Every year offers the chance to follow the new, brightest young talent changing the game of baseball. We’ve seen players like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Juan Soto dominate the sport and they will continue to entertain us for years to come. But not every budding star gets the same amount of attention. From young breakouts to rookies making their first impression, here are three young players who deserve more attention as they make their mark on the sport.
3 Young MLB Stars You Aren’t Talking About Enough
The Twins have had a strange season, but look to be wrapping up the division title in a mediocre American League Central. They were a below-average offense in the first half, but with a resurgent second half and great pitching, the Twins look to be a real threat in the playoffs. Their offensive surge has been largely powered by Julien’s excellent rookie campaign.
Entering play on Wednesday, Julien is third on the team with an .841 OPS, behind only Royce Lewis and Matt Wallner, who both have over 100 fewer plate appearances than Julien. Julien has a high-walk profile with enough power that will lead to some outstanding hot streaks. From May 20 to the start of August, he hit .312/.403/.552 with eight home runs.
His overall plate approach leads to too many strikeouts, but there is room to improve. It is a confounding breakdown, but Julien has a 31.3% strikeout rate – way too high. That needs to come down for any sustainability in his production. But, oddly, he has one of the highest walk rates in all of baseball. He whiffs too much, but this is a promising foundation given his general plate discipline.
Julien has the best chase percentage on pitches outside of the zone among all 225 hitters with at least 350 plate appearances. Julien has a 20.5% called strike rate, which might explain part of the problem. He never chases, and sometimes that means he takes pitches close on the edges of the zone. That seems like a good problem to have for a hitter with a high-whiff profile. That patience and selectiveness could be tuned to punish more strikes in the zone if he can make more consistent contact.
If we look at some comparisons for other odd stat lines like this, let’s start with similar chase rates and barrel rates. Julien has a chase rate of 14.2% and a barrel rate of 13.3%
By filtering for a chase rate lower than 19% and a barrel rate of at least 10%… Hmm.. Oh, my! Well, take a look at this! We get names like Mookie Betts, Juan Soto…
Okay, so Julien isn’t the next Betts or Soto. Let’s dig a little deeper. His whiff rate of 28.6% is certainly a problem, so let’s add a whiff rate of at least 20%. With all those filters added in, we get names like Mitch Garver, Jack Suwinski, Brandon Belt, and Ryan Noda (and still Juan Soto). Those are all interesting names who have had above-average seasons.
It isn’t hard to believe Julien could have a successful career with a profile like this. Some good power, good walk rate, and with some development, maybe make more reliable contact to become a more consistent threat.
There are some interesting names floating around in Detroit. Kerry Carpenter, Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson. The Tigers have some young hitters set for their next contending team and Carpenter will be at the center of it.
Among all hitters 26 years old or younger with at least 200 plate appearances this year, Carpenter ranks 21st out of 131 players with an .840 OPS. He has a good power profile, but he strikes out too much at the moment to reliably post high batting averages.
Despite a high chase rate, he still makes contact in the zone at a good rate and has great expected stats. His barrel rate has been 10% this season. Double-digit barrel rates is always a promising sign. He doesn’t rate well as a defender, so most of his value will come with the bat.
He played in 31 games in 2022, so while that was a small sample, Carpenter showed meaningful growth entering this year. He cut his strikeout rate and has made hard contact much more often. He has twenty home runs this season and should hover around that number most seasons.
His expected batting average of .264 is lower than his actual batting average of .288. Even if his numbers next season drop to .260 with 15-20 home runs, he will be a valuable hitter. He could find another level of success if he improves on his whiff and chase rates to capitalize on his in-zone power.
The Rays are always an interesting team to follow given their proclivity to find young talent. Paredes has been their second-best hitter, behind only Yandy Díaz. Paredes has built his game on an excellent plate approach that makes the most of a low-power profile. Despite ranking in the bottom third of all players in barrel rate and hard-hit rate, he has hit 29 home runs this season.
Paredes knows how to work a walk and avoid striking out. He is elite at making contact in the zone, and even when he chases, he doesn’t whiff often. He has low expected stats given his low hard-hit rates, but his pure ability to make contact adds an extra dimension to his game.
While Paredes debuted in 2020, this is only his second full season. He is hitting the ball at a higher launch angle than before to maximize his power output. His .249/.353/.489 slash line is impressive and sure to make him a valuable piece in the Rays lineup for years to come. His 137 wRC+ ranks 16th among all hitters with at least 350 plate appearances. He deserves a lot of credit for powering this Rays lineup as they fight for a division title.
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