Minor League Barometer: Risers & Fallers

Minor League Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our Minor League Barometer series.

The Nats are trying to preach patience with top prospect James Wood, but that is proving more and more difficult as he continues to destroy Triple-A pitching at only 21. Over the last 14 days, he's slashing an insane .400/.538/.833 with five homers and 16 RBI with more walks (10) than strikeouts (eights). Wood has actually been on fire for virtually the entire season at this level, going .353/.457/.564 with seven home runs, 27 RBI and 10 steals. Though Lane Thomas is set to return from injury, the left field platoon of Eddie Rosario (.180) and Jesse Winker (.224) has been lackluster at best while Joey Gallo is at .129 as a combination reserve outfielder/DH. So despite all the talk of Wood being kept in the minors, Washington could be forced to promote him soon.

Here are some other prospects in the headlines in this edition of the Minor League Barometer.

UPGRADE

Blade Tidwell, P, NYM – The Mets have already seen top pitching prospect Christian Scott make his way to the big leagues, and Tidwell may not be far behind. The 22-year-old righty was recently promoted to Triple-A after posting a 2.41 ERA and 44:11 K:BB in 37.1 innings at Double-A with opposing batters hitting .218 against. But it's been Tidwell's command/control that has really allowed his stock to skyrocket as he fanned 153 batters last season while walking 63 and only giving up 14 homers across 116 innings. The 6'4" hurler has continued to limit free passes while only conceding a

The Nats are trying to preach patience with top prospect James Wood, but that is proving more and more difficult as he continues to destroy Triple-A pitching at only 21. Over the last 14 days, he's slashing an insane .400/.538/.833 with five homers and 16 RBI with more walks (10) than strikeouts (eights). Wood has actually been on fire for virtually the entire season at this level, going .353/.457/.564 with seven home runs, 27 RBI and 10 steals. Though Lane Thomas is set to return from injury, the left field platoon of Eddie Rosario (.180) and Jesse Winker (.224) has been lackluster at best while Joey Gallo is at .129 as a combination reserve outfielder/DH. So despite all the talk of Wood being kept in the minors, Washington could be forced to promote him soon.

Here are some other prospects in the headlines in this edition of the Minor League Barometer.

UPGRADE

Blade Tidwell, P, NYM – The Mets have already seen top pitching prospect Christian Scott make his way to the big leagues, and Tidwell may not be far behind. The 22-year-old righty was recently promoted to Triple-A after posting a 2.41 ERA and 44:11 K:BB in 37.1 innings at Double-A with opposing batters hitting .218 against. But it's been Tidwell's command/control that has really allowed his stock to skyrocket as he fanned 153 batters last season while walking 63 and only giving up 14 homers across 116 innings. The 6'4" hurler has continued to limit free passes while only conceding a single long ball through seven outings. If this newfound control is legitimate while maintaining massive strikeout stuff, Tidwell could find himself in the Majors by the end of the current campaign.

Carson Williams, SS, TB – Williams has been surging of late hitting .444 with three home runs, six RBI and a stolen base from the last seven days.  He's always had that intriguing power/speed combination, but has really improved his contact skills this season - which was perhaps his one questionable trait - going .346 over 32 games at Double-A while significantly decreasing his strikeouts from a year ago.  If Williams can prove this isn't a fluke, he'll be one of the more sought-after dynasty prospects in baseball given his 20/20 potential.

Hurston Waldrep, P, ATL – Waldrep started the season with a thud, yet has rebounded nicely.  He was shelled for seven runs and 11 hits in only 2.2 innings in his debut for Double-A Mississippi and wasn't much better in his subsequent start by walking three en route to three earned runs in just 4.1 innings. But since, Waldrep has allowed one earned run or fewer in five straight appearances.  And so far in May, he's dazzled with a 0.95 ERA and 16:4 K:BB over 19 innings. Waldrep's last start on Wednesday was perhaps his best as he scattered six hits across eight frames, only giving up one run with no walks while fanning eight. He has a real chance at making his MLB premiere by the end of 2024.

Jairo Iriarte, P, CHW – One of the prospects shipped to the White Sox from the Padres as part of the Dylan Cease trade, Iriarte currently leads the Southern League in strikeouts. The 22-year-old righty can reach triple-digits while offering quality secondary offerings in the form of a slider and changeup. Through 43.2 innings, Iriarte has recorded a 2.89 ERA with 56 strikeouts while batters have only gone .196 against. He does tend to issue too many walks and there are some rumblings he may become a closer rather than as starter, but for now the White Sox will keep him in the rotation and could reach the bigs in some capacity this season.

CHECK STATUS

Jace Jung, 2B, DET – Jung's future with the Tigers continue to be murky despite rather consistent production. Strikeouts will always be a part of his player profile, he won't steal a lot of bases and he's considered a mediocre fielder at best. On the flip side, Jung is an OBP monster, cracked 28 homers in 128 games last season, and is already at eight dingers through 41 games at Triple-A.  Perhaps most importantly, he's batting .277 with that mark actually an improvement from his days at A-ball. Jung will need to hit for both power and average in order to secure an everyday role in Detroit.

Jonny Farmelo, OF, SEA – Though power prospect Lazaro Montes is getting most of the pub at Low-A Modesto, Farmelo has more than held his own so far. The 29th selection from the 2023 Draft is still a teenager, yet is batting .258 with a .408 OBP through 32 contests. Farmelo doesn't boast monstrous power like Montes, but has the chance to develop some pop over time. He definitely has speed on his side as he's already swiped 12 bases. Farmelo also isn't afraid to draw a walk with 26 of them so far. Whether he can consistently hit for average and power will be the questions to watch as he ascends to the higher levels.

James Triantos, 2B, CHC – Triantos made his presence known with a standout performance in the Arizona Fall League, and that appears to have transferred over to this campaign. He's an exceptional contact hitter with only 17 strikeouts through 37 games while going .296. Triantos displayed some power in the AFL and he's already at three home runs after only producing four from 87 outings last season. While he could develop more power, it's unlikely that will ever be his calling card. Triantos' contact skills and aggression at the dish also make it unlikely he'll be much more than adequate in OBP. He offers above-average speed with 10 steals this year and double-digit swipes in each of the previous two seasons. If Triantos can tap into his power stroke, he could become an elite prospect. As things stand, his hit tool will need to carry the day.

David Festa, P, MIN – Festa's strikeout numbers are impressive and he's top pitching prospect in the Minnesota system with 52 Ks across 34 innings at Triple-A. However, he continues to concede too many baserunners, whether via the walk or otherwise. Festa has also given up five home runs in 2024 after nine over all of last season. The additional traffic on the basepaths has only allowed Festa to pitch more than four innings twice across nine starts thus. If he wants to enter the starting rotation later this season, he must consistently pitch deeper into games and limit free passes, something that has followed him during his time in the minors.

DOWNGRADE

Termarr Johnson, 2B, PIT – The struggles to make contact continue for Johnson, who was once touted as the best pure prep hitter since Joe Mauer as he's only batting .193 through 37 games at High-A alongside two homers and four steals. Oddly enough, his ability to work the count has been exceptional as he racked up a staggering 101 walks in 105 games in 2023 while currently registering as many walks (34) as strikeouts (35). Despite the high OBP, the fear is that this "model" will be unsustainable. And given Johnson only offers mediocre power and speed, an average below .200 won't fly in the big leagues. He did hit .244 across two levels last season, but it doesn't appear that will be his strength and that's extremely disappointing given the hype and draft location.

Rece Hinds, OF, CIN – Hinds managed a sensational second half at Double-A last season and was subsequently added to the 40-man roster. Unfortunately, that surge from 2023 may have been a mirage as he's still not proven he can hit for enough contact to be an everyday Major Leaguer. In 42 games, Hinds is slashing .222/.305/.380 with five home runs and eight stolen bases while being punched out 68 times and only picking up 18 walks. The raw power is so intriguing and he's athletic enough to steal 15 or 20 bases over a season, yet the inability to make consistent contact will continue to limit his upside.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jesse Siegel
Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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