Everyone knows the top prospects who have already fully broken out. Sure, owning Oneil Cruz, Grayson Rodriguez or Riley Greene would be great, but those guys are usually very hard to acquire. The best way to build up a solid, deep farm system is by keeping an eye on high upside prospects that are not as well known. Not as well known, at least yet. We are constantly fishing for upside.
I believe applying advanced statistics to prospect performance is the best way to gauge and predict future performance. Therefore, this article looked into three high upside prospects who have only played in AA or below.
Bryan Ramos, CHW, 2B/3B
Before 2022, Ramos had only one full professional season in which he had some success in A ball. As a 19-year-old in 2021, he slashed .244/.345/.415. While the slash line doesn’t pop off the page, a 13 HR, 13 SB season showed some potential of a power/speed combo guy (though he has yet to steal a bag in 2022). Additionally, he had a K%/BB% of 21.8%/10.1%, showing signs of an advanced plate approach, especially for someone with as much raw power as Ramos.
I was high on him going into 2022, and he has proven me right as he obliterates High A pitching to a tune of .388/.438/.642 with four home runs in 16 games. The K% has dropped from just over 21% to 16%. However, his walk rate has dropped about 5%, showing he often puts balls in play. In addition, he has lowered his ground ball rate (GB%) and raised his line drive rate (LD%) each year of his professional career and can use all sides of the field. He is swinging the bat with confidence, and as long as he continues to keep his K rate down, as he has his whole career, he is someone that could fly up lists quickly.
Kyle Hurt, LAD, P
Hurt is the perfect example of a high upside, low floor guy. Standing at 6’3 220 pounds, he has a pitcher’s frame one can be excited about. His fastball gets up around 96-97 MPH as a starter, his changeup is seen as a plus pitch by many, and his curveball and slider each show flashes as plus pitches. So a hard-throwing, solid frame pitcher with a potential four plus-pitch repertoire? “Where could you possibly be getting the low floor from?” you may ask. While he has a 15+ K/9 in all three stops in the minors, he hovers right below a 6 BB/9 so far in his early career. Yes, a 6 BB/9. That is just about two walks every three innings.
I put him on this list because his control seems to be the last step for him to figure out. His 5.51 ERA in A ball in 2021 was put to ease by a 3.80/3.71 FIP/xFIP, and he is pitching even better this year, sporting a 2.35 ERA backed by a 2.13/2.64 FIP/xFIP along with a 15.26 K/9 in High A. However, a few concerns outside of the control: he has yet to go further than three innings in a single game in his three 2022 starts. This could have a few explanations, some better than others.
- He is still ramping up for the season, not helped by the shortened spring.
- He strikes out and walks so many people that his pitch count flies up too quickly to pitch many innings.
- In addition, he has issues with his stamina that may lead to him being more of a bullpen piece.
Despite some of these worries and his bullpen risk, his K rate and repertoire are exciting enough to go after in deeper dynasty formats.
Tucker Bradley, KC, OF
Tucker Bradley is a ballplayer. “But Beckett, aren’t all prospects ballplayers?” No. Bradley is what I would consider the perfect coach’s son in the best way possible. He has a very advanced plate approach boasting a K%/BB% of 21.4%/11.7% in High A in 2021. He steals bases, 9 SB in 86 games last year, 4 SB in 15 games this year. And he plays elite defense in the outfield. He is fundamentally sound and has a high floor because of this.
So far in 2022, Bradley is slashing .333/.396/.479 with a dinger and an elite 14.8%/7.4% K%/BB% in AA. He has an impressive ability to hit all over the field, with an almost evenly split Pull%/Center%/Opposite field%. In addition, he is finally taking the ball off the ground, lowering his GB% from 45.5% to 40%, and his flyball rate has shot up 10% this year so far, though it may just be the small sample size. His plus hit tool and defense will fetch him plenty of opportunities to show he belongs in the majors and give him lots of playing time as he moves from an undrafted free agent to a deep-league sleeper.