10 Noteworthy Prospect Breakthroughs In 2022

Image credit: Vinnie Pasquantino (Tracy Proffitt/Four Seam Images)

Breaking down 10 prospects who took a step forward during the 2022 minor league season, nine of whom cemented themselves as Top 100 Prospects in our June update.

Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies

Painter was a marquee name heading into the 2021 MLB Draft, ranking No. 15 overall on the BA 500, but few could have predicted the level of success he’s had already in 2022. After pitching six scoreless innings in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League in 2021, Painter started the season with five straight starts without allowing an earned run and has allowed just five earned runs in 32.2 innings this year. Painter, who pitched six innings on May 28 for the first time in his brief career, has an electric fastball that touches 100 mph from a huge 6-foot-7 frame to go with a plus slider and a pair of average offerings in his curveball and changeup. With Painter’s combination of stuff, control and projection, there’s a strong case to be made that he’s the best prospect in the Phillies system.

Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers

When Chourio was added to Low-A Carolina, it was eyebrow-raising. Sure, the team was already stacked with teenage talent, but Chourio was about to become the youngest player at a full-season affiliate, and the only one who was born in 2004. Milwaukee’s social media department had done an excellent job showing what Chourio was doing at extended spring training, which was enough to make the team’s player development staff believe he was ready for a greater test. Boy, were they right. In his first series, Chourio went 12-for-25 with a home run and kept hitting thereafter. He closed the month with a spectacular .347/.400/.495 line and was riding a 15-game on-base streak heading into June. More than the numbers, Chourio took impressive, extremely mature at-bats with an explosive but malleable swing that allowed him to get the barrel to pitches up and down the strike zone and a polished knowledge of the strike zone. He also turned in plus run times to first base and excellent defense in center field. Chourio was highly regarded as an amateur, but his early returns stateside have far exceeded expectations.


Kyle Harrison, LHP, Giants

Harrison’s first season as a pro, in 2021, was eye-opening. The lefthander showed electric stuff all season long at Low-A San Jose and finished the year with 157 strikeouts, tied for seventh-most in the minors. His command and control, however, needed to be tightened. Harrison worked hard to address timing issues in his delivery that were leading to more scattershot command of the zone, and the results in 2022 have been loud. He blitzed the High-A Northwest League with 59 strikeouts in 29 innings before earning a promotion to Double-A. His fastball-slider-changeup mix played well in his debut at the next level, too, further cementing his status as not only the top pitching prospect in San Francisco’s system, but one of the best overall pitching prospects in the game. 

Eury Perez, RHP, Marlins

When Perez opened 2021 as the youngest player on a full-season roster, without the benefit of throwing an official pitch, that should have been a sign that the Marlins might have reeled in a big one. As the season progressed, that notion became clearer and clearer. At just 18 years old, Perez carved the competition at Low-A, then turned in a highly effective stint at High-A Beloit. The noise got louder in 2022, when Miami stayed aggressive with Perez by assigning him to Double-A a week before he turned 19 years old. So far, the towering righthander has rewarded his team’s confidence. Through May, Perez had used his three-pitch mix to rack up 50 strikeouts against just nine walks in 34 innings. His fastball has touched triple-digits this year, too. After entering the season as a very good pitching prospect, Perez’s star turn in the Southern League has vaulted him into the conversation as one of the game’s finest young talents. 

Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B, Royals

Pasquantino can rightfully say he’s been doing this for quite a while. It’s taken a while to convince us at Baseball America (and maybe the baseball industry as a whole) that he’s a premium prospect. An 11th-round pick in 2019, Pasquantino hit .294/.371/.592 for Rookie-level Burlington that year.

It was a great year, but Pasquantino was a 21-year-old college draftee in the Appalachian League. It was worthwhile at the time to see if the slugger would be able to maintain that production against more advanced pitchers.

Well here we are three years later. Pasquantino has reached Triple-A and his career minor league slash line as of June 1 is .299/.388/.594. He’s actually been a little bit better in full-season ball than he was in his pro debut. 

Pasquantino has a very rare combination of power with extreme contact ability. Of the minor league hitters who rank among the top 10 in home runs since the 2021 season began, Pasquantino is the only one with a strikeout rate below 20%. Pasquantino’s strikeout rate over that time period is 13%.

Carson Williams, SS, Rays

Of the eight prep shortstops picked in the first round last year, Williams was picked eighth. The early indications are that he’ll end up surpassing at least a couple of those shortstops taken above him. Williams’ defense is already impressive. He’s a smooth, rangy shortstop who should quickly challenge Alika Williams as the Rays’ best defender in the minors.

But it’s been his bat that has been the surprise. Williams trades swing and miss for power, but he’s already shown he can catch up to quality fastballs. If he gets a little more discerning at which sliders to hit and which ones to leave alone, watch out.

Brayan Bello RHP, Red Sox 

The refinement of a two-seam fastball last season has led to an improved version of Bello this season. With the heavy arm-side run of the two-seamer, Bello has found a better fastball shape and his already strong secondaries have played up further. Sitting high 90s with movement to go with a mid-80s slider and a plus changeup, Bello has the ability to miss bats with all of his pitches now. His command has tightened this season and it’s allowed him to execute consistently. He’s also taken to the new pitch clock rules, working at a rapid-fire pace and barely giving batters time to get set. Now in Triple-A, Bello is just one step away from the major leagues with a potential arrival this summer. 

Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Blue Jays

When the Blue Jays drafted Tiedemann in the third round of last July’s draft they knew they were getting a talented lefthander with projectable stuff. A little less than a year later, Tiedemann has been one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues over the first two months of the season. He’s leading the minor leagues in xFIP, ranks third in FIP, third in strikeout rate, 14th in ERA and 16th in total strikeouts as of June 1. His three-pitch-mix has been a basket of above-average to plus offerings with a mid-90s fastball with heavy horizontal break, a sweepy low-80s slider and a plus-plus changeup with parachuting action. Tiedemann easily handled Low-A hitting and has seen early success with Vancouver following a bump to High-A. Still just 19 years old, Tiedemann has plenty of projection remaining as he continues to hone his craft. 

Adael Amador, SS, Rockies

The jump from complex ball to Low-A has been an easy one for Amador as he’s been one of the best teenagers in full-season ball. Over the first two months of the season, Amador hit .309/.413/.469 while walking as much as he struck out. His ability to control the zone and make contact at a high rate puts him in a class of his own among teenagers. Amador is the only player 19 years old or younger with a strikeout rate below 15% and a walk rate above 11% in all of minor league baseball. While Amador’s power isn’t his carrying tool, he does show at least average in-game power as he’s connected for six home runs on the season. His all-around abilities and leadership qualities make him a standout among a talented Fresno roster. 

Wilmer Flores, RHP, Tigers

Flores not only didn’t hear his name called during the 2020 draft, he couldn’t have expected to get picked. With a five-round draft, junior college pitchers who walked 12 batters in 11.2 innings in the shortened 2020 season didn’t have a chance of being selected.

But just two years later the nondrafted free agent is pitching effectively in Double-A, showing plus control to go with plus stuff. He’s leapfrogged over many of the college pitchers who did hear their name called in the 2020 draft, and he’s emerged as one of the Tigers’ best pitching prospects.


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