MLB Prospect Watch
As part of the MLB’s updated collective bargaining agreement, teams can receive draft pick compensation for allowing rookies to begin the season in the big leagues. This has led to a plethora of top prospects receiving the call up and a shortage of players stuck in Triple A for service time manipulation.
The Cincinnati Reds made the first splash, announcing that flamethrowing pitchers Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene would both begin the season in the starting rotation. Greene is currently the No. 22 prospect in baseball and is known for his 80-grade fastball that hits 100 mph regularly. Lodolo’s hype and velocity tailed off as a result of injuries, but his command still leads him to be a top 50 prospect.
The Detroit Tigers will feature the No. 4 and No. 5 prospect in the league when former first overall pick Spencer Torkelson takes over first base this season. The No. 5 prospect Riley Greene has also made the roster, but fractured his foot during spring training, meaning he will miss Opening Day. Torkelson is a 22-year-old power hitter who has Miguel Cabrera’s endorsement as he takes over the legend’s spot on the field.
The top prospect in all of baseball will debut on Opening Day for the Kansas City Royals. Bobby Witt Jr. slashed .407/.448/.741 in spring training to earn the team’s third base spot. Witt is a five-tool player with grades of 60+ in each category, led by his 70-grade power. He passed the only man picked ahead of him in 2019, Adley Rutschman, to take over the top prospect mantle.
No. 3 overall prospect Julio Rodriguez will be starting in the Seattle Mariners’ outfield. The 21-year-old has only played 46 games at Double A and will be skipping over Triple A entirely. He combines top-tier contact and power with a 60-grade arm in right field to make himself a can’t miss prospect. Rodriguez recently led the Dominican Republic to a bronze medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Another Olympian that was primed to make his team’s opening day roster was Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher Shane Baz. Baz was traded to the Rays in the infamous Chris Archer deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In two Major League starts last season, Baz went 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA, striking out 18 batters in 13 and one-third innings pitched. With that performance, there was little doubt Baz would make the Opening Day rotation, but he was unfortunately sidelined due to an elbow surgery that will keep him off the mound for the first 2-3 weeks of the season.
The San Diego Padres made a surprising move by adding C.J. Abrams to their opening day roster. Abrams was expected to remain in the minors throughout the year, but he has been called upon to try out right field in the Majors. Abrams’ speed has been scouted at an 80-grade, making him a game changing weapon.
Remaining in California, the Los Angeles Angels helped their pitching problems by calling up Reid Detmers. The finesse pitcher will be the sixth man in the Angels rotation. Detmers succeeds by pounding the strike zone with a consistent four pitch mix.
While many teams took advantage of the CBA offerings, many still decided to hold down players for various reasons. These players are expected to be in the big leagues early in the season.
Former Baltimore Orioles first-overall catcher Adley Rutschman will head to Triple A in order to rehab a right triceps strain.
The Pirates were in the news when they decided to start Oneil Cruz in Triple A. General manager Ben Cherington claims the move was to test Cruz in an outfield position, but Cruz has remained a shortstop since arriving in Indianapolis. The move is done clearly to manipulate service time considerations to give the Pirates an extra year of control on Cruz.
Other notable prospects expected to appear early in the 2022 season include Orioles pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, Toronto Blue Jays catcher Gabriel Moreno, Chicago Cubs outfielder Brennen Davis and Boston Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas.
Evan Smith is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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