42 Players Making Significant Jumps Up Top 30 Prospects Lists
With the minor league season heating up we’re updating Top 30 lists for all 30 teams. Below are East Division prospects who made a big jump in our latest update.
Royber Salinas RHP (Moves up from No. 30 to No. 16)
After starting the season in Low-A Augusta, Salinas saw a promotion to High-A Rome within the first month, after striking out 55.9% of the batters he faced in his first five starts of the season. Salinas attacks batters with a powerful mid-to-high-90s fastball with plus vertical movement, pairing that with two different breaking balls in a tight mid-80s slider and an upper-70s-to-low-80s downer curveball. An unusual operation adds deception to Salinas’ release point and also makes his command questionable for stretches. Salinas has some of the loudest stuff in the Atlanta system and is a player that’s moving up the rankings.
Brandol Mezquita, OF (Moves up from No. 26 to No. 20)
An aggressive hitter blessed with loud tools, Mezquita has shown signs of putting it all together. Scouts like his combination of explosiveness and a swing conducive for hard flyball contact. The 20-year-old is holding his own in his first taste of full-season ball while showing the ability to play everywhere in the outfield including center.
Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B (Moves in at No. 30)
A contact-over-power corner infield bat, Malloy has the raw power to potentially unlock another gear of game power in the coming years. He’s played mostly third base as a professional but may see some time at first base and in left field. He’s shown solid actions at third and arm strength, but there are some questions around his instincts and internal clock at third.
Coby Mayo, 3B (Moves up from No. 10 to No. 5)
After a strong start to his professional career last season, Mayo has continued the trend by producing strong results over the first month of the season. Instead of returning to Low-A Delmarva, Mayo was assigned to High-A Aberdeen. The third baseman has handled his aggressive assignment by continuing to show his above-average contact, power and plate discipline. Internally many in the organization view Mayo as the third best position player in the system behind Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson.
Hudson Haskin, OF (Moves up from No. 22 to No. 14)
Coming into the 2020 draft the Orioles were extremely high internally on Haskin, with one member of the organization remarking they had a “first round grade” on Haskin coming into the draft. Haskin is an aggressive hitter with a contact-first profile, plus running ability and a center field profile. After a strong debut professional season in 2021, Haskin made a swing change coming into 2022 and adjusted his approach at the plate. Haskin cut his chase rate by nearly a third and started to hit the ball in the air more consistently. The outfielder hit five home runs over 83 games in 2021 and already has four over 22 games in 2022.
Cesar Prieto, 2B (Moves up from No. 25 to No. 15)
Signed this January out of Cuba, Prieto was assigned to High-A Aberdeen this spring and has been a standout over the first month of play. His combination of advanced plate approach, bat-to-ball skills and game power led to a .328/.378/.701 slash line over the first month of play. Preito also slugged seven home runs over the first 18 games while showcasing above-average exit velocity numbers. Preito was billed as a hit-over-power prospect when coming over from Cuba. It was noted in his report this offseason that Prieto had added 15-20 pounds of muscle, and that added strength is paying off in the form of increased power production. With a strong track record as a young player in Cuba’s highest professional league, Serie Nacional, and the early stateside returns, it’s reasonable to think Prieto could continue his climb up the Orioles rankings in coming months.
John Rhodes, OF (Moves up from No. 24 to No. 18)
Under the Mike Elias front office the Orioles have done a good job of targeting hitters in the draft with power and strong swing decision profiles. Like so many of the positional prospects in this system, Rhodes fits that mold. Rhodes has made strides as a contact hitter and now is showing both a selective approach and the ability to take advantage of mistakes in the zone. With the improvements in bat-to-ball and an already present approach, Rhodes is a player the organization holds in high esteem.
Felix Bautista, RHP (Moves onto list at No. 23)
After years of flashing tantalizing stuff in the minors, Bautista took steps forward with his command in 2021, further refining it coming into this spring, so much so he broke camp with the major league team. The early returns have been very strong as Bautista is sitting in the upper 90s with his fastball, mixing in his slider and splitter and throwing everything for strikes. Bautista is a full-time reliever, but one that should graduate this summer.
Darell Hernaiz, SS (Moves onto list at No. 26)
The combination of contact and power present in Hernaiz’s bat has made many take notice early in 2022. Drafted out of the Texas prep ranks in the fifth round of 2019, Hernaiz produced a solid line in his 2021 full-season debut but he lacked game power. With strength gains made over the offseason, Hernaiz is showing the ability to hit and hit for impact.
Robert Neustrom, OF (Moves from No. 33 in offseason to No. 27)
Left off of the 40-man roster this offseason, Neustrom may have gone to another organization had the Rule 5 draft taken place. Instead he returned to Baltimore and has been impressive with Triple-A Norfolk early in the season. With his combination of contact, on-base ability, fringe-average power and baserunning skills, Neustrom has the potential to contribute for the Orioles at the big league level now.
Boston Red Sox
Brandon Walter, LHP (Moves up from No. 11 to No. 6)
Drafted in the 19th round of the 2019 draft out of Delaware after an injury-riddled amateur career, Walter made significant gains during the 2020 shutdown and has quickly emerged as one of the Red Sox best prospects. Over the first month of the 2022 season Walter didn’t walk a single batter over 23 innings while striking out 29 on the way to a 1.17 ERA. A late bloomer, Walter is 25 in Double-A in his second full minor league season, but the development of his three-pitch mix and the quality of his secondaries have boosted his prospect status. Walter combines the ability to drive weak ground ball contact on his low-90s sinker, while driving loads of swinging strikes against his low-80s sweeper slider and his plus changeup. It’s not unreasonable to think Walter could see starts for the Red Sox this summer.
Bryan Hoeing, RHP (Moves onto list at No. 21)
Hoeing, 25, is an athletic righthander who closed the 2021 season with an exceptional August at High-A Beloit, where he went 2-0, 1.00 over five starts in the penultimate month. He got in better shape over the offseason and has shown tremendous improvement in his stuff. His early outings have shown huge groundball numbers thanks to an impressive sinking fastball. He combines the fastball with a downer breaking ball that has taken a jump because of a tweak to the grip and increased pressure on his middle finger. Hoeing was athletic enough to earn looks as a basketball prospect out of high school, and that same athleticism has helped him show impressive command of his arsenal. In an already pitching-rich system, Hoeing has put his name on the radar.
Josh Simpson, LHP (Moves onto list at No. 22)
Simpson, whom the Marlins took in the 32nd round in 2019 out of Columbia, has been one of the most intriguing relievers in the minors. He uses a fastball that has peaked around 96 mph this season as well as a wicked breaking ball to whiff around 16 hitters per nine innings. The Marlins’ system is flush with starting pitching prospects, but Simpson is a pretty darn good bullpen option as well.
New York Mets
Alex Ramirez, OF (Moves from No. 6 to No. 5)
Low-A St. Lucie center fielder Alex Ramirez moved up one place to No. 5 in the Mets' system based on a torrid first 25 games that included a Florida State League-leading 41 hits. Ramirez is a smooth athlete who was making more contact and hitting the ball with more authority in 2022. His strikeout rate has shrunk from 31% last season to 19% early this year, though his walk rate is low (4%) and BABIP high (.452), which is a recipe for batting average regression. As Ramirez matures and potentially adds power, his stock could soar.
New York Yankees
Everson Pereira, OF (Moves from No. 11 to No. 3)
The early portion of Pereira's career was stalled somewhat by injuries and then the pandemic, and as a result he had just 59 games and 257 plate appearances entering the 2021 season. He zoomed up the ladder to High-A Hudson Valley, where he returned to begin this season. He showed hints of his potential last season, and those tools have been even louder in 2022. Scouts outside the organization peg Pereira as a potential five-tool player with a loose, quick swing capable of plenty of thump. His plate discipline will need to be tightened, but he could be an average hitter as well. Defensively, he would be fine in center field but would also profile in left field if he had to move over in deference to a better outfielder. With his gains, Pereira now fits with Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza as the clear top group among the Yankees' positional prospects.
Beck Way, RHP (Moves from No. 27 to No. 12)
Way’s rise has been among the biggest in the system among pitchers. His mid-to-upper-90s fastball has earned grades as high as double-plus, and his slider is good enough to blow away hitters in High-A. He’s worked hard to keep his timing in check and in sync because his arm is quick. When everything works in harmony, Way has the stuff to give him a chance to be at least an impact reliever.
JP Sears, RHP (Moves from No. 28 to No. 22)
The reliever, whom the Yankees acquired from the Mariners for Nick Rumbelow in 2017, has gradually improved to the point where he made his big league debut. He parks his fastball in the mid 90s and pairs it with an excellent pair of offspeeds in his mid-80s changeup and low-80s slider.
Anthony Garcia, 1B/OF (Moves from No. 29 to No. 23)
Garcia’s power has always been among the most impressive in the system. Now, as he’s sharpened his plate discipline and swing decisions, he’s accessed that power more often. He walks nearly as often as he strikes out, and has shown prodigious power with 12 home runs in 63 Low-A games over the last two seasons. He’s going to have to mash, however, since his likely defensive home is at first base.
Jhony Brito, RHP (Moves from unranked No. 24)
Brito’s rise comes because his stuff has ticked up a bit, including a fastball that has peaked at 98 this season. He’s one of the best strike-throwers in the organization and has excellent command of his pitch mix, especially his impressive fastball-changeup combination. Now, he and the Yankees are working on improving his breaking stuff to make him a more complete pitcher.
Will Warren, RHP (Moves from unranked No. 27)
The Yankees’ eighth-rounder in 2021 out of Southeastern Louisiana didn’t pitch at all after signing and instead went to work overhauling his arsenal. He’s added a two-seamer and slider since turning pro, and the results have been tremendous. Through five starts, Warren’s two-seamer was getting grounders at a 92% clip and he’d shown impressive spin on his slider. Through those same five starts, Warren’s groundout-to-airout rate was an absurd 14-to-1.
Juan Carela, RHP (Moves from unranked No. 29)
Carela was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2018 and has been one of the more intriguing arms in the Yankees’ lower minors this season. His fastball sits in the low 90s and he’s seen improvements in the quality of his slider thanks to a change in grip. His version is not the same as the typically sweepier slider thrown throughout the Yankees’ system, but rather a shorter, tighter pitch. He’s working on honing the rest of his arsenal as well, including his two-seam fastball.
Chandler Champlain, RHP (Moves from unranked to No. 30)
The Yankees selected Champlain in the ninth round of the 2021 draft out of Southern California and have seen positive early returns. Evaluators both inside and outside the system have pegged Champlain as an eye-opener in the early going. He can run his fastball into the mid 90s and pairs it with a high-spin curveball
Francisco Morales, RHP (Moves from No. 28 to No. 9)
Morales had a disastrous 2021 season as a 21-year-old at Double-A, posting a 6.94 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in 83 innings in his first taste of the upper minors. While he still showcased two plus or better pitches in his mid-90s fastball and hard, mid-80s slider, he struggled to repeat his delivery and throw consistent strikes. Morales made a move to the bullpen ahead of the 2022 season and the results have been impressive to start the campaign, as he allowed one earned run in 16.1 innings while striking out 28 at Reading. Morales was rewarded for his play by receiving a promotion to the big leagues on May 8. He will need to show he can make adjustments over the course of the season, but it looks like the Phillies might have found their closer of the future with the power-armed righthander.
Jadiel Sanchez, OF (Moves from unranked to No. 21)
The 2019 12th-rounder only had 38 games of professional experience coming into the season, but he hasn’t missed a beat at Low-A Clearwater. Sanchez has an exciting blend of tools, with a smooth swing that stays on plane, above-average power potential and solid defense in center field with a plus arm, although he likely fits better in a corner.
Hao Yu Lee, 2B (Moves from No. 27 to No. 19)
One of the best pure hitters in the system, Lee has continued to show off his standout tool as a 19-year-old at Low-A. Lee has a quick swing, makes frequent contact and has surprising pop for a player his size.
Darick Hall, 1B (Moves from unranked to No. 28)
Hall has some of the best raw power in the minor leagues, with exit velocities topping out at 119 mph and a 90th percentile exit velocity of 109.7 mph in the month of April. He’s a candidate to split time at first base and DH for the Phillies this summer.
Erubiel Armenta, LHP (Moves from unranked to No. 30)
Armenta had an impressive pro debut in 2021, rising three levels while striking out 49 batters in 23 innings. Thus far in 2022 he’s struggled with his control, but still managed to start the year with 14 strikeouts in seven innings at High-A Jersey Shore thanks to his low-90s fastball and plus, mid-70s changeup.
Pontes Of View: May 11
We dive in deep to each start, mixing in some discussion of the pitcher’s arsenal, pitch shape, velocity and overall future role.
Tampa Bay Rays
Austin Shenton, 3B (Moves up from No. 18 to No. 13)
Shenton’s move up is more a factor of some other prospects moving down. He’s off to a slow start at Double-A Montgomery, but still projects as a bat-first corner infielder.
Jonathan Aranda 2B/1B (Moves up from No. 19 to No. 14)
Aranda’s defensive limitations may limit his MLB role, but his ability to consistently drive the ball is going to get him to Tampa Bay. Aranda has had no trouble so far making the adjustment to facing Triple-A pitching.
Kameron Misner, OF (Moves up from No. 22 to No. 15)
Misner's swing is a little all-or-nothing, but he hits the ball extremely hard and his athleticism and speed fit well with the Rays' desire to have outfielders who can impact the game offensively and defensively.
Osleivis Basabe, 2B/SS (Moves up from 25 to No. 18)
As of May 12, Basabe is a career .312 hitter who is topping those numbers this year. He’s a versatile infielder whose bat should lead the way to the majors.
Mason Montgomery, LHP (Moves from No. 32 on preseason list to No. 19)
Montgomery's ability to get swings and misses with his 90-94 mph fastball up in the zone helped him dominate in a short stint in the Florida Complex League last year. It was just as effective in spring training, which led the Rays to push him to High-A Bowling Green. Montgomery has a little hitch in his delivery that seems to throw off hitters' timing. He has a developing changeup and a usable slider and has quickly become one of the team's more promising young starters.
Heriberto Hernandez, OF (Moves from No. 28 to No. 22)
Hernandez hits the ball as hard as almost anyone in the Rays system. He’s a pure corner outfielder in an organization that values players who can play center field as well as the corners, but he has enough power that the Rays may be willing to make an exception.
Jose Lopez, LHP (Moves from unranked to No. 25)
Lopez isn't on the 40-man roster, but if the Rays need additional bullpen help later this year, he's one of the more promising options in the system. A swingman earlier in his career, Lopez has embraced a full-time bullpen role. A bigger-bodied lefty, Lopez hides the ball well in his delivery. He works to three quadrants of the strike zone, working up and away to righthanded hitters and up and in to lefties with a mid-90s fastball. He pairs that with a low-80s slider that breaks down and away from lefties and in off the plate to righties. Lopez is effective against both righties and lefties, giving him a solid shot to be a two-pitch reliever who can pitch in the late innings of games.
Patrick Wicklander, LHP (Moves from unranked to No. 28)
Wicklander emerged as Arkansas' Friday starter in 2021 after bouncing between different roles for much of his college career. As a pro, the Rays are focused on developing him as a starter, and so far he's impressed at Low-A Charleston. Considering his time in the Southeastern Conference, Wicklander should soon be ready for more advanced hitters. His low-90s fastball is a potentially above-average pitch thanks to its life and its flat plane. He relies on an above-average slider, but also mixes in a slow curve and a changeup. His above-average control helps all of his pitches play up.
Alexander Ovalles, OF (Moves from unranked to No. 29)
The Rays love to collect hitters with excellent bat-to-ball skills and an understanding of the strike zone. Ovalles fits both of those descriptions. Acquired with Heriberto Hernandez in the December 2020 trade that sent Nate Lowe to Texas, Ovalles relies on a very patient approach, working counts and showing average power when he gets a pitch he likes.
Toronto Blue Jays
Ricky Tiedemann, LHP (Moves up from No. 7 to No. 4)
Few pitchers have had a louder entrance to pro ball than Tiedemann this spring. Drafted out of Golden West JC in the third round last July, Tiedemann allowed just four runs to cross the plate over his first five starts, striking out 42.4% of the batters he faced. He deploys a three-pitch mix led by a mid-to-upper-90s four-seam fastball that gets a ton of horizontal break from his low slot. He pairs that with a sweepy, low-80s slider and a plus changeup that drops off the table. It’s a pitch mix that covers the entirety of the zone with its movement, keeping batters uncomfortable in the box. Opposing scouts have been emphatic in their praise of Tiedemann, putting plus grades on all of the pitches in his arsenal.
Hayden Juenger, RHP (Moves onto the list at No. 10)
Scouts have been overwhelmingly positive in their praise of Juenger and his place inside the Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects. Juenger spent his draft spring coming out of the Missouri State bullpen, and followed that in his professional debut by making 11 relief appearances for High-A Vancouver. Aggressively assigned to Double-A New Hampshire out of spring training, Toronto has been using Juenger as a three-inning opener and he’s continued to show the same elite stuff in longer intervals. He pairs a mid-90s fastball with good shape that plays when elevated with a mid-80s slider and a changeup that looks plus.
Adrian Hernandez, RHP (Moves from No. 29 to No. 23)
A changeup-first righthander who throws his changeup more than his fastball is a baseball oddity. Hernandez is making it work out of the Triple-A Buffalo bullpen and is knocking on the door of a promotion to the majors should the opportunity arise.
Trent Palmer, RHP (Moves from No. 36 on preseason list to No. 26)
Drafted out of Jacksonville in the third round of the 2020 draft, Palmer has an unusual operation that creates a substantial amount of horizontal movement on his pitches. It also limits his command to fringe-average. Many scouts, however, rank Palmer’s stuff as some of the best in the system. It’s an unusual look that may ultimately end up in the bullpen long term, but he’s shown moments of brilliance as a starter.
Seth Shuman, RHP (Moves from No. 31 to No. 29)
Shuman showed the ability to handle innings over the course of 2021, making 19 starts and holding his improved velocity. The Nationals have been waiting for everything to click for the righty. While he’s sustained his velocity, his consistency has wavered. Over the first month of the High-A season, two of his four starts lasted less than two innings. Washington still believes he has the potential to fill a back-of-the-rotation role, but he will need to improve his command.
TJ White, OF (Moves from No. 34 to No. 30)
After an impressive campaign at the Rookie level, White was promoted to Low-A this season. His power from both sides of the plate has continued to develop, as he slashed .302/.388/.535 across the first month of play. One concern for White is his 34.6% strikeout rate. Though he is striking out at a higher rate than last year, he is making good swing decisions, swinging at strikes and doing damage when he connects. He’s chasing outside of the zone at a much lower rate (22% chase rate), which is what the Nationals hoped would happen with reps. He's produced solid exit velocity that is sitting around big league average at 88 mph at just 18 years old. Scouts are high on White to be an electric bat in the middle of the order with more development.