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Prospect Risers, Fallers, & Notes From July Update: Hitters

As the summer temperatures heat up, so do prospect rankings. The month of July is truly a special month for rankings as 2022 draftees are added to the fray and new pop-up prospects from the DSL, ACL, and FCL emerge for dynasty managers to fight over. This latest update was a blast to put together, and today I’ll be discussing some of hitting prospect risers, fallers, and where the 2022 FYPD prospects landed.

If you aren’t playing your dynasty leagues on Fantrax, you’re missing out on the deepest player pool and most customization around. For more rankings, check out Eric’s Top-400 Prospect Rankings or Chris Clegg’s Top-500 OBP Dynasty Rankings, and make sure to check out the Fantrax Toolshed Podcast for more dynasty talk!

Prospect Risers: Hitters

Elly De La Cruz (SS/3B – CIN)

Jackson Chourio (OF – MIL)

The two buzziest hitting prospects of the 2022 season are both now inside my top-20 overall. And in Elly De La Cruz’s case, he’s vaulted all the way up into the #3 spot overall behind Corbin Carroll and Anthony Volpe. Both Jack Chourio and De La Cruz have dominated their respective levels this season and are more than deserving of their high rankings.

In 325 plate appearances, De La Cruz has slashed .298/.354/.589 with 41 extra-base hits, 20 home runs, and 31 steals (4 CS). His approach remains a work in progress but EDLC has been making incremental improvements month to month and those that have seen him have noted that his at-bats look better now than they did in 2021 or even in April. The metrics back this up with De La Cruz posting a combined 6.1% walk rate and 32.3% strikeout rate in April and May compared to 9.3% and 29.8% in June and July.  That 29.8% mark will need to continue dropping, but the fact that he’s made improvements already without sacrificing his hit tool or power is highly encouraging. The upside here is a lightly MORE toolsy Jazz Chisholm. Exciting, isn’t it?

As for Chourio, he finds himself at #18 overall after slashing .324/.373/.600 in 271 Lo-A plate appearances with 40 extra-base hits, 12 home runs, and 10 steals. Like with De La Cruz, Chourio has some approach issues to iron out and could stand to be more patient at the plate, but the upside and ceiling for fantasy purposes are tantalizing. Chourio possesses plus or better power with above-average speed, and if the approach comes along, there’s major five-category potential. If this continues, he’ll be joining De La Cruz in the top-10 before the end of the season.

James Wood (OF – SDP)

If it wasn’t for the two names above, James Wood would be receiving even more praise than he already is. As a 6’7 outfielder, Wood immediately intrigued during 2021 draft season and that intrigue grew when watching video of him leading up to the draft. As you can expect, the power stands out, but Wood is also an exceptional athlete that should add some element of speed early on in his career. He’s also quickly showing to be a better pure hitter than many gave him credit for, which is one of the driving forces behind his quick ascension up prospect rankings. Through his first 50 games this season, Wood has racked up 16 doubles, eight homers, and 14 steals with a 16.2% walk rate, 19.7% strikeout rate, and .304/.427/.524 slash line. it’s quite possible I didn’t go high enough with Wood in this update and will be bumping him even higher next time.

Curtis Mead (3B/2B/1B – TBR)

Without question, Mead is one of the most underrated prospects in baseball. The 21-year-old Australian infielder has slashed .293/.387/.534 in 313 plate appearances this season with 13 homers and seven steals and is a career .304 hitter in the minors. Nothing dazzles in his profile, but Mead is an above-average hitter with above-average raw power and around average speed that can play multiple infield positions. His offensive profile and defensive versatility should get him to Tampa sooner rather than later.

Colton Cowser (OF – BAL)

I’ve been a big Colton Cowser supporter for over a year now. His 2022 season got off to an underwhelming start, but Cowser has really cranked up the heat of late, slashing .306/.433/.529 in June and .281/.423/.579 so far in July. Cowser is silencing those “Didn’t face top competition in college” doubters and proving to be a no-doubt top-50 prospect with top-25 upside by the end of the season thanks to an offensive profile where he could wind up above-average or plus in hit, power, and speed. Go get this guy before his price tag catches up.

Evan Carter (OF – TEX)

From a surprising 2nd round pick to a near-top-50 prospect in two years. The ascension of Evan Carter has been joyous to watch. In 75 Hi-A games, Carter has accumulated 14 doubles, eight triples, nine home runs, and 16 steals with a .274/.374/.474 slash line. He’s also continued displaying a patient approach with a 12.7% walk rate and a rock-solid 15.7% strikeout rate. That approach has been consistent throughout his professional career and now his game power is beginning to materialize. I’m not sure I see top-25 coming soon, but Carter could certainly reach my top-40 this season.

Vaughn Grissom (SS – ATL)

As with Mead above, the sum of the parts is what makes Vaughn Grissom exciting for fantasy purposes. He’s likely never going to stand out in any one category, but Grissom possesses .280/15/20 upside and has built a solid floor as well thanks to his contact abilities and approach at the plate. Grissom is a great dynasty target as his perceived value is lower than it should be. We’re 215 games into his minor league career and Grissom has hit .312 with a .401 OBP, 22 homers, and 43 steals.

Warming Bernabel (3B – COL)

Fair or unfair, there’s a stigma surrounding Colorado prospects. For me, that stigma is 100% warranted with pitchers, but let’s not downgrade every Colorado hitting prospect. Ezequiel Tovar and Zac Veen are currently top-25 prospects and Warming Bernabel could potentially join them in the top 50 soon. Bernabel has flashed his above-average tolls early and often this season en route to 13 homers, 22 steals, and a .329/.392/.520 slash line thus far. While he doesn’t possess big power or speed, Bernabel could develop into a 15-18 homer, 20+ steal type that hits .270+ with the Coors BABIP boost.

Carson Williams (SS – TBR) & Kyle Manzardo (1B – TBR)

Many have become enamored with the power/speed blend that Williams is showing, but he’s also stringing out 34.2% of the time in Lo-A. If he wants to sneak into my top-100, Williams will need to improve in that area to make me feel better about his questionable hit tool.

Manzardo is doing everything you could hope for out of him at this stage of his professional career. He’s hitting for average, solid power, and demonstrating an exceptional approach. He did all of this in college too. If this continues, Manzardo will be well within my top-100 next update.

Bo Naylor (C – CLE)

There’s so much top-notch catching talent in the minors right now and Bo Naylor is quickly ascending the ranks towards the elite at this position. He’s done a bit of everything this season between Double-A and Triple-A, racking up 10 homers and 13 steals in 75 games with a .280/.430/.504 slash line, 19.5% walk rate, and 21.5% strikeout rate. This type of offensive skill set often gets slept on when the player is a prospect but becomes desirable in fantasy leagues once they’re in the Majors. In all honestly, I was probably too low with Naylor’s ranking despite the sizeable bump in general.

Yainer Diaz (C – HOU)

Speaking of catching prospects on the rise, Yainer Diaz doesn’t get nearly as much love in prospect circles as he should. The 23-year-old excelled in Single-A last season and carried that momentum over into 2022 with a .302/.350/.530 slash line and 18 home runs in 369 plate appearances. While Diaz doesn’t quite have Naylor’s OBP skills or speed, he provides more power and should hit for a similar or slightly better average. And like Naylor, there’s not much in his way at the Major League level.

Other Hitting Prospects on the Rise

Blaze Jordan (1B/3B – BOS), Junior Caminero (INF – TBR), Jeter Downs (2B – BOS), Gleider Figuereo (SS/3B – TEX), Osleivis Basabe (SS – TBR), Gabriel Gonzalez (OF – SEA), Alexander Canario (OF – SFG), Lazaro Montes (OF – SEA), Heston Kjerstad (OF – BAL), Anthony Gutierrez (OF – TEX), Jairo Pomares (OF – SFG), Yohendrick Pinango (OF – CHC)

Notable Fallers

Kahlil Watson (SS – MIA)

It’s certainly been a rough 2022 campaign for Watson, and not just with his performance either. Watson recently returned from a multi-week benching after using his bat in a gun-like gesture toward the first base umpire following a strikeout. There have been other rumblings of character issues as well which could’ve played into Watson’s slide to pick 16 in the 2021 draft. Add in the fact that Watson has a MAJOR swing and miss issue right now, and we have a prospect that’s barely hanging onto top-100 status. If we don’t see a turnaround soon, this fall will continue to pick up steam. With that said, Watson’s power/speed upside remains intriguing (72 G, 9 HR, 16 SB), but these red flags need to be corrected. If you’re a believer in the upside, now isn’t a bad time to buy low.

Luis Matos (OF – SFG)

What happened here? Entering the season Matos was flirting with top-10 prospect status coming off a 2021 season where he slashed .313/.359/.495 with 35 doubles, 15 home runs, and 21 steals in 26 attempts. Sure, the walk rate was on the lower side at 5.7%, but Matos also had a stellar 12.4% strikeout rate. In 2022, the approach has remained solid and Matos has seven homers and five steals in 58 games, but the slash line sits at a stomach-turning .187/.268/.316. He was dealing with a quad issue earlier in the season which could’ve contributed to some of the struggles, but now this prolonged stretch of offensive struggles has pushed Matos outside my top-50 overall. Moving forward, I still believe he’s better than this and can get back up inside my top-50, so I’m not opposed to buying low here. I’m also more confident in him than Watson above.

Orelvis Martinez (SS – TOR)

After seeing Orelvis Martinez live several times, I’m starting to wonder how much good he’s going to do outside of the power department. Martinez possesses raw power that borders on double-plus, but he’s overly aggressive at the plate without the contact skills to back it up. As it stands now, Martinez has a lowly 67.6% contact rate in Double-A this season with a .212/.280/.478 slash line, 22 homers, and six steals. He’s still young for the level, but without significant improvements to his approach, he’s going to continue to struggle in the AVG and OBP departments. If you can still get a near top-50 prospect back for him, I’d take that in a second.

Austin Martin (SS – MIN)

I’m still a believer that Martin can post a solid OBP at the highest level with 20 SB, but he doesn’t impact the ball enough and has struggled to hit for AVG compared to projections for him. A .249 AVG this season and .261 for his career are well below expectations and he only has one homer to go with it. He’s barely top-200 for me moving forward and not someone I’d look to buy low on.

Jordan Groshans

It’s been a steady decline for Groshans since the start of the 2021 season. He went from a possible high-average bat with 15-18 homer upside to hitting for a mediocre .254 in 68 games with only two steals and one home run. At this point, Groshans doesn’t even project as an MLB regular in my eyes and isn’t a desirable dynasty target in the slightest.

2022 Draftees Added

This late-July update is always one of my favorites as I get to add in the most recent MLB draft class. This year’s class was loaded with elite talent and depth with 49 players overall making my top-400, 25 inside the top-250, and nine inside the top-100.

Even with Druw Jones’ shoulder injury, he remains in tier-1 with Elijah Green for me with both entering the list as top-20 prospects. Tier-2 consists of Jackson Holliday, Termarr Johnson, and Chase Delauter in the 30-45 range, and several collegiate bats follow them in the back-half of the top-100.

FYPD RankPlayerPositionTeamOverall Rank
1Druw JonesOFARI12
2Elijah GreenOFWAS16
3Jackson HollidaySSBAL34
4Termarr Johnson2BPIT36
5Chase DeLauterOFCLE44
6Cam Collier3BCIN71
7Gavin CrossOFKCR79
8Jacob Berry3B/1BMIA84
9Kevin ParadaCNYM93
10Justin CrawfordOFPHI104
11Jace Jung2BDET116
12Brooks LeeSSMIN132
13Dylan LeskoRHPSDP141
14Brock PorterRHPTEX161
15Drew GilbertOFHOU172
16Jett WilliamsSSNYM179
17Kumar RockerRHPTEX189
18Zach NetoSSLAA191
19Jordan BeckOFCOL194
20Spencer JonesOFNYY205
21Brock JonesOFTBR215
22Brandon BarrieraLHPTOR226
23Sterlin Thompson3B/OFCOL236
24Henry BolteOFOAK243
25Dylan BeaversOFBAL250
26Daniel SusacCOAK262
27Eric Brown Jr.SSMIL269
28Robby SnellingLHPSDP283
29Owen MurphyRHPATL290
30Jacob MeltonOFHOU294
31Max Wagner3BBAL297
32Jackson FerrisLHPCHC305
33Ivan Melendez1BARI308
34Cooper HjerpeLHPSTL315
35Peyton GrahamSSDET321
36Cade HortonRHPCHC323
37Tyler Locklear3BSEA325
38Justin CampbellRHPCLE333
39Carson WhisenhuntLHPSFG336
40Cayden WallaceOFKCR353
41Tucker TomanSSTOR356
42Cole YoungSSSEA372
43Jud FabianOFBAL378
44Noah SchultzLHPCHW381
45Blake TidwellRHPNYM383
46Landon SimsRHPARI386
47Bryce HubbartLHPCIN389
48Connor PrielippLHPMIN391
49Clark ElliottOFOAK393

Media Credit: Reds, MLB Pipeline, Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire, Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

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