2022 Double-A Minor League Prospects With The Best Scouting Tools
Best tools winners are voted on by league managers.
|Best Batting Prospect||Ezequiel Tovar||Curtis Mead||Jordan Walker|
|Hartford (Rockies)||Montgomery (Rays)|
|Best Power Prospect||Francisco Alvarez||Alexander Canario||Moises Gomez|
|Binghamton (Mets)||Tennessee (Cubs)|
|Best Strike-Zone Judgment||Gunnar Henderson||Ryan Aguilar||Edouard Julien|
|Bowie (Orioles)||Rocket City (Angels)|
|Best Baserunner||Anthony Volpe||J.D. Orr||Austin Martin|
|Somerset (Yankees)||Pensacola (Marlins)|
|Fastest Baserunner||David Hamilton||Greg Jones|
|Portland (Boston)||Montgomery (Rays)|
|Best Pitching Prospect||Kyle Harrison||Eury Perez||George Kirby|
|Richmond (Giants)||Pensacola (Marlins)|
|Best Fastball||Daniel Espino||Eury Perez||Bobby Miller|
|Akron (Guardians)||Pensacola (Marlins)|
|Best Breaking Pitch||Mike Burrows||Taj Bradley||Taylor Dollard|
|Altoona (Pirates)||Montgomery (Rays)|
|Best Changeup||Hunter Gaddis||Jared Shuster||Drew Parrish|
|Akron (Guardians)||Mississippi (Braves)|
NW Arkansas (Royals)
|Best Control||Ryan Watson||Taj Bradley|
|Bowie (Orioles)||Montgomery (Rays)|
|Best Reliever||R.J. Dabovich||Eric Torres|
|Richmond (Giants)||Rocket City (Angels)|
|Best Defensive C||Dillon Dingler||Blake Hunt|
|Erie (Tigers)||Montgomery (Rays)|
San Antonio (Padres)
|Best Defensive 1B||Frankie Tostado||Bryce Ball|
|Richmond (Giants)||Tennessee (Cubs)|
NW Arkansas (Royals)
|Best Defensive 2B||Andres Alvarez||Chase Strumpf|
|Altoona (Pirates)||Tennessee (Cubs)|
NW Arkansas (Royals)
|Best Defensive 3B||Jared Triolo||CJ Alexander|
|Altoona (Pirates)||Mississippi (Braves)|
|Best Defensive SS||Ezequiel Tovar||Luis Vazquez||Maikel Garcia|
|Hartford (Rockies)||Tennessee (Cubs)|
NW Arkansas (Royals)
|Best Infield Arm||Tyler Fitzgerald||Cam Devanney||Masyn Winn|
|Richmond (Giants)||Biloxi (Brewers)|
|Best Defensive OF||Johan Rojas||Michael Harris II|
|Reading (Phillies)||Mississippi (Braves)|
|Best OF Arm||Elijah Dunham||Michael Harris II||Seuly Matias|
|Somerset (Yankees)||Mississippi (Braves)|
NW Arkansas (Royals)
|Most Exciting Player||Ceddanne Rafaela||Michael Harris II||Corbin Carroll|
|Portland (Red Sox)||Mississippi (Braves)|
|Best Manager Prospect||Gabe Alvarez||Michael Ryan||Jose Leger|
|Erie (Tigers)||Tennessee (Cubs)|
WALKER MAKES AN IMPACT
When looking at exit velocity data for hitters, it’s important to look beyond average exit velocity. Because so many of a hitter’s EV values are clustered around the median, paying attention to the extremes tells us more about high-end power.
That’s why 90th percentile exit velocity data is so valuable. It shows the average EV of a hitter’s the top 10% batted balls and is a far more robust sample than max exit velocity.
When it comes to 90th percentile EV leaders in the minor leagues, Cardinals 20-year-old third baseman Jordan Walker stood tall at Double-A Springfield. His 90th percentile EV of 108.1 mph would rank among the top 15 qualified MLB hitters.
He also was the only qualified minor league hitter with a 90th percentile EV above 108 mph and a weighted on-base average above .360.
As the youngest player at Double-A, Walker has a realistic case as the best power hitting prospect in the minors.
Beyond his raw power, Walker shows a combination of barrel accuracy and optimal attack angles that allow him to get the most out of his natural physicality. Of batters with at least 400 plate appearances this season, Walker ranked 16th with an 18.4% barrel rate, which would rank him among the top five in MLB.
Walker’s combination of tremendous power, barrel accuracy and average contact skills at such a young age puts him on a course for stardom.
PEREZ SHOWS ADVANCED COMMAND AND POWER AS A TEENAGER
Age may be just a number, but it’s difficult to ignore age when discussing the prodigious Eury Perez.
At just 19 years old, the Marlins righthander was the youngest player at Double-A this year by 11 months, and spent the entire season with Pensacola before going on the injured list with a shoulder issue in early August.
To put this in perspective, Perez is so young that he would be among the five youngest players at High-A and among the three youngest players on the Marlins’ Low-A Jupiter affiliate.
How does Perez do it? The answer lies in his unusually powerful four-pitch mix that he executes with precision.
Few starters in baseball generate the velocity Perez does from his lanky 6-foot-8 frame. Sitting 96-97 mph, he gets his fastball up to 99 with heavy ride and run and raw spin rates between 2,500 and 2,600 rpms.
Beyond his raw velocity, Perez’s ability to control his fastball sets him apart. Among minor league starters who had thrown at least 500 fastballs this season, Perez’s strike rate of 73.3% ranks ninth. Among those nine pitchers, only Perez averaged 92.3 mph or better on his fastball, and he clears that threshold by a full 4 mph.
Beyond his fastball, Perez’s entire pitch mix combines both power and command. His cutter sits 86-88 mph and touches 91-92. It boasts a near-70% strike rate, a 50% whiff rate and a 37% chase rate, all of which are elite percentages in those outcome metrics.
His low-80s slider and changeup both generate whiffs at a greater than 44% rate, with chase rates in the low-to-mid 30% range.
Perez’s ability to command his powerful arsenal has allowed him to excel at the upper levels at such a young age.
TOVAR TAKES BEST HITTER IN OVERCROWDED EASTERN LEAGUE FIELD
To be designated Best Batting Prospect in the Eastern League this season is to say something profound.
Four different players received votes for the category. All four were top 30 overall prospects in baseball, including Bowie shortstop and No. 1 overall prospect in baseball Gunnar Henderson.
The Mets’ top two prospects opened the season at Binghamton, and both received votes for Best Batting Prospect.
Catcher Francisco Alvarez was voted Best Power Prospect and hit .277/.368/.553 as a 20-year-old as he advanced quickly to Triple-A. Third baseman Brett Baty led all qualified Double-A hitters with a .950 OPS en route to an Aug. 17 callup to New York.
But as talented as Henderson, Alvarez and Baty are, not one of them took the Best Batting Prospect category in the Eastern League. That distinction went to 21-year-old Rockies shortstop prospect Ezequiel Tovar.
Tovar hit .318/.386/.546 with 13 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 66 games for Hartford before going on the injured list at the end of June with hip injury. He impressed observers with his ability to barrel the ball for a career-high rate of power production.
Tovar likes to hunt first-pitch fastballs but has grown more comfortable working deeper counts. His walk rate more than doubled compared to last season, but streakiness figures to be part of his game.
The batter’s box is not the only place on the field where Tovar excels. He took Best Defensive Shortstop honors in the EL and is poised to be the Rockies’ future at the position.
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Michael Harris II, OF, Braves
Some players know how to make an instant impression.
Braves center fielder Michael Harris II is one such player.
The 21-year-old Harris spent just 43 games with Mississippi yet still won three Best Tools categories in the Southern League: Best Defensive Outfielder, Best Outfield Arm and Most Exciting Player.
But it wasn’t solely defense that earned Harris a callup to Atlanta on May 28. While at Double-A, he hit .305/.372/.506 with five home runs and 11 stolen bases.
Once he reached MLB, Harris fit right in. He flashed all five tools in his first three months, hitting .286 with 13 homers and 15 steals in 15 attempts. His hard-hit rate was excellent and his sprint speed elite, though his plate discipline needs work.
Harris stood just as much for his defensive play. A two-way player in high school, he showcases a strong, accurate arm that forces baserunners to think twice about advancing.
After winning Best Defensive Outfielder nods in the minor leagues the past two seasons, Harris quickly captured the attention of National League managers.
They voted him third for Best Defensive Outfielder despite having seen him for two months at the time Best Tools ballots were submitted.
PROSPECT SHOWDOWN—Eury Perez VS. Taj Bradley
The Southern League is a pitcher’s league, and this year’s top pitchers lived up to the reputation. Pensacola’s Eury Perez and Montgomery’s Taj Bradley nearly swept Best Tools pitching categories and each rank as top 15 overall prospects.
Perez is a 6-foot-8 righthander with exquisite command for a pitcher his height. He has added weight and velocity—up to 99 mph—in pro ball and could develop four plus pitches. Bradley is also a superior athlete with outstanding fastball velocity and command and a sharp slider. Scouts would like to see him master something slower, either his changeup, curveball or perhaps cutter.
|Eury Perez, RHP, Marlins||Pitch||Taj Bradley, RHP, Rays|
Vladimir Guerrero, OF
1996, Eastern League
Category wins: Best Batting Prospect, Best Power, Best Defensive OF, Best OF Arm, Most Exciting Player
Guerrero exhibited all five tools in a Hall of Fame career—and his bountiful talent was obvious even as a prospect. Never was that more apparent than when he hit .360/.438/.612 with 19 homers and 17 steals in 118 games for Harrisburg of the Expos system in 1996.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Brett Baty, 3B, Mets
“I think he’s going to hit, I think he’s going to be an everyday guy. I don’t think he’ll be an all-star. Could he play third base? Yes (but) you’d want to find someone better there and move him to the outfield, if you can.
“I think he’ll be a solid everyday guy who hits sixth in the order. He needs to get back to lifting the ball a little more, but as a pure hitter he’s pretty good.”
—Anonymous pro scout