Note: The Rays will reportedly call up Vidal Brujan to serve as the 27th man in a doubleheader Wednesday and likely keep him around as a replacement for the injured Manuel Margot. Fittingly, he has been removed from this week's Five on the Verge and replaced by Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh. Brujan is a must in 5x5 leagues for his 80-grade speed but has struggled at the plate since the start of June, batting .210 (21 for 100).
Team USA will soon travel to Tokyo to compete in the Olympics, which are set to begin the final week of July. Red Sox outfield prospect Jarren Duran, who played a key role in the team's qualification one month ago, will remain at Triple-A Worcester.
"You know, it sucks, because I would love to wear USA across my chest," Duran said. "But they have a good team and I hope they go on and win gold. I think they can do it and I hope they represent us really well."
There's a reason for Duran's omission, of course. The Red Sox made it known he may not be able to stay for the entirety of the Olympics, which run through Aug. 7, and replacing him midway would present some logistical challenges.
It's as much insight as we've gotten into their plans for the 24-year-old, whose impending promotion has been rumored as far back as spring training. He's at the right age, meets a need for a team firmly in the pennant race, and has taken his game to another level this year, ranking among the minor-league leaders in home runs after being more of a slash-and-burn guy in previous seasons.
So does his exclusion from the Olympic team present a timetable for his promotion? And presuming it does, are redraft leaguers compelled to stash him?
I wouldn't say he's my No. 1 priority among minor-leaguers, but he's quickly climbing the list.
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Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners
2019 minors: .291 BA (443 AB), 23 HR, 20 SB, .904 OPS, 50 BB, 111 K
2021 minors: .320 BA (122 AB), 9 HR, 6 SB, 1.011 OPS, 14 BB, 21 K
It took a couple weeks for Kelenic to regain his swing at Triple-A Tacoma after his big-league unraveling, but he clearly has now, batting .413 (19 for 46) with four homers and seven walks compared to six strikeouts over his past 11 games.
"(Kelenic) is now doing the things again that he was doing in the spring and was doing in the co-op league and was doing in that first week in Tacoma that I think he got away from when he was here in Seattle," GM Jerry Dipoto told 710 ESPN Seattle on Friday.
Remember: Kelenic struck out just 16.4 percent of the time in his first 13 big-league games, looking anything but overmatched. Some bad luck on balls in play caused him to press -- or so the theory goes -- and that's when we saw his strikeouts escalate. With the Mariners suddenly back in the playoff picture even while riding it out with the .163-hitting Taylor Trammell in the outfield, Kelenic is almost certainly on the verge of returning.
"I don't think it will be very long before you see him again," Dipoto said.
Jarren Duran, OF, Red Sox
2019 minors: .303 BA (519 AB), 5 HR, 46 SB, .775 OPS, 46 BB, 128 K
2021 minors: .284 BA (169 AB), 15 HR, 10 SB, .981 OPS, 22 BB, 46 K
Duran has moved so quickly up the prospect ranks this year that it feels reckless to put him in the same class as a blue chipper like Kelenic, who himself could be recalled any day now. But the 24-year-old's stock continues to rise at Triple-A, where he has hit .345 (20 for 58) with five homers and four steals over his past 15 games. His strikeout rate is trending down (not that it was a problem to begin with), and he continues to take advantage of his speed even as his remade swing proves more and more lucrative.
The Red Sox continue to mess around with players like Danny Santana and Michael Chavis, shifting Enrique Hernandez between center field and second base as necessary, but the Olympic decision pretty much confirms Duran is next up. Expect it to happen early in the second half.
Bobby Witt, SS, Royals
2019 minors: .262 BA (164 AB), 1 HR, 9 SB, .670 OPS, 13 BB, 35 K
2021 minors: .296 BA (206 AB), 13 HR, 13 SB, .919 OPS, 21 BB, 57 K
The second overall pick in the 2019 draft, Witt continues to surge with a .360 (45 for 125) batting average, 10 homers and seven steals since May 29. Given the way he's demolished Double-A for a good six weeks now, it's a little surprising the 21-year-old moved up to Triple-A yet, but the beauty of playing for an organization known for aggressively promoting its prospects is that not every step is required. The Royals, remember, entertained making Witt their opening day second baseman at all of 20 years old before his strikeout rate climbed in the second half of spring training. Maybe he'll get a couple weeks at Triple-A out of an abundance of caution, but presuming it goes without a hitch, don't be surprised if he's up in the big leagues in early August.
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: .262 BA (221 AB), 17 HR, 4 SB, .888 OPS, 15 BB, 73 K
Adell's batting average has only fallen since the last edition of the Prospects Report, and he's no longer in sole possession of the minor-league home run lead, having homered just twice in his past 25 games. He isn't doing the sort of things that would demand a promotion, in other words, and with Mike Trout beginning baseball activities again, the urgency to call him up is only decreasing. I'd still be surprised if the Angels went the whole year without bringing up Adell, having already gotten his feet wet last year, but it may not happen until September if he doesn't put together the kind of run that legitimately forces the issue.
Cal Raleigh, C, Mariners
2019 minors: .251 BA (455 AB), 29 HR, 25 2B, .820 OPS, 47 BB, 116 K
2021 minors: .319 BA (166 AB), 8 HR, 20 2B, .972 OPS, 14 BB, 22 K
Raleigh hasn't played for a a few days due to back tightness, and he's cooled off a bit since his 23-game hitting streak, going 2 for 22 in his past six games. Between his reduced strikeout rate and improved defense, though, there's nothing more for him to gain at Triple-A Tacoma, and GM Jerry Dipoto has acknowledged as much.
"Right now, it's impossible to say that Cal's not ready for an opportunity in the big leagues. He catches, he throws, he's been a leader and he has really just been raking since the first day," Dipoto recently told 710 ESPN Seattle. "That being said, since being recalled from Tacoma, Luis Torrens has been terrific, he's done everything we have asked him to do, [including] hit for power."
No lies detected. Torrens, himself only 25, is batting .273 (12 for 44) with seven homers in 13 games since his stint in the minors. Raleigh profiles better offensively, but Torrens has earned a chance to see things through. Because the Mariners don't have a dedicated DH, though, there's still a way for them to incorporate Raleigh once he's back to 100 percent.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note)
Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers
2019 minors: .261 BA (314 AB), 6 HR, 9 2B, .679 OPS, 30 BB, 22 K
2021 minors: .289 BA (135 AB), 11 HR, 11 2B, .989 OPS, 19 BB, 18 K
The 22-year-old continues to toil away at Triple-A with Will Smith having become a fixture for the big club, but what an asset Ruiz has turned himself into with the sudden arrival of power this year. Another two-homer game Thursday has him one home run away from a career high, and it hasn't come at the expense of his natural bat-to-ball skills. They along with his defensive upside are what put him on the prospect radar to begin with. Changes to his stance at the alternate training site last year have made him the complete package, raising his dynasty value to an all-time high.
Grayson Rodriguez, SP, Orioles
2019 minors: 10-4, 2.68 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 94 IP, 36 BB, 129 K
2021 minors: 6-1, 1.70 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 53 IP, 12 BB, 79 K
Rodriguez hasn't thrown a no-hitter or struck out 13 in a start this year, which has kept him out of headlines for the most part, but he has quietly been the best starting pitcher in the minors so far -- one could argue, anyway. For a couple years now, the 21-year-old has seemed like he was on a path to becoming the best pitching prospect in baseball, presuming he lasted in the minors long enough. The Orioles have been cautious with his workload, having him go six innings just once, but with the way his changeup has come along this year, giving him another out pitch, Double-A won't contain him for long.
Garrett Mitchell, OF, Brewers
2021 minors: .359 BA (92 AB), 5 HR, 12 SB, 1.124 OPS, 27 BB, 30 K
Though toolsy and athletic, Mitchell slipped to the Brewers at 20th overall in last year's draft. A questionable power profile was partly to blame, his swing being geared more for chopping the ball into the ground to make the most of his 80-grade speed. It's a work in progress, with his ground-ball rate still exceeding 60 percent, but his two-homer game Sunday would suggest there is definite progress. That progress along with his .504 on-base percentage just earned him a promotion to Double-A, putting the 22-year-old on the fast track, potentially.
Anthony Volpe, SS, Yankees
2019 minors: .215 BA (121 AB), 2 HR, 6 SB, .704 OPS, 23 BB, 38 K
2021 minors: .309 BA (181 AB), 11 HR, 20 SB, 1.088 OPS, 44 BB, 39 K
Volpe didn't make much of an impression as an 18-year-old in Rookie ball two years ago, his season wrecked by a bout with mono, but he's excelling in every facet of the game right now, powering up with his filled-out frame and making good swing decisions that have resulted in a .452 on-base percentage. His stolen base total probably stands out the most, but keep in mind steals are inflated across low Class A due to experimental pickoff rules. In any case, Volpe has so impressed that Baseball America recently added him to its top 100 prospects. He wasn't even in the Yankees top 15 at the start of the year.
Glenn Otto, SP, Yankees
2019 minors: 3-3, 3.23 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 61 1/3 IP, 36 BB, 74 K
2021 minors: 5-3, 3.49 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 59 1/3 IP, 14 BB, 95 K
Speaking of fast risers in the Yankees system, Otto has been mowing down hitters at Double-A all year, striking out 12 over seven one-hit innings in his most recent outing Saturday. He has recorded double-digit strikeouts in five of his 10 outings so far, going for 14 in two of them, and is behind only Cade Cavalli for the minor-league strikeout lead. Injuries have slowed the 25-year-old's development, and it's not clear that he has a full enough arsenal to stick as a starter. But with a newly refined delivery and killer curveball, he's making it work right now.