Taylor Trammell was given an early heads up he had made the Seattle Mariners Opening Day roster, but for a trio of top prospects they had to wait until the last few days before hand to learn their first big league experience would come on Opening Day.
For the Cincinnati Reds, they roll out an Opening Day lineup of three third basemen, with stud prospect Jonathan India hitting seventh and playing second base, a position he has all of five games of pro ball under his belt playing. The Florida Gator prospect has plenty of athleticism though and should be able to hold down the position just fine despite having significantly more arm strength than needed at the keystone position. He is a bat first guy with plenty of pop that will likely move up in an underrated lineup. He could be a guy that flirts with the ROY this season.
Also batting seventh in his MLB debut is Kyle Isbel in the regular season battle of Surprise Stadium, the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers spring complex. Isbel is debuting in right field despite having an average arm at best, but there is a shot he settles in as the center fielder given he has plus wheels and quality instincts that should be enough to stick up the middle. He was a third round pick in 2018 out of UNLV that saw the Royals add Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, and Daniel Lynch in the first round, but a scout with the Royals at the time told me there were people in the organization who felt it was Isbel who would turn out to be their best selection in that draft.
The Chicago White Sox get the late start on Opening Day, but the most anticipated debut will come in that game as Andrew Vaughn has made the roster and is expected to get the start at first base (although it could be DH with Jose Abreu at first). Vaughn was arguably the best player in the country in 2019 despite Adley Rutschman going first overall and Bobby Witt Jr. going second, but the White Sox were thrilled to get Vaughn with the third pick. There was no argument as to who was the best pure hitter that year, as Vaughn was far and away the top of that list, and he has incredible power to go with it. He is not the typical slugger of this generation that will be massive power and massive strikeouts, instead he is a guy that can hit over .300 and put the ball in play most his trips to the plate. Defensively he is not going to wow anyone, but the bat will more than make up for any defensive issues that arise.
Before I even got this posted Alex Reyes exhausted his rookie eligibility (needed a single out to do so and pitched an inning on Friday) so I updated my top 150 before it went live. Reyes was at 22 but is now removed making room for Ryan Weathers, giving the Padres two more than any other team with 12 players making the top 150. 15 players on the list open the season in the big leagues, with 14 of those in the top 80 and the Padres and Mariners both starting with two players in the big leagues.
Quick Report: It seems like Senzel has been on prospect lists forever, largely because he has been almost unanimously in the top 25, if not top 10, ever since being drafted second overall in 2016 out of Tennessee. He likely would have been in Cincinnati last season had he not undergone season-ending surgery to repair a fractured right index finger last June. He might have as good a hit tool as anyone in the Minor Leagues not named Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and he has shown great defensive versatility. He can move quite well for a guy built like a third baseman but has also shown the range and soft hands to play second. He is blocked at both positions currently, so the Reds have been working him in left and center, and fully expect him to take over the center field job early this season.
Quick Report: With plus speed and a quick bat, Trammell seems destined to hit at the top of the Reds order before too long. He showed some trouble turning on the ball with much power in the AFL despite having shown plus raw power at times in the past. Thanks to his strong build and quick bat, that raw power very well could translate fully into above-average to plus game power, making him a legit threat in any lineup. His speed is near top of the scale, although there is some question as to whether that will be enough to keep him in center. The arm is flat out poor, which may mean he will have to move to left despite the elite speed, although an improvement in reads could make him valuable enough to stay up the middle. If he does move to left, the speed and athleticism could give him Gold Glove upside at the position.
Quick Report: There was a lot of talk that Greene would finally become the first prep righty to go number one overall thanks to a fastball that was clocked up to 102 in high school, but ultimately “fell” to number two overall. He struggled with the colder weather in the Midwest League at the start of last season, and eventually found himself shelved for the year with elbow soreness. Ultimately he did not undergo surgery and he is expected to be ready early in the season. While he has as big a fastball as anyone in baseball, it can be flat more hittable than the radar gun would suggest. His slider is his best secondary offering, flashing plus, but it can spin and hang a bit too often. Unsurprisingly from someone with the kind of fastball Greene possesses, his change is incredibly raw, although many feel it can become at least an average offering. He does have an easy delivery that he repeats well meaning if he reaches his full potential, he could very possibly be the ace of a staff.
Quick Report: I wasn’t the biggest fan of India at number five in the draft last June, largely based on the fact he hadn’t shown much power before having a breakout year a season ago. Before he tapped into his power he looked like a solid third or fourth round pick that could develop into a utility infielder, but now is tabbed as a future power bat and everyday third baseman. There is real power in India’s bat, but I think there is some risk the 21 home runs he hit during his final season in college may be more than he hits in any one season of pro ball. Even if that is true, he has the ability to hit for a very good average and be an elite fielding third baseman, so there is plenty of value in India even if the power isn’t here to stay.
Quick Report: Drafted in 2015, it wasn’t until 2018 that Stephenson put together a full year without health concerns. He is rather large at 6’4” for a catcher, but he has good feet and is a rather good receiver. Add to that the fact he has an absolute cannon of an arm and he could be a plus defender behind the plate. While at the plate he has a longer swing and will never hit for much average but has plus raw power that could lead to 25-30 home runs depending on how much rest his body needs to remain an effective backstop.
Quick Report: If the Reds manage to put together a surprising year and find themselves within striking distance of a Wild Card late in the year, something I would not be shocked by, Santillan could very well reach the big leagues and hold down a high leverage relief role. While that is the short-term potential for him, long term the Reds are confident he can be a mid-rotation arm who is more than just a guy with a fastball that regularly hits the upper 90s. He has a slider that is above-average now and could improve to be a plus offering, while he has shown improved feel for a change to give him a solid repertoire. The delivery is smooth and controlled, so he should be given every opportunity to stick it out in a rotation long term.
Quick Report: Siani is a polished hitter, especially considering he is from a cold-weather area, but his offensive upside is somewhat limited. The body is rather mature, lacking projection, so there likely will never be more than average power, and the smooth left-handed stroke can get long at times. All this leads to putting a future average grade on him offensively, which fans don’t like to hear but is actually really good, especially when you take the average offensive output and put it on a guy who could play a very good center field. He has plus speed and arm to go with excellent reads in the outfield, meaning he can play all three positions and be an everyday option in center.
Quick Report: Gutierrez’ fastball is a tough one to get a good feel for, as is can sit in the mid-90s and be heavy, but he can get under it some and lose the downhill plane he needs for it to be a solid pitch. There are times that it has the downhill plane and arm-side run, while other times it has neither and becomes very hittable. His best pitch is his sharp curve that he can really snap off and work as a plus offering. The change is inconsistent and needs to improve to have him stick as a starter, but the delivery is very controlled and repeated well, so he could work his way into a role of a number four starter.
Quick Report: Siri made headlines in 2017 when he set a Midwest League record with a 39-game hitting streak and put up 24 home runs while stealing 46 bags. He didn’t put up as impressive the numbers a season ago, that began with an injury in Spring Training and just never really seemed to find his stride during the season. The power and steals are likely to return, although the hit streak is probably a fluke. He is incredibly athletic and can absolutely fly, but he is an aggressive hitter with a big swing that will allow him to hit for plenty of power but will cost him in average. He has all the tools to play center, but also has more than enough arm to play right, which may be necessary as the inconsistent bat could mean he is more of a fourth outfielder than an everyday option.
Quick Report: Like the man ahead of him on this list, Garcia is a great athlete who struggled out the gate last season. In the field, there are little questions surrounding Garcia thanks to his plus range, glove, and arm, but his approach at the plate needs real work. He will rarely take a walk and strikes out far too much (112/19 K/BB in 2018) but doesn’t have the power to make up for it. There is plenty of bat speed with Garcia, so a better average is likely to come but he will never be the type of bat to stay at the top of an order. He is more likely an elite utility infielder who can play excellent defense at three positions with just enough pop to be intriguing at the plate.