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Prospects Most Affected by the Lockout

Julio Rodríguez

Julio Rodríguez

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks ago, we took a look at the prospects to watch in minor league camps since the lockout has prevented us from watching a normal spring training.

Now, it’s time to look at the glass-half-empty part. There are several prospects that are currently on 40-man rosters who are not allowed to participate in these minor league camps, and there’s no denying that it could potentially be a hindrance to those player’s development.

Here’s a look at some of the prospects who could be most hurt by the lackout.

Royce Lewis, IF/OF, Minnesota Twins -- The first name that came to mind when it was announced that MLB owners were sticking with the lockout was Lewis. The first-overall pick of the 2017 draft looked like he was on his way to becoming a star, but he struggled in 2019, didn’t get to play due to the pandemic in 2020 and tore his ACL late last February. The 22-year-old has immense potential because of his athleticism, and while he can certainly still work out (note, this is true for all players), there is something to be said about not being able to be on the field with instruction or the ability to face live pitching.

Julio Rodriguez, OF, Seattle Mariners -- With Rodriguez, it’s more about hurting him for 2022 than anything else. The Mariners have manipulated service time with all of their prospects, and the chances are that Rodriguez was not going to make the MLB roster to begin the year. That being said, there was at least a chance, because he’s one of the best hitting prospects in the sport regardless of level, and the Mariners are not set in the outfield. Is it still possible that Rodriguez could make the Seattle roster out of the camp whenever it starts? Of course, but the odds weren’t exactly in his favor, and now it seems much more likely he’s heading to Tacoma for a few months. Just something to keep in mind before using a draft pick.

Gabriel Moreno, C, Toronto Blue Jays -- Moreno was one of the breakout stars of 2021 -- even after he missed the majority of the season with a thumb injury -- and many believe that he’s the second best catching prospect in the sport behind Adley Rutschman (note: Rutschman is not on the 40-man roster and is able to participate with the Orioles). The issue here is not the injury, but the fact that the Blue Jays have other catching options like Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen. Moreno was going to have to really impress early on to earn that spot on the Opening Day roster. It just doesn’t seem likely he gets that chance now.

Hunter Greene, RHP, Cincinnati Reds -- Greene was the second pick of that 2017 draft behind Lewis, and while he was off the field for two years due to Tommy John surgery, he showed flashes of being a potential top-of-the-rotation starter in 2022. Instead of heading to minor league camp to both work on his command and build up his arm strength, he’ll be waiting by the phone until MLB owners either lift the lockout or agree to a new deal. Again, Greene is/will certainly be working out, but his chances of making the Cincinnati rotation to begin the year take a major bump down.

Brailyn Marquez, LHP, Chicago Cubs -- Marquez didn’t get a chance to pitch in 2021 after he suffered a shoulder strain and also got off to a late start due to a positive test for COVID-19. He’s still the best pitching prospect in the Chicago system -- by a fairly significant margin -- and when healthy, he shows an 80-grade fastball (on the 20-80 scouting scale) and an above-average breaking ball to keep hitters off-balance. He’s dealt with command issues, however, and now is going to not be able to join the camp until there’s an agreement. Not the best situation, to say the least.

These are just a few of the top prospects who are going to have to play the waiting game, as there are others like Vidal Brujan, Shane Baz, Jarren Duran, Sam Huff, Joey Bart, Oneil Cruz and MacKenzie Gore also unable to play; just to name a few. It’s impossible to say just how much impact this will make, but it should go without saying that it’d be much better if these players were on the field.

Quick Hits: According to James Wagner of the New York Times, representatives from MLB and the MLBPA met for about 90 minutes on Thursday. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that Major League Baseball wants to implement three major rule changes for the 2023 season. Those changes: a pitch clock, oversized bases to protect runners and fielders, and some form of a ban on defensive shifts. … Jon Heyman of MLB Network hears that Sixto Sanchez (shoulder) is not expected to be ready until the middle of the 2022 season. … Phillies prospect infielder Daniel Brito has been cleared by doctors to attend the team’s minor-league spring training. The 24-year-old infielder collapsed on the field during a July 30 contest with Triple-A Lehigh Valley due to a seizure and internal bleeding.