Which prospects are on the verge of making an impact in the Major Leagues? This weekly column will rank the ten who are closest (as well as other names that are being closely considered). Keep in mind that while talent is factored in opportunity plays a major role, so there may be some “lesser” prospects who rank fairly highly on the list (please note all stats are through Wednesday):
1) Keston Hiura –
Second Baseman – Milwaukee Brewers (2)
Travis Shaw is back from the IL, but the results haven’t gotten better. Since his return he’s hitting .194 with 1 HR and 3 RBI in 11 games (31 AB) and you have to start to wonder exactly how much patience the Brewers are going to show. For his part Hiura hasn’t let his demotion slow down his production, as he’s hitting .273 with 5 HR, 13 RBI and 14 R in 13 games since returning to Triple-A. He has shown a little bit of swing and miss (13 K vs. 5 BB), but is that really a concern? The Brewers are in what is looking like a battle for the NL Central and they can’t afford to give up games or continue to use ineffective players on a daily basis.
Luzardo – Starting Pitcher – Oakland A’s (6)
Luzardo was on radars prior to the season, but injury cost him an opportunity to break camp as part of the Major League roster. He’s back healthy and quickly pitching like he deserves the chance he arguably earned in Spring Training. In two appearances (7.0 IP) he’s allowed 1 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, but even more impressive was his 9 K over 4.0 IP in his most recent appearance. He’s going to need a few more games to get stretched out and deemed ready, but there’s no question that Oakland has a need in their rotation and he will help fill it.
3) Luis Urias –
Shortstop – San Diego Padres (1)
Another week yet it’s the same story for Urias, who continues to be pinned at Triple-A. While he has slowed down a little bit (he’s hitting .186 over his past 10 games) things have picked back up (4-13 with 1 HR over a three-game hitting streak) and he’s hitting .277 with 3 HR overall in June. As he continues to post strong numbers in the minors (.332 with 16 HR and 6 SB over 217 AB) you have to wonder what he has to do to earn a promotion?
It’s not like San Diego doesn’t need the help offensively, though you can argue that Ian Kinsler has shown some signs of life (.375 over the past seven days, .300 over the past 30 days). Is that really enough to keep a player who could provide a spark buried? The Padres are only 2.0 games out of a Wild Card spot and they should be looking to put their best lineup on the field. It’s hard to argue that Urias wouldn’t be a part of that.
4) Bo Bichette –
Shortstop – Toronto Blue Jays (NR)
A new name to the list, he’s played in nine games since returning to health (he had been out since April 22) and performed fairly well (10-33, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 6 R, 2 SB). It’s no secret that the Blue Jays are building for the future, and you have to think it won’t be long before Bichette joins Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to form an impressive young corps. It’s not like Freddy Galvis or Eric Sogard should be viewed as an impediment to his ascent, should they? Considering Bichette hit an impressive .286 with 11 HR (as well as 43 doubles and 7 triples) and 32 SB at Double-A last year, it’s easy to call the future extremely bright for the Blue Jays.
5) Brendan McKay –
Starting Pitcher – Tampa Bay Rays (NR)
We’ve been hesitant to include McKay on these rankings, as the Rays have proven in the past to be extremely patient with their pitching prospects and waiting for them to amass enough innings at the highest levels of the minors before a promotion. That said after losing 3 straight to the Yankees, struggling overall as of late (3-7 in their past 10 games) and watching the Red Sox quickly climb the standings, could they be willing to make a move sooner than expected?
McKay has been doing his best to force the issue, thriving both at Double-A (1.30 ERA, 0.82 WHIP over 41.2 IP) and Triple-A (1.35 ERA, 0.65 WHIP over 20.0 IP). Over that span he’s racked up 83 K vs. 12 BB, though a 0.96 GO/AO could be a little red flag. Pitching in the AL East would it be surprising if he got burned a little bit by home runs? That’s not a reason to avoid him, just know the risk.
6) Mitch Keller –
Starting Pitcher – Pittsburgh Pirates (NR)
Keller has made three starts in the Majors and the results haven’t been quite what we’d hoped for (10.50 ERA, 2.25 WHIP over 12.0 IP). That said he has little left to prove at Triple-A (3.10 ERA, 74 K over 58.0 IP) and we all knew the type of potential he has when things are going well. The question isn’t if Keller returns to the Pirates rotation it’s when, and he should produce significantly better results (.513 BABIP, 43.0% strand rate despite a modest 35.0% Hard%). Don’t make the mistake of writing him off due to the struggles, as there are better days ahead.
7) Dylan Cease – Starting Pitcher – Chicago
White Sox (4)
Generally we don’t buy into the lip service that we hear from MLB teams, but when it comes to the White Sox they’ve proven true to their word. Despite a slew of injuries and a significant void in the rotation Chicago has held to their stance that they won’t rush someone to the Majors that they don’t believe is ready. Now whether or not Cease is truly ready was an entirely different debate, though his recent performances make you think Chicago knows what they are talking about. He’s allowed 11 ER over 10.2 IP in his past three starts, including being charged with 4 ER on 2 H and 3 BB over 0.2 IP on June 9. Over this stretch the control has wavered and the strikeouts have diminished (8 BB vs. 6 K), and that’s never a good combination. Maybe this delays his ascent a little bit, but Cease remains one of the better pitching prospects in baseball and ultimately should get an opportunity at some point in ’19.
8) Kyle Tucker –
Outfielder – Houston Astros (10)
With Yordan Alvarez settling into a role with Houston and the team getting healthy, figuring out where Tucker fits is a bit of a question. Would he be better off being dealt away at the deadline, immediately thrusting him into a regular role? It’s fair, especially as he continues to show both power and speed at Triple-A (23 HR and 17 SB). Outside of playing time strikeouts are a concern (65 K over 259 AB), but with the ability if he finds playing time he’s going to be a fantasy factor in all formats.
9) Jorge Mateo
– Second Baseman – Oakland A’s (3)
Jurickson Profar has started to show signs of turning things around (.368 over his past five games), but will that be enough to slow down the ascent of Mateo? Could Profar ultimately be shifted to a utility role to free up AB? Mateo just keeps on rolling, hitting .327 with 38 extra base hits (16 doubles, 12 triples and 10 HR) and 15 SB at Triple-A. Obviously there is some concerns about his approach, especially for a player who generally is viewed as being speed first, with 76 K vs. 15 BB over 309 AB. That said the skills should play, and there is an easily envisioned avenue to playing time.
10) Bobby Bradley –
First Baseman – Cleveland Indians (7)
Just when you thought the Indians could be ready to lose faith in Jake Bauers he erupts and shows off the upside. That said the team is still lacking a quality bat as a stable DH, and that’s a role Bradley could combine with Carlos Santana to fill. Bradley continues to show off impressive power, with 22 HR over 251 AB at Triple-A (including 5 HR in his past 7 games). There could be strikeout issues (89 K at Triple-A), which will lead to a potentially pathetic batting average, but the power plays and he could make a Joey Gallo-lite impact.
Also Keep An Eye On:
- Matt Manning – Starting Pitcher – Detroit Tigers – Casey Mize gets all of the publicity, but Manning has significant upside and could easily be the first to arrive
Graduated to Majors:
- Zac Gallen – Starting Pitcher – Miami Marlins (5)
Dropped off the Rankings:
- Carter Kieboom – Shortstop – Washington Nationals (8)
- Ryan Mountcastle – First Baseman – Baltimore Orioles (9)
Currently Injured – Austin Hays (BAL), Forrest Whitley (HOU)
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs