22. Makhi Backstrom
Personal Rank: 25
When the Atlanta Braves drafted Makhi Backstrom in the 18th round of the 2019 draft out of Junipero Sierra High School in California, they did so knowing Backstrom might opt for college instead.
They were pleasantly surprised that Backstrom instead signed with the organization. Backstrom is still an extremely raw prospect. His calling card is the massive raw power he possesses. When he gets ahold of one, it goes a long way.
Like most young sluggers, he struggles with the strikeout. That was evident this year as he spent 2021 at the rookie level. In 41 games, he hit .172/.301/.320 3 HR, 19 R, 12 RBI, 1 SB, .303 wOBA, and 73 wRC+.
A 38.4% strikeout rate shows the issue with Backstrom’s hit tool. He must be able to make contact if he is going to hit it a long way.
He did walk in 15.1% of his plate appearances, which is promising. If he can show a good feel for the plate, the hope is there that he can eventually fix his hit tool issues.
The offensive profile mimics a young Joey Gallo to an extent.
Backstrom does show a strong defensive prowess at first base, which gives hope that he can be a plus defender at the position. However, he only projects as a first baseman.
Backstrom benefits from the implementation of the universal DH, as that will give him more room to fight his way onto a major league roster in the future. If he can develop the hit tool, and the power comes around like most believe, he will be an exciting power bat soon.
Backstrom still has a lot of work to do. He is only 20, so the Braves can be patient with the young slugger. A full year in Augusta should tell us a lot about what Backstrom’s future holds and will impact where he finds himself on the rankings come midseason.