As the 2021-22 minor league season comes to an end, it’s time to highlight former members of the Pack that had elite seasons, including multiple members of the 2021 team that made it to the College World Series.
Patrick Bailey, C, Eugene Emeralds (San Francisco Giants)
Bailey has done nothing but impress in his time in the minor leagues. He spent his second straight season in high-A ball, where he played 83 games, slashing .225/.342/.419 with a 15.1 BB%, 22.2 K%, .344 wOBA and a 113 wRC+.
Bailey’s future looks bright and he’s likely to have an opportunity in the majors if he continues this level of play. He is a switch hitter and plays a premium position, making him valuable to the Giants.
Reid Johnston, RHP, Lynchburg Hillcats (Cleveland Guardians)
Johnston had an incredible 2022 season, throwing 112 innings with a 3.94 ERA, 3.55 FIP and 3.56 xFIP. What was most impressive about Johnston’s season was his walk and strikeout rates as he posted an impressive 21 K-BB%, striking out 9.8 batters per nine innings and only walking 1.93 per nine. Currently, Johnston is not in the top-30 prospects for the Guardians, but if he continues to pitch like this, he definitely will find himself in those rankings soon.
Tyler McDonough, OF, Greenville Drive (Boston Red Sox)
The jump from A-ball to high-A has proved difficult for McDonough. Last season in A-ball, the 23-year-old posted a 141 wRC+, 41% above the league average 100 wRC+. This season he slashed .230/.311/.357 with an 84 wRC+.
So what happened? The short answer is strikeouts. In 2021, McDonough only struck out 19% of the time and walked 13.5% of the time. This season's K% jumped all the way to an abysmal 31.3%, and he only walked 9.3% of the time. This isn’t necessarily a massive problem as McDonough is a young, elite runner and fielder, and has great raw power. The strikeout rate will come down as he gets more acclimated to higher levels of pitching, so expect him to continue getting better and better.
Devonte Brown, OF, Dunedin Blue Jays (Toronto Blue Jays)
Brown has excelled in the Blue Jays system, playing 27 games in which he’s slashed .308/.477/.449 with a .438 wOBA and 172 wRC+. For reference, Mike Trout’s wRC+ this season was 176. Obviously, Brown is in A-ball and not the major leagues, but his 2022 season was still incredible.
He will likely come back to earth a little bit as this is a small sample size of only 107 plate appearances, and his BABIP is high at .386, which is a sign of regression to come. However, Brown’s 22.4 BB% is incredible and his walk rates are sustainable. Brown was extremely consistent in his last year with the Pack, and it’s good to see that he got his chance and is performing at a high level.
Nick Swiney, LHP, Eugene Emeralds (San Francisco Giants)
After an incredible 2021 season in A-ball, Swiney’s 2022 hasn’t been as good, but by no means was he bad. He posted a 3.84 ERA in 89 innings with a 4.11 FIP and 4.79 xFIP. Swiney walked 11.8% of the batters he faced, the same as in 2021, but the difference was in K%. In 2021, he struck out 41.2% of the batters he faced compared to 2022 where his K% was only 27.6.
He is still the No. 10 ranked prospect in a good system, and he has a 50-grade changeup and curveball. If he can fix some of his command issues, Swiney will definitely find his way onto a major league roster.
Luca Tresh, C, Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals)
Tresh’s 2022 season may be the most impressive of any former Wolfpacker in the minors. He played just 24 games at the AA level, slashing .253/.358/.462 with a .368 wOBA and a 111 wRC+. What’s been so impressive about Tresh’s season is even after making the jump from A+ to AA, his strikeout rate went down from 24.5% to 23.6% and his walk rate went up from 11.8% to 12.3%.
Terell Tatum, OF, Winston-Salem Dash (Chicago White Sox)
Tatum started the year playing for the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, the low-A affiliate of the White Sox, where he slashed .320/.528/.400 with a .462 wOBA, a 177 wRC+ and an incredible 30.6 BB% in 36 plate appearances. It didn’t take the White Sox too long to figure out that Tatum was too good for low-A, so they promoted him to high-A after just 10 games.
He spent the rest of the year at high-A where in 32 games he slashed .255/.371/.418 with a .364 wOBA and 119 wRC+. Tatum’s only hole in his game is his K% as he strikes out a lot, 30.6% of the time in low-A and 28.6% of the time in high-A. However, if Tatum can lower his K% he has the chance to be really good. He’s fast, he hits the ball to all fields, and he has incredible raw power, as evidenced by his home run in the CWS off of Jack Leiter.
NC State with a bomb off of Jack Leiter 💣 pic.twitter.com/crdGjnbCHo— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) June 22, 2021