Who are baseball’s top young stars? Ranking the best players at every age from 16 to 25

  • ESPN MLB Insider
  • Kiley McDaniel covers MLB prospects, the MLB Draft and more, including trades and free agency.
  • Has worked for four MLB teams.

Between prospect lists and the upcoming MLB draft, it can be difficult to track all of the players coming to the majors in the near future. When you expand it to all of the various talent pools around the world, the task becomes even more daunting. I’m trying something new here to present the best young players in a new way: grouped by their birth year.

At the ends of our list, you get an age-to-age comparison of the best young players in the majors or at the start of their prospect careers. But where this gets particularly interesting is for players ages 17 to 21, as they are evaluated in so many different contexts. Domestic players are followed loosely until ages 17 and 18 when scouts make their first true recommendations to their clubs, while the top international signees have already been in pro ball for a season or two at that age. Once players are in their early 20s, we start top prospects playing in full-season minor leagues to college stars, along with the early-arriving players in the top leagues in Japan and Korea.

Here’s how we’re going to go about ranking the top players at each age from 16-25: We’ll start with the group born in 1998, the last year with players under the age of 25, and rank them based on who I’d want on my team going forward. Then we’ll slowly work our way back in time until we get to players born in 2007.

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