Major League Baseball is loaded with young talent. Fernando Tatis, Juan Soto, Wander Franco, Vlad Guerrero Jr. These are just a few of the names that baseball fans have been following since they were in their teens. The impact these players have had on their teams is everything that was wanted and more. It was just a couple years ago Vladdy hit over .400 in Double-A and Wander Franco was the top prospect at age 19. The following players have the same talent and capability to impact the Major Leagues for the next two decades.
1.) Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez
The first overall pick in the 2019 Draft, catcher Adley Rutschman has not disappointed in his first two professional seasons. Like every other minor leaguer I will mention in this list, his 2020 development was delayed by the cancellation of the minor league season. This speed bump did not seem to set back Adley’s progress. In 2021, he finished with a .899 OPS and 23 homeruns in 123 games between Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie. Rutschman has flown through the minor leagues, debuting at #2 on the MLB top prospect list in 2020 and improving to the top spot in 2021. His Baltimore Orioles do not seem to be a threat to take over the American League East in 2022 but the Orioles Farm System is as strong as could be. Fellow battery mate, Grayson Rodriguez, pitched to a 2.60 ERA at Bowie in 18 starts. The 22-year old is also looking to make his Major League debut this season. His 6’5” frame produces an intimidating 99 mph fastball and an above average change-up. These young phenoms will be a force to be reckoned with in 2022 and future years.
2.) Bobby Witt Jr.
The 2021 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year. 3rd ranked on the 2021 MLB Prospect List. One stolen base shy of a 30-30 season in 2021. Bobby Witt Jr. had an electric season. Drafted just one pick after Adley Rutschman in the 2019 draft, he had his first full minor league season in 2021 and he proved to the Royals how good he is. Royals President of Baseball Operations, Dayton Moore praised Witt, “We all understand how talented he is. He has the ability to help a Major League Baseball team win in multiple ways.” Witt is a five-tool player that will be making his Major League debut this season on a recently struggling Royals team that only won 74 games this past year. Like the Orioles, the Royals farm system is something to be optimistic about. Nick Pratto and Asa Lacy are 65th and 66th ranked and are also eyeing a 2022 Major League Debut. Looking toward 2022, Bobby Witt could be a strong candidate for American League Rookie of the Year.
3.) Riley Greene
The Tigers have been busy this off-season. Signing All-star shortstop Javy Baez and left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to multi-year deals. This could be a turnaround for a team with young talent and seasoned veterans. One guy that can help to transform this Detroit team is Riley Greene. Former 1st round draft pick hit for a .534 slugging percentage and .921 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A in 2021. He has experience playing all three outfield positions which will give the Tigers flexibility between Him, Akil Baddoo and Robbie Grossman in the outfield. Greene has shown plus-power in the minor leagues but struck out on over 30% of his at-bats. His above-average walk rate and quick hands can make up for that and could be the Tigers leadoff hitter in years to come. Riley Greene is still only 22-years old and has the potential to be Detroit's next superstar.
4.) Nolan Gorman
Cardinals Infield prospect, Nolan Gorman will make his long awaited debut in 2022. Their first round draft pick in 2018, Gorman was taken as an 18-year old out of high school. Originally a third baseman, Gorman started the shift to second base in 2021 to prepare for his future with the Cardinals. He played most of his 2021 campaign at Triple-A Memphis. He had 25 home runs and a .814 OPS in 119 total games. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel says to expect Nolan Gorman’s game to be similar to Max Muncy’s. Gorman is expected to have significant at-bats in the 2022 season and will have to play in meaningful baseball games right away. The Cardinals won 90 games last year and had an appearance in the Wild Card. The signing of Steven Matz will help to improve that already quality pitching rotation behind Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright. I would bet on St. Louis to be contenders in 2022.