Predicting when we'll see Holliday, Skenes and other top prospects in the Majors

April 3rd, 2024

When MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect Jackson Holliday was sent down by the Orioles and No. 3 Paul Skenes got the same treatment from the Pirates during Spring Training, fans knew it would be a matter of when, not if, they got their first calls to the Major Leagues this season.

And the way the past two No. 1 overall picks in the Draft began their seasons in Triple-A last week, the knocking on their respective big league doors has already gotten much louder. Holliday went 5-for-14 with a 1.089 OPS and three extra-base hits in three games. Skenes pitched three perfect frames, striking out five and not throwing a fastball under 99 mph, in his first start Saturday.

But this duo is far from alone. There is a wide array of talent at the Minors’ highest level itching to show what they can do in The Show, leading everyone to wonder when those chances might come. On the latest Pipeline Podcast, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo looked into their crystal balls to predict when 10 of the top prospects in Triple-A will reach the Majors this season. With every prognostication came a rebuttal -- with the other either taking the over (later than predicted) or under (earlier).

Jackson Holliday, SS/2B, Orioles (No. 1/MLB No. 1)
ETA: April 26
Callis: "He’s too good. He’s going to tear up Triple-A and continue to play like he has, and the Orioles are eventually going to come to their senses and say, ‘Our team’s better if Jackson Holliday’s in our lineup.’ And I don’t think it will take much more than three weeks to figure that out.”
Mayo: Over
“Yeah, I was thinking more beginning of May, middle of May sometime. If they continue to win games, they’re not going to feel like they need to bring him up for no reason. Let him get some wind in his sails when they do call him up. I don’t think it’s going to be much longer than that, but I just see it as another week or two after.”

Paul Skenes, RHP, Pirates (No. 1/MLB No. 3)
ETA: May 3
Mayo: “I think it’s just a matter of getting him some pro innings and getting him stretched out. He’s yet to throw more than three innings, so he’s going to need a few more starts.”
Callis: Over
“When this game was originally brought up yesterday, I picked May 22, but I’m going to go with a couple days after Jonathan’s guess. I think Jonathan is on to something. If the Pirates get off to another hot start, then I think they’re going to want to keep building on that. If they start to falter a little bit, then I think it will be closer to May 22. But I like Jonathan’s guess, I think it will be closer to May 3 than my original guess of May 22."

Junior Caminero, 3B/SS, Rays (No. 1/MLB No. 4)
ETA: May 5
Callis: “He made his debut last year. I look at their lineup, they’re obviously trying to win. Do I have a lot of faith in Jose Caballero as their regular shortstop? Not really. Isaac Paredes is coming off of a really nice year at third. I say the quad set him back a little bit, but not too far back.”
Mayo: Over
“I think that this was one of these cases where if they thought he was ready, he would’ve made the Opening Day roster. He’s already on the 40-man, he was up last year, he made the jump from Double-A. I just think he needs a bit more time. I think the quad, while not a big deal, does set him back a bit."

Colson Montgomery, SS, White Sox (No. 1/MLB No. 9)
ETA: May 27
Mayo: “I want him up like now, but I get it. I think he needed a little more time, there were some things that they wanted him to work on. This wasn’t a case of monitoring his service time, I don’t think it was anything like that. I just think that he has less than a full year of Double-A, so he needs some time."
Callis: Over
“He hasn’t really played that much in the upper Minors at all. As good as he is, and I’m as big a Colson Montgomery fan as anybody, coming into the year he had played 51 games in Double-A over parts of two seasons, and part of that was Project Birmingham. He hasn’t really torn it up. You kind of get a reverse PPI effect where if I’m not going to call him up, then I’m almost better off not letting him graduate from rookie status this year, so I can get the PPI effect next year. They could call Montgomery up Aug. 16 or later and he would only get 45 days, which is the max you can have and still be rookie-eligible. I don’t think they’re going to wait that long. I think he’s going to have a good year in Charlotte and force the issue and come up sometime in July.”

Jordan Lawlar, SS, D-backs (No. 1/MLB No. 11)
ETA: July 19
Callis: “He’s out at least two months. They like [Geraldo] Perdomo, they like [Eugenio] Suarez, he’s going to need time to get his timing back.”
Mayo: Over
“It’s a thumb injury, eight to 10 weeks, and then it’s going to take him a good amount of time to get that swing back. Some of it may depend on what’s going on at the big league level, given that they were a World Series team last year, but I don’t think we’re going to see him until Aug. 30.”

James Wood, OF, Nationals (No. 2/MLB No. 14)
ETA: Aug. 2

Mayo: “This one is tough because he made it to Double-A last year, wasn’t great there, but it seems like he’s taken a nice step forward. He’s off to a good start, 4-for-10 in Triple-A. He’s only 21 for the bulk of the season so I’m going to kick this to later in the summer.”
Callis: Over
“If you’re going to wait until Aug. 2, you might as well wait two more weeks. The Nationals aren’t going to contend, and you keep him eligible for the PPI in 2025.”

Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs (No. 1/MLB No. 16)
ETA: June 14
Callis: “Came up at the end of last year, went 0-for-14, didn’t get a lot of playing time. They’ve got a lot of outfielders now that they re-signed Cody Bellinger. I do think PCA needs some time at Triple-A, it could be an injury callup, Owen Caissie could push him as well.”
Mayo: Under
“I think that there’s going to be a need for him earlier than that.”

Brooks Lee, SS, Twins (No. 2/MLB No. 18)
ETA: May 14
Mayo: “Brooks Lee, mild injury to his lower back. He made it to Triple-A last year. I think when he was drafted, the idea was to get him there pretty quick. I think he’s going to come back from this back injury, and he’s going to put up some ridiculous numbers, and he’s going to force his way up to the big leagues.”
Callis: Over
“I like Brooks Lee a lot, but they just don’t have an obvious spot for him barring an injury. With Edouard Julien at second and Carlos Correa at shortstop, there's not an obvious spot. I think it’s going to take him a little longer to regain his timing and find his spot in the lineup.”

Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Blue Jays (No. 1/MLB No. 28)
ETA: May 17
Callis: “Their fifth starter is a little fluid. Tiedemann’s been hurt, but I think it’s going to be relatively quick.”
Mayo: Over
“He’s got 36 innings total in the upper levels coming into this year. I think he’ll need a little more time to get himself stretched out. So I’m going to say mid-June.”

Coby Mayo, 3B, Orioles (No. 3/MLB No. 29)
ETA: Sept. 2
Mayo: “They’re so stacked, it’s going to come down to when there’s a need. I’m going to say Heston Kjerstad first -- a little more advanced, more time at the upper levels.”
Callis: Under
“I know Holliday’s eventually going to be in this lineup, but they’ve got Ryan O’Hearn at first base. If somebody gets hurt, I could see Mayo getting the opportunity before then.”

Heston Kjerstad, OF, Orioles (No. 4/MLB No. 31)
ETA: May 20
Mayo: “He’s a little more advanced and has more time at the upper levels.”
Callis: Over
“I think Kjerstad is ready, but they already have Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander and Colton Cowser in the outfield. It’s tough because Cowser is a guy who already isn’t getting many at-bats because of too many outfielders.”