Chris Clegg’s Prospect Report (2022 Fantasy Baseball)
Baseball is back in full swing, and if you are reading this, I’m sure that makes you happy! We have had nearly a whole week of MLB games, Triple-A started over a week ago, and the rest of the Minor Leagues kicked off last Friday. I have been tracking players closely for all my fantasy teams and looking for the next big prospect to scoop up off the waiver wire.
I am honored to take over the weekly Prospect Report column Brendan Tuma wrote last year, and I hope to do it justice. If you know me and have followed my work, you know I love prospects. I spend at least one night a week at a MiLB ballpark, if not more, trying to get live looks on prospects and who might be the next big prospect to take off. I also spend ample time on MILB TV watching the players I do not get the luxury of seeing live.
In today’s prospect report, we will check in on the top prospects that made Major League rosters and look at some players dominating in the early season of Minor League Baseball.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out on Twitter @RotoClegg, or you can catch me on the FantasyPros Discord.
Week 1 Prospect Report
Bobby Witt Jr. is off to a slow start after dominating Spring Training. He currently has a .125/.176/.250 slash line in 17 plate appearances. Witt has walked once, drove in three runs, and stolen a base. It is far too early to worry about Witt or any prospect who has struggled out of the gate. The positive to take away is that Witt has shown the ability to hit the ball hard with a 33.3 percent hard-hit rate and a max exit velocity of 110.4 mph.
Julio Rodriguez has just one hit to his name this season and has struck out 46.7 percent of the time. Once again, it is too early to worry. Rodriguez has an impressive 57.1 percent sweet spot percent, a batted ball between eight and 32 degrees. Rodriguez can smoke a baseball and makes plenty of contact. Of any prospect in the Majors, I am the least concerned about Julio Rodriguez.
Spencer Torkelson ended his hitless drought on Tuesday, collecting a double against the Red Sox. Getting the monkey off your back of getting your first MLB hit is never easy. Torkelson has just three batted balls on the season and has unfortunately walked or struck out nearly 75 percent of the time. He will get on track and be fine long-term.
Like the other top-hitting prospects, C.J Abrams has struggled out of the gate, and he has just one hit in nine tries. The good news is, unlike other top-hitting prospects, strikeouts have not been an issue. Abrams has elite upside thanks to good power and high-end speed to pair with excellent contact skills. It is also worth noting the 21-year-old missed a large portion of the 2021 season due to fracturing his left tibia and spraining his MCL.
Who would have thought? Steven Kwan has been the hottest hitter of all the prospects making the big league roster out of spring training. You could argue that Steven Kwan has been the hottest hitter in baseball. Kwan has always possessed elite contact skills, and it has shown. Kwan has not swung and missed at a pitch all season. He has ten hits in 15 at-bats and eight walks. Kwan has not demonstrated much power, but there is no need to worry when you hit for average as he does. Kwan could be a 15 home run/15 stolen base type player who competes for batting titles. His value has likely never been higher, presenting a good selling opportunity in dynasty leagues.
Reid Detmers did not have his best stuff in his first start of the season but still looked good. He pitched four innings, allowing two runs and striking out three batters. He posted a 28 percent called strikes plus whiffs rate despite not recording a single whiff on his curveball, his best pitch. Detmers has the capabilities to be a high-end SP2 for fantasy, so be patient.
Hunter Greene got off to a hot start in his MLB debut against the Braves. He struck out Matt Olson (1B – ATL) and Austin Riley (3B – ATL) in the first inning. He did run out of steam in the fifth inning and gave up home runs to Travis d’Arnuad and Matt Olson. He still struck out seven hitters and averaged 99.7 mph on his fastball. His slider produced a whiff rate of 45.5 percent. Greene is the type of pitcher who could have some volatility throughout the season, but when he is on, he is outstanding.
Under the Radar Prospects to Target
Hudson Haskin flies under the radar in a deep Baltimore Orioles farm system. He was a second-round pick in the 2020 draft class. Haskin had an up and down 2021 season in Low and High-A last year, hitting just five home runs in 363 plate appearances. He did steal 22 bases and is an easy plus runner. He does have good contact skills and hit for a .275 batting average last season. In just 12 plate appearances this year, Haskin has hit three home runs in Double-A. Haskin could be an intriguing power/speed prospect for fantasy purposes if the power sustains.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand was an under-the-radar draft pick in the 2021 draft class by the Minnesota Twins. Encarnacion-Strand has massive power and questionable contact skills. He has not looked like a hitter with contact issues so far, as he has struck out just twice in 14 plate appearances and currently has a .714 batting average. In addition to that, he has three home runs and a stolen base. I have talked about Encarnacion-Strand in the past, but it’s time to take him more seriously in dynasty leagues.
Ceddanne Rafaela may be among the deepest names to target in dynasty leagues. He is currently rostered in just 0.4 percent of Fantrax leagues, but I watched him live all weekend and can tell you Rafaela is on the rise. He quietly hit ten home runs and stole 23 bases last season in Low-A. Over the weekend, Rafaela got 14 plate appearances and made the most of them. He hit two home runs and stole three bases. Rafaela has good speed, improving power, and solid contact skills. He is a player you want to add if you roster 400 or more prospects in a dynasty.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.