May 19th, 2022
MLB’s four highest averages of home runs per game occurred in the previous five seasons. While balls aren’t traveling as far in 2022, there’s still no shortage of power, with clubs homering nearly once per game, a rate that should rise as the weather warms up.
More home run hitters are on the way. We annually identify each organization’s best power prospect, and many of them make an immediate impact. From our 2021 list of top sluggers, 11 of them already have gone deep in the big leagues for a combined total of 148 homers, led by Randy Arozarena with 41 (including 11 in the postseason) and Bobby Dalbec with 34.
The bombers below should make their presence felt in the Majors in the near future as well. Fifteen of them are members of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, including the game’s two best prospects in Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman and Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson. Torkelson already has homered four times as a rookie and will graduate off the Top 100 this weekend.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Orelvis Martinez, SS/3B (No. 2, MLB No. 34)
We could talk about Martinez’s strength and bat speed at just 20 years old. Sometimes, it’s easier to let the numbers do the talking. The Toronto infielder led all Minor League teenagers with 28 home runs in 98 games between Single-A and High-A last season. He jumped to Double-A to begin 2022 and hasn’t had an issue carrying his pop to the Minors’ second-highest level. Entering Thursday, Martinez led the Eastern League with 11 more dingers while ranking second with a .574 slugging percentage through 119 plate appearances. The concept of Martinez adding more power on top of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette in the Toronto infield is becoming more real by the day.
Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C (No. 1, MLB No. 1)
The scary thing is that Rutschman’s 65 power isn’t even his highest grade (He’s a 70 defender.). But just in case anyone thought the pop he showed in college (.559 SLG) wasn’t going to show up with wood in his hands, he hit 23 homers in his first full year in 2021 and even though he started late because of an injury, he’s slugged .531 with a .218 ISO in 2022. As if Orioles fans needed any more reasons to clamor for his arrival in Baltimore.
Rays: Heriberto Hernandez, OF (No. 16)
After signing with the Rangers for only $10,000 in December 2017, Hernandez quickly put his powerful stamp on Minor League Baseball, slugging at least .600 in both 2018 and 2019 for short-season affiliates. The Rays acquired him in December 2020 in a deal for Nathaniel Lowe, and after a solid debut campaign last year, his power is truly popping this spring with a .555 slugging percentage, six homers and 21 total extra-base hits in 31 games at High-A. Hernandez has an explosive swing that leads to high exit velos, typically to the pullside. A more refined approach could vault the 22-year-old into the upper echelon of prospectdom in time.
Red Sox: Triston Casas, 1B (No. 2, MLB No. 14)
Casas not only is one of the best power prospects in the Minors, thanks to an impressive combination of bat speed, strength and leverage, but he’s also an advanced hitter with a patient approach. The 2018 first-round pick from a Florida high school tied for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics lead with three homers in six games and is batting .248/.359/.457 with six homers in 36 Triple-A games.
Yankees: Jasson Dominguez, OF (No. 3, MLB No. 57)
Nicknamed “The Martian” because of his otherworldly tools, Dominguez signed for $5.1 million out of the Dominican Republic in July 2019 and made his full-season debut at age 18 last summer. A switch-hitter with tremendous bat speed from both sides, he has done more damage as a lefty and is hitting .240/.280/.392 with three homers in 29 games in Single-A.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: Nolan Jones, 3B/OF (No. 6)
Jones comes with plenty of raw power and isn’t afraid to work counts in search of pitches he can drive, which helped him lead the Minors with 96 walks in his last complete and healthy season in 2019. A second-round pick who signed for first-round money out of a Pennsylvania high school in 2016, he has yet to play this season after having surgery on his left ankle last September.
Royals: MJ Melendez, C (No. 1, MLB No. 47)
Could it be anyone other than the 2021 Minor League home run leader? OK, Nick Pratto and Vinnie Pasquantino have their claims, but we’re still taking the backstop who finished 2021 with 41 homers at Double-A and Triple-A. Melendez toned down a severe leg kick before his breakout that helped with pitch recognition and allowed him to sting the ball all over the park. He’s shown off that pop in the Majors with a pair of 425-foot-plus home runs — both of which rank among the Royals’ 10 longest dingers of the season despite his delayed arrival on May 3.
Tigers: Spencer Torkelson, 1B (No. 1, MLB No. 2)
It’s indeed been a slow start to the 2020 No. 1 overall pick’s Major League career, but for Detroit fans looking for hope, it can be found in Torkelson’s still promising power. His 90.7 mph average exit velocity ranks in the 78th percentile in the Majors this season, while his 111.5 mph max exit velo is even better in the 85th percentile. In layman’s terms: Tork can still sting the ball with the best of them. This is the right-handed slugger who finished with 30 homers in his only Minor League season and set dinger records at Arizona State, the alma mater of one Barry Bonds.
Twins: Matt Wallner, OF (No. 11)
Yes, the strikeout rate is a concern at 31.6 percent in his career, up to 36.9 percent so far this year, but when he makes contact, it goes a long way. He hasn’t matched the .652 SLG he had at Southern Miss, but he did hit 15 homers in 68 games in 2021, then six more (.606 SLG) in the Arizona Fall League. He’s hit six over his first 30 games this year, with an improved walk rate that should only help him get to his pop more.
White Sox: Oscar Colas, OF (No. 2)
Signed for $2.7 million in January after playing three years (mostly in the minors) in Japan, Colas has lived up to his reputation for translating bat speed and strength into impressive power. The Cuban is batting .302/.368/.547 with four homers in 19 games in High-A, and he has gone deep twice in his three days back after missing two weeks with a wrist injury.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
A’s: Shea Langeliers, C (No. 2, MLB No. 55)
Sure, his defense may always be his calling card, but anyone who thought his 22 homers in Double-A with the Braves last year was a fluke, he’s already smashed 11 in 35 games with Triple-A Las Vegas, now with the A’s organization, though the friendly environs in Vegas have helped.
Angels: Alexander Ramirez, OF (No. 11)
Still a teenager, Ramirez is really just getting started, though he slugged .512 in the Arizona Complex League in 2021. He’s in full-season ball now and has work to do approach-wise, but he has as much raw pop as anyone in the organization, registering high exit velocities when he does make contact.
Astros: Korey Lee, C (No. 2)
Lee was a surprise first-round pick in 2019 out of California, but the Astros believed in his considerable raw power and arm strength. He’s off to a slow start in Triple-A at .216/.264/.425, though he has bashed seven homers in 33 games.
Mariners: Noelvi Marte, SS (No. 1, MLB No. 9)
With Julio Rodr?guez’s graduation from prospect lists, he passes the power baton to Marte, who has more than enough raw pop to take it. He served notice of that right out of the gate, slugging .512 in the Dominican Summer League in 2019, then followed it up with 17 homers as a teenager in his full-season debut last year.
Rangers: Sam Huff, C (No. 11)
Huff hits the ball harder than any Rangers prospect since Joey Gallo, and he homered three times in nine games as an emergency callup in September 2020. The 2016 seventh-rounder from an Arizona high school hit .260/.349/.575 with seven homers in 19 Triple-A games this year before getting summoned to Texas, where he went 8-for-18 in his first five contests.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Jesse Franklin, OF (No. 11)
A left-handed hitter, Franklin is definitely power over hit, as evidenced by his .244 batting average and 28.3% K rate in High-A in 2021, when he hit 24 homers to tie for the High-A East lead. The jump to Double-A has gone slowly so far, but he got off to a slow start last year, too.
Marlins: Peyton Burdick, OF (No. 10)
Thick-framed 22-year-old corner outfielders from mid-majors aren’t usually coveted Draft prospects, but the Marlins loved Burdick’s performance at Wright State, metrics and makeup and took him in 2019’s third round. His strength and deceptive athleticism have translated into pro success, as he led the Double-A South in homers (23) and walks (76) last year and is batting .221/.345/.451 with six homers in 33 Triple-A games.
Mets: Francisco ?lvarez, C (No. 1, MLB No. 8)
Watch one round of ?lvarez’s batting practice, and you’re almost assured to be wowed. The Mets’ Major League staff certainly was when watching the 20-year-old backstop this spring. ?lvarez’s whiplike swing helps him tap into impressive strength and send balls over the fence at eyebrow-raising distances. His 28 homers rank fifth among catchers over the last two seasons — two more than Adley Rutschman in 91 fewer plate appearances — and he’s the only backstop in the Top 20 aged 20 or younger.
Nationals: Brady House, SS (No. 2, MLB No. 45)
The 2021 11th overall pick is certainly built like his last name. His measurements entering his first full season are 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, and he very much has the pop to match that frame. House shortened his swing before last year’s Draft, giving evaluators hope he could make better use of his plus-plus raw power. He has more singles (25) than extra-base hits (eight) to begin 2022 at Single-A Fredericksburg, but some loud contact has helped drive his .330 average and .894 OPS. Expect more balls to fly out of the park as he grows older and more experienced in full-season ball.
Phillies: Jhailyn Ortiz, OF (No. 12)
Ortiz really struggled in 2019, with a .653 OPS, and the Phillies didn’t add him to the 40-man roster in the fall of 2020. He got in better shape for 2021, then hit 23 homers to earn a roster spot. He’s now enjoying the hitting-friendly confines in Reading, with eight homers in 33 games for a .524 SLG.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Joey Wiemer, OF (No. 2, MLB No. 94)
Ever seen a tornado swing a baseball bat? It’s a little bit like watching a Wiemer plate appearance. We say that with a lot of affection for the right-handed slugger’s kinetic approach at the dish. Wiemer has shown impressive raw power dating back to his college days at Cincinnati, but he dropped to the fourth round in 2020 in part because he put the ball too much on the ground. The Brewers helped transition Wiemer into more of a toe tap than his old leg kick, keeping the focus on his quick hands and allowing him to drive the ball in the air more. The results: 36 homers and a .561 slugging percentage through his first 144 games of pro ball.
Cardinals: Jordan Walker, 3B (No. 1, MLB No. 27)
If you want to argue Nolan Gorman or even current Minor League home run leader Mois?s G?mez, we won’t stop you. But we’re still taking Walker, who has answered questions at every stop in his budding pro career. The 6-foot-5, right-handed slugger posted a max exit velocity of 116.5 mph at Single-A Palm Beach last season that rivaled the top numbers of Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. and has jumped to Double-A as a 19-year-old with little issues. He’s already slugging .500 in a league where he’s four years younger than average, and that number may only go up. He’s slugging .625 in May, and three of his four homers on the season have come in his last seven games alone.
Cubs: Brennen Davis, OF (No. 1, MLB No. 13)
Davis showed off his pop with two homers at the 2021 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and features one of the better power/speed combinations in the Minors. Also a basketball star as an Arizona prepster before signing as a second-rounder in 2018, he scuffled in Triple-A this year (.195/.286/.299, two homers in 22 games) before going on the injured list with discomfort in his lower back.
Pirates: Oneil Cruz, SS/OF (No. 3, MLB No. 23)
While Cruz has struggled for most of the 2022 season in Triple-A, he’s still recording elite-level exit velocities. Only 23, Cruz is still learning to get to his light-tower power consistently. Look for him to get hot and mash his way back to Pittsburgh, where that porch in right field is made for his left-handed swing.
Reds: Rece Hinds, 3B/OF (No. 9)
Hinds has shown glimpses of his ridiculous raw power, though he’s struggled to stay healthy enough to get in any real rhythm. He played in just 54 games last year, but he did homer 12 times for a .542 SLG. He’s started to swing the bat better of late, slugging .636 in nine May games, and has shown he can even drive the ball in pitching-friendly Dayton.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Deyvison De Los Santos, 3B (No. 13)
“He has an 80 raw right now,” said D-backs director of player development Josh Barfield this spring. You can quibble with 10 points or so on the scouting scale, but the point generally stands. When De Los Santos hits the ball, it goes a long way. The 18-year-old’s pop is a big reason why Arizona pushed him to full-season ball so early last season. (He slugged .610 over 25 games in the Arizona Complex League before a promotion last summer.) De Los Santos makes the most of it by utilizing his strong lower half, and 30-plus homer seasons should be well within reach if he can cut down some swing and miss.
Dodgers: Andy Pages, OF (No. 4, MLB No. 64)
Pages creates well above-average raw power with his combination of bat speed, strength, leverage and an aggressive right-handed stroke. A Cuban who signed for $300,000 in 2017, he won High-A Central MVP in his full-season debut last year, topping the circuit in homers (31), extra-base hits (57), runs (96), RBIs (88), walks (77), slugging (.539) and OPS (.933). He’s off to a .233/.363/.408 start in Double-A with four homers in 33 games.
Giants: Marco Luciano, SS (No. 1, MLB No. 11)
Luciano was the top-rated middle infielder in the 2018 international crop, in large part because of his electric bat speed and power potential, which earned him a $2.6 million bonus. He matched his age with 19 homers last year between Low-A and High-A, and he’s raking at a .295/.364/.505 clip with five homers in 27 High-A games this spring.
Padres: Joshua Mears, OF (No. 10)
Mears went deep 17 times in 71 games at Single-A Lake Elsinore last season, and it’s a fun thought experiment to wonder where his homer total could have landed if not for various IL stints (wrist, shoulder, COVID, concussion). Before all that, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound outfielder gave fans a taste of his pop potential when he laced a 117.5 mph homer in Spring Training. That remains the fifth-hardest hit ball measured by Statcast of the last two springs. Mears pounds the ball with natural strength and can unleash tape-measure shots to left field. But with a 44.1 percent K rate at High-A to begin 2022, he needs to find ways to make more contact and give that power a true opportunity to present itself.
Rockies: Hunter Goodman, C (No. 20)
Goodman hit 21 homers for Memphis in 2021 to land in the fourth round of last year’s Draft. The long balls have kept coming, with nine this year in 34 games with Single-A Fresno. He’s going to have to refine his approach (41/5 K/BB ratio) to get that left-handed power against better pitching once he starts moving up the ladder.