The adage out of spring typically goes that pitchers are ahead of hitters, who need weeks of reps to catch up to arms throwing mid-90s with unpredictable breaking stuff.
These guys didn’t get that memo.
Entering Wednesday, these are the hottest-hitting ranked prospects in the Minor Leagues from every organization, including four members of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list.
Blue Jays: Cade Doughty, 2B/3B (No. 8)
It’s been a powerful start to the 2022 78th overall pick’s first full season at High-A Vancouver. Five of Doughty’s seven hits have gone for extra bases (two homers, three doubles), and both dingers have come in back-to-back games between Sunday and Tuesday. His .593 slugging percentage ranks fifth in the Northwest League, while his .968 OPS places sixth. All of those are good signs after Toronto got to working with the LSU product on adding pop through the use of his legs in the opening stages of his career.
Orioles: Jackson Holliday, SS (No. 2/MLB No. 10)
The No. 1 pick in last year’s Draft was so hot, the Orioles felt compelled to promote the teenager up to High-A Aberdeen. Even after his 0-for-3 debut up at the next level (he still drew two walks), Holliday is hitting .370/.514/.630 over his first 14 games. He’s walked more than he’s struck out and has been on base in every game he’s played as of Wednesday this season.
Rays: Junior Caminero, 3B/2B (No. 5/MLB No. 100)
Caminero opened the season 17-for-34 (.500) with a 1.447 OPS through his first eight games with High-A Bowling Green, which was an aggressive assignment for the 19-year-old. He’s cooled down some since but not by much. Entering Wednesday, he leads the South Atlantic League in hits (21), total bases (37) and slugging percentage (.673) and ranks second in average (.382) and homers (four). He was on the cusp of the Top 100 to begin 2023, and if this keeps up, the righty slugger could be in for even bigger in-season jumps.
Red Sox: David Hamilton, SS/2B (No. 27)
Hamilton set a Red Sox Minor League record with 70 steals last year and currently leads the Triple-A International League with 11. Acquired in the ill-fated Hunter Renfroe trade with the Brewers in December 2021, he’s also impacting the ball more than he has in the past, hitting .319/.385/.565 with four homers in 18 games.
Yankees: Spencer Jones, OF (No. 5)
The 25th overall pick in last year’s Draft, Jones posted a .963 OPS in his pro debut and is at it again in High-A, batting .300/.343/.617 with six steals and a South Atlantic League-best 11 extra-base hits in 14 games. The lone concern with the athletic Vanderbilt product is that he has a 34 percent strikeout rate.
Guardians: Brayan Rocchio, SS/2B (No. 6/MLB No. 69)
Signed for $125,000 out of Venezuela as part of a banner Guardians international haul in 2017, Rocchio slammed a career-high 18 homers last year but struggled following an August promotion to Triple-A. That decidedly has not been the case this April, when he has batted .338/.400/.438 with an International League-high eight doubles and as many steals in 20 games.
Royals: Cayden Wallace, 3B (No. 5)
The 2022 second-rounder has picked up hits in 13 of his 15 games played for High-A Quad Cities and enters Wednesday with a .340/.455/.585 line and two homers, both of which have come over his last four contests. His 1.040 OPS ranks fifth-best in the Midwest League. A third baseman with a good power/speed combo and a strong arm, Wallace doesn’t need to show a stellar hit tool to provide value, but the early results are certainly helping him carve out an even more prominent role in the KC system.
Tigers: Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B/OF (No. 7)
Nobody in the International League has gotten on base quite like Malloy, who is making a strong early impression with the Tigers after being acquired from the Braves in the offseason. The 23-year-old leads the circuit with a .538 OBP and boasts a 17/20 K/BB ratio through 20 games with Triple-A Toledo. He isn’t being overly passive either with a .391 average and .580 slugging percentage. Tigers third basemen rank 29th in the Majors with a collective 31 wRC+, so a call to Malloy may not be far off.
Twins: Noah Miller, SS (No. 14)
With a tip of the cap to top prospect Brooks Lee, who has been solid, Miller gets the nod because his .302/.387/.396 line stands out particularly when compared to his pro career heading into the season. The talented young shortstop hit .211 in his full-season debut in 2022 and while he’s never going to be confused with a slugger, he is impacting the ball much more with a move up to High-A while continuing to show a very advanced approach.
White Sox: Terrell Tatum, OF (No. 25)
Tatum has had a difficult time staying on the field since turning pro as a 16th-rounder out of North Carolina State in 2021, drawing a 50-game suspension for amphetamines last summer and injuring an ankle in the Arizona Fall League. He’s getting at-bats and making the most of them in High-A, hitting .311/.438/.600 with eight extra-base hits and eight steals in 13 games while topping the Carolina League with 17 runs.
Angels: Edgar Quero, C (No. 3)
After he finished his full-season debut with a .965 OPS last year, as a teenager, the Angels challenged Quero by jumping him up to Double-A to start this year. All the 20-year-old backstop has done is hit .372/.518/.512 with more walks than strikeouts. He leads the Southern League in batting average and on-base percentage, and is third in OPS.
Astros: Joey Loperfido, OF/1B/2B (No. 16)
Coming off a breakout year in 2022, Loperfido began this season by returning to High-A and bashing five extra-base hits in eight games. The 2021 seventh-rounder from Duke has gone 8-for-17 with four homers in four games since a swift promotion to Double-A and is batting .333/.379/.745 overall with four steals in 12 contests.
A’s: Brett Harris, 3B (No. 13)
Harris was our breakout candidate in the A’s Spring Training report in early March and so far, he’s performing as expected, with a .300/.455/.460 line over 14 Texas League games. With a super-advanced approach that has helped him walk more than he’s struck out, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he hits his way from Midland to Triple-A Las Vegas (or up to Oakland) soon.
Mariners: Jonatan Clase, OF (No. 12)
While Clase was initially signed as a speed-first guy, his commitment to strength and conditioning has made him a much more interesting and dangerous hitter. He’s still running, leading the High-A Northwest League with 12 steals, but he also tops the circuit with four homers. He’s hit .300/.440/.617 to date, which places him fourth in OPS. And he doesn’t turn 21 until late May.
Rangers: Evan Carter, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 36)
Carter’s prospect stock continues to soar as he’s off to a .380/.516/.640 start with four homers, three steals and 13 walks in 13 Double-A games at age 20. A 2020 second-rounder from a Tennessee high school, he may have the best batting eye in the Minors and tops the Texas League in on-base percentage.
Braves: David McCabe, 3B (No. 24)
Someone is trying to make a case to get promoted out of Single-A ball! The Braves’ fourth-round pick out of UNC Charlotte last year, McCabe has a .920 OPS through his first dozen games with Augusta. The 23-year-old corner infielder has a .300/.420/.500 line with a lot more raw power to tap into. Yes, there’s some swing-and-miss, but he offsets it with drawing a good amount of walks.
Marlins: Yiddi Cappe, INF (No. 7)
Playing primarily second base after splitting time between shortstop and third base a year ago, Cappe is batting .310/.364/.534 with eight extra-base hits in 16 games as a 20-year-old in High-A. The jewel of Miami’s 2020-21 international class, the Cuban signed for $3.5 million and ranks second in the Midwest League in hits (18), doubles (five), total bases (31) and RBI (13).
Mets: Ronny Mauricio, SS (No. 6)
You may have heard the news that the Mets have started playing Mauricio at second base in a sign that they’re considering him for Major League time. It’s hard to blame them. The switch-hitting infielder has followed up the winter’s LIDOM MVP campaign with a .350/.395/.688 slash line and six homers in 21 games with Triple-A Syracuse. His 28 hits and 14 extra-base knocks are both second-most in the International League.
Nationals: Brady House, 3B/SS (No. 5)
House battled a back injury last year that affected his playing time and results with Single-A Fredericksburg. Healthy now and back with the FredNats, the right-handed slugger is looking much closer to his old self with a .324/.432/.676 line and three homers through 10 games. That power is crucial to House’s profile, and a move to third base (where he’s a better fit defensively) should allow him to focus more on drawing as much as possible from his bat.
Phillies: Justin Crawford, OF (No. 4)
It’s amazing what a modest hit streak can do at this point in the season. The Phillies’ first rounder in last year’s Draft had a five-game streak going, during which he went 8-for-17. That allowed him to pull his season total up to .311/.340/.400. That puts him at No. 7 among Florida State League batting leaders, with an up arrow next to his name.
Brewers: Tyler Black, OF/2B/3B (No. 7)
Black has dealt with multiple injuries early in his career but has always hit when he’s been healthy. That’s continued early with Double-A Biloxi, where he’s added some pop to his trademark patience. The Wright State product is tied with Owen Caissie and Logan Driscoll atop the Southern League leaderboard with four homers and also sits fifth in OBP (.459), slugging (.558) and OPS (1.017). Also worth following: Black has only played the hot corner in the field with the Shuckers.
Cardinals: Leonardo Bernal, C (No. 10)
The Cardinals skipped Bernal over the Florida Complex League last year with an assignment to Single-A Palm Beach. Back at the same spot in 2023, Bernal is playing like a veteran of the league with a .333/.395/.539 line, two homers and just a 9.3 percent K rate through 11 games. The switch-hitting backstop shone brightest last Saturday by matching his career high in hits during a 4-for-4 showing at home against Dunedin.
Cubs: Owen Caissie, OF (No. 12)
Easily the best prospect acquired by the Cubs in the December 2020 Yu Darvish trade with the Padres, Caissie had a three-homer game on April 12 and is batting .308/.410/.654 with nine extra-base hits in 15 Double-A games at age 20. He leads the Southern League with four homers and 34 total bases, though he also has struck out in 28 of 56 plate appearances.
Pirates: Henry Davis, C (No. 3/MLB No. 51)
Sometimes, it’s that one game that really gets a bat going. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 Draft, Davis had broken out of the gate a bit slowly, though he was getting on base and showing some extra-base pop from the get-go. Then on Sunday, he went 3-for-3 with a pair of homers which vaulted him to the top of the Double-A Eastern League OPS leaderboard (1.041). He’s second in SLG (.600) and third in OBP (.441).
Reds: Matt McLain, SS/2B (No. 5)
Though he scuffled during his first full season with an aggressive move to Double-A, the Reds had enough faith in McLain, their first-round pick in 2021, to push him up to Triple-A to start this year. He’s responded by making good adjustments and is off to a .310/.449/.634 start over 21 games with Louisville. That puts him eighth in the International League with his 1.083 OPS.
D-backs: Ryan Bliss, SS/2B (No. 30)
Bliss spent all of 2022 with High-A Hillsboro and managed just a .214 average and .641 OPS in 110 games, yet Arizona still decided to push him to Double-A Amarillo to begin this campaign. The 23-year-old middle infielder has rewarded that confidence with a .391/.400/.578 line and eight extra-base hits through 14 games with the Sod Poodles. Bliss is translating more catchable fly balls to harder line drives in the early days of 2023, driving his early success.
Padres: Nathan Martorella, 1B (No. 23)
College first basemen have to establish they can hit early in their careers or else risk getting lost in the shuffle. So far, so good for the 2022 fifth-rounder out of Cal. Martorella has walked more (10) than he’s struck out (eight) through 16 games with High-A Fort Wayne, and seven of his 15 hits have gone for extra bases, resulting in a .518 slugging percentage, .897 OPS and 160 wRC+. That’s even better considering Midwest League bats usually take a while to warm up from the chillier early weeks of April.
Dodgers: Jorbit Vivas, 2B/3B (No. 18)
Vivas has displayed some of the best bat-to-ball skills in the Minors since turning pro for $300,000 out of Venezuela in 2017, and he’s displaying more power than ever so far this season. He’s batting .391/.473/.766 and pacing the Double-A Texas League in slugging, OPS (1.239), doubles (10) and extra-base hits (15) through 15 games.
Giants: Patrick Bailey, C (No. 11)
Bailey posted modest numbers in his first two pro seasons after going 13th overall in the 2020 Draft, but he’s off to a .333/.400/.481 start with a pair of homers in 14 games. The North Carolina State product continues to perform well against right-handers (1.056 OPS) while struggling against left-handers (.681 OPS).
Rockies: Sterlin Thompson, 3B/OF (No. 8)
Thompson entered last year’s Draft with the reputation as one of the best pure hitters in the class, a big reason why the Rockies took him No. 31 overall. He’s lived up to advanced billing. After hitting .307 while getting his feet wet after signing last summer, he’s off to a scorching .438/.482/.625 start over 13 games with High-A Spokane. He’s striking out in under nine percent of his plate appearances and you have to think Double-A is in his future.