Here are the top 10 pure-hitting prospects in the Minors

May 28th, 2024

What exactly is a pure hitter? It’s a term that many discuss, but few define.

On last week's Pipeline Podcast, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo detailed what a pure hitter is and took it a step further by ranking the top 10 pure-hitting prospects.

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As one might expect, being a pure hitter primarily reflects in a player’s hit tool. It measures the prospect’s ability to not only make contact but also be productive. This doesn’t mean the prospect swats homers every at-bat – that is graded with the power tool – it simply means he is finding the barrel and producing good swings often.

The first 80-grade hit tool Pipeline ever gave out was to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in 2018. Now six years into his MLB career, the former No. 1 prospect has eclipsed 150 knocks each of the past three seasons and currently sports a .297/.391/.421 slash line in 2024.

Like all grades, the hit tool is a combination of the player's current ability and his future projection.

Here’s who Callis and Mayo tabbed as the top 10 pure-hitting prospects in 2024.

1. Jackson Holliday, 2B/SS (BAL No. 1/MLB No. 1)
Hit grade: 70
Callis: “I know he's not having a monster year and he had the big league trial that didn't go so well. ... I just think his ability to control the strike zone, put the bat on the ball and make hard contact for his age is exceptional.

“I still think we're talking about a future batting champion, and I still think he's the best prospect in baseball.”

2. Jacob Wilson, SS (OAK No. 1/MLB No. 54)
Hit grade: 70
Mayo: “What Jacob Wilson has done is crazy. He entered pro ball with this reputation as a guy who never strikes out. I think it was 4 percent over three years at Grand Canyon ... and this year, before the injury, he was striking out just a hair over 10 percent of the time.

“He's just such a good contact hitter that he knows that if he's going to swing, he's going to put the ball in play, and I think the thing that's been encouraging is that he has been doing it with more authority.”

3. Brooks Lee, SS (MIN No. 2/MLB No. 15)
Hit grade: 65
Callis: “I think Brooks Lee had the best bat-to-ball skills in the Draft in 2022, when he went eighth overall to the Twins. This guy's hit everywhere he's been, he's a switch-hitter, he controls the strike zone, he makes hard contact.

“I think we'll see him in the big leagues sooner rather than later, once he's healthy ... and he's lived up to every bit of his reputation as an amateur during his pro career so far.”

4. Dylan Crews, OF (WSH No. 2/MLB No. 7)
Hit grade: 65
Mayo: “He has been OK-ish this year. Obviously, last year at LSU he hit .426, hit for power, drew a ton of walks. He's walking a decent amount ... but he's been striking out 29 percent of the time, a hair over that so far.

“There was such a high bar for him. Let him get settled in. It's not like it's taking him that long and he's at the upper level already. I'm still a believer in Dylan Crews’ ability to hit."

5. Junior Caminero, 3B/SS (TB No. 1/MLB No. 3)
Hit grade: 60
Callis: “I think his power is as good as anybody's on the Top 100 Prospects list, anybody's in the Minors, and at the same time, his hitting ability is right near the top as well.

“He's still only 20, won’t turn 21 until (July). Now that he's healthy, now that he's hitting, they got to find a place for him in the big leagues.”

6. James Triantos, 2B (CHC No. 5/MLB No. 59)
Hit grade: 60
Mayo: “I think there's a lot of ceiling left here, the only question is how much power he'll have in terms of a complete offensive player, but I think he's really beginning to show that he is one of the better pure hitters.

“He is 21 for the entirety of the year, so he's really young for the level and he's hitting for average. He makes a ton of contact and he has not walked a ton in his career, but he does not swing and miss a lot. ... The bat-to-ball skills are right up there with just about anybody on this list.”

7. Cole Young, SS/2B (SEA No. 1/MLB No. 27)
Hit grade: 60
Callis: “He's 20 years old, he's in Double-A, he's still drawing a ton of walks, he's still not striking out excessively ... I think it's just a matter of him getting off to a slow start.

“He has been pushed very aggressively by the Mariners because they believe in his hitting ability, his ability to control the strike zone, to make good swing decisions, to make hard contact. He's definitely a hit-over-power guy, but I think as he gets more physically mature, we're going to see 15-20 homers.”

8. Colt Emerson, SS/2B (SEA No. 3/MLB No. 50)
Hit grade: 60

Mayo: “Really good on-base skills, more walks than strikeouts so far in his early career, doesn't swing and miss a lot either. I think he's going to be a true impact-kind of guy who just needs to get past the foot injury, and he will and get back at it. I think once he starts getting some at-bats under his belt, he's another one of the Mariners’ young hitters who could move pretty quickly, kind of like Cole Young has.”

9. Walker Jenkins, OF (MIN No. 1/MLB No. 8)
Hit grade: 60
Callis: “I think he's kind of like a high school version of Wyatt Langford is really what he reminds me of. He hits left-handed, he's taller, but it’s a physical presence. Power jumps out the most, but there's hitting ability in there as well. Makes good swing decisions.

“Currently No. 8 on our Top 100 Prospects list, and I feel by the end of the year, graduations will have something to do with this too, that he's going to be even closer to No. 1.”

10. Mike Boeve, 3B/2B (MIL No. 13)
Hit grade: 60
Mayo: “At a certain point in time when a guy just hits everywhere he is and wherever he goes, you have to notice it.

“He doesn’t do it in a traditional way. You may look at his swing and not love it, he's definitely hit-over-power, but he's shown on the pro side that there's some extra-base authority there. I think he's going to be one of these guys where he ends up being maybe a better pro than anyone realized just because that hit tool is so special.”