ZiPS 2022 Top 100 Prospects

© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

For the seventh year, I’ve run down the Top 100 prospects as seen by the ZiPS projection system. If you’re unaware of what the ZiPS projections are or what they’re trying to do, please consult this article for further information or the MLB.com executive summary. To make a long story short, ZiPS is a computer system that attempts to turn an avalanche of data into a player projection. (The Z stands for Szymborski, because I didn’t realize in 2003 that this project would be useful enough that I’d need to think of a good name.)

I like to think that I’ve developed a pretty useful tool over the years, but don’t get me wrong: a projection system is not even remotely a substitute for proper scouting. While ZiPS and other systems like it can see patterns in the data that can be hard for humans to extract, humans have their own unique tricks. Projecting prospects is challenging. You’re mostly dealing with very young players, some of whom aren’t even done physically developing. They also play baseball against inconsistent competition and have much shorter resumés than established major leaguers.

Having a real baseball season in 2021 makes me feel a lot stronger about this set of projections than last year’s. Last year, ZiPS faced the challenge of projecting prospects based on data when the vast majority of them hadn’t played in an actual baseball game for an entire year. It’s still not as much data as I’d like — more seasons is always preferable — but if we continue to have minor league seasons, we’ll hopefully get back to our pre-2020 level of confidence in the next couple of years.

You will notice that, as usual, there are some players who you might expect to see on a top prospect list who are missing here. While that might be because ZiPS doesn’t like them as much as our prospect team does, it’s also important to remember that the system is based on data from a player’s professional career. I will occasionally post a projection that uses college data if I absolutely must — like when Rickie Weeks Jr. debuted in the majors the same year he was drafted — but I prefer not to, and there’s no way for ZiPS to evaluate a high school player. It isn’t satisfying to leave players out, but I don’t see the benefit of presenting a projection when ZiPS doesn’t have much to say. Jack Leiter, who ranked 24th on the prospect team’s Top 100, is an example of this type of player.

When ZiPS does have something to say, however, it does a decent job of identifying future major leaguers. Since I talked about 2014 during last year’s version of this exercise, I’ll talk about 2015 this year. The top 100 ZiPS prospects prior to that season have combined for 653 WAR in the majors through the end of the 2021 season, with 24 players surpassing at least 10 WAR. Among the players ZiPS liked considerably better than everyone else were Joc Pederson (No. 2), Ozzie Albies (No. 49), Trea Turner (No. 43), J.T. Realmuto (No. 41), Brandon Nimmo (No. 40), Jorge Polanco (No. 63), and Trevor Story (No. 89). Now, if I told you that ZiPS was uniformly successful when diverging from the pack, my pants would figuratively be on fire, as the system also preferred David Dahl (No. 15), Hunter Harvey (No. 20), Orlando Arcia (No. 26), and Alen Hanson (No. 44).

Aside from data vs. scouting (an increasingly false dichotomy), the methodology I use for the ZiPS Top 100 also ensures some disagreement between the system and the scouting community. I’m using the 50th percentile career projection for each player, meaning that ZiPS is highly interested in the lower ceiling guys who still project to have a significant chance of helping a team. That means ZiPS will rank players such as Austin Barnes and Tony Kemp, who both previously graced the Top 100, higher than most. And it’s understandable. Scouts are, by nature, hoping to see something special, something exciting. They’re not traveling to Peoria or Rancho Cucamonga to see someone disappoint, though they obviously end up doing a fair amount of that; they’re going all over the country to see what could be possible.

So let’s get right to the chart. Make sure to head over to The Board and see what the watchers have written.

ZiPS Top 100 Prospects – 2022
ZiPS Rank Name Pos. Organization FanGraphs Rank
1 Julio Rodríguez RF Seattle Mariners 4
2 Adley Rutschman C Baltimore Orioles 1
3 Bobby Witt Jr. SS Kansas City Royals 2
4 Spencer Torkelson 1B Detroit Tigers 5
5 George Valera RF Cleveland Guardians 103
6 Riley Greene RF Detroit Tigers 6
7 Nolan Gorman 3B St. Louis Cardinals 53
8 Anthony Volpe SS New York Yankees 12
9 Miguel Vargas 3B Los Angeles Dodgers Unranked
10 Francisco Álvarez C New York Mets 7
11 Noelvi Marte SS Seattle Mariners 13
12 Grayson Rodriguez P Baltimore Orioles 3
13 Andy Pages CF Los Angeles Dodgers 86
14 Oneil Cruz SS Pittsburgh Pirates 8
15 Aaron Ashby P Milwaukee Brewers 46
16 Shane Baz P Tampa Bay Rays 11
17 Ronny Mauricio SS New York Mets 44
18 Nick Yorke 2B Boston Red Sox 29
19 Brayan Rocchio SS Cleveland Guardians 43
20 Bryan Ramos 3B Chicago White Sox Unranked
21 Sixto Sánchez P Miami Marlins 80
22 Corbin Carroll CF Arizona Diamondbacks 14
23 Marcelo Mayer SS Boston Red Sox 19
24 Alek Thomas LF Arizona Diamondbacks 23
25 Curtis Mead LF Tampa Bay Rays 48
26 Orelvis Martinez 3B Toronto Blue Jays 32
27 Marco Luciano SS San Francisco Giants 18
28 CJ Abrams 2B San Diego Padres 15
29 Oswald Peraza SS New York Yankees 39
30 Jasson Dominguez CF New York Yankees 73
31 Nick Pratto 1B Kansas City Royals 47
32 Brett Baty 3B New York Mets 63
33 MJ Melendez C Kansas City Royals 21
34 Kyle Harrison P San Francisco Giants 38
35 Jose Miranda 2B Minnesota Twins 85
36 Jose Tena SS Cleveland Guardians Unranked
37 Gabriel Moreno C Toronto Blue Jays 10
38 Hunter Greene P Cincinnati Reds 31
39 Robert Hassell III CF San Diego Padres 50
40 Bryce Elder P Atlanta Braves Unranked
41 Quinn Priester P Pittsburgh Pirates 102
42 Gabriel Arias SS Cleveland Guardians 92
43 Kyle Muller P Atlanta Braves Unranked
44 Josh Jung 3B Texas Rangers 9
45 Austin Martin CF Minnesota Twins 56
46 Luis Campusano C San Diego Padres 26
47 Tyler Soderstrom 1B Oakland Athletics 36
48 Eddys Leonard 2B Los Angeles Dodgers Unranked
49 Colton Cowser CF Baltimore Orioles 40
50 Shea Langeliers C Atlanta Braves 70
51 Rece Hinds 3B Cincinnati Reds Unranked
52 Alberto Rodriguez RF Seattle Mariners Unranked
53 Gunnar Henderson 3B Baltimore Orioles 66
54 Brice Turang SS Milwaukee Brewers Unranked
55 Eguy Rosario SS San Diego Padres Unranked
56 Triston Casas 1B Boston Red Sox 16
57 Luis Frías P Arizona Diamondbacks Unranked
58 Seth Johnson P Tampa Bay Rays 96
59 Buddy Kennedy 3B Arizona Diamondbacks Unranked
60 Jordan Walker 3B St. Louis Cardinals 17
61 Steven Kwan CF Cleveland Guardians 57
62 Tommy Romero P Tampa Bay Rays Unranked
63 Elly De La Cruz SS Cincinnati Reds 59
64 Luis Gil P New York Yankees Unranked
65 Vinnie Pasquantino 1B Kansas City Royals 111
66 Mark Vientos 3B New York Mets 64
67 Jhonkensy Noel 1B Cleveland Guardians Unranked
68 Bryson Stott SS Philadelphia Phillies 34
69 Max Meyer P Miami Marlins 58
70 Geraldo Perdomo SS Arizona Diamondbacks 83
71 Josh Lowe CF Tampa Bay Rays 45
72 Kahlil Watson SS Miami Marlins 49
73 Reid Detmers P Los Angeles Angels 42
74 Matt Canterino P Minnesota Twins Unranked
75 Eury Perez P Miami Marlins 67
76 Liover Peguero SS Pittsburgh Pirates 90
77 Edward Cabrera P Miami Marlins 107
78 Zac Veen RF Colorado Rockies 71
79 Diego Cartaya C Los Angeles Dodgers 37
80 D.L. Hall P Baltimore Orioles 27
81 Drew Romo C Colorado Rockies Unranked
82 Johan Rojas CF Philadelphia Phillies Unranked
83 Brandon Williamson P Seattle Mariners 61
84 Spencer Strider P Atlanta Braves Unranked
85 Vidal Bruján 2B Tampa Bay Rays 55
86 Chris McMahon P Colorado Rockies Unranked
87 Jose Rodriguez SS Chicago White Sox Unranked
88 Nolan Jones LF Cleveland Guardians 101
89 Michael Harris II CF Atlanta Braves Unranked
90 Oswaldo Cabrera 2B New York Yankees Unranked
91 Daniel Espino P Cleveland Guardians 54
92 Matthew Liberatore P St. Louis Cardinals 65
93 Hunter Brown P Houston Astros 95
94 Cristian Pache CF Atlanta Braves 72
95 Dillon Dingler C Detroit Tigers 108
96 Caleb Kilian P Chicago Cubs Unranked
97 Peyton Battenfield P Cleveland Guardians Unranked
98 Tyler Freeman 2B Cleveland Guardians 109
99 Jordan Balazovic P Minnesota Twins 91
100 Nick Lodolo P Cincinnati Reds 51

All told, ZiPS and our rankings agree on two-thirds of players, with a few more that ZiPS didn’t even consider. Unsurprisingly, the agreements are bunched at the top and the disagreements at the bottom, where the differences between players are smaller. Forty-two of the top 50 players by ZiPS made the FanGraphs Top 100.

The Cleveland Guardians made out very well here, leading the league with 10 players on this chart. Conversely, graduations from Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray resulted in the Nationals getting shut out.

To make this less unwieldy, I’ve broken the Top 100 down into top 10 position rankings; that means some players who did not make the Top 100 will have a cameo appearance. If you’d like more information about a player’s projection, feel free to ask in the comments! Where the prospect team also ranked a player, I’ve defaulted to that position. We’ll begin with the catchers.

ZiPS Top Prospects – Catcher
Pos. Rank ZiPS Rank Name Pos. Organization
1 2 Adley Rutschman C Baltimore Orioles
2 10 Francisco Álvarez C New York Mets
3 33 MJ Melendez C Kansas City Royals
4 37 Gabriel Moreno C Toronto Blue Jays
5 46 Luis Campusano C San Diego Padres
6 50 Shea Langeliers C Atlanta Braves
7 79 Diego Cartaya C Los Angeles Dodgers
8 81 Drew Romo C Colorado Rockies
9 95 Dillon Dingler C Detroit Tigers
10 109 Miguel Amaya C Chicago Cubs

It’s not a shock that Adley Rutschman ranks as the top catcher. What may, however, be at least a minor surprise that he wasn’t ranked number one overall, especially with the pro-Orioles bias I must be mixing into the batter! Instead, Julio Rodríguez got the top nod, with the main difference being that while ZiPS sees them as being about equally dangerous, Seattle’s outfielder has more unknown upside. Rutschman is 24 and has already played in the high minors, so he’s likely already much closer to the player he’s going to end up being. The main disagreement between FanGraphs and ZiPS here is the lack of Henry Davis, one of those players who ZiPS can barely consider; it’s not going to give him a sterling projection based on eight professional games.

One of ZiPS’ favorites of the past, Miguel Amaya, tumbled here, falling out of the Top 100. An elbow injury ruined his 2021 season, and he likely won’t catch again until 2023 (if ever) as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. As a non-catcher, Amaya would drop entirely out of the top 200 players, so there shouldn’t be a great deal of optimism about him being the Northsiders’ backstop of the future. The Royals face an interesting conundrum about what to do with MJ Melendez. They’re not likely to give him a clear shot at pushing Salvador Perez towards retirement, but two Royals appear in the first base top 10, giving them less flexibility when it comes to where else to play Melendez if they need to.

ZiPS Top Prospects – First Base
Pos. Rank ZiPS Rank Name Pos. Organization
1 4 Spencer Torkelson 1B Detroit Tigers
2 31 Nick Pratto 1B Kansas City Royals
3 47 Tyler Soderstrom 1B Oakland Athletics
4 56 Triston Casas 1B Boston Red Sox
5 65 Vinnie Pasquantino 1B Kansas City Royals
6 67 Jhonkensy Noel 1B Cleveland Guardians
7 101 Dustin Harris 1B Texas Rangers
8 108 Juan Yepez 1B St. Louis Cardinals
9 110 Brandon Lewis 1B Los Angeles Dodgers
10 151 Lawrence Butler 1B Oakland Athletics

Spencer Torkelson is the consensus top first baseman, and he should lose his rookie eligibility fairly quickly this year. Two Royals, Nick Pratto and Vinnie Pasquantino, made this list after terrific seasons; neither came close to even sniffing such a ranking last year. Like Torkelson, ZiPS sees both as being ready to play at the major league level quickly, with Pasquantino’s ceiling a bit lower.

Oakland has two first basemen, giving the team two of the three reasons they might be interested in trading Matt Olson when the offseason resumes. (The biggest reason, naturally, is money.) Juan Yepez just missed the Top 100 because his resumé is relatively short and even if his bat works out, he’s not going to be a multi-dimensional player, though hit ball hard is an excellent strategy if it works for you. Speaking of hitting the ball hard, Jhonkensy Noel couldn’t help but turn ZiPS’ head in 2021. That’s what happens when you put up an OPS over 1.000 as a teenager.

ZiPS Top Prospects – Second Base
Pos. Rank ZiPS Rank Name Pos. Organization
1 18 Nick Yorke 2B Boston Red Sox
2 28 CJ Abrams 2B San Diego Padres
3 35 Jose Miranda 2B Minnesota Twins
4 48 Eddys Leonard 2B Los Angeles Dodgers
5 85 Vidal Bruján 2B Tampa Bay Rays
6 90 Oswaldo Cabrera 2B New York Yankees
7 98 Tyler Freeman 2B Cleveland Guardians
8 107 Tucupita Marcano 2B Pittsburgh Pirates
9 122 Spencer Steer 2B Minnesota Twins
10 127 Rodolfo Castro 2B Pittsburgh Pirates

Will Nick Yorke field? Maybe not, but the initial Gameday-generated data saw him as being at least adequate for the moment (and in a small sample). ZiPS thinks that at his peak, he’ll hit 25-30 homers and be a viable starting first baseman, so the fact that him playing a tougher position hasn’t been categorically ruled out makes him highly interesting. CJ Abrams is a familiar name at this point, and while ZiPS is more confident about him sticking at short, the computer isn’t confident enough in his contact rate to see him as the prototypical leadoff type. It also really needs to see more reps from him.

Jose Miranda came out of nowhere for the Twins in 2021, and though ZiPS doesn’t think he’s going to get much better, it already has him as a basically average starter right now. Tucupita Marcano did not play well in his limited time in the majors, but ZiPS sees him as a fairly safe choice, if one without much star potential. Eddys Leonard doesn’t seem to generate much buzz, but all he did in 2021 was hit, and as long as he can theoretically play somewhere, you can’t completely dismiss him as a prospect.

ZiPS Top Prospects – Shortstop
Pos. Rank ZiPS Rank Name Pos. Organization
1 3 Bobby Witt Jr. SS Kansas City Royals
2 8 Anthony Volpe SS New York Yankees
3 11 Noelvi Marte SS Seattle Mariners
4 14 Oneil Cruz SS Pittsburgh Pirates
5 17 Ronny Mauricio SS New York Mets
6 19 Brayan Rocchio SS Cleveland Guardians
7 23 Marcelo Mayer SS Boston Red Sox
8 27 Marco Luciano SS San Francisco Giants
9 29 Oswald Peraza SS New York Yankees
10 36 Jose Tena SS Cleveland Guardians

Shortstop is naturally the deepest position — even the ninth-ranked prospect here, Oswald Peraza, made the ZiPS top 30 and would be extremely hard to pry from the Yankees — as some number of future second and third basemen are former shortstop prospects. 2022 might see Bobby Witt Jr. already shift to third base, and while the Pirates haven’t moved Oneil Cruz yet — and as much as I want to see him literally tower over the competition — I don’t want to bank on there being a 6-foot-7 shortstop.

Anthony Volpe is the big mover, hitting .294/.423/.604 across two lower levels in his first real professional season. His comp list is all over the place, which isn’t surprising for a guy without high minors experience. It ranges from exciting names like John Valentin and pre-car crash D’Angelo Jimenez to less exciting ones like Rey Quinones and Reid Brignac. If he repeats last year’s performance in Double-A, he may be a monster.

Two notable names have fallen off the Top 100 at short. The computer has fallen out of love with Braden Shewmake, and Royce Lewis‘ past minor league performance wasn’t strong enough for him to maintain his spot on the list after missing two seasons.

ZiPS Top Prospects – Third Base
Pos. Rank ZiPS Rank Name Pos. Organization
1 7 Nolan Gorman 3B St. Louis Cardinals
2 9 Miguel Vargas 3B Los Angeles Dodgers
3 20 Bryan Ramos 3B Chicago White Sox
4 26 Orelvis Martinez 3B Toronto Blue Jays
5 32 Brett Baty 3B New York Mets
6 44 Josh Jung 3B Texas Rangers
7 51 Rece Hinds 3B Cincinnati Reds
8 53 Gunnar Henderson 3B Baltimore Orioles
9 59 Buddy Kennedy 3B Arizona Diamondbacks
10 60 Jordan Walker 3B St. Louis Cardinals

Whether at second base or third, ZiPS is sold on Nolan Gorman. The probability-based defense based on Gameday ball location data that ZiPS uses thought Gorman was surprisingly solid during his debut at second, a move spurred by the Cards’ trade for that Nolan Arenado fellow. ZiPS sees Gorman as a borderline star, hitting 25 homers a year, and perhaps even a tad better if his defense actually holds up this well at second. Miguel Vargas can hit, too, and you shouldn’t be skeptical of him just because of how his performance compares to Dodgers prospects of the past — remember, his numbers weren’t accumulated in the California or Pacific Coast Leagues. The position risk is greater than it is with Gorman; Vargas is much less exciting if he can really only play first base in the majors.

Then there’s Bryan Ramos. ZiPS absolutely loved Ramos’ season and thought he was even unlucky from a BABIP standpoint. A .244/.345/.415 line for a 19-year-old infielder in a full-season league is solid, and his comps are a who’s who of interesting-ish prospects who developed power, like Jose Valentin and Dan Uggla. I’m not saying that he’s a slam-dunk — ZiPS also loved Arismendy Alcántara — but don’t completely forget his name. Especially since the White Sox didn’t do so well here otherwise.

ZiPS Top Prospects – Corner Outfield
Pos. Rank ZiPS Rank Name Pos. Organization
1 1 Julio Rodríguez cOF Seattle Mariners
2 5 George Valera cOF Cleveland Guardians
3 6 Riley Greene cOF Detroit Tigers
4 24 Alek Thomas cOF Arizona Diamondbacks
5 25 Curtis Mead cOF Tampa Bay Rays
6 52 Alberto Rodriguez cOF Seattle Mariners
7 78 Zac Veen cOF Colorado Rockies
8 88 Nolan Jones cOF Cleveland Guardians
9 102 Brennen Davis cOF Chicago Cubs
10 144 Kristian Robinson cOF Arizona Diamondbacks

As mentioned above, Julio Rodríguez is ZiPS’ top prospect. It already projects him as a three-win player, and every player under 24 the system has projected for three or more wins in a rookie season has ended up a star, with the exception of Gregory Polanco.

George Valera is one of the biggest ZiPS/FanGraphs disagreements, with ZiPS placing him in its top 10 (he ranks 103rd on the prospect team’s list) after crushing 19 homers over 86 games. ZiPS thinks that at his peak, he’ll be a 30-35 homer type, with a decent batting average and enough walks to get above the ho-hum line.

If ZiPS is wrong on someone, I think it’s Brennen Davis. He hasn’t had a great deal of experience in the minors, so I think ZiPS is taking too negative a view of his contact rate and how much of his value was walks-based. Davis may be the type of player who was especially hurt by a lost season, a highly-skilled guy who really just needs more playing time.

ZiPS Top Prospects – Center Field
Pos. Rank ZiPS Rank Name Pos. Organization
1 13 Andy Pages CF Los Angeles Dodgers
2 22 Corbin Carroll CF Arizona Diamondbacks
3 30 Jasson Dominguez CF New York Yankees
4 39 Robert Hassell III CF San Diego Padres
5 45 Austin Martin CF Minnesota Twins
6 49 Colton Cowser CF Baltimore Orioles
7 61 Steven Kwan CF Cleveland Guardians
8 71 Josh Lowe CF Tampa Bay Rays
9 82 Johan Rojas CF Philadelphia Phillies
10 89 Michael Harris II CF Atlanta Braves

It looks like Angels should have gotten that Joc Pederson trade done. After 31 homers for the Great Lakes Loons at age 20, Andy Pages projects for as much power as anyone on this list with the possible exception of Valera. He may simply outgrow being able to play center, but if he peaks as a 125-135 OPS+ hitter, as ZiPS believes is likely, he doesn’t necessarily need to stick there. After ZiPS passed on Jasson Dominguez for years because he hadn’t actually played professional baseball, he finally made his debut in 2021, and while some might be disappointed he didn’t make opposing pitchers simply quit the sport in terror, his performance was very good for an 18-year-old, and rather well-rounded for a teen. This season could shoot him into Wander Franco status in the best-case scenario.

I’m glad to see that ZiPS isn’t going it alone on Steven Kwan, who should finally give Cleveland the solid outfielder the team otherwise refuses to pay for. Kwan already has a batting average projection in the top 20 for 2022, and he has better power than other contact machines like Nick Madrigal and David Fletcher. He’s a throwback type of hitter, and it’s fun to have some variety.

ZiPS has largely soured on Cristian Pache because of his lack of offensive development in the high minors, and he’s fallen almost entirely out of the Top 100. He didn’t make the top 10 center fielders, but the fact that he remains an excellent defensive player means that he’ll have a role in the majors long-term, even if it’s as more of a Jarrod Dyson type than an All-Star starter.

ZiPS Top Prospects – Pitcher
Pos. Rank ZiPS Rank Name Pos. Organization
1 12 Grayson Rodriguez P Baltimore Orioles
2 15 Aaron Ashby P Milwaukee Brewers
3 16 Shane Baz P Tampa Bay Rays
4 21 Sixto Sánchez P Miami Marlins
5 34 Kyle Harrison P San Francisco Giants
6 38 Hunter Greene P Cincinnati Reds
7 40 Bryce Elder P Atlanta Braves
8 41 Quinn Priester P Pittsburgh Pirates
9 43 Kyle Muller P Atlanta Braves
10 57 Luis Frías P Arizona Diamondbacks

Pitchers are pretty risky, so the top prospect here, Grayson Rodriguez, only ranks 12th in the overall ranking. The three pitchers after Rodriguez — Aaron Ashby, Shane Baz, and Sixto Sánchez — all have some success in the majors already; it feels weird that any of that trio still qualifies for this list. Scouts love Rodriguez for his nasty über-repertoire, while ZiPS loves a young starter who strikes out 14 batters a game without any concerning walk issues. Rodriguez is the best O’s pitching prospect since Mike Mussina.

Hunter Greene pitched in affiliated games for the first time since 2018 last season, and you could barely tell he was gone. He still throws hard, and he didn’t have many issues in his first taste of the high minors. ZiPS thinks his high homer rate for Triple-A Louisville was a bit of a fluke, rather than a cause for concern. Greene doesn’t have a lot of miles on his odometer, and I’d like to see him get the classic Earl Weaver treatment and get his beak wet in the majors as a reliever. But please, Cincy, if you go this route, don’t give up on Greene as a starter if he succeeds in the bullpen. You’ll need him when you trade Luis Castillo!

The big missing player here is Deivi García, whose disappearing command dropped him out of the top 10 pitchers and the top 100 prospects; he fell all the way down to 213th after ranking 16th in 2021. This was one of the biggest prospect collapses in ZiPS history for a pitcher in the high minors without a serious injury. There’s still time, but his 2021 was ugly.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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Brian Reinhartmember
4 months ago

Sorry, you can’t convince me ZiPS doesn’t stand for “sZymborski is Projecting Stuff.”