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Road to The Show™: Prospects' postseason push

Holliday, Salas among biggest names impacting playoff picture
August 29, 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. While many clubs are battling for the final postseason spots, others have already booked their playoff tickets with

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.

While many clubs are battling for the final postseason spots, others have already booked their playoff tickets with first-half clinchings.

Between promotions, injuries and an infusion of new talent coming in from the Draft, rosters have changed drastically since those early spots were claimed. Here's a deeper look at the recently promoted and callup candidates in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 who can make a significant impact on the Minor League playoff picture.

Vegas, baby! Vegas!

Norfolk and Oklahoma City already punched their tickets to Triple-A Triple Championship weekend by winning first-half titles in the International and Pacific Coast League respectively. With a number of other teams in the hunt for the final two spots, there could be some big names finishing their seasons in the desert.

Orioles No. 3 prospect Heston Kjerstad and Dodgers fourth-ranked prospect Nick Frasso are the biggest names promoted to the current Tides and OKC rosters during the season. Kjerstad has been one of the International League’s most productive hitters since being elevated on June 5. Over that span, he ranks fifth in runs (50), seventh in hits (73) and doubles (18) and eighth in extra-base hits (30) and total bases (123).

Frasso, meanwhile, made his PCL debut on Sunday, when he yielded two hits and a walk while striking out four over six scoreless innings. The 24-year-old amassed a 3.91 ERA with 94 punchouts in 73 ⅔ innings over 21 starts with Double-A Tulsa before the promotion.

Norfolk’s clinching also means that the Las Vegas Ballpark marquee could possibly be aglow with the biggest name in the Minors. Jackson Holliday, MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 overall prospect, has made a flashy rise to Double-A Bowie as a 19-year-old. And he could realistically force another promotion. He ranks among the Eastern League’s top 10 in average (.322), on-base percentage (.407) and OPS (.911) since his July 14 promotion. Although the Baysox are currently just one game back of a playoff spot, the fans in Las Vegas could be in for a treat.

Oh, and by the way, the Martian could certainly make a landing in the desert. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre currently sits two games out of the top spot in the International League, and Yankees No. 2 prospect Jasson Domínguez has provided a jolt for the RailRiders since his promotion last week, batting .478 with 10 RBIs over seven games.

Red Sox No. 3 prospect Ceddanne Rafaela had been terrific since his promotion to Worcester, the current leader in the International League second-half standings. Rafaela was batting .312 with 30 extra-base hits and 42 RBIs in 48 games since being promoted, but he made his Major League debut in Boston on Monday.

Additionally, top Rangers prospect Evan Carter was called up to Texas' top Minors affiliate Round Rock from Double-A Frisco in time for his 21st birthday on Tuesday. It's also worth keeping an eye on top Rays prospect Junior Caminero. Although the latter's Double-A club, Montgomery, is in the hunt for a playoff spot, he's playing well enough to warrant a promotion that could help put Triple-A Durham over the top.

First steps in the deep end

There are 12 prospects who were drafted or signed in 2023 within MLB Pipeline’s Top 100.

Red Sox No. 4 prospect Kyle Teel and Phillies No. 4 prospect Aidan Miller have played their respective ways onto playoff clubs since being selected a little more than a month ago.

After a short stint in the FCL, Teel jumped to High-A Greenville, the South Atlantic League South first-half champion. Over his first 10 games with the Drive, the No. 14 overall pick is batting .436 with nine RBIs and eight runs scored. Miller, the No. 27 overall selection, got a little more seasoning in the Florida Complex League before joining Single-A Clearwater, which already booked its spot in the Florida State League playoffs.

Top Marlins prospect Noble Meyer has made two starts for the current FSL East second-half leader, Jupiter. Meyer, who was selected with the No. 10 pick, has allowed two earned runs and struck out six over 4 ⅔ total innings so far.

Rangers No. 2 prospect Wyatt Langford and top Tigers prospect Max Clark both seem playoff-bound.

Langford, the No. 4 overall selection, is batting .314 with 11 extra-base hits and 11 RBIs for High-A Hickory, the current SAL South second-half leader, while Frisco sits three games back. Clark, who was selected third overall, has played just three games with FSL West-leading Single-A Lakeland. He could make a push for High-A West Michigan, the current leader in the Midwest League East second-half standings.

Athletics No. 2 prospect Jacob Wilson is a promotion away from helping a club pushing for a playoff spot. The No. 6 overall selection is batting .296 with 10 runs scored over 19 games with High-A Lansing and can certainly help a Double-A Midland club that’s two games out of a playoff spot.

Tres Padres

The season hasn’t materialized the way most probably imagined in San Diego. But its Double-A club has become one of the most interesting in the Minors. Already in possession of a spot in the Texas League playoffs, San Antonio figures to enter the postseason with the Padres’ top three prospects on its roster.

Ethan Salas, Jackson Merrill and Robby Snelling will lead the Missions’ charge after starting the season elsewhere. The 17-year-old Salas is batting .250 with a .759 OPS overall, but he’s prone to red-hot stretches, as evidenced by his three Player of the Week selections earlier this year.

Merrill ranks sixth in the Texas League with 44 total hits since his July 14 promotion. He’s batting .301 with four homers and 25 RBIs in 36 games with San Antonio. Finally, Snelling made his Missions debut last week, surrendering a run on two hits and five walks while striking out a pair in 3 ⅔ innings.

More to keep an eye on

Rangers No. 4 prospect Brock Porter has had a strong season for Single-A first-half champion Down East. Porter ranks third among Carolina League pitchers to complete at least 60 innings with a 2.48 ERA in 20 starts. … Top Yankees prospect Spencer Jones jumped from one playoff-bound club to another with his promotion from High-A Hudson Valley to Double-A Somerset last week. … Tigers No. 4 prospect Jace Jung is batting .268 with seven homers and 18 RBIs since his promotion to first-half champion Double-A Erie. … Red Sox No. 2 prospect Roman Anthony is batting .287 since being bumped up to Greenville. … Cubs No. 2 prospect Cade Horton has a 1.00 ERA, and he’s gone scoreless in three of four starts since joining Double-A Tennessee, which currently sits in first in the Southern League South.

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for