Teams are opening Spring Training camps this week, and though I won't be traveling to the Cactus or Grapefruit leagues this year, I'm still invigorated by the dawn of a new season. Here's hoping that we get more of a normal year in the Majors and Minors than we did in 2020.
There are so many young big leaguers and prospects whom I'm looking forward to seeing on the field again in 2021, and our Pipeline Inbox questions this week indicate that many of you are thinking along the same lines ...
Can you name a couple hitters and pitchers that you're most excited to see make their stateside debut after the season being canceled last year?
The phrase "Stateside debut" makes me think of international prospects, so Yankees outfielder Jasson Dominguez, No. 32 on the Top 100, immediately jumps to mind. The hype train on Dominguez is out of control -- and I contribute by mentioning the athletic comparisons to Bo Jackson, Mickey Mantle and Mike Trout every time I write about him --- but I can't wait to catch my first game action of a player with potential well-above-average tools to match. Other position players I look forward to watching include several shortstops, such as Maximo Acosta (Rangers), Cristian Hernandez (Cubs) and Noelvi Marte (Mariners).
International pitchers don't earn the same acclaim as their hitting counterparts. U.S. debuts worth watching in 2021 include right-handers Jose Corniell (Rangers), Andry Lara (Nationals) and Brayan Medina (Padres) plus left-hander Esmerlin Vinicio (Giants).
Which 2020 draftees are you most curious to see in action this spring, and why?
Too many to count! I can't wait to see how Tigers corner infielder Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick and the best all-around offensive talent to come out of the Draft in years, fares against pro pitching. Or how well Austin Martin's (Blue Jays) pure hitting ability translates and where he finds a defensive home. Or who emerges as the best pitcher among the first three chosen -- Max Meyer (Marlins), Asa Lacy (Royals), Emerson Hancock (Mariners) -- and whether Reid Detmers (Angels) will beat them to the big leagues, as Garrett Crochet (White Sox) already has.
We’ll get the first glimmerings of answers to those questions this spring. Besides first-round talents who dropped to later rounds like right-handers Jared Kelley (White Sox) and Cole Wilcox (Padres, since traded to Rays), here are more players from each round after the first whom I'm especially curious about: righty Justin Lange (Padres, supplemental first), shortstop/righty Masyn Winn (Cardinals, second), third baseman Blaze Jordan (Red Sox, third), outfielder Zach Daniels (Astros, fourth) and third baseman Colt Keith (Tigers, fifth).
Who would be your All-Underrated team among prospects at each position? -- @StevieDAles97
We're busy working on updating our organization Top 30 Prospects lists, which we'll start to unveil in a couple of weeks. The approach I decided to take for this question was to look at players who didn't make new overall Top 100, didn't sign for a seven-figure bonus and have an overall grade of 45 or less on our current Top 30s and. Here's what I came up with:
Blake Hunt, C, Rays
Bryce Ball, 1B, Braves
Zach McKinstry, 2B/SS/3B/OF, Dodgers
Christopher Morel, 3B, Cubs
Taylor Walls, SS, Rays
Peyton Burdick, OF, Marlins
Jeremy De La Rosa, OF, Nationals
Michael Harris, OF, Braves
Austin Cox, LHP, Royals
Ryan Pepiot, RHP, Dodgers
Emmanuel Clase, RHP, Indians