The second half is officially underway around MLB, and if you’re wondering whether teams are feeling the urgency — either to bank wins The MLB trade deadline is just a week away, and if you’re wondering whether teams are feeling the urgency — either to bank wins and establish themselves as buyers or to see what they have as they look toward 2024 and beyond — well, just look at all the prospect debuts we’ve been treated to since the All-Star break. From Oakland’s Tyler Soderstrom and Zach Gelof to Pittsburgh Pirates duo Endy Rodriguez and Quinn Priester to Yankees infielder Oswald Peraza to Cincinnati Reds slugger Christian Encarnacion-Strand to Brewers outfielder Sal Frelick, it’s smoke ‘em if you got ‘em time around MLB.
Of course, you wouldn’t have been shocked by any of this if you’d been keeping up with our weekly prospect reports, in which every single one of those guys was highlighted before reaching the Majors. (All those graduations have opened up a few new spots on our list of prospects to stash for fantasy baseball, too.) And with the deadline right around the corner, keeping track of who’s hot and who’s not down on the farm is even more important as teams look to build competitive trade offers. Want to know who’s next? Here’s everything that’s happened in the Minors last week.
Prospect report for week of Monday, July 24
Colt Keith, 3B, Detroit Tigers
Keith burst onto the prospect scene with a torrid start to the season at Double-A, and the 21-year-old has kept on hitting after a promotion to Triple-A:
He’s slashing .274/.347/.403 with almost as many walks as strikeouts, clearly not overmatched just one step away from the Majors. The third baseman won’t provide much of anything in the running game, but he has real plus-hit, plus-power potential that has him nearing top-25 overall prospect status — a meteoric rise from where he was just a few months ago. With Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson and Kerry Carpenter in tow and Keith on the way — there’s no one remotely blocking him at the hot corner in Detroit right now, so expect to see him called up soon — the Tigers are finally stacking some nice position player talent.
Curtis Mead, 2B/3B, Tampa Bay Rays
Regarded as one of the best pure hitters — and on the fast track to Tampa — at the start of the year, Mead got off to a brutal start, hitting just .221/.286/.361 at Triple-A Durham before a wrist injury knocked him out for nearly two months. It took a while, but since the infielder returned to Durham’s lineup on June 30, he’s been on an absolute tear, with an 1.170 OPS, 13 extra-base hits and nine multi-hit efforts over his last 16 games.
Third-ranked @RaysBaseball prospect Curtis Mead (MLB No. 33) put together his first career five-hit game.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 15, 2023
Four of those knocks registered at least 104.6 mph, as he upped his @DurhamBulls slash line to .292/.362/.475: pic.twitter.com/EYKerZ66YF
He’s scorching the ball the way a top-50 overall prospect should, and it leaves the Rays with a tough decision to make over the next week: With Mead more or less blocked at the Major League level by Brandon Lowe, Wander Franco and Yandy Diaz, do they flip him in return for someone who can help in 2023 or try to hang on to the infielder for the future?
Coby Mayo/Connor Norby, INF, Baltimore Orioles
Somehow, despite already calling up Jordan Westburg and Joey Ortiz earlier this year, the O’s are still sitting on a mountain of impact infielders in the Minors. Foremost among them are Mayo and Norby, MLB Pipeline’s No. 65 and 74 prospects respectively, each of whom is currently tearing it up at the plate. Norby is slashing .282/.371/.513 with five homers and two steals over his last 19 games while Mayo earned a recent call-up to Norfolk after posting a 1.026 OPS with 17 homers over his first 78 games at Double-A.
Coby Mayo rips his first Triple-A hit down the line for an RBI double pic.twitter.com/U9ej9D4aCg— Orioles Player Development (@OsPlayerDev) July 15, 2023
Westburg and Gunnar Henderson appear to be the future at second and third base, so where does that leave Mayo and Norby? Baltimore is better-positioned than just about anyone in baseball to take a big swing at the deadline, and one or both of them could be on the move in the next week.
Justin Foscue, 2B/3B, Texas Rangers
A first-round pick back in the 2020 draft, Foscue continues to hit at every level, slashing .271/.389/.477 with 11 homers and seven steals with more walks (48) than strikeouts (40) in 74 games at Triple-A this season. He’s among the most polished hitters in the Minors, capable of 20-homer power with a plus batting average and even chipping in a few steals. The problem? He splits his time between second and third base, positions at which the Major League club have Marcus Semien and Josh Jung locked in for the foreseeable future. With the Rangers desperately needing rotation help if they hope to make a postseason push, don’t be surprised if they dangle Foscue to selling teams.
Clayton Beeter, SP, New York Yankees
Beeter needed some time to get settled after being called up to Triple-A in June, but he’s been dynamite over his last two starts, allowing just one unearned run on four hits and three walks with 13 strikeouts across 8.1 innings of work. Command has always been the righty’s big issue, so those walk totals are encouraging — and when he’s around the strike zone, his stuff is electric.
The Yankees seemingly churn out these sorts of arms on a yearly basis, and they dipped into that pool to acquire Major League talent at last year’s deadline — parting with JP Sears, Ken Waldichuk and Hayden Wesneski. Beeter could be next if he keeps pitching like this.
Addison Barger, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
Barger is another prospect who entered the year with big expectations — he was generally regarded as one of the Jays’ four or five best prospects — but got off to a disappointing start amid injury. He’s turned it on lately, though: Since June 30, the 23-year-old is slashing .303/.395/.546 with three homers and 10 walks across his last 15 games at Triple-A.
#BlueJays No. 6 prospect Addison Barger is really rolling.— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) July 23, 2023
That slow start and elbow injury kept him grounded for a few months, but he’s looked like a different player the past couple of weeks.
He’s looked much more like the power-hitting infielder who broke out in 2022, and if he keeps this up, a call up to Toronto could be coming quickly — the Blue Jays are desperate for a left-handed presence in their lineup and could move Whit Merrifield around in order to make room at second base.