Major League Baseball’s regular season isn’t yet two months old, but it’s never too early to think about the playoffs. As such, today’s Prospect Watch highlights five young players who could help shape postseason races.
Before we get to the reason you clicked, we’ll note that our list was formed through a process of elimination. We ruled out any player who had already played in the majors, or who was unlikely to do so before the end of the season. We also ignored any player whose team doesn’t have at least a 10 percent shot at making it to October, according to Baseball Prospectus’ odds.
With those as our guideposts, here are the five prospects we identified as worth keeping in mind as the season unfolds. (Note that the players are presented in alphabetical order.)
1. Sam Bachman, RHP, Angels
Despite concerns about his long-term viability as a starter, Bachman went ninth overall in last summer’s draft in part because he was viewed as someone who could climb the ladder quickly thanks to an impressive fastball-slider combination. He missed the onset of the season because of a back injury, yet he’s since appeared in three games at the Double-A level. The Angels already have one of their draft picks from last year in their rotation — 11th rounder Chase Silseth — meaning they’ve shown a willingness to push arms through their system if they believe they can contribute to their playoff push. It seems like only a matter of time and health, then, before Bachman is in Anaheim.
2. Michael Harris, OF, Braves
It’s reasonable to state that the defending champions could use some outfield help given Eddie Rosario’s injury and Adam Duvall’s struggles. The well-rounded Harris, originally a third-round pick in 2019, might be the solution. Harris, 21, has hit .296/.356/.506 with five home runs, 17 combined doubles and triples, and 10 stolen bases on 13 tries in 40 Double-A games. Did we mention that evaluators believe he can stick in center field, too? The Braves have developed several high-quality hitters in recent years; Harris ought to be the next one.
3. Max Meyer, RHP, Marlins
You might object to the Marlins being billed as a potential contender, but they’re close enough to the race to warrant the aforementioned playoff odds. Meyer, the third pick in the 2020 draft, could help push them closer to the thick of it. He’s struck out 44 batters in 39 Triple-A innings to date by leveraging his signature slider. Don’t let his unsightly 4.54 ERA fool you into thinking he’s had a horrific season, either. Jacksonville has been one of the most offensive-friendly environments in the International League, yet Meyer is surrendering fewer hits, walks, and home runs per nine than the team average.
4. Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers
Speaking of teams who know how to draft and develop, the Dodgers landed Miller with the 29th pick in 2020. He’s since blossomed into a physical right-hander with a fastball capable of touching triple digits. Miller needs to continue to find consistency with his secondary offerings and command if he’s going to become a front-of-the-rotation force. He’ll also need to learn how to turn lineups over; he’s averaged just 15 batters faced per start this season, or less than two full times through the order. As it stands, the Dodgers might have no choice but to introduce him to the majors in a hybrid or relief role.
We’ll end with Moreno, a 22-year-old who has hit .333/.393/.441 in his first 27 games at the Triple-A level. He might face more resistance in breaking into The Show than anyone else on this list because both of Toronto’s catchers, Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk, have performed well so far this season.
Still, Moreno has the potential to become an above-average two-way contributor, and it would make sense for the Blue Jays to leverage their catching depth through a trade that nets them an upgrade at a different position.