The trade deadline is coming. It's practically here, in fact. And among the names being bandied about is Whit Merrifield.
Which should raise your interest if you've given half a thought to stashing Bobby Witt, who in my estimation is the last prospect with a chance of being called up who'll inspire an all-out sprint to the waiver wire if he is.
He's already stashed in about half of CBS Sports leagues, so you guys know where it's at. Truth is he controls his own timetable anyway. It's not like the Royals were planning to bench Merrifield when they talked about making Witt their starting second baseman back in spring training. They were simply going to move Merrifield to the outfield, which they could still do once Witt proves he's ready.
Every day, he gets a little closer.
Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Bobby Witt, SS, Royals
2019 minors: .262 BA (164 AB), 1 HR, 9 SB, .670 OPS, 13 BB, 35 K
2021 minors: .306 BA (278 AB), 19 HR, 15 SB, .957 OPS, 25 BB, 74 K
Witt will need to acclimate quickly to Triple-A for him to make it up this year, and so far, so good. After hitting .342 (54 for 158) with 12 homers, eight steals and a 1.096 OPS over his final 40 games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, he's 13 for 34 (.382) with three homers and one steal in his first seven games for Omaha. One of those home runs was an inside-the-parker:
The Royals are out of it, and most teams in their position would save the big call-ups for the following season so as not to waste service time. But the Royals aren't like most organizations and generally allow their prospects to dictate their own timetables, to the point of almost recklessness (which is how Witt even stood a chance of being their opening day second baseman).
2019 minors: .289 BA (305 AB), 10 HR, 27 2B, .834 OPS, 30 BB, 94 K
2020 majors: .161 BA (124 AB), 3 HR, 4 2B, .478 OPS, 7 BB, 55 K
2021 minors: .279 BA (297 AB), 20 HR, 8 SB, .890 OPS, 20 BB, 95 K
Adell's strikeout rate in July is still a respectable 24.3 percent, but it may just be a matter of sample size. Judging by the game log, multiple strikeouts have become the norm for him again. Yet he's batting .316 (30 for 95) with an .875 OPS for the month, and it's not like his season numbers are lacking. Honestly, the 22-year-old's promotion last year might have been the worst possible thing for his development. There's so much hesitancy to call him up after watching him strike out 41.7 percent of the time over a miserable eight-week stretch that I'm honestly not sure what it's going to take. Still ... how many other minor-leaguers are worth stashing now?
Edward Cabrera, SP, Marlins
2019 minors: 9-4, 2.23 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 96 2/3 IP, 31 BB, 116 K
2021 minors: 2-2, 2.66 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 40 2/3 IP, 12 BB, 51 K
After a bumpy first start at Triple-A Jacksonville, Cabrera bounced back with 5 2/3 shutout innings last time out. Of course, he also walked three, giving him six walks in 8 2/3 innings since his move up the ladder, which represents a throwback to his control issues from the lower minors. Overcoming those is what propelled him up the prospect ranks so quickly, so a reversion would be troublesome. Still, as dominant as he was looking at Double-A, I'm not worried about it except to the extent that it might delay his debut for the out-of-contention Marlins, who have some innings to fill but plenty of second-rate fodder if they're not convinced Cabrera is fully ready.
Jose Miranda, 3B, Twins
2019 minors: .252 BA (445 AB), 8 HR, 26 2B, .671 OPS, 24 BB, 54 K
2021 minors: .347 BA (300 AB), 21 HR, 17 2B, 1.021 OPS, 28 BB, 43 K
No matter what Miranda accomplishes in his baseball career, he'll never escape the shadow of his enormously famous cousin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Hamilton guy. But by golly, he's going to try. His production this year has been second to none, and it's only gotten better with his move up to Triple-A, where he's batting .349 with eight home runs and a 1.067 OPS in 25 games.
Here's Jose Miranda's swing at a pitch now in the zone. Watch the bat head. Slight uppercut, but the path maximizes the potential contact area on the barrel. The result is a fly out to deep center rather than a pop up or grounder. pic.twitter.com/F3vxTB0RGI— Lucas Seehafer (@seehafer_) July 26, 2021
It's about as big of a breakout as I can remember seeing for a player in the upper minors, and his 12.8 percent strikeout rate makes it difficult to disregard. He's become a much more disciplined hitter with an optimized bat path and a better sense of when to swing. Regardless of whether Josh Donaldson is traded, Miranda is likely to have a cameo for the down-and-out Twins.
Reid Detmers, SP, Angels
2021 minors: 3-4, 3.15 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 60 IP, 18 BB, 106 K
I don't know how much sense it makes for a team that's barely in the playoff race to promote their top draft pick from a year ago, but Detmers is doing everything he can to show he belongs. His Triple-A debut Saturday was an absolute gem in which he struck out nine and walked none over six shutout innings -- this after delivering four double-digit strikeout efforts at Double-A, including a 16-strikeout game. Pretty good for what looked to be a high-floor guy. A jump in velocity has given him a ceiling to match this year, especially since his curveball was always a thing of beauty.
Maybe there's a better chance Vidal Brujan comes back up, but would he play a significant role for the Rays? He didn't the first time around, and they've since added Nelson Cruz. Feels like there's more momentum for stashing Detmers.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note)
MJ Melendez, C, Royals
2019 minors: .163 BA (363 AB), 9 HR, 23 2B, .571 OPS, 44 BB, 165 K
2021 minors: .292 BA (257 AB), 24 HR, 15 2B, 1.006 OPS, 36 BB, 62 K
Sure, I featured Melendez here just last week, but four home runs later, he's suddenly tied for tops in all the minors with 24 ... as a catcher ... who's, frankly, a little young for his level at age 22. He looked like he was shaping up to be a Martin Maldonado-like hitter a couple years ago but is now looking like a suitable understudy for Salvador Perez. He won't make it up this year, but presuming these improvements, which are the outgrowth of a slew of changes he made at the alternate training site last year, prove to be long-lasting, you can expect to see him at some point next year.
Zac Veen, OF, Rockies
2021 minors: .285 BA (253 AB), 11 HR, 27 SB, .894 OPS, 42 BB, 73 K
The ninth pick in last year's draft was one of the more hyped among prospect hounds, with comps ranging from Kyle Tucker to Cody Bellinger. Knowing where he'd eventually play his home games was a contributing factor, no doubt. Some of us began looking at him cross-eyed when he went his first 38 games without hitting a home run, but suddenly, that's changed. Over his past 12 games, he's homered seven times, batting .455 (20 for 44) during that stretch. Just like that, the 19-year-old is right on schedule.
Michael Busch, 2B, Dodgers
2019 minors: .125 BA (24 AB), .496 OPS, 7 BB, 5 K
2021 minors: .241 BA (237 AB), 11 HR, 13 2B, .826 OPS, 48 BB, 80 K
Busch has also seen his hype fulfilled in recent weeks. Though billed as an OPS hog in part because of his ability to take a walk, it was his strikeout rate that stood out most over the first two months, keeping his batting average in the low .200s. So far in July, though, he's batting .284 (21 for 74) with five home runs and a .988 OPS, reaching base at a .448 clip. His strikeout rate during that time is a much more palatable 21.9 percent. He's an offensive-minded second baseman for sure, which only furthers the all-too-easy Max Muncy comp.
Ezequiel Duran, 2B, Yankees
2019 minors: .256 BA (246 AB), 13 HR, 11 SB, .824 OPS, 25 BB, 77 K
2021 minors: .290 BA (259 AB), 12 HR, 12 SB, .907 OPS, 28 BB, 71 K
Anthony Volpe is the Yankees' middle infield prospect surging up rank lists -- and for good reason -- but Duran is two years older (22) and has been at high Class A from the get-go, which would suggest that he's closer to contributing in the bigs. It would also suggest that a move up the ladder is in store, particularly after last week, when he homered twice in one game and hit for the cycle in another. He doesn't stand out in any one area but just looks like a solid all-around hitter, producing high exit velocities and bunches of line drives.
Elehuris Montero, 3B, Rockies
2019 minors: .194 BA (237 AB), 7 HR, 8 2B, .562 OPS, 15 BB, 76 K
2021 minors: .279 BA (247 AB), 18 HR, 10 2B, .915 OPS, 34 BB, 74 K
Montero became a darling dynasty pick of mine in 2018, when his low strikeout rate and natural bat skills saw him hit .315 with an .875 OPS in the lower levels of the Cardinals system, but he slumped so badly the following year, his strikeout rate moving to the other side of the ledger, that I gave up on him. Since then, he's moved on to the Rockies in the Nolan Arenado trade, and while the strikeout rate has landed in the middle of the two extremes, he's caught fire here in July, batting .411 (30 for 73) with 10 home runs and a 1.313 OPS. Being able to call Coors Field home someday is an added perk.