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5 MLB Prospects on the Cusp of a Call-Up

In recent weeks we have seen some prospects make their major league debut. With Daniel Schneemann getting his first hit for the Guardians on the first pitch he saw to Justyn Henery Malloy set to make his Major League debut for the Tigers the talent just keeps coming up. In this article, we will highlight five prospects who could be on the cusp of a call to the Major Leagues.

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5 MLB Prospects About to Get Promoted

Hurston Waldrep, RHP ATL

(10 GS, 55.1 IP, 59 K, 9.6 K/9, 3.09 ERA)

Drafted in the first round 24th overall out of the University by the Atlanta Braves Hurston Waldrep has moved quickly in his first taste of professional ball. Waldrep features a solid four-pitch mix in his fastball, splitter, slider, and curveball which has racked up the strikeouts early on. After the draft, Waldrep started in Low-A and made it through each level up to Triple-A to finish off the season. Combined Waldrep had eight starts with 41 strikeouts over 29.1 innings pitched, good for a 12.6 K/9, and finished the season with a 1.53 ERA.

Before the Chris Sale Trade, Waldrep looked like he had a track to win the fifth starter spot with a strong Spring Training. Ultimately he started the season back in Double-A Mississippi. With the Mississippi Braves, Waldrep made nine starts with 48 strikeouts over 49.1 innings pitched, good for an 8.8 K/9 while sporting a 2.92 ERA. Prior to the promotion, Waldrep posted his lowest walks per nine to this point in his career, with a 3.10 BB/9. The call back to Triple-A has been fun to watch so far. In his one start, Waldrep struck out 11 batters over six innings pitched with one walk and three earned runs.

With Schwellenbach making his debut last week, the Braves could be looking to Waldrep to debut after a few more starts are under his belt in Triple-A.

James Wood, OF WSH

(45 GP, .355/.465/.596, 9 HR, 39 R, 31 RBI, 10 SB)

All eyes are on the Nationals and the International League leader in average and OBP, James Wood. One of the key pieces in the Juan Soto trade with San Diego, Wood has had a fast rise through Washington’s farm system to be so close to getting his Major League debut. In 45 games in Triple-A Rochester, Wood is slashing .355/.465/.596 with nine home runs, 39 runs scored, 31 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases. Wood has shown a patient approach while cutting back on the strikeouts that spiked in Double-A in 2023. Across 202 plate appearances, Wood is walking 17.3% while striking out just 18.3% of the time.

The raw power is absolutely massive for the 21-year-old Wood and he seems to be tapping into all of it. Of Wood’s 59 total hits this season 22 have been for extra base hits. The Mets and Marlins are several games behind the Nationals and as of writing this, the Nationals are only 3.5 games behind the Braves. If they want to start bringing up the future now would be a good time to do so. Wood is just coming off of a 7-day IL stint with hamstring tightness but as soon as he gets going again the call-up could be at any time.

Adrian Del Castillo, C ARI

(51 GP, .340/.391/.612, 10 HR, 43 R, 37 RBI)

One of the best catching prospects in the upper minor leagues right now has been Adrian Del Castillo. Currently third in the Pacific Coast League in batting average, Del Castillo has been on fire this season for Triple-A Reno. Drafted 67th overall by the Diamondbacks in 2021 out of the University of Miami, Del Castillo moved quickly up the organization to start the season back in Triple-A in 2024. In 51 games, Del Castillo is slashing .340/.391/.612 with 10 home runs, 43 runs scored, and 37 RBIs. Del Castillo has cut back the strikeouts to 17.8% (down from 28.9% in AAA in ‘23) and is currently walking 7.1% across 225 plate appearances.

Currently, Gabriel Moreno has been off to a sluggish start this season slashing .234/.323/.324 with all the numbers suggesting this could change. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Diamondbacks call up Del Castillo to see how he fairs and potentially use him as a trade chip if things go well by the trade deadline.

David Festa, RHP MIN

(11 GS, 43 IP, 65 K, 13.60 K/9, 3.56 ERA)

One of the highest risers in dynasty rankings in 2023 was David Festa. A 13th-round pick by the Twins out of Seton Hall in 2021, Festa stands 6’6” and features a four-seam fastball that sits 95 mph and tops out at 98. What might be his best offering is an 88 mph sweeping slider that has elite spin rates and generated 41% swing and misses in 2023. The change-up has improved since becoming a pro, coming in at 85 mph. Festa introduced a curveball in 2023 as well but mixes it in sparingly. In 11 starts for Triple-A St. Paul, Festa has 65 strikeouts in 43 innings pitched, good for a 13.60 K/9 with a .239 average against and a 3.56 ERA.

The walks continue to be one of the only blemishes on Festa’s line so far this season at 4.81. This is down from the 6.51 BB/9 he had in three starts with the Saints last season but still, room for improvement will be necessary. Currently, Simeon Woods Richardson, Bailey Ober, and Chris Paddack fill out the 3-5 spots in the Twins rotation. None of which have a K/9 above 9.16 (Ober) with Woods Richardson and Paddack having a 7.97 K/9 or less. Festa could be a fun pitcher to watch on a team that has slipped in the AL Central race in recent weeks.

Cade Povich, LHP BAL

(11 GS, 56.2 IP, 75 K, 11.91 K/9, 3.18 ERA)

Full disclosure, either Cade Povich or teammate Chayce McDermott could go in this final spot. The two have been absolutely filthy, leading the International League in strikeouts with 82 with McDermott and 75 with Povich. Of the two, however, Povich might be first up. The 24-year-old lefty from Nebraska was drafted in the third round of the 2021 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins. Once traded to the Orioles, Povich continued his success right up to Triple-A. With the Norfolk Tides this season, Povich has made 11 starts while striking out 75 batters over 56.2 innings pitched, good for an 11.91 K/9 with a .201 average against, and is currently sporting a 3.18 ERA.

An inflated walk rate has plagued Povich since coming to the Orioles but this season he has brought it down considerably. In 45.1 innings pitched at Triple-A in 2023, Povich had a 5.76 BB/9, this season in 56.2 innings pitched he has brought that down to a 3.34 BB/9 while decreasing his HR/9 as well over last season (1.19 HR/9) to 0.79. Povich is not a “finished” product but he has made improvements that could warrant a call to the Major Leagues over someone like Albert Suarez who is currently in the Orioles rotation.

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