When mapping out this year’s Top 100, I found myself getting caught up in the layout. I’ve tried a few different ways to skin this cat, and I think my favorite so far was my first: Top 25 Prospects for 2020 Fantasy Baseball.
It was simple, sleek, easy to see, easy to scroll, and it was built in tiers, which feels like a realistic lens through which to view these players. You can argue that Bobby Witt Jr. is definitively a better prospect than Julio Rodriguez if you want to, or vice versa, but if you get offered one for the other in a trade, you might freeze up like me pondering the layout of this article. The differences are real, certainly, but they’re more aesthetic and subjective than anything like objective truth. It’s a difference in type or style more than a difference of quality.
I’ll try to stay concise in between the tiers here, but you can access a more in-depth consideration of each individual player by clicking on their names or skimming around in the 2022 Minor League Preview Index.
Drumroll please and away we go!
1. OF Julio Rodriguez | Mariners | 21 | AA | 2022
2. SS Bobby Witt Jr. | Royals | 21 | AAA | 2022
Julio is baseball’s best minor league hitter, and he’s added speed the past few years. Starting to resemble a center fielder on defense and chisel away at Witt’s positional advantage, which some people use to break the tie.
3. SS Oneil Cruz | Pirates | 23 | MLB | 2021
I almost put Cruz in the top tier. He’s closer to that group than he is the next one, I think.
4. SS CJ Abrams | Padres | 20 | AA | 2023
5. 1B Spencer Torkelson | Tigers | 22 | AAA | 2022
6. OF Riley Greene | Tigers | 21 | AAA | 2022
7. SS Anthony Volpe | Yankees | 20 | A+ | 2023
8. OF Corbin Carroll | Diamondbacks | 21 | A+ | 2023
Can’t go wrong here. The number one prospect in 2023 will likely come from this group. Carroll and Abrams could’ve played their way into the top tier if injuries didn’t cut their seasons short.
9. RHP Shane Baz | Rays | 22 | MLB | 2021
10. RHP Grayson Rodriguez | Orioles | 22 | AA | 2022
Baz was the first pitcher I drafted in TGFBI at 115th overall. Risky strategy, I realize, but Baz feels as safe as any top pitching prospect we’ve seen in a long, long time. His dominant stuff, diverse arsenal, plus command and team context are all green lights for early big league success.
Oh, you prefer Grey’s large adult son? Fine by me. Baltimore bumping the left field fence back 30 feet this year is just a coincidence, wink wink, but I sure appreciate the timing of it. He’ll still be an Oriole, so that’s not ideal, but they’re on the way up, and he’s talented enough to bring the rising tide every fifth day.
11. C Adley Rutschman | Orioles | 24 | AAA | 2022
12. OF Brennen Davis | Cubs | 22 | AAA | 2022
13. 2B Vidal Bruján | Rays | 24 | MLB | 2021
If Bruján got traded for Rutschman in your league, would someone complain?
I honestly have no idea. Almost bumped Bruján out of this tier because his perceived value has lagged, but the 50-steal upside with plus defense at several positions makes it hard for me to shake him. His 80th percentile outcome is rotisserie gold: something like .290 with 15 home runs and 40 steals. If he ever does get there, it’ll likely come with eligibility at multiple spots.
14. 3B Jordan Walker | Cardinals | 19 | A+ | 2023
15. 3B Jose Miranda | Twins | 23 | AAA | 2022
16. OF Luis Matos | Giants | 20 | A | 2023
Might be cutting it a little fine here, but I’m through the looking glass at this point. Been staring at this a long, long time, moving stuff around, grouping it together, ungrouping it. That’s part of the reason I like tiers for this. Just makes my process better, I think.
Walker almost landed in the group above. Miranda and Matos almost landed in the group below, meaning this group almost did not exist. Riveting stuff, I know.
17. C Gabriel Moreno | Blue Jays | 22 | AAA | 2022
18. SS Noelvi Marte | Mariners | 20 | A+ | 2024
19. OF Zac Veen | Rockies | 20 | A | 2024
20. 3B Miguel Vargas | Dodgers | 22 | AA | 2022
Kind of an upside sandwich here with high-probability big-league bats as the bread.
Vargas is the only surprise, I suppose, but I’ve seen him play a functional second base in AA, and I like everything about him in the batter’s box. Now I’m not saying he’ll be a major league second baseman, but he was playing there while Michael Busch was playing first at times late last year. They’d know better than most what he can do on defense. I’m now just rephrasing stuff I wrote this week in Prospect News: Top 10 Beneficiaries of the Universal DH, so it’s probably time to move along. I’ve run this one pretty snugly up against the deadline and yet here I am as the minutes tick down on a Saturday night rewriting sentences I’ve written before. Been a long week. Been simmering this thing to a boil for a long time. I’m excited. Jangly. Ready to close this thing out like Brad Lidge in extra innings.
21. 3B Josh Jung | Rangers | 24 | AAA | 2022
22. C MJ Melendez | Royals | 23 | AAA | 2022
Weirdest tier of the night goes to this crowd, but that was always going to be the case with the Jung landing spot. Kind of lost on how to handle the injury news. I didn’t drop Carroll much for his shoulder last year, and I felt like that was the right call in hindsight, so that’s the play for Jung at the moment.
Melendez has a case to be above Rutschman. Don’t hurt me. I’m just sharing thoughts. We want home runs, and he hits ‘em. Plus, he has that Varsho-esque wild card status of a possible full-slate of at bats if he ever shifts positions, or shares positions. We’re getting a little racey with the language here on Up All Night, but that’s how people have always felt about people (and characters) named MJ.
23. SS Marco Luciano | Giants | 20 | A+ | 2023
24. RHP Hunter Greene | Reds | 22 | AAA | 2022
25. 1B Triston Casas | Red Sox | 22 | AAA | 2022
Luciano was in the tier above this before I got down to really writing my way through the thickets, where it occurred to me that he’s teetering closer to a big drop in perceived value than anyone’s really talking about, not that I know what everyone’s talking about. Just ran out of qualifiers there, but seriously, say Luciano strikes out 30 percent of the time in High-A this year and doesn’t graduate the level so much as times out of it by the end of the season. Where’s he at on next year’s hundred? That’s a slippery slope of a strawman sentence, but it’s more plainly within the range of outcomes for Luciano than most of his list-mates.
I am trying to trade for Hunter Greene, where I believe this ranking leaves room for profit.
I am not trying to trade for Triston Casas, who’s upside feels fully reflected in this ranking.
Thanks for reading!
New to keeper league baseball and joined an already formed 10 team H2H category league. They expanded to 12 team and I took over one of the two new teams. Took the approach of go young because the main teams got to protect 10 of their guys. Wondering how bad I am doing or if I have a solid base to grow on.
SS, 2B, OF Gavin Lux LAD
3B Jose Miranda Min
OF Jarred Kelenic Sea
C Adley Rutschman Bal
OF, 2B Vidal Brujan TB
SS Noelvi Marte Sea
OF Corbin Carroll Ari
OF Luis Matos SF
SP Logan Gilbert Sea
SP Brandon Woodruff Mil
C Sean Murphy Oak
1B Josh Bell Wsh
SS, OF Amed Rosario Cle
2B, 1B Owen Miller Cle
3B, 1B, 2B Wilmer Flores SF
OF, DH Austin Meadows Det
2B, OF Adam Frazier Sea
OF Taylor Ward LAA
SS, 2B Javier Baez Det
1B Brandon Belt SF
3B, SS Adalberto Mondesi KC
OF, DH Mitch Haniger Sea
OF Eddie Rosario Atl
SP Matt Brash Sea
SP Nick Lodolo Cin
SP Steven Matz Stl
RP Matt Bush Tex
Solid list — was Brett Baty close?
Minor league roster question. We have a three player minor league roster. You can bring them up as rookies or you can wait until they have exhausted their minimums and bring them up the following year. Either way they count as your last round pick in the draft (so very valuable).
My question is, would you bring Baz up for a last round pick this year, or would you try to wait until next year to bring him (again for a last round pick).
Keeper league, 5×5 OBP. Last keeper:
Adames 14rd, McClanahan 14rd, or Skubal 23rd?
how many teams?
Adames if 20+.
Maybe Skubal if 15.
12 teamer, but fairly deep, and pitching is a premium. I ended up keeping Skubal. Thanks.
I love this list! I have 10 of the top 25 on my h2h categories dynasty team. This year is gonna be rough, but a bright future!
I have two questions: first, would you consider shopping Marte? He’s ranked #3 to #8 on the other 4 sites I use to build composite rankings.
Second, that’s quite the jump for Cruz! I have him in this league, and I’m curious what you see that l moves him so far up.
Sounds like a solid foundation.
I would definitely shop Marte. I like him, but I don’t see the gap between he and his same-age peers that some people do.
30-20 talent, RE Cruz, with outlier outcomes open to him.
Good stuff Itch! Always love reading what you have to say.
Thanks, Harley Earl!
I can only keep 10—–NL only. VERY DEEP because after 23 starters we have 15 reserves. 11 teams & 10 KEEPERs/year.( $260auction cap). SO OBVIOUS HIGH INFLATION.
-Minor players stay @ salary till activated while all others get a $5 yearly raise until the owner feels they are no longer worth keeping.
BIG POINT IS IF minors are KEPT THE SALARY DOES NOT COUNT TWOARDS THE 260 total allowed in the auction!
MY KEEPERS ARE (IF YOU AGREE LMK)
—————–I also have——-
L Garcia 2B Was only 5(keep him drop who?)
Ranger Suarez 14 (visa issue)
Bryn DeLacruz 6
———minor keepers?——-(who do you think, I can only keep 10 players in total)
Which 10 to keep or SHOULD I trade say Winker and say Greene for a $32 Scherzer?
Well hell . . . how do trades work in your league . . . Winker still yours?
I agree those were the guys to keep and would add Matos, Greene, Cavalli and De La Cruz.
I do think you should shop everyone except Matos and Greene bc I’d be happy to keep Garcia and De La Cruz if possible.
Alek Thomas has to be in the top 10. He ended at AAA, batted really well, probaly going to debut real soon in 2022.
I don’t hate the case for Thomas being higher on the list. He’s coming up quickly in the next article, but I’ve never been the high-water mark on him.
Who would you bump from the top ten to make room for him? How high would he land?
One thing I struggle with about Diamondback prospects is the AAA environment there can be pretty deceptive. What happens in Reno, stays in Reno, has typically been my thinking, but it’s impressive for a 21-year-old to conquer it to the degree Thomas did for those 34 games. I agree he’s coming up early enough to help in 2022 unless the Diamondbacks pull some extensive shenanigans with the service clock. Maybe 70 games or so? Or are you thinking bigger?
12 team league, we can draft a MLB rookie in any round this year and keep them for three more seasons. They get drafted in the 12, 10 and 8 rounds going forward. Which player (minus J. Rod) would be your pick, and what round would take this year? Thanks in advance.
Well you left me Witt, so I’ll take him : )
If not him, Cruz.
This rule intrigues me.
Makes me think I’d take Witt or Cruz pretty early, depending where I’m at on the win curve. If I can afford to invest a 4th rounder to get three seasons of a cheaply kept Bobby Witt Jr., I’m doing that.
Any new thoughts on Wilman?
I traded for him in the Razz30. Dunno if that’s new(s) here or not, but I don’t have anything on how he might be different now than last time we saw him. Minor league camps open soon though, and I expect him to be in the states for his complex-league and full-season debuts in 2022.
Great read Itch!
Thanks, ny swallows!
Morning Itch! Thanks for the read. Great List! Rewriting sentences is a hobby of mine also.Hoping Brujan makes the team out of ST.
Vaughn Grissom is available on my waiver wire. Would you drop any of these 3 to grab him?
And thanks! (I can write around inside one sentence for an hour if I’m not careful.)
Yeah I’d drop Wells for Grissom.
I am starting a draft for a dynasty team where we kept 30 players. I have no catcher on my roster. I will get someone to play the position this year. If you had to pick Moreno or Melendez, who would you choose? Do you think either of them stick at catcher? And which one do you think will be up first? Tor has a hole at 3b and several catchers on their roster now. Kc has perez who obviously is a block but dh is an option and Melendez can play other positions or at least played some last year. Thanks
I’ll take Moreno at the moment, but I’m all in on both.
I think Melendez will beat Moreno to the majors, but Moreno will be the primary catcher earlier in his career.
If I’m running those teams, both switch positions, or at least attempt it. I realize Moreno is a good defender who might be elite back there, but he’s smallish for an everyday catcher, and I want his hit tool in the lineup everyday for a decade if I can make that happen.
Whenever I read about Vidal Brujan I always think about this bit from Ali G
“Is history happening all the time?” : )
Thank you for all the time and effort you have put into the team by team, positional and overall rankings.
All great reads and my main source for prospect analysis.
Love your top 25, as I own Cruz, Carroll, Matos and Vargas in my NL keeper.
Surprised Vargas made the top 25, but he has shown his bat will have value as he moves up the ladder. The power that was lacking showed up in 2021. Hoping we get to see him in Dodger blue in 2022.
How soon before we see Cruz in Pittsburgh this year? Mid-May potentially?
I sorta think it’s 16 days and up for Cruz, but yeah mid May is probably a safer bet.
Good list, Itch. Will we get three more of these for a top 100?
I’m holding Volpe, MJ, and Brujan, but I’ve traded all other prospects to build a competitive team. It’s time to reload.
Just picked up Jhonkensy. Do you think he has Top 25 ability? I watched his highlight video and his power looks ridiculous.
The best available prospects are Mead, Leonard, Acosta, Wood, L. Peguero, Grissom, Rojas, Foscue, Sweeney.
Who has the best chance of becoming an impact player?
Yep, we’ll be going through in tiers, 25 at a time.
Yes, on Noel. I suspect he’ll make my top 25 by midseason.
Grissom, Peguero and Leonard are all priority guys for me. High probability big leaguers imo. Rojas has the highest topside of the group. I’d be happy to have any (or all : ) of the four.