Top 10 Prospects: April 18

·6 min read

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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: 9 G, .219/.306/.344, 0 HR, 3 SB, 4 BB, 8 SO at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Sometimes, the numbers matter, and it sure would be preferable if Cruz would have gotten off to a rip roaring start. The concern level here is zero, however, because the sample is so tiny and because Cruz has proven he can hit at every level. It’s frustrating that he’s stuck in the minors right now, but the skill set suggests fantasy relevance for the majority of the 2022 season, and he’s more than deserving of this top spot.

2. Adley Rutschman, C, Baltimore Orioles

2021 stats: 123 G, .285/.397/.502, 23 HR, 3 SB, 79 BB, 90 SO at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.

Rutschman is still out with his triceps injury, but again, it's not supposed to be a long-term situation. The backstop will likely need to get at least a couple of weeks' worth of games in because of the layoff, but this is a catcher who can hit for average, power and get on base. The risk with rookie catchers is widely known -- or should be, anyway -- but Rutschman can absolutely be an exception to the rule.

3. Nolan Gorman, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals

2022 stats: 10 G, .351/.415/.838, 6 HR, 0 SB, 3 BB, 8 SO at Triple-A Memphis.

Gorman struggled over the first three games of the minor league season. Since then, the former 2018 first-round pick has been red hot at the plate for the Redbirds; homering in four straight games. Power is never going to be a problem for the product of Phoenix, but the hit tool continues to make progress, and the fact he looks locked into second base is a wonderful bonus. Gorman will help the Cardinals at some point this summer, it’s just a question of when.

4. Alek Thomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

2022 stats: 10 G, .273/.327/.432, 1 HR, 1 SB, 3 BB, 8 SO at Triple-A Reno.

Thomas, 21, has been solid so far for the Aces, and picked up his first homer of the Triple-A season on Sunday. It’s not likely to be the last, as the outfielder has plus power in his left-handed bat to go along with a hit tool that grades even higher. He also stole a base, and has the speed to help in that category as well. The Diamondbacks are absolutely in rebuild mode, and like Gorman, it’s just a matter of when he helps Arizona and fantasy managers, not if.

5. Riley Greene, OF, Detroit Tigers

2021 stats: 124 G, .301/.387/.534, 24 HR, 16 SB, 63 BB, 153 SO at Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo.

It looked like Greene was on his way to making the Opening Day roster with Torkelson for the Tigers, but baseball can be pretty cruel sometimes. Instead of squaring off against the White Sox on April 8, Greene will be out ‘thanks’ to a fracture in his right foot. He’s not expected to need surgery, but the fracture will keep him out 6-8 weeks. He still deserves to be placed on this list as an outfielder capable of helping in several categories, and he should be back with Detroit before the end of June. It’d be a lot easier to justify carrying him on the roster if you could place him on the injured list, but he’s a must-add as soon as Detroit gives him the chance.

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6. Jarren Duran, OF, Boston Red Sox

2021 stats: 3 G, .333/.467/.417, 0 HR, 2 SB, 3 BB, 4 SO at Triple-A Worcester.

Duran's season had a break because of a positive test for COVID-19, but he's been strong in his first two games back. The 25-year-old struggled mightily in his first taste of MLB action, but this is a left-handed hitting outfielder who has a skill set that is extremely appealing from a fantasy perspective; particularly the power-speed combination. There's no room for him right now, but Duran may force his way onto the Red Sox, and fantasy managers should find a way to do the same to their rosters when that happens.

7. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

2022 stats: 2 G, 9 IP, 2.00 ERA, 1 BB, 15 SO at Triple-A Norfolk.

Rodriguez followed up a strong first start in Triple-A with another quality one on Thursday for the Tides; pitching five innings of two-run baseball with eight strikeouts. Hitters are “hitting” just .138 against the right-hander, and his WHIP is 0.56. It’s hard to imagine that Rodriguez isn’t ready to face MLB competition right now, and while Baltimore won’t provide a ton of win chances in his rookie campaign, the other marks suggest fantasy relevancy right away.

8. Triston Casas, 1B, Boston Red Sox

2022 stats: 11 G, .282/.420/.564, 2 HR, 0 SB, 9 BB, 9 SO at Triple-A Worcester.

Welcome to the list, Triston. We’ve been expecting you. Casas, 22, is one of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues, and has had no trouble adjusting to Triple-A pitching (it’s worth noting he got a brief taste of that level to end the 2021 season, too, but you know what I mean). There’s easy plus-plus power in his left-handed bat, but he also has a quality approach at the plate and a chance to hit for average thanks to his bat speed and ability to make hard contact the other way. He won’t steal bases, and he’s absolutely limited to first base, but the offensive upside of Casas makes him worth monitoring. Monitoring is probably underselling it.

9. Gabriel Moreno, C, Toronto Blue Jays

2022 stats: 4 G, .389/.421/.500, 0 HR, 0 SB, 1 BB, 2 SO at Triple-A Buffalo.

Addition number two to the list. Welcome Gabriel, we’ve also been expecting you. Moreno was one of -- if not the -- most improved prospects in baseball last year before an injury derailed his season, but 37 games was enough for many to believe he’s the second best catching prospect in baseball behind that Rutschman fellow. One of the reasons is the defense -- and that glove keeps him at a premium position -- but he’s also a hitter with a line-drive stroke from the right side and above-average power, to boot. The reason Moreno ranks this “low” is the catching situation in Toronto, but if/when he gets a chance to play up North, fantasy managers should absolutely add him -- particularly in two catcher leagues.

10. Brennen Davis, OF, Chicago Cubs

2022 stats: 11 G, .189/.318/.324, 1 HR, 0 SB, 7 BB, 15 SO at Triple-A Iowa.

The hits aren’t falling for Davis right now, but 33 at-bats is obviously not a time to panic. The 22-year-old has plus tools across the board, and he also has a burgeoning approach at the plate that should (could) give pitchers a reason to throw strikes to the 2018 second-round pick. Chicago’s outfield looks full right now -- remember how there were doubts about Seiya Suzuki by the way? -- but Davis is one of the very best outfield prospects in the sport regardless of levels. It’s not hard to see him helping fantasy rosters this year.

Next in line: Shane Baz, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays; Royce Lewis, INF/OF, Minnesota Twins; Vidal Brujan, INF/OF, Tampa Bay Rays; Nick Pratto, 1B, Kansas City Royals