Photo by Mike Bowman / Unsplash

Talented youth abound in MLB

Shohei Ohtani, currently embroiled in a gambling controversy but blessed with the amazing ability to throw and crush a baseball, is the best player in the world, but he’s not making this list because at the age of 29, he doesn’t qualify in the annual “Best Player 25 or Under” category.

Bruce Penton

March 23, 2024

Major League Baseball teams are flush with young superstars and it's our duty to list the best dozen. So let the countdown begin:

12. Michael Harris, Jr., age 23. In two years, the Atlanta Braves star and NL Rookie-of-the-Year in 2022 has 37 home runs, a .298 batting average and has great speed and range in centrefield for the perennially contending Braves.

11. Isaac Paredes, 25. The Tampa Bay infielder broke out in his second full season last year, belting 31 homers after a 20-HR campaign in 2022.

10. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., 25. Still one of the baseball's great young slugging stars, Jays' fans are still hopeful for more, more, more. Vladdy won the All-Star game home-run derby in 2023. Toronto's first baseman has 130 home runs in five seasons, including 48 in 2021.

9. Elly de la Cruz, 22. One of the fastest players in the majors, shortstop de la Cruz broke into the Cincinnati Reds lineup in mid-season last year, bashing 13 homers and seven triples while stealing 35 bases in only 98 games.

8. Spencer Strider, age 25. Atlanta Braves' ace is the only pitcher on this list. Coming off a 20-5 season with 281 strikeouts in 186.2 innings, the right-handed Strider has reportedly developed a wicked curve this spring, so hitters should beware.

7. and 6. Gunnar Henderson, 23, and Adley Rutschman, 25, two reasons why Baltimore Orioles became an MLB power last season. Infielder Henderson was AL Rookie of the Year after a 28-homer season while Rutschman (33 homers in two seasons and strong defensively) is one of the game's best young catchers, finishing runner-up as the 2022 Rookie-of-the-Year.

5. Corbin Carroll, Arizona, 23. Last year's NL rookie of the year (voted unanimously) also placed fifth in voting for Most Valuable Player as the speedy outfielder's 25 home runs,.285 batting average and 54 stolen bases led the Diamondbacks to the World Series, where they lost in five games to Texas.

4. Julio Rodriguez, 23. The speedy outfielder has had two great seasons for the Mariners, with 60 homers and 62 stolen bases. He was the AL's Rookie-of- the-Year in 2022.

3. Fernando Tatis, Jr., 25. Injuries and a drug suspension sidelined Tatis in 2022, but in his two full seasons (2021 and 2023), the swift and powerful outfielder crushed 67 home runs and stole 54 bases.

2. Bobby Witt, Jr., 24. Twenty homers as a rookie, 30 as a sophomore. The KC infielder can do it all.

1. Juan Soto, 25. A career .284 hitter with 160 homers in five seasons inspired the Yankees to sign the talented outfielder to a one-year contract for $31 million.

Sports Comments

  • Sean McIndoe of The Athletic, in a story about some of hockey's unwritten rules: "Unwritten rule No. 14: When somebody shoots the puck over the glass, everyone has to stop and wave their arms around like first-graders who just realized they have to go potty."
  • RJ Currie of "CFL Hall-of-Fame QB Warren Moon played only six seasons in Canada, and on a recent TSN interview he pronounced Saskatchewan perfectly. So what's Milt Stegall's excuse?"
  • Super 70s Sports, on a great Canadian athlete: "George Chuvalo had 93 professional fights and squared off with six heavyweight champions, including George Foreman, Joe Frazier, and Muhammad Ali twice. He never once got knocked off his feet. Ever."
  • Vancouver comedy guy Torben Rolfsen: "Four-game suspension for the Rangers' Matt Rempe. When does his Upper Deck Young Goons rookie card come out?"
  • Janice Hough at, after Yale upset Auburn in the NCAA men's basketball tournament: "And if millions of Americans didn't already hate the Ivy Leagues, Yale just busted several million brackets."
  • From someone named Jeff on X: "Welcome back to SportsCenter presented by ESPN Bet. For more on the Shohei Ohtani situation we go to our FanDuel MLB Insider Jeff Passan at our DraftKings Studio in Los Angeles brought to you by Caesar's Sportsbook. Jeff, how could something like this happen?"
  • RJ Currie again: "The score went up by 2s between Canada-Switzerland at the women's world curling championships: Canada 2, Switzerland 2; then Canada 4, Switzerland 4; and finally Canada 8 over Switzerland 4. The game was played on twos-day."
  • Headline on "As we approach this QB draft, let's remember 'one of the best classes in decades, blessed with the cannon arm of Zach Wilson, unlimited ceilings of Trey Lance and Justin Fields, and the pinpoint accuracy and well-rounded passing profile of Mac Jones."
  • Late comedian Bob Hope, who said he once shot a 69 on his home course, but later revised it to 68. "I'm improving my lie."
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