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



Best tools winners are voted on by league managers.

CategoryCalifornia Carolina 
Florida State 
Best Batting ProspectJordan LawlarJackson ChourioHao Yu Lee
 Visalia (D-backs)Carolina (Brewers)
Clearwater (Phillies)
Best Power ProspectHunter GoodmanNiko Kavadas
 Fresno (Rockies)Salem (Red Sox)
Fort Myers (Twins)
Best Strike-Zone JudgmentAustin GauthierHendry MendezEmmanuel Rodriguez
 Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers)Carolina (Brewers)
Fort Myers (Twins)
Best BaserunnerMax FergusonShane Sasaki
 Lake Elsinore (Padres)Charleston (Rays)
St. Lucie (Mets)
Fastest BaserunnerWilderd PatinoLuis ValdezJay Allen
 Visalia (D-backs)Delmarva (Orioles)
Daytona (Reds)
Best Pitching ProspectRonan KoppMiguel Ullola
 Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers)Fayetteville (Astros)
Clearwater (Phillies)
Best FastballAndrew MooreEmiliano Teodo
 Modesto (Mariners)Down East (Rangers)
Clearwater (Phillies)
Best Breaking PitchLanden RouppWill DionDavid Festa
 San Jose (Giants)Lynchburg (Guardians)
Fort Myers (Twins)
Best ChangeupJose CruzLuis Devers
 San Jose (Giants)Myrtle Beach (Cubs)
Dunedin (Blue Jays)
Best ControlKyle VirbitskyWill DionLuis Palacios
 Stockton (Athletics)Lynchburg (Guardians)
Jupiter (Marlins)
Best RelieverJose CruzJose Ferrer
 San Jose (Giants)Fredericksburg (Nationals)
Clearwater (Phillies)
Best Defensive CBraxton FulfordJeferson Quero
 Fresno (Rockies)Carolina (Brewers)
Clearwater (Phillies)
Best Defensive 1BRobert PerezWill BartlettRainer Nuñez
 Modesto (Mariners)Lynchburg (Guardians)
Dunedin (Blue Jays)
Best Defensive 2BJuan BritoBrainer BonaciJose Salas
 Fresno (Rockies)Salem (Red Sox)
Jupiter (Marlins)
Best Defensive 3BWarming BernabelWilly VasquezKeoni Cavaco
 Fresno (Rockies)Charleston (Rays)
Fort Myers (Twins)
Best Defensive SSAeverson ArteagaMarcelo MayerNoah Miller
 San Jose (Giants)Salem (Red Sox)
Fort Myers (Twins)
Best Infield ArmAeverson ArteagaCarson WilliamsNoah Miller
 San Jose (Giants)Charleston (Rays)
Fort Myers (Twins)
Best Defensive OFGrant McCrayPete Crow-ArmstrongAlex Ramirez
 San Jose (Giants)Myrtle Beach (Cubs)
St. Lucie (Mets)
Best OF ArmYanquiel FernandezJeremy De La RosaCarlos Dominguez
 Fresno (Rockies)Fredericksburg (Nationals)
St. Lucie (Mets)
Most Exciting PlayerEdwin ArroyoJackson ChourioEmmanuel Rodriguez
 Modesto (Mariners)Carolina (Brewers)
Fort Myers (Twins)
Best Manager ProspectLipso NavaJake LoweryAngel Espada
San Jose (Giants)Fredericksburg (Nationals)
Jupiter (Marlins)

CHOURIO GOES MAINSTREAM

Few prospects rocket into the mainstream like Brewers 18-year-old outfielder Jackson Chourio has done this season.

The youngest player in the full-season minor leagues in the first half, Chourio has exhibited twitch, power and barrel control well beyond his years. He hit .324/.373/.600 with 12 home runs in 62 games with Low-A Carolina before moving to High-A Wisconsin on Aug. 17.

Chourio’s ability to generate power that would rank above-average in MLB is nearly unheard of for a player this young. His average exit velocity of 89.2 mph would rank among the top 80.

Chourio’s ability to make hard contact is uncanny. His 18% barrel rate would rank within the top 20 in MLB. This is particularly remarkable when considering his overzealous approach. He was swinging at more than half of pitches he was seeing, while still managing to make hard contact at a rate typically reserved for MLB’s most conservative swingers. This puts Chourio’s fringe-average strikeout rate and contact rate in perspective.

Hitters typically do two things as they gain experience. They add strength and improve their plate discipline. When we consider that Chourio is the same age as the recent high school draftees, it’s easy to anticipate both added strength gains and improvement in swing decisions in the coming years.

—Geoff Pontes

YOUNG PAINTER ALREADY PITCHES LIKE AN ARTIST

High-ride fastball. Sweeper slider.

These pitch type subgenres have infiltrated the baseball lexicon in recent years to the point where pitchers have looked to add not just power or velocity to their fastball but ride or “hop.”

Similarly, all levels of baseball have seen a rise in the flatter, sweepy sliders with dramatic break to the pitcher’s glove side. While many strive to combine the two pitches, few have been able to execute them quite like Phillies 19-year-old righthander Andrew Painter.

Painter’s four-seam fastball averaged 96 mph in 2022 and was clocked as high as 101. What he does well transcends just his raw velocity, because he spins the ball at an above-average rate on a spin axis that creates a heavy amount of ride or vertical break on his four-seam fastball.

Painter’s combination of ride and velocity would stand out among MLB pitchers. His 96 mph average velocity and 18-inch induced vertical break would compare to just two MLB starting pitchers: Gerrit Cole and Dylan Cease. That’s high praise for a teenager in his first full pro season.

While a great fastball is important, a starting pitcher must possess a primary secondary weapon of above-average or better quality. Painter’s slider fits the bill. It’s one of the best sweeping sliders in the minors. The pitch sits 81-83 mph and has been clocked as high as 86 with more than a foot of horizontal break to his glove side. He spins the pitch well, generating above-average spin rates in the range of 2,400 to 2,600 rpms.

Painter’s 40% rate of called strikes plus whiffs is notable. This above-average rate shows Painter’s ability to both command his slider and fool hitters to chase. This powerful one-two punch of velocity and movement has propelled Painter from Low-A to High-A and finally to Double-A on Aug. 21.

—Geoff Pontes

BANNER SHORTSTOP CROP TURNED HEADS ACROSS CAL LEAGUE

As scouts across the West fanned out for California League coverage this year, they quickly came to a realization.

“All eight shortstops in the league this year are prospects,” one National League scout said in May. “That’s rare to see, especially in Low-A. Every one of these guys is a real prospect.”

The bumper crop of shortstops has been the defining characteristic of the 2022 Cal League season.

• Visalia’s Jordan Lawlar, the No. 6 pick in last year’s draft, electrified the league before a July promotion to High-A Hillsboro.

• Modesto’s Edwin Arroyo, Fresno’s Adael Amador and Lake Elsinore’s Jackson Merrill all surged on to the BA’s Midseason Top 100 Prospects list with standout showings.

• Rancho Cucamonga’s Alex De Jesus posted an .881 OPS before earning a quick promotion to High-A Great Lakes, where he continued to hit for average and power before being traded to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline.

• San Jose’s Aeverson Arteaga impressed with surprising pop and plus defense at 19 years old, earning Best Defensive Shortstop and Best Infield Arm in Best Tools balloting.

• Even the two shortstops who struggled statistically, Stockton’s Max Muncy and Inland Empire’s Arol Vera, showed enough to remain intriguing—Muncy with his ability to hit a fastball and exceptional work ethic, Vera with his advanced defensive instincts and mature at-bats.

“It’s just been a bunch of them that are really, really good,” Fresno manager Robinson Cancel said. “They’re really talented guys. If you look around the league, every single one of them is really good.”

The biggest mover of all was Arroyo. Drafted in the second round by the Mariners last year out of Central Point Christian Academy (Kissimmee, Fla.) High, Arroyo was largely regarded as an athletic, glove-first shortstop with a light bat, even by Mariners officials internally.

Instead, he hit .302/.378/.490 with 13 home runs, 70 RBIs and 25 stolen bases as a switch-hitting 18-year old in 94 games with Modesto. Combined with plus defense and plus arm strength at shortstop, the performance vaulted Arroyo into a consensus standing as the league’s second-best prospect behind only Lawlar, with some evaluators considering the two nearly even.

On the strength of that showing, the Reds acquired him as part of the four-player package for Luis Castillo at the trade deadline.

“Just staying chill at the plate,” Arroyo said was the source of his offensive breakout. “Wait for your pitch, don’t be anxious, that’s pretty much what I’ve been feeling. Now when I feel it, I know, and I just stay chillin’.”

Most remarkable was Arroyo’s power. At the time he was traded, he was tied for sixth in the Cal League with 13 home runs despite being the league’s third-youngest player and playing his home games at cavernous John Thurman Field, the league’s most home run-stifling environment.

“I think he’s stronger on that topic than a lot of people know,” Modesto manager Austin Knight said. “We pride ourselves on swing decisions and he has improved in that area. When you make good decisions plus you have skill and you start to hit the ball hard, it’s on.”

Lawlar, Arroyo and the rest of the shortstop crop still have a long way to go to reach the major leagues, but their talent is widely apparent. If nothing else, 2022 will be remembered as the year of the shortstop in the Cal League.

—Kyle Glaser

Jackson Chourio (Brian Westerholt Four Seam Images)

2023 Brewers Top 10 Prospects Podcast

Kyle Glaser and Ben Badler break down the Milwaukee Brewers farm system.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Twins

Few prospects receive votes in as many different categories as Fort Myers center fielder Emmanuel Rodriguez did in the Florida State League this year.

Rodriguez won the Best Power Prospect, Best Strike-Zone Judgment and Most Exciting Player categories. The 19-year-old Twins prospect also received votes for Best Batting Prospect.

Before injuring his knee on June 8 and having season-ending surgery, Rodriguez hit .272/.493/.552 with nine home runs and 11 stolen bases in 47 games. His 28.6% walk rate was the highest for any player in the full-season minor leagues.

Rodriguez has promising tools that he was able to unlock by making changes to his approach this season. He cut his chase rate from an average 26% in 2021 to an elite 12% this season, effectively cutting the plate in half and looking to damage pitches he could drive.

This enabled Rodriguez to more consistently get to his carrying tool: power. His hard-hit angle dropped from 30 degrees to 25, a more optimal angle that helped him reduce popups and weak fly balls.

So by swinging less overall and reducing chase swings, Rodriguez was able to overcome below-average bat-to-ball skills by optimizing his plan of attack.

PROSPECT SHOWDOWN—Jordan Lawlar vs. Edwin Arroyo

Visalia’s Jordan Lawlar and Modesto’s Edwin Arroyo asserted themselves as the undisputed top two prospects in the California League this year before Lawlar was promoted to High-A and Arroyo was traded to the Reds. 

The teenage shortstops each hit over .300, slugged at least .500, stole 20 bases and displayed the athleticism and aptitude to stick at shortstop. Scouts with coverage across the league were split on who they think will be the better player, with some preferring Lawlar’s explosiveness and others preferring Arroyo’s polish and switch-hitting ability.

They all agree both have bright futures, and that the differences between them are small. Here is how they compare from a tools perspective.

Jordan Lawlar, SS, D-backs ToolEdwin Arroyo, SS, Reds
55Hit55
60Power55
60Run55
50Field65
55Arm60

FLASHBACK

Andruw Jones, OF, Braves
1995, South Atlantic League

Category wins: Best Batting, Best Power, Best Baserunner, Best Defensive OF, Most Exciting Player

Jones emerged as a generational prospect with Macon of the Braves system in 1995, winning his first of two straight Minor League Player of the Year awards. That season he hit .278/.372/.512 with 25 homers and 56 steals in 139 games as an 18-year-old in Low-A. Jones was in the majors for good a year later.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Aeverson Arteaga, SS, Giants

“He’ll be an everyday shortstop. Defensively he’s got a 60 arm and he’s going to grow into even more arm strength. His feet work, hands work, under control, throws on the run. He far exceeds his age with his skill set.”

“His internal clock is really good. Pure shortstop. His downside is going to be a utilityman on a championship team. Plus-plus defense in the middle of the field.”

—Anonymous pro scout

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