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Chris Clegg’s 2023 NL East Breakout Prospects

Each year, Eric Cross and I do team top-20s. In those rankings, we included a breakout prospect to target from each team. It is always fun to project which prospects could break out the following season. Getting in on those prospects early could lead to significant success in dynasty leagues.

Last year, 12 of my 30 picks turned out to be major successes. Names I picked included Jackson Chourio, Endy Rodriguez, Ezequiel Tovar, Vaughn Grissom, Vinnie Pasquantino, and Ricky Tiedemann, to name a few. Some busts included Kala’i Rosario, Michael Stefanic, and Cristian Pache. You can find all 30 names in the thread below.

This year, Eric and I will write individual articles for breakout prospects from each division. We will start with the NL East.

2023 NL East Breakout Prospects

Geraldo Quintero, 2B/3B, Atlanta Braves

We start in the NL East with a small but mighty infielder in Geraldo Quintero. Don’t be scared off by his 5’8″/155 lb list height and weight. Quintero is similar to Ozzie Albies, who is of similar stature and a switch hitter.

Quintero signed with the Braves in 2018 out of Venezuela. If it were not for Covid, you could expect that Quintero would have already reached Double-A, which is impressive considering he spent the entire 2022 season at 20 years old.

When all was said and done in 2022, Quintero finished with a .257/.356/.408 slash line with eight home runs and 34 stolen bases. He displayed solid bat-to-ball skills and had just a 17.8 percent strikeout rate while walking 11.4 percent of the time.

Quintero only chased pitches out of the zone at a 25.4% rate which is very solid. He also had a solid zone-contact rate. His average exit velocity is underwhelming, but he still managed to post an 8.5 percent barrel rate showing the capabilities of having higher exit velocities at the high end.

It will be interesting to see if Quintero continues switch-hitting. He had a .800 OPS as a right-handed batter versus a .648 as a lefty. It is also worth noting that Quintero was a noticeably better hitter on the road. Augusta (Atlanta’s Low-A affiliate) has a neutral home park, while Rome(A+) plays much more pitcher-friendly.

Quintero checks a lot of boxes of a future breakout prospect. Even though he may never reach elite status, the return on investment should be high with Geraldo Quintero.

Jake Eder, SP, Miami Marlins

The Jake Eder breakout pretty much already happened, but 2023 will be the year we see Eder performing at a high level in MLB. Eder was drafted in the fourth round of the 2020 draft and went straight to Double-A to begin 2021. He was utterly dominant in 71.1 innings with a 1.77 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. Eder struck out 34.5 percent of batters he faced and had a 15.3 percent swinging strike rate. Unfortunately, Tommy John Surgery ended Eder’s 2021 early and caused him to miss all of 2022.

Eder showed a dominant two-pitch mix in his fastball and slider, both plus pitches. His fastball can get to the mid-90s and has good ride at the top of the zone. It generates plenty of swings and misses.

Eder’s slider is nasty and causes hitters to take some ugly hacks. Against lefties, the pitch appears to be heading right at the batter before diving into the zone. He also buries it to the back foot of right-handed batters well.

Eder does feature a changeup, but it is average at best and not as often used. Eder improved his command in 2021 after being slightly inconsistent at Vanderbilt.

While Eder already broke out in 2021, it has been largely forgotten. It is impossible to predict how a pitcher could return from Tommy John, but the hope is that Eder can return to the 2021 version of himself next year. 2023 could be a true breakout season for Eder, who could impact the Marlins’ rotation in the second half.

Dominic Hamel, SP, New York Mets

Dominic Hamel was the Mets’ third-round pick in 2021. It was a long road to the draft for Hamel, who was draft-eligible four different times throughout his career. Hamel began his career at Yavapai Junior College before transferring to Dallas Baptist. Any chance of being drafted in 2020 was cut short due to the pandemic-shortened season, but Hamel returned strong in 2021 by posting 136 strikeouts in 91.2 innings.

Hamel may seem older at 23 years old, but he was age appropriate at High-A. It is also important to think about the context of the pandemic with a player like Hamel. Regardless, he pitched 119 innings between Low and High-A, posting a 3.25 ERA and 145 strikeouts.

Hamel’s fastball averaged 92.5 mph last season, but he topped out above 95. The pitch has good spin rated and an excellent IVB, which creates good ride at the top of the zone. Hamel made major strides by throwing it for strikes more consistently, which led to improved walk rates in the majority of his starts.

Hamel’s slider is his second pitch which sits in the mid-to-low 80s. It generates elite spin rates, and despite a 58 percent strike rate, Hamel generates plenty of chase out of the zone. Check out some of the footage from Jacob Resnick below.

Hamel also mixes in a curve and changeup, which could both be average pitches. The changeup has flashes of a plus pitch, as he had a 42.3 percent whiff rate on it last season. He needs to throw it for a strike more often.

If Hamel adds a tick or two of velocity to his fastball, there is a strong chance of a breakout, especially if the strike rates continue to improve. You can get Hamel pretty cheap in dynasty and he is a pitcher I could easily see breaking out.

William Bergolla Jr., SS, Philadelphia Phillies

William Bergolla Jr. was the Phillies’ top international signee in January 2022. He is smaller at 5’11″/165 lb, but it is important to remember he just turned 18 years old last month. There is plenty of room for growth, and we often see international players transform their bodies upon joining an MLB organization.

Bergolla debuted this year in the Dominican Summer League at 17, hitting .380 with a .470 OBP in 83 plate appearances. It was a small sample, and we saw minimal power, but the contact skills are elite. Bergolla struck out just 3.6 percent of the time while walking 13.3 percent. It is cherry-picking because Bergolla only had 83 plate appearances, but among Minor League hitters with 80 plate appearances, Bergolla had the lowest strikeout rate. Willians Astudillo was the next lowest at 5.1 percent.

Bergolla will likely debut state-side in 2023 and give us a better look at what he can do at the plate. But, if he takes off, it will likely be too late. Bergolla brings great contact and speed, and I will bet on those skills with a young prospect. The power can always develop later.

Buy in on Bergolla this offseason in dynasty, and it is hard to imagine his value doing anything but going up in 2023. Bergolla could be a breakout prospect in 2023.

Brady House, SS, Washington Nationals

Brady House was a draft day value by the Nationals as he fell in their lap at 11 overall in 2021. I fell in love with the profile after seeing him when he was in high school and seeing how good his data was. House was always knocked as someone who would not stick at shortstop, but for his size, he is an excellent athlete. House moves well, controls the strike zone, and has massive power.

His 2022 numbers were quite uninspiring, as he hit just three home runs in 45 games. But House missed most of the season due to a back injury. I wonder if the back issue bothered him early in the season as well before he was shut down. Over his first 16 games, before he missed time with the injury for the first time, House had a .386 batting average, two home runs, and 23 RBI through 70 at-bats.

Some will be quick to cite House’s poor batted ball data, but again I chalk it to injuries. It is prime time to buy Brady House in a dynasty league, as there is plenty of upside in his profile.

Thanks for checking out the NL East breakout prospects edition. Be sure to head to FantraxHQ and check out all our other great work.

Statistical and Media References: Fangraphs, Jacob Resnick

1 Comment
  1. Jose A. Hernandez says

    Hi Chris, Can you give me your “Player Thoughts” on Jazz Chisholm Jr. What kind of production do you expect out him? Kind of your projections for him in 2023.

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