From Spring Breakout to MLB? Here are 8 players who could soon be in The Show

March 21st, 2024

Spring Breakout provided an opportunity for baseball's top prospects to compete against each other in a showcase event.

For some of them, it could be their last games against Minor Leaguers for a long time. Jackson Chourio, Masyn Winn and Jackson Holliday are expected to begin the year in the big leagues, and many more could be joining them soon.

A handful of players who competed in Spring Breakout, such as Junior Caminero, Jordan Lawlar and Pete Crow-Armstrong, got a cup of coffee last year and could return to the Majors in short order. But we're going to take a look at the Spring Breakout participants who might be able to parlay that into an MLB debut before long.

Here are eight prospects to watch out for during the 2024 season.

Paul Skenes, RHP, Pirates (MLB No. 3)
ETA: May

Skenes is the best pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg, and he's expected to make a Strasburgian impact in his first full pro season. The former Nationals star debuted in early June, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Skenes even sooner. The 2023 No. 1 pick has only thrown 9 2/3 pro innings -- three this Spring Training, not counting Spring Breakout -- but he's been absolutely dominant. And, perhaps just as importantly, the Pirates rotation lacks much firepower or stability outside of Mitch Keller and veteran lefties Martín Pérez and Marco Gonzales.

Dylan Crews, OF, Nationals (MLB No. 7)
ETA: June

Skenes' LSU teammate spent the majority of his pro debut in Double-A Harrisburg last season, and he could quickly move up to Triple-A Rochester. Yes, he only slashed .208/.318/.278 in 20 games at Harrisburg, but that was after a lengthy college season, and the Nationals clearly value his 70-grade bat enough to give him a near-record $9 million bonus. That plus-plus bat -- along with an impressive strikeout rate that has improved over time -- makes him a prime candidate to adjust to the upper Minors and Majors smoothly. Plus, he has the defensive versatility to play any of the three outfield positions as needed.

James Wood, OF, Nationals (MLB No. 14)
ETA: May

Although Wood has a much higher strikeout rate than Crews and some lingering contact concerns, the hulking slugger may well earn a promotion first. He's crushed at every level -- even in pitcher-friendly leagues -- and led Nationals Minor Leaguers with 26 home runs last year. Although Wood doesn't turn 21 until September, the Nats are known for aggressively challenging their top prospects. And if he continues to slug in the upper Minors as he has in Spring Training (1.085 OPS, 3 HRs in 50 PAs), he won't leave them much of an option other than to promote him.

Marcelo Mayer, SS, Red Sox (MLB No. 15)
ETA: July

The big question mark here is health, as Mayer looks like a superstar in the making when on the field but has been sidelined by wrist, back and shoulder injuries. Fully healthy heading into the 2024 season, the '21 No. 4 overall pick has a chance to really take off, especially given that he already played against Double-A competition last year. That familiarity could allow him to earn a midseason promotion to Triple-A Worcester, and there's not much blocking him in the Majors. Despite middling speed, Mayer is solid defensively at short and can push Trevor Story back to second base sooner rather than later.

Brooks Lee, SS, Twins (MLB No. 18)
ETA: June

Lee has lived up to his billing as an advanced college bat and made it to Triple-A St. Paul in his first full professional season. His .237/.304/.428 line there may not be all that impressive in a vacuum, but he struck out just 16.7 percent of the time despite being more than four years younger than the average player on the circuit. Expect Lee to hit his way into the Major League lineup quickly. What position he'll field is up in the air. With fellow former top shortstop prospects Carlos Correa and Royce Lewis also in Minnesota, he could see time at second or third -- or Lee could even bump Lewis back to the outfield.

Coby Mayo, 3B/1B, Orioles (MLB No. 30)
ETA: July

It can be hard to stand out in a system as talented as Baltimore's, but Mayo has shined all spring (.979 OPS) after leading the farm system with 29 home runs last year. No, he won't start the year in the Majors like fellow Top 100 prospects Jackson Holliday and Colton Cowser, but he should be up soon. Although Mayo has long been known for his prodigious power and strong arm, he's made great strides on defense this spring, even if third base is more crowded than first in Baltimore. One more strong bat to fit in the lineup is a good problem to have for the O's.

Rhett Lowder, RHP, Reds (MLB No. 34)
ETA: June

Remember when Cincinnati drafted Mike Leake eighth overall in 2009 and sent him straight to the Majors? Well, it won't quite be that fast for Lowder, whom the Reds took seventh overall in '23, but the former Wake Forest starter has the tools to accelerate through the system after not pitching professionally last year following the Draft. Armed with three above-average-to-plus pitches and perhaps the best control in all of the Minors, Lowder is expected to begin the year at Double-A. However, the Reds may not want to waste his bullets if he pitches up to expectations and they find themselves locked in a competitive NL Central race.

Jeferson Quero, C, Brewers (MLB No. 35)
ETA: July

It's not often that a catcher will debut in the Majors at age 21, but Quero is that type of prospect. Even at his young age -- Quero was one of two 20-year-old catchers to receive regular playing time at Double-A last year -- the Venezuela native earned a 2023 Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove Award and racked up a .779 OPS with 16 home runs at the same time. He'll begin the year in Triple-A Nashville and should be on pace for another promotion over the summer, especially if starting catcher William Contreras has to miss any time.

Others to watch: Tyler Black, 3B/1B, Brewers (MLB No. 46); Mick Abel, RHP, Phillies (MLB No. 49); Drew Gilbert, OF, Mets (MLB No. 53); Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Guardians (MLB No. 59); Jace Jung, 2B/3B, Tigers (MLB No. 60)