Four Top 100 prospects homer in ST openers
Baseball’s top prospects are back in action, and the best of the best lived up to the billing on Sunday, as four Top 100 prospects went deep in Spring Training openers.
Jazz Chisholm kicked off the young stars’ return with a bang. The No. 66 overall prospect in the game hammered a leadoff home run to left field in the first inning on Sunday and finished his day 1-for-2 as his Marlins beat the Astros, 6-1, in seven innings.
Coming off a 21-game stint in the big leagues last year, Chisholm is looking to improve on his .161/.242/.321 showing in the Majors and opened his spring on the right note. The 23-year-old’s blast came on the second pitch he saw from Houston’s Brandon Bielak and kicked off a four-run Miami first.
Chisholm, the fourth-ranked Marlins prospect, last played a full season with 112 games in Double-A between the Arizona and Miami systems in 2019. Due to the Marlins’ COVID-19 and injury issues, he was pressed into Major League duty last year and made 11 starts at second base with another six at shortstop.
In his second trip to the plate, Chisholm bounced out to short for the final out of the second inning. He was replaced in the lineup by Miami’s No. 20 prospect Nasim Nunez in the bottom of the fourth.
Teammate JJ Bleday followed Chisholm’s lead and left the yard on Sunday, as well. Baseball’s No. 20 overall prospect hammered a shot to left-center to lead off the top of the fifth. Bleday spent last year at the Marlins’ alternate site, his first full year since being drafted out of Vanderbilt with the fourth overall pick in the Draft in 2019.
Miami’s No. 11 prospect Nick Neidert threw two scoreless innings in relief. The righty yielded two singles and struck out a batter.
Here’s how other top prospects performed on Sunday:
Jeter Downs SS, Red Sox (MLB No. 49 prospect)
Coming on in place of Boston’s starting shortstop Kiké Hernández, Downs impressed out of the top spot in the order in two at-bats during his team’s 7-6 loss to Minnesota in seven innings. In his first trip to the plate, the top Red Sox prospect belted a two-run homer to right-center and followed with an RBI single to center in the sixth. Downs last saw regular season action as a member of the Dodgers organization in 2019, batting .276/.362/.526 in 119 games between Class A Advanced and Double-A. More »
Bobby Dalbec, 1B, Red Sox (MLB No. 93 prospect)
Getting the start five spots down in the order from Hernández, Boston’s No. 3 prospect left the yard, too. With two outs and the bases empty in the top of the second, Dalbec cranked a shot to right field for his first homer of the spring. The first baseman played in 23 big league games a year ago, batting .263/.359/.600 for the Red Sox with eight homers and 16 RBIs.
Connor Wong, C, Red Sox
Boston’s No. 19 prospect entered in place of starting catcher Christian Vázquez in the bottom of the third and smacked a double to right field a half-inning later. Wong struck out in the fifth but finished 1-for-2 and worked four innings behind the plate for the Red Sox.
Yusniel Diaz, LF, Orioles
Following a walk in his first plate appearance of the spring season in the second inning and a strikeout in the fourth, Baltimore’s No. 8 prospect blasted a two-run homer to left field as the O’s fell to the Pirates, 6-4, in eight innings. Across three Minor League levels in 2019, Diaz batted .265/.341/.464, in 85 games, playing the bulk of those (76) with Double-A Bowie. More »
Julio Rodriguez, OF, Mariners (MLB No. 5 prospect) Rodriguez lined a walk-off single to center that plated Jarred Kelenic (MLB No. 4 prospect) as Seattle's top two prospects brought home the win in the opener against the Padres. It was Rodriguez's lone hit in three at-bats after pinch-hitting for designated hitter Ty France in the fifth. The 20-year-old stood out in his first full season of pro ball in 2019, compiling a .326/.390/.540 slash line with 69 RBIs and 63 runs during 84 games between Class A West Virginia and Modesto. Kelenic also singled to right, grounded out and drew a walk to set up the winning run after entering as a defensive substitution in right in the fourth. More »
Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates (MLB No. 9 prospect)
Getting the nod in the two-hole in the Pirates' order, Hayes tallied his first knock of the spring on an RBI double to center field in the fourth inning of the Bucs’ Sunday afternoon win. Pittsburgh’s top prospect walked in the first inning and grounded out in front of the plate in the second to finish his first action of the year at 1-for-2. During his big league debut season last year, the third baseman batted .376/.442/.682 with 14 extra-base hits of his 32 total knocks and 11 RBIs. Hayes is a defensive whiz, too, as a three-time Minor League Baseball Gold Glove Award winner with Class A Advanced Bradenton in 2017, Double-A Altoona in 2018 and Triple-A Indianapolis in 2019. Gameday »
Drew Mendoza, 1B, Nationals
Washington’s No. 9 prospect got just one at-bat during 2020 Spring Training before the season was put on hold and didn’t notch a hit. In his first try at the dish in 2021, he made it count. Mendoza pummeled an RBI double to right-center field in the top of the seventh inning on Sunday afternoon in Palm Beach as Washington and St. Louis tied, 4-4. While in the field at first base, Mendoza also flashed his defensive acumen with a barehanded play in the ninth inning. The Nationals’ third-round pick in 2019 batted .264/.377/.383 in 55 games that summer with Class A Hagerstown. Gameday »
Jorge Oña, OF, Padres
Oña, who went yard during a five-game stint with the big league club last year, started his spring campaign with a two-run long ball to right-center in the sixth against the Mariners. The 24-year-old Cuba native, who entered the game as a defensive replacement for Wil Myers in right in the fourth, hadn’t played above Double-A before hitting .250 during his cup of coffee in 2020. Gameday »
Mickey Moniak, LF, Phillies
The first overall pick in the 2016 Draft started his spring strong, driving a double to center field in the top of the second inning of the Phils’ 10-2 loss to the Tigers in seven innings. Moniak finished 1-for-2 following a swinging strikeout in the fourth. Philadelphia’s No. 12 prospect started the 2019 season in Double-A at just 20 years old and held his own at the level throughout 119 games, batting .252/.303/.439 with a career-best 11 homers and 67 RBIs while adding career highs in triples (13) and stolen bases (15). Gameday »
Kevin Padlo, 3B, Rays
Tampa Bay’s No. 19 prospect worked at the hot corner in his first spring action on Sunday and laced a double in the bottom of the fifth inning for his first hit of the year. Padlo, who can play both corner infield positions, split 110 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019, batting .265/.389/.538 with a personal best 21 homers. Gameday »