Five Players Who Could Rise Up The Top 100 Prospects In 2022
Every year, players rise up the Top 100 rankings as they improve their skill sets, perform against better competition and answer whatever lingering questions remain in evaluators' minds. In many cases, the transformation a player makes from the end of one season to the start of the next is substantial and results in a quick rise up the rankings as soon as the season starts.
The 2022 Top 100 Prospects features a host of players who have the talent to rise up the rankings over the next year. Here are five players in the back half of this year's Top 100 who have a particularly strong chance if they go out and perform as expected.
Taj Bradley, RHP, Rays
Top 100 Rank: 58
A fifth-round pick out of Redan (Stone Mountain, Ga.) High in 2018, Bradley has blossomed in the way every team dreams of when they draft a projectable high school righthander. His 90-93 mph fastball has ticked up to 94-97 mph, he has developed a tight, vicious slider in the upper 80s that he can land for strikes or get chase swings with, his changeup has rapidly progressed and he’s made improvements to his delivery to consistently pound the strike zone with above-average control. He led the minor leagues with a 1.83 ERA in 2021 and earns frequent comparisons to Chris Archer, except with a sturdier frame and better command and control. As long as Bradley stays healthy and continues his progress against upper-level hitters, he’ll rise quickly up the rankings in 2022.
Jeremy Peña, SS, Astros
Top 100 Rank: 72
Peña was known as a slick-fielding but light-hitting shortstop when the Astros drafted him in the third round out of Maine in 2018. After hitting better than expected during his first full season, he used the 2020 coronavirus shutdown to get stronger and transformed into a more dangerous, impactful hitter without sacrificing any of his agility at shortstop. He hit .297/.363/.579 with 10 home runs in 37 games after he returned from a fractured wrist in 2021, mostly at a pitcher’s park at Triple-A Sugar Land, and now projects as a no-doubt shortstop who hits for both average and power. With Carlos Correa expected to leave in free agency, Peña is in position to take over as the Astros everyday shortstop in 2022 and has the talent to at least soften the blow of losing a franchise player.
Luis Matos, OF, Giants
Top 100 Rank: 73
Matos teamed with Marco Luciano at Low-A San Jose in 2021 and often outperformed his more touted counterpart. Matos hit for a higher average (.315 vs. .278), had a lower strikeout rate (12% vs. 22%) and showed he was more likely to stay in the middle of the field with his play in center field compared to Luciano’s at shortstop, leading some evaluators both inside and outside the Giants organization to say they prefer Matos of the two. Matos has some work to do improving his breaking ball recognition and not chasing bad pitches early in counts, but his advanced pure contact skills, strength to drive balls to all fields and underrated athleticism give him the tools to make a substantial jump in 2022.
Jackson Jobe, RHP, Tigers
Top 100 Rank: 79
High school righthanders are a risky demographic, but even those who are usually averse to high school righties glow about Jobe’s potential. The 2021 BA High School Player of the Year and third overall pick in the draft shows the potential for three plus pitches out of a clean, low-effort delivery and still has room to get stronger in his athletic, 6-foot-2 frame. His combination of mid-90s velocity, elite spin rates and polished control is rare for any pitcher and made him one of the best high school pitchers in recent memory in the eyes of his biggest proponents. The Tigers opted not to send Jobe out to an affiliate after signing him, but once the Oklahoma native makes his pro debut in 2022, it may not be long before he establishes himself as one of baseball’s most promising pitching prospects.
Colton Cowser, OF, Orioles
Top 100 Rank: 98
The fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft, Cowser hit .354 in a decorated college career at Sam Houston State and continued to rake with a .375/.490/.492 slash line in his brief pro debut. While he put up those numbers in a mid-major college conference and his pro debut came against complex league and Low-A competition, there is little doubt he will hit at higher levels with his sweet lefthanded swing, exceptional strike-zone discipline and growing power. Add in plus speed and a chance to stay in center field, and Cowser has the attributes to rise quickly as long as he continues to prove he can hit against more advanced pitching, with a strong likelihood that he will.