Updated: Mar 14
An MLB career is one of the ups and down. Often, a highly touted prospect could fly through the minors and debut at 19-22, others who were also 1st round picks could arrive at 24/25, or if you're Joey Meneses, you were 30 when you finally got your shot, and you dominated the MLB when you got there. The spectrum is HUGE! Today, I am looking at a short list of players who can turn it around and make a positive impact down the line.
Tigers Rotation: Casey Mize, Beau Brieske, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal. These four are all under 25yo and have each had a moment on the list of highly touted pitching prospects that have been floated around the league. Mize only threw 10IP, Brieske 81.2IP, and Manning 63.0IP, Skubal 117.2. When four young, talented arms are expected to carry a rotation, those numbers stay the same, as only Skubal made more than 20 starts. The pressure comes from everyone but Skubal to leap into the rotation. The rest of the rotation is back for 2023. Eduardo Rodriguez and Spencer Turnbull are returning, and in addition, Michael Lorenzen takes the three spot, and other youngsters, like Joey Wentz and Garrett Hill, are also in the mix. It's a healthy competition, and Mize is a former number 1 overall pick in 2018 on the 60-day IL. I believe in all these guys and the Tiger's pitching staff, as Wentz and HIll are also under 26.
Sixto Sanchez Sixto has been compared to Pedro Martinez during his promising debut at 22 in the 2020 season. Since this season, he missed 2021 and 2022 with different shoulder injuries and still has not appeared in spring training 2023. He is still only 24, and the upside is real with Sixto. He also has an excellent mentor, Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara to learn from and work with. Sixto is in great hands, and when healthy, the 1-2 punch of Alcantara-Sixto followed by the up-and-coming Edward Cabrera, I am excited for what can be. I believe in Sixto on the mound, a 1.5WAR, 3.46ERA/3.50FIP 33K-11BB in 39IP during the 2020 season; the is plenty of reason with age, a great sample to be excited for Sixto still.
Kyle Bradish, the debut of Bradish was slightly above average The 4th round pick from 2018 is only 26yo and goes into his second season in the Orioles rotation. The Orioles are a team to be excited about; with Rutch taking another step forward with game calling and MLB speed, I love every member of the Orioles staff. The debut, is 0.4WAR, 4.90ERA/4.45FIP, 111k-46BB in 23GS/117.2IP. I wouldn't call it a bust. However, there is plenty of room to grow.
Ryan Feltner, who? I am joking; if you're an NL West or Rockies fan, you know the 2018 4th-round pick. Coor's field is one of the most challenging parts to pitch in due to the altitude. Feltner is entering his age 26 season and coming off a 0.1WAR, 5.83ERA/4.76FIP, 84K-35BB in 19GS/97.1IP. The area of struggle was the 42.8% hard hit while allowing a .792OPS against him. Again, some of this can be credited to pitching at Coors field. Believe what you may, however, I like all the additional advanced pitching metrics, and there is plenty of reason for optimism.
Jarren Duran, a 2018 7th-round pick by the Red Sox, Duran made his debut during the 2021 season and then came back again during the 2022 season after he tore it up to the tune of 10HR, .283/.349/.491 and a .840OPS in 68G at AAA. When he got to Boston, he played in 58G, to the tune of .221/.283/.363 with a .645OPS, and 78OPS+, both of the latter are below league average. With Jackie Bradley on his way out of CF and Duran on his way in defensively, the BaBIP of .302, 28.3k% can be worked with and gives me hope personally that the 26yo Duran can be the everyday man in the middle.
Jeter Downs, the 24yo, former first-round pick during the 2017 draft, was a vital piece of the Mookie Betts trade from LA to Boston. Downs didn't hit for BA in the minors during the 2022 season, but the .728 was above league average. There is profound power from Downs with the 16HR in his 81G at AAA. However, the power and good OPS numbers did not translate to the MLB. Getting into only 14G with a .154/.171/.256 lines and 17OPS+. The 21K-1BB is of great concern, and the average defense is also one that might not stick. Downs could become a solid utility INF for the Nationals and be a surprising contributor. I believe still.
Spencer Torkelson, I promise I am not a Tigers fan. However, the 2020 #1 pick got a rough start in his quest to become the great Miggy's heir. Torkelson dominated the minors in his first and only season of pro ball after sitting on the taxi squad during the 2020 season. He dominated the minors in 2021, between High-A, AA, and AAA. He had 30HR, 91RBI, .267/.383/.552, and an OPS of .935. The adjustment to MLB pitching was hard to see at times, as he did get sent to AAA during the season for 35G, where he again crushed. The MLB adjustment will improve after the -1.3WAR, .604OPS, 8HR, 28RBI, 99K-37BB. He was fantastic at 1B with a .998Fld% with 2E. He is off to another rough start in ST as of 3/2 in 11AB, 1H, 1RBI, and .182OPS. I have seen Tork play, and I have seen him dominate pitching in the minors, I know that he can ball, he is 23, and he is learning from Miggy; I have no doubts it will click, and when it does, watch out.
Cristian Pache, the 24yo Oakland A's CF, split time between AAA and the MLB in 2022 due to struggles at the MLB not related to his outstanding defense. The defense for Pache is incredible, as the speed, reaction, and fielding are beautiful. The bat, however, is yet to come around. During 91G with the A's last season, he hit .166/.218/.241 with a miserable.459OPS and 34OPS+. The age is excellent for Pache to be still good, not great, but good at the plate and great in the OF. The stats in the ATL system in 2021 with 11HR, .265/.330/.414 for a .744OPS; the issue following him is the plate discipline—last season in AA 39K-11B, with the A's 70K-15BB. I just have a feeling that with his excellent defense and the A's trotting out an AAAA team, I think Pache could find himself and be given a chance to do so. He is now sharing and OF with JJ Bleday, the former 1st round pick from 2019. With healthy competition and the opportunity to figure it out, I am excited for Pache and Bleday in #NewOakland
CJ Abrams, the 6th overall pick of the 2019 draft, was the critical piece of the Juan Soto trade last season. Abrams spent 38G with the Nationals/Padres AAA team in 2022 and crushed with 7HR, 30RBI, .310/.360/.480 .840OPS; he then got the call to end the season with the Nationals, who were out of it well before the trade. The SS/OF and mostly just a SS now for the Nationals appeared in 44G, with 0HR, 10RBI, 23K-1BB, .258/.276/.327 for a .603OPS and 75OPS+. The advanced stats for Abrams is where I have plenty of hope. With a .301BABIP, and a 32.8% hard hit, I see a bright future ahead for the 22yo SS.
Jo Adell, Angel's 2017 first-round pick, was followed by the 2018 first-round pick Jordyn Adams; both have yet to live up to the potential to flank Mike Trout in the corner OF. Adell has been given a couple of shots since 2020, playing in 38-35 and 88G each season. Much like Kelenic of the Mariners, Adell is only 23 and crushes AAA pitching as he did in 40G in 2022 with 13HR, 33RBI, and .920OPS. This time, the MLB run might not give the desired results, -0.5WAR, 8HR, 27RBI, .244/.264/.373, .637OPS, 79OPS+, 107K-11BB, a theme of his career. However, without a shift and a .338BAbip, it shows me that if he can find his discipline at the plate, the bat should turn and become an everyday corner off for the Angels.
All right, that's all. Who did I miss? Is anyone on your team who that under 25 still have so much potential that we shouldn't give up? Drop them in the comments, and let's talk about it. Have a wonderful day, night, week, month, and until next time ball, boys and girls.
Listen to the AD FREE Ball Boy Talk. We are back with excellent sports talk content on this Podcast; we will give unhinged takes on every sport we decide when we want.
We are on every podcasting platform; subscribe whenever you listen to your podcasts and leave five stars and any review you can. Feel free to leave a question you want answered, a would you rather, this or that, and a review. Oh, and five stars. If you're on YouTube, please hit that subscribe button, too.
The Podcast is now on Apple; remember to head over there and leave a 5 Star Rating review for us to read on our next show. You can find us on our website at ballboymedia.com or ballboyblog.com, or theballboyblog.com. All take you to the same place!
Remember to hit our linktree for all our deals: https://linktr.ee/BallBoyBlog.