Spencer Torkelson and MLB’s 10 Best Power-Hitting Prospects in 2021 | Bleacher Report

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    As veterans Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Nelson Cruz come down the homestretch of their prolific power-hitting careers, a new wave of sluggers is set to take baseball by storm.

    Detroit Tigers prospect Spencer Torkelson was the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft on the strength of his top-of-the-scale power, and he is widely regarded as the best power-hitting prospect in the minors.

    However, he is not the only prospect who could become a perennial 30-homer slugger in the majors in just a few short years.

    Ahead we’ve highlighted the 10 best power-hitting prospects in baseball, based on a combination of on-field production, tools and projection.

    Let’s start with a few honorable mentions who are also worth keeping an eye on.

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    Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox

    The top prospect in the Boston system, Casas is hitting .287/.374/.465 with eight extra-base hits in 26 games at Double-A Portland. The 21-year-old is just starting to tap in to the plus raw power packed into his 6’4″, 252-pound frame, and he could rise the prospect ranks in the coming years.

          

    Jasson Dominguez, New York Yankees

    Until he plays his first professional game, it’s hard to know exactly what to make of one of the most hyped international prospects of all time. Dominguez has all the physical gifts to be a five-tool superstar, and his elite bat speed should result in plenty of power. Let’s just temper expectations until he takes the field.

           

    Austin Hendrick, Cincinnati Reds

    The No. 12 pick in the 2020 draft, Hendrick had as much raw power as anyone in the class not named Spencer Torkelson. The 20-year-old has some things to iron out with his mechanics, and he’s going to take some time to develop, but he has as much power potential as any low-level prospect in the minors.

           

    Aaron Sabato, Minnesota Twins

    A 6’2″, 230-pound slugger, Sabato hit 25 home runs in 83 games during his two seasons at the University of North Carolina before he was picked 27th in the 2020 draft. The 22-year-old is power over hit at this point in his development, but he has an advanced enough approach to be a well-rounded run producer.

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Bryce Ball was selected in the 24th round of the 2019 draft by the Atlanta Braves after hitting .325/.443/.614 with 18 home runs in 63 games as a junior at Dallas Baptist.

    The 6’6″, 240-pound first baseman continued to rake in his minors debut, posting an impressive .329/.395/.628 line with 18 doubles, 17 home runs and 52 RBI in 62 games at rookie ball and Single-A Rome.

    “It would be hard to find anyone who doesn’t think Ball’s power is going to play,” according to MLB.com. “His raw pop is at the top of the charts and the left-handed hitter has a solid approach, giving him a better chance to tap into it more consistently.”

    The 22-year-old is off to a slow start at High-A this year, hitting .200 with three home runs and 39 strikeouts in 129 plate appearances, but that has done little to dampen optimism about his future as a potential middle-of-the-order threat.

    He looks like the heir apparent to Freddie Freeman.

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    Vera Nieuwenhuis/Associated Press

    One of the older prep prospects in the 2019 draft, Brett Baty was the No. 12 pick and posted an .821 OPS with 25 extra-base hits in 51 games in his minors debut after landing a $3.9 million bonus.

    The 21-year-old is hitting .319/.422/.522 with five home runs and 29 RBI in 33 games at High-A Brooklyn and gained valuable experience at the New York Mets alternate site last year. A midseason promotion to Double-A could be in order if he keeps it up.

    “Hitting for power from line to line from the left side is Baty’s calling card,” according to MLB.com. “He’s shown early in his career that he can get to it during games, even hitting his longest and most impressive home runs to the opposite field, though he’s still learning how to turn on the ball.”

    He has an advanced enough approach to consistently tap in to his raw power, even with some swing and miss that will likely always be part of his game.

    Baty could be the top prospect in the Mets system by season’s end.

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    Nolan Gorman feasted on lower-level pitching after he was picked 19th in the 2018 draft, posting a .949 OPS with 13 doubles and 17 home runs in 63 games at rookie ball and Single-A in his minors debut.

    He struggled against more advanced pitching the following year, racking up 152 strikeouts in 125 games at Single-A and High-A, but he still tallied 30 doubles, 15 home runs and 62 RBI.

    The 21-year-old has moved another step up the ladder this year and is off to a hot start at Double-A Springfield with a .300/.367/.533 line that includes 10 home runs and 25 RBI in 37 games.

    “Gorman has all the ingredients teams covet in a young power hitter, possessing a high-end blend of physical strength and bat speed, with a left-handed swing that’s conducive to make fly-ball contact,” according to MLB.com.

    The biggest question is where he fits long-term with the St. Louis Cardinals.

    The blockbuster deal to acquire Nolan Arenado blocked Gorman at the hot corner through 2027 if the five-time All-Star does not exercise his opt-out after this or next season, and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is signed through the 2024 season.

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    Despite being the most under-the-radar name on this list, Rece Hinds may in fact have the most raw power of any prospect in the minors.

    The 20-year-old was a second round pick in the 2019 draft out of IMG Academy in Florida, and with a 6’4″, 215-pound frame, he offered more physical maturity than the average prep prospect.

    “He has massive, plus-plus raw power when he connects and posted exit velocities as high as 117 mph in instructs,” according to Baseball America.

    Like with many precocious sluggers, the big question is whether his hit tool will develop enough for him to consistently tap in to his tantalizing power, but there’s plenty of time for him to work his way up the organizational ladder.

    He hit three home runs in his first five games at Single-A Daytona, and he has a .777 OPS with 10 extra-base hits in 94 plate appearances this year.

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    Don’t be surprised if Marco Luciano is the No. 1 prospect in baseball before long.

    The San Francisco Giants signed him for $2.6 million as one of the prizes of the 2017-18 international prospect class, and he made his minors debut as a 17-year-old in 2019.

    Unfazed by older competition, he hit .302/.417/.564 with 13 doubles and 10 home runs in 47 games, earning a late promotion to Low-A Salem-Keizer.

    He will not turn 20 years old until September, and he is making his full-season debut at Single-A San Jose, hitting .271/.358/.536 with nine doubles, eight home runs and 25 RBI in 36 games.

    There is still room for Luciano to add considerable strength to his 6’2″, 178-pound frame, and he has shown the ability to consistently make loud contact.

    “Luciano’s bat speed and raw power rank among the best in the minors and stand out in particular for a middle infielder,” according to MLB.com, which called him “a potential superstar.”

    The Giants are building toward something special, and Luciano is at the center of their long-term plans.

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    Mike Carlson/Associated Press

    Few prospects had a more productive 2019 season than Mason Martin.

    In 131 games at Single-A and High-A, he posted a .908 OPS with 32 doubles, 35 home runs and 129 RBI, establishing himself as a player on the rise two years after he was selected in the 17th round of the draft.

    However, he also struck out 168 times at a 30.2 percent clip. Trimming that swing-and-miss rate is going to be the key for him to maximize his potential.

    “Martin has plus raw power and can drive the ball out to all fields, including towering home runs to his pull side. The downside to Martin’s power is it comes with plenty of strikeouts, raising questions about how much he’ll get to it against upper-level pitchers,” according to Baseball America.

    The 22-year-old has more boom-or-bust potential than most of the prospects on this list, but his production is tough to ignore.

    Shortstop Oneil Cruz, who is 6’7″, 210 pounds, is also worth keeping an eye on in the Pittsburgh Pirates system as he continues to unlock his power potential.

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks have spent more time scouting in the Bahamas than most organizations, and it has already paid dividends. They signed Jazz Chisholm Jr. in 2015 and used him to acquire Zac Gallen from the Miami Marlins, and then two years later they inked Kristian Robinson with a $2.5 million bonus.

    He has added nearly 25 pounds of muscle to his 6’3″, 190-pound frame since starting his pro career as a 17-year-old. It’s cliche, but the sky is the limit in terms of his power potential as he continues to climb the organizational ladder.

    “With Robinson’s special combination of size and athleticism, it should come as no surprise that the young outfielder also possesses multiple impact tools. None is louder than the massive right-handed raw power that could one day make Robinson one of the sport’s premier sluggers,” according to MLB.com.

    He hit .282/.368/.514 with 13 doubles, 14 home runs and 51 RBI in 69 games in his full-season debut at the age of 18, and while he lost valuable developmental time last year, he still appears to be on the fast track to the majors.

    Robinson has yet to play this season after being charged with aggravated assault for allegedly punching a law enforcement officer in Arizona in April 2020 while dealing with mental health issues, per Zach Buchanan of The Athletic. His case remains unresolved, though his lawyer is hopeful that he will reach an agreement with the county attorney to avoid a prison sentence.

    If those efforts are successful, a future outfield of Robinson, Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas should give D-backs fans reason for excitement.

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    Kyle Lewis won American League Rookie of the Year honors in 2020, and Jarred Kelenic began the 2021 season as one of the most hyped prospects in baseball.

    However, Julio Rodriguez has the most power upside in the Seattle Mariners organization.

    Signed for $1.8 million during the same 2017-18 international signing period that was headlined by Wander Franco, Ronny Mauricio and Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani, Rodriguez has a chance to be a cornerstone piece for a team on the rise.

    The 20-year-old hit .315/.404/.525 with 27 extra-base hits in 59 games in the Dominican Summer League in 2018 to rocket up prospect lists. Then he backed that up by posting a .326/.390/.540 line with 26 doubles and 12 home runs in 84 games at Single-A and High-A the following year.

    He suffered a fractured left wrist during summer camp last year, but he has returned with a vengeance this spring, posting a .325/.410/.581 line with six home runs in 134 plate appearances at High-A Everett.

    “With his natural hitting ability and comically easy plus-plus raw power, Rodriguez projects to be a plus hitter capable of hitting 30-35 home runs per year with power to all fields,” according to Baseball America.

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Adley Rutschman established himself as one of the best collegiate catching prospects of all time in his three years at Oregon State, hitting .411/.575/.751 with 17 home runs and 58 RBI in 57 games during his junior season.

    The Baltimore Orioles selected him first in the 2019 draft following that stellar performance, and he looks like the future face of the franchise and a generational talent.

    With a 60-grade hit tool and an advanced approach with the willingness to work a walk, not to mention his potential Gold Glove Award defense, his power can sometimes get lost in the shuffle as just another standout tool.

    After turning heads last summer at the alternate site, he could reach the majors in 2021.

    “He went through an adjustment period at the Bowie camp after the coronavirus shutdown period halted most of his work, but he quickly revealed the all-fields power and consistent hard contact that give him potential to be a plus-plus hitter with plus-plus power at his peak,” according to Baseball America. “He ended the summer as the best performer at the camp.”

    The 23-year-old is hitting .287/.421/.544 with 10 home runs in 171 plate appearances at Double-A Bowie.

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Breaking a home run record set by Barry Bonds is a sure-fire way to put yourself on the radar of MLB teams.

    Spencer Torkelson set the freshman home run record at Arizona State with 25 long balls in 2018, and he hit another 23 the following season to establish himself as one of the 2020 draft’s elite prospects.

    He hit .340/.598/.780 with six home runs and 31 walks in 17 games during his junior year before the season was halted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Detroit Tigers made him the No. 1 pick.

    “Torkelson’s power is enormous, but he’s far from an all-or-nothing slugger. A strong, physical right-handed hitter, Torkelson has plus bat speed and manages the strike zone with ease. His advanced barrel control and hand-eye coordination are complemented by exceptional timing. He hits all types of pitches, draws walks and makes balls disappear with his 80-grade power,” according to Baseball America.

    That’s the scouting report of an elite slugger.

    The Tigers assigned him to High-A West Michigan to start his pro career this year, and he hit .312/.440/.569 with 11 doubles, five home runs and 28 RBI in 31 games to earn a promotion to Double-A Erie.

    There is no reason to rush him to the majors, but he is probably already the best offensive player in the organization.

               

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through Thursday’s games.



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