We are back! Over the course of the last few seasons, this series has aimed to detail every prospect promotion across each week of the entire regular season. After reviewing feedback from our readers, we have decided to mix things up a little bit for 2023. Instead of outlining every prospect that gets the call, the series will highlight some of the bigger names that receive a promotion. These players will be discussed in more detail. Some other notable prospects who head to the bigs will also be discussed, but this time around there will be more focus on detailing these top prospects and less focus on players who are being brought up as a depth piece for a doubleheader.
Of course, this means there will be some variance in what this article looks like week to week. Some weeks there will be several notable young players who are joining their major league club while other weeks there will be hardly any. Either way, there should be more than enough players to break down.
Additionally, each week, I’ll do a quick note on the featured players from the week prior. This will mostly focus on recent performance and whether or not it appears that the player will stay with the big league club moving forward.
Last week we took a look at Jordan Westburg and Brandon Pfaadt. I noted in last week’s article that I had some hesitation around Westburg’s playing time — that he might get the Joey Ortiz treatment. Ortiz received the call on multiple occasions for the Orioles only to mostly ride the pine and see some action against left-handed pitching. Westburg has been a near-everyday player since his callup, slotting into the bottom third of the lineup, collecting hits, and logging time at second and third base. Pfaadt’s big-league struggles continued with this promotion, lasting just two innings while allowing six earned runs and registering three strikeouts. As covered last week, he’s not a realistic 2023 option for fantasy leagues and we all, myself included, were far too high on him coming into the year given his home run issues. Long-term his ceiling is probably something similar to 2021 Tyler Mahle — an ERA in the upper 3s with a K-BB rate of around 20%. Also, given the Diamondbacks’ position in the standings, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Pfaadt on the move at the trade deadline for a win-now. That’s something that seemed impossible coming into the season, but we can’t rule it out at this point.
Now, onto this week’s promotions.
Colton Cowser, OF, BAL (preseason PL/team rank: 37/5): The Orioles selected Cowswer with the fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft and he’s done nothing but produce since. He only got into 32 games in 2021 but played across 2022 in a breakout 2022 campaign. A season ago, in his age-22 season, Cowser kicked off the year in High-A, triple slashing .258/.385/.410 with four home runs and 16 steals in 62 games. That earned him a promotion to Double-A where his production kicked up another level. There the lefty-hitting outfielder triple slashed a ridiculous .341/.469/.568 in 56 games, clubbing 10 home runs and adding two steals. The Orioles promoted him yet again and Cowser finally did struggle at the minors’ highest level, hitting .219 and striking out 30% of the time in 27 Triple-A contests.
But Cowser has dominated Triple-A in 2023. In 56 games, the 23-year-old triple slashed .330/.459.437 with 10 home runs and seven steals. Cowser is extremely patient at the plate, and while he has consistently posted elite walk numbers in the minor leagues, his 18.7% walk rate in 2023 is one of the best at the level. As a result of his patience, Cowser has struck out 23.3% of the time this season, and it’s possible that that number could climb to a scary rate against big-league pitching.
Overall, Cowser is an interesting prospect in that he has a different profile than the one he had when he was drafted. Coming out of college, Cowser was seen as a hit-over-power bat, one that wouldn’t swing and miss much but also wouldn’t tap into a ton of power. Now? Cowser suddenly looks like a hitter that can get to 25 home runs, will take his walks, and will likely strike out a fair amount. Cowser also has above-average speed, but after going 16-for-17 in his 62 High-Games in 2022, he’s only attempted 12 steals in 126 contests since. This may be a result of the Orioles not wanting him to risk his health on the basepaths in meaningless games, but it could also mean that Cowser will be less of a threat to swipe bags than once thought. For 2023, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cowser sit against left-handed arms but he should see regular action against righties.
Cowser went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk in his MLB debut.
Gavin Stone, P, LAD (preseason PL/team rank: 54/2): Stone has gotten the call a few times, so we’ve covered him previously. He hasn’t tossed a ton of innings at the big-league level but in general, it’s been a struggle. He made a relief appearance following this promotion and allowed one run across two innings while striking out three. That was by far the most successful outing he’s had in the majors, bringing his ERA down to 12.75 ERA. He was optioned back to Triple-A the next day.
Things haven’t been much better at Triple-A, as Stone has a 6.71 ERA through 53.2 innings of work. The strikeouts aren’t what they were a year but have still been there — he’s punched out 26% of the batters he’s faced — but the walk rate has ballooned up to 12.2%. That’s definitely not a rate that would lead to success at the MLB level, and it’s safe to say that Stone is not someone worth rostering for a 2023 impact. Long-term he should be a rotation arm for the Dodgers, but if the walk rate doesn’t improve he carries more relief risk than was thought coming into 2023.
Minor League Promotions
There weren’t many call-ups to the big leagues this week so we will mix it up slightly to conclude this week’s article and take a quick look at some prospects who jumped up a level this week.
Everson Pereira, OF, NYY (Double-A to Triple-A) – Pereira has had his best season in the minors, triple slashing .291/.362/.545 with 10 home runs and seven steals in 46 games. The outfielder has a good power/speed combination and although he strikes out a good amount, it’s starting to look like he will be able to hit enough to showcase those tools. He will now be tested against the highest levels of the minors.
Dyan Jorge, SS, COL (CPX to Single-A) – Jorge absolutely tore up Complex ball to the tune of a .370/.495/.644 triple slash with three home runs and nine steals. He was a bit old for the Complex at 20 years old, so let’s see how he does against Single-A pitching before shooting him up the rankings.
Liover Peguero, INF, PIT (Double-A to Triple-A) – Remember him? Peguero was a consensus back half Top-100 prospect for several years before a down 2022 sunk his value. He’s bounced back in 2023, triple slashing .260/.333/.453 with 11 home runs and 19 steals in 69 games at Double-A. He could be a sneaky fantasy contributor once he’s with the big league club down the line, but it will depend on how much he can get on base.
Josh Stephan, P, TEX (Single-A to Double-A) – Looking for a deep-league add? Stephan’s your guy. He signed out of high school as an undrafted free agent following the shortened 2020 draft He’s under the radar (only rostered in 4% of Fantrax leagues). Stephan is a 21-year-old righty who put up a 26.1% K-BB rate at High-A. That’s one of the best marks in all of baseball. In his final High-A start, he finished the minimum in five innings and fanned 10. He tossed 4.1 innings in his Double-A debut, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out five. If he performs at this level, he will shoot up lists, so depending on league size it may be time to grab him now.
Marco Raya, P, Min (Single-A to Double-A) – Like Stephan, Raya is a young righty arm that tore up Single-A and is now moving to the upper minors. In 33.2 innings at Single-A, Raya posted a 2.94 ERA and a 23.5% K-BB rate. He has yet to pitch deep into games – his longest outing is four innings – but that is most likely the result of the Twins looking to not put too much wear and tear on the 20-year-old’s arm. He’s another pitcher that is under the radar (for now) so now is the time to buy in.
Victor Bericoto (Single-A to Double-A) – The Giants have been somewhat aggressive with their prospects that produce this year (see: Luis Matos) and Bericoto is the beneficiary here. The 21-year-old triple slashed .296/.353/.533 in 71 High-A contests and is now moving to Double-A. Oh, and he hit 16 home runs. Power is the calling card for the right-handed slugger and he will have to continue to mash as he climbs the minor leagues as he’s looking like a corner outfield or first base profile on the diamond.
Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on Twitter)