This article is part of our Minor League Barometer series.
While the focus on the Seattle farm system has been on bats like Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez and Noelvi Marte, the young pitching may also soon bear fruit. James Paxton's bad luck has continued on the injury front, as he is likely to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entirety of 2021. Marco Gonzales has imploded in his first two starts as the de facto ace of the staff. Justus Sheffield and Chris Flexen are likely to be inconsistent while Justin Dunn can't seem to find the plate. Add in Seattle going with a six-man rotation, and names like Logan Gilbert and George Kirby could soon be summoned to the big leagues. Emerson Hancock, the No. 6 pick from 2020, is also a polished collegian. At least two of these hurlers will end up in the starting rotation before the end of the season, and likely even sooner.
As we wait for the minor league season to begin, here are some players worth keeping on your radar.
Zach McKinstry, 2B/OF, LAD – McKinstry has been among the more pleasant surprises early this season. He burst onto the scene in 2019 with a stellar stint at Double-A where he slashed .279/.352/.455 with 12 home runs, 52 RBI and eight steals in 95 contests, and followed that by torching the pitching at Triple-A over the final month hitting .382 with seven home runs and 26 RBI. A 33rd round pick in 2016, McKinstry was aiming for a utility role