Minor League Barometer: Risers & Fallers

Minor League Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our Minor League Barometer series.

As full-season ball has finally started across the board in the minors, let's take a look at some quick-hitting notes before diving into our player profiles for the week.

  • Zach Neto lasted all of 44 minor-league games before being selected straight from Double-A to start at shortstop and hit leadoff for the Angels. He's 0-for-8 to begin his MLB career, but it seems clear the Halos certainly didn't bring him up to ride the bench.
  • It's been a poorly kept secret over the last day or so that Brett Baty will get another crack at the starting third base job for the Mets. He nearly seized the job in spring training, only to have the Mets go with veteran Eduardo Escobar. And Escobar has struggled mightily while Baty has tormented Triple-A pitching so far. As a result, Baty will be promoted and be given every opportunity to become the starter at the hot corner both for now and the foreseeable future.
  • Brady House is off to a hot start in the Nationals organization. The former first-rounder appears healthy and has moved from shortstop to third.
  • Cole Young, Seattle's top pick from a year ago, has found little resistance thus far at Low-A having slashed .382/.533/.618  with 11 walks and only six strikeouts through nine games. Expect a quick promotion to High-A if this continues.
  • Blaze Alexander had been on fire at Triple-A by hitting .458/.618/.792 through the first nine games in the Diamondbacks organization. However, he broke his right thumb and will be

As full-season ball has finally started across the board in the minors, let's take a look at some quick-hitting notes before diving into our player profiles for the week.

  • Zach Neto lasted all of 44 minor-league games before being selected straight from Double-A to start at shortstop and hit leadoff for the Angels. He's 0-for-8 to begin his MLB career, but it seems clear the Halos certainly didn't bring him up to ride the bench.
  • It's been a poorly kept secret over the last day or so that Brett Baty will get another crack at the starting third base job for the Mets. He nearly seized the job in spring training, only to have the Mets go with veteran Eduardo Escobar. And Escobar has struggled mightily while Baty has tormented Triple-A pitching so far. As a result, Baty will be promoted and be given every opportunity to become the starter at the hot corner both for now and the foreseeable future.
  • Brady House is off to a hot start in the Nationals organization. The former first-rounder appears healthy and has moved from shortstop to third.
  • Cole Young, Seattle's top pick from a year ago, has found little resistance thus far at Low-A having slashed .382/.533/.618  with 11 walks and only six strikeouts through nine games. Expect a quick promotion to High-A if this continues.
  • Blaze Alexander had been on fire at Triple-A by hitting .458/.618/.792 through the first nine games in the Diamondbacks organization. However, he broke his right thumb and will be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Let's take a look at some other phenoms in the news in this edition of the Minor League Barometer.

UPGRADE

Evan Carter, OF, TEX – Carter ended 2022 on a tear at Double-A, and has continued to mash this season going 14-for-36 with three homers, 15 RBI, two steals and eight walks. The toolsy outfielder combined for 12 home runs and 28 RBI over 106 games year and could be on the verge of a monstrous campaign. Add in extreme patience at the dish, and Carter boasts all the tools to become one of the top hitting prospects before the end of the season.

Taj Bradley, P, TB – Bradley's only 22 and already picked up a win in his MLB debut last week.  He allowed three runs in five innings while walking just one batter and striking out eight. While Bradley was immediately optioned back to Triple-A, it shouldn't be long before he makes his way back to the bigs. He primarily uses the fastball/cutter with standout command, so he'll continue to work on a third pitch until the Rays need his services again.

Ricky Tiedemann, P, TOR – Tiedemann cruised through three levels last season and racked up a 117:29 K:BB across 78.2 innings. He finished his first full professional season at Double-A and returned there to start 2023. In his first start of the season, all nine outs recorded by Tiedemann came via the strikeout. He also allowed two hits and didn't walk a batter during those three innings. The Jays are keeping a short leash on Tiedemann due to his youth and lack of innings, but his strikeout potential is massive, and the possibility exists he sees the majors by the end of the year.

Spencer Jones, OF, NYY – Jones has been dubbed the left-handed Aaron Judge, which is certainly high praise. He's shown the power and exit velocity for comparison, and thus far his hit tool has proven a lot better than initially advertised. Jones was selected in the first round of 2022, so his ceiling remains extraordinarily high. He's experienced little trouble with the lower levels of the minors, albeit in small sample sizes having gone 11-for-32 (.344) with three homers and nine RBI through eight games at High-A. The time to buy may be now before word spreads of titanic blasts and high speeds.

CHECK STATUS

Owen Caissie, OF, CHC – Brennen Davis and Pete Crow-Armstrong get more pub as outfielders in the Cubs organization, but Caissie has a chance to make a name for himself. The 20-year-old was aggressively pushed to Double-A to begin the season despite a rather mediocre 2022, and he's responded by belting four home runs in his first nine games. If Caissie can finally tap into his power potential, that would certainly raise his prospect profile - especially since the same plate discipline issues remain as he fanned 124 times in 105 games last year at High-A and has been punched out a staggering 20 times in 2023. Legitimate power would make the strikeout issues slightly less concerning, but it remains to be seen if Caissie can hit for average at the higher levels.

Hunter Goodman, C/1B/OF, COL – Goodman cranked 36 homers over 134 games last season across three levels. The power-hitting former collegian out of Memphis offers plenty of power to spare, but his ability to make consistent contact has been called into question. It also remains to be seen where Goodman will end up playing in the field as he was a catcher in college, but was considered a subpar defender and the Rockies have been trying him out at both first base and the outfield. He may ultimately end up as a DH. Still, a power hitter who could play his future home games in the thin air of Colorado is a player to keep on the fantasy radar, especially with a hot start hitting 10-for-32 (.313) with four home runs in nine games at Double-A. Goodman has also displayed much more patience at the dish thus far while recording just as many walks as strikeouts (seven apiece).

Forrest Whitley, P, HOU – Whitley has always had the look and the stuff of a frontline rotation anchor, but his professional career has been marred by injuries. Now 25, he's still never pitched 100 innings in any single season, and missed all of 2021 due to injury. However, Whitley appears healthy to start the 2023 campaign and has produced two stellar outings at Triple-A while listing 1.13 ERA and 11:3 K:BB from eight innings and opposing hitters have gone .077 against. The sample size is small and his stuff has always been lethal, so the only question remains whether he can finally stay healthy enough to contribute consistently and finally make his long-awaited big-league debut.

Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, MIN – Rodriguez has been tabbed as a potential breakout candidate this season based on his massive power potential and advanced plate discipline. He cranked nine home runs in only 47 games at Low-A as a teenager last year. Perhaps more impressively, Rodriguez notched more walks (57) than strikeouts (52) en route to a .492 OBP. He's had a bit more difficulty at High-A to begin the year batting 5-for-27 and fanning 17 times while drawing just five walks, though he's gone deep three times. At 20, Rodriguez will still need some time to adjust to the higher levels of pitching.

DOWNGRADE

Jacob Amaya, SS, MIA – Amaya was dealt to the Marlins in exchange for Miguel Rojas in the offseason, but has struggled out of the gate with his new organization by only slashing .179/.254/.196 through 14 games at Triple-A and hasn't registered a homer or a steal. He broke out last year by hitting 17 home runs while showing superb plate discipline between Double-A and Triple-A. However, Amaya has not gone above .265 at any full-season level, and his speed is limited. There isn't much standing in his way in Miami, but the club do have a couple of high-profile shortstop prospects behind him with Kahlil Watson and Yiddi Cappe. As a result, Amaya needs to turn his season around quickly or risk being passed over.

Samuel Zavala, OF, SD – Zavala is just settling into full-season ball at Low-A at 18, so take this downgrade with a grain of salt. However, he already logged 32 games at this level at the end of last year, and is advertised as a pure left-handed hitter. And Zavala is only batting .111 through eight games in 2023 while striking out 14 times and hasn't yet produced a homer or steal. He's just scratching the surface of his potential, which could eventually include some power and speed. But for now, Zavala remains projection over production.

Druw Jones, OF, ARI – Small sample size alert! In his first taste of professional baseball, Jones is off to a slow start going 4-for-31 (.129) with 13 Ks in eight games at Low-A. The second overall pick in 2022 is coming straight out of high school, so struggles can be predicted as he adjusts to higher-caliber competition. Jones' overall outlook remains as promising as ever, but this is just a friendly reminder he's a long-term phenom who shouldn't be expected to see the big leagues for a few years.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jesse Siegel
Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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