2022 Top 100 Prospects

Below is our list of the top 100 prospects in baseball. The scouting summaries were compiled with information provided by available data and industry sources, as well as from our own observations. This is the second year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers.

And now, a few important things to keep in mind as you’re perusing the Top 100. You’ll note that prospects are ranked by number but also lie within tiers demarcated by their Future Value grades. The FV grade is more important than the ordinal ranking. For example, the gap between Julio Rodríguez (No. 4) and Triston Casas (No. 16) is 12 spots, and there’s a substantial difference in talent between them. The gap between Mark Vientos (No. 64) and Patrick Bailey (No. 76), meanwhile, is also 12 numerical places, but the difference in talent is relatively small. You may have noticed that there are more than 100 prospects in the table below, and more than 100 scouting summaries. That’s because we have also included 50 FV prospects whose ranking fell outside the 100. Their reports appear below, under the “Other 50 FV Prospects” header. The same comparative principle applies to them.

You’ll also notice that there is a Future Value outcome distribution graph for each prospect on the list. This is an attempt to graphically represent how likely each FV outcome is for each prospect. Before his departure for ESPN, Kiley McDaniel used the great work of our former colleague Craig Edwards to find the base rates for each FV tier of prospect (separately for hitters and pitchers), and the likelihood of each FV outcome. For example, based on Craig’s research, the average 60 FV hitter on a list becomes a perennial 5-plus WAR player over his six controlled years 26% of the time, and has a 27% chance of accumulating, at most, a couple of WAR during his six controlled years. We started with those base rates for every player on this year’s list and then manually tweaked them depending on our more specific opinions about the player. For instance, Elly De La Cruz and Steven Kwan are both 50 FV prospects, but they are nothing alike. De La Cruz could be a switch-hitting shortstop with plus-plus power or he might turn into Seuly Matias. Meanwhile, Kwan has performed through the upper minors and is almost certain to contribute to a big league team, but doesn’t have nearly the same power potential or high-end ceiling De La Cruz does. Our hope is that the distribution graphs reflect these kinds of differences.

This year’s crop of prospects is a little bit down in the 60 and 55 FV tiers. Typically, the 55 FV tier runs to about the 50th overall prospect on the Top 100 (which again isn’t really a Top 100, so much as a ranking of all the 50 FV and above prospects, but that title is an SEO nightmare), but this year’s group only extends through No. 32. This might be due to random variation in the prospect population, or have to do with the lost year of development in 2020 or the new rules surrounding rookie eligibility, which caused several players to graduate off our lists more quickly than in the past. Jose Barrero and Keibert Ruiz, for example, would have been eligible under the older roster rules. Those guys can be found on The Board’s Graduates section. Or perhaps our evaluations are just wrong.

For a further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, please read this and this. If you would like to read a book-length treatment on the subject, one is available here.

2022 Top 100 Prospects
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Adley Rutschman BAL 24.0 AAA C 2022 70
2 Bobby Witt Jr. KCR 21.7 AAA SS 2022 65
3 Grayson Rodriguez BAL 22.3 AA SP 2023 65
4 Julio Rodríguez SEA 21.2 AA RF 2022 65
5 Spencer Torkelson DET 22.5 AAA 1B 2022 60
6 Riley Greene DET 21.4 AAA RF 2022 60
7 Francisco Álvarez NYM 20.3 A+ C 2023 60
8 Oneil Cruz PIT 23.4 MLB SS 2022 60
9 Josh Jung TEX 24.0 AAA 3B 2022 60
10 Gabriel Moreno TOR 22.0 AAA C 2022 60
11 Shane Baz TBR 22.7 MLB SP 2022 60
12 Anthony Volpe NYY 20.8 A+ SS 2024 60
13 Noelvi Marte SEA 20.4 A+ SS 2023 60
14 Corbin Carroll ARI 21.5 A+ CF 2023 60
15 CJ Abrams SDP 21.4 AA 2B 2023 60
16 Triston Casas BOS 22.1 AAA 1B 2023 55
17 Jordan Walker STL 19.8 A+ 3B 2025 55
18 Marco Luciano SFG 20.4 A+ SS 2023 55
19 Marcelo Mayer BOS 18.6 R SS 2025 55
20 Mick Abel PHI 20.5 A SP 2024 55
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
21 MJ Melendez KCR 23.2 AAA C 2022 55
22 Henry Davis PIT 22.4 A+ C 2024 55
23 Alek Thomas ARI 21.8 AAA LF 2022 55
24 Jack Leiter TEX 21.2 R SP 2023 55
25 Brennen Davis CHC 22.3 AAA RF 2023 55
26 Luis Campusano SDP 23.4 MLB C 2022 55
27 D.L. Hall BAL 23.4 AA SP 2022 55
28 George Kirby SEA 24.0 AA SP 2022 55
29 Nick Yorke BOS 19.9 A+ 2B 2025 55
30 Jeremy Peña HOU 24.4 AAA SS 2022 55
31 Hunter Greene CIN 22.5 AAA SP 2022 55
32 Orelvis Martinez TOR 20.3 A+ 3B 2023 55
33 Jackson Jobe DET 18.9 R SP 2026 50
34 Bryson Stott PHI 24.4 AAA SS 2023 50
35 Luis Matos SFG 20.1 A CF 2024 50
36 Tyler Soderstrom OAK 20.2 A 1B 2025 50
37 Diego Cartaya LAD 20.5 A C 2023 50
38 Kyle Harrison SFG 20.5 A SP 2025 50
39 Oswald Peraza NYY 21.7 AAA SS 2022 50
40 Colton Cowser BAL 21.9 A CF 2024 50
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
41 Roansy Contreras PIT 22.3 MLB SP 2022 50
42 Reid Detmers LAA 22.6 MLB SP 2022 50
43 Brayan Rocchio CLE 21.1 AA SS 2022 50
44 Ronny Mauricio NYM 20.9 AA SS 2023 50
45 Josh Lowe TBR 24.1 MLB CF 2022 50
46 Aaron Ashby MIL 23.7 MLB MIRP 2022 50
47 Nick Pratto KCR 23.4 AAA 1B 2022 50
48 Curtis Mead TBR 21.3 AAA LF 2023 50
49 Kahlil Watson MIA 18.2 R SS 2026 50
50 Robert Hassell III SDP 20.5 A+ CF 2023 50
51 Nick Lodolo CIN 24.1 AAA SP 2022 50
52 Cole Winn TEX 22.2 AAA SP 2023 50
53 Nolan Gorman STL 21.8 AAA 3B 2022 50
54 Daniel Espino CLE 21.1 A+ SP 2022 50
55 Vidal Bruján TBR 24.0 MLB 2B 2022 50
56 Austin Martin MIN 22.9 AA CF 2022 50
57 Steven Kwan CLE 24.5 AAA CF 2022 50
58 Max Meyer MIA 22.9 AAA SP 2022 50
59 Elly De La Cruz CIN 20.1 A SS 2024 50
60 Luis Medina NYY 22.8 AA MIRP 2022 50
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
61 Brandon Williamson SEA 23.9 AA MIRP 2023 50
62 Royce Lewis MIN 22.7 AA SS 2022 50
63 Brett Baty NYM 22.3 AA 3B 2023 50
64 Mark Vientos NYM 22.2 AAA 3B 2022 50
65 Matthew Liberatore STL 22.3 AAA SP 2022 50
66 Gunnar Henderson BAL 20.7 AA 3B 2024 50
67 Eury Perez MIA 18.9 A+ SP 2025 50
68 Ezequiel Duran TEX 22.8 A+ 3B 2023 50
69 Coby Mayo BAL 20.2 A RF 2025 50
70 Shea Langeliers ATL 24.3 AAA C 2022 50
71 Zac Veen COL 20.2 A RF 2025 50
72 Cristian Pache ATL 23.3 MLB CF 2022 50
73 Jasson Dominguez NYY 19.0 A CF 2025 50
74 Cade Cavalli WSN 23.5 AAA SP 2023 50
75 Iván Herrera STL 21.7 AAA C 2023 50
76 Patrick Bailey SFG 22.7 A+ C 2023 50
77 Greg Jones TBR 24.0 AA CF 2023 50
78 Joey Wiemer MIL 23.0 A+ RF 2024 50
79 Michael Busch LAD 24.3 AA 2B 2022 50
80 Sixto Sánchez MIA 23.6 MLB SP 2022 50
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
81 Jordan Lawlar ARI 19.0 R SS 2025 50
82 Cole Henry WSN 22.6 A+ SIRP 2022 50
83 Geraldo Perdomo ARI 22.3 MLB SS 2022 50
84 Owen White TEX 22.5 A SP 2023 50
85 Jose Miranda MIN 23.7 AAA 2B 2022 50
86 Andy Pages LAD 21.2 A+ CF 2023 50
87 Kevin Alcantara CHC 19.6 R CF 2024 50
88 Josh Winder MIN 25.4 AAA SP 2022 50
89 Josh H. Smith TEX 24.5 AA 2B 2023 50
90 Liover Peguero PIT 21.1 A+ SS 2023 50
91 Jordan Balazovic MIN 23.4 AA SP 2022 50
92 Gabriel Arias CLE 22.0 AAA SS 2022 50
93 Alexander Vargas NYY 20.3 R SS 2023 50
94 Bobby Miller LAD 22.9 AA SP 2022 50
95 Hunter Brown HOU 23.5 AAA SP 2023 50
96 Seth Johnson TBR 23.4 A SP 2023 50
97 Korey Lee HOU 23.6 AAA C 2023 50
98 Brady House WSN 18.1 R 3B 2026 50
99 Heliot Ramos SFG 22.5 AAA RF 2022 50
100 Asa Lacy KCR 22.7 A+ SIRP 2022 50
Rk Name Team Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
101 Nolan Jones CLE 23.8 AAA LF 2022 50
102 Quinn Priester PIT 21.4 A+ SP 2024 50
103 George Valera CLE 21.3 AA RF 2022 50
104 Owen Caissie CHC 19.6 A LF 2025 50
105 Nick Gonzales PIT 22.7 A+ 2B 2023 50
106 James Triantos CHC 18.5 R 2B 2026 50
107 Edward Cabrera MIA 23.9 MLB SP 2022 50
108 Dillon Dingler DET 23.4 AA C 2023 50
109 Tyler Freeman CLE 22.8 AA 2B 2022 50
110 Xavier Edwards TBR 22.5 AA 2B 2023 50
111 Vinnie Pasquantino KCR 24.4 AA 1B 2023 50
112 Heriberto Hernandez TBR 22.2 A LF 2023 50
113 Joey Bart SFG 25.2 MLB C 2022 50
114 Reginald Preciado CHC 18.8 R 3B 2025 50
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70 FV Prospects

1. Adley Rutschman, C, BAL

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Oregon State (BAL)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr S / R FV 70
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 60/60 45/55 40/30 60/70 60

A superlative defender at a premium position, Rutschman is also a fairly polished switch-hitter with power, as well as being an intense, charismatic team leader.

Rutschman is a complete, franchise-altering prospect, and one of the most exciting young players in the entire sport. He’s a switch-hitter with a hit/power combination that would probably make him an All-Star anywhere on the diamond, while also being a plus defender at the most demanding position in baseball, and an intense, vocal, charismatic leader. His track record of superlative statistical performance and unanimous scout adoration has continued uninterrupted for nearly half a decade now, and in our eyes, he is in a tier of his own as the best prospect in baseball.

From the fall after his freshman season onward, Rutschman went wire-to-wire as the consensus top prospect in the 2019 draft. He ended up slashing .353/.473/.559 throughout his career at Oregon State, where he also briefly kicked for the football team, and stood apart from the other members of Collegiate Team USA. To nobody’s surprise, he was drafted first overall in 2019 and signed for an $8.1 million bonus. Because of the pandemic, 2021 was Rutschman’s first full pro season. The Orioles sent him straight to Double-A Bowie, where he slashed .271/.392/.508 and earned a promotion to Triple-A Norfolk. Across the entire season, he hit .285/.397/.502, with nearly as many walks as strikeouts and 50 extra-base hits. In the middle of all that he went to the Futures Game, where his batting practice session was among the loudest and most impressive of the elite talents there. He’d switch sides of the plate mid-session and just start sending balls into the Coors Field seats without needing any swings to get comfortable from that side. Rutschman’s swing is absurdly athletic for a guy his size and even though it’s often an effortful cut, he barely ever whiffs, posting a 6.7% swinging strike rate in 2021, among the best in the minors. That mark would rank Rutschman 16th among qualified big leaguers in 2021, slightly better than Jose Altuve and Justin Turner in this particular statistical department.

Rutschman catches from a traditional squat but will sometimes fall to one knee as he’s receiving a pitch to improve its presentation to the umpire. He’s extremely strong and can frame pitches at the bottom of the strike zone without letting his target sag below it first, which lots of other catchers need to do to frame pitches there. His best pop times hover around 1.90 and are right on the bag, though Rutschman’s longer levers and big frame can sometimes mean a few extra tenths to get out of his crouch when he has to reach across his body to catch an errant pitch on steal attempts. His fiery on-field makeup is tailored to the situation. Sometimes, he calmly shepherds pitchers along; sometimes, he’s in full Brian Dawkins mode, lighting a fire under the team and the crowd.

Rutschman is a nearly-perfect prospect and inspired internal discussion about whether he deserved to be our second-ever 80 FV player. We decided against it largely due to the nature of the catcher position, which tends to reduce the number of games played and often comes with (sometimes long) fallow offensive stretches due to the physical toll catching takes. There’s also a little gap between Rutschman’s measured raw power and his visual report, and his barrel rates in 2021 were a little below the big league average. Adley makes a ton of contact but not always on the sweet spot of the ball, leading to what we anticipate will be all-fields doubles spray rather than elite home run totals. Still, he projects as a perennial All-Star and consistent MVP threat, the next decade’s best catcher in baseball.

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65 FV Prospects

2. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, KCR

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Coleyville Heritage HS (TX) (KCR)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 65
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 60/70 50/60 60/60 40/50 50

A premium athlete with an ideal baseball build, Witt projects to stay at shortstop, hit 25 annual home runs, and be the cornerstone of Kansas City’s rebuild.

Witt’s development is occurring at a rate that would make Ocarina of Time speedrunners envious, as the Royals effectively skipped the prodigiously talented shortstop over both A-ball levels and sent him right to Double-A Northwest Arkansas to start 2021, his first full season of affiliated ball. Witt, who began the year as a 20-year-old, responded by hitting .290/.361/.576 across a season split evenly between Double- and Triple-A. He amassed 72 extra-base hits, 33 of them home runs, in just 123 games and swiped 29 bases at a 73% success rate. The 33 dingers were good for fourth-most in all the minor leagues, trailing only Marlins prospect Griffin Conine (their dads were briefly teammates in 1995) and org-mates MJ Melendez and Nick Pratto.

Witt has had more than a half decade of uninterrupted excellence and he looked the part, both physically and fundamentally, among big leaguers during the 2020 summer camp and alternate site period, as well as during 2021 spring training. He was a known elite prospect as a high school underclassman thanks to his combination of physical gifts and poise, eventually going second overall behind Adley Rutschman in the 2019 draft. His hit tool was nitpicked leading up to that draft, which was natural considering that the mix after Rutschman was Witt and several premium hit tool guys in Andrew Vaughn, C.J. Abrams, and Riley Greene. Witt’s underlying data suggests there are still some nits to pick in this regard, as he has some issues swinging inside hard sliders on the outer edge, and his swinging strike rate (14.3%) was worse than average in 2021. But because he’s a viable defensive shortstop, has big raw power, and has shown that he’s going to get to that power in games, Witt need only have a 40-grade hit tool to be a star, and he looks like a lock to be at least a 3 annual WAR player even if that’s where things settle. He performed exceptionally well against velocity while with Omaha, slugging .800 against pitches 93 mph and above (albeit in just a 77-pitch sample), and is especially adept at turning on heaters up-and-in. He’s a 30-homer threat at a premium position, and generates consistent Trevor Story and Willy Adames comps because Witt’s frame resembles theirs more than it does those of the XL Tatis/Correa/Seager types. Witt became even more like Story late in 2021 when his throws to first lost some zip. It wasn’t so bad that Witt is at risk of moving off of short, but it’s something to keep an eye on at the start of 2022, since many of Witt’s other defensive traits (his range and hands) were already just okay, though his actions are great. The Royals’ player-friendly, good-faith approach to promotion means Witt might open the season on the big league roster, but the presence of Adalberto Mondesi and Nicky Lopez make it more likely Witt spends time at a couple of different infield positions rather than as the everyday shortstop, part of a deep infield group that can help keep Whit Merrifield‘s legs fresh. Witt played some second base during 2021 spring training and slid to third during Mondesi rehab outings in Omaha. There may be some period of adjustment as Witt gathers experience at other positions and faces big league sliders on the regular, but eventually, he’ll be a superstar shortstop and the face of the exciting, young Royals team.

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3. Grayson Rodriguez, SP, BAL

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Central Heights HS (TX) (BAL)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 65
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
70/70 70/70 60/60 70/80 60/60 40/50 96-98 / 100

Rodriguez remade his body as a high schooler and came into huge velocity, while Baltimore helped him develop a deep repertoire of plus or better pitches. He is in a tier of his own among the pitching prospects in the minors.

The 11th overall pick in 2018 out of a Texas high school, Rodriguez saw his stuff tick up immediately after turning pro. He experienced another jump during his time at the alternate site in 2020 before somehow finding another gear last season, turning in a dominant performance in the minors that saw him post nearly three times as many strikeouts as hits allowed. It’s hard to argue for anyone other than Rodriguez being the best pitching prospect in baseball, and no one can match his pure stuff in terms of both the depth and quality of his arsenal. His fastball now sits 96-98 mph and has scraped triple digits on multiple occasions, and he’s added a low-90s cutter that has come along quickly and already grades as plus. As good as the velocity and movement on his fastball are, his secondary offerings are even better, as his two power breaking balls have both earned 70 grades from some scouts thanks to the big sweep and bite on his low 80s slider and the hard downward action on a curveball with similar velocity. His low-80s change gives him a fifth plus or better option and features big velocity separation to go along with plenty of fading action. He has a starter’s frame and has cleaned up many of the flaws in his delivery, with an awkward finish that ends with him nearly turned away from hitters the only nit to pick. Those changes keyed a transformation from a pitcher with a control-over-command reputation to one who can better locate all of his pitches in the zone. It sounds almost too good to be true, but there’s very little not to love in terms of Rodriguez’s present ability or future potential. Rodriguez will likely make his big league debut in 2022 and has the potential to be a No. 1 starter and Cy Young candidate.

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4. Julio Rodríguez, RF, SEA

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 65
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 60/70 55/70 60/50 50/55 60

A gregarious young slugger (unless you’re 60’6″ away from him), Rodríguez’s potent contact and power combination makes him the highest-ranked corner bat on this list.

Following a swing-happy 2020-21 LIDOM stint during which he showed some vulnerability to well-placed sliders, there were concerns about whether Rodríguez would be able to make the adjustments necessary to correct his approach without slowing his inevitable progress toward the big leagues. But his 2021 minor league performance was virtually unimpeachable. In 28 games at Low-A, he slashed .325/.410/.581, while striking out 21.6% of the time and walking at a 10.4% clip. Upon his promotion to Double-A, he improved in almost every category, recording fewer strikeouts and more walks, slashing .363/.461/.546 over 46 games. On only two occasions did he go two or more consecutive games without recording a hit, and never more than three.

Rodriguez spent time away from affiliated ball representing the Dominican Republic as part of the Summer Olympic Games, first in June for the qualifiers, then later in the summer for the Games themselves. That he was able to hit among these stops, starts, and long bits of travel was impressive. Seeing Rodríguez in the Olympic context (against an elite NPB arm one day and someone closer to his age from Korea the next) made his imposing physical presence more evident than in upper-level affiliated ball. Julio had clearly leaned down compared to his 2019 physique, when he was a 40 runner. This, plus alterations to his swing that have him exiting the box in a flash, aided his 2021 run times. When he returned stateside, he picked up where he left off, posting a 1.047 OPS and a 185 wRC+, and walking nearly as often as he struck out (13.8% and 15.2% respectively) over the last five weeks of the season as one of the youngest players across all of Double-A. That he was able to be so selective at the plate while still making contact and hitting for power was not only impressive, but is exceedingly rare for a slugger of Rodríguez’s ilk.

In past reports, Eric noted some front-foot variability on Rodríguez’s part, which spoke to his ability to adjust to pitches throughout the zone. Before the 2021 season, it seemed like that variability was absent from his footwork in the box. But if you watch the last three home runs he hit at Double-A, while the timing of his leg kick is uniform – reaching its apex as the pitcher draws his arm back and landing upon release – there’s some variation to his landing spot, which seemed like a deliberate calibration towards applying his power to all fields, sending the ball out to left, right, and center, respectively. Assuming he can stay healthy (he’s already had a couple of hand/wrist injuries in his professional career), he continues to track like a perennial All-Star and MVP contender, with the personality to carry a Face of the Franchise designation.

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60 FV Prospects

5. Spencer Torkelson, 1B, DET

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Arizona State (DET)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 70/70 55/70 30/30 40/40 40

Arguably the best college hitter in the last decade, Torkelson’s bat carries his profile entirely, but it has elite potential.

Torkelson was seen as one of the best offensive prospects in all of baseball before he even turned pro, as his production and underlying metrics at Arizona State broke some draft models. The first overall pick in the 2020 draft, Torkelson might not have had the breakout statistical performance some anticipated in his pro debut, but that speaks more to lofty expectations than actual results, as he reached Triple-A and showed he is nearly big-league ready after just 121 games of minor league experience. Torkelson has the potential to be an impact bat who hits in the three- or four-hole for a championship-level lineup. His raw power is near or at the top of the scale, but he’s also a sound hitter with a compact swing and feel for barrel control, with some scouts projecting a future plus hit tool once his closes up some holes at the bottom of the zone. His swing decisions are near-flawless, but he can get passive at times, waiting for the perfect pitch while laying off ones he has proven he can drive. While he never manned the hot corner in college, the Tigers dabbled with him there during the season, but the results failed to impress; he’s a low-twitch player with an average at best arm who is no more than a fringy defender at first base. Torkelson’s bat is his ticket to the big leagues, and it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t think he’ll be a terrifying presence in the box for years to come and a strong candidate for 2022 Rookie of the Year honors.

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6. Riley Greene, RF, DET

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Hagerty HS (FL) (DET)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 55/60 45/60 40/40 40/50 45

Greene’s swing is somehow lovely and ferocious at the same time. His odd gait belies his athleticism, which is most evident (and important) in the batter’s box, where he is a heart-of-the-order prodigy.

Greene has done nothing but rake since early in high school, and now he’s done so all the way up through Triple-A, a level he reached weeks shy of his 21st birthday. Greene was sent to Double-A to start 2021 with just 24 games of full-season pro baseball under his belt, coming off a year spent facing alternate site pitching over and over again. He responded by hitting a combined .301/.387/.534 across the two levels. That kind of performance is astounding, and bolsters long-standing industry resolve that Greene has special hitting talent. His swing has a controlled ferocity (Greene has remarkable lower half flexibility) that creates all-fields spray, and comes with enough raw juice to put balls out toward either gap. His strikeout rate has been a little higher than is typical for someone with such a sterling on-paper track record, and he swung and missed at more in-zone breaking balls while he was with Toledo than we would have guessed. But again, Greene was only 20 and at Triple-A. His amateur prominence allowed him to show off the way he thinks about hitting, which we consider reason enough to expect he’ll make adjustments if he ever has to. While unathletic in some ways (we have him projected to an outfield corner), Greene is a fish in water where it matters most: in the batter’s box. We think he’ll hit enough to be a multi-time All-Star.

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Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (NYM)
Age 20.3 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 233 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 70/70 45/60 45/30 45/55 55

Built like an SEC fullback, the curvaceous Álvarez has explosive pull-side power and a good shot to stay behind the plate, which gives him a cathedral ceiling.

Álvarez has been one of the more hyped prospects in the Mets system since signing out of Venezuela in 2018 for nearly $3 million, and he’s largely lived up to that hype. Considered too advanced for the team’s Dominican complex, he made his stateside pro debut in 2019 and followed that up by posting a .941 OPS across two A-ball levels in ’21 while still a teenager. Álvarez stands out for his offensive upside at a position that doesn’t offers much of it at the big league level. His swing decisions are mature beyond his years and his plus-plus raw power is already frequently seen in games. Álvarez begins in an open set up and then straightens out on swing initiation without taking a big step or needing a timing mechanism. His swing is designed for power; it has a bit of a loop and a steep plane to it, but his hand-eye coordination allows him to make enough contact to hit for a decent average.

Defensively, Álvarez is a bit of a mixed bag. He has plenty of arm strength, but it takes some time for him to get out of his crouch and his accuracy is below average, as he tends to deliver more two- than four-seamers towards the bag. He’s barrel-chested and quite bulky, and will need to maintain his conditioning to be able to block and receive adequately. Álvarez likes playing the position and wants to control the game on the field, so while the profile is that of an offense-first catcher, he’s unlikely to be a true liability back there and has more than enough stick to make up for his defensive deficiencies. Still just 20 years old, Álvarez will hit the upper minors in 2022 and could be ready for a full-time big league job by the following season.

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8. Oneil Cruz, SS, PIT

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (LAD)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 80/80 40/70 60/45 40/45 80

Perhaps not of this planet, the 6-foot-7 Cruz has somehow stayed alive at shortstop and grown into elite raw power. His approach and lever length create strikeout risk.

Our discussions about Pittsburgh’s top prospect boiled down to a simple question: If he’d been eligible, would Cruz have gone 1:1 in the 2021 draft? It’s a slightly banal rephrasing of “who ya got?” between Cruz and the player the Pirates actually selected, Henry Davis, but framing it this way also helps illustrate Cruz’s unique profile. Would a club really have spent the top pick of the draft on a 6-foot-7, 210-pound infielder? A player with a history of sub-70% contact rates? A guy who may or may not stick at shortstop? In this risk averse industry?

Hell yes, they would. Or at least they should, in our view, given Cruz’s jaw dropping blend of skills, tools, and upside. It’s very rare to find a player with 80 raw, a 70 arm, and plus wheels. Cruz brings all of that to the table while playing a passable shortstop, which is remarkable even without accounting for his size. About that stature: obviously it’s tough to be quick to the ball when your levers look like windmill blades. There is precedent for guys Cruz’s height being able to hit, though, and he’s significantly more athletic than Aaron Judge, Richie Sexson, and Nate Freiman. He’s an explosive player and his wrists are strong as hell. He can impact the ball all over the zone and he actually had a below league-average strikeout rate in Double-A as a 22-year-old. And as Mychal Givens can attest, you can get Cruz off balance with a well-placed offspeed pitch out of the zone, and he still might send it to the Allegheny. He’ll probably strikeout a fair amount due to an expansive approach, and we wouldn’t be shocked if he moves to a different position as he heads into his late 20s, but if everything clicks that won’t matter too much. Is there risk here? Yes. Cruz’s approach can be reckless and immature. If he slides down the defensive spectrum and that never improves, he’ll be on thin ice. He’s also one of the few players in the minors with a feasible chance to become an 80, or at least have some 80-grade seasons amid season-to-season variance in performance due to his swing decisions.

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9. Josh Jung, 3B, TEX

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Texas Tech (TEX)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 60/60 50/60 40/40 55/60 60

Jung made successful swing changes that enabled him to pull the bar more consistently in 2021, and he raced through the minors. The rest of his skill set was already in place, and he now projects as a three-win third baseman.

Jung was an elite college performer at Texas Tech — he posted a .348/.455/.577 line with more walks than strikeouts throughout his career — but didn’t hit for huge home run power there, in part because he tended to work the opposite field. Of the 71 extra-base hits Synergy Sports has on tape from Jung’s time at Tech, 51 are to center or right field. This cemented confidence in his feel to hit and also generated pre-draft conversations about whether there was a path for Jung to get to more power in games by pulling the ball more often, and whether that would hurt his ability to make contact.

To the naked eye, it looked like Jung had started to pull the ball more during 2020 instructional league, but it was difficult to assess the true impact of the change without a minor league season. Then his 2021 season got off to a delayed start because of a stress fracture in his left foot. He rehabbed during extended spring training, was unleashed on Double-A pitching during the middle of the summer — he hit .308/.366/.544 with 10 home runs in 43 games — missed some time while in the COVID protocol, then was promoted and went buck wild at Triple-A until the end of the season, hitting .348/.436/.652 with nine homers in 35 games. He is pulling the ball more, but not exclusively, a change that coincides with tweaks to where Jung’s hands load and the angle of his bat as he does. While elements of his swing can seem choppy and stiff, Jung is quite athletic and you can see the flexibility in his lower half as he bends to impact pitches toward the bottom of the zone. For a player his size, Jung’s levers and swing are actually pretty short. He posted an average swinging strike rate while using re-worked mechanics against upper-level pitching, this after a year away from normal baseball.

When Jung was an underclassman, there was some sentiment that he’d wind up at first base, but he’s an agile third base defender with terrific bend and quickness, average hands, and a snappy, plus arm. He’s especially adept at feeding the pivot man on 5-4-3 tries and projects as a plus third base defender. Jung’s game has no holes and he’s basically big-league ready were he healthy, but a shoulder injury sustained in the weight room prior to 2022 spring training might keep him on the shelf for the start of a second consecutive season in a row. Unless we learn that it will require surgery, it doesn’t alter our projection of Jung. He’s a cornerstone of the Rangers’ future and a budding star third baseman.

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10. Gabriel Moreno, C, TOR

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (TOR)
Age 22.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/60 50/50 40/45 50/50 45/50 50

The most athletic catcher to come along since J.T. Realmuto, Moreno’s 2021 power output was a bit of a caricature, but his bat-to-ball ability is real and spectacular.

As much as any prospect could break out during the dark 2020 minor league season, Moreno broke out. He was fairly well-regarded coming out of 2019, then was seen on alternate site video, during instructs, and later in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he hit .373/.471/.508. The length of his year was as close as any catching prospect came to replicating a full season behind the dish in 2020, and there was already enough buzz at that point for us to include Moreno on last year’s Top 100. Then 2021 began and Moreno started on an epic tear, slugging .650 at Double-A New Hampshire before missing a couple of months with a fractured thumb. He ended up playing in just shy of 40 regular season games, then picked up reps during the Arizona Fall and Venezuelan Winter Leagues.

The visual evaluation of Moreno’s power does not support the idea that he can slug .500, his career mark. One could argue that’s because he was most widely seen coming off a hand injury that might dilute his power, but his batted ball data from before the injury also indicates his Double-A output was inflated. You can’t fake an 11% strikeout rate, though, which is Moreno’s career mark. While he’s an aggressive hitter who sometimes takes fundamentally unsound swings, he has 70-grade bat control and tends to find a way to poke, spray, and slash contact all over the field. He can square high-end velocity, and though his overall hit tool grade projects below his raw barrel control due to his flawed approach, there’s enough offense to make him an All-Star offensive performer at catcher. He also has rare speed for the position and has an overall skill set like that of a less-toolsy Jason Kendall. Defensively, Moreno catches on one knee until there are runners on or there are two strikes, then sets up in a very wide crouch as if he’s always preparing to block a breaking ball in the dirt. He’ll sometimes finish on one knee in an effort to frame a pitch on the edge, even if he didn’t start there. He popped in the 1.95-1.98 range during Fall League, a slightly above-average range of times for throws down to second base.

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11. Shane Baz, SP, TBR

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Concordia Lutheran HS (TX) (PIT)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 50/50 55/55 45/50 92-97 / 100

Baz, who has had dynamite stuff since high school, started pitching exclusively from the stretch and has found enough mechanical consistency to start.

Baz came into the 2021 season having never pitched above A-ball, but by the end of the year, his resume would include pitching before an empty Olympic ballpark, in a rowdy Yankee Stadium during a hotly-contested playoff chase, and on the postseason stage itself. The big story was Baz’s improved control. Coming into 2021, he had a career 23.9% strikeout rate and 11.6% walk rate, which he bolstered with extreme velocity, including occasionally hitting triple digits. His low-effort, repeatable delivery has been changed so that Baz is throwing from the stretch all the time.

Historically, Baz has presented two distinct versions of himself. The first is that of a starter who sits in the mid-90s with a four-pitch arsenal, the Baz that was present at the 2020 alternate site, where his lower velocity might be at least partially attributed to the less-competitive atmosphere. The other is that of a high-90s flamethrower with a more limited repertoire. In 2021, Baz combined the best of those profiles while in the minor leagues. He started the year at Double-A, where he struck out over 40% of the batters he faced against an absurd 1.6% walk rate – that’s just two batters in 32.2 innings. He was promoted in June and continued to dominate at Triple-A (with a brief hiatus to snag Olympic silver) before making his major league debut in September. He went five-plus innings in both of his first two big league starts, with his fastball velocity in the 96-98 mph range even into his later innings of work. But in his last start of the regular season against the Yankees, as well as his ALDS start against the Red Sox, he struggled to keep his pitch count down, unable to get big leaguers to chase with the same consistency he had against batters in the minors. He was also punished on several mistakes where he missed his location and left pitches over the heart of the plate. Still, no matter how hot the spotlight, Baz never seemed to sweat. That composure will be useful, even if he ultimately proves unable to more reliably miss bats multiple times through the order and ends up a high-leverage reliever.

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12. Anthony Volpe, SS, NYY

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Delbarton HS (NJ) (NYY)
Age 20.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 55/55 35/60 50/50 40/45 50

Volpe bulked up and found a swing that’s geared for extreme lift but doesn’t sacrifice a ton of contact. His arm may be too short for the left side of the infield.

The 30th overall pick in 2019, Volpe had a uninspiring professional debut but transformed himself during the lost pandemic season and returned in ’21 with one of the best performances in all of the minor leagues, slugging .604 across two levels and not missing a beat after earning a mid-season promotion from Low- to High-A. Working with a private instructor on a daily basis during the pandemic, Volpe completely re-engineered his swing, which is now exceptionally compact and uncomplicated, while also focusing on a bat path that leads to line drives and more balls in the air. He complemented that work with a training regimen that added 15-20 pounds of muscle without sacrificing anything in the way of athleticism.

Volpe has a solid approach and a potential plus bat with feel for contact and plenty of plate coverage. Despite the gaudy home runs totals, his power falls more in the plus category than being anything monstrous, though some evaluators think he could hit between .280 and .300 with 20-25 home runs a year if everything comes together. And while he stole 33 bases in 2021, he’s more of a solid runner than a burner; his totals do speak to his baseball instincts, however, which are well beyond his years in every aspect of his game. Volpe has also impressed defensively. He’s not a special fielder, and his arm is merely average, but he projects as good enough to stay at shortstop and reach the big leagues as an average defender at one of baseball’s hardest positions. He doesn’t turn 21 until the end of April, but Volpe should start the year at Double-A Somerset, and while a 2022 big league debut is unlikely, it’s not out of the question.

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13. Noelvi Marte, SS, SEA

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 55/70 35/60 60/55 40/50 60

Marte is a strapping young shortstop with gigantic power for someone his age, and he’s off to a great statistical start despite missing a key year of reps due to the pandemic.

2021 was many evaluators’ first stateside chance to see Marte face professional pitching, allowing them to better gauge his ability to bring his power to a minor league setting. He refined the timing in his swing over the course of the season, with his leg kick and bat-wrap combining to allow him to send balls out to all fields. His batting line in his first full season of pro ball was promising: Marte slashed .273/.366/.459 with a walk rate above 11% and a 118 wRC+, to go along with 17 home runs and 24 stolen bases. Most of that came at Low-A, though he finished the season in High-A, where his strikeouts ticked up and his walks ticked down. Still, he only played eight games there – not enough to fully adjust to the more advanced pitching – and he hit enough during that time to make up for it, reaching base safely in all but one of those games.

Marte’s last home run of 2021 came in early August, which meant he ended his campaign with a 30-game homerless streak, his longest of the season by a factor of nearly three. It’s not enough of a power drought to make us worry about Marte’s pop (it’s definitely still there) and it may indicate a focus on contact over power at this stage in his development. Plus, Marte had a bit of a slump in July and was able to get out of it, which speaks to a mental maturity beyond his years. There’s still a chance he ends up moving off of shortstop as he continues to grow (lest we forget, he didn’t turn 20 until the offseason). He played all his games at short in 2021 and committed 30 errors there (more than any other shortstop in the Top 100), lending credence to those who believe he’ll eventually find a new defensive home.

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14. Corbin Carroll, CF, ARI

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Lakeside HS (WA) (ARI)
Age 21.5 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/70 45/50 30/50 70/70 50/60 55

A baseball rat who plays with all-out effort, Carroll was off to a white-hot start before a shoulder injury ended his 2021 season.

Carroll’s 2020 Instructional League and ’21 spring performance continued to fortify the notion that he is among the most skilled and advanced youngsters in all of the minor leagues, a dangerous, prototypical leadoff hitter. But just seven games into his 2021 regular season, he sustained a posterior capsular avulsion fracture (this is when a small part of one’s shoulder tears away from the bone, often taking a piece of the bone with it) and a labrum tear during a swing on which he homered. He spent most of the rest of the year in Arizona, often sitting in the scout section for big league games, where he was seen wearing a brace/sling for many weeks after his surgery. Though his injury occurred in a similar manner (trauma resulting from Carroll being more explosive than his shoulder could handle), it isn’t the same as Fernando Tatis Jr.‘s shoulder subluxation, from which Tatis was able to return quickly and remain productive. Because it’s not a common injury and thus isn’t one with which the industry has a long history of treatment experience, there’s risk that Carroll’s shoulder woes have a lasting impact on some part of his skill set.

But as a talent, Carroll is relatively safe, a blend of physical gifts and heady baseball acumen. His at-bats have a big league veteran quality, and while he’s not likely to hit for significant over-the-fence power (mostly due to his approach rather than a lack of strength), Carroll whistles balls into the gaps and down both baselines, then kicks it into top gear very quickly and punishes outfielders slow to corral the ball by turning their lackadaisical fielding into extra bases. So exceptional is Carroll’s hand-eye coordination and barrel accuracy, especially for his age, that he now has among the best hit tool projections in the minors. It’s a skillset very similar to Brett Gardner‘s, except Carroll can play center field. There are players this age with a higher ceiling because of their potential power production, but Carroll is a very high-floor prospect who we expect will produce at an All-Star level for much of his career assuming a return to full strength.

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15. CJ Abrams, 2B, SDP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Blessed Trinity HS (GA) (SDP)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/70 45/55 30/50 80/80 35/45 50

Injuries plagued Abrams in 2021, but he has an old school leadoff hitter’s skill set (plus bat and speed) and a chance to grow into meaningful power as he matures.

Like the Royals, the gun-slingin’ Padres tend to push their prospects up the minor league ladder more quickly than other teams. They sent the electrifying Abrams to Double-A San Antonio at the start of 2021 after the 20-year-old had barely played full-season ball in 2019, his draft year. Abrams responded by hitting .296/.363/.420 during two healthy months with the Missions. Then he fractured his left leg and sprained his MCL in an infield collision with Eguy Rosario in late June, ending his year. There was hope that Abrams would recover in time for a Fall League assignment, but he only played during a narrow instructs window and suffered another injury, this time a bruised shoulder.

The catalytic qualities that make Abrams an exciting young leadoff hitter were evident while he was healthy, though. Still a hit-over-power prospect by a comfortable margin, Abrams has started to fill out without losing any of his impact speed, though there’s certainly bigger error bars around that tool coming off the injury. Abrams’ swing is geared to lift pitches down-and-in. He can flatten his path and get to pitches in other parts of the zone, but tends to spray those pitches the other way. As he continues to fill out and gets stronger, he might be able to put balls out to left and do a ton of damage in the opposite field gap. The way Abrams’ bat traverses the zone and the way his head kicks back like the butt of a shotgun when he really lays into a ball are both evocative of Kenny Lofton, and Abrams also turns a fair number of bunts and infield choppers into base hits, à la the should-be-HoFer.

Over the last decade or so, speedy infield prospects on the middle infield/center field line due to poor arm strength or arm utility (Billy Hamilton, Roman Quinn) have trended to the outfield. To this point, Abrams has only played shortstop and second base, and he looked better on the infield during our last extended look at him. Importantly, wherever Abrams settles will likely be in the middle of the diamond. He has advanced feel for contact with a chance to grow into meaningful power, and Abrams has performed at a well-above-average clip for his age even though that thump hasn’t arrived yet.

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55 FV Prospects

16. Triston Casas, 1B, BOS

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from American Heritage HS (FL) (BOS)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 252 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 60/60 50/60 30/20 40/45 55

Casas hits with his eyes as much as his hands. His plate discipline, breaking ball recognition, and feel for all-fields contact are all excellent complements to his above-average raw power. He’s Boston’s first baseman of the future.

In September of 2020, Casas, after being drilled by a Tanner Houck pitch during a simulated game at the alternate site, declined to take first base and instead proceeded to launch a no-doubt moonshot out of the park. It’s only natural to assume that Casas’ career will be speckled with folktales like this for as long as he’s on the diamond. Built like Paul Bunyan, the long-levered, 6-foot-5 lefty is an undeniable presence in the box. He chokes up on his bat with an upright stance followed by an exaggerated step toward the pitcher early in the count, but he adjusts with two strikes, seemingly taking up every inch of the batter’s box with a wide, stride-free stance geared toward more contact. The result is a power-forward profile enhanced by a mature feel for the strike zone. In 2021, Casas spent time at Double- and Triple-A, as well as the Tokyo Olympics, where he led Team USA in home runs and RBI. His combined for a .279/.394/.484 slashline at the two minor league levels, with a 15.4% walk rate against just a 19.1% strikeout rate (he walked as often as he struck out in his nine Triple-A games). He’s too big to play anywhere but first, but he’s a good defensive fit there.

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17. Jordan Walker, 3B, STL

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Decatur HS (GA) (STL)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 60/80 25/70 40/30 30/50 55

Walker’s swing is pretty simple for someone his size. He has immense present power and projects to add more at maturity.

Walker was one of the most talked about prospects during the first month of the 2021 minor league season thanks to a 1.162 OPS in his first 27 games at Low-A Palm Beach. He slowed down a bit after a quick promotion to High-A Peoria, but continued to show the potential to develop into a terrifying middle-of-the-order presence. Any discussion of Walker begins with his exit velocities, which are nearly unheard of for a player this young. He has a simple, well-leveraged swing that takes advantage of his strength, and the long levers that come with his 6-foot-5, 220 pound frame produce jaw-dropping home runs when he really squares one up. His approach is solid, though there are some issues chasing breaking balls. But he’s not a pure power goof, as his contact rate, while not exactly good, is still better than you’d expect from a teenage slugging machine. There are big questions about where Walker’s eventual defensive home will be. He has the tools and athleticism to play third base, but his hands and footwork are both poor and he frequently boots routine groundballs. He’ll get plenty of time to figure things out at the hot corner, but if the bat develops faster than the glove, or if he simply gets too big, a slide to first base or left field could be in his future. Still, if you’re looking for the prospect most likely to hit 40 home runs down the line, this is your player.

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18. Marco Luciano, SS, SFG

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (SFG)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 60/70 30/60 50/45 30/40 50

Luciano has elite bat speed and the offensive ability to profile anywhere on the diamond, which is good since he’s trending off of shortstop.

After adding nearly 30 pounds of muscle since his last minor league season, 2021 was our first glimpse of Luciano’s new square-shouldered frame in action. His explosive bat speed is still remarkable, perhaps even more so than in 2019, with his added strength supplying even more power potential to his natural upper-cut swing. He put that power on front street at Low-A, hitting 18 home runs and 14 doubles for a 138 wRC+ over his 70 games there. His walk rate stayed in the double-digits and while his strikeout rate was inflated compared to his previous seasons, it was still of little concern given the way he was hitting. But upon his promotion to Eugene, where he became the youngest player in High-A West, Luciano struggled to adapt to the more advanced pitching, particularly breaking balls away. He’s never been particularly strikeout-prone, but in his first five High-A games, he fanned 13 times in 23 plate appearances without recording a walk. Meanwhile, his arm accuracy has not improved enough for him to project as a long-term shortstop. His likely relocation from a premium up-the-middle position, combined with his High-A growing pains, is enough to keep him from being considered baseball’s best prospect — an honorific that, had both of those factors broken more in his favor, seemed possible as of last year’s report — but his bat still provides more than enough potential to project him as a future major league All-Star.

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19. Marcelo Mayer, SS, BOS

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Eastlake HS (CA) (BOS)
Age 18.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 45/55 20/55 40/40 40/50 60

Mayer is a slick shortstop defender with a broad-shouldered, projectable frame, and a solid feel-to-hit foundation on which to layer strength and power. He has All-Star ceiling.

While there wasn’t an overwhelming consensus around who the top player in the 2021 draft was, if you polled all of the decision-makers, Mayer would have at least won that tally. With the top of the draft often defined by bonus demands as much as talent, Mayer dropped to fourth overall, and the Red Sox were happy to scoop him up and sign him to a higher dollar amount than first overall pick Henry Davis. Mayer checks a tremendous number of boxes. He has a big, projectable frame, a mature approach, and a downright pretty left-handed stroke that combines power with a good feel for contact. Evaluators looking to nitpick Mayer’s game point out fringy home-to-first times and an awkward running gait. A knee-jerk reaction to those nits might lead you to question his ability to stay at shortstop, but he quickly sets aside those concerns once he takes the field, as his instincts, first-step quickness and strong arm make up for the lack of twitch. Prospects who combine up-the-middle defensive prowess with a chance to hit in the middle of the order are rare, and while Mayer comes with all of the usual risks associated with players still in their teens, the upside here is impossible to ignore.

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20. Mick Abel, SP, PHI

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Jesuit HS (OR) (PHI)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/65 55/70 45/55 35/55 93-96 / 99

Abel is a prototypical power pitching prospect with huge arm strength, a plus breaking ball, and the frame to not only hold his velo all year but to perhaps keep throwing harder and harder until he’s a No.1 or 2 starter.

Abel has been the best pitching prospect his age since his sophomore year of high school, and he’s continued to track like an impact starter early on as a pro. He has the prototypical starter’s frame at a broad-shouldered 6-foot-6, already throws hard, and should be able to at least hold that kind of velocity for entire big league seasons thanks to his looseness and flexibility, and perhaps add to it as his frame fills out. Abel was already sitting in the 90-94 mph range as a sophomore, then climbed into the 93-96 mph range and has stayed there for all but the dog days of his pre-draft summer when he was clearly tired. His fastball averaged 95.4 mph during the 2021 season, a year in which his overall numbers, especially his strikeout and walk rates, should be viewed with a grain of salt as he was pitching in an experimental environment that made use of an automated strike zone (this applies to every player in Low-A Southeast in 2021). In addition to the big velocity, with which he tends to throw quality strikes, Abel has a strong natural proclivity for spinning his breaking stuff, and his low-to-mid-80s slurve is already an above-average pitch and could be a 70-grade shove machine at maturity. Abel will also flash a really good changeup once in a while; that pitch tends to be in the 86-89 mph range. We’re projecting heavily on Abel’s command in anticipation of him growing into his body and arm strength. If he can consistently execute his secondary stuff — his breaking ball is way ahead of his changeup in this regard — Abel will be a front-end arm.

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21. MJ Melendez, C, KCR

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Westminster Christian HS (FL) (KCR)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/45 60/60 50/55 45/40 45/50 60

Melendez has superlative raw power for a catcher and finally began to get to it in games after a successful swing change prior to 2021.

Melendez garnered attention multiple times in our Daily Prospect Notes in 2021, seeming to continually improve on his impressive numbers even as he moved up in the system. After being promoted to Triple-A, he walked 5% more of the time and struck out a bit less than he had in Double-A, all while slashing .293/.413/.620 and claiming the title of MiLB home run champ, the first catcher to do so since Todd Greene in 1995. It was no surprise when his campaign earned him a spot on the 40-man in his Rule 5 evaluation year. This was an incredible development for Melendez, who struck out in 40% of his plate appearances in 2019.

His new swing is devoid of an obvious uppercut, but his quick hands allow him to put enough strength behind it to send the ball out to all fields. It’s enabled Melendez to get to the raw power that made him so exciting as a high schooler. Having only previously played catcher in his professional career, Melendez saw time at third base at Triple-A, which could either hint at questions about his defense behind the plate or indicate that the Royals are looking for ways to get his bat into the lineup every day before Salvador Perez has vacated his role as their big league backstop.

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22. Henry Davis, C, PIT

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Louisville (PIT)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 70/70 35/70 40/40 20/40 70

Davis has huge, plus-plus raw power, and will be a star if he can stay behind the plate, or a solid everyday first baseman if he can’t.

Davis offers a rare blend of premium-position defensive utility and impact raw power without contact red flags. It’s both a safe and potentially impactful profile, which is why the Pirates made him the first pick of the 2021 draft. As we’ve talked about many times on the site, teams are not universally sold on his ability to catch, as his size makes it hard for him to crouch like most catchers, and he’s not able to get in a super-low position ideal for strike-stealing. He also has issues with lateral mobility, ball-blocking, and throwing accuracy. Those skills all need considerable polish, though the framing could become moot soon if the league adopts an automated strike zone, and Davis’ arm strength compensates somewhat for a lack of accuracy. If his receiving comes around at all, Davis has All-Star upside because he offers a lot more at the plate than most backstops. He has titanic, strength-driven power and has hit some epic, arching dingers off of scoreboards, as well as some lasers that get out on a line. According to Synergy Sports, Davis swung and missed just 63 times on film his junior year at Louisville, which is a 7.6% swinging strike rate, comfortably better than the big league average of 11.5%. There’s probably enough bat here to profile as a 1B/DH even if the Bucs decide he can’t catch, which is why Davis has a top-of-the-draft blend of ceiling and floor.

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23. Alek Thomas, LF, ARI

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Mount Carmel HS (IL) (ARI)
Age 21.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 50/55 40/55 60/60 45/60 40

The lilliputian Thomas has surprising power generated by his swing’s incredible rotational athleticism. He’s a do-everything type likely to move to left field when Corbin Carroll arrives.

While most players as old as Thomas were college juniors, he spent his age-21 season approaching the doorstep of the big leagues, slashing .313/.394/.559 with 59 extra-base hits split between Double- and Triple-A. Wielding one of the more athletic and dynamic swings in all the minors, Thomas’ cut is a lefty mirror image of Jose Altuve’s scissor kick, and he’s adept at varying the pace and direction of his stride depending on pitch type and location while the ball is mid-flight. The sheer effort and explosion in Thomas’ swing does lead to some swing-and-miss, especially against vertically-oriented fastball/curveball combinations, but his ability to make in-flight adjustments, his plate coverage, and the sheer quality of his contact lead to plus hit tool projection. That plus his speed (he routinely runs 4.1 seconds from home to first) makes him a candidate to lead off for the D-backs from some time in 2022 (though Thomas doesn’t technically have to be put on the 40-man until after this season) until whenever Corbin Carroll arrives. Defensively, Thomas is okay in center field but not great, and his arm strength pushes him to left field if/when the team can roster a better center field defender. His speed allows him to glide from gap to gap with ease, but Thomas looks much less comfortable going back on balls straight over his head. Were we to list him as a center fielder, his defense grades would be 45/50, but in left field we think his speed makes him a plus glove. The total package is that of an above-average regular and a foundational piece of Arizona’s future.

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24. Jack Leiter, SP, TEX

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Vanderbilt (TEX)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 55/55 40/55 35/55 93-97 / 99

Leiter is an athletic, pitchability righty whose stuff is above average.

He didn’t have the prototypical frame, but otherwise 2019 Leiter was a typical late-first round prep arm with plus on-mound athleticism and breaking ball feel. There were industry rumors about Leiter only wanting to eschew his Vanderbilt commitment if it meant signing with a couple of teams (believed to be some combination of the New York clubs and Philly), and he was going to be a draft-eligible sophomore in just a couple of years anyway, so he ended up in Nashville. Leiter was electric during his COVID-shortened freshman season, showing more arm strength than he had in high school. Due largely to confidence in his fastball’s playability relative to other college arms, he vaulted to the top of our draft board here at FanGraphs on the strength of his month-long true freshman season. Still, it was just four weeks with the new velo. Early in his draft-eligible sophomore spring, Leiter showed yet another velo bump and settled into the 94-97 mph range for most of 2021, a year that included a homer-prone stretch and a week off for rest and maintenance as the NCAA season approached postseason play, after which Leiter didn’t pitch at all the rest of the year.

Leiter is a modern power pitcher with feel for pitch execution that comes and goes. When he’s on, he blows his fastball past hitters in the zone because of the velo and carry on the pitch, some of which is aided by Leiter’s medium size and big stride down the mound. With that he pairs two breaking balls. The curveball, which lives in the upper-70s and has big vertical depth, is the more consistent of the two right now. It and his low-80s slider can sometimes run together, and the biggest piece of Leiter’s pro development will be either defining these two breakers more clearly (i.e. throwing a harder slider) or mastering his changeup, which sometimes flashes bat-missing action but which Leiter barely throws. This isn’t a Stephen Strasburg or David Price type of prospect, but Leiter’s overall profile is consistent with prospects who come off the board in the top five picks of a draft and he projects as a quick-moving mid-rotation starter.

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25. Brennen Davis, RF, CHC

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Basha HS (AZ) (CHC)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 45/60 60/55 45/55 60

Seen as a risky tools bet in the 2018 draft, Davis has quickly translated his athleticism into production. His ceiling is considerable.

Davis was the conference Defensive POY on Basha High’s 2016 state championship basketball team, and didn’t fully commit to baseball until his senior year of high school. Some area scouts thought he was so raw as a hitter, and that his stock had fallen enough due to a pre-draft hamstring issue, that he might be better off going to school at Miami, where a fresh set of area scouts would see him. The Cubs, however, took him in the second round, tweaked his swing, and Davis has never looked back, slashing a career .277/.383/.488 thus far while reaching Triple-A at age 21. Amateur scouts raved about Davis’ maturity as a student and a worker, often citing the odd hours he kept taking care of a goat and llamas at his family home, and all thought he’d be able to cope with any early-career contact struggles and work to improve his ability to hit. While Davis has had nothing but success so far, those struggles may finally be upon him. His surface-level numbers at Double-A were excellent, but he did strike out 30% of the time there, and deeper analysis of Davis’ in-zone points of contact reveal that he only hits pitches in a narrow band of the zone while he swings through them in many other areas.

This is despite Davis employing what looks like a pretty conservative, contact-oriented approach. He works back through the middle of the diamond and to the gaps, letting his natural strength drive what is currently in-game doubles power. He has more raw juice than he hits for in games because his approach prioritizes contact (we’ve seen him choke up on the bat for entire plate appearances) and he has to compromise elements of his swing to make contact with certain low pitches. It’s arguably exciting that he has seemingly innate feel to do this, and Davis shows other hitterish traits. He can tuck his hands in and still get a decent part of the bat on inside pitches and use his strength to shoot line drives over infielders, but he’s really only a threat to do damage right now when he’s getting extended on pitches on the outer third. Greater flexibility in Davis’ lower half may be an important piece of him actualizing in-game power by lifting pitches toward the bottom of the zone that he otherwise can’t if he stays upright. While Eric was skeptical of Davis’ ability to do this because he has a pretty tightly-wound lower half, he showed glimpses of doing so last year. There are star-level tools here, regardless of whether Davis ends up playing center field or a corner. We’ve hit the brakes on Davis’ FV a little bit, waiting to see adjustment to his upper-level issues with swing-and-miss before we slap a 60 on him, but obviously Davis has the aptitude to make those adjustments since he’s made several others already.

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26. Luis Campusano, C, SDP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Cross Creek HS (GA) (SDP)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 232 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 55/60 40/50 40/40 35/45 55

Built like a linebacker, Campusano’s combination of power and contact skill is rare, and while he’s no Molina brother, he’s good enough to stay behind the plate.

COVID-related chaos and injury led to premature big league time for Campusano in both 2020 (just one game) and ’21, when the catcher spent the first month of the season with the big club, effectively skipping Double- and Triple-A. He couldn’t make that leap and went just 3-for-38 before heading down to Triple-A El Paso for the rest of 2021. Still just 22 all year, Campy hit an encouraging .295/.365/.541 with 15 homers while with the Chihuahuas, good for a 122 wRC+ in a Triple-A league with lots of hitter-friendly parks. While he has more risk than is typical for a prospect who has performed to this level at Triple-A, Campusano has rare offensive ability for the catcher position and an All-Star ceiling if some of his ills are cured with continued adjustment in the big leagues.

The headline trait here is Campusano’s plus-plus bat speed, which enables him to hit some epic pull-side homers and gives him 25-homer potential. When he connects with a full-effort cut, he has the look of Willson Contreras, who has performed like a 55-grade player to this point. An over-aggressive, pull-heavy approach leaves Campusano vulnerable to well-located breaking balls, which he tends to swing inside. Breaking balls that don’t quite finish out away from him get sent into orbit, though, as do fringe fastballs that catch too much of the zone. While he looked like a well-rounded offensive force in A-ball, Campusano is now tracking like a power-over-hit sort barring further adjustment. He has below-average plate discipline, but it’s not so bad that we consider him at risk of taking a path similar to that of new org-mate Jorge Alfaro. The offensive bar at catcher is so low (collectively, big league backstops hit .228/.304/.391 in 2021) that Campusano projects to clear it pretty easily even if his current issues persist.

While he’s improved enough defensively to be a passable upper-level catcher, Campusano is still not a good defender. He now receives on one knee (even with runners on), which has helped him more comfortably frame pitches toward the bottom of the strike zone, but it borrows from his ball-blocking ability and can slow his exchange on throws to the bases (his raw arm strength is above-average). With the missed 2020 season in mind, it’s fine that Campusano is still a little raw as a backstop. The rule of thumb is to take the long view with catchers and give proper weight to the scarcity of offensive performers at the position. This young slugger is now in a 40-man mix with the recently-acquired Alfaro and two established big leaguers who have experience at other defensive positions. The versatility of Victor Caratini and Austin Nola, as well as the looming universal DH, make it more likely that Campusano graduates from rookiedom in a part-time C/DH role, then establishes himself as a true everyday catcher with impact power later in his tenure.

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27. D.L. Hall, SP, BAL

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Valdosta HS (GA) (BAL)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/60 55/60 30/40 93-96 / 98

Hall’s stuff keeps improving and he now has one of the better left-handed pitch mixes in the minors, but he’s yet to cross the 100-inning plateau in a season and the command needs work.

Hall paved over Double-A hitters for the first month-and-a-half of the 2021 minor league season — 31 innings, with just 16 hits and 56 strikeouts — before being shut down with elbow tendinitis. It was supposed to be just a few weeks, but Hall had a setback in July and imaging revealed a stress reaction in his elbow; he was done for the year and didn’t throw off a mound again until January of 2022. Ultra-competitive, athletic southpaws with this kind of stuff are very rare. Hall has incredible arm speed and his fastball has flat, bat-missing angle. Only two big league lefty starters threw harder than Hall in 2019 (he averaged 95 mph), and he enjoyed a two-tick velo bump to start last season and was sitting an incredible 97 mph before shutting things down. His slider also became more distinct from his curveball in 2021, averaging about 4 mph more than his curve. Both breaking balls are death to left-handed hitters, as Hall lines up on the extreme first base side of the rubber and has a cross-bodied delivery that they struggle to pick up, but his breakers’ angle plays to the back foot of righties, too. His changeup doesn’t have huge movement but still garners embarrassing swings from hitters trying to cheat to catch up to his fastball. Because Hall’s arm action is long, his release is inconsistent, and he comes with pretty sizable relief risk, risk that was heightened by the 2021 injury. If he ends up in a bullpen, then we’re talking about an elite reliever, as close as you can get to karmic retribution for the Josh Hader trade. More likely, Hall ends up as an inefficient starter in the Blake Snell mold, though Hall is a better athlete than Snell and has a better shot to hone his command as a result. Regardless of the specifics of his eventual role, Hall is going to be an impact big league arm, and probably very soon.

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28. George Kirby, SP, SEA

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Elon (SEA)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 40/45 50/50 45/50 55/70 95-99 / 100

There isn’t a prospect in the minors better at throwing strikes than Kirby, who fills the zone with big velo and solid secondaries.

The story of Kirby’s prospectdom has mostly been about his plus-plus control thus far. He maintained a puny walk rate during his time on the hill for Elon University and at the Cape, and in his pro debut in 2019, he appeared in eight short-season games (23 IP) without issuing a single free pass. As of the lost 2020 season, that elite control bolstered a profile that included an otherwise run-of-the mill mid-90s fastball and a number of secondaries. But at that year’s alternate site, Kirby’s velocity began to climb as he added strength to his 6-foot-4 frame, and at 2021 spring training, a new Kirby emerged, one who was now applying that well-documented control to a 97-99 mph heater that climbed into the triple digits on several occasions. A Kirby who had made massive strides in developing his stuff across his breaking balls and off-speed offerings, allowing that fastball to play up in the zone. Kirby altered the grip on his changeup, which is consistently 10 mph slower than his heater, and while he hasn’t gained enough confidence in the pitch to throw it very often, when he does, it comes without any noticeable change to his impressively repeatable arm speed. He’s added depth to his curveball, too, using it effectively against lefties, while opting for his slider against righties, which breaks up an otherwise north-south profile with its sweeping horizontal bite, and the added movement means his secondaries are less reliant on that famous control to be good.

In 2021, Kirby spent time in High- and Double-A, with a combined 5.5% walk rate against a 29.2% strikeout rate, allowing just one home run over 67.2 innings. If that innings total seems low, it’s because his starts were spread out, often by more than a week at a time, and he also missed two three-week stretches due to shoulder fatigue. It seems like the Mariners are being careful not to push him too aggressively and may be buying time to add more muscle to his frame, which still has room for it; such an addition might help him withstand a more robust innings load. Kirby’s ceiling has definitely been raised thanks to his improved secondaries and velocity, but until he can prove he can stay healthy, a more realistic outcome has him maxing out as a No. 3 starter.

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29. Nick Yorke, 2B, BOS

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Archbishop Mitty HS (CA) (BOS)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 40/45 30/50 50/45 30/40 30

Yorke may end up as a 40-grade infield defender, but he can really hit, and Longenhagen was wrong about him being overdrafted.

Yorke was the biggest surprise of the 2020 draft’s first round, but by the end of the 2021 season, he had opposing clubs going back over their processes to figure out what they had missed about him as an amateur. Yorke’s 2021 pro debut was a rousing success, as he hit .325/.412/.516 across two A-levels as a teenager and left both scouts and analysts struggling to find a weakness in his offensive game. Everything about Yorke’s ability with a bat in his hands is advanced. He makes outstanding swing decisions, though he’ll likely never be a walk machine due to his plus-plus contact skills, which feature outstanding plate coverage and enough sneaky pop to project as average down the road. He’s worked on his athleticism as a pro and runs better (now average) than he did as an amateur; he now projects as a solid defensive second baseman, though his arm is still a bit fringy after some injuries during his prep days. Beyond the skills, he earns raves for his makeup and has a reputation as a tireless worker who is driven to improve. Yorke is a potentially special hitter who could slot into the two-hole in any lineup, capable of hitting .300 with 15-20 home runs annually in his prime. We’ll know more about his chances of reaching those heights after he gets his first taste of the upper minors in 2022.

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30. Jeremy Peña, SS, HOU

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Maine (HOU)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 202 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 45/45 30/40 55/55 60/60 50

A plus defender with a good approach and rapidly growing power, Peña’s top-of-the-line makeup adds to an intriguing package.

A third-round pick out of Maine in 2018, Peña was seen as a defense-first shortstop with big league bloodlines and questionable offensive upside as an amateur, but he’s transformed his body as a pro, adding more than 20 pounds of muscle since signing, while also re-engineering his swing in order to tap into his new-found power. Peña is a plus defensive shortstop with above-average instincts, footwork and hands to go with a solid-average arm. He can get a bit aggressive at the plate, but he shows a consistent ability to drive the ball and could reach 20-plus home runs annually as a big leaguer. His makeup is off the charts, and he works as hard as he plays, with a quiet intensity to his overall game. An explosive month at Triple-A at the end of the 2021 season, during which he put up a .944 OPS with 10 home runs in 30 games, made the Astros comfortable with him getting the first chance to fill the very large shoes that will be left behind by the presently-assumed departure of Carlos Correa.

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31. Hunter Greene, SP, CIN

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Notre Dame HS (CA) (CIN)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
80/80 60/60 40/45 50/60 97-101 / 103

Greene will show you a fastball anywhere between 97-103 mph and his slider has gotten much better, but his velo slowly ticked down throughout 2021 and he might just be a closer.

2021 was the first time in nearly two years that Greene pitched in a minor league game, starting his season at Double-A Chattanooga and pitching 41 dominant innings there – he routinely hit triple digits while striking out 37% of opposing batters with a 1.00 WHIP – before being promoted in mid-June. He allowed four home runs in his Triple-A debut, but settled into a dominant streak after that, culminating in his best outing of the season: 6.1 innings in early August during which he struck out 10, allowing only one walk and one hit. His season tapered off a bit after that, and by mid-September he was showing signs of fatigue and was shut down, having reached his innings cap for the year. His Triple-A stat line wasn’t as dazzling as what he did in Double-A. His strikeouts slid (though to a still-impressive 28.6%) while his walks increased above the 9% mark and his home run rate nearly tripled.

Greene’s arm is still in the lower slot that he began to use after his recovery from Tommy John surgery, and its action has been reworked in ways seemingly geared toward relieving some of the stress he was applying to his elbow. Whereas pre-surgery he would pull his arm back and straighten it until his elbow was fully locked, he now keeps a more deliberate bend in it as he rears back. These mechanical changes, in particular the lower arm slot, have resulted in a fastball that, while still reaching scorching velocities, lacks the ride necessary to play up in the zone, which largely accounts for the uptick in home runs as he’s faced more advanced hitters. As a result, Greene has to rely on his secondaries more heavily than other flamethrowers. When his slider is working for him, it’s a cunning companion to the heater, and his changeup can get whiffs from lefties, though he tends not to throw it in the zone. He still looks the part of a starter, especially if he can stay healthy and continue to hone his arsenal. He’s on the 40-man now, so it’s only a matter of time before we see him on a big league mound.

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32. Orelvis Martinez, 3B, TOR

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/60 35/60 45/40 30/45 55

One of the most significant talents in the 2018 international class, Martinez projects as a prototypical power-hitting third baseman.

After destroying Low-A, Martinez posted a league-average batting line during a month at High-A Vancouver, which would be impressive even without a .197 BABIP anchoring his line. Before the promotion, he had more than a 10% barrel rate at Low-A and his top exit velocity was over 110 mph. Between that and a pretty healthy walk and strikeout mix, you have the foundation of a very impressive offensive talent. If anything, the visual report glows even brighter than the statistics. A tick above six-feet tall, Martinez is a chiseled athlete with explosive rotational ability. His bat-to-ball skills are advanced for a High-A hitter, never mind the youngest one in the league. He also adapted very quickly to the circuit’s better arms, bashing nine homers and walking six times in his final nine games after an uneasy start.

Like any 19-year-old, there is some risk in the profile. Hit tool volatility is one potential variable: Martinez’s current timing mechanism leaves him vulnerable to soft stuff and he’ll lunge at quality breaking balls if he’s expecting something else. He also thinks he can drive anything in on his hands, and while he’s often right, pitchers can induce defensive swings if they’re able to get in his kitchen. Some of the contact he makes is thus very soft when he gets off-balance, which leaves lingering questions about how his approach will fare against a steadier diet of better breaking balls. And defensively, he’s a little raw for short. His hands weren’t great in former contributor Brendan Gawlowski’s looks last season, and while he’s quick under way, a slow first step suggests that a move down the defensive spectrum is likely as he physically matures; we have Martinez projected to third base. Ultimately, though, this is a great athlete who has performed as a teenager against much older competition. The bat should play anywhere, and if he’s able to stick on the left side of the infield, he has an All-Star ceiling.

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50 FV Prospects

33. Jackson Jobe, SP, DET

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Heritage Hall HS (DET)
Age 18.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 60/70 50/50 50/60 25/55 93-95 / 98

Jobe’s stuff has more spin than the 24-hour news networks. He has among the minor’s higher pitcher ceilings.

Jobe was the consensus top high school arm in the 2021 draft, and earned a nearly-$7 million bonus as the third overall pick after scouts spent the spring scratching their heads looking for a weakness in his game. While his velocity varied at times during his senior year, at the bottom end of the scale he’d sit 92-94 mph and touch 96, and he had days when he’d get into the upper 90s while parked comfortably in the 95-96 mph range. What makes Jobe potentially special is that some scouts see his fastball as his least impressive pitch. His high-octane, high-spin slider is a present plus offering, and his low-80s changeup features massive separation and projects as another future weapon if he can add more movement to it. He also has a mid-70s slow curve with good depth, and while it will likely remain in his arsenal, it’s more of an early strike-stealer or surprise pitch than something to go to late in the count. Jobe is a phenomenal athlete who would have been a Day Two pick as a position player, and his delivery is smooth and well coordinated, allowing for a future projection of plus command and control. One could argue that the only things holding Jobe back from elite prospect status are the usual potential pitfalls (and they are numerous) for a 19-year-old who has yet to make his pro debut. That debut will likely take place in Low-A this season, and Jobe has the core of tools and ability to move quickly.

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34. Bryson Stott, SS, PHI

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from UNLV (PHI)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 50/50 30/45 45/45 45/50 50

Lefty-hitting shortstops with any kind of pop are rare, and Stott has cemented himself as a viable defender there in pro ball.

Stott rocketed through the Phillies minor league system in 2021, starting the year at High-A and closing it out at Triple-A. He performed well above league-average at each of those stops in the way you’d hope an early first round pick would. He carried that momentum into the Fall League, where he slashed .318/.445/.489. In addition to the statistical performance piece, Stott showed improvement in his lower half’s flexibility and general conditioning, as well as with his arm stroke, which used to be so atypical that it caused some concern among scouts while he was an amateur about his viability at short. Those have evaporated with the subtle improvements he’s made. The question of Stott’s in-game power lingers on, however; while he hit 16 homers in 2021, most of them came during his time at Double-A Reading, whose home ballpark is notoriously hitter-friendly. Stott has uncommon raw power for a shortstop but his approach has caused us to project his in-game power output below his raw. We still think that’s true, but also think his swing decisions have improved enough to close the gap. He can adjust mid-flight to breaking balls when necessary, but he’s now better able to lay off the ones he shouldn’t be swinging at in the first place. Lefty-hitting shortstops with this kind of power are tough to find and Stott is basically big-league ready. We expect him to usurp Didi Gregorius as the Phil’s everyday shortstop at some point in 2022 and remain entrenched there for at least the next half decade.

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35. Luis Matos, CF, SFG

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (SFG)
Age 20.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 50/60 30/50 60/60 45/50 50

Matos has plus-plus bat speed and the wheels to stay in center field, with only his aggressive approach holding him back from the 55 FV tier.

Matos had a tremendous 2021. He spent the season at Low-A San Jose, where he slashed .313/.358/.494. That was good for a 121 wRC+ and Low-A West MVP honors, all before his 20th birthday, which occurred a few days before the publication of the Giants list. He struck out in a minuscule 12.4% of his at-bats with a 41% fly ball rate. He still demonstrates freaky rotational ability and can smack his barrel into the ball no matter what hitting zone it’s in. His ability to connect with whatever the pitcher hurls his way leads to a relatively common profile for a hitter his age, as Matos swings more often than he should rather than waiting for the pitches he can really punish. His walk rate was only 5.7% in 2021 (though it did trend upward toward the end of the season) and his BABIP was unsustainably high, so refining his pitch selection will be a key part of his progression toward the higher levels of the minors. There’s huge ceiling here, that of a center fielder with a potent combination of hit and power, but the pitch selection piece of Matos’ profile is a little bit concerning and is keeping him in the 50 FV tier for now.

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36. Tyler Soderstrom, 1B, OAK

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Turlock HS (CA) (OAK)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/60 30/55 40/30 20/40 45

Soderstrom may end up like Bryce Harper and Wil Myers, where the A’s cut bait on him catching to get his excellent bat to the big leagues sooner.

Soderstrom had an incredible spring training, then slashed .306/.390/.568 at Low-A Stockton during the summer before his season was cut short due to injury (we have conflicting info as to what the injury was — we’ve heard lower back, lat, or oblique, and will update this blurb if we can confirm which). He looked comfortable during his big league spring at-bats and was utterly dominant on the backfields, running deep counts and crushing hard fly balls and line drives to all fields. Even when forced to offer at pitcher’s pitches, he’s strong enough to muscle ugly contact through the right side of the defense. This just adds to a long track record of hitting that dates back to Soderstrom’s amateur days, though he has already become much more physical than he was in high school and stands apart from most other prospects on the field, even in pro ball.

Juxtaposing his advanced offense is Soderstrom’s defense. He split time behind the plate on his high school team, then was asked to catch premium stuff from pitchers with whom he had no experience during his showcase summer, so the context for the high-profile looks plus his relative inexperience gave hope for improvement. He’s still pretty rough back there, and while we’re open to the possibility of him eventually becoming viable, working to develop Soderstrom’s glove probably means slowing the development of his bat and exposing him to the brutal grind of catching, which often dilutes offensive production. During Eric’s in-person looks, Soderstrom took a foul ball off the shoulder, collapsed into a heap, and was removed from one game, then took a weird hop off the throat and was removed from another. Stuff like that happens to catchers every night — it’s an occupational hazard that often causes them to play through pain and not hit well for long stretches. Some teams wanted to run Soderstrom out as a corner outfielder or third baseman in pro ball, and he also played a bunch of first base in 2021. The Wil Myers/Bryce Harper approach would make a ton of sense here. It would probably help Soderstrom traverse the minors more quickly and overlap in the big leagues with Sean Murphy, who is a fantastic defender and unlikely to be supplanted by anyone, let alone a fringe defender like Soderstrom. Plus, the A’s will likely have an opening at first base soon anyway. This is a plus bat likely to amass 40 annual doubles, so it’s immaterial where Soderstrom plays, though we think he’s a load-bearing everyday first baseman.

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37. Diego Cartaya, C, LAD

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (LAD)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 219 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/60 35/60 40/30 40/50 70

Cartaya is a Salvador Perez starter kit.

Cartaya only suited up for 31 games in 2021 due to multiple back injuries and a strained hamstring. While healthy, he hit 10 homers in those 31 games and his receiving was better than it had been the two years before. While the recurring injuries are somewhat worrying — and while it’s fair to wonder whether Cartaya would produce at anything close to his 2021 output (.298/.409/.614) if he were catching for a whole, grueling season, or playing in a more neutral run environment — he is very gifted in all facets of baseball and has an All-Star ceiling. He has run-stopping arm strength and accuracy and is not afraid to backpick runners, which is rare for a catcher this age, especially when the infielders are typically not reliable recipients of such lasers. For such a large backstop, his exchange is very quick and remarkably consistent. He’s out of his crouch fast and in one fell swoop, he unfurls, releases, and then folds forward, bent at the waist, as the ball sizzles on a line to the base. Cartaya is also a balanced, explosive hitter with feel for hitting the ball in the air. His batting stance looks similar to that of the departed Keibert Ruiz, and is quite compact despite Cartaya’s lever length, enabling him to impact balls out in front of the plate, to his pull side. He seemed to have a better idea of the strike zone in 2021, though Low-A West pitching was quite bad. The power, strikeouts, aggressive approach, frame, and arm strength are all reminiscent of Salvador Perez. There’s extreme variance here because we’re talking about a very young catcher, one who hasn’t played all that much yet, but Cartaya has the ability to be a star.

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38. Kyle Harrison, SP, SFG

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from De La Salle HS (CA) (SFG)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 60/60 45/60 35/55 93-95 / 98

Harrison’s body has thickened pretty quickly, but he throws hard, and has diverse fastball utility and great secondary stuff. He’s tracking like a mid-rotation starter.

When we put together our Giants list, we had Patrick Bailey ranked higher than Harrison, but in the weeks since that list’s publication, we’ve received enough feedback about Harrison to give him the bump over the up-and-coming catcher. The Giants lured Harrison away from his UCLA commitment with a third-round selection and a $2.5 million bonus in 2020, and his first year of pro ball reinforced the club’s confidence in the young southpaw. He issued strikeouts at a 35.7% clip while only allowing three home runs in his 98.2 innings of work, the best of any qualified Low-A arm on both counts. His physique is that of a prototypical starter but with a noticeably strong lower half, which he uses to get low to the ground and push off the mound for a monstrous lunge toward the plate. He exaggerates the weirdness of his delivery by slinging his arm in a low three-quarters slot, creating a unique angle and making the ball that much more difficult for hitters to track, particularly lefties. Harrison’s fastball seems to come upward, keeping hitters off balance and allowing him to pound the top of the zone. When that’s working for Harrison, he’s deadly, as illustrated by his numbers. But his effectiveness largely depends on consistently maintaining that odd arm angle, with very minor location discrepancies causing his fastball to catch too much of the heart of the zone. His sweeping slider, meanwhile, has been dominant against lefties and thanks to that arm angle, it’s likely to stay that way. But the pitch’s effectiveness against right-handed batters, while impressive in Low-A, could diminish against more advanced righties who are able to adapt to it. Still, his location issues are those most in need of attention; in 2021, he walked 11.8% of his opponents and issued 15 free bases by way of HBP. Right now he looks like he’ll end up in the back of a rotation, but if San Francisco’s coaches can conjure up the same alchemy they’ve used on other recent pitching prospects (and Harrison is able to rein in his arsenal), he could find himself in a more pivotal starting role.

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39. Oswald Peraza, SS, NYY

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 176 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 50/50 40/50 60/60 55/60 55

An outstanding international find for $175,000, Peraza is a plus-run, plus-glove shortstop, and scouts see some untapped power potential.

Peraza moved into our 50 FV tier last offseason and spent most of 2021 as a 21-year-old at Double-A, where he hit .294/.348/.466 at the new Somerset affiliate. If Gleyber Torres continues to scuffle, Peraza might simply be the best big-league ready middle infielder currently in the organization by early summer, and we think his talent is commensurate with that of an everyday shortstop. Peraza seems to track pitches with his eyes extremely well and while his curt, top-hand-driven swing has a flat path, he still manages to hit a lot of line drives and fly balls. These three things in concert suggest that he has special feel for impacting the bottom half of the baseball, and not just for making frequent contact but for absolutely squaring it up. Peraza uses a big, slow leg kick and has a very athletic, balanced, and flexible lower half throughout his swing’s finish. It helps him bend at the waist and dive toward the outer half of the zone, where he can smack balls the other way. He ditches the leg kick with two strikes to prioritize contact. While the entire offensive package is dragged down a little bit by his tendency to expand the strike zone, the hit/power combination comfortably clears the offensive bar at shortstop, where Peraza is a good defender.

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40. Colton Cowser, CF, BAL

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Sam Houston State (BAL)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/70 40/45 30/45 55/55 45/55 50

The narrowly-built Cowser has modest pop that plays thanks to his terrific feel to hit, and he has a good shot to stay in center field.

Cowser entered the spring of 2021 as a potential first round pick, but moved toward the top of draft boards with a campaign at Sam Houston State that elevated his stock greatly in the eyes of both scouts and statistical models. Cowser is a well-rounded player, but the big appeal comes from his hit tool, as he offers plus-plus contact skills and the ability to make consistently hard contact against both velocity and spin. Unlike many young, high-contact types, Cowser is also a highly disciplined hitter who is aggressive in the zone, yet rarely swings at pitches out of it. He’s not a huge source of power, but he has enough to be dangerous and projects for 15-20 home runs annually down the road. He’s a plus runner with a solid arm who should be able to stay in center field for at least the remainder of the decade. Cowser’s skill set should allow him to move quickly through the minors. He combines a very high floor with a star ceiling.

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41. Roansy Contreras, SP, PIT

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/55 60/60 30/40 50/50 94-97 / 99

Contreras’ fastball took an unexpected leap in 2021, adding to a mix of good secondary offerings that was already driving a pretty solid No. 4/5 starter fit.

Part of the Jameson Taillon deal with New York, Contreras arrived at Pirates camp in 2021 with much more velocity than even Pittsburgh had anticipated, and he sat 95-98 mph throughout May and June, up about three ticks from his ’19 velocity with the Yankees. Then Contreras missed two months with a forearm strain. His velocity was back upon his return (though he only went about three innings at a time after the injury) and Contreras pitched well at Double-A before making a pitstop in Indianapolis for one Triple-A start, then his big league debut towards the end of the regular season. He picked up more innings in the Arizona Fall League, where he had settled into the 94-96 range in our look, down a tick from the regular season. Contreras looked more like a low-variance fourth starter as a Yankees prospect, but this new velocity adds some ceiling to his projection. His fastball command is not as precise now as it looked before the new heat arrived, but Contreras still fills the strike zone up at an above-average rate and his fastball can generate whiffs in there. His two breaking balls — a mid-80s slider and low-80s curveball — are both consistently plus, have distinct shape from one another, and tend to be located more consistently than Contreras’ fastball. Is there a weapon against lefties here? Contreras has a changeup but he barely uses it and it’s below average in quality. The angle of his breaking stuff may not be suited for back-foot swings and misses against lefties, and he didn’t garner a single swing-and-miss from a left-handed hitter in his Triple-A or major league starts, nor in the AFL outings seen by FG staff. His splits aren’t damning, but the sample is too small to be meaningful, in part because of his injury. It stops us short of projecting Contreras to be a star, but he’s still a mid-rotation starter who is ready to roll right now.

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42. Reid Detmers, SP, LAA

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Louisville (LAA)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 40/45 65/70 45/55 45/60 91-95 / 96

Detmers has added velo since he was drafted and the minor leagues could not deal with his breaking balls. He’s a big-league ready fourth starter.

Detmers only made 13 minor league starts before the Angels summoned him to the majors. In truth, he wasn’t quite ready for the call, and a slew of tough opponents gave him a rough welcome to big league life. His 2021 performance simultaneously reflected the strides he’s taken since draft day — including a modest velo uptick that quelled pre-draft concerns about his ceiling — while also underscoring a few developmental areas of focus going forward. While Detmers runs his fastball into the mid-90s, the pitch normally has average velocity and is without the spin characteristics that can help a four-seamer play up. He’ll have to locate it more carefully going forward, because big league hitters tattooed it in 2021. Detmers will likely always be fly-ball prone because of how he uses his fastball (at the top of the strike zone), but it’s when his location drifts into the meat of the zone that he gets in trouble. It’s also worth noting that the lefty’s spin rate dropped more than 200 rpms over the course of the season. That wasn’t uncommon in 2021, of course, but it does rub a tiny bit of the shine off of his early season strikeout dominance in Double-A.

Despite those issues, there’s plenty to like here. We trust Detmers’ longer track record of strike-throwing and still think he projects to have plus command, which could go some way toward ameliorating his home run problems. He also has a well-rounded mix of offspeed pitches. He’ll toss a mid-80s sweeping slider to lefties and his fading change missed plenty of righty bats down on the farm, but it’s the curve that’s the real calling card. It’s a low-to-mid-70s offering with a lot of spin and extremely long break. Even hitters who recognize it out of the hand have trouble keeping their weight back and staying on the pitch as it travels from the lefty batter’s box to the other corner. While he needs a bit more seasoning, Detmers has three useful offspeed pitches, one of which looks like an unconventional out pitch. He projects as a low-variance mid-rotation arm.

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43. Brayan Rocchio, SS, CLE

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (CLE)
Age 21.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 40/45 30/40 60/60 60/60 50

Rocchio’s feel for contact and his defensive ability drive a high-probability everyday profile.

The Professor has officially solidified himself as a guy who can roll out of bed and rake, as the 20-year-old Rocchio hit .277 split between High-A Lake County and Double-A Akron after he had no stateside activity in 2020 due to Venezuelan travel restrictions. He also set a career high in homers with 15, more than double his pro total entering the year. He is now a career .284/.347/.431 hitter in the minors, having always been quite a bit younger than the level to which the Guardians have assigned him. He’s worked to add muscle to his compact frame and has reached a point of viable big league physicality without compromising on the defensive end, where Rocchio is very good. As the statistical evidence that Rocchio is a little too aggressive at the plate built up (he’s walked at a 6% career clip), we rounded down his game power projection since he tends to put balls in play rather than hunt pitches he can really damage. Of the shortstops in the 30-50 range on the overall Top 100 list, Rocchio has the best feel for contact but the least power projection. If he takes another step forward in this area during his first option year, he may end up in next year’s 55 FV tier. He’s tracking like an everyday shortstop who’ll soon tussle with Andrés Giménez for reps.

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44. Ronny Mauricio, SS, NYM

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYM)
Age 20.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 45/55 40/50 50/50 45/50 60

Mauricio has gotten big and strong while remaining at shortstop, but his approach is a bit of a concern.

Mauricio’s tools made him one of the top international players signed in 2017, but nearly five years later, most of the talk concerning the shortstop still focuses on his outstanding tools, as the performance has yet to catch up with the potential. Mauricio certainly looks the part. He’s a big, athletic player more than capable of staying up the middle. A switch-hitter, there is some length to his swing, but he flashes plus raw power from both sides of the plate and has a decent ability to make contact when he stays in the zone. That’s where the problems arise, though, as staying in the zone is a massive issue for Mauricio, who swings at pitches above his eyes as often as he chases them down in the dirt. He made some minor strides toward being more patient at the plate as the 2021 season wore on, but if anything, his approach went from disastrous to merely bad. Defensively, he can be just as frustrating, making a SportsCenter-worthy play one moment and then booting the most routine of grounders minutes later. He’s a frustrating talent who can just out-athlete his opponents on the right day, but if everything comes together, the ceiling is significant. He doesn’t turn 21 until April, so while the list of everything that needs to come together is very long, he’s got plenty of time to figure it out. This is a high variance prospect with impressive tools who might never be more than a utilityman, but might also be a star.

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45. Josh Lowe, CF, TBR

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Pope HS (GA) (TBR)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 60/60 45/55 60/60 40/45 60

A former high school infielder, Lowe is a power-over-hit center fielder with good feel for the strike zone.

Lowe marched closer to a big league role in 2021 as he clubbed 22 homers with Triple-A Durham before a brief big league cup of coffee in September. There’s still some disagreement within the industry about whether he’s a capital “d” Dude or just a platoon-y cog in the Rays machine, but his combination of power, speed, and ball/strike recognition make up for his plate coverage and defensive issues enough to project him as an everyday player. Lowe is not a good defensive center fielder and it’s getting late to hope for improvement after he moved there from SS/3B a half-decade ago. He has the pure speed to play there but isn’t a comfortable, instinctive defender. Lowe’s swing is geared to turn on balls on the inner edge, and he tends to push pitches down the middle of the plate to the opposite field. He has enough strength to do damage that way, but he’s whiff-prone on fastballs at the top of the zone and on the outer third. He seems to know this and hunts pitches he can handle, with 52 of his 117 hits in 2021 going for extra-bases. Lowe has made great improvements to his in-game power output, as his groundball rates have dropped each year he has been in pro ball. There are some short-term paths to playing time in Tampa Bay for Lowe — if Austin Meadows (who has options left) shows up to camp out of shape again, or if Kevin Kiermaier gets traded — though the addition of the similarly-skilled Kameron Misner, who is about a year behind Lowe on the 40-man timeline, fogs the crystal ball later in Lowe’s tenure.

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46. Aaron Ashby, MIRP, MIL

Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Crowder JC (MO) (MIL)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 181 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 45/45 55/60 40/40 94-97 / 98

Ranked here knowing full well he might be a reliever, Ashby has a bevy of plus pitches undercut by lackluster control.

Ashby is still on the starter/reliever line from a strike-throwing perspective, but he graded out as a 50 FV player atop last year’s Brewers list under the assumption that he’d be a multi-inning relief buzzsaw, which is how he spent most of his six-week major league debut. His big league appearances were bookended by two putrid outings, but Ashby was dominant besides those: 30.1 IP, 38 K, 6 BB, 1.78 ERA in 11 outings, mostly in relief. While many post-shutdown arms were unable to hold the velocity spike they exhibited during 2020 instructs or ’21 spring training, Ashby was able to retain his 94-97 mph band. His fastball has swing-and-miss velocity but not swing-and-miss action, and instead has sinker shape that Ashby seemed to lean into during 2021, as his groundball rate skyrocketed to a whopping 65% combined between Triple-A Nashville and the big leagues. Working toward the bottom of the zone with his sinker may have helped him set up his changeup more consistently, as that pitch was once only flashing plus but is now consistently so. Ashby’s changeup and slider (the latter of which had a 250 rpm jump in spin rate from 2019) are now both two-strike guillotines while his curveball is a show-me pitch that he barely threw in 2021. It may become more important if Ashby ends up back in the rotation. He may follow a trajectory similar to Freddy Peralta‘s and find himself starting eventually, or buttress the back of the bullpen if Josh Hader is traded. Either way, this is an impact arm who is ready right now.

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47. Nick Pratto, 1B, KCR

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Huntington Beach HS (CA) (KCR)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 60/60 55/70 40/40 55/60 60

A swing and approach change unlocked huge in-game power for Pratto, who also has a good idea of the zone and is a great first base defender.

There were pro scouts who didn’t even consider Pratto a prospect after they watched him hit .190 and strike out 35% of the time in Wilmington in 2019. First basemen, even ones like Pratto with a bevy of secondary skills, don’t have the luxury of whiffing that often and still becoming big leaguers because the offensive bar at the position is too high. But Pratto has altered his swing (most notably, his stance is open and he has a leg kick now) and had a huge 2021 spring, so consistently punishing fastballs at the top of the zone with power during the co-op period between big league and minor league spring training that he was intentionally walked at one point in what is understood to be a non-competitive, developmental setting.

Pratto’s swing has bad intentions. He collapses his back side to create lift and just swings as hard as he can at fastballs he can pull, selling out for power. It’s very similar to Shohei Ohtani‘s swing mechanics, and this is a rare instance where we’re projecting a player to out-hit their raw power grade even though their hit tool grade is below average. Pratto has always had a good feel for the zone and his ability to pick out pitches he can drive is quite good, so we like his chances of continuing to tattoo fastballs at the top of the zone, though we also think he is still really vulnerable to back-foot breaking stuff and anything running away from him with this swing. He hit 36 homers between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha in 2021 but also struck out in almost 30% of his plate appearances. There aren’t any first basemen who even strike out at least 25% of the time and still become what we would define as a 50 FV. Qualified first basement since 2015 with more than a 25% strikeout rate include Lucas Duda, Matt Adams, Chris Davis, Brandon Moss, Eric Thames 테임즈, Miguel Sanó, Mike Napoli, Pedro Alvarez — you get the idea. We had internal disagreement about Pratto being on here (opponents wanted him 45’d), but there was overwhelming industry support for his inclusion because the damage he does when he makes contact is elite, described to us as among the top 5% in baseball. Pratto is an above-average hands and feet athlete at first base and he has a plus arm. He played three games in right field in 2021 and we think he has the feel and athleticism to play out there situationally, especially with so many corner thumpers occupying Royals 40-man and upper-level roster space. We’re hoping that because Pratto was already able to make huge, career-saving adjustments, that he’ll continue to do so and make enough contact to support an average everyday first base profile.

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48. Curtis Mead, LF, TBR

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Australia (PHI)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/55 30/50 45/40 20/40 50

The bizarre Mead is perhaps the most interesting prospect on the entire list. A pot-bellied free swinger who generates terrific power on contact, he plays third base like David Byrne dances.

Mead was acquired from the Phillies as a Complex League sleeper in a 2019 roster crunch deal, and he’s yet another reminder to teams that when the Rays show interest in an yet-to-be-heralded player, the club on the other end of the phone should be leery about trading him. The pandemic delayed Mead’s Rays debut until 2021, but he quickly made up for lost time by putting up a .321/.378/.533 line over 104 games. His swing remains unorthodox, starting with very high hands and a considerable amount of pre-swing noise, but both Mead and the Rays have worked hard to quiet his lower half, and while the overall operation is still not what anyone would teach in a hitting class, it certainly works for him. Mead has plenty of strength, but he’s more of a hitter with power than a power hitter, showing a consistent ability to make hard contact to all fields regardless of pitch type or handedness. He’s seen as a bit of a bat-first prospect, for while he entered pro ball as a middle infielder, he’s already slid to the corners, and many think first base is where he will ultimately end up, as his arm strength is lacking at the hot corner. Mead’s combination of contact and strength provides little to criticize, and he has a chance to reach the big leagues quickly.

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49. Kahlil Watson, SS, MIA

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Wake Forest HS (MIA)
Age 18.2 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 168 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 50/60 25/60 55/55 40/50 45

One of the most electrifying middle infield athletes on the planet, Watson has a chance to be in the top five of this list if he performs in pro ball.

Watson had one of his class’ wilder draft days last July. In the mix for multiple teams selecting in the top six, things got weird once Watson fell out of that range, as the teams below that either passed on him because he wouldn’t budge off his bonus demands or because they simply hadn’t scouted him thoroughly enough, assuming there was no way he would drop to them. The Marlins finally ended his slide with the 16th overall pick and signed him to the 10th highest bonus in the first round; Watson followed that up with a brief but outstanding debut in the Complex League. Watson’s tools are nothing short of electric, as he combines plus power and speed in a compact package. He has a good understanding of the strike zone, outstanding bat speed and the potential for average power, and some scouts think even that projection is a bit light. He’s not a burner, but he’s a well-above-average runner who likes to steal and take extra bases at every opportunity. He’s a flashy but inconsistent defender at shortstop, with an arm that might force him to second base and hands that might force him to center field in the end, but he’ll be given every opportunity to stay at short for now. Watson plays with a lot of confidence and bravado, traits that turned off some old school scouts, but at the same time enamored him even more to the let-them-play set. Few of the draft picks who went ahead of him have more variability in their potential outcomes, but equally few have as much upside as Watson.

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50. Robert Hassell III, CF, SDP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Independence HS (TN) (SDP)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 45/50 30/45 55/55 40/50 60

No one doubts Hassell’s hit tool, but he’ll need to answer questions about his power potential and ability to stay in center field.

Hassell arguably wielded the most advanced bat of the 2020 draft’s high school hitters, spraying contact to all fields against upper-echelon prep pitching during his pre-draft summer. It was particularly impressive considering he often pitched on the showcase circuit as well. Hassell hit with substantially more power during 2020 instructs, then arrived to ’21 spring training (where he got a lot of run with the big league team) with a really steep, uphill swing. He swung through a lot of fastballs with lateral action during minor league spring training, but that seemed to be remedied during the 2021 regular season. Hassell raked at Low-A in the old Cal League, where he hit a ton of doubles, swiped 31 bases in 37 attempts, and didn’t strike out very much, doing so just 17% of the time with a swinging strike rate a shade under 10%, which is comfortably better than average. He struggled in a very short High-A run toward the end of the season, but we’re inclined to chalk that up to sample size.

The visual evaluation of Hassell’s feel to hit remains very strong. He’s a little bit upright in the box but has a well-timed stride and great looking swing that is typically on time despite a little bat wrap. He hits the ball on the ground quite often, but things didn’t go well when he seemed to be trying to lift the ball more during the spring. While ideally he’d hit for more home run power than he seems capable of right now, the current makeup of Hassell’s contact still profiles in center field. Somewhat stiff in the lower half, Hassell is not the sort of high-end speedster ideal for center but his strides eat up space and his first step is pretty good. He has looked more comfortable going back on balls lately than he did as an amateur, but closing the deal, especially approaching the wall, can still be an issue as Hassell is apt to lunge for balls late and often catches the ball way out away from his body. A tempestuous, competitive guy, part of why we’re betting on Hassell is because he is a fierce competitor who seems hellbent on succeeding. The big league center field situation in front of him means Hassell might debut in an outfield corner. He’d have a lesser chance to be a star there but would still project as a solid everyday guy.

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51. Nick Lodolo, SP, CIN

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from TCU (CIN)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 70/70 45/55 55/60 92-95 / 97

While sinker/slider types aren’t exactly in vogue these days, Lodolo’s exquisite command gives him a good chance to find success with an old school approach.

Had Lodolo not had shoulder issues in 2021 and done what he did for more than 50.2 innings, he’d rank higher than this, as the 2019 first round pick’s stuff and command were better than ever. In an analytics-driven world that favors north-south attacks, Lodolo bucks the trend with a low arm slot and one of the more extreme east-west approaches around. His fastball sat 93-95 mph in 2021 while touching 97, and though it’s notable for its sinking action, it also features incredible horizontal run, while his power breaking ball sweeps the other way to keep hitters consistently off balance. Better than both pitches is his changeup, and while it’s a little on the firm side in terms of velocity, it features big horizontal movement similar to his sinker, while also showing late downward bite. Lodolo is comfortable throwing any of his pitches at any point in the count and has shown the ability to work both sides of the plate with all of his offerings, a difficult task considering just how much his stuff moves. He reported to Cincinnati’s camp healthy this month, and while his floor remains that of a back-of-the-rotation starter, scouts also see more ceiling than they have in the past.

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52. Cole Winn, SP, TEX

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Orange Lutheran HS (CA) (TEX)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/55 55/55 50/55 45/55 93-95 / 97

Winn has four distinct pitches and above-average command, racing toward Arlington as a No. 4 starter.

Winn was one of the best high school arms of the 2018 draft class, already showing advanced feel for a four-pitch mix, but he suffered an unexpected setback after taking time off (a workload precaution), and came back with seemingly no sense for his own mechanics, posting an uncharacteristic 13.1% walk rate in 2019. He’s since reworked his delivery, starting his windup from a sideways, stretch-like position as opposed to a forward-facing stance. He’s also quieted down his footwork, keeping his back leg planted instead of including a toe-tap and streamlining his leg kick, all of which has helped reduce the variability in his shoulder alignment and landing spot as he extends. He spent most of 2021 in Double-A before finishing the year with two starts at Triple-A, averaging more than 11 K/9 at both levels for a combined strikeout rate of 32.2% and a 0.86 WHIP. His fastball and curveball, the bread and butter of his vertical profile, have produced promising spin data, and he’s shown an impressive ability to miss bats with his slider. He’s also got a changeup in the works to round out his arsenal. He maintained his fastball in the mid-90s throughout his 21 starts in 2021, calming the nerves of those worried about the post-draft setback, and should spend most of this season at Triple-A.

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53. Nolan Gorman, 3B, STL

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from O’Connor HS (AZ) (STL)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 65/70 50/60 40/40 30/40 50

While his overall game is based more on brute strength than athleticism, Gorman’s plus-plus power stands out.

Gorman had another good season, slashing .279/.333/.481 combined between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis, mostly at the latter. It was the first time that Gorman hadn’t experienced a whiff-prone adjustment period upon promotion, and his K% was lower in 2021 than in any year since he was in rookie ball. The carrying tool here is still Gorman’s power. Thick and physical, he has comfortably plus raw power at age 21, though his body is maxed out and we’d be surprised if there was another grade left in the tank even though Gorman is so young. We’ve slid Gorman a little bit due to growing concerns about his propensity to chase. He was walking at an above-average rate in the low minors but has become a more aggressive swinger at the upper levels, especially against sliders, which he chased at a 40% rate while at Triple-A.

The Cardinals have Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt entrenched at the corner infield spots for the next several years, so Gorman spent most of 2021 at second base, where he isn’t very good; his range, hands, and actions around the bag are all below average. He can make routine plays, though, and the Cardinals would be justified in running him out there situationally, even knowing that he’s a 30-grade defender at the position. If he played there every day, he’d produce like a left-handed Dan Uggla. Gorman is a fringe defender at third and would probably be an average defender at first base with time. That versatility will enable him to shuffle around with Tommy Edman and Edmundo Sosa the same way Matt Carpenter and Paul DeJong have for the last little bit, getting Gorman’s bat in the lineup most of the time and taking him off the field to prioritize defense late in games. While flawed, we’re confident in Gorman getting to most of his impact power in games and sharing time at several infield positions, including one up the middle of the diamond, which will enable him to produce like a good everyday big leaguer.

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54. Daniel Espino, SP, CLE

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Premier Academy HS (GA) (CLE)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/65 55/60 50/55 45/55 30/50 94-97 / 99

Espino has mostly been healthy as a pro and has retained his big velocity while adding enough pitches to start.

Born in Panama, Espino had the best arm strength among the high school arms in the 2019 draft, but concerns about his delivery and arsenal depth dropped him to the 24th overall pick. His stuff has gotten even better under the tutelage of Cleveland’s outstanding player dev system, and he dominated during his 2021 full season debut, putting up a strikeout rate north of 40%. Espino is pure power defined. He frequently sits 96-98 mph with a fastball that has topped triple digits on multiple occasions and features good vertical break. His exceptionally hard slider comes at hitters with 88-91 mph velocity and some horizontal wiggle. It’s a pair of dominating pitches, but scouts wonder if that’s all there is, as Espino’s slow curve is more of an early strike-stealer, and his changeup is still raw. While he’s worked hard to quiet his complex delivery, a move that has led to greater strike-throwing ability, there are still a lots of moving parts to his operation. Those concerns, as well as a cross-body arm action, create significant reliever risk, and scouts have also noted some velocity swings, as there were plenty of mid-season outings during which he was more 93-95 mph. If Espino does need to move to the ‘pen, he has easy ninth-inning potential, but he’ll remain a starter for now and could reach Double-A or higher in 2022.

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55. Vidal Bruján, 2B, TBR

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 24.0 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 189 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/65 45/50 30/45 70/70 50/55 45

Bruján is an elite athlete with a chance to come into relevant power later in his 20s.

Bruján was a 60 FV player on last year’s list despite consistent feedback from the industry that that was too high (a dynamic Eric discussed in last year’s blurb). Bruján shared many traits with Ketel Marte: he’s a switch-hitter with preternatural feel for contact, he’s extremely tough to beat on the inner half because his levers are so short, he’s an elite rotational athlete who was able to make consistent contact while swinging as hard as he could, and he has the underlying physicality to come into impact strength as he enters his mid-20s. There are lots of other players whose measurable height and weight read as “small” who simply don’t have Bruján’s body composition (he’s angular and tapered at the waist rather than built like a stick), musculature (you can see his lats through his jersey), or explosiveness, and he seemed like a candidate to grow into meaningful power later than other hitters.

For the first several weeks of 2021, it appeared as though Eric was right, as Bruján hit .307/.402/.545 with a bunch of homers. He was merely a bit above average throughout the rest of the year, though, slashing .262/.345/.440 across the entire season, walking about as much as he struck out as a 23-year-old at Triple-A, setting a career-high in homers with 12, and swiping 44 bases. Bruján doesn’t have the arm to play shortstop and the Rays began moving him all over the diamond with greater regularity. He played second base and all three outfield positions during a mid-year big league stint and also played some third base while with Durham. He has the long speed to be a very good defensive center fielder with time, but it’s more likely that Bruján plays all over the place and adds value via his versatility. While he has gotten meaningfully stronger, Bruján struggles with premium velocity. His righty swing has gotten better but lacks impact, and he can only damage the ball in a narrow part of the zone from the left side. He’s still going to spray lots of contact all over the field and ambush some weak inner-half fastballs while adding value on the bases and playing all over the place, so while he’s unlikely to be impact offensive performer, he’ll still be an impact player.

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56. Austin Martin, CF, MIN

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Vanderbilt (TOR)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 45/45 30/40 50/50 35/45 45

The best bat in the 2020 draft, Martin features a big league approach, outstanding contact ability and average power. The Twins will figure out his defensive home as he keeps on raking.

The fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft, Martin was seen by many teams as the best pure hitter in the class, leading the Blue Jays to challenge him with a Double-A assignment to begin his pro career. He performed admirably, but in unexpected ways, and was dealt to Minnesota as the biggest prospect received back in the José Berríos deal. Staying at Double-A as a Twin, Martin continued to be solid but unspectacular, and plenty of questions remain. A contact machine who struck out just two times over 69 plate appearances during his COVID-shortened 2020 college season, Martin’s strikeout rate ballooned to nearly 20% as a pro. While not a galling rate, it came at the same time that Martin’s power went backwards far more than expected in the transition from metal to wood bats. He’s an exceptionally patient hitter, but sometimes to his own detriment, as his patience crossed that dangerous line into passivity at times, leaving him behind in the count and giving pitchers too much of an advantage. Martin has solid speed and split time between shortstop and center field in 2021, but he lacks pro-level infield skills and his future is likely in the grass, where scouts think he has a chance to turn into a solid center fielder, although his arm is fringy. There are plenty of mitigating factors with Martin, and it might feel like we are unfairly tearing into a guy who put up a .414 on-base percentage in his pro debut at the upper levels of the minors, so let’s be clear: this is still a very talented player. If anything, Martin’s 2021 season just adds variance to his outlook.

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57. Steven Kwan, CF, CLE

Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Oregon State (CLE)
Age 24.5 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
70/80 30/30 30/35 60/60 55/60 50

Kwan does not swing and miss, and has terrific defensive instincts. He’s in the Brett Gardner mold.

It isn’t as if Kwan wasn’t seen or scouted when he was an amateur. He was part of the great Oregon State teams led by Nick Madrigal, Adley Rutschman, Trevor Larnach, and others, and Kwan was typically the leadoff hitter on those squads. He hit .329/.431/.418 throughout his college career and was barely regarded as a bench outfield prospect since he was a 40-grade runner who scouts doubted could play center field. Kwan walked twice as often as he struck out in college, but hit just three career home runs, an extreme skills-over-tools sort of prospect.

Cleveland drafted Kwan in the fifth round in 2018 (former Baseball America writer Conor Glassey was the signing scout) and after a couple years of light-hitting performance commensurate with a bench outfielder, he exploded in 2021 and slashed a preposterous .328/.407/.527 combined at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. He was part of a huge contingent of prospects who the Guardians either had to add to the 40-man roster after the season or expose to the Rule 5 draft, and they ended up offloading roughly one-fifth of their 40-man to create space for Kwan, among others. Of that prospect contingent, several players (Jose Tena, Richie Palacios) were sent to the Fall League, while the 24-year-old Kwan was shockingly part of Cleveland’s instructs roster (a group that typically includes young, low-level players), which suggests that they know what they have and didn’t feel the need to stress test Kwan like they did Tena and Palacios. Kwan has a 3.3% swinging strike rate since entering pro ball, the second-lowest in the entire minor leagues among players with at least 650 PA during that span, with Madrigal the only hitter ahead of him. His short levers and excellent hand-eye coordination make it hard to get him to whiff, and his ability to spoil pitches is reminiscent of Johnny Damon. While we don’t think Kwan can slug anything close to .527, there have been mechanical changes to his swing that indicate he’ll now have enough power to be a viable everyday big leaguer. His stance has narrowed, his leg kick has gotten bigger, and his hands load lower than they used to. His swing is positioned to ambush letter-high fastballs and yoink them into the right field bleachers, which we think he’ll do 12-15 times per year. Kwan gets out of the box in a hurry and will post some sub-4.00 run times to first even though he’s still not a blazingly fast runner. His instincts in center field are terrific and he’s an above-average defender there now, though he could be plus-plus in a corner if Cleveland decides they like Myles Straw better out there. Even if that ends up being the case, we still think Kwan is a 50 in the Brett Gardner mold.

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58. Max Meyer, SP, MIA

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Minnesota (MIA)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 196 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 60/70 45/55 30/45 94-98 / 101

Small but electric, Meyer’s upper-90s heat and devastating slider have left scouts drooling, but he’s not without some reliever risk.

The third overall pick and first pitcher selected in the 2020 draft, Meyer had arguably the best stuff in the class, with his simple delivery and easy arm action giving teams confidence in his ability to start despite a smallish frame. Beginning his pro career at Double-A, Meyer passed his first professional tests with flying colors, finishing the year with a pair of impressive Triple-A outings, and it suddenly feels like he’s on the verge of a big league look. While he has far more control than command, Meyer has three plus or better pitches to work with. His fastball sits 94-96 mph and touches 98, and his changeup has improved by leaps and bounds since his college days at Minnesota, but his real calling card is one of the best sliders in all of the minor leagues. Thrown in the upper-80s and at times exceeding 90 mph, Meyer’s devastating power breaker features huge two-plane action with considerable sweep and late downward bite, earning 70-plus grades from some scouts. Meyer is primed to be one of the first starting pitcher call-ups for Miami in 2022, and should become a rotation stalwart.

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59. Elly De La Cruz, SS, CIN

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (CIN)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 60/80 25/60 70/70 30/45 70

De La Cruz is a boom-or-bust prospect who could really bust or go supernova.

Calling De La Cruz a boom or bust prospect understates his range of outcomes. His 4% walk rate in full-season ball is a ruby red flag, near the bottom of the statistical barrel, and hard evidence of an extremely aggressive approach that has been the undoing of several talented players before him. But if De La Cruz “booms,” it could be a boom on par with the one that created the universe. De La Cruz is among the toolsiest minor leaguers in baseball, a gigantic, projectable switch-hitting infielder with plus-plus speed, arm strength, and power potential. His lanky, shooting guard body (De La Cruz is listed at 6-foot-2, 150 pounds as of publication but he’s actually 6-foot-5, 195) has room for lots more strength and power, and his max exit velocities (near 112 mph) are already considerable for a hitter his age, let alone a potential shortstop. De La Cruz’s arm strength gives him some defensive margin for error, and the Reds should continue to develop him at short (he’s seen some time at second and third, too) to see if it works. But a teenager this size who has grown three inches since his last weigh-in obviously has a wide array of potential defensive homes at peak. If things develop in the Goldilocks Zone, De La Cruz will grow into a power-hitting force while staying up the middle of the diamond somewhere. If he falls to the bottom of the defensive spectrum, then we’re talking about a 1B/RF with scary plate discipline. Both realities are baked into the way we value De La Cruz, who is eerily similar to Pirates prospect Oneil Cruz.

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60. Luis Medina, MIRP, NYY

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/70 60/70 45/55 30/40 96-99 / 101

Medina has elite arm strength and a plus breaking ball, projecting to the back of a bullpen.

Medina’s prospect status exploded last winter with an overwhelming performance in Puerto Rico, and it continued to grow after a seven start run at High-A Hudson Valley that included 50 strikeouts and just 18 hits allowed over 32.2 innings. Spending the last two-thirds of the season at Double-A Somerset, he continued to showcase fantastic raw stuff, but the flaws in his game also became more readily apparent. On the right day, Medina can be nothing short of electric. His fastball is parked comfortably in the 96-98 mph range, and he hit triple digits frequently during the season. His low-80s curveball is a plus or better offering with tremendous depth, and he really deadens the spin on an upper-80s changeup that features hard, tumbling action. Medina’s command remains below average, as his sub-standard 13.3% walk rate in 2021 was actually an improvement from his career rate of nearly 16%. High pitch counts had him averaging fewer than five innings per start in 2021, and his upright, arm-heavy delivery, which has a finish that causes him to spin off strongly to the first base side, gives many scouts strong reliever vibes. It’s a starter’s repertoire but it will take considerable improvement for him to continue to profile there. Medina’s 2022 affiliate assignment will be determined in spring training, with all of the focus being on his ability to throw strikes, as the arsenal is already more than big-league ready.

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61. Brandon Williamson, MIRP, SEA

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from TCU (SEA)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 60/60 55/60 35/40 92-95 / 97

A pitch data darling, Williamson has four plus pitches and compares to Blake Snell.

Scouts congregating in Dallas on Friday nights to see Nick Lodolo during the spring of 2019 would often just spend their weekend with a Texas Christian club that produced nine draft picks. Among those nine, none impressed more than Williamson, a 6-foot-6 pop-up JUCO transfer who was cranking out mid-90s heat from the left side. Ultimately landing in the second round, Williamson had a phenomenal full-season debut, putting up a 37.4% strikeout rate while spending the majority of the season at Double-A, where he finished with a flourish. Williamson has a variety of weapons to choose from. After struggling to hold his velocity as an amateur, his 2021 went a long way toward convincing scouts of his ability to remain a starter, as he intentionally ratcheted down his velo to the 92-94 mph range while touching 96, while being able to maintain those levels throughout games. His high arm angle allows his fastball to play up due to good shape and outstanding vertical break, and it’s also his worst pitch, as he can miss bats with a plus mid-80s slider and an even better changeup with massive downward action. While Williamson has improved his strike throwing as a pro, he remains a control-over-command type, but with this kind of stuff, he doesn’t need to be especially precise as long as he just fills the box. He projects as a potentially dominant starter who still needs three or four innings from the bullpen.

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62. Royce Lewis, SS, MIN

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from JSerra HS (CA) (MIN)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/70 40/60 60/50 40/45 50

An aggressive approach creates some issues and his future position is TBD, but Lewis’ tool set rates with anyone in the minors.

One of the top-billed high schoolers during a superlative year for talent in Southern California, Lewis began garnering Derek Jeter comparisons while he was still an amateur. To a degree those remain reasonable, though they’re no longer applicable across nearly as much of Lewis’ skill set as they once were. Those comps came from his penchant for on-field leadership, his swing’s finish (though he’s way more pull-oriented than Jeter was), his frame (which is now way bigger than Jeter’s), and his future as a defensive shortstop. The Twins took him first overall in 2017 and cut a below-slot deal, as Lewis was seen as one of five options in a tightly-packed top tier of talent.

Throughout his first 18 months as a pro, Lewis had statistical success while being aggressively promoted before a developmental hiccup in 2019. His overall production slowly came down at each subsequent level, and during a 2019 season split between High- and Double-A, he had a .290 OBP. Then came a robust .353/.411/.565 Arizona Fall League line (he went to pick up reps after an oblique strain during the year) and League MVP award. But in Arizona, Lewis still clearly had issues. His swing was cacophonous — the big leg kick, the messy, excessive movement in his hands — and it negatively impacted Lewis’ timing. He needed to start several elements of the swing early just to catch fastballs, and was often late anyway. This also caused him to lunge at breaking balls, which he doesn’t seem to recognize very well. All of this was bizarre in context, as an advanced hit tool was a huge driver of his amateur profile, but Lewis looked like a guess hitter. His mannerisms — Nomar-level batting glove tinkering; deep, heavy, deliberate breaths between pitches; constant uniform adjustment — were manic and seemed to pull focus away from the task at hand rather than ground him in a ritualistic way, and the game often seemed too fast for him.

His swing looked the same during 2020 spring training but based on a little bit of video sent by an executive from another team, it appears to have been tweaked at the alternate site. He’s starting with an open stance now, and the angle of his bat as he sets up is also different (more north/south and away from his shoulder), but he still has that excessive leg kick and extraneous noise in the way his hands load. We have zero idea as to how this new swing will play in games since Lewis tore his ACL in February of 2021 and missed the entire season, basically his second lost season in a row after an injury-shortened 2019. He was back taking live BP off of Jhoan Duran and others during 2021 instructs, and the Twins put him on the 40-man roster. We continue to bet big on Lewis’ makeup and physical talent. His BPs were the best in the entire 2019 Fall League, and he is an exceptional teammate, leader, and worker, who did more early infield work than anyone else in the AFL, willing himself to become a viable left-side defender even though he lacks the traditional grace and fluidity for those positions. Even if some of the pitch recognition stuff proves to be a long-term issue, the floor here is that of a multi-positional role player who hits for considerable power. There may be an adjustment period similar to the one Javier Báez experienced early in his career because of the approach issues, but the star-level talent will eventually shine through.

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63. Brett Baty, 3B, NYM

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Lake Travis HS (TX) (NYM)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 65/70 40/50 45/40 45/50 55

A physical beast with huge raw power, Baty’s swing doesn’t enable him to get to it in games yet.

Baty put on an absolute clinic during BP at the 2021 Futures Game, arguably showing the most raw power at the entire event aside from maybe Francisco Álvarez. He then had a great showing during an otherwise lethargic infield/outfield session, which most other prospects sleep walked through. When he was an amateur, Baty’s titanic size created consternation that he might end up at first base pretty quickly, but he looked very comfortable at the hot corner with the whole industry watching and has not only kept his body in check, but improved it and his general athleticism. The strength of that look and Baty’s first half line at High-A — including a girthy .309/.397/.514 line with Brooklyn — vaulted Baty into our 60 FV tier. His power production slipped at Double-A and again in the Fall League, where six weeks of looks help us understand why. The length in Baty’s swing makes it hard for him to turn on velocity and causes him to drive the ball into the ground more than is ideal for a hitter with this much raw power. He may be vulnerable to big league fastballs on the outer edge since he already tends to work to the opposite field against inferior pitching. That Baty is capable of taking the ball the other way is not a bad thing, and his strength and feel for contact are both solid enough to project him as an everyday player even if he hits like this forever. We just think he’ll need to turn on and roast more inner-half pitches to be the star-level player we over-projected him as during the summer, which probably requires a swing change to occur.

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64. Mark Vientos, 3B, NYM

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from American Heritage HS (FL) (NYM)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/70 50/60 40/35 30/40 60

Vientos has huge raw power, but a see-ball, hit-ball approach prevents him from tapping into it, and his defensive ceiling is that of a below-average third baseman.

A sub-par 2019 campaign followed by an ugly first month of the ’21 season at Double-A Binghamton left some questioning Vientos’ prospect status, but he slugged .638 from May onward to re-establish himself as one of the more intriguing power bats in the minors. Vientos can damage a baseball, with his contact consistently well above-average in terms of exit velocities and nearly half of his hits going for extra bases. He can muscle the ball out of park from pole to pole and shows the capability to produce moonshots when he turns on a pitch. His uphill swing creates some contact issues, and his tendency to expand when behind in the count further exacerbates his swing-and-miss problems, making elevated strikeout rates something that he (and his team) will just have to live with throughout his career. Vientos has a bulky 6-foot-4 frame and is not especially athletic, so while he’s played the majority of his professional career at third base, he’s already seen considerable time at both first base and in left field, and one of those two is likely where his defensive future lies. Just 17 when he was drafted, Vientos has been consistently young for his level, even with the lost pandemic year, and has a good chance to slug his way to a late-season look in 2022.

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65. Matthew Liberatore, SP, STL

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Mountain Ridge HS (AZ) (TBR)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/55 60/60 40/45 50/60 92-95 / 97

Liberatore has arm strength and gets big spin on a plus curve, but his fastball traits beyond the velocity leave something to be desired. He’s a pitchability fourth starter prospect.

The Cardinals aren’t shy about pushing their pitching prospects, but they typically do so with college arms, so it was surprising when Libby went straight to Triple-A Memphis at the start of 2021 even though he was barely old enough to drink. He had 22 good outings on the season (just 33 walks in 124 innings), was the National League’s Futures Game starter, and pitched for Team USA in the Olympics. While his trademark offering in high school was a gorgeous curveball, Liberatore’s sinking fastball shape made the pitch easy to identify out of his hand, and his repertoire has shifted in pro ball to the point where his slider, which he learned on the fly as a high school senior, is now his most-used secondary pitch and the way he gets most of his swings-and-misses. He fills the zone with a fastball that sits 92-93 mph and peaked at 97 last year. His mid-80s slider has big length, and he has consistent glove-side feel for it. He has arm-side feel for his changeup but it can take a few tries before he really gets feel for it during a start, and he tends to decelerate his arm and baby his changeups into the zone. He doesn’t have to be put on the 40-man until next offseason, but Liberatore is basically ready for the big leagues and will function as upper-level depth in 2022, then is likely to be a key part of the Cardinals rotation from the jump starting in 2023.

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66. Gunnar Henderson, 3B, BAL

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Morgan Academy HS (AL) (BAL)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 50/55 40/55 50/40 45/60 60

A powerful lefty-hitting third baseman with a shortstop pedigree, Henderson might be a plus third base defender at peak.

Henderson was still 19 when the Orioles assigned him to Low-A Delmarva to start the 2021 season. He hit the ground running there, slashing an incredible .313/.391/.613 and moving into our 50 FV tier. Then the strikeouts started to pile up, and he K’d in roughly 35% of his plate appearances over the rest of the season. Henderson is best when he can drop the bat head to impact pitches at the bottom of the zone. He’s shown glimpses of flattening his path to hit pitches at the top of the strike zone, though not as consistently, and making adjustments in this area was part of Henderson’s focus at the Orioles fall camp. The further up and away from Henderson a pitch is, the more likely he is to hit it to the opposite field. It’s exciting that he has the power to do damage that way, but his inability to turn on some of these pitches may be an indication he’ll struggle with rise-and-run fastballs of big league velocity. Henderson’s power, ball/strike recognition, and what we project will be plus third base defense still present a skill set befitting an average everyday player, even if he ends up with a 40 bat. Any indication of potential swing-and-miss issues here are new. Henderson raked as a high schooler against both varsity pitching in the Southeast and on the showcase circuit, and was seen as among the more advanced 2019 prep hitters, a good bet to move though the minors faster than the other hitters from his draft class (which he has). There’s plenty of time for some of this stuff to get polished up and while it increases Henderson’s perceived variance, our view of his ceiling hasn’t changed. He’s just going to have to walk an unexpected path to get there.

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67. Eury Perez, SP, MIA

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (MIA)
Age 18.9 Height 6′ 9″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/60 45/50 45/60 25/55 91-94 / 95

Built like human skyscraper, Perez has incredible control of his limbs for a pitcher this tall, this age, who throws this hard. His ceiling is as lofty as he is.

After having been the youngest and most exciting member of Miami’s 2020 instructs roster, Perez went on to shine as one of the system’s best-performing pitchers in ’21. He led all Marlins prospects with at least 70 innings pitched in strikeout rate, K-BB%, and opponents’ batting average, and ranked within the top three by several other metrics. He earned a mid-season promotion, making him the youngest player at High-A, where he continued to excel on the mound, striking out 31.3% of the batters he faced and bringing his walk rate down to a slim 6%. His fastball was up to 95 mph with High-A Beloit, and he mixed in his advanced curveball and a changeup that improved as the season progressed, especially against lefties. Most impressive is his repeatable delivery. For a long-limbed, 6-foot-8 teenager, Perez continues to show remarkable control over his lanky limbs, delivering unblemished mechanics where you might reasonably expect flailing inconsistency. With plenty of room on his frame to add muscle (and with it, some additional heat on his fastball), the ceiling for Perez is still very high, and he’s moved with impressive efficiency through the system thus far, with little indication of slowing down. Were he a high schooler in the 2022 draft, we think he’d be picked inside the top five.

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68. Ezequiel Duran, 3B, TEX

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 22.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 40/55 40/35 50/55 55

Duran looked great at third base in the Fall League and has big, pull-side power.

Duran was the headliner of the multi-player package Texas received from the Yankees for Joey Gallo, and while he had some initial struggles as a Ranger, he finished the year with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League. Short, stocky, and incredibly strong, Duran doesn’t get cheated on his swing, which incorporates every muscle in his body to produce bat speed, leverage and some of the best exit velocities in the system. There isn’t much room for adjustment to the operation of his swing and along with a bit of a tendency to chase breaking balls, a high strikeout total will likely always be part of the package. Duran runs better than you’d think from looking at him, and while he’s played three different infield positions as a pro, scouts see his ultimate home as second base, where he profiles as a bat-first infielder. The free agent signings of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, as well as the presence of top prospect Josh Jung, cloud Duran’s future with Texas. He’ll try to further complicate things in his favor when he begins the year at Double-A.

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69. Coby Mayo, RF, BAL

Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Stoneman Douglas HS (FL) (BAL)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/70 30/60 50/40 40/45 60

The huge-framed Mayo has big power and decent feel to hit, and is perhaps a swing change away from vaulting into the top half of this list.

Mayo was the highest-ranked prospect among the overslot players Baltimore drafted with the pool space opened up by Heston Kjerstad’s underslot deal. Bullish as we were on him last year, a .320/.426/.555 line split between the complex and Low-A during his first full season exceeded our expectations. At Mayo’s size, we still think he’s destined for an outfield corner, but he’ll likely add so much strength as he matures that he will have enough power to support an everyday profile there. Mayo made frequent contact as an amateur and it was often hard, but his swing was odd-looking and featured a strange, choppy stride. His stance is more upright now and he’s moved off the plate a little bit, but for the most part his swing has stayed the same and Mayo has performed anyway. Recall the batting line Mayo just posted. This is an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” situation at the moment, but Mayo’s underlying hit data (just an 8% barrel rate in 2021) indicates there’s still room for improvement in the contact quality department. Mayo has the talent to anchor the middle of a big league order and got out of the blocks more quickly than expected. There aren’t strikeout red flags here, which is rare in conjunction with this kind of power projection and frame.

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70. Shea Langeliers, C, ATL

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Baylor (ATL)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 55/55 40/50 35/30 50/55 60

A great defender with some power that he gets to in games, Langeliers is a high-probability everyday catcher.

In a world where there are 30 teams but aren’t 30 legitimate starting catchers, Langeliers’ combination of elite defense and just-enough offense made him a top 10 pick in the 2019 draft. In 2021, his power blossomed to make him one of the better catching prospects around. Langeliers has the potential to win multiple Gold Gloves. He moves well laterally, has soft, quiet hands and a strong, accurate arm that shuts down the running game. He also earns raves for his catching intangibles in terms of managing the game and working with pitchers. At the plate, he has a bit of a brute force game, and while Langeliers isn’t an especially instinctual hitter (he projects as a sub-50 bat with contact issues), he has plus raw power and the potential to whack 20-plus home runs annually. His combination of power and glove work could make him one of the more valuable catchers in baseball despite the lack of eye-popping back-of-the-baseball-card numbers.

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71. Zac Veen, RF, COL

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Spruce Creek HS (COL)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 55/70 35/60 60/55 30/55 55

Already a physical presence as a teenager, Veen has big power potential and a pretty left-handed swing to go with a plus arm that should serve him well in right field.

As a draft prospect, Veen’s combination of present pop and long-term power projection put his ceiling in the exosphere, among the top players in the 2020 class. Veen already rotates with rare ferocity and his broad-shouldered, 6-foot-4 frame (Jason Heyward, Jayson Werth, and Domonic Brown are all pretty tidy comps) leaves room for immense strength as he matures. He didn’t have the same obviously great bat-to-ball skills as Tyler Soderstrom or Robert Hassell III, but you could have argued for Veen to be atop that group at the time based on upside. The Rockies drafted him ninth overall and he had an incredible debut season at Low-A Fresno, tallying 46 extra-base hits in 106 games, finishing a dying quail away from a .300/.400/.500 season in a post-Cal League hitting environment. He came to instructs and faced a combination of curated young pitching and recently-drafted college arms. The latter group, at least in Eric’s looks, were able to keep Veen’s contact quality in check by working in on his hands. Veen’s tactile feel to hit is fine — it’s not a red flag, but it also isn’t exceptional. A scout mentioned worrying about how dead and still Veen’s hands are before they start to fire, another trait he shares with Brown. Lever length may be at play here, too. While we’re cautiously optimistic about Veen’s chances of being a 35-plus homer force, that still feels like a right-tail outcome rather than what’s most likely. There’s not bust-inducing hit tool risk here, so much as there’s a possibility that big league pitchers will be able to avoid the hot spot of Veen’s swing path and keep him from getting to all his power.

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72. Cristian Pache, CF, ATL

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (ATL)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 50/55 40/45 60/60 80/80 70

Pache is an elite defender in center with 20/20 potential on the offensive side, but he’s stalled out in the upper minors so far.

We are trying not to allow prospect fatigue to impact our view of Pache, whose offensive output has sunk since his 2019 peak, when he hit .278/.340/.474 as a 20-year-old at Double-A Mississippi. Since then, he has struggled to crack the Braves outfield even amid their many injuries, and the club has prioritized giving at-bats to Abraham Almonte, Guillermo Heredia, and other players acquired via trade. He’s struggled to make contact in limited big league time and hit just .265/.330/.414 at Triple-A in 2021. Pache was still just a 22-year-old, and that line was on par with the Triple-A average. Additionally, Pache’s swinging strike rate came down from his concerning 2019 levels. He had a 17% swinging strike rate (if we 20-80’d swinging strike rates, that’d be a 30) then versus a 13% rate in 2021, just a little worse than the big league average. There were times when it appeared that Pache had made a swing change in 2021, with emphasis on getting his front foot down earlier, but this isn’t consistent on tape. His walk rates have been near the bottom of the scale for many years now, but Pache’s chase rates, per Synergy, were also close to the big league average while he was at Triple-A. Burying the lede here, recall that Pache’s carrying tool is some of the best center field defense on the planet. Even though he sometimes appears to be in middling physical condition, his reads and lines in center are virtuosic, and as soon as he gets regular time there, he’ll be a Gold Glove contender. He has the raw power to pull out 20 annual homers, and if he can do that toward the end of his pre-free agency years, he’ll be an above-average regular, but we anticipate he’ll be a glove-only, nine-hole hitter at the start.

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73. Jasson Dominguez, CF, NYY

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 19.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 60/60 20/60 60/55 40/50 60

The Zion Williamson of baseball, Dominguez is a bulked-up, switch-hitting toolshed.

Dominguez spent a couple of years holding the title of the most famous prospect without a professional at-bat, a crown he was happy to relinquish after spending the first part of 2021 in extended spring training. While all of that attention led to what were surely unrealistic public expectations, his performance in Low-A disappointed to the point of creating some legitimate questions about his upside. Any conversation about Dominguez begins with his size, as he’s put on somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-plus pounds in the last 24 months, not all of which is muscle. He has a powerful swing and generates tremendous exit velocities for his age, but he also showed far more swing-and-miss than expected. A switch-hitter, Dominguez’s swing was much better from the left side, as he slugged just .241 against southpaws with a 43% strikeout rate.

A borderline burner when he signed for a $5.1 million bonus in 2019, Dominguez is still a plus runner, but his size has led many to think his future is in a corner, where he profiles as a plus right fielder with a weapons-grade arm. There are plenty of mitigating factors to excuse Dominguez’s performance, particularly his age and the rust that almost certainly accumulated in the time between his signing and when he finally made his pro debut. He’ll be just 19 years old for the entirety of the 2022 season, and there’s still plenty to be excited about in terms of his potential, as his tools are still on par with those of a typical draft’s top handful of picks. But Dominguez’s showing last season also made it appear as though he isn’t going to have a meteoric, superstar ascent.

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74. Cade Cavalli, SP, WSN

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Oklahoma (WSN)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 45/50 60/70 30/45 93-97 / 101

Cavalli has a huge arm and a good changeup, but also carries a considerable amount of relief risk due to past injury and his violent delivery.

After going in the first round of the truncated 2020 draft, Cavalli climbed through the Nationals system last season, starting the year at High-A and closing it out at Triple-A. Across those three levels, he combined for a 33.5% strikeout rate while walking 11.5% of opposing batters for a 1.26 WHIP. He posted double-digits in the K-column on six occasions, including 15 strikeouts in seven innings of work in what would end up being his last game at High-A. But his strikeout rate fell as he moved up (44.9% at High-A, 32.9% at Double-A, 19.8% at Triple-A), undoubtedly due to the more advanced approaches of the hitters he was facing. He only gave up six home runs all season, and on only one occasion did he allow two in a single game, when Triston Casas and Franchy Cordero went back-to-back against him in his second-to-last start at Triple-A.

Cavalli certainly looks the part of a domineering starter and he adds to that impression with a four-pitch mix. But his college injury track record, combined with a violent arm action, waters down his profile, making it somewhat harder to see how he can sustain it as his innings count increases. We project him as more of a high-leverage ‘pen arm, one who could be up with the big-league squad as soon as late 2022.

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75. Iván Herrera, C, STL

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Panama (STL)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 50/55 25/45 30/30 45/55 50

Finally a worthy successor to Yadi Molina, the toolsy Herrera will soon be a big league apprentice and should eventually take up Molina’s helm as the Cardinals everyday catcher.

Herrera has long been on the radar as a legitimate catcher with intriguing tools, but defensive improvements, along with some actualization of his power potential, led to his prospect stock rising considerably in 2021. Herrera has a sturdy, thick build and there is nothing dainty about his swing. He’s a long-strider with an uphill, high-leverage bat path that is designed far more for power than precision, and he projects to provide offensive value with home runs and plenty of walks as opposed to an ability to make contact. He’s worked hard on his defense, including some one-on-one sessions with nine-time Gold Glove winner Yadier Molina, and has seen his blocking and receiving go from fringy to average to go along with an already solid arm. There are worries that Herrera’s new found home run ability made him a bit too focused on power, leaving him pull-conscious and unable to make in-pitch adjustments. He has the potential to spend some time shadowing Molina in the big leagues this year, before likely taking over for him as the primary Cardinals backstop in 2023.

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76. Patrick Bailey, C, SFG

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from North Carolina State (SFG)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 192 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/50 30/40 30/30 40/50 45

The unathletic Bailey is a good switch-hitter at a premium position.

Between Buster Posey hanging up his chest protector this offseason and a relative cooling on Joey Bart, Bailey seems a likely and necessary role player for the Giants as they phase into the post-Posey era of catching. A first rounder in 2020 out of North Carolina State, Bailey made his professional debut in ’21. After struggling at High-A while dealing with a back issue and then taking a couple of games in the Complex League to regroup, he landed at what seemed a more comfortable level at Low-A San Jose. After a couple of weeks of gradual return to form, Bailey was sidelined with a concussion in mid-August, then came back to absolutely demolish the competition for the remaining four weeks of the season. Bailey went 39-for-99 with six homers, 11 doubles and a whopping 1.146 OPS, good for a 193 wRC+ over his last 25 games, then hit .292/.375/.417 while picking up reps in the Fall League. A switch-hitter with rare feel for contact from both sides, Bailey prefers a gap approach from the right side, while favoring a pull/lift approach from the left. Unlike other young guys whose bat control results in a swing-happy approach, Bailey’s sometimes sways too far in the opposite direction, and can be overly selective, bordering on passive.

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77. Greg Jones, CF, TBR

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from UNC Wilmington (TBR)
Age 24.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/55 30/50 70/70 40/45 55

Jones is a plus-plus athlete still developing in many ways, but he could be a star if even a few of his skills start to click.

Many saw Jones as having the best tools in the 2019 draft class, but concerns about his contact rate and defense dropped him to the bottom half of the first round. His impressive full-season debut was hampered by a pair of quad strains, and he remains a player with outstanding tools and, well, concerns about his contact rate and defense. While it’s easy to talk about round numbers like 30/30, Jones is best described as having 20 home run, 50 stolen base potential. He’s an elite runner in terms of speed, but he’s also an excellent baserunner who looks to swipe bases and has done so at an 84% success rate so far as a pro. He has impressive bat speed and strength, but has trouble making contact from both sides of the plate and has much more power from the right side. His phenomenal twitch and plus arm makes for some highlight reel plays at shortstop, but his footwork and hands remain lacking, leaving him error prone, with many scouts believing he’d be better of in center field, where he could be a plus or better defender. He’s one of the most exciting players in the minor leagues, but the significant flaws in his game keep him at a 50 FV.

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78. Joey Wiemer, RF, MIL

Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Cincinnati (MIL)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/70 35/60 55/50 30/60 70

Wiemer takes huge hacks and makes enough contact to get to his big power in games.

Wiemer’s 2021 swing was different than the one he utilized in college. His stance opened up, his leg kick was replaced by a Sammy Sosa-esque toe tap, and his hands now start from a position akin to Matt Olson‘s swing, though Wiemer uses a more dramatic flick of the wrist to get them there. This seems to have unlocked his ability to launch (while in college, Wiemer had among the best max exit velos in Division I but still only hit 12 career homers) without creating excessive swing-and-miss tendencies (22% K% in 2021, 20% throughout his college career, including his whiff-prone Cape Cod stint). The 22-year-old slashed .295/.403/.556 with 27 bombs and 30 stolen bases split between Low- and High-A, then had his Fall League stint cut short by a bruised thumb.

He has “freak factor” — size, speed, and explosiveness that set him apart from the other players — and he plays with his hair on fire, endearing him to scouts. There is 30-plus homer ability here, and after enacting a relevant swing change, the chances that Wiemer can get there have grown. His breaking ball recognition and tendency to swing inside ones that finish on the outer third of the zone are both still potential barriers. This is a traditional right field profile with K’s and gigantic power. There’s missing TrackMan/Hawkeye data from this org, which is particularly frustrating with regard to Wiemer, whose measurable power has been an important reinforcing data point. His 110 mph max exit velo from college was among the highest in his draft class, while his 105 mph measured max from the 2021 regular season (based on data sourced from non-Brewers personnel) is objectively wrong — it took digging into the data from just one of Wiemer’s Fall League games to find a ball in play harder than that, at 108 mph.

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79. Michael Busch, 2B, LAD

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from North Carolina (LAD)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 207 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 60/60 45/55 50/45 30/35 40

A bat-only prospect with a well-rounded offensive skill set, Busch may end up a 30-grade second base defender or just play 1B/LF.

The strong-bodied Busch has never done anything but hit, amassing a .282/.429/.492 line at North Carolina, then a .267/.386/.484 line at Double-A Tulsa in 2021, his first full year at an affiliate. Busch’s swing is simple but still athletic and explosive. His hands work with natural lift, but Busch keeps their path short and on time, and he can move the barrel all over the zone. He can get extended on pitches out away from him and drive them into the opposite field gap, and has the power to do damage that way, and he can move the bat head all over the strike zone. Busch is not a good defensive player. Scouts who have had an extended look at him think he could eventually be passable at second base, but definitely not good, much like Tommy La Stella. Busch played the keystone for an extended stretch on the Cape in 2018 but spent his career at North Carolina playing mostly first base and some corner outfield, and those are the two positions pro scouts think he’ll move to if second doesn’t work out.

But most importantly, Busch really hits, and is probably an everyday player even if he ends up mostly playing left field. He’s a well-rounded offensive player and high-probability big league regular.

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80. Sixto Sánchez, SP, MIA

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (PHI)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 234 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/50 60/70 50/55 95-99 / 101

Sánchez’s fastball gets hit more than expected due to his arm angle and the pitch’s lack of movement, but his changeup is awesome and he pounds the zone with power stuff.

If Sixto Sánchez is reading 2022 prospect lists, we imagine him saying, “I’m not even supposed to be here today!” while sounding like Dante from Clerks. Following a solid 2020 debut, Sánchez was lined up to spend the 2021 season in the Marlins rotation, losing his prospect status by April. Instead, he was sidelined with shoulder issues in late March and finally succumbed to capsule surgery in July. That’s nowhere near as serious as work being done on or around the labrum, and while the lockout prevents us from knowing exactly how close Sánchez is to throwing, he was expected to be healthy by the time camp was originally scheduled to start in February.

Sánchez is a difficult arm to evaluate, even without the missed time. He can light up a radar gun like few others, sitting in the upper-90s while consistently reaching or exceeding triple-digits, but the fastball gets hit far more often than one would expect due to its terrible shape and minimal action. His secondaries are much better than the fastball in terms of both pitch data and actual performance. His slider is driven more by velocity than break, but as it’s in the upper-80s (and at times the low-90s), it misses plenty of bats. Meanwhile, he can really deaden the spin on his impressive changeup, which sits in the upper-80s and generates some silly swings from hitters gearing up for the heat. Even before the shoulder problem, Sánchez felt like a starter who would produce more GIFs on Twitter than dominating performances, but a healthy version still lines up as a mid-rotation starting pitcher.

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81. Jordan Lawlar, SS, ARI

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Jesuit Prep HS (ARI)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/55 45/50 20/50 60/60 45/60 50

Lawlar is a viable defensive shortstop prospect with a big frame, but he’s older than most high schoolers entering pro ball, which affects his projection.

A complete prospect and total baseball rat, Lawlar had been a touted amateur as an underclassman and basically held serve as a near top-of-the-class talent for two or three years, even amid the volatility of the 2020 draft process. He has terrific defensive hands, feet, and actions, and enough arm strength for the left side of the infield, and he showed advanced feel to hit on the showcase circuit while inexplicably struggling with swing-and-miss the following spring leading up to the draft. Lawlar covers a fair bit of the strike zone and has terrific breaking ball recognition for a teenage hitter. While not an especially explosive athlete, his strength and contact quality still enable him to strike the ball with authority while utilizing a relatively conservative, all-fields approach. Given his frame and the possibility of a swing change, there are scouts who think Lawlar has more long-term power potential than those fixated on his pre-draft age (he was 19 on draft day, almost a year older than the average prepster) or his middling explosiveness. Even if Lawlar’s hit/power combination solidifies as being close to average, we’re still likely talking about a good big leaguer since his chances of staying at shortstop are extremely high. A posterior labrum tear ended Lawlar’s summer after just a couple of games in a Diamondbacks uniform; he played in a couple of intrasquad games and two official Complex League tilts, injuring his shoulder diving for a ball in the second. He needed surgery and about seven months of rehab after it, likely putting him on track to begin the year in extended spring training.

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82. Cole Henry, SIRP, WSN

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from LSU (WSN)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 55/60 40/45 95-97 / 99

Henry projects as a reliever, but he has three plus pitches, so probably a dominant one.

Often referred to as the third member of Washington’s up-and-coming Big Three along with Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge, Henry put up a 38.7% strikeout rate in High-A in 2021 against 6.7% walks. But there’s a catch: he only pitched 43 innings there (plus another three on the complex), missing an 11-week span from May to August with elbow inflammation. It’s particularly concerning given the upper arm and elbow injuries that shortened his freshman year at LSU, but when he did come back in August, he looked every bit as deadly as he had in the earlier part of the season. His two-seamer sat in the mid-90s, while his four-seamer was a notch faster at 95-98 mph and tunneled with a low-80s changeup with enough arm-side fade to inspire goofy swings from both sides of the plate. His arm action is still long and violent, and his head whack causes his hat to fly off so frequently we wonder if he’s angling for a shampoo endorsement. But Head and Shoulders aside, he’s improved his command over all of his offerings. 2022 will be an important test of his ability to stay healthy, and if he does, he could be ready for a rapid climb through the system.

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83. Geraldo Perdomo, SS, ARI

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (ARI)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 203 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 30/40 30/40 60/60 45/60 55

An excellent defensive shortstop who can work the count and runs well, Perdomo makes up for his lack of power with many other aspects of his game.

While most prospects his age were finishing their college career, Perdomo spent the entire year at Double-A and above, even appearing in 11 big league games. Still procedurally advanced and physically overmatched, Perdomo will need to get stronger if he’s ever going to be an impact offensive performer. In 2019, it looked as though that was starting to occur. Perdomo’s exit velos trended upward all year and his swing had become more visually explosive by the Fall League. A couple of years have gone by and Perdomo’s measurable power is still near the bottom of the big league register. He’s only 21, but the chances that meaningful power manifests grow slimer with each year that passes without development in this area. The good news is that Perdomo does everything else well. He’s a plus defensive shortstop with incredibly fast actions and wonderful defensive instincts, and is a low-whiff switch-hitter with great feel for the strike zone from both sides of the plate. He could probably stand to cover the outer third of the zone a little bit better, but otherwise Perdomo has a great offensive foundation, one that gives him a chance to break out if the power does arrive. More likely though, we think he’ll develop strength that is more sufficient than impactful, and become a solid everyday shortstop living off his OBP and defense.

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84. Owen White, SP, TEX

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Carson HS (NC) (TEX)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 199 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 55/60 50/50 45/55 50/60 92-95 / 96

The ultra-advanced White has command of four pitches and looked great in the Fall League.

White made his first career start in affiliated ball nearly three years after he was drafted, then promptly went on the injured list with a fractured hand. He was handled with kid gloves the summer after he signed, blew out the next year anyway, had 2020 wiped away by the pandemic, then made a start and broke his hand at the beginning of 2021. White’s big league timeline was less affected by the shutdown than most minor leaguers’ since he was always going to spend most of that year rehabbing. When healthy, he had several significant components already in place (velocity, fastball movement, breaking ball quality) and his other traits (changeup proclivity, athleticism, feel for location) indicate he’s poised to grow and develop into a well-rounded arm. He made just a handful of regular season starts, then looked fantastic in the Arizona Fall League, where he commanded a 92-94 mph sinker with precision, threw a slider that was often in the 55-60-grade range, and commanded an upper-80s changeup that has enough action to miss bats despite a lack of velo separation from his heater. For a kid who has barely pitched in pro ball, he looked incredibly polished. There’s a chance we’re being overconfident about White’s velo holding in that 92-94 range since he hasn’t yet had to withstand the grind of a whole season, but he looks like a near-ready fourth starter.

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85. Jose Miranda, 2B, MIN

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Leadership Christian HS (PR) (MIN)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/50 30/50 50/45 40/45 50

Miranda is doing the Ty France dance as a positionless masher whose hit/power combination outweighs his aggressive approach.

Miranda spent time at both Double- and Triple-A in 2021, and his numbers at each level were remarkably similar, combining for a slash line of .344/.401/.572. The main attraction for the 23-year-old is still his feel for contact. He very rarely whiffs and has an uncanny ability to put his bat on the ball regardless of where the pitch is with his short, compact swing. As it often does with young hitters, this has resulted in an overly swing-happy approach, with Miranda rarely working the count and often making suboptimal contact on pitches he should have left alone. In 2021, though, he exhibited much more patience in the box, resulting in a bump in both walks and power, while maintaining an enviable strikeout rate in the low teens. Miranda hasn’t found a perfect fit on defense, instead playing more of a utility role (he spent time at all four infield positions in 2021, as well as a handful of games in left field at Triple-A), but the power he’s tapped into could allow for the possibility of a more permanent corner-infield role.

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86. Andy Pages, CF, LAD

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (LAD)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 35/65 50/50 45/50 60

A compactly-built Cuban player with big raw and a rocket launcher for an arm, Pages needs to calm his swing and reduce the strikeouts as he learns that he just needs to let his natural strength play.

Pages (it’s pronounced pá-hāz) was on this list last year but not even we would have guessed that he’d skip Low-A, go straight to High-A Great Lakes, and hit 31 bombs as a 20-year-old. Pages’ average launch angle in 2019 was a whopping 25 degrees, which would have been the highest among major league players that year (Rhys Hoskins averaged 24 degrees), and would have been second among qualified 2020 hitters behind only Joey Gallo. His pull-and-lift proclivity was on display again in 2021, as Pages’ 24% groundball rate was the lowest among qualified hitters in full-season ball, tied with Nicholas Northcut of the Red Sox.

As you would probably expect from a hitter with such a steep swing (this is about as steep as one can get without it becoming a problem), Pages swings and misses quite a bit and instead has a power-driven profile. He’s now put a year of full-season statistics on paper and it looks like he has the ball/strike discipline to help support his profile. He can hit balls out with a flick of the wrist, even when he hasn’t taken his best swing. His speed under way and defensive instincts give him a chance to stay in center field, which would obviously give Pages a little more margin for error as a hitter. If he stays in center, he has a star-level ceiling. If not, then he has a whiff-prone, traditional right field profile driven by obvious impact power. Even if the latter occurs, it’s very likely Pages not only gets to all of his raw power, but might outperform it because of how often he’s able to lift the baseball. He’s a launch angle unicorn with the thump to take advantage of it and a non-zero chance of staying at a premium defensive spot, though it’s not likely.

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87. Kevin Alcantara, CF, CHC

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 193 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 50/70 20/60 55/50 40/50 55

Long, lanky and loaded with tools and projection, Alcantara has massive potential and plenty to prove.

Alcantara joined the Cubs system as part of the Anthony Rizzo deal ahead of the deadline. Like many, he lost a year of development in 2020, then had a delayed start in ’21 due to a hamstring injury that meant he only played nine games of Rookie ball with the Yankees before being traded. Post-trade, he went on to slash .337/.415/.609 over the 25 games he played for the Cubs’ Complex League team, then seemed a little overmatched (or perhaps just gassed) during instructs, which feature a higher level of pitching than the ACL regular season. Athletic, 6-foot-6 outfielders who can rotate like Alcantara can are rare. He is loose and fluid in the box but does have some swing-and-miss concerns, caused not by his long levers (we’ve seen him pull his hands in near his body to barrel stuff inner half), but by sub-optimal barrel accuracy. He hasn’t yet grown into elite power, but we think he will. His feel for contact might take forever to develop, or never develop at all, but for now he continues to boast one of the highest ceilings of any prospect his age.

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88. Josh Winder, SP, MIN

Drafted: 7th Round, 2018 from Virginia Military Institute (MIN)
Age 25.4 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/50 45/50 45/50 50/60 92-96 / 97

Winder has above-average command of a multitude of pitches and, assuming he’s past a shoulder issue, is ready for a big league rotation.

After an impressive 2019 season, Winder showed off a velocity increase at 2020 instructs, sitting 93-95 mph and touching 97. As a 6-foot-5, square-shouldered hurler with a repeatable delivery and an arm slot well suited to optimizing his fastball, the velocity bump was a welcome development, especially when combined with the spin he’d added to his curveball and the arm-side action he’d begun to cultivate in his changeup. In 2021, Winder started the season in Double-A and managed to improve upon his ’19 performance in virtually every statistical category. He issued more strikeouts (31.3%) and fewer walks (4.8%), while posting a 0.93 WHIP and a sub-two ERA. When he was promoted to Triple-A, he struck out seven guys before allowing a hit. He maintained his feel for the strike zone over four Triple-A starts but was shut down with shoulder tightness in mid-July and didn’t return for the rest of the season. That leaves unanswered the question of whether he can maintain his velocity over the course of a full season and adds some injury concern, but the overall performance was still enough for him to have been considered one of the Twins’ 2021 breakouts.

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89. Josh H. Smith, 2B, TEX

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from LSU (NYY)
Age 24.5 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 50/50 30/45 50/50 45/50 55

Smith does everything pretty well and plays a viable defensive shortstop.

The well-rounded Smith missed two out of three seasons between 2018 and ’20. The first, his sophomore year at LSU, was because of a back fracture, while the other was due to the pandemic. He entered the 2021 season as a 23-year-old who had yet to play full-season ball, but we loved Smith’s well-rounded game and his general profile (that of a contact-oriented lefty stick capable of play the middle-infield), and considered him a high-floor 45 FV prospect. The Yankees were too conservative with his assignment (this guy should’ve just been in Somerset from the jump) and Smith hit his way out of Low-A in just a couple of weeks, then continued to mash at Hudson Valley to the tune of a .347/.454/.625 line in June. His power output started to fall off after he was traded to Texas in the Gallo deal, looking more in line with the visual evaluations of his power, which are a little shy of average. Whatever thump Smith ends up having (probably just 45 raw, as he’s already 24), he’ll likely get to it in games, as his short swing has consistent lift and he has a great idea of the strike zone and which pitches to attack. He is a high-probability, lower-impact everyday infielder with plus on-base skills and professorial on-field makeup.

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90. Liover Peguero, SS, PIT

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (ARI)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 45/50 35/45 60/55 45/55 55

Peguero is a viable defensive shortstop with precocious feel for contact.

Peguero is a well-rounded player with no major weaknesses in his game. Defensively, he’s a plus runner who moves well to either side, with a good first step, clean hands, and above-average arm strength. Neither his range nor his arm are top of the scale for the position, so while he won’t have to move down the defensive spectrum, we anticipate he’s more of an average or above-average defender than a Gold Glover. At the plate, Peguero’s game is already mature. He notched a 108 wRC+ as a 20-year-old in High-A, and projects to have a plus hit tool on the strength of his bat-to-ball skills and line-to-line approach. His swing is a little funky and a fair bit of his contact in the air went up the middle or the other way in 2021. He’s also prone to getting out in front of offspeed pitches, and good sequencing can get him unbalanced. Barring a change in his stroke, we see him as more of a doubles hitter than a regular home run threat. Perhaps he’ll tease more out of the bat with time: He’s reportedly a good makeup guy and plays the game with an infectious enthusiasm. Ultimately, Peguero projects as a good defensive shortstop with a competent stick. He may not be the star of the show, but he has the chops to be an important cog in Pittsburgh’s next playoff team.

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91. Jordan Balazovic, SP, MIN

Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from St. Martin HS (CAN) (MIN)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 55/55 40/45 45/55 93-96 / 97

While still a work in progress after being drafted in 2016 as a raw product from Canada, Balazovic’s fastball checks all the boxes in terms of velocity, spin attributes, and command, though he’s still refining his secondary pitches and his delivery is gross.

2020 would’ve been a test of Balazovic’s ability to maintain his stuff over the course of a full season and could have helped solidify his role as an innings-eating starter. Of course, that opportunity was wiped away by the pandemic, postponing Balazovic’s chance to prove himself until 2021. His best outing came in mid-July, when he lasted seven innings against a lineup featuring several of the Dodgers’ top-ranked prospects, including Jacob Amaya, Michael Busch, and Miguel Vargas. He kept all three of those bats quiet, fanning Amaya and Busch twice each despite their oft-mentioned keen sense of the strike zone. By the time he left the game, he’d issued 11 strikeouts and just one walk, and allowed only one hit (a single, where the runner was thrown out at second). Despite flashes of brilliance like that, Balazovic never really had a stretch of games where he was consistently unhittable, and his walk-rate saw an uptick uncharacteristic of his past performance. He did pitch more innings in 2021 than he had in his dominant ’19 season, but only slightly more (97 IP, up from 93.2), and he averaged fewer innings per game (4.2, down from 5.2).

That said, his stuff still looks good, working vertically with a deep curveball that is complemented by a sharper changeup that he uses low in the zone. His delivery is a whirl of limbs, distracting enough to batters on both sides of the plate for them to have trouble picking up the ball out of his hand. Despite the flailing, Balazovic keeps his long levers in check, contracting almost miraculously by the time his foot lands with each offering. Assuming he’s able to recapture his strikeout rate from previous seasons as he continues to refine his secondaries, he still looks like a No. 3 or 4 starter.

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92. Gabriel Arias, SS, CLE

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (SDP)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 201 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 55/60 35/50 55/55 55/60 70

Arias has every tool except for “hit,” but he’s coming off a year with surprising performance at Triple-A.

Arias was part of San Diego’s huge 2016 international signing class, inking a deal worth just shy of $2 million. He quickly became the most promising of the young infielders the club signed that year and was pushed to full season ball late during his age-17 season, well out ahead of the others in his class. After a rough statistical 2018 as a very young player at Low-A Fort Wayne, Arias had a great ’19 season on paper, hitting .302/.339/.470 as a 19-year-old at High-A Lake Elsinore. He was part of the Mike Clevinger trade with Cleveland and was sent right to Triple-A in 2021, where he hit .284/.348/.454 as a 21-year-old.

Arias’ approach and hit tool still scare scouts and analysts. He has historically been apt to chase pitches out of the strike zone, and looks like a player who’ll wind up with career OBPs in the .290-.310 range. But he is tooled out, a plus shortstop defender with rare power for that position. The Padres threw every developmental trick in the book at him during the 2019-20 offseason, including virtual reality training, to try to get him to better identify balls from strikes and chase less often. His chase rate in 2021 was about half that from ’19, so this may have actually worked and/or have been something brought about by Cleveland dev after they acquired him, though it seems to have occurred without Arias having played in any games during that stretch. He’s a below-average hitter and will be reliant on power and defense to make an impact. The tantalizing and frustrating Orlando Arcia presents a pretty clean comp to Arias, which perhaps means that having him on here is too aggressive and that he actually belongs in the 45 FV tier, projected as a second division shortstop rather than someone who’ll compete with Rocchio and Giménez for middle infield duties soon. But Arias’ performance at Triple-A at his age and the upward trajectory of the traits that once badly hurt his offensive production have bred renewed optimism.

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93. Alexander Vargas, SS, NYY

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Cuba (NYY)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 35/50 30/45 60/60 45/60 60

Unlikely to ever hit for power, Vargas nonetheless has a chance to be a plus-plus defender at one of baseball’s most valuable positions and he can really run.

Most teams had multi-million dollar evaluations on Vargas when he was an amateur based on how he looked in workouts. Because of when he left Cuba, he was old enough to sign immediately. The Reds were interested and are rumored to have offered more money, but they needed Vargas to wait until the following signing period to get the deal done, so the Yankees swooped in with comparable money and got pen to paper sooner.

The broad strokes scouting report here — über-athletic, switch-hitting, no-doubt shortstop with explosive rotational athleticism — is the foundation of a great prospect, arguably one with both a high floor and ceiling. Switch-hitters who can play an excellent shortstop tend to be rosterable big leaguers for a whole host of obvious reasons, even if they lack power. While Vargas hasn’t developed notable pop yet, he’s barely 20, has a sinewy, somewhat projectable frame (we’re not talking about Fernando Tatis Jr. or anything like that) and is an electrifying athlete. His plate discipline and bat-to-ball skill are both fine, definitely behind those of the other complex-level shortstops we’ve championed to this degree (Brayan Rocchio comes to mind first) but not so bad as to be a red flag. Because of his defensive fit, Vargas need only develop an acceptable level of strength to project as a decent everyday player (which we think he’ll do) and because he’s such a special athlete, there’s a chance he blows right past “acceptable” and becomes a freak. Because of when Vargas signed, his 40-man evaluation year is already here. There’s a sizable gap between the physicality of the typical big leaguer and that of 2021 Vargas. At this stage, he’s shaping up to be a very interesting Rule 5/40-man case for next offseason, though there’s a chance he adds meaningful strength and everything we’ve been projecting for the last couple of years starts to arrive.

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94. Bobby Miller, SP, LAD

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Louisville (LAD)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 45/55 30/45 94-98 / 99

Miller has always held his velo deep into games despite a violent delivery, and his slider and changeup are both above-average, rounding out a starter’s mix in a weird mechanical package.

Miller presented a bit of a conundrum to teams heading into the 2020 draft. He was a physical pitcher who threw hard and threw strikes, but a lack of certainty as to his future role saw him slide towards the bottom of the first round. He pro debut was wonderful on a rate basis, but it was also interrupted by an oblique strain and clouded by some extreme conservatism as to Miller’s workload. While he frequently started games, he got to four or more innings in just five of 17 starts while exceeding 60 pitches just six times. Miller has an impressive power arsenal. His fastball sits in the 96-98 mph range, and he’s touched 100, but it fails to perform as well as that velo suggests because it features shape and break similar to that of Sixto Sánchez’s heater. His mid-80s slider is a plus sweeper with big spin rates. His curveball features outstanding movement, but it’s also the only pitch he struggles to control, seemingly making him uncomfortable throwing it in anything but the most advantageous of counts. His dropping changeup gives him a solid fourth offering, but the industry is still unsure about his ability to start, as beyond the kids gloves treatment he got in 2021, he has an unathletic, non-fluid delivery with a long arm action and a violent finish. Miller clearly has the stuff and control to pitch in the big leagues, but there is too much reliever risk for him to rank with the arms on this list who have a much better chance to remain starters throughout their development.

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95. Hunter Brown, SP, HOU

Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Wayne State (HOU)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 212 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 60/70 40/50 30/45 94-96 / 99

Already armed with plus-plus velocity after coming out of a Division-II school in Michigan, Brown has added a plus-plus curve since turning pro and could enjoy a rapid rise with greater pitch efficiency.

Brown provided a challenge to teams in the 2019 draft. Working in his favor was a starter’s frame and upper-90s velocity, but there was also precious little pitch data, as Brown was plying his trade at a small Division-II school in Michigan and didn’t have a long track record of performance there. The Astros finally pounced in the fifth round, and Brown has become one of their top pitching prospects by deepening and improving his arsenal throughout his development. Brown has plenty of arm strength, routinely sitting in the mid-90s and touching triple-digits at times. He was on a bit of a velocity roller coaster during the 2021 season, but finished the year at his best, sitting more 96-98 mph during the final month of the season. Brown has a very hard (upper-80s) slider that grades out as plus, but he’s added a low-80s curveball as a pro that is even better in terms of spin and break. His change-up, which was virtually non-existent in college, is still rare but at least average. All in all, it’s a fantastic package in terms of stuff, but it comes with 40 command (and maybe even less than that on the breaking balls) and big pitch efficiency issues that leave some evaluators wondering if Brown would be better off in a bullpen role, where he could just let in fly for 20-30 pitches and dominate. He’ll remain a starter for now, and will likely make his big league debut during the 2022 season.

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96. Seth Johnson, SP, TBR

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Campbell (TBR)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/60 45/50 40/45 30/50 92-97 / 99

Johnson’s plus stuff always impressed more than the results during his tenure at Campbell, but the Rays might be the perfect team to help him weaponize it.

Johnson didn’t have great college numbers at Campbell in 2019, but he intrigued scouts and analysts alike as an athletic former middle infielder who was new to the mound and already showing some intriguing pitch data. Few teams in baseball do a better job of turning pitching projections into reality than the Rays, who selected Johnson with the 40th overall pick and then watched him put up a strikeout rate of nearly 30% in his 2021 full-season debut. Johnson’s stuff has taken a step forward since turning pro, and he now sits 95-97 mph with a fastball that while impressive on the radar gun, doesn’t feature much in the way of life. He gets impressive spin on a pair of power breakers, but the upper-70s curveball features far more movement than the mid-80s slider. His changeup is still rare, but has improved to average since signing. Johnson tends to throw strikes, but doesn’t locate within the zone as well as one would like. Still, this is an athletic, well-coordinated raw pitcher with considerable big league potential in a role that remains very much to be determined.

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97. Korey Lee, C, HOU

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Cal (HOU)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 55/55 30/45 50/50 40/50 70

Lee has a 70 arm and plus power, but is likely a 30-grade hitter. That’s probably still enough to catch every day.

The centerpiece of Lee’s defense is his plus-plus arm. In 2021, he lowered his arm slot to further shorten his pop times at the hopefully-temporary expense of his throwing accuracy – many of the stolen bases he allowed last season were a result of his throw being off-target rather than late. He catches from a one-knee crouch that varied quite a bit over the course of the season, sometimes sprawling, at other times more compact; sometimes with his left elbow on the outside of his upright knee, at other times with it tucked in. If there’s any below-average element to his defense, it’s his receiving – his low set-up results in framing from below the zone, and he had more passed balls than most of the other highly-rated catching prospects in 2021, though the constant tinkering with his catching setup may be partly to blame for that. Also keep in mind he’ll likely spend most of 2022 as a Sugarland Space Cowboy in Triple-A West, where robo-strike zones are being implemented this season, so any variance in the quality of his receiving may be moot.

The 2021 tinkering was not limited to his defense, though. He’s cut out some of the pre-load movement in his batting stance and has made noticeable adjustments to his front foot. In his short professional debut season in 2019, his timing in the box involved him tapping his toe, then lifting his foot to land a few inches up, taking a noticeable step toward the pitcher and shifting his weight accordingly. In 2021, that sequence was simplified. Instead of the toe tap, he’s planting it and shifting his weight forward in his swing without the additional stride forward, resulting in a more balanced overall look.

Though his offensive numbers have fallen short of what he produced batting behind Andrew Vaughn in his breakout season at Cal (.320/.420/.626), he’s still moving quickly through the system (he started 2021 at High-A and closed out the season at Triple-A) and with Martín Maldonado and Jason Castro both nearing the end of their contracts, and Garrett Stubbs traded to the Phillies, his major league debut is imminent.

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98. Brady House, 3B, WSN

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Winder-Barrow HS (WSN)
Age 18.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 60/70 20/60 45/40 30/50 50

The square-framed House has big power and is likely to grow into more as he matures.

House was one of the more famous prep bats entering the spring of 2021, and his track record of hitting against advanced pitching on the showcase circuit trumped an up-and-down senior season and put him in the mix with several teams picking early in the draft. It was a bit of a surprise, then, to see him drop to 11th overall to Washington, but only five first-round picks garnered higher bonus figures, and House followed his signing with an outstanding performance in the Complex League. House’s biggest supporters had him as the best high school hitter in the country, with some putting plus grades on both his hit and power tools. Nobody disputes the power, which is plenty now and projects for even more down the road, but the pure bat-to-ball skill was the subject of much debate in draft rooms, with as many scouts putting out 40-45 grades (pointing at a long swing and some plate coverage issues) as there were putting out the above-average grades as described above. At 6-foot-4 and already in the neighborhood of 220 pounds, House is built like an NFL linebacker, but is also quite athletic for his size, and while he debuted at his high school position of shortstop, he projects as a solid defensive third baseman with a plus or better arm. His 16-game showing in the Complex League, during which he put up a .970 OPS, should give the Nationals comfort in sending House out to a full-season affiliate this spring.

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99. Heliot Ramos, RF, SFG

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Leadership Christian HS (PR) (SFG)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 55/55 45/55 55/50 45/50 60

Ramos is a well-rounded corner outfield prospect.

Ramos has been pushed aggressively through the Giants system, and even with the lost year of development, he was among the younger players on the Double- and Triple-A rosters he graced in 2021. That helps mitigate a ho-hum overall line of .254/.323/.417 across the two levels, but Ramos’ prospect star clearly doesn’t shine as brightly as it once did. While it’s easy to call him a five-tool player since he’s competent in every aspect of the game, scouts struggle to figure out what Ramos’ one carrying tool is. His approach is solid but unspectacular, some swing-and-miss issues leave his pure hit tool with an average grade, and his mechanics are tuned more for line drives than loft, leaving his in-game power in the 15-20 home run range. He’s added significant bulk to his frame since being drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft, and he’s now an average runner who is stretched in center field, though his arm is plenty good for right. Ramos feels like a slam dunk big leaguer down the road, but the path to stardom will require some unexpected leaps.

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100. Asa Lacy, SIRP, KCR

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Texas A&M (KCR)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/70 60/70 55/60 45/50 30/35 93-96 / 98

Injuries and wildness marred Lacy’s debut season, but his fastball/slider combination fits in the back of a bullpen if the issues persist.

At the time, there were folks in baseball who thought Lacy had a strong argument to be the first overall pick in the 2020 draft based on the way his stuff dominated SEC hitters for three years, with their thinking being that Lacy’s relief risk was about as scary as how much Torkelson needed to rake to justify being a 1-1 first baseman. Though he struggled with walks after he moved into the Aggies rotation in 2019, Lacy whiffed 130 hitters in just 88 innings. He was less wild in his brief, four-start 2020 jaunt prior to the shutdown, punctuating his pre-draft run with a 13-strikeout game against Nick Gonzales and New Mexico State. COVID and a severe winter storm in Texas delayed Lacy’s start to 2021 spring training, a portent of doom for what would be an even rockier season filled with injury and wildness. Lacy looked stiff and lacked even a modicum of control during 2021 spring training, then went to an affiliate and walked 41 batters in 52 innings before he was shut down with a shoulder injury. He picked up a handful of innings in the Arizona Fall League, and his stuff was not only intact coming off the shoulder issue, but he was throwing harder in his two-inning outings than he was before the Royals shut him down, sitting 96-98 mph after he was 94-96 in the spring.

Lacy’s delivery is not as graceful and athletic as a typical starter’s, and his best strike-throwing stretch came during that short 2020 college season, before Texas A&M faced in-conference opponents. It wasn’t a very long stretch of time, and stands out as an anomaly in a career mired with strike-throwing issues. But Lacy’s stuff is absolutely vicious, and there’s not much difference between him and the prospect version of Carlos Rodón, whose fastball shape was worse than Lacy’s is now. Lacy’s heater gives him big margin for error in the strike zone because of its velocity and carry. His slider is routinely plus and often a 70 on the scale, at least approaching Rodón’s legendary slide piece. While Lacy has two other pitches (his changeup was his go-to secondary in high school and when he gets on top of his curveball, it has huge, bat-missing depth), he may pare down the repertoire if he moves to the bullpen. He’s ranked here acknowledging the probability that he becomes a great reliever, though we’d still put Lacy’s chances of starting in the 20-25% range and think his career arc would be similar to Rodón’s if he does, where he’s really good for fits and starts and otherwise frustrating.

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Other 50 FV Prospects

101. Nolan Jones, LF, CLE

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Holy Ghost Prep HS (PA) (CLE)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 70/70 50/55 30/30 40/45 70

Jones rebounded after a terrible start to 2021 and holds serve in the 50 FV tier thanks to his power and idea of the strike zone.

Jones got off to bad start in 2021, hitting just .189 in May, bad even for Jones, who has historically struck out at a 32% clip. He rebounded and hit .251/.361/.468 the rest of the way, much more in line with his career norms. The huge-framed Jones puts very few balls in play, with 44% of his career plate appearances ending in either a walk or strikeout. He hasn’t historically hit for as much power in games as he shows in BP, and his size limits his defensive mobility (he began playing right field in 2021 and might eventually move to first base), but he’s reached base at a nearly 40% career clip, and that skill is going to play at the big league level.

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102. Quinn Priester, SP, PIT

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Cary-Grove HS (IL) (PIT)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 70/70 30/35 50/60 30/45 92-95 / 99

Scouts like Priester, pitch data does not. He’s added a hard slider/cutter to his amazing-looking curveball but his fastball still doesn’t miss bats, and his report reads like Aaron Sanchez‘s did.

Priester has one of the best-looking breaking balls on the planet, an absolute hammer in the 78-82 mph range. But in the same way that Aaron Sanchez’s curveball never quite played quite as well as it looked like it should, Priester’s curve suffers from how identifiable it is out of his hand, in part because it has so much arc and also because neither his fastball’s angle nor shape complements it particularly well. In an effort to mitigate this, Priester has begun to mix in a two-seamer and a cutter to complement the curveball and a below-average changeup. The upper-80s cutter, though not a bat-misser unless precisely located, is pretty nasty, especially for a relatively new pitch. Having a two-seam variant gives Priester a less-hittable in-zone option while he can still use the four-seamer to get chases atop the zone. This entire repertoire comes via a big, prototypical 6-foot-3 frame. Priester’s delivery is a little bit violent but he’s a huge, athletic, strong 21-year-old who has developed and maintained a few extra ticks of velocity over the course of the last few years. He’s performed on paper while incorporating new pitches into his repertoire, and done so as a young-for-the-level prospect — Priester was 20 all year at High-A and threw 97 innings across 20 starts while posting a 3.04 ERA with a 9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 — with huge arm strength and a visually remarkable pitch. He’s tracking like a mid-rotation starter.

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103. George Valera, RF, CLE

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CLE)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 45/60 50/45 45/45 55

While the strikeouts are a concern, Valera’s in-game power is rare for his age and he has performed throughout his time in the minors.

There’s still rampant industry disagreement about whether Valera is actually going to hit. He only struck out 22% of the time as a 20-year-old at High-A in 2021 (that ticked up to 30% in a small Double-A sample) and when he takes a comfortable hack, he swing is reminiscent of Robinson Canó‘s. But Valera’s swing also makes it tough for him to get to hard stuff toward the bottom of the zone and it looked choppy and stiff during his LIDOM and Caribbean Series run with Estrellas Orientales. He idea of the strike zone seems to be quite good, although because of early-career injuries and the pandemic, we have a much shorter track record for Valera than most other players his age, and the 86 games he played in 2021 were by far the most in his career. The OBP piece of his skillset and Valera’s ability to tap into power in games keeps him in the 50 FV tier, but there isn’t universal industry support for this assessment.

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104. Owen Caissie, LF, CHC

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Notre Dame Catholic HS (ON) (SDP)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 55/65 25/60 40/30 30/50 60

The huge-framed Caissie had a surprisingly good idea of the strike zone despite never having played in night games until pro ball.

Caissie, who came over from San Diego in the Yu Darvish trade, had never played a night game in his life until the Arizona Complex League opener in 2021. That is the most extreme of the many underlying background details that make Caissie’s 2021 performance — a .302/.434/.489 line split fairly evenly between the ACL and Low-A — so remarkable when viewed with full context. The huge-framed Canadian high schooler also hit the ground running in 2021 even after missing instructs the year before due to COVID-related travel restrictions. His high-end exit velos were not only the best in this system but among the top 20 in all of minor league baseball, with max exit velos exceeding 112 mph (FanGraphs’ sourced exit velo info has tended to lop off the top handful of recorded exit velos for each hitter to ensure the elimination of outliers). Already possessing a pro athlete’s build and physicality, Caissie’s huge, broad-shouldered frame indicates he’ll yet grow into more power. Though he’s likely to swing and miss more than average, his feel to hit is better than we had evaluated it to be while Caissie was an amateur and he has a surprisingly good idea of the strike zone for someone who had seen very little pro-quality pitching before 2021. We’re willing to project more continued growth of the hit tool here than usual because of Caissie’s cold-weather, rep-missing background, and think the power/OBP combination would still make him an everyday player even with a 40-grade bat. There are scouts who’d take him ahead of Kevin Alcantara because he’s had success (albeit just a month of it) at a level ahead of Alcantara at the same age, though they acknowledge Alcantara has more ceiling.

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105. Nick Gonzales, 2B, PIT

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from New Mexico State (PIT)
Age 22.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 55/55 35/55 60/60 40/50 45

Gonzales has struck out at a surprising rate for someone with his track record and visual scouting report, but still has enough offensive ability to profile on the middle infield.

The contrast between Gonzales’ visual evaluation and on-paper production in pro ball presents an interesting dichotomy. The ultra-compact, short-levered Gonzales looks tough to beat with fastballs and seems particularly adept at getting on top of heaters at the letters. His terse, punchy swing generates loud all-fields contact, but this isn’t a guy taking epic, full-body hacks with big upper-body rotation like Marcell Ozuna or Javier Báez, and the visual evaluation of his raw power puts it close to average, making him appear to be a well-rounded, hit-over-power middle infield prospect.

On paper, though, he’s the opposite. He struck out nearly 30% of the time at High-A in 2021, hit 18 tanks, and slugged .565, while his peak exit velocities were comfortably above average. A 16% swinging strike rate (four percentage points worse than big league average, again, from a college hitter in A-ball) rounds out an on-paper profile that makes Gonzales look much more like a thumper with swing-and-miss issues. Note that the way Gonzales’ hands work throughout his swing bears a striking resemblance to the swings of Keston Hiura and Carter Kieboom. Obviously those hitters turned out to have other issues, and Gonzales has shorter levers than Kieboom and more simplistic footwork than Hiura, which may turn out to be meaningful differences, but both of those guys struggled to adjust to big league velocity. To this point, Gonzales has done nothing but rake. He hit .399/.502/.747 throughout his college career while facing WAC pitching and playing home games on the surface of the moon, and his surface-level performance during his first official pro season was also terrific. Even if some of our concerns come to bear, Gonzales still has the talent to be a good everyday second baseman. We’re just not comfortable projecting him as an All-Star at this juncture.

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106. James Triantos, 2B, CHC

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Madison HS (VA) (CHC)
Age 18.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/70 45/50 20/55 50/50 40/45 40

Triantos raked in high school then allayed any concerns that he lacked pro physicality by continuing to do so upon his entry into affiliated ball.

Triantos made a silly amount of contact during his pre-draft summer and reclassified from the 2022 to the ’21 class the fall before his selection. Per Synergy Sports, he swung and missed just six times on the showcase circuit compared to a whopping 71 balls put in play. He has a non-traditional, high-effort swing and even though he was barely 18 on draft day, he was physically mature for a high school prospect who was originally a 2022 grad.

Then Triantos came to pro ball and blew the doors off the Arizona Complex League, slashing .327/.376/.594 and looking like one of the best hitters in the league. While his ball/strike recognition is below average, Triantos is able to swing with ferocity without compromising barrel accuracy. He finds a way to hit the ball hard somewhere most of the time, and vaporizes mistakes that catch the fat middle of the zone. There is a very exciting hit/power combination here, and it’s very likely that Triantos rockets through the low minors given how dangerous he is in the box. There’s the possibility that upper-level arms will eventually feast on his expansive approach and he’ll need to make an adjustment. If he ends up as a low OBP hitter who can’t quite play a true shortstop, then we’re looking at a player in the Kyle Farmer to Josh Harrison range. But if Triantos can improve his swing decisions, he’ll likely become a good everyday player regardless of his position.

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107. Edward Cabrera, SP, MIA

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (MIA)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 217 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/60 45/55 45/50 93-97 / 99

If Cabrera can stay healthy, he’ll be an impact arm of some kind. If.

Cabrera’s 2021 season began with elbow issues that prevented him from taking the mound until June, but once he got going, he cruised through the Marlins system, finishing with a month in the major leagues, where making seven starts under a limited pitch count. With a big frame and long levers, Cabrera brings big heat. He routinely gets into the upper-90s with his fastball, but similar to teammate Sixto Sánchez, pitch graders downgrade the offering significantly due to its 1:30 shape and limited life. He adds a plus upper-80s slider that features so little downward movement that it almost seems to be rising compared to most breakers. Cabrera’s best pitch is a killer changeup that, while on the firm side in the 90-92 mph range, features very low spin and significant fade and tumble. His command and control, both of which were firmly in the average bucket as a younger minor leaguer, regressed mightily during his time in the majors, which may have been a result of him being amped up or simply trying to get too cute around the edges. Cabrera has starter traits, but there are still questions about his ability to hold up over the course of an entire season, as between injuries, conservative workloads, and the lost 2020 campaign, 100.1 is the most innings he’s thrown in a season, and that was all the way back in 2018. He’s not guaranteed a spot on the 2022 Opening Day roster, but should at least lose his prospect eligibility at some point during the year.

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108. Dillon Dingler, C, DET

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Ohio State (DET)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/50 30/45 45/45 40/50 60

An above-average athlete at catcher, Dingler has more room left for development than most 23-year-old prospects.

Dingler was in the midst of a breakout campaign at Ohio State during the spring of 2020 when COVID ended the college baseball season. He entered the year having hit just seven home runs combined in his two underclass seasons, then hit five in just 13 games prior to the shutdown. He ended up being the first pick in the 2020 second round and spent the rest of the summer at Detroit’s alternate site. Then Dingler was shot out of a cannon to start 2021. He crushed High-A for about a month (.287/.376/.549) before being promoted to Double-A Erie, where he stayed hot for a couple of weeks before crashing back to Earth. Dingler was hitting .289/.346/.511 after his first couple weeks with Erie, then started striking out in about a third of his plate appearances and was shelved with a fractured thumb for a while. His end-of-season line at Double-A, even after the great start there, was .202/.264/.314. It’s fair to point to the thumb fracture as part of the cause for the late-season swoon (he had a hamate fracture in college, which may have contributed to his lack of early-career power) and the bumps and bruises of catching often have an impact on offensive output. Despite the simplicity of his footwork, Dingler’s swing can get a bit lengthy and uphill, leaving him susceptible to pitches in the upper half of the zone. Even with a 40 hit tool, he has enough pop to be an everyday catcher, and he’s already reached Double-A. The rate at which he began to strike out is concerning and indicates there’s still bust risk here, and perhaps projecting a 40 bat is too optimistic. But Dingler’s general athleticism is rare for the position and allows for continued projection on his defensive ability, which might eventually be very good, especially as arm strength becomes more important in the anticipated robo-ump era. While his late-summer swoon will impact where he fits within the 50 FV tier on our overall prospect list, we’re still betting on Dingler becoming an everyday backstop eventually.

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109. Tyler Freeman, 2B, CLE

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Etiwanda HS (CA) (CLE)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/70 40/45 20/30 55/50 45/50 45

Few can match Freeman’s ability to make contact, as he laces doubles all over the diamond, but he’s a skills-over-tools player who will likely end up at second base.

Freeman rakes, making an extremely high rate of low-impact contact while playing a decent middle infield. He’s generated lots of David Fletcher comps because his frame, bat-to-ball skills, expansive approach, and more natural defensive fit at second base are all akin to Fletcher’s. Freeman has a 5% swinging strike rate since entering pro ball, one of the best in all the minor leagues during that time, another of the many hitterish amateur players drafted by the Guardians who seem to be working out. Freeman hit .323/.372/.470 as a 22-year-old at Double-A Akron but ran a .357 BABIP and only walked 4% of the time in a 41-game sample, as his season was cut short due to a labrum tear. He doesn’t have much extra-base power and is limited to second base due to a lack of arm strength, so the defensive versatility feature that comes with other top 100 prospects like Austin Martin and Vidal Bruján is not present here. Still, Freeman’s track record of hitting is fantastic and he plays up the middle, making him a high-probability everyday player.

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110. Xavier Edwards, 2B, TBR

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from North Broward Prep HS (FL) (SDP)
Age 22.5 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 40/40 20/30 80/80 45/50 45

A callback to the infielders of past generations, Edwards will never have power, but he’s a contact machine who understands the strike zone and can impact the game with his wheels.

Coming to Tampa from San Diego in the December 2019 deal that sent Tommy Pham and Jake Cronenworth to the Padres, Edwards had to wait nearly 18 months to make his Rays debut thanks to a pandemic and some oblique issues. When he was finally able to play, he performed exactly as expected, slashing line drives all over the field and trying to create havoc on the base paths. Edwards is a early-action player with a merely decent walk rate and an outstanding contact rate. In a world of Three True Outcome players, Edwards goes against the grain with a career TTO rate of just over 20%. He provides little to no (ok, no) power, and is content instead to loop line drives over infielder’s heads or beat out infield hits with his burner-level speed; 83% of his career hits have been singles. Despite that plus-plus speed, he’s not a great base stealer, and the Rays showed how they felt about his defense by talking him off of shortstop entirely and splitting his time between second and third base. With the wheels and the ability to put balls in play, Edwards does a pair of things exceedingly well, but whether that’s enough to make up for some clear deficiencies is still the subject of heated debate among evaluators.

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111. Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B, KCR

Drafted: 11th Round, 2019 from Old Dominion (KCR)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/60 50/50 40/50 20/20 50/50 45

Pasquantino has incredible timing at the plate. A plus (maybe plus-plus) hit tool carries most of the weight for his first base-only profile.

Pasquantino is not a graceful athlete — even his home run trots look like they require a fair bit of effort — but he can really hit, which is the thing we care about most. There are missile defense systems with less precise tracking ability than Pasquantino, who seems to be lasered in on everything that crosses the plate, and is on time with remarkable consistency. He will track and whack breaking balls that most hitters would swing over top of, and he can also flatten his bat path and get to fastballs at the top of the strike zone. At age 23, he was a little old for a bat-only prospect who split the year between High- and Double-A, but his numbers there were incredible. He walked nearly as much as he struck out (he only K’d 13% of the time) and he has such precise feel for contact that we think he’ll get to all of his modest raw power in games. It’s an atypical first base profile since there isn’t loud raw power, but the hit/power blend projects for an output similar to Yuli Gurriel’s, and we’re confident Pasquantino’s hit tool will make him a consistent annual run producer.

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112. Heriberto Hernandez, LF, TBR

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TEX)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 55/60 35/55 30/30 30/40 40

Hernandez has done nothing but hit and hit for power since signing in 2017, but he’ll need to keep it up after an injury-shortened 2021.

Hernandez was perhaps the most dominant lower-level hitter in 2019, slashing .344/.433/.646 during the AZL regular season before going on an Arozarena-esque tear during the AZL and then Northwest League postseasons after he was promoted for the last week of Spokane’s season. He slugged over .900 during his final few weeks of play and scouts starting calling him “Heribertgod.” The Rangers invited Hernandez to their alternate site late in 2020 and he tuned up against advanced pitching there before getting most of his run for the year in the Fall Instructional League. Then the Rangers traded him to the Rays as part of a deal centered around Nate Lowe early that offseason.

Sent to Low-A in 2021, Hernandez performed like a Three True Outcomes type, slugging .450 while striking out and walking at a 28% and 15% clip, respectively. He heated up in July and August, when he slashed .275/.343/.508, but only played in 73 games before getting shelved with a fractured left hand. He was assigned to the Fall League but barely played there for reasons that are unclear.

There is some industry sentiment that the underlying TrackMan data from 2019, which was part of what drove us to stuff Hernandez in the 50 FV tier at that time, was not accurate; this is not the first time that Rangers data has been questioned by our sources (2019 Down East pitchers had crazy vertical movement). We still have enough confidence in Heriberto’s bat to consider him a 50 in left field, especially since he continued to walk at a nearly elite clip during his full-season debut. His little T-Rex arms enable him to be short to the baseball, but he’s so strong and rotates with such ferocity that he still hits for power. He makes mid-at-bat adjustments to quality offspeed stuff, swinging over one particularly good pitch only to recognize and square up the next one. He wasn’t tracking pitches as well as we’d hoped during his brief 2021 Fall League stint, but Heriberto still covers the whole plate and is tough to beat on the inner half because his levers are so short. Because he isn’t an up-the-middle player, Hernandez is not the type of prospect with an elite-level WAR ceiling, but he has the talent to anchor the middle of an order as a hit/power combo bat.

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113. Joey Bart, C, SFG

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Georgia Tech (SFG)
Age 25.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 238 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 60/60 45/50 30/30 55/55 60

Bart may end up with a 20- or 30-grade bat, but if he gets to most of his power anyway, he’ll be a good everyday backstop.

Bart was seen as one of the best catching prospects in the game, getting a golden opportunity to prove himself in 2020 when Buster Posey opted out of the COVID-shortened season. Two years later, he’s once again being given the chance to prove he’s the answer behind the plate for San Francisco, but the questions about his future are both more numerous and much louder. Bart is a massive human being with immense strength, but at times his size works against him, with multiple scouts believing that his bulk leaves him a touch behind the speed of the game on both offense and defense. Further hampering Bart are swing decisions that were among the worst in all of baseball during his 2020 big league debut and showed little progress back at Triple-A last year, as he whiffed at a nearly 30% clip and continues to be prone to wild chases. He moves well for his size and receives and throws well, projecting as an average defender if not a tick above, but his future is going to come down to his bat. There’s a low average/high power catcher in here, but he’s masked by the disastrous approach that has the potential to be Bart’s undoing. With Posey retired, 2022 represents a make-or-break year for 2018’s No. 2 overall pick.

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114. Reginald Preciado, 3B, CHC

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Panama (SDP)
Age 18.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 189 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 45/60 20/60 40/40 30/50 45

Preciado is a huge-framed SS/3B prospect with fair feel to hit and sizable power projection.

Preciado set a record for Panamanian prospects when he signed with the Padres for $1.3 million in 2019. He was shipped off to the Cubs as the shiniest prospect in the Yu Darvish deal in December 2020, and spent ’21 in the Arizona Complex League, where he slashed .333/.383/.511 and split his time on the infield between third (16 games) and short (17 games). He’s a big-framed (about 6-foot-4) switch hitter who is athletic enough to stay on the infield. Players like this have a wide range of potential outcomes, with one being that their body develops in the Goldilocks Zone where they remain agile enough to stay at shortstop while also becoming big and strong enough to hit for impact power. Size and stiffness in his lower half have us projecting him to third base now.

Preciado underwent a swing transformation between 2019 and ’20, though he is still making noticeable adjustments to it, which indicates that he is working to further develop. Pitch recognition is a concern, and might become more statistically relevant as he faces better pitching. It hasn’t caused a ton of swing-and-miss yet; rather it more often manifests as sub-par contact, with Preciado either rolling over grounders or chopping the ball straight into the ground. On occasion, he will add some small but noticeable space (maybe a quarter inch or so) between the top and bottom hand on his bat. While this is likely coming at the expense of his potential power production, moving his top hand up on the bat could help with his barrel control, and allow him to better react, and adjust to ball movement. This may be a temporary developmental tactic rather than a permanent change (he only does it occasionally, and only from the left side), but the takeaway for us is that Preciado, still clearly in a developmental stage, is able to enact adjustments on the field. He remains a prospect of extreme variance with star-level upside.

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1 year ago

Best day of the year!

1 year ago

I guess I know how I’m spending today!

1 year ago

Bobby Bonilla picks a different day!

1 year ago
Reply to  MikeD

That’s just too funny (wiping coffee off my chin)