Looking at my 2021 stats, I highlighted players who appeared on 300 or more plates in Double-A, Triple-A, and BB/K with a 1.00 or higher rating. Did this help us find the hidden gems? Let’s take a look at the results before we move on to this year’s crop. The names were on the list Alejo LopezAnd the Isaac WallsAnd the Stephen KwanAnd the Tyler WhiteAnd the Cooper Hamill And the Jonah Pride.
Two of those players had starting years in 2022. Cowan made his MLB debut and had a great season on both sides of the ball. He put up excellent defense in the outfield and continued his impressive work at the plate, walking more than he ever recorded at the major league level. He had a strong enough season to win Rookie of the Year another year but had to settle for third place this year due to an impressive combination of rookie campaigns that also included Julio Rodriguez And the Adley Rochman. Another breakthrough was Paredes, who was traded to the Rays in April as part of the Austin Meadows Deal. He hit 20 home runs in 111 games while posting walk and strikeout rates that were better than the league average. Paredes is no hidden gem since he snuck into the back end of Baseball America’s Top 100 in 2019 and 2020, though he fell in the following two seasons. Kwan never made it into the top 100, and only climbed into the top 30 among Cleveland farmworkers for the first time in 2022, coming in at #27. FanGraphs, it should be noted, was more optimistic, as Kwan ranked third in the Guardians’ system. and 57th overall in the year.
Most of the rest of the group are TBD, as they’ve only had limited MLB appearances. Frequently picked off and having played 61 games in the major leagues, Lopez is still very hard to hit but didn’t do much damage when he came into contact. Hummel struggled in his first 66 games but still hit very well in the minors, walking in 15.4% of his plate appearances and batting a .310/.423/.527. It should interest the sailors, because they just traded Kyle Lewis To get it from Diamondbacks. Bride made his MLB debut and batted in 58 games but hit .342/.453/.568 in the minors while still walking more than he hit. As for White, he was 31 last year and only played first base, which made it difficult for him to land a role on a major league team. He started the year in the Brewers system but was acquired by the Braves in a mid-season trade. Between Triple-A teams in the two organizations, he had another decent season at the plate, making 16% of his appearances while hitting just 20.1% of the time.
Of the six players who were highlighted last year, two became MLB regulars, two didn’t immediately hit the ground running but still pitched well in the minors and two more were mediocre. It’s not a perfect system but it’s not a bad shortcut in my opinion. One common trait you’ll see with the players below is that their strike zone discipline is often accompanied by a lack of power. In order to turn this profile into a hack, this usually means that the hitter needs to get stronger or change his style slightly. In the case of Paredes, it looks like he’s starting to sell more in 2022, as his strike rate picks up and so does his reclusive power. Kwan didn’t add strength, only deep six, but his core skills were combined with speed and defense to help him be an all-around productive.
If we look at the numbers for 2022, can we find Kwan or Paredes next year? Even if this sets our sights too high, some of these guys qualify under Rule 5 and could be candidates for arrest in next month’s draft. Let’s take a look at players with a BB/K ratio of 1.00 or higher with 300 or more plate appearances in Double-A and/or Triple-A in 2022.
Michael StefanikAngels player Triple-A BB/K ratio: 2.18
Stefanic has earned 346 plate appearances at Triple-A this year, hitting 13.9% of them while hitting just 6.4% of the time. He didn’t pitch much power, however, hitting only four home runs in that time despite playing in the Pacific Coast League. His final hitting streak there was .314/.422/.425 for a wRC+ of 122. He also got into 25 major league games without finding a hit. It’s a somewhat similar profile to another player in Angels David Fletcher. Stefanic was a non-manufactured free agent, never in the BA Top 100, and only cracked the Angels Top 30 for the first time in a year. He will be 27 years old in February.
Nick Dunnplayer, Cardinals, BB/K ratio at Double-A: 1.50
The Cardinals seem to have a knack for turning their slimmer picks into solid key players, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see two of them on this list. Dunn was a fifth-round pick in 2018 and has never made it to the BA roster of top prospects in the system, although he was mentioned on FanGraphs, with Eric Longenhagen calling him a “free swinger.” Brendan Donovan —same hair and everything.” In 2022, Dunn has had 472 plate appearances, walked 13.3% of the time while hitting a clip just 8.9%. Similar to Stefanic, he didn’t produce much power, as Dunn only hit seven balls Long in the year, which was a career high. He will turn 26 in January. He is eligible to be selected in the Fifth Base draft next month.
John Nogoskifirst base/outside player, free agent, BB/K ratio in Double-A and Triple-A: 1.08
Nogowski had some brief MLB appearances in 2020 and 2021 and he couldn’t do much with them. He split 2022 between the Atlanta and Washington systems, earning 483 plate appearances while having more walks than he had. Similar to the players above him, he didn’t produce much power, going deep eight times and producing a .248/.366/.362 hitting streak. Picked in the 34th round draft pick in 2014, he was never on the team’s prospect list at BA or FanGraphs. He will be 30 years old in January.
Willians Astudillointerest player, free agent, Triple-A BB/K ratio: 1.06
You’re probably already familiar with “La Tortuga” since he has appeared in the majors over the past five years and has become a fan favorite. He rarely gets out, but rarely walks or deep, which is why he’s had trouble getting into the big leagues despite his amazing ballplaying skills. He’s spent most of this year at Triple-A for the Marlins, having a good run there. However, he is now 31 and has made no more than 588 career plate appearances in the majors.
Vinny Pasquantinofirst base, Royals, BB/K ratio at Triple-A: 1.03
This is harder to call a hidden gem because Pasquantino is really on offer. However, the 2019 11th-round pick wasn’t very well liked until a strong 2021 campaign saw him on the roster of the best farmhands in the Royals system from both the BA and FanGraphs through 2022. He was called up in late June and promptly settled in. Big League Show. He actually walked more than he had in Triple-A in the first half of the year and then did the same in the show. He also deepened 18 times at Triple-A and 10 times in the majors. He only has 298 MLB plate appearances but the signs point to him being the real deal. He turned 25 last month.
Ivan Mendozaplayer, Cardinals, BB/K ratio in Triple-A: 1.00
Another Cardinal, Mendoza, was an 11th round favorite in 2017. In 421 plate appearances this year, the Cardinal has appeared in 56. Unfortunately, like some of the others on this list, his connection wasn’t terribly productive, resulting in a slash. From .247 / .348 / .325. He’s added an element of speed to his game lately, though, passing 15 sacks last year and 17 sacks this year. With new rules coming into effect that encourage more base play, perhaps his core skills will help him prove his worth. He has never cracked the top 30 prospects in the system in either the BA or FanGraphs, though FG put him 34th overall in 2018. He qualifies to be selected in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
Tanner MorrisBlue Jays player BB/K ratio in Double-A and Triple-A: 1.00
Morris began the year at Double-A, earning 186 plate appearances with a 16.1% match walk and strikeout rates. He hit five homers on that sample while making an excellent .312/.430/.468 cut. He bumped to Triple-A but couldn’t keep things going, probably because of his .33 BABIP, as he hit .173/.352/.173 in 126 plate appearances there. However, he again posted walk and strikeout match rates of 19.8%, meaning he finished the year with 17.6% averages over 312 plate appearances between the two levels. He then went to the Arizona Fall League and played in 15 games, walking 15 against nine Ks for a .279/.466/.372 hitting streak. A 2019 fifth-round pick, he’s been at the high end of Toronto’s prospect rosters for the past few years. Has recently turned 25 and qualifies under Section 5.
Bryce Windhamcatcher, cubs, double-a bb/k ratio: 1.00
In the 32nd round of the 2019 draft, Windham has caught 304 boards at Double-A this year, and finished with 44 total in walks and strikeouts, an average of 14.5% each. It was quite a half-hearted production overall, resulting in a hitting streak of just .202/.322/.289, though BABIP’s .227 was well below its previous seasons. It has never been listed as a top lead in the system by BA or FanGraphs. Has recently turned 26 and qualifies under Section 5.