Here’s a hastily put together look at some of the top prospects that will be starting the season in the Double A Northeast League this season, with much of the material sourced directly from team press releases.
This will be updated as more rosters become available.
Akron RubberDucks (Indians): The Akron RubberDucks, Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, will feature two of the major league club’s top five prospects, according to MLB.com, when they open the 2021 season at Canal Park on Tuesday. Shortstop Tyler Freeman (No. 2) and catcher Bo Naylor (No. 3) are each ranked by MLB.com among the Tribe’s top prospects entering the 2021 season. They are slated for their Double-A debuts when the season opens in Akron at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (New York Mets).
The Indians announced an initial group of 26 players assigned to the Double-A club, which is beginning its 31st season as an Indians affiliate in Northeast Ohio and 24th at Canal Park in downtown Akron. With the 2020 minor league season canceled, Freeman and Naylor participated in the alternate site for Cleveland last year. Left-hander Joey Cantillo (MLB.com No. 22 Indians prospect) was acquired in Cleveland’s trade of Mike Clevinger to San Diego on Aug. 31 and was at the alternate site for the Padres and Indians last season. Outfielder Will Benson played for Team Texas in the independent Constellation Energy League in Sugar Land, Texas.
Altoona Curve (Pirates): Top prospects include INF Oneil Cruz (No. 2 Pirates, No. 50 overall), RHP Cody Bolton (No. 6), INF Ji-Hwan Bae (No. 9), INF Mason Martin (No. 16), OF Cal Mitchell (No. 19), Rodolfo Castro (No. 22), RHP Max Kranick (No. 23), and RHP Travis MacGregor (No. 28) are all ranked in Baseball America’s Top-30 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects list.
In addition, Roansy Contreras and Canaan Smith, who were both a part of the Jameson Taillon deal, will be on the Altoona Opening Day roster as well.
Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets): The Binghamton Rumble Ponies, the Double-A Affiliate of the New York Mets, announced their 2021 roster Friday. This year’s roster features four (4) out of the Mets top 30 prospects as listed by MLB.com: Mark Vientos (8), Ryley Gilliam (18), Tylor Megill (23), and Marcell Renteria (25).
Bowie Baysox (Orioles): The Break Camp Roster is headlined by the Orioles number one ranked prospect, Adley Rutschman, who was the #1 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of Oregon State University. Rutschman has played in just 37 professional games to date, hitting .254 with 4 home runs and 26 RBI. He was an invitee to the Orioles 2020 Major League Spring Training camp and spent the summer of 2020 in Bowie as part of the O’s Alternate Site camp. He was also a 2021 Major League Spring Training invitee.
Another top prospect headed to Bowie to start the 2021 season is left-handed starter D.L. Hall. Hall was drafted in the first round, number 21 overall, by the Orioles in the 2017 MLB Draft. He owns a 6-12 career minor league record in 46 games with a 2.96 ERA and 228 strikeouts in 185 1/3 innings pitched. Hall spent the 2019 season with High-A Frederick. Upon the cancellation of the 2020 MiLB season, Hall spent time at the Orioles Alternate Site camp in Bowie.
The Orioles #13 ranked prospect (by MLB.com), infielder Terrin Vavra, is headed to Bowie this season. Vavra was a 3rd round pick (96th overall) by the Colorado Rockies in 2018. He came to the Orioles as part of the trade that sent former Baysox reliever Mychal Givens to the Rockies. Vavra spent the 2019 season with the High-A Asheville Tourists hitting .318 with 10 home runs and 52 RBI. He has a career .313 average in the minors.
The Orioles #14 ranked prospect (by MLB.com) RHP Kyle Bradish is also headed to Bowie for the 2021 season. Bradish was selected by the Angels in the 4th round of the 2018 MLB Draft and was acquired by the Orioles in the trade that sent former Baysox & Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy to L.A. Bradish pitched for High-A Inland Empire in 2019, going 6-7 with a 4.28 ERA in 24 games. 2019 was his first season of professional baseball.
Pitcher Cody Sedlock (MLB.com ranked #28) rounds out the list of top-30 prospects headed to the Baysox to begin the 2021 season. Fans will also want to keep an eye on the Orioles 2018 competitive balance pick (#37 overall), infielder Cadyn Grenier.
Erie Seawolves (Tigers): Detroit Tigers first round selection (#5 overall) of 2019 and #2 overall prospect Riley Greene anchors the outfield
Mark Leiter, Jr., who threw for Somerset in their 2020 Somerset Professional Baseball Series circuit, will also start the year in Erie.
Harrisburg Senators (Nationals): The 2021 Harrisburg roster features six of the organization’s top-30 prospects per Baseball America. The highest ranked player in the top-30 is LHP Tim Cate (#8). Cate is also slated to start the season opener Tuesday night. Cate is joined by RHP Sterling Sharp (#26) as the only other pitcher in the top-30. INF Drew Mendoza (#11) is the highest ranked position player and he’s joined by INF Jackson Cluff (#12). The top-30 is rounded out by C Jakson Reetz (#25) and OF Nick Banks (#29).
Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies): #2 Ranked Prospect Ryan Rolison was the Rockies 1st round pick (22nd overall) in 2018 (University of Mississippi) and joins the Yard Goats for his first season. He was invited to MLB Spring Training and went 2-0 with a 5.19 ERA in 4 games (1GS) with Rockies. The lefty spent entire 2019 season at High-A Lancaster (6-7, 4.87 22GS) and recorded 118 strikeouts in 116.1 innings, and was named a California League All-Star selection. Rolison was also selected as a MiLB.com Organization All-Star in 2018.
#9 Ranked Prospect Elehuris Montero was acquired by Rockies on February 1, 2021 and part of the trade with the Cardinals for All-Star 3B Nolan Arenado. The first-year Yard Goats infielder went 3-9 (.333) with an RBI in 10 games for Rockies in 2021 MLB Spring Training. He is currently on the Rockies 40-man MLB roster. In 2018, was named the Midwest League Most Valuable Player after batting .322 with 28 doubles, 15 homers and 69 RBI at Low-A Peoria. In addition to league MVP he was named Baseball America Low-A All-Star, MWL Mid-Season and Post Season All-Star, MWL Player of month in July, MWL Player of week on July 8 2018. He was originally signed by Cardinals as International free agent in 2015.
#13 Ranked Prospect Jameson Hannah was acquired by Rockies from Reds on November 25, 2020 as part of the exchange for RHP Jeff Hoffman. The first-year Yard Goats outfielder was invited to 2021 MLB Spring Training as non-roster player and batted .357 with 5 doubles, home run and 5 RBI in 16 games with Colorado. He spent most of 2019 season at Class-A Stockton, and batted .283 with 25 doubles, 3 triples, 2 homers and 31 RBI in 92 games and was Named California League Mid-Season All-Star. The Flower Mound, TX native was acquired by Reds from Athletics in exchange for RHP Tanner Roark on July 31, 2019. He was originally drafted by the Athletics in the 2nd round in 2018 (Dallas Baptist University).
#22 Ranked Prospect Tommy Doyle was drafted by the Rockies 2nd round in 2017 (University of Virginia) and is currently on the Rockies 40-man MLB Roster. The first-year Yard Goats right-handed pitcher made three relief appearances for Colorado in 2020 (6ER/2.1 IP). He made his Major League debut, September 23 @ San Francisco (1 IP 4H 2R 0BB 1K) and pitched scoreless inning with strikeout, September 25 @ Arizona. Doyle recorded save in scoreless inning in 2021 MLB Spring Training, February 28 vs Arizona. He enters 2021 season with a 3.12 ERA and 40 career saves in 110 games (3 seasons) in minor leagues. In 2019 at High-A Lancaster, posted a 3.25 ERA and league leading 19 saves in 38 relief outings and was named to California League Post Season All-Star team.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays): Three of the Blue Jays top four prospects (according to MLB.com) will suit up for the Fisher Cats this year: Austin Martin, Jordan Groshans, and Simeon Woods Richardson.
All three players also rank among the top 80 prospects in baseball according to MLB.com.
SS/OF Austin Martin led Vanderbilt to a College World Series championship in 2019, and was drafted fifth overall by the Blue Jays the following year. With the cancelation of the 2020 Minor League Baseball season, Martin will make his professional debut at the Double-A level. He currently ranks No. 2 among Blue Jays prospects and No. 19 overall according to MLB.com, as many scouts regarded him as the top hitter in the 2020 draft class.
SS Jordan Groshans was the 12th pick in the 2018 draft, and impressed with a .337 batting average with the Class-A Lansing Lugnuts in 2019 before his season was cut short due to a foot injury. MLB.com ranks him as the No. 3 prospect in the Blue Jays system, and No. 39 in baseball.
RHP Simeon Woods Richardson came to the Blue Jays organization from the Mets as part of the trade for former Fisher Cat Marcus Stroman in 2019. Toronto quickly promoted the second-round pick to Advanced-A Dunedin, where he went 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA and averaged over one strikeout per inning. MLB.com ranks Woods Richardson No. 4 among Blue Jays prospects, and No. 78 overall.
The Fisher Cats will also have three members of Toronto’s 40-man roster in New Hampshire this season: Otto Lopez, Elvis Luciano, and Gabriel Moreno.
Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox): The 2021 roster features four of Baseball America’s Top-30 Red Sox prospects including the top overall prospect Triston Casas. The remaining prospects include right-handed pitcher Thaddeus Ward (#10), outfielder Jeisson Rosario (#20) and right-handed pitcher Andrew Politi (#27).
Casas, 21, was selected 26th overall by the Red Sox in the 2018 MLB Draft out of American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida. A South Atlantic League All-Star in 2019, Casas blasted 20 home runs with Greenville and Salem and drove home 81 runs. He is also ranked as #37 overall prospect in Minor League Baseball by MLB.com.
Reading Fightin’ Phils (Phillies): The Reading Fightin Phils, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Phillies, announced their 28-man roster to start the 2021 season on Monday. The roster features four of the Top-30 prospects in the Phillies farm system and one member of the Phillies 40-man roster.
#4 Francisco Morales (RHP), #19 Rodolfo Durán (C), #25 Ethan Lindow (LHP), #30 James McArthur (RHP) are all ranked in Philadelphia’s minor league system. Morales is the lone member of the 40-man, while Mark Appel (RHP) is the only first rounder. Appel was the first pick of the 2013 draft by the Houston Astros.
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants): Eight players are back with Richmond after calling The Diamond home in previous seasons, including outfielder Heliot Ramos, who is currently rated by both Baseball America and MLB.com as the Giants’ No. 3 prospect. Ramos first joined the Flying Squirrels in August of 2019, hitting .242 with three homers and 15 RBIs over 25 games in his first swings at Double-A.
That year, the 2017 first-round draft pick became the first teenager to play for the Flying Squirrels when he debuted at age 19. Now 21 years old, Ramos enters the year as Baseball America’s No. 83 overall prospect.
Sean Hjelle, currently ranked by Baseball America as the Giants’ No. 13 prospect and No. 11 by MLB.com, returns to the Richmond pitching staff for 2021 after making five starts at Double-A in 2019. The 6-foot-11 right-hander was selected in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Giants out of the University of Kentucky.
A pair of Eastern League All-Stars are back with the Flying Squirrels this year. Jacob Heyward was named the MVP of the 2019 Eastern League All-Star Game at The Diamond in 2019 prior to setting a new franchise record for walks in a season. 2018 Eastern League All-Star Ryan Howard returns for his third overall season in Richmond. He will be joined on the infield by Peter Maris, who saw time with the Flying Squirrels in 2019.
Three right-handed relievers who previously pitched for the Flying Squirrels are back to open this season. Frank Rubio and Raffi Vizcaino were both in the Richmond bullpen in 2019. Patrick Ruotolo was with the Flying Squirrels in 2018 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, which kept him sidelined for most of 2019.
This year’s initial Richmond roster includes several new faces, including right-hander Tristan Beck, who is ranked by Baseball America as the Giants’ No. 12 prosp