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10 More Breakout Hitters For The 2022 Minor League Season



Each season several hitters break out in the minor leagues. Last week we unveiled 10 players that raised their stock over the course of the 2022 season. Here are 10 more hitters that similarly broke out during the 2022 campaign.

Oscar Colas, OF, White Sox: An older signee out of Cuba, Colas signed in January 2022 for $2.7 million. Assigned to High-A Winston-Salem out of camp, Colas experienced an up and down first two months before locking in over the final few months of the season. After hitting .311/.369/.475 across 59 games in High-A, Colas saw a promotion to Double-A Birmingham where he took off. Across 51 games with the Barons, Colas hit .306/.364/.563 with 14 home runs. He starred in the Futures Game during all-star weekend and finished the season with a .314/.371/.524 line with 23 home runs and just a 22.8% strikeout rate. He spent a week at the end of the season with Triple-A Charlotte and looks likely to see a majority of his 2023 campaign with the major league club. Colas is a power-hitting outfielder with an above-average hit tool and a plus throwing arm that should fit nicely in a corner.

Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Rays: After a standout final season with Washington State in 2021, Manzardo burst onto the scene in a big way in 2022. The 2021 second-round pick finished third behind Moises Gomez and Vaun Brown for the minor league lead in slugging percentage and hit .327/.426/.617 across High-A and Double-A in 2022. While Manzardo is billed as a hit tool-driven performer, his 22 home runs this season ranked third among Rays minor leaguers. Manzardo’s high-end exit velocities are fringy, but his ability to control the strike zone, make contact at a high rate and drive his hardest hit balls at optimal angles allow his production to play above his raw abilities. After hitting .323/.402/.576 over 30 Double-A games to finish the season, Manzardo is likely to spend a majority of his season split between Double-A and Triple-A in 2023, where his bat will be tested. With a first base-only profile, there’s added pressure on Manzardo to continue producing at an elite rate in order to cement himself as a full-time big leaguer.

Kevin Alcantara, OF, Cubs: Signed by the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic for $1 million during the 2018 international signing period, Alcantara has taken some time to marinate, and he spent the 2019 and 2021 seasons in complex ball. Acquired by the Cubs for Anthony Rizzo at the 2021 trade deadline, Alcantara made his full-season debut in 2022 as a 19-year-old in Low-A. At 6-foot-6 with an athletic and projectable frame, Alcantara's profile is centered around his loud tools. Throughout the 2022 campaign Alcantara showed improvements to his approach and pitch identification, areas of concern entering the season. He had a promising season, hitting .273/.360/.451 with 15 home runs and 14 steals over 112 games in the Low-A Carolina League. Alcantara also managed to keep his strikeouts in check and showed improvements to his swing decisions, while producing power in games. As Alcantara matures he should add strength, which will allow him to hit for all-fields power. An above-average center fielder with a plus throwing arm, Alcantara will likely settle in an outfield corner long term.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B, Reds: After two seasons at Yavapai (Ariz.) JC, Encarnacion-Strand transferred to Oklahoma State for the 2021 campaign. There he hit .361/.442/.661 with 15 home runs over 56 games with the Cowboys. The Twins selected Encarnacion-Strand in the fourth round in 2021 and assigned him to Low-A Fort Myers out of the draft. Over 22 games with the Mighty Muscles Encarnacion-Strand hit .391/.424/.598 with four home runs over 22 games. Encarnacion-Strand was one of the hottest hitters over the first half of the season in 2022 with High-A Cedar Rapids, as he hit .296/.370/.599 with 20 home runs over 74 Midwest League games. Encarnacion-Strand was promoted to Double-A Wichita in mid-July but spent just two weeks with the Wind Surge before the Twins traded him as a part of the package that acquired righthander Tyler Mahle. He then spent 35 games with Double-A Chattanooga and finished the season with a .304/.368/.587 line, 32 home runs and 114 RBIs. A strong combination of power, bat-to-ball skills and optimal launch angles allowed Encarnacion-Strand to get the most out of his abilities.

Matt Mervis, 1B, Cubs: After a productive four-year career at Duke, Mervis signed as a nondrafted free agent after the five-round 2020 draft. He debuted in Low-A last season, hitting an uninspiring .204/.309/.367 over 69 games. While his overall line was poor, Mervis’ batting average on balls in play was unusually low at .236, an outlier for a player who made hard contact at the rate Mervis did. Assigned to High-A South Bend out of camp, Mervis embarked on one of the more improbable breakout seasons of 2022. He reached Double-A Tennessee by mid-May and then saw a promotion to Triple-A Iowa by mid-July. Across three levels in 2022, Mervis hit .309/.379/.605 with 36 home runs and 119 RBIs, leading the Cubs organization in hits, doubles, RBIs and slugging. Mervis displays above-average contact skills, easy plus raw power and a knack for barreling fastballs. After a stint in the Arizona Fall League to round out the year, Mervis looks like a potential early season arrival for the Cubs.

Esteury Ruiz, OF, Brewers: Signed by the Royals out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, Ruiz found himself at a crossroads in 2022 coming off of three consecutive seasons with an OPS below .750. Prior to this season, Ruiz’s game was built around his combination of average power and plus baserunning ability. His aggressive approach, however, often meant Ruiz would swing himself into outs. This season a different hitter emerged from camp, one with a patient approach and a discerning eye that hinted at true improvements to his pitch identification ability. The results followed, as Ruiz hit .333/.467/.560 with 13 home runs and 60 stolen bases over the next 77 games. He saw a promotion to the major league team in mid-July before he was shipped to the Brewers as a part of the deal that landed closer Josh Hader. Ruiz finished the season with Triple-A Nashville before seeing a late season promotion to the big leagues with the Brewers. Ruiz showcased a more refined version of himself in 2022, while also leading the minor leagues in stolen bases with 85, and career-best results followed.

Shane Baz Photo By Justin Casterline Getty Images

2023 Rays Top 10 Prospects Podcast

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Addison Barger, SS, Blue Jays: After four seasons in the Blue Jays organization, Barger showed flashes of blossoming power coming out of the 2020 Covid-19 shutdown. However, he struggled to make consistent contact and ran a 32.9% strikeout rate with Low-A Dunedin in 2021. Assigned to High-A Vancouver to start the 2022 season, Barger announced his presence with authority, hitting .300/.366/.558 with 14 home runs over 69 games. He saw a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire in mid-July and continued his torrid pace, hitting .313/.384/.528 with nine home runs over 47 games. He saw a late season promotion to Triple-A and was then invited to participate in the Arizona Fall League following the season. Barger is a well-rounded player who is capable of playing an above-average shortstop, while hitting for power and average. His 2022 breakout continued in the Arizona Fall League, where Barger turned heads with his exciting tool set. Barger, who's likely to be added to the 40-man roster this winter, could make his major league debut next summer.

Mason Auer, OF, Rays: After two seasons at San Jacinto (Texas) JC, Auer was selected by the Rays in the fifth round of the 2021 draft. He made his professional debut in the Florida Complex League following the draft and showcased advanced plate discipline, above-average bat-to-ball skills and twitchy athleticism. Assigned to Low-A Charleston to begin 2022, Auer hit .293/.378/.478 with four home runs and 24 stolen bases over 60 games. He saw a promotion to High-A Bowling Green in late June, where he hit .288/.367/.496 with 11 home runs and 24 stolen bases over 55 games. He was invited to participate in the Arizona Fall League following the season and is likely to see an assignment to Double-A to begin 2023. A standout athlete with a balance of contact, plate discipline and average power, Auer has the ability to develop into a versatile offensive player with dangerous baserunning ability at peak.

Vaun Brown, OF, Giants: Brown, the most under-the-radar prospect on this list entering the 2022 season, signed for just $7,500 in the 10th round out of Division II Florida Southern in 2021. Brown debuted in the Arizona Complex League, hitting .354/.480/.620 across 25 games. Assigned to Low-A San Jose out of spring training in 2022, Brown once again posted video games numbers, hitting .347/.428/.636 with 14 home runs across 59 games. He saw a promotion to High-A Eugene in late June and continued his assault on the minor league leaderboard, hitting .350/.454/.612 over 43 games. At season’s end Brown led the minor leagues in batting average with a mark of .346, while posting the second highest slugging percentage in the minor leagues. A difficult player to evaluate on face value, Brown has been older than the average age of competition at every level he’s played. However, as a former Division II player, this is likely the highest quality of competition Brown has ever faced. His combination of an aggressive contact-focused approach and plus raw power drove Brown’s success in 2022.

Hunter Goodman, C, Rockies: A well-known slugger in college, Goodman hit 42 home runs over 128 games during his collegiate career and slugged eight home runs during his single summer in the Cape Cod League. The Rockies selected Goodman in the fourth round of the 2021 draft, and he made his debut in the Arizona Complex League later that summer. Assigned to Low-A Fresno of the California League in 2022, Goodman slugged 22 home runs over his first 73 games before seeing a promotion to High-A Spokane. Goodman continued to hit for exceptional power following the jump in level as he hit another 12 home runs across 49 games. Goodman finished the season with a 12-game taste of Double-A, a level he’s likely to start at in 2023. A true double-plus power hitter, Goodman looks to do damage at all times. He’ll swing himself into outs and doesn’t have much on-base ability, but his top-of-the-scale power and chance to stick at catcher gives him a chance to develop into an offensive backstop at the big league level.

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