Earlier in the offseason, I ranked the top 100 MLB prospects and all 30 farm systems heading into the 2022 season. Now it’s time to go deeper with my team-by-team rankings, wrapping up with the American League after my National League team-by-team rankings came out Wednesday.
A quick refresher on a key term you’ll see throughout the team lists: future value, shortened to FV hereafter, sums up the value of a player into one number. It’s graded on the 20-80 scouting scale. A low-end everyday player is a 50, which correlates to 2.0 WAR; a well-above-average position player, No. 3 starter or high-end closer is a 60, or somewhere around 3.0 WAR. I refrain from tossing out an 80 on minor leaguers because that would imply one is expected to be one of the top players in baseball.
While the Top 100 is exactly that long, I rank every prospect who gets a 45+ or better FV grade, so that rank is included here in the team lists. For every team, there are reports on the top 10 prospects and then varying numbers of others depending on the strength of the system. Broadly, it’ll be everyone better than a 40 FV, then handpicked interesting prospects who are 40 FVs.
Now on to my 2022 rankings.
Jump to a franchise:
No. 1 overall
No. 10 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$341 million total value
1. Adley Rutschman, C, 65 FV (1st on the Top 100)
2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, 60 FV (8)
3. Colton Cowser, CF, 50 FV (74)
4. D.L. Hall, LHP, 50 FV (94)
5. Gunnar Henderson, SS, 50 FV (96)
6. Coby Mayo, 3B, 50 FV (98)
7. Jordan Westburg, SS, 50 FV (108)
8. Kyle Stowers, RF, 45+ FV
9. Kyle Bradish, RHP, 45+ FV
10. Connor Norby, 2B, 45 FV
11. Drew Rom, LHP, 45 FV
12. Heston Kjerstad, RF, 45 FV
13. Joseph Ortiz, SS, 45 FV
14. Terrin Vavra, 2B, 45 FV
15. Hudson Haskin, CF, 40+ FV
16. Reed Trimble, CF, 40+ FV
40 FV (13): Darell Hernaiz/SS, Anthony Servideo/SS, Kyle Brnovich, RHP, Jahmai Jones/2B, Tyler Nevin/1B, Carter Baumler/RHP, Mike Baumann/RHP, John Rhodes/RF, Alexander Wells/LHP, Mishael Deson/CF, Donta’ Williams/CF, Jean Pinto/RHP, Isaac Mattson/RHP
35+ FV (26): Maikol Hernandez/SS, Isaac De Leon/SS, Zac Lowther/LHP, Garrett Stallings/RHP, Anderson De Los Santos/3B, Zach Watson/CF, Felix Bautista/RHP, Cesar Prieto/2B, Andrew Daschbach/1B, Cadyn Grenier/SS, Creed Willems/C, Morgan McSweeney/RHP, Zach Peek/RHP, Kevin Smith/LHP, Maverick Handley/C, Robert Neustrom/LF, Moises Ramirez/3B, Tyler Burch/RHP, Brandon Young/RHP, Carlos Tavera/RHP, Rylan Bannon/2B, Adam Hall/SS, Samuel Basallo/C, Leandro Arias/SS, Logan Gillaspie/RHP, Bryan Baker/RHP
2022 Impact: Rutschman
40+ FV breakout pick: Trimble
40 FV or less breakout pick: Pinto
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Westburg was late to the showcase circuit but arrived at Mississippi State with big tools that eventually became above average across the board, and went in the 2020 first round. He’s a strong 6-foot-3 and solid defensively, and he might be 55-grade at everything offensively — though his contact ability is likely the laggard of the group. Stowers was a late riser in the 2019 draft process as a loose, power-and-patience bat at Stanford. He had a quiet pro debut, then a big breakout in 2021 across three levels ending at Triple-A, so he might also get a big league look this year. Stowers’ contact also lags a bit behind his other tools, but there will be walks, 25ish homer power and solid corner-outfield defense. Norby was a spring pop-up guy scouts could talk themselves into once they had gaudy numbers to put next to him. He’s an advanced hitter with a good approach and just enough speed/defense to make it all work at second base. He’s the type that will cut through A-ball quickly and settle somewhere around a low-end every-day player in the big leagues.
Kjerstad was an overdraft at the second overall pick in 2020; he was 10th overall on my board. I see Baltimore’s point of view here (he can hit and hit for power, they can reduce K rate in pro ball a bit), and drafting him came with savings, but I would’ve picked a different option if I was going that route. He’s tough to rank, as he hasn’t played a pro game yet because of myocarditis. Ortiz was a bit of a mystery, like college teammate Nick Gonzales, because of the level of competition, park and altitude at New Mexico State, but it was obvious Ortiz could pick it at short and there was some level of offensive ability. He performed well at Double-A while being prospect age-appropriate, so he is trending more toward being a low-end starter than a utility player. Haskin was a second-rounder in 2020 and Trimble was a second-comp-round pick in 2021, and both are toolsy college center fielders with offensive questions; will Haskin alter his hitting approach enough to get to his 15-18 homer power in games and will Trimble make enough contact to let his 20-25 homer power show up? Vavra is a high floor, hit-first second baseman who’s a good athlete and close to the big leagues, but he might be more platoon/reserve bat because of his lack of power.
Bradish has slowly climbed in prospect value since being traded from the Angels in the 219 Dylan Bundy deal, and he’s now knocking on the door of the big leagues and the Top 100. He sits in the mid-90s with bat-missing action to the pitch and relies heavily on two above average-to-plus breaking balls. His command i0s good enough to make this work and his changeup is a distant fourth pitch; look for him to get big league starts in late 2022. Rom is another incremental improvement case, improving his velocity to 90-92 mph from the upper-80s in high school. He’s always been a lanky projection lefty with feel, and now he has three above-average pitches with that same feel and production to match. Rom likely isn’t a frontline starter, but he could land in the middle of a rotation if things keep going well.
Others of note
In addition to a number of up-the-middle position players of note above, there are three more middle infielders at the top of this tier. Hernaiz is still 20, has performed well at the low levels and basically has average tools across the board; he’s a utility type as is but the tools could still pop. Servideo was a later-blooming college player at Ole Miss who can run and field, but the offensive impact is the question. Prieto just signed in January and has long been the best young hitter on Cuban national teams, but his power, speed and glove are all just fringy-to-average.
Rhodes and Williams are both interesting college outfielders, as Baltimore has a real penchant for college position players with some tools and defensive value. Rhodes has a solid, if not dynamic, hit/power combo and probably fits in right field long-term, but has history playing almost everywhere. Williams was one of the few age-22 position players in the 2021 draft after being passed over in the 2020 draft. He can hit, run and field in center, but his power limits the upside.
Brnovich also came over from the Angels and will make the big leagues because he can really command a plus curveball, but it’s unclear if he’ll develop enough other weapons to be more than a middle reliever. Baumler got Tommy John surgery after being drafted in 2020 and hasn’t pitched in an official game yet, but he fits an archetype that often works out: cold weather, athlete, above-average raw stuff, some athleticism. Wells is a bit unusual because he sits in the upper-80s with fringy stuff but performed up through Triple-A, though he wasn’t that good in a brief MLB look. I’m interested to find out how far the Australian can get on guile and command. Pinto was acquired in the Jose Iglesias deal from the Angels and flashes an above-average fastball/breaker combo with really high spin rates on the breaker; it’s still early and there’s some chance that he could start.
No. 15 overall
No. 10 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$209.5 million total value
1. Marcelo Mayer, SS, 60 FV (22nd on the Top 100)
2. Triston Casas, 1B, 55 FV (46)
3. Nick Yorke, 2B, 55 FV (47)
4. Jarren Duran, CF, 45+ FV
5. Jeter Downs, 2B, 45+ FV
6. Gilberto Jimenez, CF, 45 FV
7. Wilkelman Gonzalez, RHP, 45 FV
8. Jay Groome, LHP, 45 FV
9. Ronaldo Hernandez, C, 45 FV
10. Chris Murphy, LHP, 45 FV
11. Noah Song, RHP, 40+ FV
12. Bryan Mata, RHP, 40+ FV
13. Brayan Bello, RHP, 40+ FV
14. David Hamilton, SS, 40+ FV
15. Brandon Walter, RHP, 40+ FV
16. Kutter Crawford, LHP, 40+ FV
40 FV (20): Blaze Jordan/1B, Alex Binelas/3B, Tyler McDonough/2B, Connor Wong/C, Nathan Hickey/C, Christian Koss/SS, Connor Seabold/RHP, Miguel Bleis/RF, Eduardo López/CF, Brainer Bonaci/SS, Matthew Lugo/SS, Jeisson Rosario/CF, Hudson Potts/3B, Nick Northcut/3B, Chih-Jung Liu/HP, Cameron Cannon/2B, Miguel Ugueto/RF, Luis Ravelo/SS, Niko Kavadas/DH, Josh Winckowski/RHP
35+ FV (19): Brandon Howlett/3B, Victor Santos/RHP, Durbin Feltman/RHP, Frank German/RHP, Thaddeus Ward/RHP, Juan Chacon/CF, Juan Daniel Encarnacion/RHP, Jacob Wallace/RHP, Eduardo Vaughan/RF, Bradley Blalock/RHP, Eduard Bazardo/RHP, Freili Encarnacion/SS, Elmer Rodriguez/RHP, Tyler Miller/3B, Ceddanne Rafaela/SS, Jhostynxon Garcia/CF, Tyler Dearden/LF, Nick Decker/RF, Luis Perales/RHP
2022 Impact: Casas
40+ FV breakout pick: Walter
40 FV or less breakout pick: McDonough
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Duran is barely eligible for this list, and I’m sure some casual Red Sox fans are out after his big league debut, which included a 4% walk rate, a 36% strikeout rate and a .578 OPS. Duan has had a journey, going from little-known seventh-round pick to quick-rising prospect, and much of his ascent was due to swing changes once he got away from Long Beach State. There are continued tweaks taking place to try to solve it, and I’m thinking he’ll settle in as a good fourth outfielder who will be streaky enough to look like a starter at times. Downs’ swing seems to have been exposed a bit by Triple-A pitching after he cruised up to that point. I think he’ll settle as a fringe-to-average offensive contributor at second base who might be more of a utility/platoon guy on a good team than the starter he looked like before 2021.
Jimenez is a top-of-the-scale runner who is a great defender with a plus arm. He has real bat control and a decent approach, but his swing is limiting the whole profile. I like to bet on plus athletes with good makeup, so I’m optimistic, but we’ll need to see a swing change of some sort here. Hamilton was acquired in the Hunter Renfroe deal and is a similar player to Jimenez. Hamilton is a 65-grade runner with a good approach, good contact skills and great baserunning feel, but fits a little better at second base than shortstop long-term. Hernandez is slightly frustrating with plus raw power and arm strength, but an offensive approach and defensive limitations that mute the impact of those tools.
Gonzalez was a pop-up name last spring, rising from off-list obscurity into the organization’s top ten. His arm speed and raw stuff spiked, now sitting in the mid-90s and showing three above-average pitches and starter traits. We have a limited track record with him and he’s still a teenager that’s thrown 17.2 innings outside of Rookie ball, so the 2022 season will tell us a lot about his future. Groome has had a winding road, going from one of the best prep pitching prospects in recent years to sliding on draft day because of a Tommy John surgery. He still has an above-average breaking ball, gets into the mid-90s and has some starter traits with a four-pitch mix. Groome is trending up from some of those lows, but he’s a more useful pitcher in a couple of different roles than as an impact starter.
Murphy’s stuff has progressed to be above-average now and he had a good K-to-BB ratio in Double-A, but the question is if his command will be good enough to go deep into games or if he’s a valuable utility lefty that can fit whatever hole your staff has. Song is presumably still an elite prospect with above-average stuff and good feel, but it’s unclear when he will return to pro ball from Naval Flight School, so the enthusiasm has waned a bit. Mata hasn’t pitched in a while because of a Tommy John surgery and the missed 2020 season. He’s often in the upper-90s with a sinker, solid four-pitch mix and improving feel that gives off some Carlos Zambrano vibes at times, but I don’t think his impact will be nearly as big as Zambrano’s. Bello’s calling card is a mid-90s heater, and he has solid feel to go with an above-average three-pitch mix, though he’s also probably not an 180-inning starter. Like Murphy, Walter now also offers an above-average three-pitch mix from the left side and has a better chance to start, but the mid-90s heater and plus-flashing slider might be too good to keep out of the bullpen. Kutter Crawford has an 80-grade baseball name and solid-average stuff/command combo that might fit in the back of a rotation or in a staff utility role.
Others of note
There’s a strong group of position players at the top of the 40s from which I’d bet a couple of prospects will break through to the 45 tier by next season. Jordan has long been famous, to a point that I think is unfair to him, but he can hit and hit for power and has surprised some with how well he’s done that in pro ball. He’ll move up a bit as he hits at each level. Binelas was acquired for Hunter Renfroe and he slipped in the draft because of an up-and-down spring contactwise. He has 70-grade raw power and is probably a first baseman long term, but if he can put up a solid OBP with pop, he’ll also move up. McDonough seems like a favorite within the org, one of a few standout prospects who were 22 years old last summer as a result of not signing in the shortened 2020 draft. He can hit and he’s pretty good at everything else, too. Hickey has long been a favorite of mine and he’s now playable behind the plate, but the selling point is easy-plus juice from the left side and a good approach. Koss is an arrow-up guy who is tracking like a solid utility type with hope for more if he can improve his approach a bit.
Not quite in the tier with the aforementioned bats, but also worth pointing out, is potential fan favorite Niko Kavadas. He only got $250,000 in the 11th round because he’s a DH only (drafted back when only one league had those), but Kavadas has the double-plus raw power and solid approach you’d want out of that position. He’s now 23 and might get moved quickly so the Red Sox can find out if this is a fun-to-watch org guy or a good actual big leaguer. Winckowski was bubbling around the 35+to 35 borderline, then got traded twice, took a step forward in 2021 and now is a 40. He sits in the mid-90s and has a 55-to-60 grade slider with solid feel; some in the org think he belongs at the top of the 40 tier and he should get a big league look this year. Miller was a sleeper in the 2021 draft I liked. I was initially lukewarm because he was an underpowered first baseman at Auburn. Then I learned about his history playing around the infield, and now I think he’s a solid bat-first utility type. Ravelo has only played in the DSL but has a plus-plus arm, an above-average glove and a strong offensive pro debut, except for in-game power.
No. 6 overall
No. 4 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$270.5 million total value
1. Anthony Volpe, SS, 60 FV (6th on the Top 100)
2. Oswald Peraza, SS, 55 FV (25)
3. Jasson Dominguez, CF, 55 FV (32)
4. Everson Pereira, CF, 50 FV (69)
5. Alexander Vargas, SS, 45+ FV
6. Antonio Gomez, C, 45+ FV
7. Ken Waldichuk, LHP, 45+ FV
8. Roderick Arias, SS, 45+ FV
9. Luis Medina, RHP, 45 FV
10. Trey Sweeney, SS, 45 FV
11. Austin Wells, C, 45 FV
12. Clarke Schmidt, RHP, 45 FV
13. Luis Gil, RHP, 45 FV
14. Anthony Garcia, RF, 45 FV
15. Deivi Garcia, RHP, 45 FV
16. Oswaldo Cabrera, 2B, 45 FV
17. Yoendrys Gomez, RHP, 45 FV
18. Randy Vasquez, RHP, 40+ FV
40 FV (14): Stephen Ridings/RHP, Hayden Wesneski/RHP, Justin Lange/RHP, J.P. Sears/LHP, Ron Marinaccio/RHP, Josh Breaux/C, Brock Selvidge/LHP, Beck Way/RHP, Cooper Bowman/2B, Elijah Dunham/RF, Fidel Montero/CF, Brendan Beck/RHP, Marcos Cabrera/3B, Matt Sauer/RHP
35+ FV (17): Denny Larrondo/RHP, Brandon Lockridge/CF, T.J. Sikkema/LHP, Yarison Ruiz/RHP, Andres Chaparro/3B, Anthony Seigler/C, Hans Montero/SS, Estevan Florial/CF, Anderson Munoz/RHP, Dayro Perez/SS, Louis Pierre/CF, Zach Greene/RHP, Madison Santos/CF, Felix Negueis/CF, Nicio Rodriguez/RHP, Sean Hermann/RHP, Tyrone Yulie/RHP
2022 Impact: Peraza
40+ FV breakout pick: Sweeney
40 FV or less breakout pick: Wesneski
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Vargas is one of the best “this is what they look like at this age” types in the minors. He’s long, projectable and nearly plus at every physical element except being strong right now. I don’t think he’ll ever be a 25-homer threat, but you can expect incremental progress as power is normally the last thing to come anyway. Gomez is still notable for the same thing as when I first saw him at age 15: a true 80 arm with the lowest in-game pop times to second base I’ve ever recorded. He’s a good hitter with a solid approach and a 20-ish homer power upside that has continued improving behind the plate. With the offensive bar so low for catchers these days and a potential robo ump future, Gomez could be a really good one.
Arias was the best player in January’s signing class, a notch below the Jasson Dominguez/Wander Franco/Vladimir Guerrero Jr. tier of international signings (all 50 FV before a pro game), but just one notch below. He’s a projectable switch-hitting, 6-foot-2, no-doubt shortstop who is a plus runner with a plus arm and the potential for plus raw power as he fills out. The only concern is there is no pitching peer in his age group (pitchers generally need to be 17 or 18 to get to the mid-90s), so he needs to face a lot of pro-level pitching to be able to improve and for us to get an idea of what stage he’s at with the bat.
Sweeney, like 2021 draft class mate Bowman ranked below, also blew up the Yankees’ athleticism testing (think force plates more than NFL combine), and that points to the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder having a chance to stick at shortstop, even as a fringy straight line runner. He would be an elite defensive third baseman if that doesn’t work, and there’s a real power ceiling here as a late bloomer that popped in the spring at Eastern Illinois; I’m thinking a 45-50 bat with plus raw power, and he might get to all of it. He’s a good pick to click as a position player likely to jump into the 50 FV tier in the next 12 months with a lot of positive late-bloomer characteristics and not much top-tier competition to judge him against.
Many scouts thought Wells had no chance to be a catcher going back to his prep underclassman days at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, but he has made a lot of progress since then. He is on a weighted ball program to try to get his 40-to-45-grade arm to average, but the other elements have come along to where he’s solid. Scouts have never questioned his power-and-patience skill set with solid contact ability. Garcia has outrageous exit velos as proof of his 80-grade raw power demonstrated by a 2021 home run that the best comp was one of the harder hit homers Joey Gallo smacked last year. He wasn’t added to the 40-man since he hasn’t been above low-A, but I think he’ll have to be this year because he might hit his way to Double-A, even with a 30%-plus strikeout rate. Cabrera is a little less exciting as a high probability utility infielder who fits best at second base and has really grown into above-average power in pro ball, with some Rougned Odor vibes.
Waldichuk is a classic old-school Moneyball type, with some funk to how he does it, coming from a mid-major and not possessing great raw stuff (still just a low-90s heater now) but posting great performances. He has continued to improve in pro ball to a borderline 50 FV that might get there by midseason. The unique aspects are how he cuts everything from a low slot and gets plus-plus life on his fastball. There’s some Jordan Montgomery elements, but the unique aspects could give Waldichuk a higher upside. Speaking of upside, Medina has for years had arguably the best raw stuff in the minors, sitting in the upper-90s, regularly eclipsing 100 mph and mixing in a 70-grade hook and a plus-flashing changeup. His quality of strikes is improving but still not conventionally starter grade, while some think he just needs 45 command (execution of a specific location) and 50 control (throw it over the plate anywhere) to be a mid-rotation starter. Even 40-grade control might be enough to be a hold-onto-your-arm-rest closer, but we aren’t quite even there yet.
Schmidt (command issues, trying to add cutter to combat lefty hitters), Gil (good pitcher, better in short stints) and Garcia (got away from his curveball but probably shouldn’t have) have all been around the big leagues and are now on the inventory end of things until they solve some issues. Gomez has only made nine appearances since 2019 and 15 total appearances in full-season ball (all at low-A) and has been a bit injury-prone, but he has as much potential if not more than that big league inventory group. Vasquez sits 93-95 mph and has a 70-grade bender that averages over-3000 rpm along with decent feel, but he is a slight 6-footer with some effort to his delivery, so he’ll likely not be the 180-inning type.
Others of note
There are lots of guys I’d like to cover here, so we’ll do it rapid-fire style: Ridings is 6-foot-8 and came out of nowhere to be a solid big league reliever who is up to 100 mph; I think he’s a seventh- or eighth-innings guy depending on his consistency. Wesneski recently got the Pitching Ninja seal of approval, and he’s throwing harder than in college now with a higher slot. His above-average fastball/slider combo and fringy command probably fits best in relief. Lange just came over in the Luke Voit deal and had a knee injury last year but had been up to 100 mph with a plus breaker. He has a very short track record as he popped up in the shortened 2020 spring and hasn’t pitched much in pro ball yet.
Selvidge was trending as a late first-rounder after a strong showcase summer, then his velo disappeared in the spring (from 93-95 to 88-91), but it came back right before the draft with a mechanical adjustment; the Yanks see potential plus stuff and components for good command. Way slipped later than he should’ve in the 2020 draft, and he is still improving his command but he’s been up to 100 mph and has a solid average mix of three off-speed pitches. Beck has indicators of a potential velo breakout in pro ball in the Cleveland mold of development, but he had Tommy John surgery after the draft. Ruiz has Yankees development coaches going star eyes emoji with his raw stuff (fastball/curveball flash easy plus), but he’s still raw. Hermann was a late 2021 draft find who is a premium performer with solid-average raw stuff. Yulie is in the upper-90s and has an above-average slider but needs to improve his command.
Breaux was in the upper-90s on the mound at a junior college, and he has an 80-grade arm behind the plate to go with good enough receiving, perfectly suited for a robot ump future. He swings a bit too much but has easy plus raw juice and some sense for contact. Bowman tested as a 70-grade athlete, somewhat deceptively, as he was overshadowed on his Louisville lineup by Henry Davis and Alex Binelas. He might be able to play short but can play second and center field, with fringe offensive upside to project as a utility type. Fidel Montero has major tools that emerged late in his signing period, but I’ve cooled a bit on him after his swing got out of whack in his pro debut; the buzz is he has turned the corner in correcting that. Dunham was a 2020 post-draft free agent who got $20,000, and he has been great in pro ball, showing plus raw power, more hitability than expected and solid physical skills. Chaparro has shockingly good exit velos, peaking at 113-115 mph area, and he has hit alight and played a decent third base too. Santos is a tools goof longtime sleeper who needs to perform now but still has considerable upside. Pierre signed for $150,000 under similar conditions that led to Florial’s contract being another bargain for the Yankees. He is a multiyear development play with big upside, particularly for the bonus. Negueis had two shoulder injuries that cost him development time, but development folks saw above-average hit/power tools before and think he might emerge in 2022.
No. 2 overall
No. 2 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$313.5 million total value
1. Shane Baz, RHP, 60 FV (15th on the Top 100)
2. Vidal Brujan, 2B, 55 FV (45)
3. Josh Lowe, RF, 50 FV (51)
4. Greg Jones, SS, 50 FV (62)
5. Curtis Mead, 3B, 50 FV (64)
6. Taj Bradley, RHP, 50 FV (95)
7. Seth Johnson, RHP, 50 FV (109)
8. Xavier Edwards, 2B, 50 FV (117)
9. Cooper Kinney, 3B, 45 FV
10. Carlos Colmenarez, SS, 45 FV
11. Carson Williams, SS, 45 FV
12. Heriberto Hernandez, LF, 45 FV
13. J.J. Goss, RHP, 45 FV
14. Willy Vasquez, SS, 45 FV
15. Jonathan Aranda, 2B, 45 FV
16. Austin Shenton, 3B, 45 FV
17. Ian Seymour, LHP, 45 FV
18. Rene Pinto, C, 45 FV
19. Cole Wilcox, RHP, 40+ FV
20. Nick Bitsko, RHP, 40+ FV
40 FV (19): Ryan Spikes/SS, Brett Wisely/2B, Osleivis Basabe/SS, Ford Proctor/C, Tanner Murray/SS, Kam Misner/RF, Alika Williams/SS, Kyle Manzardo/1B, Blake Hunt/C, John Doxakis/LHP, Antonio Jimenez/RHP, Tommy Romero/RHP, Sandy Gaston/RHP, Colby White/RHP, Calvin Faucher/RHP, Brendan McKay/LHP, Michael Mercado/RHP, Diego Infante/RF, Ruben Cardenas/RF
35+ FV (19): Ronny Simon/2B, Johan Lopez/SS, Jayden Murray/RHP, Jhonny Piron/CF, Victor Munoz/RHP, Yoniel Curet/RHP, Alexander Ovalles/1B, Manuel De La Rosa/LHP, Hunter Barnhart/RHP, Andri Tavarez/LHP, Franklin Dacosta/LHP, Alejandro Pie/SS, Nick Schnell/CF, Roberto Alvarez/C, Luke Raley/LF, Pedro Martinez/SS, Graeme Stinson/LHP, Joel Peguero/RHP, Chris Muller/RHP
2022 Impact: Baz
40+ FV breakout pick: Vasquez
40 FV or less breakout pick: Faucher
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Edwards is an 80-grade runner with elite bat-to-ball ability and a good approach, but he’s limited to second base and center field, and has bottom-of-the-scale in-game power due in large part to his offensive approach. He might get a big league look this year, but the Rays are deep at this position and he doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man until after the season. Kinney, Colmenarez, Williams and Vasquez are three infielders who are joint picks to click as I’m almost positive at least one will jump into the 50 FV tier next year. Kinney is a fine third baseman with solid-average raw tools but the selling point is one of the best bats in the 2021 prep class, which could help him move quickly. Colmenarez was in the top tier of the 2021 international class for years, and I’m still on him after a merely decent pro debut in the DSL. He has a chance to stick at short, but if he doesn’t, there might be more than 60-grade lefty raw power, along with the precocious feel to hit that has many scouts hanging a 60 on that tool as well.
Williams doesn’t want to pitch in pro ball but effortlessly worked in the mid-90s and showed a plus breaking ball in high school. He has a similar look to Dansby Swanson early at Vanderbilt, with a quickly bulking up frame addressing the main concern at draft time, but without affecting the selling points: advanced bat, glove at short, excellent intangibles. Vasquez came out of nowhere to post 110+ exit velos as a teenager in the complex league while also being a good hitter with a solid approach, solid-average speed, and an infield fit. He’ll probably slide over to third base eventually, but it’s early, and his plus arm will play anywhere.
Hernandez is a mature hit/power combo but probably just a left field/first base fit, so he’s got to keep mashing. Aranda took a big step forward last year and now is a 55-to-60 grade hit tool guy with some power that got added to the 40-man, but he is just OK defensively at second base. Shenton was acquired last summer from Seattle for Diego Castillo and is one move on the defensive spectrum (he’s fine at third base) from that outfield corner/first base area, but the hit/power combo here is above average and should be big league quality at any position. Pinto, wait for it, also took a big step forward last year, now showing above-average in-game power to go with above-average defense and good-enough contact; he’ll probably get a big league look at some point in 2022.
Johnson isn’t that far behind Bradey, but he’s a bit older at the same developmental stage due to converting to a pitcher full time in college. For that reason, Johnson’s execution of his 55-to-60 grade stuff is a little behind Bradley, but 2022 is lining up to potentially be Johnson’s breakout year. Goss’ report hasn’t changed much as he only threw 10⅓ innings last season due to soreness that didn’t require surgery; his scouting report is littered with 55s that could turn into 60s if it all clicks. Seymour has snuck up on me as a prospect. He’s a crafty lefty living 91-94 mph with a plus-flashing changeup and solid-average breaking stuff, starting to give off some Ryan Yarbrough vibes. Cole Wilcox was in the Blake Snell return but had Tommy John surgery in September after 10 starts. Bitsko was a short-track-record first-round pick in 2020 who had shoulder surgery last December and hasn’t thrown a pro inning yet, but is progressing well.
Others of note
Spikes fits a type the Rays have done well with in the past: middle infielder who most don’t think can stick at short, but he has hit everywhere and has some pop. You never know how any one player’s career will play out, but this is the right org for Spikes. Wisely popped up last season, with his hit tool playing more than expected and defensively progressing from not having a position to a decent second baseman, with a real shot at a corner-utility future. Proctor was another of these middle infielders, but he then converted to catcher and got added to the 40-man ahead of Blake Hunt, one player from the Blake Snell trade package. Proctor’s defense is still inconsistent, but he’ll show average at times while he’s a fringe-to-average offensive producer. Hunt is an advanced defender with some pop that had real contact issues last year; skipping the Rule 5 might have helped the Rays more than any other club.
Continuing with more middle infielders, we have Alika Williams, who has plus contact skills, speed and glove at shortstop but so little power it might undermine the whole profile. Murray took a big step forward in 2021 and has a shot to stick at the position with a solid bat and enough power to be a threat, likely landing as a utility guy. On the power bat end of things, we had Kam Misner and Kyle Manzardo. Misner was acquired from Miami and is a bounce-back candidate with big raw tools (easy plus lefty raw power, plus speed, outfield tweener) and decent performance while Manzardo was a late-rising bat out of Washington State with solid average raw power but the elite hit tool is the selling point here.
On the pitching side, Faucher is another Rays upside relief find, acquired from the Twins. His curveball averages nearly 3200 rpm and he sits 94-97 with his fastball, also mixing in a cutter, but his command has lagged. He could be the next Peter Fairbanks if it all clicks. More importantly, the Rays need to trade for Garrett Crochet so they can form the Faucher (FO-shay), Colin Poche (PO-chay), Crochet (CRO-shay) bullpen progression. White, just two years after being a sixth-round pick from Mississippi State, dominated the upper levels with one of the better fastballs in the minors, sitting 94-97 with elite rise and a flat angle, drawing a ton of whiffs. His slider and command are both solid, but the heater is the meal ticket here. Gaston has always had wacky raw stuff, sitting 95-99 mph as a teenager with a 55-to-60 grade hook, but needs to progress with command.
No. 22 overall
No. 26 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$154.5 million total value
1. Gabriel Moreno, C, 60 FV (12th in the Top 100)
2. Orelvis Martinez, SS, 60 FV (16)
3. Jordan Groshans, SS, 45+ FV
4. Leonardo Jimenez, SS, 45 FV
5. C.J. Van Eyk, RHP, 40+ FV
6. Rikelbin de Castro, SS, 40+ FV
7. Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, 40+ FV
8. Sem Robberse, RHP, 40+ FV
40 FV (8): Manuel Beltre/SS, Estiven Machado/2B, Miguel Hiraldo/3B, Hayden Juenger/RHP, Otto Lopez/SS, Irv Carter/RHP, Chad Dallas/RHP, Adam Kloffenstein/RHP
35+ FV (17): Bowden Francis/RHP, Dahian Santos/RHP, Sebastian Espino/3B, Hagen Danner/RHP, Yosver Zulueta/RHP, Joey Murray/RHP, Tanner Morris/LF, Chavez Young/CF, Kendry Rojas/RHP, Gabriel Martinez/RF, Luis Meza/C, Samad Taylor/2B, Adrian Hernandez/RHP, Trent Palmer/RHP, Kyle Johnston/RHP, Nick Frasso/RHP, Connor Cooke/RHP
2022 Impact: Moreno
40+ FV breakout pick: Tiedemann
40 FV or less breakout pick: Beltre
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Groshans gave off some Josh Donaldson vibes in first looks on the showcase circuit and into his draft spring, leading to him going 12th overall out of a Texas high school in 2018. He had a foot injury in 2019 then missed 2020 because of the pandemic and came out with more of a hit-over-power approach in 2021, producing surprisingly low exit velos for the kind of player he was in high school. Even as-is, there’s still at least average offensive upside and is still an OK shortstop/good third baseman defensively, but there’s always a chance that explosiveness returns.
Jimenez is another infielder with limited power, though that has always been the case with him. He can really hit, has a great approach and is a solid defensive shortstop, but there’s just enough power here to still call him a future big leaguer of some sort. De Castro is another strong defensive shortstop and he can also hit, with a solid approach and more speed than Jimenez, but also with well-below average power. De Castro just turned 19, so there’s still plenty of time for this to develop.
Van Eyk popped up in his high school senior draft spring in the Tampa area, but his price wasn’t met and he went to Florida State. From those best high school looks until today (he’s 23) it has been mostly similar, with three above-average pitches that’ll flash plus occasionally and command that’s usually fine, but never quite consistently rotation quality. Tiedemann’s style of pitching — a lower slot sinker/slider with lots of east/west elements — wasn’t en vogue five or so years ago but it’s now a type where a number of teams are looking to find pitchers. In short stints, his sinker/slider/changeup combo can all flash plus and play around 55s in long stints, with solid coordination and command from a 6-foot-4 frame, so there’s mid-rotation upside. Robberse signed out of the Netherlands in 2019, which you won’t read in any other reports, and has steadily improved to develop solid-average stuff and starter traits within two years. He’s still working through some finer points as you might expect, but he has made tons of progress in a short amount of time so scouts can project a lot for the 20-year-old.
Others of note
Beltre was one of the higher bonus players in the 2021 international class with a familiar hit-over-power with above-average athletic components scouting report, which held up through his DSL pro debut. He walked more than he struck out, underlining that he was more polished than many of his peers. Machado has played only one pro game due to injury but he also fits in the Beltre style of international signee, with a hit-over-power approach and middle infield fit. Hiraldo is a little different, as a decent defensive third baseman who swings with a lot of effort and has another Rule 5 decision coming up in a 2022 season where he’ll probably go to High-A. Fully different than this whole group is Morris, a bat-first and maybe bat-only type prospect who fits at second base and left field best and has just passable in-game power, but he can really hit and has a good approach, so there’s a good shot at a big league future.
Juenger has drawn a good bit of trade interest, which makes sense given his solid pro debut and above-average stuff from a low slot, in a quick-moving reliever-type profile. Irv Carter and Chad Dallas are two 2021 draftees showing well early in their pro careers. Carter was an overslot prep arm from the same team as Phillies first-rounder Andrew Painter, both of whom were seen by scouts a ton. Carter has effort and relief risk, but is regularly in the mid-90s with above-average raw stuff and more feel than you’d assume from his delivery. Dallas was a late bloomer, transferring from a JC to Tennessee, and has less raw stuff than Carter, but throws strikes and knows how to use his stuff that’s headlined by an above-average slider. Adrian Hernandez has a 70-grade changeup but sits around 90 mph, so he’s relegated to long or middle relief despite strong performance. Johnston has taken a step forward since being acquired from the Nats for Daniel Hudson, now sitting in the upper-90s with a power cutter/slider. Cooke is another guy who has emerged, with his velo jumping three or four ticks since the draft, now regularly into the mid-90s, helping project him as a big league quality reliever.
No. 30 overall
No. 28 (tied) in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$58.5 million total value
40 FV (13): Jared Kelley/RHP, Yolbert Sanchez/SS, Yoelqui Cespedes/CF, Norge Vera/RHP, Matthew Thompson/RHP, Micker Adolfo/DH, Jonathan Stiever/RHP, Sean Burke/RHP, Lenyn Sosa/2B, Luis Mieses/RF, Wilfred Veras/1B, Jimmy Lambert/RHP, Tanner McDougal/RHP
2022 Impact: Burger
40+ FV breakout pick: Colas
40 FV or less breakout pick: Vera
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Due to his plus athleticism — and a 6-foot-4 frame — Montgomery was identified as an elite prospect early in the high school evaluation process (he also drew D1 interest as a point guard). He has a pretty left-handed swing and, despite multisport and cold-weather background, has shown real pop, projecting for plus raw power. That is also the risk here: he could push more power-over-hit, so if he gets too big to stick at shortstop, he’s more likely to live in the platoon/reserve space than hit star potential.
Kath was the White Sox’s second pick in 2021 and is another lefty prep bat with plus raw power and an infield fit. He has just OK bat speed — his power is more strength-based — but he can really hit, impressing scouts with regular home runs during his senior season in Arizona. Kath isn’t as dynamic athletically as Montgomery, so some see him eventually moving to one of the other corner spots. Similarly, Colas was the headline signing of this period, another big guy (who might eventually have to move to first base) with giant raw power and some track record of solid pitch selection and in-game utility of the power. Given his size and profile, along with his age (23), he’ll have to hit, but he should get some leeway in 2022 — he hasn’t played a competitive game since he defected from Cuba in 2020.
Burger took a very long road to this point, one that included multiple achilles injuries, a three-year period without playing in an official game from 2018-2020. He finally reached the big leagues in 2021 and immediately found success. He is playable at third base defensively, with big, plus raw power and solid bat control, but his approach limits his contact. Gonzalez peaked at low-A before the pandemic, then in 2021 went from Double-A to the big leagues, He has become solid at shortstop and has leaned into average raw power with an approach that maximizes it in games. Rodriguez can hit, run and field at shortstop at an above-average level, but his expansive approach at the plate could create some problems, particularly as he gets to higher levels. Similarly, Ramos has posted solid numbers and has average-ish tools across the board, with raw power being his best. With a solid year in High-A in 2022, he’s a candidate to continue moving up.
Others of note
The White Sox have been trying for years to find the ideal prep righty for an overslot bonus after the first round — and they have a lot of options, but have not quite gotten the desired results yet. Kelley’s selling point in the 2020 draft was a knockout fastball/changeup combo and solid strikes, but arm soreness has limited his innings and his command backs up a bit. Thompson, drafted a year earlier, is a longer, more athletic version of the Texas fireballer but the consistency and crispness of his stuff still varies, and he also had some command trouble. Dalquist came to pro ball in 2019 with the most finesse of the group, relying on his curveball and feel more than raw arm strength. He ended up having the worst walk rate of the group: 56 walks in 83 innings last year.
On the bright side, the international department took another swing at a premium pitching prospect in Vera and has had early reviews from scouts buoyed by a solid 19 innings debut in the DSL. He’s a long 6-foot-4 and last year showed the best velocity scouts have seen from him, sitting in the mid-90s with an above-average breaking ball and starter traits. He’ll be 22 in June, so he’s a candidate to be pushed along aggressively in 2022. Cespedes, brother of Yoenis, is another of the overaged Cuban players of whom the White Sox are fond. He has loud tools along the same lines as his brother, with a top-of-the-scale arc and above-average raw power. His pitch selection, though, is below average — he’ll need to improve that to become more than a toolsy reserve.
No. 9 overall
No. 3 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$238 million total value
1. Daniel Espino, RHP, 55 FV (35th on the Top 100)
2. Brayan Rocchio, SS, 55 FV (37)
3. Gabriel Arias, SS, 50 FV (73)
4. George Valera, RF, 50 FV (75)
5. Tyler Freeman, 2B, 50 FV (118)
6. Steven Kwan, CF, 50 FV (123)
7. Nolan Jones, LF, 45+ FV
8. Bo Naylor, C, 45 FV
9. Gavin Williams, RHP, 45 FV
10. Logan Allen, LHP, 45 FV
11. Angel Martinez, SS, 45 FV
12. Jose Tena, SS, 45 FV
13. Nick Mikolajchak, RHP, 45 FV
14. Petey Halpin, CF, 45 FV
15. Bryan Lavastida, C, 40+ FV
16. Jhonkensy Noel, 1B, 40+ FV
17. Dayan Frias, SS, 40+ FV
18. Peyton Battenfield, RHP, 40+ FV
19. Tanner Burns, RHP, 40+ FV
40 FV (13): Carson Tucker/SS, Isaiah Greene/CF, Richie Palacios/2B, Cody Morris/RHP, Doug Nikhazy/LHP, Xzavion Curry/RHP, Ethan Hankins/RHP, Tommy Mace/RHP, Tobias Myers/RHP, Hunter Gaddis/RHP, Jake Fox/2B, Milan Tolentino/SS, Trenton Denholm/RHP
35+ FV (14): Joey Cantillo/LHP, Aaron Bracho/2B, Carlos Vargas/RHP, Lenny Torres/RHP, Jose Pastrano/SS, Gabriel Rodriguez/SS, Junior Sanquintin/SS, Angel Genao/SS, Konnor Pilkington/LHP, Jose Fermin/SS, Luis Durango/CF, Josh Wolf/RHP, Nic Enright/RHP, Ryan Webb/LHP
2022 Impact: Kwan
40+ FV breakout pick: Mikolajchak & Allen
40 FV or less breakout pick: Nikhazy & Curry
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Freeman is an extreme contact-oriented hitter with elite bat control but essentially zero power. He’s a solid average runner and defender at second base with some Nick Madrigal vibes and will be ready for a big league look in late 2022. Kwan is doing a lot of the same things, but he’s a better runner and defender that plays center field, and he’ll walk a little bit more than Freeman — he might break camp with the big club. Freeman still gets the slight edge because he has been this guy for much of his career; meanwhile, Kwan has slowly worn down the prospect illuminati that doubted him for years. Jones is also on the 40-man and ready for a 2022 big league look, but he’s a wildly different player: a late-count power-oriented corner guy with 30-homer potential. He’s decent at third base but will probably be called to play all four corners at some point.
Naylor had a tough 2021, but he was young for Double-A and still has the tools to catch and deliver fringe-to-average offense — it just might take a bit longer than hoped. Lavastida performed at Double-A, got a late taste of Triple-A, and was added to the 40-man after improving another notch behind the plate. Noel’s swing decisions are below average, but he has plus raw power and can really hit. It’s a balancing act to make that work, but he’s done it so far — he got to high-A as he turned 20. Martinez (switch hitter, great feel, well-rounded), Tena (advanced lefty hitter who really performs, got to power in-game before expected, but chases a bit and might slide to second/third base), and Frias (switch-hitter with strong hitting track record, continuing to do it while filling out his frame and figuring out his swing) are all young shortstops with a shot to turn into everyday types. Halpin has long been a favorite hitter of mine, and the plus speed with center-field fit gives him plenty of margin for error even if all of his power doesn’t show up.
Cleveland’s thing is developing pitching better than almost any other team, so let’s delve into its best non-Top-100 arms. Williams had durability concerns and had long been perceived as having reliever risk, but was also flashing three plus pitches and starter command down the stretch at East Carolina, so Cleveland took him at 23rd overall last summer. Allen, confusingly, is not only one of many pro baseball players named Logan Allen but one of the two (both lefties!) who pitch for Cleveland. To be clear, we’re talking about the one who went to Florida International. He sits in the low-90s with lift, a plus changeup and solid average breaker, headlined by above-average command. Mikolajchak gets excellent lift on a 93-96 mph heater and delivers a plus curveball from a high slot (sorta Karinchak-ish) with pretty decent feel for a guy who hasn’t started a pro game before. Battenfield also gets excellent lift on a 92-94 mph heater, with an above-average slider and curve and a playable changeup. He might fit better in short stints eventually. Burns has solid average traits across the board and a decent chance to be a backend starter — it’s been the same report on him for years.
Others of note
The Guardians are incredibly deep in pitching prospects and have always been able to turn seemingly generic college pitchers into prospects through velo training and pitch design. Here’s a quick tour of some midtier types: Morris, a former seventh rounder, sits 94-98 mph as a starter, mixes in an above-average curveball and playable changeup, and sits on the starter/reliever command border. Nikhazy was a crafty lefty at Ole Miss, mostly 88-91 mph with a big-breaking curveball and a pool full of moxie; buzz out of instructs is he was already hitting 91-93 mph. Curry had generic, fringe-to-average stuff at Georgia Tech but an aggressive approach. Now, the seventh-rounder is throwing a bit harder, getting lots of carry to his fastball and executing locations better, with a minor league K-to-BB ratio of 123-to-16.
Denholm, a 5-foot-11 righty, went unsigned in 2020, returned to UC Irvine in 2021 and went in the 14th round last summer after a college career of command, moxie and 88-91 mph fastballs. He was up to 96 in instructs. Mace emerged at Florida but went unsigned in 2020 and didn’t progress much in another year in that system. He went 69th overall last year, and I’m excited to see how the Guardians system optimizes his collection of above-average traits. Hankins, Vargas and Torres are all at different points in returning from Tommy John surgery — TBD, but they all had above-average to plus stuff before surgery.
No. 14 overall
No. 19 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$216.5 million total value
1. Riley Greene, CF, 60 FV (5th in the Top 100)
2. Spencer Torkelson, 1B, 60 FV (7)
3. Jackson Jobe, RHP, 50 FV (58)
4. Dillon Dingler, C, 50 FV (86)
5. Cristian Santana, SS, 45+ FV
6. Joey Wentz, LHP, 45 FV
7. Gage Workman, SS, 45 FV
8. Izaac Pacheco, 3B, 40+ FV
9. Colt Keith, 3B, 40+ FV
10. Ryan Kreidler, SS, 40+ FV
11. Ty Madden, RHP, 40+ FV
12. Reese Olson, RHP, 40+ FV
40 FV (11): Roberto Campos/RF, Trei Cruz/SS, Alex Faedo/RHP, Beau Brieske/RHP, Dylan Smith/RHP, Wenceel Perez/SS, Parker Meadows/CF, Zack Hess/RHP, Wilkel Hernandez/RHP, Elvin Rodriguez/RHP, Andre Lipcius/3B
35+ FV (11): Franklin Perez/RHP, Daniel Cabrera/LF, Javier Osorio/SS, Angel De Jesus/RHP, Wilmer Flores/RHP, Manuel Sequera/2B, Tyler Mattison/RHP, Kody Clemens/2B, Jose De La Cruz/RF, Jason Foley/RHP, Paul Richan/RHP
2022 Impact: Torkelson
40+ FV breakout pick: Santana
40 FV or less breakout pick: Smith
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Santana was in the top tier of the 2021 signing class. Then, he was more in the maybe-a-shortstop-but-look-at-him-hit style of elite international prospect: without quite the raw power of Noelvi Marte at the same stage, but the same type of signee and an example of what they hoped he’d become. Santana went on to have an even better DSL debut than expected — his stateside debut this year will be highly anticipated.
Pacheco had long been one of the top players in the 2021 prep class, but as he has played more, he’s fallen beneath the top tier, mainly due to a lower level of contact than expected of the top picks. He’s fine at third base but isn’t that quick, either, which will need to be monitored. But the reason he’s still up here on the list is the easy plus raw power that he knows how to get to in games. Keith was a strong two-way prospect in high school — the Tigers took him in 2020 as a lefty-hitting third baseman, and he got off to a loud full-season debut in 2021. The tools are there and if he keeps hitting like that, he could be an everyday player. In 2021, Kreidler figured out how to use his 6-foot-4 frame to compose a swing and let his tools play at the plate: He reached Triple-A and hit 22 homers with a strong walk rate. He’s probably a good utility guy, but there’s enough there to post some two-win seasons if it continues to break right.
Workman was and still is a tough eval. Firstly, because he’s 6-foot-4 and played mostly third base in college but is now a solid defensive shortstop. He has a pretty swing but has always struck out a good bit, and he has been young relative to his peers at every level. In pro ball, he has performed pretty well and has improved steadily on offense since college, so the Tigers made a good call giving him $1 million in the fourth round in 2020. But unless he has another gear, he’s still most likely just an interesting multipositional utility/platoon type.
Wentz, a compensation rounder from 2016, came from the Braves while I was working there, so I have some personal connection here. He’s a 6-5, above-average athlete with solid average stuff headlined by a plus changeup and above-average command. He spent much of the pandemic recovering from Tommy John surgery and had a decent 2021 while getting his feet back under him. Early buzz in the spring is that he’s trending up, and he has a shot at a big league look in 2022.
Leading into last year’s draft, Madden was a bit of a punching bag for analytics types because of his less-than-ideal-for-whiffs approach angle (and if you don’t really know what that means, that’s fine, because it’s a little inside baseball). He’s a power Texas arm with plus velocity, a plus slider and emerging starter traits, but he’s still a power guy at his core. Olson was acquired from the Brewers for Daniel Norris last July, and he has taken a step forward since, flashing four above-average pitches. There aren’t quite the same starter vibes here as with Madden, though, so he’s probably a reliever who can fit in a few different roles.
Others of note
When Campos signed with Detroit for $3 million in 2019, the verbal deal was done so quickly that other teams — even some of the most thorough — had seen him on a field only a couple of times since he defected from Cuba. Campos’ calling card is big raw power, with a corner outfield fit and enough contact/pitch selection to get to that power in games. He did just that in his pro debut, hitting eight homers in 39 games last year with a respectable contact rate. There are some rough edges that still need to be ironed, but hitting for power is the hardest thing to do in baseball — success last season was a good early sign.
Perez has been on the prospect scene after signing in 2016 and he does the important stuff well: He makes contact and plays a solid shortstop; he’s a plus runner, too. But the swing isn’t geared to incorporate power — and he doesn’t have that much anyway — so he’s trending like a solid utility infielder. Meadows is the brother of Rays OF Austin and has a similar skill set. He’s taller at 6-5, arguably has more raw tools, but is not the pure hitter his brother is. He’s struggled in full-season ball but the upside is still there, with plus raw power and speed that fit in center field. Cabrera, meanwhile, has always hit — going back to his sophomore year of high school, all the way to LSU before he was drafted in 2020. But he also has always looked like a left fielder with average-at-best raw power. That’s a tough profile to hit your way out of and last year Cabrera had his first real struggles, particularly at Double-A where he was chasing more than is sustainable.
Faedo first popped on the national scene in the fall before his senior year of high school, and he has had a winding road since. He’s now 26, coming off Tommy John surgery, still with a plus slider and feel for executing it as the standout abilities that should carry him to a big league career. Smith was a late-rising college righty who took a big step forward in 2021 at Alabama. He showed four average or better pitches and solid average feel, but he does lack a true plus. Hess has two plus pitches and a delivery that has always been suited for the later innings. If he can get it over the plate more often, he’ll be a middle reliever.
No. 12 overall
No. 13 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$218 million total value
1. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, 65 FV (2nd on the Top 100)
2. M.J. Melendez, C, 55 FV (24)
3. Nick Pratto, 1B, 50 FV (78)
4. Asa Lacy, LHP, 50 FV (124)
5. Nick Loftin, SS, 45+ FV
6. Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B, 45+ FV
7. Frank Mozzicato, LHP, 45 FV
8. Kyle Isbel, RF, 45 FV
9. Jackson Kowar, RHP, 45 FV
10. Ben Kudrna, RHP, 45 FV
11. Alex Marsh, RHP, 45 FV
12. Angel Zerpa, LHP, 40+ FV
13. Jonathan Bowlan, RHP, 40+ FV
14. Dylan Coleman, RHP, 40+ FV
15. Jon Heasley, RHP, 40+ FV
40 FV (13): Peyton Wilson/2B, Emmanuel Rivera/3B, Maikel Garcia/SS, Carter Jensen/C, Ben Hernandez/RHP, Michael Massey/2B, Will Klein/RHP, Drew Parrish/LHP, Darryl Collins/LF, Tyler Gentry/RF, Shane Panzini/RHP, Erick Pena/CF, Junior Marin/RF
35+ FV (8): Nathan Webb/RHP, Christian Chamberlain/LHP, Austin Cox/LHP, Anthony Veneziano/LHP, Noah Murdock/RHP, Luca Tresh/C, Seuly Matias/RF, Zach Haake/RHP
2022 Impact: Witt
40+ FV breakout pick: Kudrna
40 FV or less breakout pick: Wilson
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Loftin doesn’t have a high-end All-Star-level ceiling because he doesn’t have much power, but he has the rest of what you look for in a shortstop. He’s an above-average hitter with plus swing decisions, 12-15 homer power most likely, plus speed, and a steady glove. He’s a strong bet to be a long-time starter. Pasquantino exploded as an 11th-round pick in 2019 from Old Dominion to the verge of being a Top 100 prospect. His pitch selection and hit tool are both easy pluses, evidenced by more walks than strikeouts at Double-A, but he also hit 24 homers. The raw pop is around average, normally 15-20 homers a year, but this kind of hitter often can get to more than his raw power indicates. The only real downside here is he’s a first-base only fit and not a great runner, which both don’t really matter. Isbel has been lingering around the big leagues as a textbook case of fourth outfielder with across-the-board average tools or low-end regular, depending on the team.
Lacy’s concern pre-draft was his delivery and overall execution of his pitches and he had a lot of trouble with command this year. The stuff is still wacky, flashing two double-pluses, but this is a scary profile from which to expect to find a steady starter. Mozzicato was a shocker as a top-10 pick but wasn’t a shocker as a first-round talent with tons of late helium. He sits in the low-90s, touches a bit higher, mixes in an easy plus hook and has all the traits and markers you could ask for. His full-season debut is highly anticipated because he only had a handful of starts, and against weak competition, on the national stage with lots of scouts watching. Kudrna is the sleeper of this Royals draft class as a classic projection power righty with above-average stuff that could be plus stuff at any time.
Among the closer-to-the-majors arms, Kowar is the closest and still needs to figure out how to make his breaking ball and command work against big league hitters, but I think he’ll be fine. Marsh needs to stay healthy, as he has made only a handful of pro starts since his velo spiked into the high-90s. Zerpa looks like a great low slot utility lefty for the big league club, which is now full of pitchers in their mid-20s. Bowlan’s combo of stuff and starter command was trending among the best of this group before going down with Tommy John surgery in June. Coleman sits 97-100 mph and mixes in a 55-grade slider from a 6-foot-5 frame, so that combination of skills seems like it’ll be effective in middle relief. Heasley is on the starter/reliever border long term, using a mid-90s heater, improved curveball, and above-average changeup.
Others of note
Peyton Wilson, the younger brother of former Alabama QB John Parker Wilson, emerged last spring as a middle infielder with a history of catching, above-average bat control and plus speed. He’s a bit overaggressive at the plate and he’ll never be a big power threat, but he could be a really good utility guy who’s not bad at shortstop, either. Jensen was the other KC-area prep overpay in the 2021 draft class. He’s a solid hitter with above-average raw power and the tools to catch. Gentry was a late riser in the 2020 class. He has classic fourth outfielder tools, but above-average raw power. Pena was the hyped, top-tier 2019 international class signee, but he had a terrible time in the complex league last year and mixed looks in instructs. Marin, on the other hand, had a much lower profile and a great DSL debut with a classic power right-field profile.
Hernandez hits into the mid-90s and has an easy plus changeup, but the consistency of his command and breaking ball are what’s holding him back. Klein is a high octane reliever — sitting 96-99 mph with some life and an above average-to-plus breaking ball — and he could be a late-inning option if the command improves. Parrish took a step forward in 2021, showing a little more zip on his fastball over 17 starts in Double-A. He’s now looking like a potential backend starter. Panzini was old for his prep class, but he has shown mid-90s heat, a plus-flashing two-plane breaking ball and decent feel. Webb sits 95-99 mph with a good slider and solid feel for a relief-only type.
No. 17 overall
No. 13 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$195 million total value
1. Royce Lewis, SS, 50 FV (56th in the top 100)
2. Austin Martin, CF, 50 FV (57)
3. Jose Miranda, 3B, 50 FV (82)
4. Matt Canterino, RHP, 50 FV (110)
5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, 50 FV (116)
6. Joe Ryan, RHP, 50 FV (120)
7. Josh Winder, RHP, 50 FV (125)
8. Jhoan Duran, RHP, 45+ FV
9. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, 45+ FV
10. Noah Miller, SS, 45 FV
11. Matt Wallner, RF, 40+ FV
12. Misael Urbina, CF, 40+ FV
13. Aaron Sabato, 1B, 40+ FV
14. Spencer Steer, 2B, 40+ FV
15. Ronny Henriquez, RHP, 40+ FV
40 FV (16): Emmanuel Rodriguez/RF, Marco Raya/RHP, Gilberto Celestino/CF, Edouard Julien/LF, Alerick Soularie/2B, Danny De Andrade/SS, Christian Encarnacion-Strand/3B, Cade Povich/LHP, Keoni Cavaco/SS, Louie Varland/RHP, Steven Hajjar/LHP, Kala’i Rosario/RF, Yasser Mercedes/RF, Christian MacLeod/LHP, Cole Sands/RHP, Jeferson Morales/RF
35+ FV (10): Yunior Severino/2B, Jovani Moran/RHP, Alex Isola/C, Blayne Enlow/RHP, Chris Vallimont/RHP, Drew Strotman/RHP, Sean Mooney/RHP, Ben Gross/RHP, Casey Legumina/RHP, Pat Winkel/C
2022 Impact: Ryan
40+ FV breakout pick: Wallner
40 FV or less breakout pick: Raya
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Canterino threw only 23 innings last year because of elbow trouble that has been deemed not structural, so he’s ready for a full innings load this year. He took a step forward with his arm speed after the draft, then learned a plus changeup during the shutdown but hasn’t really been able to show it yet. Canterino will flash three pluses and starter command, but hasn’t really done all of it in one game yet; he’s on a short list to monitor early because he could jump onto the Top 100 with a hot start. Henriquez was acquired in the Mitch Garver deal and is a short right-hander with above-average raw stuff who can go multiple innings, likely getting Triple-A time this year.
There’s been a shuffle among a group of non-frontline starting pitching prospects from last year’s list, but almost all of them are in the same general area. Woods Richardson’s stock is down a bit as his raw stuff is down a bit, all three pitches ranging 50-to-55 with solid feel. Duran has big, raw stuff coming from a 6-foot-5 frame, sitting 95-99 mph and with a solid but power-oriented slider and changeup. He had elbow issues and could fit better in shorter stints. Winder made the biggest jump, due to a velo spike that has him sitting in the mid-90s, complemented by starter command, a plus slider and a solid average curveball/changeup. Ryan is somewhat bizarre, sitting 92-93 mph and throwing 75% fastballs with good-not-great life to them, but he makes it work with command, deception, and a flat approach angle. Balazovic has an above-average arsenal, starter command, performed well in Double-A, and is on the 40-man, so he could get a shot at any point in 2022.
Miller is of a type who is popular with more progressive-leaning teams, the projectable cold-weather shortstop who has a steady glove and bat, but not much power right now. Miller was a tough eval as he grew into more power in the spring but was playing in conditions that made it tough to see, similar to Jackson Merrill in Maryland last spring as well. Miller showed some of that in a pre-draft workout and got the Twins to buy into taking the switch hitter with the 36th overall pick. Wallner has at least 70-grade raw power from the left side and can draw a walk, so he has been on the verge of a breakout in my eyes for a while, though 15 homers in 294 PA last year at high-A wasn’t a bad showing.
Urbina was one of the top players in his international class. He can hit and, for now, play center field, but he’ll likely slide to right field while in the minors. He underwhelmed in low-A as a teenager and wasn’t getting to much in-game power, but I like the tool set enough to give him a mulligan. Sabato is a pretty simple eval as a right-handed thumper with plus raw and a late-count approach with lots of walks and strikeouts. He turned a corner in high-A last year and seems to be on the right track now. Steer is good enough to fill in at shortstop but is more of a second/third baseman and is approaching average offensive projections, so he’s trending like a valuable utility type.
Others of note
Canadian-born Julien popped up at Auburn as a power-hitting underclassman who was then declared eligible for the draft late in his sophomore spring. He has plus raw power from the left side and a solid patient approach to get to that power, but it’ll come with plenty of strikeouts. He might be limited to left field/first base, but the Twins are hoping for second/third base as an option. Two more intriguing college position players are Encarnacion-Strand from the 2021 draft (Oklahoma State) and Soularie from the 2020 draft (Tennessee). Encarnacion-Strand had big power by every measure and his contact and positional questions both lessened as he got to pro ball. Now he looks like a solid defensive third baseman who might be able to hit enough to get to his power. Soularie has had two freak ankle injuries (fracture on one, sprain on the other), but he’s a pure hitter with untapped power potential and a shot to fit at second base and center field.
Rodriguez is a center fielder for now who likely slides over to right, but the selling point is the plus raw power that’s already showing up in games with big exit velos. He’ll have an anticipated full-season debut this year as a 19-year-old; he could shoot up the list if he can keep his strikeout rate below 25% and continue producing. Mercedes was signed in January for a seven-figure bonus and has outstanding raw power, with a chance to grow into a middle-of-the-order type corner outfielder.
Raya was drafted in the fourth round in 2020 out of a Texas high school as an intriguing 6-footer with physical ability and good pitch shapes to average stuff. He hasn’t pitched in pro ball yet, as the Twins played it safe when he experienced soreness, but he was sitting in the mid-90s in extended spring training last year and commanding a four-pitch mix. If he comes out and shoves in full-season ball, he might be approaching 45+ to 50 FV territory quickly.
The Twins have done a good job, as have the Guardians, where some of their execs have come from, turning solid-not-spectacular college pitching talent quickly into real prospects. Three lefties from last summer’s draft have already experienced velo spikes. Povich is a projectable 6-3 and worked 88-92 at Nebraska, then was bumping 96 after the draft, with room to add at least another 25-30 pounds. Hajjar got some top-50 picks hype going into the spring sitting 92-94, then spent the spring throwing 87-92, then hit 97 in a short outing at the pre-draft combine, then was sitting 94 regularly in pro ball with a sharper slider. MacLeod had mid-first-round buzz entering the spring when he was working 90-93 mph in preseason outings, but his velocity tailed off, sitting in the mid-80s late in Mississippi State’s College World Series run. MacLeod was sitting in the low-90s and hitting 94 with the big movement numbers on TrackMan you don’t see that often. Both Hajjar and MacLeod always had data-friendly vertical shape to their stuff, so it tends to play up in terms of whiffs.
No. 27 overall
No. 24 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$102 million total value
1. Jeremy Pena, SS, 55 FV (48th in the Top 100)
2. Hunter Brown, RHP, 50 FV (88)
3. Korey Lee, C, 50 FV (113)
4. Pedro Leon, CF, 45 FV
5. Joe Perez, 3B, 40+ FV
6. Forrest Whitley, RHP, 40+ FV
7. Alex Santos, RHP, 40+ FV
8. Cristian Gonzalez, SS, 40+ FV
35+ FV (10): Yainer Diaz/C, Alex McKenna/CF, Chayce McDermott/RHP, Zach Daniels/CF, Jordan Brewer/CF, Jonathan Bermudez/LHP, Seth Martinez/RHP, Matthew Barefoot/RF, Jairo Solis/RHP, Jimmy Endersby/RHP
2022 Impact: Pena
40+ FV breakout pick: Perez
40 FV or less breakout pick: Tamarez
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Forrest Whitley has become the cautionary tale of top pitching prospects due to injuries and command issues in the past few years since he was anointed. At his best after the 2018 season, he would fill up a scouting card with 60 grades and enough command to make it all work. The command started to go then he had Tommy John surgery in March last year, so he should be back at some point in 2022.
Santos is a long-limbed right-hander from New York with big spin rates who fits the Astros’ type to a T. He had trouble with command, but the raw stuff is still there. This type of pitcher often takes a bit longer to put it all together, especially with a cold-weather background.
Lee is a decent hitter but relies more on his plus raw power, plus arm strength, and solid defending behind the plate. If that all works offensively, he could post some top-10 to top-15 catcher seasons. Leon was a big-money international signee with electric tools, plus raw power, speed and arm strength. He’ll probably settle in center field and the main question will be how much contact he’ll make in trying to get to his raw power. Through 72 career games, it’s looking like he’ll have a below-average contact rate. Perez was a big two-way prospect in high school but most preferred his upper-90s heat on the mound, while the Astros took him as a power-hitting third baseman. He hadn’t hit much until a breakout 2021 when he reached Double-A and got added to the 40-man. He’s now on a trajectory for a big league career and it could come as soon as the second half of 2022. Gonzalez is a big (6-4) shortstop with a plus arm and above-average raw power. It’s unclear where he’ll settle defensively or if he can get more selective at the plate, but the tools are a nice starting point.
Others of note
Tamarez has shown flashes of starter feel and 93-95 mph heater that touches 97, but he’s still on the raw side, with three offspeed pitches all around average for now. He’s a good pick to take a step forward in 2022. Melendez is a 5-foot-8 righty who signed out of Mexico in 2019. His strength and stuff spiked leading into the 2021 season and he reached Double-A as a teenager. He works 91-94 with bat-missing lift to the pitch, relying mostly on an above-average changeup while mixing in and an average slider. He could also continue to move quickly in 2022 as a starter.
Barber was one of my breakout picks but played only 16 games in 2021 due to shoulder surgery. He’s a plus runner with decent power and good contact skills. Whitaker slid on draft day because of concerns about his contact rate, but no one disputed his easy plus raw power and classic right-field profile. Whitcomb is a 2020 fifth-rounder out of UC San Diego who had a loud pro debut, hitting 23 homers and stealing 30 bases over both A-ball levels while playing all over the infield. He’s a below-average runner who tries to pull and lift everything, so he might run into trouble making contact at higher levels with that approach or maybe he can make a Kevin Millar/Dan Uggla type thing work for him. Daniels (Tennessee) and Brewer (Michigan) are both late-bloomer center fielders — plus runners with plus raw power — from major colleges to keep an eye on.
No. 28 overall
No. 27 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$86 million total value
1. Reid Detmers, LHP, 55 FV (49th in the Top 100)
2. Sam Bachman, RHP, 45 FV
3. Arol Vera, SS, 45 FV
4. Ky Bush, LHP, 40+ FV
5. Jeremiah Jackson, SS, 40+ FV
6. Kyren Paris, SS, 40+ FV
7. Denzer Guzman, SS, 40+ FV
40 FV (11): Janson Junk/RHP, Davis Daniel/RHP, Jordyn Adams/CF, Alejandro Hidalgo/RHP, Edgar Quero/C, Mason Albright/LHP, Adrian Placencia/2B, Werner Blakely/SS, Adam Seminaris/LHP, Landon Marceaux/RHP, Alexander Ramirez/RF, Orlando Martinez
35+ FV (20): Orlando Martinez/RF, Brendon Davis/SS, Jack Kochanowicz/RHP, David Calabrese/CF, Jose Soriano/RHP, Natanael Santana/RF, Jose Marte/RHP, Fernando Guanare/RHP, Elvis Peguero/RHP, Oliver Ortega/RHP, Kyle Tyler/RHP, Luke Murphy/RHP, Mason Erla/RHP, Chase SIlseth/RHP, Jose Salvador/RHP, Austin Warren/RHP, Andrew Wantz/RHP, Brett Kerry/RHP, Jake Smith/RHP, Braden Olthoff/RHP
2022 Impact: Detmers
40+ FV breakout pick: Bush
40 FV or less breakout pick: Blakely
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Bachman was the big name to open the spring of 2021. He already had late first-round buzz, even before reports he was getting into the triple digits every week and some scouts hanging perfect 80 grades on his two-plane breaking ball. He never really figured out a third pitch and, after a shoulder and hip injury, some command and durability questions emerged, so teams mostly decided they were looking at a reliever and moved him to the back of the first round on their boards. The Angels took him ninth overall and presumably will move him quickly in shorter stints. The fastball/breaker/height/handedness combo is a lot like Max Meyer’s — but the rest of the package is why there’s a big gap between them in my rankings.
Bachman at nine was the first of 20 straight pitcher selections for the Angels last summer — the second was Bush, who also had a big rise in 2021. For the first time, he was throwing strikes and flashing two plus pitches from the left side while doing it. There’s still plenty of relief risk, but the velocity and command are relatively new, so there’s a year or two for Bush to figure it out before it’s clear where this is headed.
Four middle infielders make up the rest of this top tier. Vera was a high-end signing in the 2019 class and has progressed nicely, with a likely shortstop fit, decent contact rate (that’s often an early hiccup for young switch hitters), and some raw power — mostly for doubles for now — emerging. He’s still 19 and there are some solid components brewing. Guzman is from the 2021 class and is a similar type of player, but right-handed. Paris plays both shortstop and second base. He’s an easy plus runner who has consistently faced older competition and has some hitting tools, but he’s been hurt a lot. Jackson is a little better defensively but, in part because his contact rate has always been low, also might settle into playing multiple infield positions as a utility guy. With a little luck, he might grow into a low-end everyday fit — he has plus raw power and decent patience.
Others of note
Junk (what a pitcher name!) and Daniel are similar types: upper-minors righties with above-average stuff, some feel, and no real changeup. In the end, they might work better as utility relief guys who fit into whatever hole the pitching staff has. Hidalgo, an 18-year-old signing out of Venezuela, is interesting: He’s already into the mid-90s and snaps off an above-average breaking ball with a pretty good sense to control it. At least yet, though, he doesn’t quite have the well-roundedness you want to see to project a starter comfortably at this stage.
The story of the Angels’ 2021 draft was simple: 20 picks, 20 pitchers. We’ve already mentioned Bachman and Bush, so let’s jump into some of the other ones of note. Albright, out of IMG Academy, was the next highest paid, at $1.25 million, and also the only prep arm. He’s a smallish lefty with good feel who had fringy stuff and above-average command when he first gained notice. As he was scouted at IMG, he started sneaking into the mid-90s, showing some 55-grade offerings at times. Marceaux has always been a performer but his fastball doesn’t have bat-missing shape — for now. He’ll need to lean on his plus hook and command/moxie in pro ball. Murphy hits the upper-90s, but the rest is a work in progress. Erla turned 24 soon after the draft, but he has solid average stuff and some feel. Silseth is trending toward relief but can show above average stuff in a four-pitch mix. Coming out of South Carolina, Kerry was touted as a smaller righty who sits low-90s but really locates and has an above-average slider. Smith had buzz out of junior college but ended up going to Miami. He had some command issues, but he also hit 98 and flashed a plus slider from a low slot. Olthoff — well, I don’t really understand him, due to his weird delivery and light fastball. But he has a slider no one can hit and puts up ridiculous numbers everywhere, so I’m just getting on board.
No. 20 overall
No. 17 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$180 million total value
1. Tyler Soderstrom, C, 60 FV (10th in the Top 100)
2. Shea Langeliers, C, 50 FV (81)
3. Cristian Pache, CF, 50 FV (105)
4. Zack Gelof, 3B, 50 FV (119)
5. Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, 45 FV
6. J.T. Ginn, RHP, 45 FV
7. Pedro Pineda, CF, 45 FV
8. Daulton Jefferies, RHP, 45 FV
9. Nick Allen, SS, 45 FV
10. Ryan Cusick, RHP, 45 FV
11. Brayan Buelvas, CF, 45 FV
12. Max Muncy, SS, 40+ FV
13. Lawrence Butler, LF, 40+ FV
14. Mason Miller, RHP, 40+ FV
40 FV (16): Robert Puason/SS, Denzel Clarke/CF, A.J. Puk/LHP, Zach Logue/LHP, Kevin Smith/SS, Jordan Diaz/3B, Jorge Juan/RHP, Colin Peluse/RHP, Jonah Bride/C, Jeff Criswell/RHP, Michael Guldberg/CF, Luis Barrera/CF, Joey Estes/RHP, Kirby Snead/LHP, Logan Davidson/SS, Jack Weisenburger/RHP
35+ FV (12): Garrett Acton/RHP, Grant Holman/RHP, Cody Thomas/RF, Adam Oller/RHP, Max Schuemann/SS, Brady Fiegl/RHP, Brent Honeywell Jr./RHP, Junior Perez/RF, Angel Arevalo/2B, Cesar Gonzalez/C, Grant Holmes/RHP, Brett Harris/3B
2022 Impact: Pache
40+ FV breakout pick: Miller
40 FV or less breakout pick: Clarke
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Pache was the second-highest-ranked player in the Matt Olson return and could probably benefit from a change of scenery as he has the tools and makeup to succeed but had plateaued the last few years in Atlanta. He’s big league ready defensively and would be one of the top five center-field gloves in the league. He’s a plus runner but has never been a great base stealer and has solid-average raw power, but his pitch selection and swing approach have always limited how much of that shows up in games, particularly in his limited big league looks. The defense, speed and bat control add up to a Kevin Pillar-like impact immediately, and how much Oakland can help Pache progress will dictate if he can reach his All-Star potential.
Pineda signed in January and was in the top tier of players to sign in the class, mostly because of his gaudy raw tools. He’s a plus runner with plus bat speed who projects for plus raw power and fits in center field, but his performance matched the big hesitation in his scouting report: a mid-30% strikeout rate. On the other end of the risk spectrum, Allen is a lock big leaguer, plus runner and plus-plus defender at short who should be something like Jose Iglesias, but because of his lack of power it seems really unlikely he’s much more than that.
Buelvas is a center fielder for now who might be able to stick and has always hit. He posted strong exit velos for a teenager in low-A last year and has above-average hit/power upside, so there’s plenty of potential to get to a Top 100 one day. Butler was a late-rising young-for-the-class corner power bat in the Atlanta area in 2018 and it all clicked for him in 2021, hitting 19 homers across both A-ball levels as a 20-year-old. His contact rate and positional value are limited, but he has juice and he’s been mashing. Ginn was the return for Chris Bassitt and is a high probability No. 3-4 starter, depending on exactly how well his above-average-to-plus fastball/slider combo plays at the upper levels. Jefferies threw 15 big league innings last year and projects as a backend starter who relies on his above-average cutter, changeup and command. He’ll get into the mid-90s but his fastball does miss bats as often as you’d like.
Via a strong draft class and trade, Oakland has a number of the better players from last year’s draft. Gelof might be the guy who changed my mind the most from the draft until now. I was down on his ultimate impact ability and just missed the narrative. The key parts were he missed the Cape, which would’ve vaulted him into first-round contention, he controlled the zone and he was at a school that doesn’t emphasize in-game power. Gelof had a big pro debut and now I see what I was missing, so I’ve corrected (maybe too much?) but we’ll know that answer by about midseason. Hoglund was a pitcher with plus command, dicing up the SEC with 55-grade stuff that then blew out. He will be a quick mover when he gets back and joins Ginn on the same road.
Cusick is a giant who regularly breaks 100 mph and the Braves smartly shelved his curveball for a hard slider that helped unlock a better performance in pro ball; he’s either a late-inning reliever or third/fourth starter depending on the command/third pitch. Muncy is a solid young shortstop prospect with a lot a 55 grade tools, but his hitability was a bit of a question pre-draft and then his short pro debut affirmed that. Miller was a pop-up 22-year old who turned 23 a month after the draft. He was throwing hard deep into games at a mid-major and the post-draft looks have been even better than expected. He’ll mix in four solid pitches and has been up to 100 mph with decent command who’s on the starter/reliever border right now.
Others of note
Puason got lost in the Jasson Dominguez hype in the 2019 signing class, but otherwise would’ve been seen as one of the better international prospects in some time, on par with Yankees SS Roderick Arias from this January’s class (both 45+ FV at signing). He checked all the physical boxes in terms of frame, switch-hitter, athleticism, glove at shortstop, speed, arm strength and power potential. He was rushed to low-A, as I advocated against Puason and Dominguez, acting as if he had a successful 2020 in rookie ball even though he never got a chance to do that. Dominguez had some whiff issues but was mostly fine to pretty good while Puason’s season was a disaster, headlined by a 41% strikeout rate over 91 games. Oakland is encouraged that Puason stayed strong mentally through these struggles, but I put most of the blame on the club for putting him in this position. You can promote him or another elite prospect quickly once he has established a base of performance in a competitive environment and has something mentally to come back to when he struggles.
Clarke is a superlative athlete with plus speed and raw power that fit in center field, but he lasted until the fourth-round due to his lower level of competition at Cal State Northridge. There’s some swing-and-miss concerns, as is expected with a 6-foot-5 frame, but there’s still a lot of margin for error. Guldberg is the other type of hitter, with good feel to hit and to control the strike zone, but below average power, who will probably limit him to being a solid fourth outfielder.
Puk is a former Top 100 prospect from the 2016 draft who is amazingly still eligible, but has landed here due to elbow and shoulder surgeries. The 6-7 lefty has some Drew Pomeranz vibes, as a reliever who can go multiple and throws hard but a breaking ball is his best pitch. Estes was acquired from the Braves in the Matt Olson deal and sits 92-95 mph with above-average life up in the zone, though his slider and changeup are just average, so you’re looking for a backend starter. Holman had some second-round buzz before last summer’s draft but lasted until the sixth round for unclear reasons. Oakland likes what it ended up with. Holman threw only 15 innings after the draft due to soreness, but 6-6, up to 96 mph, and shows a good breaking ball.
No. 9 overall
No. 23 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$253 million total value
1. Julio Rodriguez, RF, 65 FV (3rd in the Top 100)
2. Noelvi Marte, SS, 60 FV (11)
3. George Kirby, RHP, 55 FV (34)
4. Matt Brash, RHP, 50 FV (84)
5. Harry Ford, C, 50 FV (97)
6. Emerson Hancock, RHP, 45+ FV
7. Adam Macko, LHP, 45 FV
8. Edwin Arroyo, SS, 45 FV
9. Gabriel Gonzalez, RF, 45 FV
10. Wyatt Mills, RHP, 40+ FV
40 FV (14): Zach DeLoach/RF, Michael Morales/RHP, Levi Stoudt/RHP, Kevin Padlo/3B, Connor Phillips/RHP, Alberto Rodriguez/LF, Kaden Polcovich/2B, Lazaro Montes/LF, Starlin Aguilar/3B, Taylor Dollard/RHP, Milkar Perez/3B, Robert Perez/1B, Jonatan Clase/CF, Juan Then/RHP
35+ FV (12): Jimmy Joyce/RHP, Bryce Miller/RHP, Devin Sweet/RHP, Patrick Frick/SS, Freuddy Batista/C, Martin Gonzales/SS, Luis Bolivar/CF, Cade Marlowe/RF, Tyler Keenan/3B, Isaiah Campbell/RHP, Juan Pinto/RHP, George Feliz/CF
2022 Impact: Rodriguez
40+ FV breakout pick: Gonzalez
40 FV or less breakout pick: Morales
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Hancock emerged as a freshman at Georgia based on his polished feel and delivery — and became a potential top-10 pick as his velo spiked into the mid-90s, his changeup was playing anywhere from a 60 to a 70, and his breaking ball was always at least average, if not above. Some analytical teams were wary of the shape of his fastball, which wasn’t conducive to whiffs and got hit more than the velocity would suggest. Hancock continued to show starter stuff in his pro debut, but the arm speed and crispness of his stuff wasn’t quite there. He’s still a potential starter with above-average stuff, but he has performed a bit below expectations so far.
Macko is 21 and has thrown 56⅔ career innings since being drafted in 2019, due in part to the pandemic and arm soreness. He has three above-average-to-plus pitches — his four-seamer, slider, and curveball — and enough command to project at least for the late innings, if not eventually as a starter. This will be a big season for him to make progress and simply post bulk innings. Mills is a low-slot righty reliever with above-average stuff and command — he could be an eighth-inning arm as soon as 2022.
Arroyo is a switch-hitting, no-doubt shortstop with some pop. He’s young for his class, too, so there’s lots of positive projection markers here, and the Mariners are excited about his progress already. He might lean more to power-over-hit; his bat control is merely good, and his raw power could be plus eventually. Gonzalez signed last January and debuted in the DSL last summer, posting gaudy numbers to match the raw tools that have helped build plenty of buzz. Fair or not, there are some Julio Rodriguez vibes here in terms of profile, though Gonzalez is behind where he was at this point — that sort of outcome shouldn’t yet be expected.
Others of note
DeLoach was polarizing in the 2020 draft: Area scouts didn’t see him hit much at Texas A&M, but national scouts liked what they saw on the Cape the summer before. He has been solid in pro ball, but is trending into tweener territory — he might end up with average in-game power and fringy contact in a corner spot. For the record, even that outcome could see DeLoach as the best side of a corner platoon — still a useful player. Padlo is a bit of a three-and-D player for baseball: he’s a strong defender at third base with power and good enough pitch selection to get to it, but not enough contact skills to project as more than a corner utility guy. Polcovich was drafted in 2020, largely off a good look on the Cape. He had a solid pro debut at high-A, then struggled in Double-A, but I still like the bat. He’s a candidate for a bounce back in 2022.
The recent hauls from international signing classes have been heavy on position players for higher bonuses, and the returns have been solid. Montes, who signed in January, is a corner outfield fit, but the real selling point is big, raw power and bat speed that comes with some feel to hit; this is the same general bucket that Gonzalez and Rodriguez were in when they signed, so that’s how good this could turn out. Aguilar is also limited to a corner and will have to watch his physique to avoid moving to first base, but he can really hit. He’s got 20-homer potential. Milkar Perez is another corner fit. He has real bat-to-ball skills, a good approach, and average raw power, but his swing isn’t geared to get to that power in games. Robert Perez has good pitch selection and goofy raw power with some of the highest exit velos in the low minors, but he too is limited to first base.
Morales has a lot of markers you want to see in a projection prep right-hander: advanced feel, three pitches that all flash above average, a cold-weather background, cerebral mindset about pitching — no red flags. His stuff is mostly solid average now, but it should improve in the coming years. After Tommy John surgery right after being drafted 97th overall in 2019, Stout performed well in his pro debut last year, even after a late-season promotion to Double-A. He’s sitting 94-96, mixing in a plus changeup and 55-flashing slider, but his command might limit him to a multi-inning option in relief. Dollard makes the most of a 90-93 mph heater, with solid average off-speed stuff and command — he has drawn a lot of trade interest. Joyce sits 90-94 but with bat-missing characteristics; with a curveball that also hits plus at times, he has seventh/eighth-inning upside. Not bad for a recent 16th-rounder.
No. 10 overall
No. 12 in quality depth (prospects better than 40 FV)
$231 million total value
1. Josh Jung, 3B, 60 FV (19th in the Top 100)
2. Jack Leiter, RHP, 55 FV (36)
3. Cole Winn, RHP, 50 FV (60)
4. Ezequiel Duran, 3B, 50 FV (104)
5. Josh Smith, 2B, 45+ FV
6. Owen White, RHP, 45+ FV
7. Justin Foscue, 2B, 45+ FV
8. Dustin Harris, 1B, 45+ FV
9. Luisangel Acuna, SS, 45 FV
10. Evan Carter, CF, 45 FV
11. Ricky Vanasco, RHP, 45 FV
12. Sam Huff, C, 45 FV
13. Tekoah Roby, RHP, 40+ FV
14. Aaron Zavala, LF, 40+ FV
15. Cody Bradford, LHP, 40+ FV
40 FV (15): Davis Wendzel/3B, Yohel Pozo/C, Yeison Morrobel/CF, Trevor Hauver/2B, Glenn Otto/RHP, Avery Weems/LHP, Maximo Acosta/SS, Bayron Lora/LF, Anthony Gutierrez/RF, Mitch Bratt/LHP, A.J. Alexy/RHP, Yerry Rodriguez/RHP, Cameron Cauley/SS, Ian Moller/C, Marc Church/RHP
35+ FV (15): Zak Kent/RHP, David Garcia/C, Steele Walker/RF, Cole Ragans/LHP, Bubba Thompson/CF, Justin Slaten/RHP, Dane Acker/RHP, Thomas Saggese/2B, Jonathan Ornelas/SS, Danyer Cueva/SS, Emiliano Teodo/RHP, Zach Reks/LF, Abimelec Ortiz/1B, Cody Freeman/C, JoJo Blackmon/CF
2022 Impact: Winn
40+ FV breakout pick: Roby
40 FV or less breakout pick: Morobel
Ranked prospects beyond the Top 100
Duran has electricity in his bat, posting huge exit velos via a high-effort swing early in his pro career and he improved in 2021 making more consistent contact in games. He was the headliner in the Gallo package last summer and now joins a suddenly crowded infield picture with Jung, Seager and Semien blocking the spots where he could play every day while Smith and Foscue are also coming. Smith was the second piece in the Gallo package and has a less exciting upside because of lesser power, but he’s a better hitter than Duran with a good feel for the game. He’s passable around the infield and could be that Ben Zobrist-type everyday player who can play in a few spots. Foscue is a little behind these two, with the least defensive ability along with raw power and hitability that slots in between them. Foscue probably doesn’t have a 60-grade tool but is a solid big leaguer of some sort. Harris came out of nowhere to join this group after going in the 11th round in 2019. His best spot is first base, though he can fill in at all of the corners if needed — as evidenced by his fringy speed and 25 stolen bases last year. Harris looks like an above-average hitter with a solid approach and he’ll get to some of his plus raw power in games, but probably not all of it,
As you guessed, Acuña is the younger brother of Braves star, Ronald. He’s a solid shortstop with a plus arm and above-average speed, with a hit-over-power profile at the bat. He just turned 20 and has played in only low-A, so there’s still a ways to go. Carter was a surprise second-round pick in 2020 and had an injury-shortened (back) but excellent pro debut in 2021 with more walks than strikeout and some power. Given his age and pre-draft buzz, the performance has been better than expected since the moment he signed. Huff’s calling card is plus-plus raw power, but he missed time because of a knee injury the past few seasons. He’s a big guy at 6-foot-5, maybe too big to catch? He’s fine back there and improving, with a plus arm, but if he can make enough contact to get to his power in games, he’ll fit anywhere on the field. Zavala was a late helium mover, eventually going 38th overall, but signed for more than a million below slot after the Rangers found a “medical anomaly” in his presigning physical. The selling point pre-draft was a standout bat and approach with power potential, and his debut largely showed that.
White was drafted in 2018, had Tommy John surgery before throwing a pro pitch, which caused him to miss 2019. Then the pandemic wiped out 2020. He finally made his pro debut in 2021, but that season was limited when he broke his hand, eventually picking up extra reps in the Arizona Fall League. The good news is White still had the key qualities from draft day and improved upon them: a plus fastball that sits in the mid-90s and a slider, curveball and changeup that all flash above average at times, with the slider the best of the lot. He has all the markers for command, so he could move quickly now. Vanasco is just coming back from Tommy John surgery and has already been into the upper-90s just like his best presurgery velos. His breaking pitches are above average to plus, but his command has always lagged behind. TJ usually affects command for the first year back, so 2023 might be when we’ll see for sure if he can develop into a starter. But he’ll fit in the late innings if he can’t.
Roby likely would’ve gone higher than the third round in 2020 if he had a full spring to show his stuff improvement to scouts. He sits 91-94 with bat-missing shape to his heater, adding an above-average, high-spin curveball and a solid-average changeup to go with starter command and an intense demeanor. Bradford went lower than expected on draft day in 2019 due to thoracic outlet syndrome costing him much of the spring. He bounced back in a pro debut in 2021, carving his way to Double-A with bat-missing shape to his low-90s heater and above-average changeup.
Others of note
There’s a lot of interesting position-player depth here, so I’ll focus mostly on that. Wendzel was somewhat polarizing in his 2019 draft class as some saw average tools and limited impact while others saw an above-average offensive package. Wendzel has been injured and old for each level, but the tools are there and he has performed fine. He just hasn’t quite broken out as some have hoped, projecting more on the corner utility/low-end regular borderline. Hauver fell farther than he should’ve in the 2020 draft when he went 99th overall to the Yankees, who then flipped him in the Joey Gallo package at the trade deadline. Hauver is a second base/left field fit with a late-count approach and solid-average raw power. He most likely becomes a multipositional platoon, offensive-utility type. Also in that Gallo package was Otto, who has been tracking like a multi-inning reliever for some time and has now done it in the big leagues, thanks to his hellacious curveball.
From the most recent draft class, the Rangers grabbed local man Cameron Cauley for $1 million in the third round. He’s a plus plus runner, and former high school wide receiver who can probably stick at shortstop, but he has limited power from a swing that will need some work to optimize his skill set. Moller got $700,000 in the fourth round, falling that far because he had swing-and-miss concerns at draft time but has huge raw power. He’s a solid catcher, but if the power plays in games, he’ll fit anywhere. Morrobel was in the 2021 international class as the Rangers’ top bonus at $1.8 million. He had a great pro debut in the DSL with more walks than strikeouts and solid power. He will continue to fill out and add power, likely sliding over to right field over time.