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Hot Prospects To Watch - Adley Rutschman Promoted, Nate Pearson Close And More


We have a little more than a week before August is over and the rosters expand at the beginning of September. We're in the dog days of summer and some teams are limping to the finish line, including contenders like the Braves with three of their outfielders currently on the injured list. Reinforcements are coming.

The rebuilding Mariners are beat up and in last place in the American League West. They didn't feel like waiting until September to call up outfield prospect Jake Fraley (Seattle's No. 8 prospect) and starting pitcher Justus Sheffield (No. 9) this week. Both players should have big roles down the stretch and can make an impact in mixed leagues.

In the same division, the Athletics are ready to let their No. 2 prospect, left-hander A.J. Puk, make his big league debut, albeit out of the bullpen the rest of the way. The No. 5 southpaw prospect in baseball, Puk is recovered from Tommy John surgery and has some of the best strikeout stuff for a young arm. He's very intimidating on the bump, too, standing at 6-foot-7, 238 pounds. The future is coming quickly across the league.

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No. 1 Overall Pick Wasting No Time

Adley Rutschman - C, Baltimore Orioles

Well that didn't take long. The first overall pick in this year's draft, Rutschman is being promoted from Single-A Short Season Aberdeen to Single-A Delmarva after hitting a cool .325/.413/.481 with a home run, triple and seven doubles in 20 games. He had gone 18-for-39 with eight extra-base hits during a 10-game hitting streak.

The 21-year-old was one of the best prospects out of college at Oregon State and hit a ridiculous .411 with a 1.326 OPS and 17 home runs as a switch-hitter his junior season before being drafted. Not only can he hit a lot from both sides of the plate, but Rutschman is also an excellent defender with the glove. He makes consistent hard contact, has great plate discipline and should continue to develop more power as he matures.

As most top picks do, Rutschman has a good chance to rise through Baltimore's minor league system very quickly at a premium position. The O's will want to see what he can do at the higher levels of the minors next year, but it's entirely possible that Rutschman could be the club's everyday catcher by the 2021 campaign. He'll be one of the most coveted fantasy catchers when that happens.

 

Pearson On The Cusp With Jays

Nate Pearson - SP, Toronto Blue Jays

In his debut with Triple-A Buffalo, Pearson tossed a career-best seven scoreless frames while allowing three hits and striking out three on Tuesday. It was fitting, as he also turned 23 on Tuesday. The hard-throwing right-hander earned the promotion from Double-A New Hampshire after posting a 2.59 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 69 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings (16 starts). Before that he was 3-0 with a microscopic 0.86 ERA and 15.0 K/9 in six starts for High-A Dunedin to start the year.

Pearson was the 28th overall pick in 2017 and is Toronto's No. 2 prospect. He's also the No. 14 prospect in all of baseball and is ranked as the second-best right-handed prospect behind Casey Mize. The 6-foot-6, 245-pounder has front-of-the-rotation stuff and boasts the team's best fastball and slider in the system. Pearson's fastball sits in the upper-90s and he regularly hits triple digits on the radar gun.

If he keeps his fastball/slider combination down in the zone consistently, he's extremely tough to hit. Pearson has an incredibly high ceiling at the next level, but the Jays may choose to forgo a September call-up since he only tossed 1 2/3 innings in 2018 due to a fractured forearm. Regardless, he should be in Toronto's rotation next season.

 

KC Lefty Is Special

Kris Bubic - SP, Kansas City Royals

The 22-year-old southpaw has been outstanding all year and is coming off two straight complete games (one run allowed, 22 K's, two walks) for High-A Wilmington in the Carolina League. He was 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 14.2 K/9 in nine starts at Single-A Lexington before his promotion, and he's been just as good at Wilmington (2.34 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) in 14 starts. Bubic's 174 punchouts in 132 1/3 innings (11.8 K/9) leads the minor leagues.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder is the Royals No. 6 prospect and was taken 40th overall in 2018 out of Stanford. His arsenal is mainly a fastball and changeup, with his heater sitting in the low-90s. It's not his velocity that's responsible for his high strikeout numbers, but rather his deceptive delivery. Bubic will need to develop his changeup to continue his success at the higher levels.

Bubic doesn't have nearly the upside that an arm like Pearson possesses, but he could be on the fast track to the majors for a rebuilding KC club if he continues to have success in the minors again in 2020. Despite his unorthodox delivery, the left-hander continues to be around the strike zone.

 

Red Birds Blessed With Outfield Depth

Dylan Carlson - OF, St. Louis Cardinals

The 20-year-old Carlson, St. Louis' No. 2 prospect, was promoted to Triple-A Memphis last week and has felt right at home, going 10-for-21 (.476) with two doubles, a triple, a homer and two RBI in his first five games. That comes after he slashed .281/.364/.518 with 24 doubles, six triples, 21 homers, 59 RBI and 18 steals in 483 plate appearances with Double-A Springfield.

The 33rd overall pick in 2016 is a switch-hitter has broken out this year and also earned an invite to the Futures Game in July. There is plenty of potential with his bat from both sides as he develops his raw power. Carlson is also a good athlete and has an advanced knowledge of pitch selection, which should help him continue to hit for a high average.

It remains to be seen if he'll stick in center field in St. Louis when he gets there, but make no mistake, Carlson should be an everyday player for the Red Birds whenever he's in the big leagues. It speaks to his abilities that he has a chance to be a September call-up next month despite the fact that the Cardinals have some pretty good outfield depth already. He's the No. 50 prospect in baseball currently.

 

Robert Has Little Left To Prove

Luis Robert - OF, Chicago White Sox

It's almost a travesty that Robert, Chicago's top prospect and No. 5 overall, isn't in the big leagues yet. The 22-year-old Cuban has received two minor league promotions already this year after starting at High-A Winston-Salem and has done nothing but hit. In 34 games for Triple-A Charlotte, Robert is hitting .305/.353/.649 with 12 home runs, 31 RBI and seven steals. He's clubbed 28 bombs, driven in 84 runs and stolen 36 bags combined in 109 games this season.

If it weren't for injuries the last two seasons, Robert might already be in the Show. He's exciting because of his amazing bat speed, high-end raw power and speed on the base paths. The downside is his raw power comes with a lot of swing and miss; he's fanned 116 times in 2019 and walked only 25 times in 495 plate appearances.

The No. 2 outfield prospect in the minors, Robert reminds us a lot of Braves superstar Ronald Acuna for his 30/30 potential at the next level. His strong arm might make him a good fit in right field in the long run. This 6-foot-3, 185-pounder is a little rough around the edges, but his upside is unmistakable. Robert should already be stashed in all dynasty/keeper leagues, and we're hoping he's one of Chicago's call-ups once September hits.

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