Here’s MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Year

Detroit Tigers

While Triple-A postseason play will carry on through Sunday, the 2022 Minor League season has all but come to a close.

Over the course of the year, we’ve seen some astounding performances across all levels of the Minors and a ton of incredible talent move up organizational ladders, including to the big leagues. It’s time to celebrate those performances now, as we have every year there’s been a Minor League season since 2015: with our Prospect Team of the Year.

Prospects were chosen for this list based solely on their Minor League performance in 2022. To be eligible for the Prospect Team of the Year, players must have spent at least half of the season in the Minors and made our organization Top 30 Prospects rankings at some point. (All stats are cumulative Minor League year-end totals.)

The Rays lead the way with two prospects on the First Team, while the Angels, Brewers, Giants and Reds each have a representative on the First and Second Teams. The Cardinals have two players on the Second Team. A total of 18 organizations are represented across both 12-player rosters.

C: Endy Rodriguez (PIT No. 6, MLB No. 98)
A+/AA/AAA: .323/.407/.590, 125 G, 25 HR, 95 RBI, 92 R, 60 BB, 4 SB
It was one thing when he was raking with hitter-friendly Greensboro, but then he kept going, with a 1.120 OPS in Double-A and going off to finish the year in a brief stop in Triple-A. The 22-year old has seen time at second base and the outfield as well, but leads all catchers in the Minors in OPS (.997) and wRC+ (165).

1B: Kyle Manzardo (TB No. 6)
A+/AA: .327/.426/.617, 93 G, 22 HR, 81 RBI, 71 R, 59 BB, 1 SB
The Washington State standout entered pro ball as the Rays’ second-round pick in 2021 with a reputation of being a hit-over-power type. He certainly hit across two levels, with an advanced approach that helped him walk (59) nearly as much as he struck out (65). The power showed up perhaps more than expected, and his 1.043 OPS places him second among all Minor League hitters.

2B: Enmanuel Valdez (BOS No. 18)
AA/AAA: .296/.376/.542, 126 G, 28 HR, 107 RBI, 92 R, 64 BB, 8 SB
Valdez had hit his way from Double-A to Triple-A with the Astros before being sent to the Red Sox in the Christian Vázquez deal. While his numbers with his new organization haven’t been as impressive, overall his .542 SLG for the year leads Minor League second basemen, and his 107 RBIs put him in a tie for the lead at the position.

3B: Brett Baty (NYM No. 2/MLB No. 18)
AA/AAA/MLB: .303/.395/.515, 106 G, 21 HR, 65 RBI, 80 R, 51 BB, 2 SB
Baty didn’t really get to find his footing in the big leagues, suffering a torn UCL in his right thumb just two weeks after getting called up. But, boy, was the 2019 first-rounder impressive in the Minors before making his Mets debut, with his .943 OPS across Double-A and Triple-A placing him second among all Minor Leaguers at the hot corner and pacing all of them with a 159 wRC+.

SS: Elly De La Cruz (CIN No. 1/MLB No. 14)
A+/AA: .304/.359/.586, 120 G, 28 HR, 86 RBI, 87 R, 40 BB, 47 SB
After bursting on the scene last year, De La Cruz entered elite prospect status with his 2022 campaign across two levels. He fell just two homers shy of a 30-40 season. The Futures Game participant’s power-speed combination, and ability to mash from both sides of the plate, stood out as the 20-year old finished with an impressive .945 OPS.

OF: Corbin Carroll (ARI No. 1/MLB No. 3)
RK/AA/AAA/MLB: .295/.405/.579, 119 G, 27 HR, 75 RBI, 98 R, 73 BB, 32 SB
So much for rust, huh? After missing the 2020 season because of the shutdown and playing in just seven games in ’21 because of a shoulder injury, Carroll made quick work of the Minors in ’22 to make his big league debut shortly after his 22nd birthday. He posted a 1.035 OPS in the Minors while joining the 20-30 club in the process before holding his own in Arizona.

OF: Vaun Brown (SF No. 10)
A/A+/AA: .346/.437/.623, 103 G, 23 HR, 75 RBI, 100 R, 47 BB, 44 SB
Few Minor Leaguers put up better overall numbers than Brown, who signed for a modest $7,500 as a fifth-year senior and 10th-round pick in the 2021 Draft. His .346 average and .623 SLG lead all Minor Leaguers, as does his 1.060 OPS. Yes, he’s 24, but he’s already far exceeded expectations.

OF: Jackson Chourio (MIL No. 1/MLB No. 10)
A/A+/AA: .288/.342/.538, 99 G, 20 HR, 75 RBI, 75 R, 32 BB, 16 SB
While there are some other outfielders with better overall numbers (some of whom appear on the second team below), Chourio earns a spot here for his production combined with his “prospect goodness.” He’s just 18 and had a .916 OPS across two levels of A ball before a rough stint to end his incredible year in Double-A. We haven’t heard pro scouts rave about a prospect like this in some time.

DH: Gunnar Henderson (BAL No. 1/MLB No. 2)
AA/AAA/MLB: .291/.404/.521, 139 G, 23 HR, 93 RBI, 111 R, 90 BB, 23 SB
Just 21, Henderson performed his way from Double-A to the big leagues and is currently more than holding his own in Baltimore. Advancements in his approach have allowed him to be a 20-20 player combined this year while his .946 OPS and 154 wRC+ in the Minors actually slightly edge De La Cruz among shortstops.

LHP: Mason Montgomery (TB No. 7)
A+/AA: 6-3, 2.10 ERA, 124 IP, 171 K, 43 BB, .196 BAA, 1.06 WHIP
The Rays’ sixth-rounder out of Texas Tech in Double-A, Montgomery certainly has put himself on the top lefty prospect radar by dominating across two levels in his first full year of pro ball. His 2.10 ERA led all Minor League southpaws, while he was second in K/9 (12.41) and third in batting average against (.196).

RHP: Andrew Painter (PHI No. 1/MLB No. 24)
A/A+/AA: 6-2, 1.56 ERA, 103 2/3 IP, 155 K, 25 BB, .181 BAA, 0.89 WHIP
It might be hard to find a pitcher in recent memory who accomplished as much as Painter did when you consider his overall numbers and his age. Still only 19, the 2021 first-rounder didn’t blink with promotions from Single-A Clearwater to High-A Jersey Shore and then to hitter-friendly Reading in Double-A. His walk rate actually got better as he moved up, finishing with a 2.2 BB/9 rate to go along with his 13.5 K/9 rate. That helped him post the best WHIP (0.89) of any pitcher with 100 innings or more in the Minors this year.

RP: Eric Torres (LAA No. 28)
AA: 2-2, 22 SV, 1.59 ERA, 51 IP, 81 K, 23 BB, .143 BAA, 0.94 WHIP
A reliever at Kansas State taken in Round 14 of the 2021 Draft by the Angels, Torres went straight to Double-A for his first full season and didn’t miss a beat. His 22 saves placed him third among Minor League closers while being young for his level. He gave up just 4.4 hits per nine while striking out an impressive 14.3 per nine for the year.

C: Logan O’Hoppe (LAA No. 1/MLB No. 65)
AA/MLB: .284/.416/.543, 105 G, 26 HR, 78 RBI, 72 R, 70 BB, 7 SB
Sent from the Phillies to the Angels in the Brandon Marsh deal, O’Hoppe performed well in Double-A in both organizations, cementing himself as one of the better catching prospects in the game.

1B: Matt Mervis (CHC No. 21)
A+/AA/AAA: .309/.379/.605, 137 G, 36 HR, 119 RBI, 92 R, 50 BB, 2 SB
A 2020 undrafted free agent, Mervis has gone off in ’22, hitting for a ton of power across three levels and finishing as one of the Minors’ top home run hitters.

2B: Edouard Julien (MIN No. 14)
AA: .300/.441/.490, 113 G, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 77 R, 98 BB, 19 SB
An 18th-round pick out of Auburn in 2019, Julien spent all year with Double-A Wichita and led all second basemen in the Minors with his .931 OPS.

3B: Christian Encarnacion-Strand (CIN No. 14)
A+/AA: .304/.368/.587, 122 G, 32 HR, 114 RBI, 76 R, 40 BB, 8 SB
The Reds picked up Encarnacion-Strand from the Twins in the Tyler Mahle trade and his combined .955 OPS is better than any Minor League third baseman’s in 2022.

SS: Vaughn Grissom (ATL, Top 100 graduate)
A+/AA/MLB: .315/.391/.478, 136 G, 19 HR, 84 RBI, 95 R, 47 BB, 32 SB
Grissom began the year in High-A and is ending it playing a very important role in the Braves’ playoff chase.

OF: Kerry Carpenter (DET graduate)
AA/AAA/MLB: .299/.365/.610, 129 G, 36 HR, 85 RBI, 76 R, 39 BB, 3 SB
After putting up modest numbers in Double-A in 2021, things clicked for this Virginia Tech product with an OPS over 1.000 in the Minors en route to making his big league debut.

OF: Moisés Gómez (STL No. 30)
AA/AAA: .294/.371/.624, 120 G, 39 HR, 94 RBI, 89 R, 52 BB, 10 SB
No one in the Minors has more homers this year than Gómez (38) and he’s second with his .622 SLG.

OF: Esteury Ruiz (MIL No. 8)
AA/AAA/MLB: .320/.431/.506, 131 G, 16 HR, 67 RBI, 117 R, 67 BB, 86 SB
Ruiz touched the big leagues with the Padres and Brewers, having been sent to Milwaukee in the Josh Hader trade. While he put up impressive numbers in the Minors, none was better than his pro ball-leading 86 combined steals (all but one coming in Double-A and Triple A).

DH: Jordan Walker (STL No. 1/MLB No. 6)
AA: .306/.388/.510, 119 G, 19 HR, 68 RBI, 100 R, 58 BB, 22 SB
One of the youngest players in the Texas League, Walker makes his second straight PTOY second team after putting up excellent numbers while making the transition to the outfield.

LHP: Kyle Harrison (SF No. 2/MLB No. 21)
A+/AA: 4-3, 2.71 ERA, 113 IP, 186 K, 49 BB, .196 BAA, 1.13 WHIP
Harrison finished second in K’s (first among southpaws), but his 14.8 K/9 rate was second to none.

RHP: Gavin Stone (LAD No. 7/MLB No. 78)
A+/AA/AAA: 9-6, 1.48 ERA, 121 2/3 IP, 168 K, 44 BB, .206 BAA, 1.12 WHIP
In any other year, Stone finishing in the top 10 in K’s and K/9 while pitching across three levels might have landed him on the first team.

RP: Zach Brzykcy (WSH No. 24)
A+/AA/AAA: 8-2, 14 SV, 1.76 ERA, 61 1/3 IP, 95 K, 29 BB, .157 BAA, 1.01 WHIP
The 2020 undrafted free agent touched three levels out of the bullpen and dominated everywhere, allowing just 4.8 hits per nine, while striking out 13.9 combined.

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