As we gear up for the weekend, here are three things to watch around baseball…
1. Winn set for big league debut:
The Cardinals selected the contract of infielder Masyn Winn last night, and he’ll make his big league debut today against Joey Lucchesi and the Mets. Selected with the No. 54 overall pick in the 2020 draft, the 21-year-old Winn is widely regarded as one of the sport’s most promising prospects, ranking No. 30 overall at Baseball America, No. 32 at MLB.com and No. 47 at FanGraphs. A sensational athlete and former two-way player, Winn focused solely on his development as an infielder in 2021. He’s soared through the minors, spending the entire season to date in Triple-A despite just turning 21 at the end of spring training. He’s more than five years younger than the average player in a .288/.359/.474 batting line with 18 home runs, 15 doubles, seven triples and 17 stolen bases in 498 plate appearances. Scouting reports tout his above-average hit tool, plus speed and 80-grade arm at shortstop. And, given that he’s still somewhat recently honed in on the position-playing side of his game, there’s still a chance for him to grow into some more power as well.
2. Bichette return:
Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette has now played in a pair of minor league rehab games, serving as the designated hitter for Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday before playing shortstop in the Bisons’ game yesterday. Bichette’s previously ailing knee doesn’t appear to be bothering him, as he pounded an opposite-field two-run homer in his first plate appearance Thursday and potentially finished up a brief two-game rehab stint with a 4-for-5 showing. The Jays haven’t formally reinstated Bichette just yet, though they’d previously informed beat writers that the hope was for him to play one rehab game as a designated hitter and one as a shortstop before evaluating him for a possible return this weekend. Even if Bichette heads back to Buffalo for another game or two, it seems likely he’ll be back this weekend — with a return in tonight’s series opener against the Reds a distinct possibility.
3. McCutchen, Altuve approaching notable milestones:
Multi-time All-Stars Andrew McCutchen and Jose Altuve are both closing in on key milestones, with the latter standing a particularly good chance at reaching an impressive round number this weekend. Altuve is sitting at 1,997 career hits and will look to become just the 297th player to ever tally 2,000 hits in his big league career. He’ll look to do so in a road series against the Mariners, squaring off against Bryce Miller, Logan Gilbert and Emerson Hancock along the way. Meanwhile, another former MVP who also collected his 2,000th hit this season, Andrew McCutchen, is three long balls shy of becoming just the 158th player in MLB history to swat 300 homers. The 36-year-old will face off against Twins starters Pablo Lopez, Sonny Gray and Dallas Keuchel this weekend in Minnesota. Reaching 300 this weekend after connecting on only 10 homers all season to date seems unlikely, but Cutch could still chip away at the milestone and seems likely to get there at some point in the near future.