The MLB Draft is just one month away, and Kiley McDaniel has released his top 100 list of prospects for 2022. The Cleveland Indians have reportedly drawn the most attention in this year’s draft class as they’ve had six picks ranked in the top 20 overall by Baseball America.
Kiley McDaniel’s “Midseason Top 50 MLB Prospects” is a list of the top 100 MLB prospects for 2022.
The top 100 MLB prospects list is released at a time when the fate of the 2022 season is uncertain, but don’t worry: the minor league season will begin on schedule regardless of whether the main leagues agree to a new collective bargaining agreement.
I’ve added several new categories to simplify some of the language and tool grading for the more casual prospect follower. First, there’s “type,” which classifies a player for comparison with other players on the list and players from previous years. I find that I like to round up on some sorts (plus tools, plus makeup, average numbers) and round down on others (now velocity, teenager right-handers), and you undoubtedly have your own preferences.
“Reminds me of” is the second. Because most gamers don’t have a perfect analog, this isn’t a real comparison. Prospects have a lot of unpredictability, so it’s natural to focus on the better-case scenarios when compared to existing MLB players. In a few simple words, I’m describing a player’s rating by stating they remind me of a current All-Star and have a high-risk every-day player potential, but you can understand why a lower-risk player may rank higher.
As a fan, aspiring future GM, fantasy team owner, card collector, and so on, I believe that’s just enough basic knowledge to draw your own opinions.
Here’s a short rundown of the 20-80 scale, which is utilized throughout the list and is widely accepted in the baseball business. For the top tier of prospects, I offer their tools as a 45/60, which means they are now a 45 and will be a 60 when they reach maturity. 50 represents major league average (which is an excellent present tool for a minor leaguer), 55 represents above average, 45 represents below average, 60 represents plus (one standard deviation above average), 70 represents plus-plus (two standard deviations), and 80 (three) represents the top of the scale, where only a few players in the major leagues reside.
The tools may also be scaled to ordinary numbers. In terms of game power, 50 correlates to 15-18 home runs each year, 55 to 19-22, 60 to 25, 65 to 30, and so on. A 50 hit tool is around a.260 batting average, average fastball velocity is 92-93 depending on your job and handedness, and so on. Other methods, such as throwing for position players or off-speed pitches, rely more on visual judgments, although there are some objective data to help you round up or down your observations.
Depending on position, a position player with all 50 grades is likely to be a very excellent reserve or a poor starter. The FV (future value) number I use to sum up a player’s total worth follows the same 20-80 range. A player with a 50 PV (present value) is worth 2.0 to 2.5 WAR. The FV of a prospect who is ready for the major leagues corresponds to this very well; the top tier of prospects (65 FV this year) is expected to have several peak seasons of 4-to-5 WAR. Wander Franco, last year’s top prospect, received a 70 FV (the highest rating I’ve given) and is projected to have many seasons of 5-6 WAR, when the MVP winner is normally around 7-8 WAR. The lower you go in the minors, the more it becomes a weighted average of possible outcomes and a tiered system of rating prospects based on their trade worth in comparison to top-tier prospects.
Table of Contents
- 1 Tier 65 FV
- 2 Tier 60 FV
- 3 7. Detroit Tigers’ Spencer Torkelson, 1B
- 4 Grayson Rodriguez (RHP, Baltimore Orioles) is ranked #8.
- 6 12. Seattle Mariners SS Noelvi Marte
- 7 SS Orelvis Martinez of the Toronto Blue Jays is ranked 16th.
- 8 Nolan Gorman, Nolan Gorman, Nolan Gorman, Nolan Gorman, Nolan Gorman, Nolan Gorman, Nolan Gorman,
- 9 Corbin Carroll (CF, Arizona Diamondbacks) is the 21st player on the list.
- 10 FV tier 55
- 11 M.J. Melendez (C, Kansas City Royals) is 24 years old.
- 12 Jordan Lawlar (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) is number 29 on the list.
- 13 Robert Hassell (CF, San Diego Padres) is number 31.
- 15 New York Yankees’ 32nd batter, Jasson Dominguez
- 16 Seattle Mariners’ RHP George Kirby (34).
- 17 Jack Leiter (RHP, Texas Rangers) is 36 years old.
- 18 Brayan Rocchio (SS, Cleveland Guardians) is 37 years old.
- 19 C Henry Davis (Pittsburgh Pirates) is 39 years old.
- 20 SS Kahlil Watson, Miami Marlins, 40.
- 21 Brady House (SS, Washington Nationals) is number 41.
- 22 CF Luis Matos of the San Francisco Giants is 42 years old.
- 24 Triston Casas, 1B for the Boston Red Sox, is 46 years old.
- 25 Nick Yorke, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox, is 47 years old.
- 26 Kyle Harrison (LHP, San Francisco Giants) is number 50.
- 27 Tier 50 FV
- 28 Josh Lowe, RF for the Tampa Bay Rays, has number 51.
- 29 Brett Baty, 3B for the New York Mets, is number 52.
- 30 Sixto Sanchez (RHP, Miami Marlins) is number 54.
- 31 RHP Eury Perez of the Miami Marlins is number 55.
- 32 Austin Martin, 2B for the Minnesota Twins, is 57 years old.
- 34 Jackson Jobe (RHP, Detroit Tigers) is 58 years old.
- 35 59. Los Angeles Dodgers RHP Ryan Pepiot
- 36 Cole Winn, RHP, Texas Rangers, No. 60
- 37 Bobby Miller (RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers) is number 61.
- 38 62. Tampa Bay Rays SS Greg Jones
- 39 63. St. Louis Cardinals’ Ivan Herrera, C
- 40 64. Curtis Mead of the Tampa Bay Rays is a third baseman.
- 41 Cade Cavalli, RHP with the Washington Nationals, is 65 years old.
- 42 Andy Pages, RF for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is 68 years old.
- 43 Everson Pereira, CF with the New York Yankees, is 69 years old.
- 44 Nick Gonzales, second baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, is 70 years old.
- 45 71. Miami Marlins’ Peyton Burdick, RF
- 46 Joey Bart (C, San Francisco Giants) is 72 years old.
- 47 Gabriel Arias (SS, Cleveland Guardians) is 73 years old.
- 48 Colton Cowser, CF for the Baltimore Orioles, is 74 years old.
- 49 George Valera, RF for the Cleveland Guardians, is 75 years old.
- 50 Quinn Priester (RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates) is 77 years old.
- 51 Nick Pratto, 1B with the Kansas City Royals, is 78 years old.
- 52 79. Cincinnati Reds LHP Nick Lodolo
- 53 MacKenzie Gore (LHP, San Diego Padres) is number 80.
- 54 Shea Langeliers, Atlanta Braves, 81.
- 55 Jose Miranda, 3B for the Minnesota Twins, has number 82.
- 56 Matt Brash (RHP, Seattle Mariners) is 84 years old.
- 57 Drew Romo (C, Colorado Rockies) is 85 years old.
- 58 Dillon Dingler (C, Detroit Tigers) is 86 years old.
- 59 Michael Busch, 1B for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is 87 years old.
- 60 Hunter Brown (RHP, Houston Astros) is number 88.
- 61 Mick Abel, RHP with the Philadelphia Phillies, is 89 years old.
- 62 J.J. Bleday, RF, Miami Marlins, No. 91
- 63 93. Matthew Liberatore, St. Louis Cardinals’ left-handed pitcher
- 64 DL Hall, Baltimore Orioles, 94.
- 65 Taj Bradley (RHP, Tampa Bay Rays) is 95th in the MLB.
- 66 96. Baltimore Orioles SS Gunnar Henderson
- 67 97. Seattle Mariners’ Harry Ford, C
- 68 98. Baltimore Orioles 3B Coby Mayo
- 69 Johan Rojas, CF for the Philadelphia Phillies, is 99 years old.
- 70 Elly De La Cruz, SS, Cincinnati Reds, No. 100
Tier 65 FV
Bats: Both | Age: 24 Right throws 45/60 hit, 45/60 game power 60/60 raw power 40/40, 40/40, 40/40, 40/40, 40/40 60/65 in fielding, 60/60 in throwing Type: Near-flawless future superstar It makes me think of: Switch-hitting Posey, Buster
Rutschman joined Collegiate Team USA 11 months before the 2019 draft, and it was clear from away that he was the greatest player on the field, propelling him from a possible top-10 choice to the odds-on favorite to the ultimate No. 1 overall pick.
The similarities to Matt Wieters, a heralded, top switch-hitting college catcher for the Orioles, are easy to make, and that’s also the one significant drawback here. Except for pitchers, the difficulties of catching provide for less predictable growth curves than any other position. It’s nitpicking on Rutschman’s absence of a 70-grade tool or the age-versus-level math he could never make up for as a late-blooming, multisport athlete from a cold-weather state if you’re seeking for serious weaknesses.
He’s a good hitter with plus power, plus arm, plus defensive abilities, and plus makeup, as proven by genuine feel for the game and all of the intangibles required of a catcher. Last year, I penned a similar “there aren’t any serious flaws here” blurb for Wander Franco, but he was a 19-year-old shortstop with 70-grade talents. So Rutschman isn’t exactly the “greatest prospect in recent memory,” but it’d be shocking if he wasn’t the best catcher in baseball in the next half-dozen years. There aren’t many other varieties of this kind of player, but Posey is the closest match, even though I believe Posey was a superior natural hitter.
21 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower 45/55 for hits, 50/65 for game power 70/70 in terms of raw power 60/60, 60/60, 60/60, 60/60, 60/60 50/55 fielding, 65/65 throwing Type: Tool bonanza for shortstops It makes me think of: Trevor Story or Carlos Correa
Witt was a slam-dunk DUDE on the national stage as early as his sophomore year of high school, when he was competing in summer tournaments with rising seniors, shining out on attack and defense and consistently registering the highest exit velos in the games. His kind of skill has a strong track record, and the second overall selection in the 2019 draft, behind Rutschman, has held up well.
At draft time and during his first summer in professional baseball, there was fear that he swung too much, jeopardizing his superior talents and makeup, a typical issue among super-touted kids that has destroyed more than a few careers.
Witt was expected to spend 2020 at low-A and maybe high-A if he did well, but the pandemic wiped away the whole minor league season, thus Witt spent the year playing simulated games. Would he begin 2021 in high-A or a more prudent low-A to ensure he regained his footing after such a lengthy layoff? Neither! He destroyed major league spring training and debuted in Double-A, then scorched that league, then moved to Triple-A and burnt it even more. Even the most optimistic public predictions didn’t really contemplate this as a possibility, and Witt is now being grouped with Ronald Acua Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. in the “aggressive at the plate, but that’s just a style, not a problem” prospect bin. This is possible with such technologies.
High praise indeed, but it’s difficult to draw analogies for Witt’s game — at least in terms of potential as well as offensive and defensive worth — without naming some of the greats. There’s still some danger here: some terrific talents who swing too hard, like Jeff Francoeur or Delmon Young, have faded, and Luis Robert’s approach is actually restricted. But I don’t believe the problem is as serious for Witt. If the Rutschman blurb didn’t pique your interest with its cartoonish bulging-heart eyes, Witt is the man for you.
21 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower 45/50 hit, 50/65 game power, 70/80 raw power 60/55, 60/55, 60/55, 60/55, 60/55 45/50 fielding, 60/60 throwing Type: A smorgasbord of right-field tools who swings a touch too hard. Somewhere approaching the junction of George Springer, Aaron Judge, and Juan Gonzalez comes to mind.
The third member of the triad of top-tier prospects. We’ll start with Rodriguez’s worries so you can gauge your risk tolerance.
Rodriguez’s swing choices are a notch below Witt’s, and although he’s gained some speed in recent years, he’s just average in center field — he’ll go to right. There’s a bit less potential (due to location) and a little more risk compared to Witt (due to approach). The advantages on his ledger, on the other hand, you’ll adore. He has genuinely amazing raw power, which might push him to a true top-of-the-scale 80, even higher than Witt’s. In games, he can hit 115 mph and has greater bat control (i.e. bat-to-ball skills) than Witt. He also possesses a great arm and runs in the plus range (though this will likely fade as he develops).
Rodriguez has the best attacking potential of the three, despite being the youngest. He’s already set fire to Double-A. His offensive scouting report sounds a lot like Fernando Tatis Jr.’s at this point, but if a man graded this high doesn’t live up to expectations, it’s generally because of a pitch-selection problem, and being a corner outfielder reduces his margin for error. If it works, go to “Reminds me of” to see what high names it looks like — but be aware that Rodriguez is the most likely to cause you heartburn of this top tier.
Tier 60 FV
21 years old | Bats left | Throws right 50/65 hit, 40/50 game power, 50/55 raw power 80/80, 80/80, 80/80, 80/80, 80/80 Throwing: 50/50, fielding: 40/45. Type: Extremely fast/hit tools with a lot of power and defense. It makes me think of: Lofton, Kenny
Abrams injured his tibia and damaged his MCL in a collision on a ball up the middle on June 30 last year, thus he has only played 42 games in two years after missing the 2020 season. With a number of graduating prospects and five who slid in this year’s rankings between them, he was ranked fifth before the start of the 2021 season, ahead of Rodriguez (9th) and Witt (17th). I still think of Abrams the same way I did then, since he fared well at Double-A as predicted, but Rodriguez and Witt were given the whole season to show growth, but Abrams did not.
I still don’t believe Abrams will be good enough to start at shortstop for most teams, but he could play second base or center field. He’s still an unique hitter with a Lofton-like slash to his swing, and he’s still developing raw power and will add more in-game gap power to deposit more over the fence in the future.
Bats: Left | Throws: Left | Age: 20 50/60 hit, 50/60 game power, 60/60 raw power 60/40, 55/50, 55/50, 55/50, 55/50 45/50 fielding, 55/55 throwing Type: Exceptionally talented hitter with above-average talents and feel for the game. It makes me think of: Kyle Tucker is a character in the film Kyle Tucker
There was some discussion when Rutschman and Witt Jr. finished 1-2 in the 2019 draft. Greene and Abrams were the two prep hitters in that scrum, and they’ve now clearly passed the third (Andrew Vaughn, who skipped Double-A and Triple-A and had a middling rookie year) and fourth (J.J. Bleday, back half of this list after a down 2021) overall picks, highlighting the fact that stars at the top of the draft typically come from the established-prep-hitter demographic.
Greene progressed from a fringe-average runner on the showcase tour to an above-average runner in the spring, as well as from a slam-dunk right fielder to a good center fielder, both of which he maintains to this day. In center field, I believe he’ll be fringy/fine, and in right field, he’ll be above average. His hit/power combination has never been in doubt, and depending on how this last stage of growth proceeds, both tools will be a 55 or 60. His 60-to-65 grade raw power, along with some natural swing-and-miss, puts a limit on his offensive production.
Greene was my hitting selection to click on last year’s list — player who wasn’t in last year’s top 20 most likely to climb into the top 10 (he was 25th), and I didn’t believe he’d scorch Double-A and Triple-A like he did, playing the whole season at the age of 20. The lesson is that a top-tier showcase star high school hitter will advance to the majors as quickly as a top-tier college hitter.
20 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Hit rate is 30/55, game power is 45/55, raw power is 55/55, and speed is 50/50. 50/55 fielding, 55/55 throwing Type: A well-rounded shortstop who excels in all areas. It makes me think of: Bichette, Bo
Volpe’s 2021 performance has possibly produced the greatest prospect value of any player in the lower minors. He was most recognized in the 2019 draft as Jack Leiter’s prep partner and a skills-over-tools shortstop who lacked a legitimate plus tool. I still don’t think he has a real plus tool, but you could argue that four of them are, and I wouldn’t argue with you. The most significant difference is his increased power — in terms of raw power, swing loft, and in-game usefulness. The Yankees’ player development department put in a lot of summer effort and fine-tuning to make this happen, and the scouting department beat out 29 other clubs in spotting the superior makeup that might assist average talents blossom into a potential star package. Due to the variety of ways he may offer value, he currently projects as a top-10 shortstop with a 3-to-5 WAR and a possible multi-time All-Star. He didn’t look anything like Bo Bichette in high school — their swings were virtually opposites — but now Volpe resembles the current version of Bichette.
7. Detroit Tigers’ Spencer Torkelson, 1B
Grayson Rodriguez (RHP, Baltimore Orioles) is ranked #8.
Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Fastball: 65/70, Slider: 55/60, Curveball: 50/55, Changeup: 60/65, Command: 50/55 Velo: 96-99, Fastball: 65/70, Slider: 55/60, Curveball: 50/55, Changeup: 60/65, Command: 50/55 Type: A potential ace who excels in virtually everything and is above average to plus in almost every area (crosses fingers) I’m reminded of Luis Castillo, although he’s larger and throws a four-seam fastball rather than a sinker.
Sixto Sanchez (2021) suffered a shoulder injury after an impressive rookie debut that he hasn’t yet recovered from; Jesus Luzardo (2020) regressed before being dumped to the Marlins for a rental of Starling Marte; Forrest Whitley (2019) was suspended for a stimulant, had lat, oblique, and shoulder issues, and then elbow surgery (with command issues sprinkled throughout); and finally, MacKenzie Gore, who ranks fourth
Oh, and one more thing: Shohei Ohtani was the #1 pitching prospect in 2018. He’s been great, although he did need elbow surgery in the interval, so he may be included among the cursed. With that in mind, I decided to place Rodriguez near the end of what I consider to be the slam dunk hitters; at this point, it becomes much more speculative, even if the FV grades remain the same. (If you like, you can refer to prospects four through nine as the 62.5 FV tier.)
I offer all of this to explain why it’s taken this long for a pitcher to be featured, but also because Rodriguez should rank higher on a pure prospect resume. He’s a future ace who excels in everything from feel to frame to analytics to makeup to shown progress. Some evaluators are wary of right-handed pitchers whose best off-speed pitch is a changeup, assuming that it indicates a weakness in the breaking ball and, as a result, trouble getting whiffs. However, both of Rodriguez’s breaking balls are 55- or 60-grade pitches, and his changeup is merely a 65-grade pitch that he uses slightly more frequently (20 percent changeup, 19 percent slider, 9 percent curveball).
Whitley, who was a physical freak with enormous arm speed and four above-average pitches when he was a prospect, has some parallels with the last generation of elite pitchers. That’s hardly a coincidence, given how much of Houston’s brain trust now works in Baltimore and uses many of the same pitch design elements. Rodriguez has a higher chance of succeeding since the fundamental components are stronger. He was Greene’s counterpart for most likely to rise up to the top 10 in 2022 (he was 30th last winter).
20 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Hit ratio is 40/55, Game power is 45/60, and Raw power is 65/65. 40/40, 40/40, 40/40, 40/40, 40/40 Throwing: 55/55, fielding: 40/50 Type: Exceptionally talented hitter with above-average talents and feel for the game. I’m reminded of a cross between Salvador Perez and Will Smith.
Alvarez improved much more than Rodriguez, rising from 82nd place on last year’s ranking. As a scout who is suspicious of young catchers, I was taken aback by the prospect of a teenager backstop who had played 42 games in rookie ball in 2019, then missed the whole year of 2020 due to the pandemic, jumping all the way to high-A and dominating the league in 2021. Last year, Alvarez vaulted into the Top 100 as word spread that the skills that earned him $2.7 million as an amateur out of Venezuela were now being used in games against more experienced opponents. Apart from the inherent risk of the position, there isn’t anything to be concerned about. The only real issue here is how his physique, movement, and defense develop; automated strike calling might boost his case for a full-time position behind the plate.
20 years old | Bats left | Throws right 30/60 hit, 30/60 game power, 60/65 raw power 45/40, 45/40, 45/40, 45/40, 45/40 Throwing: 55/55, fielding: 40/50 catcher/corner/advanced hit/power combination Wil Myers as a bat-over-defense catcher comes to mind. At the bat, he’s in between Kyle Tucker and Riley Greene in terms of advanced, exceptional, adolescent lefty stick.
The tools/type/”reminds me of” already build a picture of an advanced hitter with such a terrific bat that he could keep advancing up this list. At this pace, the bat will be major league ready before the glove, so don’t be shocked if he moves to a corner position if the bat continues to progress as projected. (Ahead of the draft, several clubs considered shifting him to third base after taking a quick look at him there.) This occurred to Wil Myers and Bryce Harper, albeit Soderstrom is closer to Myers’ level of potential 60 hit/power than Harper’s all-time potential.
Soderstrom hit and hit for power in a rookie season cut short by injury, with exit velos that placed him in the discussion with the greatest power prospects in his age group, as his surface metrics and eyeball scouting indicate. He suffered the ailment in late July as a result of an oblique injury caused by a foul ball. Oakland chose to play it safe and shut him down, but it hasn’t stopped him from advancing a grade in his arm and defense since the draft. With his arm no longer in dispute and framing perhaps becoming a non-issue, he’s another player who might profit from an automatic strike-calling future. This rating is bold because Soderstrom has the many summers of national experience that southeastern products Greene and Abrams have, but all of the indicators point to his becoming that sort of batter, with great makeup to match.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 22 50/60 hit, 45/45 game power, 50/50 raw power, 50/50 speed 45/50 fielding, 55/55 throwing Type: All-around catcher who prefers to hit over power. There’s not a fantastic one, but there’s a mid-twenties version of J.T. Realmuto in there.
Moreno was ranked 124th on last year’s list because he was one of the few minor leaguers who was obviously improving, despite the numerous noncompetitive games that were thrown over his play. In 2021, he pushed it to the next level, destroying Double-A as a 21-year-old and got three games into a Triple-A promotion before breaking his thumb. Moreno traveled to the Venezuelan Winter League in 2020 and returned this winter, as well as participating in the Arizona Fall League to make up for missing repetitions, where he continued to mash.
The hit tool has features of Keibert Ruiz, with plus-plus bat control but a style that undercuts that talent. He, like Ruiz, possesses good but not great power, which his entire approach also undercuts. I prefer him over Ruiz because of his overall hitting feel and physical abilities, which makes projecting into the future much simpler. Before his offensive outburst, I highlighted in last year’s report that Moreno is a quality catcher who can also play other positions. Moreno seems to be the best of a crowded group of 40-man roster potential catchers that includes Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, and Reese McGuire. These tool ratings may not excite you, but if Moreno follows through on these forecasts, he’ll be among the league’s best five-to-seven catchers by next season.
12. Seattle Mariners SS Noelvi Marte
20 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower 30/55 hit, 35/60 game power, 60/65 raw power, 55/50 speed Throwing: 60/60, fielding: 40/50 Type: A tweener who can play shortstop and third base. It makes me think of: Willy Adames’ 4-win version, Eugenio Suarez’s 4-win version, and Hanley Ramirez’s 4-win version are all on the same range.
Marte was one of the top players in the 2018 international signing class at the time of his signing, and he demonstrated some of that potential in his professional debut in 2019. I heard Marte was wowing M’s officials who were murmuring the Hanley Ramirez comp during the lost 2020 minor league season. I didn’t have anything tangible to cling onto, so I purchased what they were offering, putting Marte at 105th place on the list from the previous year. I had met him in person by midseason and had him placed 14th on my revised prospect list.
Marte has a one-in-three chance of sticking at shortstop, and if he doesn’t, I believe he’ll be a decent third baseman. Marte’s hit tool is anywhere between 50 and 60, depending on how he wants to utilize it, and his raw power is somewhere around 65; these grades/age/level/production/exit velos are relatively comparable to Orelvis Martinez’s, but Marte has a better chance to play short and a bit more instinctive feel to hit.
Bats: Left | Throws: Left | Age: 21 50/55 hit, 50/55 game power, 55/55 raw power 60/60, 60/60, 60/60, 60/60, 60/60 50/55, 50/55, 50/55, 50/55, 50/55, 50 45/45 in throwing Type: An above-average center fielder who is compact and polished. It reminds me of a left-handed variant of peak performance. Pollock, AJ
Thomas was well-known to scouts, having attended Team USA tournaments as a prep underclassman with players like Bobby Witt Jr. and Jarenic, who were brought back because they outperformed the older youngsters. His father, Allan, is the White Sox’s strength and conditioning coordinator, which influences the kind of player he is and led to this lovely meeting at spring training 2019:
The powerful, compact swing of Thomas can be seen in the slo-mo replay of the homer. In 2019, his swing became a touch too strength-oriented, and analysts predicted he’d be a.240-type hitter who’d have to depend on his defense. Those doubts vanished when Thomas blasted his way through Double-A as a 21-year-old, then was promoted to Triple-A and even bettered himself, hitting 18 home runs and swiping. While still young for the league and playing a premium position, he hit 313/.394/.559 in 313 at-bats.
Thomas was selected 63rd overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, roughly 30 selections later than I believed he should have been (we ranked him 35th in the class at FanGraphs). I believe there is above-average contact, power, speed, and defense in this group, with a potential that a number of those traits may be used as plus tools. For the next decade, Thomas has the makings of a dynamic, contemporary top-of-the-order hitter, which should begin in 2022.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Fastball: 70/70, Slider: 55/60, Curveball: 50/55, Changeup: 55/60, Command: 50/55 Velo: 96-99, Fastball: 70/70, Slider: 55/60, Curveball: 50/55, Changeup: 55/60, Command: 50/55 Type: A powerful righty who excels in all areas. Reminds me of: There are some parallels with Walker Buehler, but not a complete match.
Baz was the No. 12 overall selection out of a Texas high school in the 2017 draft. In the ill-fated 2018 Chris Archer trade, the Pirates acquired him. He showed above-average-to-plus ability across the board in high school, but he couldn’t always control his natural talent, and that was still the case after the 2019 season. Here’s a video from the 2018 autumn instructional league when things was looking good. In 2020, there was buzz that Baz had improved behind the scenes, and then in 2021, he came out swinging: now a premium strike pitcher with exceptional stuff, he sliced like a hot knife through the buttery hitters of Double-A, Triple-A, and the major leagues alike.
As if the Archer deal couldn’t get any worse (Baz to go along with Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows! ), or the Rays’ development miracle workers couldn’t get any better, Baz is the latest triumph for Tampa Bay. I like Grayson Rodriguez as the best minor league pitching prospect, but a vociferous minority pushed for Baz, who is unquestionably more major league ready, and it’s now practically a coin flip for me.
SS Orelvis Martinez of the Toronto Blue Jays is ranked 16th.
20 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower 30/50 hit, 35/65 game power, 65/70 raw power, 50/45 speed 35/45 fielding, 55/55 throwing Type: A tweener who can play shortstop and third base. He reminds me of: There’s no great major league comparison, but his hitting style reminds me of Bo Bichette.
Martinez was in the top tier of the stacked 2018 foreign class, earning the $3.5 million top prize among the 16-year-olds. A shortstop/third baseman fit, absurd bat speed, enormous power potential, and some hitting feel were all part of the pitch. Given Martinez’s 2021 season, it’s safe to say I misjudged his knack for in-game hitting. He blasted 28 home runs throughout the course of the year, divided between both A-ball levels, at the age of 19, with a decent walk rate and a tolerable strikeout percentage in the mid-20s. And he was largely playing shortstop the whole time, as seen by underlying data like exit velo.
I searched up his low-income status on the internet. Because the games were broadcast live on Hawk-Eye at spring training venues, the information is advanced. There are many fly balls with exit velos of 108-110 mph; here’s one that stands out (sort the EV column): a homer that hit 109.1 mph at a 36-degree launch angle. For reference, in-game exit velo on a fly ball for a teenager, much alone accomplishing it on a regular basis, is beyond insane. At that age, there are perhaps a half-dozen guys capable of doing so who aren’t playing first base or corner outfield.
Shortstop is unlikely to work out, so he’ll go to third base, where he’ll be at least average defensively and have an above-average arm. Offensively, there are certain dangers, since hitting for power is the most difficult thing to achieve on a baseball field, especially when the pitcher has circled your name in the lineup. Martinez’s profile is comparable to Marco Luciano’s (see his blurb below*), so there are some similarities in risks. However, I believe Martinez has a bit more feel for hitting and certainly has greater defensive abilities, so I am more confident that he will win this slot or better next season.
19 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower 30/55 hit, 45/65 game power, 70/70 raw power, 45/40 speed Throwing: 55/55, fielding: 40/45. Type: A powerful right-handed corner bat. It reminds me of: somewhere between Austin Riley and Pete Alonso
Walker was a standout on the showcase circuit, mostly because of his raw power, but also because of his ability to make contact, which is a skill that many young power hitters lack. In the 2020 draft, he was drafted 21st overall, although he would have gone higher if he had a full spring to test his hitting abilities. In the following paragraph, a prep third baseman dropping to the Cardinals’ back half of the first round will sound familiar.
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Walker smacked a few balls over 115 mph, the fastest of which I discovered to be 116.2 mph. Walker also had nearly as many walks as strikeouts as an 18-to-19-year-old in low-A, hitting.374 with six homers in 27 games before being promoted to high-A. He was still acceptable given his age when he returned to earth strikeout-to-walk wise. In 55 games, he hit eight more home runs while hitting the ball out of the park and delivering above-average at the bat.
Although his hitting talent is unquestionable (he seems to be plus in the batter’s box), practically every player on this list is playing an average third base or an up-the-middle position. Last year, Walker was a below-average third-round pick, and an early spring look at his defense was a key reason for his drop. He still has more work to do to make it playable. Because a strong offensive performer can play any position, the position isn’t as essential as it once was, but if he’s simply a corner outfielder or first baseman, it speaks to his overall longevity and the amount of expectation evaluators place on the bat to succeed. If Walker falls into that category, he’ll have to keep slamming to remain in this spot, but scouts have a habit of asking about large kids staying at third, and the good players usually figure it out. As a result, we arrive at…
Nolan Gorman, Nolan Gorman, Nolan Gorman, Nolan Gorman, Nolan Gorman, Nolan Gorman, Nolan Gorman,
Age: 21 | Bats: Left | Throws: Right Hit: 45/50, Game Power: 45/60, Raw Power: 70/70, Speed: 40/40, Fielding: 45/50, Throwing: 55/55
Before the 2018 draft, Gorman was one of my favorite players on the summer showcase tour because he had a history of hitting in national events, exhibited 70-grade lefty raw power that showed up in games with exit velos to back it up, and the makeup assessments were all favorable. For FanGraphs, Eric Longenhagen and I placed him No. 7 in the 2018 draft class, and we were (and still are) astounded that he survived until the 19th pick. I highlighted the cosmetics assessments since they were an important element of both the Austin Riley and Gorman evaluations. Both struggled with swing-and-miss at times, and their stature and lateral agility prompted speculation about whether they could stay at third base or be moved to first base or a corner outfield.
Plus, when you have an extraordinary skill, makeup tends to overcome those kinds of difficulties, which is exactly what has occurred with both players. While Riley struggled to make adequate contact in the high levels and early in his MLB career until his age-24 breakthrough last year, Gorman did a little better in Triple-A as a 21-year-old, striking out 19 percent of the time. There were some minor tweaks to his pitch selection and general hitting approach, but his inherent skill set is a 45-to-50-grade hit, a decent approach, and 25+ home runs (the exact number he hit last year). Gorman has improved his defensive skills at third base and second base, giving him a chance to crack the lineup while Nolan Arenado is out.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 24 Speed: 45/45, Hit: 50/55, Game Power: 50/55, Raw Power: 55/55, Hit: 50/55 45/50 fielding, 55/55 throwing Type: An above-average third baseman with a well-rounded skill set. Righty-hitting comes to mind. Kyle Seager is a professional baseball player.
As a collegiate hitter, Jung was both simple to assess (he hit everywhere and had strong tools) and difficult to assess (he didn’t lift the ball in games, and it was difficult to gauge how quickly he could learn to do so). In 2019, the Rangers selected him ninth overall, and between the autumn of 2020 and the spring of 2021, he demonstrated that the simple portion of the evaluation is still true, and the challenging part isn’t nearly as difficult.
His fly ball percentage increased from the mid-20s to about 40%, which is consistent with the kind of hitter he should be. Jung has a natural feel for the bat and above-average raw power that he was squandering with line drives and an inside-out approach that would be more appropriate for a speed merchant.
For a larger guy, Jung is surprisingly fast and fluid at third base, demonstrating his natural feel for the game. I’ve said many times throughout this list that the kind of guy I’m most interested in betting on is an up-the-middle prep position player with a track record of hitting. Achieved college hitters with strong tools and a solid sense for making adjustments are ranked second on that list. Jung should be able to slot in alongside Corey Seager and Marcus Semien in a revamped Rangers infield as soon as Texas considers him ready.
20 years old | Bats left | Throws right 30/50 hit, 40/65 game power, 60/70 raw power, 60/50 speed 45/50 fielding, 55/55 throwing Type: A sweet lefty stroke with a lot of power and room for improvement. It makes me think of: Matt Olson is a writer and a musician.
Veen had a powerful 6-foot-4 frame with above-average raw power, a solid approach, decent execution, and plus speed on the high school showcase circuit. Because his physique is so projectable, some scouts saw a plus runner and assumed he’d bulk up enough to play first base, but I believe he’ll be great in right field. He’s clearly still speedy enough, as he stole 36 bases in low-A last season. Veen’s pitch selection, raw power, and ability to get to that power in games are the selling points here. His raw power is now plus and will continue to improve, his pitch selection is still above average, and he’s already lifting the ball better than some of his colleagues; all of the components are in place and heading in the right way. Veen’s primary worry is that he has longer levers (which makes it more difficult for him to come around to heavy stuff on his hands while also covering the whole plate) and has always had average bat control (i.e. bat-to-ball skills). That seems to put a cap on things offensively, but it’s still early, and he’s already above expectations a couple times in his career, so I’ll remain optimistic.
Corbin Carroll (CF, Arizona Diamondbacks) is the 21st player on the list.
Bats: Left | Throws: Left | Age: 21 Hit ratio is 50/60, Game Power is 30/50, and Raw Power is 50/50. 65 mph, 65 mph, 65 mph, 65 mph, 65 mph 45/50 fielding, 55/55 throwing Type: Center-field explosive spark plug It makes me think of: Jarred Kelenic reimagined as a center fielder.
Carroll was one of the main winners of the lost minor league season, fast developing behind closed doors and taking the significant jump forward that many predicted when the D-backs grabbed him with the No. 16 overall choice in 2019. (Eric Longenhagen and I had him ranked No. 9 in the draft class). Carroll seemed to be a plus-running, plus-hitting center fielder with a good feel for the game, but he was little (5-foot-10, 165 pounds) and had a swing that restricted his in-game power. Carroll hit well after signing in 2019 and had stronger exit velos than anticipated, then exhibited enhanced bat and foot speed in 2020, primarily behind closed doors, that propelled him to the next level.
In anticipation of his big year in 2021, I aggressively bumped him up to No. 27 on last year’s top 100. After a great start in high-A, he was sidelined with a season-ending shoulder injury after only seven games. It’s still unclear how his shoulder injury will effect him in the future, but you gambled on an up-the-middle prep bat with skills, a track record, and the ability to make adjustments. Carroll also has the high-octane effort makeup of a baseball rat, which acts as a divider and makes you feel more confident in the absence of statistical data.
19 years old | Bats left | Throws right Hit: 30/60, Game Power: 25/55, Raw Power: 50/60, Speed: 50/45, Hit: 30/60, Game Power: 25/55, Raw Power: 50/60, 45/50 fielding, 55/55 throwing Type: A very exceptional hitter with above-average talents. Shades of Corey Seager and Christian Yelich come to mind, but it’s still early.
Mayer was widely regarded as the finest prospect in last year’s draft, yet he was selected fourth overall. Part of the reason he was less likely to go first with a predetermined amount of bonus money available to each club was the idea that he’d want full slot value with the first choice in a year when a half-dozen players were quite close in skill. Mayer isn’t a slam-dunk generational talent like many of the draft’s best prep position players, but he has the potential to be one.
He’s a lanky 6-foot-3 shortstop with a nice left-handed bat and lots of defensive talent. Mayer has a strong track record of making contact in games and having a nice approach, but his present explosion, both in raw power and overall defensive bounciness, does not amaze you.
More sophisticated measurements like in-game exit velocity and force plate readings, I’m told, indicate that there’s more there than you can see right now, and there’s a school of thought that the twitch will emerge as he fills out and grows stronger (this happened in the later teens for a number of midtier international signings like Fernando Tatis Jr.). As is, he’s an advanced hitter who excels at every position and plays the most in-demand position well. If everything falls into place over the next two years, he may hit.280 with 25 homers at shortstop, but he’ll never be as large as Corey Seager. Christian Yelich has a better body type, but as a batter, that conclusion is still doubtful, if not impossible.
FV tier 55
M.J. Melendez (C, Kansas City Royals) is 24 years old.
Bats: left | Throws: right | Age: 23 Catcher with a lot of power
Melendez, the son of a well-known coach, burst into the national prep scene with advanced talents and a keen sense of the game. He possessed above-average raw power when he was picked (52nd overall in 2017), but contact was inconsistent due to his hectic swing. He was also a superb defender with a powerful arm. At the age of 20, he had a dreadful 2019 season in high-A, striking out 39 percent of the time, proving that the pre-draft assessment was correct on all points.
He started the 2021 season hot and continued hot at Double-A and Triple-A, lowering his strikeout rate to 21%, increasing his walk rate by 5%, and leading the minor leagues in home runs with 41, more than the 32 he had hit in the previous three seasons combined. This was possibly the most surprising prospect reversal in recent memory. Melendez’s swing was streamlined, he gained muscle and power, and it all came together at once. He’s on the verge of breaking into the big leagues, and I believe he’ll finish up with a 45- or 50-grade hitting tool, a few walks, and 25 homers in his prime.
21 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: All-around above-average shortstop
“Peraza was certainly very close to entering the Top 100 and is on the short list of players whose early-season success might easily move them on the next iteration of the list,” his analysis began, citing my ranking of 102nd at the time. He was placed 42nd in the midseason top 50 update*, so it’s safe to assume he kept his word. As a 21-year-old, he batted well in high-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, with a brief appearance in Triple-A at the conclusion of the season.
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Peraza was a strong runner and plus defender at short with contact abilities at this stage last year, which defines approximately a half-dozen players lower on our ranking. His exit velos were climbing, as highlighted in last year’s report, but it hadn’t really shown itself in games yet. Peraza blasted 18 home runs and swiped 38 bases in three different levels, hitting at least.286 in each. In his best years, I expect he’ll bat around.270 with an average-ish walk rate and 15-18 home runs; that’s a three-win guy, and he’ll open the year in Triple-A. Not bad for a person who, after Anthony Volpe and the Martian, receives the third most buzz in his own system (see No. 32 on this list).
20 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Salvador Perez in the year 2021.
In a stacked 2018 international signing class that includes Francisco Alvarez, Noelvi Marte, Orelvis Martinez, Marco Luciano, and Luis Matos, Cartaya was regarded one of the top players ($2.5 million bonus). His advanced hitting talent, notably for a catcher, plus his feel and abilities behind the plate, projected as average-to-above defensively, were and are his selling qualities then and now. Cartaya was strong in Rookie League play in 2019 but was on another level in low-A in 2021, earning a 1.023 OPS despite being restricted to 31 games due to back and hamstring problems.
While catchers are notoriously difficult to project due to the demands of the job, and Cartaya hasn’t played much pro ball yet, the ingredients are in place for a 50-hit tool with a high number of walks, 70 power (30+ homers), and above-average defense. For comparison, the No. 1 player on the list is a catcher who has a 60 in all three categories, so it’s not unreasonable to believe that a full season of ripping the cover off the ball in 2022 might propel Cartaya into the top ten of next year’s list.
Bats: Both | Throws: Right | Age: 23 Type: Talented hitter with pop and defensive prowess.
Ruiz was dealt from the Dodgers to the Nationals as part of the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner mega-trade last summer, when the backstop was having a breakthrough season. He has always had great contact rates due to his exceptional bat control, but lacked in-game power, owing in part to his habit of swinging too much and having a swing that isn’t tailored for home runs. Ruiz has always been a strong defensive player.
Last year, his in-game power surfaced, as he hit 24 home runs between Triple-A and the majors, aided largely by a decline in his ground ball percentage of almost 20%; yet, his raw power remains average-ish. His bat control may lead to a lot of singles and doubles on terrible pitches he swings at, but not homers, so he’s more of a mistake hitter or a fastball-in-the-zone type. I’d expect a.275 batting average, an above-average walk rate, and 12-20 home runs, depending on how hard he tries to hit the ball and what the league gives him, as well as above-average defensive contributions.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Type: Long-limbed superior athletic prowess with a strong sense of balance.
Davis has premium physical capabilities and a premium mental mentality, and he has exceeded all pre-draft expectations, but a ballooning strikeout rate in Double-A proved to be a stumbling block last spring. Davis was a multisport star in high school before deciding to pursue baseball full-time. He’s a rangy 6-foot-4 center fielder with plus speed, a plus arm, outstanding defensive instincts, and untapped power.
The strikeout rate problem is now a reflection of worries some had in high school that sheer talent and adaptability had overcome. Because longer arms make it more difficult to cover the whole plate, Davis may fall into a stereotype: the rangy outfielder with a below-average contact rate who excels at everything else. If that’s who he is —.245 with some walks, 20-25 homers, and fringe-to-average center-field defense — he’s an above-average daily player who chose power over contact when forced to make a decision.
Jordan Lawlar (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) is number 29 on the list.
19 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Shortstop with above-average talents who is well-rounded.
For years, Lawlar has been regarded as one of the best players in the 2021 prep class, and he put in a solid summer performance to keep himself in the running for the top selection heading into his draft spring. He got out to a rocky start in the spring, with some swing-and-miss, but ended strong, giving scouts cause to think his summer performance — with wood bats and against stronger competition — was still him. That report portrays a talented, all-fields hitter with plus speed, plus shortstop defense, and an above-average arm who was or could be projected above average in all facets of hitting. He tore the labrum in his shoulder diving for a ball shortly after signing, but he should be fit for the 2022 season.
20 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Player type: electric, power-over-contact, position to be determined
Because of his uncommon mix of bat speed, raw power, and ability to get to the power in games, Luciano was ranked No. 7 on last year’s list. His defensive ability was a concern, but not one you were concerned about. Luciano has spent the whole season at shortstop, but he isn’t planning on staying there. I see him as a capable third baseman, while some believe he’ll end up in the corner outfield.
On the offensive side, he dominated low-A as a 19-year-old and continues to do a good job with the quirky bat speed, power, and patience, but his 36 games in high-A were concerning (his 37 percent strikeout rate, first and foremost). It was the conclusion of the season, and he was still a youngster, so it’s not a red signal, but it does hint to an issue he may have at a higher level. Overall, the report isn’t much different from last year’s version. We just have a better understanding of his limits, as opposed to watching him get beaten up on short-season pitching and speculating on what may happen.
Robert Hassell (CF, San Diego Padres) is number 31.
Bats: Left | Throws: Left | Age: 20 Type: A gifted hitter with generally ordinary tools.
Hassell made national headlines as a prep sophomore, displaying an advanced bat and solid skills, which improved in his senior year to add above-average speed and power potential. That was enough to propel him to No. 8 overall, owing to his great hitting ability, sound approach, and general sense of the game. In his career debut as a youngster, he hit.323 in 92 games in low-A, earning a late-season promotion to high-A. Hassell’s power is currently below average in games, but with his approach and contact abilities, his on-base ability might wind up being excellent. Power is usually the last tool to come; it often comes to advanced hitters who are good athletes, and a number of scouts tagged Hassell pre-draft as having the best makeup in the draft class, so I’m not worried.
At the time of the draft, several evaluators questioned his defensive skills (I felt he’d find a way to stay at center). There are fewer doubts today, with some scouts forecasting slightly above-average defense in the middle. He’s not a superstar, but he’s a fast-moving, safe, and above-average every-day player at a key position.
New York Yankees’ 32nd batter, Jasson Dominguez
Jasson Dominguez has an out-of-this-world moniker, a game that has drawn comparisons to Mike Trout’s, and a lengthy list of MLB scouts and executives prepared to wager that the buzz is true. » Jeff Passan
Last year’s treatment of Dominguez — playing in the Futures Game after just seven games in Rookie ball, then being moved to low-A right away — was either a horrible decision or a stress test to see whether he might be one of those few teenagers who made it to the big leagues. When a pandemic took away what would’ve been his first year before sending him to low-A, trying to keep him on the same timeline as other big foreign signings makes no sense. Every player, particularly great international position players who seldom meet their true-talent peers as amateurs, needs reps at that age. Dominguez looks to have the mental fortitude to cope with these difficulties, and if you account for those circumstances and the media frenzy, he really performed well; nothing we observed contradicted the amateur scouting report.
I could whine that he hasn’t kept up with Vlad Jr., Tatis Jr., or Wander Franco (they all crushed short-season at 17, then low-A at 18), or I could take a step back and say we’re still basically where we were at this time last year, minus the smallish chance that Dominguez could’ve crushed low-A and stayed on the most elite of elite paths. Early reports suggest he’s slimmed down and lost 10 to 15 pounds, with a more simple swing, addressing two real issues identified by pro scouts during his 2021 campaign. That’s your newest Dominguez clickbaity headline: I’m holding my Martian shares and buying the decline. For the record, I did not purchase this.
Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Type: Potential front-line starter with a fastball/slider approach.
Meyer was scouted last spring when he faced Hunter Greene, and I felt he was decent, but not quite the same as he was in college. Meyer’s velo soared in the abbreviated 2020 spring, reaching 100 mph and flashing an 80-grade spiking slider off a Walker Buehler-like aggressive delivery from a smaller righty. I graded him out with three 55-grade pitches in the game I saw, with the fastball/slider showing 60 grades at times, which I’m told was one of his worst showings of the year. 100 mph and an 80 slider weren’t conceivable throughout the course of a whole season with less rest, so Meyer’s stuff is still a bit of a mystery.
He’s already in Jupiter, where he’s pumping 97 mph, up from 94.6 last season. In 2022, I believe he’ll throw with a 60-grade fastball, 65-grade slider, and 50-to-55-grade changeup while maintaining average starter-grade command. Meyer was a late bloomer, not really connecting with his own analytics or pitching gurus, and now he’s mastered a yearly starter’s routine, which he hadn’t done before in his career. I like Meyer’s raw skill, makeup, and signs of future improvement compared to the usual 22-year-old top-10 choice, so count me in.
Seattle Mariners’ RHP George Kirby (34).
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 24 Type: Extraterrestrial mastery of above-average skills
Kirby debuted in the autumn of his draft year at Elon, before being selected 20th overall by Seattle. Advanced feel and solid starting attributes of above-average talent, highlighted by his fastball, with off-speed offerings mainly around average, were the selling points. I noted that he touched 101-102 mph in a non-official game shortly after releasing last year’s charts, and that he averaged 97.3 mph on his heater in all of 2021’s regular-season games.
His fastball has some swing-and-miss characteristics, so it loses some velocity there, but his command more than makes up for it, grading as an easy good pitch. His slider, curve, and changeup are all between 50 and 55, but his control and command, which some evaluators believe is a 70 or maybe an 80, is the differentiator. He’s been dubbed “robopitcher” by some Mariners brass. The strikeouts will probably never be that high, and I wouldn’t expect him to pitch around 96-99 mph indefinitely, but he’s a decent chance to be in the middle of the rotation.
21 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Front-line power arm with a lot of potential
So far, I’ve been mistaken about Espino. I dislike high school right-handed pitchers whose present arm speed is the primary basis for liking them. Before the draft, Espino reached speeds of 100 mph on many occasions and had two plus breaking balls that also depended on arm speed. The chances of his losing a fraction of an inch of arm speed or injuring himself from the torque caused are increased, and a group of individuals who don’t throw as hard move ahead of him. Now, as an overall attitude on this kind of pitcher, that’s still a good concept, but there will always be exceptions.
Espino seems to be the exception at the moment. He’s really powerful, which aids suppleness, consistency, and hence health. Before the draft, he was also interested analytics and improving his game, and the Guardians are one of the greatest clubs to help him develop that approach. Espino has kept his ground and remained healthy, and his optimization process has resulted in some impressive figures, especially given his age last year was that of a college sophomore. Last year, he struck out 152 batters while walking 39 in 20 starts at both the A- and B-ball levels. In professional baseball, Espino’s changeup and command have both improved, and he is now ready to be unleashed at the highest levels. White Sox RHP Dylan Cease, a reasonable analog, recently had a breakout year in 2021, recording 4.4 WAR, and Espino is far ahead of Cease at the same level with greater potential.
Jack Leiter (RHP, Texas Rangers) is 36 years old.
21 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Potential front-line starter who moves quickly.
Leiter is the son of MLB legend Al Leiter, and he was renowned in high school for his last name, his own first-round potential, his bonus demands, which pushed him to Vanderbilt, and being on the same team as Anthony Volpe, who is now a greater prospect. Leiter’s first season at Vandy was the truncated 2020 season, when he was already able to demonstrate some growth since high school, and then, owing to his age, he was sophomore-eligible in 2021, eventually making the most of the platform by dominating college baseball.
Leiter is a vertically oriented power starting in the Walker Buehler school of Vandy-slash-data-influenced power starts. Think aggressive delivery that gets you down the mound to get extension and a flat angle to the plate, “rising” power four-seam fastball at the top of the zone, high-spin curveball at the bottom of the zone, power slider to bridge the gap between the two, sparing use of a changeup and using above-average stuff for margin of error in throwing pitches to an advantageous area, leaning toward power rather than perfect precision in throwing pitches to an advantageous area, leaning toward power rather
Leiter’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and flirts with the upper-90s, his curveball ranges from 60 to 70 mph depending on the day, his slider is a 55 or 60 mph, and his control (in the strike zone) is average to above, even though his command (hitting a spot) is currently a touch below. Leiter is a hard-charging competitor who has effectively adjusted his game and is a capable athlete who can project average command. If that happens, he’ll be one of the 8-12 pitchers I consider aces at any given moment, which means he’ll have some serious upward mobility once he reaches Double-A and starts putting up statistics.
Brayan Rocchio (SS, Cleveland Guardians) is 37 years old.
Bats: Both | Throws: Right | Age: 21 Except for power, he is an above-average-tooled shortstop.
Rocchio was a lower-tier international signing ($125,000 bonus) out of Venezuela in 2017, owing to his tiny stature (5-foot-10) and lack of physical tools at the age of 16. In professional baseball, he hit the ground running, and the talent Cleveland identified early (switch-hitter with sense for contact) was considerably better than anticipated, which is why you gamble on kids who can hit because it’s the most essential tool. Rocchio seemed to be on track for a full-season breakthrough in 2020, which obviously didn’t happen, but he continued going as if it had, bypassing low-A entirely and splitting 2021 between high-A and Double-A as a 20-year-old while also displaying a new side of his game with 15 homers.
Rocchio’s package has evolved into a good runner with at least an above-average glove at shortstop, plus contact abilities, a decent approach, and a chance for average in-game power, though it’ll likely play a little below average. He’ll play in the higher levels in 2022, and he’s been added to the 40-man roster with a slew of completely great to excellent major league possibilities (Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, Yu Chang, Owen Miller) and a slew of Top 100ish talent in the upper minors vying for those positions (Rocchio, Gabriel Arias, Tyler Freeman, Jose Tena). It’s a Rays-like issue that isn’t really a problem; there are probably a number of superstars in the bunch; simply play them when it’s obvious who they are.
Bats: Both | Throws: Left | Age: 20 Type: Unfinished, but has the makings of an All-Star
Harris garnered conflicting reviews in high school, with some organizations considering him as a pitcher while the Braves took him 98th overall as a hitter, a strategy that had previously worked for them with Austin Riley. After signing with the Braves, Harris quickly exceeded expectations, destroying rookie level and then advancing to low-A as an 18-year-old. Given his lack of prep hitting experience, Harris’s missing minor league season in 2020 damaged him more than others, but the Braves had faith in him and sent him to high-A for the entire 2021 season.
Using my wet concrete principle for plate discipline (the fewer overall reps you have against good pitching, the easier it is to improve your pitch selection), Harris started the year (first month) with a 3% walk rate and a 21% strikeout rate, then 4 percent and 14%, 11 percent and 21%, and 14 percent and 17%. This is a talent that takes a while to master, and the Braves believe his swing choices improved over the year, as seen by these data.
Harris had far higher exit velos than I anticipated, indicating that he has untapped capability if he can utilize this increased pitch selection and elevate the ball more; his ground-ball rate was 50%, compared to the MLB average of 43%. If this all comes together, there’s an universe where Harris has a 55 or better on all five useable tools (hit, game power, speed, defense, and arm), which is very unusual.
C Henry Davis (Pittsburgh Pirates) is 39 years old.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Type: Cleanup hitter with a shrug emoji for a position.
Davis was a draftable high school talent from upstate New York, but he had an inconsistent hitting profile and was best known for his 80-grade arm behind the plate, which pushed him to Louisville. He didn’t accomplish much as a freshman, but improved in a COVID-shortened second season, and by his junior year, there was talk that he was stronger, had more raw power, and was a more complete hitter. Last spring, he went off and was firmly entrenched in the confusing six-to-eight-player top tier, ranging from second to fourth in that group, depending on who you questioned. The Pirates seized on that impression, signing Davis with the fifth-highest bonus in the draft as the No. 1 overall choice.
Davis’ arm hasn’t altered behind the plate, and he’s still a below-average runner, but the rest has. He now possesses 70-grade raw power, as well as the swing and technique to take use of it, as well as the bat control and pitch selection to record a respectable OBP and hit excellent pitches. He’s still a work in progress defensively, ranking no higher than a 30 or 40 for most scouts and lacking in almost every aspect save arm strength.
The Pirates will attempt to make inroads here, but in the absence of roboumps, the bat will outrun the glove. Some scouts have seen Davis handle grounders at third base in Louisville sessions and believe he could play there, but he’ll most likely start at first base. The defensive narrative isn’t done yet, but I wouldn’t anticipate much; you’re getting a potentially spectacular, Pete Alonso-level bat if everything comes together, and you’re hoping for more than an average first baseman.
SS Kahlil Watson, Miami Marlins, 40.
18 years old | Bats left | Throws right Type: A gifted batter who can also play defense.
Watson was a surprise on the showcase circuit two summers ago, when the mostly Southeast-based prep competitions were still going strong and the Cape and other college leagues were mostly inactive. Watson took advantage of the opportunity, rising from nowhere on a midtier travel club to display a plus bat, developing raw power that’s at least above average, and a middle-infield fit with excellent average speed. There’s some debate about whether he’ll play shortstop or second base, and how much of his power makes it into games, but he’s one of the most reliable prospects in the lower minors: a left-handed hitting, hit-first middle infielder with considerable pop.
He was ranked No. 5 on my draft board, and there were whispers he’d be an underslot possibility as a top-five selection minutes before the draft, but he ended up signing for $4.54 million as the 16th overall choice (roughly the 11th overall slot). The early results with the Marlins have all been excellent (the numbers have been fantastic in a tiny sample), and I believe Watson will flourish in a professional setting, especially with Derek Jeter there and engaging with him individually. This is the kind of guy that will be in the top ten of this list in a year or two, and I believe that a lot of clubs will regret passing on him.
Brady House (SS, Washington Nationals) is number 41.
18 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: A potential superstar shortstop, but one who comes with a lot of risk.
After his freshman year of high school, House was already a national prep talent, hitting tape-measure shots with wood bats in international play. He maintained his status as an elite prospect, displaying his 70-grade raw power at a number of tournaments while also outperforming expectations defensively, leading scouts to believe the broad-shouldered 6-foot-4, 215-pound House can stay at shortstop. House is built like a third baseman but continues to make plays at shortstop, which is unexpected for a guy who resembles Dwight Howard after being exposed to a shrink ray.
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Force plates are now routinely used by clubs to evaluate defensive range since they are an excellent proxy for acceleration and can be used to put a figure on explosion. House possesses fast-twitch hands, which might produce 80-grade raw power, as well as bat speed and a 70-grade arm that has pitched in the mid-90s. However, he offers run times that are around average to slightly over average, and without a time, you’d assume he was a below-average runner based on his appearance. To summarize, House was reportedly the best number in the class, indicating that your eyes aren’t deceiving you about his shortstop talent.
That’s the alluring upside, but there’s also the risk of House’s approach and swing. I wrote about it in full last spring when House faced off against the greatest prep pitcher in this summer’s class in a big showdown. In short, he swings a lot (as is typical of super-talented adolescent hitters who can make contact with nearly anything) and does some strange, perhaps dangerous things with his hands throughout his swing. Because we’re still early in House’s career, I believe the approach part is fixable (unclear how quickly; often, results will help the hitters fix it without a coach harping on it), and I believe the mechanical part is fixable, but some hitters never make that adjustment, and he’ll probably always be aggressive. House had a joyful pro debut, destroying rookie ball in 16 games, but the key will be to watch how his walk rate and in-game power grow, since a hyper-active approach and shaky swing mechanics will show up quite fast and most plainly in those two figures if they aren’t going to work.
CF Luis Matos of the San Francisco Giants is 42 years old.
20 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Many tools, good performance, and it’s still early in the game.
Matos was signed in the second tier of the 2018 international class, for $725,000 out of Venezuela, but he rapidly demonstrated on the field that he belongs in the top tier. Matos walked 6% of the time in low-A and struck out just 12% of the time, indicating both a decent-enough approach that may hopefully improve and excellent contact abilities, a strong starting place for someone who is also young for the level.
Matos also possesses plus-plus bat speed, above-average raw power that is still growing, good exit velos, particularly for his age, an improved fly-ball rate to tap into it, plus speed, and he can play center field as an average fielder. He’s far from complete, but he’s a valuable piece of clay for the Giants to continue sculpting and who is already putting up excellent stats.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 23 Type: If he grows more aggressive, he may be a No. 2-3 starter.
Cabrera isn’t far behind Ryan Pepiot (No. 59 on our ranking), who possesses the greatest changeup in the minors. He also boasts a 6-foot-5, 217-pound frame, a fastball that sits at 95-98 mph, two above-average breaking balls, and a history of strike-throwing. That wasn’t really around in 2021, when he was attempting to get batters to pursue and began nibbling, quickly discovering that more sophisticated hitters would fall for it at Triple-A and the big leagues. As another metric of attempting to be overly nice, he threw his heater less than 40% of the time. So, the modifications are simple: trust your raw material a little more, which he has shown he can do.
Bats: Both | Throws: Right | Age: 24 Type: Powerful second baseman with above-average tools.
Brujan is basically Nick Yorke (No. 47) at the pinnacle of his development: a strong hitter finding out how much power to incorporate into his game while playing second base. Brujan is an elite athlete with plus-plus speed and an above-average glove at second base, and he hit nicely at Triple-A in 2021. There isn’t a lot of star potential here; you’re basically looking about league-average battering performance with above-average baserunning, defense, and positional value; that comes up to a lot of 2.5 to 3.0 WAR seasons.
Triston Casas, 1B for the Boston Red Sox, is 46 years old.
Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Type: Possible offensive weapon
Casas burst onto the national prep stage early in his career, displaying huge raw power throughout his high school career and routinely hitting in large competitions for years. Because he was believed to be a first-base-only fit, he survived until the 26th overall choice in 2018, and that’s where things stand today.
Casas possesses above-average contact skills, great pitch selection, and plus-plus raw power, so he may be a productive offensive player with a.270 batting average, 30ish home runs, and a solid walk rate. If it all comes together, he’ll be in the same ballpark as Matt Olson, Paul Goldschmidt, and Joe Votto, but first base has a famously limited margin for error since it’s so bat-dependent; miss the mark by a little and he’ll be more Rhys Hoskins or C.J. Cron, and he’ll simply be a decent regular.
Nick Yorke, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox, is 47 years old.
19 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: A hit tool with a lot of power, but not much more.
Yorke was a surprise first-round selection in 2020, as a bat-first second baseman with no other strong tools. He didn’t have a lot of summer experience in national competitions, but the Red Sox knew him well enough to believe that his bat was good enough and that he didn’t need a second plus tool to be worthy of being the 17th overall. Because other clubs didn’t value him as highly as the Red Sox did, they were able to negotiate a reduction on his bonus.
Yorke burned low-A and high-A in 2021, batting over.320 at both levels and hitting 14 total home runs, a touch more than planned, as the Red Sox predicted. Yorke is so advanced in all facets of hitting that he might finish up with average game power (15-18 home runs) and a 70-grade bat in the end, with fringe-to-average defense, speed, and throwing talents, similar to Whit Merrifield’s (underappreciated) peak years.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 24 Shortstop with plus gloves and a developing bat.
Pena was a late bloomer in college, emerging as a mid-major solid defender who required some offensive improvement during his draft spring at Maine and landing in the third round in 2018. He hit right away in pro ball, but drew the attention of other teams when he crushed in high-A late in 2019, aided by substantial increased strength. He suffered a setback by missing the 2020 season, which was meant to be his breakthrough year in the higher minors.
He was injured and underwent wrist surgery just before he was ready to play in 2021, limiting him to 37 games — the most of which he spent at Triple-A, where he blasted 10 home runs. His glove is still plus, and his power is ordinary-to-above average, with the main concerns being his lack of repetitions and how much contact he’ll make in order to acquire his power. With Carlos Correa expected to go, Pena has a good chance of starting at shortstop on Opening Day.
Bats: Left | Throws: Left | Age: 22 Type: Consistent, nimble mid-rotation starter
Detmers, who was a standout at Louisville and was drafted 10th overall in 2020, made his pro debut in 2021 and was promoted to the majors after 13 starts in Double-A and Triple-A. He dominated the minors before getting himself into problems in the majors.
Detmers isn’t a plus-strength pitcher, and his command in the major leagues was sloppy, so his stuff became hittable. After that five-start sample, I’m not concerned about his command since he’s been a consistent strike-throwing performer since high school.
Some concerned before the draft that he didn’t have enough upside and assessed his stuff as fringy rather than above-average, but after signing, his velo increased, and he now sits 92-94 mph instead of 89-93 in college, with greater sharpness to his hallmark excellent curveball. Detmers’ command is/will be a 55 or 60, which equates to a reliable mid-rotation starter, which is where he seems to be going with a little more seasoning.
Kyle Harrison (LHP, San Francisco Giants) is number 50.
20 years old | Right-handed batter | Left-handed thrower Type: An up-and-coming whiff-heavy starter
On the high school showcase tour for the 2020 draft class, Harrison stood out for his above-average feel and deception while shooting solid-average talent from a low position. When the Giants spent $2.5 million in the third round to block him from heading to UCLA, he didn’t have much of a buzz coming up to the draft.
In his professional debut in 2021, he struck out 157 hitters in 98 2/3 innings, confirming the buzz from instructional league that his velo had soared in the mid-90s (he sat 93-96 in the regular season) and aided his breaking-ball play almost as much as his above-average-to-plus changeup and command. Harrison is a bet to click for many in the business coming into the 2022 season, having come through one of the strongest development programs in the game and possessing the craftiness and deception unusual in young strikeout pitchers.
Tier 50 FV
Josh Lowe, RF for the Tampa Bay Rays, has number 51.
Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Age: 24 Outfield tweener with power and patience
Lowe was drafted 13th overall in 2016 out of an Atlanta-area high school with one of the top two-way skill packages in recent memory: at least 60 grades on power, speed, and arm while pitching in the mid-90s with an above-average breaking ball and a 6-foot-4 build.
The upward aspect of his power-focused swing was a problem offensively early on; in 2019, he turned the turnaround and put the pieces together at Double-A. He seemed to be on his way to Triple-A and the major leagues in 2020, but the pandemic prevented him from playing in a professional game. Lowe spent 2021 at Triple-A, where he set career highs in walk and power while grabbing a cup of coffee. He’s good in center field and above average in the corners, but he’s blocked by a crowded outfield in Tampa Bay, so he’ll have to wait until the first half for an opportunity.
Brett Baty, 3B for the New York Mets, is number 52.
Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Corner bat with a lot of power and patience.
In the 2019 draft, Baty was a classic eyes versus draft models selection since he had one huge defect (being 19 years, 7 months old on draft day) and one small problem (being a fringy third baseman who might have to move to first base). Baty’s other attributes, such as above-average athleticism for his stature, plus-plus raw power, respectable performances, and defensive progress, combined to be more influential in my opinion (and at least in the Mets’). The biggest knock-on effect of those deficiencies is that he’d have to play well, be promoted soon, and improve his defense, all of which have occurred.
In comparison to his prospect-age contemporaries, Baty reached Double-A at the age of 21 last year with decent power, patience, and contact, however he needs to elevate the ball more to lean into his skill set. I believe he’ll need to move from third base at some point in his career, probably in his late 20s rather than the next year or two, and left field (where he played 18 games last year) is a good halfway point between third base and first base, as well as another way to break into the big league lineup.
Bats: | Right | Age: 21 Right throws Type: Everyday shortstop with a lot of versatility
Peguero was a midtier Diamondbacks international signee ($475,000 bonus) with a precocious feel for hitting and non-zero in-game power early in his pro career. In the January 2020 transaction that sent Starling Marte to Arizona, he was the main attraction. As a 20-year-old, he spent the whole 2021 season in high-A. He showed some flashes of five above-average talents (his raw power is just a smidgeon over average), but I’d put him in the J.P. Crawford or Dansby Swanson range as a 55 hitter with marginal power, above-average speed, and a solid-average glove. He’s a solid big leaguer who hasn’t yet reached Double-A, and he’s one of the safest prospects on our list.
Sixto Sanchez (RHP, Miami Marlins) is number 54.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 23 Type: Recovering from shoulder surgery, a potential front-line starter.
Sanchez’s offerings (96-99 mph sinker, 70-grade changeup, above-average slider) are undoubtedly already recognizable to you, and you’ve probably seen a few video of them zipping around the internet. In 2020, his 1.0 WAR from seven career major league appearances will surpass the career totals of many players on this list. Despite this, he missed the whole year of 2021 due to a shoulder injury that necessitated surgery from which he is currently healing. Expectations are that he’ll be back on the mound and back to his old self by the end of the year, but shoulder procedures are much more difficult to handicap than elbow surgeries.
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Over the years, something bad from opposing evaluators always managed to make its way into my notes on Sanchez: little arm pain here, appearing overweight there, never achieving the amount of whiffs his clean stuff promises, and so on. I’m compelled to take a chance on Sanchez and cross my hopes that he’ll be the pitcher he was in those seven starts for the foreseeable future.
Just read the hedging in last year’s rankings when I had Sanchez as the best pitching prospect in baseball (11th overall) coming off an amazing MLB debut and I was still measured in my appreciation for the whole top tier of pitchers. Only Ian Anderson of the bunch deserved more appreciation in hindsight, and he was more very excellent than extraordinary last year. My top 100 will eventually have maybe five pitchers on it.
RHP Eury Perez of the Miami Marlins is number 55.
18 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Huge adolescent front-line starter with advanced potential.
Perez qualified for the pitcher version of the honor if Volpe was the out-of-nowhere position player riser of the year. Last year’s Marlins ranked him 23rd as an arrow-up sleeper to watch, but my brief assessment was “6-9 and into the mid-90s with strikes.” That’s an excellent starting point, and Perez improved on it in 2021. He’s currently throwing 94-96 mph (early reports said he was throwing even harder earlier this month), his curveball has improved to good average, and his changeup has developed into a 55- or 60-grade out weapon. Even then, with his stuff improving and his strike-throwing habits remaining, a typical 18-year-old with similar talent would pitch in rookie league, maybe make a few starts in low-A, and maybe run into trouble against advanced hitters. Instead, while his domestic counterparts were facing high school and rookie league opposition, Perez sliced through low-A and high-A (108 strikeouts, 26 walks) across 78.0 innings.
If you’ve been reading me for a long, you’ll know that I like velocity-reliant teenager righties, and gigantic righties are my second least favorite kind. The gigantic righty (say, 6-foot-7 and higher) has longer arms and greater strength, and he’ll gain velocity early (mixing in with the first group), but he’ll struggle to deliver strikes later on, and he’ll grow more injury prone as he develops physically. Because of the strong headwinds, there aren’t many huge beginning pitchers in baseball.
Perez has above-average physical ability, so he’s not the worst example of what I’m talking about, and he also has the most appealing résumé of any 18-year-old pitcher. I have to respect what I have and what has been shown on the pitch at some time, rather than trying to put players into boxes. To make matters even more complicated, Perez falls into my third least-favorite category of pitchers: the prospective front-line starter whose changeup is stronger than his solid-average-at-best breaking ball. All of this is to say that Perez and his colleague Sixto Sanchez, the previous player on my list, are two very different sorts of players who are both very skilled, successful, and hazardous to me for very different reasons. Some of the players on this list are simple and fairly dull assessments that basically rank themselves, ranking in the same range on every public list. These two are difficult for me, and I’m hoping I’m incorrect on both counts.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Type: High-end physical equipment with a poor luck factor
Lewis was the first overall choice in the 2017 draft because of his excellent power/speed/physical skills/makeup combination, as well as lots of hit tool and significant defensive value — even though the position wasn’t evident. Despite some tweaking with his swing and aggressive promotions, his offensive performance has been lackluster, and his defensive home is still up for debate between center field and the infield. The 2020 minor league season was postponed, and Lewis tore his ACL shortly before the start of the 2021 season, which seemed to be a crucial year for him to consolidate gains in the higher levels and prepare for a 2021 MLB debut. Now that he hasn’t played a meaningful game since the 2019 Arizona Fall League, when he raked and seemed to be turning the turnaround, some modest offensive and defensive worries have been amplified.
Lewis had live at-bats during and following autumn instructional leagues, but he has yet to run the bases and is unable to attend early camp since he is on the 40-man roster. Lewis will spend most, if not all, of 2022 in the higher levels, playing largely shortstop but also likely some third and second base, since a long-term deal to Byron Buxton has made a home in center field less probable.
Lewis’ pitch selection is below average, his mechanics have altered, and he has lost a lot of repetitions offensively, so 2022 should be a year to fix all of these relatively minor concerns and launch into the major league career he envisioned years ago. The most likely outcome here is a super-utility player like Ben Zobrist, Enrique Hernandez, Marwin Gonzalez, Chris Taylor, and others — not the no-hit shortstop — a multiposition player who can hit, like Ben Zobrist, Enrique Hernandez, Marwin Gonzalez, Chris Taylor, and others — with a chance Lewis can go higher.
Austin Martin, 2B for the Minnesota Twins, is 57 years old.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Type: A gifted hitter with above-average secondary skills.
Martin has some legitimate concerns on both offense and defense, but I’m still willing to give him a chance since he’s terrific at doing everything correctly, including making changes. Since his freshman year at Vanderbilt and until the spring of 2020, he has been a good hitter. Martin also possesses above-average pitch selection and raw power, so he has the makings of a quality daily hitter at any position — but he struggled to reach his raw power in games last season. As a result, Toronto cut hook with the No. 5 overall selection in the 2020 draft as part of a trade deal for Jose Berrios before the deadline. The Twins are working with Martin to tap into his power more regularly, as they have with previous prospects, but the negative is that he is a quality hitter with below-average power. Even so, it’s still a low-end player for daily use.
Martin was a competent defensive second baseman, third baseman, and center fielder in college, and he was supposed to play shortstop in 2020, but he never did. He currently seems to be outmatched at shortstop and will join Royce Lewis, Jose Miranda, and Spencer Steer on the Twins’ upper-minors utility merry-go-round. Given the Buxton extension (not to mention Kepler, Larnach, and Kirilloff), center field seems to be a no-go zone for long-term fits, but second, short, and third are considerably more open to competition. Martin’s greatest long-term fit, in my opinion, is second base, but he will almost certainly play various positions over his career.
Jackson Jobe (RHP, Detroit Tigers) is 58 years old.
19 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Teenage ace with a lot of promise, but it’s still early.
When rumors circulated in April that the Tigers were heavily invested in Jobe for the No. 3 overall pick, it passed the smell test. The Tigers have some distinct types they prefer in the draft — power-armed pitchers, SEC performers — so when rumors circulated in April that they were heavily invested in Jobe for the No. 3 overall pick, it passed the smell test. Taking a prep pitcher of any kind in the first 10 selections is a no-brainer for a lot of teams, with good reason, but the Tigers aren’t one of them.
Jobe was usually regarded as being in the center to rear of the consensus top tier of six to eight players, but not because he lacked any skills. It was because high-velocity prep right-handers are baseball’s most dangerous gamble. Teams continue to do it since that is where Lucas Giolito, Max Fried, and Jameson Taillon come from, but note that I did not put a “et al” after those three. Those pitchers were picked in 2010 and 2012, and the top of the prep pitching class has been all hope and (relative) failures since then.
Jobe, the son of PGA golfer Brandt, has thrown up to 100 mph, has a 70-mph breaking ball with amazing spin rates, a plus-flashing changeup, plus skill (he was a serious infield prospect), and the components to project at least average command. If pressed, some more conventional evaluators would nitpick and suggest he should be taller than 6-foot-2, but the industry is leaning toward more compact pitchers having an easier time repeating their deliveries. All you need is for them to be large enough to hold up for 180 innings or more, which Jobe is or may reasonably be. Because it’s very impossible to have this kind of stuff and above-average command at this age (just look at Clayton Kershaw’s early career numbers), Jobe’s only real flaw is that previous pitchers of his caliber have mainly fallen and/or been injured, so he’s only dangerous by proxy right now.
59. Los Angeles Dodgers RHP Ryan Pepiot
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 24 Type: A changeup machine with a heater from the 1990s.
Pepiot, who possibly possesses the finest changeup in the minor leagues, an at least 70-grade Bugs Bunny-type offering (if you hopped here from No. 55), is a changeup-over-breaking ball righty. He’s more than a trick-shot artist, as his four-seam fastball sits at 94-97 mph with considerable lift, and he also throws a solid-average cutter/slider. Though he is in the Dodgers’ development system and was a late bloomer, arriving on the early-round radar in just his 2019 draft spring as a junior at Butler, his accuracy in executing his non-changeup pitches is just fine. Due to these extremes, it’s uncertain if Pepiot will be a multi-inning multiple-role weapon, Eric Gagne/Fernando Rodney 2.0, or simply a distinctive taste of an otherwise dull 180-inning, mid-rotation starter.
Cole Winn, RHP, Texas Rangers, No. 60
Bobby Miller (RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers) is number 61.
Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Starting pitcher with more power than feel.
The Dodgers keep doing it with pitchers, much as the Rays do with middle infielders and Cleveland does with college pitchers, to the point where my early calls on their systems start with “OK, which player accomplished something I didn’t think he’d do as an amateur?” At Louisville, I had mixed feelings about Miller because I thought he depended too much on power and couldn’t throw more than a few innings at a period while still maintaining command of the ball. My perspective began to flip shortly before the selection, when I learned that the teams most interested in him were the top pitching organizations in the league; the Dodgers selected him with the 29th overall choice in the 2020 draft.
Miller’s slider has improved, grading as a 55 currently but flashing 60-grade potential, and he still has enough of power sitting at 95-98 mph. His command and changeup have also dramatically improved. It’s unfair to compare Miller to the top pitchers in baseball, who also happen to throw for the Dodgers, but he has the same effort and aggressiveness as Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer, to give you a sense of how he pitches. I’ll simply get on board with whatever it is when pitchers have great stuff, aggressiveness, and aptitude, as well as adequate command and health, not to mention a competent development organization.
62. Tampa Bay Rays SS Greg Jones
Bats: Both | Throws: Right | Age: 23 Semi-sleeper toolshed in the center
Jones is another of my selections to click, having long been a scout favorite with to his incredible talents, premium physical skills, and great makeup, and showing indications of turning the corner in probably the finest system for middle infielders to realize their potential. Jones has NFL-level wide receiver talents, including at least 70-grade speed in a 6-foot-2 body, above-average raw power on both sides of the plate, and a 55-grade arm. The big concern is whatever up-the-middle position he’ll play and how effective his hitting skills will be in games.
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Jones’ pure hitting performance-age-level stats aren’t top 100-worthy, but they do suggest to later-blooming potential (power, patience, stolen bases, high strikeout rate), albeit he was disadvantaged more than most prospects by missing the 2020 season’s repetitions. Jones’ range and arm are good enough for shortstop, but his hands are just average, so center field is a logical landing point if the infield doesn’t work out. Jones’ fundamental swing choices should lead to higher strikeout and walk rates than he had last year, and there’s definitely another level of raw power that isn’t showing up in games, though he hit 14 home runs in 72 games last year, so it’s there in some form. The analytic models will believe this rating is excessively harsh, but Jones is ready to explode up (up lists), therefore the models will all favor him.
63. St. Louis Cardinals’ Ivan Herrera, C
21 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Everyday catcher with a solid average across the board.
Several Cardinals catchers-of-the-future, including the since-traded Carson Kelly and the stalled-out Andrew Knizner, haven’t worked out. We can once again expect Molina will retire at some time now that Tom Brady has retired, and Herrera is a solid chance to be the next in line.
He’s the same age as the previous college draftees, and he hit above-average in Double-A last season, with big-league expectations that are similar. He’s above-average defensively and has a solid-average arm. Many of the position players in this section of the list don’t have a genuine plus tool or realistic star projection, but there’s significant value in being a good regular at a premium position for three years while getting paid the league minimum.
64. Curtis Mead of the Tampa Bay Rays is a third baseman.
21 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: A gifted batter who can also play defense.
Mead wasn’t on the prospect radar when he signed with the Phillies for $200,000 in 2017 out of Australia, but he rose to the top after a strong showing in Rookie level as an 18-year-old in 2019. The Rays swooped in late in 2019 and dealt Cristopher Sanchez for Mead to clear space around 40-man protection time, as they usually do. Even back then, the Rays believed they had snagged a rising bat-first, find-a-position-later kind of guy, a type they’d had success with in the past.
In 2021, Mead dominated both A-Ball levels while also developing enough defensively to appear decent at third base (and acceptable at second base), giving him Brandon Lowe vibes. Mead received a 55 hit/game power rating from me, but he’s the kind of guy who makes enough hard contact to outperform that estimate. After the season, he’ll need to be added to the 40-man roster, and if he has another solid year, he may be at the top of the Rays’ continuously confusing really-talented-infielders-other-than-Wander-Franco glut. Yandy Diaz, you’ve been warned.
Cade Cavalli, RHP with the Washington Nationals, is 65 years old.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 23 Type: Long-lasting, unreliable starter with a lot of potential.
Cavalli was a gifted two-way prep with a price tag that pushed him to Oklahoma. In his draft year, his potential on the mound shone through, and he was selected No. 22 overall by the Nationals in 2020. Cavalli’s plus raw stuff (95-98 mph at the top of the zone, slider/curve/change all 84-90 mph and all at least above average), clean delivery, and 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame all fit in the top 10 picks in most cases, but his command and overall polish weren’t there as a 21-year-old and are still developing now — despite pitching his way to Triple-A in his first pro season.
If it all comes together, he might be a durable, 180-inning No. 2-3 starter, but most evaluators believe he’ll always be a power-over-feel pitcher who frustrates you at times, falling short of his potential.
Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Age: 24 Type: Everyday shortstop who is solidly average across the board.
Stott went unnoticed in high school, then exploded as an underclassman at UNLV and shone for Team USA during the summer before being drafted in the first round of the 2019 draft. Given his 6-foot-3 height and lack of dazzling mobility, he’s surprisingly excellent defensively at shortstop, but he won’t be much better than average. Stott has developed into a left-handed hitter with solid-average raw power. He made up for a missed 2020 season by swiftly rising to Triple-A in 2021 and then participating in the Arizona Fall League, hitting effectively at each stage.
Although he lacks real impact talent, he can provide league-average to slightly above-average offensively and defense at shortstop with a lefty stick. As the Phillies’ middle infielders, Didi Gregorius and Jean Segura are in the last years of their contracts, I anticipate Stott to earn some major league experience in 2022 and then settle down next to Alec Bohm on the left side of the infield for years to come, beginning full time in 2023.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 23 Type: An offensive-minded catcher who is ready to play in the Major Leagues.
In his 12 MLB games, Campy has struggled to hit, but in the minors, he has smashed, displaying above-average raw power and contact abilities. He’s made significant progress behind the plate, where he’s now fringe-to-average with a strong arm, a combination that will play even better in the future with a robo ump. Campusano has made significant progress in reshaping his physique late in high school and learning how to catch, something he didn’t do much before getting professional. This indicates a willingness to make changes. There’s enough short-term offensive potential here that carrying him as a third catcher to see if he can get back on track at the bat and get some experience with the major league pitching staff would be a smart idea.
Andy Pages, RF for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is 68 years old.
21 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: A strong right fielder with a powerful arm.
Pages made a name for himself as a prospect in 2018 and 2019, blasting 29 home runs in 115 short-season games after joining for $300,000 as a low-profile overseas signing. As a traditional right fielder, he boasts plus-plus raw power and arm strength, but the postponed 2020 minor league season is expected to damage him. Despite this, he continued to hum along, bypassing low-A last year and blasting 31 home runs in 120 games at high-A as a 20-year-old. He’ll probably always strike out more than the league average, but he has enough contact skills and patience to keep his OBP in check, and his in-game power ability is his true calling card. He might develop into a Jorge Soler-like player down the road, but he’s talented enough right now to play center field if necessary.
Everson Pereira, CF with the New York Yankees, is 69 years old.
20 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Power-and-patience toolshed in the making
Pereira was a standout among the 2017 foreign signing class’s position players. In his 2018 and 2019 short-season seasons, his talents were there, if not improving, but his swing became too steep and he whiffed too frequently, so he remained a wait-and-see at least halfway down the Yankees prospect rankings. Things began to change around in 2020, mostly behind closed doors, and his breakthrough year was 2021. It only lasted 49 games since he began in extended/rookie ball to ensure he had his feet under him, but as a 20-year-old in high-A, he hit 20 home runs with a double-digit walk rate, all while playing center field and maxing out in the 112-115 mph exit velo area.
Given his power-based approach, he’ll almost certainly always have a 20-30% strikeout percentage, and he’s fringy in center field right now, so he might ultimately go to right field. His raw tools are among the best on the list: 55 speed, 55 arm strength, at least 60 raw power, and 70 bat speed. His attitude, in-game power utilization, defensive instincts, and stat line as a very young prospect for his level further demonstrate his potential. Although his breakthrough was just in a small sample, this rocket might be ready for launch in 2022.
Nick Gonzales, second baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, is 70 years old.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Second baseman has a lot of power.
Gonzales sprang to prominence as a sophomore at New Mexico State owing to his absurd stats, which are typical of a mid-major player at altitude with a tiny home park, but he really came into his own that summer when he raked on the Cape. He only got a few weeks into his draft spring (with mixed results), so the short-ish sample on the Cape was a big reason of why the Pirates picked him No. 5 overall in 2020.
Gonzales is a solid defensive second baseman with 55 raw power, but his pre-draft highlight was a 60-grade bat. His career debut in high-A at the age of 22 told a somewhat different picture, as he struck out 27 percent of the time while hitting 18 home runs in 80 games, a number that was a far cry from what many expected – more akin to a young Dan Uggla.
71. Miami Marlins’ Peyton Burdick, RF
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 24 Outfielder in the mold of Tyler O’Neill, compact and explosive.
Burdick’s professional path is one of the most unusual among the top 100. He was a somewhat unknown collegiate player until the Marlins selected him in the third round of the draft out of Wright State. He was 22 at the time, having redshirted for a year while recuperating from Tommy John surgery.
At draft time, his selling attributes were obvious (big power, right-field tools, performance), but his age, level of competition, and maxed-out physique frightened clubs away. He simply continued slamming his way through the minors, and he’s now talented enough to play respectable center field, which may be enough to have him called up to the majors in 2022. For the whole Tyler O’Neill experience, his 70-grade power is complemented with walks, strikeouts, outstanding defense, premium makeup, and enormous forearms.
Joey Bart (C, San Francisco Giants) is 72 years old.
Gabriel Arias (SS, Cleveland Guardians) is 73 years old.
21 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Everyday shortstop with a lot of versatility.
Arias was a top international acquisition by the Padres ($1.9 million bonus) in 2016 and began to turn the corner offensively in 2019, rapidly becoming the focus of Cleveland’s six-player return for Mike Clevinger at the 2020 deadline. Because of his talents and personality, San Diego advanced Arias quickly through the minors, at least a level ahead of most top prospects, and he spent 2021 at Triple-A at the age of 21, while the next player on this list was a freshman at Sam Houston State.
Here’s how one pitcher got a deal after slipping into an online discussion.
» Jeff Passan
Arias had honed his plate discipline to be around average, allowing him to show off at least part of his plus raw power in games. For years, his above-average glove at shortstop and plus-plus arm have been his most valuable assets. There’s a chance his offense regresses in the big leagues, but his defense would still make him a fine regular (the 50 he’s now rated as), but he’s on the 40-man roster and should receive a major league look in 2022, so the danger of a flop (less than a 45) is dwindling.
Colton Cowser, CF for the Baltimore Orioles, is 74 years old.
21 years old | Bats left | Throws right Type: Advanced batter with a wide range of skills.
Cowser broke onto the national scouting scene this summer following a boisterous freshman year at Sam Houston State, where he was perhaps the greatest hitter on Team USA, which included some of the finest rising college juniors in the country. He was a good hitter with below-average power (due to a line-drive approach) who suited best in right field at the time, and he seemed to be a second- or third-round talent. He’d improved his tools by his junior year, exhibiting fringe-to-average raw power, a smidgeon more speed, and a smidgeon better defensive leaps, transforming him into a potential regular in center field with a noteworthy bat.
He was seen as a fit at choices 10-15 in last summer’s draft, but the Orioles saw him as a fit on skill at the No. 5 overall pick, and they grabbed him for about the slot value of the No. 9 overall pick. After the draft, he did even better than predicted in low-A (a major jump up in competition level from the WAC), so this rating represents some upward momentum after the draft, but if he turns out to be a rare 70-grade hit/approach type, he’ll be in the top third of this list next year.
George Valera, RF for the Cleveland Guardians, is 75 years old.
Bats: Left | Throws: Left | Age: 21 Type: A sweet-swinging corner outfielder with patience and power.
Valera had the most attractive swing and possibly the best hit/power combination in the 2017 July 2 class when he signed; Julio Rodriguez, Kristian Robinson, and Everson Pereira were the other leading possibilities at the time; Rodriguez is now the obvious solution.
Valera has only played 144 games in his career due to injuries, short-season deployments, and a missed minor league season in 2020, but he has excelled everywhere. More than his raw speed would imply, he’s a good average corner outfield defender with plus raw power who plays effectively in games with a late-count, patient approach and enough contact skills to get to his power in games. Durability, the absence of a 70-grade tool, success against strong lefties, and how his contact/approach will play at higher levels are all minor concerns.
He’s almost a certainty for the big leagues, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be a platoon option or a reliable regular. Valera reaching Double-A at the age of 20 and hitting 19 home runs last year against considerably older competition has me leaning firmly toward a good regular.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Type: Multi-inning power arm capable of playing in the Major Leagues.
Contreras was acquired by the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic in 2016 and moved before the 2021 season in the Jameson Taillon transaction, which marked his transition from good pitching prospect to probable midrotation starter who has already made a major league start. His finest pitch is a 95-98 mph fastball with above-average life, an easy plus pitch that has improved somewhat since his Yankees days (somewhat coincidentally).
With the improved arm speed, he employs a distinguishing above-average-to-plus slider and curveball, both of which are a touch sharper today. In terms of quality and frequency, his changeup is a distant fourth. It’s more typical for a right-handed starter to utilize a changeup infrequently, but it’s usually reserved for starters who go three to five innings at most or who have above-average command of breaking stuff in certain places, which I’m not convinced Contreras has right now. Due to a forearm issue, he only made 14 starts last season, so he’ll likely be a multiple-inning pitcher of above-average quality rather than the 180-inning-plus real starter that every club wants. Regardless, he’s ready for the big leagues and will undoubtedly be beneficial.
Quinn Priester (RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates) is 77 years old.
21 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Still Putting It Together Big Upside Power Arm
Priester was the No. 18 overall choice in 2019 out of an Illinois high school and had all the makings of a classic cold-weather projection pitcher who peaked a bit later than some of his Sun Belt colleagues — size, delivery, later-developing premium arm speed, above-average breaking ball. He’s mostly held serve in pro ball, like a lot of the prep arms on this list, which is both anticipated and not unexpected.
Priester hasn’t lived up to expectations, but he’s remained healthy and taken little steps forward, with all of the pieces in place for him to reach his No. 2 or 3 starting projection. With both four- and two-seam fastballs, a real plus (or more) curveball, an above-average slider, an improving but still fringy changeup, and starter command, he has reached 100 mph.
Nick Pratto, 1B with the Kansas City Royals, is 78 years old.
Bats: left | Throws: left | Age: 23 Type: A slick-gloved first baseman with a lot of power and patience.
Early in his high school career, Pratto made an impression as a two-way player and held serve to become a mid-first-round choice, albeit solely as a hitter. As an advanced hitter with emerging power and a smooth glove at first base, he reminded me of Todd Helton.
He struggled terribly with the bat in 2019, as did a few other highly regarded Royals draft selections, but he quickly rebounded. Pratto increased his walk rate by 5%, lowered his strikeout rate by 5%, and more than quadrupled his isolated power from 2019 to 2021 (while simultaneously moving up two levels) (9 homers in 472 plate appearances in 2019 to 36 in 545 in 2021). It’s easier to commit to these changes to his hitting approach and swing when they’re approximately (but still better than) what was predicted over the previous few years, but I don’t want to downplay the player’s significant progress with his coaches. Pratto is expected to make his major league debut in 2022.
79. Cincinnati Reds LHP Nick Lodolo
Bats: Left | Throws: Left | Age: 24 Starter with a steady fastball/curveball mix.
Lodolo, who is 6-foot-6 and came out of a SoCal high school as an unsigned first-round selection, went No. 7 overall out of TCU in 2019. He only threw 181 1/3 innings after signing, and he didn’t throw in the non-existent 2020 minor league season, therefore his genuine pro debut came in 2021. Over 502/3 innings in Double-A and Triple-A (cut short by shoulder strain in August), he struck out 78 batters while walking just 11. He throws a sinker and four-seamer at 93-95 mph with some life, and his curveball is above average; these two/three pitches accounted for 89 percent of his pitches thrown in 2021.
Due to movement, analytic models assess his changeup as a plus pitch, although it seems to be closer to a 55 to the eye, and he only threw it 9% of the time. Regardless, Lodolo has displayed three 60-grade pitches and average or better command in his best outings, leading to top-10 selection and frontline starting forecasts, but he currently seems to be a third/fourth starter, though some metrics would argue that is a stretch.
MacKenzie Gore (LHP, San Diego Padres) is number 80.
Bats: Left | Throws: Left | Age: 22 Type: A left-handed athlete that excels in all areas (usually).
Gore has progressed from a projectable athlete as a prep underclassman to a top-five choice as a prep senior (2017), to perhaps the best pitching prospect in baseball two and a half years later (before the 2020 season), to a wild past two seasons of command issues and delivery tweaks. When the club needed pitching late in 2020, he was passed over for major league opportunities by Luis Patino (since moved to Tampa Bay in the Blake Snell package) and Ryan Weathers, and never got things back in sync. His mechanics aren’t straightforward: His leg kick has changed over the last two years as he searches for the proper answer, therefore he has yet to make his major league debut and was added to the 40-man roster when it was necessary in November.
This year might be the year when his above-average stuff and good command return, and he demonstrates it in the big leagues in whatever position the Padres need, but I’m relying on his lengthy history of being an outstanding prepandemic and not unduly stressing on the particular problems of 2020 and 2021. It would be easy to toss Gore into the “shrug, weird things happen to pitchers” bucket and bury him in the 45 FV tier if he were a second-round pick and fringe top-100 prospect at his height, but it’s difficult to just walk away from a talent like this, so here he is, ranked alongside other potential/likely No. 3 and No. 4 starters or riskier bets to be No. 2 starters.
Shea Langeliers, Atlanta Braves, 81.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 24 Type: Power catcher with superior defense and a big arm.
Langeliers developed as an offensive danger at Baylor and has gradually added in-game power to his contact-and-defense skill set, to the point where his plus raw power is now his finest asset with his arm strength, and his in-game power projects to be above average. Since he’s always been an above-average receiver, his contact skills are still solid, excellent enough to get to his power in games and provide him offensive potential as an everyday catcher.
Jose Miranda, 3B for the Minnesota Twins, has number 82.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 23 Type: A gifted all-around hitter who can be tucked away in a corner.
Miranda has evolved from a main second baseman as an amateur to a player that fits best at third base (where he’s fringe-average) or first base (where he’ll move if he regresses at third base). One reason for this is because he’s a bat-first player for whom the glove has never been a selling point, but he’s also gained strength and progressively increased in-game power. Last season, he hit 30 home runs in Double-A and Triple-A, with exit velos that were higher than the first basemen in his league, while being age-appropriate for a prospect at both levels, with below-average walk rates and above-average contact rates.
Matt Brash (RHP, Seattle Mariners) is 84 years old.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 23 Whiff machine capable of going numerous innings
Seattle acquired Brash from the Padres in a last-minute 2020 trade deadline transaction for Taylor Williams (designated for assignment last summer, now a free agent). As a fourth-round selection in 2019, Brash had some clout. He was a late-blooming Canadian pitcher at Niagara, but you may recognize him from Pitching Ninja’s cartoonish breaking ball (and impressive changeup).
He throws 95-98 mph, with a 70-grade two-plane breaker, and a changeup that flashes above average at times. Brash’s command is a bit below average, and despite his longevity, he is unlikely to throw more than 180 innings. You could be thinking about Lance McCullers, who not only represents a positive result, but also exemplifies the sort of pitcher Brash is.
Drew Romo (C, Colorado Rockies) is 85 years old.
Age: 20 | Batting Style: Switch | Throwing Style: Right Type: A skilled catcher with a keen sense of the game.
I’ve never been a big fan of high-ranking prep catchers or right-handed pitchers, and I still am early in their pro careers. I believe it has been a net positive in general, but there have been some outlier cases when I have tried to immediately recognize the exception to my rule. Romo seems to be joining Daniel Espino in having me do a 180 in the next year or two. Romo was a show-stopper, with a strong arm and above-average defensive abilities to go along with his above-average raw power. His contact ability was hit-or-miss, but he seemed to be at least competent offensively, but not enough to make me believe he’d stand out. I was mistaken. In the age of 19, he hit.314 in his career debut at low-A in 2021, with a 6% walk rate and a 15% strikeout rate. His power measures were below average (you can’t have it everything), but he possesses raw power and has grown in all defensive phases, so the components are in place for another breakthrough.
Dillon Dingler (C, Detroit Tigers) is 86 years old.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 23 Type: A big-armed, power-catching catcher with above-average physical abilities.
Dingler emerged as a former center fielder with minimal experience who had unexpectedly matured into power and the catcher position in the autumn before his junior year at Ohio State. When the shutdown happened, scouts were coming in to analyze him as a possible first-round choice once he exploded out of the gates in 2020. Given his position, there was some danger, but he had all the skills, so it felt like it was just a matter of time until he put everything together. He also had all of the skills to hit and hit for power, but his approach was too aggressive (and his swing was a touch too steep), therefore he fell to the top of the second round on draft day.
In 2021, he came out firing again, destroying high-A and quickly being promoted to Double-A, when his contact/approach concerns surfaced. He’d also broken his thumb and was in the middle of his longest season at the bat. There’s enough space here to ignore the second half of his season and concentrate on the first, but the reality is probably somewhere in the middle. An every-day package would be a 40 hitter with above-average raw power and athleticism, at least average defense, and a plus arm, with the chance that his bat will play closer to a 30 and he would become a backup.
Michael Busch, 1B for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is 87 years old.
Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Age: 24 Type: A reliable corner bat for everyday use.
Although the Dodgers have experimented with Busch playing second base and left field in college, first base is likely to be Busch’s best position in the long run. The Max Muncy comparisons are unavoidable given Busch’s mature hit/power mix and Dodgers’ first base/second base fit, but I don’t believe there’s much offensive effect. He’ll be on the list for a possible major league debut in 2022 and, like most Dodgers position players, can play all six positions in the lineup (second base, DH, all four corners).
Hunter Brown (RHP, Houston Astros) is number 88.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 23 Type: A hammer-wielding late-blooming starter pitcher.
Brown was a fifth-round pick out of a Division II college in 2019, which was later than the pre-draft buzz, which had him projected to go in the second or third round after a strong spring. Brown’s first buzz in pro ball was even stronger than pre-draft projections, and he’s blasted through the system as a result. At the age of 22, he’s already ahead of plan, prospering at Triple-A. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, and he’s known for his strong (maybe plus-plus) curveball. He has the ability to play right away and should be a major league player in 2022.
Mick Abel, RHP with the Philadelphia Phillies, is 89 years old.
20 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Power arm with a lot of potential that’s still putting it together.
As a freshman, Abel was regarded as one of the best arms in his prep class, and he continued to serve until draft day, when he became the first prep arm taken in the 2020 draft. His slider flashes plus, and he essentially checks all the boxes when it comes to frame, delivery, and feel. He sits in the mid-90s and will flirt with 100 mph at times. Because of shoulder tendinitis, he only pitched 44.2 innings in 2021. If/when everything clicks, he might rocket up this list, but prep pitchers often need a year or two in pro ball to alter their style and workload.
Age: 22 | Batting Style: Switch | Throwing Style: Right Type: All-around everyday shortstop with mediocre pop.
This overall style of player has been undervalued by the business for more than a decade, but with the rise of the shorter infielder with late-blooming power, it’s now more than justified. Perdomo saw action in the majors last season, but he’ll likely spend the most of this season at Triple-A. He’ll make consistent contact and earn some walks, provide value on the basepaths with plus speed, and play above-average shortstop. You’ll see that I didn’t include his power since it could never be greater than a 40 (eight to ten homers), limiting his potential to a decent regular.
J.J. Bleday, RF, Miami Marlins, No. 91
Bats: Left | Throws: Left | Age: 24 Type: Everyday right fielder who is well-rounded.
Bleday isn’t for you if you’re searching for a stock with a lot of upside. He’s also coming off a bad year, but for a lot of guys, going from the SEC in 2019 to no competitive games in 2020 to Double-A in 2021 was a difficult ask. On batters with extensive track records, I tend to go more slowly, and on hitters with short track records, I tend to move more quickly, since each piece of information matters more. I trust in Bleday’s bat, and signs indicate that he has bulked up, so expect greater power this year. A decent daily right fielder at the higher levels with a lengthy track record is deserving of the back end of the list, even if it isn’t interesting per se. His best-case scenario is 60 hit/power, and I’d expect a notch below that.
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Age: 22 Type: Corner bat with a lot of power.
Normally, a 21-year-old (Vientos turned 22 this summer) third baseman blasting Double-A would be at the top of this list, but Vientos has some secondary facts to consider. There’s legitimate 30-homer power, and 2021 was a breakthrough year, but he seems to be destined for left field or first base in the long run, and his pitch selection is only OK, and his swing is oriented for power, so he may always be over 25% strikeouts and under 10% walks. For Mets fans, this sounds a lot like J.D. Davis, and it is, but Vientos is just 22 years old, so there’s still time for him to break out.
93. Matthew Liberatore, St. Louis Cardinals’ left-handed pitcher
DL Hall, Baltimore Orioles, 94.
Bats: left | Throws: left | Age: 23 Type: A left-handed whiff machine capable of going numerous innings.
From the summer before his senior year of high school on, Hall’s scouting report has been the same: good stuff (fastball/curve/change) and fringy pitching feel. Due to a stress response in his elbow, he only threw 312 innings in 2021, but all indicators point to him continuing where he left off in 2022: in the higher levels of the minors with unearthly K rates. I believe he would be best suited as a multi-inning reliever or a starter with a faster hook, but he has the stuff to churn through a lineup several times.
Taj Bradley (RHP, Tampa Bay Rays) is 95th in the MLB.
20 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: A well-rounded starter who is just getting started.
Bradley was a late-rising, young-for-the-class prep arm out of the Atlanta region in 2018 who the Rays snatched up for about $750,000 late in the season. He could put up a show that was above par at times, but he was mainly a clumsy amateur. As a 20-year-old, he dominated both levels of A-ball, assisted by his now-plus fastball/slider mix. His physical abilities, command, and mound presence are all above average to the point that he now seems to be better than all of the college arms in the 2022 draft (his age group), and he’ll pitch in Double-A this spring.
96. Baltimore Orioles SS Gunnar Henderson
20 years old | Bats left | Throws right Type: Power/patience tweener at shortstop and third base.
Henderson was a second-tier prep hitter in the 2019 draft, and he fell a bit farther than projected to No. 42 overall due to concerns about his ability to make consistent contact and play shortstop in the long run. Those are still open issues, but they are more about the specifics of his scouting report than major worries.
Although his strikeout rates were high last year, he went to Double-A as a 20-year-old and hit 17 homers with a double-digit walk rate, so I believe he’ll shift over to third base and be at least above average there. A quality daily player at the hot corner with a lefty stick with a 45 bat, 55 power, a solid average walk rate, and above-average defense. To give credibility to that consequence, he’s on a fast-paced schedule.
97. Seattle Mariners’ Harry Ford, C
18 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: A catcher who may move if he is hit over the defense.
Ford was the No. 12 overall choice in last summer’s draft, coming out of a high school in the Atlanta region. He has above-average raw power, pitch selection, and speed, as well as strong contact skills. His swing, particularly his setup, has evolved over the past year or so and will almost certainly need some fine-tuning. He’s incredibly adaptable and should be good behind the plate, but third base or the outfield could be a better fit if the bat progresses as rapidly as it can. After 19 pro games, it’s still early, but this kind (showcase performance with good offensive qualities and defensive value) has shown to be a profitable one to gamble on, so with a strong spring, he might climb towards the center of this list by midseason.
98. Baltimore Orioles 3B Coby Mayo
20 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Power-hitting third baseman with a long lean.
Mayo had a new setup to his swing every time I saw him on the showcase tour, and at 6-foot-5, his arms were long enough that he needed plus athletic ability and great swing mechanics to make it work. This kind of athlete attends college and has a 50/50 chance of figuring it out. The pandemic cut short his draft spring in South Florida, and he was reduced to asking for seven figures in the latter stages of the draft, hoping that a club would see his potential. Mayo received $1.75 million in the fourth round when the Orioles made a trade with the second overall selection and distributed the savings among. Mayo was signed by the Orioles and hit 9 home runs in 53 professional games, the bulk of which he played in low-A and as a 19-year-old. He had a good contact rate, an above-average walk rate, and improved defensively because to his 70-grade arm. Mayo, like teammate and another top 100 prospect Gunnar Henderson, would have gone in the top 50 choices if there had been a complete draft spring, but they’ve landed in around the same area nonetheless.
Johan Rojas, CF for the Philadelphia Phillies, is 99 years old.
21 years old | Right-handed batter | Right-handed thrower Type: Offensively turning the bend for a dynamic toolshed
Rojas may have the most astounding physical tool ratings in the minors: a 70 runner, 70 center field defender, 60 arm, projected for 55 to 60 raw power, plus bat speed, and average contact skills. The defensive instincts and a great 17-game performance at high-A while only 20 years old provide these skills considerable game playability.
To get to his raw power, Rojas has to cut down on his pursuit out of the zone and elevate the ball more in games. He’s already made strides in this area, and 2022 will be a pivotal year in determining whether he’ll continue on the fast track to the big leagues or be a slower-burning defensive specialist with intriguing promise. This skill set is extremely comparable to Cristian Pache’s (now 23), who has yet to turn the corner offensively. Odds are one of them will figure it out at the plate, and I’m leaning on Rojas right now.
Elly De La Cruz, SS, Cincinnati Reds, No. 100
Age: 20 | Batting Style: Switch | Throwing Style: Right Type: A toolshed with a stumbling block.
De La Cruz’s appraisal is so perplexing that the person on this list who is most likely to be dubbed “unique” is perhaps his greatest analogy: Oneil Cruz. Oneil is a 6-foot-7 left-handed “shortstop” with Aaron Judge-esque raw power: he sounds like a legend. Cruz, who is No. 13 on our list and has previously played in the major leagues, is a one-of-a-kind player who has been well-known for years. De La Cruz is the newest kid on the block, a tall 6-5 switch-hitter who just turned 20. He’s also a shortstop, but he’s still young enough that he may remain there.
Now let’s look at the tools: De La Cruz scores a 60 or 70 in raw power, speed, and arm strength (and a 70 in all three for some), making him a winner in any NFL-style baseball combine test. The only reason he’s at the bottom of this ranking is because he swings much too much right now, to the point where you’d need tools and a physique like his to even go close to the top with his present approach. Next season, he’ll either be in the top 25 on this list and a name that every fantasy drafter wants to select in the minor league phase of their draft, or I’ll shrug and explain why he’s 25th on the Reds club list.
The “kiley mcdaniel top 100” is a list of the top 100 MLB prospects for 2022.
- mlb top minor league prospects 2021
- top 150 mlb prospects 2021
- 2021 international mlb prospects
- top 100 mlb prospects by year
- best pitching prospects 2021