Identifying Best Raw Power Prospects In Minor League Baseball
Who has the best raw power in the minor leagues?
Using what data I have available to me I set out to identify the best raw power hitters in the minors.
I needed to measure a few things: who hit the ball the hardest, the furthest and in the air with the greatest frequency. I settled on a sample of batters who had a 90th percentile exit velocity above 106 mph, an average exit velocity over 90 mph, an estimated flyball distance average of 315 feet or greater and a flyball rate above 35%.
This left me with 19 hitters who qualified for this list. Nine have already been covered in previous stat dives, particularly the power and OBP post from a few weeks back. I have listed those nine at the bottom of this article. The remaining 10 are listed below.
Players are listed in order of 2021 wRC+
Anthony Garcia, OF, Yankees—The 6-foot-5 switch-hitting slugger is the owner of some of the highest exit velocities in the lower levels as well as one of the few players to average above an estimated 340 feet on fly balls. With the length of his levers there are significant swing-and-miss concerns, but the slugger showed improvement in this area during the 2021 season. Garcia is a name to watch in 2022 as he should see extended time at full-season levels.
Mauro Bonifacio, OF, Yankees—Yet another powerful giant in the Yankees system, Bonifacio, like Garcia, has top-of-the-scale power and serious swing-and-miss concerns. Of players on this list who are 20 years old or younger only three players hit the ball harder with more consistency than Bonifacio—Anthony Garcia, the Guardians' Jhonkensy Noel and the Yankees' Everson Pereira.
Dermis Garcia, 1B, Athletics—The slugger’s prodigious power and arm strength have kept him in the public consciousness despite struggling to make enough impact for a majority of his career. He hit minor league free agency this offseason and signed with Oakland. Of players featured on this list Garcia ranked within the top five in estimated average flyball distance, flyball rate and 90th percentile exit velocity.
Jhonkensy Noel, 3B/1B, Guardians—There may not be a player 20 years or younger in affiliated ball that has as much raw power as Noel. The Guardians infielder was added to the 40-man roster in November in large part due to his plus-plus power and ability to hit for contact with impact. Noel needs to show in 2022 that he can hit more advanced pitching despite an extremely aggressive plate approach.
Alex Binelas, 1B/3B, Red Sox—It’s been a roller coaster year for Binelas, who went from highly rated potential draftee to underperforming college star. A Wisconsin native, Binelas was selected by his hometown Brewers in the third round of the 2021 draft. He made his full-season debut with Carolina after just seven games in the Arizona Complex League and performed well in Low-A out of the draft, showing power and on-base ability. Following the season Binelas was included in the pre-lockout trade with Boston that sent Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee. Now with a new organization, Binelas enters his first full season as a professional.
Curtis Terry, 1B, Twins—The big-bodied first baseman made his major league debut last summer for the Rangers on the heels of a hot start in Triple-A. He ended up designated for assignment this offseason and elected free agency, eventually signing with the Twins. He has the highest contact rate of any player on this list, and is more contact based in his approach than many sluggers with his raw power. It’s a difficult profile to project as Terry is bound for first base defensively. With the addition of the National League DH, players of Terry’s ilk have more opportunities than ever at the big league level. It will be worth monitoring how Terry handles his opportunities in the future as players of his archetype often break into the majors full time at an older age.
Jake Burger, 3B, White Sox—After missing three consecutive seasons, two due to consecutive Achilles injuries as well as the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season, Burger finally returned to competitive baseball in 2021. The former first-rounder performed well for Triple-A Charlotte early and earned a promotion to the majors in early July. He saw limited opportunities with the White Sox but he retains rookie eligibility heading into 2022. Burger makes average contact and has an aggressive approach but is blessed with some of the best raw power in the upper minors.
Evan Edwards, 1B, Rays—A former fourth-round draft pick of the Marlins back in 2019, Edwards was acquired by the Rays in the trade that sent John Curtiss to Miami last February. The former North Carolina State star spent his season as an older slugger in the Low-A Midwest League, where Edwards hit for power and showed advanced plate discipline but struggled to make contact. His combination of on-base skills and huge raw power makes him interesting, but his lack of bat-to-ball skills make his future as a potential major leaguer uncertain.
Prospect Report: Christopher Morel, Nelson Velazquez Go Yard For Cubs
Velazquez and Morel had multi-hit games and Jose Barrero added two hits.
Elijah Cabell, OF, Cardinals—One of two 2021 draftees to crack this list, Cabell has legendary raw power but struggled to make consistent contact as an amateur. The song remains the same based on the data from his professional debut. He has the lowest contact rate of any player on this list, but some of the loudest raw power. Significant improvements in this area are needed for Cabell to consistently tap into his raw power in games and prove himself to be more than organizational depth with loud tools.
Christopher Morel, SS, Cubs—Of all the names listed, Morel is the one that surprised me the most. While I was aware of his power, I didn’t realize how much hard flyball contact Morel made. His .276 batting average on balls in play at Double-A in 2021 is somewhat unlucky, particularly for a player with plus power and running ability. These qualities and his brush of potential bad luck in 2021 make Morel an interesting breakout pick for 2022.
Other names that qualified: Everson Pereira (Yankees), Trey Cabbage (Twins), Niko Hulsizer (Rays), Joey Wiemer (Brewers), Luis Campusano (Padres), Shea Langeliers (Athletics), Kyle Stowers (Orioles), Tyreque Reed (Red Sox), Aaron Sabato (Twins).