BATTERS: Young building blocks 2016

Let's continue our very early look at the most skilled young players in MLB.

Here are the most skilled bats age 27 or under:

50+ BPV, Age 27 or Under*

Name                League  Position  Age  bb%  ct%  Eye   PX   HctX  xPX  Spd  BPV
==================  ======  ========  ===  ===  ===  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===
Rizzo, Anthony          NL        1B   26  17%  84%  1.22  199   130  141   91  157
Arenado, Nolan          NL        3B   25  10%  88%  1.00  182   177  207  118  157
Altuve, Jose            AL        2B   26  12%  87%  1.00  194   132  138   91  156
Diaz, Aledmys           NL        SS   25   6%  91%  0.67  166   169  133  149  154
Machado, Manny          AL        3B   23   8%  84%  0.50  208   135  122   98  148
Harper, Bryce           NL        RF   23  23%  74%  1.20  224   120  173   71  147
Moustakas, Mike         AL        3B   27   8%  90%  0.80  146   149  147   76  116
Story, Trevor           NL        3B   23   9%  63%  0.28  240   124  208  143  109
Stanton, Giancarlo      NL        RF   26  15%  66%  0.53  227    99  170   97  107
Polanco, Gregory        NL        RF   24  15%  81%  0.95  136   127  116   96   95
Gennett, Scooter        NL        2B   26  14%  76%  0.67  163   127  148  103   94
Drury, Brandon          NL        3B   23   2%  79%  0.10  181   134  133   83   92
Dietrich, Derek         NL  LF/3B/2B   26   8%  78%  0.38  163   128  178  101   89
Panik, Joe              NL        2B   25   9%  87%  0.79   94   103   98  146   87
Lamb, Jacob             NL        3B   25  12%  78%  0.59  145   130  157  105   84
Pederson, Joc           NL        CF   24  14%  60%  0.41  225    96  148  114   84
Conforto, Michael       NL        LF   23  10%  73%  0.43  184   159  197   75   84
Yelich, Christian       NL        CF   24  15%  81%  0.95  122   114   93   93   83
Duvall, Adam            NL        LF   27   5%  65%  0.16  222   118  177   99   81
Hosmer, Eric            AL        1B   26   7%  82%  0.45  118   128   93  117   76
Kiermaier, Kevin        AL        CF   26   9%  83%  0.57  122   115  130   74   73
Piscotty, Stephen       NL        LF   25   8%  77%  0.38  138   116  141  123   72
Ramirez, Jose           AL SS/2B/3B/LF 23   5%  90%  0.57   84    86   55  103   71
Segura, Jean            NL     SS/2B   26   3%  87%  0.24   93    84   69  133   70
Trout, Mike             AL        CF   24  13%  72%  0.53  162   124  141   81   70
Castro, Starlin         AL     SS/2B   26   5%  86%  0.40   99   117   96  110   69
Bryant, Kris            NL     3B/LF   24  11%  75%  0.48  141   131  157  107   69
Odor, Rougned           AL        2B   22   4%  82%  0.23  132   105  105   79   69
Dickerson, Corey        AL     LF/DH   27   9%  69%  0.33  180   101  150   82   65
Suarez, Eugenio         NL     SS/3B   24   8%  82%  0.48  101   104   91  130   64
Correa, Carlos          AL        SS   21  15%  73%  0.67  134   113   90   98   62
Pillar, Kevin           AL        CF   27   2%  85%  0.16  104    99   64  110   61
Semien, Marcus          AL        SS   25  12%  73%  0.48  143    91  145   99   61
Duffy, Matt             NL        3B   25   7%  87%  0.53   74    93   83  134   61
Bradley, Jackie         AL        RF   26   6%  73%  0.25  149   125  100  115   60
LeMahieu, DJ            NL        2B   27   8%  86%  0.60   80   148   95  110   58
Andrus, Elvis           AL        SS   27   5%  88%  0.38   69    98   59  134   57
Castellanos, Nick       AL        3B   24   5%  74%  0.19  143   125  186  117   57
Marte, Starling         NL        LF   27   3%  77%  0.14  133   112  149  113   56
Perez, Salvador         AL         C   26   5%  76%  0.21  149   105  108   73   56
Bogaerts, Xander        AL        SS   23   8%  82%  0.50  100    99   63   98   56
Betts, Mookie           AL        CF   23   6%  82%  0.36   87   102   87  151   56
Eaton, Adam             AL        CF   27  10%  88%  0.93   51   111   67  134   54
Seager, Corey           NL        SS   22  10%  82%  0.62   93   124  118  101   54
Tomas, Yasmany          NL     RF/3B   25   8%  75%  0.36  143   135  140   61   53
Ozuna, Marcell          NL        CF   25   7%  75%  0.29  120   109  135  139   53
Grandal, Yasmani        NL         C   27  17%  76%  0.85  112   140   88   71   52
White, Tyler            AL        1B   25   8%  73%  0.31  155   114  151   58   52
Burns, Billy            AL        CF   26   4%  92%  0.44   35    55    4  156   51
Hamilton, Billy         NL        CF   25   7%  79%  0.38  100    71   61  124   51
Mazara, Nomar           AL        RF   21   8%  81%  0.50   88    87   96  121   51
Springer, George        AL        CF   26   9%  72%  0.37  128   105  114  130   50
Schoop, Jonathan        AL        2B   24   4%  79%  0.18  124   108  107   86   50
*min 50 AB

Let's take a closer look at several highly-skilled unheralded young bats in each league who should be considered premiums holds or trade targets.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Nick Castellanos (3B, DET) owns the highest expected power (186 xPX) of any young bat in the AL. Some will rightfully call that a fluke, since he still struggles with pitch recognition (5% bb%, 74% ct%, 0.19 Eye). But he's hitting more line drives and flyballs than ever (23/33/45 G/L/F), and his hard contact rate has surged too (125 HctX). Given that Castellanos was rushed to MLB and is still just 24, we can't dismiss his growth. He makes for a strong post-hype investment.

Adam Eaton (CF, CHW) doesn't fit the profile of a young bat, but at age 27, he still has some room for growth. He has quietly made some nice strides early in 2016, even if his just-okay .765 OPS might not reflect it. He's making the most contact of his career (88% ct%) while also generating more hard contact (111 HctX) than during any other season. His groundball stroke (59/20/22 G/L/F) limits his power upside, but with five straight 130+ Spd seasons, you aren't buying him for his pop anyway. There's 30-SB upside here.

Brad Miller (SS/CF, TAM) quietly owns the fifth-highest expected power level of any young bat in MLB. His 182 xPX only trails guys like Arenado and Conforto. His early near-.200 BA is primarily the result of a low 25% h%; he's still hitting the ball with plenty of hard contact (126 HctX). Don't give up on him.

Jose Ramirez (SS/2B/3B/LF, CLE) qualifies all over the infield and outfield, and also offers more with the bat than many people recognize (.310 BA, .783 OPS). While he's more of a slap hitter than a power source (55 xPX), his excellent contact ability (90% ct%) and history of upper-tier speed skills make him a multi-category contributor with a lot of value in your middle infield.

Marcus Semien (SS, OAK) isn't getting a lot of attention in shallow formats given his poor .210 BA and so-so .758 OPS. That said, Semien owns the third-highest xPX (145) among young SS, and he also knows how to draw a walk (12% bb%). His batting eye is now on a three-year upward trajectory. Blame a tiny 21% h% for his poor early BA. Given his 31% h% each of the last two seasons, it's a mark that should regress and bring his BA with it. At age 25, Semien remains an excellent investment.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Michael Conforto (LF, NYM) is one of the most valuable hitting investments in keeper leagues. He has followed up his excellent MLB debut in 2015 with a similar showing so far in 2016: .291 BA, .917 OPS, 10% bb%, 73% ct%, 0.43 Eye. And he's showing immediate 30-HR potential, as he has shifted from a neutral GB/FB tilt to one that is producing a lot of loft (33/20/47 G/L/F). It's a move that has helped him produce an elite 197 xPX.

Scooter Gennett (2B, MIL) has been sidelined by an oblique injury for a couple of weeks. Before he got hurt, Gennett was flashing a better hit tool than we had seen from him in the past: .877 OPS in 62 AB. He was also drawing more walks than ever (14% bb%) and making hard contact at a career-best rate (127 HctX). With good health and more of a green light, he's someone who could develop into a 15 HR/10 SB producer over 500 AB.

Yasmani Grandal (C, LA) is a high-upside bat who has battled injuries throughout his professional career. In fact, he already has made one trip to the DL so far in 2016. When healthy, Grandal offers some of the best pitch recognition you'll find in a catcher, and he also carries some sneaky power potential. Behind his poor 1 HR in 55 AB lies an elite 140 HctX; a steep groundball tilt (60/16/23 G/L/F) continues to keep it at bay. Still, a pre-peak bat with his hitting upside at a scarce position is one worth stashing, even if he only stays healthy enough to produce the 15-HR seasons we've seen from him the last two years.

Derek Dietrich (LF/3B/2B, MIA) quietly has gotten off to a big early-season start with MIA (.310 BA, .972 OPS in 58 AB). He has produced that power while also posting the lowest strikeout rate of his career (78% ct%). Dietrich also has developed into a must-start against RH arms (1.025 OPS in 51 AB). At age 26 and with dual IF/OF eligibility, Dietrich is an intriguing growth stock.

Enrique Hernandez (2B/LF, LA) only has generated a .226 BA, 2 HR, and 8 RBI after 62 AB, so he won't be viewed as a prime trade target in most leagues. But underneath those stats are some impressive peripherals: 13% bb%, 79% ct%, 0.69 Eye. As well as a ton of hard contact (134 HctX) and elite expected power (162 xPX). At age 24, there's still some nice untapped offensive upside here.

Marcell Ozuna (CF, MIA) has been heating up recently after a slow start to the season. He's now approaching a .270 BA and .800 OPS. He also owns one of the better power/speed combos among young MLB bats (135 xPX, 139 Spd). He's on his way to producing numbers much more close to his 2014 breakout than his 2015 flop.

Christian Yelich (CF, MIA) has shown some significant pitch recognition growth so far in 2016 (15% bb%, 81% ct%, 0.95 Eye). He's also hitting the ball hard (114 HctX). With a consistent 60%+ GB%, we can't expect him to tap into his raw power yet. But his improved on-base ability has made him someone who can generate SB in bunches, and he hits enough line drives to stabilize as a legit .300 BA producer.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.