2022 High-A Central Primer (Part 1)

Eury Perez. Jupiter Hammerheads vs. Lakeland Flying Tigers, Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. July 31, 2021. Photo credit Tom Hagerty/MiLB.com, lakelandlocal on Flickr

As the MLB owners’ lockout continues, I know it can feel like touching a bruise when thinking about the upcoming 2022 MLB season. However, as many know, the minor league season will continue unabated. So, what better way to shake off the lockout blues with a primer on some names to know for the 2022 High-A Central?

This is part 1 of a 2-part series that will go over the top expected players for all 12 High-A Central teams, as well as some other names to know. Here are some players I’m eager to watch in 2022.

Beloit Sky Carp (Miami Marlins)

Eury Perez, RHP, 18, #4 Miami Marlins 2022 Prospect
Perez already reached High-A Beloit in 2021 as an 18 year-old, pitching 22 innings to end the season. In fact, he was the fourth pitcher in the last 10 years to pitch at least 20 innings at High-A at 18 or younger, following Julio Urias, Sixto Sanchez, and Simeon Woods Richardson. The poise, stuff, and advanced performance for his age all give him #1 overall pitching prospect upside. While I think he’ll start the 2022 season in Beloit, there’s a good chance he’ll be in AA Jacksonville before we know it.

Other Names to Watch:

  • Dax Fulton, LHP, 19, #10: Young lefty generates lots of groundballs, but needs to show more strikeout upside for fantasy relevance.
  • Victor Mesa Jr., OF, 20, #14: Showed some marginally interesting skills in Low-A, but can’t afford to give up much plate discipline.
  • Nasim Nunez, SS, 18, #18: Extreme speed production relies on walks due to lack of power and high GB%.
  • Cody Morissette, 2B/3B, 22, #20: Pure hitter drafted out of college looked a little tired at Low-A, but plate discipline indicators are positive.

Cedar Rapids Kernels (Minnesota Twins)

Misael Urbina, OF, 19, #13 Minnesota Twins 2022 Prospect
Urbina was a top IFA signing in 2018, and while his 2021 Low-A stats left a lot a lot to be desired, there are some encouraging signs here. He slashed just .191/.299/.286 but showed advanced plate discipline and decent base stealing ability. It might seem aggressive to move him to High-A in 2022, but the fact that the Twins gave him 439 PA at Low-A in 2021 without sending him down to Rookie ball at any point tells me they have confidence in him.

Other Names to Watch:

  • Keoni Cavaco, SS, 20, #14: Needs to dial down free-swinging ways in order to show much of any offensive impact.
  • Steven Hajjar, LHP, 21, #25: Shows promise as a starter thanks to strike-throwing ability but could use more velocity to help secondaries play up.
  • Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 1B, 22, #30: 4th-round draftee demolished Low-A pitchers with pure-hitting ability and power, albeit in a small sample.

Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati Reds)

Elly De La Cruz, IF, 19, #5 Cincinnati Reds 2022 Prospect
De La Cruz is a big helium name for dynasty baseball, generating tons of excitement due to his athleticism and loud power and speed tools. He hit his way to Low-A in 2021, but his strikeouts and contact issues came into focus. How much contact he can make at High-A and in the future will be the deciding factor in how far this hype train can go.

Other Names to Watch:

  • Tyler Callihan, 2B/3B, 21, #8: Built on reputation as a pure-hitter at Low-A but was sidelined for most of the season due to an elbow injury.
  • Rece Hinds, 3B, 21, #10: Power hitter played well at Low-A, but strikeouts remain an issue.
  • Austin Hendrick, OF, 20, #11: Struggled to get to considerable power in Low-A due to debilitating strikeouts.
  • Jose Torres, SS, 22, #12: Defensive wiz who displayed offensive improvement in college and Low-A in 2021.
  • Andrew Abbott, LHP, 22, #14: 2021 2nd rounder succeeded as a starter in college, though he might end up a reliever.

Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres)

Robert Hassell III, OF, 20, #2 San Diego Padres 2022 Prospect
Hassell played well at High-A to close out the 2021 season, which included a power outburst despite an unlucky BABIP. Some of the homers might be explained by a dramatic change to his batted ball profile (more FBs and higher HR/FB%), so there could be some pullback. This in addition to his increase in strikeouts makes me think the Padres will give him another chance to master High-A, but his pure hitting ability gives me the confidence he’ll reach Double-A as a 20-year-old in 2022.

Other Names to Watch:

  • Joshua Mears, OF, 20, #7: Staggering power equaled only by staggering K%; 40% is a tough mountain to climb.
  • Robert Gasser, LHP, 22, #8: Lefty with pitchability has seen velocity tick up recently. Could take a big step at High-A.
  • Euribiel Angeles, SS, 19, #11: Speedster lacks power but could grow into more given advanced contact and late discipline skills.
  • Brandon Valenzuela, C, 20, #22: Showed great on-base ability at Low-A and in a small sample at High-A, could be a big riser if power emerges.

Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Diego Cartaya, C, 20, #1 Los Angeles Dodgers 2022 Prospect
One of the biggest names of the 2018 IFA class, Cartaya made his full-season debut in 2021 and showed exciting offensive skills. He has potential plus power and hitting tools, though the high strikeout rate at Low-A was concerning. He figures to begin the 2022 season at High-A, where I believe he’ll improve his plate discipline, health permitting.

Other Names to Watch:

  • Jose Ramos, OF, 21, #21: Has some of the biggest raw power in the organization but needs to improve plate discipline for continued success.
  • Alex De Jesus, SS, 19, #27: Has shown good on-base ability and power so far, but strikeouts will decide how far he can go.
  • Nick Nastrini, RHP, 22, #38: Ranks among the best in the system in pure stuff though the Dodgers have a lot of work to do in order to reign in his command.

Lake County Captains (Cleveland Guardians)

Gavin Williams, RHP, 22, #8 Cleveland Guardians 2022 Prospect
Williams, the Guardians’ 1st pick in the 2021 draft, has the stuff and size to profile as a classic power pitcher. He also improved his control in college, improving his outlook as a starter considerably. He’s landed in about as good as an organization for pitching development as you could hope for, further boosting his upside. He’ll likely start the 2022 season in High-A, where he could move quickly to the upper levels.

Other Names to Watch:

  • Angel Martinez, SS, 20, #10: High-IQ player struggled to get to raw power in-game but showed promising plate discipline for his age in Low-A.
  • Petey Halpin, OF, 19, #25: Speedy contact hitter manages the strike zone well but needs to improve his base-stealing skills.
  • Doug Nikhazy, LHP, 22, #27: Polished college pitcher who could raise his profile with some increased velocity.
  • Jorge Burgos, OF, 20, #38: Sleeper showed intriguing hitting ability and on-base skills as a 19-year-old in Low-A.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Doug Otto is the High-A Central league correspondent and Arizona Diamondbacks correspondent for Prospects1500. He is an avid follower and consumer of prospect news, rankings, and data. He also has experience playing fantasy baseball, mostly in deep dynasty formats. When Doug isn’t researching prospects, he’s either watching movies or baking dessert. He can be found on Twitter at

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