Each MLB Team's Prospect Who Could Help Right Away in 2020
The 2020 MLB season is at long last underway. That means a lot of things, but one of them is that we'll get a look at some of the game's most exciting young talent.
With active rosters initially expanded to 30 players, a number of intriguing prospects made the big clubs out of summer camp, and many will play integral roles.
Let's examine one prospect on each team (defined as anyone whose rookie status is intact) who has the skills to help their club right away. In most cases, we chose players who made the team on Opening Day. But in a few others we included MLB-ready players who were left off the 30-man rosters, generally because of service-time considerations.
The players who fall into the latter category can and should get meaningful action in The Show very soon.
Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Kevin Ginkel
Right-hander Kevin Ginkel posted a 1.78 ERA with 16 strikeouts per nine innings between the rookie leagues and Triple-A last season.
He translated that success to the big leagues with a 1.48 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 24.1 innings with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The 26-year-old made the D-backs' 30-man roster out of summer camp and could become a mainstay in a solid bullpen if he translates those results over a full (or "full") 2020 season.
Atlanta Braves: RHP Kyle Wright
With Cole Hamels on the 45-day injured list and Felix Hernandez opting out for 2020, the door swung wide-open for right-hander Kyle Wright to make the Atlanta Braves' Opening Day roster.
Wright took advantage of the situation and should be a part of the Atlanta rotation right away, though he could also see reps out of the bullpen.
Whatever his role, the 24-year-old showcased his quality, bat-missing stuff with 9.3 K/9 in 112.1 innings at Triple-A in 2019 before making his MLB debut and logging seven appearances with Atlanta.
Now, he appears to be poised to become a big league mainstay for the defending National League East champions.
Baltimore Orioles: OF Austin Hays
The rebuilding Baltimore Orioles will surely examine a number of prospects this season as they look toward the future and analyze what they have.
At the top of the list is Austin Hays, who made the 30-man roster and should be the Orioles' regular center fielder.
The 25-year-old missed the entire 2018 season after undergoing ankle surgery yet returned in 2019 and slashed .309/.373/.574 in 68 at-bats for Baltimore. His rookie status remains intact for now, but he'll soon permanently shed the "prospect" label.
Boston Red Sox: INF Bobby Dalbec
A positive COVID-19 test interrupted Bobby Dalbec's summer camp. He ultimately rejoined the Boston Red Sox, but he didn't make the 30-man roster.
That could change before long. Dalbec can capably man either corner infield position. And while first and third are occupied by veteran Mitch Moreland and Rafael Devers, respectively, the 25-year-old could provide depth and roster flexibility. Or, of course, step in in the event of an injury.
Dalbec swatted 27 home runs last season between Double-A and Triple-A and owns an .867 OPS overall in four minor league seasons. His moment with Boston should be coming soon.
Chicago Cubs: INF Nico Hoerner
A versatile defender who can play the infield and outfield, Nico Hoerner made the Chicago Cubs roster out of summer camp and could be a significant piece for the Cubbies this season.
Hoerner impressed in a 20-game debut in 2019, hitting .282 with three home runs. That was especially impressive considering he'd logged just 89 career MiLB games between 2018 and 2019 and never played above Double-A.
The 23-year-old should see reps all over the diamond for Chicago and could earn an everyday role if he keeps producing.
Chicago White Sox: OF Luis Robert
Luis Robert clubbed his way from High-A to Triple-A in 2019 and hit a combined .328 with 32 home runs, 36 stolen bases and a 1.001 OPS.
Now, the Cuban phenom is prepared to take MLB by storm as the Chicago White Sox's everyday center fielder.
There could be an MLB learning curve for the 22-year-old. But he's a solid pick for American League Rookie of the Year honors and one of the most exciting young players in baseball on an up-and-coming ChiSox team.
Cincinnati Reds: RHP Tejay Antone
The Cincinnati Reds didn't add any notable prospects to their 30-man roster, and top MiLB chips such as left-hander Nick Lodolo and two-way star Hunter Greene might be a year or more away from significant big league action.
A less high-profile but potentially impactful name to keep an eye on is right-hander Tejay Antone.
The 26-year-old impressed in summer camp and posted a 1.42 ERA in five appearances in the original spring training. He was left off the Reds' initial roster but could soon be a piece of Cincinnati's bullpen if injuries or underperformance strike.
Cleveland Indians: RHP James Karinchak
James Karinchak made his big league debut with Cleveland in 2019, striking out eight in 5.1 innings. That came after he fanned 74 in 30.1 innings between the rookie leagues and Triple-A.
That eye-opening strikeout stuff earned the 24-year-old a spot on Cleveland's 30-man roster, and he could play a significant role in the team's bullpen.
Brad Hand is the closer until further notice, but don't be surprised to see Karinchak get high-leverage late-inning work if he continues missing bats.
Colorado Rockies: INF Brendan Rodgers
It came as something of a surprise when Brendan Rodgers was left off the Colorado Rockies' Opening Day roster.
After hitting .350 with a 1.035 OPS at Triple-A in 2019, Rodgers made a 25-game debut with the Rockies before shoulder surgery ended his season.
This year, with the possibility of veteran Daniel Murphy getting the majority of his at-bats at DH, a spot at second base appeared to be open for Rodgers.
Expect to see the 23-year-old playing for Colorado soon. It's time for the Rox to give him a shot, especially with no minor league season.
Detroit Tigers: RHP Bryan Garcia
Bryan Garcia made his big league debut with, shall we say, mixed results in 2019. The power-armed right-hander struck out seven in 6.2 innings with the Detroit Tigers but also yielded nine earned runs.
That said, he has the stuff to be a major factor in the rebuilding Tigers bullpen this season after making the Opening Day roster.
Garcia averaged 10.2 K/9 between High-A and Triple-A last season and could earn a prominent role in Detroit's relief corps.
Houston Astros: INF Abraham Toro
After hitting .324 with a .938 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019, Abraham Toro made a 25-game debut with the Houston Astros.
Now, the 23-year-old infielder is on the Opening Day roster.
With Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel ensconced from third to first, Toro won't be a starter barring injury. But his plus hit tool and ability to play both corner positions could give him ample opportunity to help the defending AL champs in various roles.
Kansas City Royals: RHP Brady Singer
A first-round pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2018, Brady Singer made the 2020 Opening Day roster and is set to make his big league debut Saturday.
"He earned it," Royals manager Mike Matheny told reporters. "He came in here, and he made us watch him and how well he competed. Every bullpen, every outing, his training, this kid ... everything lined up that this kid is ready."
The 23-year-old has the stuff to dazzle right away, but even if he doesn't, he should get plenty of patience from the rebuilding Royals. Mostly, credit K.C. for not playing service-time games and giving Singer the opportunity he deserves.
Los Angeles Angels: OF Jo Adell
Speaking of service-time games, the Los Angeles Angels appear to be playing some with top prospect Jo Adell.
The 21-year-old posted an .834 OPS between High-A and Triple-A last season and displayed a big league-ready bat in spring training and summer camp. But the Halos opted to leave him off the 30-man roster for the time being. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register spelled it out:
"Under current rules, if Adell is down for at least six days, he will not accrue a full year of service time this year, which could give the Angels an extra year before free agency. However, the collective bargaining agreement expires after 2021, so there's no guarantee that would remain the rule when Adell is approaching free agency."
Soon enough, Adell should slot into right in the Angels outfield next to Mike Trout—perhaps as soon as six days into the season.
Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP Dustin May
When Clayton Kershaw was scratched from his Opening Day start Thursday against the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers handed the ball to Dustin May.
That should tell you everything about the club's confidence in the 22-year-old right-hander. And May responded with 4.1 innings of one-run ball in an 8-1 Dodgers victory.
May made 14 appearances with a 3.63 ERA last season for L.A. after posting a 3.38 ERA in 20 starts between Double-A and Triple-A. He should spend this season as a key arm for the Dodgers, either out of the rotation or the bullpen.
Miami Marlins: RHP Nick Neidert
The Miami Marlins will take a look at a lot of youngsters and prospects in 2020 as they continue to swim back toward relevance.
Out of the gate, watch right-hander Nick Neidert.
The 23-year-old made the Marlins' 30-man roster and should be in Miami's starting-rotation mix. Neidert had mixed results in the minors in 2019 while battling a knee injury, but he has a solid low- to mid-90s fastball, a plus changeup and an emerging breaking ball that could make him an effective big league starter.
It looks like the Fish are going to give him a chance to prove it.
Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Devin Williams
Right-hander Devin Williams posted a 2.21 ERA with 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings between Double-A and Triple-A last season and then struck out 14 in 13.2 innings in an impressive debut with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Now, the 25-year-old is opening the season with the Brew Crew.
He'll need to prove himself in a deep bullpen that is among the game's best, but he has the stuff to rise in the hierarchy and manager Craig Counsell's eyes if he keeps inducing whiffs.
Minnesota Twins: LHP Lewis Thorpe
Lewis Thorpe averaged 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 96.1 frames at Triple-A last season and made 12 appearances, including two starts, with the Minnesota Twins.
The 24-year-old made the big club out of camp and will likely fill a long-relief role initially. But he has strikeout stuff, and 84 of his 91 MiLB appearances came as a starter.
If fifth starter Homer Bailey or any other member of the starting corps falters or suffers an injury, look for Thorpe to get a shot.
New York Mets: SS Andres Gimenez
The New York Mets' Andres Gimenez is blocked at shortstop, his primary position, by Amed Rosario. Yet, in a somewhat surprising move, the Mets placed Gimenez on their Opening Day roster.
The 21-year-old slashed a ho-hum .250/.309/.387 at Double-A in 2019 but raked in the Arizona Fall League to the tune of a .371/.413/.586 line in 18 games.
He has the tools to be a plus defender at short and has also logged MiLB innings at second. It remains to be seen how New York will utilize him, but clearly the Queens contingent is ready to give him an audition.
New York Yankees: RHP Michael King
Michael King struck out 28 in 23.2 innings at Triple-A and made his big league debut for the New York Yankees in 2019.
The 25-year-old did enough in spring training and summer camp to win a 30-man roster spot, beating out his primary pitching competition, Clarke Schmidt.
King could have a spot in the rotation initially while Masahiro Tanaka recovers from a concussion.
If King pitches well enough, a role as a middle reliever and spot starter could keep him in the big leagues with the defending AL East champs.
Oakland Athletics: LHP Jesus Luzardo
As expected, Jesus Luzardo made the Oakland Athletics' Opening Day roster. He's slated to begin the season out of the bullpen as he works his way up to full strength, but that could change soon.
"He told me until he gets built up to just use him however we want. He's eager to get out there," manager Bob Melvin said, per Martin Gallegos of MLB.com. "I'd probably prefer to get him in a clean inning the first time out. But after that, I think it's just whenever we need him."
Luzardo threw 12 innings in six appearances with the A's last season and posted a 1.50 ERA with 16 strikeouts. Before that, he posted a 2.53 ERA with 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings in 195.2 MiLB frames from 2017 to 2019.
Whatever his role, the 22-year-old has the stuff and makeup to be a star.
Philadelphia Phillies: 3B/1B Alec Bohm
Alec Bohm rose from Single-A to Double-A in 2019 and hit a combined .305 with an .896 OPS. The 23-year-old has the tools to contribute to the Philadelphia Phillies right now.
Philadelphia didn't add him to its 30-man roster, perhaps with service-time concerns at least partly in mind. But don't be surprised if Bohm is up soon.
While he's blocked at first and third base by Rhys Hoskins and Jean Segura, respectively, the DH should give Philadelphia enough flexibility to get him at-bats.
Normally, he'd spend most of this season at Triple-A. But that's not an option in 2020.
Pittsburgh Pirates: RHP Mitch Keller
Right-hander Mitch Keller posted a 3.19 FIP and 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 48 frames with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019 yet maintained his rookie and prospect status.
In 539.1 career minor league innings, he owns a 3.12 ERA with 9.4 strikeouts per nine.
Keller has a chance to front the rotation and emerge as an ace with a strong arsenal and some MLB experience under his belt. He's one B/R expert's pick to claim NL Rookie of the Year honors.
If nothing else, he gives Pirates fans something to look forward to in what should be a rough rebuilding year.
San Diego Padres: OF Edward Olivares
Edward Olivares hit .283 with an .801 OPS, 18 home runs and 35 stolen bases in 127 games at Double-A in 2019.
This year, during the Cactus League and summer camp, he continued to impress and earned a spot on the San Diego Padres' 30-man roster.
The 24-year-old will begin a step behind the trio of Tommy Pham, Trent Grisham and Wil Myers on the depth chart, but expect the Friars to give the speedy, athletic Olivares plenty of opportunities.
If he produces, he could be a key part of San Diego's blossoming rebuild.
San Francisco Giants: C Joey Bart
When franchise catcher Buster Posey opted out of the season, it seemed to open an opportunity for top prospect Joey Bart.
But, surely in part because of service-time worries, Bart will begin the season off the 30-man roster.
The 23-year-old has posted an .875 OPS with 29 home runs in 130 minor league games since the Giants selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in 2018. By all accounts, he's a star backstop in waiting.
With Posey out, San Francisco doesn't have anyone significant blocking Bart. A call-up in the near future feels inevitable. Heck, almost 11 years ago, the Giants called up a rookie catcher (Posey), and that worked out pretty well.
No pressure, kid.
Seattle Mariners: 1B Evan White
A first-round pick by the Seattle Mariners in 2017, Evan White slashed .293/.350/.488 at Double-A last season and came into spring training with a decent shot at winning a job with the rebuilding M's.
White didn't disappoint, and he enters the season as the starting first baseman.
The 24-year-old is a plus defender and, despite having never faced Triple-A competition, has flashed a solid hit tool that looks ready to take on big league pitching.
The Mariners are developing for the future, and clearly they think White is a big part of it.
St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Junior Fernandez
The St. Louis Cardinals left outfielder and top prospect Dylan Carlson off their 30-man roster (cue familiar service-time reference).
While they await Carlson's arrival, Redbirds fans should take a gander at right-hander Junior Fernandez.
The 23-year-old posted a 1.52 ERA with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings between High-A and Triple-A last season and fanned 16 in 11.2 innings with the Cardinals.
He might begin the season in middle relief, but he could work his way into a late-inning role with a strong sinking fastball and plus slider and changeup.
Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Peter Fairbanks
The Tampa Bay Rays acquired Peter Fairbanks from the Texas Rangers last July, and he made 13 appearances for Tampa Bay.
Now, after cracking the 30-man roster, he could be a key part of a dominant bullpen. The hard-throwing 26-year-old added a changeup to his arsenal, which opened eyes in summer camp.
"This has a chance to be a pretty big season for Pete," Rays manager Kevin Cash said, per Juan Toribio of MLB.com. "To just continue to establish just how talented he is."
Texas Rangers: 2B/OF Nick Solak
With Willie Calhoun working his way back from a hip injury, Nick Solak could start in left field for the Texas Rangers.
But the 25-year-old should get plenty of at-bats regardless.
He has the defensive versatility to play second base and the outfield and hit .293 with an .884 OPS in 33 games last season after posting an .894 OPS in 115 games at Triple-A.
Look for Solak to play a key role—as a starter when needed in the event of injury and as a super-utility player.
Toronto Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson
Nate Pearson will begin the season on the Toronto Blue Jays taxi squad, meaning he's not a part of the 30-man roster and his service-time clock hasn't started yet.
But make no mistake: the 23-year-old right-hander is a huge part of the Jays' present and future.
Pearson posted a 2.30 ERA with 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 101.2 frames between High-A and Triple-A in 2019 and impressed in spring training and summer camp.
Expect Toronto to debut him soon, and look for him as a contender for AL Rookie of the Year honors.
Washington Nationals: 3B Carter Kieboom
Carter Kieboom—can we all agree that's an awesome baseball name?—hit .303 with a .902 OPS at Triple-A last season and made an 11-game debut with the Washington Nationals.
Now, the 22-year-old is opening the season on the 30-man contingent. Not only that, but he's also being asked to fill the considerable cleats of third baseman Anthony Rendon, who left the nation's capital via free agency this offseason.
Kieboom's primary position in the minors was shortstop, but he has drawn praise from Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo for his transition to the hot corner.
If he can transition his MiLB offensive output to The Show, it'll be a major boon for the defending champs.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.