When the season started, I was less than thrilled with the California League changing from High-A to Low-A. I liked the level I was used to, and I liked that the talent was pretty consistent. What I have noticed so far is a lot of moving talent, mostly coming in and going back to Arizona versus getting moved up to High-A. There are a lot more players coming and going and I’m getting to see a lot of players, and I like it. It is hard to keep track of who is on the roster at any given time, but it definitely keeps me on my toes.
We are a month and half into the Low-A West season and the top prospects are doing what top prospects should do—they are performing. I am actually surprised that these guys are still around and expect promotions to come soon. There are no surprises on this list. Just validation that the top prospects are indeed top prospects for a reason. They are good players.
Cartaya spent extra time in Arizona after minor league camp broke and arrived late to Rancho Cucamonga. But when he got there, he really let his presence be known. He’s gotten off to a very hot start, hitting .324 and leading the team in batting average*. The Dodgers have a wealth of catching and with Will Smith and Austin Barnes holding down the Major League roster, there’s little room for advancement throughout the system. Top prospect Keibert Ruiz is patiently waiting at AAA and the bottleneck just cascades down from there. Cartaya is still two years away but will be a force to reckon with when his time comes.
One of the Mariners’ top prospects, Noelvi Marte, is also hitting over .300 for their Low-A team*. He also leads the team in home runs (8) and RBIs (30)*. Marte spent the 2020 season at the alternate training site and is proving that it was an invaluable experience for him. I wasn’t very familiar with Marte before I saw him tear up the Low-A West South in early May. And I most certainly will not forget his name now.
The highly touted, first round, high school pick for the Padres has not disappointed. After being signed in 2020, Hassell attended the Padres’ alternate training site in 2020 and was invited to spring training as a non-roster invitee in 2021. Hassell hits for average power and has above-average speed. He currently leads the team in runs (30) and RBIs (33)*.
While not the highest-ranking prospect for the Angels in Low-A on Prospects 1500’s Angels Top 50 list, Jackson is turning heads. He leads the team in runs (25), home runs (8) and RBIs (44)* and is rumored to be drawing interest from other teams. Fellow top prospect Kyren Paris was off to a good start for the 66ers but has been on the injured list since May 26th. Jackson has stepped up and is definitely stealing the spotlight.
Another 2020 first round pick out of high school to make this list, Soderstrom leads the Ports with 8 home runs and 37 RBIs.* As with many heavy-hitting catchers, the A’s are already grooming him to play first base. He has been averaging one start in every series at first base so far this season. The A’s are also ensuring that his bat is in the lineup every day. When he is not catching or playing first base, he’s the DH.
Others to watch in Low-A West:
If you are in California or planning to visit, get out to the ballparks now to see these guys as they will probably be heading out after the All-Star break. That would be the proverbial All-Star break since there is no Low-A West All-Star Game this year. This is another disappointment in this post-pandemic season, along with no postseason. But I digress. Anyway, if you are in other parts of the country, be on the lookout for these guys coming to a city near you soon!
*All stats current as of games played through 6/23/21.
Gail is Bay Area born and raised. She was conflicted on which side of the Bay to root for early on, but eventually sided with the A’s. Gail now lives in Southern California, loves all Southern California baseball, and enjoys travelling around the country watching as many baseball games as she can. Follow her on Twitter @1baseball_gail.