The time has come. This is my moment.
Perhaps you’re here because you feel a similar way about minor league opening day.
As a prospect person who started the gig in September of 2019, I have been waiting on the world to change for as long as I can remember, partly because I can only remember eleven seconds at a time. It’s been a slow universe for the baseball-development fan with a fast-twitch mind, so let’s not waste any more moments here in the intro, you know?
Here’s what caught my eye in AAA action:
First thing I noticed was Cleveland SS Gabriel Arias hitting a home run in AAA. Actually the first thing I noticed was Arias homering for Columbus. I had to double check to be sure that was still a AAA team because Arias had last played in A+. Makes sense. 2020 was AA. This year is already a trip. The coincidence of a Cleveland affiliate playing in Columbus had somehow missed me all this time. Better buckle in. Anyway, Cleveland can’t hit, so if Arias plays well, he could reach the majors this year–a thought that had not occurred to me before yesterday.
Cleveland 3B Nolan Jones went 0-4 with four strikeouts.
Cleveland OF Oscar Mercado went 1-3 with a double and a walk. Wonder if they’d trade him to someone who cared?
Pittsburgh CF Travis Swaggerty — 3-for-4, BB, 2 RBI, HR. Great start for a player I’ve always been low on. I’ll be watching his plate appearances for signs of a breakout. Looks good so far.
Tampa Bay OF Vidal Brujan — 2-for-4, BB. The important thing to note here, aside from a successful AAA debut from the leadoff spot for Brujan, is that our man Vidal played right field with Taylor Walls at 2B and Wander Franco at SS.
Speaking of Wander, he went 3-for-5 with 2 RBI and a SB. Just over here jumping AA no big.
New York OF Socrates Brito batted cleanup and homered. Wouldn’t be the first guy to find his feet in this system.
Detroit RHP Matt Manning gave up three home runs in five innings. Not an ideal AAA debut, but he did carry a 6-to-1 K-to-BB ratio, so it could’ve been worse.
Milwaukee 2B Jamie Westbrook — 4-for-4 with four singles. Westbrook never broke through with Arizona but demonstrated excellent plate skills, walking more (12.6 percent) than he struck out (11.8%) during his brief AAA stint there in 2019, when he slashed .321/.413/.462. Everyone hit well that year, sure, but Westbrook earned the promotion by being about 25 percent better than league average for about 2.5 seasons at AA. I have no idea what kept him there. For example, he finished 2018 in AAA for seven games, slashing .391/.440/.957 with four home runs. That’s what got him sent back to AA for almost all of 2019. I’m not adding him anywhere yet, but I’ll be tracking him closely.
Boston RHP Tanner Houck surrendered 8 hits and 3 runs in 3 innings. Didn’t walk anyone, and he wasn’t walking anyone in the majors despite a 1.45 WHIP in 10.1 innings. Strange case here. Small samples of course, but he’s never had great walk rates, and he’s always been hard to hit, so it’s interesting to see his 2021 go the opposite route so far.
Chicago (AL) 1B Gavin Sheets started the game in right field before moving back to the infield. This is precisely the type of prospect who outproduces the public-facing lists because he doesn’t offer much on defense, and his hit tool comes in just under the bar most scouts need to get excited about a bat-only prospect. This team’s depth is already being tested, and Sheets will make himself an option with more nights like yesterday, when the 6’5”, 245 lb lefty went 2-for-5 with a home run and 5 RBI. The HR came against LHP Kyle Muller, so that’s extra points for left on left crime.
Miami 1B Lewin Diaz — 2-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR. Even without a universal DH, Diaz should spend plenty of his 2021 days under the big league sun.
Miami OF Jesus Sanchez — 2-for-5, 5 RBI, HR. Praise be.
Miami RHP Jake Fishman — 2.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 baserunners, 4 K. Fishman working his way up to the Marlins = something we can all root for.
Philadelphia 2B Jean Segura — 2-for-3 as he readies to return from the IL.
Washington SS Luis Garcia — 2-for-5, 2 R, HR. Carter Kieboom went 0-for-5 with 4 K’s. Feels kind of like these two would be battling for one eventual long term spot in the Nats infield, if only Kieboom would show up and throw some hands. Been mostly a one-way battle to this point.
What caught my eye at AA:
San Diego SS CJ Abrams — 2-for-5, 2 2B, BB. Won’t turn 21 until October. Decent chance he’s on the playoff roster by then.
Toronto CF Austin Martin — 2-for-4, BB as he jumps seamlessly from the SEC to AA.
Toronto C Gabriel Moreno — 3-for-5, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB. Fairly loud start from the cleanup spot for one of my favorite young catchers. He’ll catch some big league games this year, possibly in the very near future with Alejandro Kirk on the IL.
Boston CF Jeisson Rosario — 2-for-3, BB, SB. Won’t turn 22 until October. Good patience could become great plate skills if he can keep adding strength, torque and controlled aggression. Has the profile to be a very fast riser in dynasty circles.
Pittsburgh RHP Roansy Contreras — 5 IP, 5 baserunners, 0 R, 11 Ks. That Taillon trade is looking pretty good.
Baltimore LHP DL Hall — 4.1 IP, 0 R, 4 baserunners, 10 Ks. If he can command the fastball, he’ll be dominant at the level. Interesting to see the fruits of having Baltimore’s better development team in his corner the past couple years.
Detroit OF Riley Greene — 2-for-5 out of the leadoff spot as a 20-year-old making his AA debut.
Philadelphia SS Arquimedes Gamboa — 1-for-3, 2 R, 2 BB, HR. This stood out to me because Gamboa hasn’t been physical enough to hang with his mostly-older peers due to Philly’s always aggressive approach to young players. Arquimedes is thicker now than I remember him being, and it shows in his base mechanics. Interesting follow.
New York (AL) RHP Luis Gil — 3.2 IP, 0 R, 3 baserunners, 6 Ks. Talented beanpole with high-90’s heat. Has seemed ticketed for relief but will pause that narrative with longer outings a little like this one.
Arizona SS Geraldo Perdomo — 0-for-5, 2 Ks. They can’t all be winners.
Kansas City SS Bobby Witt Jr. — 0-for-5, 2 Ks. Baseball is hard.
Kansas City 1B Nick Pratto — 1-for-5, HR. Nice to see Pratto pick up where he left off this Spring.
Pittsburgh SS Liover Peguero — 1-for-4, BB, 3 RBI, HR. Defense is not going to be a problem. Blockage is not going to be a problem. Timeline will just come down to his hitting, and this is a very fun start. Also interesting to see him paired with Nick Gonzales at 2B. Good chance the organization views this as the middle infield for their next contending club.
Pittsburgh RHP Quinn Priester — 3 IP, 6 baserunners, 3 ER. Ouch. Always felt dubious of the aggressive Priester helium because it was all just word of mouth about batting practice reps against Pirates minor leaguers. Not saying it won’t work out, but wow the words were pretty about Priester this winter.
New York (NL) SS Ronny Mauricio — 2-for-4, BB, 2 R. Won’t turn 21 until next April.
New York (NL) 3B Brett Baty — 2-for-4, BB, 3 RBI. 2019 draftees are all flying into the wind, but reports about Baty have been soaring all along.
Atlanta OF Michael Harris — 3-for-4, BB, 3 RBI, 2 R. Probably the fastest-moving stock on the market. If you’re in a league where you can still add him, you should. Great trade target for rebuilders with vets to spare.
Atlanta RHP Indigo Diaz — 2.1 IP, 2 baserunners, 5 Ks. 2019 draftee. 6’5” 250 lbs. Cool name. Winding-road journey from British Columbia to Vermont to Michigan State. Always young for the level. More of a curiosity than anything, but Atlanta has a knack for this type of nowhere man.
Baltimore RHP Grayson Rodriguez — 4 IP, 3 baserunners, 5 Ks. The Orioles allowed just 3 hits as a staff. Gonna be a long year from some teams in the Nationals’ system, especially when they come up against Baltimore (Aberdeen).
New York (AL) RHP Luis Medina — 4 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 8 Ks. His stuff is just way too much for same-age bats. Will get an early promotion to AA with a few more turns like this one.
Philadelphia RHP Ben Brown — 4 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 6 Ks. He’d only thrown 13.2 innings since 2018 before Tuesday’s outing, but he matched Medina frame for frame. A 6’6” high school draftee (33rd round, 2017), Brown’s still just 21 and has dominated his skance chances. I’m intrigued and suspect there’s some early-mover value here. Will follow and update for you.
Kansas City LHP Angel Zerpa — 5 IP, 1 ER, 4 baserunners, 7 Ks. Zerpa’s on the 40-man now, and as a lefty with good stuff, he’s just a phone call away on double header day.
San Diego LHP Ethan Elliott — 4 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 9 Ks. A 10th round pick in 2019, Elliott dominated A- that summer: 1.77 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 24.8 K-BB %. Have to follow this one closely.
Arizona RHP Luis Frias — 5 IP, 1 ER, 6 baserunners, 6 Ks. Dominant start against a Mariners affiliate that should be pretty tough.
Seattle RF Julio Rodriguez — 1-for-4, 3 Ks. Speaking of. Better days ahead against lesser arms than Frias.
St. Louis 3B Jordan Walker — 2-for-4, 2 R, HR. One of my favorite players in this year’s draft. Nice to see him start well.
New York (NL) C Francisco Alvarez — 4-for-5, BB, 2 RBI. Is he too good for this level already? He’s 19 until November 19. Could finish this year in AA.
Miami 2B Osiris Johnson — 2-for-3, BB, 2 RBI, SB. Probably a forgotten man in most dynasty leagues thanks to a season-ending injury and then covid. Hadn’t played since 2018. Enticing physicality and athleticism. Important guy to keep tabs on.
Miami RHP Eury Perez — 3 IP, 1 ER, 5 baserunners, 4 Ks. If you’ve got a lot of patience, Perez is a good piece for you. Lots of upside. Good stuff already. He’ll be 18 until next April, and he was just the opening day starter for a full-season club. Held his own, too.
Cleveland RHP Xzavion Curry — 4 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 6 Ks. 2019 draftee (7th round) who hadn’t pitched yet as a professional. Solid career as a three-year starter for Georgia Tech. Exactly Cleveland’s type, which kinda makes him my type, too.
Cleveland 1B Jhonkensy Noel — 3-for-4, 3 R, 4 RB, HR. He’ll be 19 until July 15. Unlikely to ever get much love from the top-100 community because he doesn’t help on defense, but he’s tailor made for fantasy baseball on a team that will need him as it does all its homegrown talent.
New York (AL) 2B Trevor Hauver — 3-for-4, 3 RBI, 2 HR. The top four of this lineup: Anthony Volpe. C Austin Wells, Hauver and RF Jake Stanford, combined to go 10-for-17 with 8 R and 10 RBI. Wells added a HR. Not much fun for the Dunedin Blue Jays, but this has been a ton of fun for me!
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.