This week, we check in on three prospects already in the Majors and two more on their way.
Five Big Hype Prospects
Adley Rutschman, 24, C, BAL (AAA)
26 PA, 1 HR, .200/.385/.350
After quickly trouncing High- and Double-A competition, Rutschman has settled into Triple-A over the last week. While his stats at Norfolk aren’t yet glowing, he is nearing a promotion, per Dan Connolly of The Athletic. First, he has a couple boxes to tick to complete his rehab journey from a triceps injury. The most important step is starting at catcher multiple days in a row. Thus far, he’s caught only three of six games in Triple-A. Encouragingly, he delivered his first home run of the season on Thursday. He’s also demonstrating the quality plate discipline and contact skills associated with his previous rise through the system.
Connolly believes a promotion will come this month and perhaps as soon as next week. While many would undoubtedly like to see him arrive on Monday for the start of a home stand, that might be too soon for Rutschman to complete his rehab goals. Next weekend or the following week make for reasonable expectations.
George Kirby, 24, SP, SEA (MLB)
6 IP, 0.00 ERA, 10.50 K/9, 0.00 BB/9
Last week’s Big Hype Prospects noted the potential for Kirby to fill Matt Brash’s spot in the Seattle rotation. That potential became reality on Sunday. Against the Rays, he faced 21 batters, allowing four hits and recording seven strikeouts. He did a fair amount of nibbling in his debut – only roughly half of his offerings were in the strike zone. Despite this, he was efficient, needing just under four pitches per batter. He also induced 14 whiffs out of 81 pitches thrown. He mostly relied on his fastball and slider while showing the occasional curve and changeup.
As several observers noted, Kirby’s fastball velocity plunged throughout the game. Six innings and 21 batters faced both stand out as season-highs, and it’s fair to wonder if debut jitters had him overamped in the early innings. Kirby’s next test comes Saturday against the Mets. We’ll want to see if he shifts how he uses his four-pitch repertoire, and if he can maintain his velocity from beginning to end.
D.L. Hall, 23, SP, BAL (AAA)
3 IP, 3.00 ERA, 12.00 K/9, 6.00 BB/9
Hall’s preparation for the season has taken him on a similar path to Rutschman. They probably could have shared transportation from High-A to Double-A to Triple-A. Hall’s stuff is truly electric. The southpaw can sit around 96-mph, and his fastball has natural carry. He complements it with two wipeout breaking balls and an effective changeup. Besides health, command is his primary shortcoming. However, he showed signs of turning a corner last season. Comparisons to Josh Hader abound. Remember, Hader had a chance to stick in the rotation before he proved too valuable as a reliever.
Injuries and poor command have prevented Hall from topping 100 innings in a season. The Orioles front office undoubtedly wants to take it slow while getting him ready for an expanded role in future seasons. He’s faced between 12 and 15 batters in his three starts, a sign he might be used as an opener or bulk reliever this season. That would also be an effective way to get him a full season of outings without a burdensome workload.
Bryson Stott, 24, SS, PHI (MLB)
(AAA) 40 PA, 2 HR, 2 SB, .333/.375/.611
Stott made the Phillies out of Spring Training then proceeded to flop. He hit just .133/.161/.167 in 31 plate appearances. Upon a demotion to Triple-A, his bat immediately awakened. He delivered multiple hits in five of nine games played. The sole red flag was a 25 percent strikeout rate which, while not egregious by leaguewide standards, is on the high side for him. Still, we’re talking a couple extra strikeouts in a small sample. An injury to Didi Gregorius necessitated Stott’s recall. The Phillies hope Gregorius can return sometime next week. In four games since returning, Stott has one hit, one walk, and seven strikeouts in 16 plate appearances.
Vidal Brujan, 24, UT, TB (MLB)
(AAA) 70 PA, 6 SB, .300/.400/.467
Brujan’s offensive template is speed-based. However, despite what many say, he’s not entirely powerless. Think of him as similar to Cardinals utility man Tommy Edman. Both have the capacity to sting the ball even if most of their contact is on the ground. Brujan raised his launch angle in Triple-A Durham last season, launching 12 home runs in 441 plate appearances. He also stole 44 bags. He could age into more power. For now, the focus is on maintaining a low strikeout rate and high BABIP. The Rays have lumped Brujan into their ever-mutating series of platoons. He should receive regular, if unpredictable, playing time.
Oneil Cruz (23): While his triple-slash of .190/.315/.324 remains an eyesore, Cruz has shown signs of life in his last six games (.304/.467/.565). As Chris Clegg of Fantrax notes, Cruz is capable of Stantonian exit velocities. The Pirates are using Diego Castillo and Rodolfo Castro at shortstop, both of whom are considered second basemen by most scouts.
Riley Greene (21): Greene was on pace to make the Tigers Opening Day roster before breaking his foot. He’s expected to resume baseball activities today. The Tigers could use an upgrade in center field. Greene is a patient slugger who comes with the usual high strikeout rate.
Josh Lowe (24): Lowe was demoted to Triple-A in early May. The results are mixed. His .207/.303/.552 batting line is above-average mostly thanks to three home runs in 33 plate appearances. He’s also too strikeout prone at the moment. His 18 punch outs equate to 54.5 percent of plate appearances.
Chase Silseth (22): Although lacking in “big hype,” Silseth has flown through the Angels system. He’ll start for the big-league club tonight, skipping Triple-A in the process. Overall, he’s tossed just 31.1 innings in the minors. The right-hander had a 1.73 ERA in 26 Double-A innings complimented by 12.81 K/9, 2.42 BB/9, and an 18.5 percent swinging strike rate.
Royce Lewis (23): Our lead story last week, Lewis has held his own through 21 plate appearances. Overall, he has six hits and four strikeouts, good for a .286/.286/.333 line. He does not appear to be overmatched. Carlos Correa returns soon.