The MLB is just three games into the season and already getting alarming news, with two games cancelled last night due to a COVID outbreak in the clubhouse of the Miami Marlins, who saw 14 positive tests. Both the Marlins and the Phillies – Miami’s opponent this past weekend – cancelled their Monday-night contests while awaiting more results. It was a definitive risk of playing with no bubble, and it only took one weekend for the virus to rear its ugly head.
That being said, it’s far too early to call the season a bust. The outbreak, as far as we know, was contained to just one team, so let’s not announce it doomsday just yet. Rather, what more exciting way to talk about baseball than to look at some of the promising young talent on its way to the league. In the piece below, we’re taking a look at players selected in the recent MLB draft that could make an appearance in the show this season. This would be historic in that, due to no minor league season, any prospect to do this would be the first to make the college-majors jump without a pitstop in the minors since Mike Leake did so in 2009. Only a small handful of players have gone from the collegiate game to the major league game in the same season in that window, each of those athletes requiring a small showing in the minors. That being said, this is a weird season, and the shortened schedules seem like a perfect chance to try out the unexpected. So here are a handful of college athletes I think may ascend to the majors this season – because why wouldn’t 2020 get weirder?
Miami Marlins – Max Meyer, RHP0
Even in this wacky 60-game sprint with expanded playoffs, the Marlins aren’t expected to really come close to a playoff berth in 2020. Coming off a 57-win season, they are a clear pick to finish last in the National League East. They don’t fit the bill of a team that would be rushing a prospect to the majors, but they did include Meyer in their 60-player pool. They’ll toss their third-overall selection into some intrasquad games and see what they have. If Miami is well out of contention entering the final 12-15 games (which is about what qualifies as the ‘stretch run’ this season), and Meyer has performed well in intrasquad action, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see the Marlins give their new star prospect a little taste of the majors in some low-pressure situations, likely with no fans.
Los Angeles Angels – Reid Detmers (LHP), Adam Seminaris (LHP)
The Angels put two of their draft selections into their player pool, highlighted by first round selection Reid Detmers. Detmers was the second southpaw taken in the draft, and he’s considered the most polished pitcher in the draft. A quick jump to the majors was very possible regardless of the unusual circumstances. The Angels have only made the playoffs once since 2009 (in 2014) and they haven’t posted a winning record since 2015. But the Angels are not a normal rebuilding team. They have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, a dynamic two-way player in Shohei Ohtani, and a bevy of solid pitchers and a loaded lineup that features free agent signee Anthony Rendon, and the legendary Albert Pujols. After bringing in the ingenious Joe Madden to manage this talented roster, the Angels look primed to breakthrough, particularly with an expanded playoff.
Enter Detmers and Seminaris, who I like to potentially debut this summer for different reasons. Detmers is obvious enough – he’s a polished left-hander with a fastball that plays beyond its normal 90-94 range and two plus offspeed offerings. If Detmers shows maturity facing big league talent in intrasquad games, he might be an intriguing late-season call-up for the Angels. Madden may also look to include the Louisville product in his taxi squad at some point, allowing the potential rookie to add some pitching depth to the roster for road trips.
Seminaris was one of my favorite selections of the draft in that he was considered a prototypical left-handed pitching prospect, according to the MLB.com’s scouting analysis. The same report also said Seminaris has a limited ceiling, but that almost makes him perfect for a 2020 promotion. Seminaris has already learned to be a pitcher – not just a thrower – and scouts rave over his high-IQ pitching while utilizing an impressive four-pitch arsenal. There are question marks as to whether he has much room to improve, so Madde may not even be sacrificing tons of development in exchange for adding a pitcher that could be a very nice asset in a playoff push.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Bobby Miller (RHP), Landon Knack (RHP), Jake Vogel (OF)
The theme of straight pitching prospects is broken by outfielder Jake Vogel, which we’ll get to in a minute. First off, let’s address the sheer number of prospects here. If there’s any team that will do absolutely anything to win, it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although they seemingly increased their window to win via their recent extension of Mookie Betts, Dave Roberts’ squad has been knocking on the door for far too long. They were the only unanimous pick to win their division by ESPN, and they are once again considered the National League favorites. So, if there seems to be a prospect from this draft class that looks ready to contribute at the major league level, expect the Dodgers to immediately call their number. They’ve put five of their selections in their player pool; It’s all-in in L.A.
Miller was the Dodgers’ first round selection out of Louisville, and his stock trajectory has been trending nothing but up for a year now. After moving into the Cards’ weekend rotation in his sophomore season, Miller continuously impressed with a mid-to-high 90s fastball that he maintained into the later innings, to go with an array of offspeed offerings that included a changeup, split change, and slider/cutter hybrid. Some scouts think Miller may be an elite bullpen piece rather than a starter down the road, and the Dodgers may be inclined to try him in that role, at least in the short term, if his stuff is proving good enough to miss big league bats.
Landon Knack is a curious case. Drafted a little earlier than expected by the Dodgers in the 2nd round, the fifth-year senior hadn’t been considered a big prospect by any stretch, but he came into his final collegiate season and put up astounding numbers. He went 4-0 in four starts with a 1.08 ERA and led D-1 baseball with 51 strikeouts and in strikeout-to-walk ratio, 51:1. After pitching in the high-80s, and low-90s for most of his career, but he bulked up and came back touching 98 this past spring. Already 23 years old, Knack has plenty of experience and his improvement has been remarkable. How sustainable that improvement is remains to be seen, but I would hardly be shocked to see the Dodgers try to capitalize on Knack, who may prove to be a 2nd-round gem.
Finally, we come to the only non-pitcher on this list, and there’s one specific reason. Vogel is also the only high school prospect on the list, because there’s almost zero reason you would ask a high school player to make that jump. But Vogel may just be the fasted prospect in this draft class, and speed will play at any level. Need a guy that can come in and steal a base, or maybe score that winning run from second on a single? Vogel, who hails from baseball-hotspot Huntington Beach, may just be the guy they want.Speed doesn’t make a good baserunner by itself, but it sure helps, and if Vogel proves to have the maturity and IQ to do the job for the Dodgers, they might be watering at the prospect of adding an 18-year old who could change the momentum of a postseason game with a timely steal. Keep an eye out for Jake Vogel this summer.