Dynasty Baseball

Finding Prospects with Power Potential: Early 2022 Names to Know

Even though the minor league baseball season is just underway, it’s already time to start looking for prospects that could be on the verge of power breakouts. We’re looking for players that have elite hit tools, the ability to left the ball, and have raw power. Early enough in the season, these skills may be present but not translating to surface stats. This is an excellent opportunity to add players to your team for virtually nothing before gathering any hype.  Just a reminder, these are the criteria and thresholds we’re looking for;

  • 24 years old or younger
  • Contact rate 80% or higher
  • Swinging Strike rate (SwStr%) 10% or below
  • Ground ball rate (GB%) 45% or below
  • Line drive rate (LD%) 20% or higher
  • Isolated Slugging Percentage (ISO) .150 or higher

Before we get into the names – this is a laughably small sample size. We’re now doing this to see who is off to a good start, but this list could change quickly.

Vinnie Pasquantino, Kansas City Royals

Analysis by: Colin Coulahan

Vinnie is the poster child for this filter. It was how I was able to add him to all of my dynasty teams before most players knew who he was. Since then, his stock has just continued to rise, and now he’s arguably the best first base prospect in their system. I know plenty of people will say Pratto still has more upside, and there’s no playing time Vinnie. And we can have that discussion another day. But just look at the consistency of Pasquantino. He meets these thresholds in all of his pro seasons. His OPS has never been below .900. The lowest walk rate he’s posted was 10%. The wOBA has been above .400 for every single season. Even if Vinnie doesn’t meet that superstar ceiling, he should still be a consistent everyday player who can hit for average, walk at a high rate, and hit for power.

Pete Crow-Armstrong, Chicago Cubs

Analysis by: Colin Coulahan

PCA has started the year as hot as a hitter can be. After hitting above .400 in his six pro ball games, his season ended due to shoulder surgery. But he’s back now and hitting even better than he did last year. PCA makes plenty of contact with a 7% SwStr% and 81% Contact%. His .256 ISO is the third-highest of the players that make this list. The power is what we want to see as his power potential was always the question mark, not the plus hit tool. If PCA can continue lifting the ball to tap into his power, he will become one of the best fantasy prospects in the minor leagues. 

Connor Scott, Pittsburgh Pirates

Analysis by: Colin Coulahan

Scott has always had an interesting profile from a fantasy perspective. He’s always had speed and raw power, but it never really translated to surface stats because of the poor hit tool. The 2021 season was Scott’s best professional season, hitting ten home runs, stealing 14 bases, and finishing with a .779 OPS. The 21% K% was also the lowest of his career. In almost two weeks of minor league play, Scott has continued this trend and made improvements in other areas. He’s walking at an 11.5% clip and has cut his groundball rate by 13%. The .485 BABIP is indeed to regress, but if Scott continues to make contact and hit the ball in the air as much as he is, any regression will likely be minimal. 

Darell Hernaiz, Baltimore Orioles

Analysis by: Colin Coulahan

Hernaiz is someone I like. The tools are exciting, and there’s a high upside if he can put it all together. There’s raw power here, but Hernaiz hasn’t had it to show up in-game. Despite six home runs in 2021, 80% of his hits were singles. But he’s already hit four this year, and the GB% is down. He’s worthy of a speculative add in deeper leagues and someone to watch in shallower formats.

Malcolm Nunez, St. Louis Cardinals

Analysis by: Chris Knock

Malcolm Nunez is a surprising name to make the first version of our 2022 season list. A 21-year-old third base prospect previously known as a power-over-hit prospect despite only hitting 10+ home runs once in his MiLB career. Early results this year show continued improvement in his bat-to-ball skills and approach at the plate. Nunez’s K% has steadily declined each of his professional years to 12.9% early on this season with an unsustainable 20% BB rate. His GB% is creeping up, and as of 5/1 he no longer would qualify with a 46.8% GB rate. This is the book on Nunez: he’s built up physically (5’11”, 205 ) but hits the ball into the ground too much.

Nunez’s contact gains are wonderful, showing improvement here while moving up the developmental ladder is the type of progression a ballplayer should make. The assumed launch angle (come on, MLB get Statcast everywhere!) based on GB/FB rates above 1.5 year over year highlights what I’m watching as the season progresses. If he’s able to start lifting the ball consistently, he should have no problem beating any previous season’s personal HR records. Keep in mind too that he’s sandwiched between Nolan Gorman and Jordan Walker in the Cardinal third base pipeline. Even if he starts knocking more balls out of the park, there will often be somewhat breathing down his neck.

Jadiel Sanchez, Philadelphia Phillies

Analysis by: Chris Knock

So far in the young season, Jadiel Sanchez looks to be a name that could start popping up on lists and articles. The switch-hitting outfielder returned to Single-A and is improving on his 2021 season where he hit 13 home runs as a 19-year-old. Early on he’s hitting the ball to all fields well (41% Pull Rate, 31% Oppo) and has already hit two home runs in 16 games. I love seeing a contact rate of 88%, especially with a switch hitter. And the success he’s having putting the bat on the ball is evident in his walk and K rates, (9% and 10.4% respectively).

The strong start Sanchez has with his contact numbers coupled with the spray chart and solid power showings so far all contribute to my intrigue. I’ve added him to some watch lists in a deeper league (300 prospects rostered) and will jump on him if these numbers hold. The Phillies’ minor league organization doesn’t have a lot of names in the outfield so Sanchez could become the one to watch.

Jose Miranda, Minnesota Twins

Analysis by: Bob Cyphers

Jose Miranda had about as good of a 2021 season as you could ask for slashing .344/.401/.572 with 30 HRs across AA and AAA. He was unable to crack the opening day major league roster despite Josh Donaldson being traded away, and the Twins have been rolling with Gio Urshela and Luis Arraez so far at third base. Miranda has been unable to match his 2021 marks so far as he is slashing .256/.295/.442. We are working with limited data, but let’s dig in and see if we can find anything significant to explain his slightly slower start.

His plate skills have shifted slightly in the wrong direction, with a slight increase to 15.6% K% and a slight decrease to 4.4% BB%, but neither is a significant deviation from his normal career rates. His LD% of 24 % is almost exactly the same as last season and his 40 % GB% and 36% FB% are within a few percentage points as well, so he is not hitting the ball differently either. It is hard to say why Miranda is “under-performing” so far in 2022 (when compared to last year), especially without additional Statcast data available. His .261 BABIP is significantly lower than it has been over the past few seasons which is not helping his average. Neither has the fact that the temperature in St.Paul has failed to get above 60 degrees so far this season. But the biggest difference I see is his HR/FB% is much more in line with his career numbers at 8.3% compared to the 23% he carried last year. Looking further back in his career, Miranda had an 8% HR/FB% in 2018 when he hit 16 total home runs versus the 30 total home runs hit in 2021 with the 23% HR/FB%. Going forward I expect Miranda to continue to be a strong hitter due to his excellent plate and contact skills, but I think I will “shove” on any elite power in the future.

Jacob Amaya, Los Angeles Dodgers

Analysis by: Bob Cyphers

Jacob Amaya is off to a scorching hot start in 2022 sporting a slash line of .316/ 418/.754 across 16 games. He has also cracked six home runs already which matches half of his total from last year in 113 games. His overall stat line was not attention-grabbing, but his mature plate approach and bag skills have always made him an attractive prospect. He spent the entire 2021 season at AA so the early indicators could be that he has out-grown the level and is due for a promotion. I mean he is literally almost walking at the same rate he is striking out, 14.9% BB% versus 16.4% K%.

The power surge is obviously great to see, but I am still a little wary that he is suddenly becoming a big-time power hitter. There are good signs in his early batted ball data with a significant decrease in GB% and correlating increase in LD% and FB%. Amaya is hitting about 20% fewer groundballs and the difference is spread about evenly with approximately 10% up-ticks to his LD% and FB%. These changes are obviously positives and can lead to more power, but an obscene 28.6% HR/FB ratio is not sustainable, and his previous career-high mark was 14.3% in 2017 at rookie ball. If the new batted ball trends stick I can see him adding power to his already plus-hit tool and increasing his player profile’s value. I see a promotion to AAA in Amaya’s near future and think there is even potential for a call to the majors before 2022 is over.

 

The Author

Colin Coulahan

Colin Coulahan

1 Comment

  1. John Vaghi
    May 2, 2022 at 7:22 pm — Reply

    As a comment, it would be quite helpful to list these guy’s level when doing this column.

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