Major League Baseball
Ten MLB prospects to watch: After Paul Skenes’ arrival, who's next in 2024?
Major League Baseball

Ten MLB prospects to watch: After Paul Skenes’ arrival, who's next in 2024?

Updated May. 22, 2024 6:22 p.m. ET

In a year of rather slow starts for some of MLB's top young talents, the much-anticipated arrival of baseball's top pitching prospect has brought life to the 2024 class.  

Facing the same Cubs team he saw in his debut, Pittsburgh's Paul Skenes racked up 11 strikeouts without allowing a hit over six innings in his second career start last week. The flame-throwing right-hander out of LSU now has 18 strikeouts in 10 innings over his first two outings.

With Skenes and Jared Jones joining Mitch Keller in the Pirates rotation, the future looks mighty bright on the mound in Pittsburgh. But who else might inject some excitement into a big-league roster before the end of the year? 

Here are 10 prospects to watch who could make a significant impact sometime this season.


(Note: Some of these prospects debuted last year but have yet to play in the majors in 2024.)

Offensive sparks

1. Junior Caminero, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays 

The Rays have played much better in May, but they rank 24th in homers and slugging. Caminero should help change that soon — any day now — even if finding a spot for him defensively is a challenge, considering third baseman Isaac Paredes has been the team's best hitter. The Rays have started to try Caminero at second base at Triple-A, though Brandon Lowe is back in action now as well. Still, Tampa Bay needs the injection of offense, and Caminero, who launched 31 home runs last year in the minors and is slugging .540 at Triple-A this year, can provide it.

Caminero got his first taste of the majors last September and even logged two at-bats in the wild-card series against the Rangers, but began this year at Triple-A. He dealt with a quad strain last month, but he got back to raking upon his return. On May 1, he hit two home runs with an exit velocity over 110 mph, which should come as little surprise considering his lone MLB home run last year registered at 107.5 mph. 

2. James Wood, OF, Washington Nationals

A centerpiece of the Juan Soto trade, Wood appears poised to make his mark soon on the Washington roster after posting an OPS over 1.000, a strikeout rate under 20% and a 94.6 mph average exit velocity at Triple-A that would rank sixth in the majors. While the Nationals don't have a clear opening in the outfield, it might be time to make one. 

They've hit the third-fewest home runs in baseball and have a bottom-five offense by OPS. Wood, meanwhile, was named the International League Player of the Week for the week of May 6 after going 10-for-22 with five home runs and 12 RBIs over that span. 

The Nationals are exercising patience with the 21-year-old and want to make sure that once he comes up, he stays up. They also wanted the 6-foot-8 left-handed hitter to get more work against lefties, but he's been mashing them when he sees them, too. There's nothing left to prove, and it can't be long now before he's up with the big-league club. 

3. Noelvi Marté, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

In a perfect world, the Reds infield would feature four of the game's most exciting players under the age of 25. Instead, there is one. Matt McLain and Christian Encarnacion-Strand are both hurt, and the absence of Marté, the top position player prospect in the Cincinnati system, is particularly frustrating. 

Marté, who checks in at No. 29 on MLB Pipeline's latest Top 100 prospect chart, tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance (Boldenone) on March 8 and received an 80-game suspension. No one anticipated the Reds offense to struggle this much — they're tied for the worst batting average and have the third-lowest on-base percentage and OPS in baseball — and the absences have played a major role in the Reds currently sitting in last place in the NL Central.

Marté had an .822 OPS in his first 35 career games last year and showcased some impressive hard-hit numbers and plate discipline. Of course, the suspension casts a shadow over his return, but the Reds could really use the offensive boost that the 22-year-old could provide. A left side of the infield featuring Marté and the dynamic Elly De La Cruzwho will be on steal watch the rest of the year — provides some optimism for the second half.

RELATED: Paul Skenes' electric start shifts MLB ROY odds: 'A buzz every time he pitches'

4. Orelvis Martinez, INF, Toronto Blue Jays 

The biggest issues right now in Toronto are with the Blue Jays' offense and power (they rank 22nd in slugging and only two teams have fewer home runs than them), and that's where Martinez — who leads the minor leagues in home runs since the start of the 2021 season — can help. 

While he doesn't hit for a high average, the power is undeniable. He mashed 30 home runs as a 20-year-old at Double-A in 2022, and another 28 last year between Double-A and Triple-A while demonstrating much better plate discipline, allowing him to get on base more often. 

The biggest question is his defense — he committed 11 errors in 27 games at second base this year before looking better after a recent shift to third base — but it might be worth giving him a look as the Blue Jays, who've scored the second-fewest runs in the majors, try to play catchup in the AL East. 

5. Jace Jung, INF, Detroit Tigers 

Soon, there could be two Jung brothers playing third base in the major leagues. As the Guardians and Royals begin to separate themselves in the AL Central, it's probably not long before the Tigers look for a boost from the farm. The first call will likely go to Jung, who has split his time between second and third base, playing mostly the latter of late. With Colt Keith starting to look better at second base, Jung's chance will likely arrive at the hot corner, much like his older brother, Josh, in Texas.

Entering Tuesday, Detroit third basemen have produced a 92 wRC+, which ranks 22nd in the majors. Overall, the Tigers' lineup ranks 20th in MLB in slugging. That's where Jung can help. He mashed 28 home runs last year in the minors and is slugging .520 in his first season at Triple-A this year. He's swinging an especially hot bat this month, posting a 1.054 OPS through 14 games in May. It can't be long before the 23-year-old top-100 prospect is with the big-league club.

Down the line

6. Jackson Jobe, RHP, Detroit Tigers

Sticking with top-100 Tigers prospects, Jobe has been sidelined since early May with a hamstring issue. But he was carving up minor-league hitters prior to that, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him doing the same thing to major leaguers before season's end.

With a fastball that reaches triple digits and a slider that's an even better offering, it's no wonder that he's arguably the most exciting right-handed pitching prospect behind Skenes. Over his final two appearances prior to injury, Jobe faced 23 batters, struck out 11 of them and didn't allow a hit.

He'll need some time to demonstrate better control (he has walked 10 batters in 16.2 innings) and to go deeper into games (he hasn't thrown more than 68 pitches or gone more than four innings in a start this year, and he only has 158 professional innings under his belt since going No. 3 overall in 2021). But the stuff is there for the 21-year-old, who has a 2.16 ERA and is averaging 13 strikeouts per nine innings at Double-A.

7. Cade Horton, RHP, Chicago Cubs

The Cubs' offense this year has been more problematic than their rotation, thanks largely to the production of Shota Imanaga, Javier Assad and Jameson Taillon, but it still seems likely that an opportunity will arise this year for Horton, the Cubs' top prospect (perhaps sooner than later, considering Kyle Hendricks' struggles).  

Also armed with a terrific slider, the right-hander mowed down Double-A hitters to start the year with a 1.10 ERA over four starts before earning the promotion earlier this month to Triple-A, where he struggled with his control in his first two appearances (eight walks in seven innings). He looked better on May 16, matching a season high with five innings, but he may need some time there to iron out his command and demonstrate an ability to go more than five innings. Horton, the No. 7 overall pick in 2022 out of the University of Oklahoma, has struck out 32 batters in 28.1 innings this year between the two levels. 

Comeback kings?

(These guys are either currently injured or on the comeback trail from injury, but could make an impact soon after their recovery and rehab.) 

8. Jasson Domínguez, OF, New York Yankees 

Dominguez's major-league career couldn't have started much better. The 20-year-old homered off Justin Verlander in his first career swing and produced a .980 OPS over eight games last September … and then it was over. "The Martian" had all of 33 plate appearances before suffering a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery. Domínguez is now back to playing and has looked terrific through his first four games of a rehab assignment at Single-A, but with the Yankees playing well and with so much time missed, it might be a bit before he is back in pinstripes.  

9. Coby Mayo, 1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles 

Orioles prospects Jackson Holliday and Heston Kjerstad both got their turn in the big leagues. Mayo seemed destined to come next, but he'll need to continue exercising patience after fracturing his rib last week. It won't be easy to crack the Orioles' stacked lineup, but he figures to get his opportunity at some point this year once healthy again. He's tied for the International League lead with 13 home runs. Mayo is slugging .632 against righties and producing a .319 batting average against lefties this year at Triple-A. 

10. Jordan Lawlar, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks 

The Diamondbacks had too many shortstops, then suddenly not enough. Lawlar, Arizona's top prospect, was expected to start the season at Triple-A with D-backs shortstop Geraldo Perdomo coming off an All-Star season. But Lawlar hasn't played in a game yet after undergoing surgery on his right thumb at the end of March, while Perdomo has been out since April 3 after needing surgery on his right meniscus. 

Lawlar struggled in his first taste of the majors last year, going 4-for-31 over 14 regular-season games, but still made the postseason roster and recorded a walk and a run scored in his lone World Series appearance. He looked ready defensively in his short time in the majors, and he launched 20 homers with 36 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A last year. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him claiming the shortstop spot before year's end, but the D-backs need everyone to get healthy first to see what they have. 

"We want him to continue to get better," general manager Mike Hazen told FOX Sports this spring. "He's 21 years old, right? Pushed him through the system very aggressively, put him on the major-league team. He experienced the playoffs, which was incredible. He's going to be a stud. We need to make sure we help him become that." 

Others to Watch: SS Marcelo Mayer (Red Sox); RHP AJ Smith-Shawver (Braves), RHP Hurston Waldrep (Braves), RHP Tink Hence (Cardinals), LHP Ricky Tiedemann (Blue Jays), RHP Mick Abel (Phillies)

[Want great stories delivered right to your inbox? Create or log in to your FOX Sports account, follow leagues, teams and players to receive a personalized newsletter daily.]

Rowan Kavner is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the L.A. Dodgers, LA Clippers and Dallas Cowboys. An LSU grad, Rowan was born in California, grew up in Texas, then moved back to the West Coast in 2014. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner.


Get more from Major League Baseball Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more