5 top MLB prospects who could debut in the second half

Matt Johnson
Seattle Mariners top prospect Jarred Kelenic
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Just a year after making his debut, San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr. has become one of MLB’s biggest stars. It all started with a strong debut and as we look ahead to the second half of the 2020 season, these top MLB prospects could get the call-up they’ve been waiting for in the second half.

As of late, we’ve seen a wave of impressive, young talent get promoted to make their MLB debuts. San Francisco Giants catcher Joey Bart, Atlanta Braves top prospect Cristian Pache and Detroit Tigers pitchers Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal are just a few of the promising players who have come up in the past week.

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The ability to bring up young talent in the heat of a playoff race, or to provide the fans with a spark in a lost season, is extremely appealing. Given the MLB trade deadline will be quieter than usual, it might also be the best way to improve a club.

Let’s take a look at five top MLB prospects who could make their debut in the second half of the season.

Jarred Kelenic, outfielder, Seattle Mariners

The moment Seattle calls up Kelenic will be a painful day for the New York Mets. The prized prospect New York sent to the Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, Kelenic has become one of the fastest rising prospects in baseball. After posting a .291/.364/.540 slash line with 23 home runs and a .904 OPS in the minors this past year, this young outfielder proved he has a bright future as a hitter.

He is rated as the No. 12 overall prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. He is an integral part of Seattle’s future and the fans deserve to see him step into the lineup. With Dee Gordon (.352 OPS) and Tim Lopes (.626 OPS) doing nothing at the plate, it’s only a matter of time before the Mariners give Kelenic a shot. Once he is brought up, we can start the countdown for No. 19 prospect Julio Rodriguez to join him.

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Clarke Schmidt, starting pitcher, New York Yankees

For many years Deivi Garcia was considered the best pitching prospect in New York’s farm system. But after working his way back from Tommy John surgery in 2017, Schmidt has demonstrated he is the guy the Yankees need. With James Paxton sidelined indefinitely and a rotation that ranks 17th in ERA (4.62), New York’s solution to its pitching woes could be found before the MLB trade deadline.

Schmidt started his 2019 campaign at Rookie ball and finished the year at the Double-A level. Across 90.2 innings pitched, he posted a 3.47 ERA with an outstanding 102/28 K/BB ratio. He received an invite to spring training and blew away manager Aaron Boone. Rated the No. 96 overall prospect in baseball, the 24-year-old righty deserves an opportunity. He can be a starter immediately or a weapon out of the bullpen. The Yankees will need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for him, but Schmidt can easily be worth it.

Adley Rutschman, catcher, Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles wasted no time in the 2019 MLB Draft, selecting Rutschman within minutes of the No. 1 pick being on the clock. He made his presence felt immediately in his minor-league debut, crushing a home run and it was just the start of a great finish to his year. While we understand Baltimore might want to take its time bringing him up, this catcher is ready for the majors.

Keep in mind, it’s not the Orioles have to worry about contending this season. They started out hot, but things have cratered as of late as they slip down the MLB standings. Ranked the fifth-best prospect in MLB by Baseball America. While he might struggle early at the dish, giving him time to work with Baltimore’s young pitchers at the end of the 2020 season could be huge for his development and this club’s future.

MacKenzie Gore, starting pitcher, San Diego Padres

The Padres are surging towards a postseason spot this year thanks to former top prospects like Tatīs Jr, Chris Paddack and Trent Grisham. However, it’s evident that San Diego’s bullpen desperately needs help. It became even more apparent when closer Kirby Yates and set-up man Drew Pomeranz landed on the injured list.

Given San Diego’s bullpen owns the seventh-worst ERA (5.45) in the majors, reinforcements are needed. Some of that help will come at the trade deadline, but the biggest move should be promoting Gore. A 6-foot-2 southpaw with a wicked fastball, slider and changeup, he could be a dangerous multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen. He’s the future ace of this rotation. For now, he can make the same impact David Price made in the 2008 postseason (1.59 ERA) for the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Royce Lewis, infielder, Minnesota Twins

The Twins have two talented, young hitters who could contribute right away in Lewis and outfielder Alex Kiriloff. Frankly, Kiriloff would be the pick if Minnesota wasn’t already loaded with left-handed hitters who can either play the corner outfield or first base. So, the focus shifts to the potential five-tool player with incredible versatility and tools.

Lewis has moved around quite a bit in his career. While he was drafted as a shortstop, he has spent time at second base and even received some reps at center field in spring training. The 21-year-old’s best present tool is his speed, which draws a 70-grade on the 20-80 scouting scale. The No. 1 pick in the 2017 MLB Draft has spent time developing with coaches at the club’s alternate site. If this team needs speed and versatility, with a touch of power, Lewis could be a great asset in September and October.