Top Prospects for 2022 Redraft Leagues: Hitters
If you’re a prospect hound, 2022 is going to be a majestic year. At least on paper anyway. A whopping 45 prospects in my top-100 overall will likely play at the Major League level this season with many more outside my top-100 as well. That includes my top two overall and 13 of my top-25 if you include those that already debuted in 2021. That’s what we’re going to be discussing today with which top prospects you should be targeting or monitoring in redraft leagues this season on the hitting side. We’ll get into pitchers next week.
While there are a massive amount of names below to get your blood pumping, it’s also essential to discuss the most ideal way to navigate the prospect waters in your draft. And honestly, there’s not one concrete answer to this conundrum. It’s not as simple as me saying “do it like this and everything will work out.” That’d be nice, wouldn’t it? When it boils down to it, one must consider current roster construction along with how risk-averse you want to be.
Grabbing a high-upside prospect or two can be enjoyable, especially if they pan out and burst into a star right away. However — and I can’t stress this enough — those are the exceptions to the rule. Just look at the last couple of seasons for example.
Wander Franco: High AVG but minimal power/speed
Jarred Kelenic: Ugh, we won’t even go there
Andrew Vaughn: Vastly underperformed expectations
Jo Adell: Massive struggles
Nate Pearson, Matt Manning, and many other arms: Struggled and/or injured
The transition from the minors to the Majors isn’t always seamless. Actually, it rarely is. Going too prospect-heavy in your draft is a strategy that rarely works out. Trust me. I’ve learned this unfortunate lesson the difficult way first-hand. More than once I might add.
Now, I’m not saying to avoid prospects altogether. Why would I say that when this article solely discusses which prospect to target in redraft leagues this season? Be smart, pick your spots, and don’t jump the gun just because you’re worried about missing out.
With all that said, we have a ton of exciting names to talk about below, so I’m going to shut the bleep up and let you dig in.
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Top Prospects for 2022 Redraft Leagues: Hitters
Draft in 10, 12, or 15-team Leagues
Bobby Witt Jr (SS – KCR) – 10+ Team Leagues
There’s no questioning who the top prospect to target in 2022 redraft leagues is. When my #1 overall prospect is due up as early as opening day, it’s not even a discussion. Fresh off a 33/29 season in Triple-A, Bobby Witt Jr is ready to take over at shortstop or third base very early in the 2022 season. His plus hit tool and plus or better power/speed give Witt the opportunity to make an immense fantasy impact this season, perhaps even posting a 20/20 season. There’s a chance he’s in the Royals opening day lineup, but if not, it should be by the end of April at the absolute latest. Draft him with confidence after the first 90-100 picks or so.
Been waiting for a good view of Bobby Witt Jr.'s home run today. @Royals provided it, and good lord is it is glorious: 484 feet.
Oh, and he's only 20 years old. pic.twitter.com/wUIwIGku7t
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 8, 2021
Seiya Suzuki (OF – FA) – 10+ Team Leagues
While his landing spot is still to be determined, Seiya Suzuki is firmly on the redraft radar for 2022. Suzuki is coming off over half a decade of dominance in Japan’s top league and is one of the most exciting offensive talents to come out of Asia in quite some time. Maybe even since Ichiro and Hideki Matsui around two decades ago. Suzuki finished his tenure in Japan with six straight seasons of a .300+ AVG, .389+ OBP, and 25+ home runs. He even recorded more walks than strikeouts over his last three seasons. This is the type of robust skillset that should translate better than most coming from Japan and a top-100 caliber season is well within reach. After Witt, there are no rookies I’d take over Suzuki in 2022 drafts.
Adley Rutschman (C – BAL) – 10+ Team Leagues
If there was ever a time to draft a catcher prospect in redraft leagues, 2022 will be it. Adley Rutschman is the best catching prospect to come through the minors since Joe Mauer and Buster Posey well over a decade ago. With a plus hit tool, plus power, and an advanced plate approach, Rutschman has the ability to produce as a top-10 catcher this season, maybe even top-5 if he’s up early enough. His debut should come incredibly early in the season too as Baltimore has absolutely nothing blocking Rutschman from everyday playing time. If he’s on the board after pick 200 and you don’t have a catcher yet, I’m be incredibly tempted to scoop him up.
Josh Jung (3B – TEX) – 12+ Team Leagues
While the three above are the buzzy names for 2022 drafts, Josh Jung might be the most economical selection for 2022 rookies. The former first-round selection has quietly excelled in his two minor league seasons, combining to slash .322/.394/.538 with 36 doubles, 21 home runs, and six steals in 122 games. Jung is one of the more polished and advanced bats in the minor leagues right now with a plus hit tool and plus power giving him .280+/25 upside at peak. I’m not expecting that level of production this year of course, but if he’s up by the end of April, Jung could post a .270/20 season with solid counting stats and maybe a handful of steals as well. The Corey Seager and Marcus Semien signings complicate Jung’s path slightly as Isiah Kiner-Falefa now moves to the hot corner, but IKF isn’t going to block Jung when Texas deems him ready.
Riley Greene (OF – DET) – 12+ Team Leagues
The Detroit Tigers are currently in full rebuild mode, but the future looks bright, especially in 2022 with Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson set to debut early in the season. For fantasy purposes, I’ve found myself targeting Greene more than Torkelson and have selected Greene in both of my first two NFBC drafts thus far. Like Jung, Greene is an advanced prospect bat with a plus hit tool and plus power that can also add more speed than Jung is capable of.
Take the projections from Jung’s blurb above and add 10-15 steals to it. That’s what we’re looking at here with Greene. In 124 games last season including 40 at Triple-A, Greene racked up 24 homers and 16 steals with a .301/.387/.534 slash line. While he’ll likely begin the season in Triple-A, that stint is expected to be a short one, giving Greene plenty of redraft appeal as a late-round flier to stash until he’s up.
Spencer Torkelson (1B – DET) – 12+ Team Leagues
Having also played 40 games in Triple-A, it’s plausible that we see Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene debut around the same time, perhaps as early as April. Torkelson’s profile is quite different from Greene’s but his solid hit tool, high walk rate, and plus or better power give him a chance to make an immediate impact for fantasy purposes. That power was on full display during his first professional season with 29 doubles and 30 home runs across 121 games with a solid .267/.383/.552 slash line.
Spencer Torkelson AFL mix.
No HR in my three live looks, but had six hits (all below) with a few hard-hit balls. Used the entire field well
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 17, 2021
Greene is the safer bet for AVG and SB in 2022, but Tork should be able to pace at 25+ HR with an AVG that won’t hurt you and a decent OBP. There’s not a glaring opening in Detroit’s infield, but once Tork is ready, Detroit could shift Schoop to 2nd to open up first base. Regardless, Torkelson will play every day once up and could flirt with top-10 status at first base once he is.
Joey Bart (C – SFG) – 12+ Team Leagues
With the surprising retirement of former National League MVP Buster Posey, Joey Bart should take over behind the plate in San Francisco as long as the Giants don’t bring in a backstop via free agency or trade once the lockout is over. And while Bart doesn’t have the upside to match the five names above him, a starting gig puts him firmly on the 2022 redraft radar. Bart has struggled to showcase the same contact skills and approach that he did at Georgia Tech, but there’s still plus raw power here that could lead to 20+ homers if he plays in 120+ games.
The AVG and OBP likely won’t be anything to write home about, but a .250/20 season puts him in top-10 catcher consideration. I’m not going to be drafting him as a top-10 catcher, but if I decide to wait until the late-rounds and want an upside play, Bart is a fine choice.
Prospect Stashes (Estimated ETA Before 6/1)
Oneil Cruz (SS – PIT)
Cruz could very easily be in the section above after receiving a cup (more like a shot) of coffee with Pittsburgh late last season. However, it’s not a guarantee that Pittsburgh gives him a starting gig after only six games at Triple-A. What a majestic six-game stint that was though. The 6’7 Cruz blasted five homers in those six games to bring his season total to 17 in 68 games to pair with 19 steals and a .310/.375/.594 slash line. Cruz has immense raw power with surprising above-average speed as well that could lead to some 25+/15 seasons down the road.
However, even though he hit .310 in 2021 and .281 in the minors, Cruz does have a propensity to chase out of the zone and his longer levers and bigger strike zone will likely be exploited to some degree by top Major League pitching. Still, his power/speed blend is exciting for fantasy and could make him 2022’s Jazz Chisholm. Keep a close eye on Pittsburgh’s middle infield situation in spring training and move Cruz up your draft boards if he’s going to start on opening day.
Bryson Stott (SS – PHI)
This could be the most underrated name in this entire list. There’s nothing flashy about Bryson Stott’s profile, but man, can the guy produce across the board. Stott is an above-average or better hitter with an exceptional plate approach and the power/speed to go 20/15 at peak. His profile would fit nicely in the #2 hole, right ahead of some two-time NL MVP named Bryce Harper. Keep an eye on Stott in spring training and don’t hesitate to throw a late-round flier on him if it sounds like he’ll break camp or be up early in the season.
Maybe you've heard me mention that I believe Bryson Stott is THE dude here in the @MLBazFallLeague
— The Welsh (@IsItTheWelsh) November 13, 2021
Jarren Duran (OF – BOS)
Depending on what Boston does with the remainder of the offseason, Jarren Duran could fall into the category below. And frankly, I’m not even sure I’d target him even with an everyday gig in 2022. Duran underwent a mechanical swing change in 2020 that unlocked more power in 2021, but that came at the expense of his contact skills and strikeout rate. I’m doubting we ever see the .300+ AVG return and it’s not like he has the power to crank 20 playing half his games in Fenway. Curling them to the short part of right field isn’t quite as easy as you think. I’ve seen millions of deep fly ball outs in that part of the park. With the lower AVG, I’m not quite as intrigued as I once was.
Ready to Contribute but No Path to Playing Time
Vidal Brujan (2B/OF – TBR) & Josh Lowe (OF – TBR): If Tampa Bay is able to find a spot for either of these two, I’m going to be quick to scoop them up in fantasy leagues or spend a decent amount in FAAB. Brujan’s 10/30 upside and Lowe’s 20/20 make them equally enticing, but neither has a clear path to playing time as it stands right now.
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 11, 2019
Jose Miranda (2B/3B – MIN): Miranda broke out in 2021 with a .344 AVG and 30 HR in 127 games but begins 2022 without a clear path to everyday at-bats. That can quickly change however once Josh Donaldson inevitably goes on the IL at some point.
Nolan Gorman (2B – STL): This could easily change if St. Louis decides to move Tommy Edman to short and open up the keystone for Nolan Gorman. His AVG might not be an asset, but his 25+ homer pop from second base sure would be.
Nick Pratto (1B – KCR) & MJ Melendez (C/3B – KCR): Both Pratto and Melendez are coming off huge offensive campaigns in the upper minors last year but there’s not a clear path to playing time for either. Ideally, both can force their way into the lineup with Pratto at 1B/DH and Melendez at C/DH or even at the hot corner where the Royals tried him out at in 2021. Both can be solid fantasy contributors if given the opportunity.
Seth Beer (OF/1B – ARI): While his profile is far from sexy, Beer could be an annual .270/20+ bat in the Majors and could receive everyday playing time if the NL adopts the DH in 2022.
Juan Yepez (1B/OF – STL): His profile is similar to Beer’s (with more upside) and the playing time concerns here are even larger. Yepez really needs the DH as he’s not going to unseat anyone in that outfield or Goldschmidt at first.
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 15, 2021
Luis Campusano (C – SDP): He’s a solid hitter with .270+/15 potential, but San Diego continues to bring in catcher after catcher which both clouds Campusano’s playing time and makes me wonder if they’re not comfortable with him as their starter.
High-Upside Stashes (Estimated ETA June/July)
Julio Rodriguez (OF – SEA): You’re going to have a burning desire to draft Julio Rodriguez this season. Don’t. That has nothing to do with his skill set. The stud outfield prospect is ranked #2 overall for me and could post .300/35 seasons in his career. However, I’m not expecting him up until midseason as he only has 46 games at Double-A under his belt and Seattle surely isn’t short of outfielders to start the 2022 season. I’d recommend keeping a close eye on any J-Rod news/rumors and try to add him a few weeks before it’s looking like he’ll debut.
For no particular reason, here are all of Julio Rodríguez’s Double-A homeruns from 2021💪 pic.twitter.com/w67qTZNPOo
— Prospects Live (@ProspectsLive) December 31, 2021
Brennen Davis (OF – CHC): My #5 overall dynasty prospect is coming off a solid .260/19/8 campaign in 99 games last season including a 15-game Triple-A stint to end the season. He should be up by the all-star break and has the power/speed to make an immediate impact. Just don’t expect a high AVG right away as Davis is still working through some strikeout issues.
Alek Thomas (OF – ARI): One of my favorite prospects in all of baseball and one that continues to go undervalued. Sure, Thomas might not have huge power or speed, but there’s 20+/15+ upside with a plus hit tool and strong OBP skills. What’s not to like? Arizona’s outfield isn’t exactly set in stone, so Thomas could breakthrough by the all-star break with a strong showing in Triple-A.
Triston Casas (1B – BOS): Casas was one of 18 prospects in 2021 with a walk rate above 10%, strikeout rate below 20%, and an ISO above .200. The hulking first baseman should be ready by mid-season and has middle-of-the-order thumper written all over him. If Boston doesn’t bring in another first baseman, Casas’ path to playing time will hinge on the health of JD Martines and the performance of Bobby Dalbec.
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 16, 2021
Pedro Leon (SS – HOU): Love the power/speed blend, but the contact skills and approach are still a work in progress. Also, if Houston doesn’t bring in a shortstop, Jeremy Pena might be the first one up, ahead of Leon.
Vinnie Pasquantino (1B – KCR): Honestly, I have zero clue how he’s going to fit into the Royals lineup with the logjam they’re going to have at 1B/DH, but Vinnie P can mash. Pasquantino was one of only three hitters (Volpe and Yepez the others) in 2021 with a 10+% walk rate, sub-20% strikeout rate, and a .250+ ISO over 250+ plate appearances. After some Triple-A seasoning, “Italian Breakfast” should be ready.
Potential Impact Late-Season Callups (August/September)
Gabriel Moreno (C – TOR): The Blue Jays already have Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk behind the plate (as of now), so they have a golden opportunity to continue bringing along Gabriel Moreno slowly. But if Moreno does debut in 2022, his hit/power combination will immediately give him mixed-league relevance if starting regularly.
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) May 6, 2021
Miguel Vargas (1B/3B – LAD): I’m a big fan of Vargas’ skill set and think he can be a .280/25 bat at the Major League level, but he’s going to need a few things to happen to see the field regularly in 2022. Luckily, he can play both corners and might have the DH role to slot into as well once he’s ready later in the season.
Oswald Peraza (SS – NYY): This one largely hinges on what the Yankees do following the lockout, but Peraza could be an in-house candidate for shortstop or second base if no big name is acquired. The 21-year-old Venezuelan is coming off a stellar 2021 where he recorded 18 homers, 38 steals, and a .297/.356/.477 slash line.
George Valera (OF – CLE): Cleveland’s outfield is far from crowded, so expect George Valera to debut sometime this summer. I’m lower than most on Valera, but there’s 20/10 upside here with a solid OBP and an AVG that won’t hurt you.
Greg Jones (SS – TBR): The power/speed profile is enticing for fantasy purposes, but I’m not seeing Jones securing a starting role in 2021 without several injuries. Tampa Bay is still trying to find room for Brujan and Lowe, and also have Taylor Walls to play short if Wander gets hurt.
Michael Busch (1B/2B – LAD): High OBP bat with 25-homer upside, but Busch is thoroughly blocked in Los Angeles. It will likely take an injury or two to open up a spot for him.
Ronny Mauricio (SS – NYM): Mauricio should be ready at some point later on in the season, but the Mets infield is already crowded as it is. Even if he does work his way into a starting role, I’m not sure he’s mixed-league relevant.
Jeter Downs (2B/SS – BOS): After his struggles in 2021, I’m anticipating a long Triple-A stint from Downs in 2022. If he can fix his issues against non-fastballs and return to the Downs we saw pre-2021, he could get the call to Boston later in the season assuming Boston doesn’t bring in another good middle infielder this offseason. The AVG won’t stand out with Downs, but there’s 15+/15+ power/speed in his profile.
Under the Radar Targets for Deeper Leagues
Jeremy Pena (SS – HOU), Josh Smith (2B/SS – TEX), Steven Kwan (OF – CLE), Gabriel Arias (SS – CLE), Joe Perez (3B – HOU), Elehuris Montero (1B/3B – COL), Cooper Hummell (C/OF – ARI), Brendon Davis (3B – ARI), Sam Huff (C – TEX)
Could/Should Be Up, But With Minimal Impact
Nolan Jones (3B – CLE), Tyler Freeman (2B/SS – CLE), Drew Waters (OF – ATL), Cristian Pache (OF – ATL), Samad Taylor (2B – TOR), Jake Burger (3B – CHW), Ivan Herrera (C – STL), Geraldo Perdomo (SS – ARI)
Media Credit: Chris Welsh (@IsItTheWelsh), Prospects Live (@ProspectsLive), Jeff Passan, Josh Norris (@jnorris427)
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