Small sample sizes often mislead us when trying to evaluate statistics and data. Although it’s often meaningless in the big picture of anything you’re looking to evaluate, checking early returns can be both useful and fun. In this way, looking at the production and data of recent MLB drafts is downright useful and fun exercise.
Today we look at 10 recruits in 2022 who posted exciting exit velocity data during their professional debuts. The roster ranges from top-ranked first-round talent to mid-round sleepovers and late-round finds. All of these guys had 90 exit speeds of over 104.5 mph. While this is a limited, one-dimensional look at these players, it does illustrate their raw power and influence potential.
Termar Johnson, SS, pirate: The fourth overall pick in this year’s draft was one of the most popular high school hitters in recent memory. While his professional start wasn’t quite as high from a production standpoint, he showed some of the best raw power in the class. Johnson’s 90th centenary exit speed exceeded 105 mph on his professional truncated start. It was a positive sign of things to come and further confirmation that his exploits in beating his power as an amateur were not a mirage. Johnson is still only 18 years old and likely several years away from making an impact in the major tournaments, but this was another example of the tremendous strength he possesses in his diminutive frame.
Spencer Jones, Yankees: Jones made this list hardly a surprise to those who follow the draft. The 6-foot-7 defender has some of the best raw power in the 2022 draft class. With the 25th pick in the draft, Jones’ 90th centenary exit speed was well above 105 mph. His ability to power has continued to thrive over the past year as he crushed .644 this spring for Vanderbilt before hitting .344/.425/.538 during his first 25 games as a pro. Despite concerns about Jones swinging and losing, he demonstrated the ability to make contact at an above-average rate during his professional debut, hinting at continued improvements from Jones as a contact hitter.
Dalton Rushing, C, Dodgers: No player from the 2022 class has entered the professional ranks as loudly as Rushing. As the 40th pick in the draft from Louisville, Rushing was impressed with both the outstanding production and the great base data. His 90th centenary exit speed was just a shade under 105mph, illustrating the quality of his high-end connectivity. Few hit the level that Rushing did after the draft, reaching 0.424/.539/.778 with eight home runs in 28 games with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga. Rushing looks like a potential star in the making and another solid pick by the Dodgers based on early returns.
Jacob Melton, Astros: Chosen with the 64th pick in the draft, Melton offers an offensive package that relies heavily on strength and base reach. While he displayed a patient style during his professional debut, his ability to access strength was the most shining. Milton took 10 additional base strokes during his first 23 professional games, and produced a 90th exit velocity north of 105 mph. Milton hit .261/.353/.466 across 23 games, primarily with Low-A Fayetteville. With a solid blend of strength and board discipline to go along with simple communication skills, Milton is no different from the players who have successfully developed the Astros in the past.
Brooke Jones, OF, Rhys: The Rays have always shown a flair for athletic power-hitters, so it was no surprise when they landed Jones with the 65th pick in the draft this summer. A member of the Charleston RiverDogs, the Champion Carolina River Dogs, Jones was a catalyst after the 2022 draft. Jones started 13 games for the RiverDogs, scoring .286/.419/.653 with nine additional base strokes, and started all four playoff games. Jones struggled early in the spring with Stanford University but turned it on late. That momentum appears to have carried over to his brief career start. Besides producing his box points, Jones displayed interesting exit speed data, with the 90th percentile exit speed being just under 105 mph. He’s an athlete on the field with three real offensive results.
Nathan Martorella, 1b, Padres: Martorella was a good hitter, running more than he hit during the California junior season and beating 553 in 55 games this spring. Martorella divided his time between the pool and Low-A Lake Elsinore. Martorella hit .322/.421/.511 in his professional debut with 11 extra hits to the base over the course of 28 games. Martorella’s base data shows a good balance of painting skills, with communication and discipline. However, it’s his exit speed data that really stands out, as his 90th exit speed came close to 106 mph. Although the sample size is small, it represents an early positive return for the 150 pick in the July draft.
Hogan Windish, 2B, Mariners: Windish was a solid performer for Wareham in the Cape Cod League this summer before making over 30 appearances with Low-A Modesto — he’s notched .336/.438/.496 over 144 games with the nuts. Selected with the 216th pick in the draft, Windish marries a solid approach with mean connection and above-average raw power. His 90th exit velocity data was close to 105 mph. That raw power translated into additional base hits, as Windish hit 11 doubles, triples and a pair of home runs on his pro debut. A bat-first profile with defensive limitations, Windish shows early signs of a strong blend of painting skills and tough communication that translates to production at lower levels of minors.
Q&A with Dodgers Prospect Dalton Rushing: His Hot Start, First Pick Success and More
Rushing sat down with Baseball America earlier this month to discuss his early success, his relationship with Will Smith, and what it was like after he made it to the #1 overall pick in the draft.
Peyton Williams, 1b, Blue Jays: On the opening day of this summer’s Cape Cod League game, Williams knocked out Carson Weisenhant in one of the summer’s most scouting games. Captured by the Blue Jays with pick number 218 in the draft, the big-bodied first baseman (6ft 5255lbs) has country power in his imposing frame. While Williams is able to hit the tape measure at home, it’s his balance of communication and approach that drives his profile. He walked as far as hit during his spring campaign with Iowa and scored 0.383 on a percentage basis with Low-A Dunedin on his professional start. While his overall streak during his pro debut wasn’t impressive, Williams’ strength showed up in his exit speed data with only a 90 percent exit speed remaining below 105 mph. He’s a talented hitter with extra playing power with only a basic defensive profile.
Griffin Doerching, 1b, Padres: For those who follow college baseball, Doersching’s inclusion on this list is no surprise. One of the best transfers in the country, Doersching moved to Oklahoma State after playing four seasons with Northern Kentucky. Having hit .296/.407/.673 during his last collegiate season, the Padres selected the muscle-bound hitter with the 240th pick in this summer’s draft. Doersching spent 25 games with Low-A Lake Elsinore coming in at just 0.227 but connected for eight home runs and producing 284 isolated cooldowns. His exit speed data was something to watch, averaging the top 10 percent of balls hit in the 107 mph neighborhood. Doersching, which is a three-player definition of a true score, shows a discerning eye on the board, doubling power and below-average skills at bat.
Zach DiZeno, SS, Astros: Dezenzo, the lowest drafted player in this article, was selected in the 12th round with the 373rd overall selection. After four years working at Ohio State, Dezenzo started 115 games in short order for the Buckeyes, scoring .281/.362 / .538 with 38 home runs, set in Low-A Fayetteville for his professional start. While his .255/.342/.402 streak over 27 games didn’t stand out, his base exit velocity data was excellent. In fact, Dezenzo produced the highest exit velocity of the 90th percentile of any 2022 recruit. It appears to be a possible belated discovery by the Astros front desk.