Johnnie’s Top 100 MLB Prospects: 61-80

Johnnie’s Top 100 MLB Prospects: 61-80

by March 13, 2022 4 comments

Welcome to the second part of this five-part series counting down the Top 100 prospects. While these lists are always fun to do and prospects, in particular, give fans a glimpse of the future of their team, trying to accurately predict how an 18-year-old’s career is going to pan out is extremely tough. For every Chipper Jones, there is a Bryan Bullington, with most top picks falling somewhere in between.

The differences between these next 20 players are minuscule as far as talent and even number 61 compared to number 100 is not really that far off. They are all on the list for a reason. Any one of them could be a total bust and never make it, or he could be a Hall of Famer in 20-30 years. Let’s dive into 20 more players that you should be watching at a major league stadium near you…or at least on TV.

More of the Top 100: #1-20 | #21-40 | #41-60 | #81-100

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61. Jordan Walker, Third Base, St. Louis Cardinals, 21st pick in 2020 (Decatur HS, GA)

DOB: 05/22/2002
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 220
Highest Level: A+
B/T: R/R
Hit: 50
Power: 60
Run: 50
Arm: 60
Field: 45

Defense isn’t exactly Walker’s forte, committing 22 errors in just 76 games at third base this year. St. Louis’s first-round pick in 2020 can certainly do everything else. In 82 games, the 19-year-old had a .935 OPS with 14 homers and 14 stolen bases. He also chipped in 25 doubles and kept his strikeout rate at a respectable 23.8 percent. The tools are there and this was Walker’s first taste of pro ball. The early signs are encouraging though.

Where the Cardinals put him on the diamond will be a question they will need to answer in a few years. Walker hasn’t even made it to Double-A yet and still has some work to do. However, the kid has the size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and the athleticism now to be able to possibly improve enough to be adequate at third or first. Either way, Walker will let his bat take him as far as he can go.

62. Brayan Rocchio, Shortstop/Second Base, Cleveland Guardians, Signed July 2, 2017 (Venezuela)

DOB: 01/13/2001
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 180
Highest Level: AA
B/T: S/R
Hit: 55
Power: 50
Run: 60
Arm: 50
Field: 55

While Rocchio impressed in Rookie ball as a 17-year-old, he took a step back in 2019 not only at the plate, but he committed 20 errors in just 62 games at shortstop. After a lost year in 2020, Rocchio came back a bit stronger and refined. In 108 games between High-A Lake County and Double-A Akron, the Venezuelan infielder slashed .277/.346/.460 with 15 homers and 21 steals.

While Rocchio has good pitch recognition and quick hands, he doesn’t walk much, choosing to put the bat on the ball instead sometimes to his detriment. He maintained a solid 21.7 strikeout rate so he doesn’t swing and miss a ton. He improved defensively as well last year. Overall, he has the range to stick at shortstop. His arm is average but plays up because of Rocchio’s quick release. Wherever he winds up on the diamond, the Guardians will be happy with a potential 20-20 guy on their team.

63. Owen Caissie, Outfield, Chicago Cubs, 45th pick in 2020 (Notre Dame HS, ON, Canada)

DOB: 07/08/2002
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 195
Highest Level: A
B/T: L/R
Hit: 50
Power: 60
Run: 50
Arm: 60
Field: 50

Along with Reginald Preciado, Caissie was shipped to Chicago as well in the Yu Darvish deal. While the Canada native had never played a night game in his life before the Arizona Complex League, he showed that was nothing he couldn’t handle. At the Rookie level, he had an impressive .349/.478/.596 slash in 32 games. He was subsequently promoted to Low-A Myrtle Beach. Although he struggled a bit, Caissie showed the ability to take a walk and has an advanced approach for his age. There is some swing and miss in his game as he can get long with his swing. However, his strength is undeniable and there is more to come as he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame.

Caissie is an average runner once he gets moving which serves him well enough at a corner outfield spot, but don’t expect many stolen bases. His arm is plus and his profile screams right fielder. If he can shorten his swing and put the bat on the ball a bit more, Caissie can do some serious damage at Wrigley Field in a few years.

64. Jordan Lawlar, Shortstop, Arizona Diamondbacks, 6th pick in 2021 (Dallas Jesuit College Prep, TX)

DOB: 07/17/2002
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 190
Highest Level: RK
B/T: R/R
Hit: 55
Power: 55
Run: 60
Arm: 60
Field: 55

As the sixth overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, Lawlar may have the highest ceiling in the Diamondbacks system. However, he sits below Thomas and Carroll here. Part of that is due to proximity to the majors, and part is the fact that Lawlar only managed to play two games last year before a shoulder injury ended his season. The talent is certainly there and at a premium position no less.

He is a well-rounded player who can do it all. Offensively, he has a good approach and can drive the ball anywhere it is pitched. At just 19 years old, Lawlar will certainly fill out his 6-foot-2 frame and add more power to his profile. Defensively, he will no doubt stay at shortstop. The Texas native has the range and arm to make any play from the hole to up the middle. He has good hands and with his athleticism, Lawlar could win a few Gold Gloves before he is done.

65. Matt McLain, Shortstop, Cincinnati Reds, 17th pick in 2021 (UCLA)

DOB: 08/06/1999
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 180
Highest Level: A+
B/T: R/R
Hit: 60
Power: 50
Run: 60
Arm: 55
Field: 55

McLain is one of the rare top-25 picks out of High School who chose to attend college rather than take the first-round money. He ultimately helped his stock as he was drafted 17th overall last year. He added some weight during his days at UCLA and some power should come. In his 29 games at Dayton, McLain showed off his wheels and his plate discipline with 10 stolen bases and an OBP of .387.

The former Bruin has gotten better defensively and has the skills to stay at shortstop with good range and a solid arm. His ability to make hard contact and drive the ball to all fields is his calling card. While the power may be limited, his skills scream leadoff hitter at the higher levels. The plate discipline and pitch recognition is there and he can be a stolen base threat at the top of the Reds lineup.

66. Steven Kwan, Outfield, Cleveland Guardians, 163rd pick in 2018, (Oregon State)

DOB: 09/05/1997
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 175
Highest Level: AAA
B/T: L/L
Hit: 60
Power: 45
Run: 50
Arm: 50
Field: 60

Overshadowed at Oregon State with the likes of Adley Rutschman, Nick Madrigal, and Trevor Larnach, Kwan lasted until the fifth round in 2018. Many saw a light-hitting outfielder who couldn’t run well enough to cut it in centerfield. Well, he proved them all wrong. Last year, Kwan slashed .328/.407/.527 with 12 bombs and walked more than he struck out in 77 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

He showed he can handle centerfield as well, although he could be an elite defender at a corner. Kwan isn’t blazing fast either, but the former Beaver is smart and gets a good enough read to take some extra bases when the opportunity presents itself. His bat control and pitch recognition are both elite and if he can tap into some double-digit power, Kwan could be a staple in Cleveland’s outfield for a long time.

67. Mark Vientos, Third Base, New York Mets, 59th pick in 2017 (American Heritage HS, FL)

DOB: 12/11/1999
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 190
Highest Level: AAA
B/T: R/R
Hit: 50
Power: 60
Run: 40
Arm: 60
Field: 50

When the Mets selected Vientos with their second-round pick in 2017, he was one of the youngest players they ever drafted. At 17 years old, Vientos was the hope for a new future at third base in a presumed post-David Wright era. At 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, the Mets saw much potential for his raw power despite slow progress in his first few seasons.

In 2019, Vientos showed more power, prompting the Mets to give him a look at their alternate site in 2020. Vientos’ work at the start of the pandemic paid off with a monstrous 2021 that saw him jump to Triple-A at the end of the season. He finished the year with 25 home runs and 18 doubles in just 83 games between Double-A and Triple-A. Vientos’ defense was a reason for concern earlier in his career, but he has made strides and improved tremendously. With the current power and hit tool that has developed, Vientos may be in the running for the opening day job in Queens this season.

68. George Valera, Outfield, Cleveland Guardians, Signed July 2, 2017 (Dominican Republic)

DOB: 11/13/2000
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 190
Highest Level: AA
B/T: L/L
Hit: 55
Power: 55
Run: 50
Arm: 55
Field: 50

Valera’s power is his calling card. In just 86 games between Advanced-A and Double-A last year, the slugger hit 19 home runs. His pitch recognition is also excellent as he isn’t just a home run or a strikeout. He had an excellent 20.9 percent walk rate and an equally impressive 22 percent strikeout rate at High-A. However, in just 100 plate appearances at Double-A, those numbers turned to 11 and 30 percent respectively. It has some scouts wondering if Valera can handle higher-level pitching.

His defensive tools are decent as well. He will probably fit best in left field, but his arm is good enough to play in right. Either way, the Guardians will be looking to get his bat in the lineup in a few years, especially if he can keep the strikeouts at bay. An international signing out of the Dominican Republic, although he was born in New York City, Valera may get the call next year.

69. Benny Montgomery, Outfield, Colorado Rockies, 8th pick in 2021 (Red Land HS, PA)

DOB: 11/09/2002
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 200
Highest Level: RK
B/T: R/R
Hit: 45
Power: 55
Run: 70
Arm: 60
Field: 60
Montgomery is another prep outfielder whom the Rockies snagged in the first round. Drafted in 2021, the right-hander slashed .340/.404/.383 with six RBI, five walks, nine strikeouts, and five stolen bases through 14 games at Rookie ball last year. You can’t judge him on such a small sample size, but Colorado has to be impressed with the preliminary results he demonstrated.
Although the aforementioned slash line wouldn’t suggest it, Montgomery is a glove-first player. He uses his elite speed, impressive fielding ability, and strong arm to stand out as a star center field prospect. He should play up the middle for a while. Offensively, he has consistently shown a capability to put the ball in play and does a good job working to the opposite field. However, his unique swing carries concerns that his success at the plate won’t translate to the higher levels of pro ball.

70. Joe Ryan, Right-Handed Pitcher, Minnesota Twins, 210th pick in 2018 (California State)

DOB: 06/05/1996
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 205
Highest Level: MLB
Fastball: 60
Curveball: 50
Slider: 55
Changeup: 50
Control: 55

Another player that came over to the Twins from the AL East last year, Ryan arrived from Tampa Bay in the Nelson Cruz deal. The Twins saw enough to give him five starts at the major league level in September to the tune of a 4.05 ERA and an impressive 30/5 K/BB rate over 26.2 innings. He also allowed just 16 hits but was victimized by the long ball giving up four homers.

Ryan’s fastball is his bread and butter. He throws a four-seamer at 93-96 at the top of the zone with good spin. His slider sits in the mid-80s and he controls it well. The former Cal State product will have to improve on his average curve and change to give him a full arsenal, but there is promise here due to Ryan’s knack for pounding the zone. He will be in Minnesota’s starting rotation this year.

71. Quinn Priester, Right-Handed Pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates, 18th pick in 2019 (Cary-Grove HS, IL)

DOB: 09/16/2000
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 210
Highest Level: A+
Fastball: 60
Curveball: 65
Slider: 50
Changeup: 50
Control: 50

People often forget how highly regarded a prospect Priester is. The Pirates drafted the right-hander out of high school in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Between Rookie ball and Low-A in 2019, Priester combined for a 3.19 ERA and 41 strikeouts over 36.2 innings pitched. With no Minor League season in 2020, he split time between the instructional league and the alternate training site. Priester’s hard work at these camps paid off, as his fastball now averages over 97 mph and his spin rate on his curveball is up to 2,900 rpm.

These pitches were on full display during his 2021 season at High-A Greensboro. Here, Priester made 20 starts, pitched to a 3.04 ERA, and struck out 98 batters across 97.2 innings. The 21-year-old is very athletic and can use that to his advantage as he continues to get comfortable with his 6-foot-3 frame.

A top 60 prospect in MLB Pipeline’s mid-2021 rankings, Priester should begin the 2022 season with Double-A Altoona. It is important to remember that he has really only thrown one complete professional season. It would be wise not to rush him through the farm system. Nevertheless, in the near future, Priester projects to be a top-end of the rotation guy. He could very reasonably even be the next ace of the Pittsburgh rotation.

72. Ezequiel Duran, Infield, Texas Rangers, Signed July 2, 2017 (Dominican Republic)

DOB: 05/22/1999
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 185
Highest Level: A+
B/T: R/R
Hit: 50
Power: 55
Run: 55
Arm: 50
Field: 50

Duran was tearing up the minors at Hudson Valley with the Yankees organization to the tune of a .907 OPS with 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 67 games. He then found himself as the main piece going to the Rangers system in exchange for Joey Gallo. Still in High-A, Duran struggled with making contact in Hickory striking out 33.9 percent of the time. Overall, he showed off his power-speed combo with both teams and wound up almost a 20-20 player in 105 total games in the minors.

Duran hits the ball as hard as anyone. Well-built and very strong, he hits lasers when he barrels the ball up. The problem some see is him doing that regularly. Defensively, he has played at second, third, and short. The 22-year-old will probably settle at second base and could be an above-average defender there. Duran may need to step up his game even more with the Rangers signing Marcus Semien and Corey Seager in the offseason. They also have Josh Jung waiting in the wings at third base.

73. Curtis Mead, Third Base/First Base, Tampa Bay Rays, Signed May 4, 2018 (Australia)

DOB: 10/26/2000
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 180
Highest Level: AAA
B/T: R/R
Hit: 60
Power: 55
Run: 50
Arm: 50
Field: 50

Australia has never been regarded as a hotbed of baseball talent. However, Mead may give kids who love baseball down under something to dream about. He started out in the Australian Baseball League at 17 years old in 2017 and hit immediately. Since then he has gone to the Phillies in the Gulf Coast League, three different affiliates for the Tampa Bay Rays, and a 20-game stint in the Arizona Fall League all while playing winter ball back in Australia. Altogether, Mead has slashed .307/.363/.487 while maintaining a strikeout rate of just under 15 percent.

His stance and approach to his swing are both a bit unorthodox, but it seems to work for him. The Rays have only tinkered a bit with it, trying to calm down his bottom half. Mead makes solid contact with very good exit velocities on pitches just about anywhere near the zone. Defensively, he has played a bit all over the infield. Third base is where he seems to have settled for now. Although his versatility is a plus, Mead is no one’s idea of a Gold Glove. He is sure-handed and has an accurate arm, but lacks the range to be a regular up the middle. It is the Aussie’s bat that will get him to the majors anyway.

74. Jay Allen, Outfield, Cincinnati Reds, 30th pick in 2021 (John Carroll Catholic HS, FL)

DOB: 11/22/2002
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 190
Highest: RK
B/T: R/R
Hit: 55
Power: 50
Run: 55
Arm: 55
Field: 55

Thanks to the Los Angeles Dodgers signing Trevor Bauer last year, the Reds got the 30th pick and used it on Allen. Just 18 years old, the Florida kid put the Arizona Complex League on notice immediately. Allen logged 19 games for the Reds rookie affiliate and he slashed .328/.440/.557 with three home runs and 14 stolen bases. He also played flawless centerfield and chipped in three assists.

Allen is an all-around athlete that doesn’t have a true weakness. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, the thought is that he will add more power as he matures at the expense of some speed. Because of his long levers, scouts were initially worried about some swing and miss with Allen. However, he has quieted his setup and worked on becoming more selective. This has allowed Allen to stop chasing and also to use his natural power to drive outside pitches the other way. Defensively, he may stick in centerfield if he doesn’t lose too much speed. Even if he does move to a corner outfield spot, his bat will play there.

75. Jordan Balazovic, Right-Handed Pitcher, Minnesota Twins, 153rd pick in 2016 (St. Martin SS, ON, Canada)

DOB: 09/17/1998
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 215
Highest Level: AA
Fastball: 65
Slider: 55
Changeup: 55
Control: 55

Balazovic was drafted in the fifth round out of an Ontario High School in 2016. The 6-foot-5 righty pitched all of last year at Double-A Wichita. He had a solid 3.62 ERA while striking out 102 in 97 innings over 20 starts. He has been improving his strikeout total since 2017 which is promising and to see him still set down more than a batter per inning at Wichita means the gains he made are sustainable.

One of the reasons Balazovic increased his strikeout numbers is because he added strength to his lanky frame. His fastball now sits in the mid-90s and has good life at the top of the zone. His slider is almost like a slurve but with harder bite to it and his changeup is has come along as a solid offspeed offering. Balazovic has good command of his three pitches and knows how to work the edges of the plate to reduce hard contact. He should be vying for a rotation spot once we get baseball going again in 2022.

76. Brett Baty, Third Base/Outfield, New York Mets, 12th pick in 2019 (Lake Travis HS, TX)

DOB: 11/13/1999
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 210
Highest Level: AA
B/T: L/R
Hit: 55
Power: 60
Run: 45
Arm: 60
Field: 50

As one of the older players from the 2019 high school draft pool, the Mets felt confident selecting the powerful Baty with their first-round pick. He missed out on playing much until last year despite being exposed to the alternate site. In 2021, Baty showed just why he was worth the Mets’ top pick. Across two levels, he demonstrated an advanced hitting approach, hitting .292 with 22 doubles and 12 home runs.

His power turned into a great line-to-line approach and advanced ability given his experience. Now 22 years old, 6-foot-3, and 210 pounds, Baty has put himself in a greater position to fight Vientos for the starting job in Queens. Baty has played decent defense, but his arm was a bit of a concern. In the Arizona Fall League, Baty was one of the best players, taking home many titles. The Mets used this season and the Fall League to try him out at first base and the outfield. Baty showed that he can handle more than just third base with ease, giving the Mets an easier decision to make. Baty certainly has the goods to be a major league hitter. Now, it’s just a question about which position he fits best.

77. Luis Campusano, Catcher, San Diego Padres, 39th pick in 2017 (Cross Creek HS, GA)

DOB: 09/29/1998
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 230
Highest Level: MLB
B/T: R/R
Hit: 55
Power: 55
Run: 30
Arm: 60
Field: 50

In 2020, the Padres brought up Campusano for one game on September 4. He hit his first major league homer that day and was promptly sent back down. Things didn’t go as well this time as he began the year with the big club. The former second-round pick had three singles in 38 plate appearances prompting a demotion back to Triple-A El Paso. In 81 games there, he had an OPS of .906 with 15 homers and was striking out at just over 20 percent.

Still just 23, Campusano has nothing left to prove in the minors and will need to adjust. He is built like a tank and can crush the baseball. Even when the ball doesn’t clear the fence, it shoots off of his bat. Behind the plate, Campusano has an excellent arm but is still kind of raw. His framing has improved but his blocking hasn’t. If he can be at least serviceable on defense, his bat plays up due to the lack of production from the catcher position overall.

78. Ryan Cusick, Right-Handed Pitcher, Oakland Athletics, 24th pick in 2021 (Wake Forest)

DOB: 11/12/1999
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 235
Highest Level: A
Fastball: 70
Curveball: 55
Slider: 50
Changeup: 50
Control: 50

The right-hander out of Wake Forest University was selected by the Braves in the 2021 MLB Draft. Cusick has not had much experience at the minor league level this far, as after being selected he went straight to the Low-A Augusta GreenJackets. In just six appearances, the 22-year-old held a 2.76 ERA along with 34 strikeouts. This performance jolted Cusick and seeks for a shot at a higher level in 2022. The young right-hander has many great qualities to his game, along with a few rough patches. Cusick has a flaming fastball, ranging from 94-97 mph, and has reached 102.

He has a respectable curveball as his secondary pitch which ranges from 79-82 mph. To complete the repertoire, Cusick has a changeup and slider that deals a great bite to his opponents. He has struggled with hitting the strike zone, a huge factor at the next level. The young flamethrower has a ton of upside to his game, and yet seeks improvement. Whether his control or his back-end pitches, Cusick can master his game by patching those things up. While only 22, Cusick has plenty of time to reach his full potential and contend in the majors. He isn’t expected to make the majors for a while, but the Braves will be waiting when the time comes.

79. Ivan Herrera, Catcher, St. Louis Cardinals, Signed July 7, 2016 (Panama)

DOB: 06/01/2000
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 220
Highest Level: AAA
B/T: R/R
Hit: 50
Power: 55
Run: 35
Arm: 55
Field: 55

Herrera played all but one game at Double-A Springfield in 2021. He put up respectable numbers with a .753 OPS and 17 home runs. Defensively, he has earned praise from coaches about his dedication to improving behind the plate. The 21-year-old should not have a problem hitting bombs, standing at a stout 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, he is built like a prototypical catcher.

His pitch recognition is very good and he jumps on mistakes. With the gear on, he has improved. Herrera has a solid arm and a good feel for the game. He moves around well behind the dish and with a little more refinement, can turn into an above-average catcher. Herrera should be up to the majors soon as the Cardinals grow weary of Andrew Knizner and his .191 batting average. If Herrera is going to be the heir apparent to Yadier Molina, who better to have him learn from on the job? If St. Louis decides to give Knizner another shot or bring in a veteran backup for a year, then the Panama native will have to wait another season and polish his skills in the minors.

80. Ronny Mauricio, Shortstop, New York Mets, Signed July 2, 2017 (Dominican Republic)

DOB: 04/04/2001
Height: 6’3
Weight: 175
Highest Level: AA
B/T: S/R
Hit: 50
Power: 60
Run: 45
Arm: 60
Field: 55

It is very hard to rank Mauricio due to how young and raw he is. He has the goods to be the top prospect in the system. As the prized addition in the 2017 signing period, Mauricio took home a cool $2.1 million signing bonus. He debuted at age 18 and progressed nicely. The long and lanky 6-foot-3, 166-pounder had some struggles with commanding the strike zone and on defense at the start.

Then, after the 2019 season, Mauricio added lots of weight to fill out his frame. At the alternate site in 2020, Mauricio impressed many scouts, coaches, and players with his new and meticulous self. The switch-hitter has developed a truly advanced approach and showed out in the 2021 season with 15 doubles, five triples, and 20 home runs across two levels. Mauricio hit .323 when finishing the season with Double-A Binghamton to close out a monstrous second half. Mauricio’s defense also flourished this past season as he showed much more composure at shortstop. He certainly has talent. Now, it is just a question of whether he can stay at shortstop with Francisco Lindor in town.


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