Triple-A prospects to watch — one for each team

1:00 AM UTC

What’s better than one Opening Day this week? Two Opening Days!

Nearly all 30 Major League clubs will take the field Thursday (weather permitting) in what will be the first game action for everyone but the Dodgers and Padres, who split two contests in Seoul last week. The next day, the Triple-A season begins with 15 games in the International and Pacific Coast Leagues.

Below, we highlight one Triple-A standout for each organization, a list that includes 18 Top 100 Prospects:

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Ricky Tiedemann, LHP (No. 1/MLB No. 29)Tiedemann overcame hamstring and calf issues earlier in the spring to make three solid Grapefruit League appearances, including a five-strikeout effort against the Pirates on March 21. His mid-90s fastball, sweeping slider and diving changeup are all at least plus pitches and would play in the Majors immediately. It might just take getting built up and staying healthy in Buffalo before the southpaw impacts the Major League staff.

Orioles: Jackson Holliday, SS/2B (No. 1/MLB No. 1)While it might be disappointing that he didn’t make the Opening Day roster for the big league club, there’s no denying the Norfolk roster is going to be a heckuva lot of fun to watch. Holliday will take his double-plus hit tool and keep working at playing second base while building a case (it shouldn’t take long) that he belongs in Baltimore. And if you come for Holliday, you can also enjoy Coby Mayo and Heston Kjerstad from the O’s Top 100 set.

Rays: Junior Caminero, 3B/SS (No. 1/MLB No. 4)The Rays called up their 20-year-old phenom from Double-A for last year’s stretch and postseason run, but they’re prioritizing everyday at-bats and third-base looks to begin 2024. Caminero’s plus-plus power is arguably the best in the Minors, and he’ll likely post some of Triple-A’s highest exit velocities in his first trip to Durham. Even with Yandy Díaz manning the hot corner in St. Petersburg, Caminero might force Tampa Bay’s hand before long.

Red Sox: Richard Fitts, RHP (No. 12)After Fitts won 2023 Eastern League pitcher of the year honors and led the Double-A circuit in wins (11), innings (152 2/3), strikeouts (163) and WHIP (1.14), the Yankees sent him to the Red Sox in the Alex Verdugo trade in December. His fastball sits at 92-95 mph and touches 98 with natural cut and ride and plenty of induced vertical break, and his sweeping slider parks in the mid-80s.

Yankees: Everson Pereira, OF (No. 6)Signed for $1.5 million out of Venezuela as one of the best all-around players in the 2017-18 international class, Pereira has developed into a power-hitting corner outfielder with plus speed. He batted .300/.373/.548 with 18 homers and 11 steals in 81 games between Double-A and Triple-A last summer, then slashed .151/.233/.194 in his 27-game big league debut.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Guardians: Kyle Manzardo, 1B (No. 2/MLB No. 59)Acquired last July from the Rays in a trade for Aaron Civale, Manzardo makes quality swing decisions at the plate and showed more power than ever in the Arizona Fall League last offseason. He batted .242/.343/.475 with 17 homers in 94 Triple-A games while dealing with a left shoulder injury.

Royals: Tyler Gentry, OF (No. 10)The 2020 third-rounder returns to Omaha, where he generated positive momentum in the second half with a .284/.420/.488 line, 10 homers and a 49/46 K/BB ratio over 59 games from July 1 onward. Gentry’s strong arm strength makes him a natural fit in right field, and even after Kansas City added Hunter Renfroe in the offseason, it wouldn’t be a shock if Gentry pushes the veteran for Major League playing time provided his improved swing decisions and mechanics carry over early into 2024.

Tigers: Jace Jung, 2B/3B (No. 4/MLB No. 60)The 2022 12th overall pick’s first full season couldn’t have gone much better. He led the Tigers system with 28 homers in 128 games between High-A and Double-A, and he was even better at the higher level with a .284/.373/.563 line and 154 wRC+ for Erie. That, along with solid performances in the Arizona Fall League and Grapefruit League, played a role in Detroit’s decision to push Jung to Toledo, and the big focus might be on his continued move to the hot corner now that Colt Keith will take over second in the bigs.

Twins: Brooks Lee, SS (No. 2/MLB No. 18)Lee certainly made a strong impression in big league camp, posting a .333/.351/.611 line in 13 Grapefruit League games this spring. There wasn’t really any room for him on the big league roster and he had just 38 games above Double-A last year. The 23-year-old infielder will go back to St. Paul and continue to show off his outstanding approach and hit tool. He very likely could be the first callup should the need arise in the infield in Minnesota, so watch the transaction wire closely.

White Sox: Colson Montgomery, SS (No. 1/MLB No. 9)The White Sox rebuilding efforts center around Montgomery, who should take over at shortstop for them at some point this season. Compared to Corey Seager even before Chicago drafted him 22nd overall out of an Indiana high school in 2021, he has lived up to that reputation and hit .287/.455/.484 with eight homers in 64 games (mostly in Double-A) after missing time with oblique and back ailments. He ranked as the Arizona Fall League’s top prospect and earned MVP accolades in its Fall Stars Game during the offseason.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

Angels: Jordyn Adams, OF (No. 24)After a solid showing in his first full season back in 2019, Adams really struggled post-pandemic and was left unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft following the 2022 season. He wasn’t taken and responded with the best season of his career in 2023, when he hit 15 homers and swiped 44 bases to earn his first big league callup. He spent most of last year with Salt Lake, so he’s familiar with his surroundings, and he’s still only 24 years old with time to keep learning to put his impressive tools to more consistent use.

Astros: Spencer Arrighetti, RHP (No. 3)The Astros have helped Arrighetti significantly bolster his arsenal since signing him as a 2021 sixth-rounder out of Louisiana-Lafayette. His fastball has gained 3 mph and now operates at 92-97 mph with a flat approach angle and late hop, and his once-ordinary slider is now a formidable low-80s sweeper. He posted a 4.40 ERA, .217 opponent average and 141 strikeouts in 124 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.

A’s: Joey Estes, RHP (No. 13)With Darell Hernaiz making the big league team, Brett Harris (No. 11) and Estes are the top two talents starting the year in Las Vegas. We’ll give Estes the nod because of how much he impressed the big league staff in camp this spring. The right-hander, who made his Major League debut last year, allowed just one run on two hits over seven Cactus League innings, walking just one and striking out eight. He served notice that he’s ready to contribute to the rotation when the phone rings again.

Mariners: Jonatan Clase, OF (No. 10)Clase turned in a 20-70 season in 2023, the first player since records began tracking in 1961 to do so in the Minors as he showed what he could do when healthy for a full season. His production had dipped upon a promotion to Double-A, so there was some thought he’d head back to Arkansas to start this year, but a strong spring that included him hitting .321 in 15 Cactus League games gave the Mariners confidence to bump him up to Tacoma.

Rangers: Justin Foscue, 2B/3B (No. 5)A Mississippi State product who went 14th overall in the 2020 Draft, Foscue is a polished right-handed hitter with 20-homer upside. He slashed .266/.394/.468 with 18 homers and 14 steals in 122 Triple-A games, ranking third in the Pacific Coast League in walks (85) and fourth in doubles (31). He has begun playing more at first base, which may be his easiest path to Texas.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: AJ Smith-Shawver, RHP (No. 1/MLB No. 69)Smith-Shawver made a head-spinning climb up the Braves’ ladder in 2023, starting the season with High-A Rome and ending it on the big league Division Series roster. Still only 21 for all of the 2024 season, he can be afforded more time to refine his craft and harness his electric four-pitch arsenal with Gwinnett. He’s an excellent athlete who can repeat his delivery well, so there should be better command to come, perhaps the finishing piece he needs before landing in Atlanta full-time at some point this year.

Marlins: Victor Mesa Jr., OF (No. 4)The son of legendary Cuban outfielder Victor Mesa, Victor Jr. has emerged as a better prospect than older brother Victor Victor despite receiving a much smaller bonus ($1 million versus $5.25 million) when they both signed in October 2018. One of the better hitters in the Marlins system, Mesa is starting to grow into some power and batted .242/.308/.412 with 18 homers and 16 steals in 123 Double-A games.

Mets: Drew Gilbert, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 53)New York acquired Gilbert in last year’s Justin Verlander blockbuster at the Deadline, and the former Tennessee star took off at Double-A Binghamton, hitting .325/.423/.561 over 35 games. His walk-heavy approach and improved loft will be tested at the Minors’ top level, but with above-average speed and plus arm strength, Gilbert has other ways to contribute in Syracuse. Expect the 23-year-old to continue to rotate around the outfield as he works to find a permanent home in Queens.

Nationals: James Wood, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 14)We try not to get too wrapped up in spring stats, but it was undeniable that Wood had one of the most productive performances in either Arizona or Florida. His .509 OBP and 1.214 OPS over 57 plate appearances were both tops among Spring Training qualifiers, and he added four homers, most among Washington sluggers. The 6-foot-6 outfielder takes plus-plus power and plus speed to Rochester for the first time and may just need to show he can keep his whiffs in check, particularly against breaking stuff, before punching his ticket to DC.

Phillies: Mick Abel, RHP (No. 2/MLB No. 49)Abel is close to seriously knocking on the door. He tossed 2 2/3 hitless innings in big league camp and got the start in the Phillies’ Spring Breakout game to boot. The stuff is plenty good enough, with an 11.1 K/9 rate and .205 batting average against in his Minor League career to prove it. A little command refinement (4.8 BB/9 in his career; 5.16 BB/9 in 2023) in Lehigh Valley should put him in a good spot to impact the big league rotation at age 22.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Brewers: Jeferson Quero, C (No. 3/MLB No. 35)Quero received raves from the Milwaukee Major League staff this spring for his arm and overall defensive work behind the plate, and if not for William Contreras’ spot, there’s a chance the 21-year-old could have opened the season in the Majors. Instead, he heads to Nashville as arguably the top defensive catcher in the Minors, and he’ll bring some thump to the Sounds as well. Barring a Contreras injury, Quero doesn’t need to be rushed in his first trip to Triple-A, allowing for him to be even more well-rounded by the time he reaches The Show.

Cardinals: Thomas Saggese, INF (No. 5)St. Louis didn’t officially reassign Saggese – one of their big gets in last year’s Jordan Montgomery deal – to Minor League camp until Tuesday. Unsurprisingly, the career .298 hitter continued to mash in the Grapefruit League, going 15-for-50 (.300) with a homer in 23 games while rotating between second, third and short. Expect Saggese, who only turns 22 on April 10, to continue to rotate around the dirt in Memphis, where his above-average hit tool and budding power could make him a Major League option early in the summer.

Cubs: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 16)The Mets drafted Crow-Armstrong 19th overall in 2020 but he played just six games in their system before they dealt him to the Cubs for Javier Báez and Trevor Williams in July 2021. He since has blossomed into the best defensive prospect in the game as well as a more impactful offensive player than originally anticipated. He batted .283/.365/.511 with 20 homers and 37 steals in 107 games between Double-A and Triple-A before going 0-for-14 during a September callup.

Pirates: Paul Skenes, RHP (No. 1/MLB No. 3)If you want to see Skenes pitch for Indianapolis, we suggest you go early (his first start will be Saturday in Louisville.). The No. 1 pick in last year’s Draft likely won’t be there all that long, though there’s nothing wrong with letting him get stretched out while the Pirates manage his workload in his first professional season. There is zero question his elite stuff can get big league hitters out right now.

Reds: Connor Phillips, RHP (No. 4/MLB No. 70)On September 18 of last year, Phillips picked up his first Major League win, allowing just two runs on three hits while striking out seven (and walking one) in seven innings of work. That was by far the best of his five starts during his September audition. He tossed six shutout frames this spring to remind the big league staff what he’s capable of, but he’ll head back to Louisville, where he made 11 appearances in 2023, to continue working on harnessing his exciting stuff that has led to a career 12.7 K/9 rate across all levels (to go along with a 5.3 BB/9 rate).

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-backs: Jorge Barrosa, OF (No. 12)Jordan Lawlar’s thumb surgery puts a damper on Reno’s roster, but Barrosa provides his own excitement as one of the best defensive outfielders in the Minors. The 5-foot-5 acrobat is good for a weekly SportsCenter Top 10 play, and he’s capable at the plate too as a switch-hitter who relies heavily on contact. Barrosa spent 2023 with the Aces, hitting .274/.394/.456 in 120 games, and now in his second season on the 40-man, he should be on standby for his Major League debut whenever Arizona’s outfield depth is challenged.

Dodgers: Andy Pages, OF (No. 3)A Cuban signed for $300,000 in October 2017, Pages topped his leagues in extra-base hits during each of his first three full seasons in the United States but tore the labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder during his Triple-A debut last May. He fits the right-field profile with plus-plus raw power and arm strength to match.

Giants: Marco Luciano, SS (No. 2/MLB No. 39)Nick Ahmed won the Giants’ shortstop job, pushing Luciano to Triple-A, though that move may only be temporary. Signed for $2.6 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, he’s still just 22 and possesses one of the quickest right-handed swings in the game. Though he was hampered by back issues, he showed off his immense power with 15 homers in 74 games between Double-A and Triple-A and made his big league debut last July.

Padres: Randy Vásquez, RHP (No. 12)Picked up from the Yankees in the offseason’s Juan Soto move, Vásquez was on the Seoul Series roster but didn’t pitch before being optioned to El Paso earlier this week. His curveball and sweeper continued to show spin rates above 3,000 rpm this spring, while his fastballs sat in the mid-90s. The right-hander also mixed in 89-92 mph cutters and upper-80s changeups before losing the No. 5 starting spot to Matt Waldron. He’ll use that diverse pitch mix to factor into San Diego’s rotation depth.

Rockies: Jordan Beck, OF (No. 4/MLB No. 81)While a lot of the Rockies’ top prospects will be down a level with Double-A Hartford, Beck has jumped on a slightly faster track. The 2022 No. 38 overall pick is coming off a 20-20 season that included 50 games in Double-A and this spring, he showed he was ready for the next challenge, hitting .370/.433/.519 in 18 Cactus League games.