Full-season minor leagues are all active. This week on Big Hype Prospects, we’ll take a look at some of the early-season leaders at various levels.
Five Big Hype Prospects
Jo Adell, 24, OF, LAA (AAA)
42 PA, 7 HR, .353/476/1.088
We’ve been here before with Adell, a prospect who isn’t technically a prospect anymore. Over the last three seasons, Adell has amassed 561 plate appearances at Triple-A. In that time, he’s hit 43 home runs. Though he’s yet to make an impact at the Major League level, his batted ball characteristics are encouraging. Adell enjoys above-average exit velocities. He’s battled inconsistency with his launch angle in the Majors, an issue that hasn’t been as apparent in the minors. Optimists, myself included, still believe he can make the adjustments necessary to make a splash on the big stage. Presently, he has one single, four doubles, and seven home runs.
Spencer Jones, 21, OF, NYY (A+)
15 PA, 1 HR, .462/.533/.846
A hulking outfielder with mammoth power, Jones will inevitably be compared to Aaron Judge. The left-handed hitting slugger also has surprising mobility as evidenced by 10 steals in 95 Low-A plate appearances last season. He’s expected to stick in center field despite his size. Scouts fret about his hit tool – much as they once did with Judge. It’s also fair to note that Jones only began to play like a true prospect partway through his draft season. We’re working with a short track record of success. In the low minors, he’s managed a swinging strike rate around 12 percent, a figure similar to that managed by Judge last season and better than most power-over-contact sluggers.
Jordan Lawlar, 20, SS, ARI (AA)
13 PA, 1 HR, 2 SB, .300/.462/.600
Considered one of the best athletes in the minors, Lawlar could surge to top overall prospect status later this summer. The only drawback with Lawlar is a below-average hit tool which could affect his consistency at the dish. Otherwise, he’s a disciplined batter with burgeoning power and above-average speed. He’s defensively adept. Few prospects are as blue chip as Lawlar. He has a chance to force the Diamondbacks hand this season, much as Corbin Carroll did in 2022. Worth noting, his home venue with Double-A Amarillo is considered one of the friendliest for hitters.
Elijah Green, 19, OF, WSH (A)
13 PA, 2 SB, .500/.548/.583
Green is the sort of prospect fantasy baseball fans love – a legitimate 30/30 threat with room to exceed even those heady aspirations. Over his brief pro career, a span of just 65 plate appearances, he’s made the most of his contact. He’s also susceptible to strikeouts, an issue that has plagued him since he gained prospect fame as a high school junior. Despite more than ample speed to remain in center field, early reports suggest he’ll be better suited to an outfield corner due to poor reads and inefficient routes. Time and effort could salve those concerns. Even if he lands in a corner, his power is more than ample. Now we wait to learn if he makes enough contact. The downside might look something like an outfielder version of Patrick Wisdom.
Jackson Holliday, 19, SS, BAL (A)
15 PA, .462/.533/.692
A left-handed hitter, Holliday has the talent and baseball acumen to carve out a long career. While I usually go out of my way to describe how a prospect might fail – public analysis is susceptible to unfettered optimism – there isn’t much to say about Holliday. If things go his way, he could finish 2023 at Double-A with a chance to debut in mid-2024. The Orioles have taken a more temperate approach with their other recent top prospects. Those players, like Gunnar Henderson, required considerable development before they truly looked like Major League players. Holliday seemingly doesn’t require a breakout or new skills development. He’s in want of experience and age-related strength.
Matt Liberatore, STL (23): Profiled last week, Liberatore’s second turn of the season was a near-mirror replica of his first start. In both cases, he pitched five innings allowing a pair of walks with seven strikeouts. The Cardinals are experiencing some difficulties with their starting pitchers so we might see Liberatore soon.
Chase Silseth, LAA (22): Silseth, like Liberatore, was profiled last week and held opponents scoreless for a second consecutive appearance. Overall, he’s pitched 11 innings with only three hits allowed, three walks, and 13 strikeouts. The Angels are accustomed to running a six-man rotation in the Shohei Ohtani era and could call upon Silseth.
Hao-Yu Lee, PHI (20): Lee has demonstrated discipline, feel for contact, and pull-oriented power. He doesn’t appear on Top 100 prospect lists mainly due to his size and modest mobility. Lee was developed as a utility fielder but could settle permanently at second base this season. He should reach the upper minors by mid-season.