5 prospects who can make NL East impact

May 6th, 2021

Every National League East is having trouble getting rolling for one reason or another. Each club could use some help.

Maybe they will find some in their farm systems.

Here is a look at one prospect from each organization who could make an impact with his respective team this season:

Braves: OF
Pache began the season in the big leagues, and injuries necessitated his return much earlier than desired. This top prospect is still essentially a Minor Leaguer, and he has the potential to significantly impact how far the Braves go this year. Pache is a highly skilled defensive player who will take his lumps while getting on-the-job training from an offensive perspective. It may benefit him to spend a month or two playing every day at the Triple-A level. But until Guillermo Heredia or Ender Inciarte gets healthy, the starting center-field job belongs to Pache. He handled himself adequately when he was forced into duty during last year’s National League Championship Series. He’ll have to provide a similar fake-it-till-you-make-it approach as a regular in Atlanta’s lineup. -- Mark Bowman

Marlins: OF
When it comes to the Marlins' farm system, take your pick. Most of their top prospects have either debuted or are on the cusp of making it to The Show. Middle infielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. and left-hander Trevor Rogers graduated from prospect status during an impressive April. Righties Nick Neidert, Jordan Holloway and Paul Campbell (who was suspended 80 games for a positive PED test), outfielder Monte Harrison and infielder José Devers have made appearances with varying degrees of success. First baseman Lewin Díaz and outfielder Jesús Sánchez homered on Opening Day for Triple-A Jacksonville as they continue their development. Since top prospect Sixto Sánchez was projected to be on the starting staff before mild shoulder inflammation sidelined him, we won't consider him a Minor Leaguer. So that leaves us with Bleday, who began his season at Double-A. The fourth overall selection in the 2019 MLB Draft has continually impressed the organization with his maturity and advanced approach at the plate. With three veteran outfielders eligible to become free agents following the season, there could be movement at the Trade Deadline. If that's the case, Bleday could receive the callup. Miami would love nothing more than for him to join Chisholm as a young position player making a difference in the lineup. -- Christina DeNicola

Mets: RHP
McWilliams entered Spring Training with an outside chance of making the Mets’ Opening Day roster, but some rocky performances -- five walks in three Grapefruit League innings, plus a fair bit of wildness on the back fields -- dampened his chances. Still, the Mets remain high on McWilliams, signing him to a Major League contract last winter even though he had never appeared in a big league game. Much of that optimism revolves around the right-hander’s velocity, which increased from the low to upper 90s in the Rays organization last summer.

Now with the Mets, McWilliams began the season at Triple-A Syracuse with a chance to join the big club before long. Although the Mets’ farm system is improving, their top five prospects all began the season in Class A ball with no chance to impact the 2021 season. McWilliams is different; the Mets’ 16th-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline, could be in the big league bullpen at some point in the relatively near future, as could 10th-ranked Thomas Szapucki, who is now fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. -- Anthony DiComo

Nationals: INF
García graduated from prospect status last season when he played 40 games, including 35 starts at second base in place of a then-injured Starlin Castro, as an age-20 rookie. This year, he was assigned to Triple-A Rochester, where the Nationals are looking for him to get consistent reps and continue his development with the Red Wings. Batting leadoff and playing shortstop, García went 2-for-5 with a home run in the Minor League season opener on Tuesday. He is carrying the momentum of his rookie campaign, in which he hit .276 with 16 RBIs and two homers, including becoming the first player born in the 2000s to go yard. García has proven Major League experience should the Nationals find themselves in need of a backup to Trea Turner at shortstop or Josh Harrison at second base. -- Jessica Camerato

Phillies: RHP
Howard finds himself in a strange spot. He is on a strict innings limit this year, so he cannot truly join the Phillies’ rotation as a full-fledged starter. But because the club lacks quality starting-pitching depth in the organization, the Phillies sent him to Triple-A to build up his arm strength to join the rotation. Got that? No, not really? Basically, Howard will not be turned loose for five, six or seven innings if he starts for Philadelphia this season. He might just be a 3-4-inning guy, but considering the alternatives, the Phillies think that is better than nothing at all. And at the very least, Howard will build up his arm strength for a potential full-time role beginning in 2022. -- Todd Zolecki