AL West Minor Leaguers set for big impact

May 6th, 2021

The American League West is loaded with star power at the big league level, and it’s no different in the Minor Leagues. Each club has a number of top prospects on track to make it to the The Show sooner than later.

We take a look at which of those AL West Minor Leaguers are looking to make it to the big leagues this year and could make a major impact for their clubs in 2021.

Angels: OF Brandon Marsh (LAA No. 1 prospect, MLB Pipeline No. 45 overall)
Marsh has yet to play above Double-A but is likely to make his debut at some point later this season after some time at Triple-A Salt Lake. Marsh combines power, speed and on-base skills and is capable of playing all three outfield positions. With Dexter Fowler out for the season with a knee injury, Marsh could get a shot as the club's everyday right fielder at some point later this season. For now, the Angels are using a mix of Jared Walsh and Scott Schebler there, but that could change if Marsh is producing and the Angels believe he's ready. But he'll also have to outplay former top prospect Jo Adell, who remains in the mix and will open the year with Marsh at Triple-A. -- Rhett Bollinger

Astros: RHP (HOU No. 13 prospect)
Solomon has already appeared in a few games for the Astros this season after being added to the 40-man roster in November, thanks to injuries to reliever Blake Taylor and starter Jake Odorizzi. He’s slated to begin the season in the rotation at Triple-A Sugar Land. Solomon, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 Draft out of Notre Dame, had Tommy John surgery in June 2019. He was trying to build off a terrific ‘18 season in which he posted a 2.32 ERA and struck out 114 batters in 100 2/3 innings combined between Class A clubs Quad Cities and Buies Creek when he suffered an elbow injury in his second start of the ’19 season for Class A Advanced Fayetteville. The Astros will have rotation depth, especially when left-hander Framber Valdez returns, but Solomon, No. 3 prospect Hunter Brown and No. 9 prospect Tyler Ivey represent the next wave of starting pitching coming up through Houston’s system. Solomon could be a mid-rotation starter, but there’s some belief he fits best in the bullpen. -- Brian McTaggart

Athletics: RHP (OAK No. 4 prospect)
There was a growing sense in Spring Training that Jefferies was pitching his way onto the Opening Day roster. A final rotation spot that was up for grabs due to an injury to Mike Fiers ultimately went to left-hander Cole Irvin, but Jefferies certainly turned heads and caught the attention of the big league staff with a stellar performance in the Cactus League. Over six games, the 25-year-old righty posted a 1.50 ERA with 24 strikeouts against just six walks in 18 innings. Given that spring breakout, Jefferies has positioned himself well to make an impact in Oakland this season, whether it be as a starter or in the bullpen. He began the Minor League season on the injured list with a shoulder issue, but it's considered minor and he should be pitching for Triple-A Las Vegas by the end of May. -- Martín Gallegos

Mariners: OF (SEA No. 1 prospect, MLB Pipeline No. 4 overall)
It's not a matter of if Kelenic will make his MLB debut soon, but when. Given how impressive and advanced he looked in Spring Training and the state of the Mariners' offense -- which was hitting just .201/.281/.359 through its first 1,003 at-bats after being no-hit by John Means on Wednesday -- the Mariners have reached a point where they genuinely need the dynamic outfielder. At the very least, he could provide a fresh, confident face. Kelenic this week reported to Triple-A Tacoma, where the Mariners will want to see how he stacks up against Pacific Coast League pitching and accumulate enough reps so that they have no doubt that he's completely ready. But his Minor League stint in 2021 will likely be a short one. -- Daniel Kramer

Rangers: OF Leody Taveras
Going into Spring Training, Rangers No. 1 prospect Josh Jung (MLB Pipeline No. 54 overall) or No. 2 prospect Sam Huff (No. 67) would've been the no-doubt answers here. But with both opening the Minor League season rehabbing injuries, it’s unclear if either will get that expected late-season callup. That leaves outfielder Leody Taveras, who entered the season as the No. 4-ranked prospect but has since graduated from that status.

Taveras made his Major League debut in the shortened 2020 season after jumping past Triple-A with the cancellation of the Minors season and looked like the Rangers’ center fielder of the future. He started the ‘21 season as the Opening Day center fielder but struggled to a 4-for-46 showing through 15 games, which led Texas to option him to Triple-A Round Rock on April 26. But Taveras is an elite defender and an above-average baserunner, two things that Rangers manager Chris Woodward emphasizes at the big league level. Woodward said that all Taveras needs to do to get back to the Majors is be more consistent at the plate and vastly improve his discipline. If he can replicate anywhere close to his .265/.320/.375 slash line from his 2019 at Double-A Frisco against Triple-A pitching, he’ll be back with the big league club and contributing. -- Kennedi Landry