1 prospect for each team ready to make an impact
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow. You're always a day away.
Every MLB team always has an eye on the future. The same goes for the high-ranking prospects and Minor Leaguers wondering when they will get their chance to prove their worth in the Majors. For the prospects listed below, that chance might arrive very soon. They may not be their franchise's No. 1 prospect, and maybe some of them have already gotten a short-lived taste of the big leagues. But when they do get the call, they will be prepared to make an impact.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: C Gabriel Moreno
Moreno's power numbers haven’t come just yet, but he’s hitting well in Triple-A and making up for lost time after visa issues delayed the start to his Spring Training. The Blue Jays have the luxury of depth at catcher already with Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk, but Moreno profiles as the future of the position in Toronto. The 22-year-old’s bat is ready, but the final stage of this process will be his development when it comes to managing a pitching staff and navigating a lineup. The Blue Jays love the work Moreno has done, though, and we’re approaching the point in the season where the timeline for his arrival becomes a daily conversation.
Orioles: C Adley Rutschman
There’s a lot of uncertainty in life, but not when it comes to answering this question. Rutschman, the Orioles’ top prospect, will soon be in the Majors to make his long-awaited debut. Whenever the hoped-for franchise cornerstone does appear, it will signal a turning tide in Baltimore baseball, flashing their revamped farm system and inching back towards postseason contention. Rutschman has been and will be the poster child for this rebuild. The only uncertainty is when he finally gets his call. -- Zachary Silver
Rays: OF Josh Lowe
Lowe cracked the Rays’ Opening Day roster after they traded Austin Meadows to the Tigers, only to be sent back to Triple-A Durham as Tampa Bay prioritized extra pitching when rosters shrank on May 2. But Lowe, the Rays’ No. 2 prospect, is bound to be back sooner than later as part of Tampa Bay’s outfield/DH mix. Lowe was coming off a 22-homer, 26-steal season in Triple-A but hit just .188/.257/.344 with 27 strikeouts in 71 plate appearances over 19 games with the Rays to begin this season. In his first 12 games back with Durham, though, Lowe launched four homers and four doubles with 17 RBIs. -- Adam Berry
Red Sox: 1B Triston Casas
Without question, Casas is the most advanced hitting prospect in Boston’s farm system and the club’s No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline. Given the continued offensive struggles of Red Sox first baseman Bobby Dalbec, who has been platooning with Franchy Cordero of late, it’s not hard to picture Casas getting his first callup to the Majors sometime around midseason. This is the first time Casas has started a season at Triple-A, and the Red Sox are likely to let the talented left-handed hitter bring it up a notch from the modest start he has had before giving him the call. In his first 36 games, Casas slashed .248/.359/.457 with six homers and 22 RBIs. -- Ian Browne
Yankees: LHP JP Sears
Sears was on the Yankees' Opening Day roster, pitching two scoreless innings and picking up his first Major League victory before returning to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where the 26-year-old has continued to fight for a promotion. Through five games (four starts) at Triple-A, Sears has pitched to a 1-0 record and 0.53 ERA, scattering 11 hits across 17 innings with one walk and 23 strikeouts. Sears pitched in a relief role in the Majors, and though he's now building stamina as a starter, the Yanks could use him in a variety of roles based upon need.
Guardians: RHP Daniel Espino
We could easily list middle infielder Gabriel Arías here, too. Both he and Espino are currently on the injured list, but they seem to be on the fast track to the Majors. The reason we’re going with Espino rather than Arías is because his numbers are trending toward promotions. Arías has the skillset and the reputation to get to the Majors and likely be a successful big leaguer, but he’s gotten off to a slower start this season and will have to miss a handful of weeks due to fracturing his hand. Espino is only in Double-A Akron, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll stay in one spot for too long. Last year, he dominated Class-A and High-A, racking up 152 strikeouts in 91 2/3 frames with a combined 3.73 ERA. This year, he’s posted a 2.45 ERA through four starts with 35 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings. And if the Guardians continue to have trouble with their pitching, Espino could get a good look by the end of the season. – Mandy Bell
Royals: 1B Vinnie Pasquantino
The Royals already have Bobby Witt Jr. and MJ Melendez on their big league roster, and Pasquantino, along with first baseman Nick Pratto (who is on the 40-man roster), are expected to debut at some point in 2022. Pasquantino’s bat is already forcing the question with the way he’s started the season in Triple-A. The 24-year-old has an .874 OPS through 35 games, with a 14.8% walk rate compared to a 15.4% strikeout rate. His ability to work the count and do damage when he gets a pitch to hit -- he has eight homers this season -- will make for exactly the kind of plate appearances the Royals are looking for at the Major League level right now. The Royals would still like to see Pasquantino dominate Triple-A over a bigger sample size, but the early returns are certainly favorable when it comes to what the “Italian Nightmare,” as George Brett nicknamed him,” could do when he arrives in Kansas City.
Tigers: OF Riley Greene
Greene would’ve been the Tigers’ Opening Day center fielder had he not suffered a fractured bone in his right foot in the final days of Spring Training. He was cleared last week to ramp up baseball activities and could begin playing in Minor League games at the end of the month in hopes of having him ready for a potential debut sometime in June. Before the injury, the 21-year-old was the Tigers’ best hitter in Spring Training, according to Miguel Cabrera, and certainly one of their most dynamic players -- an impact left-handed hitter with a solid combination of power, speed and athleticism. His callup could create a logjam in Detroit’s outfield, especially if Willi Castro continues to hit, but the Tigers will make room for their 2019 first-round pick. – Jason Beck
Twins: RHP Matt Canterino
An easier answer might be a reliever like lefty Jovani Moran, who has shown that his swing-and-miss stuff works in the big leagues already this year. But let’s do a deeper dive here and look at Canterino, the club’s second-rounder in 2019. Even after a clunker in his most recent start, the right-hander out of Rice has struck out 12.6 per nine and held hitters to a .165 average in his first taste of Double-A. He has frontline starter potential, but his stuff could also be downright unhittable if the Twins wanted to ease him in coming out of the 'pen. – Jonathan Mayo
White Sox: 3B Jake Burger
The White Sox have one of the lowest-rated farm systems in baseball primarily because their top young players currently are contributing to one of the most talented big league rosters. There are players such as right-handed pitcher Davis Martin, who came up and made a solid spot start in Kansas City, and Carlos Pérez, who is having a great year behind the plate for Triple-A Charlotte. But there are veteran players ahead of them on a team looking for a World Series title. So, the answer would be Burger, the team’s top pick in the 2017 Draft, who already has been there and done that with the White Sox. Burger started the year with Triple-A Charlotte, came to the Majors in Detroit for Opening Day and returned to the Knights when Yoán Moncada came off the injured list. But Burger would be ready if needed at third base or at designated hitter and even has some innings in his career at second.
Angels: OF Jo Adell
Adell started the season with the Angels but was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake in early May. All he’s done is hit and hit for power since he’s been down, which could earn him another callup soon. His biggest issue remains his defense, but playing every day in the Minors has allowed him to get more repetitions in the outfield. The Angels have a crowded outfield with Mike Trout, Brandon Marsh and Taylor Ward, but Adell looks like he could be recalled again soon because he’s clearly too good offensively for Triple-A pitchers.
Astros: RHP Hunter Brown
Brown, the Astros’ No. 3 prospect on Pipeline’s Top 30 list, could be the next hard-throwing pitcher in Houston’s organization to reach the Majors. Brown is considered to have the best stuff in the system, and he’s off to a good start at Triple-A Sugar Land, posting a 2.76 ERA over his first seven outings (five starts). Brown’s velocity sat in the mid-90s and hit 99 mph in September of the 2021 season, showing he could maintain his power pitches over the course of a full year. His most devastating weapon is his curveball, which sits in the low 80s and drops coming out of his three-quarters arm slot.
Athletics: C Shea Langeliers
Oakland’s No. 2 prospect doesn’t appear to have much left to prove at the Minor League level. Langeliers, who headlined the prospect haul acquired from the Braves in exchange for Matt Olson this spring, is slashing .289/.381/.586 through 34 games at Triple-A Las Vegas. His 11 home runs are good for second most in the Pacific Coast League. Sean Murphy has the everyday catching job in Oakland locked down, but Langeliers could still force his way up here with his supreme bat if he continues this tear at the plate. -- Martín Gallegos
Mariners: RHP Levi Stoudt
Matt Brash is probably the easy answer as he best fits the billing, but since we’ve already seen him debut this year, we’ll go with Stoudt, Seattle’s No. 6 prospect. The right-hander is the next starting reinforcement in the Mariners’ pitching-heavy pipeline, and perhaps the likeliest to join the rotation if someone goes down. He’s been stretched out to as far as six innings and pitched in 81 2/3 last year, so he’ll be able to pitch deep into the season. -- Daniel Kramer
Rangers: OF Leody Taveras
The Rangers’ former top prospect has had his cup of coffee with the big leagues in 2020 and ‘21 but struggled mightily each time. In 82 MLB games, he’s slashed .188/.249/.321 (.570 OPS). He entered camp this year with less pressure to make the Opening Day roster and was assigned to Triple-A Round Rock early on. But now, it’s only a matter of time before he returns to Arlington. Taveras has seemingly figured out Triple-A pitching and doesn’t have much more to prove at that level of the sport. He currently leads the Express in almost every offensive category among players with more than 70 at-bats. His slash line of .328/.356/.560 (.916) may not be sustainable throughout a full season, but it’s by far the best he’s had at any level of the Minors. Rangers manager Chris Woodward said if Taveras can maintain that level of consistency, he’ll be up sooner rather than later. -- Kennedi Landry
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: LHP Tucker Davidson
When Davidson tossed five scoreless innings against the Brewers on Tuesday, he gained a chance to stay in the Majors and possibly fill the rotation’s fifth spot for a while. This spot had been earmarked for Spencer Strider to serve as an opener or traditional starter. But with Tyler Matzek set to miss at least a month with a sore left shoulder, there is currently a greater need for Strider in the bullpen. – Mark Bowman
Marlins: RHP Edward Cabrera
With all of the talk about Max Meyer and when he might make his MLB debut, people seem to be forgetting about another MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospect: Edward Cabrera. The 24-year-old righty posted a 5.81 ERA in seven starts during his first taste of the Majors last season, but he has premium stuff that should play with more seasoning. Should Elieser Hernandez continue to struggle or if more injuries hit the rotation, Cabrera could be the next arm up. – Christina De Nicola
Mets: 3B Mark Vientos
Of the Mets’ Top 5 prospects, the one with the most realistic chance to crack the Majors this season is Vientos, who has overcome a sluggish start to reframe the conversation surrounding his play. Vientos, who batted just .164 in April, bashed four home runs over a four-game stretch in early May to reignite his prospect star. He’s still unlikely to make an impact before the All-Star break, but if he keeps hitting, Vientos could become a second-half sparkplug a la Michael Conforto in 2015. – Anthony DiComo
Nationals: RHP Cade Cavalli
Cavalli has been the Nationals' prospect to watch since Spring Training. Projected to make his Major League debut this season, he is ranked as Washington's No. 1 prospect and No. 36 overall. After dominating in the Minors last year (his first full season of pro ball), Cavalli has been going through a learning curve in Triple-A. But he has been lauded for having big league-caliber stuff and electric potential, with the question being when, not if, he gets the call. – Jessica Camerato
Phillies: RHP Francisco Morales
Morales just made his Phillies debut last week, making two appearances on their 5-2 trip through Seattle and Los Angeles. He struck out three in his debut in Seattle, but he walked three in his follow-up in Los Angeles. Morales got optioned to Triple-A following Sunday’s loss to the Dodgers, but there is every reason to think he will be back. Morales is a big arm with a big-time slider that Phillies manager Joe Girardi has praised as a wipeout pitch. It is no secret the Phillies' bullpen has had its issues over the years, and teams also dip into their pitching depth over the six-month season. Morales is the type of guy who could help.
Brewers: SS Brice Turang
Willy Adames’ ankle injury offered a reminder of how close Turang is to the big leagues. For now, the Brewers are going with Luis Urías at shortstop with the expectation that Adames’ IL stint will be the minimum 10 days, but any extended absence for either of those Brewers shortstops would open the door for Turang, MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 Brewers prospect, since none of the team’s other utility types are prototypical shortstops. Turang entered Wednesday with a solid .285/.349/.423 slash line and already has parts of two seasons of Triple-A ball on his résumé despite the fact that he will play this entire season as a 22-year-old. Credit his big league bloodlines and a ridiculously athletic set of siblings for playing a role in his quick ascent. – Adam McCalvy
Cardinals: 2B Nolan Gorman
The Cardinals have already received tremendous injections of energy and production from Triple-A callups Juan Yepez, Brendan Donovan and Jake Walsh. Gorman -- Triple-A Memphis’ most productive player and MLB Pipeline’s No. 2 prospect in the St. Louis system -- will be the latest on that list. The 22-year-old was called up on Thursday alongside his good friend Matthew Liberatore. A Cardinals team that struggles mightily against righties needs the pop that Gorman can provide. He hit seven home runs over a seven-game stretch in April, and he has 15 round-trippers in 33 games. However, Gorman’s 49 strikeouts in 129 at-bats are a concern. – John Denton
Cubs: RHP Caleb Kilian
Earlier this week, the Cubs promoted Christopher Morel (No. 21 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Cubs prospects list) and Brandon Hughes. Morel homered in his first career at-bat, and Hughes recorded five outs (all strikeouts) in his MLB debut. The youth movement could continue as the summer progresses for the Cubs, and the team has endured some rotation inconsistencies so far. With that in mind, Kilian (No. 4) is very much on the team’s radar for this season. Jared Banner, the Cubs’ vice president of player development, recently said: “He knows he’s close.” Kilian, who was acquired from the Giants last year as part of the Kris Bryant trade, dominated Double-A hitters in ‘21, impressed in the Arizona Fall League and has kept his foot on the gas this year with Triple-A Iowa. Through seven starts, the righty had a 1.57 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 12 walks in 28 2/3 innings. – Jordan Bastian
Pirates: SS Oneil Cruz
No need to overthink this one. It’s not a matter of if the Pirates call up Cruz, but when. Cruz, the Pirates’ No. 3 prospect, has struggled with Triple-A Indianapolis to begin this season, posting a .622 OPS in 31 games entering Wednesday, but he still continues to hit baseballs harder than just about everyone but Giancarlo Stanton. Last week, Cruz hit a single with an absurd exit velocity of 121.7 mph. Cold spell aside, that’s something that can’t be faked. -- Justice delos Santos
Reds: RHP Graham Ashcraft
Ranked as the Reds’ No. 8 prospect, Ashcraft is 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA in seven starts for Triple-A Louisville in 2022 and has yet to allow a home run in 32 2/3 innings. He hasn’t racked up too many strikeouts (30) but did record nine K’s over five innings in his previous outing. A big right-hander who regularly throws in the high 90s and touches 100-plus, MLB Pipeline named Ashcraft the Reds’ 2021 pitching prospect of the year after he split the year at High-A and Double-A – a season that included a seven-start streak (43 innings) without giving up an earned run. Following the offseason trades of Sonny Gray and Wade Miley, the Reds haven’t been afraid to put their prospects in the rotation – namely their top two in Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo. Ashcraft, the organization’s sixth-round pick in the 2019 Draft, could step up this year if there were a need. – Mark Sheldon
D-backs: 1B/DH Seth Beer
It hasn’t been long since Beer, the club’s No. 11 prospect, was optioned to Triple-A Reno. However, it may not be a long return to the Minors. Beer started the season by carrying the D-backs’ offense, hitting .438 (14-for-32) over his first 11 games, which included a walk-off three-run homer vs. the Padres on Opening Day. After that, Beer went 3-for-49 over his next 16 games, a stretch that included an 0-for-37 skid. Beer raked at every step of the Minor Leagues before working his way to MLB, and Arizona manager Torey Lovullo is confident that the slugger will get going again in the near future. As soon as Beer’s bat heats up, he could be back in a D-backs lineup that struggled to generate offense a bit early in the season. -- Jake Rill
Dodgers: 1B/3B Miguel Vargas
With the Dodgers’ recent pitching woes, all the attention is on Bobby Miller, the organization’s top pitching prospect, but it’s Vargas who has a chance to start making an impact very soon. Max Muncy and Justin Turner aren’t hitting and if those struggles continue for much longer, the Dodgers are going to have to pivot to someone who could help. Through the Minors, all Vargas has done is hit and that hasn’t changed during his first taste at Triple-A. Might be time to see if his tools at the plate translate to the big league level.
Giants: RHP Sean Hjelle
The 6-foot-11 Hjelle made history after debuting with the Giants earlier this month, matching Jon Rauch as the tallest player on record to play in the Majors. Hjelle’s first appearance came out of the bullpen, but he’s been primarily a starter in the Minors and could develop into rotation depth at some point this summer.
Padres: IF Matthew Batten
The obvious choices here are C.J. Abrams and Luis Campusano, both of whom have been outstanding at the upper levels of the Minor Leagues. They’re clearly a huge part of the Padres' future. Batten isn’t quite the same type of foundational piece, but he’s proven extremely valuable with his ability to play solid defense anywhere on the infield – and some corner outfield, too. There’s not exactly a need for Abrams or Campusano right now. But the Padres are short on utility pieces, and Batten – hitting .317/.426/.528 in Triple-A – just might fit the bill.
Rockies: RHP Ryan Feltner
When Antonio Senzatela had to leave his last start with a lower back strain, the Rockies’ thin starting pitching depth was exposed and may require some bolstering with Senzatela now on the injured list. Apart from his most recent start, Feltner has been solid this season for Triple-A Albuquerque and has seen a nice uptick in velocity. The 25-year-old right-hander made his MLB debut last September and made one start for the Rockies earlier this season, giving up four runs over five innings against the Phillies on April 27. Before surrendering five runs over five innings in his most recent start for Albuquerque, Feltner had a 3.26 ERA in six Triple-A starts this year, striking out nearly 30 percent of the batters he faced. – Manny Randhawa