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Minor League Offensive Data Standouts For April



Now that exactly one month of the minor league season has passed, there is a meaningful data set to work with.

Combining both public and proprietary data, here are some outstanding hitting performances from the first four weeks of the season. The group of players highlighted below was half of a group of 30 players that qualified under strict guidelines that balanced power, contact skills and production.

The guidelines were as follows: Hitters with at least 50 at-bats across Double-A, High-A and Low-A, a batting average of .265 of higher, an isolated slugging percentage of .180 or higher, an average exit velocity of 88 mph or higher, a wOBA above .301, and a swing-and-miss rate of 29% or below. This provides a good sample of players making lots of hard contact, hitting for power in games and producing above-average results. Triple-A was not included due to the extreme offensive environments that often skew the sample. 

Michael Harris, OF Braves

Double-A Mississippi (Southern)

Key Metrics: .389 wOBA, 91 mph average exit velocity, 24% swing-and-miss rate, .230 isolated slugging percentage

The Braves top prospect has come out of the gates at Double-A hot, and it’s in large part due to his combination of power and contact. He has the highest 90th percentile exit velocity, with his top 10% of batted balls averaging nearly 110 mph.

Corbin Carroll, OF D-Backs

Double-A Amarillo (Texas)

Key Metrics: .473 wOBA, 90 mph average exit velocity, 26% swing-and-miss rate, .368 isolated slugging percentage

After losing almost the entire 2021 season to injury, there were question marks around Carroll entering this season. So far, he has answered those questions convincingly as one of the best players in the minors at Double-A. His combination of contact and power puts him among the elite hitters in the minor leagues.

Bryan Ramos, 3B White Sox

High-A Winston-Salem (South Atlantic)

Key Metrics: .413 wOBA, 92 mph average exit velocity, 27% swing-and-miss rate, .209 isolated slugging percentage

Few hitters were hotter over the first month of the season than Ramos, and his combination of contact skills, power and a good approach is leading to excellent production. He has hit a bit of a speed bump so far in May, but the underlying metrics hint to a player with bat-to-ball ability, power and a discerning eye at the plate. He continues to trend upward after a strong 2021 season as a 19-year-old in Low-A.

Marco Luciano, SS Giants

High-A Eugene (Northwest)

Key Metrics: .377 wOBA, 89 mph average exit velocity, 29% swing-and-miss rate, .210 isolated slugging percentage

After a difficult taste of High-A last year, Luciano has returned to the level and been incredibly productive. In the early part of the season, Luciano has seen a 20% decrease in his whiff rate and a 4% increase in his top 10% exit velocities. Though chasing was never an issue for Luciano, he’s also seen a sizable decrease in swings out of the zone. Over the first month of the season, Luciano is showing signs of coming into his own at the plate.

Liover Peguero, SS Pirates

Double-A Altoona (Eastern)

Key Metrics: .384 wOBA, 90 mph average exit velocity, 27% swing-and-miss rate, .215 isolated slugging percentage

Acquired in the Starling Marte trade in January 2020, Peguero is showing improvements in both his contact rate and exit velocity. He’s seen a 16% decrease in whiffs while adding over 1 mph to his top 10% of exit velocities. There’s still some aggressiveness in his approach, but he’s done a good job of balancing aggression and patience in the early going.

Darell Hernaiz, SS Orioles

Low-A Delmarva (Carolina)

Key Metrics: .404 wOBA, 89.5 mph average exit velocity, 20% swing-and-miss rate, .294 isolated slugging percentage

There are five players over the first month of play across both Class A levels with a contact rate of 79% or higher and a 90th percentile exit velocity of 105 mph or higher. Three of those players are old for the level, the other two are James Wood and Darell Hernaiz. The Orioles middle infielder looks like an early season breakout based on his performance with Delmarva.



Orioles

Gunnar Henderson Goes Yard In Triple-A Debut

Henderson homered, Michael Harris had a three-hit game and more.

Damon Keith, OF Dodgers

Low-A Rancho Cucamonga (California)

Key Metrics: .470 wOBA, 89 mph average exit velocity, 24.5% swing-and-miss rate, .245 isolated slugging percentage

There is only one player in the minor leagues over the first month of the season with a contact rate of 75% or higher, a 90th percentile exit velocity of 105 mph or higher, a chase rate below 25% and a swing rate above 45%. That player is Keith, an 18th-round pick last year out of California Baptist. While he’s old for the level, Keith has performed as well as anyone in the minor leagues based on the metrics over the first month of the season.

Jacob Amaya, SS Dodgers

Double-A Tulsa (Texas)

Key Metrics: .514 wOBA, 90 mph average exit velocity, 20% swing-and-miss rate, .446 isolated slugging percentage

Amaya’s changes have been fairly dramatic early on, as the shortstop is chasing far less than in previous years, he’s increased his contact rate and shown a noticeable increase in his exit velocities. Beyond his approach changes, the distribution of Amaya’s launch angles have gotten tighter. He’s seen a lot of his sub-5 degree launch angles move to the ideal 10-30 degree launch angle range. To summarize, Amaya is demonstrating more contact, better swing decisions, more power and flusher barrels at the point of contact, all positive trends.

Tyler Gentry, OF Royals

High-A Quad Cities (Midwest)

Key Metrics: .460 wOBA, 89 mph average exit velocity, 29% swing-and-miss rate, .200 isolated slugging percentage

Despite missing a week at the end of April, no hitter has done as much damage in the Midwest League as Gentry. While he displays just average bat-to-ball skills, Gentry has a patient approach at the plate and the power to do damage on pitches in the zone. This combination has served him well in the early going while he's hitting over .400 on the year.

Cesar Prieto, SS Orioles

High-A Aberdeen (South Atlantic)

Key Metrics: .444 wOBA, 91 mph average exit velocity, 26% swing-and-miss rate, .373 isolated slugging percentage

Prieto returned on Wednesday from the injured list with a hamstring sprain. Prior to the injury, the Cuban emigre was overwhelming High-A pitching. Prieto hit the ground running with a discerning eye at the plate and the ability to hit for impact. He’s made significant strengths gains from his time in the Serie Nacional, Cuba’s top league, that have transformed him into a well-balanced hitter with excellent contact skills, a sound approach and growing power.

Colt Keith, 3B Tigers

High-A West Michigan (Midwest)

Key Metrics: .376 wOBA, 90 mph average exit velocity, 28% swing-and-miss rate, .183 isolated slugging percentage

A fifth-round pick of the Tigers in 2020, Keith returned to High-A West Michigan after 18 uninspiring games at the end of 2021 and has been a vastly improved hitter. Over the first month, Keith showed a nice balance of power and a sound approach to go with average contact skills. That production has only continued in May as he continues to hit above .300 while getting on base and hitting for power. All of the underlying data backs the early production, with Keith showing a well-balanced skill set at the plate.

Alex Ramirez, OF Mets

Low-A St. Lucie (Florida State)

Key Metrics: .436 wOBA, 89 mph average exit velocity, 25% swing-and-miss rate, .221 isolated slugging percentage

Ramirez impressed in his pro debut last year when he posted a league-average slash line as an 18 year old in the Low-A Southeast. Ramirez has returned to Port St. Lucie this year and is continuing to show advanced contact skills with developing power. He still lacks the loft in his swing to turn his power into above-average home run production and he’s aggressive in his approach, but both of these things could work themselves out with age and experience

Masyn Winn, SS Cardinals

High-A Peoria (Midwest)

Key Metrics: .440 wOBA, 89 mph average exit velocity, 22% swing-and-miss rate, .232 isolated slugging percentage

Reports emerged during spring training that Winn’s swing was more synched up between his lower and upper halves, something that had been an issue for him in the past. With the way Winn has hit over the early part of the season, the changes look to be working. Winn’s combination of contact skills and strong approach has him trending toward a bump in his hit tool grade, and he’s doing that while showing average or better power.

James Wood, OF Padres

Low-A Lake Elsinore (California)

Key Metrics: .467 wOBA, 91 mph average exit velocity, 18% swing-and-miss rate, .260 isolated slugging percentage

Few players have looked as good in 2022 as Wood, a second-round pick by the Padres last year. He’s been dominant when he’s played, but he’s dealt with a pair of injuries and is currently on the injured list with a wrist injury. His combination of plus-plus power, plus contact rate and plus-plus walk rate puts Wood’s early production on another level. A full, healthy season from him could be a site to behold based on the underlying data.



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