Flexing: Each team's top power-hitting prospect
Last week, we covered the best pure-hitting prospect in each system, noting that it’s almost impossible to be a Major League regular if you can’t hit. Do you know what’s another way to put yourself over the top? Hit the ball hard.
Power can make a .250 hitter into a star or, in some cases, keep you in the game on the strength of that tool alone. With more emphasis on swinging with intent, having players who can make loud contact has as much value as ever, and that’s reflected here.
These are the top power-hitting prospects from each of the 30 farm systems, 18 of whom are Top 100 prospects and topped by the only 70-grade slugger on that list -- Mets catcher Francisco Álvarez.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Orelvis Martinez, SS/3B (No. 4)
Martinez fell out of the Top 100 because of approach and defensive concerns, but the pop has always been there for the July 2018 signee. Despite being only one of three 20-year-olds to get 400 plate appearances at Double-A last season, Martinez set a New Hampshire record with 30 home runs in 118 games. His .242 isolated slugging percentage was the sixth-highest among 120 Double-A qualifiers. Martinez’s problem can be that he chases power too often, leading to rougher averages and OBPs, but the Jays are hopeful that speaks more to his age than his overall ability.
Orioles: Gunnar Henderson, 3B/SS (No. 1/MLB No. 1)
One of the small handful of players who are on this list as well as the best hitter one, Henderson is still learning how to tap into his considerable raw power. The adjustments he made last year as a hitter have helped him access it more, with a lot more to come as he continues to mature and get used to big league pitching.
Rays: Heriberto Hernandez, OF (No. 17)
Acquired from the Rangers back in the December 2020 trade for Nathaniel Lowe, Hernandez continues to show some of the best exit velocities in a deep Tampa Bay system, thanks to his strength and quick hands in the box. His 24 Bowling Green homers marked a career high and ranked second among High-A batters in 2022. The 23-year-old catcher-turned-outfielder can get caught chasing breaking balls too often, but when he makes contact, the ball tends to go a long way.
Red Sox: Triston Casas, 1B (No. 2/MLB No. 23)
A first-round pick out of a Florida high school in 2018, Casas tied for the tournament lead with three homers at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Boston's projected starter at first base, he went deep five times in 27 big league games last September, including a 411-foot, opposite-field shot off Gerrit Cole. More than just a masher, he's a disciplined hitter and an asset at first base.
Yankees: Jasson Domínguez, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 47)
Perhaps the most hyped international prospect ever, Domínguez landed a $5.1 million bonus when he turned pro out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, in part because of his ability to crush balls from both sides of the plate. He has the potential for at least solid tools across the board and slashed .273/.375/.461 with 16 homers and 37 steals last year while reaching Double-A at age 19.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: Jhonkensy Noel, OF/3B/1B (No. 20)
Signed for $100,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Noel has some of the best raw pop in the entire Minors. His combination of light-tower power and an unrepentantly aggressive approach reminds some scouts of Franmil Reyes, and Noel slashed .229/.310/.489 with 32 homers and 150 strikeouts while advancing from High-A to Triple-A at age 20.
Royals: Gavin Cross, OF (No. 1/ MLB No. 62)
The Virginia Tech star enjoyed back-to-back seasons with slugging percentages above .600 in his final two years at school and had almost as many extra-base hits (39) as strikeouts (41) in his junior spring with the Hokies. Batting out of an open stance that helps him elevate, Cross continued to show good pop during his first taste of the Minors at Single-A Columbia, where he homered seven times and slugged .596 over 26 games. Even if it’s just above-average pop in the end, that’s valuable whether Cross ends up in center or right long-term.
Tigers: Jace Jung, 2B (No. 2/ MLB No. 83)
There’s certainly a case for fellow Detroit infielder Colt Keith here, too, and it should be fun to see both attempt to develop into sluggers on the dirt on their way to Motor City. For his part, Jung had a .647 slugging percentage over his three seasons at Texas Tech and led the Big 12 with 21 homers in 2021 when no one else in the conference had more than 16. His bat speed and strength help him show good all-fields power, and that could carry into 2023, after some initial bumps last season in his intro to pro ball.
Twins: Matt Wallner, OF (No. 7)
It’s become pretty clear who Wallner is and who he is going to be. He’s going to swing and miss a lot, with a strikeout rate over 30 percent in his pro career to date. He’s going to walk a lot, with a 12.8 percent free pass rate. And he’s going to hit the ball over the fence a lot. He hit a combined 29 homers and slugged .542 across two levels of the Minors and the big leagues in 2022 and that should not be an outlier.
White Sox: Oscar Colas, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 85)
Not only does Colas have well above-average raw power that plays mostly to his pull side, he also showed more adaptability at the plate than expected in his U.S. debut. Signed for $2.7 million in January 2022, he slashed .314/.371/.524 with 23 homers while reaching Triple-A and could help the White Sox in the near future.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Logan O’Hoppe, C (MLB No. 53)
We recently put him on a short list of American League Rookie of the Year candidates and his power is only one small part of the equation. He hit 17 homers in 2021, his first taste of full-season ball, then upped that to 26 last year. He really found his power stroke after coming to the Angels at the Trade Deadline for Brandon Marsh, finding the seats 11 times in 29 Double-A games to earn his first call up to the big leagues. Seeing him hit 20-plus home runs a year in the big leagues seems extremely reasonable.
Astros: Yainer Diaz, C/1B
The most underrated catching prospect in the game, Diaz is a .321 hitter with a 14 percent strikeout rate in five seasons in the Minors -- and his exit velocities jumped about 5 mph as he cranked a career-best 25 homers between Double-A and Triple-A in 2022. The Guardians signed him for $25,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, then included him in a trade for Myles Straw five years later.
A’s: Tyler Soderstrom, 1B/C (MLB No. 39)
A first-round pick in 2020, Soderstrom entered pro ball as an advanced high school bat who seemed to be a bit hit over power. He still can really hit, but the power has shown up and then some. He slugged his way from High-A to Triple-A in 2022, homering 29 times and finishing the year with a .501 SLG. The swing-and-miss upticked as well, but he has a good enough approach for him to potentially be a plus hitter with plus power in the big leagues, and he should knock on the door soon at age 21.
Mariners: Lazaro Montes, OF
Just 18, Montes will make his United States debut in 2023 after signing with the Mariners for $2.5 million in January of 2022. He gave an early indication about his ability to use his power by finishing in the Dominican Summer League top 10 in homers (10), SLG (.585) and OPS (1.007). The DSL is a hitting-friendly league, so the Mariners are excited to see how he produces stateside.
Rangers: Josh Jung, 3B (MLB No. 34)
More of a hit-over-power guy when the Rangers selected him eighth overall out of Texas Tech in 2019, Jung became more aggressive last year and started driving balls with more authority and in the air more often. He went deep off Ross Stripling in his first big league at-bat last September, smacked five homers in 26 games with the Rangers and should be their starting third baseman for years to come.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Jesse Franklin V, OF (No. 14)
Franklin mashed 24 homers in a less-than-hitting-friendly home ballpark in High-A Rome in 2021. The left-handed hitter really struggled in the Arizona Fall League after that, but he didn’t really get to incorporate lessons learned or work on improving his approach in 2022, needing Tommy John surgery and playing just 15 games. He needs a full season of at-bats to see if the power will play at the upper levels.
Marlins: Jacob Berry, 3B (No. 2/MLB No. 61)
The sixth overall pick last July, Berry stands out most for his hitting ability and advanced approach from both sides of the plate, but he offers solid power as well. He had nearly as many homers (15) as strikeouts (22) last spring at Louisiana State before going deep three times in 33 games in Single-A.
Mets: Francisco Álvarez, C (No. 1/ MLB No. 3)
Álvarez is the type of batter that makes you want to get a good seat during batting practice. His whiplike swing and immense strength often elicit wows from fans, coaches, fellow players and evaluators alike, and he carries that power into games too. His 51 homers over the last two seasons rank second among all Minor League catchers, and he achieved that total before his 21st birthday. In only a brief Major League callup, he posted a 108.9 mph exit velocity that led all Mets catchers in 2022, and all indications point to there being a lot more where that came from.
Nationals: Elijah Green, OF (No. 3/ MLB No. 46)
Green’s quick wrists and double-plus raw power made him a candidate to go first overall last July, and the Nationals were elated to get him with the fourth overall pick. The focus on pop continued during his brief foray into the Minors, when six of his 13 hits in the Florida Complex League went for extra bases. The right-handed slugger also struggled with high heat during that time, drawing into question whether he can get into the power, but at its ceiling, he could be at least a 30-homer hitter in the Majors. The concept of pairing his power with James Wood’s in a future Nats outfield should be mouth-watering.
Phillies: Carlos De La Cruz, OF (No. 9)
De La Cruz has made about as large of a leap as any prospect in baseball, going from unranked to into the Phillies’ top 10 this year. The raw power is a big reason as he started tapping into it in 2022, hitting 17 homers between High-A and Double-A, then slugging .516 in the Arizona Fall League. If he can continue to refine his approach at the plate and see more pitches, he could have plus in-game power in the future.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Jackson Chourio, OF (No. 1/ MLB No. 8)
Chourio is likely bigger than his listed 6-foot-1, 165 pounds these days, but he still might be among the wiriest players on this list. That said, he hit 20 homers, notched 55 extra-base hits and slugged .538 over 99 games across three levels in his breakout 2022 season. Milwaukee’s top prospect has strength that plays all over the park too, and he often left Brewers coaches wowed by the way he could drive the ball to right as well as left. He’s still only entering his age-19 season, and it’s fun to speculate just how big the pop can get from here.
Cardinals: Jordan Walker, OF/3B (No. 1/ MLB No. 4)
St. Louis fans have already gotten a look at Walker’s immense power this spring when he hit a 430-foot homer off Marlins veteran Johnny Cueto on Feb. 26. Entering Thursday, it’s the longest Statcast-measured Spring Training from a Cardinal in 2023 so far, and with Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt both competing in the World Baseball Classic, Walker may be the one to beat his own record. The right-handed slugger hit 19 homers and slugged .510 as a 20-year-old at Double-A last season and is still finding the best ways to make the most of his plus-plus raw as he gains upper-level experience.
Cubs: Alexander Canario, OF (No. 11)
The Cubs have several promising sluggers in their system and none hit more homers last year than Canario, who ranked second in the Minors with 37 in his first full season with the organization after arriving from the Giants in the July 2021 Kris Bryant trade. He has electric bat speed and huge raw power, though his big league debut is on hold after a baserunning mishap in the Dominican Winter League last November left him needing surgery on a broken left ankle and dislocated left shoulder.
Pirates: Henry Davis, C (No. 3/MLB No. 57)
Davis slugged .663 and hit 15 homers at Louisville in 2021, one of the reasons he landed at No. 1 overall in the Draft. Even though he missed a bunch of 2022 with injuries, which definitely hampered his ability to get in a groove, he still slugged .472 and hit 10 homers. Seeing how much of the power shows up with a fully healthy season is one of the most interesting prospect storylines in 2023.
Reds: Elly De La Cruz, SS/3B (No. 1/MLB No. 10)
We don’t get tired of talking about De La Cruz, one of the most dynamic prospects in all of baseball. He has all five tools and even though he’s only 21, he’s already accessing his power from both sides of the plate. After slugging .539 in his U.S. debut in 2021, he upped that to .586 last year, with 28 homers and 68 total extra-base hits between High-A and Double-A. Imagine what might happen if he can cut down the strikeouts a little.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Deyvison De Los Santos, 3B/1B
De Los Santos climbed three levels and played in the Arizona Fall League during his age-19 season as the D-backs attempted to find him fresh challenges. Stemming from his strength at such an early time in his career, his exit velocities are among the best in the entire Arizona system, and he could put up some monster numbers in the hitter-friendly environs of Double-A Amarillo and Triple-A Reno. Arizona will have to find a spot for him on the field between the two infield corner spots, but they’ll be extra motivated to do so if De Los Santos builds on last year’s 22-homer performance.
Dodgers: Diego Cartaya, C (MLB No. 14)
MLB Pipeline's No. 1 prospect in the 2018 international class, Cartaya signed for $2.5 million out of Venezuela and draws Salvador Perez comparisons because of massive power and strong 6-foot-3, 219-pound frame. A more advanced hitter than Perez at the same stage of their careers, he popped 22 homers in 95 games between Single-A and High-A.
Giants: Marco Luciano, SS (MLB No. 22)
Few players in the Minors have a quicker bat than Luciano, who turns it into plus-plus raw power to all fields. Signed for $2.6 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, he homered 10 times in 57 High-A games despite dealing with back issues.
Padres: Joshua Mears, OF
Mears has an all-or-nothing approach with killer power that makes him both tantalizing and maddening as a prospect. To wit, his 22 homers in 2022 were tied for second-most in the Padres system, despite playing only 93 games, and 42 of his 70 total hits between the Arizona Complex League, High-A Fort Wayne and Double-A San Antonio went for extra bases. He also struck out 43.9 percent of the time, highest among Minor Leaguers with at least 300 plate appearances. If Mears gets a pitch in his zone, he rivals anyone else in the Minors for pure raw pop, and if he can find a way to squeeze out just a bit more contact, he could have a Joey Gallo-style career in the bigs.
Rockies: Michael Toglia, 1B
He might be a bit of an all-or-nothing power guy who draws a ton of walks, but there’s no question about him getting to his plus power. He hit 22 homers in his first full season (2021) and then smashed 30 a year ago, 23 of which came in Double-A Hartford, which isn’t exactly a hitting haven. That doesn’t count the two homers he hit during his big league debut and it will be interesting to see if he can make enough contact in the big leagues to be a solid run producer.