Baseball fans have been eagerly awaiting the debut of many of the game’s top prospects. Teams are beginning to announce which players will be in uniform for Opening Day on April 7th and 8th, and a few top prospects have already been given the green light.
This article details the prospects we already know have made their team’s 2022 Opening Day roster. I’ll also update the article with any new names you should know as roster news trickles out.
Note: The players I’m covering here are prospects who have not yet made their MLB debut. For this reason, I did not include Reid Detmers, Joey Bart, and other young players who have big league experience but still have their rookie status intact in this article.
Julio Rodríguez is one of two top prospects on the Seattle Mariners‘ 2022 Opening Day roster. The 21-year-old outfielder comes into the 2022 season ranked as Baseball America’s No. 2 overall prospect. Although he’s played just 46 games in Double-A, Rodríguez has done more than enough to solidify his status as the best hitting prospect in baseball. His strong showing in Spring Training — 13-for-31, 4 doubles, 3 home runs, 8 RBIs, 9 runs scored — left the Mariners no choice but to include Rodríguez on their 2022 Opening Day squad.
Right behind Rodríguez on Baseball America’s top prospect list is Bobby Witt Jr. at No. 3. Witt, the 21-year-old shortstop who was the second pick in the 2019 Draft, has got all five tools on display. His bat translated well in both Double- and Triple-A last year, despite being three and five-and-a-half years younger than the competition, respectively. Spring training was no different: Witt went 12-for-30 with 3 doubles, 2 home runs, 7 RBIs, and 10 runs scored. Because Adalberto Mondesi and Nicky Lopez have the middle infield locked up, all signs point to Witt being penciled in as the Royals’ starting third baseman on April 7.
Miguel Cabrera passes the torch to Spencer Torkelson, paving the way for the young slugger to become the Tigers’ first baseman of the future. Baseball America ranks the former first overall pick in the 2020 Draft as the No. 5 prospect coming into the 2022 season. Torkelson’s raw power is immense, but he’s also shown plate discipline to the tune of a 14.5% walk rate across 121 minor league games last season. His spring training production (8-for-28, four doubles, one home run, four RBIs, four runs scored) wasn’t as eye-catching as Rodríguez or Witt’s, but Torkelson showed his ability to drive the ball to all parts of the field with authority. This moonshot (403 ft., 103 mph exit velo) on the 11th pitch of the at-bat after fouling off seven pitches was pretty cool, too.
Saturday: Tork gets the good news.
Sunday: Tork gets to work. pic.twitter.com/U0FEhWP0SH
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) April 3, 2022
A ton of my fellow Pitcher List friends are geeking out about Mariners’ right-handed pitcher Matt Brash. After a solid final start (4.1 innings, one earned run on one walk, two hits, and five strikeouts) on Friday, Seattle announced Brash earned the team’s final rotation spot. That run, a solo shot to Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, was the only run he allowed all spring. He touched 98 mph with his fastball, got 11 whiffs, and used the knuckle curve for all five strikeouts. 23-year-old Brash is set to take on the White Sox on April 12.
Flame-throwing right-hander Hunter Greene will make his long-awaited debut after the Reds announced he earned a spot on the 2022 Opening Day roster. Greene makes pumping 100+ mph into the zone look easy, so I’m excited to see what he looks like with adrenaline pumping in his big league debut. However, Mr. PL Himself Nick Pollack mentions a few things to consider with the 22-year-old righthander: contact, secondaries, and command.
I can't decide how to feel about Hunter Greene for fantasy.
– 100+ velocity is obviously 💯
– Gets oddly hit hard despite it…?
– Are his secondaries good?
– Questionable command
I can't wait to watch his debut (GIF Breakdown!) & worth the flier, but this feels very risky. https://t.co/w9IE9K8pkr
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 30, 2022
Along with Greene, Nick Lodolo is the other young pitcher joining the Reds’ starting rotation out of camp. Lodolo is a long and lanky lefthander with a fantastic slider and pin-point command. He’s pitched only 69.0 professional innings (18.1 in 2019, 50.2 in 2021) due to the pandemic wiping out the 2020 minor league season and a shoulder injury last year, but the Reds liked what they saw from Lodolo at the alternate training site and in spring training. He showcased his sinker-slider combo and struck out 12 batters while walking just two in 11.1 spring training innings. The Reds don’t need a fifth starter until mid-way through next week, but Lodolo will be there when they need him.
C.J. Abrams was a top pick in the 2019 Draft who has been plagued with injuries throughout his short professional career. Still, the 20-year-old shortstop made a strong impression in 42 Doube-A games last season. Abrams’ game relies on contact and speed, the latter of which various outlets believe is an 80-grade. With Fernando Tatis Jr. missing a good chunk of the season with a broken wrist, the Padres gave Abrams the chance to earn an Opening Day roster spot this spring. He went 12-for-37, stole three bases, and even his two out of the yard. It was enough to nab the spot and earn him significant playing time is Tatis’ absence.
The Phillies drafted Bryson Stott, a shortstop out of UNLV, with their first-round pick in 2019. He spent most of 2019 in Low-A and continued to develop at the team’s alternate training site in 2020. He quickly rose through the minor leagues in 2021, making solid contact from gap to gap and displaying patience at the plate. Stott improved defensively and flashed power he hadn’t shown before. Because of Alec Bohm’s struggles last season, the door was cracked open for someone to prove themselves this spring and earn a spot on the team. Stott did just that, slashing .419/.514/.581.
Photo by: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri