Analyzing the Prospect Player Pool: NL East

Below is another installment of my series discussing each team’s 60-man player pool with a focus on prospects. If you missed the first piece, you’re going to want to take a peek at its four-paragraph intro for some background, then hop back here once you’ve been briefed. Let’s talk about the National League East.

Atlanta Braves

Prospect List / Depth Chart

The Braves have pooled the most catchers in baseball with seven (eight if you count Peter O’Brien and the faint memory of his knee-savers), several of whom are prospects. I think Travis d’Arnaud’s injury history and the implementation of the universal DH makes it more likely that Alex Jackson opens the season on the active roster. I don’t think this would save Atlanta an option year on Jackson since they optioned him in mid-March, and Atlanta’s bench projects to be very right-handed, so he might be competing with Yonder Alonso for a spot.

We’re probably an Ender Inciarte injury away from seeing Cristian Pache play in the big leagues every day. Aside from him, I doubt we see any of the recently-drafted position players (Drew Waters, Braden Shewmake, Shea Langeliers) playing in the bigs this year, and if William Contreras debuts it’s likely because a couple guys ahead of him have gotten hurt.

I do think we’ll see a revolving door of young pitchers here, though. A big chunk of the projected bullpen is tethered to the roster without option years remaining, so I expect that many of the exciting young arms who do have option years left will have short big leagues residencies in the bullpen. Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint, Patrick Weigel, Philip Pfeifer, Tucker Davidson, Jasseel De La Cruz and Huascar Ynoa are all major league-ready relief prospects. Some of those guys will probably work as starters at the campsite along with non-40-man dudes Ian Anderson, Kyle Muller, and 2020 first rounder Jared Shuster. I think 40-man considerations make it more likely we see that group in 2021 and beyond, but if Atlanta is competitive and thinks that, say, Anderson is one of the four best starters in the org, they should just promote him.

Miami Marlins

Prospect List / Depth Chart

From my perspective, Miami’s player pool is the most interesting in all of baseball. The Marlins are going to have seven top 100 prospects in their pool (Jazz Chisholm, Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera, JJ Bleday, Lewin Diaz, Jesus Sanchez, and Monte Harrison) and you could argue I’m light on Max Meyer (a 45+ FV who’s likely to join the pool once he signs) and/or Braxton Garrett, which would give the Marlins eight or nine.

The likely big league roster has several players across a wide age range who the club hopes can recoup either on-field or trade value. Young post-prospect guys like Lewis Brinson and Isan Díaz will get a sink-or-swim, extended big league look. Older players like Jesús Aguilar, Francisco Cervelli, Jonathan Villar, Garrett Cooper, Matt Joyce and Corey Dickerson can all be flipped for long-term pieces if they come out of the gate hot and a contender needs a platoon bat or other role-playing upgrade. We’ll likely see the top 100 types later in the summer once these vets are either dealt or it’s clear their big league clock has struck midnight.

The roster situation is tough luck for right-hander Josh Roberson, who looked good after returning from injury late last summer and is a 40-man/Rule 5 candidate this year. If the Marlins add him to their pool later in the summer, it will give them a chance to evaluate Roberson for their 40-man while the rest of baseball misses out on a Rule 5-focused look because teams’ alternate sites are off limits for scouts.

I also think Johan Quezada — a wild, hard-throwing, 26-year-old reliever who dealt with years of injuries while with Minnesota — might blossom in the unseen void of the campsite and get a late-summer opportunity.

New York Mets

Prospect List / Depth Chart

The Mets player pool has just five prospects and I think the best one, shortstop Andrés Giménez, is pretty unlikely to debut this year given that Jeff McNeil is so versatile and can be moved around in ways that enable guys like J.D. Davis, Jed Lowrie, or even Luis Guillorme to fill in no matter what starting infielder gets hurt or, science forbid, sick.

David Peterson, a low-variance fourth or fifth starter prospect, is ready for prime time but it’ll take a 40-man move for him to debut.

Philadelphia Phillies

Prospect List / Depth Chart

The Phillies currently have terrifyingly few catchers in their player pool, though they have a handful of their 60 roster spots remaining and may add some in the coming days. Spring training non-roster invitee Christian Bethancourt was not listed on the initial pool roster. Rodolfo Duran is the most polished defender of the internal candidates who could be added, though lots of other teams are rostering catchers as young as wee 21-year-old Rafael Marchan, the best catching prospect in the system. If nobody else is added, then Joe Girardi might be catching guys in the bullpen; industry inventory at catcher isn’t exactly robust.

Speaking of Girardi, I think he should consider piggybacking Vince Velasquez with whatever pitchability lefty prospect he’s most comfortable with, be it Cole Irvin, Ranger Suarez, JoJo Romero, or even a roster spot-winning Francisco Liriano.

The combination of the universal DH spot and Scott Kingery’s versatility should keep fresh the legs of Philly’s older big leaguers. The club’s bullpen is not good but I think a healthy Mauricio Llovera could be a helpful internal piece, though probably not the high-leverage hammer the team needs.

Washington Nationals

Prospect List / Depth Chart

Ryan Zimmerman’s opt out means we’re very likely to see top prospect Carter Kieboom. The universal DH will allow the Nats to hide some of their older, slower, bat-first infielders, so I’d expect guys like Asdrúbal Cabrera and Howie Kendrick to cycle through the DH spot, further freeing up third base reps for Kieboom. I think the DH spot also makes catcher/hitter Raudy Read a very interesting bench option. The glut of infielders on the roster (Kieboom, Cabrera, Kendrick, Starlin Castro, and, to a lesser extent, Wilmer Difo) make it highly unlikely we see young shortstop Luis Garcia, the club’s No. 2 prospect, this year.

Most of the prospects in Washington’s player pool are pitchers I expect will be at the offsite camp early on, as all but James Bourque are not currently on the 40-man roster. Austin Voth will probably get the first opportunity in the rotation should someone get hurt, but after him top 10 prospects Wil Crowe and Tim Cate are next in line. The rest of the camp arms (Matt Cronin, Jackson Rutledge, Joan Adon, Seth Romero, all in the org’s top 15) would all need to be added to the 40-man before it’s necessary to do so in order to pitch in the bigs this year, but Washington has a crown to defend, so I doubt that’ll stop them from being added if the team believes they can help.

We hoped you liked reading Analyzing the Prospect Player Pool: NL East by Eric Longenhagen!

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Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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springer
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springer

I believe Voth is expected to open the season as the 5th starter, not an injury replacement, because Joe Ross opted out.

Petey Bienel
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Petey Bienel

Fedde would be Voth’s competition. He’ll get a shot before Crowe and Cate.