Finding Prospects with Power Potential: May 2022 Update
The minor league season is about 40 games old and we’re getting close to the point where stats are beginning to stabilize. While the season is still young we can at least look at player’s current performance and make projections or conclusions with more confidence. In our first post of the season back in April, I stated that the sample size was very small and this was reinforced in our first update. All of the players except for two from the first list failed to make it this time.
Before diving into the names of who did or did not make the list, just a reminder of what 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
Players Off The List
- Jose Miranda, MIN
- Pete Crow-Armstrong, CHC
- Connor Scott, PIT
- Darell Hernaiz, BAL
- Malcom Nunez, STL
- Jadiel Sanchez, PHI
Jose Miranda falls out because he’s been in the MLB since the last post (nailed it!). Pete Crow-Armstrong has been one of the best hitters in MiLB, and he just barely misses the cutoff. His SwStr% was 1% too high and his Contact% fell to 78%. He’s still hitting at a high level and should be considered a top prospect. Scott, Hernaiz, and Sanchez have been playing well but couldn’t meet all of the parameters. Nunez has really struggled the past month and has seen his batting average fall to .204. The good news is that the SwStr% hasn’t spiked, the power is still present (.142 ISO) and it seems to be a case of bad luck (.241 BABIP). It’s very possible that he returns to the list in the next update.
- Vinnie Pasquantino, KC
- Jacob Amaya, LAD
Vinnie Pasquantino has been the only player that has made this list every, single time it’s been run. Plus he’s been on a tear in May, posting a 1.023 OPS and raising his ISO to a career-high .310. It’s truly remarkable how he can consistently play at such a high level.
Amaya has been been on a tear as well in May with a 1.024 OPS and cutting his SwStr% to a minuscule 7%. Both of their performances are also backed up by Phil Goyette’s estimated barrel rate and xwOBA. Pasquantino has a .397 xwOBA and 10% barrel rate, while Amaya has a ludicrous .439 xwOBA and 14% barrel rate. If either of them are available in any league you’re in they’re no-brainer adds or trade targets.
Miguel Vargas, Los Angeles Dodgers
Vargas made the list in our off-season post and he’s been just as good as he was in 2021. His numbers are nearly identical to last year. Just like Pasquantino, Vargas has maintained his excellent approach and solid power. I don’t know what else Vargas has to do in the minor leagues, but if Turner keeps on struggling you really have to wonder if the Dodgers will give Vargas a chance at the MLB level. If I were a rebuilding team and wanted a near MLB level prospect that shouldn’t cost too much I think Vargas is a great target.
Lenyn Sosa, Chicago White Sox
Sosa is the third player in this article who has been on another level in May. In 19 games the Venezuelan second baseman has put up an almost 1.200 OPS. I watched video of him from his two-home run game on May 17th and came away impressed. He didn’t chase pitches outside of the strike zone and made contact on every swing – even his SO was a foul tip into the catcher’s glove.
Soso does seem to be more selective at the plate this year. The BB% is the highest it’s been since 2017, the K% is down to 13%, and the LD% is up to 24%, close to the 25% he posted in High A last year. That is also where he’s hit his most home runs. The SwStr% is also at a career-low.
Sosa added muscle in the off-season and it clearly shows in the statline and in person. The two home runs he hit that May 17th game were not cheap shots at all. We could be looking at a breakout here and I think he’s worth adding in most formats.
Evan Carter, Texas Rangers
Carter’s best tool when drafted in 2021 was his plus hit tool and speed, with the expectation of above-average power as he matures. That power increase may have come earlier than expected as he’s already doubled his home run total from 2021 in just as many games; two home runs last year in 32 games versus 4 home runs in 30 games this year.
This increased power output has come while keeping the contact rates high and the advanced approach intact. Carter ranked at 189 in our pre-season prospect rankings and has just crept into the top 100 rankings for some evaluators. I think he’s an add in all formats, but it’s very likely the manager who currently rosters Carter is a prospect hound and it may not be easy to acquire him. For what it’s worth, he was unowned in a 14-team league I’m in.
Other Players to Follow
The rest of the players are worth following but not worth rostering as of now. Tanner Morris has made some small improvements to his approach and has tapped more into his power, increasing his ISO from .116 to .190. Will Brennan has always had a solid hit tool and good approach but has started to add some pop to his profile. His fly-ball rate has increased which has increased his barrel rate from 1.5% to 5.8%. Those are still below average but the improvement is worth noting. Alejandro Osuna and Spencer Steer have both improved their approach which has helped them make more contact and tap into more power. But their barrel rates and xwOBA’s are about average.