With the minor league season now a few weeks underway, the stories, teams, and players are starting to heat up. Some of the top hitting prospects are starting to find their stroke while others are struggling.
One of the most impressive youngsters of the past week was Willy Adames, the #22 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, who hit for the cycle on Monday. He started with a double in the first, a single in the fifth, then hit a two-out triple in the sixth inning to drive in 2 runs. He came up in the 8th inning needing just the home run to complete the cycle and knocked one over the wall in left-center field. Adames’ cycle was the first in Durham Bulls history. The cycle also came on the heels of the 22-year-old’s first grand slam the day prior. Adames was acquired from the Tigers in exchange for David Price in 2014. Adames will likely be called up later this season as a much-needed reinforcement to Tampa’s lackluster offense.
The top prospect not named Shohei Ohtani is Ronald Acuna. He is currently in Triple-A and is struggling. In 15 games, he has 20 strikeouts and only 14 hits. The current Braves outfield is struggling as well, so Acuna will likely be called up sometime soon. The Braves still may be cautious with him, as he is only 20.
The next prospect on the list is Blue Jays infielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is currently tearing it up in Double-A. He is batting .321/.379/.518 with two home runs and five strikeouts. He is only 19, so the Blue Jays have plenty of time to decide when they want to call him up. Vlad Jr. will probably be in Triple-A by the end of the season and may get a September cup of coffee if he continues his hot hitting.
The Blue Jays have another top-15 prospect in Bo Bichette. Bichette, a middle infielder, is currently batting .288/.373/.364 with 15 strikeouts in 66 at-bats. Obviously, this is not as great as Vlad Jr.’s line, but Bichette is still just 20 with room to grow. Like Vlad, he will probably be in Triple-A by the end of the season with the possibility of a September call-up.
The #4 prospect is White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who started the season on the disabled list at Double-A. Jimenez has played five games so far and already has two home runs. He is only hitting .176 but has exhibited solid plate discipline, striking out just once in 19 plate appearances. He probably will not get called up until next year unless he really heats up and develops quicker than expected.
Other than Ohtani, who started the year with the Angels, Gleyber Torres is the first major prospect to be called up to the majors. Torres was dominating Triple-A with a slash line of .347/.393/.510 at Triple-A. The infielder, who is currently the youngest of all active MLB players at 21 years old, will probably remain in the big leagues for the rest of the year.
The top pitching prospects have also been a mixed bag. Michael Kopech, the #10 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, currently has a 2.40 ERA in Triple-A. He also owns a 12.6 K/9 with a 3.0 BB/9. Kopech will likely be a starter in the White Sox rotation by the end of the season, especially if the White Sox continue to struggle and if Kopech can continue to produce.
The next-best pitching prospect is Walker Buehler, who was called up for a spot start on Monday. Buehler threw 89 pitches over five scoreless innings, allowing four hits and three walks to along with five strikeouts. He may be replaced in the rotation once Rich Hill returns from injury, but by the end of the season should be up in the big leagues for good.
Mitch Keller, who is currently Double-A for the Pirates, is next on the pitching prospect list. He is shutting down Double-A teams with a 1.93 ERA and a WHIP of 0.96. The righty has also accrued 20 strikeouts in 18.2 innings. If Keller can keep performing, he will be in the Pirates rotation before long.
Alex Reyes, a right-handed fireballer for the Cardinals is out until May. Brent Honeywell of the Rays just had Tommy John surgery. Forrest Whitley, a righty for the Astros is currently suspended for 50 games for violating the MiLB drug policy. The last prospect of the bunch, Mackenzie Gore, pitched three innings for the Padres’ High-A affiliate but was later placed on the DL with a blister.
Like the MLB season, the MiLB season is just beginning and there will be many more players and storylines to discuss down the line, so stay tuned.