The doom and gloom of the MLB lockout has been hanging over the heads of baseball fans for over a month now and reports suggest that little progress was made in the most recent negotiations between players and owners. But with an optimistic eye towards the future and in an effort to brighten baseball spirits, I’ll be shining a light on the top infield prospects heading into the 2022 season, starting in order at first base. While there are many promising young infield anchors in the MLB pipeline, the following players have all shown massive potential and are on pace to be penciled into big league lineups early on in the coming season.
Spencer Torkelson, Detroit Tigers
Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera is going into his 15th season with the Tigers so it’s hard to picture anyone else manning first base at Comerica Park. But Spencer Torkelson is undoubtedly the future of the position in Detroit and is expected to get the call up early into the 2022 campaign. MLB Pipeline ranks the former first round pick as the top first base prospect and number four overall. Across three levels of minor league ball, Torkelson slashed .267/.383/.552 and mashed 30 home runs last season. He looks like the complete offensive package with the ability to hit both for average and power, and the patience to take his walks. Detroit clearly plans to build a young, competitive lineup this season, so fantasy managers have every reason to get excited about Torkelson.
Seth Beer, Arizona Diamondbacks
Beer made a splash in his big league debut last September when he crushed a pinch hit home run in his first at bat. The excitement was short lived, however, as a shoulder injury ended his season after just five big league games. Though it was a small sample size, that time showed that Beer was capable of great things. In ten plate appearances, he knocked in three RBIs and slashed .444/.500/.889. Beer’s Triple-A season in Reno was equally as impressive, slugging .511 and crushing 39 home runs. The Clemson alumni has obvious power and the potential to do damage every time he steps up to the plate, so it won’t be long until he’s raking in the fantasy points.
Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox
Boston’s production at first base last season was mediocre at best, so Triston Casas’ shot at the bigs looks like it could be coming soon. Casas was drafted in the first round of the 2018 draft but only played in two games before his season was ended by injury. He was back in action in 2019 and has been nothing but impressive since. Across all levels of Boston’s minor league system, Casas has slashed .265/.368/.479. He has raw power and the ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field, so he should be able to hit for both average and power when Boston finally gives him the call.
Nick Pratto, Kansas City Royals
Pratto was drafted out of High School in 2017 and had a strong start to his professional career at the Rookie Ball and Low-A levels. A promotion to High-A Wilmington in 2019 proved to be a challenge for him, however, where his power and contact both seemingly disappeared. The 23 year old has rebounded well over the past two years, dramatically increasing his hard-hit rate in 2021 and slashing a combined .265/.385/.602 across Double-A and Triple-A levels. He added 36 home runs to that stat line, so the power is seemingly back and here to stay. Pratto may not steal a ton of bases but he is a great base runner, which could give fantasy managers a small boost in the runs category.
Mason Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates
Expectations for Martin were low when Pittsburgh selected him in the 17th round of the 2017 draft but he played like a number one pick in his first year of Rookie Ball, turning in a slash line of .307/.457/.630. Since then the 22 year old’s batting average may have declined, but he has continually shown off his long ball capabilities, slugging 35 home runs in 2019 and 25 in 2021. He is a bit of an “all or nothing” hitter, with a career strikeout rate above 30%. This will likely translate into a high-risk, high-reward fantasy player who will undoubtedly clobber his fair share of home runs, but won’t help much in the walks department and will likely turn in a high number of strikeouts over the full course of a big league season.
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