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A reminder on how this works: This is a list for the 2022 season only. It is not a list of the top overall prospects, but the players who have the best chance of making a difference in 2022.
Also, it’s only a list of prospects who are currently in the minors/have prospect eligibility, so players on MLB teams do not count.
Those warnings out of the way, here’s a look at the top prospects who have a chance to make a fantasy contribution in 2022.
1. Oneil Cruz, SS/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
2022 stats: 41 G, .220/.330/.402, 7 HR, 10 SB, 24 BB, 48 SO at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Cruz was going to regain his top spot with Royce Lewis getting promoted (Note: Lewis's likely placement on the injured list doesn't make him eligible for this list), but it didn't hurt that he had a sensational week in Indianapolis. It ended with him picking up multiple hits in all three games over the weekend -- homering in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday -- and over his last 10 games, he's hitting .325/.426/.650. Yes the overall numbers are still disappointing, but they don't matter. Cruz is a special talent, and fantasy managers should consider -- if not just add -- him to their rosters now.
2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2022 stats: 10 G, 50.1 IP, 2.32 ERA, 14 BB, 76 SO at Triple-A Norfolk.
It's getting hard to justify Rodriguez at the Triple-A level. That was true a month ago, and it's growing by each start. The latest effort may have been the best of the year, as Rodriguez gave up just two hits, struck out 10 and didn't allow a run over seven innings against Triple-A Gwinnett. Keep in mind that five of the 13 runs he's allowed this year came in one start, and outside of that, he's basically dominated. Rodriguez is ready, and his stuff is too good to suggest he doesn't belong in this spot. It's time, Baltimore.
3. Shane Baz, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
2022 stats: 2 G, 4.2 IP, 1.93 ERA, 2 BB, 6 SO at Triple-A Durham.
Baz wasn't quite as good as he was in his first start back in his rehab, but didn't avoid a run over 2 1/3 innings while picking up a strikeout. Keep in mind that the 22-year-old missed the first few months of the year after arthroscopic elbow surgery, and the Rays aren't going to rush a vital part of their organization back. Still, Baz's talent is special, and he should be helping the Rays along with fantasy rosters by the middle of next month.
4. Ethan Small, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers
2022 stats: 8 G, 38.1 IP, 1.88 ERA, 21 BB, 49 SO at Triple-A Nashville.
Small's placement on this list will be short (no pun intended), as we know he will be up to join the Milwaukee pitching staff this week. As you can see from the numbers above, there's some intrigue to come along with that promotion, but also some reasons for concern. He can miss bats with a four-pitch mix and a delivery that offers deception, but he also has had issues throwing strikes at times, so he's a volatile add for anyone who is struggling/doesn't want to take a hit in the WHIP or walk categories. Just keep in mind that if he pitches well you have no chance of seeing him again, so he's worth a speculative roster pickup to see how things go.
5. Riley Greene, OF, Detroit Tigers
2022 stats: 2 G, .333/.429/.333, 0 HR, 1 SB, 1 BB, 1 SO at High-A Lakeland.
Finally, I get to write down some stats for Greene for the 2022 season. Greene began his rehab assignment on Friday, and after going hitless in his first game, he picked up a pair of knocks on Saturday. The outfielder was well on his way to being a part of the Detroit roster before a broken foot caused him to miss the first couple of months of the season. Greene has the potential to help in five categories, and it looks likely that he'll be with the Tigers before the end of June. This is a skill set that can be fantasy beneficial as soon as he's on an MLB roster.
6. C.J. Abrams, SS, San Diego Padres
2022 stats: 15 G, .265/.333/.456, 4 HR, 5 SB, 5 BB, 16 SO at Triple-A El Paso; 20 G, .182/.270/.273, 1 HR, 1 SB, 4 BB, 14 SO at San Diego.
That's more like it. Abrams had some issues earlier in the month, but he raised his average, on-base percentage and slugging mark by over 100 points each with several multi-hit games. It's just a friendly reminder of how talented Abrams is, and how little stock we should put in his struggles over a small sample size with the Padres in the first month of the year. When the Padres deem Abrams worthy of a promotion, fantasy managers should do the same. He only ranks this low because we don't know when that'll take place.
7. Josh Lowe, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
2022 stats: 20 G, .273/.329/.519, 4 HR, 2 SB, 7 BB, 34 SO at Triple-A Durham; 19 G, .188/.257/.344, 1 HR, 6 BB, 27 SO at Tampa Bay.
Lowe only played in three games last week, but he did end the week on a nice note with a 2-for-4 effort with a double on Sunday against Charlotte. The outfielder is in a tough position as he's too good for Triple-A, but the Rays didn't see enough from him in three weeks with the club to justify a promotion just yet. There's still a lot to like in the long-term, and if/when Tampa Bay adds Lowe to the roster, there's still reason for excitement in the short-term, as well.
8. Jarren Duran, OF, Boston Red Sox
2022 stats: 34 G, .305/.384/.525, 4 HR, 10 SB, 13 BB, 31 SO at Triple-A Worcester; 1 G, .250/.400/.750, 0 HR, 0 BB, 1 SO at Boston.
Once again, a reminder that Duran is not actually a prospect by definition, but I don't play by the rules. The outfielder had some contact issues over the past week, but he also added a couple of homers and is still enjoying a strong Triple-A campaign. Duran is one of the most talented young outfielders in the minors, and there's both short and long-term fantasy upside in his left-handed bat.
9. Gabriel Moreno, C, Toronto Blue Jays
2022 stats: 31 G, .331/.388/.424, 1 HR, 2 SB, 10 BB, 22 SO at Triple-A Buffalo.
After a sensational previous week, Moreno had a so-so go of it over the last seven days. The backstop saw his average drop 16 points, but the concern is that since he hit his first homer of the year on May 21, the backstop has not picked up a single extra-base hit over his last five contests. It's a bit nitpicky for one of the best prospects in the sport, but at some point, it'd be nice to see Moreno drive the baseball. Nevertheless, he'll be a must add to the majority of rosters if Toronto gives him a chance at the highest level.
10. Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B, Kansas City Royals
2022 stats: 46 G, .303/.396/.667, 14 HR, 3 SB, 25 BB, 30 SO at Triple-A Omaha.
You might be expecting a couple of other first baseman in this spot, and in the long-term, Triston Casas or Nick Pratto would get the nod. But this is 2022, and Pasquantino is the player who belongs on the list. See numbers above for details. Pasquantino is a 24-year-old who can hit for average, draw walks, and hit for power, and he's been among the most dominant hitters at any level in the 2022 campaign. He deserves a promotion now, and he deserves your fantasy consideration. Free him, Royals.
Next in line: Triston Casas, 1B, Boston Red Sox; Shea Langeliers, C, Oakland Athletics; Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Rangers