The 2022 MLB Season may be in jeopardy with the lockout still going on (,as shown in Matt and Dylan's article). The owners and players cannot agree on anything, leaving us with no end in sight. This situation is not ideal, but regardless of what happens at the Major league level, Minor league baseball will be in full swing within the next few months. The MLB and MiLB are different associations with different deals between ownership and the players, meaning the lockout does not affect the minor leagues. This gives up a great opportunity to catch up on some of the guys that everyone should look out for in 2022.
Marcelo Mayer (SS) - Boston Red Sox - MLB Pipeline #9
Mayer surprisingly fell to pick #4 in last year’s draft after being projected to go #1 overall. Despite that small slide, he is still viewed as one of the best prospects in all of baseball. Currently ranked #9 on the Pipeline, Mayer will easily move his way up the ranks in the minor leagues this season. Through 91 at-bats in his first handful of games, he has slashed .275/.377/.817 with 3 home runs. These numbers may not shock you and could be viewed as average, but once Mayer can play a full season, he will light it up. I expect the Red Sox to put him in A ball to start this year and not rush him through their system. Despite his ability to develop quickly, there shouldn’t be any pressure to rush his development. After all, the club will have Xander Bogaerts under control for 4 more years, meaning they aren’t in desperate need of a franchise shortstop. Mayer also is extremely athletic, and he may get moved to an outfield position sometime in his minor league career. Regardless of what position he plays or how fast he moves through the Minor league system, this guy has an incredibly bright future ahead of him.
CJ Abrams (SS) - San Diego Padres - MLB Pipeline #6
The 2019 First Round pick was certainly not the most highly touted player before starting to play. However, Abrams shook off the negative interpretations of his game and started to light it up in his first season of rookie ball. In just 150 at-bats in 2019, he hit .393/.436/.647. Despite it being the lowest level of professional baseball in the Minor Leagues, those numbers are still shockingly good. The club moved him up to AA ball, and he continued to do well. One downside to his amazing slash line, though, is his lack of power. Abrams rarely hits home runs, tallying only 5 through 312 at-bats in his career. The other downside to Abrams is that he has been playing all of his games at middle infield positions. As Abrams gets older, it will be harder for him to try and change his position. The Padres currently have a middle infield comprised of the beloved Fernando Tatis Jr. and recent surprise Jake Cronenworth. If the Padres decide to give Abrams outfield reps, we may see a scenario similar to the Nick Senzel situation. Senzel had already learned one position in the minor leagues. By the time he was called up to the Bigs and his organization tried to swap his position to the outfield, he was unable to grasp the concepts of his new position. This ruined his entire skill repertoire. I’m hopeful for Abrams to do well in his career with the Padres. However, considering the aforementioned stacked infield the Padres currently have, I would not be surprised if he is dealt as the key piece in any trade deadline shenanigans.
Jasson “The Martian” Dominguez (OF) - New York Yankees - MLB Pipeline #17
In case you didn’t know, the hype around this guy is a whole new level of crazy. Just a few days ago, a special Dominguez rookie card sold for $474K. To put that into perspective, I am not sure that even a top-10 player of all time would have a card that would sell for that amount. So then you wonder - who would buy a card like that for so much? The hype in prospects has certainly always been a factor, but much more in players like Dominguez. He is everything you are looking for and more in a player. He is big, strong, fast, makes clean contact, and is a New York Yankee. While Dominguez does have outstanding potential, not everyone can succeed to become a top 10 Hall of Famer. Despite that, The Martian likely has more potential than any other player the league has seen in the past 3 decades. Investors want Jasson to turn out like Barry Bonds with speed, and if that were to happen, he would single-handedly be the G.O.A.T. On the flip side, Jasson still has yet to put up the stats to prove he can be something, slashing .252/.353/.379 with 5 home runs and 9 stolen bases in 2021. For his size and scouting grade, he should be hitting a lot more home runs than that. Dominguez may have a bright future ahead of him, or he may be known as the biggest bust in the past 30 years. Only time will tell.
Hunter Greene (RHP) - Cincinnati Reds - MLB Pipeline #26
After being the #2 Overall selection in the 2017 MLB Draft, Greene has had a rocky start to his career. He underwent Tommy John surgery in his second full pro season. Ever since, Greene has been lights out in the Reds organization. In 2021, he posted a 3.31 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in AAA. Greene is most known for the perfect fastball grade he received in the draft process (Wander Franco is the only other player to receive an 80 scouting grade in any category since). While Hunter will strive for a good season in 2022, it will be interesting to see what the Reds do with him. It’s not as easy as some may think, as the organization must decide whether or not to call him up to the Bigs or take their time with him. Cincinnati’s young star Johnathan India was drafted a year after Greene, so I expect them to bite the bullet and call him up at some point early in the season. The 2017 Draft class was initially ranked as one of the best upon being drafted - it has not turned out so great, with #1 overall pick Royce Lewis not doing too hot in Minnesota. Greene will have a large weight to carry with the rest of his draft class doing poorly. Regardless, it will be exciting to watch him throw cheddar in 2022.
Baseball’s top prospects continue to grow more and more in popularity and familiarity. Fans eagerly await new top 100 rankings to see who the next stars of the game will be. The success of stars like Wander Franco, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, and Kyle Tucker in recent years was foreshadowed by their high prospect rankings. While the current state of Major League Baseball is not enjoyable, I expect major growth for Minor League Baseball this coming season, as they may see some of their games televised in the absence of MLB games. This presents fans with an amazing opportunity to watch the stars of the future perform now. Keep an eye out for the guys I mentioned above, as their talent and situations make for must-watch baseball. But, I challenge you, the reader, to keep on the lookout for a prospect in the rough. While these guys will more than likely make headlines this season, the unranked player can still turn out to be the best of them all.