As we get closer to the 2023 season, I continue to examine those prospects who are not currently household names. In this installment of hidden prospect gems, I take a look at four under-the-radar outfielders who should take a step forward and break into the top of prospect lists by the end of the 2023 campaign.
These are outfielders who took leaps forward in 2022 but remain outside of top-prospect consideration by most analysts.
Dynasty managers should have these potential breakout candidates on their radar as the 2023 campaign begins shortly.
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San Francisco Giants centerfield prospect Grant McCray is the son of former MLB player Rodney McCray, who played for the Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, and several other teams in the 1990s. He was drafted by the Giants in the third round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton, Florida. He enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2022 where his tremendous power and speed potential was realized.
In 2022, McCray belted 23 homers, to go with 79 RBI, 43 steals, and an impressive .289/.383/.514 slash line in 488 at-bats over two minor league levels. The majority of his 2022 season was spent at Low-A San Jose where he had the first 20/20 season in team history.
He finished up the season with 14 games at High-A Eugene. McCray will most likely begin the 2023 campaign at High-A but could see rapid promotion if he continues to develop at the plate.
McCray is currently the third-ranked prospect in the Giants’ organization, as per MLB Pipeline. As shown in 2022, he possesses plus speed and power. Defensively, he has a strong arm and can cover a lot of ground in the outfield, keeping him in centerfield. Nevertheless, he sits outside most top-100 prospect lists.
While the lefty has drawn comparisons to Cameron Maybin and Andrew McCutchen, struggles with strikeouts will serve to limit his otherwise lofty ceiling. Despite an impressive 2022 on-base percentage, fueled in part by 67 walks, McCray struck out a prohibitive 170 times.
If McCray can get swing-and-miss struggles under control, he has the chance to take an even greater step forward in 2023. Dynasty managers should keep an eye on McCray during the early part of 2023. He is an exciting prospect who could see rapid promotion through the Giants system in 2023.
Kansas City corner outfield prospect Tyler Gentry is another up-and-coming prospect who can take a huge leap in 2023. The former University of Alabama standout hit .429 (24-56) with six doubles, four home runs, 21 RBI, and 19 runs scored in his junior year in 2020. He was selected in the third round of the MLB Draft that same year by the Royals.
At 6’2″ and 210 pounds, Gentry is a powerful right-handed hitter with an impressive combination of size and speed.
In 2022, Gentry belted 21 HR to go with 86 RBI, 22 doubles, and 10 steals over 402 ABs over two minor league levels, including 274 at-bats at Double-A NW Arkansas. He slashed .326/.422./.542. Gentry is known for his ability to drive the ball to all fields and a good eye for the strike zone, which allows him to draw walks and get on base. Although he struck out 105 times in 2022, he walked 60 times.
Gentry’s 2022 transition from High-A to Double-A was seamless, and his production remained consistent between both levels. He is currently the eighth-ranked prospect in the Royals’ organization as per MLB Pipeline.
Given his 2022 success, the 24-year-old may start the 2023 campaign at Triple-A. He could see a cup of coffee in Kansas City later in the season and is a good bet to move up prospect rankings by the end of 2023 if his development continues on its current trajectory.
Oakland Athletics switch-hitting centerfield prospect Denzel Clarke is another guy who has a strong chance to break out in 2023. Clarke attended Cal State Northridge and was drafted by the Athletics in the fourth round of the 2021 MLB Draft. He is currently the 13th-ranked prospect in the Oakland organization (per MLB Pipeline) and is cousins with Josh Naylor and Bo Naylor.
At 6’5″ and 220 pounds, the 22-year-old Clarke is imposing at the plate. He possesses plus-plus speed with plus power. In 2022, over two minor league levels and 343 AB, Clarke belted 15 HR with 47 RBI, 30 steals (33 attempts), 23 doubles, and a .248/.365/.469 slash line. Thanks to his impressive 2022 campaign, he was invited to play in the 2022 Futures Game at the All-Star Break.
Defensively, Clarke has the range and arm strength to play all three outfield positions. Much like Grant McCray, however, Clarke’s kryptonite is his swing-and-miss issues. Clarke struck out 135 times against 56 walks in 2022. This will serve to limit his ceiling. Indeed, his move to High-A Lansing in 2022 proved somewhat difficult where he slashed only .209/.317/.406 in 2022.
If Clarke can address these swing-and-miss issues, his 2022 performance suggests that he could move quickly through the Athletics system and wind up on some top-prospects lists over the 2023 campaign. Dynasty managers should keep their eye on Clarke who could eventually become a legitimate five-tool threat.
Matt Gorski, a 25-year-old right-handed outfield prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates system is another hidden gem I have my eye on in 2023. The 6’4”, 198-pound prospect who was drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft had a breakout 2022 campaign. He is currently the 17th-ranked prospect in the Pirates organization (per MLB Pipeline).
Despite missing some time in 2022 (quad), Gorski managed to post a 20/20 season over four minor league levels. Over 37 games with High-A Greensboro, he slashed .294/.377/.754, 17 HR, 37 RBI, and nine steals. Over 38 games at Double-A Altoona, Gorksi slashed .277/.354/.489, with six homers, 28 RBI, and 10 SB. He received a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis at the end of the season where he went 1-for-2 with a stolen base.
Gorski was named the Willie Stargell Slugger-of-the-Year for the Pirates organization after hitting 24 HR in his combined 81 games between Greensboro, Altoona, Bradenton, and Indianapolis.
Much like the other prospects discussed in this article, Gorski possesses a rare combination of size and speed. He is an athletic outfielder with excellent range and a strong arm, making him a valuable asset on defense where he should stick in centerfield.
On the downside, Gorksi has the same swing-and-miss issues already detailed with McCray and Clarke. He struck out 93 times in 2022 against 33 walks. That said, with his combination of size, speed, and offensive and defensive skills, Gorski has the potential to be a five-tool player. Dynasty managers should watch Gorski’s development at Triple-A Indianapolis as the season develops. If he can limit the strikeouts, he could rapidly move up many prospect charts.
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