Image credit: Trey Cabbage (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
We’ve updated our Top 30 Prospects lists following the 2023 trade deadline. Below are prospects for all 10 West Division teams who’ve taken significant steps forward this year.
Luis Morales, RHP: Oakland spent $3 million to sign Morales, 20, out of Cuba in the most recent international signing period. The righthander has already zoomed from the DSL to Low-A Stockton. He utilizes a three-pitch mix fronted by a fastball in the upper 90s and backed by a potentially plus slider and a changeup that needs to come a bit further. If he can do that, he has a chance to be a starter. If not, he could fit as a dynamite reliever.
Trey Cabbage, OF/1B, Angels: There isn’t a lot of subtlety to Cabbage’s game, but if you’re going to swing hard and ask questions later, it helps to have the power to cause a lot of damage when you connect. Cabbage can also run, so he’s on pace for a 30-30 season at Triple-A Salt Lake. He has 26 home runs and 27 steals in mid-August even after a detour to make his MLB debut earlier this season. Cabbage’s swing-and-miss issues were very apparent in his MLB debut, where he struck out 17 times in 35 plate appearances. But he may end up earning another shot thanks to his power and speed.
Zach Dezenzo, 3B: When Dezenzo was selected in the 12th round out of Ohio State few could have anticipated he’d be a top-five player in the Astros system less than 12 months later. The infielder hit .407/.474/.628 over 31 games with High-A Asheville before earning a promotion to Double-A by early May. He’s shown advanced plate approach and easy plus raw power, and made adjustments this season to make more consistent contact. So far it’s worked as Dezenzo is truly a breakout prospect this season for the Astros. He’s been inconsistent at Double-A but has easily raised expectations in his first full professional season.
Ryan Bliss, 2B: Bliss was traded from the D-backs to the Mariners this summer in the deal that sent Paul Sewald to Arizona. Bliss’ stock has been on the rise all season, and his ascent also included a spot in the Futures Game. After struggling in 2022, the Auburn product adjusted his approach and got back to being a player who can put the bat on the ball and spray it around the diamond and show skills befitting a player who hits at the top or bottom of an order.
Abimelec Ortiz, 1B: Ortiz has been one of the Texas system’s breakout stars in 2023. The hulking first baseman improved his vision over the offseason and tweaked his swing mechanics a touch, and the results have been a player who’s hit for both average and power. Ortiz’s exit velocities are among the best in the system and scouts this year have remarked that his quality of contact is much improved from 2022. He’s still vulnerable to elevated velocity, but his stock is still much higher than it was a year ago.
Yu-Min Lin, LHP: Signed out of Taiwan in December of 2021, Lin dominated the High-A Northwest League over 13 starts. He struck out 76 batters to 22 walks over 60.1 innings pitched. Lin doesn’t feature huge stuff but he has a variety of pitch shapes and pitchability. His two-seamer sits 89-92 mph, mixing in a changeup with tumble and heavy fade, an upper-70s curveball with heavy two-plane break and spin rates in the 2,900-3,100 rpm range. Lin will also mix in a slider, four-seam fastball and cutter, using his deep arsenal to keep hitters off balance. He has a solid back-end starter profile with a deep arsenal of pitches and upside.
Thayron Liranzo, C: Oh look, another Dodgers catching prospect worth paying attention to. Liranzo is a switch-hitter whose lefty swing gives him a chance to do damage, although his righthanded swing isn’t as polished. He hits for power and should be a solid-average catcher defensively. Liranzo leads the California League with 18 home runs and ranks among the league’s best in multiple other categories. Not many switch-hitting catchers can hit third in a lineup, but Liranzo isn’t a run-of-the-mill prospect.
Hayden Birdsong, RHP: San Francisco’s sixth-rounder from a year ago made quick work of the lower levels of the minor leagues thanks to big-time velocity and the feel to spin a quality slider. He punched out 116 hitters in 77.2 innings between Low-A San Jose and High-A Eugene before earning a promotion to Double-A Richmond. Birdsong worked primarily out of the bullpen in his draft year at Eastern Illinois but could fit into a starter’s role if he can bring his changeup far enough along to give himself a full three-pitch mix.
Graham Pauley, 3B: Pauley was only a full-time starter at Duke for one year before the Padres picked him in the 13th round in 2022. Pauley’s ability to get on base and produce at least average power is a useful combo, especially as he has some defensive versatility as well. He’s played second and third base and left and right field as a pro.
Carson Palmquist, LHP: In recent drafts the Rockies have made a concerted effort to improve their pitching depth within their organization. With a rash of Tommy John surgeries to three of the Rockies top four pitching prospects, Palmquist is the last man standing. He’s an unusual lefthander who sits 89-91 mph on his fastball, mixing in a mid-70s curveball and a low-80s changeup with heavy arm-side run. Palmquist’s low sidearm slot allows him to create a difficult angle on his fastball, as his flat approach angle plays elevated in the zone. Over 15 starts with High-A Spokane this season, Palmquist is 7-2 with a 3.73 ERA and 106 strikeouts to 28 walks over 70 innings pitched.