With the MLB draft coming to an end, let’s take a look at one player from each organization that deserves to have their contract selected.
Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle
Mountcastle is the Orioles’ top prospect and currently holds an impressive stat line through nearly fifty games with the Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk. Mountcastle, who at one point was slashing an impressive .345/.370/.546, has quieted back down but still carries an impressive .303/.329/.521 slash line.
Mountcastle has been named an Orioles organization All-Star every season since he was drafted, and he is expected to earn those same honors again this season. He is also a two-time midseason All-Star (Single-A Frederick in 2017 and Double-A Bowie in 2018), one-time postseason All-Star (Frederick, 2017), and two-time player of the week (6/12/16 with Single-A Delmarva and 4/21/19 with Triple-A Norfolk).
The former first-round pick, now 22 years old, has knocked in 42 runs on 71 hits (including 12 home runs, 13 doubles, and a triple). In 56 games, Mountcastle has tallied 234 at-bats, striking out 59 times and walking just nine. Perhaps the biggest thing holding Mountcastle back is the depth at first base in the majors. Trey Mancini is posting great numbers while playing first, and Chris Davis broke out of his slump (yes, that slump), making him a solid backup choice at first.
Boston Red Sox: Trevor Kelley
Kelley is one of two players on this list who do not appear on their team’s Top 30 prospects list. However, given that none of the Red Sox’s Top 10 prospects have appeared in Triple-A this season (Jay Groome, Antoni Flores, and Nick Decker have yet to appear in a single pro game this campaign), it makes it harder to find a player on the top prospects list really worthy of a call to the show. While he only has one All-Star game to his name so farm, it’s worth noting that his second-best Triple-A ERA out of all eligible relievers will likely put him in the Triple-A All-Star game this season.
Looking beyond this list of awards and at the Triple-A roster of the Pawtucket Red Sox, one name jumps off the list. Yep, Trevor Kelley. The 25-year-old right-handed reliever isn’t a household name — after all, he was drafted in the 36th round of the 2015 draft and only has one minor league award (he was a 2017 Class-A All-Star) — but he made the Triple-A club out of spring training and has been the best reliever in Pawtucket ever since. Through 22 relief appearances that amassed a total of 31.2 innings, Kelley has allowed seven runs (only four earned) for a 1.14 ERA and 5-2 record. Opponents have recorded a measly .214 batting average against the North Carolina alum, who has seen his pitches go for two home runs, 25 total hits, 12 walks, and 27 strikeouts.
Kelley would certainly bring relief to a bullpen that needs the help. It’s baffling to see that he’s still in the minors, but Kelley is not on the 40-man roster, a list which is currently full. So, someone would need to be traded, released, or designated for assignment if Kelley were to get a shot. Still, it might be worth it. After all, the big-league bullpen is very bad.
New York Yankees: Ryan McBroom
McBroom is the other player on this list who isn’t on their team’s Top 30 prospects ranking. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s ineligible to get promoted to the show. McBroom is a 27-year-old first baseman who was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2014 draft. He made his way to the Yankees organization as the only other asset in the Rob Refsnyder trade of July 2017. He has a decent number of honors to his name, but many of them came several years ago in the lower levels of the minors. His top honors of the past few seasons came when he was named a MiLB.com Yankees 2018 Organization All-Star and 2017 Mid-Season All-Star with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
McBroom has yet to make his big-league debut (if he had, he wouldn’t be on this list) through nearly five big-league seasons. McBroom made the Triple-A squad out of spring training and has slashed .322/.391/.609 in 55 games. His 13 home runs, 19 doubles, and 44 runs scored so far put him on pace to break his personal career highs in those three categories. He has knocked in 31 runs this season while walking 21 times and striking out 45.
McBroom could be a candidate for a mid-season call-up. Not only is he impressing at Triple-A, but the big-league club is also thin at the first baseman position, where only Luke Voit holds down the fort with Greg Bird on the 60-day injured list.
Tampa Bay Rays: Brendan McKay
McKay is the Rays’ No. 3 prospect. McKay, who was drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft, is unique because he has been developed to be both a pitcher and designated hitter. However, he’s done much better on the mound than at the plate, so he’d probably be used solely as a pitcher. McKay opened the season in Double-A, but was promoted to Triple-A near the end of May.
McKay has made 10 starts and one relief appearance this season, during which he has allowed nine runs on 34 hits for a dominant 1.43 ERA. Through 56.2 innings, he has allowed three homers and just 11 walks. But perhaps even more impressive is how opposing batters have fared against McKay; they’ve struck out a total of 76 times against him and have only been able to record a .173 batting average. At the plate, meanwhile, McKay is slashing .178/.291/.262 in 32 games between Double- and Triple-A. He has knocked in just 11 runs on 19 hits (including two home runs), while tallying 15 walks and 36 strikeouts.
McKay doesn’t appear to be quite ready for a promotion, though. While he has boasted great stats at the two highest levels of the minors, it seems as if he needs to spend a bit more than two weeks at Triple-A before he gets a promotion to the highest level. When he is promoted, he’d likely begin as a reliever but would be a good candidate for both the role as an opener, as well as a fill-in starter when injuries force the usual starters to be inactive.
Toronto Blue Jays: Nate Pearson
Pearson, a 2017 first-round selection, may be the furthest away from the majors out of everybody listed. But that’s certainly not to say he doesn’t deserve a spot on the big-league roster. The 22-year-old is in his third season of professional ball, a campaign in which he has spent time with the High-A Dunedin Blue Jays and Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. In 2018, Pearson was named as an Arizona Fall League All-Prospect player, as well as a Fall League Rising Star.
Through 13 games (all starts) between High- and Double-A this season, Pearson has pitched for 45.2 innings, allowing 10 runs on 29 hits (including three homers and eighth walks) for a very low ERA of 1.97. He was understandably better with Dunedin, but he’s still one of the better starters on the Fisher Cats roster, and it’s likely he gets a call to Triple-A Buffalo in a month or so.
With the Blue Jays in a position where they’re expected to miss the playoffs, it’s possible they wait until 2020 to call up the 6-foot-6 right-hander. But it’s also possible he gets called up in August or September. Toronto needs relievers, and why not give the young prospect some big-league experience in somewhat meaningless games?
It’s worth noting that none of the five players listed here are on their team’s 40-man rosters, which could likely be the reason they aren’t in the majors yet, but rather remain stuck in the minors.