Here at RotoProspects, we take more of a long view where we’re thinking in terms of fantasy value over an entire career.
But sometimes, it’s worth shortening the lens to just the upcoming season.
When looking at just the 2022 season, besides wondering when it’s going to start and will we get a 162-game schedule, it really comes down to playing time. Those opportunities can be created by winning a job in spring training, demolishing the minor leagues or by injuries and slumps on the major league roster.
While it’s unlikely we get anything like Mike Trout’s behemoth 2012 (.326, 30 HR, 49 SB, 129 runs) or Jose Fernandez’s electric 2013 (2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 12 wins, 187 strikeouts), there’s been plenty of star-making rookie seasons in the past decade that have made a big difference in fantasy standings.
There’s been two rookies to exceed 50 homers in the past five seasons (Pete Alonso’s 53 in 2019 and Aaron Judge’s 52 in 2017), a .300-30-100 season (Jose Abreu in 2014 – .317, 36 HR, 107 RBIs), and the arrival of a slew of fantasy superstars in the form of rookies of the year (Trout, Bryce Harper, Jacob deGrom, Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Ronald Acuna Jr., Shohei Ohtani, Yordan Alvarez and Randy Arozarena).
We’ve assembled preseason rankings of the prospects expected to impact the 2022 fantasy season with expected and upside projections (based on 162-game season since it’s easier to think in those terms). Since so much could still change between when the lockout ends and the season begins, from free-agent signings to spring training job battles, stay tuned for updates on the rookie situation.
1. Bobby Witt Jr., Royals, shortstop
Expected: .267/.322/.474, 24 HR, 19 SB, 72 R, 74 RBIs, 563 PA
Upside: .300/.375/.550, 35 HR, 30 SB, 100 R, 100 RBIs, 650 PA
Outlook: Witt Jr. could hit the ground running, immediately becoming a fantasy superstar. He may get pushed to third base with Nicky Lopez at shortstop, but Bobby has plenty of bat to hold down a corner.
2. Spencer Torkelson, Tigers, first base
Expected: .256/.322/.474, 29 HR, 3 SB, 74 R, 79 RBIs, 542 PA
Upside: .300/.400/.550, 40 HR, 5 SB, 100 R, 120 RBIs, 650 PA
Outlook: Torkelson has the power to approach Pete Alonso’s monster rookie season. He should be starting on opening day, which would allow him to pile up huge counting numbers.
3. Shane Baz, Rays, starting pitcher
Expected: 3.67 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8 wins, 10.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 112 IP
Upside: 2.50 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 15 wins, 11 K/9, 2 BB/9, 180 IP
Outlook: Baz looked like he could be a perennial Cy Young contender in three September starts with the Rays (0.68 WHIP, 18-3 K-BB in 13.1 IP) before stumbling in a postseason appearance. Limiting those hiccups will be the difference between Baz competing for AL Rookie of the Year and falling back into the pack of ultra-talented rookie pitchers.
4. Oneil Cruz, Pirates, shortstop
Expected: .277/.331/.498, 21 HR, 16 SB, 58 R, 65 RBIs, 470 PA
Upside: .300/.375/.550, 30 HR, 25 SB, 80 R, 80 RBIs, 600 PA
Outlook: At 6-foot-7, the tallest shortstop in MLB history should contribute in homers and steals if he can deal with pitchers trying to exploit his long levers by finding holes in his swing. He has 80-grade raw power, but we’ll see how much he can get to it as a rookie.
5. Keibert Ruiz, Nationals, catcher
Expected: .270/.326/.462, 21 HR, 0 SB, 59 R, 68 RBIs, 495 PA
Upside: .300/.350/.500, 30 HR, 1 SB, 80 R, 90 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: If Ruiz can keep the power gains he made last season (21 HR in 72 Triple-A games, 3 in 29 MLB games), he can be one of the top fantasy backstops. A run-of-the-mill 10-homer season is possible too, but the hit tool is truly a plus, as Ruiz struck out just 9.6% in 96 PA with Washington.
6. Jarren Duran, Red Sox, outfield
Expected: .252/.309/.407, 13 HR, 17 SB, 57 R, 51 RBIs, 484 PA
Upside: .275/.333/.450, 20 HR, 30 SB, 80 R, 70 RBIs, 600 PA
Outlook: Duran’s terrible 33-game taste of Boston (.215/.241/.336) should drive down the price, but there’s plenty of upside here as evidenced by 16 homers and 16 steals in just 60 Triple-A games. He is penciled in as a starter heading into the season, so if Duran can keep the role all season then he’ll wind up with a fantasy-friendly line.
7. Adley Rutschman, Orioles, catcher
Expected: .259/.340/.441, 14 HR, 2 SB, 50 R, 48 RBIs, 396 PA
Upside: .280/.360/.480, 25 HR, 4 SB, 70 R, 80 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Rutschman is being lumped with Witt and Julio Rodriguez as the clear top three prospects with his tremendous plate discipline coming from a big switch-hitting catcher with plus hit and power tools. Catching prospects have had the hardest time breaking in since Mike Piazza’s once-in-a-lifetime rookie season in 1993 (.318/.370/.561 with 35 HR, 112 RBIs), so expect something closer to what Matt Wieters did in 2009 as a switch-hitting rookie catcher in Baltimore (.288, 9 HR, 43 RBIs in 385 PA).
8. Joe Ryan, Twins, starting pitcher
Expected: 4.17 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8 wins, 9.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 135 IP
Upside: 3.20 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 13 wins, 11 K/9, 2 BB/9, 180 IP
Outlook: Ryan has been flying under the radar all the way through five starts with Minnesota last season, having been acquired from Tampa Bay in the Nelson Cruz deal. Ryan’s pure stuff doesn’t wow anybody, using a 91-mph fastball two-thirds of the time, but his pinpoint control and late movement have him looking more like a Shane Bieber than the mid-rotation inning eater that scouts have pegged him as.
9. Jeremy Pena, Astros, shortstop
Expected: .249/.302/.419, 16 HR, 9 SB, 51 R, 55 RBIs, 478 PA
Upside: .280/.333/.450, 25 HR, 20 SB, 80 R, 80 RBIs, 600 PA
Outlook: Pena came on like gangbusters late last year after missing most of the season with wrist surgery, smashing 10 homers in the last four weeks of the Triple-A season, including five in a three-game stretch. It looks like he’ll take over at shortstop in Houston after Carlos Correa likely leaves in free agency and Pena could put up a solid mix of stats with some power and speed.
10. Jose Miranda, Twins, third base
Expected: .277/.326/.452, 15 HR, 2 SB, 54 R, 56 RBIs, 427 PA
Upside: .300/.350/.500, 30 HR, 5 SB, 80 R, 90 RBIs, 600 PA
Outlook: Miranda backed up a .996 OPS in 47 games on Double-A with a .960 in 80 games at Triple-A last season, putting him on the doorstep in Minnesota, where he looks to get playing time if/when Josh Donaldson gets hurt, possbily platooning with Luis Arraez at second base or at DH. Being a bat-first prospect, Miranda should be better in fantasy than he’s being ranked by traditional prospect pundits with plus power and hit tools.
11. Julio Rodriguez, Mariners, outfield
Expected: .274/.337/.446, 10 HR, 7 SB, 36 R, 34 RBIs, 285 PA
Upside: .300/.375/.550, 25 HR, 25 SB, 80 R, 80 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Rodriguez has played just 46 games above High-A, putting up a 1.007 OPS at Double-A last season, so it’s all about how long it takes for J-Rod to break down the door in Seattle. He has superstar written all over him, so it’s possible he comes fast and becomes a stud right away, but he also could wind up a late-season call-up who struggles to find his footing at first.
12. Kyle Isbel, Royals, outfield
Expected: .256/.317/.409, 11 HR, 12 SB, 51 R, 45 RBIs, 427 PA
Upside: .270/.333/.450, 18 HR, 25 SB, 80 R, 70 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Isbel burst upon the fantasy scene by winning a job out of spring training last season with a .968 OPS, two homers and two steals in 50 PA, but then struggled out of the gate with a .629 OPS in 11 games and found himself in Triple-A until September. In between he put up a solid .801 OPS with 15 HR and 22 SB for Omaha before turning in a .886 OPS with 1 HR and 1 SB in 16 games with K.C. Isbel could be a sneaky source of power and speed coming for very cheap.
13. Jose Siri, Astros, outfield
Expected: .234/.282/.397, 12 HR, 14 SB, 44 R, 42 RBIs, 347 PA
Upside: .270/.325/.475, 25 HR, 30 SB, 80 R, 80 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Siri had been all but forgotten from his days as a top Reds prospect, peaking way back in 2017 with 24 HR, 46 SB and a .293 average in Low-A, due to huge swing-and-miss in his game that saw him crater at .186 in Triple-A in 2019. Coming back from the pandemic with a new franchise, Siri kept on striking out at Triple-A (30.7%), but put up a huge .318/.369/.552 triple-slash with 16 HR and 24 SB in 94 games then produced similarly down the stretch in Houston (.304/.347/.609, 4 HR, 3 SB, 49 PA). Siri even started two games in center field for the Astros in the World Series, yet he’s being left off nearly all prospect rankings. Yes, he’ll be old for a rookie at age 26 and he will surely strike out a ton, but Siri could take a starting job and run with it behind his power, speed and swag.
14. Nick Pratto, Royals, first base
Expected: .245/.324/.474, 15 HR, 6 SB, 43 R, 45 RBIs, 326 PA
Upside: .270/.350/.520, 30 HR, 12 SB, 80 R, 90 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Pratto is another prospect who’d been written off by some after a disastrous 2019 in High-A where he hit .191 with a .310 SLG, then came back from the pandemic on fire across Double- and Triple-A. He followed up a .974 OPS, 15 HR, 7 SB in Double-A with a 1.001 OPS, 21 HR, 5 SB in Triple-A and now just has Hunter Dozier to get past for the starting first base job in K.C. With Vinnie Pasquantino nipping at his heels, Pratto needs to stake his claim to the job and has the patient-power approach to do so this season.
15. Matt Vierling, Phillies, outfield
Expected: .257/.316/.416, 12 HR, 8 SB, 47 R, 47 RBIs, 401 PA
Upside: .280/.350/.450, 20 HR, 20 SB, 80 R, 75 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Vierling has to be the most under-the-radar name on this list, having gone from a non-prospect hitting .232 in High-A in 2019 to a solid-not-spectacular run through Double- and Triple-A last season (.802 OPS, 11 HR, 10 SB, 338 PA) to an impressive turn in a late-season call-up to Philadelphia (.843 OPS, 2 HR, 2 SB, 77 PA). Now he’s penciled into a starter’s playing time between the outfield and the universal DH likely coming to the NL if the Phillies don’t sign free agents to push him to the bench.
16. Seth Beer, Diamondbacks, first base
Expected: .259/.337/.436, 15 HR, 0 SB, 54 R, 51 RBIs, 438 PA
Upside: .290/.370/.500, 30 HR, 1 SB, 75 R, 90 RBIs, 600 PA
Outlook: Beer is an all-bat prospect who stands to benefit from the universal DH, where he’s penciled in to start in Arizona’s hitter-friendly bandbox. He hasn’t produced the same power in the minors that he had before coming to the D-backs from the Astros in the Zack Greinke deal, having hit 37 HR in 165 games in Houston’s system but just 17 in 124 games in Arizona’s farm. Beer still had a .909 OPS last season in Triple-A and homered in his first MLB at-bat, so he could put up some big numbers if he can stick in Arizona in 2021.
17. Jose Barrero, Reds, shortstop
Expected: .252/.310/.420, 10 HR, 7 SB, 36 R, 38 RBIs, 310 PA
Upside: .290/.350/.475, 20 HR, 20 SB, 70 R, 70 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Barrero was rushed to Cincinnati from High-A during the pandemic-stricken 2020 season, rightfully struggling badly, then fared only moderately better in his second taste of the majors in 2021. But in between, Barrero put up a .848 OPS with 6 HR, 8 SB in 40 games at Double-A and a .986 OPS with 13 HR, 8 SB in 45 games at Triple-A. His major-league ready glove should soon earn him the starting shortstop job for the Reds, who produced the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year in Jonathan India. Barrero’s bat shouldn’t be far behind, helped along by Cincinnati’s hitter-friendly park and his power-speed mix.
18. Bryson Stott, Phillies, shortstop
Expected: .253/.323/.397, 10 HR, 5 SB, 40 R, 37 RBIs, 343 PA
Upside: .290/.365/.450, 18 HR, 10 SB, 70 R, 70 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Stott rolled from High-A to Double-A to Triple-A and starred in the Arizona Fall League (.934 OPS, 2 HR, 5 SB, 88 PA) to cap it off. He combined for a .299/.390/.486 with 16 HR, 10 SB in 112 minor-league games last season, demonstrating the solid mix of skills that he’ll be bringing to Philadelphia soon. With Didi Gregorius in the final year of a contract and coming off a bad season, Stott could even win the starting job coming out of spring training. Stott could soon settle into the two-spot in the lineup, right in front of Bryce Harper, which could mean an even higher ceiling than the upside projection we’re giving him.
19. Steven Kwan, Indians, outfield
Expected: .279/.337/.435, 9 HR, 5 SB, 43 R, 40 SB, 359 PA
Upside: .300/.360/.475, 18 HR, 10 SB, 75 R, 70 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Kwan is another one of the these pop-up prospects penciled into a starting spot, utilizing his incredible contact skills and plate discipline (31 strikeouts, 36 walks in 341 PA between Double- and Triple-A) to give outfielder-barren Cleveland a chance for a homegrown player to actually nail down a spot. He could be an asset in batting average while sprinkling in some power and speed.
20. Lars Nootbaar, Cardinals, outfield
Expected: .253/.324/.412, 10 HR, 4 SB, 37 R, 36 RBIs, 314 PA
Upside: .280/.350/.475, 20 HR, 8 SB, 75 R, 75 RBIs, 525 PA
Outlook: Nootbaar, blessed with a name that makes you crave a Snickers, could satisfy fantasy managers’ hunger for a late-round steal in 2022. The Cardinals applied their prospect voodoo to Nootbaar, an eight-round pick in 2018 out of USC, changing his swing to tap into his raw power and seeing him rise to St. Louis last season. Nootbaar posted a .900 OPS in 35 games at Triple-A, then managed to contribute a .239/.317/.422 with 5 HR, 2 SB in 124 PA for the Cardinals. He went on to tear up the Arizona Fall League with a 1.080 OPS and 5 HR in 18 games. Nootbaar will likely start the year as a fourth outfielder and part-time DH who could emerge with a starting role before long.
21. Vidal Brujan, Rays, second base
Expected: .247/.307/.375, 4 HR, 13 SB, 27 R, 22 SB, 218 PA
Upside: .280/.340/.420, 10 HR, 40 SB, 70 R, 50 RBIs, 500 PA
Outlook: Brujan tantalized by hitting 7 HR in the first month at Triple-A last season, but hit just 5 HR the rest of the way. With a plus hit tool and elite speed, adding power could make Brujan a fantasy superstar. For now, he’ll likely be deployed as a super utilityman who contributes mostly with steals, but there’s plenty of upside to dream on even for 2022.
22. Kevin Smith, Blue Jays, shortstop
Expected: .230/.290/.422, 12 HR, 6 SB, 35 R, 38 RBIs, 298 PA
Upside: .270/.330/.475, 20 HR, 15 SB, 60 R, 70 RBIs, 500 PA
Outlook: Smith was yet another prospect who bounced back from a bad 2019 (.209 in Double-A) with a blow-up return in 2021 (.285/.370/.561, 21 HR, 18 SB, 410 PA in Triple-A), reaching the majors for an uninspiring 18-game taste (.094, 1 HR). Now he enters 2022 with a chance to win the starting third base job or settle into a super utilityman role. A cheap power-speed combo with plenty of upside, Smith will look to sustain the tremendous gains he made in plate discipline, adding 5% to his walk rate and subtracting almost 9% from his strikeout rate.
22. Kevin Smith, Athletics, shortstop
Expected: .230/.290/.422, 14 HR, 8 SB, 42 R, 45 RBIs, 349 PA
Upside: .270/.330/.475, 20 HR, 15 SB, 60 R, 70 RBIs, 500 PA
Outlook: Smith was yet another prospect who bounced back from a bad 2019 (.209 in Double-A) with a blow-up return in 2021 (.285/.370/.561, 21 HR, 18 SB, 410 PA in Triple-A), reaching the majors for an uninspiring 18-game taste (.094, 1 HR). Having been acquired by the A’s in the Matt Chapman deal, Smith now enters 2022 with a chance to win the starting third base job or settle into a super utility role. A cheap power-speed combo with plenty of upside, Smith will look to sustain the tremendous gains he made in plate discipline, adding 5% to his walk rate and subtracting almost 9% from his strikeout rate.
23. Juan Yepez, Cardinals, first base
Expected: .257/.324/.469, 14 HR, 1 SB, 39 R, 43 RBIs, 306 PA
Upside: .280/.350/.500, 28 HR, 2 SB, 75 R, 80 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Yepez exploded for 27 HR in just 434 PA with a .286/.383/.586 between Double- and Triple-A. He’s blocked for now at first base by Paul Goldschmidt, but he received ample time at first, third and outfield last year, so he could become a super utilityman who gets most of his ABs at DH until an injury presents more of an opportunity.
24. Elehuris Montero, Rockies, third base
Expected: .269/.329/.473, 12 HR, 0 SB, 36 R, 36 RBIs, 277 PA
Upside: .290/.350/.525, 25 HR, 1 SB, 75 R, 80 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Montero is an all-bat prospect acquired from St. Louis in the Nolan Arenado deal who is just about ready for his crack at taking a starting role in Colorado. Montero crushed 28 homers in 500 PA between Double- and Triple-A with a .278/.360/.529 triple-slash. The Rockies have a lot of moving parts, so Montero could get playing time at third, first or DH, possibly emerging with a starting role.
25. Riley Greene, Tigers, outfield
Expected: .263/.328/.450, 9 HR, 5 SB, 33 R, 33 RBIs, 260 PA
Upside: .290/.350/.525, 25 HR, 15 SB, 90 R, 90 RBIs, 600 PA
Outlook: Greene mashed across Double- and Triple-A to the tune of a combined .301/.387/.921 with 24 HR, 16 SB despite not turning 21 until late September. If the Tigers want to take a shot at contending this year, they should give Greene a shot to win a starting job out of spring training. It’s expected that they will wait until midseason to gain an extra year of team control and since he’s played just 40 games at Triple-A, which is the main thing keeping his projections down.
26. Alek Thomas, Diamondbacks, outfield
Expected: .267/.327/.430, 5 HR, 6 SB, 32 R, 28 RBIs, 259 PA
Upside: .290/.350/.475, 15 HR, 15 SB, 70 R, 60 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Like Greene, Thomas mashed across Double- and Triple-A (.313/.394/.559 with 18 HR, 13 SB) but could be held back in Reno (where he played 34 games in 2021) until midseason. He doesn’t have the power ceiling of Greene, but he should love hitting in Arizona’s bandbox.
27. Josh Lowe, Rays, outfield
Expected: .241/.313/.409, 7 HR, 8 SB, 29 R, 26 RBIs, 228 PA
Upside: .280/.350/.500, 18 HR, 25 SB, 75 R, 70 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Lowe turned in an impressive season at Triple-A with a .291/.381/.535 with 22 HR, 26 SB and is ready to join the lineup in the Tampa Bay outfield if the Rays can trade Manuel Margot or Kevin Kiermaier. With power, speed and patience, Lowe could be a big riser on this list if he can open the season with a starting job.
28. Robert Suarez, Padres, relief pitcher
Expected: 3.74 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 3 W, 6 SV, 9.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 56 IP
Upside: 2.90 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 5 W, 30 SV, 10 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 60 IP
Outlook: The Padres signed Suarez out of Japan right before the lockout and he’s expected to join the back of the bullpen in San Diego, likely factoring into the closer situation. He used his electric upper-90s fastball to carve up the JPCL with 42 saves, a 1.16 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. He’ll be a 31-year-old rookie, but could be a huge fantasy asset as a dynamic closer.
29. Aaron Ashby, Brewers, starting/relief pitcher
Expected: 3.49 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 5 W, 1 SV, 10.6 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 86 IP
Upside: 3.25 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 12 W, 20 SV, 11.5 K/9, 3 BB/9, 125 IP
Outlook: Ashby racked up an amazing 14.2 K/9 in Triple-A before playing a key role for the Brewers down the stretch as a multi-inning reliever after making four low-inning starts, posting a 4.55 ERA due to a drubbing in his final outing. He was way better than his ERAs would suggest, as his 2.26 xFIP in Triple-A dwarfed his 4.41 ERA there and his 3.05 xFIP with Milwaukee was a run and a half less than his ERA. He could become the next Brewwers swingman/reliever-turned ace if he follows in the footsteps of Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta. Ashby’s value this season will depend on whether he winds up in the rotation or as a potential replacement if Josh Hader gets hurt or traded.
30. Sixto Sanchez, Marlins, starting pitcher
Expected: 3.88 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 6 W, 7.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 91 IP
Upside: 3.25 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 10 W, 8.5 K/9, 2 BB/9, 120 IP
Outlook: Sanchez missed all of last season with a bum shoulder that eventually needed surgery in late-July. Armed with an explosive fastball and an elite changeup, Sanchez hopes to pick up where he left off in 2020 with a 3.46 ERA over 7 starts with the Marlins. If it wasn’t for doubts about whether his stuff will come all the way back right away, Sanchez would be higher on this list.
31. Colton Welker, Rockies, third base
Expected: .253/.308/.415, 12 HR, 0 SB, 45 R, 44 RBIs, 385 PA
Upside: .290/.350/.475, 20 HR, 1 SB, 75 R, 75 RBIs, 525 PA
Outlook: Welker made a name for himself as a prospect in the lower levels of the minors, hitting .329, .350 and .333 in his first three seasons from 2016-18. He slumped to .252 in Double-A in 2019, missed 2020 with the pandemic, then was slapped with an 80-game suspension last year for performance-enhancing drugs. A solid month in Triple-A earned him a 19-game trial with Colorado in September, but he struggled with a .466 OPS in 40 PA. Welker has a plus hit tool and solid power, so he could be a find if the corner infielder can win a starting job.
32. Triston Casas, Red Sox, first base
Expected: .256/.334/.447, 7 HR, 2 SB, 27 R, 25 RBIs, 202 PA
Upside: .280/.360/.500, 25 HR, 5 SB, 75 R, 75 RBIs, 525 PA
Outlook: Casas has been known for his power since being drafted in the first round in 2018, but he also has tremendous plate discipline and an all-fields approach that could lead to high numbers across his triple-slash. Bobby Dalbec will have to get off to a faster start this season if he hopes to hold off a hard-charging Casas for the first base job in Boston.
33. Grayson Rodriguez, Orioles, starting pitcher
Expected: 4.32 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 4 W, 9.2 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 69 IP
Upside: 3.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8 W, 9.5 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 100 IP
Outlook: Rodriguez combines an elite fastball with a plus slider, a swing-and-miss changeup, an improving curve and even a low-90s cutter, giving him the most complete arsenal of any pitching prospect right now. He used those weapons to dominate with a 2.36 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 14.1 K/9 between High- and Double-A last season. The Orioles will likely hold him back in Triple-A until midseason, but he could be quite a weapon in fantasy down the stretch.
34. Reid Detmers, Angels, starting pitcher
Expected: 4.34. ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6 W, 9.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 85 IP
Upside: 3.60 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 10 W, 10 K/9, 3 BB/9, 120 IP
Outlook: Detmers dominated in the minors last season with a 3.19 ERA and 15.7 K/9 between Double- and Triple-A before struggling in a September call-up to the Angels (7.40 ERA in 5 starts). The first-round pick out of Louisville in 2020 saw his stuff tick up last year, including a fastball the now sits in the mid-90s to go with a plus-plus curve, an excellent new slider and a solid changeup. The lefty may need to start the year in Triple-A since he only had two starts there last season, but he should join the Angels’ six-man rotation before long.
35. Spencer Strider, Braves, starting/relief pitcher
Expected: 4.29 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 5 W, 9.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 85 IP
Upside: 3.50 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 10 W, 10 SV, 10 K/9, 3 BB/9, 120 IP
Outlook: Strider made a smashing pro debut after the Braves took the 6-foot righty out of Clemson, blazing across four levels in the minors all the way to Atlanta. He combined for a 3.64 ERA with a 14.6 K/9 in the minors, then pitched two scoreless relief outings for the Braves. Due to his smaller stature, some have Strider pegged as a reliever, but he’ll likely be starting in Triple-A, waiting for an opportunity in the Braves rotation and settle for a bullpen role if need be.
36. Ryan Vilade, Rockies, outfield
Expected: .265/.314/.387, 6 HR, 7 SB, 41 R, 33 RBIs, 378 PA
Upside: .280/.333/.420, 12 HR, 20 SB, 80 R, 60 RBIs, 550 PA
Outlook: Vilade disappointed last season in Triple-A with just 7 HR, 12 SB in 518 PA, but there’s more power in his 6-foot-2, 226-pound frame that if unlocked in Coors Field, could lead to a breakout. With solid plate discipline and speed, he could also contribute steals and runs if he can earn a spot in the Rockies outfield. Keep an eye on whether Raimel Tapia is traded to open a spot in center field once the lockout ends.
37. Drew Waters, Braves, outfield
Expected: .241/.303/.380, 5 HR, 9 SB, 25 R, 23 RBIs, 247 PA
Upside: .270/.333/.420, 12 HR, 25 SB, 70 R, 60 RBIs, 500 PA
Outlook: Waters’ yo-yo season of good month, bad month, finished with a less-than-inspiring .240/.329/.381 triple-slash, but he did smack 11 homers and steal 28 bases. Waters and fellow-rookie Cristian Pache could wind up platooning in center field until one can run away with the job, but he should provide some cheap speed with a little pop.
38. Hunter Greene, Reds, starting pitcher
Expected: 4.66 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 7 W, 9.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 107 IP
Upside: 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 12 W, 10 K/9, 3 BB/9, 130 IP
Outlook: Greene’s legendary fastball, which got him on the cover as Sports Illustrated in high school and touched 102 mph last season, has him ready to challenge for a Reds rotation spot in spring training. He’s learning how to harness it, dialing it up and down while he gains control. Together with a plus slider, Greene has the 1-2 punch to make a splash in his rookie season.
39. Matt Brash, Mariners, starting pitcher
Expected: 4.20 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 5 W, 9.4 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 90 IP
Upside: 3.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 10 W, 10 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 120 IP
Outlook: The Mariners stole Brash from the Padres at the 2020 trade deadline for reliever Taylor Williams, then watched the cross-firing righty blossom into a top prospect in 2021 with a 2.31 ERA and a 13.1 K/9 between High- and Double-A. While his funky mechanics have scouts pegging him as a reliever, Brash held his stuff late into starts and now appears ready to challenge for the Mariners’ starting rotation out of spring training. If he can maintain the control gains he made in Double-A, Brash could be a revelation in Seattle.
40. Edward Cabrera, Marlins, starting pitcher
Expected: 4.05 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 3 W, 9.8 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 63 IP
Upside: 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 10 W, 10.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 120 IP
Outlook: The 6-foot-5, flame-throwing Cabrera finally reached Miami last season after battling back and biceps injuries for two years, but he struggled with a 5.81 ERA and 6.5 BB/9 over seven starts. He averaged 13.5 K/9 over three levels in the minors and 9.6 K/9 in Miami, so he has plenty of upside if he can find the plate and earn a spot in the crowded Marlins rotation.
41. Luis Gil, Yankees, starting pitcher
Expected: 4.55 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 4 W, 10.4 K/9, 4.8 BB/9, 93 IP
Upside: 3.85 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 12 W, 11.5 K/9, 4 BB/9, 130 IP
Outlook: Gil rose last season from Double- to Triple-A to New York, where he posted a 3.07 ERA, 11.7 K/9 and averaged 96.1 mph on his fastball, so why isn’t he ranked higher? Because his 5.8 BB/9 and 4.85 xFIP doesn’t bode well for an encore. Gil could be effectively wild, provide strikeouts, wins and a decent ERA, just expect him to hurt more than help in WHIP.
42. Joey Bart, Giants, catcher
Expected: .235/.287/.373, 9 HR, 38 R, 37 RBIs, 357 PA
Upside: .250/.305/.400, 18 HR, 60 R, 60 RBIs, 450 PA
Outlook: Bart is poised to finally take over the starting catcher job in San Francisco after Buster Posey’s surprise retirement. Bart was the second overall draft pick in 2018 out of Georgia Tech and has been very good in the minors (.287/.348/.512 in 197 games) but very bad in two small stints with the Giants (.239/.291/.321 in 35 games). Catchers take longer than any other position to develop, so maybe Bart is ready for a breakout.
43. Cody Morris, Indians, starting pitcher
Expected: 4.04 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 2 W, 9.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 64 IP
Upside: 3.25 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 10 W, 10 K/9, 3 BB/9, 110 IP
Outlook: Morris dazzled last season with a 1.62 ERA and 13.9 K/9 over three stops in the minors, ending with nine games in Triple-A. He’s now positioned first in line when anything happens to any of the Guardians’ five-man rotation. His stuff ticked up last season, including a mid-90s fastball that touched 99 to go with a plus changeup. Cleveland has been a hotbed of pitching breakouts in recent seasons and Morris could be this year’s.
44. Nolan Gorman, Cardinals, second base
Expected: .254/.298/.426, 7 HR, 1 SB, 22 R, 23 RBIs, 188 PA
Upside: .270/.320/.460, 20 HR, 5 SB, 60 R, 60 RBIs, 500 PA
Outlook: Gorman’s light-tower power was on display last season in the upper minors, as he hit 25 homers in 119 games between Double- and Triple-A. With Nolan Arenado blocking him at third base in St. Louis, Gorman took up second base last season so he can challenge Tommy Edman there, or at least earn a bench role as a utility infielder, part-time DH until a bigger role presents itself.
45. Daulton Jefferies, Athletics, starting pitcher
Expected: 4.21 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2 W, 7.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 84 IP
Upside: 3.50 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 10 W, 7.5 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, 120 IP
Outlook: Jefferies has long battled injury problems, including a flexor strain in his right elbow that ended his 2021 season with Oakland in September. A control artist with a plus changeup, Jefferies could help out in ERA and WHIP if he can stay healthy in the A’s rotation, just don’t expect many strikeouts.
46. Dylan Coleman, Royals, relief pitcher
Expected: 3.82 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 3 W, 1 SV, 10.1 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 58 IP
Upside: 2.50 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 5 W, 30 SV, 11 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 60 IP
Outlook: Coleman already brought his 100-mph heater to Kansas City for a five-game trial run that produced excellent results (1.42 ERA, 10 K/9, 1.4 BB/9), so he’s expected to play a key role in the back of the bullpen, maybe even emerging as closer at some point over Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont. With a 13.5 K/9 in Double-A and a 15.3 K/9 in Triple-A, Coleman has plenty to offer fantasy owners prospecting for saves.
47. Mark Vientos, Mets, third base
Expected: .232/.286/.431, 9 HR, 0 SB, 21 R, 27 RBIs, 203 PA
Upside: .270/.320/.475, 20 HR, 1 SB, 50 R, 60 RBIs, 450 PA
Outlook: As a long-levered, power-hitting third baseman, Vientos has drawn some Kris Bryant comparisons. Vientos slugged 25 homers in just 83 games last season between Double- and Triple-A, so a rookie season like Bryant’s award-winning 2015 with 26 homers isn’t out of the question. An injury or extended slump by either Eduardo Escobar or Jeff McNeil could open the door for Vientos to burst through.
48. Nolan Jones, Indians, third base
Expected: .233/.324/.397, 7 HR, 3 SB, 27 R, 25 RBIs, 231 PA
Upside: .250/.350/.450, 18 HR, 10 SB, 60 R, 50 RBIs, 475 PA
Outlook: Jones is a three-true-outcomes hitter, with a 14.5% walk rate, 30% strikeout rate and 13 homers last season in 99 games at Triple-A. Struck behind Jose Ramirez at third base, Jones could get an opportunity in an outfield corner unless the Guardians keep going cheap by trading Ramirez.
49. Travis Swaggerty, Pirates, outfield
Expected: .244/.311/.378, 5 HR, 5 SB, 22 R, 21 RBIs, 203 PA
Upside: .270/.333/.420, 12 HR, 15 SB, 50 R, 50 RBIs, 450 PA
Outlook: Swaggerty was limited by injuries to just 12 games in Triple-A last season, so his last extended playing time was in High-A in 2019 with 121 games. When healthy, he has a discerning eye at the plate, decent power and excellent speed. The Pirates have nothing blocking Swaggerty in the corner outfield spots, so if he has a hot enough spring or start to the Triple-A season, he could earn a starting spot in short order.
50. Cristian Pache, Braves, outfield
Expected: .229/.282/.381, 6 HR, 4 SB, 26 R, 22 SB, 232 PA
Upside: .250/.300/.420, 15 HR, 60 R, 50 RBIs, 450 PA
Outlook: Pache eventually bounced back from an abysmal start last season (.111 in 22 games with Atlanta, .233 in 45 games at Triple-A) with a hot final two months (.296 in 44 games with Gwinnett). His gold-glove defense could earn him enough playing time to rack up double figures in homers and steals.