Chris Clegg's 2023 Hitting Prospect Obsessions
Chris looks at hitting prospects he wants to get everywhere before 2023.
Knowing the right time to buy and sell prospects in a dynasty league is critical. Very seldom is a prospect off limits for me in trade. Generally, my goal is to acquire prospects on the cheap, let them build value, then flip them for win-now pieces. That is easier said than done. But, I view prospects in dynasty as playing the stock market. Buy in early, buy low, and sell high. That can be a winning strategy for prospect-obsessed people.
I am one of those people. Which is the article is titled my prospect obsessions. Today we will look at ten hitters that I want to acquire in all dynasty leagues this offseason.
Hitting Prospects To Target Before 2023
Miguel Bleis, OF, BOS
My love for Miguel Bleis long dates his debut, much less his Complex Level breakout. Bleis debuted in my Top-400 prospect rankings around the 250 range upon signing in January 2021 and rose to around 200 by mid-year 2021. Now he is firmly inside the top 100 with room to grow. I have even had a scout tell me Bleis is a top-25 prospect. That is very bold, but I like it.
Bleis is already a physically gifted athlete standing at 6’3/170. He has plenty of room to add more muscle to an already solid frame. He played 40 games at the complex level and was likely to be promoted to Low-A Salem if not for a back injury. By the end of August, he was healthy, but the Red Sox held him out of games to focus on a full recovery. He was still doing full baseball activity, so the injury is not a concern.
Bleis hit five home runs and stole 18 bases while slashing a smooth .301/.353/.542 at the complex level. He hit the ball extremely hard, as shown by a 104.1 mph 90th percentile exit velocity. His chase rate was solid at 26.8 percent, and he made contact on pitches in the zone 86 percent of the time.
The power and speed combo, coupled with a solid feel for contact, makes Bleis an easy buy for dynasty leagues.
Oscar Colas, OF, CHW
Oscar Colas may not remain a prospect for long as he will get every chance to be the White Sox everyday right fielder. His 2022 MILB season was even more impressive when you consider the fact he did not play in a professional baseball game in 2020 and 2021. Colas had his contract voiced in Japan and due to the timing teams had already committed their bonus pool money for the J15 class in 2021. Colas had to wait another year to sign.
He hit the ground running in 2022 moving from High-A to Double-A and even finishing the season in Triple-A for seven games. He finished with a slash of .314/.371/.524 with 23 home runs. Colas power is evident with a strong left-handed swing. The power comes easy and the data backs it. His exit velocities and hard hit data suggests there is easy plus power in his profile.
His .314 batting average is unsustainable however. He made respectable zone contact at a rate above 80 percent. The issues come in when we look at Colas’ chase rate which was a bit high at 37.8 percent. He will need to learn to not be such a free swinger, but i’m willing to give him a bit of a pass considering he did not play in games for two seasons.
As a Major Leaguer, Colas could profile as a .270 type bat with 25-30 home runs if all clicks right.
Junior Caminero, SS, TB
Junior Caminero was a popular breakout pick of mine before the 2022 season. If you don’t believe me, here are a couple of Tweets.
Here is what I wrote last spring in the Rays top prospect article on Fantrax.
To show you how deep this farm system is, I am suggesting you target a player that is not even in my top-20 ranked within the organization. For what it’s worth, I have 19 Rays players in my top-250 prospects and Junior Caminero does not miss the list by much.
Caminero is one of my favorite potential breakout prospects for 2022. He was acquired by the Rays in a prospect trade that sent Tobias Myers to Cleveland. Caminero is listed at 5’11, 157 pounds, but I can say for a fact that has changed. He has grown 2-3 inches and put on at least 20-30 of good muscle. He generates easy power in-game and lifts the ball well. Caminero also displays good plate discipline as shown by an 11.7 percent walk rate and just a 16 percent strikeout rate. Caminero will be a prospect to watch closely this season, but one to buy into now before it’s too late.
The hype around Caminero seems to be taking off and that is no surprise. Caminero posted a strong season in 2022 after he dominated the Complex level and kept it going in Low-A. He turned 19 season mid-season, but age did not affect his performance, even being young at Low-A. Combined between levels, he slashed .314/.384/.498 with 11 home runs in 271 plate appearances. The power is legit as Caminero posted a 106.6 mph 90th percentile exit velocity. A near 90 mph average exit velocity and a 44 percent hard-hit rate are stellar for his age. Even more impressive, despite his power, he still made plenty of contact. The tools are extremely solid and there is 30 home run upside with potential for above-average batting averages.Caminero will be a top-20 prospect by mid-season 2023.
Jackson Merrill, SS, SDP
It is possible to argue that Jackson Merrill has broken out already. If you look at the hype on him on Twitter since the Arizona Fall League, you might say Merrill should not qualify for this list.
Between Complex and Low-A, Merrill hit .339 with six home runs and 11 stolen bases in 250 plate appearances. He also had a scorching hot start to the Arizona Fall League but finished with just a .261 batting average and one home run in 98 plate appearances. All that to say, Merrill could be in for a massive breakout in 2023 for many reasons.
Merrill’s data is excellent. he made zone-contact 89 percent of the time last season and struck out just 19 percent of the time. On top of that, he has shown high-end exit velocities. He maxed out at 110.4 mph and saw his 90th percentile exit velocity jump to 104 mph this year. Merrill hits the ball hard and puts it in play often.
The concern with Merrill is too many ground balls. Last season, he hit the ball on the ground 59.1 percent of the time. He will have to lift the ball more to get to that home run power. He is capable of lifting it, though. Check out this beautiful uppercut for a home run in the AFL; shoutout Chris Welsh. That is a professional power swing right there. Buy Jackson Merrill this offseason.
Tyler Locklear, 1B, SEA
You probably guessed that Tyler Locklear was on this list. It should be no surprise to you as I have talked about him for a long time. It is criminal how undervalued Locklear has been in FYPD. Some were quick to knock him for playing at a mid-major in VCU. But the numbers are excellent. In 628 college plate appearances, Locklear slashed .316/.513/.704 with 37 home runs. Even better he walked 101 times and struck out just 78 times.
Locklear has power for days as we saw at VCU but also in his pro debut. Going back to playing at a mid-major, it is important to discuss how he fared against power five opponents. According to Mason Mcrae, Locklear slashed .289/.413/.605 with an 11 percent strikeout and 13 percent walk rate. Additionally his average exit velocity was over 90 mph and his 90th percentile exit velocity was over 107.
Not much changed for Locklear in his pro debut. He mashed seven home runs in 142 plate appearances with excellent exit velocities and highly impressive zone contact. This genuinely feels like a Kyle Manzardo starter kit.
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