Geoff’s Breakout MLB Prospect Team For 2022

Image credit: Ian Lewis (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

A trip around the diamond for a team of prospects positioned for 2022 breakouts.


C Endy Rodriguez, Pirates 
High-A Greensboro • Age 22

Before long, Rodriguez won’t be a secret. With a strong combination of offensive and defensive skills, he might be the best catching prospect we’re not talking about. Expect a big year in 2022 from the 21-year-old catcher. 

Other catchers: Carter Jensen, Royals; Hunter Goodman, Rockies

1B Anthony Garcia, Yankees
Low-A Tampa • Age 21

Few players possess the level of raw power that Garcia does. A switch-hitting behemoth, Garcia’s exit velocity data rivals that of the Yankees’ powerful duo of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. There’s still concern around Garcia’s swing and miss, but his incremental improvements in that area over the last 24 months create optimism. 

Other first basemen: Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Twins; Alexander Mojica, Pirates

 2B Carlos Jorge, Reds
Extended spring training • Age 18

Jorge hit .346/.436/.579 with three home runs and 27 stolen bases in 47 games in the Dominican Summer League last season. His 174 wRC+ led all qualified 17-year-old DSL hitters. He has loud tools to back the numbers, headlined by a quick, simple swing, bat speed, feel to hit and plus-plus speed. Jorge is an intriguing lower-level talent with big upside. 

Other second baseman: Adrian Pinto, Blue Jays; Tyler Black, Brewers

3B A.J. Vukovich, D-backs
High-A Hillsboro • Age 20

A large-bodied slugger who is an excellent athlete for his size, Vukovich handled an aggressive assignment to full-season ball in 2021. Despite inconsistent production, he finished strong overall in the final two months. His approach still needs development ahead, but Vukovich possesses the plus-plus raw power to be an MLB slugger one day. 

Other third basemen: Andres Chaparro, Yankees; Casey Schmitt, Giants

 SS Jose Salas, Marlins
Low-A Jupiter • Age 19

Few players showed as well as Salas did on the Florida back fields this spring. He showcased quick hands and knack for the barrel from both sides of the plate. Ultimately, Salas could be an above-average hitting middle infielder with above-average power projection. He has the skills to push his way into the back end of the Top 100 Prospects by the end of 2022. 

Other shortstops: Trey Sweeney, Yankees; Jose Torres, Reds

OF Owen Caissie, Cubs 
High-A South Bend • Age 19

Acquired from the Padres in the Yu Darvish trade, Caissie is a Canadian-born slugger with plus-plus raw power. He showed both contact and on-base skills during his pro debut and is a good athlete for a larger-bodied slugger. After a strong debut in 2021, Caissie jumped straight to High-A on Opening Day and could break out as a Top 100 Prospect this season. 

OF Yanquiel Fernandez, Rockies
Low-A Fresno • Age 19

Fernandez features a picturesque lefthanded swing that packs plus power. He is one of the more exciting young players who broke camp in Low-A this spring. He was a standout performer in the Dominican Summer League last summer, hitting .333/.406/.531 with six home runs and 17 doubles in 54 games. 

OF Hendry Mendez, Brewers
Low-A Carolina • Age 18

Few teenagers in Rookie ball showed the advanced plate skills Mendez did in 2021, when he walked 17 times and struck out just 12 in 40 games. That total included just two strikeouts in 21 Dominican Summer League games, which forced the Brewers to move him to the Arizona Complex League. At present, Mendez is heavily hit-over-power, but look out if he begins to drive the ball with greater frequency. 

Other outfielders: Aaron Zavala, Rangers; Alex Ramirez, Mets; John Rhodes, Orioles; Petey Halpin, Guardians; Matt Koperniak, Cardinals

LHP Doug Nikhazy, Guardians
High-A Lake County • Age 22

A standout for Ole Miss over his three seasons on campus, Nikhazy made 33 collegiate starts and struck out 259 batters over 204.2 innings. He steadily added velocity as an amateur, and early reports indicate his velocity is up from his college days. With two different breaking pitches and a changeup, Nikhazy has a starter’s tool kit. 

RHP Bryce Miller, Mariners
High-A Everett • Age 23

Previously referenced for his plus-plus fastball, Miller throws a high-90s heater that was up to 100 mph in spring training with heavy ride and late life. His secondaries have some question marks, but he’s got time to iron out those pitches. 

LHP Nick Swiney, Giants
High-A Eugene • Age 23

Swiney possesses one of the best changeups in the lower minors. His ability to change eye levels and sell the pitch with arm speed makes his fastball/changeup combination deadly. After a fluke injury that kept Swiney inactive for most of 2021, the lefthander will look to make up for lost time in 2022. 

RHP Royber Salinas, Braves
Low-A Augusta • Age 21

An under-the-radar breakout candidate, Salinas showed well in his U.S. debut in 2021, striking out 67 in 39.1 innings. He struck out 11 of 18 batters faced in his first start for Augusta this season, indicating that he is a big arrow-up player for the Braves. Salinas’ big stuff jumps off the page. He has a mid-90s fastball with heavy ride and two breaking pitches with distinctive movement. He’s a high-strikeout pitcher with spotty command—but a lot of upside. 

Other pitchers: Ty Madden, Tigers; Maddux Bruns, Dodgers; Emmet Sheehan, Dodgers; Liam Norris, D-backs; Gordon Graceffo, Cardinals

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