Image credit: DL Hall (Photo by Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)
In lieu of a traditional daily prospect report, Josh Norris is celebrating Minor League Opening Day by highlighting several players he can’t wait to see this year. Full stats from prospects playing in the majors are still below.
D.L. Hall, LHP, Orioles — One of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects, he’ll take the Opening Day start with batterymate Adley Rutschman for the Baysox. Combined, that’s the No. 2 overall prospect (Rutschman) and the No. 52 prospect (Hall) setting up shop 60 feet, 6 inches from one another. Hall’s command and control have long been issues, but his stuff is undeniable. His mid-to-upper 90s fastball is particularly intriguing because of the life it shows even to the naked eye. When he’s right, he has strikeout stuff and is one of the nastiest pitchers in the minors.
Quinn Priester, RHP, Pirates — Priester was the darling of the Florida instructional league, where he showed an electric, mid-90s fastball and a powerful downer curveball. He was also at the team’s alternate training site, where he got to showcase himself in front of team brass—albeit in a controlled setting—for a summer. Now he’ll head to High-A Greensboro, where he’ll be part of a stacked pitching staff that also features righties Carmen Mlodzinski, Braxton Ashcraft and Tahnaj Thomas, to say nothing of talented Top 100 infielders Nick Gonzales and Liover Peguero.
Wander Franco, SS, Rays — What would Opening Day be without the No. 1 prospect in the game, the next wunderkind in a seemingly endless line. Franco starts the year with Triple-A Durham, which gets a pretty interesting draw out of the gate when it faces Memphis on the road. The Redbirds, who were one of the two final teams to take the field (they played Sacramento in the Triple-A National Championship Game, lo these many months ago) have rotation with lefthander Matthew Liberatore, who was dealt to St. Louis in the package for Randy Arozarena. Franco and Liberatore have been teammates in the past, so it’ll be intriguing to see who gets the edge when they meet—will it be the switch-hitting contact machine or the lefty with the dastardly curveball?
Kannapolis Rotation — The Low-A Kannapolis Cannon Ballers feature three of the best prospects in the White Sox’s system in righties Jared Kelley, Andrew Dalquist and Matthew Thompson. All three are high draft picks but none has pitched above the complex leagues because of the pandemic. Now, all three will get to strut their stuff—Kelley with his big fastball and changeup, Thompson with his boundless athleticism and elevator-shaft curveball (watch for the funky pauses in his delivery, too) and Dalquist with his outstanding mix of pitches when the lights come on every night.
Luis Matos and Kyle Harrison — If you’ve followed my Twitter, or listened to me on various podcasts, or read my chapters of the Prospect Handbook, or just passed by while I shouted on street corners, you know I am extraordinarily high on Giants prospects Luis Matos and Kyle Harrison. The outfielder and the lefthander were extremely impressive both at instructional league in the fall and again at minor league spring training. Matos is a potential five-tool talent who was excellent in complex ball in 2019 before the pandemic canceled the minor league season and forced him and his fellow Venezuelans to hole up in a local hotel for months. Harrison was the Giants’ third-round pick in the most recent draft, and they spent nearly $2.5 million to add him to their system. Already, they’ve seen him take jumps on the mound. He averaged 96 mph on his fastball this spring and paired it with a slider he used to blow away hapless hitters. His changeup has shown promise, too, but the first two pitches are the show-stoppers. Combine the arsenal with a low-slot, deceptive delivery and you’ve got a pitcher with more helium than Party City. Oh, and if those two weren’t enough, Matos and Harrison will be joined in San Jose by shortstop Marco Luciano, who might be another superstar in the making.
|BAL||MAJ||#5||Ryan Mountcastle LF||3||1||0||0||.210||BB (5)|
|CLE||MAJ||#30||Yu Chang 1B||3||0||0||0||.163|
|CLE||MAJ||#3||Andres Gimenez SS||1||0||0||0||.183|
|MIN||MAJ||#1||Alex Kirilloff 1B||4||3||2||1||.231||2 2B (3)|
|MIN||MAJ||#26||Ben Rortvedt C||3||0||0||0||.125|
|OAK||MAJ||#30||Seth Brown LF||0||0||0||0||.250|
|PHI||MAJ||#10||Nick Maton 2B||3||0||0||0||.327|
|SD||MAJ||#15||Jorge Mateo PH||1||0||0||0||.212|
|SEA||MAJ||#6||Taylor Trammell LF||3||1||0||0||.143|
|STL||MAJ||#1||Dylan Carlson RF||3||1||1||1||.267|
|STL||MAJ||#8||Andrew Knizner C||3||0||0||0||.227|
|TB||MAJ||#2||Randy Arozarena LF||3||1||0||0||.268||2 BB (10)|
|CLE||MAJ||#15||Emmanuel Clase||1.0||1||0||0||0||1||0.00||Sv (5)|
|TEX||MAJ||#4||Dane Dunning||5.2||3||3||2||2||5||3.81||L (1-2)|