Midseason Top 100 Prospects Risers And Fallers
Kyle Glaser, J.J. Cooper, Josh Norris and Geoff Pontes break down prospects who significantly raised their stock, took a step back or dropped out of the Top 100 in the midseason update.
Jackson Chourio, OF, Brewers
Why He Moved Up: Chourio has provided one of the best blends of tools and performance in the minors this season and is drawing consensus reviews as a future all-star. He has shown standout tools on both sides of the ball as well as an advanced ability to work counts, control the strike zone and consistently put good swings on the ball in all parts of the zone. Through his first 57 games at Low-A, he led the Carolina League with a .320 batting average while ranking second in slugging percentage (.601) and OPS (.972).
Gunnar Henderson, SS/3B, Orioles
Why He Moved Up: Henderson has rapidly ascended the minors without missing a beat and solidified himself as the Orioles next premium prospect after Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez. He has grown into a large, physical athlete with tremendous power but also speed that belies his size and gives him a chance to stick at shortstop. Even if he does move to third base, his bat will be enough to profile at the corner.
Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Rockies
Why He Moved Up: Tover showed exceptional defense and intriguing thump for his size in his full-season debut last year, but his aggressive approach and strength questions led to divided opinions about if he’d hit enough at higher levels to be an everyday player.
Those questions are now gone. After maturing physically and adding wiry strength to his frame, Tovar has blossomed into a dynamic offensive player while continuing to play highlight-reel defense at shortstop.
Tovar hit .318/.386/.545 with 13 home runs, 47 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in his first 66 games for Double-A Hartford this season. He did that at just 20 years old and as the third-youngest player in the Eastern League on Opening Day.
Beyond the numbers, it’s how Tovar has done it. He’s hit home runs that have cleared 440 feet, he’s hit multiple home runs to the opposite field and he is driving the ball with authority on a consistent basis, all against advanced pitching. He remains aggressive and can be too much of a free-swinger at times, but he has honed his contact skills to keep his strikeout rate low and improved his walk rate by 5%.
Tovar has long had soft hands, a quick first step, exceptional instincts and a reliability rarely seen for his age defensively. Combine that with his newfound offensive success, and he now projects to follow Troy Tulowitzki and Trevor Story as the Rockies next homegrown, all-star shortstop.
Ricky Tiedemann, LHP Blue Jays
Why He Moved Up: A junior college pick in the third round last summer, many viewed Tiedemann as a projectable talent who had starting pitcher upside. Few thought he’d be well within the top 50 prospects by July the following year. Tiedemann saw his fastball jump from sitting 89-92 mph last spring to 94-96 mph and touching 97 mph. With added strength and physicality, Tiedemann has been able to hold his increased power deep into starts without any fluctuations as the season has worn on.
Despite plus velocity on his fastball, Tiedemann’s true standouts are his secondary pitches. With a plus slider and double-plus changeup, the lefthander has two pitches he can go to as out pitches against either handedness. His slider is a low-80s true sweeper with over a foot of horizontal break and spin rates in the 2,600 rpm range. Opposing hitters have hit .109/.163/.130 against his slider this season with a greater than 50% whiff rate.
His changeup is without question Tiedemann’s best pitch and his go-to secondary. Sitting mid 80s with tumble and heavy arm-side run, opposing hitters swing 50% of the time against the pitch but have done little to no damage, hitting .155/.188/.217 against his cambio.
With above-average feel for a powerful three-pitch mix with distinctive movement profiles, Tiedemann has quickly blossomed into one of the few prospects with top-of-the-rotation upside. With excellent physicality, stuff, and pitchability Tiedemann has significantly raised his profile in just one year.
Curtis Mead, 2B/3B, Rays
Why He Moved Up: The 21-year-old Mead has long impressed as a hitter who manages to pull off the tricky task of generating hard contact without the strikeout rates that usually come with trying to hit the ball very hard. When you consider his background as one of the few Australian hitters in pro baseball, his preternatural hitting ability becomes even more notable. In our reporting for the midseason update, scouts frequently cited Mead as ranking among the best prospects they had seen this year.
Mead is clearly a hitter with power rather than a slugger that hits. Coming into this week he had 12 home runs this year, which means he should top last year’s career high of 15 home runs. But he hits more stinging line drives and doubles than long, lofted fly balls. Considering his age and his potent top-end exit velocities, it’s very possible that Mead will eventually see his home run numbers spike as he learns to drive balls in hitter’s counts. If not, he still projects as a potential .300 hitter with plenty of doubles.
Defensively, the Rays have started playing Mead nearly as much at second base as they do at third. He fits better there because of his below-average arm. Mead has improved his throwing, but it’s still a somewhat awkward throwing motion and modest arm strength. He’s definitely a better hitter than fielder, but he has shown steady improvement and should be playable at multiple infield positions.
Kahlil Watson, SS, Marlins
Why He Dropped Out: Watson's 39% strikeout rate has raised massive concerns this year as he’s shown an extremely long swing and no semblance of a two-strike approach. His defense at shortstop has also been inconsistent. Watson has excellent bat speed, and his tools are generally impressive, but he has to make significant improvements in terms of actual gameplay. He was also suspended indefinitely by the organization after being ejected during a game for making a gesture with his bat at the first-base umpire.
Brady House, SS, Nationals
Why He Dropped Out: House has shown a surprising lack of impact this year. His average exit velocity (80 mph) this season and his .097 isolated power reside in the range of slap-hitting Billy Hamilton types, not 6-foot-4, 215-pound shortstops who may end up moving to third base. House is still very early in his pro career with plenty of time to improve, but the initial struggles to make hard contact raise questions about his ceiling.
Tyler Freeman, SS/2B, Guardians
Why He Dropped Out: Freeman is a likely big leaguer, but he has struggled to hit since returning from shoulder surgery and faces plenty of concerns about how much he can impact the ball. Combined with just average defense at shortstop, he profiles more as a utilityman than an above-average or better regular.
Nick Gonzales, 2B, Pirates
Why He Dropped Out: Now that Gonzales is away from the power-friendly park in High-A Greensboro, his power surge he showed last year has dissipated. He’s not driving the ball as hard or as consistently as he did last year. While evaluators are confident that he’ll hit for average, there are concerns that he’s a second baseman with modest power, which is a lower ceiling than originally hoped for.
Ronny Mauricio, SS, Mets
Why He Dropped Out: Mauricio has long tantalized with his tools but has never figured out how to make enough contact. He still lacks an approach, chases too often and swings at too many bad pitches to be a consistent offensive threat. He does damage when he swings at a good pitch to hit, but those moments have become more and more overshadowed by how often he gives away at-bats. His career .299 on-base percentage—primarily in the low minors—does not portend to an impactful major league career, even taking age and level into account.
BA Roundtable: Who Is The No. 1 Prospect In Baseball?
As we work to update our Top 100 list next month, we had a roundtable conversation to walk through each of our thought processes on who we consider the best prospect in baseball.
Luis Matos, OF, Giants
Why He Dropped Out: Matos was a free-swinger prone to chasing sliders down and away even during his breakout season at Low-A San Jose a year ago. The hope was his natural contact skills would allow him to make enough contact anyway as he learned to lay off of them, but High-A pitchers have instead found his holes and exploited them. Matos is hitting .173/.254/.240 at High-A Eugene, and while he’s not striking out much, his approach and bat path have regressed. He’s hitting far too many balls on the ground, mostly because pitchers know where they can attack him and get bad swings. Matos is still young and has time on his side, but his approach, swing path and swing decisions have all been causes for concern this year.
Gabriel Arias, SS, Guardians
Why He Dropped Out: Arias returned from a broken right hand and has fallen back into his free-swinging ways at Triple-A Columbus. He’s striking out in 33.6% of his plate appearances since he returned, wiping away the gains he appeared to make over the last two years. Arias still has the tools to be a power-hitting, defensively-dynamic shortstop, but they won’t matter unless he can get back to making better swing decisions.
Noelvi Marte, SS, Mariners
Why He Moved Down: After a strong full-season debut a year ago, Marte entered 2022 considered a potentially dynamic, five-tool shortstop and one of the best prospects in baseball. Halfway through the season, those expectations have cooled.
Marte hit just .262/.361/.445 through 73 games for High-A Everett despite playing in one of the most hitter-friendly home ballparks in the minors. Both his contact skills and power production have taken a step back from a year ago, as has his defense.
The physical Marte continues to get bigger, sharply reducing his chances to stay at shortstop. His added size has negatively affected his mobility and arm stroke on the defensive side as well as his swing path on the offensive side. Instead of a five-tool shortstop, he now projects to be a power-hitting third baseman with consistency questions.
As concerning as his physical regression, Marte has also shown a concerning lack of effort on the field and demonstrated questionable maturity, even taking his age into account. Those factors played into his conditioning and, relatedly, his declining chances to remain a shortstop.
Marte still projects to be a major leaguer. His youth, power and physicality remain tantalizing, and even with his struggles, he still has a chance for a 20-20 season this year.
But the hopes of a franchise-caliber player no longer exist for Marte. Now, the hope is he can make enough gains to be a solid, but unspectacular, everyday third baseman.
Brennen Davis, OF, Cubs
Why He Moved Down: Davis has excelled when he’s been on the field, but too often he’s been sidelined with injuries that are starting to pile up.
Davis suffered a hamstring injury that limited him his senior year of high school, missed most of his first full season with a broken right index finger and missed the start of last year with a concussion. Expected to ascend to Chicago this year, he instead played only 22 games for Triple-A Iowa before having season-ending back surgery.
Davis has now played just 190 games in five years as a professional. The missed development time is even more critical given he was primarily a basketball star growing up who only focused on baseball late in his amateur career. While he’s shown the athleticism and aptitude to adjust quickly—he reached Triple-A at 21 years old even with the missed time—his lack of reps at the plate has raised questions whether he will consistently hit enough to be a star rather than a solid regular.
Internally, even the Cubs acknowledge Davis has been surpassed by outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong as the organization’s top prospect. Davis still has the tools to be a productive player, and he’ll still be just 23 when he returns next year.
That said, he desperately has to prove he can stay on the field. Increasingly, there are more and more doubts he’ll be able to do that given his growing injury track record.
Jack Leiter, RHP, Rangers
Why He Moved Down: Let’s be clear here: the task Leiter is undertaking this year—jumping essentially from college directly to Double-A—is tremendous. Add the fact that the Texas League is particularly hitter-friendly and the challenge gets even more arduous.
Even with both those factors considered, however, it’s fair to say that Leiter’s debut season as a pro hasn’t gone as well as one would hope. Through 14 games (13 starts), the former Vanderbilt ace had worked to a 2-7, 6.30 record and was allowing 9.0 hits and 5.4 walks per nine innings.
He’s also striking out 11.16 hitters per nine innings, the fourth-most among Rangers pitchers with 50 or more innings, and behind only Owen White among upper-level arms who’ve crossed that threshold.
Scouts inside and outside the organization believe the talent is still there and can be fully unlocked with a few tweaks. Some see a player with inconsistent tempo whose stuff loses crispness when he rushes through his delivery. Others see a pitcher who needs to favor his slider more than his curveball, which was his signature pitch and brought him so much success in college.
Nobody doubts Leiter’s talent. Now, it’s a matter of getting the results to align with that talent.