Minor League Barometer: Risers & Fallers

Minor League Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our Minor League Barometer series.

Let's continue to discuss the minor league scene as the summer approaches, including some prospects who are on the verge of promotions and others who've already gotten their first taste of big-league action.

  • Eury Perez made his MLB debut Friday and fanned seven batters in 4.2 innings. He struck out 260 batters over 186 professional innings prior to getting the call with the Marlins, and the 6-8 righty looks like he'll receive at least one more start.
  • As mentioned by one of our loyal readers in the comments section of last week's article, it's time to give Matt McLain his flowers. The shortstop torched Triple-A pitching and offers an intriguing combination of power and speed and starts for the Reds this week.
  • Are the Mets going to have to find a place for Mark Vientos? He's currently blocked at multiple positions, but is raking at Triple-A batting .331 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI across 37 contests.
  • The same can be said for the Orioles and Jordan Westburg, as the 24-year-old is slashing .321/.395/.626 with 11 homers and 38 RBI from 32 games at Triple-A.
  • An under-the-radar prospect to watch is Jonny DeLuca Dodgers organization. The 25th-round pick in 2019 out of Oregon produced 25 home runs and 17 steals across two levels last season, and is showing similar power/speed tools at Double-A along with the ability to draw a walk.

UPGRADE

Marcelo Mayer, SS, BOS – Mayer has been as good as advertised in the Boston organization thus

Let's continue to discuss the minor league scene as the summer approaches, including some prospects who are on the verge of promotions and others who've already gotten their first taste of big-league action.

  • Eury Perez made his MLB debut Friday and fanned seven batters in 4.2 innings. He struck out 260 batters over 186 professional innings prior to getting the call with the Marlins, and the 6-8 righty looks like he'll receive at least one more start.
  • As mentioned by one of our loyal readers in the comments section of last week's article, it's time to give Matt McLain his flowers. The shortstop torched Triple-A pitching and offers an intriguing combination of power and speed and starts for the Reds this week.
  • Are the Mets going to have to find a place for Mark Vientos? He's currently blocked at multiple positions, but is raking at Triple-A batting .331 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI across 37 contests.
  • The same can be said for the Orioles and Jordan Westburg, as the 24-year-old is slashing .321/.395/.626 with 11 homers and 38 RBI from 32 games at Triple-A.
  • An under-the-radar prospect to watch is Jonny DeLuca Dodgers organization. The 25th-round pick in 2019 out of Oregon produced 25 home runs and 17 steals across two levels last season, and is showing similar power/speed tools at Double-A along with the ability to draw a walk.

UPGRADE

Marcelo Mayer, SS, BOS – Mayer has been as good as advertised in the Boston organization thus far, less than two years removed from being selected in the top-5 in the draft. Through 24 games at High-A, the 20-year-old is slashing .324/.400/.559 with four home runs, 23 RBI and four steals.  He recently missed a week with a minor shoulder issue, but returned to the lineup Sunday. The timing was poor as Mayer had smashed three homers from the five previous games. The slugging percentage is far more indicative of his power potential than the home run figure as he's currently at 10 doubles and a triple. Mayer sent 13 deep while swiping 17 bags across 91 games between Low-A and High-A last season. He's already polished at the dish and is unafraid to draw a walk and work the count. Assuming Mayer remains healthy, he should finish the year at Double-A with an outside shot at seeing the bigs as early as 2024

Jacob Misiorowski, P, MIL – A larger than life phenom, Misiorowski stands at 6-7.  While he's still a ways away from making a major-league impact, his stuff has proven filthy during a small sample size with a 2.45 ERA and 25:5 K:BB in onlyt 14.2 innings at Low-A while only allowing six hits.  Misiorowski does significant damage with his fastball that can hit triple-digits along with a wipeout slider. Control is an often-cited issue with taller hurlers, but he's been hitting his spots so far this season. From a pure "stuff" perspective, Misiorowski is among the top talents on the mound across all levels.

Carson Whisenhunt, P, SF – A positive test for a performance-enhancing drug while at East Carolina dinged Whisenhunt's draft stock, but not enough to keep him out of the top-two rounds in 2022. The southpaw boasts an incredible changeup, which results in a lot of missed bats.  Whisenhunt made quick work of the competition in four starts at Low-A to begin the year to earn a promotion to High-A. He hasn't missed a beat through three outings by posting a 0.69 ERA and 16:2 K:BB through 13 innings. Whisenhunt throws strikes, induces ground balls and even looks a little bit like Madison Bumgarner. The Giants would be thrilled if the phenom develops into anything close to their former star.

Chase Hampton, P, NYY – Hampton has already exceeded expectations for an organization that desperately needs to develop starting pitching. A sixth-rounder out of Texas Tech last year, he offers four pitches with swing-and-miss potential. Hampton's only 21, but started at High-A to begin his professional career and hasn't missed a beat registering a 3.04 ERA and 42:9 K:BB over 23.2 innings while opposing batters are hitting .207 against. His control was considered the most questionable part of his profile when drafted, so the Yankees may have found a gem if his newfound control proves to be legitimate.

CHECK STATUS

Mike Vasil, P, NYM – Across town, the Mets also feel like they've unearthed a diamond in the rough since Vasil was picked in the 8th round back in 2021, but has found little resistance during his brief time in the minors. The 23-year-old righty pitched across three different levels in 2022, including starting eight times at Low-A followed by eight at High-A. The former Virginia Cavalier was sent directly to Double-A to begin 2023, and that decision has proved wise as he's posted a 2.70 ERA with a 41:4 K:BB across 30 innings. Vasil did miss time last season due to forearm tightness and bone spurs in his pitching elbow, so there's some level of caution that should be exercised. But despite the fairly small sample sizes, the opposition has never hit above .200 against him at any level other than one inning in the Florida Coast League last season.

Cristian Mena, P, CHW – Mena may only be scratching the surface of his potential, but at just 20 is already at Double-A and an argument could be made that he's the top arm in the White Sox system as he's already fanned a staggering 46 batters through 27.2 innings while only walking seven. He's a strike-thrower and always seems to be around the zone, something that allows him to be a tad hittable at times despite the stellar strikeout totals. Mena's recorded a 4.55 ERA over six starts while giving up four home runs.  Still, he's athletic with an easy delivery and could vault up the prospect charts with a few less long balls allowed. Now may the time to buy "low" on Mena before he becomes more well-known.

Trey Dombroski, P, HOU – A fourth-round pick out of Monmouth, Dombroski has enjoyed a successful inaugural season so far. He certainly looks the part of a future rotation anchor at 6-5, 230, though he's actually not a hard thrower. Dombroski has produced a 3.81 ERA and 39:11 K:BB in 26 innings at Low-A. The southpaw has added a few ticks onto his fastball, which has bolstered his three off-speed pitches - including a stellar change-up.  While Dombroski tops out in the low-90s in terms of velocity on his heater, he more than makes up for this with the ability to mix and match his pitches and locate them. It'll be interesting to see how he handles the higher levels due to his lack of an overpowering fastball, but he still offers the arsenal to eventually get to the bigs as a back-end innings eater - and perhaps maybe more.

Victor Scott II, OF STL – Scott has racked up 26 steals across 31 games at High-A this season. Yes, you read that correctly. He's also slashing .289/.364/.471 with two homers and 16 RBI. A fifth-round pick in last year's draft, Scott is faster than fast, but sometimes get caught trying too much to tap into his power rather than focus on simply putting the bat on the ball and getting on base.  An improved batting average compared to a year ago is a positive sign. Scott may never hit for much power, but his speed alone makes him a prospect to watch. Even if he can hit for average, that should improve his stock.

DOWNGRADE

Termarr Johnson, 2B, PIT – Johnson's potential remains off the charts, and it's almost unfair to judge him off of 37 total minor-league games. That being said, he started the campaign on the IL with a hamstring ailment. Johnson has looked decent since returning, albeit nothing spectacular.  At only 18 years, he's yet to record a homer or a steak through 14 games at Low-A while being punched out 23 times.  There's not a lot of date yet, but this is still not the start Johnson had envisioned. And it was a bit of a surprise he began the season at Low-A instead of High-A in the first place. His upside remains enormous, but it's clear some development is warranted even for one of the most highly-touted prep hitters in years.

Jack Leiter, P, TEX – On the plus side, Leiter has been much better in his last two starts at Double-A having only allowed one unearned run while fanning 18 from his last 11 innings. The problem was his ERA was a bloated 6.75 prior to those two outings, as he had been wild while also allowing a few too many long balls. Leiter labored through his first full season in 2022 by posting a 5.54 ERA and 109:56 K:BB over 92.2 innings. The free passes are clearly the biggest concern, though he also didn't miss as many bats as expected. Hopefully these last two outings are a sign of things to come. If not, dynasty participants may have no choice but to cut ties with Leiter.

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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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Minor League Barometer: Risers & Fallers
Minor League Barometer: Risers & Fallers