MLB Prospect Watch: 2022 minor-league awards, including the Orioles as the best team and Corbin Carroll as the best hitter

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orioles getty 1 MLB Prospect Watch: 2022 minor-league awards, including the Orioles as the best team and Corbin Carroll as the best hitter

Believe it or not, we’ve reached the final MLB Prospect Watch of the year. By this time next week, every position in the minors will have completed the regular season. As is tradition, we reserve this space for our year-end awards.

Below, we’ve highlighted players and teams in six different categories of our creation. It goes without saying that there are more people who deserve recognition than this design allows to highlight. The minor leagues are a big fixture, after all. If your favorite opportunity is not mentioned, keep it in mind.

Now, onto the Casebakery.

Carroll has had an eventful career for someone with over 160 professional appearances since being selected 16th overall in the 2019 draft. He missed most of last season with a shoulder injury, and was robbed of a normal growth cycle the previous year by the COVID-19 pandemic. Carroll hasn’t looked too bad for anything this season, as he’s been called up to the majors, slashing .307/.425/.611 with 24 home runs and 31 stolen bases in 93 games across three positions. (Most of those came in Double or Triple-A.) Don’t let Carroll’s small (5-foot-10) frame fool you: He’s a well-rounded player. He is a strong candidate no. 1 prospect slot in the minors before his recent promotion to the majors, and the combination of his output, his stardom and his background make him our pick here.

Pitcher of the Year: Kyle Harrison, LHP, San Francisco Giants

Things didn’t go the Giants’ way at the big league level, as they failed to repeat in the NL West, but at least they hired Harrison. He made 25 starts between High- and Double-A, amassing a 2.71 ERA and striking out an astounding 14.8 batters per nine. Harrison has a solid three-pitch combination, including a fastball that can touch the upper-90s. His pitch quality is aided by a lower arm slot, which creates a flat plane and creates an optical illusion that hitters can’t solve. One thing holding Harrison back is his location. He’s walked four batters for nine this season — an improvement after he walked nearly five last year.

There are several ways to define this category. We like to keep it simple: The purpose of a minor-league organization is to improve the big-league roster. By means of promotions; It can mean by trade; or a combination thereof. With that in mind, we give the nod to the Orioles. They graduated Adele Rutchman and Gunnar Henderson this season, both of whom were in the running for the top spot. 1 spot for all minors during promotions to the majors. (If not for his injury, righty Grayson Rodriguez would have been in the mix as well.) Rival scouts have also praised the progress of Colton Gouser and Colby Mayo. Addition factor to the number. 1 pick was Jackson Holiday, and the O’s minor-league system had a great year, no matter how you slice it.

We weren’t fans of what the Reds did last season when they poured salary into rebuilding Wade Miley and Tucker Barnhardt. However, their work this summer was too much for our liking. During the month of July, the Reds acquired infielders Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand (among others) in a trade. They also grabbed Cam Collier, a darkhorse candidate going into the draft in the middle of the first round. This is what the “skill accumulation” phase of a full tear should look like.

Biggest riser: Jackson Sorio, CF, Milwaukee Brewers

Who else could it really be? Saurio, who won’t celebrate his 19th birthday until next March, has guaranteed a top spot this winter by batting .288/.342/.538 with 20 home runs and 16 steals (in 20 tries). 99 games divided into Class-A, High-A and Double-A. He did most of his damage in the Carolina League, where he led the Brewers’ A-ball affiliate in OPS despite being nearly three years younger than his average competitor — with that kind of age gap, he’ll do well. Simply to hold his own. While displaying impressive physical tools, Saurio flourished, indicating he was on his way to stardom.

Martin loved his college days at Vanderbilt. In fact, we rated him as the top prospect in the 2020 draft based on the strength of his bat-to-ball skills, his approach and his defensive versatility. It didn’t hurt that scouts who spoke to CBS Sports believed he had more juice in his bat based on his exit velocity measurements.

Unfortunately, Martin has yet to prove them (or us) right. In 90 Double-A games this season, he hit .241/.367/.316 with two home runs and just 18 total extra-base hits. His career home-run total is seven in 185 professional games. It’s possible for low-wattage hitters to win in the majors, but it’s not easy. Martin’s .075 ISO would be the fifth lowest among qualified hitters. If it is fully translated.

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