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After a pause that lasted far too long, minor league baseball is finally — gloriously — back in our lives. Here's hoping we won't need to discuss alternate training sites ever again. Naturally, Opening Day did not disappoint. Actual prospects were doing actual baseball things for actual teams. Let's hit the highlights ...
Nate Pearson is still throwing smoke
The rehabbing 24-year-old handled the Worcester Red Sox without much difficulty on Tuesday, striking out eight batters over 3.2 innings, allowing one walk and one run. He threw 53 of his 78 pitches for strikes, reportedly touched 100 mph on the gun, and generally dominated. So that's plenty promising. We should see the big righty back with the Jays relatively soon, whenever he's ready to go deeper in his starts — and when he re-arrives, you want him.
Nick Pratto hasn't stopped raking
After crushing throughout the spring for Kansas City (.345, 4 HR), Pratto opened his Double-A season with a bomb:
Pratto was the No. 14 overall pick in the 2017 draft, then followed with a 14-homer, 22-steal season at Single-A in 2018 (with a zillion Ks). He's drawn rave reviews from Royals coaches, and, again, he made quite an impression during Cactus League play. File away the name.
Perhaps you've heard of Wander Franco
Baseball's top prospect got his first taste of Triple-A life at Durham and it didn't seem to trouble him. Franco went 3-for-5 with a triple, two RBIs, and a stolen base. Just look at this swing:
Franco is a career .338/.406/.527 hitter in the minors and he's walked a whole lot more than he's struck out (83 BB, 54 Ks). No one expects the Rays to rush him to the big leagues until the service-time game is fully played, but he can hit for average at any level right now. He's a near-lock for immediate production whenever he gets the call.
Travis Swaggerty feasts in Triple-A debut
Swaggerty, the tenth overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft (selected immediately after Kyler Murray), went 3-for-4 against Iowa with a walk, two RBIs, and an early bomb:
He swiped 23 bags at Single-A in 2019 with 32 extra-base hits (including 9 HR) in 121 games. If he continues to binge for Indy, it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see him get the call to Pittsburgh this summer. And speaking of young Bucs ...
Roansy Contreras overpowers Bowie, Rutschman
The pitching line of the night probably belonged to Contreras, a hard-thrower who joined the Pirates' system in the Jameson Taillon deal back in January. Have a look at him whiffing Adley Rutschman, one of the game's top-hitting prospects:
Contreras went 5.0 innings, striking out 11 batters and walking none. He allowed five hits and no runs, reaching 97 mph with his fastball. If that stat-line doesn't interest you ... well, then perhaps your standards are unreasonably high.
C.J. Abrams, still quite good
Abrams might very well be the top speed prospect in the minors — he stole 15 bases over 34 games at Single-A in 2019 — and he opened his season in style on Tuesday. He went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, one walk, one run, and one RBI. While he didn't swipe a bag on Tuesday, his speed still came into play. Abrams should be among your priority dynasty targets, a player who has terrific contact skills and silly speed. The Padres obviously don't have a burning need at shortstop, but he should be able to shift to second base with relative ease.