Image credit: Rece Hinds (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)
Last week, Baseball America released its initial Top 100 Prospects list for the 2022 season. Before the list is finalized, members of the BA staff submit a ranking of their personal top 150 prospects. There’s plenty of players who are on everybody’s lists—Adley Rutschman, Julio Rodriguez and Bobby Witt Jr. were among every staffer’s top three—but there are plenty of outliers toward the back of the ballots, too.
In fact, there are several players among the ballots who earned a vote from only one writer. Here, those writers explained what they saw in prospects to validate a place on their personal top 150 list.
Josh Winckowski, RHP, Red Sox. There’s some risk here that Winckowski might not miss enough bats, but I like his all-around arsenal of stuff and a strong track record of throwing strikes. He’s got two pitches in a two-seam fastball and a slider that I am high on, and after being promoted from Double-A to Triple-A he turned in a pair of impressive starts with more strikeouts. Barring improved velocity or four-seam shape, the upside could be limited here, but I think Winckowski has a good shot to be a valuable back-of-the-rotation starter or reliable arm out of the pen very quickly. — Carlos Collazo
Cole Henry, RHP, Nationals. I’ve really liked Henry since his days as a highly-regarded high school arm, so I guess it’s unsurprising I was the sole backer for him here. I just believe in the stuff to a strong degree and so far he’s walked fewer than three batters per nine innings in his pro career while striking out more than 13 per nine. His fastball, changeup and curveball have all flashed plus and miss bats at an impressive rate. If he can land the curveball more consistently I don’t know what there is to criticize about Henry’s pure stuff. Give him a fully healthy 2022 season and I think people could be talking about him quite a bit differently. — Carlos Collazo
Wilkelman Gonzalez, RHP, Red Sox. The 19-year-old Venezuelan righthander reached Low-A Salem for four starts late in 2021 but did most of his work in the Florida Complex League. Gonzalez has arm strength and repeatable mechanics that help him get the most out of his fastball/changeup mix. If he can improve his curveball, he could rocket up lists. He pitched to a 2.91 ERA last season with 66 strikeouts, 16 walks and two home runs allowed in 52.2 innings. — Matt Eddy
Rece Hinds, 3B, Reds. The powerful Low-A Daytona third baseman did not live up to preseason expectations but still offers promise. He hits the ball hard and in the air with elite power to all fields. A knee injury limited him to 43 games in 2021, so his 10 home runs may not seem notable, but that total prorates to 28 over a 120-game minor league season. — Matt Eddy
Kyren Paris, 2B, Angels. Paris impressed in limited action last season at the Class A levels. He showed advanced pitch recognition for his age, drove the ball hard to all fields and displayed the speed and instincts to be a game-changing basestealer. He is progressively getting stronger and has a chance to be a player who hits for a solid average, racks up doubles and triples and steals 30-plus bases as he matures. That all depends, though, on Paris staying healthy. He suffered a broken hamate three games into his pro career and played only 47 games in 2021 due to a fractured fibula. If not for those injuries, he might already be on the cusp of the Top 100. — Kyle Glaser
Hayden Wesneski, RHP, Yankees. Wesneski raced three levels up to Triple-A in his first full season while showcasing a lively five-pitch arsenal, above-average control and the durability to hold up over 130.1 innings, sixth-most in the minors. He struck out more than 10 batters per nine, walked less than three per nine and showed his stuff played just fine against upper-level hitters. If he had the exact same season but was a first-round pick instead of a sixth-round pick, he’d already likely be in the Top 100. Wesneski still has some delivery things to work on and can stand to sequence his pitches better, but that just means he’s a good pitcher who has room to get even better. — Kyle Glaser
Jeferson Quero, C, Brewers. The prospect world is experiencing a renaissance of catching prospects. From Adley Rutschman and Gabriel Moreno in the Top 10 to Joey Bart at 71, there are a dozen catchers among this year’s Top 100. Quero might be the next up. The buzz around him in the Arizona Complex League was strong, including more walks (12) than strikeouts (10), over the course of 83 plate appearances in his pro debut. Quero also caught 6 of 19 runners trying to steal and has recorded pop times in the 1.9-second range. Put together, his combination of defensive and offensive skills at a premium position could lead to a breakout in 2022, when he’ll be tested for the first time at a full-season level. If that happens, he could shoot into the Top 100 at some point in the middle of the season. — Josh Norris
Ricky Vanasco, RHP, Rangers. Vanasco did not throw a pitch in the regular season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the buzz that surrounded him prior to the injury carried over to instructional league, when he got back on the mound for the Rangers’ instructional league tour of Texas-area colleges. At his best, Vanasco brings his fastball up to 99 mph but needed to show further development of his offspeed pitches and sharpen his control and command. Those were on his to-do list before the surgery, when he ranked as one of the best prospects in the short-season Northwest League and opened eyes at Texas’ alternate site during the lost 2020 season. There is polish to apply, but Vanasco’s live arm and excellent stuff could help him break out during the 2022 season. — Josh Norris
Matt Canterino, RHP Twins. Through the first month of the High-A season in 2021, Canterino looked like he was headed for the Top 100 list by July. Unfortunately, he went on the injured list in early June, then returned in August only to be shut down again for the remainder of the season. The former Rice ace has a four-pitch mix but focuses heavily on a trio of above-average or better pitches. His fastball velocity was up in 2021, as he sat 94-96 mph with elite vertical hop and the command to locate to all four quadrants. The fastball boasted a whiff rate above 45% across Canterino’s 23 innings in 2021, while his mid-80s slider and low-80s changeup each generated whiff rates above 50 percent. Health remains a question as Canterino missed time for two extended periods due to an elbow injury. — Geoff Pontes
Vaughn Grissom, SS Braves. A former 11th-rounder and high school teammate of Riley Greene, Grissom had a breakout season in 2021. The shortstop hit .311/.402/.446 across 75 Low-A games before a 12-game stint with High-A Rome, where he hit .378/.529/.595. While questions remain around Grissom’s ability to stay at short, and his power ceiling, few can question his advanced approach and mature swing decisions. Not only is Grissom patient, hardly expanding the zone and working deep into counts, his swing rate on pitches over the heart of the plate is above-average. Those characteristics are a sign that Grissom is recognizing pitches rather than being overly passive. — Geoff Pontes