secondary value. He should begin the season in the majors.
2. Druw Jones, OF, No. 16 on top 20 (2023 seasonal age: 19)
Jones, the son of longtime Braves outfielder Andruw Jones, was the industry's preferred choice for the No. 1 pick entering last summer. Alas, he suffered a shoulder injury taking batting practice with the big-league club after signing, derailing his first taste of pro ball before it began. Jones projects to have five above-average or better tools, giving him a genuine shot at becoming a star-level performer. Predictably, he's a high-grade defensive center fielder with well-above-average speed and a strong arm. At the plate, meanwhile, he projects to hit for average and power alike. Presuming Jones stays healthy, he's likely to move up ahead of next winter's list.
3. Jordan Lawlar, SS, No. 18 on top 20 (2023 seasonal age: 20)
Lawlar, the sixth pick in the 2021 draft, has elicited comparisons to Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr. based on their shared Texas heritage and skill sets. He performed well in his first full professional season, posting a .910 OPS in 100 games across four levels (including 20 at Double-A). Unfortunately, Lawlar's year again prematurely because of a shoulder injury; whereas in 2021 he tore his labrum, this time around a pitch hit him there and fractured his scapula during the Arizona Fall League. (The injury shouldn't impact his future, or even his 2023 season for that matter.) Lawlar has a chance to remain at shortstop and boast five above-average or better tools at maturation, giving him an All-Star-caliber ceiling should he develop as planned.