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The Road to The Show™: July promotions

Holliday, Merrill among prospects starting strong at next level
Jackson Holliday, Endy Rodriguez, Cole Young, Sal Frelick and Jackson Merrill (left to right) were each promoted in July. (
July 25, 2023

Each week, profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here. There's typically a boom of promotions at the end of the first half of the Minor League season

Each week, profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here.

There's typically a boom of promotions at the end of the first half of the Minor League season or coming out of the MLB All-Star break.

During the month of July, there were 17 current Top 100 prospects who earned promotions – either to the next rung on the Minor League ladder or for their Major League debuts. Here’s a look at how some of these recently promoted prospects have performed at their new level.

Jackson Holliday, Double-A Bowie Baysox | MLB Pipeline rank: No. 1

The 19-year-old came out of his All-Star Futures Game appearance with his second promotion of the season. Holliday has been brilliant in his first Eastern League action, collecting 13 hits in his first 37 at-bats (.351), including three doubles and a homer. Only two players on the circuit have more hits since his promotion on July 14. The Orioles also promoted two other Top 100 prospects in July. Colton Cowser (No. 12 overall prospect) has helped the big league club achieve the American League’s best record since his promotion on July 5, while Coby Mayo (No. 74) is currently the fourth Top 100 prospect on the Triple-A Norfolk roster.

Jackson Merrill, Double-A San Antonio Missions | MLB Pipeline rank: No. 9

Merrill proved he was fully recovered from the injuries that derailed his 2022 with an excellent first half for High-A Fort Wayne. The 20-year-old has looked just as comfortable at the plate in his first nine Texas League games. Merrill has 13 hits in 41 at-bats (.317), including a homer, two triples, two doubles and six RBIs.

Marco Luciano, Triple-A Sacramento RiverCats | MLB Pipeline rank: No. 15

Luciano’s first-half numbers with Double-A Richmond didn’t jump off the page, but the 21-year-old has looked ready for the challenge in his first week in the Pacific Coast League. Luciano collected six hits, including a homer and two doubles, in 20 at-bats over his first five games with Sacramento. He’s already made an impression at shortstop as well.

Sal Frelick, Milwaukee Brewers | MLB Pipeline rank: No. 17

Frelick has not slowed down since his monster debut against the Braves and has five hits in his first nine Major League at-bats, including a homer, three RBIs and three runs scored. Following his World Baseball Classic appearance with Team Italy, Frelick suffered a thumb injury that limited him during the early part of his season with Triple-A Nashville. He returned in June and was on an absolute tear at the plate for the Sounds – while maintaining his usual brand of acrobatic outfield defense – at the time of his promotion. The Brewers also promoted Jacob Misiorowski (No. 86) to Double-A Biloxi last week. In his first start with the Shuckers, Misiorowski allowed four runs on four walks and four hits over four innings.

Endy Rodríguez, Pittsburgh Pirates | MLB Pipeline rank: No. 35

Rodríguez hasn’t exactly set the next level on fire like some of the other names on this list. But he is on the board with his first big league homer, which happened during a game in which he caught a shutout of the Angels. The 23-year-old has four hits and three runs scored so far. Quinn Priester (No. 53) made his first big league start in the same game as Rodríguez’s debut. The duo formed the first Pirates starting battery to make their Major League debut in the same game since 1943. Priester was roughed up in that outing but recorded his first big league win against the Padres on Monday night.

Cole Young, High-A Everett AquaSox | MLB Pipeline rank: No. 56

Young’s 45-grade power is his lowest-graded tool, but his first week-plus in the Northwest League suggests it might be time for a reassessment. Young is batting .400 with seven extra-base hits, including three homers. Since his debut on July 14, he leads the circuit in slugging (.800), total hits (14), walks (eight) and total bases (28). The Mariners also promoted Gabriel Gonzalez (No. 94) to Everett at the same time as Young. So far, Gonzalez is batting .282 with five homers and 14 RBIs, both of which lead the league during that span.

Tink Hence, Double-A Springfield Cardinals | MLB Pipeline rank: No. 61

Hence has maintained consistency during a tough year for high-ranking pitchers. So far, he’s been brilliant in the Texas League, pitching to a 1.81 ERA with 11 strikeouts over 15 innings in his first three starts. He also threw a scoreless inning in the Futures Game earlier this month.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cincinnati Reds | MLB Pipeline rank: No. 87

In addition to making history with the longest full name to ever appear in the Majors, Encarnacion-Strand picked a dramatic moment for his first big league hit, launching a pinch-hit, three-run homer in his second game. He has settled in nicely for the contending Reds, collecting seven hits in his first 26 at-bats.

Also promoted in July: No. 69 overall prospect Brady House was elevated to Double-A Harrisburg after just 16 games in a hitter-unfriendly environment with High-A Wilmington … Tyler Soderstrom (No. 33) made his big league debut for Oakland on July 14 and is batting .143 in 28 at-bats … Austin Wells (No. 78) has played in three games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre since his promotion on July 21.

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for