We are back! Over the course of the last few seasons, this series has aimed to detail every prospect promotion across each week of the entire regular season. After reviewing feedback from our readers, we have decided to mix things up a little bit for 2023. Instead of outlining every prospect that gets the call, the series will highlight some of the bigger names that receive a promotion. These players will be discussed in more detail. Some other notable prospects who head to the bigs will also be discussed, but this time around there will be more focus on detailing these top prospects and less focus on players who are being brought up as a depth piece for a double header.
Of course, this means there will be some variance on what this article looks like week to week. Some weeks there will be several notable young players who are joining their major league club while other weeks there will be hardly any. Either way, there should be more than enough players to breakdown.
Additionally, each week, I’ll do a quick note on the featured players from the week prior. This will mostly focus on recent performance and whether or not it appears that the player will stay with the big league club moving forward.
Last week, we looked at Zach Neto, Brett Baty, Oswald Peraza, Mason Miller, and Brayan Rocchio. Neto has shifted to the bottom of the Angels lineup, but is playing everyday and the bat is starting to heat up. Baty, too, is playing fairly regularly and hitting toward the bottom of the order and is starting to string some hits together after a 1-for-9 start. With news that Josh Donaldson is out indefinitely, Peraza may be up for a long time, and he’s splitting time between second and third so far. We’ll see if he hits enough to make use of his wheels. Miller had his second start on Tuesday and the final line was not great, with the flamethrower allowing four runs in four innings while striking out six. All of the damage came in the first inning, so it is an encouraging sign that he settled down after that. Lastly, as we assumed, Rocchio’s promotion was only temporary and he didn’t even see MLB action. His big league debut will have to wait.
Now, onto this week’s call-ups.
Tanner Bibee, P, CLE (preseason PL Top 100/Team Rank: 72/3): Bibee was electric in his MLB debut Wednesday, striking out eight while allowing one run on six hits in 5.2 innings. He showcased his control and command, too, not yielding a single walk. You can find a detailed breakdown of his outing by Ben Palmer here. I highly recommend checking it out.
Bibee burst onto the scene in 2022 and put up ridiculous numbers across High-A and Double-A. In total, the right hander logged 132.2 innings, struck out 167 and posted an ERA of 2.17 and a WHIP of 0.96. His 27.1% K-BB rate ranked third in the minors among qualified pitchers. He was also the only pitcher in the minors that threw at least 100 frames and ranked in the Top 20 in both strikeout rate and walk rate.
It’s been more of the same in the minors for Bibee in 2023. Through three starts and 15.1 frames, Bibee has a 1.76 ERA and 19 strikeouts. His first two starts were extremely effective, combining for 11 scoreless innings while striking out 15. He had a hiccup in his last outing, allowing three runs in 4.1 innings while walking five. It was probably his worst outing as a pro, and it says a lot about Cleveland’s confidence in him to throw that outing out the window.
The Guardians selected Bibee in the fifth round of the 2021 draft. Since being drafted, Bibee has added some extra umph to his fastball and he now consistently sits in the mid-to-upper 90s. It’s been the difference maker, and Bibee looks the part of an MLB-ready arm. How long Cleveland keeps Bibee up is a question mark, of course. The team already promoted Logan Allen (see below), but behind Shane Bieber, there are been plenty of injury or performance-based question marks on the staff.
Logan Allen, P, CLE (preseason PL Top 100/Team Rank: N/A/8): Allen’s stock fell a bit in 2022, perhaps unfairly. The lefty was coming off of a 2021 season where he dominated both High-A and Double-A, posting a K-BB rate around 27% at each level. He kicked off 2022 in Double-A again, and put up an even better K-BB rate (28%), before stumbling in a promotion to Triple-A. There, his ERA ballooned to north of six, and his K-BB walk rate fell to 16.3%. Still, his FIP and xFIP were much lower than his ERA, and he had a 27% strikeout rate. He looked more like his former self in his first three Triple-A starts this season, putting up a 1.26 ERA and a 25.9% K-BB rate in 14.1 innings.
Allen looked every bit the part in his MLB debut against the Marlins, striking out eight across six frames while allowing one run one five hits and one walk. The lefty doesn’t have an overwhelming fastball – it averaged 92 MPH in his debut – but it did register a 37.5% Whiff rate. His ability to locate and limit walks should allow him to have a high floor at the MLB level. Allen is in a similar spot to Bibee in terms of a short-term MLB outlook.
Michael Busch, 1B/2B/3B/DH, LAD (preseason PL Top 100/Team Rank: N/A/5): It’s a little surprising to me that Busch didn’t make our Top 100 list preseason. He rakes, but he’s been a prospect forever so it was probably a prime example of prospect fatigue.
Busch is the definition of a bat-first prospect. He’s a lefty stick that clobbered 32 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A in 2022. He’s drawn comps to Max Muncy especially since getting drafted by the Dodgers with the 31st overall pick back in 2019. The comps make sense – Busch hits mostly for power, draws a lot of walks and is a sub-par defender. Unlikely Muncy, though, it feels unlikely that Busch logs significant time at second base. The new shift rules have moved Muncy to third, so it’d be a bit surprising if the Dodgers decided to throw Busch in at second, even though he’s been spending some at the keystone in Triple-A. Ultimately, he probably ends up as a 1B/DH long term. On the Dodgers, that looks like mostly DH given the existence of Freddie Freeman.
This promotion for Busch is likely a temporary one with Muncy and seemingly half of the Dodgers roster out on paternity leave, but it wouldn’t be surprising for Busch, now 25-years-old, to get a more permanent call sometime this summer.
Joey Ortiz, SS, BAL (preseason PL Top 100/Team Rank: N/A/9): Ortiz didn’t crack the Top 100 here at Pitcher List but he probably would in an update to the rankings. He had a nice 2022 between Double-A and Triple-A, triple slashing .284/.349/.477 while hit 19 home runs and stealing eight bags in 137 games. In general, he is probably a better real-life prospect than fantasy prospect given that he is a smooth defender at short, but his mini-breakout at the plate in 2022 hints to there being some upside to his offensive profile.
Ortiz has been on fire at Triple-A to start 2023, too, posting a triple slash of .359/.389/.500. The slugging is obviously a bit low given the batting average. He hasn’t yet left the yard in 16 games, but he has tallied five doubles. His ultimate long term fantasy ceiling will depend on how well he continues to develop his power stroke. Ortiz’s 2022 groundball/line drive/flyball breakdown is very similar to what Bryan Reynolds recorded at the major league level and while that offensive output is too lofty here given that Reynolds has more raw power, a full time season ceiling for Ortiz could look something like .285/18/8 if everything clicks.
The short term issue here is that there is no clear path to regular playing time in the Orioles infield. Ortiz immediately becomes the best defensive shortstop on the team, and he can play anywhere on the dirt, so that could lead to some playing time for him, but the Baltimore infield has been performing well. Jorge Mateo has been one of the best hitters in the game, Ramón Urías is hitting close to .300, and Gunnar Henderson came in 2023 as the top prospect in baseball and has heated up over the last week. This means Adam Frazier may see some reduction in playing time, but it’s still a crowded infield, and it’s probably Ortiz only gets in a handful of games a week to begin his MLB career.
Other Notable Promotions
Simeon Woods Richardson, P, MIN – Somehow, SWR is only 22-years-old. It feels like he’s been around forever, perhaps because he’s bounced between a few organizations. As a result, there’s a chance we are underrating him a bit. The righty posted a 2.77 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A in 2022, striking out 115 in 107.1. He’s been sent back to Triple-A following a dud of a start with the Twins, but he could be back up soon with Kenta Maeda seemingly hurt in every part of his body. He profiles as a back-end starter.
Luis Medina, P, OAK – Medina came over to Oakland as part of the Frankie Montas trade. He’s a hard-throwing righty who strikes out a bunch of batters but also walks a ton of them, too. He’s likely a reliever long term, and he might be a decent one in that role, but when you’re Oakland you might as well throw him out there as a starter for now and see what happens.
Henry Ramos, OF, CIN – Ramos still has his prospect eligibility in tact at age-31, so him getting some MLB action in 2023 is a story in itself. He can offer a little bit of power and a little bit of speed, so the switch hitter is worth a look in super-deep leagues.
Brennan Bernardino, P, BOS – Another 31-year-old prospect! What is happening this week?! Bernardino is a relief-only arm but he has consistently put up nice strikeout numbers in the minors so in the Disney movie of his life, the lefty becomes an impact reliver.
Brenton Doyle, OF, COL – Any Colorado bat promotion is notable just for the upside. Doyle had 26 home runs and 23 steals in the minors in 2022, so the fantasy ceiling, aided by Coors Field, is certainly significant here. He also strikes out a ton so if he doesn’t put the ball in the play his speed-power combo will not matter.
Hunter Gaddis, P, CLE – Gaddis is the arm in Cleveland that is likely to get edged out of the rotation with the emergence of Bibee and Allen. The righty has tossed 19.2 innings for the big league club this year, posting a 6.86 ERA.
Jeremiah Estrada, P, CHC – This is a relief-only prospect to keep an eye on. In 2022, Estrada had a 40.4% strikeout rate in the minors. It did come with a 10% walk rate, but that’s easier to swallow for a reliever than a starter, especially one with that type of strikeout potential. He’s only 24-years-old and has had decent success at the MLB level to start his career. Fingers crossed.
Photo courtesy of Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on Twitter)
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