Prospect Checkup: American League West

A look at the top prospects in the AL West.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be checking in on how the top five prospects from each team are doing so far in 2021. The lists are based on our preseason rankings, which can be found by clicking on each team. Some prospects may still be looking to take the field for the first time, while others may be on the verge of losing their prospect status.

With this article, we’ll take a look at the top prospects from each team in the American League West.

Stats are of May 31.

 

Houston Astros

 

1. Tyler Ivey, P, MLB/Triple-A – Ivey has posted identical 7.11 ERAs in the majors and minors in 2021.  Both samples are small, of course. The 25-year-old profiles as a back-end starter. He’s currently in Triple-A but should be the go-to arm for spot starts.

2. Taylor Jones, 1B/3B, MLB/Triple-A – Like Ivey, Jones has spent time in the bigs and the minors. He’s currently on the Major League squad, though he’s hitting just .182 in his first seven games. Jones was dominating Triple-A though, posting a 161 wRC+, so there is some potential here. He’ll continue to see some opportunities while some of the Houston regulars recover from injuries but is at risk of being sent back down when the team is fully healthy.

3. Jeremy Peña, SS, N/A – The shortstop was rising up prospect ranks before the minor league season. Unfortunately, a wrist injury will sideline him for most, if not all, of the entire 2021 season. He’s someone to watch in 2022.

4. Korey Lee, C, High-A – Lee has some pop in his bat and is triple slashing .326/.383/.488 in his first 22 games at High-A in 2021. There is a good chance he’s the top prospect in the system by the end of the year.

5. Chas McCormick, OF, MLB – McCormick has been a suitable depth bat for Houston, holding a 102 wRC+ in his first 102 games. With Michael Brantley on the IL, McCormick will see regular appearances in the Houston lineup.

 

Los Angeles Angels

 

1. Brandon Marsh, OF, Triple-A – With the injury to Mike Trout, many expected Marsh to get a chance in the majors this spring. It hasn’t happened (yet), but Marsh is also struggling at Triple-A. He is walking close to 20% of the time but has a triple slash of .185/.343/.333. He’s still a higher floor prospect than almost all others in the system, but there’s a chance he’s being too patient at the plate.

2. Reid Detmers, P, Double-A – Detmers got hit around in his most recent outing, but he’s otherwise been very solid. Overall, he has a 4.05 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 20 innings. It’s an impressive start for the 21-year-old that was selected 10th overall last June.

3. Jordyn Adams, OF, High-A – Adams is one the fastest players in all of baseball. He’s only appeared in three games this season due to injury and not since May 6, so we are still waiting to get a better look at the athletic outfielder.

4. Kyren Paris, 2B/SS, Low-A – Paris is also a burner and has already racked up 10 steals in 16 games. Paris has been hitting too, putting up a triple slash of .297/.423/.516 as a 19-year old. At this rate, Paris will start climbing prospect lists quickly. He’s currently on the 7-day IL but the injury isn’t assumed to be too serious.

5. Arol Vera, SS, N/A – We’ll likely get our first look at Vera in Rookie Ball this year. He’s an athletic up-the-middle type.

 

Oakland Athletics

 

1. Daulton Jefferies, P, Triple-A – Jefferies had a fantastic spring and it was thought to be a possibility that he would open the year in Oakland’s rotation. He’s since battled a biceps injury and only just started his season in Triple-A. Through his first 8.1 innings, Jefferies is yet to allow a run and has struck out four. Jefferies should be with the big-league club sometime this year.

2. A.J. Puk, P, MLB/Triple-A – Like Jefferies, Puk has also had to deal with a biceps injury to start the year. Puk made a brief appearance for Oakland at the beginning of the season, tossing 3.1 shutout innings. The story tends to be the same for Puk – if he can remain healthy, he’s an effective arm. Given the long list of injuries, it’s likely that if Puk returns to Oakland this season it will be in a reliever or limited innings capacity.

3. Robert Puason, SS, Low-A – Puason has big upside but he looks completely overmatched in Low-A. Through his first 19 games, he’s striking out 50% of the time and has a 51 wRC+. Still, he’s only 18-years-old and we’re only talking about a 19-game sample. Give him some time to adjust given how young he is for the level.

4. Tyler Soderstrom, C, Low-A – Unlike Puason, Soderstrom has had no issues at Low-A. Through his first 23 games, the backstop is triple slashing .315/.394/.467. So far, the offensive profile has been even better than expected. The question remains on whether or not Soderstrom will be a catcher long-term.

5. Nick Allen, SS, Double-A – Allen is quietly picking up where he left off in 2019. The shortstop has a 109 wRC+ in his 18 games in Triple-A, along with a homer and three steals. The strikeout rate has climbed up to 26%, though, and is something to monitor going forward.

 

Seattle Mariners

 

1. Jarred Kelenic, OF, MLB/Triple-A – The hype for Kelenic was reaching all-time highs before his promotion. In six Triple-A games, he hit .370 with two home runs and two steals. He’s struggling to find his footing at the MLB level though, triple slashing just .118/.211/.235 in his first 18 games. There is no reason to panic, this is a 21-year-old getting his first looks at big-league pitching. He is one of the best prospects in baseball for a reason.

2. Julio Rodríguez, OF, High-A – It feels like it’s just a matter of time before Rodríguez is promoted to Double-A. So far in High-A in 2021, the 20-year-old is batting .322 with five home runs and five steals. He has one of the highest upsides of all minor leaguers.

3. Logan Gilbert, P, MLB/Triple-A – Gilbert only made one appearance in Triple-A before being brought up to the majors. It’s been a mixed bag for the 24-year-old thus far with the result being a 5.94 ERA in his first 16.2 innings. His strikeout and walk rates (21.9% and 4.1% respectively) are great though and he just had his best outing of the year, allowing two runs while striking out five in six innings against Oakland. He might be turning a corner.

4. Noelvi Marte, SS, Low-A – Perhaps no prospect saw his stock rise more in the past year than Marte. He’s living up to the billing in Low-A so far, triple-slashing .315/.411/.533 in 22 games. The speed and power are on display, too, with five home runs and four steals. If there is one red flag it’s that the strikeout rate is in the mid-20s, but his walk rate is also at 10%, so it feels more likely that the strikeouts are due to his approach and not swing and miss issues. At this rate, he will make the jump to High-A at some point in 2021.

5. Emerson Hancock, P, High-A – Seattle took Hancock with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft. He’s only allowed one earned run in his first 9.1 innings of professional ball. He’s starting to go longer into games and has one of the higher ceilings of all pitching prospects.

 

Texas Rangers

 

1. Josh Jung, 3B, N/A – A foot injury has kept Jung out of game action so far in 2021, but he should be nearing a return sometime within the next few weeks. He will probably be assigned to High-A and look to build upon a 2019 campaign where he posted a 121 wRC+ at Low-A. At 23-years-old, he could move relatively quickly, assuming he’s healthy.

2. Maximo Acosta, 2B/SS, N/A – Acosta has mixed reports depending on where you look. Some think he is one of the highest upside players in the minors while others see him as a fringe everyday player. We’ll likely get our first look at Acosta in a professional setting once Rookie Ball begins.

3. Sam Huff, C, N/A – Huff has hit at every level and was likely to get an opportunity to be Texas’ everyday catcher before being sidelined by a knee injury this spring. Huff underwent surgery on the knee and is estimated to be out until late July. Once healthy, his offensive profile features big power with some swing and miss.

4. Leody Taveras, OF, MLB/Triple-A – Taveras was given an opportunity at a near-everyday role for Texas to start the season but struggled mightily. The outfielder struck out nearly 50% of the time and had a -25 wRC+. He held his own as a 21-year-old in 33 major league games last season so he might just need to figure some things out at Triple-A. So far, though, he’s struggling there too with a .226/.305/.429 triple slash.

5. Dane Dunning, P, MLB – Dunning has now graduated from prospect eligibility. He’s had a solid season as a member of the Rangers rotation, posting a 4.75 ERA through 47.1 IP, but his 3.10 FIP and 3.20 xFIP point to some bad luck. His K-BB rate is 17.1%, so the strikeouts and control are there. His ERA is inflated by a rough last outing, but Dunning has established himself as a back-end starter with the potential for more.

Various Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Aaron Polcare

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