Now that the trade deadline has passed, the only way teams in the postseason race will significantly strengthen themselves is by activating a key player from the disabled list or promoting one of their top prospects.
The Braves and Mets have already opted for the second option. Atlanta promoted Vaughn Grissom on Aug. 10 and New York promoted Brett Baty a week later. Both prospects rank among the top 100 prospects in the league.
Two more players from that list have made it to the majors this month. The Dodgers recalled right-hander Ryan Pepiot on March 10, while left-hander Matt Liberatore joined the Cardinals on March 23. Both returned to the minors, but it shouldn’t be surprising if they return to the Big Top soon.
There are other interesting prospects who could help their teams down the stretch. Here, nine candidates.
Francisco Alvarez, C, Mets (MLB No. 1)
Although the Mets should have no problem qualifying for the postseason, they are in the midst of a fierce fight with the Braves for first place in the NL East, and the bye series that the winner will get. New York is getting little production from its catcher job, but they have the best prospect in the majors, who happens to be defending that very position.
The Venezuelan is hitting just .180/.340/.378 with six homers in 32 games at Triple-A, so he would have to fire up for promotion.
Hunter Brown, RHP, Astros (MLB No. 71)
The Astros currently have the best record in the American League and have six quality starters. For that reason, there is no room in the rotation for Brown. But a fastball that consistently hits the mid-90s and eventually touches 99 mph, along with a powerful curveball, could be a lethal combination out of the bullpen. The pitcher leads the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with a 2.63 ERA, 130 strikeouts and 11.4 blank swings per nine innings.
Sal Frelick, OF, Brewers (MLB No. 49)
The Brewers have an offensive void at center field in the midst of their bid for a postseason spot. In the minors they have four solid Triple-A outfield prospects. The best of them is Frelick, who is hitting .410/.483/.513 with as many extra-base hits as strikeouts (seven) in 20 games. Thanks to his great ability with the bat and ability to get on base consistently, the outfielder could be a catalyst for Milwaukee’s offense.
Gunnar Henderson, SS/3B, Orioles (MLB No. 2)
Henderson has a case for saying he’s the best prospect in the game. He’s even a purer hitter than Alvarez, and he’s doing much better in Triple-A – .279/.388/.502 with 11 homers in 61 games – defending the infield. His presence would represent a considerable improvement over Rougned Odor at second base, with more offensive presence than Jorge Mateo at shortstop, or even Ramon Urias at third base.
Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers (MLB No. 27)
Even after losing Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw to injuries and trading Mitch White, the Dodgers have the best record in the National League and plenty of pitching options. They may not all make the rotation, but up-and-coming arms like Miller, Pepiot and Gavin Stone represent weight options for the long relief, though of the three, it’s Miller who has the better stuff.
Gabriel Moreno, C, Blue Jays (MLB No. 7)
Not only do the Blue Jays have two solid catchers in the majors, in Mexican star Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen, but they also have the Venezuelan in the minors, who is hitting .326/.389/.423 in Triple-A. He hasn’t generated much power this year, including a .276/.300/.293 batting line over a month with the Blue Jays, but his on-base ability and versatility with the glove, with which he can also defend the corners of the infield , could be very useful to the club in the final stretch.
Kyle Muller, LHP, Braves (Atlanta’s No. 2)
The defending champions are battling the Mets for the NL East crown. Miller, who was with the Braves briefly in May and earlier this month, could be an option to deepen the rotation or as an additional left-hander out of the bullpen. He leads the Triple-A International League in strikeouts (135) and scoreless swing rate (10.9 per nine innings).
Bo Naylor, C, Guardians (No. 78 in MLB)
As they try to hold off the Twins and White Sox in the race for the AL Central, the Guardians’ catchers are displaying a combined .194/.289/.289 productive line. For his part, Naylor is hitting .263/.380/.494 in Triple-A with solid plate defense. He may not be as good with the glove as Austin Hedges, but he represents a much more dangerous bat. Besides, he would be together with his brother Josh.
Anthony Volpe, SS, Yankees (MLB No. 5)
Yeah, maybe that’s a risky option, considering Isiah Kiner-Falefa is putting up a solid defense while Volpe is yet to make his Triple-A debut. But the Yankees’ offense has struggled in August, falling 3.5 games behind the Astros in the fight for home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs.
Volpe is shining at Double-A after a slow start to his first two months. The 21-year-old shortstop is hitting .251/.351/.464 with 17 home runs and 43 stolen bases in 105 games. Maybe he’s the spark the Bombers need.
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Nine prospects who could help teams down the stretch