MLB Pipeline will reveal its 2022 Top 100 Prospects list on Thursday, with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. Leading up to the release of the Top 100, we'll examine baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
Baseball boasts its strongest group of catching prospects in more than a decade. Three backstops -- Adley Rutschman (Orioles), Gabriel Moreno (Blue Jays), Francisco Alvarez (Mets) -- rank in the first 10 spots of the Top 100, something that hasn't happened since MLB.com started ranking prospects in 2004. A dozen catchers made the list, which is also unprecedented.
The last four Drafts have featured 11 catchers selected in the first round, including the No. 2 overall pick in 2018 (Joey Bart, Giants) and the No. 1 choices in 2019 (Rutschman) and 2021 (Henry Davis, Pirates). Seven of those first-rounders are now Top 100 Prospects, as is the top international amateur from the 2018 class (Diego Cartaya, Dodgers).
It's possible that both 2022 Rookies of the Year could come from the catching crop. Rutschman and Moreno (the top prospect in the Arizona Fall League during the offseason) are prime candidates in the American League, while Bart is poised to take over for Buster Posey in San Francisco. Luis Campusano (Padres), 2021 Minor League home run leader MJ Melendez (Royals) and Shea Langeliers (Athletics) should also get big league playing time this year.
The Top 10 (ETA)
- Adley Rutschman, Orioles (2022)
- Gabriel Moreno, Blue Jays (2022)
- Francisco Alvarez, Mets (2023)
- Henry Davis, Pirates (2024)
- Diego Cartaya, Dodgers (2023)
- Joey Bart, Giants (2022)
- Luis Campusano, Padres (2022)
- MJ Melendez, Royals (2022)
- Tyler Soderstrom, Athletics (2024)
- Shea Langeliers, Athletics (2022)
Complete list »
Hit: Rutschman, Moreno, Alvarez, Soderstrom (60)
A switch-hitter who produces and controls the strike zone from both sides of the plate, Rutschman won back-to-back Pacific-12 batting titles at Oregon State and put up the best numbers of his pro career (.313/.405/.490) while spending the final two months of last season in Triple-A. Moreno hit .373/.441/.651 in Double-A before breaking his thumb, then posted a .904 OPS in the Arizona Fall League. Alvarez and Soderstrom had little trouble solving older pitchers while making their full-season debuts at age 19 last summer.
Power: Rutschman (65)
Though his feel for hitting and plate discipline are impressive, Rutschman's power stands out even more. He hammers the ball from both sides of the plate, and he has improved at driving the ball in the air as he has risen through the Minors. He could deliver 30-35 homers per season in his prime.
Run: Moreno (45)
Moreno moves better than most catchers, displaying close to average speed. He has 15 steals and nine triples in 191 career games, and he's quick enough to show that he can play a passable third base in his brief action at the hot corner.
Arm: Davis, Langeliers (70)
Davis' combination of plus-plus arm strength, quick feet and throwing accuracy enabled him to nail 46 percent of basestealers in his final college season at Louisville. Langeliers possesses similar attributes and erased 42 percent of would-be thieves in Double-A and Triple-A last year.
Field: Rutschman (70)
One of the best defenders in the entire Minors, Rutschman is the complete package. He's a polished receiver with plus arm strength, blocks balls well, calls a good game and runs a pitching staff well with strong leadership skills.
Highest ceiling: Rutschman
In his Draft year, one veteran scout likened Rutschman to a combination of Mark Teixeira's bat and Gold Glove skills behind the plate. He's the best catching prospect since MLB switched to a single-Draft format in 1987.
Highest floor: Rutschman
If Rutschman underperforms his tools projections by two full grades, he'd still be a .240 hitter with 15 homers, a bunch of walks and average defensive ability. And he's not going to underperform his tools projections by two full grades.
Rookie of the Year Candidate: Rutschman
Rutschman should join the Orioles early in the season and finish it as one of the best catchers in baseball.
Highest riser: Melendez
Melendez might have been the worst hitter in the Minors in 2019, when he batted .163/.260/.311 with a 39 percent strikeout rate in High-A. After losing the 2020 season to the pandemic shutdown, he returned last year and hit .288/.386/.625 between Double-A and Triple-A, led the Minors with 41 homers and slashed his whiff rate to 22 percent.
Humblest beginning: Moreno
While everyone else on this list went in the top two rounds of the Draft or signed for at least $2.5 million on the international market, Moreno turned pro for just $25,000 out of Venezuela in 2016. Since he made his full-season debut three years later, his prospect status has accelerated rapidly.
Most to prove: Bart
Bart reached the Majors ahead of schedule in 2020 after Posey opted not to play that season, and he hit just .233/.288/.320 with 41 strikeouts versus just three walks in 33 games. Posey's abrupt retirement in November makes Bart the favorite to start for a club that won 107 games last year, and he'll have to show he can handle high-velocity fastballs and manage the strike zone better than he did in his debut.
Keep an eye on: Harry Ford, Mariners
The 12th overall pick in 2021, Ford features plus speed and athleticism that are rarities for his position. The Georgia high school product also has plenty of bat speed from the right side of the plate and a track record of making loud contact against quality pitching.