Pop-up Prospects Jump Up Prospect Lists


Atlanta All-Star Ronald Acuna, Jr. was once an unknown prospect with a bright future.Dan Schlossberg, IBWAA

By Benjamin Chase

Each season, guys who aren't known ahead of the season jump up on the scene and become consensus top-100 prospects by the end of the season. The 2022 season has already had impressive performances from a host of players.

To qualify for this list, the player could not be on any of MLB Pipeline's, Baseball America's, or Baseball Prospectus' top prospect lists before the season. These are not the only 20, but this is a selection of 20 to get to know:

Kevin Alcantara, OF, Chicago Cubs

The huge (6’6”, 220-pound) Alcantara was originally signed by the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic in 2018 and acquired by the Cubs last summer as part of the Anthony Rizzo deal. Alcantara is making his first appearance in full-season ball with Myrtle Beach and showing impressive raw power and speed while splitting time between right and center field.

Logan Allen, LHP, Cleveland Guardians

One of multiple Logan Allens in professional baseball at the moment, the 2020 second-round selection by Cleveland out of Florida International has rocketed through the minor leagues, already reaching Triple-A this season and ranking among the top 10 in all the minor leagues in strikeouts this season.

Adael Amador, SS, Colorado Rockies

Signed by Colorado out of the Dominican in 2019, Amador showed incredible strike zone judgment in his pro debut last season, and in his full-season debut this year, he’s continued that while also flashing a combination of power and speed. He’s one of multiple pop-up Rockies prospects up the middle.

Edwin Arroyo, SS, Seattle Mariners

Arroyo was one of the youngest players in the 2021 draft out of Puerto Rico. The Mariners nabbed him in the second round, 48th overall. Arroyo won’t turn 19 until late August, but he’s already showing power and speed in full-season ball while handling shortstop impressively.

Brayan Bello, RHP, Boston Red Sox

One of two players who have made their MLB debut this year, Bello jumped from Double-A to the big leagues with an impressive showing this year, ranking among the minor league’s strikeout leaders as he’s pitched across Double-A and Triple-A. The lean righty should get more chances with the Red Sox, but with his innings already near a career high, the team may consider him in a relief role going forward.

Hunter Brown, RHP, Houston Astros

The Astros drafted Brown out of Wayne State with a fifth-round selection in 2019 and immediately were surprised with his impressive raw stuff. Brown has been nothing short of dominant in Triple-A this season.

Jackson Chourio, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Probably the single hottest name in prospects so far this year, Chourio has been a revelation this year for the Brewers. The Venezuela native was signed in January of 2021 and jumped straight from the Dominican Summer League in 2021 to full-season ball this year, and he’s been one of the most explosive players since joining Carolina a month into the season.

Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Chicago Cubs

The Mets drafted the outfielder known as PCA with the 19th overall selection in 2020 out of high school and then traded him to the Cubs last year in the Javy Baez deal. Armstrong had just got on the field last year when a season-ending injury cut short his first pro exposure. He’s definitely making up for that this season, already earning a promotion to High-A with a surprising display of power to go with his excellent defense and balanced skill set.

Zack Gelof, 3B, Oakland Athletics

The A’s selected Gelof out of Virginia in the second round last summer, and his bat has been impressive every step as a pro. His defensive future is in question, as he’s played second, third, and outfield this season, but Oakland will likely find a spot for a bat this productive.

Colson Montgomery, SS, Chicago White Sox

The 22nd overall selection last summer out of high school in Indiana. Montgomery is a big, physical guy at 6’4”, so he’s likely going to eventually move to third base or a corner outfield spot. He’s already impressed enough to move up to High-A.

Logan O'Hoppe, C, Philadelphia Phillies

High school catchers are notoriously risky as a draft prospect, so when a high school catcher drafted in the 23rd round puts on an impressive offensive display returning from a pandemic year, you take notice. O’Hoppe did just that in 2021, and he’s actually improved in 2022, with much better plate discipline and continued growth with the bat.

Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B, Kansas City Royals

An 11th-round selection out of Old Dominion in 2019, Pasquantino has done nothing but hit since his selection. At 6’4” and around 250 pounds, Pasquantino is defensively limited to first base or designated hitter, but his bat is worthy of that position. He was called up June 28 to Kansas City and has struggled a bit out of the gate, but he is drawing plenty of walks in early going.

Alex Ramirez, OF, New York Mets

One of the top talents in the 2019 international class, Ramirez made his full-season debut last season at 18, but struggled. This year, he showed well enough to earn a recent promotion to High-A as a teenager with an impressive combination of power and speed in his tool chest.

Drew Romo, C, Colorado Rockies

Romo could be the rare case of a high school catching prospect outperforming expectations. The Rockies selected Romo as the 35th overall pick in the 2020 draft, knowing he was an elite defender. His bat has been a surprise, however, as he’s hit over .300 hit entire minor league career to this point. At just 20, he’s pushing for a promotion to Double-A before season’s end.

Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays drafted Tiedemann in the third round of the 2021 draft out of junior college as a “crafty lefty” type. He then showed up for his pro debut this year pumping mid-90s gas, allowing his breaking stuff to play up. Tiedemann has already pushed up both A-ball levels this season and could finish in Double-A by season’s end.

Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Colorado Rockies

While Chourio has been the guy getting publicity, Tovar has been the most impressive under-radar breakout this year as he’s shown improved plate discipline, power, speed, and excellent defense. Tovar could push for an appearance in Colorado in 2023.

Ken Waldichuk, LHP, New York Yankees

Lanky lefty Waldichuk was originally drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 draft out of St. Mary’s. He’s always put up impressive numbers but an uptick in his velocity, paired with stronger command in 2022 has allowed him to move to Triple-A with success.

Jordan Westburg, IF, Baltimore Orioles

Westburg was drafted as the 30th overall selection in 2020 draft out of Mississippi State. The Orioles immediately worked him into a utility infield defense role, but his bat has allowed him to work as a potential starter that plays every day at multiple positions around the infield.

Masyn Winn, SS, St. Louis Cardinals

A legit prospect as a hitter or pitcher in the 2020 draft, Winn was expected to take time to develop as a shortstop. Defensively, he had premium talent, especially in his arm, but because he pitched plenty as a high schooler, the feeling was he would take time to develop as a hitter. Instead, this season, he’s flirted with .300 all season while pounding out extra base hits, stealing bases, and even earning a promotion to Double-A at just 20 years old.

James Wood, OF, San Diego Padres

An absolutely gigantic human being at 6’7” and listed at 240 pounds, Wood is still an impressive athletic specimen. The Padres took him in the second round of the 2021 draft out of IMG Academy, expecting that he may take some time to turn his athleticism into production on the field. Instead, he’s played an impressive center field at times while flirting with .300 all season and combining power and speed.

Benjamin Chase is a newspaper reporter in South Dakota that enjoys spending his free time watching all the baseball possible, at every level. He can be found weekly on the Pallazzo Podcast prospects half-hour on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. Eastern or on Twitter at @biggentleben.

Comments / 0

Published by

The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America represents hundreds of writers and content creators wherever baseball is played all over the world, ranging from hobbyists to professionals and everywhere in between. Learn more at ibwaa.com or follow @ibwaa on Twitter.

New York, NY

More from IBWAA

Comments / 0