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Minor League Prospects To Watch With Power, On-Base Skills



In recent years we’ve seen some obvious statistical trends in the major leagues. Home runs are at all-time high over the last five years, hits have steadily trended downward on a per game average each year and walks have continued to climb over the last five years in comparison to the previous five. Finding hitting prospects that fit the current MLB environment is a matter of identifying a combination of power and on-base ability. With this in mind I set my sights on using statistics and batted ball data to identify minor league hitters whose 2021 statistical performance best embodied these qualities.

Below I have listed prospect-eligible hitters with a walk rate greater than 10%, an average flyball distance above 310 feet, an isolated slugging above .200 and an average exit velocity of 90 mph or above. I set the minimum sample for this exercise at 200 plate appearances and players age 24 or younger. This exercise returned the 18 players below.

Players are listed in order of their 2021 wRC+


Everson Pereira, OF Yankees 

After an uneven 2019 campaign with short-season Staten Island, Pereira returned from the 2020 shutdown with a loud 2021 campaign split primarily between the Class A levels. One of two players on this list with less than 300 plate appearances, Pereira got a late start but produced eye-popping power numbers, backed by strong exit velocity and batted ball data. Improvements to his approach and plate discipline materialized in improved walk rates.

Julio Rodriguez, OF Mariners 

An all-world positional prospect, Rodriguez is the only member of the celebrated trio at the top of our Top 100 Prospects list to qualify here. What’s remarkable about Rodriguez isn’t just his combination of power, on-base ability and contact, but the fact he hits for the power he does with the second-lowest average launch angle on this list. This isn’t a cause for concern, as launch angle typically increases as a player ages, and it’s a positive to see the impact he can hit for without selling out for flyball contact.

M.J. Melendez, C Royals 

The bounceback season for the Royals catching prospect has been well documented at this point, but some of these numbers put his season into perspective. He’s one of four hitters on this list with a strikeout rate below 22%. Additionally, he ranks in the top five of balls hit at 95-plus mph, walk rate and average launch angle. For Melendez, 2021 was a truly impressive display of offensive prowess, and he's solidified himself as one of the top offensive prospects in the game.

Khalil Lee, OF Mets 

No name on this list surprised me more than Lee. While he’s always had an elite walk rate, power has never been a strength of his game. That shifted in 2021 with Lee displaying improved power at Triple-A. He produced the best slugging numbers of his career and the batted ball and exit data backed up Lee’s breakout. Passivity has long plagued Lee’s game, but he showed marked improvement in 2021, pairing on-base ability with impact contact.

Cristian Santana, SS Tigers 

Only one teenager qualified for this list, and that was the Tigers' Cristian Santana. Making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League at 17 years old, Santana displayed prodigious raw power, a strong approach and a tight, compact swing geared for hard contact in the air. While he may move off shortstop long term, his bat should play anywhere in the infield. Santana is one of the top players to debut stateside in 2022.

Nick Pratto, 1B Royals 

Few players on this list encapsulate the modern OBP and power hitter quite like Pratto. After entering pro ball with first round pedigree, the first baseman fizzled out in 2019 at High-A. He returned post-pandemic with added game power, and he proceeded to wreak havoc across two levels of the minors. While there’s some swing and miss to Pratto’s game, he shows elite on-base ability with a walk rate of 15.2% in 2021.

Joey Wiemer, OF Brewers 

After making fairly drastic alterations to his pre-pitch setup and swing, Wiemer unlocked another level of play in 2021. He has the fifth-lowest strikeout rate on this list with the fifth-highest estimated flyball distance. He showed not only power and contact, but a knack for working deep into counts and getting on base. While Wiemer was an older player for Class A, he showed extremely well in his professional debut with a rare combination of power and on-base ability.

Riley Greene, OF Tigers 

Coming out of the draft, Greene was billed as a hit-over-power lefthanded bat who would develop plus power as he matured. After his first full professional season, Greene has transformed into an OBP and power star with a center field defensive profile. Much like Julio Rodriguez, Greene shows the ability to hit for plus power without selling out for loft. Despite an elevated strikeout total in 2021, there isn’t serious concern around Greene’s hit tool, as he was 19 years old for most of the season and facing significantly older competition. With this in mind it makes what Greene did in 2021 even more remarkable.

Stephen Scott, C/OF Red Sox 

The legend of Stephen Scott grows. The Vanderbilt product has been somewhat of an afterthought in the Red Sox system the last few years, despite rave reviews from inside the organization. Scott had one of the best offensive seasons in the minors in 2021, displaying contact, power and on-base ability.

Romy Gonzalez, SS White Sox 

A former 18th-rounder out of Miami, Gonzalez flashed only moderate power and production over his first two professional seasons. Following 2019 instructional league and the 2020 shutdown, Gonzalez emerged a different player. He took to shortstop after moving there during 2019 instructs, while adding power and a more refined plate approach. What followed was a standout season for Gonzalez, as he showed consistent power, slugging 24 home runs across 93 games. He made his big league debut in September, appearing in 10 games for the White Sox. Gonzalez's power jump is supported by the underlying data, too, as the only hitter with a higher average exit velocity than Gonzalez is the Twins' Trey Cabbage.

Josh Lowe, OF Rays 

The 2021 Durham Bulls boasted as much talent as any team in the minor leagues in 2021, as their Opening Day roster boasted a trio of Top 100 Prospects in Wander Franco, Vidal Brujan and Lowe. Despite being just a call away from the big leagues, the depth of talent with the Rays' major league club kept many of Tampa’s top talents with the Bulls for a majority of the season. Lowe pairs elite on-base skills with one of the most thunderous barrels in the minors, as Lowe had the highest rate of batted ball events at 95-plus mph of any player on this list. Improvements to his pitch recognition and bat-to-ball skills paid dividends, as Lowe produced the best season of his professional career. He's a talented OBP and power threat on the cusp of the big leagues.

Kyle Stowers, OF Orioles 

The 2019 supplemental second-rounder out of Stanford made his full-season debut with High-A Aberdeen and climbed all the way to Triple-A by the end of the 2021 campaign. Blessed with plus raw power and a patient approach, Stowers produced the fourth-highest average exit velocity on this list, the seventh-highest rate of batted ball events at 95-plus mph and the eighth-highest walk rate. The downside is he also produced the fifth-highest strikeout rate on this list, as he’s one of six players that qualified with a strikeout rate above 30% in 2021. The challenge that faces Stowers in 2022 is to curb his strikeouts without sacrificing his plus power and on-base ability. That said, a lefty power bat with on-base ability should earn a few shots to take target practice at Camden Yards in 2022.

Tyreque Reed, 1B Red Sox 

Selected in the Triple-A portion of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, Reed had a renaissance season split between Boston’s High-A and Double-A affiliates. Reed’s carrying tool has long been his power, but his struggles with contact have led to struggles against spin and more advanced pitching. Those concerns didn’t disappear in 2021, as he struggled to replicate his High-A production upon promotion to Double-A in July. Reed is likely a system depth bat with up-and-down upside.

Trey Cabbage, OF Twins

Cabbage was arguably the power king of the minor leagues in 2021, as only Oneil Cruz had a higher max exit velocity in the minors last season. Cabbage boasts the highest average exit velocity and estimated flyball distance on this list, and the second-highest rate of balls hit 95-plus mph. That’s the good, but here's the bad part. Cabbage has the second-highest strikeout rate on this list and the worst strikeout-to-walk rate of any hitter that qualified. While his raw power might grade out as an 80, his bat-to-ball skills are poor, which leaves Cabbage in limbo as a viable prospect going forward.

Everson Pereira Photo By Mike Carlson MLB Photos Via Getty Images

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Niko Hulsizer, OF Rays 

There are few players in the minor leagues more fun than Hulsizer. His colorful dreadlocks and stunner shades give him the look of a create a player from a video game. His raw power and ability to connect for breathtaking moon shots only add to his mystique. Despite a top-of-the-scale power tool, other parts of Hulsizer’s game are not nearly as refined, as he boasts the highest strikeout rate of any player on this list with a shockingly high 39.4% rate in 2021.

Shea Langeliers, C Braves 

While Adley Rutschman owns the distinction as the best catching prospect in baseball, Langeliers is the one whose 2021 season qualifies him for this list. Optimized for power, Langeliers has the second-highest average launch angle on this list, and he's fourth in percentage of batted ball events at 95 mph and above. His ability to hit for power and get on base while limiting strikeouts speaks to the growth the catcher has made as a hitter since his collegiate days at Baylor. He's arguably one of the most underrated prospects in the minors.

Lawrence Butler, OF Athletics 

One of five players 20 years of age or younger on this list, Butler had a breakout season in 2021. Making his full-season debut nearly three years after he was selected in the sixth round, Butler showed power and on-base ability across the Class A levels. His struggles with contact and swing and miss are best exemplified by his strikeout rate, as Butler was one of six players on this list with a strikeout rate above 30%. Improvements to his approach and bat-to-ball skills are needed to maintain his 2021 level of production as he climbs the rungs of the minor league ladder.

Chandler Redmond, 3B Cardinals 

Not included in our Cardinals Top 30, Redmond was a 32nd-rounder out of Gardner Webb back in 2019. Despite an elevated strikeout rate, Redmond has produced strong numbers throughout his professional career, hitting .269/.363/.501 with 30 home runs across 150 minor league games. Redmond hits the ball hard, boasting the third-highest estimated flyball rate on this list and the fifth-highest rate of batted ball events at 95-plus mph. Like many at the bottom of this list, he needs to get his strikeouts in check, as his 34.9% mark was the third highest of the 18 players included here.

Aaron Sabato, 1B Twins 

A model darling leading up to the 2020 MLB Draft, Sabato is the only player on this list with a 2021 OPS below .800. While he has the highest walk rate of any player on this list with an eye-popping 19.8% rate, Sabato didn’t hit for the impact his raw power might suggest. He has the sixth-highest average exit velocity of any player on this list, so the power is there, but contact woes and a passive approach at the plate curbed his production. The on-base and power tools are there in spades, it’s just a matter of actualizing them in games and looking to do more damage on pitches in the zone.

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