As we inch closer to the 2023 season, I am going to give top three prospects at each position. This will be based on where they currently play and also where they may end up. This will culminate with my newly updated top 30 prospects before the season starts. This week, we are looking at the outfield position and since there are a lot of good ones, I will list the top five.
1. Drew Gilbert
Drew Gilbert was drafted by the Astros in the first round of the 2022 draft, the Astros first first round selection since 2019. Gilbert is a spark plug of a player, but don’t let that take away from his skillset either. The lefty possesses really good hand-eye coordination which allows him to consistently barrel baseballs. He also flashes some power which could see him as a 20 HR guy in the bigs. Gilbert has plus speed which he uses to his advantage on the bases and also in center field. HAs a junior at Tennessee, the lefty .362 with 21 2B, 11 HR, 70 RBI in 58 games. He is a fiery competitor and leaves it all out on the field.
2022 Stats: 11 G, .313 BA/.405 OBP/.531 SLG, 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 6 SB
2. Jacob Melton
Melton was drafted by the Astros in the 2nd round of the 2022 draft out of Oregon State. Melton had a standout junior year in college slashing .360/.424/.671 with 22 2B, 17 HR, 21 SB as he earned Pac-12 player of the year honors. Melton is a left handed swinging outfielder who stands at 6’3″ and 210 lbs. Melton has an advanced approach at the plate and has above average power with the potential to be plus as he also makes a lot of contact. The lefty is a plus runner on the bases and in the outfield and should stick in center field defensively.
2022 Stats: 23 G, .261 BA/.353 OBP/.466 SLG, 6 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 5 SB
3. Pedro Leon
The Astros signed Leon in January of 2021 for $4 million. He has a short and compact swing with power to all fields. He also possesses an above-average arm in the outfield and is a plus runner on the bases. The Astros have played with him in the infield but it appears the outfield will be his most likely point at the big league level. While he has some swing and miss to his game, he has been able to get on base and still hit for power too. Leon has the potential to be an impact player at the MLB level and he has shown it already in the minors with the power and speed combination.
2022 Stats: 115 G, .228 BA/.365 OBP/.431 SLG, 27 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 63 RBI, 38 SB
4. Colin Barber
Barber was drafted in the 4th round of high school in the 2019 draft. He signed for $1 million, which was almost $600k over slot. Barber has very good bat speed and possesses above-average raw power and plus speed to keep him as a potential center fielder. He has struggled with some injuries over the last couple seasons but has still been able to post a .851 OPS in 79 High-A games. He has a patient approach at the plate and the ability to hit the ball all over the park.
2022 Stats: 66 G, .294 BA/.400 OBP/.439 SLG, 10 2B, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 7 SB
5. Justin Dirden
Dirden was an undrafted free agent following the 2020 draft but put together a great season slashing .274/.397/.537 with 15 HR in 83 games. The outfielder showed a nice combination of power and patience with a 14.9 BB% and a .263 ISO. Overall. he had a 149 wRC+ in 83 games. The lefty swinger has above average power and has shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields. Despite his size, he is a good athlete and could stick at center field at the big league level. Read more on Dirden here.
2022 Stats: 124 G, .302 BA/.384 OBP/.558 SLG, 40 2B, 5 3B, 24 HR, 101 RBI, 12 SB