Southern League’s Top Prospects

Jose Rodriguez, Winston Salem Dash, August 18, 2021. Photo credit Dan Victor, @slydanno70 on Twitter

The Southern League is filled with plenty of team top prospects from our Prospects1500 Top 50 lists. Here’s a look at who is off to a hot start at Double-A after the season’s first month of play, and also which of the league’s top prospects have gotten off to a slower start than expected.

Rocket City Trash Pandas (LAA)

Sam Bachman – Our #1 overall Angels prospect was drafted 9th overall last year and made 5 starts at High-A with a 3.77 ERA in 14.1 innings with 15 strikeouts. His 2022 season was delayed because of back spasms, but he made his debut on May 6 and after 2 outings, he’s tossed 7 shutout innings, allowing only 1 hit, 2 walks, and striking out 3. Bachman is #2 on our Angels Top 50, right behind the graduated Reid Detmers.

Tennessee Smokies (CHC)

Brailyn Marquez is currently injured but we could see him at Tennessee soon. Ryan Jensen is the next pitcher up on our Cubs Top 50 list. Kevin Will’s 13th ranked prospect in the system, he’s struck out 18 batters in 16.1 innings this year but has walked 14 batters in 5 starts.

Chattanooga Lookouts (CIN)

Matt McLain – The 17th overall pick from last year’s draft, McClain is off to a really good start at Double-A slashing .256/.353/.598 with 9 home runs and 8 stolen bases in 32 games. Last year at High-A he slashed .273/.387/.424 with 3 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 29 games. He’s sitting at 4th overall on our Reds Top 50 prospects.

Birmingham White Sox (CHW)

Jose Rodriguez – The #1 prospect on our White Sox Top 50, Rodriguez is off to a slow start in Birmingham. The 20-year-old shortstop is hitting just .226 in 30 games with 5 walks to 20 strikeouts. He was really good at both Single-A and High-A last year with 14 home runs and 30 stolen bases combined at those two levels.

Montgomery Biscuits (TB)

Greg Jones – A 22nd overall pick by the Rays out of UNC-Wilmington in 2019, Jones continues to show his power-speed potential. In 56 games at High-A last year he slashed .291/.389/.527 with 13 home runs and 27 stolen bases. Making that jump to Double-A, especially for a hitter in the Southern League, can be humbling. So far, Jones is struggling to make the adjustment. This season at Montgomery he’s slashing .219/.315/.395 with 3 home runs and 16 stolen bases, while striking out 43 times in 130 plate appearances (33%). Jake Wiener had Jones at #4 in his preseason Rays Top 50, but we’ll have to see how his early-season struggles affect his midseason ranking.

Biloxi Shuckers (MIL)

Garrett Mitchell – An outfielder out of UCLA who came into the pros carrying a big hit tool and advanced approach at the plate, Mitchell tore up High-A last year slashing .359/.508/.620 with 5 home runs and 12 stolen bases in just 29 games. He also showed great plate discipline with 28 walks to 30 strikeouts. That’s yet to translate to the Double-A level where he has 31 walks to 81 strikeouts in 236 at-bats. Does he stick at #2 in the system behind Hedbert Perez, or does he drop in the midseason ranks?

Pensacola Blue Wahoos (MIA)

Eury Perez – Another big arm coming through the Marlins system, Perez, who’s ranked 4th in our Marlins Top 50, had a 1.96 ERA in 20 starts (78 innings) last year across Single-A and High-A with 108 strikeouts and 26 walks. He allowed just 43 hits! He’s been solid in the Southern League this year with a 1.04 WHIP and 45 strikeouts in 28 innings.

Mississippi Braves (ATL)

Michael Harris II – Perhaps the best hitting prospect in the Southern League right now, Harris has gotten off to a hot start with Mississippi. The #1 prospect in our Braves Top 50 is slashing .293/.348/.486 with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 4 home runs, and 10 stolen bases after 155 plate appearances. The 21-year-old has reached base in the first 27 games of the season and had a 15-game hitting streak from April 23 through May 10.

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