Young Guns Grip It And Rip It: The Top 5 Power Hitters Under 23
We all know Pujols, Fielder, Howard, Teixeira, and Rodriguez by name. They've led the league's power statistics for most of the past ten years.
But a new decade has dawned in 2010. Who is poised to step into the limelight? Who among the nameless, faceless masses will become the next HR king?
Here's my criteria:
Player must be no more than 23 years old.
Player must have no more than 500 MLB at bats.
Player must not be a Buffalo Bills fan. I won't put up with that crap.
So without further ado, here are your Top 5 Power Hitters under 23:
Matt Wieters - C
Wieters barely made the cut. He just turned 23 this past April. However, the catcher is not exactly an unknown.
Wieters has been on the top prospects list since Baltimore drafted him 5th overall in 2007.
In his short ML career, all 477 at bats of it, Wieters has belted 13 dingers and driven in 56 runs.
Not bad. But when you are touted by scouts as a cross between Mark Teixeira and Joe Mauer, the expectations are even greater.
However, Matt is blessed with a sharp batting eye. His K rate should decrease, and he'll start seeing better pitches.
If Matt weren't a catcher, he might rank higher on this list. Nonetheless, he's still a potential .310/30/100 hitter.
Brett Wallace - 3B/1B
The Blue Jays nabbed Wallace from Oakland in the three-team Roy Halladay trade.
Originally drafted 13th overall by St. Louis in 2008, Wallace has since moved to first base after being dealt to Oakland.
Fun fact: Brett was actually drafted by the Blue Jays in the 42nd round of the 2005 draft. However, Wallace instead choose to play college ball at Arizona State.
The kid has thighs like tree trunks. Wallace might be the best pure hitter in the minor leagues. He hits lefties and righties. And there isn't a pitch Wallace can't take yard.
So far, the lefty bat has only shown pull power to right field. But all those doubles he's hitting to center and left will eventually clear the fence.
Wallace will be called up to the big show very soon. Those of you in fantasy keeper leagues should find a spot for him on your roster. He could go yard 15 times in the second half.
Justin Smoak - 1B
Texas drafted Smoak just two picks before Brett Wallace and, suffice to say, they aren't regretting the decision one bit.
Though often compared to Mark Teixeira, both are switch hitting first basemen, Smoak may not have MT's raw power.
That doesn't mean this kid can't rake.
Smoak has hit four HR's in 66 MLB at bats since being called up in late April. Though only hitting a paltry .197, Smoak's .316 OBP and .424 SLG% speak to his true ability.
His 12 walks are a testament to Smoak's quickly building reputation as a legitimate power hitter. Pitchers are avoiding him.
Once he gets more selective at the plate, Smoak will be a legit 35+ HR hitter for the next decade.
Travis Snider - OF
Ranked as high as fifth on some Top Prospect lists, Snider's power stroke is approaching legendary status.
Unfortunately, he's only displayed that special power in AAA, and batting practice (he routinely rattles the restaurant windows behind center at The Sky Dome).
After a slow start, it seems that Snider has learned to lay off the breaking stuff with a bit more regularity.
He was hitting a pathetic .149 on May 1st. Snider's turned it around this month, raising his average to a much more palpable .232.
Still just 22, Snider has the potential to hit 40+, but will most likely settle into the 35/120 range.
The Blue Jays suddenly have a wealth of great young hitters with Lind, Hill, Wallace and Snider.
Jason Heyward - OF
Proving that the draft is far from an exact science, 13 players were selected before Atlanta snagged Heyward in the '07 draft.
I'm sure the Rays (Davide Price), Orioles (Wieters) and Giants (Madison Bumgarner) are still plenty happy with their picks. But the ten other teams must be kicking themselves for sleeping on the kid some have compared to Hank Aaron.
Already one of the most intimidating presences at the plate, Heyward announced his arrival with authority, launching a 475 foot bomb in his first MLB at bat.
Heyward is hitting .301 with eight Home Runs and 28 RBI's. If he maintains this pace, Heyward will finish the season with a ridiculous 45/150 line. That would destroy the .329/37/130 rookie season Albert Pujols produced.
Heyward is #1 on this list. Next year, he might be #1 in all of Baseball.