Greene makes Top 10 OF prospect list for ’22

Detroit Tigers

MLB Pipeline will reveal its 2022 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday, with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. Leading up to the release of the Top 100, we’ll examine baseball’s top 10 prospects at each position.

Once again the list of baseball’s top 10 outfield prospects is loaded with elite talent. An outfielder has won a Rookie of the Year award in four of the past five seasons and it would hardly be a shock to see that streak continue as six of these 10 prospects are expected to reach this Majors this season.

Jarred Kelenic led this list a season ago and although he’s graduated from prospect status, the Mariners still hold the top spot as Julio Rodríguez jumped up from No. 2 to No. 1. Riley Greene, who moved up from No. 6 a year ago to No. 2, is the only other holdover from last year’s list. There may be eight new names on the list, but the turnover certainly doesn’t indicate a drop in talent. All 10 prospects rank among the top 52 on the overall Top 100 and six of the eight draftees were first-round picks. The D-backs are the only team with multiple representatives and it’s also interesting to note that half these prospects will player in either the American or National League West.

Hit: Rodríguez (70)
Simply put, Rodríguez can hit. The 21-year-old is coming off the best offensive season of his young career, having set career highs in average (.347), on-base percentage (.441), slugging percentage (.560) and homers (13). Those numbers certainly jump off the page, but it’s not as is they were some sort of aberration. Rodríguez has hit everywhere since signing with the Mariners in 2017 and has a career slash line of .331/.412/.543. Rodríguez has an advanced approach and is able to drive the ball to all fields, leaving little doubt he’ll continue to be a plus hitter.

Power: Rodríguez (65)
Rodríguez not only stands out for his overall hit tool, but also for his power. The Mariners’ No. 1 prospect has seen both his slugging percentage and home run totals increase in each of the past three seasons as he continues to develop and improve as a hitter. Perhaps what’s most impressive about Rodríguez’s power is the way he’s able to get to it without compromising his approach or plate discipline.

Run: Carroll (70)
A threat to steal anytime he reaches base, Carroll possesses true plus-plus speed. The 2019 first-round pick is 21-for-23 in stolen base attempts through the first 49 games of his professional career and has also racked up nine triples in the span. Carroll is also able to use his speed well defensively, easily tracking down balls in the gaps from his spot in center field.

Arm: Rodríguez, Veen, Lowe (60)
Rodríguez’s name is all over this article with his plus arm being just one of his many plus tools. Veen and Lowe also have plus arms and all three of these prospects have the ability to prevent runners from trying to take an extra base.

Field: Thomas, Carroll, Hassell, Lowe (60)
The D-backs’ future outfield should excite not only Arizona fans, but also the pitching staff as both Thomas and Carroll have the speed and instincts to track down balls and take away hits. Lowe is also a plus runner and his 60-grade arm ranks the best of this trio.

Highest ceiling: Rodríguez
Expect Rodríguez to be one of baseball’s most exciting players for years to come. The young phenom can do everything well and has demonstrated as much throughout the Minors and in the Olympics, where he helped the Dominican Republic win a bronze medal. In addition to his collection of plus tools, Rodríguez is often complemented for his work ethic and his passion for the game is evident.

Highest floor: Rodríguez
Rodríguez has MVP potential, but if he fails to reach his ceiling, he’s still likely to be a very productive player. Not only can he spray the ball all over the yard, but he can also steal a base, track down balls in the gap and keep runners from taking the extra base with his plus arm in right. When a player has as many tools as Rodríguez, their floor is typically high and that’s the case here.

Rookie of the Year candidate: Rodríguez
The American League Rookie of the Year race is expected to be quite the contest. There are several big-time prospects who are expected to debut this season and Rodríguez undoubtedly fits in that group. The 21-year-old outfielder has hit at every level of the Minors thus far and if he’s able to continue to rake in the Majors, there’s no reason to doubt he’ll be among those discussed for the award at the end of the season. Recent history is on his side too, as an outfielder has won the AL ROY in back-to-back seasons (Randy Arozarena in 2021 and Kyle Lewis in 2020).

Highest riser: Lowe
Lowe opened the 2021 season as the Rays No. 13 prospect, and he’ll begin 2022 ranked 50th on the overall Top 100 and second in the Tampa Bay system. The 24-year-old put together the best year of his career last season as he swiped 26 bases and set career highs in all three triple-slash categories, hitting .291/.381/.535 with 22 homers (another career best) over 111 games with Triple-A Durham. Lowe got called up to Tampa for two games in September and should expect to see more time there this summer.

Humblest beginning: Davis
This list is loaded with talent and doesn’t have a ton of players who snuck up on evaluators. Both international prospects received seven-figure bonuses and of the eight players who were drafted, six were first-round picks. The other two — Davis and Thomas — were second-round selections. Davis was the 62nd overall pick in the 2018 Draft and signed for $1.1 million, but his career has been a bit rocky to date. When he’s been on the field, he’s performed. However, he lost time in 2019 to right index finger injuries and suffered a concussion and a broken nose in the lost 2020 season. The 99 games he played in 2021 were a career high and a healthy 2022 campaign would go a long way to helping him reach his ceiling.

Most to prove: Carroll
A first-round pick from the 2019 Draft, Carroll’s career got off to a fast start. He slashed .299/.409/.487 over 42 games in his pro debut, drew rave reviews for his standout performance at the D-backs’ alternate training site in 2020 and was hitting .435 through seven games in 2021 before shoulder surgery abruptly ended his season. Carroll’s stock was skyrocketing prior to the surgery and his ceiling remains very high. However, evaluators will want to see if he’s the same player coming off the injury and he’ll also have to prove he can produce against advanced competition once he starts to climb the ladder.

Keep an eye on: Martin
Regarded as arguably the top hitter in the 2020 Draft class, Martin hit .270 and posted a .414 on-base percentage in his full-season debut. The Blue Jays aggressively assigned him to Double-A and the Vanderbilt product responded well to the challenge as his plate discipline and ability to use the entire field helped him get off to a fast start. Martin’s numbers dipped a bit once he was traded to the Twins, but his hit tool still grades out as plus. Martin’s long-term defensive home is still a bit of a question, but his bat will likely determine his ultimate ceiling.

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