Here are 30 prospects to watch at Triple-A -- 1 for each team
Knocking on the door. A phone call away.
We’ve all heard the axioms surrounding playing at the Triple-A level. And while it’s true players can get called up from any level to help the big league club out, more often than not, the calls are made to teams’ Triple-A affiliates.
It’s a level that’s often associated with older veteran types, guys trying to get back to the big leagues. But every organization has prospects there trying to take the step to the final rung of the organizational ladder. With Triple-A Opening Day on Friday, here’s one prospect to watch at the level for each system.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Addison Barger, INF (No. 6)
Barger gave Toronto fans a taste of his Ichiro-inspired leg kick this spring with promising results, and the 23-year-old likely isn’t far from getting a call up north. The left-handed slugger shows prodigious pop from the left side that helped him hit 26 homers in 124 games across three levels last season, and it’s that offensive potential that will push the envelope. Worth watching during his time with Buffalo: Barger has mostly split time at short and third, but he should get looks in the outfield, where his cannon arm will play and the Jays have more openings.
Orioles: Grayson Rodriguez, RHP (No. 2/MLB No. 7)
After competing for a big league rotation spot all spring with mixed results, it’s clearly a matter of when, not if, he gets called up to help in Baltimore. The 23-year-old right-hander only amassed 75 2/3 innings last year, missing a chunk of the season with a lat strain, so some extra reps with Norfolk certainly can’t hurt. O’s fans won’t have to wait long to see him on the bump as he’s getting the ball in Friday’s opener for the Tides.
Rays: Taj Bradley, RHP (No. 1/MLB No. 20)
The 22-year-old right-hander is slated to be Durham’s Opening Day starter, giving us an early look at his push toward St. Petersburg. Bradley continued to show a mid-90s fastball, upper-80s cutter and upper-80s splitter this spring, and his athletic delivery should help him keep throwing strikes at the Minors’ top level. Bradley’s Triple-A numbers last year (3.66 ERA, 53 K’s in 59 innings) may not pop like his at lower stops, but he could certainly take off in his second go-round and push for a first-half debut.
Red Sox: Bryan Mata, RHP (No. 7)
Following Tommy John surgery in 2021, Mata returned to the mound last season and made his Triple-A debut in August. He posted a 2.49 ERA, .201 average-against and 105 strikeouts in 83 innings between four stops. Signed for $25,000 out of Venezuela in 2016, he features a 95-98 mph fastball with power sink, an upper-80s slider and a mid-80s changeup with late fade.
Yankees: Oswald Peraza, SS/2B (No. 3/MLB No. 52)
Peraza was the favorite to win the Yankees' shortstop job after a strong September callup performance, but he lost out to fellow Top 100 prospect Anthony Volpe. Signed for $175,000 out of Venezuela in 2016, he has average power, plus speed and is a superior defender to Volpe at short. Peraza hit .259/.329/.448 with 19 homers and 33 steals in 98 Triple-A games last year before batting .306/.404/.429 in 18 big league contests.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: Bo Naylor, C (No. 4/MLB No. 64)
Cleveland's catcher of the future made an 0-for-8 cameo in the Majors last October, teaming up with his brother, Josh. The 29th overall pick in 2018 as a Canadian high schooler, he batted .263/.392/.496 with 21 homers and 20 steals between Double-A and Triple-A. He offers plus raw power and solid defense behind the plate.
Royals: Maikel Garcia, SS (No. 3)
Garcia put a strong foot forward in Cactus League play, hitting .324/.343/.471 with a homer and two steals in 14 games but was optioned to Omaha to get more regular at-bats. He’s a gifted defender at short, but his chances of playing there depend on whether Kansas City believes Bobby Witt Jr. should remain at that spot. Instead, Garcia could keep getting looks in center and third, where he also made starts this spring.
Tigers: Parker Meadows, OF (No. 12)
A lot was made this spring about the younger Meadows partnering up with his brother, Austin, in big league camp, and now the trek to rejoin the pair in Detroit begins. Meadows has long been one of the most athletic prospects in the Detroit system. He showed even more power in that profile in the Grapefruit League, where he tied for the Tigers lead with five homers in 21 games. Should that slugging ability hold, Meadows’ first trip to the International League might be a short one.
Twins: Edouard Julien, 2B (No. 4)
An ankle sprain suffered in a Grapefruit League game put his 2023 debut in doubt, but he’ll be ready for Opening Day with St. Paul. This guy hits everywhere he goes and that included this spring, when he posted a .348/.375/.739 slash line with three homers in eight big league games. That bat is going to be loud enough to be heard from one of the Twin Cities to the other.
White Sox: Lenyn Sosa, INF (No. 8)
Improved swing decisions led to a 2022 breakout for Sosa. He paced the White Sox system with a .315 average and belted 23 homers between Double-A and Triple-A while also making his big league debut in June. Signed for $325,000 out of Venezuela in 2016, he provides 20-homer potential and sure-handed defense. He could get at-bats at second base in Chicago if Elvis Andrus falters.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Chase Silseth, RHP (No. 4)
The first member of the 2021 Draft class to make it to the big leagues, Silseth’s debut with the Angels was uneven. He missed bats (14 K’s in 13 1/3 IP), but was hittable (19 hits). He has very good stuff and was working on adding a cutter this spring. After being rushed to Los Angeles last year out of need, he can get the development time he needs in Salt Lake and could be the first arm called up when there’s a need.
Astros: Korey Lee, C (No. 7)
Beaten out for a backup job in Houston by Yainer Diaz and César Salazar, Lee has well-above-average raw power and arm strength but needs to make more contact and improve his receiving. A surprise 2019 first-rounder out of California, he hit .238/.307/.483 with 25 homers in Triple-A last year and went 4-for-25 with the Astros.
A’s: Tyler Soderstom, C/1B (No. 1/MLB No. 39)
Soderstrom hung around big league camp longer than many expected, enabling him to get a lot of reps behind the plate and soak in knowledge from big league receiver Shea Langeliers and the coaching staff. The bat is just about ready after hitting 29 homers and driving in 105 runs, despite dealing with a thumb injury early, in 2022. He played more first base than behind the dish last year, and now he can spend more time catching with Las Vegas.
Mariners: Taylor Dollard, RHP (No. 9)
Perhaps Bryce Miller and Emerson Hancock are higher-profile prospects, but they’ll be in Double-A Arkansas. Dollard led the organization in ERA (2.25) and WHIP (0.95) in 2022. It’s not wow stuff, but he has a legitimate four-pitch mix with plus command (2.0 BB/9 in his career to date) and he doesn’t need too much more polish to be ready.
Rangers: Justin Foscue, 2B/3B (No. 7)
The 14th overall pick in the 2020 Draft out of Mississippi State, Foscue makes his Triple-A debut after batting .288/.367/.483 with 15 homers in Double-A. He's an offensive-minded second baseman with the tools to hit for average and power, and he could wind up in left field given the Rangers' infield depth.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Braden Shewmake, SS (No. 6)
Atlanta's first-round pick in 2019 out of Texas A&M, Shewmake spent his first two full seasons of pro ball at the upper levels and is repeating Triple-A in 2023. He hasn’t hit as much as hoped, with a .724 career OPS, but he makes a ton of contact (18.5 K rate in his career) and plays a very good defensive shortstop. If he can unlock the bat a bit more, he could be ready to step into the big league middle infield on a daily basis.
Marlins: Jacob Amaya, SS (No. 9)
Acquired from the Dodgers in January for Miguel Rojas, Amaya is the Marlins' best defensive option at shortstop but will begin the season in Jacksonville. He has on-base skills but also gets into trouble hunting home runs, and he batted .261/.369/.426 with 17 long balls between Double-A and Triple-A.
Mets: Francisco Álvarez, C (No. 1/MLB No. 3)
The presence of Omar Narváez and Tomás Nido on the Major League roster meant Álvarez seemed likeliest to open in Syracuse, where he can get the regular reps needed to improve his defense behind the plate. We certainly know the bat is capable of playing at the top level, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see 420-plus-foot homers become a regular Triple-A appearance from the 21-year-old. Álvarez’s combination with Brett Baty and Mark Vientos should give Syracuse a potent lineup from Day 1.
Nationals: Jeter Downs, INF (Not ranked among Top 30)
After Downs was designated for assignment by the Red Sox this winter, the rebuilding Nationals scooped him up as a potential reclamation project. A 20-20 performer in 2019, Downs got a long look at winning a Major League spot this spring, and though he’ll open in Rochester instead as a double-play partnership, he still represents the exact type of development win Washington will need to make this turnaround a quick one.
Phillies: Simon Muzziotti, OF (No. 10)
He’s spent time in Triple-A each of the past two seasons and made his big league debut in 2022, though a knee injury forced him to the sidelines for much of the year. Muzziotti makes a ton of contact (12.3 percent career K rate), but impact has always been a question. He can really play center field and spent the offseason in Clearwater working on adding strength, with the hope it will show up for a healthy age-24 season.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Sal Frelick, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 30)
Frelick already entered the spring as an impressive prospect, and then he put his full set of tools on display with Italy in the World Baseball Classic, going 7-for-23 (.304) with three doubles and only two strikeouts. He was considered for a Brewers outfield spot but heads back to Nashville, where he hit a ridiculous .365/.435/.508 while striking out only 7.4 percent of the time in 46 games last year. The Boston College product has the hit, run and fielding tools to smash down the door to Milwaukee before long.
Cardinals: Masyn Winn, SS (No. 2/MLB No. 50)
The 2020 second-rounder kept up his sterling defensive reputation with weekly (or even daily) highlights from shortstop, including one double play that led Oli Marmol to say, “Your superstars don't make that play.” But he showed an even better bat than many expected too, hitting .333/.393/.556 with six extra-base hits and four steals in 18 games. That boosted the Cards’ confidence that he could handle a push to Memphis at 21 years old, and he could be on pace to join friend Jordan Walker by the second half.
Cubs: Brennen Davis, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 92)
Davis endured a rough 2022 season, batting .191/.322/.319 with four homers in 43 Triple-A games sandwiched around June surgery to correct a nest of blood vessels pushing against a nerve in his back. A 2018 second-rounder from an Arizona high school, he once ranked as the Cubs' top prospect and still comes with plus power, at least average speed and a chance to stick in center field (at least until Pete Crow-Armstrong arrives in Chicago).
Pirates: Endy Rodriguez, C/2B/OF (No. 2/MLB No. 55)
The catcher on the MLB Pipeline Prospect Team of the Year, the switch-hitting Rodriguez mashed his way to Triple-A last year, finishing with a .997 OPS and 25 homers. After going 7-for-17 in big league camp, look for Rodriguez to start knocking on the door loudly with his bat while getting more regular reps behind the plate with Indianapolis.
Reds: Matt McLain, SS/2B (No. 6)
McLain’s first full season in 2022, spent in Double-A, didn’t go as planned as the advanced college hitter struggled to adjust to the aggressive assignment. He has strike-zone knowledge (15.5 percent walk rate last year) and there’s confidence he’ll figure things out with Louisville this year. He can steal a base and play on both sides of second base capably.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Brandon Pfaadt, RHP (No. 4/MLB No. 59)
There was a wide subset of the Arizona fan base that wanted Pfaadt to win the fifth spot in the Major League rotation out of spring. No. 6 prospect Ryne Nelson got it instead (with Drey Jameson joining the MLB bullpen), but don’t rule out Pfaadt shoving in Reno and elbowing his way into that debut. He led the Minors with 218 strikeouts and 167 innings pitched in 2022, and his 93-95 mph, mid-80s slider and upper-80s changeup could certainly keep the K’s coming at any level.
Dodgers: Gavin Stone, RHP (No. 5/MLB No. 56)
Stone struck out 14 in 6 2/3 scoreless innings in Cactus League play, but he got sent to Oklahoma State in large part because he's not on the 40-man roster. The 2020 fifth-rounder from Central Arkansas led the Minors in ERA (1.48) and ranked fifth in strikeout rate (12.4 per nine innings) last season, thanks to a 94-98 mph fastball with plenty of induced vertical break, a plus-plus mid-80s changeup with nasty tumble and a solid mid-80s slider.
Giants: Kyle Harrison, LHP (No. 1/MLB No. 18)
San Francisco gave Harrison first-round money ($2,497,500) as a third-rounder from a California high school in 2020 and have never regretted that investment. He led the Minors in strikeouts per nine innings (14.8) and whiff percentage (39.8) while reaching Double-A at age 20 last year, showing the ability to miss bats with a 92-97 mph fastball that plays better than its velocity, a plus low-80s slider with sweep and an improved mid-80s changeup with fade and sink.
Padres: Jay Groome, LHP (No. 9)
Even after San Diego added a good amount of starting pitching in the offseason, Groome made a strong run at a rotation spot in his first spring as a Padre, finishing with a 1.29 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 14 innings. Ten walks in that span didn’t help, but it was certainly notable that the 24-year-old southpaw looked to be in better shape and was throwing a tick harder than in his Red Sox days. He could be more than just starting depth for the NL West contenders this season, and it’s notable he’ll start Opening Day for El Paso.
Rockies: Brenton Doyle, OF (No. 16)
Doyle has flashed ridiculous raw tools ever since being drafted in 2019 but hasn’t always been consistent. He started to make some adjustments late last season season and finished the year by raking in Triple-A. He performed well in Cactus League games this spring, can flat-out play center field and the Rockies feel he’s starting to figure things out.