One odd outcome of this tank-focused era in baseball: you really stick out if you try to win and then don’t. Have you seen Squid Game yet? The would-be contenders who try but fail are essentially those people who moved after the giant doll said red light, only this happens daily for several months until merciful October embraces us all in pumpkin spice, candy corn and yard work. 

In New York, we find an organization that could have Jarred Kelenic, Pete Crow-Armstrong and Kumar Rocker. Instead, Steve Cohen and company have Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, and a chunk of payroll that wouldn’t exist if they’d just waited for their ship to come in. I get it; I like to push all in, too. I just never quite understand the binary that suddenly crops up midseason for some teams. Or when a new boss comes in and wags their Brodie V around just to say they’ve done something. Or when a new owner plays hardball with a first-round pick he was lucky to land. The game shouldn’t be about winning now or winning later and always waking the line going back and forth on that, or always robbing from the one hoping for the other. Whatever, sorry for the rant, let’s check the spects.

 

Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2022 | Highest level played | ETA

1. C Francisco Alvarez | 20 | A+ | 2023

A rare backstop in that he features plus athleticism and foot-speed, Alvarez will soon stand alone atop minor league catcher mountain after Adley Rutschman joins the Orioles. Alvarez generates easy loft from a strong natural uppercut. After demolishing A ball for 15 games, Alvarez got the quick bump to A+ and struggled a bit before surging to finish with 22 HR and 6 SB in 84 games. That’ll play. His 12/24.6 BB/K rate ain’t too shabby either, especially considering he was 3.9 years younger than his average competitor.

 

2. 3B Mark Vientos | 22 | AAA | 2022

A tall (6’5”)  corner in the mold of Kris Bryant, Vientos achieves a lot of loft in a manner reminiscent of KB. 2021 was his 2nd breakout season in the minors (22 HR in 72 AA games), and he’s the best bet in this system to impact redraft leagues in 2022. I wouldn’t be shocked if he settles into the lineup early and makes a run for rookie of the year. I mean if it weren’t a Met I guess. They get wild with playing time over there, though it’s unfair to expect that from whoever they hire to helm the ship this year.

 

3. 3B Brett Baty | 22 | AA | 2022

Headline writers everywhere are rooting for Baty to become a star. Definitely some Gotham puns in his future. In the batter’s box, Baty stands tall and calm and employs a sound understanding of the strike zone along with developing power. Considered among the best pure high school hitters in his class, he’s climbed steadily through the system and stands at the precipice of an early promotion next season if he starts hot at AAA coming off a 118 wRC+ in 40 games at AA.

 

4. SS Ronny Mauricio | 21 | AA | 2023

Sounds like a forgotten Sopranos guy. Carries a big stick. Has grown from spindly to strong over the past couple years and now has some stats to support the high-profile pedigree, having hit 20 HR across two levels in his age 20 season. His .290 OBP in 100 High-A games is fairly scary, but a big statistical breakout could be just around the corner, and even if he merely holds his own at 21 in AA, he’ll be far enough ahead of the age-to-level math that he’ll still be graded on a curve.

 

5. RHP Matt Allan | 20 | A- | 2024

This May, like many premium high school pitching prospects before him, Matt Allan went under the knife for Tommy John surgery. Like many premium high school pitching prospects, Allan features a dynamite fastball, curveball combination when he’s right. What might separate Allan long term is a slow change that tunnels well with his top two offerings. Between the lines, he’s thrown all of 10.1 innings since being drafted in 2019, when the Mets gambled most of their draft on signing him for 2.5 million after catching his falling star in the 4th round. There’s some weird synergy with this year’s draft, when they gambled on signing Kumar Rocker and lost. The thinker in me begins to wonder if Allan’s fate didn’t inform the club’s approach to Rocker, but then I remember the draft was after Allan’s surgery, so why take him at all if fearing injury?

 

6. OF Alex Ramirez | 19 | A | 2025

Didn’t blow the doors off in his stateside debut (.258/.325/.384), but Ramirez posted a 96 wRC+ as an 18-year-old in A ball, smoking 5 HR and stealing 16 bags despite striking out at a 31.1 percent clip across 76 games. He’s a large-framed 6’3” 170 lb teenager who figures to add a lot of strength the next few years and had already cut his K-rate down to 20 percent over the final month of the season. Arrow is clearly pointing upward on his prospect trajectory.

 

7. RHP JT Ginn | 22 | A+ | 2023

Another Tommy John draft gamble, Ginn made it to the Mets in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft. I hesitate to use the draft jargon of “fell to them” there because here was a pitcher who’d just gotten the full TJ fix. I feel like the prospect world overrates these types in the general sense, mapping a Lucas Giolito trajectory onto every named young guy that throws his arm out before the big payday. Even Giolito, a giant who might’ve been a first-rounder at 16, needed to totally reinvent his delivery to actualize as a big leaguer. Ginn is a more normal sort, standing at 6’3” and throwing in the low 90s. He does have functional command of a three-pitch mix (slider, change), and he might add some velocity his second year back from surgery, but I’m in wait-and-see mode here for dynasty purposes.

 

8. OF Khalil Lee | 23 | MLB | 2021

I did not know Lee ran a .451 OBP in 102 AAA games this year. He’s always had so much swing and miss in his game that I sort of set him aside. Even getting on base almost half the time, he strikeout rate was 29.6 percent. That’s not totally disqualifying anymore, but it’s not what you want to see in the minors. Another surprise on Lee’s statsheet: he got caught stealing in 10 of 18 attempts. He’s added some thump—14 HR this season—but if he’s not fleet-a-foot enough to get the green light, he’ll struggle to help us in fantasy.

 

9. LHP Josh Walker | 27 | AAA | 2022

A lanky lefty with some minuscule WHIPs on his ledger (0.86 and 0.88 at A+ and AA), Walker should step right into a few spot starter windows next season and has the combination of deception, command and stamina to carve out a significant role. He’s all of 6’6” and makes the most of that by releasing the ball well behind the head of a lefty batter and miles away from a righty.

 

10. RHP Jose Butto | 24 | AA | 2022

I considered 2B Travis Blankenhorn and RHP Robert Dominguez for this spot, but Butto has by far the coolest name of the three and posted a 1.04 WHIP across 40.1 AA innings as a 23-year-old. His 24.6 % K-BB rate is just as loud. His strikeout rate jumped from 25.1 percent (a career high at the time) across 58.1 innings at High-A to 29.9 percent at AA. Suffices to say Butto is really backing up the signal on those skill gains. Off-speed command and clever sequencing is Butto’s bag, supported primarily by a plus changeup he’ll throw in any count to righties and lefties both.

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

  1. Ante Galic says:
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    The ITCH!!!

    Awesome stuff, man.

    a. Enjoyed your content this year a lot. Looking forward to more again in preparing for ’22 as we always do. Seems like the work never ends for a fantasy baller or the fantasy bball writer/analyst par excellence etc.

    b. Prolly beating a dead horse but the list of guys who will impact redraft 2022 keeps Georgia on my mind with Ray Charles singing it to Jimmy Carter’s wife.

    c. Live long and prosper man. Stay strong and healthy, we need more people like you for the sake of humanity.

    d. Grey agreed (well and suggested too) George Carlin quote of the day, so that will come April 1, 2022.

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Ante!!

      Always great to hear from you!

      a. Thanks for the kind words! The grind is eternal

      b. Jo ja! Jooo jaaa!

      c. *Spock hands emoji

      d. Can’t wait! A Carlin a day keeps the sadness away!

  2. UkraineGameToYou says:
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    Crazy that Mauricio is only 20, feels like he has been around forever! Great to finally see him tap into some power after some weak slug and ISO numbers the last few years

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Agreed, this dude was getting press before the printing press.

  3. Jimmy says:
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    I can only keep 1 Lane Thomas- Oswaldo Perez -Mark Bientos-Jayden Murray 18 team dynasty 5×5 thanks itch love your work!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Jimmy!

      I’ll go w Peraza but would be hoping to find room via trade for Vientos and LT.

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