9 prospects who could help teams down the stretch

August 26th, 2022

Since the Trade Deadline passed on Aug. 2, the only way for contenders to add significant talent is either by activating someone off the injured list or calling up a prospect from the Minors.

The Braves, Mets and Padres already have taken the latter route with Top 100 Prospects. Atlanta promoted Vaughn Grissom on Aug. 10, handed him the second-base job and he has responded by hitting .382/.424/.600 with the club going 13-2 in his first 15 starts. New York summoned Brett Baty a week later and installed him at third base. He homered in his first big league at-bat before going 4-for-his-next-30. San Diego called up Luis Campusano prior to Friday's series opener against Kansas City, giving him his first taste of big league action since late April.

Two more Top 100 Prospects have gotten the call this month. The Dodgers brought right-hander Ryan Pepiot up Aug. 10 to make three starts, while the Cardinals had left-hander Matt Liberatore make a quick relief appearance on Aug. 23. Both have returned to the Minors but could return soon.

More intriguing prospects could help contenders down the stretch. Below we present nine candidates who could make a difference in September ... as well as October and November.

Francisco Álvarez, C, Mets (MLB No. 1)
While the Mets are a lock to make the playoffs, they're in a dogfight with the Braves for the National League East title and a first-round bye. They're getting very little offensive production at catcher, and they also have baseball's best prospect, who just happens to play that position. Álvarez is batting just .180/.340/.378 with six homers in 32 games as a 20-year-old in Triple-A, so he'd have to heat up, but his combination of plus-plus power and precocious patience is tantalizing.

Hunter Brown, RHP, Astros (MLB No. 71)
The Astros are clicking along with the best record in the American League and six quality starting pitchers when most teams would be happy to have three, so they won't be adding Brown to their rotation. But with a mid-90s fastball that reaches 99 mph and a power curveball, he could be a multi-inning relief weapon. He leads the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with a 2.63 ERA, 130 strikeouts, 11.4 whiffs per nine innings and a .191 average-against.

Sal Frelick, OF, Brewers (MLB No. 49)
The Brewers have an offensive void in center field as they try to chase down a wild-card berth, but they also have four legitimate outfield prospects in Triple-A Nashville. The best performer among them is Frelick, who's batting .410/.483/.513 with as many extra-base hits as strikeouts (seven) in 20 games -- 13 months after Milwaukee made him the 15th overall pick in the 2021 Draft. With his bat-to-ball skills, on-base ability and well above-average speed, he could be a catalyst atop the lineup and chase down balls in center.

Gunnar Henderson, SS/3B, Orioles (MLB No. 2)
Henderson can make a case for being baseball's best prospect, and he's probably a better pure hitter than Álvarez while possessing considerable power as well. He's also performing much better in Triple-A -- .279/.388/.502 with 11 homers in 61 games at age 21 -- while playing all over the infield. He'd be an all-around upgrade over Rougned Odor at second base and provide more offense than Jorge Mateo at shortstop or Ramón Urías at third base as the Orioles try to make up ground in the Wild Card race.

Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers (MLB No. 27)
Even after losing Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw to injuries and trading Mitch White, the Dodgers still have the NL's best record and an abundance of starting pitching possibilities. That may block some promising mound prospects from joining their rotation at the moment, but Top 100 arms Miller, Pepiot and Gavin Stone are potential multi-inning relief options in Triple-A. Miller has the best stuff of the trio and some of the best stuff in the Minors: an upper-90s four-seam fastball, a heavy mid-90s two-seamer, a two-plane slider and a lively changeup -- both in the mid-80s -- and a low-80s curveball. He has a 4.47 ERA, a .233 average-against and a 120/32 K/BB ratio in 96 2/3 innings, mostly in Double-A.

Gabriel Moreno, C, Blue Jays (MLB No. 7)
Not only do the Blue Jays have two capable catchers in All-Star Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen, but they also have Moreno batting .326/.389/.423 in Triple-A. He hasn't generated much power this season, including a slash line of .276/.300/.293 during a month with Toronto earlier this season, but his hitting, on-base ability and versatility to fill in at both infield corners could be useful to a team in a tight Wild Card chase.

Kyle Muller, LHP, Braves (ATL No. 2)
The defending World Series champions are fighting the Mets for the NL East crown and a first-round bye. Muller, who was up briefly with the Braves for single starts in May and earlier this month, could help as a rotation depth option or as another left-hander out of the bullpen. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a pair of bat-missing breaking pitches, he paces the Triple-A International League in strikeouts (135) and whiff rate (10.9 per nine innings) while also posting career bests in ERA (2.98) and walk rate (2.5 per nine frames).

Bo Naylor, C, Guardians (MLB No. 78)
Trying to hold off the Twins and White Sox in the AL Central, the Guardians are getting a collective .194/.289/.289 batting line from their catchers. Meanwhile, Naylor is hitting .263/.380/.494 in Triple-A while displaying impressive on-base skills, occasional power and solid defense behind the plate. He may not be quite the defender Austin Hedges is, but he has a much more dangerous bat and could reunite with older brother Josh in Cleveland.

Anthony Volpe, SS, Yankees (MLB No. 5)
Yes, this may be a stretch with Isiah Kiner-Falefa providing nifty defense at shortstop and Volpe yet to play in Triple-A. But the Yankees' offense has scuffled in August as they've fallen 3 1/2 games behind the Astros for home-field advantage in the AL playoffs, and he's thriving in Double-A after a slow first two months. Just 21, he has parlayed his combination of tools and savvy into a .251/.351/.464 line with 17 homers and 43 steals in 105 games, and he might be just the spark that New York needs.