Last season was tough to navigate for fantasy managers. But for those who diligently scouted late-round flyers, 2022 was actually pretty fun. Here are 10 hitters to consider after Pick 300 for your 2023 drafts (based on current rankings from FantasyPros):
O’Hoppe, formerly the Phillies’ top-hitting prospect, was traded by Philadelphia at the 2022 trade deadline for Angels outfielder Brandon Marsh. In his major league debut as a September call-up, O’Hoppe went 4-for-14 with two RBI, three strikeouts, and two walks. While it was just a five-game sample, the 23-year-old had a solid .276 average in the minors and faces little competition for a starting role. Starting catcher Max Stassi had the worst season of his career in 2022 (.180 batting average), and if O’Hoppe shows offensive prowess, he may run away with the starting role in an offense headlined by Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.
2. Matt Carpenter (San Diego)
One of the most fun storylines of 2022 was the revival of Carpenter. Signed in late May by the Yankees, Carpenter hit .305 with 15 home runs in just 47 games before a fractured foot prematurely ended his season. Now in his age-37 season, the Padres are hoping he can provide a similar offensive output. San Diego signed him to a one-year, $12 million deal with a player option for 2024 to play a utility role. If Carpenter carves out an everyday role for one of the best offenses in the league, he could turn a significant profit for his fantasy managers.
3. Garrett Mitchell (Milwaukee)
A 2020 first-round pick out of UCLA, Mitchell earned a promotion at the end of 2022 and showed off his tools. In 28 games, he hit .312 with two home runs and played good defense in center field. His speed is his best asset, as he stole eight bases without being caught. He would have split reps with Tyrone Taylor in center field, but with Taylor out at least the first month with a sprained elbow, Mitchell will have an opportunity to run with a full-time gig.
4. Esteury Ruiz (Oakland)
Ruiz, acquired in December from the Brewers in the three-team Sean Murphy (Atlanta) deal, has blazing speed. In 2022, he swiped 86 bags on 101 attempts across the minors and the majors. He will surely benefit from the rule changes that will make it easier for runners to steal bases. However, he must get on base at a decent clip if he wants to take advantage. While he struggled mightily in his brief major-league debut (.171 average), the sample size (36 plate appearances) was far too small to make a confident judgment on his career. If he nabs the majority of starts in center field, his speed combined with good enough power (16 home runs in 2022) could make him a valuable commodity this season.
5. Nolan Jones (Colorado)
The Guardians traded Jones during the offseason for Rockies infield prospect Juan Brito. Despite considerable raw power, Jones’ free-swinging philosophy simply did not jive with the Guardians’ contact-oriented approach. Jones now finds himself in the most friendly of confines: Coors Field. With Ryan McMahon likely to shift over to second base following Brendan Rodgers’ potentially season-ending shoulder injury, Jones will compete with Eleuhuris Montero for the starting role at the hot corner, and if he outproduces Montero, he could be in for a big season in Colorado.
6. Marcell Ozuna (Atlanta)
Since entering the MLB in 2013, Ozuna has been an above-average hitter. But recently, his contact skills have gone by the wayside. After hitting .338 and playing all 60 games in the COVID-19-truncated season, he hit .213 and .226 in 2021 and 2022, respectively. His power did remain, as he hit 30 home runs over 172 games despite off-the-field issues keeping him off the field for a chunk of the last two seasons. With another two years and $32 million on his contract, the Braves have stated their commitment to keeping him on the roster. Despite being an afterthought in 2023 fantasy drafts, Ozuna could please fantasy managers if he raises his average and maintains his prodigious power.
7. Mike Yastrzemski (San Francisco)
Carl’s grandson came out of obscurity as a 28-year-old rookie to hit 21 homers in 2019 for the Giants. In the following pandemic season, he slashed .297/.400/.568 en route to a top-eight finish in NL MVP voting. Over the last two seasons, Yastrzemski’s average has fallen precipitously, bottoming out at .214 last year, but his power has remained. Yastrzemski has not hit less than 17 home runs in any full season and 2022 was the first season his OPS+ fell below 100 (96, where 100 is average). Yastrzemski remains an integral part of the Giants’ everyday lineup and until the Giants move on from him, he will have an opportunity to improve upon his last two seasons.
Formerly the top prospect in baseball, Álvarez went 2-for-14 with one homer in a short five-game audition at the end of 2022. After undergoing ankle surgery in October, Álvarez is working his way back to catching duties and will likely begin the season back at Triple-A Syracuse. The Mets will rely on veterans Omar Narváez and Tomás Nido to catch until he is ready. If Álvarez can make it back to the majors early in the season, the Mets will hope he can show more prowess offensively as compared to his veteran counterparts. A career .274 hitter with 58 home runs in 253 minor-league games, perhaps the Mets will give Álvarez starts at designated hitter as well as a catcher to keep him fresh.
9. Kiké Hernández (Boston)
A solid utilityman since his major-league debut in 2014, Hernández provides the Red Sox with valuable depth up the middle and in the outfield. With Trevor Story out at least the first few months, while nursing an elbow injury, Hernández will likely be relied upon heavily at shortstop. However, Hernández must improve upon his 2022 numbers to become a useful fantasy asset again, as his six home runs and .222 batting average did not cut it for fantasy managers last year. If he can put up numbers closer to his 2021 stats (.250 batting average and 20 home runs), with his eligibility at three positions, Hernández will be important for fantasy managers.
10. Joey Gallo (Minnesota)
Gallo is the poster child for the three true outcomes hitting philosophy. His game is predicated on striking out a lot, walking a lot, and hitting dingers. As such, he has two 40-homer seasons as well as two 200-strikeout seasons to his name. Gallo signed a one-year, $11 million prove-it deal with the Twins and will be their right fielder on Opening Day. As a primary beneficiary of the new rules banning the shift, he will try to raise his career batting average (.199) back over the Mendoza line and hit enough home runs to outdo his draft position.