Prospects set record number of 20-20 seasons in Minors this season

September 26th, 2023

The decade of the 2020s is turning out to be the decade of the 20/20s.

Thirty-three Minor League players met or exceeded the 20-homer, 20-steal plateau during the 2023 season, beating out the previous record (since data first became available in 1958) total of 27 set just last year.

Most 20/20 seasons in the Minors, 1958-present

33: 2023
27: 2022
16: 2021
16: 1983
14: 1996
13: 2005
12: 1981
11: 2007
11: 2000
11: 1999

It was once rare that more than a dozen Minor Leaguers achieved 20/20 status in a given season, and as recently as 2016, the total was just three. From 2008 to 2016, the amount of 20/20 players was in the single digits for nine consecutive campaigns -- a run almost unthinkable with today’s emphasis on both power and speed in player development.

To wit, here are some notable statistical comparisons from 2016 to 2023, using Minor League full-season data:

2023: 15,587 HR; 17,783 SB; 1.94 HR per team per game; 2.17 SB per team per game; 2.88 SBA per team per game; 75.5% SB success rate

2016: 11,256 HR; 12,941 SB; 1.34 HR per team per game; 1.54 SB per team per game; 2.27 SBA per team per game; 67.9% SB success rate

Minor League rules changes -- including the disengagement limit and larger base sizes, both of which have made the Majors -- have helped increase both the stolen-base success rate and, appropriately, the stolen-base attempt rate. Meanwhile, modern hitting technique prioritizes pop and attempting A swings, leading to an uptick in dingers across the board.

On a team level, nineteen of the 30 farm systems had at least one 20/20 player this campaign with the Astros leading the way with five.

20/20 seasons in the Minors, 2023 (HR/SB)

AZ: A.J. Vukovich, 24/20; Jordan Lawlar, 20/36
BAL: Billy Cook, 24/30; Jud Fabian, 24/31
BOS: Ceddanne Rafaela, 20/36
CHC: Pete Crow-Armstrong, 20/37
CIN: Blake Dunn, 23/54; Rece Hinds, 23/20
COL: Jordan Beck, 25/20; Ryan Ritter, 24/20
CWS: José Rodríguez, 21/31
HOU: Kenedy Corona, 22/32; Pedro Leon, 21/20; Joey Loperfido, 25/27; Jacob Melton, 23/46; Shay Whitcomb, 35/20
LAA: Trey Cabbage, 30/32
MIA: Troy Johnston, 26/24
MIL: Jackson Chourio, 22/44
NYM: Jeremiah Jackson, 22/27 * ; Ronny Mauricio, 23/24
NYY: Estevan Florial, 28/25; Aaron Palensky, 22/23
PHI: Weston Wilson, 31/32
PIT: Jase Bowen, 23/26; Matt Gorski, 20/23
SD: Graham Pauley, 23/22
SEA: Ryan Bliss, 22/55 * ; Jonatan Clase, 20/79; Isiah Gilliam, 25/25
SF: Tyler Fitzgerald, 22/32
TB: Kameron Misner, 21/21; Carson Williams, 23/20

* -- Bliss (AZ/SEA) and Jackson (LAA/NYM) split the 2023 season between two organizations as Trade Deadline acquisitions.

Six members of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list achieved 20/20 seasons this summer: Chourio (No. 2), Lawlar (No. 10), Crow-Armstrong (No. 12), Williams (No. 19), Rafaela (No. 72) and Mauricio (No. 87).

Chourio’s year, spent mostly at Double-A Biloxi, is particularly worth highlighting. The Milwaukee outfielder was just the fifth teenager to achieve a 20-40 season in the Minors since 1958, joining Ronald Acuña Jr. (2017), Álex Escobar (1998), Andruw Jones (1995) and José Cardenal (1961) on that list.

But more than the big names showed out in the batter’s box and on the basepaths in 2023.

Cabbage and Wilson -- both of whom spent the bulk of the season at Triple-A with some time in The Show -- combined to give the Minors two 30/30 players for just the third time since 1958. The last occasion was in 2019, when Luis Robert Jr. and Kyle Tucker combined on the feat, and the other was in 1981 with Brad Komminsk and Willie Royster.

Elsewhere, No. 8 Mariners prospect Jonatan Clase enjoyed the Minors’ first 20/70 in this historical window and fell only one steal shy of going 20/80 over 129 games at High-A Everett and Double-A Arkansas. The last 20/60 season in the Minors came back in 1982 when Juan Samuel achieved it in the Phillies system.

This trend has carried up to the Majors as well. Entering Wednesday, 17 Major Leaguers have already achieved 20/20 status in 2023. The record stands at 19, set in 1999, but that stands to fall by the time regular-season play concludes this Sunday. The king of this year’s homer-steal throne is Acuña – the first-ever player in AL/NL history with a 40/60 season. Corbin Carroll and Anthony Volpe were 20/20 Minor Leaguers last year and have already cleared both marks as rookies in 2023.