Top 5 MLB Rookies to Watch On Opening Day 2023

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Baltimore Orioles' Gunnar Henderson in action during a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, in Baltimore.
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Rachael Millanta @rachaelmillanta Mar 22, 2023, 12:50 PM
  • Corbin Carroll and Gunnar Henderson top the list of MLB rookies to watch in 2023.
  • Jordan Walker, Masataka Yoshida, and Kodai Senga round out the top five.

The 2023 MLB season is finally upon us, and there’s no shortage of exciting players to watch this year.

The offseason headlines have been dominated by big free agency moves, including Trea Turner joining the Phillies, Aaron Judge re-signing with the Yankees, and Carlos Correa signing with the Twins via the Giants and Mets. However, the established vets aren’t the only players to watch.

Every year, a new class of rookies enters the league looking to make waves, and there are plenty of young players worthy of fan attention in 2023. While some made their debuts last season, under league rules, a player is considered a rookie unless he’s exceeded any of the following thresholds:

  • 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues.
  • 45 total days on an active Major League roster during the Championship Season (excluding time on the Injured List).

So which rookies should you be keeping an eye on this season?

Top 5 MLB Rookies to Watch On Opening Day

Corbin Carroll — Arizona Diamondbacks

Carroll was selected by the Diamondbacks in the first round of the 2019 MLB draft and debuted in the majors on Aug. 29, 2022. The 22-year-old outfielder has already made a name for himself with his incredible sprint speed, which clocked as the fastest in the majors in 2022.

Carroll slashed .260/.330/.500 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in 104 at-bats last year in the majors. Prior to his debut, he split the 2022 season between the ACL Diamondbacks Red (Rookie), Amarillo Sod Poodles (AA), and Reno Aces (AAA), where he slashed .307/.425/.610 with 24 home runs and 62 RBIs in 362 at-bats.

On March 11, 2023, Carroll signed an eight-year, $111 million contract extension with the Diamondbacks, and he’s certain to have a spot on the team’s Opening Day roster. He’s currently leading NL Rookie of the Year odds at +400, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals’ Jordan Walker.

Gunnar Henderson — Baltimore Orioles

After being selected by the Orioles in the second round of the 2019 MLB draft, Henderson made his major league debut on Aug. 31, 2022. It didn’t take long for the 21-year-old third baseman to prove himself worthy of the promotion.

Henderson slashed .259/.348/.440 with four home runs and 18 RBIs in 116 at-bats in the majors last year. His average exit velocity was 92 mph, four ticks higher than the MLB average. Prior to his major-league debut, Henderson split the 2022 season between the Bowie Baysox (AA) and Norfolk Tides (AAA), where he slashed .297/.416/.531 with 19 home runs and 76 RBIs in 407 at-bats.

As of March 22, Henderson is leading the AL Rookie of the Year odds at +250, with his next closest contender, Masataka Yoshida of the Red Sox, at +600. He’s expected to be on the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, and with the play he’s already proved himself capable of, he’ll be a rookie to watch in 2023.

Jordan Walker — St. Louis Cardinals

Walker was selected 21st overall by the Cardinals in the 2020 MLB draft and has yet to make his debut in the majors, though fans and experts both have big hopes for the 20-year-old. 

Having played third base throughout his career, Walker began playing in the outfield in August 2022, so it’ll be interesting to see how he’s utilized by St. Louis in 2023.

During 2022 with the Springfield Cardinals (AA), Walker slashed .306/.388/.510 with 19 home runs and 68 RBIs in 461 at-bats. As mentioned above, he currently leads the NL Rookie of the Year odds at +400, tied with Carroll.

Masataka Yoshida — Boston Red Sox

Yoshida agreed to a five-year, $90 million contract with the Red Sox on Dec. 7, 2022, the first day he was eligible to sign after being posted by the Orix Buffaloes, the reigning Japan Series champions. 

The 29-year-old outfielder has already proved his batting abilities while representing Japan at the World Baseball Classic, so fans have high hopes that his skills will translate to MLB when he makes his debut this season.

In seven seasons with the Buffaloes (2016-22), Yoshida posted a batting average of .327 with 133 home runs and 467 RBIs in 762 games. He’s currently second in the AL Rookie of the Year odds at +600, only behind Henderson.

Kodai Senga — New York Mets

Japanese starter Senga agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract with the Mets on Dec. 11, 2022, including a full no-trade clause and an opt-out clause that would allow the 30-year-old to enter free agency at the end of 2025.

In 11 seasons in the Nippon Professional Baseball League, Senga was a three-time All-Star (2013, 2017, 2019), five-time Japan Series champion (2015, 2017–2020), and two-time Mitsui Golden Glove Award winner (2019, 2020). He recorded a 2.59 ERA and a 28.22% strikeout rate (1,252 strikeouts) in over 1,089 innings pitched.

As of March 22, Senga is fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year odds at +800.

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About the Author

Rachael Millanta

Read More @rachaelmillanta

Rachael Millanta is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM focusing on Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Her work has been published in SB Nation, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Slackjaw Humor. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Rachael now resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Rachael Millanta is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM focusing on Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Her work has been published in SB Nation, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Slackjaw Humor. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Rachael now resides in Chicago, Illinois.