Prospect Promotions: 5/5 – 5/11

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 Brandon PfaadtBryce Miller, and Gavin StoneWe noted last week that Pfaadt had some home run issues in the minors and that that was on full display in his MLB debut last week. Unfortunately, he was bit by the home run bug again in his second MLB start, allowing two long balls to Jorge Soler, and yielding six runs in total across five frames. If he doesn’t keep the ball in the yard, he might find himself back in Triple-A. Stone is already back in Triple-A, but now that Noah Syndergaard is dealing with a finger injury he could be back up with the big league club as soon as Monday. He allowed one run on two hits and four walks while striking out four in his most recent Triple-A outing. Miller dominated again in his second start, throwing six shutout innings while striking out five. His fastball already seems like one of the best in baseball and it’s difficult to imagine him going back to the minors unless he falls apart completely in his next few outings, which seems unlikely given how dominant he has looked thus far.

Now, onto this week’s featured players.


Featured Prospects


Matt Mervis, 1B, CHC (preseason PL/team rank: 68/2): There is no denying that Mervis had an absolutely monster 2022 – he was simply one of the best hitters in all of the minors. Across 512 ABs, Mervis triple slashed .309/.379/.573 while belting out 36 home runs. As a result, Mervis became one of 2022’s biggest risers in the dynasty baseball community. His production came across three levels, as he started the year in High-A before finishing the campaign at the highest level of the minors.

The big lefty slugger picked up right where he left off in 2023. Through 24 contests in Triple-A, Mervis cranked out six home runs while hitting .286 and walking nearly as much as he struck out. Pair that with the fact that Eric Hosmer was off to a rough start with his new team, and it became inevitable that Mervis would be up sooner rather than later.

In my preseason bold predictions article, Mervis was one of the players that highlighted. In that piece I noted some hesitations around Mervis – mostly that I was concerned that the Cubs made several corner infield signings this offseason, essentially blocking the prospect, and that just a year prior, Mervis was a 23-year-old that struggled at Single-A. It just didn’t seem like the Chicago organization had indicated any faith in him.

Time will tell, but for now the indications are Mervis will serve as an everyday play, so long as he performs. It’s only been five games, but so far he is yet to – Mervis has gone 4-for-22, all singles, and is striking out at a 36.4% clip. Three of those hits, though, have had an EV greater than 100 MPH, so his ability to hit the ball hard when he does make contact is clear.

Overall, I’m still not fully convinced he will be the impact bat that many think he will be, but I think he will settle in with a low average and moderate pop.

Luis Ortiz, P, PIT (preseason PL/team rank: N/A/4): Ortiz made it to the bigs for a handful of starts in 2022, but he spent the bulk of his season at Double-A, logging 114.1 innings at that level while posting an 19.7% K-BB rate. He did finish his Double-A season with a 4.50 ERA, but his 3.67 FIP points to some bad luck.

The right-hander has had some better fortunes at Triple-A in 2023. Ortiz tossed seven starts prior to getting his promotion, recording a 2.23 ERA while striking out 29 in 32.1 innings.

Ortiz succeeds on a fastball/slider combo, a pairing that we’ve seen some arms used to great success in recent years. It’s still to be determined if he will have a usable third pitch beyond that.

In his 2023 MLB debut against the Rockies, the right hander allowed two earned runs on seven hits and one walks across five frames. He struck out one. He’s next lined up to take on the Tigers, so Ortiz is getting a favorable schedule to start this season in the bigs.

While Ortiz has shot up a bit in the prospect community across the last 12 months, there are certainly some reasons for hesitation. His career minor league ERA is 3.79, and while that isn’t anything to sneeze at, it’s not quite as low as we’d like to see from a top arm. Similar things can be said for his K-BB rate, which sat at around 19% for the 2022 season. If he has that percentage in the majors? Fantastic, that’s an ace. But in the minors, many of the other prospect arms we’ve covered here in the last few weeks consistently recorded rates in the minors in the mid-20s. It’s just not that encouraging, especially when you pair it with the fact that, like Pfaadt, he has a tendency to give up the long ball.

The rotation beyond Mitch Keller right now is not very stable, so Ortiz should have multiple opportunities to hold down a starting pitching role for the Pirates going forward. For fantasy purposes, though, don’t expect much, at least for 2023.


Other Notable Promotions


Casey Schmitt, INF, SFG – Schmitt is a former second round pick the by the Giants and had a very impressive 2022, hitting .287 with 20 home runs in 471 ABs across three levels. Most of his games came at High-A so even though he kicked off the year at Triple-A and was hitting .313 in 32 contests, he doesn’t have a ton of experience in the higher levels. He’s known as one of the best defenders in the minors and Schmitt has played all over the dirt in 2023, so his positional flexibility does offer some intrigue.

Drew Rom, P, BAL – Honestly, from a stats and production perspective, there isn’t much of a difference between what what Rom and Ortiz (outlined above) did in 2022. Rom, in his age-22 season, spent the bulk of the year at Double-A before making a handful of starts in Triple-A. Between the two levels, he made 25 starts and recorded a 4.42 ERA, a 3.48 FIP and a 18.3 % K-BB rate. He’s been used as a started throughout his career in the minors but it looks like, at least for now, the plan it to use him out of the bullpen.

Jake Alu, 3B, WSN – Alu is a 26-year-old getting his first promotion to the MLB level. He had a nice 2022 campaign between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting .299 with 20 home runs in 132 games. He’s produced fairly well at every level of the minors, but he was off to a bit of a slow start in Triple-A in 2023. But with the Nationals, it wouldn’t take much for Alu to hit his way into consistent playing time. He offers some minor stolen base value, too.

Christopher Morel, INF/OF, CHC – Not a prospect! But we are a little thin on promotions this week, so it gives us a reason to talk about Morel. Morel played 133 games with the big-league team, posting a .235/.308/.433 with 16 home runs and 10 steals, good for a 108 wRC+. With all of that in a age-23 season, it was a little bit surprising for Morel to not make the MLB roster out of the gate. But a look under the hood shows that Morel’s second half was a struggle – he hit just .194 and only swiped two bags. He’s been on fire in Triple-A this season though, belting 11 home runs in 29 games while also stealing four bases. He’s going to strikeout a bunch, he always has, but there is a chance he settles in as player that is similar to prime Chris Taylor, which is very valuable.

Photo courtesy of Chicago Cubs | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on Twitter)

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