Prospect Promotions: 4/7 – 4/13

A look at this week's top prospect promotions.

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 double header.

Of course, this means there will be some variance on 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 breakdown.

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 featured Joey Wiemer, Grayson Rodriguez and Dylan Dodd. For now, Wiemer appears to be an everyday player. He’s penciled into the ninth spot of the Brewers lineup and playing right field. Maybe this changes when Luis Urías returns from injury, but we are still months away from that. Rodriguez’s second start wasn’t pretty. The righty allowed five runs on six hits and four walks. He did strike out six, but this was a start against Oakland, so we were hoping for a better outing. He’s lined up to start against the White Sox on Sunday.  Dodd followed up his solid first outing with a disaster of a second, allowing seven runs in 4.1 innings against San Diego. The Padres have a good offense so this could just be a blip, but Kyle Wright is now back in the rotation, and Max Fried is only a few weeks away from a return, so Dodd’s leash could get a little bit shorter if he struggles again.


Featured Promotions


Francisco Álvarez, C, NYM (Preseason PL/Team Rank: 16/1): It feels as if we are in somewhat of a golden age for catching prospects – our preseason Top 100 featured eight backstops – and Álvarez is often the name near or at the top of the positional prospects rankings. And with good reason! The now 21-year-old spent the majority of his 2022 campaign between Double-A and Triple-A, which is impressive for a prospect at any position, let alone the one that has been historically the slowest to climb through the minor league ranks.

In those minor league games, Álvarez triple slashed .260/.374/.510 while belting out 22 home runs in 112 contests. That’s pretty dang good for someone in their age-20 season. The patience and pop have been the carrying cards for Álvarez throughout the minor league career. His walk rate has been in the double digits at every level of the minors and outside of his 35 games in the DSL when he was 17-years-old, he’s posted an ISO above .200 every step of the way. He will probably never hit for a super high average at the MLB level, but he projects to be an OBP machine with power.

Álvarez played five regular season games for the Mets in 2022 and also had one playoff plate appearance, so this isn’t his first call to the bigs, but his sample at the MLB level is so small it’s not worth diving into.

The call here is a result of Omar Narváez heading to the IL with a calf strain. He’s expected to miss about two months, so Álvarez has an opportunity to carve out a significant role with the Mets. It doesn’t appear, early on at least, that that will be an everyday role, though. Álvarez received the promotion on Friday, and didn’t get his first start until Sunday, with Tomás Nido seeing action in those aforementioned contests.

Taj Bradley, P, TB (Preseason PL/Team Rank: 27/3): Bradley received the call with Zach Eflin hitting the IL with lower back tightness. You can find a detailed writeup of Bradley’s MLB debut here. Overall, he had a solid outing, allowing three runs on five hits across five frames while walking one and striking out eight.

Across the last few seasons, Bradley has established himself as one of the top pitching prospects in the game. For whatever reason, though, he doesn’t seem to get quite as much hype as some other arms. It could be the Tampa Bay Rays of it all – we know they can be careful with innings and have shown a quick hook in the past when it comes to young pitchers going deep into games. On the flip side, the Rays do seem get the most out of their arms.

In 2022, Bradley, a 2018 fifth round selection by the Rays, tossed 133.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, posting a 2.57 ERA while striking out 141. His numbers weren’t quite as good following his promotion to Triple-A, where Bradley finished with a 3.66 ERA and his strikeout rate dipped from 30.9% to 21.5%. That’s the only level outside of his debut in rookie ball where his strikeout rate dipped below 26.5%, so it’s probably easy to chalk this up to a relatively small sample for a pitcher that was only 21-years-old at the highest level of the minor leagues. It might be more notable that his walk rate remained about the same across the two levels.

The 2023 MLB outlook for Bradley is tough to get a pulse on. He was already optioned back to Triple-A, and it seems Eflin should return from the IL when first eligible. Bradley is most certainly a better option than Josh Fleming, and the Rays like to use him as a spot starter and a reliever, so even with the standout starts from Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen, it feels like Bradley could at some point slot back into the rotation even after Eflin returns. When it could get extra dicey is when Tyler Glasnow returns to the rotation. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Tampa Bay go to a six-man rotation at some point given that none of their arms have a history of racking up innings for a full season, but there is no denying that this is a crowded group.

UPDATE: Springs has left his game with an injury. A prolonged trip to the IL will likely open a spot back up for Bradley.

Eduoard Julien, 2B, MIN (Preseason PL/Team Rank 71/4) – Julien is a walk machine. Not counting his small sample at Triple-A this year, Julien has never posted a walk rate lower than 19.3% at any level. As a result, his strikeout rates have consistently been in the mid-to-upper 20s, which is a tad higher than we’d like to see. It can be assumed that a jump to the majors will also lead to an uptick in his strikeout rate, so there is a decent chance that Julien’s punch-out percentage climbs north of 30% in the bigs. Clearly his strikeouts are more due to working counts than chase issues, but a strikeout rate that high will put some pressure on his bat to produce when he does make contact, even if he walks at a high clip.

In 2022, Julien spent the entire year at Double-A. He was one of the best hitters in the minors, triple slashing .300/.441/.490, good for a 144 wRC+. He also belted 17 home runs and swiped 19 bags in 113 games. Despite having more steals than home runs, it’s easier to buy the power than the speed as he was caught stealing seven times.

On the field, he spent all of 2022 at second base, but he doesn’t have a true defensive fit anywhere, despite also playing some third base and outfield in the past.

Julien’s callup comes at a time when the Twins are dealing with a handful of injuries. Joey GalloKyle Farmer, and Max Kepler have all hit the IL this week, and Minnesota started the year with Jorge Polanco and Alex Kirilloff already on the IL. Carlos Correa has also missed time in recent days due to injury. All that is to say is that when the Twins start getting their guys back, Julien will likely be sent back to Triple-A. He only has a handful of games worth of experience above Double-A, so the original plan was probably to have him spend the majority of 2023 in Triple-A, but injuries have forced Minnesota’s hand. Long-term, he’s still an exciting prospect, one that is likely to get his value from his bat as a low-average, high-OBP and above-average pop guy.


Other Notables


Jared Shuster, P, ATL – Most weeks Shuster would probably be a featured name but we had some big callups this week and it feels like we all know the Shuster story so far. He looked great in spring, made the Opening Day roster, and then struggled in his MLB debut. He got the call again this week and didn’t have a better time, allowing four runs on six hits and four walks in four innings against San Diego. He’s been sent back to Triple-A.

Nolan Jones, 3B, COL – Jones is a former Top-100 prospect who was traded by Cleveland to Colorado this fall. His prospect stock fell a little bit in recent years due to high strikeout rates, but he has been an above-average hitter at every stop in the minors, and posted a respectable 93 wRC+ in 28 MLB games in 2022.. He was off to an absolutely torrid start in Triple-A this season (six homers in 10 games) and he’s an interesting name to watch, especially for someone having Coors as their home field.

Jeter Downs, INF, WSN –  Remember him? Back in 2019, Downs tore up High-A as a 20-year-old and earned a late season promotion to Double-A. It’s been downhill since then, as Downs hasn’t hit above .200 at any level since. He was once considered one of the top power/speed prospects in the game, so a rebound is never out of the question, but it’s certainly an uphill climb.


Photo courtesy of Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on Twitter)

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