Welcome to Big Hype Prospects. Every Friday, we’ll use this space to look at a select few top prospects. Some will already be in the Majors. Others will be making their way towards a promotion. And, occasionally, we’ll catch a guy at just the right time for their debut. Speaking of which, we have one of those below.
Five Big Hype Prospects
Kyle Bradish, 25, SP, BAL (AAA)
15 IP, 1.20 ERA, 10.20 K/9, 1.80 BB/9
Bradish started tonight’s game against the Boston Red Sox. The right-hander, originally acquired in the Dylan Bundy trade, features a four-pitch repertoire headlined by a 95-mph fastball. Like many pitchers of this era, he works up in the zone with his heater. Multiple scouting reports mention he’s not good at locating the pitch lower in the zone. That’s fine – a high fastball pairs well with most breaking balls. Bradish throws two – a vertically-oriented curveball and a sweeping slider. Like many pitching prospects, his changeup rates as a definite fourth-best offering. Beyond his stuff, a key aspect of his success is a funky delivery (rear view and front view). Scouts note Bradish tends to work deep counts. We should expect relatively short starts on average.
Something to monitor is his ability to generate called and swinging strikes. While the top-level results from his three minor league starts were golden, the ways he succeeded varied. He didn’t draw many whiffs in the first two starts. His third appearance included plenty of misses, but he also allowed three runs. Bradish should be considered to have a wide range of plausible outcomes.
Oneil Cruz, 23, SS, PIT (AAA)
74 PA, 1 HR, 6 SB, /197/.284/.318
When Tim Dierkes suggested I write this column last weekend, he not-so-subtly used Cruz as an example. His brief 2021 debut included a ball hit 118.2-mph. Only six players produced a harder-hit baseball – Giancarlo Stanton, Manny Machado, Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Judge, Franchy Cordero, and Pete Alonso. Cruz needed just five batted balls to join them. His size and batted ball profile are reminiscent of Judge – if the Yankees slugger could play a passable shortstop and steal bases too!
The Pirates broke our hearts by optioning Cruz to Triple-A so he could work on his “outfield defense.” Notably, he has played only two games in left field. The rest of his starts have come at shortstop. Which makes sense – the Pirates don’t really have a notable shortstop, and Cruz is a perfectly acceptable defender.
While the defense excuse fell flat, it does appear Cruz can benefit from more seasoning. Aside from his six steals, he’s struggling offensively. His 31.1 percent strikeout rate is bloated when compared to a 12.1 percent swinging strike rate. Often, this indicates some type of passivity. I suspect he’s taking too many hittable early-count pitches. His batted ball data is also strange. I don’t have access to granular information on minor league batted balls, but we can see he’s hit 51.2 percent of his contact to the opposite field. Most of the rest is pull side with very few balls hit up the middle. Such extremes are virtually never observed in successful Major Leaguers. That’s not to say Cruz is doomed. If anything, his batted ball outcomes will probably regress toward normality. It’s also worth noting he’s a physical unicorn. Perhaps he’ll also statistically thrive in a truly unique way.
For now, Cruz is a hot streak away from a promotion. He’s shown a pulse over the last six days (.231/.286/.385).
Adley Rutschman, 24, C, BAL (A+)
7 PA, .167./.286/.333
Rutschman quietly began a rehab assignment earlier this week. The FanGraphs prospect crew gave him a rare 70-FV grade, essentially stating they believe he’s already one of the best players in the sport. He’s a switch-hitter with above average discipline and contact skills. He’s also lauded for his defensive chops behind the plate. If his game has weaknesses, it’s merely-good power and below average speed. Based on a batted ball profile oriented to fly ball contact, he should still push 20 or more home runs annually in a full season.
The Orioles have two potential paths to follow. It’s expected that, once promoted, Rutschman will be in the Majors for good. The club could try to hold off until sometime in July, thereby dodging Super Two status. A likelier outcome, based on comments made by GM Mike Elias, is a rapid climb from High- to Triple-A followed by a quick promotion to the Majors. Prior to injury, the Orioles signaled willingness to promote him on Opening Day. The present tandem of Robinson Chirinos and Anthony Bemboom has 10 hits in 71 plate appearances and lacks Rutschman’s defensive capacity.
Triston Casas, 22, 1B, BOS (AAA)
88 PA, 4 HR, .225/.354/.437
The 8-12 Red Sox have a bit of a conundrum. Casas, their top prospect, is off to a respectable start at Triple-A. Meanwhile, Bobby Dalbec has struggled mightily in the Majors. Dalbec is a hot-and-cold hitter who slumped through the entire first half of 2021 before emerging as one of the top sluggers in the second half. His power-driven approach is volatile and could possibly benefit from a jump-start in Triple-A.
Casas features elite plate discipline. Scouts drool over his breaking ball recognition. Oddly, he’s running a 19.4 percent swinging strike rate this season, a sign his much-ballyhooed pitch-recognition isn’t in top form at the moment. Even so, Casas could be on the shortlist for promotion. His approach offers a higher floor than that of Dalbec, which could help the team to win more ballgames in the short term.
Corbin Carroll, 21, OF, ARI (AA)
79 PA, 4 HR, 5 SB, .344/.456/.641
In the Majors, we usually point to elevated BABIPs as a reason why a hitter will probably regress. For a minor leaguer, it just as often signals when they’re done with a level. Thus, Carroll’s .429 BABIP leads me to believe he’s ready for a promotion. Although he’s only the 19th-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline – one spot below teammate Alek Thomas – scouts I’ve spoken with believe he may be the number one prospect in baseball once Bobby Witt Jr., Julio Rodriguez, Spencer Torkelson, and Rutschman are no longer qualified. The skill set is even more exciting for fantasy baseball enthusiasts. Carroll, a lefty, combines discipline and contact skills already believed to be above the Major League average with elite speed and gap power. He’s credited with a line-to-line approach, although he can also generate potent, pulled contact.
The present trajectory is of a high-average and OBP hitter with potential for 15-25 home runs and over 25 stolen bases. Barring injury or an unforeseen setback at Triple-A, we should see him later this season.
Alek Thomas (22): While Carroll may be the spicier prospect, Thomas is already on the cusp of promotion to the Majors. He’s hitting .263/.329/.500 in 85 Triple-A plate appearances.
Nolan Gorman (22): Is anyone hotter than Gorman? He’s already bashed 10 home runs in 77 plate appearances. A 32.5 percent strikeout rate partly backed by a 14.2 percent swinging strike rate is the only blemish to his .343/.390/.800 triple-slash. A suspension of Nolan Arenado could be an excuse for a brief trial run.
Grayson Rodriguez (22): The top pitching prospect in the minors has nothing left to prove in Triple-A. Baltimore is carefully managing his workload. He’s yet to face 20 batters in a game. He has a 2.45 ERA with 13.75 K/9 and 1.47 BB/9.
Bobby Witt Jr. (21): Even Mike Trout wasn’t great in his debut. Witt Jr. has shown a pulse over his last seven games, hitting .310/.333/.379 with three steals in four attempts. The power will play sooner or later.
C.J. Abrams (21): Abrams skipped Triple-A and it shows. Once Luke Voit and/or Wil Myers are healthy, Abrams could be sent to the farm to get back on track.
Where will Gorman play. Now that he has moved to 2B, the front office will not move him back to 3rd for only a couple of games. The DH or 2B could be calling. If Dickerson doesn’t pick it up, that would be who he will replace.
One last thing, please stop using Pujols against RH pitching. Please.
Why would the Cards bench Edman, who is both a better hitter and better fielder than Gorman?
I was hoping they would move tommy to ss, which he has played in the minors. Then put gorman at second. Dejong can’t hit anything and honestly he’s so bad offensively they are going to have to make a change. He looks absolutely lost at the plate and it’s costing them games. Fans are clamoring for gorman and there really is no reason why that can’t make the swap. 2 more weeks of dejong hitting 125 and fans are going to start turning on dejong
edmam – SS.
because Gorman might actually be a better hitter?
I will present the motion to end the Dickerson experiment. Let the kids play. Agreed on Pujols. He has been very productive vs. lefties, but we have better options against righties. More Nootbar please.
Thanks for the article. I love to hear about the prospects.
Agreed. It would just be nice if it were clearer whose systems the “Five More” are in.
Actually if you read the article, at least one of them is explained in the previous guys write up just above, and they’re all pretty much big well known prospects, so I think that’s why they didn’t bother. Though I understand your beef. Guess i agree it would be proper.
Unless Gabriel Moreno stats are fantasy then he should be in top 5 big hypes.His apparently make believe numbers are equal or better than these other hypes
I don’t think there was any implication these are the top 5.
“…….the Pirates don’t really have a notable shortstop, and Cruz is a perfectly acceptable defender.”
He’s been butchering the ball on D in AAA at SS. Playing SS at the ML level is quite a bit more difficult.
What people don’t get here with the “Service Time’ argument as everything that happens to a darling player is somehow a conspiracy against them, is that youngsters that are brought up too soon based on their physical prowess have problems. Sometimes they’re totally ruined as they never correctly work out parts of their game. Other times they do work out, but their productivity is set back years as they have to get out of bad habits at the ML level.
Cherington has an impeccable record developing minor leaguers with both the Red Sox and Blue Jays. There are things going on with young Mr. Cruz that none of us know about.
And by the way – look at the way the league has quickly adjusted to Whitt, Jr. and 3-4 youngsters on Cleveland….to name a few cases. The biggest step in player development is between AAA and the ML. It’s overwhelming. Guys are not going up against quality players with a year or 2 more of experience as they do when they jump a minor league level – they’re going up against players with 3-10 more years of experience. Those opponents are getting input from their ML coaching staffs that have broken down the prospects games on video and have been given information on what their weaknesses are and how to take advantage of them in every aspect of their game. In turn it’s on the youngsters to make adjustments back, which they may well not have had any experienced doing before being called up.
Goodness, Cruz’s line is 74 PA, 1 HR, 6 SB, /.197/.284/.318 in AAA ball, and he should be called up to a team that everyone knows is in a rebuild phase because “the Pirates don’t really have a notable shortstop”? All because he hit a ball at “118.2-mph.” Is this some sort of joke?
I speak the truth
I total agree with your analysis Samuel. I enjoy reading the stories published here at MLBTR, but I feel most of the writers are overmatched. They know baseball but they don’t know the details that are important to each team. Like a 118.0 exit velocity. Yes it special and it grabs your attention, but if it can’t be done consistently what good is it? What the writer of this story doesn’t understand is that AAA Indianapolis is also loaded with outfield prospects too. Cruz’s value is way higher as a shortstop but until he starts hitting more consistently and improves his defense he will be doing it in the minors. This conspiracy theory is laughable. Look at Hunter Greene, the Reds are praised for starting him in the majors 30+ pitches of 100 or more MPH in a start is impressive. But it’s must not be translating because his ERA is over 5.00.
Agreed Samuel and I’d like to throw Kelenic in there as well. I remember last season dozens of commenters on this site crying service time manipulation with Kelenic and even Kelenic himself was whining about it on Twitter and then when he got the call he crapped his pants and has continued the crapfest this season. Young players need to be seasoned before getting thrown to the wolves. I would say this season more than most was a big season for hyped up prospects making their debuts and most if not all of them have been downright dreadful.
Not Woke- Spilling truth like Charles Barkley
Michael Harris says hello!
Michael Harris CF prospect prospect for Braves who is on fire to start the year, and the lesser known Braves right-handed pitching prospect, 21 year old, Venezuelan Royber Salinas and his better than FILTHY video game numbers says hello as well!!
4G, 18.2IP, 9H, 11BB, 1.07WHIP, 1.45ERA, hitters are hitting .143 with 0HRs given up and only 3XBH given up, and as a result, hitters are slugging only .206 against him..
BUT WAIT, I didn’t even mention the best part..lol In those 18.2IP, he has also racked up a WHOPPING 43Ks!!! Yes, I said 43 STRIKEOUTS!! Kid has been absurd to start the season; albeit, even if it is just a small sample size, IDC!! lol This young man has been on fire, and he’s going to be super exciting to watch grow and develop moving forward…
You Can Put It In The Books
Tommy John says hello… soon
3 Orioles. It begins.
Also, thank you for this article, love this kind of information, and it is greatly appreciated!!
This is an excellent block to start writing and will be wildly popular. Many of us often discuss farm systems & naturally the players’ values within their respective farms.
I love the upper section with the snapshots detailing their minor-and major-league performance thus far. You guys keep coming up with unique content & it’s awesome.
Look forward to the Yankees guys (Volpe/Peraza/Domiguez/Cabrera) when you get around to them, specifically Volpe who you leapfrogged Carroll over to the #1 seed when the others mentioned promote to the Bigs. Curious to see how he rates this year while in AA.
Agreed. Id love to see this more. Especially with Frankie Alvarez, Baty, and Mauricio raking early.
Also, as a Yankees fan, between Volpe and Peraza, which guy do you see sticking long term as the Yanks shortstop?
I thought originally that Volpe would move to 2B because he’s got a fringe average arm, which is only saved by his quick hands/release. Apparently he’s doing really well defensively, but that’s at very low levels, of course.
Now, O. Peraza is a true SS, so he’s the most likely to stick there long-term with the Yankees unless traded, imo. According to most sources, he’s been ready for the majors for two season, defensively. He’s only adjusting to pitching in the minors.
My opinion is that Sweeney will move off SS (too big & will lose some mobility – he’s like a DJL double) probably to 3B. Cabrera will remain a UTL guy because he can play all three positions well.
Adley is a future HOFer.
He has a plaque waiting for him in the Matt Wieters wing.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a janitor at that museum
Bradish looked really good in his 1st start.I hope his success continues.
Are they using the same ball in AAA that is used in the majors? AA? I know there was a plan to do this pre-COVID. If so, it could provide some context if offensive numbers are down in the upper leagues.
You Can Put It In The Books
Even if they said it was the same ball, would you believe it? They need to pick one version and stick with it for the good of the sport.
L99: Great question! Who knows? But controlling the game through the construction of the baseball is precisely the wrong thing to do. How about we let the production be what it is supposed to be with the baseball that was the baseball of the past multiple decades?
If they’re going to change anything about the baseball, why wouldn’t they change the one thing players said they actually wanted and make it more tacky? It’s so stupid it must be a Manfred brain child.
Not sure under the new CBA but Boston’s promotion of Cordero regardless of how he was doing in AAA, smells like manipulation of the clock on Casas.
Dewy Cordero was killing the ball in AAA. His BA, RBI, OPS…. were all better than Casas, and frankly he deserves another try at the MLB even if it is short lived.
Hopefully everyone realizes that this prospect obsession is exactly analogous to being served an inferior steak at your favorite restaurant, and the owner saying ‘Please pay full price, because 3 years from now we can hire a real cook who’ll make better steaks”. Now, we all know the “super chef” will LIKELY be perfectly ordinary (if he shows up for work at all), but as long as the customer buys the silliness, the owner will continue to sell it; no reason not to; and lots of reason to do so.
I’ll be glad when Arizona gets Thomas and Carroll roaming the outfield and the base paths. Not a lot going on there at the moment.
Not sure I completely understand the angle of this feature. Hype means extravagant and exaggerated promotion. Is that what’s being said about any of these top prospects? If so, I don’t see it.
An 81 pitch 6 inning first start for Bradish. His defense let him down on a short fly that could/should have been caught and a single played in a two base error cost him two runs. Otherwise one bad pitch for a homer. His change up was a plus pitch, but he struggled a bit with fastball command until he backed it off from 97 to 93/94. There were about 6 high fastballs that were squarely inside the pitch tracks box that were called balls or he would have had several more Ks. Overall he was very solid.
Been a lot of Orioles slander in the comments. This team has a good future mapped out in front of them.
Pirates have several notable short stops outside of Cruz….Peguero the most notable and Bae. Bae is only at second because of Peguro and Cruz all the way through his pro career.
Sure you see Bae playing other positions but look who he is competing against. and now Gonzalez at second will be a major hurdle for him to so…..
Cruz in right, Bae in center Reynolds in right with Peguero at SS. with just those players..
Pirates have good prospects all around the diamond in the next year or three but they need to bolster their pitching.. Heck i can see Davis being here earlier than not if he keeps hitting and his defense is passable. IMO in AAA by the break.
Missing one Zack Gelof who began the season with a 14 game hitting streak. Only 1 game he didn’t get a hit in (although he did walk in that game)
Currently in AA – A’s system: .346 2HR 11 RBI 4SB
Minor league career avg=.338 only 22 years old
carries a .538 AVG in AAA
So far A’s mlb 3b have not showed up, if he continues at this rate A’s have no choice but to bring him up this season.
Not that Ryan Kriedler is in the same class as these guys, but he’s out indefinitely with a fractured wrist and will require surgery.
After the last few years of people taking shots at the Orioles, it is nice to see an article that shows them in a positive light. And just know that there are more coming. Bradish is ranked as the teams 10th best prospect. Adley will be here in a month, Rodriguez before the all-star break, and Hall and Westbrook may come up as well.
Nolan Gorman needs to play somewhere.
Nice to see a couple DBacks prospects get attention; they should be an interesting team for fantasy purposes next season.
-If Carroll is as good as we all think he is, he may push for an Opening Day spot next season.
-Thomas will definitely be up before this season is through, and is a concensus top prosoect as well.
-Torey fully intends to keep getting Varsho starts behind the dish, so his C eligibility stays intact.
-Smith looks to be settling in offensively as an OBP/gap power 1B/COF (not great overall, but could be useful in a deep OBP league)
-who knows what you’re getting with Marte, but he does have the potential to be one of the best hitters in MLB
-Beer has good OBP/power and has a lot of threats to get on base ahead of him
-even Hummel is interesting (take a look at his BaseballSavant page; that’s a lot of red for a #29 prospect)
Not saying they’re an elite offense, but there’s certainly the potential for them to a well above average offense by the time Thomas is established and Carroll arrives.