As baseball tiptoes toward an Opening Day later this month, it’s been fun to see prospects in action on Major League fields. A number of the game’s top prospects are in 60-man player pools, so it’s exciting to see Matt Manning throw in Detroit and Jarred Kelenic to hit balls out in Seattle, to name two examples.
So I approached this Inbox with cautious optimism about seeing some of these players in action sooner rather than later. To borrow a phrase from “Hamilton,” (I have to appear trendy, after all): “For the first time, I’m thinkin’ past tomorrow.”
It’s hard not to be excited about the D-backs farm system overall, one we ranked No. 6 among all farm systems back in March. And that future outfield could be a whole lot of fun to watch.
Three of the organization’s top five prospects roam the outfield, starting with No. 1 Kristian Robinson, who has tremendous power potential that started showing up in 2019 (21 homers) to go along with good speed (29 steals). Alek Thomas is No. 2 on the list and has impressive pure hitting ability to go along with power and speed. Then there’s 2019 first-round pick Corbin Carroll, the team’s No. 5 prospect who has a similar profile to Thomas, maybe with more speed and a little less pop.
It might not be until 2023 or so until all three are ready to go in Arizona, but seeing an outfield with Carroll in center, Thomas in left and Robinson in right is easy to dream about. Now, if A.J. Vukovich, the D-backs’ fourth-round pick who just signed, ends up in a corner spot, that’ll be a good problem to have.
To be fair, no one has heard much of anything about any prospect, especially those not currently working out as part of a team’s 60-man player pool. And Greene is obviously far from being ready to be included on a roster.
It is true, though, that Greene reports have been hard to come by. The Reds’ No. 2 prospect has been quietly working very hard to rehab after his April 2019 Tommy John surgery. Reports from the organization early were that things were going well, then we’ve had to rely on social media reports of Greene throwing from a mound in his back yard and, of course, tossing a ball through a moving car window.
Greene hasn’t been doing interviews, so how he’s doing is somewhat subject to conjecture. At this point, I’m working on the assumption that he’s going to return to the top pitching prospect he was before he got hurt. He’s currently No. 53 on the Top 100 and he could move up from there once he returns to the mound and starts pitching competitively again. In some ways, the pandemic-caused layoff might be good for him long-term, giving him more time to get his work in away from the spotlight so that he’s ready to get the ball rolling in 2021 at 100-percent capacity.
Full disclosure, I had the same reaction when I first didn’t see his name on the Orioles’ 60-man list. He is, after all, on the 40-man roster and was in big league camp this spring, though he was optioned to Triple-A during what was initially thought to be a briefer pandemic-based pause in the season. The Orioles’ No. 4 prospect has shown he can hit, though he needs to improve his plate discipline, and he did spend the year in Triple-A last year, so it would stand to reason that he’d be in that 60-man player pool.
And then, as I was writing this, Mountcastle was officially added:
In the end, I wouldn’t read too much into him not being part of the group working out in Baltimore initially. The Orioles are doing things a bit differently, only having announced 44 players for their Summer Camp at the outset. That gets cut to 30 to start the season later this month and eventually down to 26 a month into the season. Baltimore only announced, and brought to Summer Camp, the players who had a chance to be a part of that Opening Day roster.
Mountcastle isn’t going to be a part of that group as the Orioles wanted him to work on his aforementioned approach at the plate along with his defense, which has always been behind his bat. He spent time at first and in left field during Spring Training. So he’ll be in the Orioles’ secondary camp once it opens. First base is pretty blocked by Chris Davis and there isn’t an obvious spot in left field, nor is Mountcastle necessarily ready to man the position full time in the big leagues.
With Trey Mancini out for the year, there could be an opportunity for Mountcastle in the near future. I think his bat will play eventually, even if it takes some time to find the right role to get him regular at-bats.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, NunaRay1. There have been so many moving parts and changes across baseball, it’s really hard to keep up. Luckily for all of us, colleague Jesse Sanchez explained it all not long ago.
The main change, as you point out, is the date switch -- instead of the signing period having started last week (July 2), it commences on Jan. 15, 2021 and runs to Dec. 15, 2021, a move that will continue to 2022, it seems.
In terms of spending and who is eligible, not much has actually changed. Teams that have money left over in their 2019-20 bonus pools are allowed to spend now with an extension until mid-October to sign eligible players. There will be a closed period from Oct. 15, 2020 -Jan. 15, 2021. Then it starts up again with the players who would have been eligible starting on July 2 making up the pool of prospects who can sign. And the 2020-21 international spending pools stay the same. This is at the bottom of Jesse’s story, but here it is again for easy reference:
$6,431,000: Cincinnati, Detroit, Miami, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Tampa Bay
$5,889,600: Arizona, Baltimore, Cleveland, Colorado, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, San Diego, St. Louis
$5,348,100: Boston, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Houston, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Oakland, Seattle, San Francisco, Texas, Toronto, Washington
$4,732,700: Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia
$4,232,700: New York Yankees
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.