Top prospect list season continues! The most recent list comes from Baseball Prospectus, who published a top-10 list was actually 13 players deep and included plenty of analysis on other prospects and players-under-25 throughout the system. Unlike the Baseball America list, BP’s ranking has a position player on top:
1) OF Garrett Mitchell
BP believes that Mitchell’s combination of 70 speed and strong defense in center field should make him a major leaguer, with a hit tool that should be average. There is some doubt about how the tools at the plate play at higher levels and some concern with his injury history, but they note that “his contact ability, approach, and raw pop sure fits the profile of a prospect that can make real power gains with a swing tweak or two.”
2) OF Sal Frelick
Frelick is described as a “pesky” hitter, relying more on his approach and contact ability to generate offensive value at the dish because his size limits his power ceiling. He has only average bat speed, but his foot speed is a plus on the bases and in the field. “[A] fair bit of Frelick’s value is tied up in him sticking at a premium spot (center field) and being above-average there.”
3) LHP Aaron Ashby
Ashby made it to the big leagues this past season and looked rather impressive at times — “holding his stuff and striking out a lot of batters as a high-velocity lefty with a clear out pitch, and that’s a profile you should be very keen on in general,” according to BP. His fastball has elite velo but is a low-spin, sinking pitch that won’t likely miss many bats. His slider is plus and his changeup is average, giving him a starter’s repertoire but a command profile that still needs development and polish.
4) LHP Ethan Small
Where Ashby is known for his “stuff,” Small relies more on a deceptive delivery that is difficult for hitters to pick up to help his average arsenal play up. His fastball plays well off his plus changeup, but he’s currently lacking a trustworthy third pitch. That could ultimately limit his utility — “[a]s things stand, he may not have enough to turn over a big-league lineup more than twice” — but overall, Small should have an MLB floor as a back-end starter or bulk-inning reliever.
5) OF Joey Wiemer
BP’s report makes sure to note that Wiemer has been a player of interest since his days in the Cape Cod league, and praised his increased bulk and swing adjustment (trading a leg kick for a toe tap) as big reasons for him tapping into his tremendous raw power in 2021. His power plays to all fields, his arm is plus in the outfield, and he looks like an asset on the bases. “[Y]ou have to really believe the hit tool will continue to play up the ladder...but the tools are very much there to be a good regular.”
6) 2B Tyler Black
Black earned praise for “excellent strike zone judgment, a quick bat, and a knack for contact” from BP’s scouts. His power could play up in-game because of his advanced approach, and he should be able to do enough to stay at second base defensively. He has the upside of an offense-first starter at the keystone.
7) OF Hedbert Perez
Perez is exciting because of his youth and his overall tool package, but there is a long way to go before realizing the ceiling. He has quick hands and a compact, but max effort swing, with the ability to move the bat around the zone to engender contact. “We’ve described Perez as barrel-chested and that remains the case. The young outfielder has a muscular core, but thin arms, It’s a body to dream on, but it’s one that should eventually move to a corner outfield spot.”
8) SS Brice Turang
“He’s going to play in the bigs forever because of his positive skills, but...” Like other reports, BP is concerned about Turang’s ability to hit for any semblance of power. “He just doesn’t barrel the ball up enough, and there’s no encouraging signs in his batted ball data or anywhere else at this point.” BP praises his contact ability and how he sprays the ball to all fields, an advanced approach, quality defense at shortstop, and his ability on the bases. “Without some sort of unexpected strength and swing overhaul,” we are looking at a player who could be a starting shortstop on the strength of his contact and defense, but someone who won’t be highly impactful as a regular.
9) SS Freddy Zamora
Zamora’s profile is seen as similar to Turang’s by those at BP, although there is a bit more belief in Zamora’s ability to eventually be a double-digit home run hitter. He should be able to stay at shortstop and could be a quick-riser through the system thanks to his advanced toolset.
10) C Jeferson Quero
Quero is going to be one of those prospects who we’ll likely have to follow for quite some time as he develops and advances through the system, but “the potential upside as a two-way catcher is worth flagging him at the back of this list this year.” He earns praise for his advanced hit tool and contact ability, including better-than-expected hard hit rates. Teenage catchers tend to be very high-variance prospects, however.
After those 10 players, the next three guys on the list for BP are:
11. UTIL Zavier Warren
12. SS Eduardo Garcia
13. OF Joe Gray, Jr.
Recent international signee Jackson Chourio and breakout A-ball hitter Felix Valerio earned recognition as “prospects on the rise,” and Mario Feliciano and Corey Ray are discussed as players who could impact the big league roster in 2022. In addition, Freddy Peralta, Luis Urias, and Keston Hiura are included in the list of “top players age 25 and under” within the organization, although here’s what BP had to say about Hiura after his disastrous season:
“We’re in full on crisis mode for Hiura...The floating leg lift that Hiura has long utilized with success to track and time pitches late into their break and splash them on a line has drifted off the map. Hiura’s swing resembled a pitcher’s in many cases in 2021, and the results weren’t massively better. His inability to handle MLB velocity appears pronounced, particularly at the letters or above. To make matters worse, his defensive slide has already pushed him to primarily manning first, with mediocre foot speed placing an onerous emphasis on his production at the dish as a right-handed cold cornerer.”