Chris Clegg’s Prospect Report: Who Could Be The Next Top Prospect? (2022 Fantasy Baseball)
With Julio Rodriguez, Bobby Witt Jr., C.J. Abrams, and Spencer Torkelson all at the Major League level since Opening Day, they will exhaust prospect status by late May as long as they remain with the big league club. A player exhausts his prospect status if they surpass 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitching in the Majors or have 45 days on the active roster. With this wave of prospects set to reach the qualifications soon, who is next in line to take the top spot? Let’s look at some of the leading candidates.
Future Number One Prospect Candidates
Corbin Carroll is my favorite to claim the top spot in prospect rankings soon. A shoulder injury ended Carroll’s 2021 season after just seven games, or some may already view him as the top prospect in baseball. He has returned to dominance this season as he currently has a .347/.461/.611 slash with four home runs and seven stolen bases in 89 plate appearances.
Carroll has some of the best contact skills in the Minors and has easy 70-grade speed. His plate approach is mature, and he controls the zone well. Carroll’s swing is effortless and barrels the ball well despite being smaller at 5’10″/165 lb. Carroll is efficient on the base paths and could be an easy 25 stolen base threat at the next level. His power often gest undersold, but Carroll generates high exit velocities with plenty of loft that could lead to more home runs. Hitters with the upside to hit .300 with 20 HR and 30 SB don’t grow on trees, making him a great candidate to take over as the number one prospect soon.
Riley Greene would likely be a prospect getting close to exhausting prospect eligibility if he had not fractured his foot in Spring Training. He was on track to make the Tigers’ Opening Day roster with Spencer Torkelson and was slashing a cool .429/.500/1.048 with two home runs in 21 at-bats this spring before the injury. Last year between Double and Triple-A, Greene slashed .301/.387/.534 with 24 home runs and 16 stolen bases.
He has impressive power and runs well despite having a big frame; he is listed at 6’3″/200 lb. He generates a ton of bat speed which helps him tap into his power potential. Some have expressed concerns about Greene posting a 27% strikeout rate at Double-A and Triple-A last season, but I do not think that signifies that he will struggle against big-league pitching.
Beyond the numbers, he has an advanced approach at the plate. He makes easy contact and controls the zone exceptionally well. He has all the tools to excel at the Major League level, which we will see when he is healthy. Riley Greene has a great case to take over the top prospect spot upon the graduation of Julio Rodriguez and Bobby Witt Jr.
It is rare to see a catcher rank highly for fantasy baseball, but it shows how special Adley Rutschman is with his bat. He has an elite bat, but he is also excellent behind the plate. Rutschman is a true catcher with the potential to be the number one fantasy catcher for many years to come.
Rutschman is another like Greene, who likely would have been on the Opening Day roster if it were not for an injury. A triceps injury delated the start of his season, but he is now on a rehab assignment in High-A. Last season between Double and Triple-A, Rutschman slashed .285/.397/.502 with 23 home runs. He nearly walked as much as he struck out. His plate approach is that good, and he does not swing and miss often.
Rutschman could already be considered the top overall prospect by real-life standards, but his bat is so good at a weak position like catcher that it makes him even more valuable for fantasy. He will be on the fast track to the Majors but could have a short stint where he is the number one overall fantasy baseball prospect.
Anthony Volpe was a forgotten first-round pick after a slow Major League debut in 2019 while also getting sick with Mono and the lost 2020 season. In 2021, Volpe showed why he was a first-round caliber player. In 513 plate appearances, he posted a .294/.423/.604 slash with 27 home runs and 33 stolen bases. Volpe is off to a slow start in Double-A in 2022 but still has three home runs and seven stolen bases to pair with a .203/.345/.406 slash. He is picking it up after a slow start, though. Over his last ten games, Volpe is hitting .273 with two home runs and six stolen bases.
Volpe has an advanced approach at the plate and has continued to grow into more power. While his stolen base numbers were a little inflated in 2021 due to the Low-A rules, he has continued to run in Double-A in 2022. He is still an above-average runner with good instincts on the bases. With Volpe’s combination of approach, hit, power, and speed, he has all the intangibles to make him the number one overall prospect for fantasy baseball.
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