The prospect carousel continues this week with call-ups by the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angels who each called up a top prospect in the farm system. We’ve also got a few top prospects getting a ton of hype this week as well in the San Diego Padres, Cleveland Guardians, and Detroit Tigers farm systems. With more injuries this week to guys like Juan Soto and Cedric Mullins will we see some prospects make their debuts for the Baltimore Orioles? It’s getting close to decision day in Cincinnati too for the promotion of Elly De La Cruz. There’s all that and more to talk about in this week’s MLB Prospect Report so let’s dive in.
MiLB Prospect News
Ethan Salas — C San Diego Padres
Leading off this week, as he has been in the news cycles the last few days, is 16-year-old catching phenom Ethan Salas. Nope, you didn’t read that wrong, SIXTEEN, as in born in 2006. Feel old yet? Salas, along with guys like Jackson Merrill, Dylan Lesko, and Sam Zavala are leading the next elite group of prospects for the Padres and Salas could be the best of the bunch in time. The lefty-hitting catcher is already elite when it comes to the nuances of catching in terms of framing, receiving, and blocking. Now he just needs time for his bat to catch up. The makings are there for a plus-hit tool and at least average pop, if not slightly above-average when he finishes physically maturing; he’s already 6’2” and 185 lbs. He made his debut on Tuesday, May 30th, at Class-A Lake Elsinore which makes him the youngest player in all of the minors. Salas won’t be up for a few years but if you’re in a dynasty league the time is now to get your mitts on the young backstop, especially in two-catcher leagues.
No, Gavin Williams isn’t another 16-year-old, he is however, likely to come up very soon for the Guardians. They need help everywhere and a stud pitcher like Williams could be just what the doctor ordered. While it’s true that Aaron Civale is likely to be activated from the IL on Friday June 2nd, they can still use another arm in the back of the rotation. Moving Cal Quantrill would make room for Williams and his electric stuff to be in the rotation. Just how electric is it? He hit at least 97mph on 17 of his first 21 fastballs in his last start for Triple-A Columbus and has 62 Ks in 46 IP at two levels this year. Williams’s four-pitch arsenal leaves nothing left to prove in the minors and grades out with four above-average pitches. At 6’6” and 250 pounds the righty is an imposing presence on the mound and gets a lot of extension on the pitches. He profiles to have number-two starter stuff in the number-three hole in the rotation for his ceiling.
Jace Jung — 2B Detroit Tigers
If the last name sounds familiar, it should, he’s the younger brother of Rangers’ third baseman Josh Jung. While the Tigers’ MLB offense, or lack thereof, has been getting attention this year, so has the power boom for Jace Jung at High-A West Michigan. He started at that level after being drafted in the first round a year ago and is back to start the 2023 campaign. Through 39 games so far he’s slashing .221/.345/.376 with five homers, 19 R, 17 RBI, and a steal. The OBP is very nice at 124 points higher than his average and speaking of his average, BABIP and wOBA tell a different tale — a better one. Though stats on the year are .286 and .345 respectively which are more in line with his 55-grade Hit tool and 55-grade Power tool. The 22-year-old keystone should be on more of a fast track this year with a shot to debut in Detroit next year mid-season. The left-handed hitting Jung profiles as a .270-.280 hitter with 25 homer pop at second base as a ceiling.
This Week’s Prospect Debuts of Note
Perhaps the most interesting prospect on the list this week, AJ Smith-Shawver only really started focusing on pitching full-time in 2022, after being drafted in the seventh-round of the 2021 MLB Draft. He was a two-sport athlete in high school, playing with Bobby Witt Jr, and switched to only pitching once in the Braves’ organization. Smith-Shawver, still just 20 years old, has had a meteoric rise this year having already pitched at three levels prior to his MLB call-up and posting a 1.09 ERA in 33 innings with 45 Ks. His two main pitches are his plus-fastball and plus-slider that has a shot to be double-plus. While there is a changeup in the mix as well, it’s a rare choice for him to use still. The Braves are going to use him out of the pen where the two pitches play better and given that he hasn’t really been stretched out much. That will limit his fantasy upside but if you need a shot at holds or a bunch of Ks, he’s worth a try in deep leagues.
Ben Joyce — RHP Los Angeles Angels
Speaking of electric relievers, Ben Joyce lit up radar guns in his MLB debut earlier in the week. He cracked 100 several times in his relief appearance with a “sinker.” I say “sinker” because it doesn’t really sink so much as run more like 100-plus mph two-seamer. Either way it’s an electric pitch that gave the opposing hitters fits. Joyce was drafted in the 2022 MLB Draft in the third round and has made quick work of the minor leagues but what can we expect from him in the majors? Colby and I touched on this in this week’s MLB Podcast, but in general it’s hard to see him as anyting other than a middle reliever a few times a week. Firstly, he’s had a few, serious, injuries in the past, and secondly, he’s never thrown back-to-back days in his career including college and minors. That limits the role he can have as closers need to be able to go back-to-back to be effective. There’s also concern with his delivery being max effort and wear and tear on joints. So if you’re desperate for a guy who can get a couple appearances a week and get a few strikeouts per, grab Joyce but that’s a pretty limited role.
Colton Cowser (OF) and Jordan Westburg (INF) — Baltimore Orioles
I’ve talked about both of these players in previous Prospect Reports but now with Cedric Mullins likely to wind up on the IL with a groin injury, Baltimore could call-up one of Colton Cowser or Jordan Westburg for another bat in the lineup. Both are smoking the ball at Triple-A Norfolk hitting over .300 with seven homers for Cowser and 14 for Westburg. There’s the slight chance they recall Grayson Rodriguez as well but it’s more likely they replace Mullins with a bat to keep their offense, and place in the standings, going strong.
That sound you hear is the clock counting down his time left Louisville. There’s literally nothing left for him to prove in the minors as he’s also cut his K-rate down to a respectable 26.5-percent this year while still hitting .304/401/.659 in 33 games with 11 homers, 33 RBI, 31 R, and 11 steals. The Super Two deadline is coming this weekend and that’s when De La Cruz figures to be up and taking third base duties at Great American Ball Park. If for some reason he’s still available in your league, grab him now.
2023 MLB Draft Prospects
The draft is a little over a month away and while we’ve all heard of guys like Dylan Crews and Paul Skenes, both studs from LSU, who are likely to go 1-2 in the 2023 MLB Draft to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals there are a couple of other guys making waves right now who could go in the top five picks as well. We’ll talk more draft prospects each week until the draft too.
Wyatt Langford — OF University of Florida
The top of the 2023 MLB Draft class is loaded with college talent and Wyatt Langford is right there in the discussion to go number one. He has double-plus raw power and a plus-Hit tool to go with above-average fielding and speed traits. That’s what we call a five-tool player folks. Add to that he’s been an All-American and tied Florida’s single-season home run record with 26. At his ceiling, Langford could be the next Aaron Judge and a fast riser through a team’s farm system given he was a two-year starter in the best baseball conference in college.
Max Clark — OF Franklin High School, IN
Arguably the best high school player in the 2023 MLB Draft class, Max Clark had a phenomenal senior year finishing up with a 2.023 OPS, not a typo. The lefty-hitting outfielder has at least a plus-Hit tool and elite, 70-grade, speed that has his defense playing up as a 65-grade trait. However, the power is the only thing that’s a bit lacking right now as at least MLB-average. Granted at 6’1” and 190 pounds there’s likely some more physical maturing and weight that could be added to the frame to add some pop, but right now we’re looking at a .280-.290 hitter with 35-40-steal upside and 20-homer pop in the mold of a Trea Turner from the left side of the plate.
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Related MLB Links:
- 2023 Fantasy Baseball Top 400 Prospect Rankings: Elly De La Cruz Tops the Updated Rankings
- Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Targets
- Previous Fantasy Baseball MLB Prospect Reports
- 2023 Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings
- 2023 MLB Injury Reports
- MLB Projections
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