5 American League Prospects Deserving of Promotion to Next Level
As a baseball writer, it is always fun to cover the ascent of minor league prospects.
Determining which prospects will go on to have solid big league careers is a gamble. There are high draft picks that make it to the show well ahead of schedule and go on to meet expectations.
There are also late-blooming prospects that do not arrive in the major leagues until their mid-to-late 20s (and in some cases early 30s).
And there are prospects that tear through the minor leagues only to prove unable to translate their skills at big league ballparks.
But ultimately, it is this shroud of mystery that makes tracking prospects so much fun.
With that said, this slideshow highlights five AL prospects who deserve a promotion to the next level.
Please understand this list is not all-encompassing. If you are a baseball fan who knows of a deserving prospect not on this list, please leave a comment.
As "Shoeless" Joe Jackson says in the Field of Dreams, "There are others, you know."
Nick Castellanos (Detroit Tigers)
Meet the Ted Williams of Class-A Advanced.
This 20-year-old third base prospect for the Detroit Tigers has aced nearly every aspect of the game for the Lakeland Tigers.
Through 54 games, Castellanos is batting .403 (85-for-211) with three home runs and 32 RBI. He also has 17 doubles to go with a .460 OBP/.555 SLG/1.015 OPS.
In the last 10 games, Castellanos has hit .359 (14-for-39) with one home run, five RBI, three doubles and one triple.
Travis Witherspoon (LA Angels)
This 6’2”, 190-lb outfielder from Sumter, S.C., has certainly turned heads in the Angels organization this season.
A right-handed hitter with great speed and a plus arm, Witherspoon was drafted in the 12th round (381st overall) in the 2009 MLB draft. Currently, he plays for the Inland Empire 66ers in the Class-A Advanced Cal League.
Through 55 games, Witherspoon is batting .311 (70-for-225) with five home runs and 23 RBI. He also has eight doubles, five triples and a .385 OBP/.458 SLG/.843 OPS to go with 21 stolen bases.
In the last 10 games, Witherspoon has hit .444 (16-for-36) with a 1.047 OPS. Witherspoon’s hot hitting helped him garner CAL Player of the Week honors for the week of May 29.
Barret Loux (Texas Rangers)
23-year-old fireballer Barret Loux is having a ridiculous season for the Frisco RoughRiders of the Double-A Texas league.
A Houston native, this phenom is a perfect 10-0 with a 3.03 ERA. Loux also has 58 strikeouts to 20 walks in 62.1 innings pitched.
Loux's ERA was 2.51 until May 26, when he surrendered six earned runs in six innings of work against Northwest Arkansas.
Loux's most sparkling performance this season occurred on May 20 against the San Antonio Missions, when he gave up one earned run on two hits in seven innings. He struck out six batters and walked just one.
Tyler Austin (New York Yankees)
This 20-year-old outfield prospect has proven to be a pleasant surprise for the Yankees.
A 13th-round selection of the 2010 MLB draft, this 6’2”, 200-lb Georgia native has raked for the Charleston RiverDogs.
Through 53 games in his first Sally League season, Austin is batting .333 with 14 home runs, 47 RBI and 13 stolen bases. Austin’s slugging percent is an outstanding .671. As is his OBP, which is .409. His 1.081 OPS is tops in Class-A.
During the past 10 games, Austin has hit an eye-popping .525 (21-for-40) with a .620/.775/1.395 line.
Jackie Bradley Jr. (Boston Red Sox)
Here is another prospect who has hit the cover off the baseball this spring.
A sweet-swinging, left-handed hitter, Bradley is batting a scorching .376 for the Salem Red Sox of the Class-A Advanced Carolina League.
This 22-year-old South Carolina native has 68 hits, three home runs and 31 RBI to accompany 13 stolen bases. More impressive, Bradley’s OPS is 1.066 and slugging percent is .575.
During the past 10 games, Bradley has been scorching hot. He is hitting .421 (16-for-38) with eight doubles and an OPS of 1.097.
Bradley is also a great defensive player. Baseball America selected this speedster as the best defensive outfielder in the Red Sox organization in 2011.