12 Breakout Prospects With Top 100 Potential
With the release of the Baseball America Top 100 yesterday, there are plenty of younger players who didn't quite make the cut this year but have the upside to vault their way up the Top 100 by the end of the 2022 season.
These are 12 players who should still be prospect eligible after the year with the breakout potential to be Top 100 prospects on next year's list.
Harry Ford, C, Mariners
There are a ton of arrows pointing in the right direction for Ford. The 12th overall pick in the 2021 draft, Ford is athletic, explosive and even a plus runner despite being a catcher. It's not a lock that he stays behind the plate, but Ford has a strong arm and the fallback options to fit at second base, third base or the outfield. As much as Ford's athleticism sticks out, his hitting ability is just as exciting. Ford hit .291/.400/.582 in 65 plate appearances in his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League, showing a fast, compact swing with good path through the zone, a patient approach and above-average raw power.
Coby Mayo, 3B, Orioles
A well over-slot signing in the fourth round of the 2020 draft for $1.75 million, Mayo stayed back in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League as a 19-year-old in 2021 as the Orioles played it conservatively with him coming off a knee injury in the spring. He was so good in the FCL that the Orioles pushed him to Low-A Delmarva, where he hit .311/.416/.547 in 125 plate appearances. Coming off the knee injury, Mayo didn't look his best defensively, and at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, there's some risk he ends up at first base. There's also a chance his offensive impact will be good enough to carry him at either spot. For a young, long-armed hitter, Mayo is able to keep his strikeouts in check, has a mature offensive approach and raw power that is at least plus and could end up higher with physical maturity.
Cristian Santana, SS, Tigers
Santana is the most exciting Latin American shortstop the Tigers have signed since Willy Adames. A high-profile signing coming out of the Dominican Republic last year, Santana's swing is quick and direct with good bat speed. He has an advanced approach for his age and a good sense of the strike zone, but while he was more of a gap hitter as an amateur, he showed surprising power last year in the Dominican Summer League with nine home runs and a .269/.421/.520 line in 54 games. Santana also has a chance to stick at shortstop, where he has good hands, quick feet and a strong arm.
Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs
A Mets first-round pick in 2020, Crow-Armstrong played six games in 2021 before he had season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, then went to the Cubs in the Javier Baez trade. Crow-Armstrong needs to stay healthy, but there's plenty to like when he's on the field. He's a potential plus-plus defender at a premium position in center field with the offensive game to be a table setter at the top of the lineup with his ability to make frequent contact, spread the ball to all fields and control the strike zone to get on base.
Dustin Harris, 1B/3B, Rangers
The Athletics got a steal in the 11th round of the 2019 draft to get Harris out of St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC, but the Rangers shrewdly plucked him away in 2020 as part of their trade return for lefthander Mike Minor. A career .326/.402/.496 hitter through High-A, Harris is one of the best pure hitters in the minors, staying within the strike zone and consistently barreling the ball when he does swing with his compact, adjustable stroke from the left side. If he keeps performing at Double-A, he's going to force his way into the Top 100.
James Triantos, SS/2B, Cubs
Originally part of the 2022 high school class, Triantos reclassified for the 2021 draft and signed with the Cubs for $2.1 million as a second-round pick. An offensive-oriented infielder who probably fits best at second or third, Triantos showed why he was one of the most advanced high school hitters in the draft with a loud pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League, both in terms of contact and impact. If everything breaks right for Triantos this year, he could follow the path of Red Sox second baseman Nick Yorke's jump up the Top 100.
Young Brewers Catcher Jeferson Quero Stands Out In Big League Camp
The 20-year-old catcher could be poised for a breakout year after impressing members of the organization in spring camp.
Jose Salas, SS, Marlins
The Marlins already have one Top 100 prospect from their 2019 international class with righthander Eury Perez. They have two more candidates behind him in the infield with Ian Lewis and Salas. Salas was the quicker mover last year, getting to Low-A Jupiter in his pro debut as an 18-year-old. Salas is a 6-foot-2 switch-hitter with a good blend of strength, athleticism and hitting ability. He's a plus runner with a strong arm and reads the ball well off the bat at shortstop, though he could outgrow the position and end up at third base or possibly head out to center field.
Sal Frelick, OF, Brewers
A first-round pick out of Boston College in 2021, Frelick is already on the cusp of being a Top 100 prospect. If he performs as expected, graduations alone could get him on the list soon. He's a quick-twitch, athletic center fielder with plus-plus speed and excellent hand-eye coordination. That allows him to put plenty of balls in play and take advantage of his speed to help him leg out extra bases. Frelick lacks big power, but his ability to get on base and play in the middle of the field give him the potential to develop into an above-average regular.
Drey Jameson, RHP, D-backs
Jameson struck out 145 batters in 110.2 innings last year, good for a 31% strikeout rate between High-A and Double-A. There's no smoke and mirrors here, it's a power fastball that sits in the mid 90s and can flirt with triple digits, backed up by a slider that flashes as a 70 on the 20-80 scale. His fastball command wavers, which gets him into trouble even with his velocity, but the raw stuff is there for Jameson to jump into Top 100 status by the end of the year.
Adael Amador, SS, Rockies
Amador was one of the best prospects coming out of the Dominican Republic when the Rockies signed him in 2019 for $1.5 million. The early returns have been excellent, with Amador batting .299/.394/.445 with nearly as many walks (27) as strikeouts (29) in 200 plate appearances in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. There's a chance Amador outgrows shortstop and flips over to second base, but his feel for the barrel and strike-zone judgment make him a potential high on-base threat in the middle of the diamond.
Landon Knack, RHP, Dodgers
The Dodgers drafted Knack in the second round out of East Tennessee State in 2020, when his fastball was trending up as a senior. He now sits at 93-96 mph, touches 98 and is a prolific strike thrower, posting a sparkling 82-8 K-BB mark in 62.1 innings with a 3.18 ERA last year between High-A and Double-A. His plus changeup helps him keep hitters off balance and neutralize lefties, with a solid pair of breaking balls between his slider and curveball rounding out his arsenal. There's a chance Knack's polish will get him to the big leagues quickly enough to exhaust his prospect eligibility by the end of the year, but he's a prime candidate to jump into the Top 100 if he continues to pick apart upper-level hitters.
Jeferson Quero, C, Brewers
Of the top 25 prospects in baseball, four of them—Gabriel Moreno, Keibert Ruiz, Francisco Alvarez and Diego Cartaya—are Venezuelan catchers. Quero, who signed with the Brewers out of Venezuela in 2019, has some similarities to Ruiz. He's a polished defender behind the plate, with advanced blocking and receiving skills for a 19-year-old to go with a plus arm. He has also impressed at the plate with his contact skills and strike-zone discipline, hitting .309/.434/.500 with 12 walks and 10 strikeouts in 83 plate appearances in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. Quero and outfielder Hedbert Perez are both Venezuelan signings from Milwaukee's 2019 class with Top 100 potential.