Knocking Down The Door: September 2, 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 2-3 weeks of statistics.

Knocking Down The Archive

Nick Pratto (22), 1B, Triple-A Omaha | Kansas City Royals | Prospect Rank: 10 (organizational) | August 18-September 1: 19-for-55, 7 HR, 2B, 2 3B, 17 RBI, 10 BB, 22 K, 2 SB

Bobby Witt Jr. will undoubtedly be one of the top candidates for AL Rookie of the Year in 2022. And there could be strong competition in that category from his own teammate, Pratto, who is also making a strong push to reach the majors in 2021.

After putting up huge numbers in Double-A and over his first few weeks in Triple-A, the 22-year-old Pratto finally appeared to hit a wall earlier this month with an 0-for-18 skid from August 12 through August 17. But he had plenty left in the tank, it turns out. He has 19 hits, including seven homers, over his last 55 at-bats. In the meantime, Royals’ first baseman Carlos Santana has slashed .173/.237/.244 with two homers over his last 169 plate appearances.


Ryan Vilade (22), OF, Triple-A Albuquerque | Colorado Rockies | Prospect Rank: 2 (organizational)| August 19-August 31: 18-for-47, HR, 5 2B, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K, SB

The emergence of Connor Joe and the recent return of Raimel Tapia from the Injured List has given the Rockies a bit of a crowded outfield at the moment. For Vilade, who was an infielder from the time he was taken with the 48th overall pick in the 2017 draft through the 2019 season, the timing isn’t great now that he’s a full-time outfielder. But it might not matter.

Vilade’s defensive versatility could help, but it’s his bat that could get him a look in the majors this month. Overall, he’s not having a great season at the plate (89 wRC+, .767 OPS, 6 HR, 12 SB), but he’s turned it up a few notches since late July. Over his last 35 games, he’s slashing .354/.375/.521 with three homers and 13 doubles. His likely competition as a super-utilityman on the big league roster is Garrett Hampson, who has a 47 wRC+ in 91 plate appearances over that same span.

 

Lewin Díaz (24), 1B, Triple-A Jacksonville | Miami Marlins | Prospect Rank: 16 (organizational) | August 20-August 29: 11-for-30, 4 HR, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K

In an ideal world, Jesús Aguilar will be the Marlins’ designated hitter in 2022 with Díaz taking over as the starting first baseman. For now, and likely for at least the beginning of the offseason, the Marlins will have to plan around the possibility that the universal DH will not be implemented. In either case, it’s imperative to give Díaz regular at-bats in the majors now. Whether that comes at the expense of Aguilar, who is having another solid season (116 wRC+, 22 HR, 92 RBI), or whether Díaz gives the outfield a shot — he’s started the last two games in left field — it seems like September would be a good as time as ever.

Over the past three weeks, the 24-year-old has slashed .354/.432/.692 in 74 plate appearances. He also has seven walks while striking out eight times over that span, a big improvement from his first 217 plate appearances when he had 18 walks and 46 strikeouts. With four homers in his last seven games, he’s now reached 20 homers on the season.

 

Mike Baumann (25), SP, Triple-A Norfolk | Baltimore Orioles | Prospect Rank: 11 (organizational) | August 24-August 31: 11 IP, ER, 9 H, 3 BB, 12 K

There is an open spot in the Orioles’ rotation, which comes up again next Tuesday at the latest, and Baumann is one of a few options in the mix. He also might be the most deserving. In six starts since a promotion to Triple-A, he has a 2.00 ERA after allowing only one run in six innings on Tuesday with no walks and seven strikeouts versus a stacked lineup of White Sox minor leaguers.

 

Josh Rogers (27), SP, Triple-A Rochester | Washington Nationals | Prospect Rank: n/a | August 24-August 29: 10.2 IP, 0 R, 11 H, 3 BB, 9 K

It was just over three years ago that Rogers made his MLB debut with the Baltimore Orioles, only a few weeks ahead of another lefty who would soon become a fixture in the rotation. But while John Means was selected to the AL All-Star team the following July, Rogers was undergoing Tommy John surgery. He hasn’t returned to the big leagues since.

That could change this month with the Nationals’ starting rotation decimated by injuries to Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross and the trade of Max Scherzer. Patrick Corbin has struggled badly and a pair of journeymen, Paolo Espino and Sean Nolin, could slide to the bullpen if the Nats want to take a look at Rogers, who didn’t allow a run in either of his last two starts and has allowed one earned run or less eight in eight of his 15 starts.

 

Dany Jiménez (27), SP, Triple-A Buffalo | Washington Nationals | Prospect Rank: n/a | August 20-August 29: 4 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 9 K

There’s a reason that Jiménez was chosen in the last two Rule 5 drafts. He has huge upside with a high-90’s fastball and a slider that has plus potential.

There’s also a reason why he was returned to the Blue Jays, first by the Giants after he made two appearances for them in 2020 and then by the A’s prior to the start of the 2021 season. He wasn’t ready for the big leagues and neither team was willing to hide him in their bullpen for a majority of the season.

But as was the case with Jordan Romano, who was taken in the 2019 Rule 5 draft by the Texas Rangers (via a trade with the Chicago White Sox) and returned prior to the season, Jimenez is realizing his potential pitching out of the bullpen for Triple-A Buffalo.

In 36 2/3 innings, he has a 2.70 ERA and 59 strikeouts. He also hasn’t allowed a run in his last 11 appearances. While he’s walked more than 5 batters per nine innings, he only has more than one walk in four of his 32 appearances.

 

 





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tomerafan
Member
tomerafan

Predicted it a couple weeks back on Vilade because he’s done this at every level. Spend the first couple months focused on contact and approach, and then figure out the level come July or August. The kid can flat out hit, and the speed that everyone thinks is illusory hasn’t diminished yet. He won’t make the top 100 lists but he’ll be a quality MLB bat.

Dooduh
Member
Dooduh

Agree. Underrated prospect.