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2022 High-A Minor League Prospects With The Best Scouting Tools



Best tools winners are voted on by league managers.

CategoryMidwest Northwest 
South Atlantic 
Best Batting ProspectElly De La CruzZac VeenKyle Manzardo
Dayton (Reds)Spokane (Rockies)
Bowling Green (Rays)
Best Power ProspectElly De La CruzNoelvi MarteNick Northcut
Dayton (Reds)Everett (Mariners)
Greenville (Red Sox)
Best Strike-Zone JudgmentJorbit VivasZac Veen
Great Lakes (Dodgers)Spokane (Rockies)
Aberdeen (Orioles)
Best BaserunnerNasim NuñezZac VeenDuke Ellis
Beloit (Marlins)Spokane (Rockies)
Winston-Salem (White Sox)
Fastest BaserunnerElly De La CruzZac VeenDuke Ellis
Dayton (Reds)Spokane (Rockies)
Winston-Salem (White Sox)
Best Pitching ProspectGavin WilliamsRicky Tiedemann
Lake County (Guardians)Vancouver (Blue Jays)
Jersey Shore (Phillies
Best FastballDaniel PalenciaRicky Tiedemann
South Bend (Cubs)Vancouver (Blue Jays)
Jersey Shore (Phillies
Best Breaking PitchAntoine KellyPrelander Berroa
Wisconsin (Brewers)Everett (Mariners)
Jersey Shore (Phillies
Best ChangeupTyler MitzelNick SwineyEdgar Barclay
Beloit (Marlins)Eugene (Giants)
Hudson Valley (Yankees)
Best ControlTanner BibeeLandon MarceauxOwen White
Lake County (Guardians)Tri-City (Angels)
Hickory (Rangers)
Best RelieverCam RobinsonNick AvilaEdgar Barclay
Wisconsin (Brewers)Eugene (Giants)
Hudson Valley (Yankees)
Best Defensive CJosh CrouchDrew RomoEndy Rodriguez
West Michigan (Tigers)Spokane (Rockies)
Greensboro (Pirates)
Best Defensive 1BJoe NaranjoGabe Matthews
Lake County (Guardians)Tri-City (Angels)
Winston-Salem (White Sox)
Best Defensive 2BJorbit VivasEddy DiazRonny Simon
Great Lakes (Dodgers)Spokane (Rockies)
Bowling Green (Rays)
Best Defensive 3BNick QuintanaCasey SchmittTyler Hardman
Dayton (Reds)Eugene (Giants)
Hudson Valley (Yankees)
Best Defensive SSMasyn WinnJulio CarrerasAlika Williams
Peoria (Cardinals)Spokane (Rockies)
Bowling Green (Rays)
Best Infield ArmMasyn WinnAddison BargerBryan Ramos
Peoria (Cardinals)Vancouver (Blue Jays)
Winston-Salem (White Sox)
Best Defensive OFPete Crow-ArmstrongGarrett SpainEvan Carter
South Bend (Cubs)Vancouver (Blue Jays)
Hickory (Rangers)
Best OF ArmAlexfri PlanezGarrett SpainStanley Consuegra
Lake County (Guardians)Vancouver (Blue Jays)
Brooklyn (Mets)
Most Exciting PlayerElly De La CruzZac Veen
Dayton (Reds)Spokane (Rockies)Rome (Braves)
Best Manager ProspectBrayan PeñaBrent LavalleeCallix Crabbe
West Michigan (Tigers)Vancouver (Blue Jays)
Greensboro (Pirates)

TIEDEMANN'S PITCH MIX SHINES

Few pitching prospects have experienced the meteoric rise that Blue Jays lefthander Ricky Tiedemann has this season.

Standing an imposing 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Tiedemann is one of the most powerful lefthanded pitchers in baseball. His average fastball sits 94.5 mph and would rank among the three hardest four-seam fastballs by a lefthanded starting pitcher in MLB this season.

Tiedemann reached Double-A on Aug. 5, little more than a year after being drafted in the third round in 2021. A primary reason for the 20-year-old’s rapid ascent is his pitch mix.

Tiedemann’s fastball features both velocity and heavy horizontal movement from a tricky lefthanded slot. This has translated to an elite whiff rate of 37% against his fastball, where anything above 30% is considered plus for a fastball.

While Tiedemann’s fastball is special, his slider and changeup are arguably plus pitches too. He generates an average of one foot of sweeping movement on his low-80s slider, which also has 2,500 to 2,600 rpms of raw spin. Batters miss on 49% of swings against the pitch.

His changeup has long been rated as his best pitch and features 10 mph of separation from his fastball and nearly 10 inches of vertical movement. The pitch generates misses on 37% of swings.

Tiedemann’s ability to generate high whiff rates on his trio of pitches has driven his success in 2022.

—Geoff Pontes

MANZARDO SHOWS PROMISING BLEND OF HITTING SKILLS

Combining the ability to hit for contact, get on base and hit for power is a good foundational skill set for any hitter, but few hitters at any level do all three at an above-average or better level.

Prospects like Gunnar Henderson, Corbin Carroll and James Wood pair these skills and are among the most highly regarded prospects.

Rays first baseman Kyle Manzardo may seem like an unlikely fit for this group, but he belongs in the discussion based on the hitting data he generated with High-A Bowling Green.

Manzardo hit .329/.436/.636 with 17 home runs, 45 walks and 46 strikeouts in 63 games in the South Atlantic League. His 181 wRC+ led all High-A hitters who batted at least 250 times—and by a wide margin. That performance earned the lefthanded hitter a promotion to Double-A Montgomery on Aug. 9.

Manzardo has shown an ability to draw walks at an elite rate, while also flashing plus bat-to-ball skills with an 80% contact rate and 7.2% swinging-strike rate.

This combination of skills has made the 22-year-old Manzardo among the best hitters in the minor leagues, and one of the hardest for pitchers to get swings and misses.

Barrel accuracy and ability to make flush contact has elevated Manzardo to another level of game power this season.

After showing solid to above-average power at Washington State, the Rays’ 2021 second-rounder was one of the best power hitters in the minors this season.

He was one of just nine hitters to bat 300 times and slug .600 or better. That was largely due to Manzardo’s ability to barrel the baseball. His barrel rate of 23% would rank among the MLB leaders.

With elite plate discipline, plus bat-to-ball and skill-driven power, Manzardo is arguably one of the best hitters in the minor leagues.

—Geoff Pontes

JERSEY SHORE ROTATION PROVIDES GLIMPSE OF PHILLIES' FUTURE

Some of the best minor league pitchers, both famous and under the radar, started games on the Jersey Shore this season.

At one point, the BlueClaws’ rotation housed three of the Top 100 Prospects in baseball: righthanders Andrew Painter, Mick Abel and Griff McGarry. Rounding out the group was up-arrow righthander Ben Brown, who was flipped to the Cubs at the trade deadline for reliever David Robertson.

Painter, the No. 33 overall prospect, was the highest rated of the bunch. He’s followed by Abel and McGarry and Nos. 67 and 100. Painter also won Best Pitching Prospect, Best Breaking Pitch and Best Fastball in the South Atlantic League in Best Tools balloting.

Brown and McGarry garnered votes in various categories as well, and Abel won Best Pitching Prospect in the Low-A Florida State League in 2021.

Quite simply, if you showed up to a BlueClaws game at some point this season, you had a good chance of seeing an excellent pitching prospect.

“It’s one of those coverages where you go in and you know you’re gonna get something to watch every day. You know, that’s just what it is. And that’s very rare nowadays,” one scout said.

“I mean, it was 100 degrees the week I went there and it did not matter what the weather was. That’s how much fun it was seeing all those guys pitch every day.”

Even with Brown gone, it’s clear that the Phillies have made great strides toward rejuvenating their system by drafting Abel 15th overall in 2020 and Painter 13th overall in 2021, both out of high school.

—Josh Norris

Zac Veen (Bill Mitchell)

Prospect Report: Zac Veen Displays His Exciting Skill Set

Veen collected two hits and three stolen bases, T.J. Rumfield hit a homer and more.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

Masyn Winn, SS, Cardinals

Masyn Winn called his shot.

On the Friday before the Futures Game, the 20-year-old Cardinals shortstop prospect told Baseball America that his goal and was to break the MLB Statcast record for the hardest infield throw at the prospect exhibition. Not only that, but Winn wanted to become the first infielder ever to record a 100 mph throw.

Winn accomplished his goal on the first ground ball he saw at the Futures Game. He set his feet and uncoiled a throw that Statcast measured at 100.5 mph.

One throw. Two predictions fulfilled.

“I actually didn’t see it at first,” Winn said. “(Dodgers righthander) Bobby Miller, he came up to me later in the game and asked me how hard it was. I was like, ’It had to be up there, probably high 90s.’ 

“He was like, ‘Bro, you just hit 100. That’s crazy.’ “

Before that Winn throw, the fastest Statcast infield throw—since 2015—on an assist belonged to Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz and his 97.9 mph throw earlier this year.

Winn has the strongest infield arm in pro baseball. That fact is underscored by him winning Best Infield Arm—plus Best Defensive Shortstop—in the Midwest League this year. He also won Best Infield Arm in the Double-A Texas League.

PROSPECT SHOWDOWN—Elly De La Cruz vs. Zac Veen

There are few players in the minor leagues more exciting than shortstop Elly De La Cruz. The Reds’ top prospect is capable of incredible, jaw-dropping feats on a nightly basis. Whether it’s bashing balls 500 feet, using his top-end speed to catch the defense sleeping or unleashing heat-seeking throws from across the diamond, De La Cruz makes the sublime look routine. 

One player who can challenge De La Cruz is Rockies outfielder Zac Veen, who won Most Exciting Prospect in his league for the second season in a row. This year, he added four more categories to his haul: Best Batting Prospect, Best Baserunner, Fastest Baserunner and Best Strike-Zone Judgment. 

Elly De La Cruz, SS, RedsToolZac Veen, OF, Rockies
50Hit50
70Power55
70Run50
55Field60
70Arm50

FLASHBACK

Justin Verlander, RHP
2005, Florida State League

Category wins: Best Pitching Prospect, Best Fastball, Best Breaking Pitch, Best Control

Drafted second overall the year before, Verlander emerged as an elite prospect while making his pro debut with Lakeland of the Tigers system in 2005. He won the minor league ERA title with a 1.29 mark that season, spending most of it in the FSL going 9-2 with a 1.67 ERA and 104 strikeouts and 19 walks in 86 innings.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Gavin Williams, RHP, Guardians

“He was 94-99 (mph) with a workhorse build. He was huge with a traditional overhand curve all to steal strikes. He has a power slider with an OK changeup. It was big stuff.  He was fine with command and control and should be able to throw enough strikes. Long levers. Some relief risk.”

—Anonymous pro scout

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