Welcome to my first article for Fantasy Six Pack. In this article, I will discuss three 2022 Dynasty Baseball breakout prospects to target in the upper levels of the Minor Leagues.
These players could surprise people in 2022, and should be on your radar.
After Minor League Baseball was shut down in 2020, many formerly unheralded prospects popped up during the 2021 season. There were plenty of breakouts from players who others may have previously written off.
2022 Dynasty Baseball Breakout Prospects to Target
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Jonathan Aranda, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays
Jonathan Aranda has been named the Double-A South MVP and First Base All-Star!
Jonathan had a dominant year at the plate batting .325 with 10 HR and 58 RBI! pic.twitter.com/lXp1ArxzLq
— Montgomery Biscuits (@BiscuitBaseball) October 6, 2021
Jonathan Aranda was a lesser-known prospect back in May, and now he is arguably a Top 100 prospect. He has been a member of the Rays organization since 2015 when he signed on July 2nd as a 17-year-old.
Now 23, Aranda is fresh off his best pro season. He started the season in High-A Bowling Green, where he racked up four home runs, a .351/.449/.554 slash line, and a 170 wRC+ in 21 games. He also had a notable 10.1 BB% and 14.6 K%.
A fun stat about Aranda’s stint in Bowling Green is that he had a .344 batting average while behind in the count. These are video game numbers, and they warranted him a promotion to Double-A Montgomery, where he continued to simply rake. In 79 games, he hit 10 home runs, stole four bases, put up a .325/.410/.540 slashline, and a 162 wRC+. He also maintained a 10.2 BB% after the promotion, and kept the strikeout rate below 20%. This earned him the Double-A South MVP Title, as well as an All-Star bid.
From July to September, he put up nearly identical stats to Anthony Volpe, who is getting much more hype. Aranda (.414 wOBA) has put up similar stats to Brandon Lowe’s 2018 Double-A campaign (.405 wOBA). They also profile similarly defensively. Aranda had a monster year, and capped it off by being added to the Rays' 40 Man Roster.
He can make a major impact with the big league club as soon as next summer.
Nick Plummer, OF, New York Mets
Nick Plummer is a feel-good story. He was drafted out of high school in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft, exactly one pick ahead of two-time All-Star Walker Buehler.
Plummer made his pro debut in 2015, where he put up solid stats in the Gulf Coast Rookie Ball League. He slashed .228/.379/.344 with one home run, eight steals, and a 127 wRC+. Not bad for your first taste of pro ball.
He then missed the entire 2016 season with a wrist injury. Once he returned, he played in Low-A Peoria in 2017 and 2018, where he struggled. He failed to hit for average (.198 in 2017 and .205 in 2018) nor power (12 home runs combined). It did not help that he battled multiple injuries in these two seasons, including an oblique injury and a facial laceration.
In 2019, he played in High-A Palm Beach, where he had his worst professional season. He had a 13.2 BB%, 33.4 K%, .176 AVG, .312 OBP, .294 wOBA, and 88 wRC+. All of these were career worsts for Plummer. At this point, it may seem inevitable to just write off Plummer as a bust. However, he used the downtime in 2020 to improve himself, and transform into a better player. He spent time with coaches to polish his game and work on his swing.
When he took the field for the first time in 2021, he was a new man. In 90 games in Double-A, he had a 14.1 BB%, 28.7 K%, .283/.404/.489, .400 wOBA, and 142 wRC+. Almost all of these were career bests. The most notable perhaps is the strikeout rate, as this was his first season since 2015 where it was below 31%. He also unlocked his power, as he launched 13 home runs while with Double-A Springfield. Furthermore, he set a club record 34 game on-base streak during his stint.
This earned him a promotion to Triple-A Memphis to finish out the season, where he continued to rake. He put up similar, if not better, rate stats in AAA, as in 27 games, he had a 19.6 BB%, 17.6 K%, .267/.455/.440, .411 wOBA, and 153 wRC+. A huge exclamation point by Plummer to cap off his breakout season.
This offseason, the 25-year-old Plummer was surprisingly not added to the Cardinals' 40 Man Roster, making him a free agent. The New York Mets, however, quickly signed him to their 40 Man Roster. Plummer will see plenty of time with the big league club during Spring Training in 2022, and should find playing time next summer in the outfield mix with Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Brandon Nimmo. The universal DH would be a game-changer for a player like Plummer. Either way, if he keeps on hitting, he will find his way into the lineup.
Konnor Pilkington, LHP, Cleveland Guardians
After discussing two hitters, let’s finish off on a pitcher.
Konnor Pilkington spent three seasons at Mississippi State, after which he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the third round of the 2018 MLB Draft. He then made his pro debut by pitching 14.0 innings in Rookie Ball, where he allowed 11 earned runs. We can write off this 7.07 ERA, due to the fact he also pitched over 100 innings at Mississippi State in 2018.
In 2019, he had a nice season. He started the year in Low-A Kannapolis, where he pitched 33.1 electric innings. He had a 1.62 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and an 11.34 K/9. These numbers earned him a promotion to High-A Winston-Salem.
He was not quite as dominant there, but the overall outlook was positive. In 95.2 IP, he had a 4.99 ERA, 1.443 WHIP, and 9.03 K/9. His FIP of 3.61, more than a run lower than his ERA, suggests that he may have pitched better than the surface results suggest.
In 2021, he started the year with Double-A Birmingham. There, he put up solid numbers once again. In 62.0 IP, he had a 3.48 ERA, 0.919 WHIP, and 10.31 K/9. Pilkington continues to improve. Though never a top prospect, Pilkington is a low-key name.
At the 2021 trade deadline, the White Sox sent Pilkington to Cleveland in exchange for Cesar Hernandez. Plkington finished the season strong in Double-A Akron, to the tune of a 2.33 ERA, 1.112 WHIP, and 11.41 K/9 across 38.2 IP.
Pilkington has stayed on the field ever since being drafted and has put up positive results at every step of his development. Though not a flashy name yet, he joins a group of talented young pitching prospects in Cleveland; such as Daniel Espino, Peyton Battenfield, Cody Morris, Tanner Burns, Xzavion Curry, Logan T Allen, and Tobias Myers.
Pilkington was rule five draft-eligible, so the Guardians added him to their 40 Man Roster last month. It will be up to him in 2022 to seize the moment and separate himself from this exciting pack of arms. Cleveland is one of the top organizations for developing pitchers, so Pilkington is in a lovely spot for success.
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