The minor-league season has ended at some levels and is winding down in others. With the rash of call-ups in recent weeks, there's basically nobody left to come up and make a substantial Fantasy impact -- maybe Grayson Rodriguez and Sal Frelick, but that's it.
So for this final 2022 edition of the Prospects Report, I'm switching things up, throwing a bone to the deep dynasty leaguers who've had to sit through about a dozen dissertations on Miguel Vargas.
What we're looking at here are prospects who've flown under the radar. They weren't especially high draft picks. They aren't fixtures on top-100 lists. They're relative no-names to all but certified prospect junkies.
But what they're lacking in hype, they make up for in production, which you may be surprised to learn can sometimes be a precursor to big-league success. Case in point: I did the same exercise last year, and Spencer Strider, Vinnie Pasquantino and Steven Kwan were among those featured. Here's the evidence.
If you'd like to get a jump on what could be the 2023 versions of them, now is the time to act. And just in case your league doesn't allow for a deep minor-league roster, I've focused mostly on those just a sneeze away from the majors.
Naturally, my idea of a no-name might be different from yours, and I don't want to gloss over some of the other 2022 risers who might still be available in your league, having wrongfully deemed them to be too well-known. If these guys are still out there, maybe go for them first:
- Oscar Colas, OF, White Sox
- Gavin Stone, SP, Dodgers
- Logan O'Hoppe, C, Angels
- Brandon Pfaadt, SP, Diamondbacks
- Bo Naylor, C, Guardians
- Gordon Graceffo, SP, Cardinals
But if they're old news to you, here are some prospects who may not be.
Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Rays
A+/AA: .332 BA (307 AB), 22 HR, 1.069 OPS, 57 BB, 62 K
The 2021 second-rounder has only improved his production with the move up to Double-A, giving him the look of a hitting savant. If he challenges for a starting job next spring, in only his second professional season, it wouldn't surprise me, though the Rays' penchant for platooning players is one mitigating factor.
Endy Rodriguez, C, Pirates
A+/AA: .318 BA (422 AB), 24 HR, .993 OPS, 57 BB, 95 K
Another player whose Double-A production has only bolstered his stock, Rodriguez checks every box as a hitter, controlling the strike zone, elevating well and even batting from both sides of the plate. He's athletic enough to play all over the diamond, too, which could give him a huge volume advantage if he retains catcher eligibility.
Matt Mervis, 1B, Cubs
A+/AA/AAA: .311 BA (460 AB), 32 HR, .987 OPS, 42 BB, 98 K
Every week it seems I'm finding an excuse to write about Mervis, who continues to pile up home runs in a year that's taken him from A-ball to the precipice of the majors. The power combined with the low strikeout rate from a left handed-hitting first baseman has earned him comparisons to Anthony Rizzo, and if he's not the favorite for the Cubs' first base job entering next spring, it must mean that they made a big move in the offseason.
Aaron Zavala, OF, Rangers
A+/AA: .285 BA (396 AB), 16 HR, 13 SB, .897 OPS, 87 BB, 102 K
Double-A is supposed to be a proving ground for questionable prospects, but Zavala is yet another who's only upped his game since arriving there, reaching base at better than a .450 clip. It's that superlative plate discipline that gives him a path to everyday duty even if he profiles best in left field and offers more like 20-homer power than 30-homer power.
Tyler Gentry, OF, Royals
A+/AA: .326 BA (384 AB), 21 HR, .972 OPS, 59 BB, 102 K
The lack of fanfare shared by many on this list is perhaps most perplexing for this guy, who has consistently mashed month after month across two levels. The scouting reports don't hint at any red flags either, pointing out that he's a natural fit in right field and praising him just a much for his hit tool as his power tool. The Royals won't have trouble fitting him in the lineup when the time comes.
Edouard Julien, 2B, Twins
AA: .300 BA (387 AB), 17 HR, 17 SB, .933 OPS, 96 BB, 120 K
Julien has followed up a .434 on-base percentage last year with a .442 mark this year, making it pretty clearly not a fluke, and he's also turned the corner as a power hitter with all but one of his home runs coming since the start of June. I remember when Marcus Semien was a completely unheralded prospect putting up numbers similar to these, and well, look what he's turned out to be.
Enmanuel Valdez, 2B, Red Sox
AA/AAA: .304 BA (450 AB), 28 HR, .960 OPS, 60 BB, 109 K
A fascinating prospect in many respects, the 5-foot-9 Valdez has righted the ship after a slight dip upon coming over from the Astros at the trade deadline. Having tried multiple positions, it's not clear he rates well enough at any of them for full-time duty, but his performance at the plate, from the on-base skills to the surprising power, figures to earn him the chance sooner than later.
Justin Dirden, OF, Astros
AA/AAA: .310 BA (455 AB), 23 HR, 11 SB, .963 OPS, 49 BB, 129 K
Usually when a player this productive is this overlooked, it's because he's limited defensively and on the wrong side of a possible platoon, but Dirden fits neither of those criteria, being a left-handed hitter and capable center fielder. The strikeout rate is a little concerning, particularly for a 25-year-old, and it's true he hasn't taken the move up to Double-A entirely in stride. Still, with these numbers, he's sure to be in the mix next year.
Addison Barger, SS, Blue Jays
A+/AA: .302 BA (420 AB), 22 HR, .912 OPS, 41 BB, 123 K
There remain questions for Barger, who relies on a big leg kick to generate the power he does and who's had even more pronounced strikeout issues in the past, but perfect prospects aren't making it onto this list. He profiles best at third base, which presents an obstacle with Matt Chapman locked up, but life, as they say, finds a way.
Cade Marlowe, OF, Mariners
AA: .291 BA (447 AB), 20 HR, 36 SB, .864 OPS, 55 BB, 133 K
Marlowe has answered doubts about his ability to hit upper-level pitching with his torrid finish to 2022, batting .539 (28 for 52) with seven homers and three steals in 13 games. He's a capable base-stealer and center fielder, presenting the sort of athleticism that points to a high ceiling, but he's in a system loaded with young outfielders.
Will Brennan, OF, Guardians
AA/AAA: .315 BA (501 AB), 11 HR, 20 SB, .850 OPS, 50 BB, 67 K
Will Brennan is easy to mix up with Will Benson, who plays in the same system and has gotten more hype so far, having already made his major-league debut. But it's Brennan who looks more robust at this point, bringing that Steven Kwan profile of excellent contact skills and serviceable speed, perhaps even with a little more pop.
Miles Mastrobuoni, 2B, Rays
AAA: .298 BA (480 AB), 16 HR, 21 SB, .840 OPS, 56 BB, 89 K
The 26-year-old is a minor-league free agent after the season, which might get him out from under the Rays' thumb and put him in an organization with a more immediate need for a super utility guy, sort of like happened with Jake Cronenworth. He can play everywhere, is an efficient runner, and has recently enjoyed a power spike that hints of a higher ceiling.
Others worth checking out
Griff McGarry, SP, Phillies
A+/AA/AAA: 4-7, 3.39 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 82 1/3 IP, 47 BB, 124 K
Control is a major issue, but the stuff is so good that you could see him being just a tweak away from becoming a household name.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B, Reds
A+/AA: .302 BA (463 AB), 30 HR, .948 OPS, 38 BB, 128 K
Coming over with Spencer Steer in the Tyler Mahle trade, Encarnacion-Strand clearly has power to spare but may not be a disciplined enough hitter to make good on it.
Mason Montgomery, SP, Rays
A+/AA: 5-3, 2.21 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 118 IP, 42 BB, 167 K
The left-hander piled up strikeouts with ease at High-A before taking a step back at Double-A, but he throws strikes and has a fastball well-suited for the modern game.
Matt Wallner, OF, Twins
AA/AAA: .282 BA (451 AB), 27 HR, .965 OPS, 95 BB, 168 K
The 70-grade power bat has the look of a three-true-outcomes guy if he can avoid getting buried by strikeouts in the majors.
Parker Meadows, OF, Tigers
A+/AA: .270 BA (467 AB), 20 HR, 16 SB, .822 OPS, 51 BB, 101 K
Austin Meadows' younger brother is faster and a standout defensively, and it looks like he's figured out how to hit for power this year.
Darius Vines, SP, Braves
AA/AAA: 8-4, 3.78 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 128 2/3 IP, 39 BB, 143 K
His fastball is nothing special, but his 18 percent swinging-strike rate across two levels really stands out.
Moises Gomez, OF, Cardinals
AA/AAA: .298 BA (403 AB), 33 HR, .980 OPS, 44 BB, 158 K
He's been an offensive force all season long but strikes out at an exorbitant rate and is in a system loaded with corner men.
Blaine Crim, 1B, Ranges
AA/AAA: .295 BA (464 AB), 24 HR, .869 OPS, 49 BB, 82 K
He's a 5-foot-11 first baseman who bats right-handed, so there's no guarantee he gets a shot even if he hits well. But he is hitting well, with a batted-ball profile that's suited just as much for batting average as power.