As we make the turn toward the home stretch of the 2023 season, stats watching becomes a favorite pastime in certain corners of the Minor Leagues. Who will lead the lower levels in homers? Who will prove themselves to be a true .300 hitter? Who can rack up the most strikeouts before the final out of the summer?
Some easy and fun statistical races to follow in the closing weeks are players’ pursuits of a 20-homer, 20-steal season. The 2022 campaign saw a record 27 players eclipse the 20 mark in both categories, beating out the previous best of 19 from 1982. Among the 27 were notable Major Leaguers like Corbin Carroll, Elly De La Cruz, Anthony Volpe and Joey Wiemer.
Entering Wednesday, nine players had already achieved 20-20 seasons in 2023 -- Jase Bowen, Trey Cabbage, Kenedy Corona, Isiah Gilliam, Joey Loperfido, Ronny Mauricio, Aaron Palensky, Graham Pauley and Weston Wilson. You can bet a lot more will join that group soon.
Here is one 20-20 candidate or performer from each of the 30 farm systems across baseball. (Note: for this exercise, we’ll also count Major League production toward the 20-20 threshold.)
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Devonte Brown, OF (Not ranked among Top 30)
The Blue Jays lack many 20-20 candidates -- they don’t even have a 15-15 player entering Wednesday -- but their best chance makes for a nice story. Toronto signed Brown as an undrafted free agent out of NC State last year, and the 23-year-old has blossomed in his first full season with a .249/.361/.464 line, 14 homers and 17 steals in 78 games for High-A Vancouver. The Northwest League club has already punched its postseason, so if we need to count those games to get him six more homers and three steals, we’ll take it.
Orioles: Jud Fabian, OF (No. 14)
Baltimore selected the Florida product 67th overall in the 2022 Draft because of his power-speed combination, and he’s already fulfilling that promise in his first full professional season. Between High-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie, he's up to 19 homers and 28 steals after falling short of the 20-20 milestone four times as a Gator. Fabian has struggled to hit for average in Double-A but is actually doing a better job of swinging for the fences (19.5 PAs per HR) than he was in High-A (26.3).
Rays: Willy Vasquez, INF (No. 11)
The 21-year-old has already set a career high with 16 homers through 100 games for High-A Bowling Green, and while he’s sitting on 16 steals now, he’s coming off a 2022 season in which he swiped 25 bags, so the speed is in him. Half of his steals have come since the start of July, meaning he’s been a little more willing to push the issue of late. It could be a race between him and fellow Hot Rod Carson Williams (19 HR, 14 SB) to reach the 20-20 plateau.
Red Sox: Ceddanne Rafaela, OF/SS (No. 3/MLB No. 77)
Rafaela is coming off a 21-homer, 28-steal season in 2022 between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland, and with 35 steals already secured at the Minors’ top two levels in 2023, he sits only one homer away from a repeat 20-20 campaign. The good news there is that he’s been slugging better at Triple-A (13 homers, .636 SLG) than Double-A (six homers, .441 SLG), making him an even better bet to secure that one extra dinger for Worcester. That’s pretty good for a 22-year-old whose best skill is his defense.
Yankees: Jared Serna, 2B/SS (No. 20)
Aaron Palensky (20 HR, 21 SB) has already reached the mark here, so we’ll turn our attention to a Top 30 prospect who enters Tuesday with 19 homers and 24 steals on the season between Single-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley. Signed for only $10,000 out of Mexico four years ago, the 5-foot-6 Serna has seen his power jump this summer and has already more than tripled his previous career high of six homers. That said, he’s still waiting for his first High-A homer after debuting at the level on Aug. 8, but given his improvements in getting the ball off the ground, that dinger should come before long.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: Daniel Schneemann, INF (Not ranked among Top 30)
The Cleveland system is loaded with hit-over-power types, so it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that the organization boasts only two 20-homer Minor League hitters entering Wednesday. Schneemann has at least a puncher’s chance with 12 homers and 16 steals through 93 games for Triple-A Columbus. He’ll need to get on his horse -- particularly in the power department -- but to his credit, his .522 slugging percentage and five steals in August are both season highs for individual months.
Royals: Gavin Cross, OF (No. 6)
Kansas City has only three Minor Leaguers with at least 15 homers, and those three have combined for 10 total steals. Even in a difficult first full season, Cross was at least in shouting distance with 12 homers and 23 steals between High-A Quad Cities and Double-A Northwest Arkansas, but he was placed on the IL due to illness on Aug. 15. Should he return healthy, there’s an outside chance he gets hot in the hitter-friendly Texas League (which doesn’t end until Sept. 17). Otherwise, the Royals will lose out on a 20-20 player after Bobby Witt Jr. and Brewer Hicklen hit the marks in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Tigers: Parker Meadows, OF (No. 10)
Meadows made his Major League debut on Monday, just as he sat on 19 homers and 19 steals for Triple-A Toledo. Not that he’s complaining. Detroit is expected to give the 23-year-old plenty of run down the stretch, so he’s a pretty safe bet to get that one missing dinger and theft, attaining 20-20 status after just missing out in 2022 (20 HR, 17 SB). No other Tigers Minor Leaguer is even at the 15-15 threshold entering Wednesday.
Twins: Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 52)
After slashing just .163/.320/.357 through May as he recovered from a June 2022 meniscus tear, Rodriguez has been a man on fire. Across 58 games since June, he's slashed .263/.423/.483 with 10 homers and 12 steals, bringing him to 15-15 on the season. High-A Cedar Rapids only has 17 regular-season games left, but it’s not out of the question for one of the toolsiest prospects in the Minors to continue his hot hitting to finish out his age-20 season.
White Sox: José Rodríguez, 2B/SS (No. 8)
Coming off consecutive seasons with 30-plus steals, Rodríguez already has that part of the equation secured with 25 thefts in 81 games for Double-A Birmingham. He’s supplemented with 16 homers, a new career high, beating out his 14 across three levels in 2021. Power isn’t exactly the 22-year-old’s forte, but his pursuit could be aided by a late-season promotion to Triple-A Charlotte, one of the level’s most hitter-friendly ballparks. Considering Rodríguez already had a cup of coffee on the South Side, a move to the International League can’t be ruled out.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Trey Cabbage, 1B/OF (No. 27)
Cabbage was actually one of the first players in the Minors this year to cross the 20-20 threshold, swiping his 20th bag on June 17 and crushing his 20th homer five days later. The 26-year-old is up to 28 homers (including one in a brief big league cameo) and 31 stolen bases -- and he’s only been caught stealing three times. The first baseman has long been known for his power, but the speed has been a pleasant development after he combined to steal 30 bases in his first seven pro seasons.
Astros: Jacob Melton, OF (No. 1)
No. 6 Astros prospect Joey Loperfido (21 HR, 24 SB) and No. 11 Kenedy Corona (22 HR, 29 SB) have already cleared the 20-20 bar, and Melton is quite close to joining them. The 2022 second-rounder already ranks second in the organization with 40 steals and is sitting on 18 homers in 83 games with certainly enough power to launch two more blasts before 2023 is out, especially considering High-A Asheville’s hitter-friendly reputation.
A’s: Lawrence Butler, 1B/OF (No. 4)
Butler began the year at Double-A, and his offensive development quickly showed as he earned a starting spot in the All-Star Futures Game -- and later promotions to Triple-A and the Majors. He's closing in on his first professional 20-20 season (16 HR, 21 SB) thanks to above-average power (111.0 mph max exit velocity, 68th percentile) and speed (27.6 ft/s sprint speed, 57th percentile) as just a 23-year-old.
Mariners: Jonatan Clase, OF (No. 8)
Clase has long been known for his speed -- he swiped 55 bags in 107 Single-A games last year and is up to 61 in as many games this year -- but he's unlocked more power this year, with 18 homers between High-A and Double-A. A switch-hitter, the 5-foot-8 center fielder hits for more power against lefties (.567 SLG vs. .438) but has more homers against righties this year (11 vs. 8) since he has almost four times the plate appearances batting from the left side.
Rangers: Yosy Galan, OF (Not ranked among Top 30)
The Texas system has some good power types and some good speed types, but the two skills haven’t often mixed -- at least in 2023. (It’s certainly possible that Evan Carter, Wyatt Langford and Sebastian Walcott could be future 20-20 performers.) For now, Galan represents the org’s best shot at 20-20 this season with 16 homers and 19 steals between Single-A and High-A. The 22-year-old brings plenty of raw power and decent speed from his 6-foot-4 frame, but his 36.4 percent K rate at Hickory could hold back his 20-20 pursuit.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Braden Shewmake, SS (No. 15)
Shewmake will likely fall short of the power (13 HRs), but it’s worth noting how much better the 2019 first-rounder is hitting in the second half. Since making a swing adjustment in late June, the infielder has delivered a .772 OPS and has been caught stealing once in 10 attempts. With another month of the Triple-A season to go, Shewmake already has career highs in both home runs and stolen bases (22).
Marlins: Troy Johnston, 1B (No. 23)
Johnston has been a consistent performer in the Minors, but this breakout was quite unexpected. The Marlins did not add him to their 40-man roster over the winter, and no other team selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. Nevertheless, he's slashing .311/.406/.581 between Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Jacksonville with a career-high 23 homers. He’s far from a burner with well-below-average speed, but the 26-year-old has used his baserunning acumen to steal 18 bases in 19 attempts.
Mets: Ronny Mauricio, 2B/OF/SS (No. 4/MLB No. 92)
While Mauricio’s chase concerns give some pause about his prospect profile, his power has never been in question as he’s backed it up with 20 homers in 109 games for Triple-A Syracuse this season. He’s also been aggressive on the basepaths with 21 steals in 27 attempts, giving him a second straight 20-20 seasons in the upper Minors. He’s the only repeat 20-20 performer of the nine to reach those marks so far in 2023.
Nationals: James Wood, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 7)
The 6-foot-6 left-handed slugger has done a better job of playing into his power in 2023, nearly doubling his 12-homer output from last season to his current tally of 23 between High-A and Double-A. He’s also swiped 15 bags, and with his ability to eat ground from his large frame, 20 steals should be within reach. Wood’s strikeouts have crept up at Double-A, where he has a .323 OBP, so getting on base will be the first priority before he can get the green light to steal.
Phillies: Gabriel Rincones Jr., OF (No. 10)
The Phillies haven't had a Minor Leaguer go 20-20 since Scott Kingery in 2017, but Rincones has a chance if he can continue his hot hitting at High-A Jersey Shore. Although the 2022 third-rounder was drafted for his bat, he's actually done most of his damage on the bases (31 SBs) despite only stealing two bags in his final college season. Still, with 15 homers in 104 games, including six in August alone, he has the power to pull off the milestone.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Jackson Chourio, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 2)
Chourio finished only four steals shy of a 20-20 season during his ascendant 2022 campaign. Well, he already has 34 of those. Now he’s sitting on 18 homers for Double-A Biloxi, and despite being in a relative cold snap in August (.292 slugging through 15 games), he remains a good bet to get the remaining two. With his plus-plus speed and still-budding power, the 19-year-old is as good a bet as any Minor Leaguer to be a perennial 20-20 performer in the Majors.
Cardinals: Masyn Winn, SS/2B (No. 1/MLB No. 32)
Like Meadows, the Cardinals called up Winn just when he was on the precipice of punching his 20-20 ticket with 18 homers and 17 steals with Triple-A Memphis. His speed will certainly translate quickly to The Show, and once he reaches base at a better clip (he’s 5-for-23 with no walks to begin his career), those final three steals should come. Winn’s power was also ticking up in ’23 with eight of his 18 homers coming in July alone, but Major League arms will certainly test the pop.
Cubs: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 12)
In case there was any worry that PCA would be challenged after a promotion to Triple-A Iowa, the 21-year-old has laid those fears to rest. He is slashing .292/.386/.556 with four homers in 17 games, which is even better than he was hitting at Double-A Tennessee. It also leaves him two long balls shy of the 20-20 mark after he barely missed it in his first full professional season last year (16-32).
Pirates: Liover Peguero, SS (No. 8)
Peguero's excellent age-22 season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis earned him a promotion to the big leagues, where he's shown top-of-the-line speed and above-average power. While he's only hitting .238 in the Majors, five of his 20 hits have been homers, bringing him to 18 on the season. Peguero is nearing a career high with 24 steals in 27 attempts, and his 97th-percentile sprint speed (29.5 ft/s) indicates that he has even more baserunning potential.
Reds: Rece Hinds, OF (No. 11)
The Reds drafted Hinds 49th overall in 2019 and signed him to an above-slot bonus because of his raw power, and he's finally tapping into it this year with 21 homers in 396 Double-A plate appearances. He's also stolen a career-high 17 bases, which includes six this month alone. One key for the breakout: Hinds has been healthy after missing time with quad, meniscus and hamate injuries the last two seasons.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Jordan Lawlar, SS (No. 1/MLB No. 10)
With 35 steals in 95 games between Double-A and Triple-A, Lawlar has proven to be a constant threat to steal in 2023. He also sits on 17 homers, a new career high, and the hitter-friendly environs of the Pacific Coast League (including his home in Reno) will only help his endeavor to reach 20 by the end of September. Arizona has boasted one 20-20 performer in each of the last three seasons – Corbin Carroll (2022), Neyfy Castillo (2021), Josh Rojas (2019) -- so Lawlar should keep the tradition going.
Dodgers: Chris Newell, OF (No. 25)
The Dodgers saw 20-20 potential in Newell when they drafted him out of Virginia in the 13th round last year, and he just may pull it off in his first full professional season. He crushed Single-A Rancho Cucamonga competition (.312/.426/.662), although he's come back down to earth in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League (.222/.321/.424). He’s already up to 21-15, but the 22-year-old is not running as much lately after getting caught five times in 13 attempts since his promotion.
Giants: Tyler Fitzgerald, SS (Not ranked among Top 30)
Fitzgerald was one of three Giants Minor Leaguers to reach the milestone last year when hit 20 homers and stole 21 bases for Double-A Richmond, and he's on the brink of doing it again in 2023. The 25-year-old is sitting at 18-23, and the hitter-friendly PCL is a great place to hit for power, so it only seems like a matter of time. The other two Giants to do so last year (Vaun Brown and Grant McCray) are unlikely to hit enough homers this season.
Padres: Graham Pauley, 3B/2B (No. 11)
A 13th-round pick out of Duke last year, Pauley may not have been on many preseason 20-20 prediction lists, and that still may have been true after he went deep only four times in 62 games with Single-A Lake Elsinore. But the 22-year-old turned on the power with 16 blasts in 45 games for High-A Fort Wayne, and now with 20 steals, he’s eclipsed both marks. Pauley was part of the large group to move to Double-A San Antonio this week and will see that breakout pop challenged in a fun way in the Texas League.
Rockies: Jordan Beck, OF (No. 4/MLB No. 88)
The 38th overall pick in 2022 never hit 20 homers or stole 20 bases in any of his three seasons at Tennessee, but he's continued to develop into a well-rounded prospect and is now one of 20 Top 100 prospects with above-average power and speed grades. He's sitting at 24-17 this season, and he's been more aggressive on the basepaths since his promotion to Double-A Hartford, with six steals in seven attempts in 32 games.