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Chris Clegg’s 2023 AL East Breakout Prospects

Each year, Eric Cross and I do team top-20s. In those rankings, we included a breakout prospect to target from each team. It is always fun to project which prospects could break out the following season. Getting in on those prospects early could lead to significant success in dynasty leagues.

Last year, 12 of my 30 picks turned out to be major successes. Names I picked included Jackson Chourio, Endy Rodriguez, Ezequiel Tovar, Vaughn Grissom, Vinnie Pasquantino, and Ricky Tiedemann, to name a few. Some busts included Kala’i Rosario, Michael Stefanic, and Cristian Pache. You can find all 30 names in the thread below.

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This year, Eric and I will write individual articles for breakout prospects from each division. Today we will dive in on the NL West. You can find other prospect breakout articles here:

Prospect Breakout Series: NL EastNL Central, NL West

AL East Breakout Fantasy Baseball Prospects

Baltimore Orioles: Coby Mayo

It seems like people are already jumping off the Coby Mayo train as fast as they jumped on. Sure, you can say it was disappointing that Mayo only hit .247 across 104 games last year, but we are talking about a 20-year-old who spent the year in High-A and even Double-A to finish the season. Not to mention he missed time with back spasms.

Mayo may have been limited to just 439 plate appearances, but he still mashed 19 home runs and even chipped in five steals. The back spasms may have limited his power upon returning, hitting just five home runs in 156 plate appearances. Before the injury, Mayo hit 14 home runs. He also hit the ball on the ground nearly 12 percent more often after injury.

For the season, Mayo posted a solid 104.1 mph 90th percentile exit velocity and paired it with an 84 percent zone-contact rate.

Mayo is relatively selected, as shown by a 42 percent swing rate, but that rate is much higher in the zone. He recognizes fastballs well and can jump on them.

At the end of the day, it seems like people are still sleeping on Mayo, who has a good feel to hit and easy plus power. Watch out for a big season in 2023.

Boston Red Sox: Miguel Bleis

My love for Miguel Bleis long dates his debut, much less his Complex Level breakout. Bleis debuted in my Top-400 prospect rankings around the 250 range upon signing in January 2021 and rose to around 200 by mid-year 2021. Now he is firmly inside the top 100 with room to grow. I have even had a scout tell me Bleis is a top-25 prospect. That is very bold, but I like it.

Bleis is already a physically gifted athlete standing at 6’3/170. He has plenty of room to add more muscle to an already solid frame. He played 40 games at the complex level and was likely to be promoted to Low-A Salem if not for a back injury. By the end of August, he was healthy, but the Red Sox held him out of games to focus on a full recovery. He was still doing full baseball activity, so the injury is not a concern.

Bleis hit five home runs and stole 18 bases while slashing a smooth .301/.353/.542 at the complex level. He hit the ball extremely hard, as shown by a 104.1 mph 90th percentile exit velocity. His chase rate was solid at 26.8 percent, and he made contact on pitches in the zone 86 percent of the time.

The power and speed combo, coupled with a solid feel for contact, makes Bleis an easy buy for dynasty leagues.

New York Yankees: Spencer Jones

Spencer Jones is a unique player standing at 6’7, 225 lbs. After being a first-round pick in this summer’s draft, Jones dominated the complex and high-A. He hit just four home runs in 106 plate appearances, but how hard he hit the ball is what matters.

Jones’ 90th percentile exit velocity was 106.8 mph, better than most MLB hitters. Despite Jones’ size and long levers, he does not expand the zone. He had just a 25 percent chase rate and made contact on pitches in the zone 82 percent of the time. Yes, it is a smaller sample, but it is encouraging nonetheless.

Jones gets aggressive on pitches in the zone, though. His 78 percent zone swing rate shows he knows which pitches he wants to hit. If Jones continues to make decent contact as he moves up in the Minors, he will ascend prospect rankings. Buy in early in FYPDs.

Tampa Bay Rays: Willy Vasquez

Willy Vasquez signed with the Rays as an international free agent in 2019. The lost 2020 season seemingly set him back to where he only played in complex ball in 2021. Vasquez did not let that affect him, however. He had a strong 2020 season with Low-A Charleston, where he hit ten home runs and stole 25 bases. Vasquez’s slash line was a little underwhelming, hitting just .256/.313/.410.

Why is Vasquez a breakout prospect? He turned up the heat in the second half, hitting five of his home runs in his final 140 plate appearances. Over that time, he also slashed .286/.346/.486.

Vasquez may be listed as 6’0, but he has grown and is close to 6’3 now. He produced a high-end 90th-percentile exit velocity of 106.5 mph. He also made solid zone-contact rate as well. The chase numbers are a bit north of 30 percent. Not ideal, but we can live with it. Willy Vasquez will be a top-200 consensus prospect by the season’s end.

Toronto Blue Jays: Damiano Palmegiani

We are getting quite deep here looking at Blue Jays corner infield prospect Damiano Palmegiani. Palmegiani was a 14th-round pick in the 2021 draft but has not performed like a player selected that late. He has quite a solid first professional season hitting 25 home runs in 500 plate appearances between Low and High-A.

His slash line was largely unimpressive, though, as he hit just .239 with a .342 OBP and .473 SLG. Palmegiani only struck out 21 percent of the time and put plenty of balls in play. His average was likely drug down by a low BABIP south of .260.

The power is undeniable as Palmegiani posted solid exit velocities and got to the power on the pull side. Thanks to his solid contact skills, he could make a significant rise next season. Palmegiani does not chase often and posts solid zone contact rates.

Palmegiani likely never becomes an elite prospect, but he could make a rise to be a dynasty-relevant pickup.

Media and Statistical References: Pro Baseball RadarFangraphs

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