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2021 Prospect Watch: Who Will Break Through This Season?

Every year there is a fresh batch of prospects that enter the major leagues. Some have already broken through like Sixto Sanchez of the Miami Marlins and Andrew Vaughn of the Chicago White Sox. We might begin to see more and more this year if the injury rates stay as high as they do. With names like Randy Arozarena, Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Cristian Pache on the roster, we will dive into some other names who could join them in the bigs this season.

MacKenzie Gore – San Diego Padres

San Diego revamped their rotation this offseason by adding Blake Snell and Yu Darvish. This might halt the 22-year-old left-hander from a hefty role but he should get some time in the majors this season. The 5th rotation spot is a bit weak, as Adrian Morejon is there now. Gore has yet to see anything above Double-A ball, which doesn’t matter much to me, but you wonder if San Diego will make him go through another full year. Gore pitched 21.2 innings in Double-A last season, where he had a 4.15 ERA and 10.3 K/9. Gore has strong strikeout stuff and average control to go with it.

Gore was the number three overall pick back in 2018 and has a mid-range fastball with movement. His slider has become vastly underrated, and this is in addition to his above-average changeup and curveball. Gore has four strong pitches and his upside is certainly an ace. Look for Gore to get some work in the second half, barring any sort of injuries to the rotation throughout the year.

Adley Rutschman – Baltimore Orioles

Adley Rutschman is another big-time Orioles prospect behind the dish, the last one being Matt Wieters. Rutschman was the number one overall pick back in 2019 and is on the rise to join the squad in 2021. Baltimore is certainly looking to get him on the major league roster as they are in the midst of a major rebuild. Rutschman is a switch-hitter who had a very successful college career and looks the part of a big-league player. He can hit all over the field and doesn’t carry a high strikeout rate either. Rutschman spent his time at an alternative site this past season as the 2020 campaign was cut short for minor leaguers.

Behind the dish, Rutschman has an above-average arm and good movement. Despite being known for his offense, he has upped his defensive and pitch-calling. He had a .351 OBP in the minors back in 2019 with 13 extra-base hits in 37 games.

Jarred Kelenic – Seattle Mariners

Seattle is one of the exciting young teams in baseball, with Kyle Lewis, Taylor Trammell, and Justus Sheffield being their young players at the major league level. They have Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, and Emerson Hancock sitting in the top-30 for prospects. Kelenic is the one likely to be on the roster at some point this season. Kelenic was drafted 6th overall in 2018 by the Mets and was traded in the Robinson Cano deal. Kelenic is an above-average contact bat with some pop and can drive the ball to all fields. Power was a concern but we have seen that come around finally. Playing the outfield positions, Kelenic has above-average speed and a very good arm.

Kelenic has a .366 OBP across the minors over 173 games. In that span, he has 29 home runs and 35 stolen bases. He also produced 122 runs and 110 RBIs. Seattle loves Kelenic as a real leader for the future and this young team will carve the way for him to be a big part of it in 2021.

Tuning Into Prospects Already In The Majors

Speaking of those names way above, some of them are already in the majors. Randy Arozarena made a splash in the postseason last year. He now has a full-time gig with the Rays. Arozarena is a terrific fielder and brings a mix of speed and power to the plate. Ke’Bryan Hayes had an Opening Day home run and is one of the more fun players to watch right now. He was taken 32nd overall by the Pirates, and Pittsburgh sure does need some youth to evolve after selling off most of everybody that we knew from the last decade. Bryan did play 23 games last season in the Majors, hitting .376 with five home runs. Jazz Chisholm is another name with massive speed and when he gets the ball in the gap, Chisolm is flying. His speed and personality make him an entertaining player to keep an eye out for on the highlight reel.

We are seeing quite a few arms emerge out of the prospect list. Casey Mize made seven starts last season and opened up this year as a full-time arm. His control has been a bit spotty but we have seen the power stuff that he has. Mize is a name to keep an eye on. Sixto Sanchez had an arm injury before the start of 2021 but should be nearing a return. Hopefully, he has his full health. Sanchez has excellent stuff and rolls a ton of ground balls. He was never a major strikeout arm but has pinpoint control and pitches to weak contact.