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 doubleheader.
Of course, this means there will be some variance in 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 break down.
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.
I was away on vacation the last few weeks, so we’ve got to backtrack a little bit further than usual to recap the last performances we outlined. The last two promotions we outlined were Colton Cowser and Gavin Stone. Since then, Cowswer has yet to to get going. He’s hitting just .122/.302/.146 through his first 16 games and has yet to hit a home run or steal a base. He actually has just one extra base hit. If there is a silver lining, it’s that his walk and strikeout metrics are actually a little bit better than what we saw in the minors. To date, Cowser has walked 17% of the time while striking out at a 20% clip. The outfielder struggled in Triple-A initially before adjusting and becoming a better hitter at that level, so there is no reason to give up on Cowser at this point. That being said, he doesn’t start against lefties and if the results don’t come soon his playing time will become even more limited. The long-term upside is much higher than what we will see in 2023. Stone was optioned shortly after his promotion and has not been back to the bigs since. He’s made three starts at Triple-A, though, and has looked much better. In those outings, the 24-year-old righty has logged 17 innings, struck 18 and posted a 3.18 ERA. He could be back up at some point but he’s not someone to rely on this season.
Now, onto this week’s featured prospects.
Sal Frelick, OF, MIL (preseason PL/team rank: 60/2): Frelick had a major breakout in 2022, playing across three levels and slashing .331 AVG/.403 OBP/.480 SLG along with 11 home runs and 24 steals. As a result, the lefty-hitting outfielder cemented himself as a Top 100 prospect coming into the 2023 season.
The journey to this promotion has been a bit of a mixed bag. The 23-year-old hit just .232 in his first 15 games before hitting the shelf for nearly two months with a thumb injury. He was a bit better once he returned in June, triple slashing .261/.357/.369 from then on. In total, Frelick spent 40 games at Triple-A and hit two homers while swiping eight bags while walking more than he struck out. Despite some positives in this small sample, those numbers are undeniably a slip from what we saw in 2022 and likely not good enough to earn a promotion had the Brewers not been in desperate need of offensive help.
Since then? Frelick has been on fire to start his MLB career. He’s 5 for his first 14 with a home run. It seems for now that Frelick is likely to sit against lefties (he didn’t start Tuesday’s contest against Andrew Abbott) but is a lock to get the nod against righties. It’s difficult to know what to expect from Frelick given his mediocre Triple-A numbers in 2023 and hot starts in the bigs, but it feels like he will settle right into being the player we expected coming into the season – a leadoff hitter profile. Expect a decent average, good OBP, minimal pop with a good amount of steals.
Marco Luciano, SS/3B, SFG (preseason PL/team rank: 47/2): Luciano’s prospect stock has been all over the place ever since he burst onto the scene in 2019 with a ridiculous .322/.438/.616 triple slash in Rookie ball as a 17-year-old. He even got a brief taste of Low-A (remember Low-A?) that season at that young age. Without a minor league season in 2020, we didn’t see Luciano get professional at bats again until 2021, where he put up a 137 wRC+ at Single-A before struggling in High-A as a 19-year old.
In 2022 he battled back injuries and logged just 63 games, mostly at High-A. He still performed well enough at High-A, triple slashing .263/.339/.459 with 10 home runs. He has spent most of 2023 at Double-A, triple slashing .228/.339/.459 with 10 home runs in 56 games before earning a promotion to Triple-A earlier this month. He logged just six games there before getting the call here.
Overall, this promotion surprises me a little, just because Luciano is essentially skipping Triple-A and we’ve seen him struggle out of the gate whenever he reaches a new level. Throw in the fact that he hit just .228 at Double-A and struck out nearly 30% of the time and I think it’s safe to say there could be a steep learning curve here for him. He’ll probably hit for a low average and strike out a bunch, but also walk a good amount and show off decent power. He’s not someone I’m rushing out to get for 2023.
Minor League Promotions
Jacob Berry, 3B, MIA (High-A to Double-A) – Berry is a bat-first prospect and the bat hasn’t really shown up yet. The 22-year-old triple slashed .227/.278/.369 with four home runs in 79 games. He did hit a bit better in July (.260) but the bump up to Double-A is definitely a head scratcher for me, especially given that Berry did not show a ton of power in High-A either. Berry doesn’t have a clear position on the field so his offensive production really needs to step up quickly.
Austin Wells, C, NYY (Double-A to Triple-A) – Wells spent 55 games at Double-A last year and triple slashes .261/.360/.479 with 12 home runs and his numbers in 58 games this season are a slight step in the opposite direction. This season Wells has triple slashed .237/.327/.443 with 11 home runs. That’s not a significant drop off and the encouraging news is that his walk and strikeout rates are consistent with what they were a year ago. Best case when he reaches the bigs is that he is a low-average, high-OBP backstop with some pop. A less optimistic outcome though is that he’s Zack Collins.
Wenceel Pérez, 2B/SS, DET (Double-A to Triple-A) – Pérez had a breakout in 2022, putting up identical 143 wRC+ in High-A and Double-A. That production has taken a step back in 2023 and is more in line with what we expected from Pérez. The 23-year triple slashed .271/.353/.375 with six home runs and 19 steals in 76 games. He has the looks of a utility infielder whenever he makes it to the MLB level.
Jacob Misiorowski, P, MIL (High-A to Double-A) – Well that didn’t take too long! For those keeping track, this is Misiorowski’s second promotion of the year. The 6’7 righty started the year in Single-A, where he struck out 45.5% of the batters he faced, before preforming well in 23.2 High-A innings (1.90 ERA, 26.4% strikeout rate). Misiorowaski has electric stuff and we’ve seen Milwaukee get the most out of their pitching prospects in the past. As a result, he has become one the hottest names in fantasy prospect circles. I may be a little bit more hesitant on him than the consensus given his consistently high walk rates (13.2% at Double-A) but there is no denying the high ceiling.
Jackson Jobe, P, DET (Single-A to High-A) – Jobe is a former No. 3 overall pick that has battled a spine injury throughout most of 2023. He’s looked absolutely dominant since returning, logging 16 innings at Single-A and putting up a 25% K-BB rate along with a 2.25 ERA. It’s not surprising, but the Tigers have limited the righty to about three or four innings per outing. Expect that to stay the same at High-A, and if Jobe continues to push well there, his prospect stock will explode.
Lyon Richardson, P, CIN (Double-A to Triple-A) – Richardson is one of the Reds top arms and he’s performed well at Double-A in 2023, posting a 2.15 ERA in 15 starts. His strikeout rate there was also north of 30%, while his walk rate checked in at 19.1%. Cincinnati’s rotation is it’s weak spot right now so if Richardson performs well at Triple-A, he very well could be in a position to make some starts for the big league club in the stretch run.
Jace Jung, 2B, DET (High-A to Double-A) – Jung went 12th overall to Detroit in the 2022 draft. He showed a great approach at High-A this season, walking more than 15% of the time, helping him to a .254/.377/.465 triple slash. The bat has more or less lived up to expectations so far, and now we’ll get to see how Jung handles a step up in pitching.
Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Brewers | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on Twitter)