Welcome to the 7-22-21 edition of our 2021 MiLB Prospect Notes.
Many of the 2021 draft choices have been signed within the last week. In the past, a pitcher who has pitched a full college season will typically just pitch a few innings in a short-season league just to get their “feet wet” in pro ball. For example in 2019, Nick Lodolo made eight appearances totaling 18.1 innings.
However, in 2021, college pitchers who have pitched a full season in college have thrown a lot more innings than they did in 2020 in the shortened season. It has been reported that the Mets first-round pick, Kumar Rocker will likely not pitch in a game until next year and I expect that most college pitchers from the 2021 draft will not pitch this year.
2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 7-22-21
Prospects Who Have Not Been Playing
This week, I am going to look at prospects who have missed a significant portion of the season. In many cases, this is due to injury.
When a prospect is out in the minor leagues, it can be challenging to find details about the reason and when he expected to return. I look at a number of prospects who have been out and try to piece together some information. Missing an extended time in 2021 has added significance because development time was lost in 2020 in most cases.
Hunter Bishop (Giants OF)
The 10th overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Arizona State. His pro career has consisted of 32 games in short-season ball in 2019 and three games this year at High A.
Bishop hurt his shoulder and has not played since May 6th. He suffered a setback in June and there has been little news about a return since then.
Isaiah Campbell (Mariners RHP)
The 76th overall pick in the 2019 draft out of the University of Arkansas, Campbell did not make his pro debut until 2021.
Campbell pitched well in five games for Everett in High A. However he has not pitched since June 4th. An injury came to light shortly after his last game when a social media post of Campbell preparing to have surgery was shared. This was described as a cleanup but no word on how long he will be out.
Joey Cantillo (Indians LHP)
Cantillo is a sixteenth-round pick by the Padres in 2017 out of high school in Hawaii. He had a big year in 2019 when he added velocity and dominated the Midwest League before getting three starts in High A at the end of the year. Cantillo was part of the package that the Padres traded to the Indians for Mike Clevinger at the 2020 trade deadline.
Cantillo was put on the injured list on May 8th with abdominal soreness. There was a report on May 22nd that Cantillo would be out six to eight. It is about eight weeks later and there is no indication that Cantillo is close to returning.
Jhoan Duran (Twins RHP)
Duran is a big, hard thrower that progressed to AA by the end of 2019 and was a borderline top hundred prospect.
In 2021 Dura began the year on the injured list with a trapezius tightness. Duran returned on May 22nd and has two strong starts. However, Duran struggled with his command in June and was placed on the injured list again on June 20th. There has been no additional information or sign that Duran is returning.
Kohl Franklin (RHP Cubs)
A 2018 6th round draft pick out of high school, who had an encouraging start to his pro career primarily with Eugene in the Northwest League in 2019.
Franklin was placed on the injured list at the beginning of the season and then moved to the 60 Day IL on June 24th. He is supposedly rehabbing in Arizona but there have not been any official details regarding his injury.
DL Hall (Orioles LHP)
Hall has always had elite stuff and seemed to become even more difficult to hit in 2021. In AA in 2021, Hall’s strikeout rate was 43.8% and the batting average against him was .145. However, Hall was placed on the injured list after his start on June 12th with elbow tendinitis.
On July 9th, the Orioles indicated that Hall would begin throwing in a couple of weeks. Hall tweeted out a cryptic message on July 16 which could mean nothing.
Never let anything break me. Always got back up and I’ll bet on myself every time🤞🏽❗️
— D.L. Hall (@dl_hall33) July 16, 2021
Emerson Hancock (Mariners RHP)
At the University of Georgia in 2019, Hancock pitched 90.1 innings and established himself as one of the best pitching prospects in his class. In the pandemic shortened 2020 college season, Hancock made four starts before being the sixth overall pick by the Mariners in the 2020 draft.
Hancock was assigned to High A Everett for 2021 and from the start, the Mariners were cautious with his workload. Hancock only pitched 9.1 innings in May. He made a couple of five-inning starts in June but last pitched on June 25th. The Mariners have indicated that he has a minor shoulder injury and that there is no structural damage.
Cole Henry (Nationals RHP)
The National second-round draft pick in 2020 pick out of LSU, Henry got off to a nice start in 2021 at High A Wilmington but has not pitched since May 30th. He was shut down due to elbow soreness and there is no word about Henry starting to throw again.
George Kirby (Mariners RHP)
The Mariners were so impressed with Kirby’s development at Elon University that not only did they select Kirby in the first round of the 2019 draft, they hired his college pitching coach.
Kirby is known for pinpoint control and there was a considerable buzz at the alternate training site because Kirby had added velocity. He was initially expected to be a quick riser.
Kirby was assigned to High A Everett to begin 2021. The Mariners have not indicated that Kirby is hurt at any point this year but he did not pitch between May 14th and June 4th and he has not pitched since July 10th.
The pitching trio of Logan Gilbert, Emerson Hancock, and George Kirby is an important part of the Mariners’ not-so-distant future. With limited pitching in 2020, ideally, Hancock and Kirby would have built up their innings count in 2021 but that does not appear like it is going to happen.
Heston Kjerstad (OF Orioles)
The second overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft. Kjerstad was an underslot pick from the University of Arkansas where he hit 37 home runs in 150 career games.
Kjerstad has been out with myocarditis which is the same issue that Eduardo Rodriguez had in 2020. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the muscle of the heart and can be a side effect of COVID 19. However, whether Kjerstad even had COVID was not publicly confirmed. While Rodriguez has made a full recovery, Kjerstad had a setback in June.
No. He's shut down indefinitely. Not on the IL. Just not working out or playing.
— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) July 17, 2021
Obviously with Kjerstad not even working out the chance that he plays at all this year is unlikely and it is unknown what the long-term impact will be for Kjerstad.
Brailyn Marquez (LHP Cubs)
At the end of 2019, Marquez was coming off an impressive five starts stretch for High A Myrtle Beach and at 20 years old, appeared ready for the upper minors. In 2020 the Cubs did call Marquez up and he made his MLB debut on the last day of the season where he was hit hard.
In 2021, Marquez’ season was reportedly delayed due to a battle with COVID 19. He was supposedly close to being game-ready when the minor league season began but he still is in extended spring training. The latest report is that Marquez has been out due to a shoulder strain.
Simon Muzziotti (Phillies OF)
While Muzziotti may not be the high upside prospect that Kristian Robinson is, at the end of 2019 he appeared to have a strong chance to be a major leaguer with good speed, defense, and a solid hit tool. Mizziotti has a nice year in High A Clearwater as a 21-year-old in 2019.
Muzzioti is stuck in his native Venezuela with visa issues. There are few details about why Muzziotti is having visa issues while so many other players from Venezuela have not had issues.
Kyren Paris (Angels SS)
The 55th overall pick in the 2019 draft of high school, Paris only played in three games in 2019 after being drafted due to injury.
With no minor league season in 2020, Paris finally played again in 2021 for Low A Inland Empire. He was quite good for 16 games early in the season with a 149 wRC+, ten steals, and a 16.7 percent walk rate. However, Paris went on the injured list on May 26th and has not played since. There is no word on this injury or how long he is expected to be out.
Nate Pearson (Blue Jays RHP)
Pearson was a consensus top-five pitching prospect in baseball when he made his MLB debut last July and pitched five scoreless innings against the world champion Nationals. It did not look like Pearson would be back in minor leagues in 2021. Pearson had control issues and missed some time with injuries in 2020. However, he struck out five of six batters in a relief outing in the playoffs.
Pearson got a late start in 2021 due to a groin injury and was unimpressive in his one major league start on May 9th. Pearson returned to the minors where he reinjured his groin after his best start of the season on June 16th.
The Blue Jays were concerned that the groin issues are a chronic problem. Since being drafted in 2017, Pearson has only thrown 168.1 innings.
GM Ross Atkins on #BlueJays No. 1 prospect Nate Pearson (groin):
“It’s starting to feel as though there could be something underlying…” after the injury recurred again, but there’s still no hard evidence. The club is seeking yet another opinion.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) June 30, 2021
However, Pearson was diagnosed with a sports hernia and is starting to throw again. The plan for the remainder of the season is for Pearson to work as a reliever.
Kristian Robinson (Diamondbacks OF)
The Diamondbacks signed Robinson out of the Bahamas for two and a half million dollars as part of their 2017 international free agent class. His physical tools are off the charts but Robinson lacks experience. In 2019 Robinson had success in the Northwest League but struggled when he was promoted to the Midwest League during the last month of the season.
This spring it was made public that Robinson was arrested as a result of an incident last fall where Robinson allegedly punched a police officer. Robinson blamed the incident on mental health struggles. As a result of the incident, Robinson has not been able to renew his visa to the United States.
Robinson is currently working out at the Diamondbacks facility in the Dominican Republic. He has an important hearing at the end of July. Obviously, the incidents raise off-the-field questions about Robinson, and not playing for two years is not ideal for his development.
Clarke Schmidt (RHP Yankees)
Clarke Schmidt hurt his elbow in spring training. He is 25 years old and likely would be in the majors if healthy.
On June 25th Schmidt was supposed to be not far off from beginning a rehab assignment. Four weeks ago and Schmidt was just getting to face live hitters. Even with good progress, Schmidt is at least a month away from being ready to factor into the Yankees pitching plans.
TJ Sikkema (LHP Yankees)
The Yankees selected Sikkema in the 2019 draft with the 38th overall pick in 2019 after an impressive college career at the University of Missouri in the SEC. He was an advanced college arm that could move quickly. Sikkema made four brief appearances in New York Penn League in 2019.
Sikkema began the year on the injured list with a lat strain. He was moved to the 60-day injured list on May 29th. There has been no word of any baseball activity. Sikkema turns 23 in a few days.
Riley Thompson (RHP Cubs)
Thompson underwent Tommy John surgery in college and only threw 48.2 innings in three years at Louisville. The Cubs still selected Thompson in the 11th round of the 2018 draft and signed him to an over-slot $200,000 bonus. Thompson had a solid season in 2019 for South Bend in the Midwest League.
Thompson reportedly left a minor league exhibition game after just one batter on April 20th. No details were provided on his injury and he was placed on the 60 day IL on May 18th.
Owen White (Rangers RHP)
White was the Rangers’ second-round draft pick out of high school in 2018. The Rangers chose to keep their high school pitchers from the 2018 draft in instructional camp in 2018 and not pitch in any games. White hurt his arm in 2019 and underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2019.
White finally made his pro debut on May 4th for Down East at Low A. He slammed his hand in frustration in the dugout after leaving the game and broke said hand. He was supposed to be back by now but there is no information about his return.
Details on Prospects Who Are Out
For other prospects, the organizations have provided details of why a prospect is out and an estimate of how long the prospect is expected to be out. Many of these prospects are out for the entire season dor to an injury.
|Colin Barber||Astros||OF||20||Placed on IL on 5-30. He is out for the year with a shoulder injury.|
|Forrest Whitley||Astros||RHP||23||Out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.|
|Jairo Solis||Astros||RHP||21||Underwent Tommy John surgery on June 28th. Likely out until 2023. Last pitched on 8-6-18.|
|Jeremy Pena||Astros||SS/2B||23||Wrist injury. May miss the entire 2021 season.|
|Tyler Ivey||Astros||Right||25||Likely out for the year with an elbow injury.|
|Corbin Carroll||Diamondbacks||OF||20||Will miss the rest of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.|
|Ethan Hankins||Indians||RHP||21||Out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.|
|Matt Allan||Mets||RHP||20||Out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.|
|Pete Crow-Armstrong||Mets||OF||19||On the IL with a right shoulder injury. It is is his non-throwing shoulder. He will miss the remainder of the 2021 season.|
|Brenan Hanifee||Orioles||RHP||23||Out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.|
|CJ Abrams||Padres||SS||20||Broke his foot on 6-30 and will miss the remainder of the season.|
|Travis Swaggerty||Pirates||OF||23||Placed on the 60 day IL on 5-27 with a dislocated shoulder.|
|Chris Seise||Rangers||SS||22||Out for the year after tearing his ACL.|
|Ricky Vanasco||Rangers||RHP||22||Will miss the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2020.|
|Nick Bitsko||Rays||RHP||19||Underwent Tommy John surgery in December 2020 and is out for the year.|
|Bryan Mata||Red Sox||RHP||22||Out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.|
|Noah Song||Red Sox||RHP||24||Unless Song obtains a military waiver, he will miss all of the 2021 season while in flight school.|
|Colton Welker||Rockies||3B||23||Suspended for 80 games due to testing positive for a banned substance. He will be eligible to return in early August.|
|Jonathan Bowlan||Royals||Right||24||Placed on the IL after leaving his 5-23 start early. Will need Tommy John surgery.|
|Royce Lewis||Twins||SS||22||Out for the entire year with a torn ACL.|
Comings and Goings
Prospects Changing Levels
After struggling his first time in the majors, top prospect Jarred Kelenic was promoted back to the majors after the All-Star break.
Jarren Duran made his major league debut after the All-Star break.
|7/16/21||Yankees||Hoy Jun Park||AAA||MLB|
|7/16/21||Red Sox||Jarren Duran||AAA||MLB|
|7/16/21||Red Sox||Tanner Houck||AAA||MLB|
|7/16/21||Mariners||Austin Shenton||High A||AA|
|7/18/21||Rangers||Cole Ragan||High A||AA|
|7/18/21||Brewers||Antoine Kelly||Rookie||Low A|
|7/20/21||Royals||Bobby Witt Jr||AA||AAA|
Prospects Coming Off the IL
|7/14/21||Reds||Christian Roa||Low A|
|7/17/21||Yankees||Alexander Vizcaino||High A|
Prospects Who Went On the IL
|7/12/21||Pirates||Carmen Mlodzinski||High A|
|7/13/21||Dodgers||Lionel Valera||High A|
|7/14/21||Royals||Tyler Gentry||High A|
|7/16/21||Royals||Brady McConnell||Low A|
|7/20/21||Indians||Tanner Burns||High A|
Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.