2023 MLB Fantasy: Five Minor Leaguers Hitting Prospects to Watch (June Edition)

Dominic Canzone of the Arizona Diamondbacks

We’ve seen a number of highly-touted MLB prospects, including Gavin Williams and Henry Davis, get the call over the past few days. But which MLB prospects still in the Minors are players that should be watched carefully? Let’s go over five hitting prospects that could become intriguing fantasy names over the next couple of weeks.

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Dominic Canzone

One of the more underrated outfielders in the Minors right now is Diamondbacks prospect Dominic Canzone. A former second-round pick out of Ohio State in 2019, Canzone has pummeled AAA pitching this season. The 25-year-old hit .354 with 15 home runs and 33 extra base hits over 59 games. A career .308 hitter in the Minors, the 1B/OF has always shown good contact and power skills. Those tools should give Canzone a look at some point in the Majors.

If there’s one thing the D-Backs have, it’s plenty of outfield depth. Arizona’s current outfield includes Lourdes Gurriel, Jake McCarthy, and like NL Rookie of the Year frontrunner Corbin Carroll, as well as former first-round pick Alek Thomas. Thomas was recently called up to the Majors, so don’t expect Canzone yet. However, an injury to one of Arizona’s outfielders could prompt the Diamondbacks to give Canzone a look.

Colton Cowser

Baltimore likes outfielder Colton Cowser enough to make the Sam Houston product the fifth overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. Cowser did well in his first pro season in 2022, when he hit .278 with 19 home runs and 57 extra base hits over 138 games. The 23-year-old has continued to show off his power and speed this season, as he’s hit a strong .341 with eight home runs, 35 RBI, and six steals through 47 games. Cowser did miss two weeks on the IL this season.

Now healthy, Cowser could be a potential option for the O’s this summer. But with Cedric Mullins on his way back and a crowded outfield that includes Austin Hays and Anthony Santander, the 23-year-old may not get a look this season unless another injury arises.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand

Drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 MLB Draft by the Twins, Reds 1B/3B Christian Encarnacion-Strand may be a steal for Cincinnati. Acquired by the Reds in the Tyler Mahle deal, the Oklahoma State product recorded a .348 average with 17 home runs over his first 48 games.

The tricky part with Encarnacion-Strand is whether the Reds have room to promote the 23-year-old at this moment. The Reds are well-fortified in the infield at the moment, thanks to the likes of Jonathan India, Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Steer, and Joey Votto.

Ronny Mauricio

Mets infielder Ronny Mauricio is a specimen. A 6 ‘3’’ infielder with power, Mauricio owned a .325 average, eleven home runs, eleven stolen bases, and 36 extra base hits over his first 65 games. As of this writing, Mauricio was tied for first in the International League in total extra base hits along with former MLBer Jake Cave. The 22-year-old is one of the “big three” of next-generation Mets hitters, alongside third baseman Brett Baty and catcher Francisco Alvarez.

When we profiled Mauricio in May, we noted that the 22-year-old’s approach at the plate and questions about his future position at the Majors are among the problems with attempting to project a potential promotion. Mauricio has recently seen time at second and left field.

Jordan Westburg

The Orioles snagged shortstop Jordan Westburg in the CB-A round of the 2020 MLB Draft after a strong collegiate career at Mississippi State. Westburg put up strong numbers in his first pro season, when he belted 15 home runs and 47 extra base hits in 2021. The 24-year-old’s prospect status jumped last season, though, when he cranked 27 homers between Bowie (AA) and Norfolk (AAA).

Thus far, Westburg has continued to shine. Through his first 62 games, Westburg hit .291 with 17 home runs and added in five steals. A toolsy infielder with experience at second, third, and short, Westburg may get a look at some point in the summer should an injury in the O’s infield arise or if Baltimore wants to see if the former MSU product can be the team’s everyday shortstop.

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