Feels like a rare thing when baseball gets something right. We could build a case against the new CBA, I think, but it would have to be stacked up against an ideal world. In comparison to the collective bargaining agreement that came before it, this one feels like a dream. Every other day, another wave of prospects gets called up, whether to push for the playoffs or just to settle in before next season.
Red Sox 1B Triston Casas came up a bit later than expected, but that’s partly due to an early slump and an injury that cost him almost two months in the middle of the season. The team calling him up now feels like an indication they hope to open next season with him in the majors despite adding Eric Hosmer’s salary at the deadline. Maybe they can find a dance partner for him this winter. Maybe they intend to use both, but Casas can almost certainly claim an Opening Day roster spot with a warm September. In 40 games after coming off the Triple-A injured list in July, he slashed .309/.416/.537 with six home runs and a 14.6%-to-19.7% walk-to-strikeout rate.
Rockies 1B Michael Toglia is laying claim to his 2023 spot, playing right field when he’s not at first base and moving his way toward the middle of that lineup. He’s a 6’5” switch hitter, so that alone makes him kind of unique. It’s complicated to manage so many moving parts with such long levers, but Toglia made a leap this year in his pitch selection and could be a flexible power source on the cheap in redraft leagues next year. Or he could strike out so much he falls out of favor. Or he could find himself on the minor league shuttle or the big league bench for no reason at all in that picaresque Rocky way we’ve all come to know and love.
Diamondbacks RHP Ryne Nelson threw seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts and zero walks in his debut against San Diego after allowing a 5.43 ERA in 136 innings at Triple-A. Arizona’s prospects are particularly difficult to evaluate due to their run-happy home and league environments, so I’m not too worried about the ERA or the 1.39 WHIP in the minors this season. He survived Reno after thriving in Double-A Amarillo, and that’s really all we can ask, especially as he battled diminished velocity this year.
Astros RHP Hunter Brown was on target against Texas, as articulated by Grey in Hunter Brown Camouflages His Stuff Well In His Debut. Good chance Brown ambushes a few more lineups the rest of the way as Houston prepares for the playoffs.
Guardians RHP Cody Morris got knocked around by a playoff-caliber Mariners team in his debut, but he’s a talented pitcher who should be able to find his way. He might be shuttled up and down a bit, but opportunity abounds on a Cleveland team that’s in a tight race for the AL Central. Morris missed most of the season with a right shoulder strain, so the team might pump the brakes rather than turn him loose, but the rewards are worth the risk in that regard.
Cubs RHP Hayden Wesneski is being recalled as LHP Justin Steele hits the IL. He pitched okay in Iowa despite the 5.66 ERA across five games, as evidenced by his 1.21 WHIP and a flukishly low 54.7% left-on-base rate.
Pirates C Axiel Plaz (17, DSL) turned 17 in August but had already laid waste to the Dominican Summer League as a 16-year-old, slashing ..382/.500/.706 with three home runs and a 15.1%-to-18.6% walk-to-strikeout rate. He’s not huge at 5’11” 165 lbs, but he’d be a junior in high school this year, and he’ll be in the complex league next year as a high-school senior with a chance to make his way to Low A in the same season, depending on how the organization plays it. He’s a free agent in all of my leagues and probably should be for now, especially considering he can’t really improve his fantasy stock until next season is well underway. Nevertheless, he’d be a sharp pick in the middle-late rounds of supp drafts this winter.
Yankees SS Oswald Peraza, Brewers OF Esteury Ruiz and Rays IF Jonathan Aranda are all in a similar boat as talented, MLB-ready players struggling to break into their teams’ lineups. I like them all if they can get on the field.
From Axiel to Axel, we roll on. The realm’s delight these past couple weeks, Mariners SS Axel Sanchez (19, A) is a smooth defender with an excellent throwing arm. He found another level with the bat in Low-A this season, slashing .322/.414/.623 with seven home runs and four stolen bases in 29 games.
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