Knocking Down The Door: July 15, 2021

“Knocking Down The Door” is a weekly column highlighting minor leaguers who are making a case for a major league promotion. Listed below are the names of this week’s picks and the player’s team, age, level(s), prospect ranking, and last 10-14 days of statistics.

The analysis can be viewed in the embedded video of the previous day’s episode of The RosterResource Show, a weekly live stream focused on all things related to rosters, transactions, and RosterResource content at FanGraphs.

Drew Ellis (25), 3B, Triple-A Reno | Arizona Diamondbacks | Prospect Rank: n/a | June 25-July 13: 17-for-54, 7 HR, 4 2B, 20 RBI, 8 BB, 14 K

With Eduardo Escobar expected to be dealt prior to the July 30 trade deadline, the Diamondbacks have two likely candidates to take over at third base for the remainder of the season. Josh Rojas, who has split his time between second base, shortstop, and both corner outfield spots, could move over to the hot corner if the Diamondbacks feel that Ketel Marte fits best at second base once he returns from the Injured List. The 27-year-old Rojas is slashing .278/.352/.466 with 10 homers over his last 302 plate appearances, so he’s likely proven that his bat plays as an everyday third basemen. And then there’s Ellis, a former 2nd round draft pick who is putting up big numbers in his first Triple-A season. Since beginning the season with one hit in his first 22 at-bats, the 25-year-old is slashing .315/.407/.584 in 214 plate appearances. He hit his 10th homer of the season on Sunday.

Regardless of whether the Diamondbacks think of Ellis as their “Third Baseman of the Future”, he should have a good two months to give them something to think about over the offseason as they look to upgrade their roster.

Josh Lowe (23), OF, Triple-A Durham | Tampa Bay Rays | Prospect Rank: 54 (overall), 5 (organizational) | June 29-July 13: 14-for-45, 2 HR, 4 2B, 8 RBI, 6 BB, 11 K, 3 SB

The Rays are stacked with left-handed hitting outfielders, including Kevin Kiermaier, Austin Meadows, and Brett Phillips. Switch-hitting utility man Vidal Brujan is also expected to get a good share of playing time out there, as is Brandon Lowe, now that infielders Wander Franco and Taylor Walls are both on the roster. Still, Lowe’s performance in Triple-A could have the Rays thinking about how to make room for yet another talented prospect. After hitting a pair of homers and a double in Tuesday’s game, the 23-year-old has a 144 wRC+ with 11 homers and 16 doubles in 222 plate appearances.

As was the case with Franco, it might take a trade to open a spot for him. Or maybe it’s Lowe who could be a trade chip that helps the Rays land an impact player this month. Here’s a fun idea. Trade him to the Texas Rangers, reuniting him with former minor league teammate Nate Lowe, who also happens to be his brother.

Drew Waters (22), OF, Triple-A Gwinnett | Atlanta Braves | Prospect Rank: 48 (overall), 3 (organizational) | July 2-July 14: 17-for-42, 2 HR, 6 2B, 3B, 9 RBI, 2 BB, 11 K, 3 SB

After a season-ending knee injury to Ronald Acuña Jr., the Braves’ starting outfield on the last day of the first half of the season consisted of Orlando Arcia, Guillermo Heredia, and Ehire Adrianza. With no word on whether Marcell Ozuna, who is on the Injured List with two fractured fingers and also likely facing suspension by the league once he is healthy, the Braves will probably continue to fill out their corner outfield spots with infielders (Arcia and Adrianza) until they’re confident that one, or both, of their top young outfield prospects (Waters and Cristian Pache) are ready to contribute. If the last 10 games are any indication, the 22-year-old Waters could be close to getting a chance.

Mired in a 1-for-36 slump with 21 strikeouts heading into July, Waters broke out with two doubles on July 2 and followed with 14 hits over his next nine games, including his fourth homer of the season on July 3.

The switch-hitting Waters also had a single and a walk in the Futures Game on Sunday. He doubled in Wednesday’s game, but also struck out four times. So, despite the recent surge, there are certainly reasons to think that Waters could struggle in the majors. But, unless the Braves have any bigger plans like acquiring an outfielder prior to the July 30 deadline, Waters might be their best chance at sparking an offense that is now without three of their best hitters (Acuña, Ozuna, and Travis d’Arnaud).

Josiah Gray (23), SP, Triple-A Oklahoma City | Los Angeles Dodgers | Prospect Rank: 27 (overall), 1 (organizational) | July 4-July 10: 6 IP, 0 R, H, 0 BB, 5 K

Following an impressive Triple-A debut on May 6 (5 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 10 K), a shoulder impingement forced Gray out of action for two months. Despite missing so much time, the 23-year-old Gray could be even closer to the majors now than he was prior to the injury. With Clayton Kershaw on the Injured List due to forearm inflammation and Trevor Bauer out for at least a few more weeks, the Dodgers’ starting rotation could be looking for reinforcements. And as long as their top pitching prospect is healthy and shutting down hitters in Triple-A — he has thrown six scoreless innings in two starts since returning earlier this month — he has to be on their radar.

Even if Gray isn’t capable of pitching more than three or four innings — he threw 53 pitches in four shutout innings on Saturday — the Dodgers could still find that useful while their rotation is in need.

 

Reid Detmers (22), SP, Double-A Rocket City | Los Angeles Angels | Prospect Rank: 3 (organizational) | June 26-July 7: 17 IP, 7 ER, 11 H, 4 BB, 31 K

The 10th overall pick in last year’s amateur draft, Detmers was thought to be close-to-MLB-ready by some scouts and a potential option to help the Angels in 2020. But the Angels weren’t playoff contenders and had no reason to rush Detmers to the majors. In 2021, however, the Angels are currently one game over .500 and only 5.5 games out in the Wild Card race. Ideally, they’ll still be in the race when Mike Trout returns from the Injured List. His timetable is unknown, although sometime in August appears likely.

For the Angels to stick around in playoff contention, however, their pitching staff probably needs some help. Maybe that help could come from Detmers, who had 14 and 16 strikeouts, respectively, in his final two starts in June, and threw four shutout innings in his last start prior to an appearance in the Futures Game. Here are all seven of his strikeouts from his July 7 start.

While there might not currently be a spot for him in the Angels’ rotation, which already features a pair of young lefties, Patrick Sandoval and Jose Suarez, who are pitching well, Detmer might, at the least, be useful as a multi-inning reliever.

 





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cf467
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cf467

Great article. All the Lowes on the Rays get confusing