These prospect stats jumped off the page in 2022
For many fans, the most memorable part of the 2022 season can be boiled down to a single number: 62.
While the statistics spotlighted in this story won't resonate anywhere close to as historic as Aaron Judge's American League home run record, they are a preview of coming attractions. Many of the players who posted notable numbers in the Minors will develop into stars at the big league level in the next few years.
Here's a standout Minor League statistic for one prospect in each organization:
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: 2.17 ERA
Ricky Tiedemann, LHP (No. 1/MLB No. 33)
Tiedemann’s rise from Single-A to Double-A in his age-19 season was the story of the Jays’ system this year, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that he appears here. What makes the 2.17 mark so special is that Tiedemann was good at each of those three levels with ERAs that didn’t rise above 2.50 at any spot. His improved velocity and slider-changeup combo were good enough to keep hitters off balance everywhere he went, and he could be set for another rise in 2023.
Orioles: .946 OPS
Gunnar Henderson, SS/3B (No. 1/MLB No. 2)
There’s a reason why we chose him as our Hitting Prospect of the Year. Henderson’s .946 OPS in Double- and Triple-A as he hit his way to Baltimore led all Minor League shortstops and of prospects who got at least 500 plate appearances in the Minors in 2022 (111 of them), Henderson finished in the top 10 in OBP (.416), SLG (.531), OPS and wRC+ (154).
Rays: 1.043 OPS
Kyle Manzardo, 1B (No. 5)
We knew the 2021 second-rounder could hit coming out of Washington State, but first-base-only types have to really perform offensively to catch attention below the Majors. The Minors’ second-highest OPS will do the trick. Manzardo finished with a .426 OBP and .617 slugging percentage in 93 games between High-A and Double-A, making him one of only three full-season Minor Leaguers to exceed .400 and .600 in those respective categories. Vaun Brown and Corbin Carroll are the others.
Red Sox: 70 SB
David Hamilton, SS (unranked on Red Sox Top 30)
In his first season in Boston's system after coming over as part of the Hunter Renfroe trade with the Brewers last December, Hamilton ranked third in the Minors with 70 steals in 78 attempts. According to a Boston Globe search of Baseball-Reference.com, no Red Sox prospect has swiped more bases going back to 1941, which is as far back as the records go. Gus Burgess purloined 68 in High-A in 1981.
Yankees: 21 HR/50 SB
Anthony Volpe, SS (No. 1/MLB No. 5)
Volpe's overall numbers may not have been as loud as they were in 2021, but he still became the Minors' first 20-50 player since Andruw Jones in 1995. Jones was a postseason star the following year, and Volpe could be on the same path.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: .173 AVG
Gavin Williams, RHP (No. 3/MLB No. 53)
The 23rd overall pick in the 2021 Draft, Williams made the jump from college to High-A and Double-A look easy in his pro debut this summer. Not only did he lead the Minors in opponent average, but he also ranked third in ERA (1.96), fifth in WHIP (0.95) and 14th in strikeout rate (11.7 per nine innings).
Royals: 60-for-60 SB
Tyler Tolbert, SS (unranked on Royals Top 30)
Sure, Tolbert didn’t crack our Kansas City list, but this stat was too good not to mention. Tolbert attempted 60 stolen bases, and he was successful all 60 times for High-A Quad Cities. The next-highest steal total without a caught-stealing was Marcelo Mayer’s 17. That’s a difference of 43 thefts. Tolbert’s 60 steals ranked 10th in all of the Minors, but there’s just no beating that level of efficiency.
Tigers: 30 HR
Kerry Carpenter, OF (graduated from Tigers Top 30)
It’s well-documented that Carpenter underwent a swing change that helped him elevate his batted balls and tap into his impressive power. The result was a new career high with 30 homers, exactly double the left-handed slugger’s output last season with Double-A Erie. Because of Carpenter’s promotion to Detroit, he didn’t get a chance to finish fighting for the overall Minor League lead -- that’s a pretty good reason -- but he was one of only two Minor Leaguers to finish with 30 or more homers in fewer than 100 games played.
Twins: 98 walks
Edouard Julien, 2B (No. 12)
Julien takes his plate discipline very seriously. He drew 110 walks to lead the Minors in 2021 and this year’s total of 98 in Double-A placed him sixth. He cut his strikeout rate and made much more impactful contact, too, so his .441 OBP (fifth in the Minors) was up from his 2021 total. He’s kept it going so far in the Arizona Fall League, with eight walks in his first five games for a .520 OBP.
White Sox: .895 OPS
Oscar Colas, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 95)
After signing for $2.7 million in January, Colas posted the best line of any White Sox prospect by batting .314/.371/.524 with 23 homers in 117 games while rising from High-A to Triple-A. The "Cuban Ohtani" hype was a bit much, but he could make an impact in Chicago in 2023.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: 11 homers in 29 games
Logan O’Hoppe, C (No. 1/MLB No. 64)
When a team trades for a top prospect, there’s the hope he’ll come in and set the world on fire. The Angels knew they were getting a solid all-around backstop in O’Hoppe but he more than delivered once he came from the Phillies in the Brandon Marsh trade. O’Hoppe had 15 homers in 75 games with Double-A Reading before the trade, then went deep an astounding 11 times in 29 games for a .674 SLG that led to his first call up to the big leagues.
A’s: 3 levels
Tyler Soderstrom, 1B/C (No. 1/MLB No. 47)
Based on his evaluations as a high schooler heading into the 2020 Draft, there was hope that Soderstrom’s bat would be advanced enough for him to move more quickly than the average prep hitter. Even though he was still working on his defense behind the plate, the one thing that could have slowed him while splitting time at catcher and first base, Soderstrom jumped on a faster track from the get-go by starting his first full season in High-A. After 89 games there, he was challenged with a move to Double-A and then got to finish his year off in Triple-A, finishing with a combined 29 homers, 105 RBIs and a .501 SLG.
Astros: 2.55 ERA
Hunter Brown, RHP (No. 1/MLB No. 68)
If the Astros hadn't summoned Brown in September, leaving him 12 2/3 innings shy of qualifying for the Triple-A Pacific Coast League ERA title, he would have won it by a whopping 1.39 margin. Clearly the PCL's most dominant pitcher, he also would have topped the circuit in opponent average (.185), home runs per nine innings (0.4) and strikeouts per nine (11.4). He pitched his way onto Houston's postseason roster with a 0.89 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 20 1/3 big league innings.
Mariners: 16 wins
Taylor Dollard, RHP (No. 7)
Yes, we know that wins are not a good indicator of a pitcher’s success, especially in the Minors, but this one is hard to look past. Not only did Dollard lead all Minor League pitchers with 16 wins, his 16-2 record really stands out. He also finished eighth in the Minors in ERA (2.25) and seventh in WHIP (0.95) while walking just 1.94 per nine.
Rangers: 19 years old
Evan Carter, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 56)
Carter's numbers aren't spectacular, but they're very impressive for a player who was 19 for most of the season. He batted .295/.397/.489 with 43 extra-base hits and 28 steals in 106 games, mostly in High-A before raking at Double-A in the final week, while demonstrating an advanced approach and the potential for solid or better tools across the board.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: 14.45 K/9
Royber Salinas, RHP (No. 19)
While Michael Harris II and Vaughn Grissom have made a huge impact in the big leagues offensively, the Braves’ Top 30 is very pitching-heavy, with 19 of the 30 making their living on the mound. No one had a more dominant season than Salinas, who was second among all Minor League pitchers with at least 100 IP in strikeout rate (trailing only the Giants’ Kyle Harrison). He also was in the top 10 in opponent's average (.185).
Marlins: .969 OPS
Jose Gerardo, OF (No. 17)
When the Marlins clocked Gerardo throwing 102 mph from the outfield as an amateur, they discussed making him a pitcher before opting to sign him for $180,000 as an outfielder in January. In his pro debut, he posted the highest OPS in the system (min. 200 plate appearances), hitting .284/.417/.551 and placing third in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League with 11 homers in 50 games.
Mets: 20 years, 315 days
Francisco Álvarez, C (No. 1/MLB No. 1)
There are all sorts of ways we could break down Álvarez’s season -- his organization-best 27 homers, his .511 slugging percentage as a catcher -- but this sticks out most. That was Álvarez’s age when he debuted for the Mets on Sept. 30. With his Nov. 19, 2001 birthday, the Venezuelan backstop was the youngest player to appear in a Major League game this season, and his first start came in a massive series against the division rival Braves no less. Álvarez’s plus-plus power should make him an Opening Day candidate for the Mets next spring.
Nationals: 151 wRC+
James Wood, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 34)
That’s Wood’s number for the season, split over 71 games mostly between Single-A Fredericksburg in the Nats system and Single-A Lake Elsinore in the Padres pipeline. We use wRC+, which is controlled for league factors in the Minors, because it helps eliminate some of the pro-hitter California League numbers and illustrates just how good Wood was everywhere he played before and after the Juan Soto blockbuster. The 6-foot-7 outfielder strikes out less than you’d expect for someone with his size and power, and his loud tools should make him a fun follow in his new organization.
Phillies: 0.89 WHIP
Andrew Painter, RHP (No. 1/MLB No. 24)
There are so many stats we could choose to highlight Painter’s dominant first full season that led to him being the obvious choice to be our Pitching Prospect of the Year. His WHIP led all Minor League pitchers with at least 100 innings of work this season, but he was also second in ERA (1.56), fifth in K/9 (13.46), sixth in BAA (.180) and eighth in K/BB (6.20) while pitching his way from Single-A all the way up to Double-A.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: 55 XBH
Jackson Chourio, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 10)
Maybe sometime in 2023 we’ll get sick of writing that Chourio skipped right over the domestic complex league and into full-season ball, only to climb three levels as a successful 18-year-old. He picked up 20 homers, five triples and 30 doubles over his 99 games at Single-A, High-A and Double-A. The outfielder did have some swing-and-miss concerns and might have his power tested with a move out of more hitter-friendly environs. But 55 XBH at the same age as an American high school senior will always raise more than a few eyebrows.
Cardinals: 41.5 K%
Tink Hence, RHP (No. 6/MLB No. 91)
St. Louis has heavily monitored Hence’s innings over his first two full seasons, and while he made 16 starts for Single-A Palm Beach this season, he only threw 52 1/3 frames. Still, he managed to strike out 81 FSL batters in that short span, or 41.5 percent of those he faced. That was third-best among the 1,343 Minor League pitchers with at least 50 frames in 2022, and he was three years younger than the two that beat him (Ben Harris, Jose Cruz). Hence’s starts, highlighted by his fastball-curveball-changeup mix, should be must-follows for Cards fans next season.
Cubs: 37 HR
Alexander Canario, OF (No. 9)
Though first baseman Matt Mervis led the Minors with 78 extra-base hits, 310 total bases and 119 RBI, his 36 homers weren't the most in Chicago's system. Canario topped him and ranked second in the Minors with 37, the most by a Cubs farmhand since Kris Bryant topped the Minors with 43 in 2014.
Pirates: 166 wRC+
Endy Rodriguez, C/OF (No. 6/MLB No. 97)
Rodriguez began the year in High-A then actually performed better as he moved up to Double-A and finished in Triple-A. His 166 wRC+ was best among all catching prospects and fourth among all Minor League hitters. His .996 OPS also put him fourth in the Minors and he was seventh in SLG (.590).
Reds: 28 HR/47 SB
Elly De La Cruz, SS/3B (No. 1/MLB No. 14)
In 2021, De La Cruz jumped on the prospect map during his United States debut. In 2022, he became one of the most exciting prospects in all of baseball and a strong contender for Hitting Prospect of the Year. The switch-hitter can do it all, as evidenced by him coming close to a 30-50 season. In terms of the homer-steal combination (while hitting a combined .304), his year was as impressive as anyone in the Minors, with a dozen more steals than anyone who hit more than 25 homers.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: 218 K
Brandon Pfaadt, RHP (No. 4/MLB No. 90)
It’s certainly enough that Pfaadt led all of the Minor Leagues in strikeouts this season with his performances at Double-A and Triple-A. But this total takes on another layer when you consider it was the first 200-strikeout season in the Minors since 2011 and the second-highest total for anyone since 2000, trailing only Brandon Claussen’s 220 in 2001. Strikeouts might be up across baseball, but with innings limits and short leashes becoming more commonplace, it’s going to get tougher and tougher to punch out this many. Pfaadt’s fastball, slider and changeup (and his ability to throw 167 innings) helped him make it happen.
Dodgers: 1.48 ERA
Gavin Stone, RHP (No. 7/MLB No. 77)
After taking Stone with the penultimate pick in a 2020 Draft shortened to five rounds, the Dodgers have helped him upgrade his stuff. The results? He led the Minors with a 1.48 ERA -- 0.43 ahead of closest challenger Luis Devers -- while placing fifth in strikeout rate (12.4 per nine innings) and ninth in total strikeouts (168).
Giants: 1.060 OPS
Vaun Brown, OF (No. 10)
It's hard not to cite Kyle Harrison, who paced the Minors in strikeouts per nine innings (14.8) and strikeout percentage (39.8 percent). But a year after signing for $7,500 as a fifth-year senior taken out of NCAA Division II Florida Southern in the 10th round, Brown led the Minors in hitting (.346) and OPS, ranked third in slugging (.623) and sixth in on-base percentage (.437) and totaled 23 homers and 44 steals in 103 games while rising from Single-A to Double-A.
Padres: .325 AVG
Jackson Merrill, SS (No. 1/MLB No. 83)
Many of the standout stats in the Padres system belong to players who were traded in-season, but don’t let that detract from just how good Merrill was in limited time at Single-A Lake Elsinore. The 2021 27th overall pick was limited to 45 games in the California League due to wrist and hamstring injuries, but he made them count, hitting .325/.387/.482 in the circuit. San Diego officials have long been impressed with the left-handed slugger’s timing and whole-field approach at the plate, and both are already getting attention in the Arizona Fall League, where he’s making up for the lost time.
Rockies: 55 SB
Zac Veen, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 23)
While it’s hard to know how much the pickoff move limitations in the low Minors impact basestealing ability, Veen has served notice that he’s not just a hitter who will grow into power. After stealing 36 bags in his first full season in 2021, the 2020 first-rounder upped his game, going 50-for-54 in High-A in 2022 before picking up five more in Double-A. He evidently isn’t tired because the outfielder has gone 7-for-8 on the basepaths in six AFL games so far this fall.