MLB Top Prospect Update: AL East

MLB Top Prospect Update: AL East

by June 1, 2021 0 comments

We are now two months through the Major League Baseball season and nearly a month through the Minor League Baseball season. With that in mind, we have more to go on as far as the top prospects have done to this point. Prior to the season, several of our writers came out with top-five prospect rankings for each team. I will be running down each of them, how they have done so far, and whether their stock has risen or dropped at all. Let’s start with the AL East.

Baltimore Orioles

1. Adley Rutschman – C

The 2019 first overall pick has been raking down at Double-A Bowie this season, and will likely get called up to Triple-A Norfolk very soon. Through 22 games, Rutschman is slashing .293/.465/.573 with six homers, 20 RBI, 20 runs, and 22 walks to 20 strikeouts. He earned a spot on the Prospect Team of the Week this week. He finished the week off with five hits, two homers – one in each game, and seven RBI in a doubleheader.

Stock: —

2. Grayson Rodriguez – RHP

Just a few days ago, the 2018 11th overall pick out of Central Heights High School earned the call-up to Double-A Bowie from High-A Aberdeen. This after he had given up just four runs on 11 hits and five walks while striking out 40 (yes, 40!) over 23 1/3 innings in five starts.

Stock: —

3. Ryan Mountcastle – 1B/OF

The 36th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft has now officially graduated from the prospect list. After a solid rookie campaign in 2020 where he had a 140 OPS+ in 140 plate appearances, Mountcastle is now an everyday player in Baltimore. He has split time at first base, left field, and designated hitter this season for the Orioles, playing in 48 games overall. The Winter Springs, Florida native has struggled out of the gate at the plate, as he has just a 70 OPS+, 3.8 percent walk rate, and 32.1 percent strikeout rate through 184 plate appearances.

Stock: Drops Out – Graduated

4. Heston Kjerstad – OF

The 2020 second overall pick out of Arkansas has yet to make his pro debut due to a heart condition he was diagnosed with last fall. Kjerstad was cleared to resume workouts in April, but the Orioles are being uber-cautious with the former Razorback. When he does make his pro debut, he will likely start at Low-A Delmarva.

Stock: –

5. DL Hall – LHP

The southpaw was a first-round selection in the 2017 draft out of Valdosta High School. Hall has pitched very well for Double-A Bowie, surrendering five runs on 11 hits and 11 walks while striking out 39 in 21 innings over five starts. Every year since he was drafted, he has moved up one level and rising his stock each time out.

Stock: +

New Top 5: Rutchsman, Rodriguez, Hall, Kjerstad, Jordan Westburg

Westburg earns a spot in the top five after having a tremendous start to his professional career. After the Orioles drafted the infielder 30th overall out of Mississippi State last year, he has hit .366/.484/.592 with three homers, 24 RBI, and five stolen bases in 91 plate appearances for Low-A Delmarva.

Boston Red Sox

1. Jeter Downs – SS/2B

The middle infielder was drafted 32nd overall by the Cincinnati Reds before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2019 season. Downs was then a major piece to the deal that sent Mookie Betts to the Dodgers before the 2020 season. So far this season, his first season in the Boston system, he is having a bit of a shaky start for Triple-A Worcester. In 19 games, he is slashing just .239/.333/.394 with three homers, 31 strikeouts, and eight walks. Downs has also swiped seven bags in eight tries.

Stock: –

2. Triston Casas – 1B

The 2018 first-round pick out of American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida has been on a tear to start the season in Double-A Portland. Casas has gotten a hit in all but five of his 17 games, including eight multi-hit games. He now has a .952 OPS with four homers in 67 at-bats.

Stock: +

3. Bryan Mata – RHP

Mata underwent Tommy John surgery in April after not pitching in game action since the Arizona Fall League in 2019. If he can recover well from the surgery, he has the stuff to potentially get to Boston by the end of next season. The more likely bet, however, is that he gets a full season between Double-A and Triple-A next season to get some better experience.

Stock: –

4. Bobby Dalbec – 1B/3B

The corner infielder from the University of Arizona is now a graduated prospect as he is the starting first baseman of the Red Sox. The 26-year-old has struggled massively compared to his 2020 rookie year, as he is hitting just .209 and has a 54/9 strikeout to walk rate in 42 games.

Stock: Dropped Off – Graduated

5. Tanner Houck – RHP

The first-round pick from the University of Missouri is currently on the injured list with a sore flexor muscle. Prior to being placed on the injured list, Houck had struck out 12 and walked one while giving up five earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.

Stock: —

New Top 5: Casas, Jarren Duran, Downs, Mata, Houck

Duran joins the top five after mashing to start the season in Triple-A Worcester. He currently has a .278/.366/.625 slash line with 7 RBI, 14 runs, and four stolen bases in 18 games. Duran also had three hits in Team USA’s first game in the Olympic Qualifiers on Monday.

New York Yankees

1. Jasson Dominguez – OF

The Martian has yet to be assigned to a minor league team just yet, as he is currently playing in extended spring training. Dominguez did visit the Yankees’ Low-A affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons, on Thursday, so that will likely be the level he starts out at.

Stock: —

2. Deivi Garcia – RHP

The Dominican-born right-hander has been up-and-down between the Yankees and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Along with that, Garcia hasn’t been totally consistent. He has had a couple of dominant starts in between shaky ones. In his two major league starts, he only lasted 4 and 4 1/3 innings, respectively, while surrendering a total of six earned runs. In his two dominant starts in Triple-A, Garcia lasted five innings in both while striking out a total of 16 and allowing just one unearned run.

Stock: –

3. Clarke Schmidt – RHP

The right-hander from the University of South Carolina hasn’t pitched so far this season after sustaining a strain in his common extensor tendon in spring training. Schmidt threw his first bullpen session Sunday and he hopes to face hitters within the next few weeks. Once he makes a full recovery, he will likely start out at Triple-A. If all goes well, he could still end up making a big impact on the Yankees’ rotation at some point this season.

Stock: —

4. Oswald Peraza – SS

The Venezuelan-born shortstop was signed by the Yankees as an international free agent in 2016. Peraza turns 21 in two weeks and has been raking High-A Hudson Valley. In 23 games, he is slashing .323/.400/.570 with five bombs, 13 RBI, 17 runs, and 15 stolen bases. The call-up to Double-A Somerset could come very soon for Peraza.

Stock: +

5. Luis Gil – RHP

The absolute flamethrower from the Dominican Republic has been nearly unhittable for Somerset. Gil has allowed four earned runs on 14 hits and seven walks while striking out 36 in 21 1/3 innings. The Yankees acquired Gil from the Minnesota Twins for Jake Cave in 2018, and the trade has been certainly paid off so far.

Stock: +

New Top 5: Dominguez, Peraza, Schmidt, Garcia, Gil

Tampa Bay Rays

1. Wander Franco – SS

It will not be long until the Domincan-born shortstop makes his Major League debut for the Rays. A couple of weeks ago, Tampa Bay traded Willy Adames to the Milwaukee Brewers. Due to service time manipulation, Franco wasn’t the one who got the call to replace him. Instead, it was the fellow switch-hitting Taylor Walls. In 22 games for Triple-A Durham, Franco is hitting .272/.340/.511 with four homers, three stolen bases, 11 strikeouts, and nine walks.

Stock: —

2. Luis Patino – RHP

The main piece to the Blake Snell trade to the San Diego Padres, Patino is now no longer considered a prospect, as he has pitched enough in the big leagues. The right-hander has been pitching better than his debut season of 2020. He has struck out 19 and walked four over 15 innings in five games, including three starts. Patino had been placed on the 10-day injured list due a finger laceration two weeks ago. He has now been reinstated and optioned to Durham. Instead of taking on a bullpen role with the big league club, he will get consistent work as a starter in Triple-A.

Stock: Droped Off – Graduated

3. Randy Arozarena – OF

Another graduated prospect, Arozarena has slightly come back down to Earth after his unreal 2020 postseason. But even so, he has still played fairly well for the defending American League champions. The Cuban-born outfielder is slashing .265/.356/.418 with seven bombs, 27 RBI, and eight stolen bases.

Stock: Dropped Off – Graduated

4. Vidal Brujan – 2B/SS/OF

Alongside top prospect Franco, Brujan has also been hitting very well in Durham. The 2014 international free agent signee currently has a .992 OPS, seven homers, and nine stolen bases. He could potentially join Franco up in Tampa Bay around the same time.

Stock: +

5. Brendan McKay – LHP/1B

After making 13 big league starts in 2019, the two-way player out of the University of Louisviller has faced numerous setbacks. He tested positive for COVID-19 last summer, then had his season wiped out by shoulder surgery. McKay has been limited to hitting this season and hasn’t put up very good numbers at the plate. Scouts have always preferred him on the mound, and that solidifies that. As he continues to rehab his pitching arm, it is still to be seen whether his stuff and command return to the same level. The southpaw still projects as a mid-rotation starter.

Stock: +

New Top 5: Franco, Brujan, McKay, Shane Baz, Shane McClanahan

The two Shanes join the top five with the graduations of Patino and Arozarena. Baz has shown tremendous stuff down in Double-A Montgomery, holding a 0.93 WHIP while striking out 35 and walking just two in 22 2/3 innings. He has also allowed a .229 batting average against. McClanahan has made six starts for the Rays and holds a 3.29 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 32 strikeouts to seven walks.

Toronto Blue Jays

1. Nate Pearson, RHP

The 2017 first-rounder has been shaky to start the season through three minor league appearances – one start – and one major league start. Pearson got lit up in his only major league start against the Houston Astros, allowing three runs on four hits and five walks in just 2 1/3 innings. He has pitched a little better in Triple-A, as he has struck out 19 and walked four over nine innings for Buffalo aka Trenton.

Stock: —

2. Austin Martin, SS

The 2020 fifth overall pick out of Vanderbilt has been decent out of the gate for Double-A New Hampshire. Martin has an OPS of .831, but he has yet to hit a homer and has struck out 24 times to just nine walks. Being that it’s his first professional season, the Blue Jays will need to be patient.

Stock: —

3. Alejandro Kirk, C

The 22-year old is getting consistent playing time for Toronto, so he is no longer a prospect. Kirk has a 121 OPS+ and three home runs in 46 plate appearances through 17 games for the big league club.

Stock: Dropped Off – Graduated

4. Alek Manoah, RHP

The right-hander made his major league debut against none other than the Yankees last week and shut down the Bombers bats. Over six shutout innings, Manoah allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out seven. He also went six innings in his three starts in Triple-A and allowed just one run total – on a home run – and striking out 27 in 18 innings.

Stock: +

5. Jordan Groshans, SS/3B

The 2018 first-round pick has struggled for New Hampshire so far, as he has just a .673 OPS along with 16 strikeouts and seven walks. As he starts to adjust to Double-A pitching he will improve, as he has the raw tools to be a top-tier hitter.

Stock: —

New Top 5: Pearson, Martin, Manoah, Simeon Woods Richardson, Groshans

Woods Richardson joins the top five after starting the season with 31 strikeouts to eight walks and a minuscule .197 batting average against in four starts over 19 innings for Double-A New Hampshire.

Stay tuned for the AL Central prospect update up next.

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Main Image Credit: Steve Alohona, Pinstriped Prospects

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