5 MLB Prospect Debuts You Can't Miss In 2019
To me personally, tracking prospects & the future stars of MLB is nearly as fulfilling and exciting as watching the action in The Show itself. Year-round I subscribe to the prospect gospels of Keith Law at ESPN, Mayo & Callis at MLB Pipeline, and all the guys from Baseball America to hear about the next wave of baseball talent.
Obsessing over top prospects gives fans of any team something to dream on. They’re the best way for small market teams who don’t chase big free agents (Which in the 2019 offseason is all 30 organizations) to end up with star players, & can change the scope of the playoff picture each season, either by debut performance or being flipped for a veteran at the deadline.
There are many reasons to subscribe to MLB TV, but a crucial one is to not miss a debut of the next big thing. Sure, some guys get up to three-decker stadiums and struggle a bit, but lately it seems as though young talent has been coming up and shining right away. Here are a few of the debuts you should be glued to your TV for the second they hop on the plane from AAA (hopefully in 2019).
The Vlad/Tatis/Eloy Triumvirate – Blue Jays, Padres, White Sox, respectively
Every “Top 100 Prospects” list will have some variation depending on the source, no matter what. In 2019 however, you’d be hard-pressed to find a list from anyone who isn’t a goon that doesn’t have Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (son of a Hall-of-Famer), Fernando Tatis Jr. (son of a big-leaguer), and Eloy Jimenez (son of a dude with clearly excellent genes) somewhere in their top-five.
These dudes crush baseballs. They mashed in the minors in 2018:
VG JR: .381/.437/.636 w/ 20 HRs (95 games)
Tatis: .286/.355/.507 w/ 16 HRs (88 games)
Eloy: .337/.384/.577 w/ 22 HRs (108 games)
Now, none of the three is likely to break camp with their respective big club. Vlad & Eloy will need to spend a few weeks in the minors so their team can delay when they hit free agency working on their defense & Tatis has yet to play above AA. Regardless, when Jon Heyman or Buster Olney break the scoop of their call-ups, it’ll be appointment TV.
Forrest Whitley – Astros
You know that classic stereotype of the big, tall, hard-throwing Texas-born right-hander who just blows gas by guys?
A suspension & injury hampered his 2018 regular season, but Whitley used his stint in the AFL to remind people that he’s about ready to get big league hitters out.
You don’t want to put unrealistic expectations on a guy, but with Whitley’s stuff & polish, a Strasburg-like debut start isn’t exactly out of the question. If the Astros give him shot, he’s worth the watch.
Brent Honeywell – Rays
It’s unfortunate in a way that Brent Honeywell and his electrifying arsenal are even on this list of exciting potential debuts. After posting a 3.49 ERA across two MiLB levels with 172 K’s in 136.2 innings in 2017, Honeywell was primed to be a September call-up for the Rays.
Due to an apparent message the organization was trying to send to Honeywell, he spent September off the roster and instead headed to Spring Training 2018 with an outside shot to open the year in the Rays rotation, or be called up soon after Opening Day. Those hopes were dashed when he went down with Tommy John surgery in February.
Honeywell should be back at 100% by mid-season, and the stuff that he showed at the 2017 Futures Game comes back with him, making his debut at the Trop should soon follow. He has strikeout stuff with elite control to boot (4.9 K/BB in 2017) & might be the only notable prospect in baseball to flash a screwball as part of his repertoire.
One thing you worry about with prospects is them feeling overwhelmed upon first arriving in the big leagues, but one thing Honeywell definitely doesn’t lack for is confidence:
Whenever he gets the call, he’ll be ready to compete, and I’ll be ready to watch.
By Kyle Bandujo