BATTERS: Young targets, 2020

Identifying the most skilled young bats in the game can help you roster future cornerstone bats before they blossom.

Here were the most skilled hitters in the game age 26 or under during the 2019 season, with Statcast metrics (EV = Exit Velocity, LA = Launch Angle) shown for reference:

50+ BPV, Age 26 or Under*

Name          Age  Lg  Position  bb%  ct%  Eye   xPX   Spd  EV    LA    BPV
============  ===  ==  ========  ===  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ====  ===
Bregman, A     25  AL     3B/SS  17%  85%  1.43   135  101  89.2  19.6  117
Bellinger, C   23  NL     RF/1B  14%  81%  0.88   165  119  89.5  17.6  113
Hilliard, S    25  NL        CF  10%  70%  0.39   167  123  89.8   8.4   99
Marte, K       25  NL     2B/CF   8%  85%  0.62   107  137  89.2  11.5   97
Betts, M       26  NL        RF  14%  83%  0.96   134  132  88.3  19.1   92
Hays, A        23  AL        CF   9%  81%  0.54   107  115  89.1  11.5   89
Alvarez, Y     22  AL        DH  14%  70%  0.55   155   72  88.7  13.4   89
Soto, J        20  NL        LF  16%  76%  0.82   139  117  88.9  12.0   83
Murphy, S      24  AL         C  10%  70%  0.38    99   86  88.9   7.3   79
Ford, M        26  AL        1B  10%  80%  0.61   135   68  88.7  15.6   78  
Bell, J        26  NL        1B  12%  78%  0.63   135   70  88.6  13.0   78
Gallo, J       25  AL        CF  18%  53%  0.46   199   96  87.8  20.3   77
Ramirez, J     26  AL        3B  10%  85%  0.70   114   93  89.6  19.8   75
Bogaerts, X    26  AL        SS  11%  80%  0.62   116   88  89.3  13.1   75
Lindor, F      25  AL        SS   7%  84%  0.47   104  105  89.4  11.9   74
Wade, L        25  AL        CF  16%  84%  1.22    96  127  89.8  11.6   73
Kepler, M      26  AL        RF  10%  81%  0.61   113   70  89.1  18.2   72
Luplow, J      25  AL        RF  13%  73%  0.54   110  103  88.6  15.7   71
Buxton, B      25  AL        CF   6%  75%  0.28    92  120  88.6  19.5   69
Correa, C      24  AL        SS  11%  73%  0.47   132   99  88.4  12.4   69
Calhoun, W     24  AL        LF   7%  83%  0.43   104   91  88.9  17.6   69
Albies, O      22  NL        2B   8%  82%  0.48   114  132  88.2  15.6   69
Happ, I        24  NL        LF  10%  72%  0.38   102  107  88.5  15.5   68
Alonso, P      24  NL        1B  10%  69%  0.39   153   90  88.6  14.8   68
Devers, R      22  AL        3B   7%  82%  0.40    93   84  88.0  10.3   68
Bichette, B    21  AL        SS   7%  74%  0.28    97  117  87.6  10.3   67
Beaty, M       26  AL     1B/LF   6%  87%  0.52    93   87  90.0  10.2   65
Turner, T      26  NL        SS   8%  78%  0.38    87  157  88.8   9.7   64
McGuire, R     24  AL         C   7%  81%  0.39    85   96  88.8  13.8   64
Smith, W       24  NL         C   9%  69%  0.35   168   85  90.0  23.7   64
Meadows, A     24  AL     RF/DH   9%  75%  0.41   139  109  88.4  16.7   64
Arraez, L      22  AL     2B/LF  10%  91%  1.24    73  111  89.4  11.4   63
Tatis Jr, F    20  NL        SS   8%  67%  0.27   126  190  89.6   6.9   63
Chapman, M     26  AL        3B  11%  75%  0.50   107   98  88.2  16.3   62
Winker, J      25  NL        LF  10%  82%  0.63    88  102  88.4   7.4   61
Polanco, J     25  AL        SS   9%  82%  0.52   132  125  89.1  17.9   61
Story, T       26  NL        SS   9%  70%  0.33   132  138  88.4  17.3   60
Newman, K      25  NL     SS/2B   5%  87%  0.45    50  153  88.3   8.1   59
Sano, M        26  AL        3B  13%  58%  0.35   175   93  89.0  15.9   58
Seager, C      25  NL        SS   8%  80%  0.45   130   86  89.2  14.1   58
Aquino, A      25  NL        RF   7%  71%  0.27   110   82  88.6  18.2   57
Gurriel, L     25  AL        LF   6%  73%  0.23   145  124  88.1  14.1   57
Verdugo, A     23  AL        CF   7%  86%  0.53    91   85  88.4   8.8   56
Edman, T       24  NL     3B/2B   5%  81%  0.26   108  144  88.9  14.1   55
Tucker, K      22  AL        RF   6%  70%  0.20   176  101  87.3  16.3   54
Torres, G      22  AL     SS/2B   8%  76%  0.37   116   89  87.7  17.4   54
Profar, J      26  NL        2B   9%  84%  0.64    98   79  88.6  14.2   53
Hoskins, R     26  NL        1B  17%  70%  0.67   143  114  90.1  24.0   53
Fletcher, D    25  AL 3/2/SS/LF   8%  89%  0.86    56  122  88.0   9.8   52
Lewis, K       23  AL        RF   4%  59%  0.10   144  107  87.5  10.4   52
Schwarber, K   26  NL        LF  11%  71%  0.45   140   71  90.1  15.0   51
Kelly, C       24  NL         C  13%  75%  0.61   168   75  88.9  14.3   51
Solak, N       24  AL        3B  11%  75%  0.52    64  135  89.0   6.3   50
*min 50 AB

Let's take a closer look at a bunch of highly-skilled young performers that might be flying under the radar in your league.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Luis Arraez (2B/LF, MIN) showed an interesting blend of top-tier plate skills (10% bb%, 91% ct%, 1.24 Eye) and decent speed (111 Spd) in 2019. Furthermore, his average exit velocity of 89.4 mph suggests he can produce line-drives at a rate that should make him a strong investment for owners in need of BA. And his ability to get on base gives him 20 SB potential.

Willie Calhoun (LF, TEX) is a post-hype bat that displayed some renewed signs of optimism in 2019. Behind the 23 HR he hit in 309 AB were an 88.9 mph exit velocity and 17.6 degree launch angle, which tells us he has the approach to keep generating power. And his decent 83% ct% makes it unlikely that he will be a BA liability. Calhoun hasn't reached his ceiling yet.

Mike Ford (1B, NYY) produced a .909 OPS in 143 AB with NYY in 2019. That production was backed by a very good 135 xPX. In addition, his plate metrics were strong too (10% bb%, 80% ct%, 0.61 Eye). The lefty Ford also mashed lefties in a tiny sample (1.389 OPS vL in 33 AB). Ford is a steal at his current 621 ADP.

Austin Hays (CF, BAL) also rekindled some of his prior prospect upside with a strong finish to the 2019 season. Hays produced a .947 OPS in 68 AB with BAL, showing off the line-drive stroke (89.1 mph exit velocity) that made him one of the better OF prospects in the game. He's not likely to be an impactful power source until his 11.5 degree launch angle rises, but he still possesses multi-category potential.

LaMonte Wade (CF, MIN) showed off his elite plate discipline skills in 2019 with MIN (16% bb%, 84% ct%, 1.22 Eye). He has decent wheels too (127 Spd). And his 89.8 mph exit velocity tells us that he hits the ball with authority, even though it won't result in power as long as his 11.6 degree launch angle remains where it is. Still, Wade is another bat with some intriguing BA/SB potential that is being forgotten about in many leagues.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Matt Beaty (1B/LF, LA) could be a good end-game speculation for those looking for batting average help. He had a near-elite 87% ct% in 2019, and he paired that mark with an excellent 90.0 mph exit velocity. Beaty doesn't offer enough in power (93 xPX) or speed (87 Spd) to stick as a full-timer, but his multi-position eligibility and high BA floor should make him relevant in deep leagues.

Sam Hilliard (CF, COL) enters the 2020 season as one of the better speculations in the game. He hit for power and speed in the minors while drawing walks at a high rate. When he made his MLB debut with COL in 2019, Hilliard hit the ball really hard (89.8 mph exit velocity). And some of the strikeout problems that plagued him earlier in the minors weren't as bad as some feared (70% ct%). In addition, his 167 xPX gave us a hint at his power potential, though he'll need to tweak his swing (8.4 degree launch angle) to reach it.

Rhys Hoskins (1B, PHI) fell short of expectations in 2019. Still, his 143 xPX was elite. And his combination of 90.1 mph exit velocity and crazy 24 degree launch angle gives him legit 40+ HR upside. This is a potential cornerstone bat that you can get at a good value now (116 ADP).

Carson Kelly (C, ARI) looked like a frontline backstop at times in 2019. He finished with 18 HR in 314 AB, power that came with full backing from his underlying skills (168 xPX). Kelly's plate approach was solid as well (13% bb%, 75% ct%, 0.61 Eye). He carries legit breakout potential in 2020 and is a good value at his 205 ADP.

Will Smith (C, LA) is another young catcher worthy of your investment. He had a strong .907 OPS in 170 AB with LA in 2019. His power flashes also were backed by strong underlying support (168 xPX). In addition, he hit the ball really hard (90.0 mph exit velocity) and had an extreme flyball stroke (23.7 degree launch angle). If he can keep his strikeouts in check (69% ct%), Smith could be in store for a big 2020 season.


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