Five Of The Best Potential Prospect Batteries For 2021
On Thursday, Baseball America looked at which minor league teams project to have at least two members of our 2021 Top 100 Prospects list join their roster to begin the coming minor league season.
In doing so, we noted that there were a few teams who would have a chance every five days to have a Top 100 prospect make up both ends of the battery. At High-A Aberdeen, fans might be able to see righthander Grayson Rodriguez throw to Adley Rutschman, for example. Rodriguez ranked No. 22 on the list, while Rutschman checked in just behind the Rays’ Wander Franco at No. 2 overall.
But those three high-powered batteries aren’t the only ones to look out for once the 2021 minor league season gets going. Here are five more possible combinations to keep you dreaming of summer.
Langeliers is one of the Braves’ top two catching prospects and finished 2019 at Low-A. He spent 2020 at the alternate training site and drew rave reviews, so there’s a chance he starts 2021 at Double-A. If not, he’ll likely have a chance to catch Shuster, the team’s first-rounder out of Wake Forest in the most recent draft.
Shuster, who took a big jump forward in the abbreviated 2020 season, has a chance for three average or better pitches, including a potentially plus changeup.
While it wouldn’t be surprising to see these two start at different levels—Amaya at Double-A and Marquez at High-A—Marquez could quickly catch up and form one of the more exciting batteries in the minors. Marquez is a lightning-armed lefty with an 80-grade fastball and a potentially plus slider at the front of a four-pitch arsenal and has some volatility remaining in his future role.
Amaya put up solid but unspectacular numbers in 2019 but should get an offensive boost by leaving pitcher-friendly Myrtle Beach.
Naylor, the younger brother of new Cleveland first baseman Josh Naylor, has earned a rep as one of the best pitch-framers in the minor leagues, and in 2019 threw out 37% of attempted basestealers. He was one of the best offensive performers at Cleveland’s alternate training site in 2020 and should open the year in High-A.
Hankins, Cleveland’s first-round pick in 2018, has a plus fastball at the front of a mix of three potentially above-average pitches. He made five starts at Low-A in 2019 and pitched at the alternate training site in 2020.
Herrera has steadily started to open more eyes around the sport. He spent time around Yadier Molina at spring training and used the time to gain some wisdom from one of the best backstops in the history of the sport. He has the potential to be an asset on both sides of the ball.
Liberatore was the main prize the Cardinals landed in exchange for Randy Arozarena before the 2020 season and has an extremely high upside. BA ranks Liberatore as the fifth-best lefthanded prospect, behind the Royals’ Asa Lacy and ahead of Baltimore’s D.L. Hall. He has an outstanding four-pitch mix fronted by potential plus pitches in his fastball and curveball.
This might be another battery that materializes during the season rather than at the beginning, but Raleigh led the Mariners at instructional league with eight home runs and projects to be a below-average hitter with plus power from both sides of the plate, though he does most of his damage lefthanded at this point.
Gilbert is the system’s best pitching prospect and one of the best overall arm talents in the minors. He has a full four-pitch complement, and his fastball, curveball and changeup each have a chance to be plus. His slider is a tick below at merely above-average, as is his overall control.