Prospect Promotions: 5/12-5/18

A look at this week's 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 looked at Matt Mervis and Luis Ortiz. As mentioned in that article, I am down on both the players relative to the rest of the prospect community. It’s not that I don’t expect them to be suitable big leaguers, but as fantasy contributors and impact regulars I am not yet sold on either profile. It’s super early into their big league careers, but both players are struggling a little bit out of the gate – Mervis is striking out around 40% of the time (though he has shown off his top-end EVs when he does make contact) and Ortiz allowed three runs on seven hits and four walks across three frames against Detroit in his second start. Both players could turn it around, but they are players I am staying away from in fantasy leagues for now.

Now, onto this week’s featured names.


Featured Prospects


Eury Pérez, P, MIA (preseason PL/team rank: 12/1): You know Pérez by now, so we’ll probably spend less time on him than the other call ups this week. He’s been a consensus top five pitching prospect for the last few years. And oh yeah, he’s only 20 years old. His top-end talent was on full display in his MLB debut against the Reds, striking out seven in 4.2 innings while yielding two runs. Be sure to check out Nick Pollack’s detailed GIF breakdown of that outing here.

Pérez followed that debut up with another strong outing on Thursday, allowing one run across five frames against Washington. He struck out five.

In his minor league career, the 6’8 righty has logged 186 innings since 2021, posting a 2.85 ERA while recording 260 strikeouts. His ERA was a bit inflated at Double-A in 2022, finishing with a 4.08 across 17 starts. It’s important to note that he was very young for the level at just 19 years old, and still finished with a K-BB rate of 28.2%.

He looks to be in the rotation for good going forward and if he is somehow still available in your league he is a must-add. He should offer good ratios with a high strikeout ceiling, even if he doesn’t consistently pitch super deep into games.

Matt McLain, SS, CIN (preseason PL/team rank: N/A, 10): It’s funny – following a solid 2022, McLain got somewhat forgotten, nitpicked and overlooked in a stacked Cincinnati system, as shown by him being left off of our preseason Top 100 and barely cracking the organization’s Top 10. It’s not like he was bad – he was a 22-year-old in Double-A who put up a 116 wRC+, 17 home runs and 27 steals in 103 games. But it was easy to point to a low batting average (.232) and high strikeout rate (28%) and see some potential flaws.

But then McLain set the world on fire in Triple-A to kick off 2023, triple slashing a ridiculous .348/.474/.710 with 10 home runs and 12 steals. Perhaps most notably, McClain also kept his strikeout rate below 20% while walking around 16% of the time. It became undeniable that McClain was deserving of a promotion. He’s 2 for 9 with a double to start his career and it’s obviously far too small a sample to look into his MLB performance at this point.

McLain offers a little bit of everything – speed, power and the ability to get on base at a high clip. When he was drafted he seemingly got pegged by the prospect community as a better real life prospect than fantasy one, and while that ultimately might be true, he also has the ability to contribute across the board.

His high strikeout rates in 2022 make me a bit nervous that he will be exposed in the big leagues, at least early on his career, but the Reds should give McClain a near-everyday role going forward.

Mark Vientos, 1B/3B, NYM (preseason PL/team rank: 85/6): Well, Vientos certainly made an impression in his 2023 MLB debut, blasting a game-tying two-run home run in the seventh inning in an eventual Mets win against the Rays.

The Mets have disappointed record-wise to begin the year and still hope to be contenders in the National League East, so they appear to be turning again to one of their young players in an effort to give the team a spark. Vientos did make his big league debut in 2022, but he struggled in 41 plate appearances, hitting just .167. That’s not a huge sample for a then 22-year-old coming off of an impressive season at Double-A where he clubbed 24 home runs in just 101 games.

The power is not a question for Vientos and he should be able to get to a fair amount of it even at the game’s highest levels. He does have some question marks elsewhere, though. One big one is where does he end up on the field, if at all? Vientos is considered a below-average fielder at third base – so much so that he’s actually seen the bulk of his playing time in Triple-A this season at first. That would be fine in a vacuum, but Pete Alonso has been the team’s best hitter, so it’s not like Vientos is going to force a position battle there. For now, that leaves Vientos with 3B and DH as potential options. Fellow rookie Brett Baty has been holding his own at third to start the year, but it’s possible the two 23-year-olds could find themselves in a platoon while also rotating in at DH. Ultimately, it’s possible Vientos settles into a semi-regular role, playing three or four games a week for now.

The other potential issue for Vientos is his strikeouts. Historically, his strikeout rates in the minors have been in the upper 20s, which is the danger zone. You’d imagine that rate would tick up against big-league pitching (like it did in his limited action in 2022) and limit his potential power output to some degree. For 2023, he’s likely a low average bat with decent pop.

Taj Bradley, P, TBR (preseason PL/team rank: 27/3): It feels forever ago now, but Bradley was featured in the first prospect promotions article of the year. As a result, we won’t deep dive his overall history in the minors this time around, but just focus on what has happened since.

After his call up in April, it was a bit of a roller coaster ride for Bradley – he made three starts for the Rays and immediately looked like one of the better pitchers in baseball, tossing 15.1 innings and striking out 23 while allowing six runs. He was then sent back to Triple-A, where he struggled mightily, allowing 16 earned runs in nine innings across three starts.

Bradley had a strong performance against the Mets on Thursday, allowing two earned runs across five innings while striking out four.

Regardless of the outing, it appears that he should be in line for at least a few more starts with the MLB team. The Rays rotation has been bruised and battered all year long, and even with the impending return of Tyler Glasnow, are still a far cry from full strength. He’s still someone worth rostering for the rest of 2023, despite his recent struggled in Triple-A.

Joey Ortiz, SS, BAL (preseason PL/team rank: N/A/9): Similar to Bradley above, Ortiz was featured in a previous prospect promotion article. Again, we won’t dive too much into his minor league history this time around to avoid being redundant.

Ortiz has been raking in Triple-A this season, triple slashing .320/.371/.524 with three home runs and a steal. He’s a line drive hitter over a power hitter, but he consistently posts above-average EVs.

In a full-time role, he could be someone who posts a high batting average and chips in with some power and some speed, without being an elite contributor in either. Unfortunately, in his two call-ups Ortiz has not received a full-time role, given the depth the Orioles have with their position players. He’s struggled out of the gate, too, which hasn’t helped, though he did collect two hits on Thursday. With Ramon Urias slated to come back in a week, Ortiz may be sent back to Triple-A, and it’s possible that he may need a trade in order to be unleashed.

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

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