Potential Early Prospect Promotions: National League East

A look at NL East prospects who could be up this spring.

Here at Pitcher List, we track the prospect promotions that occur every week during the regular season. This series will outline prospects that have the potential to get the call to the bigs early into the MLB season, or to maybe even be on the Opening Day Roster. Please note this is not an all-inclusive list, just some names that I believe we could see up earlier than not.

 

National League East

 

Spencer Strider, P, ATL – It’s looking like Strider is on the Opening Day Roster, but whether that’s as a starter or as a reliever is yet to be determined. Strider made his MLB debut in 2021 but it was only 2.1 innings. He spent the majority of his time at Double-A where he posted an impressive 24.4% K-BB rate. The righty has a fastball that can touch the triple digits and despite allowing some runs this week, the Braves organization was seemingly impressed with his strikeout stuff (he fanned 10 in 6.2 this spring).

Kyle Muller, P, ATL – Muller was up for Atlanta for about two months last season. He proved to be serviceable, recording a 4.17 ERA in 36.2 innings. His 12.9% walk rate, though, means he may have been a bit fortunate when it comes to run prevention. His walk issues may ultimately push him to the bullpen but with the possibility of Atlanta using a six-man rotation, it looked like Muller was firmly in the mix to earn a spot on the Opening Day Roster. He struggled this spring though and was optioned to Triple-A. Still, he should be one of the first arms the Braves call upon for a spot start or bullpen depth.

Edward Cabrera, P, MIA – Cabrera has displayed elite strikeout stuff at all levels in the minors. So much so that he earned a promotion to the bigs in 2021 as a 23-year-old. He struggled, though, allowing 17 earned runs in 26.1 innings. The Marlins have used a six-man rotation in the past, but it’s unclear if they will to start the season, and that’s what it would probably take for Cabrera to crack the Opening Day roster. The Marlins have an impressive list of pitching prospects (Max Meyer, Eury Perez, Sixto Sánchez and Jake Eder, just to name a few) but Cabrera’s likely the first arm called up for a spot start if he’s not already part of the rotation out of the gate.

Payton Henry, C, MIA – Henry profiles as a backup backstop and it looks like has the inside track to make Miami’s Opening Day roster as just that. He’s a serviceable defensive catcher but he is just a career .232 hitter in the minors. That being said, he did put up above-average EVs and four home runs in his 14 game stint in the majors in 2021, so maybe there is more to the bat than meets the eye.

Colin Holderman, P, NYM – Holderman is a relief-only arm but has sure looked the part this spring. In four innings, he’s allowed zero runs and struck out nine. He’s a towering flamethrower that can touch the triple digits. The Mets bullpen seems more or less set, and Holderman has yet to pitch above Double-A, but bullpen arms are some of the more frequent types to get moved up and down throughout the season so my guess is it won’t be long before we see Holderman in New York.

Khalil Lee, OF, NYM – Lee gets the nod here over some bigger names and higher ceiling guys just because he’s already been up for the Mets. It was only 11 games, and Lee posted a negative wRC+, but his speed and defensive ability give him some value at the MLB level as a bench outfielder. He had success in 102 Triple-A games in 2021 (14 home runs, eight steals and a 162 wRC+), so there is still some promise for the bat to come along. He will start the season in Triple-A.

Bryson Stott, SS/3B, PHI – Stott was one of the biggest prospect risers in all of baseball in 2021. The lefty-hitting infielder played across three different minor league levels last season and didn’t find much resistance at any of them. He spent the majority of his season at Double-A, but in total, he triple-slashed .299/.390/.486 and notched a walk rate north of 13%. Despite playing only 10 games at Triple-A, Stott feels big-league ready. It seems that the Phillies are still going to give Didi Gregorius the starting nod at shortstop, but there has been a growing belief that Stott could win the starting third base job following a disappointing 2021 campaign from Alec Bohm.

Matt Vierling, OF, PHI – Vierling has had a wildly inconsistent career and that was no different in 2021. At Triple-A, posted an 89 wRC+ and an OPS under .700 in 54 games. So, naturally, when he earned a promotion to the majors he hit .324 and slugged .479 in 34 games. Of course, we are dealing with some small samples here, but it’s still jarring to look at his player page. As far as 2022 is concerned it’s difficult to predict what his production will look like, but with Odubel Herrera likely not being ready for Opening Day, the 25-year-old Vierling appears to be penciled in to get the start in center.

Cristopher Sánchez, P, PHI – Sanchez tossed 12.2 innings of big-league ball in 2021 and although his ERA was close to five, his FIP and xFIP were both under four. He’s a 25-year-old lefty that has had some issues with walks in the upper minors, but has also posted decent strikeout numbers along the way. A few members of the Phillies rotation are battling injuries and/or in the process of upping their workload so there is a good chance that we see Sánchez as a spot starter or multi-inning piggybacker for MLB team to start the season.

Lucius Fox, 2B/SS/OF, WAS – Once upon a time, Fox was considered a backend Top 100 prospect. The shine has since dimmed as Fox has bounced from the Rays organization to the Royals, and now to the Nationals. Despite a somewhat limited offensive profile, Fox has always had a patient approach at the plate and he walked more than 13% of the time at Triple-A in 2021. His speed and defensive versatility should be enough to get him a big-league look, even if it’s as a bench/utility player. Washington is clearly the worst team in a competitive division, so you would imagine their young players will get some opportunities. To start the year, manager Dave Martinez has committed to Alcides Escobar as his starting shortstop, so it may be a few weeks (but hopefully not months) before guys like Fox get a true look.

Seth Romero, P, WAS – Washington has a few arms that will potentially be up in 2022, including one of its top prospects in Cade Cavalli. Of the Nationals’ prospect arms though, I think we may see Romero first. He’s already been optioned to Triple-A, so he won’t be in the majors right away, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him working out of the bullpen sometime soon. The Nationals had him there for a few appearances in 2020 and he’s battled some injuries since then, so it feels like a reliever path may make the most sense for Romero as he enters his age-26 season.

 

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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