Minor League Barometer: Risers & Fallers

Minor League Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our Minor League Barometer series.

Spencer Torkelson had himself a day last Thursday. In a doubleheader for Double-A Erie, he combined to go an absurd 7-for-7 with three homers and six RBI. Yes, you read that correctly. That brought his average up from .239 to .271 in 48 games at Double-A. Torkelson has surged this month by slashing .298/.389/.617. While the Tigers have little reason to bring him up this season, there's a real chance the 2020 No. 1 overall selection makes a legitimate bid for the starting third base job in 2022. With Riley Greene also getting the bump up to Triple-A, the Tigers' rebuild could take a big step forward next season.

Let's take a look at some more prospects making waves in this edition of the Minor League Barometer.

UPGRADE

Matt McLain, SS, CIN – The seventeenth overall selection in this year's Draft, McLain played just two Rookie League contests before being promoted to High-A while skipping Low-A altogether.  Perhaps this was unsurprising given his college pedigree (No. 1 pick Henry Davis of the Pirates has taken the same early path), but it was McLain's production in his debut at High-A that turned heads when he went 4-for-5 with a home run and five RBI. While certainly overreacting to one game isn't recommended, at the same time this could be a sign of things to come for the former UCLA shortstop. Keep an eye on McLain not only for the remainder of this season, but where he gets assigned in 2022.

Ezequiel Tovar, SS, COL – The

Spencer Torkelson had himself a day last Thursday. In a doubleheader for Double-A Erie, he combined to go an absurd 7-for-7 with three homers and six RBI. Yes, you read that correctly. That brought his average up from .239 to .271 in 48 games at Double-A. Torkelson has surged this month by slashing .298/.389/.617. While the Tigers have little reason to bring him up this season, there's a real chance the 2020 No. 1 overall selection makes a legitimate bid for the starting third base job in 2022. With Riley Greene also getting the bump up to Triple-A, the Tigers' rebuild could take a big step forward next season.

Let's take a look at some more prospects making waves in this edition of the Minor League Barometer.

UPGRADE

Matt McLain, SS, CIN – The seventeenth overall selection in this year's Draft, McLain played just two Rookie League contests before being promoted to High-A while skipping Low-A altogether.  Perhaps this was unsurprising given his college pedigree (No. 1 pick Henry Davis of the Pirates has taken the same early path), but it was McLain's production in his debut at High-A that turned heads when he went 4-for-5 with a home run and five RBI. While certainly overreacting to one game isn't recommended, at the same time this could be a sign of things to come for the former UCLA shortstop. Keep an eye on McLain not only for the remainder of this season, but where he gets assigned in 2022.

Ezequiel Tovar, SS, COL – The Rockies held on to Trevor Story at the trade deadline, but he remains a free agent at the end of the year and his future in Colorado is in serious question. Though Tovar would not be ready to take over in 2022, only outfielder Zac Veen is more highly thought of in the organizational ranks. Tovar hit .309/.346/.510 with 11 homers, 54 RBI and 21 steals across 72 contests at Low-A resulting in a recent promotion to High-A. He boasts excellent speed, emerging power and a keen ability to control the strike zone and make contact only fanning 38 times in those 72 outings. That's generally something you can't teach, so Tovar's stock is definitely on the rise.

Anthony Volpe, SS, NYY – The depth of the Yankees' farm system allowed them to deal for Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo while holding onto top-tier prospects. That includes Volpe, who has vaulted up the prospect rankings with a scintillating 2021 campaign. Starting the season at Low-A, he's slashed .302/.455/.623 with 12 home runs, 49 RBI and 21 steals over 54 games while notching more walks (51) than strikeouts (43). That resulted in a bump to High-A, where he's continued his hot pace hitting .308/.398/.598 with seven home runs, 19 RBI and six thefts through 27 contests.   The combination of power, speed and the ability to hit for average has quickly turned Volpe into an extremely hot commodity at just 20.

Blaze Jordan, 3B, BOS – Jordan has already blazed his way through the Florida Complex League.  His bat speed and power have been well documented for years, but the former YouTube sensation found little resistance in his first taste of professional ball. At only 18, Jordan batted .362/.408/.667 with four home runs and 19 RBI in 19 Rookie League games. The lack of strikeouts along with the high average are particularly encouraging for a prospect like him considering his age and profile. Jordan has been moved up to Low-A for the rest of 2021, where he'll be among the younger players at that level. This may be a wild statement, but he currently offers as much upside as any prospect in the minors. 

CHECK STATUS

Jordan Groshans, 3B, TOR – Groshans still has plenty of believers, but his power outage this season is a tad concerning with only five homers in 63 games at Double-A and hasn't gone deep since Jun. 25. He's continued to hit for average and commands a polished presence at the dish, but as a corner infielder he'll need to tap into that home run potential to become a top-flight fantasy commodity. Cavan Biggio is currently playing out of position at third base at the big league level, and is also on the Injured List. So there could be a spot for Groshans, but he needs to harness his power like he did at the alternate site in 2020.

Spencer Strider, P, ATL – The strikeout numbers this season for Strider need to be recognized, as the Clemson product has racked up 114 punchouts in only 69.1 innings across three levels. He's currently at Double-A, where he's notched 58 Ks over 39.1 innings.  However, Strider has been a tad wild at Double-A by walking 20 batters, which has caused additional base runners and a bloated 5.50 ERA through nine starts. But at only 22, the fourth-round pick from 2020 already appears to be exceeding expectations.

Tyler Soderstrom, C, OAK – Soderstrom hasn't seen the field since Jul. 23 after he took a foul tip to the collarbone. The Athletics may be smart to move him out from catcher to avoid additional injury, and that may have been the plan anyway. Soderstrom's bat has been every bit as advertised going .306/.390/.568 with 12 homers and 49 RBI across 57 games prior to the injury at Low-A. Still a teenager, he's a few years away from making a big league impact but has emerged as one of baseball's better hitting prospects especially considering his age.

Seth Beer, 1B/OF, ARI – Beer came over from Houston in the Zack Greinke deal a couple of years ago and had lost some of his prospect luster since. He lacks a true defensive position (he would be more well suited for DH) and Arizona lists a cluster of players with a similar type of skill set.  But Beer has been surging of late hitting .400 with four home runs and 10 RBI over his last 11 games at Triple-A along with a solid overall slash line of .293/.403/.515. He offers plenty of power, is not afraid to take a walk, and even has cut down on his strikeouts. With roster expansion coming up in September, it wouldn't be surprising to see Beer get a crack at some big league at-bats, though it remains to be seen where he fits in the D-backs' future plans.

DOWNGRADE

Tyler Freeman, SS, CLE – Freeman will miss the remainder of 2021 due to a nagging shoulder ailment and underwent surgery to address the issue. When on the field this season, he excelled by batting .323/.372/.470 but only played in 41 games. Freeman hit just two home runs and may not ever provide much power while only displaying decent speed. He remains a future centerpiece for the Guardians, but he has to prove he can stay healthy and may end up being a better real life player than fantasy commodity.

Joshua Mears, OF, SD – Mears was enjoying a standout 2021 campaign before being derailed by injuries. He hit .266/.404/.553 in 60 games at Low-A showing patience at the dish and power with 14 home runs and 61 RBI while even swiping eight bases. However, Mears suffered a shoulder strain on Jul. 23, came back from the Injured List a couple of weeks later, and only played in one game before being placed on the 60-day IL to end his season. The reason for the second DL placement isn't clear, but obviously significant to sideline him until 2022. Assuming the injury isn't serious enough to keep him out into next season, Mears has improved his stock - but we're still waiting for more information.

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jesse Siegel
Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
MLB Best Bets Tonight: Expert MLB Picks for Tuesday, August 16
MLB Best Bets Tonight: Expert MLB Picks for Tuesday, August 16
FanDuel MLB: DFS Targets for Tuesday
FanDuel MLB: DFS Targets for Tuesday
MLB Picks at DraftKings Sportsbook Today: MLB Player Props and Bets for Tuesday, August 16
MLB Picks at DraftKings Sportsbook Today: MLB Player Props and Bets for Tuesday, August 16
DraftKings MLB: Tuesday Breakdown
DraftKings MLB: Tuesday Breakdown