Gunnar Henderson or Jackson Holliday

Jim Callis


By Jim Callis
www.mlb.com

Yankees shortstop prospect Anthony Volpe stole a base last night, his fourth in 10 Triple-A games, giving him 48 this season. If he can swipe two more bags in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s remaining 12 contests — the RailRiders also have to complete a suspended game as well — he’ll produce the first 20-homer/50-steal season in the Minors since Andruw Jones in 1995. Volpe already has hit 20 homers in 120 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

Reds shortstop prospect Elly De la Cruz also has a shot at this rare feat, which has been accomplished just four times in the last 40 years. De La Cruz has 28 homers and 46 steals in 117 games between High-A and Double-A, though he hasn’t gone deep in his last 17 contests. If he can make it to 30 blasts and 50 swipes, he’d be the first Minor Leaguer to do so since Willie Royster in 1981.

Thanks to MLB Pipeline senior manager Jason Ratliff for most of this research. And now on to your questions …

Who is the long-term solution at SS for the Orioles? Henderson or Holliday? — @StevieDAles97

It’s hard to imagine two better options for shortstop of the future than Gunnar Henderson, the No. 2 prospect on our Top 100 list, and Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 overall choice in the 2022 Draft. Henderson has batted .320/.370/.520 in his first two weeks in the big leagues and shuttled among three infield positions, while Holliday finished his first pro summer in Single-A.

Both Henderson and Holliday have similar tools and the potential to offer solid shortstop defense in the Majors. Holliday may have a bit more first-step quickness and Henderson may have slightly more arm strength. Henderson is a couple of inches taller and more likely to outgrow the position, and I think he’ll eventually wind up at third base when Holliday arrives in Baltimore a couple of years from now.

Who amongst the Dodgers high Minors bats (Busch, Amaya, Outman, Vargas, Pages) has the biggest impact on the big league team in 2023? — @FarhandrewZ

The Dodgers keep winning at the big league level and keep churning out talent, with their farm system placing No. 2 in MLB Pipeline’s midseason rankings. Many of their best position prospects have reached the upper Minors, including (in the order they rank on our Dodgers Top 30) third baseman Miguel Vargas, second baseman Michael Busch, outfielders Andy Pages and James Outman and shortstop Jacob Amaya. Vargas and Outman have received brief looks in Los Angeles this season.

Trea Turner is headed to free agency, Max Muncy and Justin Turner could join him if the Dodgers don’t pick up their options and Cody Bellinger could get non-tendered, so the club could have an opening for any of those five prospects. Muncy and Justin Turner have shared third base this season but are better suited for first base or DH at this point of their careers, so Vargas may have the best opportunity for 2023 playing time. He’s also the best pure hitter of the youngsters we’re discussing and my pick to have the most big league impact among them next season.

The son of Lazaro Vargas, the DH on Cuba’s 1992 and 1996 Olympic gold-medal teams, Vargas is a career .313/.390/.488 hitter in four Minor League seasons. The 22-year-old has advanced feel for the barrel, consistently makes hard contact and has learned to drive the ball in the air to tap into his power. While he has worked to improve his athleticism and possesses solid arm strength, he’s no more than an adequate defender at third base.

Jaison Chourio has looked solid since his debut. Considering his brother’s meteoric rise, how soon could we see people such as yourself looking to move the younger Chourio up the ranks? — @CaoChadTTV

Jaison isn’t in the same class as his older brother Jackson, the biggest breakout performer in the Minors this season, but he’s a quality prospect. He received the largest bonus in the Guardians’ 2021-22 international class, signing for $1.2 million out of Venezuela in January.

Chourio is a switch-hitter with solid to plus hitting ability, speed, arm strength and center-field defense. He could grow into average power once he adds strength and learns to drive more balls in the air. He also has quality instincts to go with all his tools.

Chourio batted .280/.446/.402 with 11 extra-base hits and 14 steals in 40 games as a 17-year-old in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in his pro debut. By comparison, Jackson hit .296/.386/.447 with 13 extra-base hits and eight steals in 45 games at the same age and level in 2021. Stronger and faster than Jaison, Jackson has raced to Double-A at age 18 in the Brewers system this year.

Is Travis Honeyman’s track record with wood a good indicator of his stock as a first-round pick? — @AlexGiobbi

Honeyman has more plate appearances in two years of summer ball than he does in two seasons at Boston College, where he was a reserve as a freshman and missed time with a leg injury last spring. In 54 games between the New England Collegiate and Cape Cod leagues, he has batted .364/.470/.653 with 11 homers and 18 steals. He set an NECBL record last summer by hitting .430.

As of now, he fits in the back half of the first round but has the potential to climb higher once scouts gets to see more of him. Before he lost the second half of the Cape season to hamstring issues, he displayed some of the best all-around tools in the 2023 college class. He has the ability to hit for average and power, plus speed, solid center-field skills and average arm strength.

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